Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Local government in small states

SSmall states are defined as countries with less than 1.5 million inhabitants (including small island states and small island developing states - SIDS). Small states make up more than half of the 53 Commonwealth member countries. They face a particular set of challenges including governance, managing vulnerability and remoteness, dealing with limited economic opportunities, and dealing with the impact of climate change

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Yes to Local Government, No to Participatory Democracy: The Local Governance Reform Dilemma in Trinidad, St. Lucia and St. Vincent

In the Commonwealth Caribbean countries of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, local government reform has been and continues to remain on the agenda. The proposals are all based on the philosophy that there should be elected local government, which in turn should facilitate substantive levels of participatory democracy and citizen involvement. But whilst there is general acceptance of this philosophy, central governments are seemingly reluctant to implement any reforms which would return power to the people. Citizen involvement and participatory democracy has thus become the bug-bear in the process, and has led to the stalling of local government reform in all three countries. With reforms having stalled, one wonders whether the next step will be the dissolution of systems of local government in these states.

Author: Bishnu Ragoonath Publisher: http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/cjlg/article/view/1097 Publication year: may 2009


Governance at the Local Level in Melanesia – Absent the State

 

At independence the three Melanesian states of the Pacific Islands region – Papua New Guinea (1975), Solomon Islands (1978) and Vanuatu (1980) – opted for decentralised systems of government. In all cases a three-tier system of national, provincial and local government was introduced, although the specific arrangements and allocation of powers differed substantially. Since that time there has been a good deal of analysis about the policy processes of decentralisation itself and about the effectiveness (or otherwise) of national-level governance in these countries; but until recently little has been written about the lower levels.This short article surveys some of the recent research and commentary on local-level governance relating particularly to Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands. It focuses on both the poor condition of formal local-level government as well as on the rise of informal governance-type activity at the local level which might be described as ‘civil society in formation’.

 

Author: David Hegarty Publisher: university of Technology, Sydney Publication year: may 2009


Local Governance and Local Democracy in Uganda

Uganda embarked in 1993 on radical decentralization, among other reasons, to enhance local governance and local democracy. The major focus of the decentralization policy was on empowering citizens to participate in decisions that affect their localities. This issue will be examined based on two major themes of the twelve principles of the Commonwealth’s ‘Aberdeen Agenda’ for local democracy – the enabling environment and participation. However, the paper argues that Uganda’s devolutionary decentralization can only foster local governance and local democracy if it is properly conceptualised, the facilitating conditions are given careful attention, and the institutional framework is sufficiently elaborate and effective to enable it to achieve its intended objectives. Short of these measures, the gap between intent and reality might be so great as to disable the decentralization policy from achieving real local governance and local democracy.

Author: John Kiyaga-Nsubuga, Yasin Olum Publisher: university of Technology, Sydney Publication year: January 2009


Local Governance Reforms in Zambia: A Review

This paper provides an overview of the efforts of successive Zambian governments to transform and institutionalise democratic local governance, and to come to grips with the socio-economic development challenges facing the country. It assesses the progress and challenges that governments are facing in their efforts to transform local government into democratic, developmental local governance.

Author: Bornwell Chikulo Publisher: university of Technology, Sydney Publication year: january 2009


Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice: Reviewing the functions and powers of local government in South Africa

 

The chairperson of the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on local government recently described local government in South Africa as “a chicken whose legs have been tied for too long”. In other words, even when the fetters that bind the chicken’s legs are loosed, it remains at a loss for what to do with its newfound freedom (Tsenoli 2007). This descriptive analogy ostensibly refers to the failure of local government to harness its newfound power in post-apartheid South Africa and to claim its rightful position as the driver of development at the local level, and instigator of bottom-up growth and progress, which is meant to shape and transform society in the new South Africa.

Author: Annette Christmas, Jaap de Visser Publisher: university of Technology, Sydney Publication year: january 2009


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