A Practical Guide to Decentralisation

In this blog, Chloé Bailey presents the newly launched Guides to Decentralisation launched by GPG. The first paper outlines what is decentralisation and what ways exist to implement it. The second one explores how decentralisation benefits from citizens’ engagement and how to emulate it.  

Decentralisation is increasingly recognised internationally as a key element of good governance. When implemented well, it can lead to greater participation, efficiency and diversity. By bringing decision making closer to the citizens, the process of decentralisation creates enormous possibilities to build more responsive and representative political systems.

In recent years, we have seen our work expand from working predominantly with parliaments and government ministries to supporting politicians and officials plan and manage decentralisation processes in a number of different countries. Our programmes to support decentralisation and improve the effectiveness of service delivery in places as diverse as Iraq, Jordan and Tanzania are specifically adapted to the local context and aim to guide our partners through the design and delivery of decentralisation reforms. At the same time, our pool of Associates – with first-hand experience implementing devolution in the UK – provide us with a wealth of best practice and expertise from which to draw upon.

GPG’s newly launched Guide to Decentralisation series uses the substantial pool of expertise that we have developed in this field to provide practical advice on designing, implementing and managing the process of decentralisation.

The first paper in the series, Principles and Models of Decentralisation by Sir Paul Silk, examines some of the key principles behind decentralisation and the different forms that it can take, the advantages and pitfalls of the process as well as the financial, behavioural and cultural changes that are needed to accompany legal and structural reforms.

Decentralisation and the people – using engagement to deliver results by Jacqui Smith, explores the benefits of citizen engagement in the decentralisation process. Increasing the engagement and participation of citizens in local government provides an opportunity to ensure that decisions more fully reflect the needs and priorities of local people and service delivery is tailored to local circumstances. However, this opportunity can only be fully recognised if there is a planned and comprehensive approach to engaging the public in this process. This includes clarity about why engagement is being carried out, what issues are involved, who is being engaged with and how marginalised groups can be involved.

The third paper, Implementing Decentralisation by Diane Bevan, provides practical guidance to those tasked with the planning and creation of newly devolved bodies. The impact of institutional change as a result of decentralisation of power can be substantial; outlining steps to take from planning to delivery, this guide lays out the steps to take to ensure a successful transition.

New additions to the Guide to Decentralisation series will be added in the coming months.