Making Local Governance Inclusive for the 'Leave No One Behind' Agenda
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A major aim of decentralised governance is to bring government closer to people and, in the process, deliver services in an equitable and efficient manner, in accordance with the expressed needs of citizens. The fact that government is located within smaller units with better information and a larger number of local representatives can lead to the greater inclusion of marginalised groups in decision-making and in accessing quality services. Viewed from this perspective, decentralisation is usually seen as a positive reform. However, the reform in and of itself is essentially value neutral – not only can it have both positive and negative effects, but its impact is conditioned by the nature of the reform, and the ways in which it is implemented. Decentralisation reforms that are not explicitly designed to include marginalised populations—women, minorities, and the poor—can lead to worsened service delivery and representation outcomes for these groups (Faguet 2014). Its impact in terms of the inclusion of the most vulnerable is dependent on many of the same constraints that affect higher tiers of government – availability of resources, capacity, and very importantly, political will. In other words, inclusive governance is not synonymous with decentralised governance. Decentralisation reforms will only achieve inclusive governance if they explicitly set out to do so.