Local Governance and Decentralization No. 15 May – June 2011
Regional Centre LAC
In this Issue Viewpoints Highlights Article – by Estelle Fach Event – Virtual Course in Local Governance and Public Mangement for the Health Sector in Guatemala A thematic website Golstat Agenda Multimedia
Viewpoints Local Governance and Decentralization in the Caribbean Like many parts in the world, the Caribbean is no stranger to the trend of efforts to build democratic local governance. Whether they are small island and/or non-island states like Guyana or Surinam, slowly but surely they are all becoming increasingly more aware about the potential role local governance and decentralization can have as means to enable people to participate more directly in the decisions that shape their lives. This trend is both significant and timely, as it reflects a strategic effort to continue to strengthen democratic governance and to improve the responsiveness, value and effectiveness of local governments in terms of policy and service delivery. It is not only issues of democratic governance driving the movement toward government decentralization and local participation in the Caribbean. Economic and social factors are clearly an important part, as it is being realized that strong local governments can provide viable and alternative ways to promote human development and human security. As Helen Clark-- UNDP Administrator-noted in her Key note Speech to the
Commonwealth Local Government Conference earlier this year, “…local governments must be seen as critical components of integrated systems of governance.” This goal of course poses significant challenges for the Caribbean, as the experience of Latin America and other regions that started these processes over three decades ago already show. It requires not only enhancing the role of local governments and stakeholders, but also a political and policy approach both at the national and local levels to ensure an enabling environment for reforming local governance systems to make them useful and relevant for the people. There are not as many comparative studies of local governments in the Caribbean and data and analysis is just beginning to be generated. Nonetheless, important developments have taken place across the Caribbean. For example, where there were none before, there are now local governments in an overwhelming majority of the Caribbean countries, and many of these have elected leaders. A handful of Caribbean countries have introduced several
innovations to transform their traditional and historic models of local government, while others, particularly smaller island states have opted to strengthen their central governments while still being firmly committed to restoring elected local government and-or promoting reforms in favor of local governance. Still others are expanding and or at least thinking to expand the role of local governments to cover issues such as public safety. It may appear that small, indeed microstates in the Caribbean ranging in population between 45,000 and 2.6 million, do not warrant a system of local government as central governments actions are already local. However, in most Caribbean States local government is an important part of the overall governance framework providing key services and local accountability of decision making. What is known is that when it comes to local governance, the Caribbean is a diverse region. It shares certain characteristics, but they are also distinct. Very few have local government enshrined in their constitutions and/or mentioned the Continue on next page 1
Continuation of Viewpoints Local Governance and Decentralization in the Caribbean figure of local governments in their constitutions. Although in the majority of Caribbean nations, the local government figure has been officially recognized, protected and administered by local government acts and other forms of regulations and norms. In each country one also finds unique forms of administration, very different from the rest of Latin America. While the traditional central-local division is still dominant, some countries also have a regional division that often serves as articulator between the central and local tiers. One also finds that most local authorities are in the form of councils, entrenched in the parliamentary tradition, with a council member elected to play the role of mayor or leader of the council. In addition, other Caribbean countries have specific entities tasked with local governance issues. Belize has a unique “alcalde system,” which is part of the local government structure. It focuses on judicial matters within a given judicial district. The “alcaldes” are effectively local magistrates operating at the village and community level. While mainly Mayan communities, including the Mopan and Ketchi groups, in southern Belize practice this form of local governance, the alcalde jurisdiction is not limited to Mayas. Any rural community can adopt the system as long as the citizens request the relevant authority to implement it. The responsibilities of local governments in the Caribbean ranges from tax collection, administration and regulation in agriculture, forestry, education, public health, public utilities and roads and other types of
infrastructure, as well as champion the causes of local communities. In general, the revenue necessary for the local l authorities to carry out their responsibilities and services comes from local tax collection, penalties, license fees, and fundraising. In some countries, local governments are not able to raise taxes, and depend solely on transfers from the central government. There are also governments that have mixed revenues, both raised locally, and with transfers from the central government. In Caribbean countries, the local governments are mostly elected through universal suffrage. In a few exceptional countries, the local government authorities are appointed by the central government. Of the 13 Caribbean countries, 8 have elections for electing local government official, while in 2 they are appointed by central authorities, and in 3 there are not local government elected officials. Female representation in local government in the Caribbean varies greatly. In some cases there is 50% female representation, while in others there is no representation in councils and executive positions in local government positions.
and lessons for the Caribbean as it begins to experiment with decentralization process. There are challenges, including financing local governments, identifying the most appropriate size and functions for councils, clarifying the role of political parties at the local level, capacity/delivery, and building sustainable partnerships between central and local governments, private and public sectors, and government and civil society. Also important is to recognize as the process moves forward the complexity of the task, not only in terms of resources and technical issues, but most importantly in terms of institutional design. That also means finding ways to empower citizens to own the local governance reform process, to strengthen management capacity and systems, to ensure a robust local revenue base, to enhance planning and budgeting, and promote accountability and transparency to build and-or strengthen citizen confidence. Most importantly, there needs to be a recognition that strengthening local governance and decentralization processes are longterm endeavors.
There are definitely many emerging To leave comments and discuss about and developing opportunities in the this topic, visit our Teamworks space Caribbean to continue to strengthen local governments and flash out their potential role in promoting human development and human security. The experience of many countries in and outside Latin America with building and strengthening local democratic governance is still an unfolding story, but with an increasing body of practice
Highlights Where is Local Government Going in Latin America? A Comparative Perspective Andrew Nickson. Working Paper No 6. Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy) 2011
The main academic discussion about decentralization process in Latin America has been focused in the formal political autonomy, financial strengthening of local government, transfer of competencies from central government, and on the way in which formal and informal institutions constrain and mould the outcomes of these decentralization processes. By contrast the impact of decentralization on the changing role of local government within the overall political system of Latin America has not been widely analyzed. This paper seeks to address the question, "Where is local government going in Latin America?” by attempting to situate the current decentralization process within the framework of two Weberian ideal types of local government systems – “managerial” and “governmental”. The paper tentatively concludes that the “managerial” type of local government is gaining ground in the region. [To access click here]
Indigenous Government and Provision of Services in indigenous Municipalities in the State of Chiapas, Mexico Araceli Burguete Cal y Mayor PNUD- Mexico Mayo, 2010
The report present the results of a research project. The report elaborates specific proposal of normative changes in the legislation and institution of the State of Chiapas, that would allow to improve the quality and effectiveness of the services to the indigenous population. The report presents the results of the respective assessment and main challenges with respect to the municipal services to the indigenous populations of Chiapas. The Municipal Agenda was made from a perspective of the rights of these populations, considering the use, customs and indigenous governments, differentiating the role of the political participation of indigenous women.
Curbing Fraud, Corruption, and Collusion in the Roads Sector The World Bank June 2011
This report explores how the World Bank and developing countries can reduce losses from collusion in procurement and fraud and corruption in contract execution, drawing on what the Preventive Services Unit of the World Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT) has learned from its investigations of Bank-funded roads projects, investigations and reports by borrowing country governments, and the experience of developed countries. The aim of the report is twofold: (a) to provide inputs into the World Bank’s review of its policies and processes as part of the ongoing reform of its business model, and (b) to inform a broader dialogue on ways to prevent collusion in procurement, and fraud and corruption in contract execution in all roads projects— no matter the funding source. According to the document the most common forms of wrongdoing in the roads sector are collusion among firms bidding on a project and fraud and corruption in the execution of the resulting contracts. To combat the corruption in the roads sector the report recommend, among others, measures such as an independent procurement evaluator or technical auditor when corruption is deeply ingrained, the use of bid ceilings, competitive negotiation, and turning procurement over to an independent agent. [To access click here]
Global Report on Corruption: Climate Change Transparency International 2011
The report by Transparency International analyses the main risk of corruption related to climate issues, and presents national and local governance as one of the main tools to overcome this challenge. The report approaches four main topics: governability, mitigation, adaptation to climate change and forest governance. The solution to confront the challenges that arise from climate change is to achieve a solid governance in all levels of the government, including local, and to secure that the mitigation strategies, public policies, the projects and programs related to climate change are based in popular participation, accountability and integrity.
[To access click here] [To access click here]
Article Promoting Democratic Governance, Transparency and Integrity in REDD+, by Estelle Fach* *REDD is a mechanism to create an incentive for developing countries to protect, better manage and wisely use their forest resources, contributing to the global fight against climate change.
Last year a flagship UNDP/UN-REDD study, Staying on Track: Tackling Corruption Risks in Climate Change (also available in French and Spanish) mapped out the corruption risks during both the design phase of national REDD+ mechanism and its implementation phase. The report also proposed a framework to broadly examine these risks and recommendations such as conducting country-specific participatory corruption risks assessments, establishing multi-stakeholder decisionmaking and monitoring mechanisms, ensuring transparency and accountability in public financial management and strengthening the reporting mechanism. The UN-REDD Programme organized a workshop on REDD+ and corruption with GTZ (now GIZ) at the 14th International Anti-Corruption Conference to discuss corruption risks and their mitigation in the context of a REDD+ mechanism. On the same topic a recent U4 study focuses on three African countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Zambia. A study undertaken by Price WaterHouse Coopers for the Norwegian Development agency, with UNDP’s support, is underway, examining measures to counter corruption risks in REDD+ in DRC. The Democratic Governace Practice Area of the Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean in Panama, in collaboration with the UN-REDD Programme and UNDP’s Global Programme on AntiCorruption for Development Effectiveness (PACDE), has commissioned a study on the role of local governance institutions in tackling corruption in different decentralization contexts in Latin America, and the UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre in Bangkok has initiated programming on anti-corruption in climate finance that includes a REDD+ component. The anti-corruption community is also eagerly expecting the upcoming release of Transparency International “Global Corruption Report: Climate Change” (See Highlight, p.2) that will address REDD+.
This flurry of activities comes from the realization that lack of democratic governance and corruption would undermine confidence - necessary to enact a change in the use of forest resources-, prevent equitable benefit sharing, discourage investors and undermine gender equality. Ultimately, a lack of transparency, accountability and integrity would mean a much less effective, and much less sustainable, REDD+ mechanism, both at the national and local levels of government. But it is not all grim news out there. On the ground, national and local actors are mobilizing to build synergies between REDD+ mechanism and anticorruption initiatives. Sometimes this happens through adding a REDD+ component to existing anticorruption capacity development programmes, such as those on investigative journalisms or citizen monitoring of budgets, or strengthening the capacity of national and local institutions and their mechanisms that promote transparency. Support may also come through the implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), which has been signed by a vast majority of REDD+ countries. The Global UN-REDD Programme framework, presented to the UNREDD Policy Board on the occasion of its 6 th meeting in Da Lat, Viet Nam (22-23 March 2011), proposes to develop tools and guidance on anticorruption for REDD+. Emphasis is placed on ensuring that a variety of national stakeholders, including civil society, governments, dedicated anticorruption units, the judiciary, policy makers and law enforcement have the capacity and tools to tackle corruption risks in REDD+. By catalyzing the involvement of its in-house expertise and through guidance, trainings, partnership and technical advice, the UN-REDD Programme is well positioned to support efforts to promote transparency, accountability and integrity in REDD+ and mitigate corruption risks by strengthening preventive measures. * Programme Analyst, Knowledge Management & Governance (REDD)/UNDP
Event Virtual Course in Local Governance and Public Management for the Health Sector in Guatemala, By Gemma Xarles i Jubany*
This course demonstrates how UNDP Latin America´s Country Offices, Regional Centre and Virtual School are effectively collaborating and supporting countries in the region. It is through initiatives similar to this and the accumulation of knowledge and experiences from the country offices that future initiatives will be nourished.
In order to reduce the number of maternal and infant deaths in the central urban communities in Guatemala, the Public Health Ministry and Guatemala Social Assistance Office in association with the Guatemala UNDP Office and co-financed by USAID, implemented an innovative Health Coverage Program. This program has been put in place to strengthen the health sector and improve basic health services for those needing primary care.
This course was originally facilitated in 2009-10 by Regional Center´s Policy Adviser Gerardo Berthin under the banner of the Prologo Project. The recent version of the course in Guatemala is an adaptation of experiences of 4 Country Offices with the course during 2010: Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Honduras. Testimonials of the graduates are included in audiovisual material currently accessible for the Guatemalan public. In addition the Virtual School has developed and incorporated public management health sector tools for the course in Guatemala. The course was launched at the end of March with two non-virtual sessions in Alta Verapaz and Chiquimula, Guatemala. The course will last three months.
The UNDP Regional Centre in Panama through their Local Governance & Decentralization Program and the UNDP Virtual School teams are supporting this initiative. The program is targeting 400 health care professionals who will take part in these training initiatives over the next two years. Its objective is to improve the primary care health package, under the democratic governance and human development perspective, by teaching techniques in how to improve public management processes in the health sector.
See more information on the course by clicking here.
*General Coordinator, UNDP Virtual School
Thematic Web Site
The Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF)
CLGF works to promote and strengthen democratic local government across the Commonwealth, including countries in the Caribbean, and to encourage the exchange of best practices. This web site has information about the CLGF Events, Publications (CLGF Bulletin, Research reports, Toolkits and the Annual report), Programmes and Projects and information on various topics such as promoting democratic values and good local governance, and strengthening local government capacity. It also hosts an impressive collection of background information on local governments throughout the Commonwealth, including Caribbean countries. It is a good source of information on current research and trends of Commonwealth local governments. To visit the web site, click here
The implementation of the Project of the Mexican Secretary of Public Service (SPS) named “Zero Base Regulation to improve the administrative efficiency in the Federal Government,” has reformed the regulatory framework to help to eliminate 15,835 norms and 2,189 administrative procedures. Of these, 10,147 administrative norms were substituted by 9 application manuals of the Federal Public Administration (APF), effective since august 2010, that simplify and standardize processes in the 279 institutions of the FPA and regulate the following: audit, internal controls, public work, financial resources, human resources, material resources, information technologies and communications, and transparency. For this project the APF was awarded with United Nation’s Prize to Public Service in the categories of prevention and combat of corruption in the public sector.
July 10 -12 Participation in the "Co-Development and Cooperation Congress" in Cartagena, Colombia. July 18-21 Mission to finalize details and partnerships for the Community of Practice in Costa Rica September 5 – 6. Third Meeting of the Anti-Corruption Community of Practice (COP) in Latin America and the Caribbean September 7 – 8. Workshop on Social Audit for Young Political Entrepreneurs
Multimedia Documentary “Indigenous Identity and Democracy in Mexico“ The documentary “Indigenous Identity and Democracy in Mexico,“ shows the vindication of the identity and rights of the Mexican indigenous population. The recent story of indigenous political participation, and in particular of the indigenous women in Mexico is told through the voice of the indigenous leaders, academics and electoral authorities. The documentary shows specific cases and reflections on main challenges. To see the video, click here: Part 1 Part 2