Decentralised governance and poverty reduction support

Project description

Title: Decentralised governance and poverty reduction support
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Bolivia
Lead executing agency: Viceministerio de Planificación y Coordinación
Overall term: 2002 to 2011


The political situation in Bolivia is characterised by a high degree of social, cultural and regional polarisation. The political goal of Evo Morales’ government is to help the poor segments of the population who have faced discrimination (mainly indigenous groups) to participate in social development processes on a more equal footing.

The new constitution (2009) paves the way for autonomy for the intermediate levels of government (departamentos) and the regions, municipalities and indigenous groups. However, implementation of this policy has been hampered by numerous legal and institutional uncertainties. Decentralisation and poverty reduction are stated government targets, yet there is still considerable work to be done in the areas of governance and public administration with regards to democratic functionality and efficiency. In addition, civil society is not sufficiently oriented towards public welfare and many political actors are still willing to disregard democratic rules.


Democratic governance and the efficiency and effectiveness of public administration in the partner regions are strengthened. Responsible participation by civil society is also increased. This supports the implementation of the national development plan and helps to promote public confidence in the government.


The programme approach includes advisory services for policy formulation and the promotion of coordination and dialogue processes. Experience gathered locally is constantly fed into policy-making at national level, and conversely support is also given to implementing national policies in the local arena. Sustainable dissemination of ideas and approaches developed in the programme is ensured by the financial support of other donors and the involvement of state institutions or universities. The programme also collaborates with the other organisations of German development cooperation; outputs are coordinated by GIZ.

The current and final phase of the project focuses on supporting government and civil society actors in organising the new government structures in line with the new constitution and developing their functionality.

The programme has three components:

  • Reforming the structure of the state
  • New public administration
  • Constructive conflict transformation

Results achieved so far

Framework law on autonomy and decentralisation
After consultation with negotiators on state reform, advice provided by the programme served as the technical basis for drafting framework legislation on autonomy and decentralisation, which was adopted in mid-2010. Advice provided focuses in particular on the following areas:

  • Provision and allocation of powers: clarifying the allocation of powers to differing levels of government, which is only roughly outlined in the constitution; defining the scope of framework and development legislation in terms of joint responsibilities (similar to the distinction between national (federal) and regional (Land) legislation in Germany).
  • Economic and financial regulation: clarifying the allocation of resources to the autonomous regional authorities and their own sources of income; setting up a solidarity fund to help stabilise revenue from oil and gas extraction tax revenues.
  • Mechanisms for coordinating different levels of government: clarifying fiscal and sector coordination in the multi-level system; improving on the initial draft legislation in terms of greater government responsiveness to autonomous regional authorities.

Public performance and accountability agreements
Within the context of national policy on transparency, formulated with the support of the programme, 70 state bodies – including all government ministries – implemented public performance and accountability agreements by the end of 2009.

At municipal level, these agreements between mayors and local citizens have been increasingly targeted priority policy areas designated under the National Development Plan, with special priority given to greater involvement of the indigenous population, particularly women. In seven municipalities in the priority area regions, budget resources for programmes to promote particularly disadvantaged groups, such as indigenous peoples, women, and young people, were boosted by an average of 30%. This funding is used particularly for action against domestic violence and to help these groups to become more productive.

Constructive conflict transformation
At national level, the Ministry of the Presidency, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security are using the conflict monitoring system developed jointly with the programme. As a result, the number of constructively resolved social conflicts in Bolivia has risen by half since 2006, against a backdrop of around 1,600 conflicts analysed.

Extending the sustainable use of instruments developed
As part of a sustainability and extension strategy for the public administration instruments developed as part of the programme, teams have been trained as independent advisors at three public universities. They are now advising public institutions at regional or local level on planning, results-oriented management and public accountability, thus helping to improve efficiency and transparency in public administration.
Implementation of the measures set out above has been subcontracted to the joint venture Como-Berghof-GOPA (COMO Consult GmbH, the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies GmbH, and GOPA Consultants).