Supporting decentralisation and municipal development

Programme description

Title: Supporting decentralisation and municipal development
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Benin
Lead executing agencies: Ministry of Decentralisation, Local Governance, Administration and Planning; Ministry of Economy and Finance; Ministry of the Interior, Public Security and Cults
Overall term: 2004 to 2017

3. A woman finds out about municipal activities at the town hall in Natitingou. © 2012 GIZ / Ollivier Girard

Context

At the turn of the millennium, Benin established the legal framework for territorial administrative reform and the transfer of competencies and resources from the central government to regional and local authorities. In recent years, significant progress has been made in the devolution and decentralisation of the country. Two municipal elections to local and town councils have already been held and the newly created Ministry of Decentralisation has adopted a national policy for decentralisation and devolution, and is steering the reform process. The national funding transfer mechanism regulates the national financial equalisation between the government and municipal authorities.

Despite favourable legal conditions, a large number of challenges still need to be overcome if the decentralisation reform is to be implemented successfully.

Objective

The municipalities receiving advice use their improved competencies and increased capacity for self-administration to provide the population with high-quality basic public services, while adhering to the principles of good governance.

4. One of the project aims is to involve women to a greater extent in local decisions. A group of women take part in a discussion at a training initiative in the municipality of Bassila. © 2012 GIZ / Ollivier Girard

Approach

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is working to increase the skills and capacity of numerous reform actors at all relevant government and administrative levels so that they can implement the decentralisation reform:

  • GIZ is developing the Ministry of Decentralisation’s strategic capacity for implementing the reform, and is supporting it in optimising its human resources management. The six prefectures at regional level are receiving support as they carry out their supervisory and advisory responsibilities towards municipal authorities.
  • GIZ is assisting the Ministry of Finance with the fiscal decentralisation process and the systematic use of the national funding transfer system. 25 of 77 municipal authorities are receiving advice on how to increase local revenue and improve their financial management. Support is being provided to the national municipal association in representing municipal interests at national level. GIZ is implementing these measures in collaboration with AMBERO Consulting.
  • Needs-driven coaching on management skills and resources is being provided in 25 municipalities with a view to making the municipal administrative bodies more efficient and citizen-oriented. The focus here is on preparing municipal development plans, promoting cooperation between the municipalities in special-purpose vehicles and developing standardised training modules for municipal administrative staff. GIZ is implementing these measures in collaboration with AMBERO Consulting.
  • 25 municipalities are receiving advice as on setting up mechanisms for public accountability and civic participation. At the same time, training modules and awareness-raising activities are encouraging citizens and civil society actors to participate in municipal decision-making processes. These measures are primarily aimed at supporting disadvantaged groups within society such as women and young people.
1. The human resources management software developed by GIZ is used in the Ministry of Decentralisation and in the municipalities. © 2012 GIZ / Ollivier Girard

Results

With its comprehensive advisory approach and complementary HR tools, GIZ has effectively initiated changes at individual, organisational and societal level:

  • The Ministry of Decentralisation is steering and coordinating the decentralisation reform. By establishing dialogue platforms, the prefectures have improved their administrative and technical supervision of municipal authorities, as demonstrated by the high proportion of departmental action plans being implemented (2013: 83%). Staff profiles and job descriptions in the Ministry of Decentralisation now increasingly match those in the prefectures, as demonstrated by the fact that the match rate in 2013 was 41%, compared to 25% in 2010. Women account for almost one quarter of employees at the Ministry and in the prefectures.
  • The national mechanism for transferring funding to the municipalities has become more important, with the number of transfers almost quadrupling between 2008 and 2013. The 25 partner municipalities have increased revenues from their own revenue sources and municipal taxes by 20% (2010 to 2013); the proportion of municipal budgets in place has risen from 58% to 70% in urban municipalities and from 40% to 69% in rural municipalities (2008-2013).
  • Municipalities are now drawing up medium-term development plans and are making significant improvements, for example in awarding public contracts transparently and in compliance with the applicable standards, procedures and laws (2013: 85%), and in the quality of the services provided by the registry office (76% of the population satisfied with services in 2012).
  • The newly created national training centre for municipal administrative staff, which is funded by the national budget and the national funding transfer mechanism, has been offering training courses since mid-2013.
  • The partner municipalities now arrange regular public accountability meetings with civil society participation (2013: 92%). The creation of 25 dialogue forums, supported by 14 micro projects and 25 training initiatives, has improved civic participation in development processes as well as dialogue between citizens and local decision-makers and the effectiveness of civil-society organisations. In 2012, over half the population stated that they were satisfied with their participation in local decision-making processes. Greater involvement of women in local decision-making has been promoted through the provision of training for 310 female candidates for the next municipal elections.