Promotion of national decentralisation and good governance

Project description

Title: Promotion of national decentralisation and good governance in Niger
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Niger
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Planning, Spatial Planning and Community Development
Overall term: 2015 to 2017

Niger. Award being presented to the mayor of the partner community Mehanna at the Africa Day of Decentralisation (2015). The community received the award for implementation of its participatory budget as part of an international competition. © GIZ

Context

Decentralisation was established as a policy direction in Niger through the parliamentary, presidential, regional and local elections in 2011. It takes priority in the national development strategy: A strategy paper on national decentralisation policy has been adopted by the Government. The aim is to enhance political participation by the population. Improved interaction between decentralised and deconcentrated state levels is an example of progress made to date.

Despite positive developments, regional and local authorities are still unable to provide efficient public services and offer citizen-centric administration. Local people are not involved to an adequate extent in the municipal decision-making and development processes taking place within the context of the decentralisation reforms.

Objective

The participation of the people in municipal decision-making and development processes and the provision of public services and efficient citizen-centric administration by regional and local authorities have improved. Efforts focus on improving local governance, particularly accountability.

Approach

The project provides technical, organisational and process-related advice through international, regional and local experts and development workers in two areas:

  1. Strengthening national and institutional deconcentrated structures
  2. Improving local governance and civic participation in the partner communities.

The activities in the second area are being implemented by GFA Consulting Group GmbH. Cofinancing by the European Union is supporting and supplementing the project measures.

In addition, materials and equipment are being provided on a small scale, as are local subsidies, particularly for development efforts in the partner communities. At all levels the project work primarily supports the complementary and mutually reinforcing cooperation between the national and local stakeholders in the decentralisation process.

To support the national decentralisation policy, the project provides political, administrative and organisational advice to the partner ministries on transferring authority, responsibility and resources to the local and regional authorities and on implementing the national training strategy. In addition, the project advises communities on improving general administration and increasing their own revenue.

Capacity building for local authorities also takes the form of training and coaching for stakeholders at decentralised level to prepare them for their new tasks. Civic participation mechanisms are being strengthened to promote good local governance and civic participation, which will improve the use of funds by the communities. The project offers mentoring and training in particular to women's groups and representatives of other disadvantaged population groups to promote their political participation.

Results

Milestones have been reached in this political reform process in the creation of fundamental conditions, for example formally enshrining decentralisation in the constitution and laws, and putting in place a national training strategy to benefit all stakeholders. The decision to transfer authority and responsibility to regions and local authorities was adopted for the four pilot areas of education, health, water and the environment in 2016.

As a result of the joint training activities supported by the project, cooperation between the deconcentrated state services and the communities has improved considerably.

The Centre de Formation en Gestion des Collectivités Territoriales (CFGCT), a training centre for elected and appointed officials and representatives of the local and regional authorities, has been set up and has begun operations, making another key contribution towards improving local skills and resources. The institute is also used by other development partners.

The preparation of plans and budgets on a participatory basis has been firmly established in selected communities. In 44 of the 51 partner communities, coordination forums provide a platform that the relevant social groups can use to discuss various municipal issues. Fifty-one partner communities have a forum for the development of municipal investment plans, and 27 communities have their own communication strategy, which facilitates transparency and participatory decision-making at municipal level. Nine pilot municipalities have already gained initial positive experience with participatory budgeting.

Participation by women and disadvantaged groups in the municipal political process has improved: In the 51 communities receiving advice, gender advisors are involved as gender focal points in decision-making in all major municipal bodies.