Summary of decentralization and rural development documents produced by SDA, 1997

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Summary of decentralization and rural development documents produced by SDA, 1997

1. FAO experience in decentralized rural development

This document presents an analysis of the risk of decentralization and FAO assets in creating favorable decentralization conditions. The identification of decentralization risks, and considering FAO assets, make it possible to propose a decentralization model (RED-IFO), based on the one hand, on a regionalization methodology of demands and differentiation of policies, and on the other hand, on three support policies: access to information, training, and organization. FAO experience is classified along three dimensions with different lines of action:

  • public institutions, whose fields of action are agricultural production, training and the restructuring of institutions.
  • civil society, whose three fields of action are promoting soil management projects, participatory extension programs, and people's participation programs and the restructuring of peasant organizations.
  • local government, whose two lines of action are the local level of government as poles of rural development and building interfaces between local and national governments.

2. Document analysis in decentralized rural development

This publication is the result of a review of documents produced by FAO in its activities which deal directly or indirectly with rural development decentralization. This review also incorporates publications of other institutions (World Bank, FIDA, and CFDE) chosen because they give a clear analysis of decentralization. The document comprises a group of analytical and synthetic data on each of the 59 texts selected.

The texts have been classified according to the exact fields they cover and are presented under seven major headings:

  1. training, extension services, and research (five files);
  2. soil management (six files);
  3. municipalities and rural development (two files);
  4. decentralized planning, restructuring institutions, and managing agricultural support services (ten files);
  5. special programs, poverty, employment and food security (eight files);
  6. people's participation (eighteen files); and
  7. the role of regions, local development programs, and rural communities (ten files).

3. RED-IFO a model for analyzing decentralization

This document proposes a systemization of FAO experience, in a participatory decentralization model called RED-IFO. This model starts by acknowledging that there is a legacy of centralized policies of rural development which must be taken into account to identify risks attached to decentralization. Five major risks are presented:
  1. the replacement of supply-driven policies by demand-driven policies
  2. disparity in access to information which does not facilitate the coordination of activities
  3. institutional voids and diminishing support services
  4. capture of decentralization by local elite; and
  5. institutional rigidity.

Taking into account these risks allows the model to suggest a decentralization methodology (regionalization of demands and differentiation of policies) and a set of support policies (information, training, organization). The methodology recommends the necessity of creating and reinforcing intermediate representative associations of all rural populations, whose role would be to be the central link in the dialogue between the state and other actors in rural development. The model recommends the creation of institutions by rural populations themselves.

4. Institutional Systems Analysis (ISA): Proposals for a Methodology. Paniagua, R.

The working group IG1 of the SDA division of FAO is developing analytical instruments and proposals on rural development institutions by reinforcing its exchange activities, and building on information on this theme, as well as its comparative analytical capacity on the ongoing experiments, in different regions of the world. The principal direction of this work on institution building involves restructuring of institutions, decentralization, and the role of regional interfaces and local governments. To do this IG1 has proposed to put in place an analytical tool on institutional systems known as ISA, which would be an internal (FAO) information management system, an access point to other information networks, and a strategic watch system on information pertinent to the work of IG1.

This document presents a summary of desirable characteristics of ISA, and proposes some strategic decisions before the launching of this analytical tool. After that, the document discusses in greater detail the problem of institutional systems analysis, and research areas on decentralization resulting from that.

5. The Role of the Region: Proceedings of the Regional Workshop on Local Development/Strategic Frameworks Interface. Praia, 10-18 May 1998.

FAO organized a workshop entitled "Local Development/Strategic Frameworks Interface: The Role of the Region. It was interesting to review current knowledge and practice which contribute toward the preparation at national even international level, of large development programs, especially those in favor of environmental protection, the fight against desertification, or the eradication of poverty, in comparing their general formulation with other methods of intervention in the rural areas, which require a participatory approach at the local level, for example, village development, soil management, etc.

This document is an interesting and exhaustive review of the discussions in this workshop which was attended by thirty or so people from the Sahale region of Africa, the Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco), Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cap-Verde, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Senegal. The analysis of experiences was followed by the presentation of the RED-IFO model for decentralization, and the LEADER program of the European Union. The major discussions presented in this document are on institutions, participation and the role of the region.

6. Restructuring Rural Institutions: Principles and Methods, Lessons from FAO Experience. Nadir, M.T.

This text analyses the context of recent experience in the restructing of rural institutions, to which FAO contributed its experience, as well as the new trends in political democratization he and economic liberalization, which reduce the sphere of intervention of the state in favor of civil society. The document explains the type of support that FAO has contributed to public institutions of the rural sector, in their effort to adapt to the new economic context. The author shows how FAO has been able, in the institutional arena, to define and perfect its methods and analytical instruments and models of organization, after putting them into practice in real situations.

The report presents in detail the objectives, basic principles and the phases of institution restructuring, the methodologies followed by governments for implementing this restructuring, as well as the impact of the process on human resources and the recommended support measures The document ends by presenting some examples of restructuring in Benin, Ivory Coast and Togo, while drawing the major lessons of these efforts.

7. La Municipalizacion del desarrollo rural en Americana latina: situacion actual y perspectivas

This document affirms that the challenge of the economic and political reform process in Latin America involves basically the need to restructure institutions and the modalities for policy formulation, to ensure greater representation, participation and transfer of responsibilities. The municipalization of development is thus analyzed as one of the most promising avenues in the region for ensuring equitable and sustainable rural development. The document presents the main results of the deliberations organized byFAO and CLACSO on municipalities, their structures, the scope of their interventions. It also presents the future tasks for achieving true municipalization of rural development.

The document specifically analyses the experience of social investment funds, and the modalities for participation that they put in place, and presents three case studies a) municipal development in Nicaragua, b) citizen participation as a line of change in Bolivia, and c) the problems of municipalization in Colombia. The conclusion of these analyses is that the link between municipalization and decentralization has not been clearly established, which limits the scope of these processes.

8. Farmers' Associations: A Model for Representation, Tool for Farmer Participation. Nadir, M.T.

This document synthesizes different aspects of FAO experience in creating and building farmer representation organizations. The goal of these interventions was to give farmers their due place in civil society, in facilitating their access to economic channels, and the integration of their activities into the general economy. The main lines of this experience are a) the restructuring of farmers' organizations with economic goals, to transform them into professional units, effectively and profitably managed by farmers; b) establishing professional organizations whose mission would be to represent farmers and to participate on their behalf in the formulation and implementation of rural development policies and programs.

After presenting the problems created by the lack of representation of farmers, the author presents an institutional medel (farmers's associations) to ensure their representation. Their principles, functions, local, regional and national organization are presented in detail. In the last section of the text, the author presents some examples of restructuring, or creation of farmers' associations in Mali, Togo, and in the Maghreb countries.

9. Decentralization: The Indian Experience. Gaiha, R.

The analyses of this document are on different phases of decentralization of planning in India, based on the constitutional principle of reinforcement of the Panchayats, as a local autonomous institution. The document specifically points out the problems of this process in the reinforcement of links between national public institutions, the Panchayats, and rural organizations, in the context of anti-poverty programs. The document includes a presentation of the structure and organization of Panchayats, an analysis of the problems of implementing the process of decentralized planning.

The author proposes some directions on the required reforms to make decentralization more efficient: "The first issue is selection of activities. Unless the organisation responds to a felt need of the community, it is unlikely to attract participants. Experience suggests that the participation of members is usually better when they have a financial stake. Finally, overburdening of an organization with multiple objectives must be avoided as it could stifle its growth. Management capacities grow gradually. Once an organization becomes viable, it could diversify its activities", (p. 17).

10. The Reconstruction of Rural Institutions. Gordillo, G.

The text presents the basic concepts for the understanding of the process of restructuring of rural institutions, both from the point of view of state reforms, and the dynamics of rural communities and peasant organizations. The general context is the construction of a new development model, which is more productive, equitable and sustainable, and whose central goal is the establishment of a path for growth resulting from the building of a consensus, that gives stability, certainty and direction to agricultural policy.

The basic contribution of the author is that he does not see restructuring of institutions simply as a change in the organization and the functions of the state, but more generally, as the reform of the whole set of rules and conventions by consultation and social interaction. The text analyses the new trends in training and implementation of rural policies, the structural changes in the links between the municipalities and rural areas, and the reform of policies and modalities of intervention by the state. This approach allows him to show the link between the strengthening of democracy, especially in rural areas, and economic efficacy, and to suggest a key role for the local level in the new development strategies.

11. New Trends in Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation: the Concept of Participatory Institutional Development. Baas, S.

This document starts with a historical review of prior experiences in rural development. After this historical exploration, discusses the specific challenges in rural development, in the arid, marginalized zones, with low production potential. More specifically, the text analyses some of the essential components of rural development and the fight against poverty, which have become increasingly important in recent years, namely, the transfer of responsibilities to local communities, participation and institution building.

The author draws lessons from past efforts in development, the failure of which are associated with the lack of citizen participation, the weakness of local governments, and the bias toward commercial agriculture, without mentioning the insignificant role given to women in development strategies. Based on this outcome, the author proposes some avenues to improve rural development methodologies, and to fight against poverty, with special consideration for arid zones.

12. CaseStudies on the Impact of Decentralization: Bangladesh. Mujeri, M.K.J. and L.S. Singh.

This text analyses the long history of the decentralization process in Bangladesh and its impact on rural development. The impetus for decentralization has been the demand for autonomy from local governments, which were given an increasing number of functions. A key element in this process was the 1971 constitution, following independence, and which stipulates that "the responsibilities of local government in each administrative unit of the Republic must be accorded to local organs composed of persons elected according to law (p. 4). The author analyses the reasons for the unsatisfactory implementation of decentralization, in spite of a reasonably favorable legal framework.

The building of local government institutions is the most recent means that governments propose to advance in decentralization. The document analyses the modalities of institution building, and the functions assigned to each type of local institution. One chapter is specifically devoted to the role of municipalities and the process of devolution. In this context the relationship between the local and central governments and the impact on rural development seem to be quite problematic, and deserve a special chapter on conclusions and recommendations.

13. CaseStudies on the Impact of Decentralization: Philippines. Gonzalez, R. P.

This document sets out to demonstrate that the process of decentralization the Philippines, in spite of a history of highly centralized government, has succeeded in implementing a code governing local governments, whose principal characteristics are given in great detail. The strengthening of local governments was followed by a more general process of economic liberalization, disengagement of the state, citizen participation in the mechanisms of decision-making : "devolution and decentralization have marked Philippine government policies over the past ten years. The emergent thinking is that while central government provides the broad policy framework and social environment, it is the

Local Government Units (LGUs), private sector and civil society entities who shall act as the prime engines for growth, equity and sustainability" (p. 5).

LGUs have extensive responsibilities in the fight against poverty. The author devotes part of his text to analyze poverty in the Philippines. Following this analysis he discusses the main characteristics of the code on local governments of 1991, the positive results and problems associated with its implementation.

14. Italian Lessons on the Relations between Civil Society and Public Administration in the context of Decentralization. FAO and CERFE

In the first section the document identifies recent trends in decentralization, and its challenges. The Italian case is relevant because of the importance that Italy has given to municipalization within decentralization, and by the ability this country has shown in institutional innovation. According to the authors, these two characteristics seem quite relevant for developing countries.

One characteristic which the document discusses in detail is the relationship between decentralization and public administration reform. This relationship enables us to understand the opportunities, potential, risks and the implicit obstacles in decentralization. Of equal importance is the relationship between public administration and civil society, which accounts for the accumulation of social capital and attachment to civic duties, upon which depend to a large extent the effectiveness of institutions : "studies on the subject have shown that in Italy the efficiency of its public institutions at local and regional levels is at present much higher where there are well established civic traditions and a wealth of

social capital (p. 8). Training, information and implementation of decentralization are also treated exhaustively.

15. Decentralization Processes and Traditional Power: A Classification of Policies. Bako-Arifari, N.

The document presents the role that traditional institutions can play to give momentum to, or to slow down decentralization. According to the author, these institutions are today witnesses and actors in decentralization policies : they are vehicles for society-building programs, values of local democracy, local development, promotion of civil society, citizen participation and good governance, emphasizing above all, merit, attained positions, and structures of belonging. That is, values which are the opposite of legal patrimony, registers of traditional legitimacy, inherited statutory positions, which serve as structural support for traditional institutions, even if one evokes the potential links of solidarity and the practice of proximity which they conceal.

Fhe policies adopted in relation to these institutions within the framework of a decentralization policy can be different but has an impact on the decentralization itself. That is why the text establishes a classification of different government actions toward them: policies of integration, association, strategies of adaptation, strategies of the informal and finally policies of exclusion.

16. Preliminary Analysis of a Questionnaire on Decentralization: Outline of a Typology. Bonnal, J. and P. Muheim.

To better understand decentralization processes, the SDA division of FAO designed a questionnaire on the main characteristics and modalities for decentralization in the agricultural and rural development sector. This questionnaire was sent to 20 countries that had undertaken a decentralization process recently, or not too long ago. Bonnal and Mulheim's text is a working hypothesis based on this questionnaire. Based on a sample of 20 countries and variables judged to be the most pertinent, the authors have attempted to establish a classification of decentralization.

The classification distinguishes "two initial groups: the centralized countries (8 countries) and the decentralized countries (12 countries). The latter group can be further divided into two sub-groups: countries characterised by a high degree of local/regional autonomy (6 countries), thus indicating the pre-eminence of the sub-national levels of government in the decentralization process, and countries where the central government leads the process of decentralization with strongly codified and active initiatives such as reform of central level institutions or policy procedures (6 countries)", p. 3.