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Understanding Decentralisation and How to Support it; Seminar July 2009

The European Commission, like many other donor agencies, is providing growing levels of funds to support decentralisation and local governance in partner countries. At a recent seminar in Brussels, nearly 40 participants from some 25 delegations gathered to learn how development practitioners can strengthen the effectiveness of EC activity in this area with visiting experts from Burkina Faso, France, Madagascar, and Mali.

EuropeAid E4, in collaboration with European Centre for Development Policy Management, organised the first fully-fledged seminar in Brussels, from 6th to 10th July 2009.This followed two pilot workshops organised in Nicaragua in 2007 and Mali in 2008 on "Supporting decentralisation and local governance in third countries"

The event and discussions focused on: (1) the concept of decentralisation; (2) the challenges linked to policy dialogue on decentralisation; (3) decentralisation processes in fragile states; (4) political decentralisation and local governance; (5) fiscal decentralisation; (6) the links between decentralisation and poverty reduction; (7) the operational challenges linked to project cycle management, approaches and instruments.

Much of the week's events rested on the valuable input of external experts including Mr Ousman Sy (left), former Decentralisation Minister from the West African country of Mali, explained how decentralisation is an opportunity to rebuild the state and give it greater legitimacy, especially in countries with a history of weak institutions. Mr Sy emphasised the importance of decentralisation in reducing the gap between society and formal institutions.

A presentation by Mr. Antoine Sawadogo, former President of the Decentralisation National Commission in Burkina Faso, allowed the audience to critically reflect on current EC strategies and available instruments to support civil society in local governance processes.

Gerard Chambas, a researcher from the International Development Study and Research Centre (CERDI) and a consultant to large financial institutions, presented the concepts, concerns and pitfalls of fiscal decentralisation in sub-Saharan Africa. He also gave a workshop on the fundamentals of optimum taxation at the local level.

All those presentations can be watched in full in the link

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Jorge Rodriguez Bilbao
2 September 2011

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