Decentralization: The Way Forward for Rural Development?
60 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: June 1995
Although decentralization initiatives have a long history, much more needs to be understood about various components of decentralization before sound advice can be given to policymakers. Special strategies are needed to address the widespread incidence of rural poverty in developing countries, but initiatives aimed at improving the rural standard of living have not consistently reduced poverty. Parker examines the rationale for a specific rural focus in poverty reduction programs and reviews recent attempts to encourage rural development. He discusses the role decentralization could play in rural development programs and analyzes recent efforts to implement decentralized rural development programs.
Parker concludes that although decentralization initiatives have a long history, much more needs to be understood about various components of decentralization before sound advice can be given to policymakers. He suggests a conceptual model - based on a souffle theory of decentralization - that incorporates the essential elements of political, fiscal, and institutional decentralization as they relate to rural development outcomes. Like a souffle that requires just the right combination of milk, eggs, and heat to rise, a successful program of decentralization must include just the right combination of political, fiscal, and institutional elements to improve rural development outcomes.
This paper - a product of the Sector Policy and Water Resources Division, Agriculture and Natural Resources Department - is part of a larger effort in the department to develop a new strategy for rural development. The study was partly funded by the Bank's Research Support Budget under the research project Decentralization, Fiscal Systems, and Rural Development (RPO 679-68).
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