Decentralization and Service Delivery

29 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2005

See all articles by Junaid Kamal Ahmad

Junaid Kamal Ahmad

World Bank

Shantayanan Devarajan

World Bank Middle East and North Africa Region

Stuti Khemani

World Bank; World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

Shekhar Shah

World Bank

Date Written: May 2005

Abstract

Dissatisfied with centralized approaches to delivering local public services, a large number of countries are decentralizing responsibility for these services to lower-level, locally elected governments. The results have been mixed. This chapter provides a framework for evaluating the benefits and costs, in terms of service delivery, of different approaches to decentralization, based on relationships of accountability between different actors in the delivery chain. Moving from a model of central provision to that of decentralization to local governments introduces a new relationship of accountability - between national and local policymakers - while altering existing relationships, such as that between citizens and elected politicians. Only by examining how these relationships change can we understand why decentralization can, and sometimes cannot, lead to better service delivery. In particular, the various instruments of decentralization - fiscal, administrative, regulatory, market, and financial - can affect the incentives facing service providers, even though they relate only to local policymakers. Likewise, and perhaps more significantly, the incentives facing local and national politicians can have a profound effect on the provision of local services. Finally, the process of implementing decentralization can be as important as the design of the system in influencing service delivery outcomes.

Suggested Citation

Ahmad, Junaid Kamal and Devarajan, Shantayanan and Khemani, Stuti and Shah, Shekhar, Decentralization and Service Delivery (May 2005). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 3603. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=753505

Junaid Kamal Ahmad (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Shantayanan Devarajan

World Bank Middle East and North Africa Region ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Stuti Khemani

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/skhemani

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Shekhar Shah

World Bank

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

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