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Analyzing Decentralization: A Framework with south Asian and West African Environmental Cases

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:08 AM
Contributors: Arun Agrawal, Jesse C. Ribot

Since the early 1980s, decentralization has reemerged as a valued political and economic goal in most developing countries.1 According to a recent World Bank study, “out of 75 developing and transitional countries with populations greater than 5 million, all but 12 claim to be embarked on some form of transfer of political power to local units of government.”2 Advocates of decentralization justify it on grounds of increased efficiency, more thoroughgoing equity, and/or greater participation and responsiveness of government to citizens.3 Despite these claims, most decentralization efforts end up without increasing much the powers of local authorities or peoples.4 Decentralization of natural resource management, the focus of this paper, is especially intricate because it is not only about providing services efficiently. It also requires the devolution of real powers over the disposition of productive resources. In addition, it requires the resolution of divergent interests among a host of actors so that externalities associated with natural resource management are not disproportionately borne by any subgroup.

Author(s): Arun Agrawal , Jesse C. Ribot

Publication Date: 1999

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