Uganda’s decentralization policy was introduced by Government in 1992 in order to enable citizens to have more say in determining their affairs and to improve on the provision of services. In the past, most of the decisions were made at Central Government level, which made the system undemocratic and provision of services very difficult.
Specifically, the policy was aimed at achieving the following objectives:
- Transfer real powers to local governments and thus reduce the workload of remote under-resourced central officials;
- Bring political and administrative control over services to the point where they are actually delivered, and thereby improve accountability and effectiveness, and promote people’s feeling of “ownership” of programmes and projects executed in their local governments;
- Free local managers from central government constraints and enable them to develop effective and sustainable organizational structures that are tailored to local circumstances;
- Improve financial accountability and responsibility by establishing a clear link between payment of taxes and provision of services;
- Improve the capacity of local authorities to plan, finance and manage the delivery of services;
- Enhance local economic development in order to increase local incomes and expand local revenue bases.
The decentralization policy reform has registered significant progress towards realization of its objectives. The reform was never meant to be simply a policy decision to shift responsibility for development from central government to local government, but rather, a policy instrument aimed at sharing of power and improving local democracy, whilst improving effectiveness and efficiency in the use of scarce public resources.
Although the policy continues to be popular, most especially with its best practices, a number of inconsistencies in service delivery and program management approaches have manifested in Local Governments. During the Joint Annual Review of Decentralization of 2004, it was reported that some actors noted inconsistencies in service delivery approaches which do not match with the decentralization framework. Decentralization policy is regarded as a fully independent and autonomous unit as states within a state, an attitude that was further reinforced by the observed trend to employ the “sons and daughters of the soil” within local governments, conflict of interest in procurements and consequently leading to poor quality service delivery, corruption and abuse of office.
This, therefore, raised a need to develop a guideline on consistent and best practices in service delivery and programme management approaches in local governments in order to sensitize the population on the intentions, principles and benefits of the decentralization policy.
The Government of Uganda with support from the United Nations Development Programme, therefore, wishes to proceed to conduct a study to identify inconsistencies and best practices in service delivery and programme management and develop principles to guide service delivery and management approaches that will be used in nation-wide sensitization programmes.
The objective of this assignment is to conduct a study to identify inconsistencies and best practices in service delivery and program management approaches and develop principles to guide service delivery and programme management in local governments including CSOs for use in the sensitization programmes.
Uganda implements the policy of democratic decentralization. Under this policy, powers have been transferred to popularly elected local government leaders in such areas as; planning, financial management, administration, legislation and administration of local justice.
In order to realize efficient and effective service delivery in the areas mentioned above and to address the challenge caused by programmes being implemented in Local Governments using different and often contradicting approaches which undermine, stretch Local Government resources and confuse beneficiaries, the local governments and other stakeholders need to be well informed on how to implement the decentralization policy in order to achieve its set objectives. There is, therefore, a need to identify inconsistencies, best practices and develop principles to guide service delivery and program management approaches for use in sensitization programmes of the local government officials for better implementation of the decentralization policy.
The guideline is intended to achieve the following objectives among others:
- To create awareness on key issues of decentralization including its objectives and implication on service delivery;
- To give a wider public awareness on the vision and political will behind the decentralization policy;
- To enable the local councilors access key decentralization reference materials;
- To empower all local council officials and the general public on all aspects of participatory planning, budgeting and service delivery in Local Governments;
- To highlight the roles and obligations of citizens, NGOs, CSOs etc;
- Standardize approaches to Programme implementation in Local Governments by all players.