Asian countries have introduced major reforms and new institutional mechanisms to promote the engagement of elected local governments, civil society and the private sector. This book attempts to examine emerging issues in democratic local governance and factors that influenced the impetus for and the substance of reforms. It asks: What have been challenges in designing and implementing decentralization policies and programs? What are the constraints on strengthening citizen participation? What is the impact of reforms to promote gender and rights perspectives in local governance? What is the role of local government in service delivery and access? How effective have the mechanisms for accountability and transparency in local governance been? What are the driving forces influencing democratic local governance reform?
This volume attempts to address these questions as it discusses studies from theoretical and comparative perspectives on specific issues as well as myriad cases across Asia, often dealing with country-specific reforms.
G. Shabbir Cheema is Director of the Asia Pacific Governance and Democracy Initiative and a Senior Fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Introduction, G. Shabbir Cheema
Promoting local governance through decentralization policies and programmes, James Manor
The challenges of service delivery and access: The role of local governments, Kadmiel Wekwete
Gender equality, local governance and state accountability: The challenge from Asia, Kamala Chandrakirana
Local government associations worldwide: Promoting democratic local governance, Anders Lidström
First person, virtual and collective: The new participation in rising cities, Tim Campbell
Decentralization and citizen participation in urban service delivery in India: Is institutionalizing enough? Priyam Das
Democratic local governance in Indonesia: Impacts of fiscal decentralization on provinces and Aceh, Wilmar Salim
Democratic local government in Pakistan, Noman Ahmed
Democratic local governance in Nepal: Reforms and innovations, Dwarika N. Dhungel
Conclusion, G. Shabbir Cheema
“This is a timely review of local governance in Asian countries written by a group of experienced academics and policy experts. The authors show where reforms and innovations have been taken but also point to the limits of decentralizing power in ways that secure better service delivery and citizen involvement. Among the policy implications identified and ably summarized by Shabbir Cheema are the needs for devolution not only of responsibilities but also resources to match these powers as well as the continued need for building capacity for local governance both among officials and in communities.”
— Goran Hyden, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Florida
“This is an excellent book that brings together cutting edge ideas, perspectives and comparative knowledge and practices on democratisation of local governance in Asia. This is a ‘must-read’ reference for policy makers, researchers and practitioners involved and interested in democratisation of local governance in Asia and elsewhere. Shabbir Cheema has once again proven his thought-leadership in bringing out another fruitful effort to bridge the gap between theory and practice in the area of democratic governance.”
— John Samuel, Global Advisor – Democratic Governance, Head of Global Programme on Governance Assessments, UNDP Oslo Governance Centre
“This book is an important contribution in advancing the knowledge on reforms and innovations in Asia. The authors provide readers with many important insights based on experiences from several countries in Asia. For policymakers and development practitioners it is a must read as it gives a strong message on how to strengthen democratic local governance. For the ICLD, this book will serve as an important tool in strengthening the capacity of the local government officials taking part in our training programmes and municipal partnerships.”
— Adiam Tedros, Programme Director, International Training Programme, Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD)
“As the world responds to climate chaos and other major challenges, releasing the creativity and energy of local people and institutions will be critical. The book provides up to date and historical context for how to strengthen democratic local governance in Asia as well as conceptual clarification and country case studies. It convincingly shows that decentralization is a necessary but insufficient reform to ensure people’s participation, gender equality, service delivery and accountability and transparency. Capacity development and partnership building are rightfully identified as necessary to ensure effective democratic local governance. As we have come to expect from Dr. Cheema, the book is essential reading for policy makers, international development practitioners, local officials, academics and citizens.”
— Robertson Work, Professor, Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, and former UNDP Principal Policy Advisor for Decentralized Governance