Lubuulwa_whole_thesis.pdf (3.84 MB)
Putting decentralisation policy into practice in Uganda : a participatory action research study of local government empowerment for local economic development
thesisposted on 2023-05-28, 00:51 authored by Lubuulwa, KB
Chronic political instability and erratic economic management in most African countries since the implementation of self-rule in the 1950s has produced a record of persistent economic decline. This general problem of stalled African development has been linked to poor governance, a key proposed solution being political, administrative and/or financial decentralisation to empower communities to foster local economic development (LED). This thesis investigates the effectiveness of the decentralised governance approach. Combining a qualitative social science approach with the Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology, the study analyses the experience of decentralisation in two Ugandan communities from the perspective of those directly affected by it. Through PAR, it aimed to empower local government officials to obtain better outcomes for their communities by adopting a cycle of planning, action and reflection on the structure and operation of decentralisation policies and procedures. The research methods employed also included literature review of decentralised governance in pre- and post-colonial Uganda and content analysis of governmental and non-governmental organisation documents, supported by interviews, council meetings, and workshops with local governmental officials, with observation of local government practices. The study found that decentralisation as currently practiced leads to the disempowerment of local leaders via a lack of accountability, transparency, participation, financial systems practices, money-politics and alleged corruption, and deferential cultural orientations. However, the thesis also demonstrates how, through PAR, these decentralisation challenges were significantly reduced through gradual and continued conscientisation of local government officials via collective, community learning. The significance of the study lies in its highlighting the large gap between theories of decentralised local governance and on-the-ground practices.
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