Why is decentralization still a silver bullet?
I realize there are plenty of development practitioners who are very aware of the limits of decentralization, but it’s still treated as somewhat of a silver bullet in the industry in general. The recent election administration problem in DRC – where decentralization is one of the key goals of donors – is a perfect demonstration of what is wrong with this line of thinking.
The central government in Kinshasa can’t afford to move election equipment to its country and we think that dividing the country to 26 new states will make things easier? How will each of those government administrations be able to procure election equipment for their local elections?
The short answer is, they couldn’t. Unfortunately, donors often view decentralization as an end in itself, rather than asking what greater goal it should serve.