Good governance is the foundation for economic growth and stability in developing countries. A responsive and efficient government should protect its citizens and deliver such basic services as water, schools, and health care. It should also engage citizens in government.
Urban Institute experts have provided research and technical assistance on local governance in more than 70 countries around the world. The core of our work is in improving delivery and financing of public services, strengthening public management and performance measurement, encouraging civic engagement, combating corruption through accountability and increased transparency, and enhancing local governments' role in economic development.
Sierra Leone is a small West African country with approximately 6 million people. Since 2002, the nation has made great progress in recovering from a decade-long civil war, in part due to consistent and widespread support for decentralization and equitable service delivery. Three rounds of peaceful elections have strengthened democratic norms, but more work is needed to cement decentralization reforms and strengthen local governments. This paper examines decentralization progress to date and suggests several next steps the government of Sierra Leone can take to overcome the remaining hurdles to full implementation of decentralization and improved local public service delivery.
Although many developing and transition countries are pursuing fiscal decentralization reforms, the debate surrounding the relationship between revenue decentralization and economic growth has not yet been fully resolved. While proponents of decentralization suggest that local own source revenue collections are generally evidence of an effective local public sector, a contrasting view holds that revenues collected by weak and non-responsive local governments tend to negatively affect economic growth. Our analysis suggests that the relationship between revenue decentralization and economic growth differs considerably for different groups of countries, but does not find any evidence for the hypothesis that revenue decentralization suppresses economic growth.
The local public sector delivers services crucial for achieving sustainable and inclusive development. However, little is known about the extent to which the structure of a country's public sector contributes to successful service delivery outcomes. With USAID's support, the Urban Institute analyzed the vertical allocation of resources within the public sector in ten developing countries. Results show considerable variation in the degree to which financial resources flow to the local public sector (from less than 20 percent to over 50 percent), and a positive relationship appears to exist between the size of the local public sector and government effectiveness.
The trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program for firms was authorized by the Trade Act of 1974, to assist manufacturing firms adversely affected by increased international trade with companies that produce products imported at increased levels and have declining sales and employment. The report presents the analyses and findings of business management, technical assistance and current processes provided to firms.
Industrialized countries typically spend 50% or more of public sector resources to fund public services at the local level including public health services, access to drinking water, local infrastructure development, and so on. In contrast, developing economies typically dedicate a much smaller share of public resources to front-line service delivery within the local public sector. In countries like Bangladesh or Egypt, only about 20% of all public sector spending trickles down to the local level for service delivery. Dr. Jamie Boex, a Senior Research Associate, discusses the ramifications of this for international development and how The Urban Institute's Local Public Sector Initiative plays a role.