Japan International Cooperation Agency
January 31, 2008
１．Introduction: Why decentralization
(‘ｄ’) and conflict prevention?
The collapse of centralized political
The rise of identity group politics,
reflecting various types of inequality
Question on how ‘ｄ’ could work for
the purpose of conflict prevention.
‘D’ is a broad concept
Political,administrative and financial
Territorial ‘d’ and non-territorial ‘d’.
‘D’ in a unitary and federal state.
Table 1. Examples of African decentralization (2007)
Decentralization type Country examples
Deconcentration with Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi,
nominal devolution Zambia
Devolution Mauritius, Uganda, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire,
Partial Devolution (urban Botswana, Namibia, Mozambique, Senegal
Federations/quasi federations South Africa, Ethiopia, Nigeria
Modified Version of Olowu, D (2003)
Power elite’s motivations for ‘d’
1. Governance Design
2. Public Sector Reform
3. Elite Capture
a. Governance Design
A motivation to make ‘d’ the determining
factor in governance of the country.
This is related to allocating power between
identity groups and historical backgrounds.
Democratization is also a major factor.
Respect to regional languages and cultures are
b. Public Sector Reform
This motivation seeks to use ‘d’ as a solution
for economic governance.
It is claimed that moving decision-making
authority and service providers closer to the
citizens is a better solution.
Donors are involved in the reform. Service
delivery to the poor has been stressed.
c. Elite Capture
A personal motivation of the power elite which
is inherent to ‘d’.
The patronage of the powerful exerts strong
control over politics and influences the
allocation of resources.
To get and share elite capture, the central and
local power elites collude.
2. Linkage between ‘D’ and Conflict
The overall factor of majority and minority
political dynamics affects 3 general
motivations for ‘d’.
These motivations produce a variety of
policy objectives for ‘d’.
Establishment of Governance
Suppression of Post-conflict Antagonism
Analytical Framework for ‘D’ and Conflict
A. B. C.
Social Establishment Suppression of
Development of Governance Post-conflict
‘D’ Ⓑ Ⓒ
Governance Public Sector Elite
Design Reform Capture
Political Dynamics between Majority and Minority
Source: created by the author. (Note): Arrows do not connect all motivations and objectives.
3.Conflict-related Objectives of ‘D’
A．Promotion of Social B．Establishment of C．Suppression of Post-
Type Development Governance conflict Antagonism
Effect ‘D’, through the fair ‘D’ strengthens the ‘D’ is introduced as an element
allocation of resources, elements of self for supporting power-sharing
promotes social determination for within post-conflict societies.
development and minorities through a set
maintains cooperation framework and the
amongst groups. government achieves
Risk Monopolization of Invigoration of local Promotes the artificial
resource allocation parties and systems lays maintenance of the current
between power elites in the groundwork for situation and prevents the
the central and local future separatist formation of intrinsic
governments. Leaving movements and governance.
intra-group inequality suppression of new
Relation- Easing of tension Acceptance of Directly puts the burden of
ship to between groups as a participation by conflict prevention on the
Conflict result of social minorities and the control shoulders of those involved in
development. of conflict. conflict.
A. ‘D’ for Promotion of Social
This type can lead to the elimination of
conflict by supplying services
Its results are seen in hindsight and diverse.
This type works well under countries with
steady economic growth, but does not work
well in countries with non-eco growth and
‘D’ for Promotion of Social Development
In Kenya and the Philippine, legislature-led
financial ‘d’ stands out, but no coordinated
relationship with administration; and
participation is weak.
The suggested risk of this type is domination
by power elites: the collusion between central
and local elites.
B. ‘D’ for Establishment of Governance
This Type clearly aims at conflict prevention
through governance framework.
Federalism, political ‘d’ and non-territorial ‘d’
(consociationalism, etc) are dominant forms.
Typical examples are Uganda and Ethiopia.
They have drastic formula for facilitating
participation with hidden motives of power
elites to control the states.
‘D’ for Establishment of Governance
Risks are that minority power elites are able to
increase their political power within ‘d’-ed
units and promote discontent with the central
‘D’ without public order becomes problematic.
C. ‘D’ for Suppression of Post-
Post-conflict ‘d’ is not easy. There is a risk of
disintegration and political re-centralization.
A typical policy is consociational democracy
which reflects devolution and power-sharing.
The interim constitution of South Africa in
1993 adopted this type, but has been replaced
by majority-rule politics.
‘D’ for Suppression of Post-conflict
Antagonism – Cont’d
The Risk is the fixation of present ethnicity
situation, externally driven process.
Using the country’s traditional allocation will
reignite discontent, while using new allocation
runs the risk of inefficiency.
４．Sierra Leone and DRC (at present)
Both belong to Type C (‘Post-Conflict’).
Similarity (tyrannical regime with neo-
patrimonial origins, highest level of poverty,
rich mineral resources).
Difference (size of land and population,
history of decolonization).
Sierra Leone (1)
RUF started insurrection in 1991. Internal
warfare persisted until 2001. Power-sharing
agreement in 1997 was soon broken down.
External interventions led the country to peace.
Historically, urban-biased policy has been
maintained. In 1972, the abolition of local
government councils made the chiefs
unchecked. Abuses by the chiefs are
considered main cause of war.
Sierra Leone (2)
At present, ‘d’ is necessary condition, but
involvement of chiefs would re-invigorate the
conditions that lead to another alienation.
Hostility against establishment shared by
rebels and soldiers need to be dissolved
through social fairness. Opportunity should be
provided to the young.
Mobutu was the worst neo-patrimonial ruler.
While his regime weakening, internal warfare
broke out in 1996. This war was assisted by
Rwanda and Uganda. In 1998, they attacked
new ruler, Kabila regime.
Pretoria peace agreement in 2002 brought in
power-sharing and transition government.
Eastern part of DRC, heavily damaged by war,
has been chaotic.
In the first election in 2006. Kabila defeated
Bemba. The new posts of the cabinet are
dominated by his party while old opposition
was eliminated. It means regional
confrontation (east and west).
The constitution stipulates provinces to
manage 40 % of national revenue. However,
resource-rich provinces are likely to oppose
the equalization fund.
Sierra Leone and DRC (past →future)
Both were Type A (‘social development’) or
non-existence of policy with low-record of
services. Inequality and exclusion were
common traits. ‘D’ as a governance measure is
necessary, but it is delicate task.
4. Implications: Policy Prescription
‘D’ could serve for improving equality and
enhancing social justice by potentially
lessening psychological discontent of minority
The state can be revived by adopting a best
framework of governance. ‘D’ is one of the
elements achieving better governance.
Implications: Transitional Patterns
Countries sometimes do not adopt appropriate
policy objectives. ‘D’ is transitory and reflects
the state of national reconciliation.
The governance-oriented ‘d’ engender a risk of
secession, but when mixed with the ‘d’ that
aims at social development and donor
assistance, the resistance would be alleviated.
Implications: Development Policies
The managers of donor agencies should take
account of the geography and the trends of
poverty and identity groups in targeting their
‘D’ policy needs to be viable for diminishing
the socio-economic imbalance of the regions.
They should recognize conflict prevention
potentials as well as the risks posed by ‘d’.
Implications: Development Policies
The mainstream approach of poverty
reduction is to focus on absolute poverty.
From the standpoint of conflict prevention,
inequality and relative poverty are also
When fairness in allocation is ensured
through ‘d’, minorities are likely to trust the