Accountable, effective local governance as pathway for inclusive service access
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing a multitude of humanitarian and social challenges largely due to a centralised governance system. Building good local governance where citizens can access services and influence decisions affecting them, is one critical foundation for addressing those challenges.
Appui à la Gouvernance Inclusive et Redevable (AGIR), works to increase access and quality of public services and broader participation in decision-making in Haut-Katanga province. The projects work with six so called “ETDs” (local government units) in Haut-Katanga province and facilitates improved interactions between key stakeholders in the province.
ETDs – a key to implement the decentralisation legislation
Based on a pre-study conducted in 2021, SALAR identified its added value in supporting local authorities – Entités Territoriales Décentralisées (ETDs) through tailor-made accompaniment. ETDs are the tier of government closest to the citizen. However, they face a legitimacy challenge since there have been no local elections held in DRC, which means they are not represented by people who have been elected. By supporting more effective, transparent, and inclusive forms of governance at this level, the project can contribute to building trust between citizens and politicians. This is done by supporting access to information and creating spaces for dialogue and interaction between citizens and decision makers. At ETD level the project can also influence improvements in service delivery, primarily by helping the administrations to use their resources in more effective and innovative ways. This is expected to lead to concrete changes for citizens, which are created by ETDs (and not an external actor).
AGIR targets six ETDs in strengthening their organisational governance capacities and their roles as providers of basic services to citizens. Further, the project will facilitate interactions with the provincial levels– to promote exchange among ETDs in the province. This initiative will reach beyond the six partner ETDs. Such a broad dialogue can address issues that many ETDs share and help find solutions for more conducive local governance conditions.
Nurturing local expertise
Congolese partners in civil society will play a key role in AGIR. In implementing the strategies to achieve the expected results, AGIR is working with several civil society and expert organisations. The Congolese partners are the flagship structure of the project and will ensure continuity and sustainability of the achievements. SALAR and partners will develop methods and strategies together, with an emphasis on exchanging good practices.
Linking practice into national processes
The project contributes to implementing DRC government priorities to advance the countries decentralisation process. AGIR will promote this process in two directions. Firstly, theoretical and practical assistance to ETD will help them comply with legal regulations and make use of centrally developed tools, guidelines, and standards. This is useful for instance for budgeting and participatory local planning. Secondly, the project will help the ETDs to identify challenges or improvements, which are needed at local level. This information can then be used as evidence to influence the debate on national level on how to improve conditions for ETDs. Therefore, AGIR keeps close dialogue with key stakeholders on national level.
These are the key results which are expected to come out of the AGIR project.
- Clarified mandates, defined roles and responsibilities in ETDs.
- ETDs introduce complementary tools for efficient and realistic planning and budgeting processes.
- ETDs strengthen capacities for local public revenue mobilisation.
- Participatory mechanisms strengthen skills and participation to local finance/ resource management.
- ETDs increased awareness of benefits and methods for citizen engagement around service design and delivery.
- ETDs strengthen skills and tools to design services so that they respond to diverse needs in the population (gender, age, PWD, environment etc.)
- ETDs increase capacity to efficiently implement and monitor services.
- Community-based organisations, particularly those led by women and youth, enhance preconditions for participation in public service design and implementation through targeted skill building.
- Relevant, sound evidence and information on local governance produced and disseminated.
- ETDs enhance mutual interactions through exchange.
- Platforms of exchange between ETDs and Provincial level actors supported.