Strengthening local governance and service delivery in Iraq - Phase 2
For over a decade, SALAR International has been working with central, regional, and local partners in Kurdistan region as well as in the south, enhancing capacities to help develop local governance and promote stability in Iraq.
Local Governments, as the closest structures to the citizens, are mandated to provide basic public services, and address citizen’s day-to-day needs and priorities, thus help promote stability. This can be achieved if states give sufficient attention to the decentralised local governance structures as well as systems in the country. Iraq’s experience of decentralisation offers some preliminary affirmation of the desirable impact of attention to this importance, even if the benefits are not fully realised yet given the political, social, and capacity factors. It’s imperative that the local governorates in Iraq possess sufficient capacity, and political will, to fulfil core governance functions to meet citizen’s expectations and demands, thus ensuring social contract between state and the society, and promoting stability.
The project ‘Local Governance Development in Iraq – LOGDEVI phase 2’ builds on the long experience of SALAR International (as a part of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions) and its partner IRFAD - an Iraqi NGO, working with local governance development in Iraq. LOGDEVI 2 is the continuation of the Sida-funded Local Governance Development in Iraq (LOGDEVI) project 2018-2023. It builds on the robust results achieved under the previous phase and continues supporting decentralization systems and processes in the country. The unique long-term partnerships between SALAR International and IRFAD as well as the central, regional and local authorities in Iraq have produced significant results and helped develop capacities, build trustful relations and well-established channels of dialogue within public administration.
A systems approach & institutional building
LOGDEVI 2 applies a systems approach to local governance. Being systemic is about acknowledging that there is institutional multiplicity in all social systems and that the links between different parts of a system also needs to be understood and addressed. Local governments are actors belonging in local, regional, national, and international systems. As important as the internal processes are, it is in the relationship and interaction with other actors in a system where functionality is ultimately manifested. The features of national policy making, or e.g. level of central government institutional support or interference are key components in local governance development and service delivery. This aspect is crucial in a severely centralised country like Iraq and therefore LOGDEVI 2 engages with different levels of the government system to address local challenges.
Although there are aspects of service delivery improvements in LOGDEVI 2 the key focus is more often on institutional development. This is grounded in empirical evidence that without clarity in roles and responsibilities within and between organisations, sufficient internal systems, effective financial management and administrative procedures, transparent decision-making, and needed policy, programming and planning capacities – any direct investment in basic services might be short-lived and wasteful.
Focusing on three results areas
LOGDEVI 2 supports targeted local governorates in Diwaniyah, Muthana, Anbar and Dohuk to become more effective, inclusive and accountable, collaborate and coordinate constructively with federal and regional authorities, and provide services responding to the needs of vulnerable groups of men, women, boys and girls. More specifically, they will be supported to:
- Strengthen their policy formulation and fact-based planning capacities,
- Possess more effective local financial management and budgeting processes, and
- Enhance local systems of protection for vulnerable groups
The principle guidelines that LOGDEVI 2 adopts provide a cohesive framework for the implementation and include:
- a systems approach to local governance,
- local ownership and demand-based interventions,
- adaptation and incremental planning,
- conflict sensitivity and a human-rights based approach,
- gender equality and environmental sustainability,
- building on SALAR and Swedish municipal experience.
Local initiatives aimed at influencing policy changes
LOGDEVI 2 continues supporting governorates of Diwaniyah, Muthanna and Dohuk, and expands its support to the governorate of Anbar. Nevertheless, all governorates in Iraq continue to be engaged in various ways, and a close collaboration is maintained with federal authorities in Erbil and Baghdad regions. Successful local-driven initiatives that are tested and piloted in the targeted governorates will be shared by the central authorities to other local governorates, thus promoting local initiatives influencing policy changes for greater benefit where project results contributing beyond the targeted governorates.