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A strongly centralized system of government has been a major factor in the governance and service delivery shortcomings witnessed in Cameroon. The main goal of this study was to examine the nature of decentralized local governance and how its function translates into rural development in Cameroon. Specifically, this research identifies the impact of local governments on socio-economic change; analyze the increased realization of projects made through decentralization of local governments in rural development and evaluate local community participation in determining rural development initiatives. Structural Functionalism Theory, System Theory. Cultural theory, Institutional Public Policy Approach and the participatory model of development were used in this study. The research adopts the mixed research methodology which involves the use of quantitative and qualitative method in data collection. Questionnaires were used as one of the tools for primary data collection for this study.

Both open ended and closed ended questions were used in the questionnaire so as to enable us achieve our research objectives while interviews were used to collect qualitative data. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to summarized and draw inferences from the results. the ineffectiveness in the implementation of decentralization at the local government in Ekondo Titi have a positive and statistical significant effect on the construction of roads and educational infrastructure, the Local government influences the construction of road and educational infrastructure (p-value of 0.000), and also decentralisation of local government has increased the coverage rate of rural water and electricity projects (p-value, 0.023) and lastly Local development stakeholder’s participation and inclusion contribute to the success of HIMO projects and Keep-clean days (p-value, 0.041)  Looking at the qualitative results, the findings revealed  that the measures to ensure effective project delivery include; effective project management system. Effective project management systems address risk in ways that enhance the delivery process. Managing risks involves identification, assessment, quantification, prioritization, and deliberate actions focused on the big-picture objectives;efficiency and effectiveness in the allocation of resources



1.1 Background To the study

Decentralization is all the rage in government across the world. Beyond the much-discussed concerns of subsidiarity in the European Union, as well as state’s rights in the U.S., decentralization has been a major policy experiment in a significant number of emerging economies throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia for more than two decades now. World Bank has adopted it as one of its main governance changes (Burki, 1999: 57). Chinese industrial progress in the previous two decades has been attributed to decentralization, which has primarily occurred in China’s non-state, non-private sector. It was at the same time that India began a significant economic reform programme in the early 1990s that it introduced a historic constitutional revision in favour of decentralization.

Everywhere, the centralized state has lost credibility due to its numerous failures, and decentralization is seen as a promising alternative. By fragmenting central authority and increasing intergovernmental cooperation and checks and balances, it is often proposed as a method to reduce the role of the state in general. To make government more responsive and efficient, it is regarded as a solution. Technologies have made it possible to offer public services (such as power and water supply) in smaller market regions more effectively, and lower levels of government are now better able to perform some responsibilities than they were previously. When ethnic disputes and separatist movements are widespread, decentralization is seen as a method to diffuse tensions on both the social and political levels, as well as ensuring local cultural and political independence.

Decentralization’s potential advantages have drawn a wide range of followers. By way of an example, free-market economists prefer to stress the benefits of decreasing state authority. There are certain international organizations that use decentralization as a synonym for privatization. In the literature on mechanism design, an informationally decentralized system of individual decisions coordinated by a pricing mechanism is compared to a system of central orders and plans. People who believe in the pervasiveness of market failures increasingly look to local government for their solutions, where transaction costs are low and information issues that might lead to central government failures are less acute than at the federal level (Pranab, 2002: 32)

Researchers in public administration and development economics have recently focused on the link between decentralization and local economic growth. One of the biggest issues confronting governments throughout the globe is improving public goods and service delivery, especially in terms of their influence on economic development. How central government activities are decentralized, and how well these sub-national entities are able to produce and mobilize resources in order to bring about the much-needed local economic growth, impact the quality and efficacy of service delivery (Hilhorst, 2010: 39).

Across Africa, decentralisation has become one of the most persistent reformation processes (Therkildsen 2000:61). Decentralisation has been embraced and implemented in many African countries during the past three decades with the hope that it will assist handle major national development issues (social, political, and economic) and, above all, assure general economic and national stability. For nations, the necessity to deconstruct the state’s mostly imperial role and emphasize decentralised governance has been reinforced by this effort to achieve social and economic growth within this setting (Sakyi, 2008). Because these economies were largely dependent on development help, donors may have pressed them to decentralise in exchange for assistance; this approach also allowed donor organizations to pursue their worldwide development portfolios (Lange 2008, 2008).Over 80 percent of developing nations, according to (Crawford, 2009), have participated in some kind of decentralisation as a result of this.

Most of these developing countries that implemented decentralisation hoped that it would help reduce the central function of the state, redistribute political and administrative responsibilities, ensure an emphasis on efficiency,strengthen accountability, and change values and attitudes, among other glorious benefits (Therkildsen, 2000).Additionally, the implementation of decentralisation programmes is motivated by a structural revolution that not only helps overhaul structures and institutions, but also retunes public services and realigns them with needs for improved efficacy, responsiveness, and performance” (Curristine et al., 2007). Decentralised initiatives would accomplish both developmental and democratic benefits, according to Crawford and Hartmann (2008: 121), and government would become more relevant at the local level by allowing citizens to have greater control over public affairs.

To enhance people’s lives and build new government machinery and management systems that are efficient and effective, these perspectives are in line with the basic goals of public sector reforms. So, (Wunsch et Olowu , 1990) point out that, due to many previously problematic centralised state activities, decentralisation has not only become a means of dealing with an ever-increasing desire for efficiency and effectiveness in the provision of public services, but is also central to many national and international development agendas.

This is also true for Cameroon. As Inkoom, (2011: 393) points out, decentralisation was intended to bring government closer to the people, allowing them to make more informed decisions and better respond to their concerns. In Cameroon, some believe it was the result of lessons learned through structural adjustment and economic recovery initiatives, together with a reaction to assistance conditions that were in place at the time (Sakyi, 2008: 11). Cameroon’s governmental institutions, according to Olowu, (1999: 23), are outdated and incapable of delivering services that directly benefit their citizens. As a result of these shortcomings, Cameroon has been criticized for its ineffectiveness and widespread corruption. The political and administrative structures, according to Ayee, (2013: 623), have failed to self-sustain for a long time. Cameroon’s government, bureaucracy, and state-owned companies grew at an unsustainable rate as a result. When it comes to public service expansion, for example, he points out that it was out of sync with the national economic growth rate, which was estimated to have decreased to 0.2 percent per annum from about 1.3% per annum between 1965 and 1984, for example (ibid, 2005: 29). As a result, by the early 1980s, all government expenditures were devoted to paying wages.

Despite the fact that Cameroon has been decentralising for over three decades, resulting in complex structures and procedures, the country is still unable to accomplish the desired developmental progress, or attain the envisioned structural and procedural effectiveness and efficiency (Inkoom 2011: 131).Through decentralised local government, Cameroon has been unable to grow and alter its society to comparable levels of its developed country peers (Conyers, 2007:56). Cameroon’s problematic attempts to achieve the predicted spectacular social transformation through decentralised activities have been hindered in part by how policy or programme goals, implementation design, and resource availability may have impacted on the attainment of stated goals thus far.

Policy implementation failure, as Sakyi (2008: 11) argues, continues to define the African development experience, and is exacerbated by lack of political and bureaucratic commitment, limited local ownership, poor or compromised coordination and a failure to link the policy with broader political, economic, governance and institutional development. Because of this, efforts look generally unsuccessful in attaining the intended socio-economic development and, in recent years, likely poverty reduction duties. Overall, Cameroon and many other African countries were forced to decentralise because of both endogenous and external factors. According to the company, a localized service delivery model would help it meet its social and economic development goals. After over 30 years of implementation, decentralisation has failed to bring about the expected improvements in public service delivery and, as a result, has resulted in minimal socio-economic change at the local level (Conyers 2007: 56). For these reasons, this thesis relies on an empirical contextual study of the underlying variables that shape the current situation (Inkoom 2011: 131).

1.2 Problem Statement

A strongly centralised system of government has been a major factor in the governance and service delivery shortcomings witnessed in Cameroon. A major consequence of a strongly centralised system of government is that the lower spheres of government, especially the local council, remain poor and underdeveloped, limited rural development projects in EkondoTiti Municipality, low participation of local population in development projects of EkondoTiti Municipality, limited human and material resources for rural development of EkondoTiti Municipality, inadequate infrastructural facilities for rural development of EkondoTiti Municipality, lack of citizen trust in government limits local participation in rural development projects. There is also an atmosphere of discontentment in the two English-speaking regions of the country, the North West and South West regions, which is evident in claims of limited political, administrative and financial autonomy in the management of their own affairs. This has fuelled wishes for secession and/or federalism.

To attempt to curb the mounting ethnic, linguistic as well as developmental and diversity issues affecting Cameroonians, the government of Cameroon decided to include provisions fordecentralisation in the Constitution.A crucial goal in attaining this vision was to develop legislation and institutions for adequate administrative and financial decentralisation to lower spheres of government. The government has made some progress in the creation of structures such as the National Commission for the Promotion of Bilingualism and Multiculturalism (NCPBM) and the Council. However, while policies and legislations are in place, progress on the ground seems to be slow, as shall be seen.

While the Constitution, alongside other legislation, provides for decentralisation, the process for managing minority, ethnic and diversity issues, promoting the rule of law, enhancing constitutionalism, promoting democratic elections, and enhancing self-rule and local democracy calls for further examination. Presently, there is an impressive array of legislative instruments which, arguably, provide the guidelines for decentralisation. The main laws include the 2004 Decentralisation Orientation Law, the 2004 Law on Regions, and the 2019 General Code on Decentralisation.

Cameroon, and specifically rural South West Cameroon, still faces intense development crisis. In spite of specific decentralisation programmes (the decentralisation fund) designed to help accelerate local development to deliver high impact needs-based community development projects remains a distant reality (Devas, 2001: 693). It has been suggested that the decentralised local governance programmes in Cameroon, may have been implemented without adequately addressing the inherent conceptual and practical challenges as to how best to structure or even adopt it locally to maximise probable benefits or minimize potential problems (Smoke, 2003: 7). Decentralisation has been slow in meeting the needs of EkondoTiti council and EkondoTiti Municipality in particular because the conceptual and practical challenges on the structure of decentralisation, domestication of the concept of decentralisation to be adopted by local development stakeholders of EkondoTiti Municipality. This study will be investigating the impact of Local government on infrastructural development in the domain of road and education, the impact of decentralisation on rural water supply and rural electrification and on the success of local development initiatives through the participation of local development stakeholders. The main goal of this study is to examine the nature of decentralized local governance and how its function translates into rural development in Cameroon using Ekondo Titi council as a case study.

1.3 Research Questions

The study will therefore be guided by the following broad questions:

  1. What is the influence of the Local Government in enhancing socio-economic change in the domain of road and educational infrastructure?

  2. Has political decentralization led to increased coverage in rural water and electricity development projects?

  3. To what extent is the impact of participation of local development stakeholders and inclusion on rural development projects?

1.4 Objectives of the Study

This research aims to examine the nature of decentralised local governance and how its function translates into rural development in Cameroon. It will specifically focus on the following objectives:

  1. To identify the impact of local governments on socio-economic change
  2. To analyse the increased realisation of projects made through decentralisation of local governments in rural development
  3. To evaluate local community stakeholder’s participation in determining rural development initiatives



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