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The roles of local government in the rural development and transformation of Cameroon

This article examine the roles of local government in the rural development

Local governments are legal institutions founded with the goal of providing local and communal public services in a specific geographic area, with a decision-making body elected by free elections with administrative and financial autonomy.

The subsequent paragraphs comes out with the roles of local government in rural transformation and development in Cameroon

Economic Development

Local governments(councils) in Cameroon play crucial roles in the economic development of their communities.

Councils are considered as leaders of local economic development (LED), councils work with the people of their communities to develop strategic visions for the future of their cities, towns, and villages, and implement a wide variety of policies and measures to bring these visions to life.

At the most basic level, Councils ensure a secure and stable environment in which economic development can take place.

They provide physical infrastructure, roads, water supply, waste management, and information and communication technologies and promote public health, education, and environmental sustainability.

Increasingly, however, LRGs go well beyond these traditional roles (UCLG, 2014).

Councils help enterprises to grow

Councils or local government around the world are helping existing enterprises to survive and expand; fostering new enterprises, arranging workforce development programs, promoting research and development, and taking action to ensure that marginalized members of their communities have access to decent livelihoods.

Local economic development is a necessary complement to efforts at the national scale. National and supranational governments must address economic issues appropriate to their jurisdictions, such as fiscal and monetary policy, large infrastructural investments, and international trade agreements.

Just as national and supranational governments are best positioned to deal with those issues, Local councils are ideally situated to ensure active participation in development by all stakeholders in their communities, to tackle the problems and barriers specific to their local economies, and to foster integrated development initiatives across multiple, complementary economic sectors. The strong, resilient communities that result are the building blocks of prosperous nations (UCLG, 2014)..

Local councils facilitate the decentralisation process

The existence of local government (Municipal councils) has always been defended on the basis that it is a crucial aspect of the process of democratization and intensification of mass participation in the decision-making process.

No political system is considered complete and democratic if it does not have a system of local government. Local government serves a two-fold purpose.

The first purpose is the administrative purpose of supplying goods and services; the other purpose is to represent and involve citizens in determining specific local public needs and how these local needs can be met.

Local representative government is a process that spans and connects representation and administration at local levels within local government structures.

In order to understand the function and structure of local government, it is important to define local government and understand the meaning of local government democracy and values.

The significance of local government will be addressed. With these aspects of local government in mind, attention will be directed towards the typical structure of local government as the administrative structure of local government forms the basic framework where in local public policy is determined and implemented.

Therefore attention will be directed to the composition of councils and their activities.

Local government ensures service delivery

It is the duty of the local government to ensure service delivery at the grassroots, support infrastructure by building public, low-cost homes as well as building and maintaining public parks, increase training opportunities for the community dwellers and also attune government policies in favour of the community.

An additional response is needed whereby government agencies develop a greater role in helping communities build their capacity for development (Cavaye, 2000).

In Cameroon, by virtue of law no. 2004-18 of 22 July2004 as amended by the recent 2019 law lays down rules applicable to councils. As follows

Article 15:

The following powers shall be devolved upon councils:

  • Development of local agricultural, pastoral, handicraft and fish farming activities;
  • development of local tourist attractions;
  • building, equipment, management and maintenance of markets, bus stations and slaughterhouses;
  • organization of local trade fairs;
  • Provision of support to income and job generating micro-projects.

Article 15:

The following powers shall be devolved upon councils:

  • development of local agricultural, pastoral, handicraft and fish farming activities;
  • development of local tourist attractions;
  • building, equipment, management and maintenance of markets, bus stations and slaughterhouses;
  • organization of local trade fairs;
  • Provision of support to income and job generating micro-projects.

Article 16:

The following powers shall be devolved upon councils:

  • Drinking water supply;
  • Cleaning up of council streets, roads and public parks;
  • Monitoring and control of the management of industrial waste;
  • Reforestation and creation of council forests;
  • Combating insanitation, pollution and nuisances:
  • Protection of underground and surface water resources;
  • Preparation of council environmental action plans;
  • Creation maintenance and management of council lawns, parks and gardens; local management of household waste.

Article 17:

The following powers shall be devolved upon councils:

  • Developing and managing public urban parks;
  • Drawing up and executing council investment plans;
  • Awarding, in association with the State or the region, contract-plans for the achievement ofDevelopment objectives;
  • Preparing land tenure plans, town planning documents and concerted development. Urban
  • Rehabilitation and land .consolidation plans;
  • Organizing and managing public urban transport;
  • Carrying out land development operations;
  • Issuing town planning certificates, authorizations to subdivide real estate, authorizations to settle,building and demolition permits;
  • Building and maintaining council roads and conducting similar activities;
  • Developing and servicing housing estates;
  • Lighting public highways;
  • Addressing and naming streets, public squares and edifices;
  • Constructing and maintaining unclassified rural roads and ferry-boats;
  • Setting up industrial zones;
  • Contributing to the electrification of areas inhabited by the poor;
  • Granting authorizations for temporary settlement and other works.

Article 19:

The following powers shall be devolved upon councils:

a) Health and population:

  • Civil status registration;
  • Setting up equipping managing and maintaining council health centres in keeping with the health map;
  • Assisting health and social centres; ensuring sanitary inspection 1n establishments that manufacture,
  • Package, store and distribute food products as well as in plants that treat solid and liquid wasteProduced by individuals or enterprise.

b) Social welfare:

  • Participating in the upkeep and management, where necessary, of social advancement and reintegration centres;
  • Constructing, maintaining and managing public cemeteries;
  • Organizing and coordinating relief operations for needy persons.

Article 20:

The following powers shall be devolved upon councils:

a) Education:

  • In keeping with the school map, setting up, managing, equipping, tending and maintaining council nursery and primary schools and pre-school establishments;
  • Recruiting and managing back-up staff for the schools;
  • Participating in the procurement of school Supplies and equipment;
  • Participating in the management and administration of State high schools and colleges in the region through dialogue and consultation structures.

b) Literacy education:

  • Executing plans to eradicate illiteracy, in conjunction with the regional administration;
  • Participating in the setting up and management of educational infrastructure and equipment.

c) Technical and vocational training:

  • Preparing a local forward-looking plan for training and retraining;
  • Drawing up a council plan for vocational integration and reintegration;
  • Participating in the setting up, maintenance and management of training centres

Article 21:

The following powers shall be devolved upon councils:

  • Promoting and coordinating sports and youth activities;
  • Supporting sports associations;
  • Constructing and managing municipal stadia, sports centres and courses, swimming pools,
  • Playgrounds and arenas;
  • Identifying and participating in the equipment of sports associations:
  • Participating in the organization of competitions,

Article 22:

The following powers shall be devolved upon councils:

a) Culture:

  • Organizing cultural weeks, traditional cultural events and literary and artistic competitions at the
  • local leve1;
  • Setting up at the local Level, orchestras, traditional opera ensembles, ballet groups and theatre troops;
  • Setting up and managing socio-cultural centres and public Libraries;
  • Providing support to cultural associations.

b) Development of national languages:            

  • Participating in regional programmes for the development of national languages;
  • Participating in the setting up and maintenance of infrastructure and equipment.
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Martin Goodnews
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