Effects of Decentralisation on Local Level Development: (a Case Study of the Yilo Krobo District in Ghana)



1.1 Background of the study

Across the world, governments are dealing with the challenges raised by both globalization and a movement towards democratic systems of governance. In an effort to make the delivery of services more efficient and to bring them closer to the people, many countries have moved to decentralize a range of activities. There is a popular belief among decentralists that if local governments have the power to generate and spend revenue without relying on central government funding, their expenditure will be pro-poor and will improve the lives of local people. Such views have influenced recent calls for greater decentralization in developing countries in general and Africa in particular (Obeng-Odoom, 2010). Thus, decentralization has become an increasingly widespread and significant dimension of political and administrative reform in many developing countries since the late 1980s. Decentralization is presumed by researchers to have a number of benefits, including positive outcomes in both democratic and developmental terms. It is assumed that democracy will be deepened by the extension of political representation to the local level, with democratic processes strengthened through enhanced political participation by local civil society actors. And those benefits in socio-economic development will accrue through local governments being more responsive and more accountable to citizens’ needs and desires. These two benefits are interlinked in that local-level representation and participation are believed to lead to development planning processes and the delivery of public services that are relevant to the local context. Decentralization is any act in which a central government formally cedes powers to actors and institutions at lower levels in a political-administrative and territorial hierarchy to achieve grass-root development.. In this respect, local government has the potential to enhance the realization of democratic principles, given that the selection of representatives and decision-making structures are on a smaller scale and more open to effective participation. The question remains whether decentralization will have positive outcomes for democratization in a particular country. Clearly, any positive linkage between decentralization and democratization depends on the type of decentralization.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The virtues of decentralization, such as democracy, popular participation, responsiveness, accountability, and equity, have resulted in the belief that decentralization would lead to greater responsiveness to the poor. Since the poor have been excluded from politics and issues that concentrate, therefore, do not have adequate access to services, decentralization is seen as offering greater political participation to ordinary citizens whose “voice” is more likely to increase with the concomitant relevance and effectiveness of the government’s policies and programmes, especially in poverty reduction efforts. In Ghana, the use of fiscal decentralization has been identified as one of the main reasons for the failure of successive local government systems (Kokor & Kroes, 2000). Central government usually transfers functions to the local levels without transferring the proper finance. The District Assemblies’ Common Fund (DACF) was meant to address such a deficiency. However, there were many legal requirements and policy directives that limited the ability of District Assemblies to initiate policies and expand the common fund to meet the priority needs of the people (Kokor & Kroes, 2001). These constraints on the District Assemblies compromise their ability to deliver development to their areas of jurisdiction. In the Yilo Krob District of the Eastern Region, due to the inability of the district to get funds from the central government, the provision of amenities like roads, water, among others, is limited. Hence, the focus of this study was to examine the effects of decentralization on local level development in the study area.

1.3 Objective of the study

The main objective of the study was to examine the effects of decentralization on local level development, the case of Yilo Krobo District in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Specifically, the study sought: 

  1. To assess the capacity of the District Assembly to initiate and implement projects.
  2. To examine how local people participate in development decision-making in the district
  3. To investigate the challenges that the Assembly encounters in the process of executing developmental projects.

1.4       Research question

The research is guided by the following question:

  1. Does the District Assembly have the capacity to initiate and implement projects as expected or assumed in decentralization?
  2. Do the local people participate in decision making in the district? 
  3. What are the challenges does the Assembly encounter in executing developmental projects in the district?
  4. What recommendations can be made to enhance the effects of decentralization at the local level?

1.5 Significance of the study

Decentralization has become a central issue in development discourse in recent times. It is a component in good governance regimes that attracts World Bank’s attention. However, the extent to which decentralization of powers of public decision-making and financing from the centres to local government leads to better delivery of services is yet to be systematically determined from empirical evidence. This study will therefore help explain how development at decentralized levels should be structured and financed. Policy-makers and stakeholders would be able to critically diagnose the effect of specific policies targeted at local level development. On the academic front, the study would add to the existing literature on decentralization and local governance particularly in Ghana as well as give some directional indicators for future researchers in local government administration.

1.6       Scope of the study

The study focused on the effects of decentralizationon local level development with specific emphasis on the ability of the assembly to initiate projects, the participation of local people in decision making, and the challenges the Assembly encounters in bringing developmental projects to the district. The study covers only the Yilo Krobo District of the Eastern Region, which to some extent limits the generalization of the research findings due to limited resources and time.

1.7 Limitation of the study

The following factors poses to be a limitation during the course of this research

Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.8 Definition of terms

Decentralization: decentralization means reversing the concentration of administration at a single centre and conferring powers on local government.


Ayee, J.R.A. (2000), Decentralization and good governance in Ghana, unpublished paper of May 2000, prepared for the Canadian High Commission, Accra, Ghana.

Ayee, J.R.A. (2003). Local government, decentralization and state capacity in Ghana: Critical perspectives on politics and socio-economic development in Ghana. Leiden: Brill.

Elias Kwaku Mensah (2013) Effects Of Decentralization On Local Level Development: Yilo Krobo District In Ghana retrieved from University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

Kokor, J.Y., & Kroes, G. (2001). Supporting democracy and decentralization: The role of civil society organisations in Ghana’s decentralization and development process. Accra: Konrad Adenauer Foundation.



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