The final half-day was dedicated to the future agenda of the DDLGN. What topics should the network take up for learning from experts, sharing experience, and develop guidance? How should that be done? Who should be responsible for what, taking into account the limited resources available at the level of the focal point, the core group and the DDLGN members?
The focal point team and the DDLGN core group suggested a range of topics to focus on in the months and years to come. Participants discussed in groups on these themes and made a range of suggestions to amend and specify the topics to address and the approaches to adopt. In a kind of gallery walk the suggestions from the groups were further discussed and amended by participants.
The debate confirmed that the work on thematic clusters that were already on the agenda of the DDLGN should continue – sometimes with a focus on new aspects and priorities, including:
Accountability horizontally and vertically, in a variety of forms involving different actors (including media, informal leaders), focusing on specific sectors or topics (such as corruption),
Citizen engagement and participation at local and national level
Strengthening Parliaments (at national and local levels, including electoral assistance and working with political parties, supporting women’s representation)
fiscal decentralization (intergovernmental transfer systems, local taxes and revenues, and budget support to local governments)
Three new topics were brought forward and found the interest and support by many participants:
Decentralisation in fragile contexts
Local economic development, particularly the role of local authorities in promoting economic development
Many specific suggestions were made also on how these topics should be addressed in the DDLGN, e.g. in-depth analysis of topics, cases, or the role of SDC; the development of frameworks, guidance and tools; organizing trainings and experience-sharing, or e-discussions.
Corinne concluded that the focal point team together with the DDLGN core group will take this wealth of ideas and suggestions back to office and plan on this basis the DDLGN activities for the years to come in more detail. Thereby certain choices will need to be made according to available resources and commitments by the DDLGN members. Also, sequencing will be necessary. The core group will meet end of June and again in August to further specify the working agenda. The DDLGN members will be informed accordingly.
Last but not least, the DDLGN focal point will continue to have the responsibility to work on issues of mainstreaming governance in SDC’s work in general. This task will be completed in the follow-up-process of the external evaluation on mainstreaming governance in SDC that was accomplished in 2014. A series of suggestions were made by participants on how this could be done.
The group discussions have been recorded on pin boards. You can download them here:
Stefan Bruni, public finance specialist at the University of Lucerne, introduced participants to the logics of intergovernmental fiscal transfers. Such transfers are serving a variety of purposes such as bridging the vertical gap between central and subnational authorities’ tasks and resources. Transfers also can compensate and subsidize spill-over effects of subnational services (benefitting other subnational entities). Finally, transfer can aim at financial equalization: redistribution of resources with a view to ensure a common minimal standard of Services at subnational level. In this video Stefan Bruni explains why IGFTs exist:
Various types of grants can be distinguished, earmarked (conditioned) or non-earmarked (non-conditioned), mandatory or discretionary, for a general purpose or block grants, non-matching or matching grants. They all have specific characteristics and implications for central and local authorities, and they fit the various purposes of fiscal transfer in a differentiated manner.
Stefan’s presentation for download
Jonas Frank, DDLGN focal point team, pointed out that fiscal conflicts are a permanent feature of intergovernmental systems. In fragile and conflict situations fiscal transfers are often aiming at fiscal appeasement, preserving the union and avoiding secession, or averting internal mobility and avoiding migration. Transferred resources are often going into military and security spending as well as in increasing human resources whose responsibilities are often disconnected across the government system. As donor money is part of domestic resource bargains, donors should set priorities, such as: ensure effective transfer to sub-national authorities, share information on transfers and budgets to build trust, build up fiscal coordination mechanism, invest in understanding the context, provide guidance for evolving intergovernmental negotiation.
Jona’s presentation for download
Hussain Akhlaqi, SDC Afghanistan, and Dahir Korow, SDC Horn of Africa, analysed the situation and conflict dynamics in their countries from a perspective of fiscal transfers.
This day participants were invited to go out to have a glimpse to the reality of Mozambique. During the last 15 years a decentralization process is ongoing with a gradual and partial devolution of tasks and responsibilities to the 53 municipalities, with elected mayors and assemblies. In parallel de-concentration of tasks and services as well as resources to provinces and districts takes place, in a rather complex multitier set-up. Consultative councils provide opportunities to citizens to express their views at different levels of territorial governance.
Full presentation on field vitists
Guiding questions for field visits
Participants had the opportunity to meet several de-concentrated authorities, technical staff and consultative councils in two districts where the SDC funded Programme for Governance, Water and Sanitation ProGoAs is operated by HELVETAS.
Swiss Cooperation Strategy with Mozambique 2012-2016 (English)
Participants looked at “what works” as well as the challenges with regard to district planning and budgeting processes, community development and participation in planning and budgeting. Participants observed and discussed many issues with local authorities, and drew a complex picture of reality that stimulated their own reflection on decentralized and participatory governance. A wealth of visual impressions were brought back from the short excursion.
Sarah Byrne, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, and Lukas Krienbühl, swisspeace, presented first findings from the joint learning project that emerged from the ddlgn, on “Actors of local Democracy – opening up the perspective”. The learning project is still in progress. It first mapped SDC’s existing experience with a series of actors. Several types of actors with invisible or informal power can be distinguished, and DDLGN members showed a clear interest to better understand both the spaces and processes through which informal authority is claimed, negotiated and used, what role these authorities play in local democracy, and wether and how SDC could engage with them.
Download the PowerPoint
Download the handout
Anuratha Joshi from IDS, together with Zolzaya Lhakvasuren from SCO Mongolia, Ibrahim Mehmeti from SCO Macedonia, and Eric Kalunga from SDC Tanzania, presented the main findings from the three case studies made in the framework of this learning project. In Mongolia, homeland associations and their relations to local governance processes were analysed. In Macedonia the role of religious authorities was reviewed, and in Tanzania the study looked at customary and informal authorities in the Iringa rural district.
For more insights and in-depth findings you can download the 3 research studies here:
According to Matthias Boss, swisspeace, the learning project will analyse the findings further and plans to come forward with an analytical framework to assess informal authorities and the way how SDC should engage with them.
Harald Schenker from the DDLGN Focal Point team introduced participants to donors’ experience in supporting local and national parliaments in their various functions within a democratic State. There are a series of challenges when working with parliaments: slow, complex and inherently political processes. But parliaments have a key role in providing legitimacy and accountability to democratic governance. A variety of forms of and entry points for support were listed, in relation to the law-making role, the representation and the oversight role were listed, and partly have been tested by SDC in a variety of contexts, Parliament administration might be an important partner to support.
You can download Harald’s presentation here.
Global mapping and analysis of parliamentary strengthening
Franklin de Vrieze, Democracy Reporting International, presented the results from his study on “global mapping and analysis of parliamentary strengthening”.
Katharina Häberli and Franklin de Vrieze made comments on the various and modalities of parliamentary support and added on from an experienced expert perspective.
You can download Franklin’s speech here
Global mapping and analysis of parliamentary strengthening
The group discussions went around practical experience of SDC in different contexts. For example, in Macedonia and Cambodia, SDC provides different kinds of support through the respective parliamentary institutes:
Corinne Huser, the leader of the DDLGN focal point team, introduced participants to a systemic view of accountability based on key pillars: Information, answerability, and responsiveness / enforceability. The systemic framework (see graphic) emphasizes the two dimensions of accountability:
Vertical dimension: citizens ↔ authorities;
Horizontal dimension: among authorities.
Accountability processes involve many actors and can reinforce (or hamper) each other. If you would like to know more about the concept…
…download Corinne’s presentation, featuring the systemic framework:
In the afternoon the programme focused on concrete experience on ways and means how to promote accountability from a systemic perspective. Based on programme experience presented by participants from Pakistan, Bhutan, Mali, Macedonia, the region of East – South Africa, group discussions went around promoting accountability in different contexts, particularly in situations of fragility. Participants exchanged their experience and discussed achievements and challenges so far.
You can download the pin board on the country examples here:
The discussions helped them to get a better idea what Accountability means. In this short video the participants were asked to describe accountability in just 3 words:
Synthesized results from the groups’ discussions were presented to the plenary. You can watch the full restitution in this video:
The presentations were then further commented and discussed by the experts who had intervened in the morning. The expert panel found that SDC’s accountability work is strong in many aspects, and identified some areas for improvement. While many key accountability issues are often addressed in SDC’s interventions, they should be integrated in a more systematic and systemic way. It is not only about promoting accountability mechanisms but about thinking and working politically. SDC could also more systematically look at what works, and reflect on how we can learn from each other despite the contextual differences we are working in. The experts also pointed to the fact that the assumptions and hypotheses of change behind our interventions are often not explicit and visible enough so it is more difficult to adapt to often rapidly changing circumstances.
systematic = in a methodical, organised way
systemic = relating to a system
The insights or questions were then discussed with the experts in a lively discussion. You can watch the full video here: