Innovative Ways in Supporting Decentralised and Democratic Local Governance

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s (SDC) Democratisation, Decentralisation and Local Governance Network (DDLGN) is a platform of about 220 SDC staff, implementing partners and affiliates working on local governance, democracy and decentralisation around the world. This project follows on from a successful first phase of cooperation between IDS and DDLGN through the project ‘The Governance of Service Delivery’.

The aim of this second phase of cooperation is to support the DDLGN and its members’ understanding, learning, and policy engagement in four priority areas of decentralised and democratic local governance:

Work in fragile and conflicted areas

There are particular challenges of contexts where forces of conflict or violence and weak or non-existent state institutions affect efforts to strengthen democratic local governance and citizen engagement. Work on this theme will generate methodological tools and innovations for working in conflict-affected and fragile settings. Subthemes in this area will include:

  • creation of political order when states are weak and conflict affected
  • citizen engagement in contexts of conflict and fragility
  • creation of legitimacy from below in violent and fragile environment.

Addressing inequality and inclusion

Inequalities are shaped by a variety of structural factors and economic, social and political disparities. These are often the result of lack of opportunities, social and political exclusion of certain population groups and other forms of discrimination and can stem from a colonial legacy or from political connections and inherited wealth. Subthemes in this area will include:

  • the causes and consequences of inequality in furthering economic and political empowerment
  • intersectionality: the effects of multiple discriminations in perpetuating inequalities including the impacts for gender related work
  • land governance and its role in reducing inequality.

Strengthening accountability and citizen engagement

There has been renewed optimism both around the prospects for citizen engagement in political decision-making and change, and around the proliferation of transparency and accountability initiatives. The project views accountability and citizenship as closely inter-related. Subthemes in this area will include:

  • representation
  • working with new and less-targeted actors
  • unruly or popular politics
  • working with informal institutions.

Enabling revenue mobilisation

Decentralised sub-national and local governments are expected to deliver effective and locally accountable public authority. Yet they cannot do so without resources which are central to their ability to provide public goods that respond to local needs. Therefore most local governments rely heavily on central government transfers and spend more than the revenue they generate domestically. Subthemes in this area will include:

  • intergovernmental transfers
  • taxes on extractive industries
  • property taxes.

Key contact

Photo of Anuradha Joshi, IDS researcher

T: +44 (0)1273 915710


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Photo of Alex Shankland, IDS Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915746


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Photo of Giulia Mascagni

T: +44 (0)1273 915765


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Photo of Elizabeth O'Brien

T: +44 (0)1273 915813

E: e.o'

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Photo of IDS researcher, Mariz Tadros

T: +44 (0)1273 915829


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T: +44 (0)1273 915715


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Miguel Loureiro photo

T: +44 (0)1273 915707


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Photo of Patricia Justino, IDS Vulnerability and Poverty Reduction Research Fellow

T: +44 (0)1273 915752


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T: +44 (0)1273 915616


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Photo of Rhiannon McCluskey

T: +44 (0)1273 915654


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Photo of Rosemary McGee

T: +44 (0)1273 915738


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Photo of Shandana Mohmand

T: +44 (0)1273 915720


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Decentralisation, Devolution, and Dynamics of Violence in Africa

IDS Working Paper 511 (2018)
Dowd, C. and Tranchant, J-P.

Indirect Rule in Armed Conflict: Theoretical Insights from Eastern DRC

IDS Working Paper 510 (2018)
Marchais, G. and Sanchez de la Sierra, R.

How Do We Research Tax Morale at the Subnational Level?

IDS Working Paper 506 (2018)
Kangave, J., Mascagni, G. and Moore, M.

Navigating Power and Intersectionality to Address Inequality

IDS Working Paper 504 (2017)
Howard, J. and Vajda, V.

Case Study 2: Insights on Customary and Informal Authorities in Iringa Region, Tanzania

Krienbuehl, L., Aiko, R., Santschi, M. and Simba, C.

Étude de Cas 4 : Autorités Traditionnelles et Religieuses dans la Gouvernance Locale au Mali

Loureiro, M., Krienbuehl, L., Sall, A., Djire, M. and Dembele, I.

Analysing Informal Local Governance Institutions: Practical Guidelines

Byrne, S. with Huser, C., Schenker, H., Krienbuehl, L., Loureiro, M. and Khan Mohmand, S.

E-discussion on Informal Authorities in Local Governance

Mohmand, S.K. and Chaudhry, P.

Inclusive Land Governance in Mozambique: Good Law, Bad Politics?

IDS Working Paper 478 (2016)
Cabral, L. and Norfolk, S.

‘Traditional Peoples’ and the Struggle for Inclusive Land Governance in Brazil

IDS Working Papers 477 (2016)
Shankland, A., Sullivan, Z., Alberto Dayrell, C., Crystina Alvarenga, A. and Felipe Batista Rocha, D.

Uneven Developments: Toward Inclusive Land Governance in Contemporary Cambodia

IDS Working Paper 476 (2016)
Dwyer, M.B. and Sokphea, Y.
Project Dates:
February 2015 - December 2017
Project Status:
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)