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Decentralization in the Arab World Must be Strengthened to Provi

May 22, 2014 | Arabic and English | Mona Harb, Sami Atallah
Decentralization in the Arab World Must be Strengthened to Provide Better Services

Decentralization is a key pillar for consolidating democracy, improving local political participation and ensuring better service delivery. The state of decentralization in the Arab World falls well behind other regions. Most countries, which were established by colonial powers, remain highly centralized and, at best, deconcentrated. LCPS led a study of five Arab countries—Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen—which highlights five major themes. First, colonial legacies and regional histories determine contemporary decentralization policies to a great extent. Second, states often advocate but simultaneously subvert decentralization efforts. Third, urban management and service delivery are usually centralized, while infrastructural and technical services are increasingly decentralized to
a local scale, but without sufficient human and fiscal resources. Fourth, municipalities are reluctant to collect local taxes to secure political loyalty and interests. Finally, and despite these obstacles, some local governments are performing rather well and benefiting from opportunities brought forth via decentralization initiatives. 

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