Decentralization at Local Government Level and Its Impact on Development: The Case Study of North Shoa Zonal Administration, Oromia Regional State

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The concept of decentralization defies clear-cut definitions. However, in the study of politics decentralization refers to the territorial distribution of power. It is concerned with the extent to which power and authority are shared through the geographical hierarchy of the state and the institutions through which such processes take place. Decentralization entails the subdivision of the state's territory into smaller areas and the creation of political and administrative institutions at regional or local level. Many countries have been considered decentralization as a strategy that will bring service delivery closer to consumers, improve the responsiveness of the central and local governments to public demands and thereby improve the efficiency and quality of public services. Decentralization is believed to improve development activities by empowering sub-national governments and the people in the design and implementation of development programs. Since May 1991, Ethiopia adopted decentralization policy and a federal form of government was formalized by a new constitution that came into effect in 1995. Thus in accordance with the power rendered to member states of the Federal Government of Ethiopia, the regional state of Oromia established 12 zones under its jurisdictions. One of the zonal administrations is North Shoa Zonal Administration. Although, officially authority and power seem to be devolved from the central government to regions, the extent of decentralization to sub-regional levels of government, (Zone, district, etc. .. ) is weak. As a result the decentralization policy could not be fruitful as it was desired to be in expediting development endeavors or bringing viable change in the living condition of the grass roots community. Several factors could be cited for the weak performance of the decentralization reform at local government level. Lack of genuine commitment towards devolving power to sub-national units, insufficient experience as well as skewness of the decentralization drive to political cause than socio-economic purposes are some of the weakness on the part of the central government. Whereas very low administrative and man power capacity and high degree of polarization to party politics and agendas at the cost of neglecting the voice of their people that they ought to serve are major weaknesses on the part of local government officials. In general unless corrective measures are taken by all concerned parties to reverse the current shortcomings seen in the decentralization process, the condition of poor local areas would tend to become even poorer let alone achieve the desired development goals. Therefore, the propounded autonomy would be void of meaning, because they would continue to be dependent on the state. What the present study has observed in North Shoa Zonal Administration is the true reflection of this reality.



Impact on Development, Oromia Regional