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In quest for effective service delivery: Decentralization, district Balkanization and local governance challenges for


The decentralization process has involved many parts and phases, yet the process is still incomplete. One of the elements that was realized was a “balkanization” of existing districts. In 1997 when the Local Government Act (LGA) was enacted, there were 44 districts in Uganda. Today, that number has increased almost three-fold to 112 districts as of 2013. The persistent rationale for balkanization of districts is efficient and effective service delivery. Yet almost twenty years since enactment of the law, full decentralization – including fiscal decentralization – has not actually happened in Uganda. Addi-tionally, many of the new districts which have been curved out of the original 44 are not adequately equipped and facilitated – financially and in terms of human capital – to deliver on their mandates. With an increased number of districts, there has been an increase in the cost of public administration on the central government with no matching value for money. The abolition of individual graduated tax on every adult in 2005 means that local governments continue to depend on the center for financial resources with very limited sources of revenues at the local level. The central hypothesis to be researched is that decentralization has brought better service delivery. This is the hypothesis reflecting the public transcript of the government discourse on decentralisation The alternative hypothesis is that the balkanization of districts in Uganda is a politically motivated process. More in particular, it has been engineered to deliver political patronage. This evidently implies political elite capture of the policy processes and hence a failure to deliver on the promise of decentral-ization.

Intervention type

South Initiatives


01/06/2014 - 31/05/2016

This project is being implemented in:
Local promoter Pamela Mbabazi
Flemish promoter Tom De Herdt
Local partner institution Universiteit Antwerpen
visit www.uantwerpen.be
Local partner institution Mbarara University of Science and Technology
visit www.must.ac.ug
Other Flemish Partners Vrije Universiteit Brussel
visit www.vub.ac.be
Budget € 74.905