External Support for Decentralization Reforms

Over the last three decades, numerous countries of the Asia and Pacific region have engaged in decentralization and local government reforms. The rationale and motivation for such reform initiatives has been as diverse as the reform context of each country, ranging from big bang decentralization as part of regime transformation (Indonesia) to efforts to re-build the state and create new social capital after 25 years of internal unrest and war (Cambodia) and to many initiatives to strengthen sub-national governments in order to improve their service delivery for citizens. The international community has supported such reform initiatives by means of capacity development and advisory services, and by facilitating national and cross-national learnings.

Development partners have increasingly sought a common approach for their support to decentralization reforms. In line with the global debate on aid effectiveness they have made visible efforts to harmonize their support amongst themselves and to align external support with the partner country’s strategies and systems. 

To pursue ADB’s vision, the Governance Thematic Group has initiated a partnership with Decentralization and Local Governance (DeLoG)—a network of 28 bilateral and multilateral development partners who work together to improve aid and development effectiveness in decentralization and local governance reforms. The partnership will provide a platform for exchanging experiences and learning together about implementing successful decentralization reforms. The joint learning event take stock of past and existing reforms and their support by development partners in order to generate joint learnings and contribute to a better understanding of such reform processes. The learning program was the first joint activity under the partnership.

The event focused on reform processes and their results in DMCs of the ADB (especially countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, People’s Republic of China, and the Philippines). It reviewed both national reform processes, as well as at the support strategies and instruments provided by development partners.  

The overall objective of this three-day regional learning seminar was to enable a structured exchange of information and experiences, lessons learned and good practices. It provided a forum for joint learning of participants from successes and failures in supporting decentralized governance.