Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Research Student: Dr Girum Zeleke

Decentralisation in post-1991 Ethiopia

Photo of Dr Girum Zeleke

With the objective to promotion of people's self rule and to enhance the participation of the people in the formulation of development policies and programs, Ethiopia started a decentralisation when the TPLF/EPRDF came into power in 1991. Decentralisation is believed to increase people's participation in governance, decision-making and the enhancement of socio-economic well-being and the provision of services. Among the objectives of decentralisation is improving management efficiency, securing financial and administrative autonomy down to the woreda level. By placing government closer to the people, policy makers may become more responsive to the needs of the citizens and provide effective services. Thus, it is assumed that decentralisation enables the provision of pro-poor policy, and development planning based on popular participation. However, due to the unbalanced fiscal arrangements between the central and the regional governments, lower government tiers have limited power in deciding their sectoral expenditure plans, in determining their tax base and rates, managing their public finance, human resource administrative systems and setting policies that differ from those of the central government.

In order to understand the derailment of Ethiopia's decentralisation reform, this study links the implementation of decentralised Famine Early Warning System in a case study of Boreda and Mirab Abaya woredas in Gamo Goffa zone and the planning and resource mobilisation capacity of Dale woreda in the Sidama zone. On the basis of empirical findings, the study concludes that the decentralisation reform fails to implement an efficient Famine Early Warning System and due to lack of capacity, resource mobilisation and political centralism. The study reflects that the woreda level government has too little autonomy to plan and make decisions and has limited capacity and source of revenue which could be used for local development activities. Woredas are dependent on the region and zone for recurrent budget and the capital budget does not flow to the woreda level. Far from achieving the results expected by the conventional decentralisation theories, the study reflects that the TPLF/EPRDF formal decentralisation reform through ethnic federalism is neither revoked nor actualised as designed, but effectively used by the central political leadership to keep regional governments administrative machinery a float and sustain upward accountability and traditional centralised rule.

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