Building partnerships between inhabitants and local authorities in Africa

Sidiki Abdoul Daff, Françoise FEUGAS, 2000

Dialogues, propositions, histoires pour une citoyenneté mondiale (DPH)

In Africa, decentralisation–and the consequent emergence of local authorities–is being implemented in a context of indigence and State disengagement. One of the most striking characteristics of which is ‘empowering people’ by transfering responsibility for social services to them (privatisation of standpipes, health services, garbage collection, etc.). The goal is to rid the State of sectors that are not considered profitable, by entrusting them to local authorities set up to bring elected officials closer to inhabitants.

If there are no local authorities to take their concerns into account, inhabitants–who consider the town or village their territory–organise to find solutions to their everyday problems. These are often group solutions on the village, neighbourhood or block level, and they are facilitated by ties between neighbours, a common culture and clear awareness of a shared destiny. The growth of community organisations is a sign of this commitment to take charge and improve the quality of life without looking to any outside saviour.

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