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Title: Public services and social cohesion at risk? : the political economy of democratic decentralisation in post-war Sierra Leone (2004-2014)
Author: Tarawallie, Idrissa Mamoud
ISNI:       0000 0004 7234 0768
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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On account of the many failures of the centralised state, decentralisation has become the preferred mode of governance in many countries in the developing world. Widely supported by international development agencies, it promises efficiency and equity in public service delivery and social cohesion in post-war societies by bringing government closer to the people. Crucial in the decentralisation promise, is resource diversion through clientelistic networks at the local level to consolidate political strongholds. But despite the ubiquitous nature of decentralisation interventions in sub-Saharan Africa, the continent has the smallest number of formal political economy-based analytical reviews of decentralisation and public service delivery, and research into the nexus between decentralisation and social cohesion remains an unexplored academic territory. This thesis seeks to compensate for this literature gap, provide critical insights into the politics of post-war governance reform and its neoliberal institutionalism, and the unexplored relationship between decentralisation and social cohesion in post-war Sierra Leone. Based on a qualitative multi-site case study in four local councils selected across Sierra Leone's geo-political divide, the thesis unpacks the politics of democratic decentralisation and its neoliberal governance reform agenda. It provides a thick critical analysis of the motivations of Sierra Leone's post-war decentralisation reform and its uneven public service delivery across localities. It argues that Sierra Leone's decentralisation project is a patchwork of disparate socio-political, economic and ideological interests at the local, national and international levels. And while some progress has been made in local public service delivery, this cannot be linked solely to decentralisation. In addition, Sierra Leone's decentralisation project lacks a holistic inclusion of crucial elements of social capital and has negative effect on social cohesion, especially in ethnically diverse localities. The thesis concludes that political affiliation does not necessarily determine a council's service delivery and management performance outcomes. And measuring councils' performance outcomes with technocratic tools unproductively seeks to transform political entities into barometers to measure donor investment in the decentralisation process, and not councils' accountability to their electorates. Such a technocratic approach to governance is both normatively intricate and empirically unrealistic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral