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AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE CHALLENGES OF DECENTRALIZATION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ITS IMPACT ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NGUTI SUBDIVISION, CAMEROON

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AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE CHALLENGES OF DECENTRALIZATION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ITS IMPACT ON RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN NGUTI SUBDIVISION, CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

The global trend towards decentralisation of local government has gained significant traction, driven by the need to improve governance efficiency, empower local authorities, and encourage community engagement in decision-making. The trend towards decentralization has had a notable impact on rural regions, where local authorities have a vital responsibility in providing necessary services, overseeing natural resources, and promoting socio-economic progress (Mbia, 2018). Nevertheless, the process of decentralisation is riddled with obstacles that may greatly affect its efficacy in fostering rural development. Traditionally, Cameroon has been marked by a centralized style of governance, where decision-making and resource distribution are focused under the control of the central government. However, in response to demands for political and administrative changes, decentralization was officially established in the 1996 Constitution and subsequently expanded upon in later legislative frameworks, such as the 2004 Decentralisation Law.  In the past, centralized government institutions have often had difficulties in adequately addressing the varied needs and goals of rural communities(Anand, 2018). Centralizing decision-making authority at the national or regional level often results in policies and resource distribution that fail to accurately consider local circumstances or effectively tackle rural development obstacles. Decentralisation efforts seek to delegate authority, responsibilities, and resources from higher levels of government to local authorities, enabling them to customise policies and programmes to meet the unique requirements of their communities.  Although decentralisation has the potential to bring about advantages, it also presents several difficulties, especially when it comes to rural development(Fokwang, 2015). A significant obstacle is the limited capability that local governments encounter when it comes to efficiently handling their additional duties. Rural local authorities often face obstacles in planning, implementing, and monitoring development efforts due to constraints in financial resources, institutional deficiencies, and a shortage of trained staff. In addition, political considerations such as established power dynamics and patronage networks may hinder attempts to decentralise administration and restrict the independence of local governments (BakamaNume, 2019). In addition, decentralisation procedures must address challenges related to accountability and transparency. Delegating decision-making authority to local authorities may improve accountability by making the government more responsive to the specific requirements of local populations. However, this approach can also lead to corruption, favouritism, and the exclusion of particular groups in rural areas. To ensure that decentralisation fosters inclusive and participatory government, it is necessary to establish procedures that facilitate public involvement, transparency, and supervision (BakamaNume, 2019). These processes are crucial for holding local authorities responsible for their activities. The effectiveness of decentralisation in fostering rural development is contingent upon several elements, including the legal framework that upholds local government, the accessibility of financial resources, and the ability of civil society organizations to engage in decision-making processes. Moreover, decentralization is not universally applicable and its efficacy might greatly differ based on contextual elements such as the degree of socio-economic advancement, the political environment, and the cultural customs prevalent in rural regions.Due to the intricate interaction of many elements that affect the decentralisation process and its effects on rural development, there is an urgent want for comprehensive study to comprehend the difficulties and possibilities linked to this policy approach. Therefore, the researcher sought to investigate the challenges of decentralization of local government and its impact on rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the problem

The decentralization of local government shows potential as a tactic for fostering rural development by giving local authorities the authority to tackle the distinct needs and priorities of rural areas. Nevertheless, decentralization programmes often face substantial obstacles that might limit their efficacy and delay progress in rural development. A significant obstacle is the limited capability that rural local governments encounter when it comes to efficiently administering their newly assigned duties. According to Khan et al. (2016), the effectiveness of decentralization depends on the capability of local governments to efficiently carry out development projects despite having limited resources and institutional capacity. Insufficient funds, institutional deficiencies, and a shortage of skilled personnel can hinder rural local authorities from providing necessary services, managing natural resources, and promoting socio-economic progress in rural areas.  In addition, political variables such as established power dynamics and patronage networks may complicate the process of decentralization and restrict the independence of rural local administrations. According to Ayee (2016), political elites may oppose giving power to local authorities because they are afraid of losing control or influence over decision-making. This can result in centralised control over local resources and decision-making, which goes against the principles of local autonomy and community participation that are essential for effective decentralisation. The decentralization of local administration in rural regions is significantly challenged by difficulties related to accountability and transparency. Decentralization, while intended to increase government's ability to address local needs by granting authority to local authorities, may also lead to corruption, nepotism, and the exclusion of certain groups in rural regions (BakamaNume, 2019). To ensure that decentralization fosters inclusive and participatory government, it is crucial to have strong systems for public involvement, transparency, and supervision. These mechanisms will help to hold local authorities responsible for their actions. Hence, the study investigate the challenges of decentralization of local government and its impact on rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate the challenges of decentralization of local government and its impact on rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To examine the extent to which decentralization has been adopted in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon.

To assess the effectiveness of decentralization in promoting rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon.

To assess the impact of decentralization on rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon.

To identify factors that hinders the effective decentralization of Nguti subdivision, Cameroon.

1.4 Research Questions

The following questions have been prepared for the following

What is the extent to which decentralization has been adopted in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon?

How effective is decentralization in promoting rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon?

What is the impact of decentralization on rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon?

What are the factors that hinders the effective decentralization of Nguti subdivision, Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

The findings of the study will potentially contribute to the enhancement of governmental policies aimed at improving the quality of life for rural residents in Cameroon. Furthermore, the findings of this case study may be advantageous to government officials, community leaders, and institutional reform organizations in both Nguti subdivision and Cameroon as a whole. Implementing the ideas might lead to increased social justice, equality, and a fairer allocation of government revenue by providing feasible initiatives in rural areas.

This study will also add to the body of scholarly literature on decentralization and rural development, both researchers and academics can build upon the findings of this study to further explore the complexities of decentralization processes in Cameroon and beyond, thus advancing theoretical understanding and empirical knowledge in the field.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on the challenges of decentralization of local government and its impact on rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon. Empirically, the study will examine the extent to which decentralization has been adopted in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon, assess the effectiveness of decentralization in promoting rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon,  assess the impact of decentralization on rural development in Nguti subdivision, Cameroon and identify factors that hinders the effective decentralization of Nguti subdivision, Cameroon.

Geographically, the study is delimited to Nguti subdivision, Cameroon.

1.7 Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Decentralization: Decentralization refers to the transfer of authority, decision-making power, and administrative responsibilities from central government institutions to lower levels of government, such as regional, local, or community-based entities. It aims to enhance local autonomy, improve governance effectiveness, and promote citizen participation in decision-making processes.

Local Government: Local government refers to the administrative authority responsible for governing a specific geographical area or locality, typically at the municipal, district, or subdivision level. Local governments are tasked with providing essential public services, managing local resources, and representing the interests of their constituents.

Rural Development: Rural development encompasses efforts to improve the economic, social, and environmental conditions of rural areas, with the goal of enhancing the well-being and livelihoods of rural residents. It involves interventions aimed at strengthening agriculture, infrastructure, education, healthcare, and other essential services in rural communities.

Governance: Governance refers to the processes, structures, and mechanisms through which public institutions and actors exercise authority, make decisions, and manage resources in society. Effective governance entails transparency, accountability, participation, and the rule of law, all of which are essential for promoting development, justice, and social cohesion.


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