Decentralization, participation and poverty reduction in local government : the case of Entebbe Municipality (1993 - 2002)
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This study investigated the relationship between participation of the poor people and poverty reduction under decentralized governance, based on Entebbe Municipality). The motivation was drawn from public concerns, research publications, and observations on the state of people's capacity to meet their basic needs, against a legal background defined under the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. and the Local Government Act of 1997. The study objective was to establish the extent of the influence of decentralization in the promotion of participation of poor people especially in the decision-making process. And how this impacted on improving the quality of life of the poor people and reducing poverty. The study used a three-pronged methodology involving interviewing key informants and selected groups of the poor; self-administered questionnaires on a sample of 100 poor people respondents; and reviewing of public documents and relevant case studies. Two analytical techniques, correlation and regression, were used to test the relationship between poor people's participation in governance processes and positive outcomes for people's well-being. Moderate correlation was found between participation and service delivery (r .5-19). And between participation and identification of priorities (r=.53 9); but participation and efficiency correlated weakly (r=.1 79). Regression of individual dependent variables against sets of independent variables helped to test the hypothesis. It was established that although decentralization had provided some favorable opportunities for participation, the poor people's participation level was below 50%, which was not effective. The study recommends that the participation level of the poor be raised and to do so requires amending the Local Government Act to guarantee direct participation of the poor at the municipal level. The poor people need to be trained and given skills that will enable them to effectively participate in decision-making. The government also needs to improve budgeting by earmarking specific sectoral fund allocations to promote participation by the poor. The municipal local governments would then be facilitated to priorities according to the peculiar local needs.