Devolution and outsourcing of municipal services: in Kampala City, Uganda: an early assessment
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The late 1980s saw the beginning of wide-ranging economic and political reforms in Africa, prompted by both external and internal pressures. Demands for political reform pushed for democratisation, including decentralisation of power and resources to lower levels of government. Alongside pressures for democratisation were those for economic liberalisation, including the rolling back of the state characterised by, among other things, reducing its role in service provision. This article looks at aspects of political and economic liberalisation in Uganda, involving devolution and outsourcing of service provision in Kampala city. It focuses on the city’s experience with devolution and outsourcing of solid waste management. It shows that, pockets of resistance notwithstanding, the reforms enjoyed widespread popularity and led to many positive changes. In addition, it shows that they begot problems and encountered others that rendered the process of change more problematic than its advocates had anticipated. Its major conclusion is that while devolution and outsourcing are useful tools for improving service delivery, they cannot ensure long-term success in the absence of financial, technical and managerial capacity on the part of contractors and contracting authorities.