Challenges of decentralized forestry services in Mpigi District
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The goals of decentralization are many and include providing for regional autonomy, diffusing political and social tensions, and making services and government more efficient, equitable, and accountable. In Uganda, the delivery of all services across all sectors was fully decentralized in all districts following the Local Government Act of 1997. Although a number of studies have been done on decentralization and service delivery in Uganda, this study basically looks at the challenges facing decentralized forest services in Mpigi district which was one of the pilot districts for decentralization in Uganda and contains a large number of forests covering more than 36,000 hectares of land under different tenure arrangements. Findings from this study indicated that decentralization reforms in Mpigi district especially in the forestry sector were not sufficient to deter the degradation of forest resources and make services and government more efficient, equitable, and accountable in the sector. This is because the study established several structural and operational challenges faced by decentralized forest services that include lack of clear line of command which is a structural challenge and operational challenges that include lack of human capacity, limited technical capacity, limited financial resources, political interference, lack of civic education about decentralization, lack of participation and corruption among others. The study also established that the central government still controls the management of forest reserves in the district and that at present, there is no genuine shift in authority over forest resources to the local governments. The study therefore recommends increasing financial and human resources in local governments especially in the forest services, strengthening rule enforcement, involvement of civil society organizations and NGOs in local governance, participation and inclusiveness in the decentralization process, civic education on decentralization to clearly understand rights, roles and responsibilities and implementation of full rather than partial decentralization in most sectors of government.