Lessons learned from Norway’s support for decentralisation and local government reform in developing countries

About the publication

  • Published: July 2008
  • Series: Norad reports: discussion
  • Type: --
  • Carried out by: Berit Aasen Norwegian Institute for Urban and Regional Research (NIBR)
  • Commissioned by: Norad
  • Country: Tanzania
  • Theme: Governance and democracy
  • Pages: 69
  • Serial number: 22/2008
  • ISBN: 978-82-7548-346-9
  • ISSN: --
NB! The publication is ONLY available online and can not be ordered on paper.

Norwegian development cooperation has a long tradition of emphasising locally based development and grassroot participation in the governing process. Over the last 15 - 20 years, this focus has gradually shifted to political and administrative reforms at the local level, in line with the emphasis on the cooperating countries' own responsibility for the development process.


Over the years, Norway has been engaged in many programmes and projects in this field and gained experience in a wide range of local reform issues and challenges. Today, the focus is shifting again, from national reform processes to budget support and sector reform implementation. The implementation of crosssector reforms has, to a large degree, become a responsibility for government alone, and the dialogue around reforms has become part of the overall governance dialogue in the budget support cooperation.

In this setting, experience from the various decentralisation programmes and
processes could give valuable insight into the difficult task of translating budget support to local level development and poverty alleviation.

Therefore, Norad has asked the Norwegian Institute of Urban and Regional Research, NIBR, to assemble and analyse the Norwegian participation in a
number of local development and local governance programmes and projects over the past 20 years. It has been a challenging task to review these processes, many of them several years back in time. Consequently, finalisation of these two reports has taken a considerable time, but has still been a worthwhile exercise. Senior Adviser Lornts Finanger at Norad's Department of Economics and Public Administration has organised and guided the implementation of the review.

This first report summarises experiences across all the selected programmes and presents a synthesised overview over lessons learned from them. The second report looks closer at one specific programme that Norway has followed for many years, the Local Government Reform Programme in Tanzania, and elaborates the linkages between decentralisation and poverty reduction in Tanzania, in light of the international literature on the subject.

Published 16.01.2009
Last updated 16.02.2015