Re-thinking District Multiplication in Uganda

World over, local government units are created to ensure equitable national development through reducing the load of responsibility on the central government; job multiplication; improving local control and ownership of resources; and improving accountability through local monitoring, and close social service delivery. This sums up the concept of decentralisation and the anticipated devolution of power. By description, decentralisation is a seemingly a fool-proof strategy to enhance service delivery to the local people, from whence the catch phrase “bringing services nearer to the people” was born.

The decentralisation policy was therefore in the quest to bring the central government and government institutions closer to the electorate, allow the citizenry to participate in local affairs, facilitate active democracy (autonomy and self-determination) and allow people to hold local leaders accountable for decisions that affect them directly; that the government of Uganda under the National Resistance Movement (NRM) embarked on rapid multiplication of new districts trend.

Although Uganda is not the first nation to follow this trend of creating smaller units as part of the decentralised system of governance factors such as the minimum population cover required for each district, clear-cut criterion as per the local government policy guidelines (Local Government Act), tribal-led territorial conflicts, politicking, and unrealistic expectations by the people have not been fully considered. Hence, while the Government of Uganda seemingly has good intentions for the citizens under the decentralisation policy, the major problem is not decentralisation as a concept in itself, but is in the details of implementation (the how) and administration (local government structures and policies).

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