South-Sudan: Moving towards people centred governance

From 8 through 12 November 2010, the South Sudan Local Governance Board (LGB), in cooperation with The Hague Academy for Local Governance, and funded by VNG international, organised a tailor-made training course on Peacebuilding, Decentralisation and Local Governance. The course took place at the premises of the LGB and brought together a group of representatives from Local Governments, various Ministries, iNGOs and the LGB itself.

Since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), there has been an increased push for decentralisation in South-Sudan. But why decentralise, and what effects can it have on the stability of the country? The overall objective of the course was to establish a shared vision on the rationale for decentralisation reform in South Sudan between various key government organisations and generate innovative approaches to overcome the main challenges within this process. In order to come to this common understanding the group engaged in various group discussions and exercises, which resulted in:

  • Better responsiveness, through taking the power of decision making closer to the citizens and giving them more opportunities to hold the government accountable;
  • Improved political accommodation of various (tribal) groups;
  • More effective service delivery;
  • More effective maintenance of law and order.

Summing up, the decentralisation challenge for the GoSS is to move to a system that is more conducive to citizens participation and helps empower them. The recently approved Local Government Act (LGA) lays out the structure for this new system. However, at this point in time, the GoSS is still facing discrepancies between what is written in the LGA and what is happening in practice. If decentralisation is to gain stable ground in South-Sudan, there are several issues (e.g. the assignment of authorities, fiscal discretion and political control) that urgently need to be resolved after the referendum on independence has taken place.

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