In fragile states, there is often a significant gap between what the state can deliver and what the citizens need or expect. The participation of citizens contributes to inclusive decision-making. It improves local governance and the delivery of basic services, makes local governance more sustainable and increases welfare and stability.
The Inclusive Decisions At Local Level (IDEAL) programme of VNG International was a project aiming to strengthen local government capacity to deal with fragility risks. In 2019, KIT was requested to conduct the midline assessment of program in the seven target countries simultaneously as a follow up to the baseline produced in 2017. For both assignments, KIT’s role was to develop a mixed-methods approach to data collection, analyse and report on the programme’s impact, outcomes and outputs at the country level.
Local governments play a key role in supporting the resilience of their communities against instability and fragility. An improvement in Local Government capacities is therefore considered to positively influence the capacity of the Local Governments and their association to address fragility risks. VNG International’s IDEAL programme contributed to improving the local government capacities in seven target countries, each facing fragility or conflict: Rwanda, Uganda, Palestine, Mali, Burundi, South Sudan and Somaliland.
The basic services local governments provide and the policies they develop, have a direct effect on the lives of citizens. A central idea in IDEAL’s strategy is that the ability to address fragility risks arises from a perceived legitimacy of the local government by the citizens. IDEAL aims to contribute to legitimacy by involving citizens (including marginalized groups) in local decision-making, to ensure that their needs and opinions are reflected. The programme works on strengthening legitimacy as follows:
- Output Legitimacy is reached by improving the local government’s capability to generate development results, which leads to more responsive and effective service delivery of the local government.
- Input Legitimacy starts by improving citizen’s capability to self-organize and act, leading to a more inclusive and participatory policy process.
- The Enabling Environment starts by improving the capability to establish supportive relations with key stakeholder, leading to stronger institutional and policy environments.