From 30 June to 1 July 2016, the regional seminar on “The Implementation of the Whitebook on Financial Decentralisation within UEMOA” took place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
The seminar was jointly organised by the Council of Local Government Associations (CCT) of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known by its French acronym, UEMOA), DeLoG and the Global Fund for Cities Development (FMDV), supported by France (French Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Germany (GIZ) and Switzerland (DEZA/ SDC).
The seminar was opened by the Minister of State of Burkina Faso, Simon Compaoré, who emphasised the importance of regional cooperation for financial decentralisation in the region. Mr Banabé Z. Dassigli, the Minister for Decentralisation of Benin and President of the African Union Subcommittee for Decentralisation and Local Governance expressed his gratitude and welcomed the effort made by the UEMOA, which has a triggering effect not only in the region but the whole continent. Accordingly, Dr.Dr. Dietrich Fritz Reinhold Pohl, the German Ambassador to Burkina Faso, highly appreciated the seminar as being the first of its kind to bring together important stakeholders of the region in order to advance the process of financial decentralisation for sustainable development, and underlined the German contribution in that area in the region.
The Whitebook was developed and published in 2014 by the CCT/UEMOA, and includes recommendations and a roadmap for advancing the process of financial decentralisation in the region. It was developed against the background that, although the decentralisation process is continuing in the region, the majority of local governments lack the financial resources necessary to fulfil their given tasks. Amongst other, the Whitebook foresees the gradual increase of intergovernmental transfers to local authorities up to 20% of the national budget.
With the objective to develop an operational strategy to advocate for the recommendations of the Whitebook and convey the message into the UEMOA member countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo), the seminar brought together over 70 participants, among them directors of the Ministries of Finance and Decentralisation, Presidents of Local Government Associations, Mayors and representatives of national financing institutions of local governments from all UEMOA countries, as well as development partners from ADA, GIZ, SDC, French Development Cooperation, KfW and UNDP.
Over the course of the two-day seminar, participants discussed the following questions in groups:
- Who hinders the process of financial decentralisation and what are the obstacles?
- What are convincing arguments for financial decentralisation to address the main stakeholders?
- What are the next steps on a regional and national level for the next 24 months?
In the course of the seminar, many participants took the opportunity to underline the critical role of financial decentralisation in fragile and conflict affected environments, where resilience is often strongest at the local level. All results were summarised in a closing session, welcomed by the presidents the Local Government Associations present and will be compiled over the next weeks to be distributed in the UEMOA countries. The report and the strategic advocacy paper will soon be published on our website.
DeLoG played a crucial role in bringing together for the first time, key stakeholders and development partners in the region to discuss the way forward for a successful decentralisation process towards greater fiscal autonomy at the local level.
Please find below (in French):
The following photos were taken by Lea Flaspoehler and Carole Guilloux