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Background

Most Asian countries have now embarked upon reorganising their


governance structures through decentralisation process. Local
governance institutions in these countries are expected to assume
greater responsibilities to promote participatory democratic practices,
equitable development and effective provisioning of public services. As
these institutions assume such roles and responsibilities, they must be
capacitated as well as be made accountable to the citizens, particularly to PRIA GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP (PGP)
the poor and marginalised. in association with
LOCAL GOVERNANCE INITIATIVE SOUTH ASIA (LoGIn)
The Conference LOGOLINK &
Asian Regional Conference on Effective Local Governance: INSTITUTE FOR GOVERNANCE AND DEVELOPMENT (IGD), NEPAL
Accountability, Participation and Inclusion is conceptualised as a announces
multi-stakeholder platform of civil society organisations, academicians,
government and donor agencies which engages in critical reflection on
strengthening local governance in the region. It is envisaged as a forum
for deliberating findings from empirical research, systematisation of
As i an
learning from grassroots actions and experiences from on-going policy
engagements. R e gi on al
PRIA Global Partnership (PGP) with the support from Local Governance
Initiative South Asia (LoGIn), a project of Swiss Agency for Development
and Cooperation (SDC) and LogoLink undertook a number of empirical
C on fer e n ce
cross-country (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka)
comparative research studies on the themes of democratic

Effective Local Governance:


decentralisation, capacity development, democratic accountability,
citizen participation and social inclusion, right to information and
participatory planning in the context of local governance. The findings of
these studies will be shared in this conference with the expectation that
they will be further enriched by the deliberations in the conference. Accountability
The conference is expected to catalyse a regional coalition of
practitioners of local governance, citizen participation and democratic
accountability. It is envisaged that such coalition through exchanges of
Participation &
practice based knowledge would strengthen in-country local actions and
inform the policy processes on an on-going basis. Inclusion
2-4 June 2011
Kathmandu, Nepal
Specific Objectives The Organisers
• Sharing knowledge and lessons learned for enhancing capacities of
practitioners in strengthening local governance institutions;
PRIA GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP (PGP) is an initiative of PRIA to foster
knowledge and relationships globally. PGP strengthens and nurtures partnerships
• Identifying issues and priorities for multi-stakeholder actions at the country across communities and countries to ‘make democracy work for all citizens’ through
and regional levels towards strengthening local governance institutions; developing local capacities, harvesting and sharing innovations through research
• Catalysing a multi-stakeholder coalition in the Asian region which fosters and action learning, organizing learning processes and promoting multi-stakeholder
cooperation and partnership for strengthening local governance institutions. engagement and convening.

Expected Outcomes
LOCAL GOVERNANCE INITIATIVE SOUTH ASIA (LoGIn South
• Shared understanding among the participants on the emerging challenges of
Asia) is a project of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It seeks
strengthening local governance institutions and their implications on future
to disseminate and upscale good practices and lessons learnt from SDC supported
policies and programmes in the region;
projects in the field of local governance and decentralisation in India as well as in
• Articulation of a strategic direction with clarity on roles and responsibilities for other South Asian countries where SDC works. The project provides furthermore
various actors in the regional coalition with a view to enhance efficiency in support to knowledge exchange between developing countries and between
capacity development support to local governance institutions.
Switzerland and the countries in South Asia.

LOGOLINK, the Learning Initiative on Citizen Participation and Local


Participation in the Governance, is a global network of practitioners from civil society organizations,
research institutions and governments created to deepen democracy and social
Conference justice through greater citizen participation and engagement in local governance.
Supported by the Ford Foundation, LogoLink encourages learning from field-based
Participants will be invited from about 15 countries from South and South East innovations and expressions of democracy that contribute to social justice.
Asian regions. Participation in the conference is primarily by invitation.
Practitioners and scholars interested in self-sponsored participation in the
conference, please contact the Conference Coordination Team by 31 March 2011.
Conference Coordination Team: INSTITUTUE OF GOVERNANCE AND DEVELOPMENT (IGD),
Dr. Kaustuv Kanti Bandyopadhyay Dr. Vikas Jha Nepal affirms the rights of all citizens, particularly the most vulnerable,
Director Programme Manager discriminated and marginalised, to take part in the conduct of public affairs. It has
PRIA Global Partnership (PGP) PRIA Global Partnership (PGP) been working on various initiatives on decentralisation aiming principally to
kaustuv.bandyopadhyay@pria.org vikas.jha@pria.org strengthen the legal frameworks and to provide training to local elected authorities,
disadvantaged and marginalised women and other citizen groups.
Conference Themes
Capacity Development Democratic Accountability Participation and Inclusion
In recent years there has been renewed interest The Asian countries suffer from several common In Asian societies, inequalities are manifested in
on capacity development of the local governance democratic deficits. These deficits are often identified as different forms which can be attributed to social
institutions among civil society, academia, lack of transparency and accountability in the working of constructs (gender, race, ethnicity, religion etc.),
government, donors and other development public institutions, poor implementation of rule of law to geographical disparties, non-inclusive economic policies
partners. A number of innovations both in the guarantee individual and group rights and security, non- and non-participative political systems or combination
methodology as well as in the contents have participatory methods of designing policies, programmes of these structural elements. Such inequalities have
been made. Realising the limitations of ‘training and service delivery by the government institutions and resulted in exclusion of various social groups and
dominated’ approach to capacity development, almost non-existence of effective institutions for checking individuals in appropriately using social relations and
there is now greater readiness to experiment corruption. What makes the matter worse is the non- institutions for fuller participation in the society in
with a broader repository of learning methods. functioning of mechanisms for horizontal accountability which they live. More often the existing social systems
The discussion will take a systemic view of and slow beginning of vertical accountability and structures push groups or individuals in
capacity development and inquire into the mechanisms1 in large parts of Asia. Horizontal multidimensional disadvantages and deprivations.
theme from three angles (i) Individual (ii) accountability mechanisms largely falling in the domain of Social inclusion connotes affirmative actions to change
Organisational, and (iii) Institutional views of government often fall short of creating spaces for citizens the circumstances and habits that lead to (or have led
capacity development. The theme will explore to participate. On the contrary, vertical accountability to) social exclusion. Local governments have the
the following key questions: mechanisms give opportunities to citizens to participate potential to be the most proximate and participatory
in governance processes. Following questions will be institutions that citizens could have access to and have a
• What kind of policies, programmes, key role in promoting social inclusion and citizen
unravelled in this theme:
institutions and resources enable capacity
participation at the local level. The experiences with
development of local governance • What kind of policies, institutions, political systems
regard to local governments effectively dealing with
institutions? enable democratic accountability mechanisms and
social inclusions and citizen participation are yet to be
practices?
• What lessons could be drawn from capacity systematised. The theme will discuss and unpack the
development practices across the countries • What are the pre-conditions, preparations and following key questions:
in the Asian region? processes for initiating and sustaining democratic
• What specific policy and institutional design for
accountability mechanisms and practices?
• What positive changes have been brought local governments make them effective in
about through capacity development • What are the impacts of democratic accountability addressing issue of social inclusion and citizen
initiatives across the countries in the Asian practices on the local governance institutions, civil participation?
region? What evidences could be society, and citizens and on the relationship between
• How have local governments functioned in different
showcased? these actors?
contexts to address issues of social exclusion? What
1 Horizontal accountability is the capacity of state institutions to check
• Which positive experiences could inform has worked and what hasn’t?
abuses of power by other public agencies and branches of government;
future capacity development policies and e.g. Parliament, Judiciary, Anti-Corruption Commissions, audit • How have excluded groups especially women,
programmes? institutions, ombudsman offices, human rights institutions etc. ; while deprived social groups and indigenous people made
vertical accountability is the means through which citizens, mass media
local governments more inclusive and participatory
and civil society seek to enforce standards of good performance and
conducts on officials; e.g. various social accountability mechanisms. and what has been the impact?