Local Governments and Public Goods: Assessing Decentralization in the Arab World

Mona Harb and Sami Atallah, Eds (2015)

Countries across the Arab world have been engaging in a range of decentralization efforts. This book, edited by Mona Harb and Sami Atallah, documents and assesses past and current decentralization policies and initiatives in five Arab states: Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen, Jordan, and Lebanon. A common analytical framework is employed to examine these five countries, which is structured along three components: the rules and politics of decentralization, the legislation and practice of service delivery, and the fiscal structures of decentralization. Through the examination of service delivery cases, this book identifies, documents, and understands instances of power struggles at the regional and local levels, and features that explain their varying successes and failures.

The book is organized in six chapters. Sami Yassine Turki and Eric Verdeil discuss how Tunisia has embarked on a substantive discussion of decentralization involving experts and community groups who are drafting a constitution regulating service delivery and urban management on various territorial scales. Ali Bouabid and Aziz Iraki investigate the story of decentralization in Morocco, highlighting the sustained efforts of the monarchy to control ongoing decentralization reforms. Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj, in chapter three, presents an alternate story: Yemen is the only studied country where decentralization has a historical, social and political legacy that was consolidated constitutionally, and where centralization initiatives are actually needed. Chapter four presents the Jordanian case, within which, Myriam Ababsa explains that the King pushes for both centralization and decentralization, depending on donors’ policies and tensions with tribal and Islamist opposition groups. Chapter five examines the Lebanese case and show how decentralization is only partially achieved, yielding mixed outcomes and a fragmented landscape of more or less efficient service delivery. The final chapter synthesizes the findings of the five chapters, underscoring cross-cutting themes that contribute to a better understanding of decentralization experiences and service delivery
in the Arab world, and thus can inform more relevant local and regional development policy-making. Chapters on Tunisia, Morocco, and Jordan were written in French while other chapters were in English.

Full text is available here


Harb, Mona and Sami Attalah, Eds (2015). Local Governments and Public Goods: Assessing Decentralization in the Arab World. Beirut, The Lebanese Center for Policy Studies.