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Traditional institutions in Africa and their role in a decentralized administrative framework has been the subject of analysis in recent times. However, these discussions have centred largely on political power and local control of resources, to the neglect of the challenges of local government boundary setting and its consequences for local development. Therefore, in countries implementing decentralization with existing strong chiefdoms and traditional areas of jurisdictions, such as Ghana, little consideration has been given to the effects of local government boundaries on community cohesiveness and local development. This article examines the challenges of decentralization in Ghana with particular focus on district administrative boundaries. It argues that the non-coincidence of the ‘traditional’ ethnic boundaries, namely Traditional Areas, and the ‘formal’ district administrative boundaries of some districts as well as the absence of an integrative system of traditional and modern governance present a challenge to local and district development under the present decentralization process. The article concludes that district boundary setting should be a process of ‘negotiated contract’ between the state and communities of which the boundary is meant to create a local government territorial area of jurisdiction. This process entails that the criteria for boundary setting take into account both cultural and economic factors.
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Keywords: Ghana; boundaries; decentralization; modern governance; traditional governance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana., Email:

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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