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Bringing the Citizen Back In: Supporting Decentralisation in Fragile States ‐ A View from Burundi

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While, in theory, decentralisation offers many benefits, empirical evidence of these benefits remains limited. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Burundi in 2011, this article argues that the current donor emphasis on institution‐building alone proves insufficient. Evidence is presented to show that current support, while consolidating the authority of local political elites, reinforces political and horizontal inequalities, thereby paving the way for further disaffection and conflict. Reflecting back to the initial aims of the process, a re‐orientation is proposed, moving the focus of support beyond elite state actors and institutions and bringing citizens back into the process of state building and transformation.
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Keywords: Burundi; Decentralisation; accountability; conflict; fragile states; governance; participation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2014

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