An Assessment of the Current Decentralized Regional and Local Development Experience in Oromia Region (1992-1996/97): Challenges and Prospects

Abagojam, Mohammed (1999) An Assessment of the Current Decentralized Regional and Local Development Experience in Oromia Region (1992-1996/97): Challenges and Prospects. Masters thesis, Addis Ababa University.

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The increasing contemporary literature on regional and local development does not seem to win the consensus of debating parties. Controversies are growing widely among academicians, politicians, administrators and practitioners on the constituent parameters of regional and local development. Even the term "region" is not the exception to such conceptual difficulties (Sileshi, 1993; Zewdie and Abdulhamid, 1993). In fact, such increasing controversy can be expected when one takes into account that the theory of development itself is unsettled and hence the issue of development process and problems yet unresolved. Many writers (Ayele, 1987: Obudho, 1988: Tandon, 1990: Sileshi, 1993) tend to claim that the concept of regional and locally based economic development is not a new phenomenon in economic growth theory. For these same writers, it has its roots in the balanced versus unbalanced growth controversies of the 1950s and 1960s. According to (Obudho, 1988) both theories (balanced and unbalanced), together often known as the top-down approach to development, tend to attribute regional growth disparities to the initial advantages of some regions, the successive circular and cumulative mechanisms and to the operation of backwash effect. This assertion implies that once the process of development has begun in particular regions, labour, capital and raw materials tend to flow to these regions from the other regions. And hence, while Lewis (1955), from the balanced growth theory, suggested to concentrate investments on well integrated industrial centers in the early stages of industrialisation, which is latter to be followed by other centers; Hirschman (1958), from the unbalanced growth school of economic thought argues, on the other hand, that growth can be transmitted from one region to another manifested in "growth-points" and "lagging" regions (Zewdie and Abdulhamid, 1993). In a nut shell, the central idea of both approaches rests on the belief that the nucleus of development spreads (trickle-down) from urban industrial center, first to the hinterland areas, then gradually to the rural areas. However, both approaches have been criticized. Because, subsequent observations have revealed that the impact of development from the center to rural areas has not been significant enough to justify the approaches. Rather, the implementation of such approaches caused and accelerated the problems of unemployment, poverty and income inequality in both rural and urban areas of low-income countries (Obudho, 1988). It was, hence, failure of the center-down paradigm to achieve the development objectives often defined in broader sense constituting "growth", "welfare", and "empowerment" (Tandon, 1990) that gave birth to the current increasing debate on the issues of regional and local development. Having discussed the theoretical background of regional and local development, it becomes imperative to have the operational definition of the concept 'regional and local development'. In his work titled 'planning local economic development', Blakey (1989), defmes regional and local development as: "a process that emphasizes the full use of existing human, material, financial and natural resources to build employment and create wealth within a defined locality." According to this definition, the main argument of regional and local development is that development strategies and efforts should emanate internally from the natural, socio-economic and political factors that shape the local community in such away that it benefits the locality and enhances local regional and national development. Together, there comes the need to be aware of the concepts 'region' and 'regionalization'. Different schools of thought have attempted to define a 'region' in different ways. Some resort to the idea that a 'region' is an organic entity while others characterize it in terms of physical conditions. Still others try to define it as a defined portion of the earth's surface distinguished by certain natural features (Hadis, 1993). This implies that there is no consensus on the conceptual definition of a region. However, one important factor that has to be accounted in the concept of a region is the purpose of its delineation i.e.. the purpose of regionalization. According to Hadis (1993), regionalization is the process of delineating regions. This same writer noted that regionalization may take several forms depending on its purpose. He also pointed at the four main purposes often used in the regionalization of diverse countries. These are - administrative, political or strategic. social and economic purposes. In Ethiopia. regional problems and the exercise of regional development began to be formally considered in the five years development plan. which were prepared Juring the Hailessilassie regime. Those plans stressed economic sectors that \\ ere considered to have strategic importance in accelerating economic growth in particular and development 111 general. Hence, all the plans aspired to achieve a higher level of development by giving particular emphasis on selected spatial activities. While the first five year plan (1958-62) generally emphasized on the improvement of infrastructure services as road, communication and educational infrastructures the second five year plan focused on the development of processing industries, mining and the generation of electricity (Ayele, 1987). The second five year development plan (1963-67) had attempted to have relatively better consideration of regional development issues, but, it was the Third-five year development plan (1968-72) that gave a wider coverage to regional development (Sileshi, 1984). However, due to the inherent problems of the feudal system and its consequent political instability that reached its climax in Ethiopia at that very moment, the Third Five year development programme could not have gone much beyond identification of sectoral activities within a few geographically defined areas, such as the one based on the Awrajas and river basins (Sileshi, 1984). One can draw an implicit conclusion from both the policy and the development plans of the time that the country had been exercising unbalanced development strategy. Subsequently, it was in the ten-year perspective plan (1984/85-1993/94) of the ex-military regime that the issues of regional economic development were more extensively elaborated in Ethiopia. As stated in the plan document, the overall objective of regional development was to achieve a more balanced and proportionate development of the various regions in the country. In the meantime, sewn development planning regions were delineated and a resource based or as economists often call it. "demand pull development strategy" was initiated. Nevertheless, the political chaos and its consequent prolonged war that was characterizing the country during the military regime adversely affected this plan. Upon seizing power in July 1991. the EPRDF led Transitional Government of Ethiopia (TGE) took decisive economic and political transformation measures. Together with the adoption of market-oriented economic policy. it established 14 National/regional selfgovernments (proclamation 1\0. 7 1992) and decentralized certain aspects of decision making power to regions and their respective local administrations. l\loreover. the government also decentralized the.' administration and management of natur.ii resourceutilization in ways that will benefit the people of the country at large (proclamation Nl 33/1992 and No. 41/1992 respectively). It is, thus, within the current decentralized regional development perspective that this thesis attempts to assess and analyse the practice of the current decentralized development in Oromia Region, one of the nine regional governments of Ethiopia. In doing so. the thesis makes use of the institutional approach to assess and analyse the challenges and prospects of regional and local development in the region. The thesis, therefore, confines its focus to issues pertaining to institutional development as well as factors affecting it. Moreover, it also seeks ways of improving the performance of administrative structure and personnel of the region so that the regional government might properly exercise its role as 'engine' of the region's socio-economic development.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Divisions: Africana
Depositing User: Tim Khabala
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2018 10:24
Last Modified: 09 Aug 2018 10:24

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