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General News of Friday, 23 May 2008

Source: GNA

African Ministers to focus on local governance

Accra, May 23, GNA - A United Nations meeting in Yaound=E9, Cameroon, from May 28-30 will consider how strengthening local governance capacities in Africa can improve service delivery and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals on the continent. The theme of the Conference is: "From Policy to Implementation: Challenges and Strategies for Effective Implementation of Decentralized Governance in Africa", according to a statement issued in Accra on Friday by the United Nations.

The statement said the meeting would be attended by Ministers and senior officials responsible for local government and decentralization, as well as heads of local authorities.

It said some 150 participants from 35 African countries would share experiences on the role of leadership in Africa in implementing decentralization policies. They will discuss development and poverty reduction at local level, and the need to build capacity for decentralized governance.

The need for "good governance at all levels" is required "to ensure that resources are mobilized and used effectively. Participation, transparency and accountability are all crucial components of this process. Countries themselves must be in the driver's seat when governance reforms are involved," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Participants will also include representatives of development agencies and partners involved in decentralization and local governance as well as representatives of European municipalities participating in the Euro-Africa Partnership for Decentralized Governance. The statement said the conference would feature a special debate on the results of a seminar for elected women local government leaders on poverty reduction.

The seminar on "Strengthening Women's Leadership in Local Government for Effective Decentralized Governance and Poverty Reduction in Africa: Roles, Challenges and Strategies" would be held also in Yaound=E9 on 26-27 May.

The statement noted that decentralization policies and devolution of power and authority to local administrations were increasingly being implemented in Africa as part of efforts supported by aid agencies to achieve good governance.

Yet, "it is not sufficient to put in place policies, laws, and strategies emphasizing decentralization." said Guido Bertucci, Director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management at the United Nations.

"These policies and strategies must be effectively implemented to make a difference in the well-being of local communities, especially in terms of service delivery and development". The Conference is organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization of the Government of Cameroon, the UN Capital Development Fund, the UN Development Programme, and the Municipal Development Partnership.

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