The challenges of implementing decentralisation: recent experiences in Uganda


  • Martin Onyach-Olaa

    Corresponding author
    1. Programme Management Unit, Ministry of Local Government, Kampala, Uganda
    • Programme Management Unit, Ministry of Local Government, Metropole House, 5th Floor, 8/10 Entebbe Road, PO Box 7723, Kampala, Uganda.
    Search for more papers by this author

  • The views expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not represent the views of the Ministry or the international development institutions that fund the programmes discussed here, including the World Bank, UNDP and UNCDF.


Decentralisation, which began in Uganda in 1993, has increased opportunities for citizens to democratically determine how they should be governed and to make choices regarding the type and quality of public services they want. Citizens are now empowered to elect on a periodic basis persons whom they think can serve their interests on local councils. These changes have caused a major realignment in central–local relations. Some of the most important reforms have been led by the District Development Programme and the Local Government Development Programme, which are a focus of this article. Since the process began, numerous achievements have been realised in terms of improving governance and service delivery through democratic participation and community involvement. Despite these achievements, Uganda still faces a number of major challenges in deepening and institutionalising decentralisation. These challenges include, among others, technical capacity deficiencies in local governments and tensions among key stakeholders competing to maximise their role in decentralisation. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.