Building local government capacity for rural infrastructure works

Decentralising responsibility for the provision and maintenance of infrastructure is a growing trend. Although the degree and form of such initiatives vary, the rationale is usually to enhance local participation, enhance the sense of ownership, and generally improve efficiency in planning and implementation. The provision of rural infrastructure often consists of a large number of comparatively small investments over a geographically large area. Having the appropriate management tools and sufficient resources puts local authorities in a good position to effectively plan and supervise rural infrastructure works. The nature of these works offers significant potential for the use of local resources, including small- and medium-sized contractors, builders, labour, and materials.

This publication discusses the sustainable provision of rural infrastructure in a decentralised government structure with the involvement of the local private sector. Rather than describing the virtues of local governance, it outlines possible implementation arrangements as regards the construction and maintenance of rural infrastructure programmes of scale in developing countries. It covers all aspects of a development programme, from planning and identification, to works execution and maintenance. A general description of capacity-building requirements and design of training programmes for this purpose is also included.

The paper is targeted at planners and senior management staff involved in design and implementation of rural infrastructure works, including senior government staff, project task managers and donors. Case studies from three countries demonstrate the viability of the systems recommended. The implementation strategies described follow the approaches applied by the ASIST - Asia Pacific in its programme of providing technical and managerial advisory support to infrastructure works programmes in the region.