Participatory Local Development and Service Delivery in Francophone Africa

Key Contact
Nicolas Perrin
Start Date
End Date
Funding Amount
$ 24,814
Knowledge-providing Countries
Knowledge-receiving Countries


The Governments of Cameroon, Guinea and Senegal (“the Governments”) have been pursuing a strategy of decentralization in tackling challenges of poverty, weak institutional capacity, and fragility. While these Governments have been considerably successful in supporting bottom-up local development in ongoing World Bank-funded projects, they have encountered certain technical difficulties scaling up their projects to mainstream participatory approaches into the government structures.

Through a knowledge exchange, consisting of video conferences and study tours, the Governments have gained new learnings on enhancing institutionalization of participatory local development and service delivery. The Governments have also exchanged insights on how citizen engagement and local budget planning tools can be deployed for effective and sustainable implementation of local development plans. They have been apprised to the importance of promoting ownership of stakeholders at all levels of government; as well as leveraging on technology and building technical and institutional capacity in strengthening local public finance management. Furthermore, they have learnt how obtaining constant community feedback, through well-functioning grievance redress mechanisms and close monitoring of the local budget expenditure and socio-economic data, is vital to inform better policy making and higher quality investments for local development. Based on these lessons, the Governments have identified specific plans that will lead to new and improved actions for decentralization, some of which are already underway.


In response to challenges of poverty, fragility, and weak governance, the Governments have been pursuing a strategy of decentralization, in strengthening the social contract between state and citizens.

The decentralization has been focused on improving delivery of basic services and infrastructure, promoting local ownership, as well as generating more efficient and equitable use of resources. In alignment with their respective Country Partnership Frameworks of the World Bank to improve service delivery and governance amongst others, these Governments have undertaken the following projects which apply Community-Driven Development (CDD) approach to promote participatory local development processes: Cameroon - Community Development Program Support Project (Programme National de Développement Participatif, PNDP); Guinea - Third Village Community Support Project

(Programme d’Appui aux Communautés Villageoises, PACV) and; Senegal - Casamance Development Pole Project. By involving local communities more actively and directly, the projects’ participatory approaches to local development support poverty-reducing investments, avoid elite capture, and promote accountability and social cohesion.

While these Governments have been considerably successful in delivering services and promoting bottom-up and transparent governance at the project-level, they have been struggling with how to (a) institutionalize the bottom-up financial and administrative modalities, (b) strengthen capacity building of the local authorities and (c) promote coordination and ownership of stakeholders at the various levels of government. Doing so effectively is imperative to achieve sustained impact and momentum for their country’s vision for decentralization, beyond the life the projects. These francophone Governments have also had limited access to international good practices for decentralization, due to language barriers. Challenges related to the devolution of competences to local governments and public financial management also remain.


Thus, the World Bank team together with these Governments decided to organize a knowledge exchange. Such peer learning among these francophone African states was deemed highly beneficial as these countries shared similar decentralization contexts, challenges, and opportunities to learn from each other. This knowledge exchange was especially timely as the Governments were seeking to institutionalize their bottom-up financial and administrative models under ongoing projects (albeit with different levels of maturity). Especially in Guinea, the Government has created the National Fund for Local Development in 2016, as well as its managing agency called the National Agency for Local Governments Financing (ANAFIC) in November 2017, and therefore the knowledge exchange was a timely opportunity to gain practical lessons that could feed into the new agency and their implementation modalities.

Video conferences

As part of the knowledge exchange, three video conferences were held with the project teams from Cameroon, Guinea and Senegal from September 2017 to March 2018, in which technical specialists from World Bank and other partners like the French Development Agency and the Institute for State Effectiveness also participated. The video conferences covered the operational strategies of the projects, as well as in-depth technical discussions on (a) citizen engagement and (b) fiscal transfer and capacity requirements for CDD approaches/decentralization. These topics were selected based on the participants’ preferences from an online survey conducted beforehand. Exchanges at the video conference allowed the Governments to collect feedback and exchange solutions in the implementation of citizen engagement mechanisms, as well as explore alternatives for institutionalizing good practices. The participants were also better prepared to absorb first-hand experiences during the study tours that followed the video conferences.

Study visits between Cameroon and Guinea

Exchange visits were organized between the Government of Cameroon and Guinea, as the two countries had the “twin” operational models in their on-going projects which allowed an effective mutual learning. Study tours were deemed the most appropriate instrument for deeper knowledge exchange as it allowed the two countries who shared a very similar set of challenges to build more personal relational ties and have first-hand, deeper policy and technical discussions.

Study Visit to Cameroon

From April 9 to 13, 2018, a delegation of Guinea visited Yaoundé and the East Region of Cameroon, consisted of officials from the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization (MATD), the PACV’s national coordinator and technical staff, and the Chairperson of the Mayors’ association of Guinea. The study tour program included two-way presentations and Q&As, field visits to the PNDP site and face-to-face discussions with the two supervising Ministries, local government, line ministries and technical agencies, village-level committees and local communities. The Guinean delegation visited the PNDP’s national call center and observed Cameroon’s local-level financial management system (SIM_BA) and how the community personnel have been trained and were able to use the system well. The delegation also visited an urban commune in Yaoundé to discuss how the participatory approach was adapted to the urban context. While the on-going PACV in Guinea only operates in rural communes of the country, the newly created ANAFIC will cover urban communes, and the experience from Cameroon could be insightful.

Study Visit to Guinea

Subsequently, a group of six Cameroon delegates visited Conakry and the Eastern Region of Guinea from May 14 to 18, 2018, which comprised officials from the Ministry of the Economy of Planning and Spatial Planning (MINEPAT) and the Ministry of Decentralization and Local Development (MINDDEVEL ), and the PNDP’s national coordinator and technical staff. During the study visit, the delegates met the Ministry, the Secretary General and other officials of MATD and the Governor of the Labé administrative region, and visited the project sites. There was also knowledge sharing with the local government officials, deconcentrated technical services at the prefectural level, community leaders, and the PACV’s filed agents on their experiences with local capacity building, the citizen engagement tools (such as participatory monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and participatory budgeting), and the local development database. On these tools and activities, the delegates were able to directly pose questions and to provide suggestions to the local stakeholders.

Knowledge Exchange Network

Even after the study visits, the Governments and the project staff are keen to continue their technical discussions and the friendship initiated by the program. In October 2018, another video conference was organized to discuss a performance-based financing, projects’ database and support to urban communes. A short assessment note of Citizen Engagement tools and mechanisms under the target projects was prepared (in French) based on the knowledge exchange program, with a purpose of further strengthening practice and lessons on Francophone Africa’s experience in institutionalizing CDD models.

Lessons Learned

The Governments learnt the following key lessons from the knowledge exchange:

• Citizen engagement tools, such as participatory budgeting and participatory M&E, can be highly effective in promoting community ownership and accountability for the sustainable implementation of local development plans.

• Budget planning at the local level should inform the preparation of the national public investment budget for more optimal use of national resources.

• Monitoring of local budget expenditure and relevant socio-economic data are strategic functions to achieve better policy decision making, greater cost-effectiveness and enhanced visibility to advance the decentralization agenda.

• Local governments need to be well equipped with basic infrastructure to handle financial management IT systems and software for effective decentralization, and to support sustainable management of community micro-projects

• The quality of the local development investment is greatly enhanced by involving the line ministries, state decentralized services, relevant technical agencies in the participatory planning processes. This will strengthen ownership, accountability and mobilization of resources for effective implementation.

• Promoting indigenous solutioning to local development challenges can not only circumvent budgetary constraints but foster civic engagement.

• Building local technical capacity, particularly of young persons in the community, is essential in sustaining efforts to institutionalize bottom-up local development and decentralization.

Beneficiaries / Participants

The videoconference participants comprised: (a) the World Bank tasks team, (b) government officials from Cameroon, Guinea and Senegal who were in charge of decentralization agendas in the country as well as the project coordinators and key technical team members, (c) team leaders from the AFD, and (d) focal persons from the Institute for State Effectiveness.

The Guinean delegation who visited Cameroon comprised the following list of participants:

Title Organization
Chief Secretary and Principal Technical Adviser Ministry
of Territorial
Administration and
Deputy National Director of Decentralization MATD
National Coordinator Programme
d’Appui aux
National Monitoring and Evaluation Manager PACV3
Elected representative (Chairperson of the Mayors’
Association of Guinea)
Technical Operations Manager PACV3

Knowledge providers from Cameroon included all the PNDP members, Minister and the high-level officials of the MINEPAD and the MINDDEVEL, regional-level stakeholders including the Governor of Hôte Region, Local authorities (Bertoua, Bétaré-Oya, Mandjou, and Yaounde 7), local-level facilitators and the project staff.

Title Organization
Director of Infrastructures and support to Regional and
Local Development
Head of Service for economic and financial assistance MINDDEVEL
National Coordinator PNDP
Regional Coordinator PNDP
Training and Capacity Development Manager PNDP
Social and Environmental Sepcialist PNDP

The knowledge providers from Guinea included the National Coordination Unit and the Eastern regional technical support unit of the PACV3, prefectural and commune-level technical officers and Local Development Agents, as well as partner NGOs. The delegation also met with the Minister and the high level officials from the MATD, and the Governor and councils of the Labe region, and local authorities visited (Labe, Hafia, Popodara).

World Bank Contribution

A World Bank task team facilitated the knowledge exchange (over video conferencing and study tours) among the three target countries, which was funded by a grant ($25,000) from the South-South Facility. Given that the task team leaders of the target three projects participated in video conferences and in the study tours, to provide facilitating roles and to navigate technical dialogues in the respective context and also by drawing lesson from global examples on specific technical aspects and on modalities of knowledge exchange. The team was led by Nicolas Perrin (Sr. Social Development Specialist) and comprised of: Kaori Oshima (Social Development Specialist), Benjamin Burckhart (Sr. Social Development Specialist), Olivier Nkounga (Consultant), Abel Paul Basile Bove (Sr. Governance Specialist), and Najat Yamouri (Sr. Social Development Specialist) with support from the three country offices. Phil Karp (Lead Knowledge Management Officer) from the GSURR Front Office Knowledge and Learning team also lent support in facilitating the program set-up.

Moving forward

• The Governments will continue to build on this knowledge network to communicate and exchange knowledge on participatory decentralization practices. This can be achieved through periodic meetings (e.g. over video conferencing) organized for CDD practitioners and project implementation teams to dive into more technical discussions on citizen engagement. The World Bank task teams will also explore opportunities to enhance connectivity among a wider community in the Francophone African sub region.

• The Governments will review on their citizen engagement and institutionalization models of the bottom-up local development and improve the implementation of their on-going projects including potential restructuring and additional financing.

Several concrete actions are already underway. For example, the Guinea team is securing specific budgets to provide the basic infrastructure (including an installment of SIM_BA) to the local governments and is conducting an assessment on Citizen Engagement tools. The Cameroon team has organized a workshop on awareness raising among the stakeholders on the PNDP’s participatory approaches, and is exploring ways to improve involvement of local authorities, key line ministries and technical agencies in the participatory planning processes.


New Knowledge

Learning from one another’s CDD experience has allowed these government officials and policy makers to understand practical lessons and opportunities in institutionalizing bottom-up models and be more effective and strategic in implementing the project and holding policy dialogues to advance their long-term decentralization vision. Based on what they have learned, the participants were better equipped and have greater confidence to propose improvements and to introduce certain reforms, such as (a) ensuring the social inclusion of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups populations such as indigenous populations,returnees, refugees and women, and (b) working in new territorial areas like urban environments and/or fragile conflict-affected areas.

Particularly through the study tour exchanges, Cameroon has learnt much from Guinea’s robust use of citizen engagement mechanisms and is keen to adapt them to improve their own participatory processes. Impressed by how the MATD and the local governments are well aware of the PACV’s participatory tools, after the study tour, the Cameroon-MINEPAT initiated a stakeholders’ workshop to promote understanding on the PNDP’s key contributions and approaches including the five-year Local Development Plans (LDP). Cameroon also recognized that Guinea’s use of participatory budgeting and Annual Investment Programs developed by the community can be highly effective in promoting community ownership and accountability for the implementation of LDPs. Additionally, Cameroon is reviewing how LDPs and local-level public investment plans can better guide the preparation of the national public investment budget. Presently, local plans are not sufficiently considered in central government planning, while a bottom-up approach would ensure greater cost-effectiveness and more optimal use of national resources.

Guinea has similarly identified improved action on participatory practices and institutionalization, including scaling up citizen engagement tools. Based on the PNDP experiences, Guinea was made aware of the importance of providing supporting basic infrastructure (e.g. computers, solar kits and motorcycles) to the local government for the effective management of community micro-projects. In addition, Guinea was highly inspired by Cameroon’s examples of how the community collectively developed “indigenous” solutions to address local challenges. For example, a community in Cameroon came together to build a bridge by pooling their own resources and efforts to solve a local problem which was identified in the participatory planning process but lacked funding from their local government. Thus, in bolstering community ownership and fostering civic engagement, Guinea is keen to initiate assessment and implement new programmatic approaches to promote indigenous solutions in communities.

“I will bring back good lessons and ideas to my country. The intellectual recipe is priceless. This sharing of experiences reassured me of the success of the projects in our respective communities, which are the only beneficiaries” said Moussa Filan Traore, Principal Technical Adviser at the Guinea Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization.

The project technical officers from Senegal highly appreciated the knowledge sharing with Guinea and Cameroon at the video conferences, as the Senegal project had just processed a restructuring to incorporate more explicit engagement of local governments and citizens in their local development strategies. There were practical lessons and experiences that the Senegal team could learn and adapt to their operation, while it was an opportunity for the Senegal team to also share their local development and capacity building experiences so far, and to build a network of practitioners with their neighboring countries.

Participatory M&E

The Governments were apprised of how participatory M&E in Guinea was allowing citizens and the local authorities to have more timely, transparent and inclusive information sharing, and to take actions to improve basic services with more efficient use of community resources. Cameroon has plans to deploy participatory M&E nation-wide and will conduct research on new approaches to Citizen Engagement tools including participatory M&E and Grievance Redress Mechanisms.

Robust database:

The Governments have also learned that tracking of local budget expenditure, strengthening community feedback mechanisms and collecting relevant socio-economic data must be viewed as strategic functions to achieve better policy decision making, as well as greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Learning from Cameroon, Guinea has plans to strengthen its local budget monitoring mechanisms, including collecting more robust data for in-depth analysis, to promote project visibility and gain greater buy-in for decentralization. Conversely, Cameroon intends to establish and operationalize a more rigorous socio-economic database for monitoring and evaluation.

Improved financial management system

The Governments also shared lessons on their fiscal transfers and mechanisms or collecting tax revenues, as well as mobilizing and managing funds for effective decentralization. Guinea learned from how Cameroon institutionalized the financing of the local community’s annual investment plans, through their permanent financial outfit, Special Funds for Council Management (FEICOM), which was particularly useful as Guinea was seeking to operationalize their recently established ANAFIC. Guinea was also keen to explore how communities could access loans at low interest rates through FEICOM, which would allow communities to scale up local projects for greater socio-economic viability and improve the financial capacity of the local governments. Additionally, in observing Cameroon’s use of the financial management system, SIM_BA, Guinea concluded that a similar financial management software would likely be a good match for their needs and could be installed under the ANAFIC in all communities.

Strengthened stakeholder ownership and accountability

The knowledge exchange has also deepened the Governments’ reflections on the roles (including financial and administrative arrangements) of various stakeholders, such as the central ministry, line ministries, state decentralized services, technical and financial agencies, local authorities and local communities. In light of Guinea’s success in fostering trust and ownership among stakeholders, Cameroon intends to strengthen inclusion of key representatives from the State Decentralised Services, line ministries and technical agencies into the project implementation team, and to involve them in the participatory local planning and budgeting process. Doing so would improve the quality of the investments, build greater sense of ownership and accountability, as well as facilitate the mobilization of the necessary and/or complementary resources by these agencies, for the more effective implementation of the local development plan.

Enhanced capacity building and skill training

The Governments were able to share good practices on institutional measures to strengthen the technical capacities of local governments and communities. Guinea has learned from Cameroon’s experience in recruiting and training young persons from the local communities to provide technical support to local governments, in terms of citizen engagement practices and the use of IT software. This would strengthen local capacity and skill transfer which is vital for long-term sustainability.

Enhanced connectivity and creation of informal knowledge network in francophone Africa

This knowledge exchange has created an informal knowledge network through the strengthening of personal ties amongst the government officials and project technical staff of the three countries. Given that there are many other countries in the sub-region that are in a similar stage of their decentralization process and are likely to face similar challenges; the establishment of this network lays a strong foundation

in paving the way for a more formal knowledge platform with other francophone African countries on participatory decentralization practices. This would not only enhance regional connectivity, but also

potentially create an important regional public good beyond the three countries. As these francophone countries continue to communicate and exchange information on CDD, this will stimulate more dynamic discussion and enhancement of knowledge and practice. In addition, the delegation gained enhanced connectivity among themselves (i.e. between the project team staff and Ministry staff), fostering closer ties of collaboration and communication.


The activities were led by World Bank in close collaboration with colleagues in the AFD who is the main partner of the projects in Cameroon and Guinea, as well as the Institute for State Effectiveness who served as resource persons and participated in the video conferences.