Africa Region Findings & Good Practice Infobriefs

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These briefs report on ongoing operational, economic, and sector work carried out by the World Bank and its member governments in the Africa Region.

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Decentralizing Infrastructure Services : Lessons from the East Asia Experience

2007-02, Elisa Muzzini

Decentralization is the transfer of responsibilities from the central government to subnational agencies empowered to act as increasingly autonomous entities within their geographical and functional domains. In theory, decentralizing infrastructure services can deliver efficiency gains when service benefits accrue mainly to the local population-such as in water and sanitation, urban transit, and waste management. Subnational agencies are indeed better placed than the central government to tailor infrastructure services to the needs of local constituencies (allocative efficiency) and deliver them at lower costs (productive efficiency). In practice, the economic benefits of decentralized infrastructure services are by no means a given, as they are contingent upon effective coordination among tiers of governments (regional coordination) and accountability mechanisms for results achieved.