Joel V. Mangahas
Decentralized delivery of basic services potentially enhances allocative efficiency and responsiveness of public investments. Insofar as local autonomy provides greater discretion for subnational units of governments, it is an imperative that devolved powers and resources are adequately complemented by accountability mechanisms in order to make decentralization truly work for the people. Global experiences show that local service delivery can be encumbered by patronage politics and vested interests of local elites, thus exacerbating limited access to economic opportunities and poor living conditions of the greater number. Within this context, this paper discusses the community-driven development (CDD) approach, which empowers citizens by building their capacities and enabling them to take control of public investment decisions that directly affect their lives. This paper discusses how CDD has affected the quality of and access to basic social service, in particular, and, more broadly, public welfare. It argues that insofar as CDD improves access to and quality of local services, CDD reinforces and strengthens local planning, budgeting, and service delivery. CDD pushes the envelope for both local government autonomy and public accountability. In conclusion, CDD serves as an important mechanism to ensure that decentralization works the way it should.