Rashid Draman (PCC) discussed Ghana’s District Assemblies Common Fund as a hybrid form of CDF. He described their structure, allocation, the role of MPs in allocating funds, transparency and accountability of the funds, and some lessons with the formulation and implementation of the funds.
Shem Baldeosingh (CPA) described the operations of CDFs in a number of systems and concluded that: “The focus should remain in addressing the systemic and systematic issues arising within the existing development financing arrangements for local government (which are many), strengthening the Office of Parliament, and reorienting the relationship between MPs and their constituents to its democratic rather than (apparent) financial basis”
Scott Hubli (NDI) offered summary observations from the workshop aimed at contributing to a research agenda on CDFs that reflects the interests of the donor community and addresses themes raised at the conference in long-term studies that go beyond the “gotcha moment” to explore ways of making CDFs more effective tools of policy and process.
The Workshop was structured around the observation that CDFs are increasingly popular vehicle for politically-centered development that seeks to build relationships between local and central stakeholders, and between stakeholders in government institutions and those in civil society. It focused on practical issues of how CDFs function and on the development of a research agenda that would permit planners to frame CDFs as a constructive element of a development strategy, eschewing a consideration of larger, conceptual issues concerning democratic theory and representation.
This summary of the workshop’s proceedings is organized around issues of definition, policy making, policy implementation, politics and sustainability, and the steps foreseen to a fuller understanding and tool box on CDFs. It frames the questions raised at the workshop for further research and development.
What are CDFs?
Following from the general agreement that CDFs represent a form of distributive politics and policy making, the workshop raised four central issues concerning the identification of CDFs as a broader set of policy tools aimed at decentralized development.
First, are CDFs primarily a political project or do they represent efforts to spur good, locally-based development? It appears that they are politically driven development initiatives. Barkan presented information on the importance of constituency-based politics in Africa in both the supply and demand for constituency service. So while it is important to take CDFs against the background of national strategies of development, it also seems clear that a key goal of CDFs is to nurture the integration of diverse communities into a common set of political and social values in support of the existing system. Constituency-based initiatives can protect communities from the impersonal