Because everyone is a partner in development

Striving for transparency and accountable government officials and institutions, this slogan “everyone is a partner in development” was adopted by many citizens in Jordan during the first local elections in 2017.

Striving for transparency and accountable government officials and institutions, this slogan “everyone is a partner in development” was adopted by many citizens in Jordan during the first local elections in 2017. “Decentralisation is a multidimensional process, which defines the distribution of power and resources between state and society, the executive and other branches of the government, at the micro level between central and local governments, central government and their field administrations, between central/local governments and non-governmental entities as well as at higher levels between governmental units within a federal or international system.”[1]

In a nutshell: It is a matter of the transfer of power, a two-way participation and mutual dialogue and agreement.

Decentralisation often requires the strengthening of policies, regulations and legislations, institutional development, capacity building for operating systems and procedures, as well as smoothly operating monitoring, evaluation and communication systems. But this is not enough. The two-way nature of decentralisation also requires an integrated, multi-actor local development plan which encourages the effective public interest groups and a platform to implement it.

Participatory budgeting

Despite the limited financial capacities of local authorities, municipalities in the north of Jordan are hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees, even outnumbering residents in some locations. Providing for their needs has heavily affected local finances and is still increasing government expenditure for public services. To enhance local cohesion and inclusive service delivery, through its Module 4, the Qudra Programme is exploring innovative approaches devoted to engaging host communities, refugees, civil society organisations and local administrations in the design and implementation of local initiatives. One of them is: “participatory budgeting”.

Jordan, three years ago, passed two laws: The “Decentralisation Law” and the “Municipalities Law” which are establishing the solid base of delegating legislative powers to local authorities. Getting the strength from these developments Qudra is strengthening local governance by providing the needed platform for necessary implementations of the decentralisation plan in Jordan. By building capacities of the municipalities, civil society organisations and citizens, Qudra activities allow exploring new approaches and forms of civic engagement and participation for the resolution of local development challenges. 

Promoting a new vision of local governance

Qudra Programme’s Module 4 – Supporting Local Administrations in Jordan is implemented by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID, the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies).

AECID is partnering with two Jordanian NGOs, Partners Jordan (PJ) and Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), to build the capacities of the municipalities of Ramtha, Sarhan and Mafraq along with Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in the Governorates of Mafraq and Irbid to ensure effective and productive engagement of these organizations and citizens in local decision-making processes. The experience is being piloted through the participatory budgeting approach.

Decision-making processes of the municipalities were now based on a survey that was completed for nearly 1300 people, enabling the municipalities to better understand the local development priorities of citizens.

Based on these priorities, thematic committees were created in each community to narrow down the priorities into concrete proposals. With the support of participatory approaches in budget design, municipalities have translated these proposals into precise actions that were reflected in the annual budget for 2018. The level of increase on the resources allocated to address the needs highlighted by citizens’, range from 35% to 400% for some projects that were covered by the annual budget of the municipalities for its first time. This experiment has so far mobilised already over 2000 citizens (both Syrian refugees and host communities) in selected municipalities and eight CBOs until June 2018.

[1] Decentralization and Development by Ter Manyang,, August 5, 2015

Up to 400% increase in the financial resources allocated for the delivery of services in the priority areas pointed out by citizens.

It is an unexceptionable truth that citizens have the right to be involved in decision-making process when it comes to governmental decisions affecting their daily lives, security, health, education, briefly their future.