Is there any commitment made to reduce poverty? This is evident because 1.) The concept of poverty is vague, 2.) the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) mostly stop at the national level and not sub national level where there are needs. Less attention is devoted to local institutions and traditional authorities, which are the real agents of local development. In African development, less attention is devoted to grassroots’ perspective and political leadership; traditional authorities who hold spiritual power to influence local community and transfer culture are neglected. Their potential to take collective action is disregarded, partly because of their ignorance and development paradigm, which is seen as “modernisation and scientific”. To increase the effectiveness of local government is through democratic decentralization, which involves transfer of power and resources. Many developing countries use it to improve the quality of service delivery and strengthen sustainable local development. Decentralization is a vehicle for achieving MDGs because it operates at local and community level; and planning is crucial to ensure participation in governance and local development. Increasingly participatory governance is emerging as a key focal area, both in its own right, and as a means of securing MDGs, especially poverty reduction. Decentralization and participatory processes are complex and take years to implement; but they play critical role in achieving MDGs. Sustainable development cannot be realized without robust strong institutions and active citizenry engaged in key decision-making. Political leaders should promote good governance, by strengthening institutions and public participation to address national and local development agenda. Furthermore, functional local structures and ancestral systems are important for a strong service delivery, a prerequisite for any vibrant, democratic, and decentralized governance. The new development paradigm involves political commitment. To address local development, authority and resources have to be transferred, and it is crucial to promote citizen´s engagement at all levels. The paradigm should consider: a) strengthening of Local governments, b) building capacity of Civil society, including communities and traditional authorities, and c) Promotion of emerging Private sectors by local economic development interventions that generate employment and income for the poor; local institutions should address local structures and systems to promote local development.
Key words: Governance, local development, millennium development goals, poverty, Africa, communities.
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