Empowering Local Governments? The LOKAL+ project in Haiti
In Haiti, the traditional centralization of power in Port-au-Prince has far-reaching effects, one of which is the limited influence of ordinary citizens on holding local officials accountable for providing basic services like trash removal, water and sanitation, and maintaining healthy and safe marketplaces. From 2013 to 2018, USAID carried out a project known as LOKAL+ that was aimed at supporting and strengthening ten district-level governments. Oxfam studied the outcomes in three of the districts, interviewing local officials, experts on local government, community members, and representatives of community organizations. Participants reported that the project did not lead to tangible, sustainable improvements in providing local services; however, there are indications that it helped strengthen important capacities among local mayors, and there is potential for sustainable impact on the mayors’ ability to collect taxes and manage their budgets and accounting systems—a modest step forward on the path to decentralization.