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senegal-political-mapPopulation: 13,726,021

HDI ranking: 154/187

HDI score: 0.470

In 2009, Senegal created a Ministry of Local Government, which has continued to promote the Law of Decentralization. However, a lack of administrative capacity and fiscal control at the local level remain a challenge for participatory local governance (World Bank, 2013).

Local governance at a glance

  • The Ministry of Planning and Local Government (Le Ministère de l’Aménagement du Territoire et des Collectivités Locales) was established in 2009 and is in charge of decentralization. The Directorate of General Affairs of the Territorial Administration (DAGAT) within the Ministry of the Interior is charged with managing relations with governors (World Bank, 2012).
  • Local government in Senegal is composed of three tiers of territorial collectives (CTs) (World Bank, 2013):
    • 14 regions, led by a governor appointed by the President and a directly elected regional council;
    • 113 municipal communes, led by a mayor and directly elected municipal council;  and
    • 370 rural communities, led by a directly elected rural council and a President elected from among the council members.

Civil society actors include

Capacity building institutions

  • The Local Government Association (Association des Maires du Sénégal) works to strengthen relationships between towns in Senegal and promote decentralized cooperation among local entities.

Fiscal control

  • Central government transfers represent about 20 percent of the total expenditure of local governments.  Local authorities are working to increase the level of local revenue in order to increase fiscal autonomy (World Bank, 2013; CERDI, 2011).
  • According to Senegal’s Constitution, “Any transfer of powers to a local authority should, at least, be accompanied by a concomitant transfer from the State of the resources and means necessary for the normal exercise of these powers” (World Bank, 2012).
  • The Decentralization Allocation Fund (FDD) was established in 1996 to pay for the newly assumed responsibilities of CTs (World Bank, 2012).

Key initiatives for participatory local governance

  • Senegal has accomplished several rounds of transparent elections and democratic transitions since independence in 1960 (World Bank, 2013).
  • The 1996 Law on Decentralization shifted many responsibilities over to the local governments. This framework was further strengthened in the 2001 Constitution (Arial, 2011; World Bank, 2013).
  • The 2004 “Build-Operate-and-Transfer Law” aimed at supporting local authorities by promoting the private sector to get involved in public infrastructure development (Arial, 2011).
  • In 2009, Senegal elevated the national entity in charge of decentralization to the ministry level with the creation of the Ministry of Local Government (World Bank, 2012).

Challenges for participatory local governance

  • A 2012 World Bank report identifies challenges for Senegal, including (World Bank, 2012):
    • In practice, the auditing of subnational accounts is far from the standard established in law. Many CTs reportedly do not keep full accounting records.
    • Tax rolls are “always very late” and the “identification of tax bases is often inaccurate” and “unreliable.” In addition, “companies delay paying their taxes” while the “central government grants exemptions, mainly to companies, without informing or compensating the CTs concerned.”
  • According to a 2013 World Bank report, Senegal faces the following challenges (World Bank, 2013):
    • “Poor governance has slowed progress in poverty reduction.” Though “Senegal traditionally had a good system of public accountability and transparency…these systems were severely weakened between 2006 and 2011, as illustrated by Senegal’s drop in the Governance indicators.”
    • “Senegal is vulnerable to four main natural hazards: drought; locust invasion; flooding, often with associated epidemics; and a sea level rise associated with coastal erosion. The government needs to put in place strong governance and cost-effective systems to manage these economic, social, and climate-related disasters in order to protect growth and secure livelihoods.”
    • “While the size of the government has grown from 24.1 percent of GDP in 2005 to 29.7 percent in 2011, access to improved services and the quality of services have not improved in many social sectors. Overall, a lack of clear governance and accountability systems is undermining performance in the social sectors.”

Recent posts on this website about this country:


List of sources (in order of citation):

UN Human Development Index (UNDP), 2012: “Senegal”

World Bank, 2013: “Senegal Overview”

World Bank, 2012: “ The Political Economy of Decentralization in Sub-Saharan Africa”

Cerdi, 2011: “Does the System of Allocation of Intergovernmental Transfers in Senegal Eliminiate Politically Motivate Targeting?”

Arial, 2011: “Senegal”

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