Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

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dr_congo_mapPopulation: 65,705,093

HDI ranking: 186/187

HDI score: 0.304

A new Constitution went into effect in 2006 and was an important step toward more decentralization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). However, the past few years have been marked by surges in violence and failure to implement decentralization reforms called for by the Constitution.

Local governance at a glance

  • The new Constitution maintained the existing 11 provinces, but directed that they be divided into 26 within three years. To date, this has not occurred (SSRC 2013).
  • Provinces are further subdivided into Decentralized Territorial Entities (ETDs): cities, communes, sectors and chefferies (DRC Constitution, 2005).
  • The Ministry of Decentralization and Territorial Organization was created by the 2006 Constitution to oversee decentralization. However, it was eliminated in 2011 by a presidential decree (SSRC, 2013).
  • The Constitution called for directly elected assemblies at the national, provincial and local levels. However, the ETDs do not have elected assemblies and the administrators are appointed by the president (SSRC, 2013).
  • The Constitution states the right of women “to equal representation in national, provincial and local institutions.” However, there is no provision of sanctions in cases of non-compliance (Quota Project, 2014).

Civil society actors

  • Observatory for the Freedom of the Press in Africa (OLPA) is a network of journalists and legal experts that promote freedom of the press throughout the DRC (Societecivile, 2014).
  • The Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC) empowers “women in poor grassroots communities to fight off inequalities and participate in governance at the household, community and national levels through media, advocacy and skills training” (LIWOMAC, 2014).
  • S.O.S. Climat seeks to educate people and raise awareness about climate change and the importance of protecting the environment (S.O.S. Climat, 2014).

Capacity building initiatives

  • The World Bank Institute’s ICT4Gov program has introduced mobile technology to enhance participatory budgeting processes. Mobile technology enables citizens to offer feedback and monitor projects on an ongoing basis, and express and vote on the priorities that are most pressing for their communities; local governments then devote a percentage of their local investment budget to the project selected by the citizens (World Bank, 2012).

Fiscal control

  • The 2006 Constitution established that provinces would receive 40% of tax revenue. Of this amount, they would then allocate 10% to an Equalization Fund and 40% to the ETDs. This was determined by a formula that accounts for production capacity, land area, and population. To date, this has not occurred (World Bank, 2011a).

 Key initiatives for participatory local governance

  • The country’s 2006 presidential, national assembly and provincial assembly elections were the first multi-party elections in 46 years.
  • The 2006 Constitution was an important step towards a more decentralized system: provides provinces with a better budget, re-devides the 11 provinces into 26, and creates elected assemblies on the national, provincial and local level. However, little has been done to reflect the Constitution (SSRC, 2013).
  • In 2009, the country released a plan dividing decentralization into two phases. The first phase (2009-2014) would establish the necessary political conditions for the provinces and the ETDs, including local elections and the territorial division into 26 districts. The second phase (2015-2019) would be devoted to strengthening the process of decentralization (SSRC, 2013).

Challenges for participatory local governance 

  • The ETDs are ineffective at “providing public goods and services to their populations” and have a lack of “internal management of resources (…), which results in the absence of budgets and financial reports.” ETDs are further characterized “by the lack of a structured administrative organization”, such as “under-qualified (…) staff, weak technical capacity and a lack of infrastructure” (World Bank, 2011a).
  • Concurrent provincial elections since 2006 have continually been delayed and local elections have not been held. The elections would grant provinces the constitutionally mandated increased power. The failure to instrument the 2006 Constitution and hold elections is a major hindrance to further decentralization. (World Bank, 2011b).
  • Provinces transfer funds to ETDs irregularly and informally at provincial authorities’ discretion (World Bank, 2011a).

Recent posts on this website about this country:


List of sources:

Constitution of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC Constitution), 2005:

Liberia Women Media Action Committee (LIWOMAC), 2014:

Quota Project, 2014: “Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Social Science Research Council (SSRC), 2013, Weiss, H. and G. Nzongola-Ntalaja: “Decentralization and the DRC – An Overview.”, 2014: “Observatoire de la Liberté de la Presse en Afrique (OLPA).”

S.O.S. Climat, 2014.

World Bank, 2011a: “Democratic Republic of Congo – An Analysis of Administrative, Financial, and Public Service Delivery Status in Decentralized Territorial Entities (ETDs).”

World Bank, 2011b, Gambino, T.: “World Development Report 2011. Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

World Bank, 2012, Estefan, F. and B. Weber: “Mobile Enhanced Participatory Budgeting in DRC.”