The South Asia countries of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are comparable historically given their Colonial past and also the challenging socio-economic and political conditions post Independence. Though India has been more or less stable as a democracy in terms of holding regular elections, the same cannot be said about its neighbouring nations. The reasons for this are many such as the presence of autocratic and military rulers or ethnic violence. Hence, their local governance institutions (LGIs) and their capacity development have not evolved sufficiently. Nevertheless, various approaches of capacity development have surfaced across the region in the effort towards strengthening democratic decentralisation and its institutions.
This paper looks at them in general and a select few are examined more closely, but no effort has been made to select, assess or showcase only the best capacity development experiences. The aim of this paper is to share how countries with different contexts have made an effort to deal with the existing challenges to strengthen the local governance institutions through capacity development. Capacity in the context of democratic decentralisation refers to the totality of inputs required by the LGIs to fulfil their purposes.
The rationale behind strengthening capacity of the LGIs is that it would help in deepening local democracy, upholding socio-economic equity and ensuring provisions of public services to citizens. While the government, civil society, international donors have been instrumental in addressing the capacity development requirements of LGIs, evidences across South Asia suggest that only few of such efforts can be considered as ‘effective capacity development frameworks’.