Decentralization shifts responsibility and accountability for the delivery of public services to subnational (state, provincial, district, or local) levels of government, aiming to help improve service delivery and local governance. Since the 1990s, the World Bank has devoted an increasing share of its financing to support its client countries’ decentralization efforts. To assess the results of such interventions, IEG reviewed Bank support for decentralization in 20 developing countries between fiscal years 1990 and 2007.
This period had associated lending of about $22 billion, covering roughly half of all lending that included support for decentralization. IEG’s evaluation did not attempt any systematic assessment of the costs and benefits of decentralization in client countries, noting that in many cases, the countries had made a political decision to decentralize well before requesting and receiving World Bank support.