Enhancing Local Government Capacity for Community Participation
Capacity building for participation at the local level of government is fraught with difficulty. Local government is chronically under-resourced, officials often lack the education, skills and experience necessary to carry out the roles defined for them under the top-down system – let alone when the task is complicated by the introduction of participatory delivery processes that they neither understand nor support. If they do understand the intent of participation, the idea of involving communities can be an anathema to those unfamiliar with the concept. Many closely guard their authority, doubt farmer contributions and, critically, work within an incentive structure that promotes adherence to top-down delivery processes. While this is all difficult to change, the capacity-building challenge is further intensified because the capacity gaps in relation to participation are not met with commensurate resources for capacity development. In China as elsewhere, there is little recognition of just how difficult this all is.