Development from Below: Local Government and Finance in Developing Countries of the Commonwealth

Development from Below: Local Government and Finance in Developing Countries of the Commonwealth

Development from Below: Local Government and Finance in Developing Countries of the Commonwealth

Development from Below: Local Government and Finance in Developing Countries of the Commonwealth

Excerpt

My interest in the development of local government overseas was first aroused in the summer of 1950, when I toured Nigeria with a Commission appointed by the Nigerian Government to allocate revenue between the Regions, as a preliminary to the introduction of a Federal Constitution. At this time I was able to see the system of Indirect Rule in full working order in the Northern Region, while in the Eastern Region the experiment in representative and responsible local government was already beginning. Earlier in the same year I had been shown some very lively panchayats in the neighbourhood of Delhi; in retrospect this confirmed the impression I was forming of the potentialities of Development from Below. Then in 1954, when my husband and I were on a financial mission to Jamaica, the reform of local government finance fell directly within our terms of reference. We were especially impressed by the way in which neglect and frustration at the hands of the Island Government had failed to destroy the individual life of the traditional Parochial Boards.

It was at about this time that my duties at Oxford began to include the training of overseas officers in local government finance, in order that they should pass on what they had learned to the people themselves. Thus I found myself personally drawn into the net of the experiment which I am to describe. This experiment, the building-up of local government as a preparation for Independence, in the formerly colonial territories of the Commonwealth, is the true hero of this book.

These officers were drawn from many areas, predominantly but by no means wholly from the African territories; but they also came from the West Indies, Malaya, and Singapore. Others came from India, Pakistan, and Ceylon on somewhat different assignments, but with a very similar general approach. It thus turned out that in a very real sense the book became a co-operative exercise. These officers were true collaborators, without the benefit of whose field experience most freely given to me, the book could hardly have come to life. I have listed below those who especially helped me, but there were many others who played a part in the gradual build up.

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