Decentralization and Public Policy Implementation in the North West Region of Cameroon: A Case Study of Education and Health Policies

Political Science, University of Yaounde II Soa-Cameroon
November, 2014
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Local councils in Cameroon, since 2004 find themselves assigned a new task as actors in public policy implementation alongside the deconcentrated ministerial departments with their intervention cutting through education and health.Our study, (1) investigates the role played by local councils in the implementation of education and health policies at local levels (2) assesses the impact that devolution of powers to local councils have on implementation of national education and health policies at local levels in the Northwest Region of Cameroon; and (3) identifies some impediments to a successful public policy implementation at local level within the context of decentralization. Unlike before 2004, the role that the local councils play goes a long way to assist the deconcentrated ministerial departments by facilitating implementation tasks for them. Drawing from bottom-up theories of policy implementation, the results of our study takes a projective dimension to reaffirm that effective decentralization is positively associated to public policy implementation at local levels. This means as the decentralization process in Cameroon is rendered more and more effective; we expect the implementation of national education and health policies at the local levels in Cameroon to be greatly enhanced. We observed that impediments to a successful public policy implementation within the context of decentralization include: Administrative Constraints such as the fact that decentralization in Cameroon is still an ongoing process, Limited cooperation between the deconcentrated ministerial departments and other stake holders as well as lack of effective collaboration between actors (local councils, regional and divisional delegations etc) in charge of policy implementation, lack of enforcement resources and inadequate finances, unqualified people in charge of policy operations. Political constraints on their part have to do with local political conflicts, political favouritism, political inclination of actors in charge of policy implementation, Influence from political elites. Lastly we have cultural constraints which include lack of community support for the policy, tribal inclinations, cultural inclinations (market days and “country Sundays”), and traditional believes. Based on our findings, we recommend the Government of Cameroon to put in additional efforts in seeing that the devolution of power and resources to regional and local authorities is fully implemented and efforts should be made to ensure an effective collaboration between deconcentrated ministerial departments and local councils.