Decentralisation: citizen-focused administration

Project description

Title: Supporting Decentralisation and Local Governance in Iraq
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ)
Country: Iraq
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Planning Iraq (MoP)
Overall term: 2017 to 2021


Decentralisation, which is enshrined in Iraq’s constitution, has been implemented only to a limited extent. Against the backdrop of war and conflict, the focus of political attention so far has been on stabilising the country. Although the decentralisation process should have been completed by 2015, the first three ministries did not begin implementation until 2017. A lack of skills transfer and funding has left the provincial administrations insufficiently equipped to provide public services. The participation of various social groups in decision-making processes and their access to services has been sporadic. There is a lack of the institutional and human resources required to enable a citizen-oriented implementation of the decentralisation reform and to promote local development at national, regional and municipal level.


The Iraqi administration is able to implement decentralisation in line with citizens’ needs. This includes assuming social responsibility, improving opportunities for civil society to participate and professionalising the roles of public and elected officials in selected provinces and districts.


The project supports the decentralisation efforts of the Iraqi administration by improving organisational structures and work processes at the various administrative levels. It organises training courses for public administration staff which aim to enhance their ability to carry out their assigned duties. Local budget departments are created in the individual provinces so that they can manage their own budgets, thereby reducing their dependence on the national budget. 

In some communities, micro-projects focused on meeting citizens’ needs are developed and implemented using local resources. Revenue generated by these projects remains at local level, where it is managed and reinvested according to actual needs.

Finally, in two governorates, separate civil bodies are being set up to enable direct citizen participation in local planning and development.


Due to its strategic importance for the Iraqi Government, the project was included in the National Development Plan 2018 - 2022. Together with Iraqi partners and German experts from academia and practice, the project has drawn up a policy paper outlining the priority areas for successful implementation of decentralisation efforts. In addition to ongoing advisory services to the Iraqi Government, the project is advancing the national dialogue on decentralisation. The first budget departments at local level have been set up and provided with technical support, and there are micro-projects in planning. This has already led to an increased exchange between different levels of administration and strengthened local governance.