According to the Regional Presidents of Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, Decentralization is Essential

During the "Positive Conversation" on November 5, Yéboué Kouamé Pascal, President of the region of Bélier, Côte d’Ivoire, and Adama Diouf, President of the Association of Departments of Senegal, agreed that decentralization was essential in their respective countries. The "Positive Conversation" is an experience of dialogue – online – on future governance in response to an invitation to reflection from the president of ORU-Fogar, Abdessamad Sekkal, which began last July, as a reaction to the pandemic, and which will continue with the dialogue of different leaders of the organization in the coming months.

The President of Bélier stated that decentralization could only be deepened because it was the population who demanded it. "Obviously, the central government cannot take care of everything”. “We need” – he explained – “governments of proximity, with a real decentralization, in which there are transfers of competences, but also of means". For Yéboué Kouamé Pascal, the COVID-19 crisis has shown the deficiencies of the decentralization of the Côte d’Ivoire. "We cannot continue as we have done up to now, where we feel -at times- that we have an 'empty decentralization'. The regional governments need more means because we are the ones who are facing reality". He pointed out the contradiction that implies that the regions do not have enough means, but the state reminds them that "hospitals are the competence of the regions". He advocated expanding decentralization, especially to address climate change. "The regions are in the best position to promote territorial plans that address the climate challenge".

Adama Diouf, president of Kaffrine, pointed out that the decentralization process in Senegal was essential "because people want local governments”. "In our country”, he said, “the process of decentralization has been going on for a long time and every year it is being extended with reforms and more resources in favor of territorial governments”. The also second vice-president of ORU-Fogar affirmed that the proximity of regional governments brings "quality to governance". Thus, he expressed his conviction that, in Senegal, territorial governments will assume more responsibilities year after year.

Adama Diouf said that the pandemic has left important lessons. "The first," he said, "is that we must invest more in health”. He also called for a reinforcement of health education in schools. “The second lesson of the pandemic," he said, "is that we must ensure food security. We cannot be so dependent on imports of essential food”. In this sense, he explained the projects that, in his region, were working to alleviate this deficit.

 

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