Turner & Teague (2019). Trans-Saharan labour emigration from Niger: Local governance as mediator of its underlying causes and consequences

This report reviews the existing literature of trans-Saharan labour emigration from Niger both conducted by Nigeriens but also by other West Africans, given Niger’s importance as a country of transit. The literature on labour emigration from the Sahelian region, as in other parts of the world, is dominated by studies that emphasise particular causes (drought, poverty, climate change) and focus on particular consequences (economic impact, labour scarcity, cultural diffusion etc). Such framings work to ignore the important role played by customary and formal authorities through their important roles in mediating conflict management, resource access, and government services. 

This review rejects singular causes and consequences and instead reviews what is known about emigration’s history and the social complexity surrounding it. After outlining the historic role of labour emigration to the south as well as what is known about its causes and consequences, the review turns to existing information about the demography, management, migrant experience, and consequences of trans-Saharan emigration. By treating labour emigration and human mobility as historic phenomena while engaging with the social complexity surrounding its causes and consequences, we hope to reveal the potential roles played by governance in emigration’s causation and consequence at multiple scales. Such roles will only be fully addressed by empirical research focused on the potential connections raised in this review.

Hochleithner & Exner (2018). Outmigration, Development, and Global Environmental Change. A Review and Discussion of Case Studies from the West African Sahel

This working paper gives an overview over literature on emigration from the West Sahel, with a selective focus on resource-dependent livelihoods and how they are connected to outmigration from the Sahel, especially regarding Senegal and Niger. To complete the picture, we also cover some studies on urban population groups and regions beyond the Sahel, although mostly restricted to Africa.




Hochleithner & Exner (2018). Theories of Migration in and from Rural Sub-Saharan Africa: Review and Critique of Current Literature

This working paper presents an overview of the global literature on migration with a focus on rural areas. It discusses the general structure of the field of migration studies and outlines a typology of approaches found within this literature.

Different theories on migration are examined. An interesting finding is the large amount of evidence confirming the ‘mobility transition theorem’ that concludes that more development brings higher emigration and that most migrants originate from middle income countries.

The paper also pays attention to a currently prominent environment-migration-conflict nexus, which, however, so far features rather inconclusive research.

Hochleithner & Exner (2018). Local Government and Migration: A Review of Literature and Media Narratives with focus on West African Sahel

Multiple questions are constantly asked about migration. What are the driving forces behind migration? What happens at the intersection of climate threats, social injustices and migration? Is migration a product of social structures or voluntary individual action? And in general, what is the role of local governments in relation to emigration? Many of these issues concern municipalities that ICLD cooperates with. The issues of participation, equity, transparency and accountability that form the core of our programs are influenced by migration processes both nationally and internationally.

ICLD has therefore asked researchers to deal with some fundamental issues surrounding migration that can increase our understanding of this phenomenon. This working paper presents a comprehensive review of the scholarly literature and media narratives about the role of local government in migration, with a focus on West African Sahel.

It provides important background for local governments interested in understanding the complex phenomenon of migration and the role of local governments. It highlights the multiple causes behind a person’s decision to migrate and the importance of putting the agency of migrants at the centre of any political debate. Moreover, this paper presents three key roles for local governments in the current debate: first, in framing social and economic development, second, regarding the importance of remittances for local communities and finally, the role of return migrants in local politics.

Hydén (2016). Strengthening local governance in Africa: Beyond donor-driven approaches

Strengthening local governance in Africa: Beyond donor-driven approaches is the twelfth paper to be published in ICLD’s Working Paper series. In this paper Göran Hydén is critical of the donor-driven approaches to decentralization that pays little attention to political realities in Africa. He argues that the focus during the last decades has been on prescriptive models that have shown few sustainable outcomes due to the fact that they largely ignore the context-specific situation in the countries.

Hydén further argues that it is time to rethink concepts and practices used to promote local governance in African countries with more creative approaches to ensure the development of democratic local governance in Africa. For example by making strategic and policy analysis more effectively country- based, supporting feasible initiatives in which African institutions are in the lead, supporting institutional twinning arrangements, rethinking capacity-building and investing in funds for local governance and development that generate both demand and collective action all of which Hydén explores further in his paper.

Full working paper

Romeo (2012). Decentralizing for Development: The developmental potential of local autonomy and the limits of politics driven decentralization reforms

Decentralization does not always guarantee democratic development, so how then can a model of decentralization be designed so that it also creates incitements for democratic institutions?

In this paper the author tries to find the missing link between decentralization reforms and good governance. The important contribution in this paper is that one needs to take into account the political agendas within a decentralisation process in a developing country. Only then is it possible to better support the democratic transformation process in many developing countries. This paper is of much use in the process of creating well-functioning development assistance in developing countries.

Full working paper

Blair (2012). Participatory Budgeting and Local Governance

Participatory budgeting has become a much used tool in the process of creating decentralized states, but what are the possibilities and risks of participatory budgeting from a democratic perspective?

In this paper the challenge of creating well-functioning systems for participatory budgeting that combines both efficiency and civic participation is examined by studying local participatory budgeting models in seven different countries. For policy-makers and local government officials, this can serve as a guideline for creating good systems for participatory budgeting models.

Full working paper

Öjendal & Sedara (2011). Real Democratization in Cambodia? An Empirical Review of the Potential of a Decentralization Reform

How can a war-torn country rise and in the process create democratic institutions? This paper uses Cambodia as an example and tries to identify some of the key dimensions of the Cambodian decentralization reform.

The question in focus, how the process of decentralization and local development is played out in a post-conflict country is thoroughly investigated. Moreover the effects that the reforms brought to Cambodia on a macro-level are dealt with. For anyone interested in modern Cambodia, this is a must read and a good way of understanding the risks of post-conflict institutional reconstruction.

Full working paper

Antlov & Wetterberg (2011). Citizen Engagement, Deliberative Spaces and the Consolidation of a Post-Authoritarian Democracy: The Case of Indonesia

Is there a correlation of strong civil society organizations taking part in a decentralization process and the possibilities that this process will result in a strong deliberative democracy and a well-functioning local government?

By presenting different examples of how local CSO:s in post-authoritarian Indonesia engage with the government, the author argues that there has been a shift in how citizen can affect the government. It is thereby an important contribution to existing research in the field of democracy and decentralization and gives the reader a new way of understanding state-citizen interaction.

Full working paper

Cheema (2011). Engaging Civil Society to Promote Democratic Local Governance: Emerging Trends and Policy Implications in Asia

In what way could local CSO:s act in the plausible democratic transformation of a number of Asian Countries? This paper examines in what way civil society affects the decentralization process in Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, the Republic of Korea and the Philippines.

By doing so, this publication shed light on the role of CSO:s in democratic transformation and provides the reader with insights in modern policy making and policy implementation in Asia. It could therefore be used as guideline for supporting local development agents in Asia and is thus of excellent use for aid agencies and other external development actors alike.

Full working paper