East Asia and Pacific; South Asia; Latin America & Caribbean
Environmental Economics & Policies; Governance Indicators; Banks & Banking Reform; Poverty Assessment; Health Economics & Finance; Decentralization; Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems
Summary: If states would interact more synergistically with communities, they could tap local energies and resources for development-- and help create a development-oriented society and polity in the process. The authors analyze experience in several countries to identify the actions required for state-community synergies in development. Two actions that seem especially important: 1) Broadening the distribution of power within communities, to facilitate collective action and reduce the potential for local capture. In rural areas, much can be done by expanding access to credit, strengthening tenants' rights, and expanding non-crop sources of income. 2) Creating state-community alliances to improve the effectiveness of local public sector institutions and the delivery of services. Case studies from East Asia and Latin America show that such alliances can effect rapid improvements in local institutions, benefiting not only communities but also politicians seeking support and legitimacy. Local bureaucratic reform, combined with more egalitarian community social organizations, allows the creation of powerful coalitions and synergies for rapid, self-sustaining development. This model has been used to achieve outcomes ranging from better health care and drought relief to the generation of agrarian and industrial economic growth. In China and Taiwan, China, these state-community synergies helped produce not only for local consumption but for a rich export market. The cases show that with creative political thinking it is possible to effect rapid change even in poor institutional settings. The Brazilian experience shows how difficult institutional change is in highly inegalitarian settings, but also how such obstacles can be overcome by changes designed to bring grassroots electoral pressure to bear on local government. Experience elsewhere shows, however, how fragile such efforts can be if political support from above is prematurely withdrawn.
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