Local Government Capacity in Post-Soviet Central Asia
This paper explores the context, problems, quality, and challenges of local governance in four Central Asian countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The prime focus is on the question of whether local governments in this region perform their functions in an effective and efficient way. It looks at the four conditions – contextual, structural, institutional and human resource conditions – as factors for explaining the capacity of local governments in the region. These questions will be investigated with reference to academic literature and policy papers on the topic. The findings indicate that local governments in Central Asia do not have real capacity to adequately address the needs and concerns of citizens, as they are heavily dependent on the central government in all policy issues, be it taxation, service delivery, local development, or privatization. The study suggests that local government reform in this region is not simply a matter of introducing Western-style governance structures or granting more autonomy to local actors. It is, more importantly, about understanding local socio-political context and promoting socio-economic change.