U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.


Please identify best practices in decentralisation/devolution that tend to be effective in reducing corruption, particularly at the sub-national level


It is difficult to identify universally applicable best practices in decentralisation or devolution programmes that address corruption. Evidence suggests that interventions in different programmes have ambiguous and mixed effects, and that success often depends on contextual factors such as depth of democracy and political will. Moreover, anti-corruption tends to be a secondary objective in most donor-driven decentralisation and devolution programmes, making it difficult to determine effective best practices. Nevertheless, this paper seeks to explore potential ways in which corruption can be reduced as a result of decentralisation or devolution programmes. It analyses various common interventions by donors to support devolution and decentralisation, such as improving democratic processes, institutional and legal capacity for local governments, supporting local-level public financial management, as well as a number of social accountability mechanisms.


1. Background

2. Best practices in decentralisation and devolution from an anti-corruption perspective

a. Supporting legal and institutional anti-corruption frameworks at the local level

b. Supporting democratic processes in decentralising and devolving contexts

c. Strengthening decentralisation and devolution through budget support

d. Local-level public financial management reforms

e. Use of social accountability mechanisms

3. References

Main points

  • There is no clear-cut evidence between the relationship between corruption and decentralisation or devolution.
  • Evidence for what works to limit corruption in decentralisation and devolution processes appear equally ambiguous and context-specific.
  • That said, there are a number of tools that can be applied to support anti-corruption in decentralisation and devolution processes.
  • These include mechanisms that seek to create institutional change from above as well as interventions that contribute to accountable governance from below.


Mathias Bak (TI), [email protected]


Guillaume Nicaise (U4), [email protected]

Jorum Duri (TI), [email protected]




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