Decentralisation in a weak state

Working paper State

Traditional and state governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

What characterises local governance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? This paper provides descriptive evidence to describe and quantify the local organisation of the state in 134 rural small towns and large villages in four provinces of the DRC. We present rich data on state and local governance, taxation, public good provision, and citizens’ perceptions of governance. Three stories emerge. First, contrary to the failed state image, the Congolese state has a significant presence in the rural localities surveyed and demonstrates a high level of administrative capacity. Second, we present the hierarchical organization of state agents and the relative independence of traditional chiefs. Third, we identify key challenges in local governance, namely lack of democratic accountability, high levels of corruption, and an acute lack of financing.