The Lack of Decentralization of Power: Delivery of Public Service in Liberia

Guest blog by W. Lawrence Yealue, II

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

Firstly, my expectation was to learn strategies and approaches to Implementing Public Policies. My expectation was exceeded by this program. The manner in which the program was conducted, the peer learning approach and Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA). The logical pathways and the appreciation for contextualization the learning acquired strategically within this course is amazing.

Secondly, I have learned a lot from this course and also from my peers. Below are my key learnings: I learned the PDIA approach to Implementing Public Policy is unique. I learned to carefully map all stakeholders to a public policy challenge; I can map out clear engagement strategies; I fully understand those influencers and spoilers; Also, I learned how to build an effective team; I think working in these iterations made the implementation a learning pathway rather than just a task orientation approach; I learned that drawing a Fishbone diagram for a policy challenge and periodically reviewing the diagram as the implementation takes place; and Rob Wilkinson’s 4P model of leadership emphasizes ‘perception’, ‘projection’, ‘people’, and ‘process’.

Thirdly, the lack of true decentralization of power to local government for the effective and efficient delivery of public service in Liberia. Liberia has enacted a Local Government Act of 2017 but this is only Law on the books. The iterations done by my team has stimulated true and factual decentralization power to the Local Government across the country.  

Moreover, I have made the Government to now start an active conversation concerning decentralization in its true sense. The Minister of Internal Affairs has called for making the Local Government Act to be activated and making it a practical living document. All the superintendents and city majors are now aware of the essence of decentralization including the benefits thereof. I am going to continue working on this challenge until it is fully implemented.

Additionally, I am motivated to change service delivery in Liberia becomes better the citizens. Also, I am motivated by Matthew Andrew’s passionate approach to transferring knowledge that changes the public space of policy implementation. The program is well organized and  You are giving what you have. The level of coordination between the staff is this program is remarkable. I will continue to work on this policy challenge and more. The PDIA approach is now being used in my work as I work on accountability and transparency issues. I will continue to use this approach to solving complex problems.

Finally, I have integrated the PDIA into my work on Following the Money in Liberia during the Global health crisis, COVID-19. I have introduced this approach to my team in tracking all donations made to the Government of Liberia. I will use this in all of our works on accountability, transparency, inclusion, and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). PDIA is the light the illuminate the darkness of our ignorance in the policy implementation within the public space.

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