Open Government: local consultation structures in the municipalities of Sahanivotry and Masindray, Madagascar

This study focuses on the local consultation structures (LCS) implemented in Madagascar at the municipal level. Each SLC is composed of community leaders, the municipal council, decentralized technical services, economic operators, civil society organizations, local dignitaries and traditional chiefs, local political parties and organizations, associations of women, youth, and vulnerable groups, as well as existing consultation bodies.

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Case study open government Madagascar

The study shows that, even when regulated by decentralization laws, the engagement of the municipality varies according to the context.

This is particularly the case for actions around communication: monthly information meetings for technical services, field visits, information displays, mobilization campaigns to support local taxation, etc.

The extent of these activities is often dependent on the financial resources available and the importance given by the mayor to communication efforts.

LCSs are consultative, informative and participatory structures associated with the project implementation at the decentralized community level. They contribute to the coordination of local support and partnerships leading to territorial development.

The lack of resources available to municipalities has also been repeatedly highlighted as a local development bottleneck. Faced with this limited capacity for action and investment, citizen trust in local authorities is eroding, as consultation efforts are not translated into concrete results. Moreover, uncertainty surrounding the arrival of funds into the accounts of the municipalities and FEFFIs* makes it impossible to know when they will become available. Most of the time, these funds do not arrive at the right or planned time, and municipal authorities must deal with the disappointment of the population, especially when local contributions have already been committed and mobilized (in money or in kind, according to an individual or community logic).

The study also stresses the importance of providing quality support to LCS’ as a factor for success. Supervisors must meet the following criteria:

  • mastery of the concepts and tools relating to the roles and responsibilities of the communes;
  • appropriate skills and behaviour for the design and facilitation of citizen mobilization processes
  • good knowledge of the environment and the dynamics of the actors
  • ability to analyze the political economy of local authorities; and
  • ability to mobilize relays within communal bodies likely to become 'champions of change'.

Finally, the authors warn against the overly rapid construction of new infrastructures, to the detriment of decentralization and consultation, and against the generalization of the community approach (in conjunction with deconcentration), to the detriment of decentralization.

Selected recommendations

  1. Reinforce communication on transparency and accountability mechanisms as part of the project
  2. Improve resource mobilization at the municipal level
  3. Strengthen the links and connections between the SLC (municipal level) and the FEFFI* (school level), as well as the interactions between communities and decentralized services
  4. Enhance feedback to the national strategic level
  5. Consolidate the various experiences of civil society organizations in this field.

* Structure in charge of the quality of education and good governance of the school

Want to learn more?

To share these recommendations and discuss major findings of the case study with relevant stakeholders including researchers, decision-makers, public officials and civil society representatives, IIEP hosted a launch webinar together with the NGO SAHA on Thursday, 10 June 2021. Download the flyer in French, and watch the video of this event.

Launch case study open government Madagascar


About the authors

Harilanto Ravelomanantsoa is a founding member and former director of the NGO SAHA, which aims to promote local development. He is the president of the National Association of MASSE Evaluators and a member of the board of the Federative Association of Experts and Consultants of International Technical Cooperation Indian Ocean Madagascar.

Andrianarivelo Rajaonarivo has been in charge of projects related to rural development, food security, promotion of citizen participation, and improvement of budgetary transparency at the community level for the past twenty years.

This is one of the six case studies on open government initiatives commissioned by IIEP and also conducted in Colombia, Ukraine, India, Peru, and Portugal. It is part of the IIEP’s overarching research on ‘Open government: Learning from experience’.

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