West African countries have been characterised by a process of decentralisation. However, in many cases decentralisation processes have been incomplete, perpetuating existing challenges and limiting the ability of local authorities to address both current and future environmental, social and economic challenges. This has had implications for urban governance, and by extension, on the ability of cities to prepare for and to adapt to climate change.
This paper examines the linkages between decentralisation and urban climate governance through a literature review, supported by two city case studies: Saint-Louis in Senegal and Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso. The paper explores how urban development needs, and the responsibilities, policies and processes required to meet them, are shaped, facilitated or constrained in a context of decentralisation. The case studies demonstrate that there have been a number of initiatives seeking to address climate change, nationally and locally. However, decentralisation needs to progress further: there remains confusion due to overlapping roles and responsibilities between the central government and agencies acting at different levels, and financing at the city scale remains a challenge.
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