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Corruption and inefficiencyhinders Yemen's local administration.

After almost six years after local administration was introduced to Yemen, many locals in various parts of the country have told the Yemen Times that the local authority set-up is still mere a "tool for the central government to pass its decisions; no progress in development projects have been made to address citizens' needs." Hard access to water in Hodeida's remote areas "We do not benefit anything from the local council. They only hindered our access to water and other basic services," said Um Mohamed, a housewife in the Hodeida governorate. "In the past, the water project in our area used to be run by the public water corporation in which we used to have water in the pipe every day. But since the local council took control over the management of this facility, the water comes to the pipe only once a week," she explained. "Sometimes they close up the water for a few weeks and open it only after people take to streets in demonstrations for they want to drink," she said "It is only corruption and oppression that has been increased by the local councils." Short of development projects in Lahj Salem Ali, a local engineer in the Lahj southern governorate said that the "impacts of the local councils in terms of developmental projects is extremely limited because everything continues to be decided by the centre and the council have no real authority. They were not given true and full power but the regime has portrayed otherwise." Further, Ali said that "it is true that members of the local council exist in their area, but they have no power. The central authority just uses them to implement whatever it wants." Ali has also criticized the selection of local council members saying that "present members, unfortunately, are unqualified for the task." He explained that his area is in urgent need to water, electricity, landline telephones and good roads, however the local council has so far done nothing toward these fundamental needs." Disturbed traffic for days in Hodeida Mahbob Hadi, a local resident in a remote area of Hodeida said that "members of the local councils are not qualified for their jobs and have no tangible effect that would be of benefit to the citizen." He explained that in his area "there is an uncompleted bridge in the Sardod valley. It has been under work for more than seven years and if the members of the local councilwere determined to their job, the bridge should have and could have been built earlier since the absence of the bridge often means that blocked water in the valley "The bridge is very important for agricultural trade as the population of Hodeida is immersed in this sector. Even when the bridge edged towards its final phase work on the project was suspended," said Hadi. He went on to saying that an international NGO has funded some water projects in their area and the projects have already started running. He adds, "but the local council has come in and has started receiving revenues and has not maintained the projects to keep them running. So now the people are thirsty and water projects are next their doors with no diesel to run the water pumps," "The same issues are also clear in medical units. The local council has become an obstacle to the progress of projects and citizens' service," he said. Unmaintained wireless security system in Aden A local telecommunication engineer in Aden agreed that local councils are just a big challenge for services and explained that last year he had worked with the local council in Aden on a wireless telecommunication system for security and the civil defense called TETRA. "This system in Aden was supposed to be a kernel for a nationwide system and they started running it in Aden during the 2oth football gulf championship in Aden [in November 2010] and until now the project was not moved to any other areas of Yemen, "he said. This system in Aden was implemented and funded by the local administration in Aden, but they did not follow it up in order to maintain the machines. "Imagine for instance the devices of this TETRA wireless system are in need of batteries and due to the bureaucracies at the local council authority, not one battery has been imported," he said. "Over four months have lapsed and the system is suspended because there is no battery," he explained. Sameer Ghaban, a local council member of a district in the capital Sana'a said that "some members do not understand their functions and responsibilities and that some are mixing their authority which is mainly supervision and planning with implementation." "Thus they come across trouble with the executive offices of the government," he said. He added that cooperation and coordination between the local councils and the executive bodies is weak and that this hinders the progress of projects. Bad selection behind corruption at local councils Dr. Abdullah Abu Al-Ghaith, a professor of political science at the University of Sana'a said that the local governance has failed to achieve its ends because the aim of establishing local rule in Yemen was not actually implemented with the interest of Yemen's districts and areas in mind. "The aim was to only keep the citizens busy with something unreal and now this has become an obstacle to people's access to service," he said. He indicated that the majority members who entered the elections were corrupted figures. The professor highlighted that "the local councils have become just a tool in the hand of the regime to pass decisions without being accountable for the consequences." He concluded that "The local elections which was held in 2006 were just a farce in which only corrupt figures climbed up the ladder and thus expanded the corruption circle." He added that "the problem does not lie in the idea of the local council, but it is in the method of its election, its work ethic, and using it as cards to gets western support for power clinging." One of the main factors which contribute to the failure of Yemen's local councils is its linkage with a ministry called the ministry of local administration". It is this central body that chooses the secretary general of the local councils and its heads, according to Abu Al-Ghaith. "We wish in future to have real local council with actual and specific authorities," he said.

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:Oct 6, 2011
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