In recent years many countries across the world, especially in Africa, have created large numbers of new local administrative units. This trend has largely gone unnoticed in the scholarly community, with no attempts to understand the underlying processes at work. To examine this phenomenon the case study of Uganda, one of the more prominent 'donor darlings' of the 1990s is considered. Alongside large-scale economic and political reforms Uganda has also experienced a near explosion in the number of districts (the highest level of local government), going from 39 to 79 in less than a decade. Six potential reasons are examined as to why these districts might have been created, and it is argued, through the use of election results, interviews and other data, that district creation has been primarily a source of patronage in the ongoing need for Museveni to win elections. The paper concludes with reflections on the relationship between economic and political reforms and patronage in the developing world.
Working Paper No. 24 (series 2), 2008, London, UK; Crisis States Research Centre, 24 pp.