The SAFIC approach
The Local Authorities Financial and Institutional Analysis System (SAFIC, in French) is a concerted approach developed by UNCDF which aims, thanks to appropriate instruments of analysis, to grasp the issues linked to management and local governance. Notably, the organizational functioning of the communities, their funding and the economic dimension of their development.
The rural municipalities, in particular in West Africa, where the actors of decentralization still look for their better ways, meet many difficulties in their efforts to provide satisfactory response to the legitimate expectations of the populations disadvantaged in the domain of basic public services.
Among these difficulties, the questions of local finances, the municipal management and the local economic development constitute fundamental problems. Despite the support provided to the local authorities in the sub-region and the studies (approaches and experiences led in the framework of the mobilization of resources of the local authorities) we can observe the weak impact on the rural communities while they have, in a large majority, to face the provision of basic public services.
The context of decentralization and the tax-system in West Africa is indeed characterized by the rural territorial authorities that exercise their competences very weakly due to a lack of adequate human and financial resources.
The resources belonging to these authorities are indeed very limited due to the weakness of the tax base and the fiscal performance on the one side and the irregularity of the transfer resources on the other side.
In this context, and in order to reinforce the self-management capacity of the rural municipalities and to enhance the economic and social situation of the concerned populations, UNCDF has developed a pilot experience called SAFIC in three countries, which are Guinea-Conakry, Mali and Benin.
Better knowledge, to better manage
There appears to be a diagnosis achieved with SAFIC (Mali, Guinea and Benin notably) of the observations that the weakness of the financial resources of the local authorities and the mediocre quality of the provisions offered to the citizens originate from a large part of organizational dysfunctionalities that do not enable them to fully play their role in the context of the management of their finance and the promotion of the local economy.
This translates into:
- An organization not very adapted to the missions of the decentralized authorities and characterized with weakly organized municipal services (severe weakness of the human and material needs) and a mediocre level of functioning;
- Weaknesses in the elaboration of the budget and the monitoring of its execution;
- Weaknesses in the arrangement of the local tax system related to the drawbacks of the tax sharing system, the allocation to the local authorities of a tight base of resources and that are difficult to mobilize.
In total, the objective is to improve the local management through an exhaustive diagnosis of the institutional, financial and economic situation of the decentralized authority.
Through the elaboration and execution of action plans for the institutional, economic and financial recovery of the municipalities (PARIEFIC). In short, "Better know and asses, to better manage" could summarize the SAFIC approach.
The SAFIC approach is deployed in three complementary phases. Upstream, a preparatory information and awareness phase aiming at the acceptance and engagement of the local elected representatives as well as the identification of the main actors and structures concerned by the implementation of SAFIC.
This phase is materialized by the setting up of an institutional and organisational framework and the signing of an implementing convention. It lasts more or less for a month. Downstream, an execution phase on: the preparation of the implementation (2 months) and the execution itself of the action plans for a 3 years duration.
An intensive setting up phase with a variable duration (a few months) between the preparatory phase and the execution phase. It contains:
- Achievement and elaboration of the diagnosis inquiry report;
- Organization and holding of public consultations;
- Definition and elaboration of action plans established from lines of thinking identified with the concerned actors.