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Why quality matters : rebuilding trustworthy local government in post-conflict Sierra Leone (English) | The World Bank
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Abstract A broad consensus has emerged among practitioners and researchers that failure to build accountable and legitimate institutions is a critical risk factor associated with vicious circles of repeated violence. Despite this consensus, very few studies have tested the extent to which local government performance and decentralized service provision shape citizens' beliefs toward political authorities. This paper contributes to fill this gap by examining the antecedents of trustworthy local government authorities in a post-conflict and fragile setting, Sierra Leone. Taking advantage of a unique longitudinal survey, the National Public Services, it examines the impact of sub-national variation in local government performance on citizens' beliefs about the trustworthiness of local government authorities. To test the hypothesis, it uses multilevel models to exploit variation over time and within and across sub-national units in Sierra Leone. The results suggest that improvements in the quality of decentralized service delivery, as well as perceptions of local councillors' honesty, are positively associated with perceptions of local government officials as trustworthy political authorities. These findings speak to the possibility that local service provision can play a role in shaping the relationships between citizens and the state and in overcoming the root causes of fragility and conflict.