• Pauline Yeukayi Murima (South Africa)

Social capital: the effectiveness of local economic development policies in LMIC countries

Local economic development refers to the advancement of economic activities affected by increased economic development to positively impact the livelihoods of the local people. Local economic development is aimed at creating wealth, increasing income, reducing poverty, generating jobs, and ultimately increasing the quality of livelihood for the people in a locality. The efficacy of Local Economic Development strategies is determined by two main factors. The first factor is the government's ability to develop and implement policies that serve and resonates with its societal needs. The second determining factor is the use of social capital to achieve local economic development and sustainable development within the set jurisdictions. According to a publication by the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (2020), local economic development is defined as a governance approach that encourages and propels the local people to work collaboratively to achieve sustainable economic growth and development.

Notwithstanding the already existing policies that have been developed to propel local economic development, most low to medium-income countries have since struggled to entirely take advantage of the social capital within their jurisdictions to ensure sustainable economic growth through the formulation of the local economic development policies. In these low to medium-income countries, the predominance of policymaking has been seized through comprehensive rationality theory of policy making which is characterized by a top-down approach which is a prototype of a decayed public policy definition that entails misgovernance, corruption, election rigging, poor country governance as well as lack of social justice. The main characteristic of the comprehensive rationality approach is that the governments use reasoned choices though with a desire to achieve and adopt a different course. However, this top-down approach is what still largely defines the policy implementation and development process in low to medium-income countries, and as such the same results are being attained besides the projections of a negative impact via precedence set throughout history.

However, there is extraordinarily little so far implemented in incorporating the local communities into policy formulation within the local government. Furthermore, argues that the public participation mechanisms used by low to medium-income countries are not clear. The lack of collaborative governance for economic development in governments has led to local communities that are highly defined by complacency and lack of responsiveness to economic growth and development. Consequently, this has led to a lack of economic development, skills transfer, elevated levels of poverty, and a severe unemployment problem. The reverse is that economic growth and emancipation policies, and local economic development goals for poverty suppression, skills development, and economic development are to be achieved once these local economic development policies are developed and implemented with or without collaborative governance.

Forming part of the archives of findings as to the use of social capital by low to medium-income countries for the implementation and development of local economic development policies is that most of these third world countries are characterized by a population that is highly passive and lacks touch with the civilizations that are constantly being upgraded in developed countries. As such, the local governments in these low to medium-income countries are highly populated with elected council/government officials who are concerned about feeding themselves rather than the communities. This has in turn birthed a drift between the government and its people, eroding any remaining good communication channels and intentions that may be later represented or advocated for. As such, these elected members thus become aggressive towards serving in office conclusively becoming obsolete while in office.

A thorough analysis of current local economic development policies of the low to medium-income countries mostly in the Southern Region of Africa reveals that governments lack the resources to properly execute policy-making initiatives for sustainable policies. As such, some activities are side-line as nonimperative else a prototype of the previous results from the use of social capital is used as a model for all other instances where the government needs to address the issue of social capital measures such as public partition and community engagement. Nonetheless, notwithstanding the negative analysis of sustainable policy development and implementation in low to medium-income countries, sustainable policy implementation and development is a governmental administration process that may be delegated to the local municipalities and yet still favors upholding and utilization of the social capital, through good governance and good management and enhancing the implementation and use of different social capital mechanisms to promote it policy sustainability.