The Perils of Polycentric Governance of Infectious Disease in South Africa

Author(s): Evan Lieberman 

Status/Format: Published

Date: 2011

Publication Type: Journal Article

Publisher: Social Science & Medicine

Volume and Issue: 73(5)

Page Numbers: 676 - 684


In much of the developing world, a model of polycentric governance has become increasingly prevalent for the control of health and infectious disease e one in which a panoply of governance actors work concurrently on the same development projects, within the same localities. And yet, the question of whether polycentrism helps or hinders disease control/mitigation, or service provision more generally, has not been sufficiently studied. This article details findings from an exploratory case study of the polycentric governance of infectious disease in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Combining analyses of an original survey of local councilors, structured interviews with relevant actors in four municipalities, and a national survey of South African citizens, the study finds a high degree of polycentric governance, and highlights associated accountability gaps and a series of constraints on effective service delivery. It concludes by identifying promising directions for future research.