Third World Planning Review

Dilemmas of top—down decentralisation in Jordan

The case of the Petra Regional Planning Council

Third World Planning Review (2001), 23, (3), 273–288.


This paper examines the variety of ways in which decentralisation has been used as a centrally-administered panacea for various ills in developing countries. In particular, the paper examines the case of Jordan, and provides a brief overview of previous decentralisation efforts as well as a more in-depth case study of decentralisation in the Petra region, the site of the ancient Nabatean city of Petra. The paper documents the weaknesses of previous planning efforts and considers whether the current efforts to decentralise will result in the protection of the fragile and historically valuable area as well as the stimulation of the local economy. The authors conclude that the current system of decentralised planning does not have the trust of local residents and is unlikely to gain the wider local support needed to ensure the long-run sustainability of the newly completed masterplan for the region.

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Author details

Doan, Petra

Adas, Widad