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Experimenting and Strengthening Participatory Approaches

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Experimenting and Strengthening Participatory Approaches

Following enactment of Kenya’s new constitution in 2010, Kenyans endorsed legal requirements for public participation. Under this component, CIOG Kenya has pursued the following:

Experimenting and Strengthening Participatory Approaches

CBEF is one of the most concrete means of public consultation with legal grounding. The functionality of this forum is critical to its effectiveness as means of public consultations, however, inadequate legal and technical guidance for establishing and operationalizing these forums remain an impediment.

Consequently, the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) has since taken initiative to strengthen implementation of the PFM provisions relating to participation of communities and participatory platforms, with keen interest on CBEF. Alongside International Budget Partnership (IBP) and other partners, the commission developed guidelines to guide county governments on how to set up and operationalize these forums. In addition, in its recently published third generation revenue sharing formula proposal, the commission recognized CBEF as one of the means to which prudence of public resource management is measured under the formula’s fourth objective. Even as the commission make efforts to push forward the agenda for community engagement, additional efforts are required. CIOG Kenya has been working with organized groups of youth and civil society to advocate for the application of the guidelines by county governments across the north rift region in the appointment of members and, in defining roles and responsibilities of the forum. While many counties advertised the call for nominations, which is an improvement of the process from previous attempts, county governments are yet to fully operationalize the forums. CIOG Kenya sees an opportunity for advancing civic engagement through the forum including capacity development of the forum members to better understand and interrogate budgets as well to connect with their constituents so as to serve as conduit from which interest groups can channel their views and voices to the budget.

Experimenting and Strengthening Participatory Approaches

Participation is now a culture in Kenya as a result of its anchorage in Kenya’s laws, however, according to experts, public participation still lacks practical meaning thus, in most cases consultations by governments (county and national) has been seen as formality and fulfillment of legal requirements rather than meaningful process to accommodate public views in planning and budgeting. International Budget Partnership (IBPK) in its paper: deliberating budgets which discuss deliberation as possible antidote to the inadequacies emerging from traditional participatory approaches echo this view. In this paper, IBP Kenya tested and experimented on public deliberation (PD) at the national level as an alternative participatory approach.

In its efforts to explore and innovate, CIOG Kenya adapted and modified the IBP Kenya’s PD idea for further investigations at the local level by applying the approach to Elgeyo Marakwet County’s Agriculture Sector budget in 2017 as an experiment. Early lessons indicate that citizens can learn and, can change their minds when provided with relevant information, data and time to reflect. It also demonstrates that when decision-makers provide proposals with clear reasons and justifications, the public engagement is constructive and meaningful thus both stakeholders are required to naturally justify the positions taken on the subject matter.

CIOG Kenya is also exploring the value preposition of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in bridging the gaps experienced in the current participatory approaches. While PB is widely spreading across the World and also across Kenya’s county’s, CIOG Kenya is interested in learning how PB or any of its elements can interface or leverage on traditional and other modern participatory methods to enhance impact of community engagement in service delivery. Among key areas of exploration is adoption of Segmented Participatory Budgeting (SPB) by testing ideas such as: School PB to facilitate children and youth participation in current affairs and build active citizenry for brighter public finance environment in future. Other exploration includes application of PB by non-state actors to develop and channel alternative ideas and budget and policy priorities to government.