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6 Ways to Improve Public Participation in Kenyan Counties

6 Ways to Improve Public Participation in Kenyan Counties

Public participation in Kenyan counties remains a great challenge. It is also a challenge for the national government. Public participation in Kenyan counties is one of the national values and principles of governance.

Article 10 of the Kenyan Constitution enshrines the national values and principles of governance. It will take some time to effect and realize public participation fully in the Kenyan counties.

We appreciate devolution as a country, but its challenges have been extreme. Many people expected devolution to be promising. As such, it is still important to manage those high expectations.

Public participation in Kenyan counties is one way of ensuring transparency and accountability in governance. A case example is the importance of public participation in the oversight of public finance in Kenya.

Nevertheless, how can public participation in Kenyan counties become effective? It is important for Kenyans to involve themselves with the county governments.

Improving public participation in Kenyan counties

Transparency International (TI Kenya) has some recommendations on how to make public participation in the Kenyan counties effective

Civic education

There are key stakeholders who are important to promote civic education in the counties. They include the national government, county governments, relevant independent commissions, and civil society organizations.

The key stakeholders should enhance civic education to intensify awareness on key county processes. Such processes include:

  • county planning and budget-making process;
  • opportunities for public participation;
  • roles of elected leaders.

Public participation

County governments need to engage the public actively in key county processes such as:

  • identifying and prioritizing county projects;
  • policy-making;
  • oversight an accountability.

The county governments also need to come up with public participation frameworks to guide civic engagement in the county processes.

Public communication

County governments should boost public communication to intensify public access to information and transparency. They can utilize platforms such as:

  • social media;
  • websites;
  • mobile phones and SMS;
  • community media;
  • public noticeboards.

They should also simplify key documents for county planning, budgets, and bills into popular versions.  They should then disseminate them widely through accessible channels.

Anti-corruption

The county governments should embrace and stick to the policy of zero tolerance to corruption. This will ensure prudent use of the limited resources in the counties and the country. The counties can achieve zero levels of corruption through measures such as:

  • strictly enforcing the Leadership and Integrity Act and other relevant laws;
  • enacting the requisite legislation such as access to information and whistle-blower protection laws;
  • domesticating relevant anti-corruption mechanisms.

Access to information legislation

Without proper access to information, the public cannot hold their leaders accountable in the spirit of the Constitution. Article 35 of the Kenyan Constitution safeguards the public access to information.

The access to information law is important to provide a legal framework for the dynamic provision of information to the public. The county governments should ensure that they establish and implement this law.

Inter-governmental relations

Some structures already exist to promote relations between the national and the county governments. They include:

These intergovernmental relations structures need development towards collective resolution of major problems such as insecurity.

George Githinji
About George Githinji

I love writing content that is insightful and informative. The articles I write have a common #1 goal: Keeping it as simple as possible for users to understand the content. Read More

6 thoughts on “6 Ways to Improve Public Participation in Kenyan Counties”

  1. A quick one, how did Danson Ng’ang’a get involved in public participation? I am reading up on this matter arguing that public engagement is a fallacy.

      • I wanted him to share how he was invited to participate. I am not querying his credentials. I am writing a thesis on how the public seldom gets a chance to participate and I was keen for him, as a member of the public to share more.

        • I have also participated in these forums. The notices are usually put in the newspaper. Now that you are in Nairobi County, or so I assume, you can get a chance to participate in these forums.

  2. Thanks, George. Just been involved in Public Participation for Nairobi County ADP 2020-2021 and its encouraging to see Wanjiku starting to grasp economic matters around this process. Counties need to give public more time to come up with their development ideas and not the 45 minutes they usually allocate for the public to give their full year’s development proposal with a disclaimer that not all proposals can be implemented. Good article

    • Thank you, sir. Indeed it is very important for Wnajiku to be informed and to put more pressure on the county governments to move from tokenism participation to people-centred participation. Because public participation is important in resource sharing and decision-making in general.

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