Unpacking the role of citizen participation in Governance

It is important for any government to involve the citizens in projects being undertaken. In governance, Citizen Participation, involves the public evaluating their own needs depending on the problems that they are experiencing and taking part in project planning and budget monitoring. This is important as it improves public resource management and reduces corruption. Citizen participation also makes leaders and political leaders to be answerable to the people they serve.

For Citizen Participation to work, transparency of government information is required. Information is power and helps the citizens in making right choices. Inclusion of members into decision-making from groups whose concerns are being addressed is also important. Excluding the weak and powerless from decision making is a cause of poverty because it denies them their rights and creates unequal power relationships.

The basis of Citizen Participation ranges from freedom of expression to access of important information. Citizens need to understand their right to participate in governance issues. A lot of civic education has to be carried out revolving around where and how to participate with the concerned authorities ready to embrace the voice of the people. This in turn creates more inclusive and cohesive communities.

Engaging citizens in local governance increases accountability and the ability of those in power to increase awareness and also increases the number of quality initiatives made by communities. There needs to be open spaces, aided with technology and social media for dialogue and improving transparency and hidden social structures that always generate corruption.

Citizen Participation fosters efficient, effective, transparent, accountable, clean and citizen-centered open governance, administration and services
The county governments need to prioritize areas for reform and they should do so in participatory working groups in order to identify problems. Once the problems have been identified, they shoukd propose of ways of addressing in an open manner and then follow with the implementation stage which should be monitored and evaluated. All this should be open to the public.

To achieve transparent and efficient governance, it is important that a strategy which includes participatory methodologies and tools to promote an open and participatory government: county assemblies, local consultation processes, participatory action plans, participatory budgets and county consensus-building workshops.