Participatory budgeting has been around for a while now and has spread gradually throughout the world from its beginnings in Brazil. One country where it has recently made a big impact is Kenya.
In 2000 the Local Authority Service Delivery Plan (LASDAP) was introduced with an aim of enhancing citizen participation in the distribution of funds. On paper the LASDAP process is perhaps the most comprehensive tool encompassing citizen participation in planning, selection, implementation and oversight of projects in local authorities. However, in reality, the plan failed to increase citizen engagement and the funds were used up on staff wages and overheads.
Moving forward 10 years and drastic changes to government meant that a new decentralised government was implemented. This meant that a national government and 47 county governments would now manage their own budgets.
The National Taxpayers Association (NTA) with support from the International Budget Partnership (IBP) saw this as an opportunity to pick up where LASDAP fell short and launched a pilot scheme aimed at local authority level. Taking inspiration from successful projects in Cameroon, the NTA implemented the scheme in 5 local authorities, with an ultimate goal of informing its future advocacy in the context of devolution.
Armed with the knowledge gained from its staff’s experiences in Cameroon, the NTA began the project with an aim of building strong relationships with officials in the 5 chosen authorities, introducing them to participatory budgeting and its benefits. Aditionally, the NTA established citizen budget monitoring groups with training based on a budget literacy training toolkit. These groups were then linked to local authorities to ensure strong collaboration.
The project saw several positive outcomes. One of these was the NTA’s ability to educate and inform public officials on budgetary matters and effective community engagement. Another outcome was the citizen budget monitoring group’s success in mobilising citizens to effectively participate in established consultative meetings. The NTA’s experience gained from the project and the failed LASDAP enabled it to develop the Citizen Participation and Budget Transparency Guide. The guide aims to inform citizens and government on effective budget processes and encourage citizen engagement.
The NTA now plans to roll out the scheme throughout Kenya and further afield it has established County Accountability Networks in 12 countries.
Projects like this show that Participatory Budgeting is most effective when used in conjunction with other community engagement processes. By engaging and empowering the community more here in the UK, local authorities can make more well informed budget-making decisions.
For more information on using Budget Simulator as part of your budget making process please contact Maurizio on 0845 638 1845 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.