Citizen Participation in Local Governance (ELG0001)
Action Plan: Elgeyo Marakwet County, Kenya Action Plan
Action Plan Cycle: 2017
Lead Institution: Department of Executive Administration
Support Institution(s): Directorate of Economic Planning; Department of Finance; Ward Administrators; County Government Departments; Civil Society, Private Sector: Kerio Center; Network of Civil Society Organizations; International Budget Partnership; World Bank
Policy AreasCapacity Building, Local Commitments, Public Participation
Issue to be addressed: A lack of proper guidelines for effective planning and implementation of public participation is leading to sub-optimal development outcomes for citizens and the County Government which they hold accountable. For example, the current process for public participation, while successful in attracting significant numbers of citizens, has not achieved the desired diversity in participation among special interest groups, such as youth, women and disabled, or in geographic attendance with discussions dominated by those with the least distance to travel. Furthermore, the processes have not allowed for the integration of technical guidance into public deliberations. Primary objective: To establish a mechanism for scaling up successful approaches to public participation in the County development and governance processes. Short description: To create a mechanism to identify, test and incorporate successful approaches for public participation into County development and Governance processes. OGP Challenge: Public participation engagement gives citizens a platform to access government information and express their view on the development programmes both at the sectoral level and ward level which are very crucial in county development. Citizens best understand their community needs and engaging them in the development process can help the County ensure its programmes and their implementation are relevant to the communities they are appointed to serve.
IRM End of Term Status Summary
1. Improve effectiveness of citizen engagement
Improve the effectiveness of citizen engagement in local governance, by identifying and scaling successful approaches to public participation.
To create a mechanism to identify, test and incorporate successful approaches for public participation into County development and Governance processes.
1.1 Establish Public Participation Technical Working Group
1.2 Technical Working Group to review, develop, draft Public Participation Guidelines to inform pilot intervention activities
1.3 Community priority list: Identification of Community Priorities through Sub-Ward Engagement for the Annual Development Plan Public Participation Consultations
1.4 Review community priority lists by county technical departments to develop budgets and project proposals for community review
1.5 Review Public Participation Pilot Activities and revise guidelines and regulations based on results from pilot interventions.
Editorial Note: The text above includes sections of the commitment text to fit this report. The complete text with specific responsible actors and completion dates per milestone can be found in the Elgeyo Marakwet Action Plan 2017.
Overall Objective & Relevance
This commitment seeks to address the challenges faced by the county government in carrying out an effective public participation process. Section 87 and section 91 of the County Government Act, 2012 http://kenyalaw.org/lex//actview.xql?actid=No.%2017%20of%202012 provides guiding principles for citizen participation, to include, engagement during budget processes, monitoring and evaluation processes, law enactment processes and open forums (County Hall meetings), among others.
Elgeyo Marakwet has embraced public participation as a key process in its decision-making activities. The county government has developed legislation such as the Equitable Development Act http://www.globaldisabilityrightsnow.org/sites/default/files/relatedfiles/277/Elgeyo_Marakwet_County_Development_Act_2015.pdf and the Public Participation Act http://kenyalaw.org/kl/fileadmin/pdfdownloads/Acts/ElgeyoMarakwetPublicParticipationAct2014.pdf to support this effort, and ensure compliance with the County Governments Act. For instance, the county's budget is developed through a framework of citizen participation, where citizens, through ward level engagement, identify and prioritize their development needs, while referring to the County Integrated Development Plan. The inputs discussed and agreed upon in such forums are then consolidated and incorporated into the overall county budget.
The public participation framework has been able to attract the attention and participation of a significant number of citizens; however, its effectiveness is still limited due to a number of reasons. Firstly, as identified in the County's action plan https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2001/01/Elgeyo-Marakwet_Subnational_Action Plan20161201.pdf , it has not allowed for the integration of technical guidance for citizens into the public deliberations; this has led to inconsistencies on how public participation is conducted, and suboptimal outcomes in the quality of deliberations and consequent decision making based on the deliberations. Secondly, the process has not laid down mechanisms for ensuring all-inclusiveness of the participants, and, as such, there is an information gap from special interest groups such as women, youth, people living with disabilities, and the geographically dispersed citizens. This is further supported by an IBP paper on County Budget and Economic Forums and Public Participation in Kenya (2014) http://www.internationalbudget.org/wp-content/uploads/County-Budget-and-Economic-Forums-CBEFs-and-Public-Participation-in-Kenya.pdf , which reported that the challenges faced in public participation included a lack of (1) safeguards to prevent consultative forums being dominated by any one political group, organized interest, or politician, (2) timely communication regarding the public forums, (3) feedback mechanisms and (4) general citizen understanding because of the technical nature of documents provided, among others.
The main objective of this commitment is to establish mechanisms for scaling up successful approaches to public participation in the county development and governance process. The commitment seeks to create a means to identify, test and incorporate successful approaches for public participation into the County development and governance processes. The proposed mechanisms will form the procedures that will be adopted to guide the public participation exercises, in order to make the process inclusive and effective.
This objective is relevant to the value of civic participation as it aims to enhance the effectiveness of public participation processes in local governance, and ensure that the public participation exercise results in meaningful input.
The activities planned under this commitment are to develop public participation guidelines (through a technical working group); to pilot these guidelines through sub-ward engagement for public participation consultations for the annual development plan; to review the identified community priority list to review the piloted public participation activities with the aim of revising the public participation guidelines and developing recommendations for the county government.
Specificity and Potential Impact
The language from this commitment is of medium specificity; although the activities are objectively verifiable, some require interpretation to identify the measurability of the activity and its impact on the overall objective of the commitment. For example, the text in the action plan does not detail how the guidelines and mechanisms will consider the most important issues currently affecting public engagement practices. This in turn could affect the potential impact of the commitment.
Based on the commitment text, the IRM researcher believes that the commitment has a moderate potential impact on the conduct and effectiveness of citizen engagement in local governance processes. According to the action plan, public participation guides the allocation of more than 70% of the County's development (capital) budget. Therefore, the integration of technical guidance is necessary to ensure that inputs and deliberations made during the public participation process are feasible. Milestone 1 and 2 give provisions for the development of the public participation guidelines, while milestone 3, 4 and 5 provide for steps to test and refine the developed guidelines. Although the Public Participation Act already provides guiding principles for public participation, including provision for affirmative action programmes, the government, as reported in the action plan, still encounters challenges such as representativeness of participants.
Mr. Kiprono, a representative of the Center for Innovations, and formerly a part of the Kerio Center, believes that the implementation of this commitment could provide a framework to address the main challenges experienced in public participation engagements, such as representativeness of participants and timely provision of information Timothy Kiprono (Executive Director, Center for Innovations in Open Governance, and formerly, programme officer, Kerio Center), Interview by IRM researcher, 16/08/2017 , as documented in his ADP observations report. For more information on the Observation report of the Annual Development Plan 2016 Public Participation Act (by Center for Innovations), see https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByGU03hIyT02a3g1MXpMYkRzM28 These sentiments were also concurred by steering committee member, Ms. Norah Chelangat, who also considers that that improved guidelines could set mechanisms in place to enable equal opportunities for participation among marginalized groups (do to gender or geographic locations). Norah Chelangat (CSO representative of women interest, member of county OGP steering committee), Interview by IRM researcher, 23/08/2017
However, the text of the milestones and activities as detailed in the plan do not explain how the guidelines will capture the key concerns of public participation and address the challenges identified. For this reason, the commitment could represent a significant step towards improving public participation, but it remains unclear whether its implementation could have a transformative impact.
The county government has implemented the first two of the five milestones within the action plan period; milestone three, four and five were not yet started during the action plan period because of delays.
Milestone 1 was completed in time. The county secretary, on behalf of the government, appointed technical working group members to develop the public participation guidelines. The terms of reference for the group were developed by the steering committee, and issued to the members for guidance The Terms of Reference for the Technical Working Group cn be found here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByGU03hIyT02a3g1MXpMYkRzM28 . Membership included four government officials and four CSO representatives. Additionally, the government coopted one government official from health department, and the ward administrator from Kaptarakwa ward. According to the Director of Public Participation, Richard Mr. Kilimo Richard Kilimo, Director of Public Participation, Interview by IRM researcher, 04/12/2017 , the representative from the health department, Mr. Jacob Ayienda, was selected because of his vast experience interacting with the community through health programs that run under the health department. The administrator of Kaptarakwa, Mr. Solomon, was selected because of his active role in coordinating public participation activities in his ward.
The county secretary also invited the county assembly (the legislative arm of government) to nominate three representatives to join the technical working group, but this was not done. The participation of the assembly members was inhibited by two issues; first, because of the general elections that were held in August 2017, the Assembly was dissolved on 31st March, 2017 and hence no substantive members could participate. The IRM researcher confirmed that both the executive and legislative bodies of the county government periodically organized public participation activities to engage citizens on governance issues.
Also, according to the County Secretary Paul Chemuttut, County Secretary, Interview by IRM researcher, 20/12/2017 , the representative for persons living with disabilities did not respond to the invitation, The IRM researcher was unable to reach the respondent for follow-up contact.
This milestone was also completed in time. The technical working group held two meetings, on July 15th and July 26th, 2017 and the main outcome was the drafting of the public participation guidelines The minutes of the Technical Working Group meetings can be found here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByGU03hIyT02a3g1MXpMYkRzM28 . This was done by reviewing existing documentation such as the Elgeyo Marakwet Public Participation Act http://kenyalaw.org/kl/fileadmin/pdfdownloads/Acts/ElgeyoMarakwetPublicParticipationAct2014.pdf and guidelines from the ministry of devolution and planning on county public participation http://www.devolutionplanning.go.ke/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/County-Public-Participation.pdf to provide input into the guidelines. The group then called for a public participation practitioners meeting on the 18th of August 2017 to discuss the proposed guidelines and collect their input. This meeting was attended by government officials from the directorates of economic planning, public participation and communication, ward administrators and some members of the public. During this meeting, the practitioners shared their experiences and challenges in carrying out public participation, and gave suggestions for the guidelines to address the challenges The minutes of the practitioners meeting can be found here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByGU03hIyT02a3g1MXpMYkRzM28 . The draft guidelines were also discussed at a multi-stakeholder forum held on 15th December 2017 The list of participants and presentations used during this meeting can be found here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByGU03hIyT02a3g1MXpMYkRzM28 , attended by government officials, members of the cabinet and CSOs. In this forum, the participants were taken through the detail contents of the public participation guidelines; the members provided further inputs and validated the guidelines.
Milestone 3, 4 and 5
Milestone three, four and five are cumulative in nature and implementation was not started within the action plan period.
The government intended to identify a community priority list through sub-ward public engagement conducted for the development of the Annual Development Plan (ADP). The ADP is a planning process conducted yearly where citizens and government engage to prioritize the development projects from the 5-year County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) to be funded for a particular financial year. For example, from August 24 to 30, 2016, the County held public participation meetings in all 20 wards to enable citizens to decide on how to allocate the County's development budget, through the Annual development plan. These meetings were chaired by members of the County Executive, other technical officers, and members of the Ward Development Committees. For more information on the framework for the process of annual development planning, see section 125 &126 of the Public Finance Management Act 2012 available at https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjhmOmi2b7WAhWNJVAKHX3iBaoQFggnMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.treasury.go.ke%2Ftax%2Facts.html%3Fdownload%3D603%3Athe-public-finance-management-act-2012-1-1&usg=AFQjCNHOzCke6SXBiwMf1Z2IsNBUbMoeRQ The 2017 ADP process, which was planned to be treated as a pilot activity to test the draft public participation guidelines, did not take place. The priority list was to come out of this activity to be later reviewed by the county technical departments to develop budgets and proposals for the accomplishment of milestone four. Finally, to carry-out milestone five, the public participation guidelines were to be revised based on the results from these pilot activities.
According to Mr. Maritim John Maritim (Director of Economic Planning, County Government of Elgeyo Marakwet), Response to discussions between steering committee and IRM researcher on 08/12/2017 , milestone three, four and five were not achieved because of the lapse of the CIDP. In his explanation, Mr. Maritim described that the government intended to test the developed guidelines on an actual process, and hence the proposal of the ADP process in the action plan. However, the ADP public participation consultations were not done because of the CIDP lapse and the new CIDP is still being developed, and not yet approved. Note that the ADP process that would have been done in September 2017 would be for budget inputs for 2018/2019 financial year, which was not covered by the existing CIDP. Likewise, the government planned the public participation consultations for the new CIDP to be done under the new guidelines that would have been developed.
The government finally tested the new guidelines with the CIDP preparation in January 2018. The delegate system of representation was implemented, where representatives from each sub-location were selected and invited to attend public hearings; the templates for submitting citizen memoranda was developed and used to collect citizen input into the CIDP The guidelines for delegate nomination and the template for submission of citizen memoranda can be found here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByGU03hIyT02a3g1MXpMYkRzM28 and out of these engagements, the community priority list was developed for the CIDP Sample Priority List can be seen here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByGU03hIyT02a3g1MXpMYkRzM28 . However, these activities cannot be considered in the assessment of this commitment because they fall out of the period under review by the IRM (from 1 January to 31 December 2017).
Early Results: did it open government?
Civic Participation: Marginal
Prior to this commitment, the county government of Elgeyo Marakwet had already put in measures to institutionalize public participation. The county government had passed two laws to support public participation at the local level (the Public Participation Act and the Equitable Development Act), and had dedicated a fully-fledged department to coordinate public participation activities at the county. However, despite these efforts, government faced a major challenge due to a lack of framework to guide how public participation would take place. The main aim of this commitment was thus to establish the framework under which citizens would be engaged in public participation activities. By developing the guidelines, the county government expected to substantially improve the context of public participation by providing the structures to ensure balanced representation in public participation and address the citizen information needs by requiring that documentations for public participation are prepared and submitted to citizens well in advance. The government anticipated to develop, test and approve the guidelines between January and December 2017.
The highlight achievement of this commitment is the development of the draft public participation guidelines and regulations The Draft Public Participation guidelines can be found here https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0ByGU03hIyT02a3g1MXpMYkRzM28 with strong CSO representation. Although not finalized and approved, the guidelines have been subjected to intense discussions, from review of its legal framework, to seeking inputs from practitioners. There are already notable and positive changes regarding citizen engagement. The commitment has created an interactive platform for government, CSOs and the citizens to work together. In developing the draft guidelines, the government worked with the Center for Innovations in Open Governance to develop the draft, and in the process, deliberate effort was made to seek citizen input. Timothy Kiprono, Director CIOG, commended the government for creating a platform for CSO engagement; he noted that the draft guidelines specified the modalities for implementing balanced representation and that the guidelines provide a platform to close the loops in the Public Participation Act. Also, through the multi-stakeholder meeting, the government involved other non-governmental actors to discuss the draft guidelines and incorporate their inputs. The citizens consulted by CSOs during implementation also reported to have experienced a change in perception about public participation. Emmanuel Kongin from the Center for Innovation in Open Governance Emmanuel Kongin (Center for Innovations in Open Governance), Interview by IRM researcher, 04/12/2017 reported that his organization had observed a positive mind shift from the members of the public, especially those who were involved in co-creation and implementation processes. He noted that some citizens were able to appreciate the role of public participation to involve other governance processes apart from resource allocation.
In sum, the implementation of this commitment represented an incremental and positive step towards inclusion of civil society members in public policy decision making. It is important to highlight that the new guidelines were tested in January of 2018, after the period under review (from 1 January to 31 December 2017). Therefore, this report does not factor in changes appreciated after the test run.
· Review of County Public Participation Act to include the guidelines: once approved, the public participation guidelines developed could be incorporated into the County Public Participation Act for continuous implementation.
· Harmonize public participation activities for the different arms of government: to enable citizens understanding and appreciation of the importance of each activity and avoid citizen burn-out or confusion from the different forums.
· Upscale public participation beyond resource allocation, to project management: just as public participation activities for budgetary discussions are planned for on an annual basis, government could make similar effort to plan for and conduct public participation for other governance processes such as project management.