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Faces of Open Government: Ruth Kendagor

Rostros de Gobierno Abierto: Ruth Kendagor

Ruth Kendagor|

As the IRM researcher for Elgeyo Marakwet County (EMC), you’ve had to assess how impactful and well implemented some of the commitments in the County’s action plans have been. With EMC currently implementing its second action plan, what would you say has been the most significant achievement so far of the county since joining the OGP Local Program in 2016?

Elgeyo Marakwet County (EMC) has pursued citizen participation and involvement in government processes since joining OGP in 2016, and has made remarkable efforts to advance openness and inclusion in its governance.

In its two action plans, EMC has committed to enhancing civic participation, making open contracting more inclusive for women and people with disabilities, strengthening citizen feedback mechanisms, enhancing access to information, and improving healthcare systems.

Despite having just one year to implement some of these commitments, the County has increased and improved relations between the government and civil society organizations (CSO). The co-creation process brought together government, CSOs and other non-governmental stakeholders to design and implement commitments that put forward the interest of the citizens. This has resulted in greater civil society engagement in the county.

Equally, EMC has also made substantial achievements in widening spaces for more meaningful citizen engagement, ensuring that special interest groups such as women, youth and people living with disabilities have access to information and that their voices are heard.

We’ve seen that many innovations and open government reforms are happening at the local level since citizens are closer to local government than the national ones. In your experience, how does open government look like at the local level and how does it differ from Kenya’s national OGP process?

Local governments are indeed closer to the citizens as compared to national government, and this view is no different in Elgeyo Marakwet. Citizens have closer access to, and better interaction with the local government as compared to national government. Accordingly, commitments made by the local government are more about the services that affect citizens directly. In Elgeyo, the county government’s commitments range from citizen participation in development planning and budgeting, to economic empowerment of special interest groups (women, youth and people living with disabilities. One notable achievement at the local level of open government is the two-way communication between government and citizens. Compared to the national government, the feedback process is shorter and less bureaucratic at the local level. Citizen voices are better heard and responded to by the local government. For instance, in its first action plan, EMC developed started a direct, real time communication channel between government and citizens. EMC designated communication lines where citizens are able to voice their concerns, file complaints/ compliments without much trouble or delay, and receive rapid government response. 

Elgeyo Marakwet County has proposed many innovative initiatives; from enhancing public procurement processes and opportunities to widening civic engagement. From your early assessment what are some highlights from the County’s open government process and second action plan? 

Elgeyo Marakwet has had two action plans since joining OGP. While the first action plan focused on setting up systems to enable government work in a more transparent, accessible and accountable manner, the second plan has some specific, results oriented commitments that could directly translate to improved service delivery.

From an early assessment, I would highlight the initiative  to entrench transparency and accountability in the procurement processes. Up until the second action plan, EMC had made an effort to simplify procurement processes and documentation. The second action plan aims to move forward open contracting efforts by creating spaces for citizen feedback, as well as improving access to government procurement opportunities for special interest groups (women, youth and people living with disabilities). Similarly, the open data commitment strives to provide a framework for government to put together and disclose county specific data relating to development and service delivery indicators. If fully implemented this commitment could substantially improve the quality of information provided to the citizens and help better inform planning and budgeting by government.

Comments (2)

Dr. Hoseah Kiplagaf Reply

Good information for consumption

Professor Jacqueline McGlade Reply

This is an excellent outcome for Elgeyo-Marakwet. We have research underway at Strathmore University and the National Museums of Kenya, as part of Prosperity Co-Lab(PROCOL) Kenya, working with communities in Narok, Nandi, Kericho, Bomet and Nakuru to understand the value of the Mau Forest complex and how we can build value chains to support enhancement of indigenous knowledge, forest livelihoods and the protection and expansion of healthy ecosystems through planting of medicinal trees. Community participation and decision-making has been fundamental. The research is part of OGP access to open data with the Kenya Space Agency; we have been mapping the forest using communities no the ground and satellite data and the Survey of Kenya maps so we can see how the forest has changed on a local scale from the 1960s to today. If you are interested in this work please

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