Public Participation

Public Participation is about actions a person or group can take to get involved in issues of government or community that are of concern to them. It ensures that citizens are heard and can actively participate in decision that impact their needs.

It is one of the national principles and values of governance, and one of the key objectives of devolution “…to give powers of self-governance to the people and enhance their participation in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them” (Article 174c, Constitution of Kenya).

All citizens in Kenya have the right to participate and it is their civic obligation to engage in all county governance processes. Follow the links below to explore:

  • Ways to get involved in decision making, service delivery, and holding government to account, and
  • What is needed for public participation to be effective

Get involved in decision making, service delivery, and holding governments to account

What is needed for effective public participation? 

  1. Civil Society Organisations- Learn about how CSOs can help in facilitating citizen engagement and in holding County governments to account.
  2. Mechanisms and Tools for Public Participation- Learn about the typical mechanisms and spaces in which public participation might take place.
  3. Access to Information- Learn about how County governments are mandated to provide information to the public.
  4. Civic Education- Learn about Civic Education and why it is important to build an effective and transparent democracy
  5. Quality of Public Participation- What makes participation effective?  How do we ensure that all voices are heard?
  6. Challenges of Public Participation- Learn about the challenges and the most common shortcomings of public participation and how to avoid them.

Key principles and benefits of effective Public Participation

Principles of effective public participation include – it should:

  • be a continuous process and not a one-time event.
  • provide timely and relevant information, accessible all members of the public so they are aware and are can engage in decisions that affect them.
  • be inclusive and provide equal access to opportunities to participate. All citizens are provided with reasonable access to opportunities, spaces and mechanisms within their reach to governance processes. Effective public participation demands attention is given to inclusion and equity so that all groups—women and men of all ages, from marginalised communities, and persons with disabilities are engaged and their needs expressed and considered.
  • have effective mechanisms to capture and process input from citizens.
  • be a two-way process— with feedback to citizen given on decisions made, actions taken and results achieved by the county government. As citizen too, provide feedback on decision and the quality of services provided to the government.

Benefits of Public Participation

  • It improves decision making and service delivery as the needs and interests of all stakeholders are considered.
  • It can promote inclusion and equity in public resource allocation and service delivery; and mitigates against misunderstandings and social conflicts.
  • Democracy and good governance principles of transparency and accountability are enhanced when the public is informed and can effectively participate in decisions that affect them. This enhances legitimacy and builds mutual trust and commitment between duty bearers and citizens. It can promote public acceptance and appreciation of what public officers are doing and help bridge gaps between different stakeholders—civil society, public, government and private sector.

Who is responsible for Public Participation within the County Government?

  • The County Government, like other state organs, is required by law to put into place regulatory frameworks, structures and mechanisms and provide for appropriate spaces for all persons to participate i.e. women and men of all ages, those with disability and in difficult to reach in marginalized areas.
  • The Governor is overall head and is responsible for public participation within the County Executive. It is the responsibility of the County Executive Committee, all the departments and all levels of the administration i.e. the sub-county, ward and village administration to undertake public participation.
  • The County Assembly is required to undertake public participation in the conduct of its business with the Speaker having overall responsibility. Members of the County Assembly as representatives of their ward citizens, play important roles in consulting, presenting views and advocating for the interests of their constituents.
  • The sub-county, ward and village administration are important avenues for engagement with the public. See below the administrative structure of the county government and who is responsible for each level
Last Update: November 15, 2021
November 15, 2021 195 adminCounty Governance Toolkit
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