The accountability agenda has risen to occupy a prominent place in the efforts to promote development with the devolved function of government. Much of focus on accountability and transparency, however, has taken a technocratic view, emphasizing disclosure of information and legal processes.
For decades, Kenya’s development and decision-making process were the exclusive prerogatives of central government. Policies, programs and projects were designed from the top and brought down to implementers. As a result, communities played no role in making decisions that affected important aspects of the political or socio-economic systems that sustained them. Disinterest in project activity on the part of communities was widespread and the failure rate of these development projects was high.
Changing the Dynamics of Participation
The enactment of the constituency development fund (CDF) Act 2003 to the National Government Constituencies Development Fund (NG-CDF) Act 2015 has significantly changed development dynamics at the community level and now, the constituency is becoming an important unit of engagement through the provision of County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) at the County level.
Community participation facilitates the achievement of some pre-determined goals. It is a way of harnessing rural people’s physical, economic and social resources to achieve the aims and objectives of development programs and projects more efficiently, effectively or cheaply. In addition, participation is an active, dynamic and genuine process which unfolds over time and whose purpose is to develop and strengthen the capabilities of rural people to intervene more directly in development initiatives.
Community participation is an avenue for development. The level of community awareness is one of the most critical factors likely to influence the level of community participation in public sector projects in all levels of government.
Community awareness entails a situation where the community has sufficient knowledge and facts concerning the happenings around them and in this context the CDF projects. We are living at a time of technological advancement, increasingly globalized and amazingly, disconnected from each other. A person can access the latest information from around the world but very seldom know the name of that local County government person who might be making decisions about our future. For community participation to be successful, organizations of goodwill need to facilitate civic education for the constituents to uphold their civic right as enshrined in the Constitution.
Ask, and Ye Shall be Given
Contrary to the popular belief, information is available upon request 1 2 where possible from our public offices or County government departmental heads. A conversation I had with a friend drew conclusions that CDF bursary in Laikipia County is a sham. I did not agree with her school of thought. I sought to find information as to how the amounts are allocated and if indeed anybody has ever benefited from the bursary.
Much to my surprise, my answer came from an unlikely source, a student who asked for anonymity. All the crucial information he provided was in line with the information I would later find on Laikipia Education and ICT department website for the allocation of financial year 2017-2018 that University students were allocated Kshs 10, 000, Vocational training/ colleges Kshs 8,000, boarding secondary school Kshs 6,500, day secondary school Kshs 2,500 and special cases Kshs 6,500. By the time I was going to the press, I had not managed to get to speak to the new team in the CDF office for further clarifications.
Article By Gitenguri Kuria
This article first appeared on the blog heshiwakuria.blogspot.com under the title ‘Participation in public forums key in the facilitation of accountability and transparency in all levels of government‘.