Since the implementation of devolution through the 47 county governments commencing 2013, different counties have developed and implemented different models of public participation in the quest to enhance accountability and governance. In the case of Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties, citizens (or wananchi) have stood up to be heard in their localities; they are actively engaged on spending priorities and spending proposals by these county governments through public participation – that is – the Participatory Budgeting (PB) process. Through the adoption of PB in Kenya, one important and practical challenge has arisen. This is, how to adequately utilize the resources that we have and yet ensure that no wananchi are left behind, as far as service delivery at both macro and micro levels, but still retain fidelity to the PB process?
A key tenet then, is, how best to infuse the use of data and evidence in the PB process. This is very well aligned to the Open County (OC) Initiative, which has been promoting open government at the county and sub-county level. The OC Initiative provides a framework through which county-level engagement between county government, private sector and civil society is initiated and sustained. It achieves this through multiple components one of which is the Open County Portal (already achieved). Other important components that are yet to be achieved include activation of the PB component in the Open County Portal and exploring how wananchi can engage with this data; the establishment of a County Data Desk and integration of county websites with the Open County Portal. In our inception meetings with Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties on the week ending 22nd February 2019, these are the some of the important issues we began to grapple with.
We are now in the process of developing a work-plan with milestones and activities that will enable the 2 counties to overcome these main challenges over the next 5 months. It is a journey that we envisage will bring our minds together to co-create an approach, a learning approach, whereby these 2 counties would truly benefit from the PB process without sacrificing any short and long term plans and commitments which these county governments have made.
Please look out for more to come on this in the coming months.