What We do
We research and innovate governance and public finance practices through experiment and testing. Our aim is to generate new and innovative participatory governance to respond to dynamism in the PFM environment.
Decentralization reforms have gained momentum in recent years across the world, yet, results have been mixed. In 2010 when Kenyans endorsed a devolved system of governance with the fundamental expectation of citizens being a meaningful opportunity to shape and influence public decisions to align with community needs and preference. Notable progress has been made to open up governance systems, and complemented by stronger PFM laws, yet, results are far from delivering on the promise of Kenya’s devolution, implying that conventional models assumed to propel realization of its objects are not working as desired.
e encourage and support evidence-based advocacy and engagement among PFM and governance practitioners in efforts to foster rationality and objectivity in budget and policy priority setting, implementation, and evaluation for impact.
As governments and citizens endeavor to make trade-offs between competing interests and align priorities to community needs, we support these democratic practices by generating new ideas to reinvigorate existing democratic governance process to produce better outcomes. It is for this purpose that we research budgets, policies and the processes and experiment and text new models of democratic and participatory governance to generate new knowledge to support practice.
Recent works and results
Resource and materials
Participatory Budgeting (PB) is the most widespread global participatory model for inclusive governance used in over 7,000 cities. PB has been proven to makes governments more responsive, connect officials with the communities they serve and build pathways for lifelong civic participation. PB process accord citizens real power directly decide how to spend part of a public budget thus, systematically shift political decision-making, built and institutionalized greater political power for citizens. The experiment however, was designed to test its application to generate alternative budgetary proposals rather than spending funds that is already secured.
Through this experiment, we collaborated with the Marakwet Highland Farmers Association to train 20 budget facilitators drawn from five wards in the highland of Marakwet West and Marakwet East sub-counties i.e., Kapyego, Lelan, Sengwer and Charang’any/Chebororwa.
The association and its budget facilitators submitted a memorandum to the government during public participation and asked for an allocation of KES 10 million to address key challenges across the agricultural value chain.
The memorandum was designed through a participatory process. The budget facilitators convened 54 community meetings and collected ideas from 1,120 community members across four wards.
The discussions were designed to facilitate practicing farmers to reflect on the lived experience, identify challenges impeding agricultural productivity and collectively identify probable solutions. In each of the meetings, about 200 delegates were nominated to attend ward level meetings to deliberate and filter the ideas in efforts to develop proposals for the submission.
We engaged 120 participants through the co-creation process and 75% of all government departments through a series of listening tours – community listening tours across the county sub-counties and listening involving governments officials.
As a result, we delivered the county’s action plan with five commitments targeted at reforming procurement systems, expanding participatory governance for greater inclusivity, re-engineer healthcare service delivery, strengthen efficiency of public spending through Citizen-Generated Data and empower young people through linkages.
In the height of complexities and technicalities of budget and related documents in the field of public finance, simplification has been fronted as a viable solution by participatory governance practitioners and experts, however, the term simple is too general and varies depending on the user of the information being simplified.
Informed participation of citizens has the ability to facilitate governments and taxpayers to get the best value out of scarce public resources. In this paper, we argue that when citizens have knowledge of their county’s resource envelope and how it has been distributed in in prior, current and projections for future years across various sectors and service areas, they are more likely to provide concrete and quality input towards aligning priorities to community needs in current and in the future years. We also argue that when citizens have detailed information about programs to be implemented or services to be delivered by their government, including their performance indicators and targets, they anticipate services and development thus, are likely to play civilian oversight by providing factual and timely feedback to the government regarding efficiency, accessibility and the quality of services delivered to them and finally, when information is publicly available, there is a minimal room for speculation hence improving the coherence in government – citizen relations and proactive engagement.