In a bid to involve citizens to participate in the decision-making process of their County, Lamu County Government has begun the process of developing their Citizen Public Participation Policy.
Following a request on technical support to the Council, the process was a continuation of efforts already put in Lamu County in 2017. In a meeting supported by the Council of Governors and the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), the meeting was officially opened by the Deputy Governor Lamu County H.E Abdulhakim Aboud Bwana who noted that the Constitution underscores the importance of public participation since the sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya.
“The people have delegated this sovereign power through the executive and assembly,” said the Deputy Governor. He further noted that staff in government offices were exercising this power on behalf of the people of Kenya. This, therefore, mandates the County Governments to involve the people in planning and managing public resources and especially those allocated for County Development purposes.
In public participation, H.E Abdulhakim Aboud Bwana called for the County Officers to think about where there have been lapses in terms of public participation and the areas of improvement.
While addressing participants, the DG reiterated that public participation need not be only about meetings. Rethink the models that are cost effective and take care of wide coverage. He also called for the harmonization of public participation so that it is conducted all through departments.
‘…As we call upon citizens to participate, equally look at empowering the community on the matters being brought on the table for their attention. For effective Public participation, the people participating must be aware of what they need to participate in…’
Ms. Zainab from the UNDP made participants understand what UNDP looks at in assisting counties achieve their goals. Innovative approaches towards achieving Public Participation with a focus on marginalized and impoverished communities will help shape the next phase of support.
Mr. Shee Kupi, the director in charge of Public participation and Civic Education highlighted that Lamu’s draft public participation policy had not fully met the legal provisions of establishing citizen participation frameworks and this workshop was to build capacity and to refine their policy on the same.
It was noted that the County Assembly committee members who had previously confirmed participation were not in attendance. However, the technical clerk of the committee concerned (Trade Tourism Information Cooperatives) was able to raise and deliberate on issues that touch of the county assembly.
Chief Kiunga noted that Chiefs are on the ground, called for County officials to make use of the existing administration system to enhance effectiveness of the public participation processes. “Unfortunately citizens are used to the handouts and thus the proposed PP model must find a way of reimbursing them,” he further stated.
Some of the key innovations arising from 3day discussions was the use of a “town crier’ as a form of sending out communication prior to the public participation forums.
Participants noted that for purposes of meaningful engagement the document for discussion needs to be in the public domain before it reaches the actual day of Public participation.
Further, technical documents need to be simplified for easy consumption of the citizen.
The meeting was represented by County officials from the departments of trade, tourism, youth, communication, Legal, Audit, budgeting, Public Service management & Admin, Economic planning, social team lead.
Equally in attendance were representatives from Lamu County Assembly, Civil society team, the Chief Kiunga and UNDP.