Devolution and public participation in Kenya
In Kenya, devolution is yet to deliver on its promise of a public participation revolution that drives better and more equitable service delivery. Only 38% of Kenyans are aware of county meetings and only 15% attend them (Transparency International, 2016). The Policy on Devolved System of Government (Government of Kenya, 2016) acknowledges that the quality of public participation is low and has not been optimised due to low civic awareness. At the same time, not enough is known about the effectiveness of different approaches to delivering public engagement. Public hearings, the most used modality at county level, can generate a lot of valuable feedback, but are often limited by logistical challenges – they can be expensive to implement at the village level, difficult to sustain, inconvenient for certain citizens, and it can be challenging to robustly aggregate and analyse feedback for effective decision-making.
Using interactive radio to enhance citizen-authority interactions in Siaya
In response to this knowledge gap, the Urban Institute is conducting a study evaluating different approaches to civic engagement as part of AHADI, a USAID initiative to support devolution in Kenya. Africa’s Voices is deploying our own approach to civic engagement – the Common Social Accountability Platform (CSAP) – in Siaya County. CSAP leverages Africa’s Voices’ interactive radio methodology to place citizen perspectives in conversation with decision-makers to build large-scale and inclusive dialogue on critical issues in the county. The results of this intervention will be used to inform new and innovative civic engagement strategies for county governments across Kenya.