The Change initiative began in 2009 with the aim of creating platforms through which citizens can critically examine their role in democratic processes and create platforms for enhanced engagement. The initiative is built on the premise that people through self- organizing are and can leverage their own power and set the development agenda. The initiative is designed to harness and support this processes by enhancing people centered democratic governance in Kenya by:
- Amplifying community voices in decision-making.
- Re-activating grassroots democratic culture and civic engagement.
- Exploring new and innovative technology to boost community participation and as a means of promoting awareness for social justice.
Visit the Change website for more information.
Kenyans setting the agenda
One of the citizens’ demands during the Change initiative’s citizen’s forums was to ensure citizens involvement in the devolved government as provided for by the new constitution in Kenya and consequently to enable citizens to be able to determine their own development path. Fahamu has taken up this challenge and, working with community activists, are implementing a Participatory Budgeting (PB) project.
Fahamu seeks to adapt and localize existing models to ensure that the focus is ‘people centered’ as opposed to ‘structure centered’. Fahamu aims through this project to create a citizen led process that shifts the balance of power and decision making from a select few government officials to the people and by doing so, create a replicable model for people-centered democratization of Kenya’s economic life.
PB goes beyond alternative budgets and beyond traditional consultation mechanisms; PB is a priority setting and decision-making process. It is about ordinary citizens making real decisions about public monies.
Using direct democracy and consensus building methodologies, Fahamu will work with community activists and existing social movements in Kiambu and Kwale counties over the next two years to spearhead the participatory budgeting process.
Participatory Budgeting, A Tool for Democratizing Democracy
FAHAMU Africa, under the Utetezi Pillar continues to implement the Participatory Budgeting programme which seeks to ensure that the capacity of local communities to take part in allocation of local resources is built, that the citizens’ voice in devolved governance is heard and incorporated in decision making as well as re-activate grassroots democratic culture and civic engagement.
The project is currently being implemented in Kajiado and Kwale Counties and has reported massive successes where citizens are engaged in identifying, prioritizing and presenting their needs to the relevant officials. They are also involved in monitoring and evaluating budgetary allocations and development projects in their counties. Through this, they are in a position to keep the governments on check and demand for services from the same. This has also created platforms for county governments to engage citizens adequately and uphold the right to citizen participation as stipulated in the constitution.
To achieve maximum success, FAHAMU AFRICA works closely with networks on the ground and this translates ownership of the project by the residents.
In Kajiado County, FAHAMU AFRICA closely partners with Kajiado Voices, a progressive youth-led network that has been in the forefront in creating awareness through relevant and accurate knowledge, empowering local communities and leaders with skills of responsive leadership, good governance and confidence in planning, project implementation and evaluation.
To get a glimpse of the Kajiado Voices’ work, kindly click on this link http://kajiadovoices.com/