A public participation model that ensures residents have a say in the running of Makueni County affairs will be the main agenda when governors converge on Wote for the first peer learning conference Monday.
In Makueni, residents are engaged in a six-tier decision-making right from village level where projects are identified, planned and implemented. The scheme, which the World Bank says has eliminated corruption and improved efficiency, also provides forums for effective civic education on governance.
According to Governor Kivutha Kibwana, much of the public engagement is at the Village Peoples Forum, which brings together 100 individuals from every village in Makueni. The region has 3,450 village units.
The village forum — as opposed to a committee of a select few — meets regularly to discuss people's needs, prioritise projects and get progress reports on the ones being implemented.
The 3,450 units are then grouped into 13 village clusters in the second tier of the system.
Here, every Village Clusters Peoples Forum has 143 participants drawn from an area smaller than a ward.
“We believe in people first. We are not scared of mwananchi being empowered. An empowered citizen is of great benefit,” Governor Kibwana said.
He designed the model to let the people own the work of his administration.
“In all our forums, there are no titles of treasurer, chairman, secretary and others. People simply walk in and air their views. We provide the platform but they own everything,” he said.
At the top is the County Forum, which comprises 1,000 people, eleven from every sub-ward, ten from organised groups and 140 government officials.
The forum, co-chaired by the governor and his deputy, is convened once a year.
In between are the ward and the sub-county gatherings, which meet quarterly and bi annually respectively.
World Bank official Annette Amolo said the Makueni model of public participation identifies projects and fully involves residents. She urged other counties to emulate Makueni.