LONG READS – CITIZEN PARTICIPATION


INTRODUCTION

There exist different ways through governments use to increase citizen involvement in governance. These include making policies and decision a that purpose at bringing fulfillment to the citizens, by meeting their needs, which include; increment of access of resources such as water, accessible health facilities, electricity, as well as having campaigns that advocate for meeting the needs of the people (Sorensen and Torfing, 2009, pp. 234). In Australia, the thirst of citizens desiring to play a greater role in governance has been felt. This country has over a period of long time overlooked citizen participation, by encouraging the use of entities outside the government to deliver services within the country. This has been in cases such as in the delivery of social, educational and health services. However, as time has passed, the government has slowly embraced devolved governance. This has included involving markets and firms in the Australian government to deliver services within the country. Without transparency and accountability, active participation of the citizens would be suppressed. In fact, the minority group, particularly the poor would have their voices suppressed. Initiation of good communication and dialogue among the people help enforce citizen involvement in governance. Dialogues assist in offering an opportunity for discussion of those involved in facilitating citizen involvement and those interested in gaining the involvement to lay down to table discussions o personal experiences and other ideas. Activating participation of the citizens has, however, found great obstructions. In involving citizen participation in local governance, one of the challenges experienced have involved creating mechanism and spaces to ensure participation of citizens in local governance. Some of the traditional mechanisms cannot meet the issues of inequality. This essay provides theoretical foundations of different challenges inherent in the citizens’ participation in the governance and solution to such challenges.

Governance theory and frameworks in citizen participation in local governance

Citizen participation in governance involves having the ordinary citizens with no positions in the government, evaluate their needs and get involved in the county’s project planning, as well as, monitoring of the budget, for the sake of increasing accountability and integration. Participating in policy making and major decision making in the country is also another way of citizen involvement in governance. According to Beetham (1996, pp. 30) local governance have capacity to democratize based on their capacity for representativeness. For example, elected representative might be more accessible and have enormous incentives to note local needs and demands, and great representation is possible especially for ethnic minorities and women. Blair (2000, pp. 21) opines that likelihood of local governance to democratize is via creating popular accountability and participation into local governance and local government within local level becomes extremely responsive to citizen demands and service delivery is enhanced. Under representative notion is that democracy of local governance depends on the elected representative accountability (Vatter, 2009, pp.217; Mair, 2008, pp. 132). The citizens participate in the poverty reduction and equity enhancement through election of more accountable individuals to local government. The ability of local government to ensure active and effective participation of citizens can be made possible by enforcing capacity planning in the representation and responsiveness of the government. This is for instance, where councilors have been elected to be representatives at local governance; the citizens find them more accessible and have their issues responded to with effective speed (Oyugi, 2000, pp. 4). These councilors are at better positions to recognize demands of the citizens locally. This means that citizens’ participation is increased to accommodate all the citizens, including those who have had a tendency of being left out due to lack of representation, such as women, children and minority groups.

Therefore, encouraging citizen participation at local governance ensures that democracy is practiced (Torfing, 2007, pp. 2). It is also important in ensuring accountability. The ability to democratize makes sure that the local government becomes more effective in service delivery as well as in building community based planning. However, there is other mechanism that enables citizens to play active role in the local governance through direct participation in the various public issues. These mechanisms or citizen participation approaches focus on changes that go transcends conventional rationale of the public realm together with representative democracy, as well as, challenges boundaries existing private and public realm in support of more direct type of democratic involvement.

This shift in the representative form of citizen participation to direct participation changes the way governance seeks to connect directly with citizens as citizens’ act both as shapers and makers with complete agency within governance processes. Thus, citizen participation is a practice and concept transcending conventional liberal rationale of political participation restricted to electoral voting. Direct democracy practice go beyond electoral participation of the citizens and borrows from conventional community participation in identification of local priorities, programmes planning and implementation, decision making in the local governance processes (Roberts, 2004, pp. 352). Direct democracy concepts borrow from the participatory democracy theories originating from the social movements of late 1960 and 1970.  Participatory democracy focuses on the rationale of the minimal state tightly led civil society instruments such as legal mechanisms (Pateman, 2003, pp. 47). Moreover, participatory democracy theory proponents attack already in place representative democracies for giving only limited potential of participation to citizens, which eventually results in disappointed citizens within the highly depoliticized public. To counter such problem a societal transformation is necessary, in which individuals should higher chances of participating in politics.

Pateman, (2003, pp. 41) intimates that there is necessity of a community in which citizens are free to develop themselves by assuming keen interests in politics thereby obliterating the estrangement from politics inherent in the representative democracies.  Participatory democracy theory posits that citizen participation need not be restricted to politics only that is extremely narrow from legal perspective, but should extend to other major institutions within the society mandated with critical decision making at the local level by which citizens can take control of critical everyday life practices and processes (Lijphart, 2008; Lijphart, 1999).  The idea of citizen participation is touted as a value-laden within democratic societies (Lord, 2008, pp. 28). It allows citizen participation in the decision-making within economic, political, social, and cultural field as basic citizen rights. This implies that citizens’ participation is increased to accommodate all the individuals, including those who have had a tendency of being left out due to lack of representation, such as women, children and minority groups. Therefore, encouraging citizen participation at local governance enhances democracy participation. It is also significant in ensuring accountability. The ability to democratize makes sure that the government becomes more effective in service delivery as well as in building community based planning.

However, though citizen participation through decentralization has great promises, there are gaps between institutional and legal mechanisms for supporting participation, and what is happening in reality (Pellizzoni, 2003, pp. 200). Such gap existing between the promise of great participation through democratic decentralization and the realities on the participatory achievements points to the need to analyze and understand dynamics and challenges to participation in the local governance together with the methods and factors to surmount such challenges. The mechanisms and rules for direct involvement of the citizens in the local governance are being established as country is gradually shifting from representative form of citizen participation to direct participation (Marres, 2005). There is need to develop cooperation between groups in society that had no access to public policy making realm, which implies there are numerous challenges in building capability for both parties local government and citizens to ensure comprehensive and effective participatory local governance.

The first challenge identified within the participatory democracy is creation of mechanisms and spaces for the citizen participation within local governance that do further fuel inequality. It is probable that devolution of decision-making and funds to the local levels might actually underpin authoritarianism within the local level contrary to supporting democratic social change. Moreover, the ideology between drive for the citizen participation with local government have different outcomes. The pragmatic school seeks to enhance efficiency through citizen participation, while political school perceives citizen participation in the local government as deepening democracy and promoting their participation in decision-making resulting in the different outcomes, as well as, challenges. Moreover, participatory democracy leads to enthusiasm for creating partnerships between state institutions and citizens organizations that at time overlooks power inequality within their relationship. Partnerships between citizens and government are upheld as citizen participation in case whereby terms, as well as, content of citizen interaction are pre-established/predetermined by the government (Smith and Beazley, 2000, pp. 855). Initially, partnership might be based on the common principle of equality and effort  to tackle a certain problem, but as time progresses the partnership might be altered to depict  it as an avenue or citizens’ organization for collaborating within government processes and practices contrary to a meaningful partnership founded on equality (Panos, 2000, pp. 30).

These are some of challenges faced in building connections between direct democracy and representative democracy. Such challenges are characterized by hurdles in practice of power decentralization to citizen themselves and local government. Therefore, there are some conditions that may help in creating environment conducive to the power shift.  The first strategy is focusing on the economic empowerment of the citizens as an intuitive toward participatory governance. As such, the focus should be on the legislative and cultural change to ensure that the decentralized governance system is accountable and transparent by borrowing from culture and laws that give the citizens space and right to question relevant authorities (Panos, 2000, pp. 28). However, though legal frameworks are critical as entry points for respective citizens to engage and mobilize with respective local authority, they are far from being sufficient. The various laws created within local levels to enhance citizen participation in the local governance never actually result in democratic change. Citizen participation concerns power, thus it exercise by various social players within the spaces implemented for local authorities and citizens participation.  Nonetheless, the control of processes and structure for citizen participation agenda, spaces, procedures, and actors are often dictated by government institutions thereby becoming a hurdle to effective participation. Control by the local government over decisions regarding the structure and nature of participatory channels within local level restricts citizens participatory in the local affairs. Therefore, it is fundamental to create novel mechanisms and spaces for direct participatory democracy complementing broader legislation.

The level of participation is also a critical challenge to the activation of citizen participation in the local governance. Strengthening of participation within local governance is linked to strengthening of direct citizen participation in decision-making by groups within public activities, regularly through established institutional avenues like planning processes and monitoring committees among others included in the legal frameworks of a state. However, at the  local level, these avenues or mechanisms have consultative nature, thus participation of citizens in the governance involved is within plan formulation or at the level of plan execution, but not within during decision-making stage. Legislations are there whereby civil society organizations are recognized together with their right to information, as well as, addressing various demands of the citizens; however, the formal space for their participation is unacknowledged.

Another challenge is inadequate resources for citizens’ participation at the local level because of inequality in resource distribution. The financial resources for implementing development initiatives decided at the local level by citizens come from the local revenues and central allocations. Thus a general obstacle to citizen participation in the decision-making is that financial resources are under control of higher authorities and the locals are given meager resources, which are insufficient to manage local activities. The reason for this is fact that local authorities never realize their revenue because of varied technical and political reasons, and to great extent due to allocation of inadequate allotment of central revenues. Inequality involves unequal distribution of resources; this mainly impacts on the minority groups because they are the ones to whom the unfairness is subjected to. Another kind of unfairness in activating citizen participation is occurs when distributing funds, for instance, funds that have been set aside for community development in some cases ends up being unevenly distributed among communities. Fair contribution of the masses has also been a big challenge towards ensuring participatory governance.

Solutions to the obstacles to citizen participation in local governance

 Citizen participatory is likely to triumph if is founded on collaboration of citizen initiatives and demands the governance responsiveness. Therefore, transparent governance should utilize programs that reinforce accountability in order to ensure proper participation of the civilians. The administration needs to understand the bottom line of democratic governance. Apart from just governing, the governance needs to be accountable. Encouraging local governance is important because the citizen participation is encouraged at the low levels of governance. Therefore, it is in order to realize that the central theme of democracy is governance for the people. Having common tools and methods towards achieving public participation on governance is important in order to ensure the level of citizen participation is measured and ascertained. Through ensuring several practices are put into place. Ensuring quality, effectual, competent, apparent, accountable, cost-effective, physically accessible and evenhanded delivery of community Service is the backbone towards ensuring citizen participation. It is good to encourage feedback for the citizens in order to understand which of their needs are met and which are yet to be met. For instance, this could be achieved by establishing a “National Citizen Satisfaction Index” which could be used as the measuring mechanism to ensure that efficiency transparency, integrity, accessibility and effectiveness are achieved. The rationale behind practice such as participatory budgeting form a key mechanism for participatory democracy aimed at overcoming entrenched hurdles of co-optation and inequality.

Participatory budgeting is a critical mechanism through which citizens can embrace successful participation in decision-making at the local level (Wampler, 2000, pp.12). A case in point is participatory budgeting in Brazil allowing citizens to participate in making decisions regarding resource allocations (Abers, R. 2000, pp. 156).  Through participatory planning procedure involving individuals from different regions, all investment plans for the previous period is reviewed followed by setting of priorities.  This process is then followed by comprehensive consultation with the population. This process increases citizen participation by advancing the accessibility of public services and delivery via connected governance. Direct democracy support the nation of having citizen-centered principles a key towards achieving citizen participation. The needs of the citizens should become a focus to the government, and especially in relation to delivering the services towards the fulfillment of these needs (Willis, 1995 p. 115).

Promotion of elected official accountability to citizens because even though several participatory mechanisms focus on supporting direct participation of citizens within the governance process, other needs to  focus on supporting elected officials, as well as, government agencies accountability to citizenry. There is  need to  deviate from the conventional notion of democratic governance in which accountability is perceived to be enhanced through different ways like public meetings, local elections, media and formal redress processes. The concepts of active citizenship approaches together with other accountability strategies like those adopted by the professional advocacy groups, for instance “Public Affairs in Bangalore” has developed “Report Cards” for local governments in their delivery of services.  Further, there need to be legislation allowing formation of local vigilance committees to perform watchdog and monitoring role in the local projects by the local governance (Mclaverty and Halpin, 2008, pp. 214). These committees might check for proper utilization of funds and quality prior payments is made. This is some o f the strategies or   mechanisms posed to strengthen citizenship participation in the democratic decentralization initiatives. Evidently, the success of such initiatives to great extent is different across varying context and depends greatly on a range of enabling factors.

Overcoming bureaucratic ideas and governance, which obstructs the delivery of services is critical to enhance citizen participation in local governance. The focus should be on the ritualistic practices which slow the flexibility and efficacy delivery of services. Ensuring a proper system of administering proper ideologies for using in the governance systems is very important towards ensuring that participation is affected. Governance processes should be reviewed and audited properly to screen out ineffective governance processes. Proper coordination of government processes also needs to be reinforced and simplified in order to make it easy for citizens to participate as well as help in reducing the timing used in breaking down or analyzing the processes (Wagenaar, 2007, pp. 49). This can be achieved through the use of different technological aids as well as diverse mechanisms such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Utilization of these mechanisms needs to be accompanied by sufficient information sharing, transparencies and screening to avoid wrongful uses (Rowe and Frewer, 2000, pp. 4; Rowe and Frewer, 2005, 252; POST. 2001, pp. 2). These should assist in making governance easier (Mayer, 1997).

Conclusion

Citizen participation at local governance ensures that democracy is practiced. It is also important in ensuring accountability. The ability to democratize makes sure that the local government becomes more effective in service delivery as well as in building community based planning. However, there is other mechanism that enables citizens to play active role in the local governance through direct participation in the various public issues. These mechanisms or citizen participation approaches focus on changes that go transcends conventional rationale of the public realm together with representative democracy, as well as, challenges boundaries existing private and public realm in support of more direct type of democratic involvement.  The shift in the representative form of citizen participation to direct participation changes the way governance seeks to connect directly with citizens as citizens’ act both as shapers and makers with complete agency within governance processes (Webler and Tuler, 2000, pp.567; Held, 2006; Loeber, 2004). Thus, citizen participation is a practice and concept transcending conventional liberal rationale of political participation restricted to electoral voting. Direct democracy practice go beyond electoral participation of the citizens and borrows from conventional community participation in identification of local priorities, programmes planning and implementation, decision making in the local governance processes.

However, despite citizen participation through decentralization has great promises; there are gaps between institutional and legal mechanisms for supporting participation, and what is happening in reality. This challenges to participation in the local governance forms the basis for mechanisms or strategies to surmount such challenges. The obstacles, among them ineffective decentralized programs, ineffective relationships between direct and representative representation, over dominant and bureaucratic processes of governance, lack of accountability and transparency as well as citizens excluded from decision making (Osmani, 2001, pp. 54). These problems can be solved through participatory budgeting, enforcement of other techniques and mechanism such as proper system of administering proper ideologies for using in the governance systems, and discard conventional notion of democratic governance in which accountability is perceived to be enhanced through local elections, media and formal redress processes to more enhanced initiatives like ICT in direct democracy participation (Lengwiler, 2008, pp. 199).

 

 

 

References

Abers, R. 2000. Inventing Local Democracy: Grassroots Politics in Brazil. London. Lynne Rienner Ltd.

Beetham, D. 1996. “Theorising democracy and local government” in King, D. and Stoker, G. (eds.) Rethinking Local Democracy. London. Macmillan Publishing, 28-49.

Blair, H. 2000. Participation and accountability at the periphery: Democratic local governance in six countries. World Development, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 21-39.

Held, D. 2006. Models of Democracy. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Lengwiler, M. 2008. Participatory Approaches in Science and Technology: Historical Origins and Current Practices in Critical Perspective. Science, Technology and Human Values, Vol. 33, No.2, pp. 186-200.

Lijphart, A. 1999. Patterns of Democracy. Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries. New Haven

Lijphart, A. 2008. Thinking about Democracy Power sharing and majority rule in theory and practice. London. Routledge Publishing.

Loeber, A. 2004.  Practical wisdom in the Risk Society. Methods and practice of interpretive analysis on questions of sustainable development.  PhD thesis. University of Amsterdam.

Lord, C. 2008. Some Indicators of the Democratic Performance of the European Union and How they might relate to the RECON Models. RECON online working paper 2008/11. Recon project. Oslo, pp. 1-29.

Mair, P. 2008.Democracies. Comparative Politics. D. Caramani. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 108-32.

Marres, N.  2005. No Issue, No Public: Democratic Deficits after the Displacement of Politics, Doctoral Dissertation. Universiteit van Amsterdam.

Mayer, I. 1997. Debating technologies. A Methodological Contribution to the Design and Evaluation of participatory Policy Analysis. Tilburg: Tilburg University Press.

Mclaverty, P. and Halpin, D. 2008. Deliberative Drift: The Emergence of Deliberation in the Policy Process. International Political Science Review, Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 197-214.

Osmani, S.R. (2001), “Participatory Governance and Poverty Reduction”, in Grinspun A. (ed.), Choices for the Poor: Lessons from National Poverty Strategies. New York. United Nations Development Programme Publishing.

Oyugi, W.O. 2000. Decentralization for good governance and development: Concepts and Issues. Regional Development Dialogue, Vol. 21, No.1, pp. 3-25.

Panos Institute. 2000.  Governing our cities: Will People power work? London. The Panos Institute Publishing.

Pateman, C. 2003. “Participation and Democratic Theory.” In: The Democracy Sourcebook. R. Dahl, I. Shapiro and J. A. Cheibub. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 40-47.

Pellizzoni, L. 2003. Uncertainty and Participatory Democracy. Environmental Values, Vol. 12, pp. 195-224.

POST. 2001. Open Channels: Public dialogue in science and technology. Summary of POST Report Number 153, pp. 1-2.

Roberts, N.  2004. Public Deliberation in an Age of Direct Citizen Participation. The American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 34, No.4, pp. 315-53.

Rowe, G. and Frewer, L. J.  2000. Public Participation Methods: A Framework for Evaluation. Science, Technology and Human Values, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 3-29.

Rowe, G. and Frewer, L. J.  2005. A Typology of Public Engagement Mechanisms. Science, Technology and Human Values, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 251-90.

Smith, M. and Beazley, M. 2000. Progressive Regimes, Partnerships and the Involvement of Local Communities: a Framework for Evaluation. Public Administration, Vol. 78, No.4, pp. 855-878.

Sorensen, E. and Torfing, J. 2009. Making Governance Networks effective and democratic through Meta-governance.  Public Administration, Vol. 87, No. 2, pp. 234-58.

Torfing, J. 2007. “Introduction: Democratic Network Governance.” In: Democratic Network Governance in Europe. M. Marcussen  and J. Torfing. Houndmills. London. Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-22.

Vatter, A. 2009. Lijphart expanded: Three dimensions of democracy in advanced OECD countries?  European Political Science Review, Vol. 1, No.1, pp. 125-54

Wagenaar, H. 2007. Governance, Complexity, and Democratic Participation: How Citizens and Public Officials Harness the Complexities of Neighborhood Decline. The American Review of Public Administration, Vol. 37, No.1, pp. 17-50.

Wampler, B. 2000. A Guide to Participatory Budgeting. Draft.

Webler, T. and Tuler, S. 2000. Fairness and Competence in Citizen Participation: Theoretical Reflections from a Case Study.  Administration and Society, Vol. 32, No.5, pp. 566-95.

Willis, K. 1995. Imposed structures and contested meanings:Policies and politics of public participation. Austarlian Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp.211-227

 

Activation of citizen participation in governance

The subject of citizen participation in governance has become a main governance issue that has to be taken in though in order to achieve effective governance of any state. This is because governing a nation is done upon the people; therefore, they should be made part of it. Governing most nations is normally a centralized affair, yet devolution has continuously been replacing such governance in many states of the world. Participatory governance aims at bringing coordination, accountability, increment to democratic change, intensification of the governance integrity, innovation, social justice and generally addressing all the factors that affects a nation’s growth. Citizen participation involves having community based planning and proper execution of partnerships and service delivery (Willis, 1995 p. 220).

Case study: Australia

In Australia, the thirst of citizens desiring to play a greater role in governance has been felt. This country has over a period of long time overlooked citizen participation, by encouraging the use of entities outside the government to deliver services within the country. This has been in cases such as in the delivery of social, educational and health services. However, as time has passed, the government has slowly embraced devolved governance. This has included involving markets and firms in the Australian government to deliver services within the country. Such services have included employment. By encouraging devolution governance, the citizen’s needs have been met. Through observing the practice of activation of citizens in the Australian governance, one is able to identify obstacles, which accompany the citizen participation such as poor planning. The ability to build up capacity for enabling the administration of devolution governance and proper organization of the arrangements is a major challenge to the country. Therefore, despite having embraced citizen participation in its governance, Australia is still striving to overcome the challenges of ensuring proper planning and skills are administered in the government, as well as putting into place proper leadership that shall ensure this.

Literature review

Citizen participation in governance is a key phenomenon that has been embraced in the local government in many nations today. This involves having the ordinary citizens who have no positions in the government, evaluate their personal needs and get involved in the nation’s project planning, as well as monitoring of the budget, for the sake of increasing accountability and integration. Participating in policymaking and major decision-making in the country is also another way, which has been implemented for the sake of citizen involvement in governance.

Local governance refers to decentralized governing, which involves delegation of power to citizens rather than having them ruled without having them in the government. In most countries of the world, the subject of having citizens have bigger roles on governance has become a major need of many citizens. According to Turner (1996), there are majorly three types of decentralization, which include; de-concentration, devolution and privatization.  These three are all combined together to practice decentralization. Turner argues that despite having these three types of decentralization in place, devolution has been made rare in many governments. By having the positioning of decentralization in local government, the aim is to have meaningful devolution of power upon local units to which the ordinary citizens can easily access and receive accountability from for the sake of enjoying full practice of liberty and rights.

The ability of local government to ensure active and effective participation of citizens can be made possible by enforcing capacity planning in the representation and responsiveness of the government. This is for instance, where councilors have been elected to be representatives at local governance; the citizens find them more accessible and have their issues responded to with effective speed. These councilors are at better positions to recognize demands of the citizens locally. This means that citizens’ participation is increased to accommodate all the citizens, including those who have had a tendency of being left out due to lack of representation, such as women, children and minority groups. Therefore, encouraging citizen participation at local governance ensures that democracy is practiced. It is also important in ensuring accountability. The ability to democratize makes sure that the local government becomes more effective in service delivery as well as in building community based planning.

There are many means, which governments can use to increase citizen involvement in governance. These includes making policies and decision a that purpose at bringing fulfillment to the citizens, by meeting their needs, which include; increment of access of resources such as water, accessible health facilities, electricity, as well as having campaigns that advocate for meeting the needs of the people. One of the means through which this is to be achieved is by ensuring information is availed to all citizens and accountability in providing the information as well as making transparent provision for the access of resources is made possible. Without transparency and accountability, active participation of the citizens would be suppressed. In fact, the minority group, particularly the poor would have their voices suppressed. Initiation of good communication and dialogue among the people help enforce citizen involvement in governance. Dialogues assist in offering an opportunity for discussion of those involved in facilitating citizen involvement and those interested in gaining the involvement to lay down to table discussions o personal experiences and other ideas.

Activating participation of the citizens has, however, found great obstructions. In involving citizen participation in local governance, one of the challenges experienced have involved creating mechanism and spaces to ensure participation of citizens in local governance. Some of the traditional mechanisms cannot meet the issues of inequality. Inequality involves unequal distribution of resources; this mainly impacts on the minority groups because they are the ones to whom the unfairness is subjected to. Another kind of unfairness in activating citizen participation is occurs when distributing funds, for instance, funds that have been set aside for community development in some cases ends up being unevenly distributed among communities. Fair contribution of the masses has also been a big challenge towards ensuring participatory governance. This has affected the communities because they have not experienced social change that would be brought by active participation in decision making.

Another obstacle towards activation of public participation has been deciding the intention while inducing citizen participation in the governance. Some of the ideologies and intentions have not had a community-centered rooting. One of the schools that talk of intentions of citizen participation is the pragmatic school, which suggests that involving citizen participation is done with the intention of enforcing efficiency in governance, while there also exists a political school whose intention is based on encouraging civil participation for the sake of deepening democracy and the depth of involvement in decision and policy making.  Either of the schools of thoughts have different approaches and different challenges. In fact, the challenge may extent to the channels used in encouraging citizen participation; this channels may be aimed at enforcing social control hence, become a limit by themselves.

Another challenge that has been faced by activation of participatory governance is the efficiency in administering this. The idea of ensuring citizen participation might be accompanied by too much enthusiasm. The excitement of increasing partnership of masses with the government often overlooks the inequalities that arise amidst the partnerships. This partnership is not comprised of equal opportunities in most of the times; the government decides the timing of the citizen participation, the terms of participation, as well as the content and levels of participation. This is imbalanced since the participants only follow a set up which they are not fairly part of. So the partnership might end up being aimed at ensuring equality in the alliances instead of reinforcement of cooperation in running the processes of government.

Addressing the challenge of activating citizen participation in governance

While the citizen participation is supposed to be an obligation of every nation, its realization has been obstructed; this can however, through ensuring several practices are put into place. Ensuring quality, effectual, competent, apparent, accountable, cost-effective, physically accessible and evenhanded delivery of community Service is the backbone towards ensuring citizen participation.

Towards increasing citizen participation, it is important to advance the accessibility of public services and delivery via connected governance. Having citizen-centered principles is the key towards achieving this. The needs of the citizens should become a focus to the government, and especially in relation to delivering the services towards the fulfillment of these needs. For example, transactions between the government and the citizens should be handled seriously, for instance when applying for some of the important documents such as birth certificates, police clearances, tax-filing and passports (Willis, 1995 p. 115).

Another solution involves overcoming bureaucratic ideas and governance, which obstructs the delivery of services. These include the ritualistic practices which slows the flexibility and efficacy delivery of services. Ensuring a proper system of administering proper ideologies for using in the governance systems is very important towards ensuring that participation is affected.

Governance processes should be reviewed and audited properly to screen out ineffective governance processes. Proper coordination of government processes also needs to be reinforced and simplified in order to make it easy for citizens to participate as well as help in reducing the timing used in breaking down or analyzing the processes. This can be achieved through the use of different technological aids as well as diverse mechanisms such as Information and Communication Technology (ICT). This helps in facilitating electronic access and delivery of public services. Other techniques involve the use of virtual single-windows. These utilize the Internet through interconnecting the citizens online in order to facilitate quick delivery of services, and effective participation. Utilization of these mechanisms needs to be accompanied by sufficient information sharing, transparencies and screening to avoid wrongful uses. These should assist in making governance easier.

Transparent governance should utilize programs that reinforce accountability in order to ensure proper participation of the civilians. The administration needs to understand the bottom line of democratic governance. Apart from just governing, the governance needs to be accountable. Encouraging local governance is important because the citizen participation is encouraged at the low levels of governance. Therefore, it is in order to realize that the central theme of democracy is governance for the people. Having common tools and methods towards achieving public participation on governance is important in order to ensure the level of citizen participation is measured and ascertained. It is good to encourage feedback for the citizens in order to understand which of their needs are met and which are yet to be met. For instance, this could be achieved by establishing a National Citizen Satisfaction Index (NCIS), which could be used as the measuring mechanism to ensure that efficiency transparency; integrity, accessibility and effectiveness are achieved.

Standardizing the methods of public service delivery in order to make them consistent with the international means of ensures thoroughness in the participation of citizens in governance. Some of the most common international include the ISO 9001:2008 QMS, which is standardizes the delivery of government systems in terms of priority. This standardization is aimed at ensuring consistency of processes and services of the government and maintenance of quality in management programs.

 

Conclusion

Governments face different challenges, which are sometimes integrated. These challenges offer an avenue for governments to act on in order to endure effective governance. Among these challenges is the activation of civil participation in the governance. Public participation can be done directly or indirectly through representation. The objectives of these governance challenges are to ensure coordination in the service delivery and community planning. However, is faced by different obstacles, among them, weaknesses in civil societies, ineffective decentralized programs, ineffective relationships between directs and representative representation, over dominant and bureaucratic processes of governance, lack of accountability and transparency as well as citizens excluded from decision making. These problems can be solved through enforcing certain techniques and mechanisms; therefore, change in this area should be anticipated in the future. (Willis, 1995 p. 112)

 

 

 

 

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Bibliography

Turner, Muller. 1997. Decentralisation within the state: good theory but poor practice? In M.Turner, & D. Hulme, Governance, Administration and Development (pp. 151-174). Macmillan: London.

Willis, K. 1995. Imposed structures and contested meanings:Policies and politics of public participation. Austarlian Journal of Social Issues, 30(2) , 211-227

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