The National Democratic Institute (NDI) held a two-day cross county strategy meeting on the 17th and 18th of March 2023. The main aim of the meeting was to evaluate the sub-grantees’ strategies and interventions towards enhancing budget advocacy and strengthening transparency and accountability, and holding duty bearers accountable in the use of public resources at the county level.
The meeting was attended by Implementing partner organizations(CEDC Busia, IEA Kenya Nairobi CARITAS Kitui, TEAM Kisumu and YOUTH ALIVE KENYA in Kisumu). Other participants were drawn from civil society organizations, community resource persons, government officers, media and Budget facilitators. The meeting provided a platform for the participants to share their experiences, challenges, and successes while they were implementing budget advocacy programs in their respective counties.
During the meeting, various strategies that were adopted and executed were evaluated with the main focus of understanding whether the strategies are yielding results especially through influencing the duty actors to take actions towards enhancing budget transparency and being accountable in the use of public resources. The strategies that were analyzed included but not limited to;
Analysis, simplification, and publication of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) and Controller of Budget (COB) reports. The simplifications of reports provided a basis to engage the government officers and communities. And simplifying these reports made them more accessible to the public, especially the local communities and provided insights into how public resources are being used.
The county strategy meetings. The meetings provided a platform for the communities to engage with the county leadership and hold them accountable for the use of public resources. The participants noted that when the public is engaged in the budget-making process and participate in such forums there is increased pressure from the locals to the government in demanding for accountability and transparency in the use of public resources.
Expert Briefings and town hall meetings. The experts’ briefings provided a platform for the communities to interact with experts in budget advocacy and gain insights into budget-making processes. The town hall meetings also provided a forum for the communities to engage with their leaders and hold them accountable for the use of public resources.
Capacity building of county assembly committees and staff. provisions of knowledge and relevant skills to the Public accounts and investment committee members (PAIC) has inspired them to take up the mantle and take actions by utilizing the simplified reports to put the County Executive accountable in the use of public resources.
Capacity building of partner organizations was also noted to be instrumental and as a way of enhancing sub grantees capacity to engage in budget advocacy programs effectively. The participants noted that equipping the partner organizations with the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively engage in budget advocacy programs played a key role in discharging their mandates .
Engagement with civil society organizations (CSOs) at the county level. The participants noted that working with CSOs to enhance public participation in budget-making processes and hold duty bearers accountable for the use of public resources, Created synergies and increased pressure to the duty bearers to deliver services to the citizens so that the citizens can realize their value for money
The use of community resource persons and community forums. The participants noted that the efforts of involving the local communities in budget advocacy programs and provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to participate effectively through community resource persons, provided a platform where citizens were able to participate in the budget advocacy through taking appropriate civic actions i.e. the submissions of memos, petitions, inquiry letters and follow up letters to demand for service delivery.
The use of mainstream and social media for community engagements and advocacy. The participants noted that the use of various media platforms to disseminate budget advocacy messages and engage with the public, provided spaces where citizens were able to critic and engage in the budget online debates and discourse.