Below is Governor Kivutha Kibwana’s full speech on the occasion of the 2015-2019 development committee exit forum held at Kwa-Kathoka ATC Grounds on June 6, 2019.
“I am glad to have listened to your voices concerning your personal views and perception of 2015-2019 people’s Government Performance.
Having listened to your representatives of the Area, Cluster, Village/Sub ward, Ward, Sub County, and County level Development Committee, I am convinced that we have come a long way and going a long one in the endeavor of modeling the function of public participation in the County.
This is the movement envisioned in Article 174 of the County Government Act, 2012 and the first section of the constitution of Kenya, 2010.
The ultimate goal of a working devolution is the operational structures of the people’s participation that takes charge of their development and initiates a change process to transform their world through their participation to conquer poverty, disease, historical injustices, and marginalization.
I am glad to note that through the experiences of the 1st cycle of development committees made it.
Fundamentals of Public participation
There are basic facts about public participation that I wish to remind you today:
That public participation is the basis for sustainable development and a fundamental aspect in the endeavor of ensuring a working devolution;
It is the basis for equitable resource allocation that meets the needs and priorities of the people;
That public participation ensures ownership of the people in their own development;
Communities perceive development projects as most successful when there is proper community involvement, build consensus and galvanize a strong sense of community ownership;
The results of effective public participation include building trusting relationships between the government and her people, building the right perception regarding the capability of those involved and the impact of their efforts.
Purpose of Public participation
The basic purpose of public participation as per the law is to ensure the following:
That we understand the problems of the community, their needs, concerns and their views on potential solutions;
That the policies, plans, budgets, and projects are community driven and not departmentally driven;
That the county encounters economic development that is equitable and enabled through the people’s participation in the distribution of resources and their utilization;
That both communities and their government experience mindset change that delinks communities from dependency syndrome that is brought about by political promises and handouts while the government break away from top-bottom practices to bottom-up development –assured that communities will take up responsibilities over decisions on issues that concern them and own, manage and sustain the projects done to them.
That there would be transparency and accountability between government, non-state actors and the communities.
The County Model of Public participation
I am committed to strengthening the county model of public participation. The sustainable development goal No. 16 appeals for “building participatory, effective, accountable institutions at all levels” which is the basis for our participation model that includes:
Structures of public participation from the lowest unit possible to ensure inclusion and access to communities;
Empowerment of the people towards mindset change for transformation, civic action and taking lead in their development in own planning, budgeting, management, and sustainable project utilization;
Timely access to information;
Project management committees at the service delivery points and ultimate sustainability mechanisms;
Community feedback on all decisions made through the people;
Open data initiatives that ensure communities contribute to information for basic decision making.
My experiences from the first cycle of development Committees
I congratulate each one of you for your service at the respective development forums and committee level. You enabled the formation of a county public participation model, volunteered to serve your communities by representing their needs and challenges and skillful managing their projects.
This is what I have seen and heard in my conversations with you and visits to your villages.
You made me proud. You helped us understand devolution and how it should work in our county.
Although there has been many challenges, you have always stood out to speak for what you believed to be true and of good to you and the communities you present.
You presented before governors, benchmarking counties and scholars who have continued to study the phenomenon of devolution in the County.
I did not think we would take off in that manner, especially at the beginning when we wrestled with the first assembly, but you remained steadfast and focused to drive your development. I salute you for the achievement.
Advancing the Dream and Vision of a Model County in public participation
You proved to me that we are able to be a model county in demonstrating the practice of public participation. I am therefore convinced that we can go to the greatest heights.
Scholars of public participation tell me about the ladder of public participation and that our county aims at the highest levels of participation, which are mainly: delegation of power and citizen control. I am persuaded we are not far from this but also are required to strengthen where we are at for maximum returns in investments in public engagement.
We, therefore, continue to study from three main participatory development-practicing nations: the Indian model, the South African model, and the port allegro model. These models shall continue assisting us in building the capacities and mechanisms for maximization of public participation.
The era and practice of open government will enable us to continuously improve our practice. We seek to strengthen open procurement, entrench open government for improved access to information, participation, accountability, and transparency. I have heard many times concerning the need to optimize our social halls to serve as community resource centers (nicknamed by many as ugatuzi houses) that house the development committees, community libraries, and the school for public education and the main hall for the people’s assembly all integrated. We shall ensure that this happens.
In the era of ISO Certification, we are also interested in the clearer organization of our structures, documentation and advancing our public participation within international standards.
The consistency in project management committee reporting and functioning of the various development committees is at the top of my priorities. An advanced people’s government is that which understands and prepares in detail in the presentation of their issues whether to the government, themselves or to non-state actors. I have directed for the introduction of community-based planning, project proposal development, and beneficiary ownership registration to be an integral part of this public participation agenda. These processes are vital for communities and a critical element in cementing the participation of the people as they shift from meeting legal timelines to driving their own development.
Finally, the practice of public participation is not my making; it is a constitutional mandate that should go beyond political regimes to see a transformed county. We must endeavor to sustainably improve the public participation model, fight for it and assist other counties that come to study among us as well as use it to provide results through real development.
Congratulations once more. You are now the graduands of the 1st cycle of development committees in Makueni County. We wish you well as you seek for reelections and strive to volunteer again for the transformation of your household, village, and community at large.
Thank you and God bless Makueni County!”