How does Public Participation Benefit Citizens?

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Public participation is one of the principles that the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 is founded. As an opportunity for citizens to exercise their sovereign power, public participation is very a key pillar in enhancing access to quality public services. The more citizens participate, the more their leaders and the community benefits from their actions. Here are some of the key ways in which the community benefits from public participation:

1. Leads to better decision making
Public participation enhances the quality of decisions made within a community. When a process is all inclusive, duty bearers and right holders are able to easily identify the issues that affect them. Once the issues have been identified, views can be obtained from the participants in terms of interests and feelings towards the issues at hand. Different suggestions are made on how to resolve the issues and the best alternative is selected. Based on this alternative, a decision is then made. This decision is of better quality considering the voice of the community has been heard as compared to one made after consultation within a small group of government officials.
2. Helps in setting up priorities
Public participation informs duty bearers on the level of significance the citizens attribute to a given decision with respect to an issue of concern. This enables them to tackle issues in terms of priorities as portrayed by citizens. This ensures proper channeling of resources and in turn contributing to achievement of goals in terms of development and other aspects.

3. Strengthens Legitimacy
When citizens are involved significantly in governance processes, trust is built and dialogues are effective. Therefore, the process of implementing projects is legitimised through public participation such that citizens do not feel cheated.

4. Promotes Transparency and Accountability
Citizen participation ensures governments and those in leadership are held to account for their actions in responding to citizens needs. It enables the public to effectively follow up on how governments spend their funds, deliver services and contribute to development. Citizen participation gives them the authority to call out leaders who are not serving them accordingly.

5. Enhances Democracy
Citizen participation allows the public to exercise their constitutional rights hence governance is more representative. It provides an avenue for citizens to air their grievances to the government hence making decision making democratic. Sufficient engagement boosts the power of the people to participate in governance that is democratic.

6. Reduces Conflict
Differences in opinions and interests in decision making often leads to conflict. However, public participation helps in countering this issue since areas of disharmony are usually addressed before a decision is made. The fears of individuals as well as the community are addressed hence broad agreement is made when it comes to decision making thus minimizing conflict or getting rid of it all together.

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