Public participation in County Government is especially important in the budget process and the legislative process. Other areas where public participation in Kenya should take place include the public procurement and tendering process.
Citizen participation in county governments shall be based upon the following principles:
(a) timely access to information, data, documents, and other information relevant or related to policy formulation and implementation.
(b) reasonable access to the process of formulating and implementing policies, laws, and regulations, including the approval of development proposals, projects, and budgets, the granting of permits, and the establishment of specific performance standards.
(c) protection and promotion of the interest and rights of minorities, marginalized groups, and communities and their access to relevant information.
(d) legal standing to interested or affected persons, organizations, and where pertinent, communities, to appeal from or, review decisions, or redress grievances, with particular emphasis on persons and traditionally marginalized communities, including women, the youth, and disadvantaged communities.
(e) reasonable balance in the roles and obligations of county governments and non-state actors in decision-making processes to promote shared responsibility and partnership and to provide complementary authority and oversight.
(f) promotion of public-private partnerships, such as joint committees, technical teams, and citizen commissions, to encourage direct dialogue and concerted action on sustainable development.
(g) recognition and promotion of the reciprocal roles of non-state actors’ participation and governmental facilitation and oversight.
The Public Finance Management Act
This Act contains various provisions on public participation in Kenya that relate to Chapter 12 of the Kenyan Constitution on Public Finance.
Section 10 (2): In carrying out its functions (see Section 10:1); the Parliamentary Budget Office should observe the principle of public participation in budgetary matters.
Section 35(2): The Cabinet Secretary (for Finance) should ensure public participation in the budget process (provided for under Section 35:1).
Section 125(2): The County Executive Committee member for finance should ensure that there is public participation in the budget process for the county government. (provided for under Section 125:1).
Section 175(9): The accounting officer of an urban area or city should ensure public participation in preparing the strategic plan (175:1) and the annual budget estimates (175:5) as outlined in the Second Schedule of the Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011. For that purpose, the accounting officer may publish guidelines for public participation.
Section 207: County Governments are to establish structures, mechanisms, and guidelines for citizen participation.
The County Governments Act
The provisions on public participation in Kenya contained in this Act affect the county governments.
Section 113: Makes public participation in county planning processes compulsory.
Section 87: Stipulates the principles of public participation. They include timely access to information and reasonable access to the planning and policymaking processes.
Section 88: Citizens have a right to petition the county government on any matter under the responsibility of the county government.
Section 89: County government authorities, agencies, and agents have a duty to respond expeditiously to petitions and challenges from citizens.
Section 90: A county government may conduct a local referendum on among other local issues— county laws and petitions, or planning and investment decisions affecting the county for which a petition has been raised and duly signed by at least twenty five percent of the registered voters where the referendum is to take place.
Section 91: The county government should facilitate the establishment of modalities, and platforms for citizen participation e.g. town hall meetings, IT-based technologies, and establishment of citizen fora at the county and decentralized units.
Sections 94, 95, 96: Counties should establish mechanisms to facilitate public communication and access to information using the media with the widest public outreach. Every county should designate an office for ensuring access to information.
Sections 100 and 101: County governments should create an institutional framework for civic education.
Other Laws On Public Participation In Kenya
There are many other laws that make public participation in Kenya their central pillar. They include:
Urban Areas and Cities Act Sections 21 and 22: Overarching theme is participation by the residents in the governance of urban areas and cities. The Second Schedule of the Act provides for the rights of and participation by residents in affairs of their city or urban areas.
Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2015 Section 68(3), 125(5), 138, and 179: Emphasis on transparency of the procurement process including requirements for procuring entities to publicly avail procurement records after the closure of proceedings, publicize notice of intention to enter into contract on websites and public notice boards, publish, and publicize all contract awards.