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The OPM as a lead agency helps to coordinate and mobilize all partners at National, District and Village levels as well as Civil Society organizations that have relevant experience in engaging local communities.
This presidential initiative was adopted in January 2009 to create space for citizens’ participation in the development cycle through effective watching of the public service providers and demand for public accountability to enhance transparency.
The Barazas are proposed to be held bi-annually in each sub-county and would be chaired by the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs).
Purpose and Objective of the Barazas
The purpose of a forum at sub-county level is to increase the transparency with which the public sector carries out its plans, to ensure that these are in line with local and national needs, and they are being implemented as planned and within budget.
Fundamentally, the barazas are a mechanism to engage the beneficiaries or clients of public services in the actual planning and delivery of these services-based on the principal that they have a right to be involved as citizens.
Baraza’s broad objective is to enhance public involvement in holding the government accountable for service delivery in relation to the resources spent.
Other objectives include establishment of a public information sharing mechanism; providing the citizens with a platform to influence the government development programmes. Then institutionalize downward accountability to bring about improvement in public service delivery and transparency in the use of public resources.
They also intend to instill a home grown culture of independent citizens monitoring for constructive criticism to improve public service delivery to sustain the wellbeing of the people and enhance the Central Government’s responsiveness to Citizens development demands and public service delivery concerns.
The Methodology involves the orientation of Local Leaders.
OPM BARAZA team has visited and introduced this concept to many local Governments and selected community facilitators so that they can be able to spread the objectives of the initiative to their communities since it is community driven.
Initially, the team goes to the districts to introduce the concept, update the Local Governments(LGs) on what has been done so far in the implementation of the initiative, Inform them on how they intend to implement it, consult the RDCs, LGs, Local religious leaders on how to involve the communities in the initiative and then decide the target sub-counties, the latter being amongst those where the highest amount of resources went in the year under review (2009/2010).
Subsequently, they identify viable partner institutions and individuals like Universities, colleges, CSOs, private individuals in community to work with, explore workable possibilities and arrangements for the partnership and then the District Heads of Departments collect the data and information needed for the exercise.
The data collected and required relates to different sectors which include Agriculture, Education, Water and Sanitation, Health and Roads.
The district and the selected lower Local Government authorities on the other hand are expected to provide data and information to the sectors on what services they planned to deliver, what they actually delivered, what they planned to spend, what they actually spent, locations of what they delivered, challenges faced and the way forward.
Criteria for selecting the moderators
For a person to be selected as a moderator, he or she has to be of integrity and trusted by the communities, has to be knowledgeable about government programmes in the local areas of their respective sub-counties and a good communicator.
Preparation of the Baraza Day
OPM has a role of fixing two Baraza days in consultation with the District Leadership. It then spearheads the mobilization of the public which is done through media especially on the mostly listened to radio stations, mobile van moving around, posters, banners and flyers.
It is also responsible for the overall coordination of the activities leading to the day of the Baraza and the logistical support.
On the Baraza Day, the Local Government (LG) technical staff makes presentations focusing on what services they planned to deliver to the communities, what they have actually delivered, what they planned to spend, what they actually spent, locations of what they delivered, challenges faced and the way forward.
These LG presentations are followed by a response from the community members on the (dis)satisfaction with service delivery in the period under review.
Then the RDC records all the issues being raised, ensures security at the Baraza venue, makes a report indicating the issues raised, planned actions with timelines for implementation and gives recommendations where necessary.
Accordingly, these Barazas have shown positive evidence like effectiveness in the mobilization of the wananchi for meaningful citizens’ participation and involvement in implementation of Government programmes hence National development.
They have enhanced public accountability, Governments responsiveness and rebuilt the citizen’s trust in the Government.
They have been used as a useful instrument to improve service delivery by awakening frontline service providers to become more vigilant in performing their tasks.
The continuous follow up by OPM with sectors and Ministries Departments and Agencies coupled with the follow up by the RDCs is instilling confidence on the citizens that their voices and recommendations are being addressed by the concerned authorities
Challenges encountered during implementation of Barazas
Although Barazas have only been implemented in the last two years, a few challenges are noticeable, which need to be addressed for the Initiative to meet the objectives for which it has been established.
The challenges are lack of adequate funding to cover all the sub-counties in the country and delay in managing expectations and implementing the recommended actions.
However, OPM is developing a format and strategy for supporting the RDCs in following up the implementation of the recommendations of Barazas.