PUBLIC INPUT

How can youths effectively participate in planning processes?

Most of their ideas have not seen the light of day because of their short-term nature and scope

In Summary

• To ensure their views are factored in to the public planning, they must also submit proposals that are futuristic and sustainable in nature.

• To ease youth participation in public planning even further, county governments will want to develop popular versions of the huge budget and planning documents to enable young people to grasp the contents in small doses.

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga
Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga
Image: FILE

The Constitution puts great weight on the question of public participation among the hitherto marginalised members of society, including the youth, women and persons living with disability.

Specifically, Chapter 13 on values and principles of public service provides for the involvement of the people in the process of policymaking, accountability for administrative acts, transparency and provision to the public of timely and accurate information.

The County Government Act Part 3, Section 87 also specifies government obligations for public inclusion while Section 88 speaks to citizen petitions on the same.

These legal provisions for inclusion and involvement of the people cannot achieve much unless the planning processes and documents are well understood and available for public consumption.

All the planning documents, including the County Integrated Development Plan, the County Strategic Plan, the County Fiscal Strategy Paper, the County Budget Outlook Paper, the County Annual Development Plan, the County Programme-Based Budget and the County Supplementary Budget must inform public debate in people’s participation and public planning.

Yet the question of how the youth can effectively participate in planning processes keeps disturbing policymakers.

Some of the proposals to invigorate effective youth participation in government planning processes have included the need for well researched and informed opinions among the youth, the need for proactivity and organised mobilisation by themselves to attract attention and capture aspirations of the majority in their views and submissions.

To ensure their views are factored in in the public planning documents, youths must also submit proposals that are futuristic and sustainable in nature. Most of their ideas have not seen the light of day because of their short-term nature and scope.

Further, this proposal by the youth must also target a majority and not a limited few to be considered in public planning.

Experience has shown that several factors act as a hindrance to youth participation, including limited knowledge on the issues of the day and lack of adequate awareness on where to get information.

Others are the endless search for alternative opportunities to earn a living, hence little time reserved for public participation, fewer open spaces for the youth to meaningfully engage and the inability to meet expenses relating to printing huge planning documents to inform constructive debate during public participation forums.

To ease youth participation in public planning even further, county governments will want to develop popular versions of the huge budget and planning documents to enable young people to grasp the contents in small doses. The imposing sizes of some of these documents have kept the youth away from this planning process.

The recruitment and deployment of volunteer civic educators is another area that requires the attention of the planners of public participation. These educators will guide public sensitisation forums to demystify the contents of the planning documents by a lot. To ease access to these public planning documents is another major area of focus.

Other opportunities for youth participation and involvement in public planning and engagement like Youth Access to Government Procurement Opportunities, Youth Enterprise Fund, Women Enterprise Fund and National Government Affirmative Action Fund should not escape the attention of the young generation if they are to meaningfully engage.

Most importantly, volunteerism, self-discipline, dedication, industry, creativity and continuous self-improvement/learning are key values that will promote public participation by the youth in the planning and budgeting process and should be regarded highly by the next generation if they are to take their rightful place in devolved governments planning and decision making henceforth.  

 

The writer is Siaya Governor

 

Edited by Kiilu Damaris