The role of citizen participation in the district development process including planning and budgeting was the topic of discussion by opinion leaders in Kirehe district meeting this Thursday.
The one-day dialogue organised by Kirehe District in partnership with Rwanda Development Organisation (RDO) and supported by SNV brought together district officials, sector executive secretaries, security heads at the district, community representatives and opinion leaders as well as the civil society.
Gerald Muzungu, Mayor of Kirehe District during the meeting said that citizens’ have always been consulted when the district is undertaking planning activities as well as making budget plans.
“We engage citizens in budget plans from the village level and as far as the next financial year is concerned, we are already scheduled to kick start the first phase of collecting ideas for budget planning process this November,” the Mayor said in reference to citizen consultations.
Eugene Rwibasira, the Executive Secretary of RDO reminded participants that it’s critical to always include citizen participation as a way to enhance planning and budgeting process where the people know the budget for public and social programs.
He said that when the community is involved in budgeting they feel a sense of ownership and will feel the need to protect those public goods while attaching more value to the programs and services they receive.
It was emphasized that to involve citizens is an important component in people centre development which focuses on improving participatory decision making that leads to sustainability.
Alphonsine Ayingeneye from Rwanteru in Kigina sector, Kirehe District explains that they have been involved and consulted by local authorities giving an example of a health centre which was built based on people’s wishes.
She said that they requested to have a health centre that should be built nearer to the people and their request was honoured which shows how people’s ideas were considered and became part of the district planning.
During the dialogue, a citizen report card for last year was presented to the participants with findings on people’s responses towards a whole range of services. Notable among the study findings were citizens’ appreciation of services provided by local authorities and more appreciated the private sector.
However, it was noted there still exists a gap between leaders and the people which calls for more efforts to mobilize citizens to participate in the development processes in their localities.
The educational level of citizen was among other issues pointed out to help in increasing citizen participation.
Dativa Umutoni Kayisenge, a resident and member of Kirehe District council said that as education is enhanced more people will become more confident to provide ideas becoming more and more part of the development process. She called for local leaders to mobilise and work closely with the people to include them in all development activities.
During the discussions calls were made to hold more dialogues like this which provides a platform for discussions and ideas to support the district development process.