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Mechanisms and Tools for Public Participation

The County Executive and Assembly are expected to facilitate the participation of citizens in government affairs. This implies setting up institutional structures and processes but also a continuous commitment to make those processes meaningful by providing timely and accessible information and by giving appropriate consideration to citizens' inputs.

Counties might adopt sligthly different policies and processes, but most of the following mechanisms should be present in every county:


County Budget and Economic Forum Sector Working Groups Public Participation Forum
Public Barazas Round Tables Interest Groups


Effective participation in any of the above mechanisms and spaces will also depend on the "capacity" of citizens, their ability to be well prepared. This often translates into the ability of contributing inputs in writing, as institutions are more likely to be responsive. Examples of useful tools include petitions, memoranda, complaint forms, but also from the government side their ability to provide information in a timely and accessible manner such as using citizens/popular versions of complex government documents such as budget estimates or fiscal strategy papers. To learn more about these tools and find templates visit the toolkit pages on Feedback Mechanisms and Participate in County Government Decisions


County Budget and Economic Forum

The County Budget and Economic Forum (CBEF) is set up to coordinate and collect views from the public during the planning budgeting process and function as a think-tank for the County government in terms of financial and economic policy and management. The CBEF assists the county to analyse and identify its priorities as they plan and budget for programs, to improve coordination between the citizens and government and improve harmonization of project implementation and funding. Chaired by the Governor, CBEF is composed CEC members and at least an equal number of persons nominated by organisations representing professionals, business, labour issues, women, persons with disabilities, the elderly and faith-based groups at the county level.


What does CBEF do?

Provides a means of consultation on:

  • Preparation of County plans, the Count Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) and County Budget Review and Outlook Paper (CBROP).
  • Matters relating to budgeting, the economy and financial management.

Who are CBEF members?

  • Governor (Chair)
  • Members of County Executive Committee

Representatives of:

  • Professionals
  • Business
  • Labour issues
  • Women
  • Persons with disabilities
  • The elderly
  • Faith based groups


Guidelines for the the formation and functioning of CBEFs. Commission on Revenue Allocation. 

County Budget Operational Manual. National Treasury, 2014. See Chapter 4 Public Participation in the Budget Process

Sector Working Groups

Sector Working Groups (SWGs) are meant to facilitate government coordination across departments and with sector stakeholders in the design of programmes and budgets but also in the preparation and review of sector reports. They represent the main mechanism for counties to engage with the public on technical matters. Stakeholders with a specific area of interest can engage with county officials in the identification of sector priorities, formulation of strategies and programs, implementation of activities and preparation of sector reports. Well-functioning SWGs can do much more than improving participation and transparency, they can become vital spaces for the establishment of partnerships between government, private sector and civil society at large, for the mobilization of technical and financial resources and the improvement of service delivery and sector outcomes


What do SWGs do?

  • Identify sector priorities and rank them by their relevance to county goals.
  • Prepare sector reports.
  • Facilitate communication between county government and each sector.

Who are SWG members?

County Executive

  • Senior Officer County Treasury (Chair)
  • 1 County Planning Department Official
  • Up to 3 Officials from relevant sector department


1 representative from each stakeholder group for the sector (by invitation):

  • Professional Associations
  • Tertiary Education Associations
  • Commercial and Industry groups
  • Worker affiliated groups
  • NGOs and CBOs
  • 2 representatives from village groups


The link between the CBEF and SWGs responds to the administrative structure and their composition. While the CBEF is established at the helm of the decision-making process at the county government, the SWGs are established at the strategic operational levels. The SWGs will work at the technical level in response to the strategic and policy direction made at the CBEF. SWGs are also critical in promoting partnerships between the county government and sector stakeholder for co-production and co-provision of services


County Budget Operational Manual. National Treasury, 2014. See Chapter 4 Public Participation in the Budget Process


County Public Participation Forums

What is a Community Forum?

This is a gathering where different members of the public are brought together for the purposes of information sharing on certain issues concerning the community.

Community forums are usually open to all members of the public who are concerned with that particular issue

Community Participation Forums

  • The best way to gain the support of a community or to engage them on important issues is to hold open forums where local citizens can learn more information and provide feedback.
  • Such community forums can deepen community ownership because they feel genuinely consulted on their views.
  • In terms of county planning and budgeting, these types of forums can be arranged to gather input on the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), County Fiscal Paper (CSFP) and the Budget Estimates (public hearings).

What is the Importance of Community Forums?

  • They assist in reaching a consensus among different groups of the community on an issue affecting them.
  • They serve as a valuable tool for future advocacy efforts. Once people become sensitised, they become informed and pass on the acquired knowledge to other members of the community.
  • They help build trust among community members. This is because information about issues affecting the community are put out open in the public domain and every community member is aware of the issue.
  • An example of citizen forum is the concept of citizens’ parliaments commonly known as “Bunge La Mwananchi”, a platform for communities to discuss, share and exchange information on matters that affect them.


Steps for a successful community forum

  1. Identify the objective and topic, for example ward development priorities.
  2. Find a location that is easily accessible.
  3. Invite a neutral moderator to facilitate discussion.
  4. Publicise the event through various appropriate media i.e. social media, printed flyers to publicise the event. Advertise the forum on radio, newspapers and in public spaces provide ample notice. Counties should be guided by the legal requirement of notice for a public participation event.
  5. Disseminate to the target audience any relevant information in an accessible format prior to the event.
  6. Mobilise as many people as possible in the community to attend, through leaders and interest groups, paying special attention to gender and social inclusion. 
  7. Arrange for time and venue that caters to all, seating and public address system.
  8. Make sure all participants register so you can follow-up later on.
  9. Have a list of questions and discussion topics ready.
  10. Use language that is understood (use translators as needed), respect the norms, values and culture of the community. Listen closely to citizen responses (but keep on topic).
  11. Analyse and summarise the data collected from the discussion.
  12. Provide timely feedback the outcomes of the meeting through an appropriate mechanism/media. 
  13. Use the data when developing policies, plans or solutions to issues.


Public Barazas

A public Baraza is a social gathering meant for raising awareness of the community, sharing knowledge and ideas and network (forming relationships).  Barazas are ways of bringing large and diverse groups of people together at short notice.

The common types of Barazas are residents’ meetings in a given area to discuss issues that affect them. Local administrative leaders also use Barazas as a way of informing the community on different issues affecting the community such as health, security, farming, among others.

Since this takes the form of a social gathering, entertainment may be arranged.  This may involve cultural and traditional forms of entertainment which are used to promote social cohesion among communities.


  • An excellent platform for engaging the community -more of a social affair where the community gathers to raise awareness, share knowledge, ideas, and form relationships.
  • Barazas are ways to bring large and diverse groups of people together at a short notice. Common types of barazas are residents’ meetings in a given area to discuss issues that affect them.
  • When organising a Baraza, it is important that you identify topics for discussion in advance, because otherwise you may have too many issues up for discussion without a clear direction or resolution to any of them.


Round Table Discussions

Round table discussions bring different stakeholders together to deliberate on issues of common interest or concern. This may involve a selected group of people with a stake or an interest in the issue.  It is a flexible mechanism that county leaders can adopt to establish and maintain productive exchanges and relationships with interest groups and or sector stakeholders  

What are the Benefits of Round Table?

  • Builds alliances with sympathetic partners and possible champions: these may include area residents’ associations; lawyers; paralegals; religious leaders; activists; elected leaders; all of whom can be invited to champion a particular cause.
  • Negotiations are conducted freely and effectively with a well-prepared position.
  • Opens opportunity for self-expression and enhances mutual understanding among parties. People understand the reason why issues are conducted in a certain manner, or how projects are prioritised, for example.
  • It helps to diagnose the root causes of problems and challenges and might spark ideas for formulation or revision of public policies

What are some tips for a successful Round Table discussion?

  • The activities should be held in places and at times which are convenient for the participants.
  • During the discussions simple language should be used and where possible the local language should also be used.
  • When facilitating the discussions, the norms, values and culture of the community should be respected.
  • Scheduling of activities should take into consideration peoples’ work and different group specific needs such as harvesting and time for devotion in case of a religious group
  • It is important to maintain regular contact, involvement and engagement with the community so as to ensure that the community is in touch with what is happening and what is expected from them as citizens.
  • The relevant government offices, structures and officials should be involved as much as possible for support and legitimacy.
  • During discussions it is important to embrace and respect different opinions and ideas, including those of often excluded groups such as women, youth, ethnic minorities etc.


Interest Groups

An interest group is a group of people who come together in support of a common interest or to voice a common concern. They may use their “common voice” to lobby elected representatives, to try to get some action on their particular issue.  

Examples of such interest groups could be associations, professional bodies, religious groups, and advocacy groups.  For more information on the benefits of organizing please visit the page on Civil Society Organizations