Citizens' Engagement in Local Government Decision Making Processes: Towards Public Finance Accountability, Transparency, and Improved Service Delivery in Uganda
The decentralization system of government in Uganda offers local government the mandate to administratively extend social-economic services to the citizens. It also involves citizens in determining specific local public needs and channelling such needs to urgent priority areas. The core objective of decentralization in Uganda is largely to improve public service delivery by bringing services closer to communities and ensuring peoples’ participation and democratic control in social-economic and political decision-making. Thus, decentralization is presumed pivotal in global efforts for sustainable development by opening the democratic space though transparent, inclusive, and citizen-driven planning and implementation of services. This brief presents citizens’ engagement as a tool of creating functional accountable local government systems responsive to the society needs through local government participatory action planning, implementation, and evaluation right from grassroots. The economic transformation of communities at local level can only be met when there is adequate involvement of citizens in the planning and budgeting of the local government resource envelop. To achieve this, the brief recommends that situational analysis should be conducted by local government leaders to solicit citizens’ opinions to identify key priority challenges and the needed solutions, undertaking civic education to sensitize citizens about the constitutional roles, rights, and responsibilities in promoting good governance, accountability, transparency, and service delivery right from grassroots, launching a budget week where draft local government budgets are read out to the citizens before they are passed. It is also vital to establish functional local community committees matching with all the existing ministries at local and central government level, procure toll free numbers/landlines at every level of local government such that citizens can report directly to their leaders and periodical citizens’ forums should be conducted to monitor and evaluate the performance of local government leaders. All these should be intertwined and implemented to ignite the potential of local governments to engage citizens and strengthen service delivery, transparency, accountability and inclusive governance in Uganda.