Public Participation and Accountability Systems in Development Projects Implemented By Kitui County Government, Kenya
Mutinda, Nicholas Musau
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Public participation not only gives the public the opportunity to air their views but also a chance to engage the government on matters that concern them most and influence policies to be undertaken, when, where and how they will be implemented. Accountability is an important tool in ensuring a government is responsive to the public. A responsible government not only explains the use of public resources to her citizens but goes an extra mile in ensuring its programs serve public interest. Decentralization strategies like District Focus for Rural Development, Local Authorities Transfer Fund and Constituency Development Fund, were established to enhance public participation and accountability. They however achieved little in realizing these objectives. Devolution was established by the Kenya’s 2010 Constitution to institutionalize mechanisms that can help in actualizing Socio-economic development. It set mechanisms specifically to address challenge of funding, public participation and accountability. With these mechanisms, Kenyans had high expectations on devolution. However, they were dismayed by the facts on the ground which depicted otherwise. Several reports by government agencies; auditor-general, Controller of Budget, Commission by Revenue Allocation have all shown that most of the projects implemented by the county government are either unfinished or improperly implemented; and are either unutilized, or underutilized or simply „white elephants‟. This raised questions whether projects implemented by county governments follow public participation and adhere to accountability systems as required. Studies done to analyze public participation and accountability systems majored only on devolved funds. With its first phase that ended in 2017, it was necessary to investigate whether the county government adopted public participation and accountability mechanisms in the 2013-2017 period. This study analyzed public participation and accountability systems on development projects implemented in Ikutha Sub-County by Kitui County Government. The specific objectives were to establish the level of public participation, to determine methods of public participation, and determine the level of adherence to accountability systems on development projects. The study employed descriptive research design. Primary data was collected through schedules under purposive sampling techniques across the sub-county. The data was analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The study found that the level of participation was 39.22 percent, which indicates a very low level of participation. It also found that Kitui County government used less effective methods of non-participation and tokenism in public participation. The finding that the level of adherence to accountability systems was 58.73 percent indicates that projects implemented by county government did not fully adhere to accountability systems. The study concludes that there is low level of participation, participation methods used are the less effective methods of non-participation and tokenism and that the level of adherence to accountability systems is average. This study recommends that the county governments should improve the level of participation by ensuring the public are involved adequately in all the stages of project; use the most effective methods of public participation; and increase adherence to accountability systems set.