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Community participation and accountability

Participatory mechanisms can specifically be designed to involve women, poor residents, the youth, and other marginalized or under-represented groups. (Photo credit: Ekta Parishad).

Participatory mechanisms can specifically be designed to involve women, poor residents, the youth, and other marginalized or under-represented groups. (Photo credit: Ekta Parishad).

The final dimension of an effective local governance system is participation and accountability. Appropriate local participation and accountability mechanisms are needed in order to ensure that communities are engaged; that local residents are able to express their priorities; and that local constituents are able to hold local leaders and local officials accountable.

In additin, it has been noted that, in the implementation of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, increased local transparency will be required in order to ensure that global and national development goals are achieved at the grassroots level across a country’s national territory.

Effective local participation and accountability requires that local governments involve the community in the prioritization of expenditures; clearly state the service delivery standards that residents can expect; provide their citizens with relevant and timely information about service provision and budget execution; and that mechanisms are in place that allow residents to monitor the performance of local services and voice their concerns when problems arise.

In order to ensure inclusion and empowerment, participatory mechanisms can specifically be designed to involve women, poor residents, the youth, and other marginalized or under-represented groups. It is not unusual, however, for local governments to be assigned the responsibility for community engagement for functions over which is has little or no administrative control.

Greater participation, accountability and responsiveness are not automatic outcomes of increased power and discretion of local governments. In fact, it is not unreasonable to expect that politicians and officials at all governments levels might be somewhat adverse to greater scrutiny and accountability mechanisms, especially to the extent that such mechanisms might increase the time and effort that is required from them to “get things done”. As a result, specific mechanisms for participation, transparency and accountability should be designed to ensure that citizens and higher officials are able and willing to hold local governments and local officials accountable for their performance.