Story By Millicent Agutu
Consolation East Africa (CEA) continues with its gender responsive budget training. On 21st January the organization brought together 71 representatives of civil society organizations in Dagoretti North and South to discuss this topic.This article provides a report of the training.
Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) as a topic was introduced by Millicent Agutu of CEA. Participants were led to discuss its meaning, aim and approaches. It was agreed that gender responsive budgeting was about spending community resources for the benefit of women, children, men, the poor and the needy. It is about ensuring that efficiency measures do not overlook equity measures.
In order to address gender responsive budgeting well, obstacles to effective participation of women and other vulnerable groups in political leadership was discussed. Also discussed were the specific gains achieved by women, men, youth, children, the elderly, minority and the marginalized within the 2010 Constitution . Participants discussed various loopholes citing challenges in the implementation of the Constitutional Bill of Rights (Chapter 4). Accordingly they named various reasons barring full participation of women and other vulnerable population to include discrimination, antagonism between women, cultural and religious beliefs and corruption. Participants also identified other obstacles to include;Shyness, Lack of finances, Child nurturing, Religious beliefs, Family burdens, poor education, Retrogressive cultural practices, Timings (meeting times) and lack of Mentors (political mentors).
Participants then generated a set of questions as follow;
How come that despite the affirmative action that was introduced stipulating 30% women representation on all spheres of development, we don’t have a woman governor?
Is there any woman representatives in Dagoretti?
How many women have been elected Members of County Assembly (MCA’s)?
It was noted that the constitution provisions with respect to the rights of women and vulnerable, require goodwill from all quarters in order for their implementation to be successful. The public needs education on “integrity based leadership” entrenched in the chapter 6 of the constitution. This chapter would help members of the public understanding the basic requirements of leadership in Kenya irrespective of gender.
The Budget Cycle
The session on the Public Budget Cycle was facilitated by Martin Ndichu. He started by posing various questions to the participants as follow;
Do you any ideas about the county budget process?
Have you ever studied the Nairobi county budget?
Have you ever studied the budget of your own ward?
All these questions went unanswered. Martin then enlightened participants on how the budget cycle operates. The budget cycle starts on 30th August. During this time the Fiscal (financial) strategy paper is passed. As from 1st September to February 28th there is a collection of priorities and different sectors go put up budget estimates. Between March 30th to April 30th, budget estimates are tabled in the county assembly. It is then taken to the citizens to approve their priorities, debated, passed by assembly, the assembly then develops a policy or law that puts budget to work (appropriation law). The appropriation law is then taken to Governor for approval, who then takes the budget to the Comptroller of budgets. The controller of the budget looks in to it; if it adheres to the law then it is approved.
This topic was introduced by Asha. Asha emphasized on the need to understand the budget process. Social auditing as an activity starts after a successful budgeting process. Social auditing is a way of ensuring that public investments are appropriately targeted toward the fulfillment of important societal goals. It involves following closely to understand if the government sticks to deliver the budgeted objectives or not.
There are several ways through which the government gets it revenue (PAYE, VAT, Rates Exercise Duties). These are also specific areas of government expenditure (health, security, education, food security and sanitation). Members of the public have a right and responsibility to know the way their money is being used. They also need to understand whether the projects implemented was the planned one in terms of cost, time and materials used. It is citizen responsibility to know and follow up to ensure that all allocated funds are in accordance to the priorities identified earlier.
Practical issues around Riruta Area
The ward administrator Mr. Edward Musuni representing the Nairobi City County addressed the practical challenges facing the community. First it was brought to the notice of the participants that he was the eye of the Governor and that all the issues and reports intended for the Governor should be channeled through his office. Mr. Musuni brought the following issues to the notice of the participants;
- There is the Nyumba Kumi project which is on-going and was aimed at reducing insecurity. All people are required to know 10 people within their neighboring proximity. This came in response to West-gate terrorist attack of August 2013 and the general deterioration of security in the country.
- There is water connection project going on within Riruta Ward and forms are available at MCAs office Precious Plaza 1st floor (forms for tap water)
- There is an environmental problem within Riruta and the administration is trying to work on this. However, people were requested to dispose their garbage’s in right places. Landlords were also requested to be responsible when it comes to issues of environmental cleanliness and sanitation
- Also people were requested to pay for licenses. The forms are available in the administrators office located at Riruta Shopping Centre. Once the forms have been fully filled the rest of the process is done in city hall.
He also shared that the county government committee is working on the installation of flood lights and a perimeter wall for satellite primary. The road to Kabiria and an accompanying sewer line is being worked on by a contractor (time line).
Mr. Musuni also invited participants to his office. Members of the public were invited to visit and present their problems and recommendations for action. He also requested participants intending to build new house to follow the legal building procedures. He led the participants in discussing challenges and solutions for the Riruta Community as listed below:
Challenges in the community
- Drainage passing next to peoples door people to repair comes from far.
- It’s difficult to get the information about the C.D.F Funds
- People do not know their rights
- People do not struggle to get their rights
- Corruption is very rampant
- People fear to say the truth for the fear of death &threats
The way forward (contribution from participants)
- Civic awareness
- Problem identification in each and every ward or village
- Identification of the key leaders
- Social audit awareness and training
- Resource mobilization
- Information sharing
- Identifying all the community resource persons eg engineers within the community (stake holders among the community)
- Project follow up to avoid duplication
- Form smaller unit working groups
- Create awareness on human rights and responsibility i.e. it is the responsibility of the governor to include his people in public participation and decision making of their development agendas
- Children rights and sensitization
- Local public debates
He wrapped up the session by thanking KARDS and Consolation East Africa (CEA) for their beautiful community empowerment work and congratulated all participants for taking the initiative to build their country.