Story by Millicent Agutu
Introduction to GRB
Consolation East Africa (CEA) took the Gender Responsive Budgeting Training to Kibra on 28th January 2015. There were 60 participants from various civil societies.
Millicent Agutu, CEA’s executive officer facilitated the introductory session. She used a question to elicit discussion; ‘What are the rights of; youth, men and women, the elderly and the children in Kenya?” Participants mentioned rights known to them as follows; the rights of the children include the right to education, right to health, right to be free from forced labor. These rights are accompanied by a set of responsibilities. Reference was made to the 2010 Constitution’s bill or rights (Chapter 4) which accorded specific rights to different groups of people. All participants agreed that it is important that all citizen get to know these rights so as they may take the responsibility to demand for them. Participants were also reminded that in order to understand their rights, there is a need to familiarize with the constitution or find time to attend sensitization forums.
The participants were also introduced to Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB). Another question was posed; “whom has ever set her/his eye on the Nairobi County Budget, Kibra Constituency budget or that of respective wards? It was found that no participant had set their eyes on their respective budgets. They were hence informed that it is very important for them as citizens to know how much money has been allocated to their Wards, Sub-county or county to benefit them because this was their money (tax payers money). This led to a brief discussion on where government revenue comes from and areas of government expenditure.
The training defined Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) as the analysis of government budget in terms of its reach and impact on women and men, girls and boys. The main focus of GRB is the degree of inclusiveness of women in the budgeting process. GRB addresses a key concern such as: Are women given the opportunity to participate in the budget making process and in economic decision making?
If a GRB process is successful the government will be forced to be sensitive to the needs of all genders and also be ready to listen to all voices and sections in the society. This leads to the incorporation of broader societal contributions in development agendas in accordance to the needs of the society. Industries, businesses, and institutions too could become of immense benefit to the society where they took gender considerations keenly.
The budget Cycle
Bridged Faida facilitated the session on budget making process (budget cycle). She assisted participants understand the public budget process. She also informed them that some phases of the budgeting process require the participation of the members of public and civil societies. Accordingly therefore, the budget process is as follow:
- 30th August – budget cycle starts
- Fiscal (financial) strategy paper is passed by the 30th August
- 1st September – February 28th (end) – collection of priorities and different sectors go put `up budget estimates
- 1st March – 30th April, budget estimates is tabled in the county assembly, it is then taken to the citizens to approve the priorities. The approvals are debated and passed by county assembly. The assembly then develop a policy or law that puts budget to work (appropriation law). This appropriation law is then taken to the Governor for approval. The governor forwards the budget to the Comptroller of budget office. The comptroller of the budget’s office looks in to it if it adheres to the law then it is approved.
Practical issues in Kibra
Grace Kariuki, the ward County Government administrator of Makina discusses on issues of development. She asked women to be sharp to always focus on development. Grace also referred to the Presidential report of the 27th January 2015. According to the report, the President had given women and youths the priority to access government funds. Grace indicated that she was frustrated on several occasions as people did not turn up for the meetings she had organized. She emphasized the importance of forming groups, registering and be committed to establishing winning projects. There are a number of failed projects in the area. Reasons for project failures need to be addressed clearly.
According to Grace, it was important that groups maintain good accounting systems. They also have a responsibility to attend project meetings: here they will be able to discuss their challenges and learn from others. On the other hand attending meetings allows them to give a voice and have a say on projects to be implemented. Attending public meetings is strategic as decisions passed affect not only ourselves but also our children and grandchildren.
The county ward administrator applauded National Youth Service (NYS) for the great work in Makina Ward. NYS is credited for assisting youths acquire practical skills. This is important as the trained youth stand a better chance of getting employment.
Kibra Ward has 19 million shillings allocated for sports, bursary and other societal issues. Groups were invited to forward to the county administration office projects that address the needs of the community. It is their responsibility to come out and develop themselves. Members of the community through their participation in community affairs and development agendas will also help in creating employment for others.
Women even when married, need to become contributors in the family basket income. They also should contribute in feeding the family. For this purpose women need to be trained on business and project management. The country administration also took notice of the rising levels of gender based violence. A practical response to GBV entails construction of gender response centre, rescue centre, safe houses. Women have many needs and it is upon them to bring them up.
And here the citizens were also challenged on the issues of sanitation and security within their areas of residence. The participants were also urged to form working groups to be able to push their agendas forward, form working groups to ease access to government funds, attend ward meetings and motivate each other so as to make the projects active and achievable.
The last session was facilitated by Asha Hussein who took the participants through social audit. She started off by naming the five wards that constitute Kibra namely (Lindi, Sarang’ombe, Laini Saba, Makina and Woodley). The participants were asked to develop a culture of sourcing for information in all possible ways they can in all places they came from.
The participants were informed that budget is the road map to expenditure, in the county government every citizen has to participate in decision matters of development and that if the citizens have the power then they have the responsibilities too. And it is advisable for people to form groups, because an individual’s voice cannot be heard unless they are in groups and protected by the group.
The participants were enlightened on the indicators of Social Auditing; which are; accountability and Transparency, and this applies to the CSOs and MCAs. The MCAs represent the county in the County assembly, and the CSOs act as an eye of the normal mwananchi.
It is important to be clear on what to look for when monitoring the budgeting process or the implementation of a particular project. Important dimensions of monitoring are income and expenditure. If for example we are monitoring government security of a given county, one will have to get to know sum of finance which was allocated for the project, how much has been used, and the current status of the project.
The participants were made aware that the funds that are being allocated to their counties for development are derived from the taxes they pay to the government, of which these taxes comes from different sources such as PAYE, VAT , Licences, Custom Exercise duty. Therefore it is the citizens’ own money that will build the Nation at large, that’s why they all have the right to do a follow up and monitor the proposed projects within their counties.