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The Importance of Citizen Participation

Ever heard the saying “two heads are better than one”? Well, if anything embodies this motto it is active Citizen Participation.

The Value of Citizen Participation

Who knows better about governance, social development, the environment than the people on the frontline experiencing it. Sometimes the builders, designers, and architects in society get blinded by their vision and need to consider the viewpoint of those on the outside just like any situation.

Various Forms of Citizen Participation

Citizen participation is represented in many ways:

  • Direct outreach to citizens
  • Direct citizen’s participation
  • Public meetings
  • Information campaigns
  • Independent citizen action groups

The Challenge

In large democracies, direct participation of citizens in the governance process poses a big challenge on account of large populations, even in small pockets. Illiteracy, political naivety, and insufficient mechanisms to incorporate citizen participation pose further challenges.
It helps the government to find out which are the public's preferences by making it more effective, democratic, transparent and legal.

This is why, it’s so important to share the governance with citizens, giving to them more space where their inputs can be provided. Citizens should be considered a partner in governance, sharing with them responsibilities and elaborating together local plans of action.

So far, engaging citizens in policy-making allows governments to obtain new sources of ideas and exchange information, during the decision-making process. It develops a process of education where citizens and policy-makers when working together during the decision-making process by trying through serious efforts to do the best for their community, reflects about various issues.

Although the process of citizen’s participation is not simple, it’s important because citizen’s involvement makes the implementation of a decision or a policy more likely.

The public would be not likely to assist with implementation of a decision, plan or policy unless public officials have their constituents on board with a particular decision plan.

Citizen’s involvement in governance helps to build accountability and responsibilities for both public officials and the citizens

Getting the People Interested

Some individuals in specific areas live outside the realm of ‘community’, not switched on to its importance. Rural places have an innate sense of community compared to some urban areas.

Key factors for success in citizen engagement in politics include:

1) Exchange of information

2) Consultation by public participation

Governments everywhere have been criticized for creating distance with people, for their lack of sensitivities regarding civic concerns, leaving them out from governance. There is a need for a greater government transparency and accountability, especially by promoting public media scrutiny of government actions. The public should have access to the meetings at a community level and notifications are required by law to be posted prior to the meetings.

Ultimately, Engagement is Better

Involving ordinary people in the decision making aims to influence the quality and volume of public services for the benefit of citizens. More often than not the voluntary contribution is requested to get a deeper understanding of the pros and cons of some projects. Direct citizen’s participation in governance through development and protection of the community or the environment are but a few of the most obvious ones.

The most important principles in local development are citizen’s participation. There are several reasons why participation is important for community development. Citizen participation is not only a way to help citizens in improving their life quality but it can serve the government, public consultations, environmental groups, charities and much more. All this feedback leads to massive improvements in performance quality. Thanks to the increase in citizen involvement, we not only see improvements in performance but we also get more accountability.

It plays an important role in the decision-making process, by improving decisions through a collection of considerations among local knowledge.

If you are interested in learning more about how Voxcitio can help you engage, why not check us out below.

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