Categories: Local Government
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About Course

Decentralization is one of the most important strands of the Government of Rwanda’s governance and development agenda for the last two decades. In recent years, the GoR has taken a number of steps in moving the decentralisation agenda forward. However, these efforts suffer from a number of limitations and weaknesses, including limited capacity at the central government level to comprehensively visualize, plan and implement key dimensions of decentralization; and low capacities of local government to master all the of LG management: planning, financing local priorities and service provision.

What Will You Learn?

  • Overview of Citizen Participation in Rwanda
  • Governance and Leadership for Citizen Participation
  • Effective Communication in Local Government
  • Citizen Participation in action

Course Content

Unit 0: Introduction of Citizen Participation in Rwanda
1.1. Background of the handbook Decentralisation is one of the most important strands of the Government of Rwanda’s governance and development agenda for the last two decades. In recent years, the GoR has taken a number of steps in moving the decentralisation agenda forward. However, these efforts suffer from a number of limitations and weaknesses, including limited capacity at the central government level to comprehensively visualise, plan and implement key dimensions of decentralisation; and low capacities of local government to master all the of LG management: planning, financing local priorities and service provision. Decentralization as a mechanism of shifting centres of power, decision making and responsibilities over allocation of resources and provision of services, needs to be accompanied by required measures to build capacities of the main actors of LG - the elected leaders and the technical staff. An important element of that capacity development is the process of initiating new elected leaders and new staff to familiarize them with their responsibilities, their role in socioeconomic transformation of their citizens and communities, and in people- centered development planning and service delivery. It is in this context, and in line with the LG Capacity Development Strategy (MINALOC, 2019) that the Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA) has developed this induction training handbook to assist LG in fulfilling their devolved roles and responsibilities. The move also falls into Ralga’s mandate of supporting its members to better cope with their responsibilities of citizen-centred service delivery, local economic development and promotion of good governance values, practices and principles. 1.2. Objectives of the Handbook The handbook is designed for use by local government officials. It offers a practical “road map” and guide for building robust frameworks for informing, consulting and engaging citizens during planning, priority setting and other decision making. It seeks to clarify the key issues and decisions faced by local leaders when designing and implementing measures to ensure access to information, opportunities for consultation and public participation in policy-making in their respective areas. The objective of the training handbook is to ensure that concerned local government personnel have at their disposal a tool meant for increasing their capacity and knowledge of tools and approaches for continuous involvement and engagement of citizens in local development and decision-making processes. Specific objectives are:  To introduce the concepts of citizen participation and local governance concepts in the Rwandan context  To improve local leaders understanding and ownership of key policy, legal and institutional instruments guiding citizen participation in Rwanda;  To address a number of capacity gaps among LG leaders, identified by various recent researches and studies, in the areas of leadership, prioritization and time management, change management and in participatory governance methods, tools and approaches;  To Provide local leaders with communication skills as a basis for citizen’s engagement in planning and budgeting, monitoring and evaluation as well as in decision making processes;  To Enhance local leaders’ capacity in change management for sustained citizen’s engagement; Citizen participation is not a privilege, but a right and obligation rooted in the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda. Article 48 stipulates that Rwandans have a duty to participate in country development processes. Indeed, this serves to emphasize the value the country attaches to citizen participation in decision-making processes. This is evident in multiple policies that promote citizen participation, such as the National Decentralization Policy (MINALOC 2012&2021) and Ministerial Instruction N°002/07/01, which establishes community assemblies (inteko z’abaturage). Existing literature, such as Li (2015, p. 100), credits citizen participation in decision-making with improved accountability and better alignment between citizen needs and development action. Local leaders clearly understand the importance of citizen participation and have at their disposal a number of mechanisms to support that, which is quite encouraging. 1.3. Target audience The training sessions of the handbook shall be targeting mainly new LG personnel (both technical and elected) to ensure that they adapt to a new working environment, but may also, since even those in place have not benefitted such induction systematically, be utilized for continuous capacity development of the LG leaders and their employees, towards increased individual and institutional performance of LGs and commitment to improve services to citizens. Given the cross-cutting nature of the theme of citizen participation and the overall responsibility of decentralized entities to empower and consult the citizens in their respective constituencies, the handbook content shall be useful, with due adjustments, to all categories of LG personnel (elected and technical staff) at all administrative levels (from the district down to the cells). The training shall be delivered to homogenous target groups. It is therefore expected to have a class of councillors and members of the executive committee at district level, classes of councillors and executive secretaries of sectors and staff and the class of councillors and executive secretaries at the cell level

  • Introduction of Citizen Participation in Rwanda

UNIT 1 Overview of Citizen Participation in Rwanda
In Rwanda, participation is a widely recognized aspect of democracy and governance. It is entrenched in the 2003 Constitution and is captured in various institutional, policy, and law-making processes, as well as in the establishment of statutory bodies, structures and programmes. The term of participation encompasses a range of objectives and mechanisms, including communication as information exchange, on the one hand, and participation as substantive engagement in service delivery and development on the other. The former includes one-way communication channels where a LG entity either provides or obtains information. The latter refers to the involvement of citizens in actual decision-making, the co-production of services, or oversight of service delivery and local administration performance. In this view, “engagement” is distinct from participation insofar as it refers to a kind of “co-governance” that views citizens as active, empowered partners rather than passive recipients of services.

UNIT 2 Governance and Leadership for Citizen Participation
This Unit reviews the concept of citizen participatory governance or citizen participation in public policy-making, a new mode of institutional arrangement increasingly a requirement in Rwanda. The governance of citizen participation may take different forms, and past studies used different terms in describing the concept. This unit takes a brief look at various forms of citizen participation (citizen participation in planning, budgeting and monitoring, Rwanda indigenous initiatives of participation) and explains the concepts of tools and approaches introduced in Rwanda and the what is required from leaders in terms of leadership skills to fully take advantage of those approaches. Citizen-centered governance involves an overall arrangement of governance around a participatory-decentralization element and the central focus on results. The model emphasizes bottom-up approach involving citizen participation in local government’s processes. This focus arises because citizen involvement is considered the key to results-oriented local administration. In citizen-centered reform, citizen participation forms the basis of all government decisions, with public entities responding to citizen demands. It is a framework for local government accountability, with citizens evaluating what government does and the motivating factor for local technicians and elected leaders alike being to achieve the capacity levels needed to meet demand.

UNIT 3 Effective Communication in Local Government
Local government (in Rwanda) is mandated to deliver services and infrastructure, as well as to engage the public in its various governance processes. This requires LG officials to communicate to residents on key matters, from broader planning and policy decisions to where and how they can resolve basic service issues (e.g., what and where to pay, how to report faults and complaints, etc.). Mechanisms that enable the exchange of information play a critical role in strengthening deeper community engagement. Communication is described by many authors as “the main driving force to foster a relationship between the citizens and local government”. It is also often through information exchange that citizens express their “voice” (preferences and opinions) against which government responsiveness and accountability can be measured (UN-Habitat, 2009: p. 93). This section explores how to build effective communication elements (messages, audience segmentation and understanding, communication channels, …) can help the local government personnel at all levels, to develop more engaging approaches and build sustainable trust in their relations with citizens and local communities. Communication is a process whereby information is enclosed in a package and is channelled and imparted by a sender to a receiver via some medium. The receiver then decodes the message and gives the sender a feedback. All forms of communication require a sender, a message, and a receiver. Communication requires that all parties have an area of communicative commonality. There are auditory means, such as speech, song, and tone of voice, and there are nonverbal means, such as body language, sign language, paralanguage, touch, eye contact, and writing.

UNIT 4 Citizen Participation in action
Active participation builds on the insight that citizens can make an active and original contribution to the policy and other local decision-making processes. It taps into the broader resources of society in order to meet the many governance challenges facing our society today. It envisions the role of local government as an enabler and provider of frameworks. Within these frameworks, individual citizens and groups may organize their activities and relations. Here, the relation between the local government and citizens in policy-making can become a partnership. Engaging citizens in policy-making rests on a couple of conditions. First of all, the local government needs to recognize the autonomous capacity of citizens to discuss and generate policy options. It also needs to share agenda setting. And it requires a commitment from the leaders that policy proposals generated jointly will be taken into account in reaching a final decision. Citizens, on the other hand, need to accept a higher degree of responsibility to accompany their own enhanced role in governance and policy-making.

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