Kwale Non-Government organization, Muslims Women Advancement of Rights and Protection has launched a three-year program to help initiate and oversight the implementation of county development projects.
The program has brought together various Civil Society and Rights organizations across the county to strengthen unity in the oversight roles and development.
It is supported by Amkeni Kenya through the sponsorship of the United Nations Development Programme.
MWARP officer Fahad Changi said they target to strengthen civil society and the community voices in policy-making through an inclusive platform for public participation and civic engagement.
Changi said the program will take the CSOs and community through the goals of the County Integrated Development Plan and enhance their understanding and the roles they can play in its effective implementation.
“In a few days’ time, the county will start the process of planning the CIDP that’s why we are preparing residents through awareness forums ahead of its launch,” he said.
Changi said the civic education will enable the community to identify challenges and propose beneficial projects that will spearhead development and socioeconomic growth.
He said the program will assist in the mobilization of resources to ensure residents are effectively empowered to engage in active development public participation and have their views captured.
The officer said past experiences are that the locals are left out in the development forums and leaders are the ones determining the type of projects to be implemented.
He said it is a situation that has stagnant progress because locals are not fully involved in the development projects.
“There is a habit where citizens are called for public participation abruptly for formality and their presence is not felt because politicians have already chosen what to do,” he said.
He said for years the projects that are implemented by county many do not reflect the views or address the challenges of common citizens but rather satisfy the interest of certain politicians which is not right.
Changi said the program will also include lobbying where rights defenders and CSOs will engage the executive and assembly to ensure the proposed community projects are implemented as per the county by-laws.
MWARP field project officer Mwalimu Ali said the program will also comprise of Person Living with Disabilities, Women, youth and marginalized communities.
He said in many CIDP public participation meetings, views from the disantanged groups are normally not considered.
Ali said the program intends to bridge the gap and bring about inclusivity.
He said they will ensure all public participations have interpreters and other necessary equipment to help various PWDs actively participate and contribute to development programs.
Ali said the project is also aimed at promoting work relationships between NGOs and the government.
“Often the CSOs and rights activists have worked like enemies, so this program is focused on addressing that and enhancing partnership,” he said.
Ali said the program will enable the CSOs to push the county to proper budget for PWDs and support their livelihoods and well-being.
Kwale civil society consortium officer Mahmud Baro said they are putting efforts to have the public participation forums conducted at the grassroots level to reach many people.
Baro said many development discussions happen in towns that only benefit a few.
He said through the MWARP program, they want to see public participation offices are launched where the community can inquire about the county development projects and their budgets.
Baro said the CSOs will keenly observe the process of county public participation in the implementation of CIDP and take legal actions if laws are violated.
Kwale Pemba community secretary Mwalimu Ali Mkasha hailed the program adding that it will help them in understanding their rights and the importance of attending public participation forums.
He said it will empower the Pemba community to sufficiently participate in development projects and spur economic growth.