Studies Show that Citizen Participation Brings Meaningful Change

Posted on Jul 07, 2022 at 05:37

Governance and Local Development (GLD) held its 5th annual conference in Sweden in June 2020, where, amongst other 25 scholars, Dr. Boniface Dulani, IPOR’s Director of Research, attended and discussed the main theme which was Giving and Taking: Studies on Extraction and Participation in Local Development. In addition to the main theme, the following were also some of the themes that were highlighted; Improving Citizen Participation, Building a Social Contract, Holding Leaders Accountable and Engagement with Policymakers and Local Communities.

Speaking during the conference, Dr. Dulani said that turning citizen participation into meaningful action is itself a political process that varies across contexts, political systems, and social environments. Dr. Dulani also noted the multiple circles of authority operating within decentralized governance structures.

The discussion’s basis comes from local citizen engagement in Tunisia, Pakistan, Zambia, Tanzania, Nigeria and Malawi. Studies carried out in these and other countries found that boosting citizen participation is limited in sparking meaningful change. It does not always deepen institutional trust, nor does it always deliver accountability. Moreover, participation in authoritarian regimes can be limited and might require different interventions. Local context matters and collective action is essential.