Islamabad, November 12, 2020 (PPI-OT): The development of the Citizen Engagement Guidelines is the top most priority of the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. To achieve the objectives Sub- National Governance (SNG- II) undertook to assist the Local Government Department, Elections Rural Development Department (LGERDD) in developing Inclusive Citizen Engagement Guidelines to enhance engagement of citizens. The LGERDD issued a notification dated 28th October, 2020 to adopt and circulate the guidelines to all the field formations of the LG in the best interest of the public.
The guidelines were prepared after an intensive consultative process with LG Department and all relevant stakeholders of LG including Local Council Board and DG Local Government. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the first province to adopt and circulate these guidelines to their respective field formations. This was achieved through the technical support from the Accountability Inclusion work stream, Sub National Governance (SNG) Program of KP.
The subject guidelines will serve as a framework for provincial departments as well as other stakeholders engaged in public participation for a meaningful engagement of citizens in decision-making processes. This information will also help in managing expectations and mobilizing citizens to positively contribute in the success of initiatives taken by the department. It is important that the department takes all the necessary measures to proactively share information with citizens. It is easier to share information proactively than responding to information requests individually submitted by citizens. An explicit and shared understanding between local governments and citizens about their interaction can foster confidence in – and the success of – the participation process.
Therefore, it would be helpful to establish a clearly defined legal framework for citizens’ engagement and participation in decision-making by making relevant amendments in Local Government Acts 2013 and 2019. Formal provisions within the rules and procedures of local governments are one way of strengthening the use of the many tools/mechanisms outlined in the Inclusive Citizen Engagement Guidelines. Government bodies in Pakistan offer some good examples of establishing consultative groups to engage civil society and other stakeholders to advance their objectives.
Federal Ministry of Health has established the National Strategic Advisory Group on Polio Eradication and Immunization. The Competition Commission of Pakistan has established the Competition Consultative Group to inform its functions. The number of departments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have established formal forums at the district and provincial levels to engage with citizens. The guidelines effective for local governments to share information and involve citizens in developmental planning and budgeting processes.
This will also help in the inclusion of marginalized groups in the society like minorities, women from rural areas, transgender communities and people with disabilities. This empowers these marginalized groups to take decision in best of their communal interests. Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the first to introduce these guidelines in Pakistan. The Sub National Governance-II is a four-year technical assistance programme supporting the Governments of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. This will also support local governments to improve service delivery.
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