Citizens’ participation in planning and evaluation of ‘Imihigo’ is lacking – study

By The Inspirer staff

Some of the ideas that citizens give in line with what they highly want to be achieved through performance contracts – ‘Imihigo’ – are rejected at district level, yet, they largely do not get feedback from the leaders on why they were not considered, a study has revealed.

The study dubbed “Research on Effectiveness of Local Government Feedback to Citizens on District Planning Documents (Imihigo)” found that Feedback on district performance contracts ‘Imihigo’ by leaders to citizens is at 19.2 percent for those signed and achieved, while it stands at 16.6 percent at planning and implementation level.

Its findings were released last month.

It was commissioned by umbrella organisations for local NGOs in development (CCOAIB).

According to experts in leadership and governance, the low level of interactions with the citizens on what the district plans to achieve, what it achieved and what it did not achieve and why, can result in citizens’ decreased participation in the next Imihigo participation, lack of ownership as well as view what was done as the influence of another party.

The survey indicates that levels of feedback to the citizens on Imihigo signed and achieved or not achieved vary, and it goes decreasing as we reach upper levels of administration.

For instance, 81.2 percent of citizens receive feedback on village Imihigo signed and achieved, but, 73.8 percent of citizens don’t receive the feedback those not achieved; while it is respectively 19.2 percent and 15 percent for district Imihigo.

It noted some gaps were noted such as low level of feedback in District Imihigo, in citizen participation, as well as in quality or approaches used for feedback received.

The research was conducted on 500 individuals, in 10 districts in all Provinces of Rwanda and the City of Kigali from September to October 2018.

“Understanding that we need to feedback to the citizens – downward accountability – is a good approach if we want the citizen participation to grow and to ensure proper accountability to them because we are working for them and they are at the centre of all our interventions,” Gaspard Kabalisa, the research team leader said while presenting the research results.

Jean Claude Ngendandumwe, the Executive Secretary of CCOAIB, said that it is a responsibility of leaders to ensure effective involvement of citizens in entire Imihigo process and inform them about performance on such vows to deliver.

“People need to know amount of public funds used, what they were used for and whether they were put to good use. That is accountability where leaders should explain what they do and how they do it; and it is in the rights of the citizen to know how their district is led, the existing issues, and the contribution they should have,” he said.

Some views of people in line with what they want to be given priorities in performance contracts are rejected at district level, yet, they do not get feedback from the leaders, Anatole Mulindwa, governance and Innovation Researcher at Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) said.

“About 83.4 percent people are not satisfied with feedback on Imihigo. That is a problem. The district should reach out to the people, tell them what is going to be done in the district, explain to the people why what citizen requested to be done under Imihigo was not considered at district level because of given reasons,” he said calling for strengthening efforts for feedback to citizens.

Eric Bizimana, director of planning, monitoring and evaluation in Muhanga District said that at all levels there is need for interaction between leaders and citizens, but expressed concern that it is difficult for all citizens to get Imihigo feedback, the same as all don’t participate in community assemblies and community service Umuganda.

“Imihigo brochures or booklets can help people get information on Imihigo, but needs budget for such documents to be distributed among the district’s households,” he said appreciating the allocation of budget to the feedback activity among districts as one of the recommendations of the study.

On another note, the research revealed that citizens participation in Imihigo evaluation is also low, pointing out that their participation in village Imihigo evaluation stands at 59.6 percent; 29.4 percent for cell Imihigo; 7.8 percent for sector Imihigo; and 4.8 percent for District Imihigo.

Every year, since 2006, experts say, Imihigo are evaluated to inform the Government on the relevance of the government’s interventions in changing people’s lives, whether the public spending makes difference or value for money, what policy or programme works well, among others.

Based on the survey, Umuganda and general assembly (Inteko z’abaturage) are the highly considered channels to vehicle feedback. Other channels are parents’ evening sessions commonly known as “Umugoroba w’ababyeyi,” and the media.

 

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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