Busia County Public Participation Bill one step away from becoming law

Busia County Public Participation Bill one step away from becoming law

A draft bill which seeks to promote inclusive sustainable decisions in Busia County is just one step away from becoming law.

If passed into law, the Civic Education and Public Participation Bill, which will be tabled at the County Assembly of Busia is expected to expand the civic and democratic space for citizens to engage government and other stakeholders.

Speaking during a meeting with members of the Civil Engagement Alliance from Busia, Kakamega, Kisumu, Homabay and Bungoma Counties, Busia County Chief Officer in the Office of the Governor Dr. Ezekiel Okwach noted that, domestication of national laws at the county level improves the quality, quantity and impact of engagement, hence, giving an opportunity to all residents, players and stakeholders to voice their concerns and opinions.

“We don’t have our own domesticated public participation legal framework which would help us engage the citizens of Busia effectively. This draft is something real, it’s tangible, if passed into law, it will elevate public participation and civic engagement to the next level in this county. We want a platform which widens and safeguards the democratic space where citizens can engage the government without fear,” Okwach added.

He further indicated that the bill which has been validated by different stakeholders including the youth which is a critical population in engagement, is ready for deliberation and enactment, will amplify the voice of citizens by encouraging the airing of views freely without fear.

“The youth who make the largest population in our county. We purpose to engage with them on various platforms including the ones they prefer like social media, but we want a case where we can engage the youth, take their views and plug them into governance.

“One time as the older generation is running out and we are supposed to hand over, but how will the young people take up responsibility if there is no legal instrument to help them do so,” Okwach said.

“The youth are citizens, they are not citizens of the future, they are leaders now not future leaders. Youth inclusion in decision making, therefore, is not something we can wish away. It is of absolute urgency and a great need for county governments to consider youth friendly policies and regulations that promote and govern meaningful involvement of youth in various sectors including agri-business and use of innovative technology in the food system and value chains,” said Susan Githaiga – Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation-Kenya, (ICCO Kenya) Country Manager.

Her sentiments were reiterated by Florence Omutimba – Field Officer Anglican Development Services, Western Kenya:

“Youth are key stakeholders in decisions that affect our well-being like food security, they are key players in farming and creating market linkages. If the county provides the seeds and there are no markets then the economic situation of farmers will worsen hence they will not invest in Agriculture. We must all tap into youth potential to foster economic growth, sustainability and prosperity.”

The three day meeting saw over 30 delegates reaffirm their commitment to advocate and support expanded civic space from national and county level, to the grassroots.