LOGOS actively supports the improvement of citizen participation at the local level. Therefore, citizens are invited to join spatial and budget planning meetings in all nine partner municipalities. In two partner municipalities, public meetings in the field of waste management were organized too. In order to continue the successful implementation of these types of meetings in the future, LOGOS has adopted and is disseminating the forum approach.
|Citizens’ involvement on the municipal level|
|The forum approach|
LOGOS applied the practice of public consultations in the field of spatial planning, waste management and budgeting and financial management. Since 2011, several meetings have been organized in all partner municipalities.
At first, a series of nine budget meetings took place in the end of 2011. These public meetings on budget execution were held to increase awareness and transparency of the budgeting process amongst citizens. In specific, the goal was that citizens gain a better understanding of the budget allocation. Another aim of these meetings was to increase citizens’ feedback and input on the municipal budget execution. Although the budget meetings have been attended by a varying degree of participants, in between 15 and 120, they can be seen as a successful approach of ensuring citizens’ involvement. A new series of budget meetings were organized over the course of 2012 and 2013.
Second, strategic planning meetings have been organized in six out of the nine LOGOS partner municipalities. In each municipality, municipal working groups were established to be consulted within each phase of the drafting process of Municipal and Urban development plans. The first forums on spatial planning took place in November 2011. The application of this methodology has already shown visible results. All meetings involved on average 150 participants and allowed for lively discussions and exchanges between citizens and their municipality. As a result of this success, more forums on spatial planning have been held since then.
In the municipalities of Hani i Elezit and Viti/Vitina, separate public meetings were organized to provide citizens with an opportunity to give feedback on the drafted Solid Waste Management Plans. Around 110 people attended, which made for productive discussions about several aspects of the Solid Waste Management Plans. The outcomes of these discussions were taken into consideration during the implementation of the Solid Waste Management Plans.
The overall objective behind facilitating these citizen meetings is to improve citizens’ satisfaction in the municipal decision making process. As can be seen in the figure below, mixed results are found. Though in some municipalities the rate of satisfaction dropped, in other municipalities a significant increase of positive replies can be seen. On average citizens’ satisfaction remains stable, with more than a half of the population considering their municipalities to welcome citizens’ participation. It is worth noting that municipalities in which meetings on spatial planning where organized display the highest scores.
Figure 1. Improved satisfaction of citizens with participation in the municipal decision making process
In 2012 LOGOS adopted a new methodology for the organization of citizens meetings. The so-called forum approach supports municipalities in the increase of citizen mobilization and in the preparation and moderation of the meetings at the municipal level itself. The forum methodology allows the organizer to gather more and better-informed citizens to budget meetings and leads to more effective participation. Particular attention is given to the participation of the sub-municipal level, and thus the inclusion of village representatives in the meetings.
In order to apply the forum approach effectively within LOGOS partner municipalities, a handbook has been designed that should serve the implementation of sessions for active citizen participation.
This handbook was provided to the municipalities. Guidelines are given on the roles and functions of key stakeholders for successful preparation and implementation of sessions. A focus lies on the role of the moderator, the co-moderator and the working body of municipal residents, also called the ‘’operational group’’. A second chapter is dedicated to methods for mobilization and motivation of potential participants of the forums. Different recruiting methods are described, and recommendations are provided for the use of press releases and ways of distribution of information about the meetings.
In order to ensure the quality of the stakeholders for guiding municipal forums, LOGOS supported two trainings for the moderators and co-moderators in the end of 2011.