But it was also important for us to include those who don’t have
Internet access and computers at home. So we came up with a two part
prototype: a website where citizens can provide feedback on the work of their local government, and a toll free number for those without Internet access.
Countries and cities around the world have been using online tools for participatory democracy for some time now (we like the classic example of Perm in Russia). And we know it’s not all online either.
But the new website and hotline are a first for the country:
It’s the first time citizens can register their level of satisfaction
with essential services provided by their municipalities and report any
shortfalls in the implementation of laws and policies at the level of
Forums provide space for citizens to report on the effects of
decisions made by municipal councils and debate issues related to local
The site allows the Ministry of Local Self-Government to issue public
calls, invite initiatives (crowdsourcing), and monitor how satisfied
citizens are with the quality of local services.
Even within the first month, the site has managed to bring the municipal government closer to its citizens, with over 2,000 visitors (from 26 different countries!).
Citizens provided 38 proposals. Four fall under the competence
of the State Inspectorate for Local Self-Government, and suggest
solutions for procedural shortfalls in four municipalities regarding:
The Local Government Inspectorate responds to the proposals (in
accordance with the law) and lets citizens know about what will happen
next procedurally with their proposal.
For example, for proposals that fall under the responsibility of the
mayors, the Ministry of Local Self Government holds regular meetings
where they confirm that the proposal has reached the Ministry and issues
a request for the mayors to follow up on the proposal.
The remaining 34 proposals generally concern issues of infrastructure such
as public hygiene, disturbances in the drinking water supply, pollution
from industry, as well as municipal and cultural aspects of local
The responsibility lies with the municipalities themselves and the
Ministry directs citizens to the institution responsible for resolving
The administrator of the platform also includes feedback from the phone calls to the toll-free number with the proposals.
A media campaign helped to get the word out, and six of the eight
Planning Regions in the country and 70 percent of the municipalities
link to the site and phone number on their homepages – a good sign that
they’re on board.
If properly administered, the website and hotline could help make
local government more responsive to the needs of the general public.
It’s exciting too, because compared to central government, I think
local government offers much more fertile ground for the introducing
participatory democracy – that’s where you can meet the people living in
your community, and start talking about real life.
Decentralization depends on improving accountability at the municipal
level and getting citizens involved in decision-making that directly
affects their quality of life.
© Copyright United Nations Development Programme, 2009. All Rights Reserved.
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