Effects of social media use in participatory budgeting in county governance: a case study of kisii county, kenya
Nyamari, Amos Nyankanga
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In an effort to curb fiscal stress, governments across the globe are increasingly pursuing participatory budgeting. However, public apathy, due to communication break down between the public and the governments is the major hindrance to the process globally. For instance, in Kenya, inadequate public debates on county budget priorities and choices, due to communication break down between the public and the county governments, has led to poor transparency and weak accountability. This has greatly undermined the spirit of devolution. Empirical studies indicates that, social media can be an effective platform for participatory budgeting. This study therefore set out to examine the effects of social media use in participatory budgeting in Kenya`s County governance, with a special focus on Kisii County. The specific objectives of the study were to; examine the influence of social media on public participation in Kisii County Government`s budget preparation process; identify the most effective social media platforms for public participation in kisii County Government`s budget preparation process; examine how the public uses social media as a participatory platform in Kisii County Government`s budget preparation process and explore how social media is used by Kisii County government as a platform for public participation in the budget preparation process. Bonchari Sub- County, which is one of the 9 administrative Sub-Counties constituting the Kisii County was purposively selected as the sampling area for the study that is anchored on the Uses and Gratifications Theory. Descriptive design was adopted and both qualitative and quantitative approaches were employed to ensure methodological triangulation .The sample size was 399 residents. 4 key informants were also interviewed. Both Simple random and Purposive sampling techniques were employed. Data collection was via questionnaires and individual interviews. Quantitative data was analysed using SPSS, in which data tabulation, descriptive and disaggregation procedures of statistical analysis were employed. Thematic Content Analysis was further used to analyse the qualitative data. Among the study findings is that social media platforms, especially Facebook and WhatsApp are popular among the citizens and thus effective for participatory budgeting. Unfortunately, their use by Kisii County government as participatory platforms in the budget preparation process is limited and sporadic. The results of the study will be significant to Governments and their budgeting stakeholders in determining the best ways of social media use for participatory budgeting. The study finally recommends that Kisii County government should be proactive in the use of social media technologies for effective e-participatory budgeting.