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 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. Study Objectives: 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. Scope: The study set out to examine the effects of social media use in participatory budgeting in County governance, with a special focus on Kisii County. The choice of Kisii County was based on the fact that it is among the Counties hardest hit by public apathy in the budget preparation process, due to communication break down between the County Government and the citizenry since 2013. Bonchari Sub- County, which is one of the Sub-counties constituting Kisii County, was purposively selected as the sampling area, based on the intensity of community protests against implementation of the county government programmes, viewed incompatible with public priorities or choices. Findings: 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.
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