Developing Kampala’s citizen charter: Citizen deliberation and bureaucratic responsiveness in service provision

Project Active from to Cities

In the past two or three decades, deliberative processes have found widespread use across both developed (Fung & Wright, 2003) and developing countries (Wong, 2012). Beyond an end in themselves, they represent both a strategy to ensure that the resource allocation process takes a wide array of needs and preferences into account. Despite their ubiquity, there is scant understanding of how equitable and inclusive these processes truly are in practice (Humphreys, Masters, & Sandbu, 2006; Karpowitz, Mendelberg, & Shaker, 2012; Sheely, 2015).

This study will investigate:

  • Whether the outcome of deliberative processes is skewed more toward the preferences of political elites or those of citizens.
  • Whether particular subgroups of citizens are listened to more during these processes.

These questions are pursued in the context of Kampala Capital City Authority’s (KCCA) efforts to develop a Citizen Charter. This document will set out parameters for service provision to citizens. It will be designed partly based on a series of deliberative meetings between bureaucrats and citizens. In this context, the study exploits variation in citizen preferences, and diverging preferences between citizens and bureaucrats, to arrive at answers regarding the equity and the inclusiveness of deliberation.

The project is structured around stages of consultation with stakeholders for the creation of the Charter. Information about bureaucrats’ preferences and challenges encountered in interacting with citizens is collected by:

1) An online survey and a workshop.

2) A short baseline survey with citizens.

3) Observing deliberative meetings participation patterns, as well as the interactions with bureaucrats.

4) An endline survey with all baseline respondents. This will assess any change in preferences as a result of deliberation.

The immediate impact of the project is the creation of a Charter for Kampala. Beyond its provisions, this would represent the first step toward greater public accountability. By publicising the parameters under which service delivery is carried out, KCCA would provide citizens with needed information to evaluate deficiencies. Also, increase the transparency and predictability of the delivery process. The conclusions could come to inform deliberative processes elsewhere. By embedding a small experimental intervention in the meetings, and by randomising both political elites’ and citizens’ attendance, answers as to how to mitigate biases in active participation in the meetings are hoped to be produced.