Representative outcomes through citizen consultative meetings: A study of Kampala, Uganda

Policy brief State

  • Deliberative processes are widely used across developed and developing countries. Despite this, there is limited evidence of their equitability and inclusiveness.
  • The authors partnered with the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to examine the extent to which participatory approaches can really reflect the views of citizens.
  • 188 small-scale consultative meetings were organised with citizens to discuss their preferences service delivery and accountability as part of the development of a ‘Citizens’ Charter’. As part of this, the authors randomised whether facilitators come from KCCA or from an outside organisation.
  • Firstly, the authors find there is only a small difference between the policy priorities of citizens and local bureaucrats. Secondly, while specific facilitators can influence discussions, this does not systematically bias consultations towards particular socio-economic groups. Thirdly, although there is inequality in engagement, this does not translate into specific groups of citizens getting their preferred outcome in the meetings.
  • The findings suggest that such meetings can be effective as a vehicle for representative consultations, although vigilance is required to ensure participation by more marginalised citizens.