Interaction between Local Governments and Citizens: The Dissemination and Consultative Forum Season started
Dissemination and Consultative (D&C) Fora aim to promote local social and economic development and alleviate poverty through greater democracy. Holding at least one D&C Forum in June or July every year, councils shall promote accountability, transparency and civic engagement within their jurisdictions. Specifically, D&C Fora aim to inform citizens about the council’s achievements and challenges as well as its priorities for the following year. Moreover, they provide citizens with opportunities to make requests to line office representatives and commune councillors, discuss district council reports, and make recommendations or proposals for further council discussions. By taking into account the needs voiced directly by their citizens, the government aims to enhance local responsibility and effectiveness of public service delivery.
The European Union Project for Decentralisation and Administrative Reform (EU DAR) which is commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), co-funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supports selected partner councils in Kandal and Battambang in conducting their annual D&C Fora.
At a forum in a commune in Banan District, Battambang, the district governor and council chairperson gave a very brief but precise overview of their achievements within the last 12 months. Furthermore, they encouraged all citizens to raise their questions, give comments and actively interact with the different government officials. Without any reluctance, citizens shared concerns related to food prices, electrification, infrastructure development, illegal fishing and commune safety. One older woman raised her concern that she was always treated unfriendly when visiting the health center. The respective representative accepted her complaint and promised to bring back her feedback to the health center staff. Another citizen raised a concern about drug abuse in her commune. The local police officer offered to help and shared his private phone number to be called once the problem would arise again. Requiring coordination between the district administration and additional authorities, other issues could not be tackled directly at the forum. However, the district governor promised that the remaining issues will be discussed in the upcoming council meetings and that mechanisms will be identified to solve them. Last but not least, district authorities introduced the new opposition party commune council chief and the new opposition commune council members. All representatives from district and commune level highlighted their commitment to work closely with each other during the new mandate in order to adequately serve citizens and deliver better services.
In the upcoming months, the EU DAR advisors in Kandal and Battambang will advise and coach their partner districts’ councils and administrations on how to address the issues raised by citizens during the fora. Good practices will be developed and up-scaled to other district councils and administrations facing similar challenges.