Georgia: Budget planning with citizen participation
In the municipality of Keda, citizens decide themselves what their local budget funds should be used for.
Municipal projects are above all intended to serve the interests of local people. Several local authorities in Georgia now take a particularly transparent approach to this, calling on their citizens to submit ideas for projects they would like to see implemented in their community. A shortlist of these ideas is chosen for the public to vote on. The proposals that receive the most votes and which fall within the budget are then included in the municipal planning.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting this whole process of participation, working with municipalities at the local level and with policy partners at the national level. In this way, the needs of local people are taken into consideration in budget planning and their suggestions are implemented. This measure was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
New roads, stable internet – and more money for good ideas
Some 232 project proposals were submitted in Keda in 2021. From these suggestions, the citizens chose 81 projects that are now being implemented. Most of the proposals are for smaller infrastructure projects, such as the construction of a village road or the restoration of public spaces. Also successful was a proposal by 16-year-old Nikusha Diasamidze, who, due to a poor internet connection, was finding it hard to take part in the online classes made necessary by the pandemic. ‘My idea for a project was to provide internet coverage using wireless routers,’ Diasamidze explains. ‘The idea received the biggest number of votes, so it was funded by the municipality. Because of that, 45 families in our village now have a good internet connection.’
The programme's popularity is also reflected in the high level of participation when it comes to choosing the projects. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly a third of Keda's population went to the polling station last year to help decide what the money in their community should be used for. That high level of commitment is paying off. In the budget for 2022, almost seven times as much money has been reserved for the citizens' own ideas than two years ago.