Local Democracy and Citizen Participation
Decentralization in Senegal is characterized by a multitude of actors and stakeholders, whose interests are often opposed. Moreover, there are institutional and complex technical problems to solve, as well as a strong presence, but not always homogeneous, of development partners, which creates uncertainty regarding the impact of response attempts.
At the start of his mandate, the municipal council of the city has tried to set up a framework to encourage the dialogue between people and elected officials. This option aims to correct the inadequacies in relations between the different stakeholders of the city, including the lack of communication between elected officials and citizens, citizens uninformed about the programs and projects of the city, insufficient training of actors, the lack of effective involvement of the population, and the lack of adequate institutional framework for communication.
Also, this framework for communication consists of an advisory council citywide and county boroughs, advisory committees in municipalities, and district councils in the 400 department districts.
This initiative’s main objective is to reinforce the capacity to plan, manage in a participatory way, and consult the local development process while promoting social inclusion as a means to strengthen the living together.
This approach for inclusive and participatory management of the city of Dakar helps support three elements:
- the participation of citizens creating development plans and programs designed for them and given their real needs
- the obligation of elected councillor to hold themselves accountable for their performance in relation to their commitments through accountability spaces
- finally, greater transparency in the management by periodic citizen inspection
To do so, meetings and training sessions are organized to develop performance tools. The central core will be the focal points of districts delegations, ASC, women's groups and advisory neighbourhood committees.
The service of the Citizen Dialogue and Users Welcoming aims to promote citizen participation and to develop dialogue, cooperation and consultation through the organization of democratic spaces for meetings between elected representatives and people. It provides a link between the city and the advisory council of the city, advisory committees and district councils.
The first step is the establishment of a local consultation dynamic. This participatory approach is only possible if it is based on good communication strategies focusing on an internal communication structure, as well as a popular communication between representatives and citizens.
The second approach is to promote good local governance. This is to ensure good participation of various stakeholders in the definition and implementation of development programs, to emphasize the presence of certain categories of stakeholders in decision making, and to develop concerted reflexes among elected officials and community leaders who are in charge of representing the communities in organizations.
The third approach relates to improving the level of functionality of the territory through the establishment of frameworks. One of the forms of this framework for communication is the Consultative Council of Dakar. Its body is composed of several members from civil society, professional organizations, Dakar employers, religious leaders, women's groups and young people, and representatives of foreign communities living in Dakar. The advisory council is a bridge between the people and the city council. The second form of such cooperation frameworks is the advisory committees present in the 19 municipalities. They are composed of organizations and local civil society across the districts of Dakar.
The results observed include better community involvement in the actions of the City as part of the implementation of participatory democracy, greater ownership of projects in neighbourhoods, and finally, a better investment planning line with the people’s needs.