PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING – A
Initiative Africa is a non-profit organisation
specialising in spreading good governance
across public and private services in Africa,
especially in Ethiopia.
• Introduction of Participatory Budgeting
• Levels of PB
• Benefits and limits of PB
• Success factors
Conceptual Framework and Practice in DB
• The participatory budget is a process of direct,
voluntary and universal democracy,
• It provides the population with the opportunity to
discuss budgetary issues and public policies.
• Participatory budgeting (PB) brings local communities
closer to the decision-making of a public budget.
Participatory budgets are based on four
• Re-directing public resources for the benefit of the
• Creating a new relationship between municipalities and
citizens (i.e. a new form of governance);
• Re-building social ties and social interest;
• Inventing a new democratic culture and promoting
Governments and citizens initiate these
• Promote public learning and active
• Achieve social justice through improved
policies and resources allocation, and
• Reform the administrative apparatus.
IT ALL STARTED IN
• The Brazilian city of Porto Alegre initiated the
first participatory budgeting process in 1989,
• It was driven by active social movements
and a leftist local government.
• Today, participatory budgeting in Porto Alegre
has developed into an annual process of
deliberation and decision-making, in which
thousands of city residents decide how to
allocate part of the municipal budget.
SINCE ITS EMERGENCE IN PORTO ALEGRE
• Participatory budgeting has spread to
hundreds of Latin American cities, and
dozens of cities in other continents.
In Europe, towns and cities in France, Italy,
Germany, Spain and England have initiated
participatory budgeting processes.
Similar budget processes have been used in
communities in India and Africa.
• How? – in a series of neighborhood, regional,
and citywide assemblies, residents and elected
budget delegates identify spending priorities
and vote on which priorities to implement.
Varieties of participatory budgeting
The diversity of PB experiences can be
categorised on the basis of:
1) Participation mechanisms and the depth of
2) Extent of the budget subject to consultation
3) Geographical scale of PB
Levels of PB
1. Modest PB – participatory community
2. Intermediate level of PB (A) – prioritising public
spending at neighbourhood level
3. Intermediate level of PB (B) – prioritising public
spending city-wide for a specific issue or
4. 'Classical' model of PB– prioritising ALL public
spending at city-wide level
5. Fully-fledged PB – involving citizens in
designing the methodology of the PB process
and monitoring of the budget execution
BENEFITS AND LIMITS OF
• High degree of citizen engagement
• Improves community cohesion
• Involved citizens understand that trade-offs have to
• Politicians make better decisions because they know
the preferences of citizens
• Investments make a visible impact on the
neighbourhood as a whole Improves Quality of Life of
specific target groups (young people, disadvantaged)
• Involves only small numbers of citizens
• PB as a one-off event
• Participants get little information on overall budget
and public services
• Citizens have difficulties in seeing the overall
picture, at least in the first stages of the process
• Allocated sums of money are too small to make
significant impact beyond target groups
• Public meetings have to be made “user-
• There has to be ample opportunity for debate
• Good communication is key to PB
• Most importantly, the local council needs to
give a clear account to all participants.
LESSONS FOR ETHIOPIA
• PB does have to start with “small pots of extra
• PB should go beyond political parties and should not
be just a “leftist” idea;
• “Seeing is believing” – The Debre Birhan experience
has inspired many people!
PB is not just a consultation exercise, but an
embodiment of direct, deliberative democracy.