Wrap-up: June 2014 Discussion

Publish Date: 
Thursday, June 26, 2014

I would like to take this opportunity to show my gratitude to everyone who took the time to read and participate in June’s discussion touching on ‘Analyzing budgets to assess the right to housing-Lessons from Kenya’. It is clear that the right to housing is articulated in various legislations both locally and internationally, examples being Article 43 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and Article 25 of the UDHR respectively, though it is not adequately implemented.

Hakijamii analyzed the 2014/2015 national budget so as to support its call for reform in the housing sector. By doing so, it brings out which sectors the government considers a priority and which sectors it does not. More local organizations have become more interested in the budget dialogue, thus strengthening the budget analysis in several ways. For example, it has become comparatively easier to get information on the national budget since 2010 when the Constitution was adopted, resource allocation has become more central in national debates and the experience has led to the formation of a national CSOs Coalition that focuses exclusively on the budget process. Community members are also now aware of and more engaged in the budget process both nationally and at the county level.

However, the progress made thus far has not been without a few challenges. First, the data remains inadequately disaggregated, thus it is difficult to determine if the neediest are benefiting. In addition, feedback from the government is proving to be difficult and the relationship between the civil society and the parliamentary budget has not been adequately formalized.

Questions have been raised as to how findings are presented to parliamentarians, given longstanding challenges related to influencing decision-makers in Kenya. Hakijamii explained the process involved with constitutionally-required public hearings where views are noted and translated into reports; although, the extent to which such reports finally inform the budget is questionable. Various approaches, for disseminating the budget procedures and how citizens can effectively participate, include the publication of popular booklets in accessible language, as well as experience engaging with some lawmakers to highlight housing issues. It was also noted that on the whole the government has yet to demonstrate seriousness in ensuring that adequate resources are made available for the provision of housing, especially for the poor, hence the need to continue using multiple advocacy strategies to exert pressure on the government. Budget analysis is therefore not a substitute for other strategies, but should complement them. Finally, several comments underscored the empowering effect of mobilizing around these demands. It was concluded that civil society groups must continue to exert effective pressure to ensure that needed resources are actually provided, for which budget analysis provides a promising platform.

Pauline Musangi
Working Group(s):