Citizens’ participation and local governance in South East Asia

Citizens’ participation and local governance in South East Asia

Achieving participatory governance in South East Asia

Achieving democracy, accountability and participatory governance are complex and long term processes. The Citizen’s Participation in Local Governance (CPLG) is a project implemented across the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand which has provided exciting opportunities, challenges and risks for all involved. In these four countries CPLG supported citizens to claim spaces for participation and take control of their own political and development path. This paper looks at what changes have been achieved, what lessons can be learnt and asks have the risks been worth it?

The authors conclude that the time needed to build partnerships across four countries, the money and resources put in by all involved, the different and at times conflicting interpretations of CPLG and the ambition of what was trying to be achieved in a relatively short time period have all at times been difficult to manage. However despite these challenges in every country the partners have grasped the opportunities available to push forward decentralisation, to formalise participatory governance and to challenge entrenched local power relations.

Challenges identified in this paper include:

  • CPLG evolved in different ways in different countries. This was inevitable given the very different contexts but it did raise difficulties in trying to maintain a cohesive initiative whilst responding to local and national opportunities
  • communication and translation issues
  • loss of funding and changing donors
  • the aim of establishing political schools in Indonesia was not realised due to the difficulty in finding suitable people who shared a similar political understanding of what was trying to be achieved.
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