I was delightfully surprised to see this participatory budgeting initiative in Cambridge since participatory design is at the core of MIT D-Lab’s approach to international development and It’s at the core of the project I’m working on.
Conventionally, participatory budgeting is simply the democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.After suggesting options of budget spendings, the community members get to vote and choose how the city or local government spends the allocated public budget. That’s thousands of dollars (in the case of Cambridge) dedicated to community-based projects, and individuals impacting change in their own communities.
I see it as amazing to improve accountability and transparency in governance by making the budgeting process public, to empower citizens to take a more active role in their communities, to increase the knowledge of citizens of the roles and responsibilities of government officials, to help citizens be aware of the limitations of their local government, the cost of public projects, and the nature of trade-offs in priorities, to increase social justice by providing a platform for traditionally excluded members of society to have a voice in decision-making processes, potentially leading to more just and equitable governance, and to eventually reduce corruption and dismantles patronage networks.
Now I’m day dreaming of seeing this tool implemented in Moroccan local governments.