Elected members and officials of the Redeemaliyadda Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) in the Badulla District and over 200 persons representing 42 ‘grama niladhari’ divisions in the PS area attended a joint consultation meeting organised by Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) recently. The objective of the meeting was to identify key problems relevant to service delivery of the PS.
Among the items discussed was the development plan of the Redeemaliyadda PS which led to a lively discussion with the active participation of the members of the public. They also raised the issue of the importance of people’s participation in the local governance at gthe meeting which went on for over four hours.
In his opening remarks, Rideemaliyadda PS Chairman, Karu Weerarathana said that people’s participation in decision-making is a vital aspect in development.”Local elections are only the first step on the path to community participation. Voting once every four years and then leaving us the elected representatives to carry on with the work is one approach. But it is an approach that does not necessarily bring about effective democratic PS as I learnt in my political career,” he added.
Stressing on the need for a deeper engagement from public, he said that community participation is one of the key pillars that make a PS more effective. “But it does not just happen. In more centralised cultures, local people may expect local members and officials to make the decisions, to tell them what to do. They are not used to sharing in decision-making. Community participation is something the PS must work at”.
“It needs a strategy both to engage local people and to bring local organisations into constructive partnerships. Therefore the 4-year planning document is very important to us,” he pointed out.
Sri Lanka Institute for Local Governance (SLILG) Consultant, K.G.Ratnayake and TISL representatives T.Kalaimagal and Nauli Wimalarathne facilitated the process.
Uva Community Radio recorded the entire proceedings and took “voice cuts” from people and elected members on their experience in the planning process and key governance related problems in their areas.