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URBAN GOVERNANCE | participatory budgeting

This section includes a variety of successful cases of citizens’ participation in political affairs, developing their political engagement in the redistribution of public resources and stimulating greater municipal accountability.

quick links

local level city level
  international level websites

local level

city level

Schneider, Aaron & Ben Goldfrank (2002) - Budgets and Ballots in Brazil: Participatory Budgeting from the City to the State - IDS Working Papers [pdf]

Budgeting institutions in the state of Rio Grande do Sul bring participatory democracy to public finance. A chief impact of participatory institutions is to change the relative power of groups within society. In this case, with the Workers’ Party in state office, participatory decision-making strengthened lower-class groups interested in redistribution to the poor.

international level

Souza, Celina (2001) - "Participatory budgeting in Brazilian cities: limits and possibilities in building democratic institutions" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol 13 No 1, April 2001 - IIED [pdf]

This paper describes participatory budgeting in Brazil, where citizen
assemblies in each district of a city determine priorities for the use of a part of the city’s revenues. This is one of the most significant innovations in Latin America for increasing citizen participation and local government accountability. After describing its antecedents, as various local governments sought to increase citizen involvement
during the 1970s and 1980s, the paper reviews the experience with
participatory budgeting in the cities of Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte. It describes who took part in different (district and sectoral) citizen assemblies, the resources they could call on and the priorities established. It also discusses its effectiveness regarding increased participation, more pro-poor expenditures and greater local government accountability. While noting the limitations (for instance, some of the poorest groups were not involved, and in other cities it was not so successful) the paper also highlights how participatory budgeting allows formerly excluded groups to decide on investment priorities in their communities and to monitor government response.
It has helped reduce clientelist practices and, perhaps more importantly for a society as unequal as Brazil, helped to build democratic institutions.




Documents highlighting DFID's published work in support of participatory budgeting and redistribution of resources in urban areas:

"Children and Participatory Budgeting in Barra Mansa" - Wakely, Patrick; Nicholas You (2001) – Implementing the Habitat Agenda: In Search of Urban Sustainability - DPU [pdf]

Brazil - This initiative shows how the political participation of children and young people in public affairs can develop their citizenship by means of a council for participatory budgeting. Promoting their participation gives young people the opportunity to discuss the needs of their neighbourhoods and the city. In Barra Mansa, a municipality in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, children make up 35% of the population.

"Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre" - Ibid. [pdf]

Brazil - In Porto Alegre, institutional innovation promoting democratic citizen participation in municipal budgeting has been widely recognised, within and outside Brazil, to have effectively redistributed resources towards sections of the city with the greater need for basic services. Brazil's political history had long been marked by
authoritarian, techno-bureaucratic regimes in which the state dominated over civil society.

2003 Development Planning Unit | Sikandar Hasan | Anna Soave | Khanh Tran-Thanh || Tina Simon