This research assumes that various forms and scales of lockdowns and social distancing measures have limited local decision-makers’ ability to reach out to communities as part of their mandatory annual participatory budgeting processes. Building upon this proposition, this article assesses Nepal’s local budgeting process of 2020 to understand the degree to which it succeeded (or failed) in incorporating citizen’s voices in the annual handbook of local public policies and budgets. The research followed a qualitative case study research methodology. It generated interviews with participants including ordinary people, local politicians, and bureaucrats from 20 different municipalities and a federal ministry in Nepal. Other textual data (official publications, field notes and observational scripts) provided complementary evidence to answer the research questions. Findings suggest that the coronavirus pandemic has played significant roles in limiting ordinary people’s democratic right to participate in local decision-making yet flaws in institutional design and unpredictable mayoral power contributed to delaying the annual budget approval process. The research contributes to the literature on participatory governance in developing countries, with some practical suggestions to increase citizen engagement chances in times of crisis.
Acharya, K. K., & Zafarullah, H. (2020). Institutionalising federalism in Nepal: operationalising obstacles, procrastinated progress. Public Administration and Policy: An Asia-Pacific Journal, 23(2), 125-139. https://doi.org/10.1108/PAP-03-2020-0013
Adhikari, D. (2006). Towards Local Democracy in Nepal: Power and Participation in District Development Planning. (PhD Dissertation). Germany: University of Dortmund.
Agbesi, S. (2020). Examining voters' intention to use internet voting system: a case of Ghana. International Journal of Electronic Governance, 12(1), 57-75. https://doi.org/10.1504/IJEG.2020.106997
Bhusal, T. (2018). Examining citizen participation in local policymaking: an analysis of Nepal’s participatory planning process, 2002-2016. (Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science and Policy Studies Original Research). Canberra: University of Canberra.
Bhusal, T. (2019). "Do Informal Forums Matter? Lessons from Nepal’s Local Policymaking." The International Journal of Community and Social Development, 1(4), https://doi.org/10.1177/2516602619896187
Bhusal, T. & Pandeya, G.P. (2021). “Ordinary people's participation in local development planning in Nepal.” Development in Practice (forthcoming).
Boin, A., Brock, K., Craft, J., Halligan, J., ‘t Hart, P., Roy, J., . . . Turnbull, L. (2020). Beyond COVID-19: Five commentaries on expert knowledge, executive action, and accountability in governance and public administration. Canadian Public Administration, 63(3), 339-368. https://doi.org/10.1111/capa.12386
Boin, A., Stern, E., & Sundelius, B. (2016). The politics of crisis management: Public leadership under pressure. Cambridge University Press.
Byrne, S., & Shrestha, G. (2014). A compromising consensus? Legitimising local government in post-conflict Nepal. International Development Planning Review, 36(4), 435-454.
Campbell, D. T., & Yin, R. K. (2018). Case study research and applications: design and methods (sixth ed.). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
Capano, G., Howlett, M., Jarvis, D. S. L., Ramesh, M., & Goyal, N. (2020). Mobilizing Policy (In)Capacity to Fight COVID-19: Understanding Variations in State Responses. Policy and Society, 39(3), 285-308. https://doi.org/10.1080/14494035.2020.1787628
Curato, N., Sass, J., Ercan, S., & Neymer, S. (2020). Deliberative democracy in the age of serial crisis. International Political Science Review, 41(4).
Elstub, S. (2018). Deliberative and Participatory Democracy. In A. Bachtiger, J. S. Dryzek, J. Mansbdirge, & M. E. Warren (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Deliberative Democracy (pp. 186). London: Oxford University Press.
Gilman, H. R., & Peixoto, T. C. (2019). Handbook of Democratic Innovation and Governance. In O. Escobar & S. Elstub (Eds.), Digital participation. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
Government of Nepal. (2007). The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007. Kathmandu: Nepal Law Commission.
Government of Nepal. (2015). The Constitution of Nepal. Kathmandu: Nepal Law Commission.
Government of Nepal. (2017). Local Government Act 2017. Kathmandu: Nepal Law Commission.
Haligan, J. (2020). Australia’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. In P. Joyce, Fabienne. M, & P. S. Reddy (Eds), Good Public Governance in a Global Pandemic, (pp 233-243). Brussels: IIAS-IISA.
Halupka, M. (2014). Clicktivism: A Systematic Heuristic. Policy & Internet, 6(2), 115-132. https://doi.org/10.1002/1944-2866.Poi355
Heller, P., & Rao, V. (Eds.). (2015). Deliberation and Development: Rethinking the Role of Voice and Collective in Unequal Societies. Washington D.C.: The World Bank Group.
Khadka, N. (1986). Crisis in Nepal's Partyless Panchayat System: The Case for More Democracy. Pacific Affairs, 59(3), 429-454. https://doi.org/10.2307/2758328
Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. (2017). Planning and Budgeting Guidelines for Local Governments (Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration Ed. 2nd ed.). Kathmandu: Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration.
Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration. (2020, November 21, 2020). Updated list: Local governments’ annual budget (2077/078). https://mofaga.gov.np/lgbudget
Ministry of Local Development. (2003). Report of High Level Local Bodies Strengthening Committee [unpublished]. Ministry of Local Development, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Moon, M. J. (2020). Fighting Against COVID‐19 with Agility, Transparency, and Participation: Wicked Policy Problems and New Governance Challenges. Public Administration Review, 80(4), 651-656. https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.13214
Murphy, J. W., Callaghan, K. A., & Longino, C. F. (1995). The democratization of service delivery. Early Child Development and Care, 106(1), 19-26.
National Planning Commission. (2018). Local Level Planning Formulation Guidelines. Kathmandu: National Planning Commission.
Pandeya, G. P., & Oyama, T. (2019). Revitalizing Local Government Performance Management: Further Dissecting the Role of Socioeconomic Status and Social Mobilization Policy. Local Government Studies, 45(6), 869-892.
Pandeya, G. P., & Shrestha, S. K. (2016). Does Citizen Participation Improve Local Planning? An Empirical Analysis of Stakeholders’ Perceptions in Nepal. Journal of South Asian Development, 11(3), 276-304. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0973174116667097
Radovanović, D., Holst, C., Belur, S. B., Srivastava, R., Houngbonon, G. V., Le Quentrec, E., . . . Noll, J. (2020). Digital Literacy Key Performance Indicators for Sustainable Development. 2020, 8(2), 17. https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v8i2.2587
The Local Governance and Community Development Program. (2017). Annual Progress Report. http://lgcdp.gov.np/
Waheduzzaman, W., & As-Saber, S. (2015). Politics and Policy in Achieving Participatory Governance in a Developing Country Context. Politics & Policy, 43(4), 474-501. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12121
Yasay, D. (2018). Civil society participation as a building block of good governance: The Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines experience. ASEAN Journal of Community Engagement, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.7454/ajce.v2i1.73
Yeni, Y., Najmah, N., & Davies, S. G. (2020). Predicitive modeling, empowering women, and COVID-19 in South Sumatra, Indonesia. ASEAN Journal of Community Engagement, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.7454/ajce.v4i1.1094
Citizen participation in times of crisis: Understanding participatory budget during the COVID-19 pandemic in Nepal.
ASEAN Journal of Community Engagement, 4(2), 321-341.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.7454/ajce.v4i2.1103