How to engage in public participation

Health Financing
Public participation can enable citizens, including advocacy groups, to access information on budget decisions so that they are able to better understand the issues and options that the Government are considering. While participating in the process, citizens can influence decisions by speaking on behalf of the people they represent.

WHAT is it?

The Public Participation Tool (download available below) is intended for any advocacy group that wishes to engage in government planning and budgeting processes through public participation. The tool includes a template that can be used to communicate your priorities during public participation hearings and gives tips on how to ensure your organisation is heard.

The accompanying training slides (download available below) can help you to find out why public participation matters, what it entails, and learn how advocates supported by E4A have used public participation to achieve their objectives.

Coalitions supported by E4A have highlighted to us the importance of organising and presenting inputs to public participation processes, to maximise the chance that their voice is heard. They have used memos and coordinated verbal presentations to ensure that the priorities they have identified in their communities are heard by decision makers and inform governments’ plans and budgets.

HOW do I do this?

You need:

  • The document that citizens have been invited to participate in
  • A list of your shared priorities, to focus your analysis
  • The Public Participation tool

Useful tips for you:

  1. Review the document, and cross-check it against your priorities.
  2. Fill in the memo template, communicating what you want to change.
  3. Identify opportunities to share the memo in verbal or written form with key decision-makers.


WHEN do I do it?

Look at your country or region’s planning and budgeting cycle. It is critical that you identify the earliest opportunity for public participation relating to a specific plan, budget or document to ensure that there is maximum opportunity for changes to be made. For example, if there are two public participation hearings – one during formulation and one during approval – it is critical to communicate your priorities during the formulation stage.

Try to communicate your priorities at multiple points in the cycle, in open forums and one-to-one meetings, both verbally and in writing. This will maximise your chances of success.


WHAT can I do with the information?

Before you join a public participation meeting, or present your memo to decision-makers, we recommend role play! Put yourself in the shoes of the person you want to advocate to, and take turns to play the role of the decision-maker and the advocate. As you do this, consider the following questions:

  1. What does the decision-maker care about?
  2. Does the decision-maker like numbers or do they prefer human stories?
  3. How long will you be able to speak for? Will you have a microphone?
  4. What would you think if you were the decision-maker hearing your argument? Ask yourselves whether there is anything you can add or remove to make sure your priorities are heard loud and clear!