The experimental intervention consists of issuing personal invitations to 40 randomly selected citizens from typically five randomly selected villages within a municipality to attend a municipal council meeting. To implement this intervention, we partner with the Programme d'appui aux collectivités territoriales (PACT) in Burkina Faso, six regional NGOs that act as implementing partners for the PACT, and the mayors of the municipalities (in Phase I of the experiment: the presidents of the special delegations).
The targeted citizens receive personal invitation letters from the mayor/president of the special delegation, encouraging them to attend the upcoming municipal council/special delegation meeting as "citizen observers" and to share their views at a townhall meeting that will take place in conjunction with the deliberations of the council/special delegation. The invitation letters, signed by the mayor/president of the special delegation, are hand-delivered to each selected citizen. As "citizen observers", the invited citizens are formally welcomed by the mayor/president of the special delegation and are invited to attend the council session and, where applicable, a lunch break. Additionally, they are invited to attend a townhall meeting during which they will be asked to share and discuss their points of view and those of their co-villagers with the delegates.
In Phase I of the experiment, until the May 2016 municipal elections, the targeted citizens are invited to meetings of the externally appointed special delegations. Until the election of new municipal governments in 2016, these special delegations serve the same purpose and operate under the same legal framework as the elected municipal councils. However, the members of the special delegations are externally appointed and are not allowed to be candidates in the upcoming municipal elections. By law, the special delegations include representatives of the regional administration, of the municipal service providers, of women, youth and handicapped citizens in the municipality, as well as of local civil society organizations. Elected municipal councils will be reconstituted after the municipal elections in May 2016.
In Phase I, we implement the citizen observer intervention at one regular meeting of the externally appointed special delegation per municipality, either in Q4 of 2015 or in Q1 of 2016. In Phase II, we implement the citizen observer intervention at one regular meeting of the elected municipal council per municipality (i.e. a meeting after the council's constitutive session), either in Q3 or Q4 of 2016.