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Isabel Ferreira and Giovanni Allegretti

This chapter aims at analysing some trends related to initiatives promoting the participation of citizens in public life and governance in some African local contexts. These trends have been multiplying in several countries, in parallel to the progression of deconcentration and decentralisation efforts in the reshaping of the state. In the first part, the chapter focusses on some recurrent difficulties in the field of democratic innovations in the African continent. The second part, proposes a brief mapping of the use of democratic innovations across the continent, as an excuse to discuss some common trends and challenges related to the growth of a diverse range of hybrid and/or incomplete participatory processes. Finally, the authors try to provide some synthetic reflections on the difficulties of assessing the impact of these democratic innovations, and to draw some lessons from the previously mentioned families of participatory processes, looking for features that might inspire future paths.

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Giovanni Allegretti and Janette Hartz-Karp

Participatory budgeting, which proliferated across the globe to over 3,000 local governments and some supra-municipalities, helps to improve sustainability, and could make a greater contribution in the future. It enables local people to co-decide the city’s or region’s budget, which is an issue of importance to them. Examples show that when local people allocate budgets, governance becomes more inclusive and empowered; social justice is promoted; more sustainable outcomes are achieved; and a more holistic approach to sustainable planning is enabled. It is one of the few empowered deliberative participation initiatives which has achieved continuity over time and has strengthened resilience.