In this insightful and detailed interview, Jules Dumas Nguebou discusses how participatory budgeting has developed in Cameroon, where it has enabled communities that are normally marginalised to have vital infrastructure built for their use. Participatory budgeting illustrates that significant progress can be made when local resources are effectively mobilised and demonstrates that foreign donors and the state are not required for access to water, education and employment to be improved.
Jules also discusses how participatory budgeting can help cultivate local democracy by giving groups that are normally silenced a say on the issues they face in their daily lives. However, participatory budgeting can only fulfil its potential if there is engagement, political will and an effort to educate citizens.
Jules is co-ordinator of the Society of Booklovers, a civil society organisation that has been at the forefront of the introduction and expansion of participatory budgeting in Cameroon. The organisation was one of the inspirations for our recent paper: The Booklovers, the Mayors and Citizens, which explains how participatory budgeting has developed in a country without engrained traditions of participation or public service.