A citizen participation programme in Kėdainiai District provides support to a range of citizen initiatives for civic improvements that are already having an impact.
FINANCING RESIDENTS' PROJECT IDEADS
Previously, citizens of Kėdainiai district were often passive participants in the political decision-making process, and generally lacked the feeling that they could make a real impact through political engagement. In order to address this issue, the municipality initiated a programme to select and finance residents' project ideas and initiatives focused on improving their living environment. The project aimed to help increase the involvement of residents in the formation of the municipality's budget, as well as the implementation of the municipality's Strategic Activity Plan.
RENOVATING AND CREATING PUBLIC SPACES
In 2021, citizens were able to propose ideas in two categories: 1. A small-scale project implemented in Kėdainiai town, with a budget of up to 20,000 EUR; or, 2. A small-scale project implemented in Kėdainiai district's rural areas, with a budget of up to 20,000 EUR. In response to the range of submitted project ideas, the municipality added a third category in 2022: A large-scale project implemented in Kėdainiai district (in both the town and rural areas) with a budget of up to 100,000 EUR. The main goals of the project were to promote residents' initiatives in the district, improve and strengthen relationships between local governments and residents, activate and encourage residents' participation in renovating or creating public spaces, and encourage discussions about the future development of the district. The project garnered so much interest from the population of Kėdainiai district's population that in 2021, this project became an annual event.
VISIBLE, LASTING IMPROVEMENT
This project is groundbreaking in Kėdainiai district municipality, and was the first participatory budget scheme to involve residents. Project ideas were put to a public vote that was open to the entire district, and the activity of the voting for project ideas was unparalleled. Although this is only the second year of the project, the lasting improvements are already visible: since the selected initiatives must be implemented within a one-year timeframe, people already see the impact their involvement made and are encouraged to participate more and in a wider sphere of areas. This year, citizens submitted more ideas than last year and are actively voting for the selected projects. Moreover, people demonstrate more engagement with municipal authorities about issues and possible improvements that impact both their daily lives and the future development of the district.