Citizens participation has many functions in developing a
strong system of local self-governance, as it is a central way to build
awareness of the importance of the local structures and a means of
understanding the concerns and desires of the community. Research also shows that
development initiatives can be more successful when there is a feeling of
ownership in projects through direct involvement in the key decisions that
affect people most directly.
Although it can be difficult, complicated, time-consuming
and sometimes impossible to promote citizens participation in decision making,
when consensus-based decisions are made the results are often more legitimate
and more widely accepted than decisions made by elected officials acting
independently. This is known as the slowfast method of decision making,
because consensus-building can be laboriously slow in the initial stages but once
there is a broad agreement policy implementation can be fast and more effective.