Participatory Budgeting in Ilo, Peru (1999- )

First Submitted By Romain Busnel

Most Recent Changes By Scott Fletcher

General Issues
Planning & Development
Participatory Budgeting
Scope of Influence
Start Date
Decision Methods
If Voting

Facing rapid urban expansion, NGOs, neighbourhood committees and civil society actors joined forces with the municipal government to develop a Sustainable Development Plan into which the Participatory Budget was integrated in 1999.

Problems and Purpose

Ilo, is a port city in southwestern Peru, in the Moquegua department, with some 60.000 inhabitants. The city’s main economic activities include fishing and mining. Following the increased industrial activity of the 1950s, migration to and urban expansion of the city became chaotic and unregulated. Meanwhile, development of the industrial sector generated contamination, which became particularly problematic in the 1980s[1].

To address these issues, many NGOs, neighborhood committees and associations sought to regulate the city’s economic development, struggling against illegal settlements and such companies as Southern Peru Copper Corporation, a mining company responsible for water contamination in the process. In collaboration with the municipal government, led by a left-wing coalition since 1980, this vibrant civil society developed the Sustainable Development Plan (PDS, Plan de Desarrollo Sostenible).  Participatory Budgeting was integrated into the discussions of the Sustainable Development Plan in 1999[2].

According to the municipality of Ilo[3], PB has the following objectives:

  1. Improve efficiency of the allocation and execution of public resources, in accordance to the priorities identified by the Concerted Development Plans, Sectorial and National Plans, by providing fiscal responsibility, peace and concertation in civil society.
  2. Strengthens relations between State and civil society by introducing mechanisms of direct democracy and representative democracy to generate compromises and shared responsibilities.
  3. Involve civil society to the fulfillment of strategic objectives of the Concerted Development Plan and create a citizenship consciousness.
  4. Identify priorities for public investment by establishing a classification for the execution of projects.
  5. Strengthens control and citizen vigilance over the execution of the budget and taxation management.

Background History and Context

Participatory budgeting in Ilo has roots in a process of dialogue and exchange between local authorities, public sectors and civil society organizations led by the local government, beginning in the 1980s and intensifying during the 1990s.

In the 1980s, two key civil organisations, Labor and CEOP-ILO (Centro de Educación, Organización y Promoción del Desarrollo de Ilo) began working with urban marginalized communities, encouraging local participation in the form of popular assemblies and neighbourhood committees.  Labor and CEOP-ILO collaborated more and more with the Ilo municipality, led by a left-wing coalition favorable to civil society participation[4].

This collaboration took on a new form in the 1990s. The fall of the party system in Peru enabled a dialogue between NGOs and municipal government and a number of civil actors in public institutions[5]. From there, Community Management Committees were created by the municipality to canalize public participation. These committees were made up of citizens, public authorities and private organizations for the construction of public infrastructures[6]. The links between the different actors grew stronger in view of a new target:  mining company, Southern Peru Copper Corporation. Public authorities, institutions and social organizations negotiated with the company and the Central Government with a view to reducing the negative environmental impact of contamination in the city and to reorder urban management. This process of concertation was part of the definition of the Sustainable Development Plan, through which emerged a number of different political instruments, including Participatory Budgeting[7].

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

Participatory investment budget could be financed by the municipality but also by other actors such as citizens, NGOs or the private sector. However, Ilo PB is largely independent from the municipality’s budget[8].

PB in Ilo was first implemented in 1999 as a “pilot project” with 15% of its budget from the municipal council (420 000 new soles). As of 2005, almost 90% of the investment budget is discussed during PB sessions[9].

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Campaigns are usually launched by the municipality with the aim of motivating people to participate in the neighborhood committees where citizens decide on possible projects and public investments. To take part in the PB process, citizens have to register in their municipality as  “participating agents.” Civil society members can also take part in the Regional and Local Coordinating Councils, these legally registered as civil society organizations[10].

Various cities in Peru have taken affirmative action to foster the participation of women and other excluded groups. Ilo is one of them. The municipality established a system of quotas to ensure that 50% of the seats of delegates and three seats on the directive committee are attributed to women[11]. These quotas have led to an increased presence of women, from 38% in 2000 to 52% in 2007[12].

Methods and Tools used 

One the first participatory projects of its kind in Peru, the Ilo participatory budget cycle contains four steps:

  1. Preparation
  2. Concertation/consultation
  3. Coordination
  4. Formalization

Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction

According to National Law 29298 of Peru, the process of deliberation is delimited in four stages: preparation, concertation, coordination and formalization (PLAN).

1)  Preparation includes the communication campaigns mentioned above. Once the process is communicated and active participants have registered, training sessions are delivered to participants.

2) Concertation: participating agents meet to discuss the region’s development plan and prioritize the projects that should be funded in the new budget. A technical team then evaluates proposed projects and gives recommendation for funding.

3) Coordination: at this stage, representatives of different levels of government meet to make sure the spending is coordinated and has regional impact.

4) Formalization: this stages take place during a regional meeting. All participants vote for a final project list. The list is next sent to the Regional Coordination Council and the Regional Council, similar to a legislative body, for approval.

Finally, the list is  sent to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which evaluates technical viability and sends a final budget to Congress for approval as part of the national budget process.

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

The PB in Ilo was implemented in 1999 and is an ongoing process with already established plans for the future.

The Ilo PB was, along with the Villa el Salvador participation project[13], one of the first examples of citizen participation in Peru. Itis still a reference at the national scale and became a model for the New Organic Municipality Laws of Peru for the implementation of PB. Its success is partly due to the efforts of a vibrant civil society, combined with solid social organization and a political will from the municipality at the local level. The actors involved led an efficient campaign to improve urban management and reduce contamination in the city[14].

Analysis and Lessons Learned

If the early success of participatory budgeting in Ilo city are to continue and citizen participation is to be increased, there are various improvements to be made to the process. The Ilo PB experiment depends on the active participation of NGOs and a very specific local configuration. The policy transfer of this kind of PB might generate unpredictable outcomes for other Peruvian cities, specifically in post-conflict Peruvian areas.

The process of deliberation is also largely limited as far as citizens are concerned. The role of NGOs undermines citizens’ potential to participate fully in the process. The  need to register each participatory agent, as articulated and led by public authorities, formalizes and institutionalizes the process, which could generate mistrust in some individuals. Actually, the composition of the participants heavily favors already-active members of civil society[15].

Participation and direct democracy are in fact quite limited because of the multiple veto possibilities available to representative authorities. Representatives intervene at numerous times during the process and often make decisions as the project is being adopted[16].

In spite of decentralization laws in Peru, budget allocation is still much decided upon at the national level when the Ministry of Economy and Finance, at the final stage, evaluates the technical viability of projects and sends a final budget to Congress for approval as part of the national budget process. Centralized state-generated dependency and a petitioner mentality among local governments[17].

See Also

Participatory Budgeting


[1] Julio Díaz Palacios et Liliana Miranda Sara, « ‘Concertación’ (Reaching Agreement) and Planning for Sustainable Development in Ilo, Peru », in Reducing Poverty and Sustaining the Environment: The Politics of Local Engagement, éd. par Stephen Bass et al. (London ; Sterling, VA: Earthscan Publications Ltd., 2005).

[2] Carlos Vargas León, « Desarrollo local y participación política en Ilo. Nuevas formas de articulación y representación social y política. », Documento de trabajo (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1998).

[3] The following objectives are described in the Participatory Budgeting of Ilo for 2015,

[4] Michaela Hordijk, « Participatory Governance in Peru: Exercising Citizenship », Environment and Urbanization 17, no 1 (1 avril 2005): 219‑36, doi:10.1177/095624780501700111.

[5] Vargas León, « Desarrollo local y participación política en Ilo. Nuevas formas de articulación y representación social y política. »

[6] Ibid.

[7] Julio Díaz Palacios, « El Presupuesto Participativo y sus Relaciones con la Legitimidad del Poder y la Gobernanza en el Perú », in La legitimad del poder en los países andino-amazónicos (Institut de recherche et débat sur la gouvernance, 2011), 300,

[8] Díaz Palacios et Miranda Sara, « ‘Concertación’ (Reaching Agreement) and Planning for Sustainable Development in Ilo, Peru ».

[9] Díaz Palacios, « El Presupuesto Participativo y sus Relaciones con la Legitimidad del Poder y la Gobernanza en el Perú ».

[10] Stephanie McNulty, « Improved Governance? Exploring the Results of Peru’s Participatory Budgeting Process », SSRN Scholarly Paper (Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, 2013),

[11] Yves Cabannes, « Participatory Budgeting: A Significant Contribution to Participatory Democracy », Environment and Urbanization 16, no 1 (1 avril 2004): 27‑46, doi:10.1177/095624780401600104.

[12] LABOR Asociación Civil-Perú, « Nueve Años de Presupuesto Participativo en Ilo: Experiencia Exitosa de Participación Ciudadana », consulté le 1 décembre 2016,

[13] « Participatory Budgeting (Villa El Salvador, Peru) | Participedia », consulté le 1 décembre 2016,

[14] Jesús Raúl Choque Fernández et Leonel Edson Guerreros Rumaldo, « El presupuesto participativo en el Perú », in Concurso sobre Reforma del Estado y Modernización de la Administración Pública (Participación de los Ciudadanos en la Gestión Pública, Caracas: CLAD, 2009), 25; Ronald G. J. Boon, Anastasia Alexaki, et Ernesto Herrera Becerra, « The Ilo Clean Air Project: A Local Response to Industrial Pollution Control in Peru », Environment and Urbanization 13, no 2 (1 octobre 2001): 215‑32, doi:10.1177/095624780101300217.

[15] McNulty, « Improved Governance? »

[16] Díaz Palacios et Miranda Sara, « ‘Concertación’ (Reaching Agreement) and Planning for Sustainable Development in Ilo, Peru ».

[17] Ibid.

External Links

Transparency Portal - Citizen Participation in Ilo


Lead image: Municipalidad Provincial de Ilo

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