Impact of social capital on the resettlement of internally displaced persons: the case of Nakuru and Uasin Gishu counties, Kenya
Social capital is now gaining greater acceptance among researchers, policy makers and development practitioners as a critical factor in promoting economic growth, creation of secure neighborhoods and sustainable communities. Empirical studies show that communities that are characterized by reasonably huge amount of social capital particularly in the form of community groups at the micro level, have a higher likelihood of realizing improved social development than communities without large amounts of social capital. This study aimed to investigate the impact of social capital on the resettlement of internally displaced persons in Kenya. The overall objective of the study was to determine the contribution of social capital in the resettlement of internally displaced persons in Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were: to investigate factors that influence the formation of social capital among the internally displaced persons, to analyze the types of social capital that impact on the resettlement of the displaced persons, to assess the impact of social capital in improving the welfare of households of the victims of internal displacement and to explore the factors responsible for the sustainability of social capital among the internally displaced persons. A survey design was adopted in which both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from households, leaders of community groups, local level government administrators and group members. Questionnaires with closed and open-ended questions and key informant interview schedules were adopted as instruments for data collection. Interviews, observations and focus group discussions were used as the primary methods of data collection. Descriptive and inferential methods were used to analyze the data. Chi-square tests of independence were conducted to identify factors influencing creation of social capital including test of association between social capital and resettlement of internally displaced persons. The results show that social capital formation is determined by both individual/household level and community level factors. Marital status, income and education were particularly found to be the key individual level factors that influenced the formation of social capital among the internally displaced persons. At the community level, trust and solidarity, social interaction and collective action were found to be the key drivers in the accumulation of social capital. The results also reveal that three types of social capital: bonding, bridging and linking social capital were present in the study area. However, their prevalence varies significantly with bonding social capital being the dominant type and most important in the day-to-day life of the internally displaced persons. Overall, the study found that social capital had a positive contribution towards the resettlement of the internally displaced persons. This study has revealed that in absence of institutional support, IDPs make use of their acquired social capital to resettle. Their social networks serve as the primary forms of insurance that they depend on to smooth out the adverse effects of unforeseen exigencies. It also revealed that norms of reciprocity, values such as being trustworthy, and the belief that other people will reciprocate are essential features of community life. Subsequently, people are able to exhibit attitudes of benevolence and make sacrifices in order to help others in times of need. This suggests that trust in neighbors and community, and participation in network structures and groups may improve the quality of life for vulnerable households. In particular, social capital helped the IDPs to acquire commodities that were essential for their resettlement. This study recommends investments in factors found to be instrumental in promoting the formation of social capital especially among the vulnerable populations. The study further recommends strengthening and building capacities of grassroots associations through training and provision of resources to make such associations more vibrant and sustainable.