Participation in planning and management of Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF) the case of Maina ward slum dwellers
Participatory approaches have gained much importance in thinking and development practice. This is due to the premise that local people have a better capacity to understand and conduct their own affairs than can outsiders. This study focuses on a specific aspect of participatory development. This is with reference to one of the recently established devolved funds in use in realizing development in the country, the Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF). The main objective of the study was to examine the form and extent to which Maina slum residents were involved in the process of determining their development projects. More specifically, the study examined how the slum dwellers identified and prioritized LA TF funded projects, the nature of their participation in the LA TF projects and the relevance the implemented projects had to their needs. The study site was Maina, an informal settlement and also one of the wards within Nyahururu Municipal Council (NMC). The methodology involved stratified sampling of household respondents within Maina. This is because Maina slum is divided into four sections. A sample of 40 slum households was obtained. Purposive sampling was done to obtain key respondents who comprised NMC officials, chairs of committees within NMC (councilors) and participants of LASDAP stakeholders' consensus forums. Primary data was collected through structured questionnaires on household respondents whereas a checklist of questions was used on key informants. Participant observation was also used. Secondary data was obtained from the Kenya Local Government Reform Programme (KLGRP) Library and from NMC. Through the participatory framework that is Local Authority Service Delivery Action Plan (LASDAP), Maina residents participated in developing their ward. However, their development was hampered by low attendance at the public forums and limited information about the whole process. Only a small number of residents had knowledge of LASDAP/LATF. Poor communication channels and transfer of information by NMC added to the challenges of participation. As a result only a few people took part in the public forums. Ignorance and apathy among some residents also limited their participation. Despite this, the residents of Maina exhibited the ability to identify and prioritize projects. This is regardless of the many ·problems that Maina faces as an informal settlement and hence may needs. At a higher level in the participatory process, the use of representatives was not efficiently arranged. In addition, feedback mechanisms did not exist between the representatives and the residents. The projects that had been identified through this participatory process were closely linked to the needs of Maina. One can argue that because of the many needs in Maina, any project that is identified would somehow answer one of these needs. However, this may not necessarily be the case. What an external observer would think to be a very important need of Maina, the residents would see it differently. The involvement of Maina slum residents can be made better if the residents are more enlightened on management of devolved funds, channels of communication are improved by NMC, better use of representatives is made, feedback mechanisms are created and the residents act responsibly.
University of Nairobi, Kenya