An assessment of development control systems in Vihiga town – Kenya
Development control is aimed at encouraging the use of land resource in a way that promotes prudent management of the natural environment. It calls for regulatory actions to mitigate against negative externalities from the use of land in rural, urban and pre-urban areas. These regulatory actions should be based on clear assessment of the capacity needed to implement them. The regulatory actions are referred to as development control measures. As noted FAO (1993), such measures are crucial because, Land resources are limited and finite. If human populations continue to increase at the present rate there will be twice as many people in the world in about 60 years. There is therefore an increasingly urgent need to match land types and land uses in the most rational way possible, so as to maximize sustainable production and satisfy the diverse needs of society while at the same time conserving fragile ecosystems and our genetic heritage. Uncoordinated development, poor planning and management of land and its use is a major challenge in urban areas. An efficient and effective development control system is a pre-requisite to a vibrant land market that will trigger economic development. Several factors were checked to determine the causes of ineffective land use planning and development control. The achievements of the Local Physical Development Plan of Vihiga Town were identified and evaluated. The challenges were examined with the intentions of finding interventions to the constraints and proposal as to the way forward so as to achieve effective local physical development planning and development control. Literature from other researchers, existing laws and set policy guidelines was reviewed. This formed the theoretical and conceptual framework of the study. Useful data was obtained through observations, interviews, administration of questionnaires to the subjects which included government officers, market committees, property owners and the general household. The data collected was analyzed using SPSS, then sorted using descriptive statistics and presented using descriptive tables, photographs, maps, charts and narratives. It was established that the county government of Vihiga has no development control policy and guidelines that guide approval of development applications. It has turned enforcement effort to an act of revenue collection. There is generally weak institutional capacity to deal with enforcement of development controls. Several challenges to development control were identified. They included ineffective policy guiding development control, unsuitable methodology, delays in approval of development applications, weak institutional capacity amongst agencies charged with development control, political interference and lack of political will, weak legal machinery, and inadequate awareness of development control activities and public participation. Amongst the above challenges, political interference and lack of political will ranked highest. The study ends with conclusion and recommendation based on the findings of the research work. It lays the basis of further research which is suggested.