Small and intermediate urban centres and their implications for local economic development: A case study of Kitengela Township Kajiado County
Urbanisation is a process through which a society evolves from being rural to an essentially urban setting. Small and intermediate urban centres are particularly important for regions undergoing rapid economic and social transformation. Due to their size and structure, such centres have the potential to deal with problems of urbanization and development in a more flexible way than large cities. The overall objective of this study was to determine the impacts of small and intermediate urban centres on local economic development. This study was an exploratory research using a case study to investigate and understand the significance of small and intermediate towns in Local economic development of the counties, which form their hinterlands. The study used stratified random sampling technique to select the sample. The technique produced estimates of overall population parameters with greater precision. The study grouped the population into strata i.e. public officers, (Kajiado County Council, government ministries and departments), local residents, business enterprises and industries. Secondary data involved the collection and analysis of published material and information from other sources such as existing publications, reports and institutional records, government documents (including those from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) and other Government Ministries), National and local development plans, statistical documents, economic surveys, policy and legislative documents, annual reports, published data on urbanization and economic development, local authority records and reports from research institutions and agencies dealing with Kitengela and Kajiado County. Primary data was gathered directly from respondents and for this study, the researcher used interview guides and questionnaires. Primary data was obtained from seven key sources: public institutions; County council officials; Business/industries/enterprises; Residents; Professionals and practitioners. Primary data was generated through interviews and discussions using questionnaires and discussion guides. Quantitative data was analyzed by descriptive analysis, while qualitative data was analyzed through content analysis. It is used when one has sets of existing written or visual documentation, which require analysis (Grbich 2007). The study found out that the reasons that made residents to reside in Kitengela were: nearness/proximity to Nairobi, nearness to place of work, cheap accommodation and availability of water. On the other hand the business owners indicated that the main reasons as to why they choose to locate in Kitengela were: availability of market, good infrastructure in terms of road network, power and information and communication network, proximity to Nairobi, affordable house rents both for residential and business, availability of raw materials, availability of workers, good security, diverse culture and high population with high purchasing power. The study established that the service provision by local authority could be enhanced by: ensuring environmental quality; providing markets; increasing the educational opportunities; improving health facilities; provision of street and security light; and, creating a business friendly environment. The study recommends that the government and the local authority should enhance provision of security, proper sewerage, power, water, roads, education and recreation facilities, health facilities to the people of this area in order to improve their living conditions. There should also be adequate housing for the residents. The study further recommends that sufficient community/public facilities should be developed. These facilities should be provided for and safeguarded due to the possible rise in the urban population. Kitengela/Isinya Integrated Development Plan is one of the most critical strategic instruments on the area and should be implemented in order to realize the desired objectives and goals. Further, the study recommends that there should be good governance and accountability in the management of public affairs to create confidence on the part of the people residents and investors alike.