Local bureaucrats as bricoleurs. The everyday implementation practices of county environment officers in rural Kenya
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Bricolage in natural resource governance takes place through the interplay of a variety of actors. This article explores the practices of a group whose agency as bricoleurs has received little attention, namely the government officers who represent the state in the everyday management of water, land, forests and other resources across rural Africa. Specifically we examine how local Environment Officers in Taita Taveta County in Kenya go about implementing the national environmental law on the ground, and how they interact with communities in this process. As representatives of “the local state”, the Environment Officers occupy an ambiguous position in which they are expected to implement lofty laws and policies with limited means and in a complex local reality. In response to this they employ three key practices, namely (i) working through personal networks, (ii) tailoring informal agreements, and (iii) delegating public functions and authority to civil society. As a result, the environmental law is to a large extent implemented through a blend of formal and informal rules and governance arrangements, produced through the interplay of the Environment Officers, communities and other local actors.