Community participation and implementation of constituency development fund projects in Kenya
Ng’ang’a, Caroline W
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Community involvement in the development discourse has often been hailed as the ideal situation when tackling poverty and other social ills at the grassroots. The most desirable outcome of this being community empowerment and emancipation. The purpose of this research is to identify the participation strategies that development agents in Embakasi West constituency have applied to combat the socio-economic challenges that the residents face through the Constituency Development Fund vehicle. The researcher sought views from respondents living in the constituency’s four wards: Umoja 1, Umoja 2, Mowlem and Kariobangi South/Uhuru which collectively have a population of 187,020 mostly youths aged between 18 and 35 years. The study adopted a mixed method research design which is a procedure for collecting, analysing and mixing both quantitative and qualitative research and methods in a single study to understand a research problem. Mixed approach was most suitable for this study as it provided a better understanding of the research problem than either type (qualitative or quantitative) by themselves. The main research findings revealed that the Member of Parliament for this constituency, Hon. George Theuri has elaborate plans for the youth – a majority population that lives in the area. These include use of the Uwezo Fund to finance their business ventures, street lighting, repair and construction of roads and social amenities, building of dispensaries and residents for medical practioners, Mama Lucy Kiosks, police posts, boreholes to provide clean water, ‘Feroze’ market that provides a public space for business people to sell their wares, just to mention a few. Public agents in this constituency have adopted social media and public Barazas as their media for communication. However, the impacts of these youth-centred initiatives are far from being felt and a lot still needs to be done to improve the overall development agenda in the area. Rampant corruption, lack of consultation, transparency and accountability challenges were highlighted by the respondents. The researcher concluded that participatory development is a complex process with many challenges and barriers faced by both communities and Public Agents. Furthermore, there seems to be much overlap between the challenges and barriers faced by communities and those faced by the agents. This suggests that ways to address these barriers and challenges may be most effective when communities and agents work together in partnership.