Participatory communication in poverty reduction in Kenya: a study of Murang’a county
The first 50 years of independence has been a period of rapid changes and progress but 33% of the citizens of Murang’a County continue to be trapped in poverty. There is need to reduce these statistics and this research sought to find out the role of participatory communication in poverty reduction in Murang’a County. The objectives of this study were to identify the communication channels used to reach out to local communities in the milk coolers project, the participation level of local communities at the implementation stage of this development projects and to establish the effects of participation on the success of poverty reduction effort. The study was guided by the participatory communication paradigm and Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory. An exploratory research design was adopted for this study, targeting the beneficiaries of this development project. However this research studied three constituencies of the seven constituencies in the County where the project has been implemented i.e. Kiharu, Kangema and Gatanga. The study adopted cluster sampling method where the three constituencies were the desired clusters and samples were be obtained from the clusters using simple random sampling techniques depending on the population size. A sample of 400 respondents was drawn and obtained using simple random sampling methods. Data was collected using quantitative and qualitative methods and questionnaires and interviews were used as the research instruments. The data collected was integrated for analysis. Descriptive statistics were be computed for all the variables to ensure quality of data. Qualitative data was grouped into thematic areas and descriptive analysis given. The data was used to show the relationships between variables. It emerged that a majority of the beneficiaries had relied on the radio as a communication vehicle on information about this project. Consultative meetings and interpersonal methods were also influential in reaching out to the beneficiaries. The study concluded that there was less participation by the intended beneficiaries during the implementation of the project, adopting an anti-dialogical banking model to development. The findings indicate that a high majority of the beneficiaries did not consider the project to have been successful while very few beneficiaries considered the project was a success. The study therefore recommends that change agents should take participatory development and participatory communication as efficient development approaches in the steps towards improving the living standards of its citizenry, encouraging involvement of the intended beneficiaries at all stages of development.