The Formulation and Practice of the Constituency Development Fund in Kenya: a Case Study of People’s Participation in Its Projects in Gatanga and Kitui Central Constituencies
This study focused on one of the key devolved funds, the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) whose impact and fanfare has elicited increased interest among scholars and the public. Since its inception in 2003, many community development projects have been undertaken in the country using CDF. Equally, many development issues and challenges have emerged on the management and governance of the fund such as politicization by the incumbents and the aspiring MPs, questions about its ability to alleviate poverty and allegations that politicians use it to bring themselves closer to the people for political mileage. Hence, the overall objective of this study was to interrogate the allocation, disbursement and management of the CDF and how it has been used to enhance development at the grassroots level. The specific objectives were: To examine respondents perception of the needs of the communities and how far they were being met; to examine the level of awareness of community members about CDF; to find out the accelerators of CDF implementation; to examine the performance of the CDF projects; and to examine the impact of CDF on the well-being of communities. The study was informed by three sociological theories: the social action theory, the social systems theory and decentralization theory. The social action theory argues that it is necessary to know the subjective purpose and intent of the actor before an observer can understand the meaning of social action. This theory helps us understand how communities perceived CDF and whether communities took action by demanding proper utilization of CDF monies. The social systems theory argues that social systems are processes of interaction between actors. The theory explains what transpires in the interdependent parts of an organization, community or society. The theory was used to understand the accelerators of CDF and how the different actors involved in the CDF projects interacted to influence the performance of CDF projects. xx Decentralization is conceptualized as a process of state reform composed of a set of public policies that transfer responsibilities, resources or authority from higher to lower levels of government in the context of a specific type of state. Decentralization reduces the bureaucratic procedures for implementation of community development projects making services more responsive to the needs of the local communities. Decentralization theory was used to study the impacts of CDF projects on the well-being of the communities. The conceptual framework in this study demonstrates that various factors are likely to influence the performance of CDF and hence the well-being of communities. These include community perceptions of community needs, people’s awareness of CDF, and the accelerators of CDF implementation which include community participation, technical support, and CDF design and intervention. The study was carried out in two selected constituencies in Kenya namely: Gatanga in Murang’a County and Kitui Central in Kitui County. The study used both probability and non-probability sampling techniques. The sample size was 604 respondents comprising of 305 project committee members and 299 household heads interviewed using questionnaires. In addition interview guides were used to collect data from 38 key informants and 8 focus group discussions. The collected primary data was coded, entered in a computer and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The study found that CDF projects were mostly started to meet the needs of the people and this was in line with the fund’s objectives. There was high level of communities’ awareness about CDF and its objectives. However, there were also a lot of misconceptions about the fund among the project beneficiaries. Community participation in the projects was not only minimal but was highly politicized and depended on the leadership provided by the incumbent MPs. Monitoring of CDF projects, technical support for projects by managers and the training of the constituents on CDF management were minimal. The CDF targeted small projects xxi that did not require heavy capital investments and this led to starting of many small projects that did not benefit most people in the constituencies. The performance of the projects was affected by monitoring, budgeting, record keeping, auditing of projects, payment of allowances to project committee members and corruption. The study concluded that CDF was a good means of enhancing community development at the grassroots level if only management of the fund was improved so that projects were implemented transparently and professionally. However, the future of CDF was found to be uncertain given the concerns about its constitutionality. Arising from these findings several recommendations have been made. In order to improve CDF performance and increase the impact of CDF on community livelihoods it is important to conduct community education and awareness campaigns to enhance Community Participation in CDF projects. Further, CDF should be depoliticized by reducing the powers of MPs in its management and in the selection of projects management committee members. Projects committee members should be democratically constituted through elections by the target beneficiaries of the CDF projects. In addition, constituencies should build the capacity of Project Management Committees to manage CDF projects. To enhance transparency and accountability, procurement of materials and tendering should be done with the full knowledge and participation of the communities. Finally, the study recommends that CDF Managers should work with the county governments for smooth operations of community development programmes and to avoid duplication of development projects.
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