An Investigation of Community Participation in the Development of Schools and Income Generating Projects in Rural Areas in Kenya
Kombo, D. K.
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Background: There is a worldwide realization that development beneficiaries are important resources in the rural development process. Many countries in their development policies have stressed the need to encourage communities to participate in their development agenda. The rationale for this is that communities, especially those in rural setting cannot prosper fully without full engagement of its members. To achieve this, community members must be allowed to take initiative and action that is stimulated by their own thinking and deliberations so that they are able to exert effective control of their development. Enhancing community participation in development projects involves effective co-ordination of local activities to enable people come together to achieve common development goals. Aim: The major task of this study was to investigate factors, which may enhance community participation in the development of schools and income-generating projects in Kiambu District, Central Province of Kenya. Methodology: Kiambu District, which is in Central Kenya was purposively selected to represent rural areas in Kenya. The study was both a case study and exploratory. The study sample comprised of schools and income-generating projects, selected in each of the seven divisions in the district. The projects selected were in four categories, primary schools, secondary schools, youth polytechnics and income generating projects. From each of the selected projects, ten ordinary members were selected as respondents, to a total of 280 members, although only 275 were successfully interviewed. Three project officials from each project were also interviewed, giving a total 84. Also interviewed were 59 divisional local leaders/administrators. The instruments used to collect data were interview schedules for project members, officials and local leaders/administrators. Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted with some selected project members. There were also checklists for project observation and focus group discussions. Results: Study findings indicated that some socio-economic factors such as marital status, level and source of income impacted upon the community participation in the development of schools and income-generating projects in the district. Other factors also found to affect participation were safety and accountability of project funds, project-related skills, quality of leadership, and gender dynamics. The existing government policies and guidelines were also found to be critical in this process. The study highlighted some strategies for enhancing community participation in the development of schools and income-generating projects. Conclusion: It was concluded that there is a need to enhance community participation in the development of schools and income-generating projects in rural areas. Most important of these strategies were transparency and accountability of project officials, effective communication with project members, eradication of corruption and ensuring the realization of the expected projects’ benefits. - See more at: http://www.sciencedomain.org/abstract.php?iid=80&id=17&aid=220#.U_svi6M5Qf0