Industries and Communities: Symbiotic Dependency and Sustainability of the Magana Town Industrial Park in Kenya
Mugenda, Olive M.
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Industrial development is perceived as an important indicator of economic growth. Though industries may be elected by private and public parties to provide goods and services at a market price, their existence at a place or region can change forever the intricate relations and interactions of a community within its environment. The situation of industries in rural areas affects rural economies by creating a demand for labour, agricultural goods and services while also opening up the areas to in-migration, increased settlements, spatial concentration of amenities and infrastructural development. In general, industrial location could change the life of communities directly and indirectly in a way that older living patterns can never be recaptured. Hence, industry-community linkages arise warranting an evaluation of the nature, the benefits and the impacts from the two dimensions. This paper thus explores these issues grounded on the following questions: are industries ‘attracted' to locate in some locales by community-based variables that is, demographics, labour characteristics, prevailing socio-economic activities within the area? Do industries utilize the community advantages that propel them to locate at a place and do communities contribute to their operations? Do communities that ‘host' industries leap benefits from them for individual and communal development? How can rural industrial parks contribute tangibly to community level development leading to sustainable development? The findings discussed in this paper are derived from a survey targeting a peri-urban industrial park located in the periphery of Nairobi city. It drew from a sample of 902 respondents, several key informant interviews and focus group discussions with segments of the community. The findings prove that industries can indeed contribute to community change and that communities can leap benefits from industrial operations for their own development and sustainability. However, the extent of these two-way flow of benefits are dependent on: the level of interaction between host community and industry, the employment ratio of community working in industry, the CSR policy and practice embraced by the companies and the good will of community leaders to connect their operations with the ideals of CSR practiced by the companies