The effect of beneficiary participation on project monitoring and evaluation; the case of Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project, Nyandarua district
This research sought to investigate the degree of beneficiaries' participation in projects, with reference to the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project. Kenya has had many donor funded projects since independence, with specific objectives, and huge sums of money have been expended in their implementation. Regrettably, achieving of the projects' goals and objectives has been only a mirage despite the huge investments and the beneficiaries have unfortunately, continued to remain poor and vulnerable. In Kenya, for example, 50% of the Kenyans, majority of who rely on agriculture, live below the poverty line (CIA World Fact book) despite the huge investments in agriculture. The study sought to investigate the level of beneficiary participation in projects' monitoring and evaluation in four key areas; understanding the goals and objectives, participation in the identification of the activities of the project, involvement in identifying measurements to show the extent of progress achieved and finally, finding out the level of beneficiary participation in selecting formats and visual tools for presenting such information. The sample frame had 152 CWGs in the old Nyandarua district. 10% of Commodity working groups were drawn from the sample by use of stratified random sampling. At least five members of every CWG were selected at random for interview. Data collection was through a questionnaire, to allow for collection of both qualitative and quantitative data. Data analysis was done by both the content analysis method and descriptive statistics. On understanding the goals and objectives of the project, the beneficiaries seemed to understand only partially the expectations of the project. They did not understand well the amount of the investment made in the project, and neither did they understand the returns to the investments and the timeframes of the project. The variable that seemed to affect monitoring and evaluation in the project most was beneficiary participation in project activities, with beneficiaries demonstrating very poor participation in project activities, which are, sadly, the very building blocks, according to the KAPP extension process documents, of the KAPP monitoring and evaluation process. A great number of beneficiaries indicated that they understood their responsibility as KAPP CWG members; they were also involved in the election of their officials and were aware of the dates for trainings. However, in financial matters a greater majority indicated that they did not receive any financial reports form the group treasurers, and were not involved in decisions when projects follow up would take place. They also, according to the analysis, did not seem to quite understand the measurements for the project milestones. On selection of formats to show results, the beneficiaries actually submitted reports on their projects, but followed no particular formats, though the formats were provided. There is an indication that no guidelines were followed too by the beneficiaries. They were aware of the existence of the stakeholder forum and its roles, and they were also aware of their financing models in the different project locations and apparently interacted well with these models. On the effects of beneficiary participation in project monitoring and evaluation, the beneficiaries agreed that the KAPP project had many benefits, with all variables scoring above average. For example, they agreed that the project provided prompt extension service, good quality extension service providers, transparency and accountability in service delivery and increased production and incomes. The researcher recommends that the beneficiaries be trained to understand investments and returns to the investments, so that they can fully understand the project goals and objectives. On project activities, the research recommends that reasons be sought for such poor and low participation in project activities, yet the beneficiaries indicate that the project is beneficial to them. The group treasurers should, on regular basis, expose the beneficiaries to the financial reports for increased transparency and accountability.