Determinants of Public Participation in Governance of Devolved Government Systems: the Case of Nakuru County, Kenya
Samwel Njoroge, Ndegwa
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The Constitution of Kenya 2010 gives prominence to the principle of public participation. Essentially, public participation should be incorporated in all public affairs and to all citizens and as such requires promotion by the state and non-state actors working in public interest. The Constitution stipulates the key necessities for the guiding legislation at both levels of government, central and devolved, and provides the appropriate frameworks for public engagement in governance. The insistence on the need for citizen participation in governance underlines the fact that the election of political representatives does not necessarily negate the requirement of continuous involvement of the people in matters of governance that affect them. The purpose of this study was to explore the determinants of public participation in governance of the devolved government unit of Naivasha Sub-county, Nakuru County. The study aimed at establishing the impact of access to information, civic education and political influence on public participation. The research reviewed related literature and was based on the participatory democratic theory and the stakeholder theory. The study used a descriptive research design with the target population being made up of the 187,133 adult residents where a sample of 157 respondents was drawn and classified into eight strata based on their residence wards, using stratified random sampling. Each stratum had respondents in the same proportion as that of the ward population in relation to the Sub-county population. Snow ball sampling was used to administer research instruments to the respondents with the start point being the respective area ward administrator. Semi-structured and self-administered questionnaires were used to collect primary data. Secondary data was retrieved from various sources such as journals, published articles and government publications. Collected data was examined to determine consistency and completeness and then was coded and analyzed for descriptive statistics that included mean, standard deviation, and frequency distribution and inferential statistics that included multivariate regression and Analysis of Variance using SPSS software. The analyzed data was presented using tables. The study established that access to information and civic education variables had positive correlation to public participation whereas public influence had a negative correlation. The findings of the study depicted that public participation was affected by access to information, citizen’s civic education levels and political influence on the participation exercises. The study concluded that the county provided information to the citizens; however the channels used were not convenient, there was poor timing and the language used in communication was not comprehended by many; civic education levels among the residents was low as majority of them had not received any training and as such were not familiar with enactments guiding public participation in county governance; there was political influence on the public participation whereas forums attendance and public priorities implementation were skewed as per the politicians wish. The study recommended that the county should enact precise policies on access to government information, enact a civic education act and provide for separation of powers between the county assembly and the county executive.