Assessment of Collaboration Dynamics among Civil Society Organizations’ in Environmental Management at Siakago Division, Mbeere District, Kenya
Kithumbu, Josphat Muriuki
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This study was done at Siakago Division, Mbeere district, Kenya, a typical semi arid agroecosystem, where many civil society organisations have heavy investments in community development, yet land degradation and poverty levels remain high. As such the aim of the study was to assess collaboration dynamics among these civil society organizations in environmental management and suggest ways of maximizing on effective collaborations for sustainable community development. A survey research design was used for this study. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were employed for data collection. Being a survey, indepth content analysis formed a major aspect in data interpretation. Results of the study showed that lack of effective collaboration and partnerships amongst the development actors is a key hindrance to environmental management at Siakago. In particular, unilateral approaches in decision-making and implementation of action plans contrary to the multidimensional nature of environmental degradation and community livelihoods, remains a key obstacle to sustainable development. Siakago Division has a fragmented civil society sector With 403 civil society organizations; each working at cross-purposes besides being handicapped by budgetary constraints. As many as 85% of the sampled CSOs are involved in environmental issues notably agroforestry and soil and water management.As such most collaborations in this division revolved around this areas. Over 66% of these CSOs are involved in some form of collaboration notably tripartite and bilateral collaborations. These collaborations have four distinct characteristics namely: coverage, form, mode and motivation Coveragerefers to the extensiveness of collaboration in terms of its functional competencies and geographical area.Since majority of CSOs are the grassroot organizations, their collaborations are confined to shared activities on single environmental themes,such as agroforestry. The most notable forms of collaborations in Siakago are the tripartite because they gurantee maximum participation. Further, they lack formal specifications and are often initiated by at?-opinion leader targeting a felt need instead of developing spontaneously. When collaborations develop spontaneously,they enhance maximum participation of partners and hence the objectives of a collaboration are met. The effectiveness of collaborations in this area was hindered mainly by both human factors and intra-policy differences such as clannism (83%), high illiteracy levels (91%), unfavourable policies (80%) and weak governance systems (80%). Since Siakago has many grassroot organizatins working at cross purposes,it recommended that tripartite and multi-lateral collaborations be adopted to ensure that as many CSOs as possible participate. Organizations working in different thematic areas need to be encouraged to collaborate. This will enhance exchange of information not only on one another but also on the environment.Since collaborations are influenced by changing variables such as illiteracy and governance systems,stakeholders need to be dynamic and open to explore many potencially viable options.Akey requirement in this endeavour is access to relevant information not only on each other but also on environmental management.Conflict resolution measures need to be adopted to solve the clan conflict in the area.In addition,capacities of the community members need to be built to enable the collaborators cope with the myriad factors that tend to inhibit collaboration initiatives.