This part of the project was divided into two parts:
1. Field research on the impact of social policy on two contrasting villages – richest and poorest village in the country;
2. A survey on the impact of the work of non-state actors on the welfare of the Kenyan people.
i) Village Studies
The comparative field research was done with an aim of comparing one rich district against a poor one in terms of access to social services.
The objective of the field research in two villages was to investigate government’s social policy implementation at the local level and the inherent challenges. It assessed the extent to which policy interventions and the attendant programmes help to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life and wellbeing among the communities. The role communities play as facilitators or inhibitors of policy implementation was also explored.
The field research was carried out in two districts Makueni and Kiambu on a comparative basis. The two districts were purposively chosen i.e. Kiambu to represent the richest district in Kenya and Makueni to represent one of the poorest districts. This selection was informed by statistics from the Geographic Dimensions of Well-Being in Kenya (GOK 2001).
From each district, one village was purposively sampled and interviews were carried out with families of that village. In Kiambu district, Muthiga village in Kikuyu division was chosen while in Makueni district Itumbule village in Kathonzweni division was selected.
In each district, the researchers spent three months carrying out interviews and focused group discussions with families of the selected village on the aforementioned issues. Field work in Kiambu was carried out between March and May. In Makueni it was carried out between July and September.
This report presents major findings of a twelve months intensive investigation of government’s social policy implementation at the local level and the inherent challenges in Makueni and Kiambu districts. In addition, it assesses how different socio-economic groups access social services and the extent to which policy interventions and the attendant programmes interplay to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life and wellbeing among the communities. Also assessed is the role that communities themselves play as facilitators or inhibitors of policy implementation. Further, the role of non state actors in development is assessed.
Findings of this research reveal that even in the richest village, there is a structural section of very poor people with sharp inequalities in terms of access to basic needs. Likewise, in the poorest village there are a few persons who are marginally rich but with no sharp levels of inequality since most of the people are poor. Inequality is manifested in income trends and access to social amenities such as water, education, health, housing, social security among others.
Findings of this study point to the fact that the rich access their basic social needs mainly from private providers. The argument is that services provided by private providers are of a better quality and convenience in terms of time taken. On the other hand, the poor access basic services from public (government) providers mainly dictated by the fact that services are affordable.
In deed, the poor cover long distances in a bid to access services. This implies that social provisioning by the government has more impact among the poor compared to the rich. If the government could make social services more accessible, affordable and of high quality, there will be improvement in the livelihoods of the poor who are a majority.
The social services provided both by the Government, private sector and the NGOs, do not cover the basic needs of the population, the majority of who are poor. The provision of social services by both Government, and Non-State Actors has had no significant impact on reducing poverty or inequality.
ii) Survey of Non-State Actors
For a long time, the Kenyan government remained the major actor in development providing social services to its citizens both during the colonial and the post-independence periods in Africa. This is demonstrated by the high percentages of money allocated to development expenditures in the 60s and 70s. However, state funded social services did not last long. The introduction of Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) in the 1980s forced the state to decrease resources allocated to social services. Consequently, the impact of SAPs was to increase taxes and interest rates, devalue the currency, increase or introduce user fees for many social services, wage restraint and privatization and removal of collective bargaining in labour among others. The overall effect of this was the reduction in providing social services as compared to the 1970s thus increasing poverty and inequality.
Government withdrawal from social provisioning created fertile ground for the spread of NGOs in the country which increased from 478 in 1980 to 1840 in 1990. The numbers increased again from 2557 in 1995 to 4500 in 2007. Consequently, this study sought to investigate the extent to which NGOs are performing a complementary role to the government in providing social services and their impact in improving the welfare of Kenyans.
The core of the data that informed this study was collected in a primary survey of NGOs in Kenya between March 2006 and August 2007 using both quantitative and qualitative techniques. A questionnaire was formulated with the aim of gathering data on the impact of the activities of NGOs to the welfare of ordinary Kenyans, the role of the government through policy in enhancing the work of these organizations and the relationship between NGOs and Government.
In view of the vastness of the country and the large number of NGOs as well as their members, respective samples had to be drawn. According to the 2006 NGO Directory, a total number of about 2716 NGOs operated in Kenya. The NGOs were classified as either foreign or local for purposes of equitable representation and comparison. Random sampling was used to select a ten percent sample of both local and foreign NGOs for the survey. To delineate the survey area, the research focused on the eight provinces of the country, that is, Central, Coast, Western, Nyanza, Rift Valley, Eastern, Nairobi and North Eastern which were purposively sampled on the basis of their contrasting socio-political identities.
In order to remain consistent with regard to sample size, twenty NGOs were selected from each of the above-mentioned provinces except Nairobi from which over a hundred NGOs were sampled. This was due to the fact that most NGOs have their headquarters in Nairobi (the capital of the country) even though they operate in the other provinces. Questionnaires were administered to co-operating NGOs between March 2006 and August 2007 following the methodology elaborated above.
The survey established a number of basic findings. First, that accountability in practice has emphasized ‘upward’ and ‘external‘ accountability to donors while ‘downward‘ and ‘internal’ mechanisms remain comparatively underdeveloped. Besides, it was ascertained that NGOs in Kenya have experienced governance problems. CBOs often start out as small organizations with two or three friends and colleagues as members of the governing body and volunteers functioning as staff. This does not apply to foreign organizations whose governance and management staff is objectively selected.
The survey indicated that most organizations’ activities are in the areas of health and education while water, sanitation and micro-finance are the least attractive areas which have been taken up by the private sector. In addition, it illustrated that both local and foreign NGOs perform overlapping functions but differ slightly in the specific project activities undertaken. For instance while they both participate in the area of health, local organizations tend to be involved in paying funeral expenses, enlightening the community on benefits of circumcision and educating the population on balancing locally available foods but foreign organizations provide HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing services and anti-retroviral medicine, cheap primary health care, free mosquito nets, free eye check up and so on. It was noted that local organizations engage in activities that require less funds and limited technical expertise as opposed to foreign organizations.
The findings also held that both local and foreign organizations have made marginal contributions to the welfare of Kenyans. In the same vein, the Kenyan government has not substantially improved the allocation of its resources to the social sector since the mentioned deterioration following the introduction of SAPs in the 80s and is performing far below par at the moment. Moreover, NGOs have no significant effect in reducing poverty and inequality in the country given the proportional relationship between the increasing number of NGOs and the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Generally, it was established that NGOs have little effect on the overall social and economic development.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is sometimes used as shorthand for businesses’ contribution to sustainable development. Although CSR is gaining some prominence within policy debates in Kenya, it is not applied widely and is usually associated with philanthropy. But there are many private sector-related initiatives and business activities in the country that might be described as expressions of CSR. For instance in 2007, Celtel concentrated its CSR activities in three key areas; Education, Water and Environment and Arts and Heritage. Through a unique programme dubbed Build Our Nation, Celtel Kenya set aside more than Kshs. 30 million to purchase text books, revision texts, reference books and other teaching aides. At the close of the year, the programme had covered at least 250 schools spanning across the country. In the same year, the company used Kshs 10 million to construct boreholes, shallow wells and funding water harvesting projects across the country. Moreover, through a structured partnership with artists; writers, actors and musicians, Celtel managed to hoist careers of many upcoming and youthful talents.
The private sector contribution to sustainable development in Kenya could be strengthened by tackling capacity constraints among public and civil society institutions, building the drivers for responsible business, nurturing socially-oriented companies, and encouraging local business linkages. Besides, creating space for national dialogue between government, business, civil society and donors on the role of the private sector in development can help to localize the CSR agenda, and to build trust and mutual understanding of the potential – and the limits – of businesses’ contribution to development.
Private sector contribution is very small compared to that of the NGO sector. It could expand and thus contribute more significantly to social welfare. However, the contribution of all non-state actors are essentially palliatives and are not aimed at strengthening significantly the social welfare system of Kenya. Similarly, the government’s contribution to the social sector is marginal, sector isolated and is not integrated into the development framework based on neo-liberal ideology of economic growth. Consequently, all this input into the narrowly defined social sector (e.g. does not include unemployment) makes little impact in terms of reducing neither poverty nor inequality.