An analysis of mechanisms used by CSOs in the promotion of community participation in governance in Kenya

Date01 May 2018
AuthorJane Wamaitha Munene,D. Reckson Thakhathi
Published date01 May 2018
An analysis of mechanisms used by CSOs in the promotion of
community participation in governance in Kenya
Jane Wamaitha Munene |D. Reckson Thakhathi
Faculty of Management and Commerce, Public
Administration, University of Fort Hare, Alice,
South Africa
Jane Wamaitha Munene, Faculty of
Management and Commerce, Public
Administration, University of Fort Hare,
Private Bag X1314 Alice 5700, South Africa.
Civil society organizations (CSOs) are often perceived to provide the magic bullet to complex
societal problems including alternative approaches that ensure good governance. Fresh new
research is therefore needed due to the prevailing paradox of escalating governance challenges
in Kenya despite CSOs efforts to address the same. This paper specifically seeks to understand
mechanisms that CSOs use as they seek to intervene in governance issues in Kenya. It links
persistent poor governance happening at the counties to inadequate mechanisms used by CSOs.
It argues that CSOs have not been bold enough to confront poor governance but, instead, have
used superficial mechanisms with little outcomes. They have particularly focused on providing
trainings and creating awareness and have shied away from more direct engagement with poor
governance such as monitoring utilization of public funds. The study methodology involved a
survey, focus group discussions, and indepth face to face interviews. The tools used included a
survey questionnaire, Focus Group Discussion guide and Indepth Interview guide. Among the
recommendations are that CSOs need to go beyond creating awareness and trainings and engage
with governance issues more directly using welltried mechanisms.
1.1 |The concept of governance
Heyden (1996), one of the proponents of the concept of governance,
argues that it is about the task of running a government or any other
organization. His explanation is that there are three variables; namely,
citizens are firstly influenced by taking part in the governance process
and present their opinions, after which the aggregation of these opin-
ions takes place and development of public policy; there is then the
means for bringing to account the rulers for their decisions and actions.
Further, Heyden (1996) argues that governance has to do with respon-
sive and responsible leadership, and finally, he argues that it has to do
with social reciprocity which refers to the extent citizens or groups
treat and tolerates each other. This would be in line with definitions
that have been referred to as goodgovernance and badgover-
nance, often argued by the World Bank (1989).
Thesethree variables canbe used to define the relationshipbetween
rulers and the ruled in terms of two categories of democraticand
authoritarianin respect to the nature of governance that emerges in
that relationship. A regime that supports this kind of arrangement is
deemed as democratic,and the one that does not is viewed to be
authoritarian.But there areother scholars who include Rhodes(1996)
who argue that governance extend beyond political sovereignty and
has to do with all social organizations.
World Bank (1989) perceives governance as a process through
which decisions are made and implemented. Government is viewed
as just one of the entities involved in governance. The others include
landlords, farmers associations, cooperatives, nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs), research institutions, religious leaders, finance
institutions, political parties, military, and others.
The World Bank (1989) also articulates the principles of good
governance. These include participation of all involved, has consensus,
is accountable, transparent, responsive, effective, is equitable, is
inclusive, and observes the rule of law. Grindle (2004) argues that good
governance is an ideal situation that is difficult to fathom or achieve.
Shipley and Kovacs (2008) note that studies indicate that good gover-
nance principles and practices are important for effective functioning of
agencies. Shipley and Kovacs (2008) also note a set of governance
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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided
the original work is properly cited.
© 2017 The Authors. Journal of Public Affairs Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Received: 24 February 2017 Accepted: 1 August 2017
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1675
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1675. 1of6

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