The local Development dynamics of the third sector in Kenya: the Empowerment Dimension

Ochanda, Richard Muko (2014) The local Development dynamics of the third sector in Kenya: the Empowerment Dimension. PhD thesis, University of Trento, University of Corvinus.

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This dissertation contributes to the local development discourse by presenting a third sector perspective from the Sub Saharan Africa. The study examines the third sector in Kenya using a seven point criteria constructed from various schools of thought. The criteria is made of aspects such as organization, autonomy, profit distribution, governance, degree of voluntarism, contribution to social inclusion and extent of entrepreneurial dynamism. It studies selected third sector organizations that include cooperatives, faith based organizations, non-governmental organizations, micro-finance institutions and self-help groups. The study uses these organizations to understand the contribution of the sector in solving social problems. The study uses different sets of designs, methodologies and data for each of the sections on the third sector actors. In some cases, data are drawn from Kenya Bureau of Statistics, government ministries, UN bodies, the Central Bank of Kenya, and both Kenyan and international public data domains. The section on self-help groups that has been used for empirical analysis uses two sets of data: one from the administrative offices of Riruta Location made of 523 observations and another collected by the researcher from a sample of 122 self-help groups. The former tests success self-rating determinants while the latter tests economic empowerment effects. The study also applies case studies in order to corroborate empirical and statistical findings. A number of findings emanate from the study. First, the traditional cultural way of life and the cooperative activities amongst different ethnic communities provided important initial conditions for the build-up of the third sector in Kenya. Second, the colonial administration played a role in the formation of the modern third sector through their policy on community development and other policies that encouraged cooperation between government and third sector actors in service delivery. Third, in post-independence Kenya, the Harambee concept gave the sector an indigenous image anchored in community dimension, mutual and self-help emphasis. Fourth, the growth of some aspects of this sector suffered as a result of excessive government control between independence to the 2000s. Fifth, World Bank induced changes that swept across Africa in the 1980’s to 2000’s had both positive and negative influence on the sector. Last but not least, the coming to power of a new government in 2002 brought about an increase in the number of civil society actors. The third sector in Kenya helps to fill welfare gaps as a result of minimal, absent or shrinking public service spending. Although the term “third sector” is not commonly used in Kenya, its multiple actors contribute in the promotion of social inclusion of marginalized persons and regions. It helps to empower individuals economically, enhancing civic participation, infrastructure building and social welfare provision. Before 1980s the government controlled the sector closely, in the 1990s however it became more autonomous. The sector is also characterized by an explicit pursuance of a social mission, limited profit distribution and a resource mix approach. Though the policies of most of the sectors actors are quite enabling, the policies governing some of the actors are not conducive. This study is unique in two distinct ways. First, unlike earlier studies which were particularly actor-specific, the study offers a systematic approach to the discourse on the third sector in Kenya with respect to local development. Previous studies looked at the civil societies, non-profit organizations and other individual third sector actors separately. The holistic and systematic approach of this study demonstrates the collective contribution of the third sector in enhancing social welfare and development of the local communities. Secondly, it has explored the challenges faced by the sector which must be redressed in order to sustain its vibrancy. The study did suffer from lack of quality data. However, triangulation was used to ensure that much is learnt from the available data and to overcome any ensuing analytical limitations.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Local Development and Global Dynamics (within the School in Social Sciences, till the a.y. 2010-11)
PhD Cycle:24
Subjects:Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche
Uncontrolled Keywords:Local development, third sector, social enterprise, social economy, solidarity economy and social innovation
Funders:European Research Institute on Cooperatives and Social Enterprises, Amani (
Repository Staff approval on:24 Jun 2014 17:18

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