CITIZENS’ PERCEPTIONS ON THE STATUS OF COUNTY GOVERNANCE PRACTICES: A CASE OF MIGORI COUNTY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Governance is the process of decision-making and how those decisions are implemented. Good governance involves quality public service delivery, accountable-decision-making, and civic engagement. Devolution helps make good governance feasible. Kenya thus adopted devolution to improve governance and catalyse development to the local levels. Since enactment of the constitution in 2010 however, the status of governance in the local governments has not been done and documented - especially from the perspectives of the citizens. The purpose of this study thus was to find out and analyze the citizens’ perceptions on the status of governance in Migori County and recommend policy options to enhance good governance. This study was guided by public choice theory in analysis of the political system and citizen perceptions. The study adopted a case study research design where a diverse case of two sub counties (Nyatike and Suba West Sub County) was used. The sub counties were selected purposively. Nyatike Sub County has the most administrative units, while Suba west Sub County has the least administrative units of the 8 sub counties. Target population of the study was 453,362, the adult population of the county, and the accessible population (N) was 17,348, which is the adult population in the two sub counties that visited the county offices for services from 2013 to 2016. From this, a sample of 156 was sampled for the survey by disproportionate stratified sampling and simple random sampling where 78 citizens were selected from each sub county. Two focus group discussions were also conducted, one from each sub county using 12 participants each, selected purposively by six chiefs in each of the sub counties. Structured questionnaires and focus group discussion guide were the instruments of data collection. The instruments were given to experts for validation. The questionnaire was pilot tested on 16 residents at Ndhiwa sub-County in the neighboring county to ensure reliability. A Cronbach alpha value of 0.860 was attained which exceeded the recommended level of 0.700, thereby indicating reliability. Quantitative data was analysed using percentages, difference, means, paired t test and Hotelling’s t squared test at 5% significance level by the help of STATA software. On the qualitative data, thematic content analysis and constant comparison analysis were used by the help of Weft.qda software. The findings indicate dissatisfaction on the status of governance in both sub counties, and also a difference in perceptions of citizens from the two sub counties with citizens from Nyatike Sub County expressing significantly more dissatisfaction compared to those from Suba West Sub County. The findings of this study are of importance to the policy practitioners and county government officials in their bid of enhancing good governance.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
There has been significant progress in the quality of governance or government performance since 1980’s. The concept of ‘good governance’ originated from the development community, and become popular around the world. The World Bank and the United Nations were among the first to recognize the concept of good governance. For example, United Nations (2009) defines governance as the process of decision-making and implementation of those decisions.

Governments practicing good governance are publicly accountable and transparent. They engage the entire polity, taking account of the opinions of minorities and the needs of disadvantaged groups and also ensure that all their citizens have access to the necessary public goods and social services that they need. Good governance gives control of the government to the citizens. An important requirement for good governance is thus decentralization. This is because decentralization ensures political accountability, citizen engagement in running of the government and quality public service delivery to the lower levels and also economic determinism of the local regions and polity. Therefore, in a bid to better governance, governments that were earlier centralized started to decentralize to catalyze development at the local levels and actualize the practice of good governance. Decentralization is thus a very essential element of governance (Smoke, 1994).

African countries are examples of countries that had highly centralized governance systems and practices before, till the 80’s. According to Kauzya (2007), kings had all authority and political power in the pre-colonial era. In the colonial and immediate post-colonial periods, this remained the case because governance was structured and practiced the same way with head of National governments shouldering all authority. African countries started adopting decentralization when pressure to decentralize to develop and also promote the welfare of citizens was overwhelming.

Kenya has had a centralized governance framework until the adoption of the current constitution in 2010. However, Kenya had tried to decentralize over the years since independence; some of the decentralization measures being: Regionalism entrenched in the independence constitution of 1963, advocated by Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU).

This was however abolished in 1964 through amendment of the constitution advocated for by Kenya African National Union (KANU) which made Kenya a unitary state; the local Authority system adopted from the British Colonial government; and District Focus for Rural Development (DFRD) of 1983 which ceased functioning in 1990s due to lack of resources. The decentralization that Kenya adopted after promulgating the new constitution of 2010 is devolution which spreads out political, fiscal and administrative powers to the counties (Muia, 2008). It is therefore the most ground-breaking and ambitious decentralization reform that Kenya has ever taken up. Devolved structures, institutions and their relationships with the national government were therefore established in and protected by the Kenyan constitution which is the supreme law of Kenya.

Devolution was an important step towards promotion of good governance. Unlike the national government, devolved units, in Kenya’s case, counties are better placed to deliver social services to the people, because the challenges a county faces is specific to it and only its local leadership with its local knowledge is able to address them effectively ( World Bank, 2012). However, the various counties in Kenya are not completely resolving these challenges. With good governance, which is characterized by accountability, transparency, responsiveness and civic engagement, a better improvement is expected. Challenges that have undermined effectiveness in centralized governance such as corruption, have also been replicated in the counties with local elites corruptly getting most of the resources to themselves. Failure of some counties to put in place the systems needed for effective and transparent service delivery in all of their operations and lack of responsiveness in their actions is also a challenge. Opportunities in the communities for engaging the citizens as well as identification of policy options to put forward to improve governance have not been as effective as hoped.

Perceptions of citizens matter. Paul and Sekhar (2000) argue, that clear patterns always emerge from the analysis of the experiences of large numbers of people. When citizens identify specific factors of service as problematic, and they are able to articulate them as feedback through either appropriate government channels or the mass media. It offers the government the opportunity to investigate and resolve the problems, if they are real, or, if they are not to take steps to change public opinion if the perceptions are based on misunderstandings.

Citizens’ perceptions on status of governance can be accessed on the three aspects of governance: civic engagement, accountable-decision making and quality of public service. Citizen Satisfaction surveys refer to methods that have been established so as to asses and evaluate the quality of local government services by the various public administration researchers and local governments (Van Ryzin & Gregg, 2004).

Citizen satisfaction surveys have been used in several countries such as the UK, Canada, Russia, Commonwealth of Australia (Higgins, 2005). It is also noted that a steadily growing number of US cities engage in conducting a large-scale general population survey regularly (Poister & Streib, 1999). Its objective is to establish and test the overall model of satisfaction with the local government services that serves as the nexus between evaluations of specific services (such as highway conditions, fire protection services or cleanliness) with the overall satisfaction judgments which people make about the performance of their local government.

Migori County is one of the forty seven counties in the republic of Kenya. Since formation of the forty seven counties, there has never been a comprehensive assessment and documentation of the status of governance in any of them. Recognizing that devolution is made good by enhancing good governance of civic participation, good governance of quality public service delivery and good governance of accountable-decision-making in the counties, county officials have the duty to establish and sustain good governance. The county governments, Migori amongst them, must thus recognize the critical importance of promoting good governance. Seeking citizens’ perceptions on their views of the current status of how the devolved units deliver public goods is a good evaluative move to help seal quality and equity gaps.

It was therefore the object of this research to look at Migori Citizens’ perceptions on the status of governance of Migori county government and recommend policy options for enhancement.

Statement of the Problem
Kenya adopted devolved governments upon promulgation and enactment of The Constitution of Kenya, 2010. It was expected that the status of good governance would be enhanced by the adoption of the constitution of Kenya. To achieve and maintain good governance, the status of good governance needs to be tracked regularly, especially from the perceptions of the citizens; so as to monitor progress from their feedback. Citizens’ perceptions on status of good governance in the counties had not yet been determined, analyzed and documented. It is in light of this that this study sought to find out and analyze the citizens’ perceptions on the status of good governance practices in Migori county and recommend policy options.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to find out and analyze the citizens’ perceptions on the status of good governance in Migori County and recommend policy options for enhancement.

Objectives of the Study
i) To determine the citizens’ perceptions on the status of quality public service delivery in Migori County

ii) To determine the citizens’ perceptions on the status of civic engagement in Migori County

iii) To determine the citizens’ perceptions on the status of accountable-decision making in Migori County

iv) To identify citizens’ views on what should be done to enhance good governance in Migori County

Research Questions
i) What are the citizens’ perceptions on the status of quality-public service delivery in Migori County?

ii) What are the citizens’ perceptions on the status of civic engagement in Migori County?

iii) What are the citizens’ perceptions on the status of accountable-decision making in Migori County?

iv) What are the citizens’ views on what should be done to enhance good governance in Migori County?

Significance of the Study
The study is expected to contribute to the body of knowledge already existing on governance. The findings from this research might thus be a useful source of information to County administrators on feedback and perceptions of the citizens. The citizens in the counties and policy makers within the new devolution framework in Kenya will also benefit since the study identified and recommended policy options of enhancing good governance. The research findings would also be a useful source of information for researchers and development practitioners as it informs them and also engages them to further the research to other counties and in detail. This study also extends the understanding of good governance by looking at citizens’ satisfaction with governance in the realms of not only public service delivery but also civic engagement and citizens’ participation in decision making. The findings from this thesis will help to bridge the information gap on good governance.

The Scope of the Study
The study was carried out to determine citizens’ perceptions on the status of governance in Migori County. This study focused on determining the citizens’ perceptions on civic engagement, accountable-decision-making and quality public service delivery and what participants think should be done to improve governance in the county. The perceptions were determined from the politically active citizens as well as those who have been served at least once in any of the county offices. It was conducted in Suba West and Nyatike sub counties of Migori County from 2016 to 2017.

Limitation of the Study
i) County governments are new and may not have mature structures for good governance in place hence objective in-depth assessment was hindered.

ii) The results may not be generalized to the rest of the country, since it focused only on the perceptions of citizens in Migori County.

Assumptions of the Study
i) The respondents answered all questions honestly.

ii) The respondents understood what good governance entails.

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Item Type: Kenyan Material  |  Attribute: 76 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: KSh900  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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