Rural development through local initiatives: observations on Kenya's experiences with Harambee projects in selected rural commnunities
Thomas, Barbara P.
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This paper on Harambee in Kenya focuses on two questions: l) Are locally-initiated Harambee projects an equitable means of resource distribution, providing benefits across social and economic strata, and increasing the community's levels of welfare and productivity? 2) In what ways does Harambee foster local-level initiative, self-reliance and organizational capability? It draws on data collected in six Locations in three Districts of Kenya during 1978 and 1979. Evidence from this study suggests that local development through Harambee efforts is not characterized by an overall pattern of discrimination against the poor, and that costs and benefits are distributed among all socioeconomic groups. Contribution levels are higher among more affluent socioeconomic groups while benefits are enjoyed across socio-economic strata. Benefits accruing particularly to higher or lower socio-economic groups vary according to type of project. Although heavily dependent on local official leadership, the Harambee project committee structure does provide some limited organizational experience as well as an opportunity for the rural population to develop management skills. However, at present these experiences are enjoyed primarily, although not exclusively, by the more affluent members of rural communities.