Samwel Auya, Peter Oino
Abstract: Fighting poverty at the grassroots level has been one of the key agendas of the Kenyan government. Since independence in 1963, the government has initiated various rural development programmes including Special Rural Development Programme, District Development Planning, Rural Development Fund and the District Focus for Rural Development Strategy with the aim of improving peoples wellbeing. However, most of these programmes failed to address the needs of local people due to lack of political will, inadequate government funding, lack of appropriate technology, neglect of institutional development, lack of beneficiary participation and poor coordination from top to the bottom. However, in 2003 the government introduced Constituency Development Fund (CDF), a program that fights poverty at the grassroots. Since its inception, CDF has had tremendous impact among the rural communities in Kenya. This paper argues that the success of CDF as a rural poverty alleviation strategy is not only associated with availability of funds, but also with a myriad of factors, which include, beneficiary participation and involvement and consultative decision making among all parties involved, prioritizing needs by the locals through consultations and effective communication, good leadership and coherent and transparent phase-out plans. The authors conclude that rural development programs are integral in improving the lives of people in the rural settings. Therefore, these programmes should be put at the top of the national agenda by the government. They should be fundamental to all national and rural policies that mitigate underdevelopment. The paper recommends that government should consider allocating more resources particularly to infrastructure such as roads to ensure that rural areas are easily accessible by all stakeholders who want to participate in rural development. In addition, there should be independent structures at the grassroots to track the progress of development projects as well as discourage misappropriation and mismanagement of CDF funds.
Keywords: CDF, Rural Development, North Mugirango, Kenya