Effect of Community Empowerment on Human Development in Vihiga County, Kenya
Community empowerment is a very crucial element for the development of lower levels of society. Its benefits cannot be underestimated in socio-economic and political development hence the need for its investment in its potential. There has been a neglect in women empowerment and capacity building at community levels. Therefore, this study sought to evaluate the effects of community empowerment funds on human development in Vihiga County of Kenya. It also focuses on the role of capacity building and women networking in the community as a means of development. The study adopted a descriptive survey design and stratified sampling technique to select a sample size of 384 women respondents from a study target of 12,000 members of microfinance institutions in Vihiga County. The study was anchored in the theory of empowerment. The study adopted with multivariate regression model to analyze study findings. The study established that through the community empowerment fund, schools were easily accessible for all children (60.2%), hospitals were affordable and easily accessible (67.2%), infrastructural development such as roads had generally improved (39.1%) and community projects had been brought to completion with ease. Concerning capacity building, 52.3% of the women found out that it contributed to development socially and economically while women networking emerged as a critical parameter for women empowerment in gaining access to loans/funds and access to relevant information needed for initiating and operating community development. Similarly, the community empowerment fund has played a role in education, initiating new projects, and financing existing projects for the welfare of the community. The study concludes that empowerment fund, community-based groups like networking are very important elements of supporting the developmental initiative in the society since it has changed the perception of peoples on development in Vihiga County of Kenya. The study further recommended that funds should be made available at affordable interest rates so as to invest in projects that improves human well-being such as learning institutions at technical and vocational training institutions and other projects that promotes human development. The study is significant to government agencies, non-governmental organizations and well-wishers who have interest in the well-being of the people.
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