Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


African American Studies


S. N. Sangmpam


CDF, Citizen Participation, Deepening, Democracy, Devolved Funds, Kenya

Subject Categories

African Studies | Political Science


That democracy is the most suitable form of government is no longer contested. However many questions shaking this global consensus continue to abound. Why is there a growing cynicism and apathy with the notion of democracy across the globe? Why has the concept of democracy had to attract adjectives that attempt to qualify or categorize it in different parts of the world? And perhaps most importantly, if in deed democracy is such a good "thing" how can it be made meaningful? This thesis looks at citizen participation in a state devolved fund (CDF) in Kenya as a space through which democracy at the grassroots level can be deepened and hence contribute to the growth of a national democratic culture. The CDF program in Kenya was established in 2003 when a new regime with overwhelming national mandate replaced an authoritarian neopatrimonial system that had been in existence for twenty four years. But the seeds of exclusion, what in Kenya had been historically referred to as "siasa mbaya maisha mbaya" a Kiswahili phrase warning regions in Kenya opposed to the ruling party of dire material conditions, had long been planted by the first post-independent state. The CDF program, a space in which the national government allocates 7.5% of all the government's ordinary revenues in a financial year and distributes it to all the electoral districts allowing local citizens in collaboration with their Members of Parliament to identify, prioritize and implement local development projects thus has been viewed as a culmination of a long history of struggle to redefine citizenship in Kenya. Deepening democracy is concept that attempts to move the focus away from regular elections to further strengthening of citizenship and democratizing the state by transforming citizens from passive actors in dependent relationships with politicians and political parties into active ones who can demand public goods provision from the state. Herein lies the attempts to make the concept of democracy more meaningful. Empirical evidence from the research on the study shows that whereas the CDF program in Kenya still has structural impediments to citizen participation, there are many aspects of the program that looks promising for a thriving grassroots democracy in Kenya. There is are flourishing civic and welfare organizations which are the architectural basis of a bottom up democracy, the increasing benefits from public goods provision will continue to mobilize mass citizen interest in the program and finally, there is a burgeoning local political rhetoric based on the CDF program, a development which has begun to reflect on local voting choices.


Open Access