An analysis of social relationships at a development site in Kenya Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/c821gn97q

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  • Both development and post-structuralist anthropologists have critiqued development. Development anthropologists are concerned that development does not take adequate account of the social and cultural factors of developing nations, while post structuralists question the ontology of development and assert that domination over developing nations is inherent in the concept of development. To examine the social effects of development projects I conducted ethnographic research for a nine-week period on social relations at Sagana Fish Farm, located two kilometers from Sagana Township in the Kirinyaga District of the Central Province of Kenya. (The population of Sagana Township is approximately 5,885 people.) I obtained thirty-one semi-structured interviews, also relying on participant observation and informal interviews with civil servants (permanent employees) and casual laborers (temporary employees). I analyzed information obtained during interviews and participant observation within the context of power and resistance theory. Civil servants tended to value the presence of development projects because projects made structural enhancements and renovations to the fish farm. Development projects presented civil servants the possibility for skills development and additional income to fish farm employees and created temporary employment for individuals from neighboring communities. Civil servants stated that an inexpensive source of protein was available in the form of fish, chicken, and milk as a result of the work of development organizations. However, they also expressed concerns regarding the sustainability of development projects due to tension between expatriate development project workers and fish farm employees, inadequate information sharing and technology transfer, and financial and human resource mismanagement in the Kenya civil service. Casual laborers discussed the possibility of skills development through their work with development projects at the fish farm and expressed concern about their employment conditions. They were concerned about low wages in contrast with the intensity of their labor; insecure terms of employment; an absence of protective equipment at their work site; health and medical issues; and the availability of treated drinking water. Other concerns were associated with dignity, tribalism, and a fear of power of expatriate development workers and Kenyan civil service officers. Based on the above findings I made the following recommendations were made: implement cultural sensitivity training for expatriate development workers; develop project plans that foster a sense of investment in project operations; provide discounted fish to casual laborers; improve the work conditions of casual laborers; establish a health clinic; and provide informal loans to facilitate technology transfer.
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