Transforming the city from below: Localizing Grassroots initiatives, institutional entrepreneurship and inclusive urban governance

Regional Focus: Kenya
Sustainable Development Goals: 11
Time: March 2017 – March 2019

This project aims to examine how grassroots resilience initiatives (such as resident associations, women associations, youth groups, self-help groups, community-based organisations, cooperatives, public-private partnerships) providing critical urban services (water, waste, sewage, energy, security) contribute to improve the quality of life of urban dwellers, and to more inclusive forms of urban governance.
Theoretical results include contributions the growing body of inclusive urban governance, socio-environmental entrepreneurship and urban resilience literature. Empirical and policy contributions include guidelines and action points for local organizations on how to improve service delivery and resilience locally through collaborative networks, as well as strategies for how to engage in inclusive governance with authorities.
Regional Focus: Kenya

Research Questions:
-Grassroots resilience initiatives: In contexts of rapid urbanization, weak institutional capacity, political influence, poor economy and pervading informality:

– How do grassroots initiatives providing basic services instigate and/or activate institutional entrepreneurs and why? Within this question we will explore driving forces and obstacles experienced by these initiatives, as well as the collaborative and institutional arrangements with the local government created to provide these services.
Inclusive urban governance:
– What resources, rationales and relations need to be mobilized within local governments to support, integrate and/or diffuse these bottom-up practices? Within this question, we will explore the reasons behind local governments’ weakness to support local initiatives providing critical services and also how to reconstruct the absent or weak links between civil society groups and local government in order to strengthen local governments’ ability to provide co-produced critical services and establish the supportive institutional framework.

These questions will be explored through methodologies inspired by participatory action research, a combination of one in-depth case study on grassroots initiatives in Kisumu (Kenya), and through semi-structured and structured interviews both to grassroots initiatives and city officials and city politicians in Kenya and/or Eastern Africa.

Associate professor María José Zapata Campos, sociologist, University of Gothenburg (Sweden
Senior lecturer, Michael O. Oloko, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST)
Professor Jaan-Henrik Kain, architect and urban planner, Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden).
Associate professor Patrik Zapata, School of Public Administration, University of Gothenburg (Sweden).