The provision of basic services in urban areas has been a major challenge for both National and County Governments. Before devolution, the central government and the local authorities contracted the private sector in city management. Private Service providers came up with their own business models of service provision and this meant that only those who could afford to pay would get services. The result was neglect on of service provision in various areas. A part from high cost of services, the private sector could not cover the entire city due to financial implications. Urban residents had to devise ways of meeting public basic services fend for neighborhood and champion their basic rights.
Resident associations have since then emerged to compliment the efforts of the National and County governments in public service delivery. A resident association is a group of people who have come up together so as to share ideas and work together to make their neighborhood a better place to live.
Some of the benefits of having an association in a particular neighborhood include; having improved neighborhood security, clean and healthy environment, creation of employment and friendships, improved living conditions, caters for welfare needs of members. Improving neighborhoods requires sustained efforts. This commitment can be manifested in long term plans of an association. Having future plans for a neighborhood helps to bond residents together as they may want to participate in this venture in various ways. Future plans of an association also bring out acute problems facing residents.
A resident association needs to be registered by the government for it to be recognized as a proper association. The goals of resident associations are to address issues such as insecurity, environment protection, manage garbage collection, and regulate land use and housing standards. They also serve as bodies through which queries from residents can be explained, issues and problems can be solved. The presence of a resident association in a particular area also spices up interaction among residents and enables them to contribute equally. Such open social interactions improve the joy of living in a particular neighborhood.
The need for partnerships in urban service delivery is propelled by the need to make development more sustainable and inclusive. Partnerships enhances sustainability while improving efficiency in service delivery, makes development more inclusive, empowers marginalized people, builds social capital and strengthens management. Resources will also be available for sustainable programs across neighborhoods and for strengthening the civic capacities of local communities. Creating formal relationships with other voluntary and community based organizations ensures that associations are involved in activities that are relevant to local situations.
Some of the challenges faced by residents in urban areas are as a result of the massive rural urban migration, poor waste management, Encroachment of road reserves, grabbing of public open spaces and green areas. The traffic congestion, heavy clouds of dust, insecurity, heaps of uncollected garbage and resultant excessive pressure on basic utility services such as sewer lines, water, roads and electricity is a clear sign of low capacity of County governments to handle public services.
Public participation in affairs of the governments has been lacking. Participation by residents in local activities has a lot of significance, for instance there is increased availability of information to residents, identification of development options. It also enable residents to give priority to their needs, identify resources for such needs and develop residents’ self-confidence and collective capacity.
Resident associations therefore create an environment in which democracy and business life is made possible. For the associations to operate smoothly, the government must create an enabling environment in which competitive issues can be discussed freely. This calls for cordial working partnership between associations and authorities vested with responsibilities in the management of urban areas..