Adaptive governance by community based organisations: Community resilience initiatives during Covid-19 in Mathare, Nairobi

Adaptive governance describes the purposeful collective actions to resist, adapt, or transform when faced with shocks. As governments are reluctant to intervene in informal settlements, CBOs self-organize and take the lead. This study by Jan FransenBeatrice HatiHarrison Kioko, and Naomi van Stapele explores under what conditions community based organisations (CBOs) in Mathare informal settlement, Nairobi initiate and sustain resilience activities during Covid-19.

The authors map the role of CBOs and their networks in Mathare, identifying four groups of CBOs with different abilities to adapt, sustain and transform. They then conduct a comparative qualitative analysis to assess the underlying conditions. By working with community researchers, the study builds on and guides discussions among practitioners and researchers on how to transform community resilience in Mathare in a bottom-up process.

Study findings show that CBOs in Mathare engage in multiple resilience activities, which are mostly adaptive, while a few have transformative potential. CBOs reach out to many, but not all informal settlers. In addition, some of the activities are maladaptive and many unregistered CBOs in Mathare ran out of resources during the 2.5 years of Covid-19, leaving even more informal settlers without basic services.

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SustainableDevelopment,1–12 (2023);


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