Box 2.10

Box 2.10 Formal engagements enabling co-production in Kisumu

Authors: Michael Oloko and Stephen Agong’

2 min read


Co-production involves collaboration between stakeholders of different mandates and interests to reach desired goals. Formal agreements are key to long-term commitments and participation.


In Kisumu, Kenya, the initiative to develop such collaboration was taken by university researchers, who invited the City of Kisumu, the County Government of Kisumu, civil society organisations, co-operatives, and private companies to join. As a first step in setting up these relationships, leading local researchers communicated formally by letters with relevant city and county departments, presenting the research ideas and seeking collaboration and representatives in the research team. The City Manager would then appoint relevant directors as formal city representatives in the research project.

Several forms of formal documents have been necessary to enable these various organisations to participate in and foster their commitment to the co-production process. These include temporary occupation licences, memoranda of understanding, recognition letters and letters of representation, as well as certificates of registration. 

Having secured formal participation of the City, other formal necessities were revealed in the research processes. For example, Memoranda of Understandings have served as formal agreements of goodwill and specified the details of the collaboration between different formal actors. Temporary Occupation Licences, issued by the City, have been necessary to secure public space to conduct research in the proximity of relevant community actors. Certificates of registration and recognition letters have been pivotal to secure relationships to previous informal actors, and to foster confidence in their work and commitment to the research process. 

Altogether and in various ways, these formal documents have served to justify and enable co-production research. They have been particularly important to secure the participation of, and improve the relations between, formal and informal actors when there has been a history of mistrust between them. In most cases, they have served to establish working relationships between different stakeholders that continue even after the end of the research. 

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