DEVOLUTION: 6 KEY lessons from the Kisumu conference

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DEVOLUTION: 6 KEY lessons from the Kisumu conference

April 24 th.


1.    Unity of purpose

Kenya has two distinct levels of government; namely the National and County Government ( 47 county governments) that are autonomous but interdependent. The objective of this system of government is to devolve power; services and resources to the citizens of Kenya. For this to happen; the two levels of government have to act in tandem, constant consultation, sharing of information, equitable share of resources, mutual trust and above all fostering cohesiveness and unity. Further, officials of both governments need to work in a seamless manner with mutual respect to each other`s roles.

2.    Public Participation

The hallmark of good governance stems from effective public participation and engagement with the duty bearers. It emerged, that this constitutional provision has not been properly underscored in budget planning, prioritization of projects and development plans, auditing of government expenditure and decisions along many other aspects of public interest. In the least; this is a fundamental aspect that will facilitate public confidence in their governments and fostering development and social-cultural well-being.

3.    Equitable sharing of resources

Resource allocation is one of the gains of enshrined in the constitution. This is premised on the fact that; citizens of Kenya; do not have to be at the mercy of the central government in order to realize development through funding. This is critical owing to previous regimes, having skewed development to politically correct zones, sycophantic collaborations, hoodwinking of voters and tribal considerations. Currently Kenya is implementing the CDF funds, Equalization Fund, Uwezo (Youth Fund), County Funding and Women Funding. Further development is precursory to equitable share of funding to county governments and to other devolved units of governance.

4.    Capacity Building

Devolution implementation is a new phenomenon in Kenya. And rightly so; there are critical lessons and capacity gaps that have to be addressed such as financing and resource management, policy formulation, leadership, public engagement, design and implementation of projects. Therefore, structured and deliberate capacity building exercises have to be conducted primarily by the National Government and other stakeholders in their areas of strength.

5.    Joint War on corruption

Kenya loses above 30% of its budget annually to unaccounted funds (According to auditor general reports); this is an equivalent of over Kshs. 350 billion. While; this rot has been a nightmare; it was anticipated that with decentralized units; it would be easier for Kenyans to be watchdogs due to closeness to county governments.  Contrary to this expectation; more and more corruption practices have been reported: bribery, nepotism, conflict of interest in appointments and procurements, injustice, embezzlement, hoarding, collusion, kickbacks and non-reporting. This is certainly a black spot that is endangering progress. Ultimately, government, CSOs, Media, Academia and stakeholders must devise strategies to put an end to these practices.

6.    Information Accountability

Access to information is a fundamental right enshrined in article 35 of the constitution of Kenya 2010. When citizens have information; they can easily be in a apposition to make informed choices on governance matters and in personal lives. Most of the failure currently witnessed is deliberately cocooned by poor information sharing methods or lack of it in its timely and accurate form. This has hindered meaningful public participation in counties, increased mistrust within governments and the public at large. Efforts have to be made to forestall this in the future by making as much relevant information accessible.

In conclusion, Kenyans are eager to see new strategy frameworks to improve security, improve living standards, better education and access to services at the national and county governments. 

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