DEVOLUTION

Kenya's future is effective devolved governance

Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya with vice chairman Mwangi wa Iria during stakeholders meeting with Devolution conference sponsors in Nairobi on January 21, 2019.
DEVOLUTION Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya with vice chairman Mwangi wa Iria during stakeholders meeting with Devolution conference sponsors in Nairobi on January 21, 2019.
Image: ENOS TECHE

According to the Supreme Court of Kenya, “devolution is a core promise of the Constitution of Kenya 2010”.

It has reconfigured the spirit of civic enterprise for the 21st Century for the country.

 Democratic County Governance government is the galvanizing force for building a more productive, competitive economy and better public services.

It is a game changer in politics, governance, service delivery and economic development.

 Local ethical and accountable leadership is pivotal for stronger governance, sustained efficacy, improved efficiency and more responsible financial management. 

County governments occupy a very unique space in public life emphasising on the importance of its role and capacity to add value as a community leader.

They are the lead engine, having responsibility for setting the vision for counties and working with partners and communities to deliver what matters most to people.

By embracing functional powers and resources county governments can serve people even better, reduce inequalities and facilitate achievement of the country’s progress ambitions.

 County governments need to become increasingly innovative and effective at producing good quality services and value for the taxpayer and they now need to look ahead positively.

The cumulative impact of policy change on county government should have huge impact to local population lives. 

It is crucial to ensure the devolved institutions function effectively.

It is also important to have wider civic engagement about how to improve county governance.

Deepening devolution must happen, giving local people much more say and control over spending and investment in their counties to promote growth, job creation, stronger communities and prosperity for all.

For this to happen we need a true commitment to devolution.

Devolved powers to counties have already created a very big difference regardless of the momentous challenges.

This needs to be built on across the whole country. CouENOS TECHEnty governments are closer to the communities they serve, and therefore better placed to deliver locally. 

They do not exist simply to provide services.

They have to facilitate meaningful participation of the local population to participate in designing policies and quality of services.

 Kenyans want to ensure a proper relationship between those who provide a service and those who rely on it through stronger local democracy, more effective scrutiny, and properly channels to those responsible for services to account. 

Kenyans has suffered for the last 50 years under unaccountable, bureaucratic, opaque and centralized national government.

In voting for the Constitution and devolution, they gave out a strong message. 

They want well-run county authorities, which operate transparently, and openly, which plan effectively, which use the resources available to them to best effect, and which work collaboratively and in partnership with others wherever this will benefit the people they serve. 

And Kenyans want people themselves to have a stronger voice, and more influence over how services are designed and delivered.

To deliver this, county governments will also need to be continually assessing and improving their own performance. 

 A closer relationship between county government and local communities is key.

It will strengthen governance and make it clear how decisions are made and who took them.

It will help local representatives provide effective challenge and scrutiny.

It will encourage innovation and the sharing of best practice, to drive excellent performance and services, which meet people’s needs.

The future role of county government needs to be about collaboration based on an understanding of local needs and clear governance structures, not just the current emphasis on service provision.

They will only achieve this through partnership working between sectors.

  Now is the time for county governments to seize the opportunity to shape their own and country’s future in building more equal, prosperous, innovative, and healthier people living in safe, cohesive and resilient communities, who have wide range of opportunities.

The writer is the Executive Director International Center for Policy and Conflict