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Why Devolution Deserves a Big Cheer
By Anne Waiguru, OGW
Recently, we celebrated the second year of success since the introduction of
devolution in Kenya. The 2nd Devolution Conference’s theme ‘CELEBRATING
DEVOLUTION’ was deliberately chosen in recognition of the fact that life is all
about the journey, and that means that every step, as well as reaching our
destination, is part of our journey. Celebrating at a crucial anniversary is
recognition of a life well lived and well worked.
Looking back at the second anniversary of devolution gives us plenty of cause
for celebration: devolution has gained a lot of ground and is now an
indispensable part of our social and political infrastructure, the economy is
booming, business optimism is high, infrastructure projects are in high gear
and there is a general feeling that the country is on the right trajectory.
Ordinary Kenyans seem to appreciate this as evidenced by a recent opinion
poll by Ipsos Synovate that showed that more than two-thirds of Kenyans
support devolution which is an objective indicator of the support that
devolution and its implementation continue to enjoy.


However, this is not the story we often hear. Where devolution is concerned,
we have often heard a negative story, a story of inter-governmental turmoil
and suspicion.
But those of us who walk this journey of devolution, know that this is not the
full story - this is not even the true story. While there are some teething
challenges, and a process of institutional repositioning, the successes far
outweigh the challenges.
One of my favourite authors Chimamanda Adichie, so eloquently takes us on
a journey of retelling our stories, in her books (The Half of a Yellow Sun;
Purple Hibiscus; The Thing Around Your Neck and Americanah) she retells the
story of living through the Biafran war in Nigeria; or describes the daily life of
African immigrants to the US amongst other stories. She shows us that how
the story is told, not only influences our belief of history, but also impacts on
our perspectives of the future.

In her now widely syndicated TED talk series “The danger of a single story,”
she describes this even more aptly, “The single story creates stereotypes, and
the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are
incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” She further
contends that the danger of a single story is that it robs people of their
dignity, and flattens our reality.
We have an opportunity to tell other stories about devolution that many out
there are not hearing yet. It helps us move away from creating a stereotype
of the devolution process in Kenya. It helps us understand that there is no
linear process in a political process such as this, it is a multi-layer of
processes with different facets of engagement. As such, no single story can
explain devolution.

The Ministry of Devolution and Planning was established to amongst other
functions coordinate policy decisions aimed at supporting the devolution
process. Towards this end, there have been various notable achievements in
the implementation of this mandate.
First, the transfer of functions from National to County governments was
accomplished through Legal Notice No. 137, which ensured that county
governments could effectively assume their responsibilities and had the
requisite authority to meet their mandates.
As a Ministry we facilitated the establishment and operations of the County
operational units including the County Executives and Assemblies through the
provision of adequate financial resources - Kshs 210 Billion in 2013/14, Kshs
226 Billion in 2014/15 and a projected Kshs 283 Billion in 2015/16; human
resources in the form of transitional teams and staff seconded from the
national government to the Counties; and finally through provision of the
necessary infrastructure (e.g physical facilities for administrative and logistical
Secondly, in line with the provisions of the inter-governmental Coordination
Act, 2012, as the Ministry responsible for inter-governmental affairs, we have








Coordinating Summit.
Thirdly, in line with the functions outlined in schedule 4 of the Constitution,
the Ministry has developed the National Capacity Building Framework and a
framework for Civic Education.
Some of the key programs in the areas of capacity development for the
Counties have included the training of officers from all the 47 counties on
Human Resource Management and Public Financial Management; we have


also conducted induction for the County Executive Committees in more than
30 Counties.
Civic Education will enable Kenyans better understand the Devolution process,
and the processes of planning and public financial management, to ensure
that they can effectively participate in these governance processes, and make
meaningful contributions.
Fourthly, the Ministry is in the final stages of finalizing the Devolution Policy
to reflect the comments from the stakeholder engagement process. In
addition, we have also developed model laws for the counties awaiting
dissemination of the same this quarter.
Fifth, in cooperation with the County Governments, the Ministry is
implementing the Capacity Assessment and Rationalisation Programme. This








institutional review that will ensure that skills are matched to mandates.

In reaffirming my Ministry’s commitment to supporting devolution, I would
wish to paraphrase the words of Franklin Roosevelt to assure you that our
hand is the steadier for the work that is to be done, that we move more
firmly into the task, knowing that the National Government, County
Government, other Stake holders, and other well-meaning citizens are joined
in the resolve to make devolution a success.