Decentralization, Accountability And The MP Elections: The Case Of The Constituency Development Fund

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Publisher University of Oxford
Year of Publication 2009
Category Policy Brief Report
County All/General
Description Over the last ten years the Kenyan Government has intensified the use of decentralized programs in its strategy to tackle poverty and reverse regional disparities. A prime example of this policy is the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) launched in 2003. The CDF allocates resources to all of the 210 constituencies, taking into account constituency poverty levels. The CDF is designed to consider local needs and preferences, by stipulating that the MP of each constituency should decide along with members of the local community how to use the funds to tackle poverty. In practice however, there have been concerns that the participation of residents in the decision making has been limited, and that the role of MPs as legislators, implementors and auditors of the fund reduces incentives for transparency and good management of the fund.

Despite the weak institutional framework supporting the CDF, MPs are still accountable to residents in general elections, when residents have the opportunity to assess the performance of their MPs and reward or punish MPs with their vote. In Kenyas last general election of December 2007, only 40% of the incumbent MPs were re-elected despite the fact that the great majority (80%) of them were contending for re-election. Unlike the presidential election, international electoral observers and Kenyan political parties did not dispute the MPs election outcome, so the election results for MPs are unlikely to be an artefact of election irregularities. The outcome of the MP elections raises serious questions about the factors that influenced voting behavior, and whether the way MPs managed the

Constituency Development Fund affected their re-election chances in a country where voting has traditionally been motivated by ethnic ties rather than the performance of politicians.

Some insights into these questions can be gained from the two nationally representative voter surveys that the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) conducted just before and after the 2007 elections, especially when combined with publicly available information of how MPs used the CDF over the period 2003-2007. Below we present how the CDF was used and a summary of the key preliminary findings from the CSAE surveys. 
Tags Counties / General


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