The Evolution Of Kenya's Devolution

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Publisher World Bank
Year of Publication
Category Consitution of Kenya Papers and Articles Policies and Guidelines
County All/General
Description Kenyas devolution is one of the most revolutionary underway in the world, involving large-scale political, fiscal, and administrative decentralization. Many countriesboth rich and poorhave transferred power and resources to lower levels of government. Few have done so to entirely new subnational units, and with such speed.

Devolution is however, only one of several fundamental transformations brought about by the countrys 2010 constitution. As part of these transformations, Government institutions have been significantly reorganized. The electoral system has been overhauled, so too the method of political representation. And the policy formulation process has been restructured. Through devolution, the Kenyan Republic now comprises two interdependent levels of government, reflecting full separation of powers. Mechanisms have been introduced for national oversight over county governments. The mechanisms include: expenditure controls and transparency in counties; budget implementation and accountability in withdrawals from all public funds; scrutiny of accounts; and, legislative supervision through Parliament.

The new changes have seen key functions transferred to 47 new counties, although management of urban areas has been recentralized. In general, policy functions are assigned to the national government, with counties assuming responsibility for implementation and delivery of services, mainly in agriculture, health, water and county roads: the bulk of education is not devolved, except for pre-primary education and village polytechnics. In terms of management of urban areas, the previously existing system of local governments is abolished, leaving urban functions in the hands of county assemblies and executives. Subject to definitions of cities and municipalities contained in a new law, only a handful of urban areas will be managed by corporate entities. The challenge in recentralizing urban management is that municipal services could in future be neglected, and possibly be under-funded, which might impinge negatively on the countrys long term economic growth agenda.  


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