Devolution

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The 4th of March 2013 was an historical threshold in Kenya's legacy; its citizens in effect granted force to provisions in the Constitution laying in abeyance, thereby altering the manner in which the ordinary citizen would interact with government. The most significant shift from the past involved the devolving of governance, functions and powers to 47 counties, thus reconfiguring the established power dynamics under the old regime.

Almost one year on, a myriad of teething problems related to the rolling out of devolution are rearing their heads throughout the country. These include uncertainty on the power and reach of County Governments (CGs), the timing of when and manner in which the transfer of functions shall be realized, political warfare brewing between various levels of government, misunderstandings and misinterpretations on legislation, regulations and policies touching on devolution, only to mention a few. Such challenges and concerns, while not welcome, are unsurprisingly expected given the novelty that is decentralized government.

For almost half a century, Kenyans came to accept a centralized system where the national government served in every public role, bore responsibility for all functions and was positioned as the sole resort in virtually all public functions. The recently enacted Constitution of Kenya 2010 (CoK) rid us of the old system and introduced a two-tiered level of governance at the national and county level. This system of devolution is proving to be challenging, multifaceted, intricate and not impervious to the unpredictable political storms in Kenya.

In response, IRPA has been involved at all levels, nationally, at the counties and with external bodies to assist Kenya in achieving the promise that is devolution by ensuring a governance system which is transparent, effective in service delivery and responsive to empowered citizens. Our roles in this vital part of Kenya's governance touch on training county leaders, capacity building initiatives for public officers engaged in devolution, drafting of bills and regulations on devolution, conducting assessments to ensure the transfer of functions occurs seamlessly, advising various government officers and institutions on devolution policy, strengthening the county legislative institutions and conducting civic education on devolution.