Strengthening devolution

The 2010 Constitution created a devolved system of government whose aim was to decentralise political and economic power and increase access to services across Kenya.

Devolution is enshrined in Chapter 11 of the Constitution. It provides for the establishment of 47 counties, each with its own government headed by a governor as spelt out in the County Governments Act 2012.


Objectives of devolution

Overall, the objectives of the devolved system of government, as provided under Article 174 of the 2010 Constitution, include:

1. Promotion of democratic and accountable exercise of power;

2. Fostering of national unity by recognising diversity;

3. Giving powers of self-governance to the people and enhancing the people’s participation in the exercise of powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them;

4. Recognition of the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development;

5. Protection and promotion of the interests and rights of minorities and marginalised communities;

6. Promotion of social and economic development and provision of proximate, easily accessible services throughout Kenya;

7. Ensuring equitable sharing of national and local resources throughout Kenya; and,

8. Facilitation of the decentralisation of State services.

There are five key institutions that the Constitution and subsequent legislation have set up to ensure that devolution works. These are the Council of Governors, the Senate, the County Executive Committees, the County Assemblies and the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC).

In terms of creating a major departure in the governance of the country and the management of public resources, devolution has largely been successful.

However, it is still frustrated by serious challenges that, if left unaddressed, will raise questions about its political and economic sustainability.

Some of these challenges are addressed in the Building Bridges Initiative report. This chapter considers how the institutions set up to ensure devolution works have performed in the review period.


Council of Governors (CoG)

The Council Governors is established under Section 19 of the Intergovernmental Relations Act 2012. It comprises the governors of the 47 counties. Given that governors have executive powers, CoG is the institution with the most power and influence to ensure the success of devolution.

Bomet County’s first Governor Isaac Ruto was the first occupant of the office of chairman of CoG. He was succeeded by then Meru County Governor Peter Munya, who handed over to Joseph Nanok of Turkana. The current chairman is Wycliffe Oparanya of Kakamega.

Functions of the Council under section 20 of the Act are as follows:

a) Consultation among County Governments;

b) Sharing information on the performance of counties in the execution of their functions with the objective of learning and promoting best practice and, where necessary, initiating preventive or corrective action;

c) Considering matters of common interest to County Governments;

d) Dispute resolution between counties within the framework provided

under the Act;

e) Facilitating capacity building for governors;

f) Receiving reports and monitoring the implementation of inter-county agreements on inter-county projects;

g) Consideration of matters referred to the Council by members of the public;

h) Consideration of reports from other intergovernmental forums on matters affecting National and County interests, or relating to the performance of counties; and,

i) Performing any other function as may be conferred on it by this Act or any other legislation, or that it may consider necessary or appropriate.

Through the Council, governors identify priority issues and deal collectively with matters of public policy and governance at the County and National levels.

The Council holds annual devolution conferences at which global successes, challenges and how to overcome them are discussed. In the review period, the 6th Annual Devolution Conference was held in Kirinyaga County under the theme: “Deliver. Transform. Measure: Remaining Accountable”.

Opening the conference, President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke about corruption, the dangers it poses to the system and the need to fight it.

He called for national discussion on how to invest more resources towards development, and reduce wage bill and recurrent expenditure.

He said devolution was working for many Kenyans but it can be enhanced for shared prosperity by more people.

Speaking on behalf of development partners, Nic Hailey, UK High Commissioner, emphasised the need to make corruption painful. Devolution, he said, needs to move four million Kenyans who live below the poverty line out of poverty. These are mainly women, the youth and People Living With Disabilities (PWDs).

Mr Johnson Osoi, the chairman of the County Assemblies Forum (CAF) in the review period, said the County Assemblies need stronger autonomy, especially in budget control. The financial autonomy of county assemblies, he added, will be actualised by anchoring CAF in law. This will increase efficiency in implementation of programmes and service delivery to wananchi.

He also called for automation of the budget approval process at the Office of the Controller of Budget and faster release of cash from the National Treasury to counties.

The then Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen said the House was committed to play its legislative and oversight role to enhance devolution. The Senate will discuss constitutional amendments to increase county allocations in the National Budget from the current 15 percent to 45 percent, he said.

He urged County Accounts Committees to step up and ensure accountability in use of the funds.

The oversight role of the Senate should also be enhanced, with funds provided for senators to undertake objective oversight, he said.

CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, the Governor of Kakamega, said agriculture value chains need to be enhanced through technology, financial platforms and value addition to create jobs and enhance interest of the youth in agriculture.

The counties, he said, were committed to supporting the Big Four Agenda. However, the role of counties in implementation of the National Government’s development plan still needs to be clarified along three issues – level of involvement of counties, policy framework definition and the need to enhance its understanding by counties, he noted.

Another important issue at the conference was the need for devolution to be inclusive of children’s needs and rights, e.g safe environments for play and rest, and an education curriculum that includes the needs of children with disability.

Eugene Wamalwa, Cabinet Secretary for Devolution, urged counties to tackle corruption and spend the bulk of resources allocated to them on development, not recurrent expenditure as is the case currently.


County experiences with implementing the Big Four Agenda

Health Cabinet Secretary Cecily Kariuki said a bottom-up approach in health services delivery and in the management of public health, had proven to be effective in a number of counties, including Kisumu, Nyeri and Isiolo.

Community health volunteers are particularly effective in dealing with preventive and promotive healthcare and are also able to obtain critical household level data which can be fed into the mainstream health management systems, she said.

Maternal and child health indicators show a glaring gap in the health sector. For Isiolo County, 790 women die at childbirth out of every 100,000 women. Some 154 infants die out of every 1,000 children born in the county.

The Universal Health Care (UHC) is working effectively in most counties and there is increased coordination and partnership between counties and the National Government. Delivery of medical commodities, including drugs, is more synchronised as hospitals are now drawing directly from the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA).

This has reduced backlog and delays previously experienced that compromised delivery of medical services to citizens.

The National Government is putting more emphasis on preventive and promotive healthcare, which focuses on encouraging healthy lifestyle, immunisation and public health-related issues, such as ensuring the environment is safe and free from disease-causing agents.


Constitutional change discourse within the devolution context

Devolution is the best thing that Kenyans ever gave themselves since Independence. But for it to work properly, there needs to be a close and cordial relationship between National and County Governments.

There is, therefore, a need for Kenyans to be bold and advocate for change that can enhance the benefits of devolution. This includes structuring counties in a way that is most sustainable. The conference felt that counties need to develop a peer review mechanism, performance reporting and independent assessment, emulate success stories and correct one another.

There is a need for a clearer framework for revenue for the various functions. The functions should define the revenue, and not vice versa.

The role of counties in the Big Four Agenda should also be clarified since its core mandate falls in devolved functions. This issue is covered at length in the chapter on constitutional changes.


Revenue collection

There is a need to strengthen revenue collection by counties. For this to happen, county leaders must think outside the box.

Leaders must take responsibility on corruption, which is responsible not only for falling revenue collection but also for misuse of the little that is collected. To end corruption, leaders must stop politicising it but instead let relevant institutions lead the fight. The institutions established to fight corruption should be strengthened and supported.

Citizens participation is also crucial in accountability, which is important in keeping the trust of Kenyans. Constitutional change must strengthen devolution by increasing the resources to counties.

To ensure the resources are properly used, the capacities of County Assemblies must be built, and the Assemblies must be given financial autonomy to play their oversight role.


Creating a cross-sectoral enabling environment for the Big Four Agenda

Key challenges on health matters in Kenya include strikes by medical workers. Negotiations, policy changes and reconciliatory efforts are ongoing to seek lasting solutions to these issues.

Counties are committed to address these issues that include fair pay to medics and equipping hospitals and supplying drugs. Kisii County, for example, now spends 42 percent of its budget on health. Counties agreed to improve the salaries for health workers and their working conditions.

Other measures agreed upon include:

1) Putting in place a pool of qualified medical staff that can be engaged immediately;

2) Disciplinary proceedings to be followed up and actioned;

3) Putting in place a futuristic model of outsourcing medical personnel;

4) Natural attrition of nurses to be managed through contractual recruitment terms;

5) Policies and laws on determination of essential services detailing their regulations and rules to be developed;

6) Cross-county sharing of information to be improved;

7) Sharing of personnel horizontally across counties, and vertically with the National Government, to be encouraged;

8. Tele-medicine opportunities to be exploited; and,

9. Improving the capacity of doctors to specialise in various fields of medicine. Kisii County is pioneering this, with its first batch of 46 doctors who were trained in the review period.


Challenges and opportunities in implementation of the Big Four Agenda

The conference noted a number of hurdles that prevent devolution from fully working for Kenyans and which need to be addressed. These are;

1) Delivery of National Government project on silos due to lack of cooperation between the two levels of government;

2) Corruption and loss of public funds;

3) Lack of public participation;

4) Weak performance management systems, which include inaccurate reporting. This had been addressed by Executive Order 1 of 2019 to ensure there is a strong coordination committee. There is also an emphasis on a coordination matrix through a bottom-up approach;

5) Value in liaison of County Governments and National Government makes implementation easy. It was emphasised that only ‘manufacturing’ is a National Government function, but the other three – affordable housing, UHC and food security – are devolved. Thus there is a need to create synergy between the two levels of government;

6) Intergovernmental relations: Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) now facilitates an assets report per county. On land, it is reported that over 60,000 land assets have been identified across the country. This means that the counties can utilise these assets for wealth creation at their level;

7) Analysis, unbundling and transfer of functions: Some ministries have completed transfer of functions – such as meat inspection, betting and control, libraries and museums. This is an avenue for counties to further generate revenue;

8) Enabling policies and registrations, e.g on cooperatives, alternative dispute resolutions (ADR), and also resolving disputes between National and devolved governments away from the courts. There is a measure of success as counties are avoiding high costs of litigation between them and the National Government;

9) Legal framework for holistic county pensions framework to be put in place. Currently, they use existing systems of previous local authorities. There was a rush for a legal framework before an overarching policy was put in place. This created confusion on the mandates of the National and County Governments. It is imperative for a policy to be put in place first, and ensure that it covers all civil servants;

10) The Ministry of Devolution interfaces between the two levels of government. The ministry supports intergovernmental mechanisms by developing guidelines. The ministry has supported 15 counties to implement the Big Four Agenda by disbursing Sh900 million;

11) There should be support to counties to build capacities on planning, especially around County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs), and review policies especially on regional economic blocs.

12) Technology is an enabler and should be considered a basic infrastructure, as it provides information for empowerment, knowledge, and making decisions based on data. However, there is loss of opportunities as many citizens do not protect the infrastructure, leading to huge business losses; and,

13) There is a need to enact laws to support National and County Governments on ICT protection. ICT facilitates data collection on the Big Four Agenda, for instance.


Examples of ICT use:

i) Manufacturing: one can track data on goods being shipped that can be marketable.

ii)Agriculture: There are systems that can indicate when best to plant, what fertilisers to use for what, and when best to apply it. Information can be sent to farmers via phone on short message service (SMS). The system also coordinates and communicates on what areas have what products and hence can facilitate access to markets.

iii) Affordable Housing: The National Government should invest in a land management system that captures all land owned by the Government and individuals. Land transfers should be updated at county level. This enhances better land management.

iv) Health: Capacity building can be eased using technology, e.g managing illnesses and finding out the services easily accessible.


The conference stressed on the need to increase resource allocation to counties if the Big Four Agenda is to be delivered. But counties also need to step up the absorption of development funds. Of the 30-61 percent allocated to development expenditure, only two percent was spent, according to Jane Kiringai, the chairperson of the Commission for Revenue Allocation (CRA).


Making Kenya’s agriculture count

The devolution conference discussed reforms that will optimise agricultural production. One of the models discussed, dubbed ‘’Counties that count,’’ is based on what has been tried in Zambia with success.

Participants were upbeat that the model will lead Kenya into a “data revolution in agriculture”. It has a capacity to identify gaps in a growing population versus food production. Currently, we have high costs of production versus very low yields. Yet with the right inputs and technologies, yields can increase significantly.

The system is developed to ensure farmer registration by extension workers and information capture on what they grow, land size and mechanisation of the farms.

Farmers get vouchers for subsidised procurement of inputs specific to them. This tracks farm performance and is linked to banks for credit. There is then a module on food security information. It informs on what is likely to happen and what to do and, finally an extension module for advice to farmers on what to plant, when and where.

Agricultural extension officers, data analysts and service providers, are key for this to work at both the County and National levels.


Good governance and accountability

Governors are now increasingly taking the lead and showing keen interest in county audit processes undertaken by the Office of the Auditor General. There has been some improvement in county accounting and recording, which has eased audit processes, including timeliness in the generation of audit reports and subsequent response and implementation of recommendations. To this end, the Office of the Auditor General has reported that all the county reports (for both county executive and assemblies) have been signed for the financial year ending December 2018.

However, perennial challenges in the utilisation of IFMIS by counties continue to hamper their work. The ICT infrastructure needs to be strengthened to deal with connectivity difficulties that hamper full application of IFMIS.

The centralised nature of IFMIS is a big challenge to devolution as the system still operates as it did before promulgation of the Constitution in 2010. A suggestion was made to have two systems, one that will solely support the National Government and another for the counties, with an interface mechanism between the two systems.

Some counties continue to face compliance issues, particularly in keeping of their books of accounts, which then leads to various audit queries.

The work of the Senate in oversighting counties is adding value and is critical in ensuring that leaders are held accountable and resources meant for Kenyans trickle down efficiently.

As at the year ending December 2018, two counties had received unqualified reports; 30 had received relatively good reports with a few audit recommendations; 12 had received adverse reports; and red flags had been raised for three counties.

It was reported that some counties consider the creation of county audit committees as ‘’optional.’’ The Commission for Revenue Allocation regulations stipulate that funding to counties will be affected if functional audit committees are not in place, among other regulations. There is a need for independence of the county audit committees to ensure they remain effective and transparent in exercising their mandate.

This should free the Senate oversight committees to deal with matters of policy, such as review of wage bills and county resource allocation. Currently, audit queries that can be addressed at the local level are being brought before the Senate committee, which then limits the time that would be spent on critical aspects that relate to legislation and its applicability as far as accountability is concerned.

There is a marked increase in public awareness on corruption. Citizens are now beginning to appreciate the cost of corruption to the nation and to their lives.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is engaging a multi-agency approach to investigating cases brought before the commission. A multi-agency task force has been constituted to deal with economic crimes.

It includes Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, EACC, Office of the Auditor General, Office of the Attorney General, Asset Recovery Agency and Kenya Revenue Authority. This approach ensures that cases are investigated comprehensively and further concretizes cases that are brought before a court of law for prosecution.

The Commission on Administration of Justice is working on operationalising the Access to Information Act and is working closely with the Ministry of Information and County Governments, particularly in public sensitisation through outreach programmes.

Social accountability still continues to be treated with suspicion by both National and County officers and leaders. There is a need to emphasise that Kenyans exercise their sovereignty through social accountability by holding their leaders accountable on issues relating to budget processes, public procurement, etc. Social accountability ensures that information is accessible to citizens in a timely fashion to ensure they have effective engagement. It was reported that some counties are now disaggregating data generated from IFMIS to make it more palatable to Kenyans for easier interpretation and interrogation, thereby increasing public participation.

There are instances where social accountability has been politicised for political ends – it is important for social accountability to be evidence-based and geared towards ensuring that the principles of good governance are respected for the benefit of all Kenyans.

Political goodwill is essential to ensure that financial prudence is exercised and the requisite processes and regulations are followed to the letter.

The conference emphasised the need for public officers to step aside if they are suspected of committing economic crimes to enable thorough investigations to be carried out and to avoid tampering with witnesses and evidence.

Additionally, application of the Public Officers Code of Conduct, and Public Officers Ethics Act should be strengthened to ensure that they do not engage in procurement.


Making regional economic blocs work

County Governments – with the exception of Nairobi City County – have organised themselves into seven regional economic blocs, as follows:

1. North Rift Economic Bloc (NOREB) – Formed in 2015 and comprises eight counties (Baringo, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, Samburu, West Pokot, Turkana and Uasin Gishu);

2. Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) – Comprises 14 counties (Bungoma, Busia, Kakamega, Kisumu, Siaya, Vihiga, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira, Bomet, Kericho, Trans Nzoia and Nandi);

3. South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB) – Formed in 2016 and comprises three counties (Machakos, Makueni and Kitui);

4. Central Kenya Economic Bloc (CEKEB) – Formed in 2018 and comprises 10 counties (Nyeri, Kiambu, Laikipia, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Meru, Embu and Tharaka-Nithi);

5. Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC) – Formed in 2014 and comprises 10 counties (Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Lamu, Tana River, West Pokot, Samburu and Turkana);

6. Jumuia ya Kaunti za Pwani – Comprises six counties (Lamu, Kilifi, Mombasa, Kwale, Taita Taveta and Tana River); and

7. Narok and Kajiado Economic Bloc (NAKAEB) – Formed in 2019.


The concept of regional economic blocs is based on the saying – “if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” Depending on economic interests, counties can belong to more than one bloc. The draft policy on regional economic blocs provides for a minimum of two and a maximum of 14 per bloc.

Creation of regional blocs is anchored in Kenya’s legal framework, i.e Constitution of Kenya 189 (2), Intergovernmental Relations Act, and County Governments Act.

The seven regional blocs were created with the aim to: Allow for comparative and competitive advantage (economies of scale) to trade internally, with other regions and internationally;

1. Provide an avenue for integrated economic growth among counties. Majority of Kenya’s flagship projects shall leverage on the established regional economic blocs; and,

2. Allow for equitable sharing and conservation of natural resources.

The Ministry of Devolution and ASAL have prepared a draft policy to guide and regulate procedures and processes for establishment, operationalisation and preparation of a model of funding for joint programmes of regional economic blocs. The ministry has also developed guidelines for creation of sector working groups for the blocs. Jumuia ya Kaunti za Pwani has already established its Gender Sector Working Group.

The FCDC has been incorporated into a limited liability company and is therefore beyond the purview of public oversight and accountability.

As much as creation of regional blocs is anchored on other Kenyan legislations, there is a need to come up with descriptive legislation to specifically guide and regulate their establishment and operationalisation.

A draft Bill on regional economic blocs shall be presented soon to the Senate. For the regional economic blocs to work, it is important to have a legislative framework in place before institutional frameworks are established.

Most of the blocs established during the first phase of devolution faced challenges because county executives did not involve respective county legislative wings. This has since changed as county assemblies are involved in formulation of legislations for engagement, hence the gains made thus far.

The issue of regional economic blocs should not be equated to establishment of regional governments. Formation of regional governments goes against the principles of devolution, as it is a form of recentralisation.

But there are some questions that have arisen. With the establishment of regional economic blocs, should existing Regional Development Authorities be disbanded? Is there duplication of roles? It is possible for the two entities to co-exist as they serve different purposes and draw resources from different sources.

Whereas Regional Development Authorities are resourced by the National Government, regional economic blocs are funded by member counties.

But caution should be taken in the establishment of these regional economic blocs lest they become tribal enclaves.

The National Government is ready and willing to work with and support the established blocs. For instance, with support from the National Government, the FCDC received Sh120 billion development grant from the World Bank to support infrastructure, agriculture and water development in the region.


Role of citizens in devolution

Although public participation is a requirement of the Constitution, there is evidence on the ground that this is not happening in the right way.

As a result, many citizens at the grassroots are unaware of Government projects.

For example, Biashara Funds is a programme that seeks to build women’s economic power. But because of financial literacy problems, majority of them do not understand what they are signing into when trying to access loans. And once they default on their payments, their assets are seized.

Universal Health Care is another project that is not well understood by many Kenyans. There is little to no awareness creation at community level on UHC, hence the reason many communities are not completely sold to it, especially women. Even many health workers do not understand UHC.

Many women are also not aware of the contents of the Big Four Agenda. Women are the ones who mainly go to markets, but they do not get proper services.

Community Health Volunteers, who are mostly young people, can be engaged to create public awareness on UHC and other programmes. They can have a chance to transition to Community Health Workers so that they can earn some income.

The governed must be part and parcel of the system.


Counties have tried to engage citizens in devolution by:

i) Sharing county information;

ii) Facilitating civic education for women to utilise money in the proper way;

iii) Mobilising women to attend and contribute in public participation forums; and,

iv) Visiting women groups and informing them about development. This is one of the strategies used to engage women at the grassroots level.


The mobilisation strategy for people to attend public participation forums has been wanting and, as a result, many citizens do not attend. Many are alerted of the forums too late, while the materials for critique are given at the wrong time. There is also discrimination in selection of participants, which mainly targets supporters of the Government.

The County Governments must create adequate opportunity to engage all the citizens, including those economically engaged in different sectors, to input into development plans.

The chapter on political and constitutional changes has proposals on how to make public participation effective, including creation of the Office of Public Rapporteur.


Informal sector

The informal sector, also known as Jua Kali, is Kenya’s biggest employer. There are far more Kenyans working and earning a living in this sector than in the formal employment sector. Yet this sector is not recognised by law, therefore people resort to do business on land they do not own, such as road sides. As a result, they face numerous disruptions, including being evicted and their little assets seized. They also do not have access to financing facilities. Counties should consider informal businesses in CIDPs because they play a big role in the economy.


County Executive Committees

Article 179 of the Constitution establishes County Executive Committees and vests them with executive authority of the counties.

They comprise the governor and his deputy, and 10 members appointed by the governors with the approval of the county assembly from persons who are not members of the assembly. Also referred to as the County Cabinet, they run key service delivery departments.


County Assemblies

Members of the County Assembly are either elected to represent various wards within a county, or nominated. They debate issues concerning the management of the county, pass budgets, vet governors’ nominees and pass Bills.

The Assembly is constituted per the provisions in section 177 (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the Constitution and Section 7(1) and (2) of the County Governments Act 2011.

The County Assembly has a Speaker, Majority Leader and Minority Leader. Every County Assembly has a lifespan of five years, as explained in section 177 (4) of the Constitution.

The Assembly consists of members elected by registered voters in the Wards, and members allocated special seats, such as women nominees and members of marginalised groups, including persons with disabilities.

County Assemblies Forum

The County Assemblies Forum (CAF) is the coordinating body of the 47 County Assemblies in Kenya. The primary mandate of CAF is to promote networking and synergy among the 47 County Assemblies, coordinate intergovernmental relations and enhance good practice in legislative development.



Under the Constitution, the Senate is the protector of devolution.

It is provided for under Article 96 of the Constitution. It comprises 47 elected and 20 nominated members, the majority of whom are women. Its roles include:

(a) To represent the counties and protect the interests of the counties and their governments.

(b) To participate in the law-making function of Parliament by considering, debating and approving Bills concerning counties, as provided for in Articles 109 to 113.

(c) To determine the allocation of national revenue among counties, as provided for in Article 217, and to exercise oversight.

(d) To participate in the oversight of State officers by considering and determining any resolution to remove the President or Deputy President from office in accordance with Article 145.

To effectively perform these functions, the Senate is supported by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC).

The PSC is a Constitutional Commission established under Article 127 of the Constitution of Kenya to support the role of Parliament, as provided for in Article 94. Article 127 (6) bestows upon the PSC the following responsibilities:

(i) Provide services and facilities to ensure the efficient and effective functioning of Parliament;

(ii) Constitute offices in the Parliamentary Service, and appoint and supervise office holders;

(iii) Prepare annual estimates for the Parliamentary Service and submit them to the National Assembly; and,

v) Undertake singly or jointly with other relevant organisations, programmes to promote parliamentary democracy.

The PSC’s Strategic Plan is anchored on the national economic blueprint, Vision 2030. The plan spells out the roadmap to achieving middle-income status by 2030. The transition from a unicameral to a bicameral Parliament took place during the implementation of the second Medium Term Plan (MTP) 2012-2017. Currently, the MTP III, coupled by implementation of the Big Four Agenda, is expected to inform programmes and activities across all sectors.

Vision 2030 is premised on three pillars, namely, economic, social and political. As such, all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are required to align their Strategic Plans to Vision 2030 and subsequently the Big Four Agenda so as to contribute to the achievement of the national goals espoused in the Vision.

The contribution of Parliament to Vision 2030 is through its roles as provided in Article 94 and 95. This is in terms of legislation, oversight, participatory representation and appropriation of funds for expenditure. Parliament, therefore, supports the critical sectors identified as enablers of economic and social development by providing an enabling environment for socio-economic development. Parliament’s Strategic Plan takes cognisant of these expectations.

The Strategic Plan 2019-2030 will help the PSC to set priorities, focus its human and financial resources and strengthen operations and systems. The ultimate mission is to facilitate Members of Parliament to effectively and efficiently discharge their constitutional mandate of representation, legislation and oversight. It is also meant to ensure consensus on intended strategies, activities, outcomes and results for the institution of Parliament; an important concept in corporate governance. The Strategic Plan will therefore give the direction and roadmap for implementation of Parliament’s activities and projects for the next 10 years.


Parliament in the context of devolved units

Devolution and devolved governments, as provided for in Article 174, are important components of governance. Devolution as a governance framework has been identified as one of the most transformative changes provided for by the Constitution of Kenya.

It promotes democratic and accountable exercise of power; fosters national unity by recognising diversity; gives power of self-governance to the people and enhances their participation.

Further, it recognises the rights of communities to manage their affairs. In view of these, the Constitution in Article 96(1) bestows upon Parliament and particularly the Senate the responsibility of representing the counties and protecting their interests and that of their governments.

The Senate is, therefore, expected to make laws by considering, debating and approving Bills concerning counties and, most importantly, determine allocation of national revenue among counties while exercising oversight over national revenue allocated to these units.

To this end, the Senate has made efforts to entrench devolution through approving and passing of requisite legislation. Among the key pieces of legislation that have been either passed or are being considered are:

1. The Annual County Allocation of Revenue Bills;

2. Equalisation Fund and Appropriation Bill;

3. Urban Areas and Cities (Amendment) Bill, 2017;

4. The County Governments (Amendment) Bill 2017; and

5. The National Flags, Emblems and Names (Amendment) Bill 2017, and

6. The County Boundaries Bill, 2017.

In this context, therefore, Parliament is required to engage with all the devolved structures – its key stakeholder – while managing intergovernmental relations, thereby achieving the vision of a democratic and people-centered Parliament.


Alignment to the National Development Plans

The core mandate of Parliament of passing laws, appropriation of resources, oversight and representation are essential for implementation and attainment of national goals. As representatives of the people, Parliamentarians are the mouthpiece of their constituents to guarantee participatory and equitable development.

The Strategic Plan 2019-2030 is anchored on Vision 2030 which is expected to help transform Kenya into a middle-income country while providing a high quality of life to citizens by the year 2030. Unpacking Vision 2030 to specifically focus on food security, manufacturing, affordable housing and affordable healthcare will complement the implementation of MTP III in its quest to achieve Vision 2030.

This calls for harnessing of citizens’ involvement, enactment of relevant legislation, and provision of the necessary oversight to ensure the implementation of the Big Four Agenda and other development plans.

Parliament is expected to play a critical role in actualising these by strengthening political stability, promoting national reconciliation, encouraging social harmony and expanding the democratic space.


Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC)

The Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) is established under Section 187 of the Public Finance Management Act (2012).

The council comprises:

1. The Deputy President, who shall be the Chairperson;

2. The Cabinet Secretary responsible for matters relating to finance;

3. A representative of the Parliamentary Service Commission;

4. A representative of the Judicial Service Commission;

5. Chairperson of the Commission on Revenue Allocation, or a person designated by the Chairperson;

6. Chairperson of the Council of County Governors;

7. Every County Executive Committee member for finance; and

8. The Cabinet Secretary responsible for intergovernmental relations (currently the Devolution ministry).

Role of IBEC

The role of the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) is to provide a forum for consultation and cooperation between the National Government and County Governments on;

1. The contents of the Budget Policy Statement, the Budget Review and Outlook Paper, and the Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy (see key budget documents in Kenya);

2. Matters relating to budgeting, the economy, financial management and integrated development at the National and County level;

3. Matters relating to borrowing and the framework for National Government loan guarantees, criteria for guarantees and eligibility for guarantees;

4. Agree on the schedule for disbursement of available cash from the Consolidated Fund on the basis of cash-flow projections;

5. Any proposed legislation or policy which has a financial implication for the counties, or for any specific county or counties;

6. Any proposed regulation to the Public Finance Management (PFM) Act;

7. Recommendations on the equitable distribution of revenue between the National and County Governments and among the County Governments as provided in section 190 of the PFM Act; and,

8. Any other matter which the Deputy President, in consultation with other council members, may decide.


Other provisions

An appointed member of the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) holds office for two years. He or she is eligible for re-nomination and reappointment for another term not exceeding two years.

The National Treasury should provide secretariat services to the Council. It should assign or appoint such support staff as may be necessary for the Council to effectively perform its functions.

The Council should meet at least twice a year. The Deputy President shall decide the time and agenda for meetings of the Council, in consultation with other members of the Council.

In the absence of the Chairperson from any meeting of the Council, the Cabinet Secretary responsible for finance shall chair the meeting.

The Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) may determine its own rules and procedures in such a manner as it considers appropriate.

The Council may invite other persons to attend any of its meetings.

A member of the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council shall cease to be a member if that person ceases to hold office by virtue of which he or she became a member of the Council.

Proposed reforms for devolution

In terms of creating a major departure in the governance of the country and the management of public resources, devolution has largely been a success.

However, devolution is still frustrated by serious challenges that, if left unaddressed, will raise questions about its political and economic sustainability.

The Building Bridges Initiative report came up with a number of suggestions on how to make devolution work better for Kenyans. These are discussed comprehensively in the chapter on political and constitutional changes.

However, Kenyans who appeared before the BBI task force that came up with the report overwhelmingly wanted counties to remain as they are, but with services further decentralised to the Ward level. They want far better service delivery and for development projects to receive enough oversight to prevent wastage and corruption.

They want to have the means to report on projects that are being shoddily developed, and to see this information acted on by the relevant institutions. They also want duplication of roles by County and National public officers eradicated, and most of the tax funds allocated to development projects. The report says the majority of those who appeared before the task force want funds to County Governments increased, with more functions being devolved.

Kenyans want to be consulted, through the public participation process, on planning and budgeting.

Although devolution has improved inclusion and service delivery, a sizeable number of the challenges experienced prior to 2010 still crop up. Some of the institutional reforms that should have been carried out to align governance with the new constitutional imperatives are yet to take place.

Treating Kenyans as if they have no right and power in policies, laws, budgeting and development projects is the order of the day. Counties are suffering from corruption, nepotism, delays in decision-making, development of projects not relevant to the needs of a locality, and inefficient and ineffective delivery of services.

Most of the views on devolution given by Kenyans to the task force centered on the following issues:

(a) The revenue share between National and County Governments;

(b) How to resolve exclusivity and marginalisation in the counties;

(c) How the counties can more effectively carry out their mandates; and,

(d) How to enhance economic growth in counties, and their ability to raise revenue without discouraging economic dynamism due to red-tape. The overriding concern for Kenyans is to identify and deal effectively with these challenges facing devolution.

Most of the submissions made to the task force advocated for more resources to be given to counties, but also that the counties should be more accountable and inclusive in their programming. Kenyans called for increased and more effective oversight and auditing, specifically focused on the need to tame corruption; monitor county spending; reduce recurrent expenditure; increase citizen participation in spending decisions; do away with the tendency of politicians to reward cronies and their families with employment; and reduce the wage bill.

The same calls for inclusion that were made by Kenyans regarding the National Government Executive were made for the counties. Ethnic minorities not perceived to be part of a winning coalition, or who, for some reason, are not political supporters of the county regime in place, are often excluded.

The cruel irony is that Article 174(e) of the Constitution provides that one of the objectives of devolution is ‘to protect and promote the interests and rights of minorities and underserved or discriminated-against communities.’ The report recommends that measures leading to greater inclusion, equality, equity, and basic fairness at the National level should be mirrored in the Counties, both in law, policy and administration.

It says there are strong concerns that despite the existence of the County Service Boards, hiring is still deeply unfair. To solve this, it proposes that the independence of the Public Service Commission should be replicated at the County level. Such a function would be responsible for the recruitment of County staff, setting reimbursement levels that are in harmony with the National Government, ensuring inclusivity, and raising the skills and capabilities of those employed.

There is ample scope for County Governments to also embrace performance management with clear metrics to enhance staff effectiveness. Steps should also be taken to strengthen the ability of Members of County Assemblies in providing proper oversight on the County Government.

Enhancing economic growth in the counties is crucial, otherwise devolution could stall and, even worse, reverse. What is crucial is for counties to be guided by a greater focus on being competitive by helping residents to be more entrepreneurial, and for investments from other parts of the country and abroad to flow into the county.

At the core of this is that County Government’s regulation and revenue collection should not crush the incentives for investment and innovation. Every county should establish and publicise an Entrepreneurship and Investment Code that it would implement in a predictable and effective manner.

There is a nationwide lament that corruption has permeated both the Executive and the Legislative arms of County Governments. This impedes service delivery and development and may generate disaffection with the system of devolved government. County governments were blamed for excesses, corruption, and failure to improve service delivery. It was also noted that political interests tend to override public service delivery. There was a strong perception that procurement of goods and services was undertaken in disregard of procurement laws and best practices, and that the process was characterised by patronage and nepotism, misallocation of funds, and other governance ills.

If corruption in counties is not brought to heel, it could lead to failure of devolution, as citizens seek alternative governance and management models.



1. Constitution of Kenya 2010.

2. Report on the Proceedings of the Council of Governors Summit 2019.

3. Building Bridges to a United Kenya: From a nation of blood ties to a nation of ideals.

Parliamentary Service Commission Strategic Plan 2019-2030iveness of Members of Parliament in their constitutional mandate pursuant to Articles 94 and 95 of the Constitution. In the spirit of subsidiarity, the strategic objectives seek to strengthen Devolution, devolved units and constituency offices. Further, the objectives will focus on mainstreaming of monitoring and evaluation, strengthen knowledge and entrench evidence informed decision making in Parliament.

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