Devolution has transformed lives in short time

Devolution has transformed lives in short time
Photo: County read network. Photo/File

Julius Muia

By enacting a new Constitution more than six years ago, Kenyans made a commitment to make devolution work as the running theme and key flagship project of the political pillar of Vision 2030.

This transformation has enabled citizens to enjoy a myriad of socio-economic benefits that were hitherto far from reach. Despite the many hurdles encountered during the transition period from a centralised government to a decentralised system, devolution has turned out to be one of the greatest achievements of Kenya’s new Constitution.

Thanks to devolution of health, access to healthcare services has significantly improved. To date more than 1.2 million safe deliveries in health facilities have been recorded on the back of introduction of free maternity services.

Expansion of healthcare services across counties has also seen significant reduction ofmaternal mortality rate from 488 (in 2012) to 362 in every 100,000 live births, translating to 2,000 maternal deaths averted annually.

The devolvement of early childhood development facilities to counties has significantly helped to anchor a better foundation for most school-going children, which will go a long way in reducing dropouts at later stages.

What is outstanding is that resources are now being distributed to sub-national governments based on an objective and redistributive formula that uses indicators such as, population, state of infrastructure and special needs.

Both in fact and perception, this revenue allocation method helps to boost equity and spreads urgently needed development to the most remote villages.

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It is evident that political and fiscal decentralisation has enabled the shifting of resources and people to desired sectors such as manufacturing and high technology; facilitated the provision of public services and spurred growth in other sectors other than the traditional sectors, especially agriculture.

In addition, the policy focus on structural change and transformation has created the necessary impetus to strengthen and support appropriate institutions that make and implement decisions focusing on the developmental challenges in the country. Some of these include job creation, reduction in poverty and tackling inequalities.

A key ingredient of this transformation is accelerated growth that is premised on improved productivity especially in agriculture as stimulus to demand and supply.

A World Bank report released last year has ranked Uasin Gishu as the easiest place to start a business under less than a month based on speedy registration process and property transfer that are attributed to one-stop shops, Huduma centres. The goal of touching every corner of the nation is real.

We now have tarmacked roads in Lodwar and Maralal. After close to five decades, residents of the Eastern part of the country can access clean water.

More villages have also been connected with electricity thanks to the Digital Literacy Programme that has seen over 23,000 public primary schools connected to the national grid.

This has resulted in increased economic activity and stronger connectivity between people. To address persistent drought cycles in hard-hit areas like Wajir, Turkana and Marsabit, cash transfers programme is now an outstanding life-saving initiative and source of livelihood that has enabled residents to engage in economic activities. Previously, it was unimaginable that such areas could be opened to sustainable businesses.

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Sleepy villages have now been spruced up to play host to county government infrastructure, new institutions of higher learning and factories.

Governing Kenya under a two-tier system: the National Government and 47 County governments have thus played a pivotal role in planning and implementing Vision 2030 flagship projects.

Most importantly, implementation of the projects at the devolved units is people centered focusing on most urgent needs and the execution is by local leaders hence creating ownership.

As we take stock of how devolution has transformed lives in the country, it is undeniable that the new system of governance is indeed working.

The Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat is therefore urging Kenyans to continue enhancing mutual collaboration and cooperation to consolidate and secure the gains made thus far.

Let us all reflect, give a fair assessment on the gains and remain vigilant as we head towards the August General Election in order to safeguard these achievements and look for ways and areas of improvement.n has come to a stuttering halt. —The writer is Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat Director General

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