Kenya has gone a long way towards turning the vision enshrined in its new constitution into reality.
Now Westminster Foundation for Democracy stands ready to assist its post-2010 parliamentary institutions as they consolidate their positions in one of Africa’s most vibrant democracies.
Devolution to 47 County Assemblies, the re-establishment of the Senate, establishment of 47 county governments had provided a basis for establishing Kenya’s new framework for a political environment which covers 42 ethnicities is an ambitious, ongoing project. The reforms come amid exciting technological change which is helping voters connect with their elected representatives much more directly. Citizens are increasingly demanding and want to see results.
In WFD’s view, that poses a great opportunity as well as a significant challenge. Through the devolved systems of government, it is envisaged that the Kenyan citizens will access quality services as the allocation of resources to the county governments will ensure that administratively, all the 47 counties are well equipped to provide the relevant services to their constituents. However, for the new devolved system to succeed in the coming years and decades, we believe both the Senate and County Assemblies can benefit from increasingly effective financial oversight.
WFD has many years’ experience helping link up Kenya’s citizens with its politicians and parliaments. We have helped capacitate civil society organizations from 2004 to 2008, particularly around human rights issues, and have coordinated sister-party work from 2007. In 2015, our three-year programme on Kenyan governance came to an end. We worked with key bodies such as the Centre for Parliament Studies and Training and the Transitional Authority to the devolution process. The processes we developed and resources we produced contributed to strengthening the county budget and appropriation committees, introduced the idea of public hearings ahead of passing budgets, and assisted in the completion of three national laws on devolution.
There is more to do. An effective and viable devolution process requires County Assemblies to have a high level of expertise in financial development, resource management and oversight. Research shows there is limited public knowledge of the Senate’s role and mandate in scrutinising the county administrations, too. Helping drive improvements in oversight and raising the profile of this work go hand in hand; together, they can help achieve effective and inclusive service delivery to all Kenyans.