WFD Kenya launches new programme on strengthening public finance management oversight for county assemblies

KDP
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WFD Kenya launches new programme on strengthening public finance management oversight for county assemblies
WFD in Kenya is currently offering direct technical support to 7 county assemblies through the Kenya Devolution Programme (KDP). WFD supports them in strengthening their financial and audit or public expenditure management (PEM) related committees to carry out their functions in a more effective manner.

The adoption of the devolved system of government in Kenya was a desire of citizens who wanted access to public services closer to them. The aims of devolution are to enhance democratic and accountable governance, promote national unity by recognizing diversity, enhance people’s effective participation in governance, promote the needs and rights of minorities and the marginalized, and ensure more equitable sharing of resources. County Assemblies are fundamental to achieving these.

Among other duties, County Assemblies conduct oversight over Public Expenditure Management (PEM). This includes on critical processes such as the budgeting, procurement, service delivery and monitoring. Strong oversight of public expenditure is important because it helps make sure the spending improves citizens’ lives.

However, according to a Centre for Parliamentary Studies and Training report of 2017, oversight of public expenditure management is the most difficult task for most Members of County Assemblies (MCAs).

WFD’s support

WFD in Kenya is currently offering direct technical support to 7 county assemblies through the Kenya Devolution Programme (KDP). WFD supports them in strengthening their financial and audit or public expenditure management (PEM) related committees to carry out their functions in a more effective manner. The 7 counties are Kilifi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Isiolo, Turkana, and Mandera.

WFD offers this support as part of 9 consortium partners implementing KDP, which is led by Act Change Transform (ACT Kenya). KDP is a four-year national programme (2021-2025) funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). The programme contributes solutions to address the challenges facing devolved governance in Kenya, including.

  • Ineffective intergovernmental relations
  • Ineffective County planning, public finance management, and staff performance
  • Inadequate engagement between county governments and citizens in service delivery
  • Limited integration of evidence, digital technology and learning as enablers of public service delivery and reform.

Assessment findings

WFD conducted capacity assessments with finance and audit related committees from the 7 County Assemblies. The findings from the assessments highlighted several common challenges, including:

  • Interferences from parties outside the county assemblies, especially the county executive and political parties, coupled with weak intergovernmental relations suppress the assembly’s responsibility to deliver on its mandates.
  • Insufficient funds, inadequate human resources, and ineffective public participation to help the assemblies conduct their business effectively.
  • Lack of clear guidelines to inform preparation of comprehensive technical reports for the purpose of scrutiny and oversight of documents along the public expenditure management processes.
  • There is no holistic approach to capacity development of technical staff and MCAs. Some of the Assistant Clerks and other support staff to the committees equally lack understanding of the PEM processes. By extension, several MCAs lack understanding of PEM processes to better scrutinize and oversight the executive.
  • The MCAs’ limited understanding of the PEM process in some of the County Assemblies manifest through inadequate or more often no agenda items to be discussed during committee sittings. Thus, the need for both the technical staff and MCAs to understand the PEM processes and engage appropriately throughout the year.

Based on county specific gaps and action plans, WFD is working to target capacity development and enhancement interventions to staff supporting the committees and the committee members. This will be done through a mix of strategies including skills transfer through training, twinning and mentorship with experienced staff from counterpart committees from the Kenyan national Senate, and exposure to tools and working practice from similar jurisdictions.

The next step for WFD will be to roll out targeted capacity building interventions for each of the 7 county assemblies. The interventions will be inclusive and participatory all through.


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