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Lessons learnt on devolution and leadership in the last five years

Governors Stephen Sang (Nandi), Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) and Joyce Laboso (Bomet) at Golf Hotel last month. PHOTO/COURTESY
There are a raft changes and evolution of public sector reforms in Kenya and the lessons learnt as a result of devolution for the last five years. it is obvious that some Governors are serving their second terms, while others are first timers.
On their campaign trail, the leaders made election promises, including bringing Change to public sector reforms, development projects and working of the National government with the County governments to seamlessly give service to Mwananchi.
Election promises, anchored in their blue print are believed to be the policies they intend to put into the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) for the governance period 2017-2022.
As the First Devolution Conference of the second County governments takes place in Kakamega High School, an assessment of the integrated development planning comes in handy, which is process through which efforts at national and devolved levels of government and other relevant public institutions are coordinated at the local level.
However, for the Inaugural County governments, it was a learning point and implementing the Constitution by assistance of the Transition Authority led by Lawyer Kinuthia Wamwangi as Chairman.
Mr Wamwangi says that the Constitution spells out the functions that have been devolved to county governments with the objective of bringing services closer to the people and ensuring public participation in defining and charting out the development agenda at the grassroots level.
He says that it was tough to implement the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which provides a raft of changes in the governance framework under the Fourth Schedule. He says some services were rushed to be devolved for example the Medical function.
The rush, as a result brought in teething issues on referral facilities, medical workers payments and provision of essential services of security during emergency and disasters.

“Development was envisioned to be done under an orderly manner that can be tracked and implemented by subsequent office bearers using the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDP’s), provided for under Constitution, the County Government Act, 2012; and the Kenya Vision 2030 plus its Medium Term Plans,” he says.

But, Mr Wamwangi opines that challenges were bound to happen, and it was a learning point for everyone.
“However, the current Governors must nor repeat the same mistakes, Members of County Assemblies benchmarking without a clear structure of intended output. Lets use the lessons learned to be better,” said the Former Chairman of Defunct Transition Authority.
The County Government Act Sections 104 and 108 (2) states that the county government shall prepare all projects, plans and programs to be implemented by any organ of state within the county, and that no public funds shall be appropriated outside a planning framework developed by the county.
The County Integrated Development Plan is a five (5) year plan that must be developed by the county executive and approved by the county assembly. The law provides that no public funds shall be appropriated outside such a planning framework. The process of formulating and approving county priorities through CIDPs should be done in consultation with the public.
Governance experts View: Five years of Devolution.  

Governance expert Opondo Owino says: “Governors need to undertake a realistic self assessment of their performance over the years.”

He observes that without such an approach, the County bosses are unlikely to take stock of what they have achieved and contrast with their setbacks.
In his remarks, Leadership and governance coach Martin OAduor-Otienco says that the challenging task of leading is Deciding with speed and conviction, consistently. He advises leaders, and Governors to provide focus, vision and direction. They should Drive Strategy and ensure Succession planning.

“We think about leadership as positions of authority or responsibility and, sometimes, wrongfully so,” says Oduor.

The Former Banker explains that change is the most constant thing happening in the life any organization today.
In this context of devolved leadership and governance, Mr oduor says, leaders must be at the forefront as change champions, anticipating, initiating and promoting changes in the organization.
UNDP perspectives of devolution engagements 
A UNDP report on support for public sector reforms shows that since 2004, the government showed its level of commitment to effective reforms.
The government introduced a results-based management (RBM) in the entire public sector. Results-based management is a strategy which organizes all actors, the organization and resources to focus on achieving a set of identified and agreed results.
This is a results chain where activities are geared towards clear outputs, of overall goals. UNDP has been supporting decentralization and local governance in many countries and with considerable success for well over 30 years.
UNDP reports indicate that leadership that has been found wanting is at three levels – the need for political will, the need for political competency to back up that political will, and management leadership.”
The report details that political will is the commitment to invest political capital, whereas political competence is the cognitive grasp of what the actual nature of the political investment is and the relationship between that investment, the reform outcomes and national policy objectives.
Openness in budgeting and public participation.
Budget and governance experts from the International Budget Programme (IBP) say they were unable to get key documents that are necessary to track development in the County governments.
There is a downward trajectory in budget transparency. The decline was most dramatic in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the average budget transparency scores fell by 11 points between 2015 and 2017.

Dr. Jason Lakin, IBP Country Manager says: “There lacks explanation to changes made in policy that affects development projects yet money is allocated and spent.”

He explains that an Access to timely and comprehensive information is crucial if the wider public in Kenya are to meaningfully participate in government decision making. The information, Dr Lakin says will enable public to participate from an informed point to shape county budget priorities.
During public participation events, the public can discuss trade-offs with their representatives in the county assemblies, and track whether the budget is delivering on what was agreed during consultations between the public, executive, and assembly.
Council of Governors lessons learnt 
Council of Governors CEO Jacqueline Mogeni in an effort to make Counties have a Better Understanding of CoG Mandate in Supporting Devolved Function, says:

“It was not easy for county government to stand on their own feet. They had to equip offices, install operations, financial and human resource systems, hire staff for service delivery and perform their functions.”

However, she quips that Counties socio-economic development to make Kenya a economic tiger is dependent on focusing on impact areas that have been identified; agriculture, health, water provision, early childhood education and roads.
“It’s time that we begin to benchmark from each others success. Every single county has recorded tremendous achievements in certain functions. So you may not need to take international study tours and trips,” she said.
She Challenges County Executive Committee Members to remain vigilant and speak boldly against policies that undermine devolution.
“We have seen very unpredictable policy environment, various and burdensome charges, slow, complex and costly business registration processes as some of the challenges,” she explained.


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