The National Land Commission has asked county governments to expedite the development of spatial plans to enable them to properly manage resources and spur economic growth in the devolved units.
NLC Commissioner Esther Murugi lamented that only six out of the 47 counties have approved spatial plans, ten years since the onset of devolution, and wondered whether the county government knew the importance of the plans.
She however lauded the Kilifi County Government for being the sixth to develop a county spatial plan, the others being the County Governments of Lamu, Makueni, Baringo, Bomet and Kericho.
Murugi said this at the Kilifi Lands Offices in Kilifi Town Thursday during the launch of the Geographic Information System (GIS)-based Kilifi County Spatial Plan developed with the help of the World-Wide Fund-Kenya for Nature (WWF-K) and the Technical University of Kenya (TUK).
The GIS-based spatial plan, together with Geographic Information System (GIS) laboratory, were launched by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi.
A GIS is a type of database containing geographic data, combined with software tools for managing, analyzing and visualizing those data.
Murugi, a former Cabinet Minister in the Kibaki administration, said the spatial plans would help counties to manage their resources and develop their areas with a view to spurring economic growth.
The commissioner said the NLC is charged with the mandate of overseeing the development of the spatial plans and reviewing them every five years, adding that according to the law, county governments without spatial plans were not entitled to receive funding from the National Treasury.
“If the County Government Act of 2012 and the Constitution of Kenya 2010 were to be strictly complied with, counties that do not have spatial plans would not be benefitting from funds from the National Treasury,” she said.
She said the NLC did not have much to oversee since only six county government had concluded the development of their respective county spatial plans.
Section 104 (1) of the County Government ACT 2012 states: “A county government shall plan for the county and no public funds shall be appropriated outside a planning framework developed by the County Executive Committee and approved by the county assembly.”
Sub-section two states that the county planning framework shall integrate economic, physical, social, environmental and spatial planning, which means that a majority of the counties have been appropriating public funds illegally owing to the lack of spatial plans.
Murugi advised the Kilifi County Government to upload the spatial plan in their website for the public to access and also submit soft copies to the NLC to follow up on the implementation.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi said that his administration had laid down a firm foundation for developing the county and challenged the regimes that will succeed him to make good use of the spatial plan to develop the county.
“As the first government of this county, we have laid a firm foundation for the county and I believe that the team that will be taking over will be able to bring development in an easy way because the tool has been developed,” he said.
He noted that the GIS lab has all information on everything about the county and it is easier to do business with the county while using the lab.
“Today if you walk through that lab, you will see where the rural place of Adu for example will be in the next ten years. This document needs to be resourced and the budgeting process comes in handy in implementing the plan,” he added.
Ms Saadia Karambux, a board member of WWF- Kenya, underscored the importance of spatial plans saying they were in line with the vision of WWF, which is a world in which people live in harmony with nature.
“We would also like to see spatial planning being done in a similar way in other counties,” Ms Karambux said.
Kilifi County Assembly principal clerk William Katana said that the County assembly ratified the spatial plan after proving that it met all the legal requirements.
“The plan was formulated through a consultative and participatory process and that was key for the county assembly committee in considering the plan and it was also linked to the Coast region and the national government spatial plans,” he said.
By Emmanuel Masha