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UN agencies, Kenyan government commit to strengthen devolution

People living in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) are set to benefit from projects worth over Sh4.3 billion.
This is after the government and United Nations Agencies committed to work together in strengthening devolution.
The joint program, dubbed deepening devolution, would work towards empowering marginalized communities by ensuring they have increased access to social protection and eradicating violence against children and gender based violence.
Speaking on Tuesday during a development partners’ dialogue meeting, Devolution and ASALs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Eugene Wamalwa said that devolution in Kenya was a success and many African countries were coming to benchmark on the success story with Botswana being the latest visitor.
Wamalwa highlighted that they were looking at the priority areas to partner with the UN agencies in ensuring that no one wass left behind in development and allocation of resources.
“The ministry has developed the devolution policy with the purpose of improving implementation in order to achieve optimal service delivery. The policy is intended to guide both levels of government to align their policies to the devolved system of governance,” said Wamalwa.
He explained that the policy is focused on three thematic areas including institutional resources both human and financial, intra governmental relations and the right strategies to address the challenges.
“The biggest enemy of devolution is corruption as we recently saw one governor who siphoned over Sh.2 billion through proxies and cronies. This makes it difficult for women and youth to access government tenders and contracts,” he said.
Wamalwa insisted that the government together with the UN agencies would collaborate in reaching the most marginalized communities and tackling the water problem which is the worst challenge facing the ASAL counties.
“Out of the ASAL conference in Malindi, we have 10 governors and ministry officials who will be travelling to Jordan to see the technology of rain making and see how we can bring this technology to Kenya because water is the biggest challenge that the country is facing,” explained Wamalwa.
Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) chairperson Jane Kiringai said that the 14 counties which have been selected for the assistance also fall under their list of marginalized areas and account for 80 per cent of the allocation under equalization fund.
“Poverty and marginalization are deeply and widely spread in the country and as a commission, these are the key areas of focus as we develop the resource allocation criteria,” said the chair.
“We looked at access to education, water, electricity and other basic human rights and as a commission we are looking forward to working with the different UN agencies to see how we can leverage on the different comparative advantages and get how we can move together and achieve economies of scale,” she explained.
UNDP Country director Amanda Seremuga said that the joint program would focus on the most affected counties mainly in the North Eastern part of the country and the ASALs which were mostly affected by climate change and disasters like droughts and flooding.
“Cross cutting issues like public participation, gender equality, climate change and disaster risk reduction received more attention on this draft and are being included in the performance contract and devolution plan,” said Seremuga.
UNICEF country representative Werner Schultink said in the last four years, as an organization, they have invested 16 million dollars in Turkana, and 15 million dollars in Garissa leading to significant successes.
According to Schultink, the collaboration with county governments has led to significant successes like some 300, 000 children entering into primary education in counties such as Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit and Turkana. Some 19 million children across the country were also vaccinated against measles.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a

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