The World Bank and Devolution in Kenya
Kenya’s decentralization is among the most rapid and ambitious devolution processes going on in the world, with new governance challenges and opportunities as the country builds a new set of county governments from scratch.
Promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 marked a momentous point in the country’s history. The Constitution provided for, among others, enhanced checks and balances within the government, an enhanced role of Parliament and citizens, an independent judiciary, and a most progressive Bill of Rights. Notably, the Constitution provided for a major devolution—not only of resources and functions, but also creating a whole new layer of county government.
The sweeping changes in Kenya’s policy and institutional framework have brought about a new regime of governance. Multiple new laws have been put in place—including new legislation on county government, urban areas, public financial management, and the transition to devolved government—as well as multiple national bodies and commissions with responsibility for devolution.
Elections in March 2013 marked the official launch of decentralization, as 47 new county governors and county assemblies were elected and began the challenging work of setting up new institutions, as well as a new national senate representing each county. Functions and funds have been transferred to the new counties, and new county institutions are gradually taking shape.
Devolution is one of three pillars of the Bank’s new Kenya Country Partnership Strategy 2014–18, which targets new World Bank Group investments of up to US$4 billion during its five-year implementation period. Through the Kenya Accountable Devolution Program (KADP), the Bank is currently providing technical and analytical support to national government and county leadership in formulating policies and rolling out devolution. This support has also been extended to county governments.
KADP’s current priority areas are:
- Understanding and addressing the fiscal implications of revenue sharing with particular attention to vertical and horizontally imbalances
- Strengthening public financial management and public sector capacity building at county level
- Strengthening access to county level data and monitoring of subnational performance.
- Strengthening public participation/social accountability mechanisms in county systems and decentralized service delivery projects.
- Enhancing devolved service delivery via the World Bank’s portfolio and donor coordination.