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BRIEF November 26, 2019

Kenya's Devolution


Makueni County: Mapping of county development projects gives citizens a big picture view.

Photo: World Bank

Six years ago, Kenyans voted to decentralize government, ushering in a new era of leadership with 47 governors and their teams taking up the reins of power in newly-created counties. County governments negotiated a working relationship with the national government in terms of power and revenue sharing, and have encountered political, fiscal and administrative challenges in the delivery of services to Kenyans.

As new entities, county governments lacked the capacity, knowledge and resources to effectively deliver the devolution dividend of shared prosperity, enhanced delivery of vital services and improved management of public resources.

With devolution as one of the three pillars of the World Bank Kenya Country Partnership Strategy, the Bank prioritized strengthening of national and county level institutions through two main programs: the Kenya Accountable Devolution Program (KADP) and the Kenya Devolution Support Program (KDSP). KADP is a  World Bank-managed multi-donor trust fund with funding from the governments of Denmark, European Union, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States. KADP has mobilized financial, technical and partnership support for initiatives to develop stronger institutions, enhance service delivery and increase citizen engagement in governance.

The capacity building, analytical and technical assistance provided by KADP has contributed to the gradual streamlining of devolved functions and resources for enhanced revenue generation and service delivery. This assistance is coming of age to include facilitating public financial management reform; supporting the implementation of public participation initiatives; enhancing the revenue allocation formula aligned with urban priorities and leading the mainstreaming of gender and climate resilience dimensions in key sectors.


What’s Next in Kenya’s Evolving Devolution Landscape?

KADP and KDSP continue to provide evidence-based analytical and capacity building solutions to emerging challenges of devolution such as: optimization of own source revenue, rationalization of the public sector wage bill, allocation of development budgets, and enhancing service delivery in devolved sectors (including agriculture, health, water, and urban). Through facilitated peer learning among counties and beyond, KADP and KDSP are encouraging the development of local solutions by county governments and related devolution support agencies.

While challenges remain, there are several bright spots, successes and good practices across the 47 counties. Kenya now has first Citizen’s Accountability Audit (CAA) Engagement Framework in Africa; the first County Data Desk, while Maarifa Center is the first award-winning platform which collates, shares and promotes homegrown innovations from counties.

These achievements can be attributed to effective partnerships with development partners, government institutions, civil society and others. The second phase of KADP comes to an end in December 2019. The program has contributed greatly to delivering the devolution dividend for all Kenyans.


Helene Carlsson Rex