Capacity Building for Successful Devolution

Capacity Building for Successful Devolution



This year, Kenyans will be watching to see what their Governors will do to conciliate the expectations of the local electorate. Indeed, the 2017 – 2022 regime of Governors face higher expectations from Kenyans – if the way the former crop of Governors were  criticized for poor service delivery is anything to go by. This, as we all know, culminated in many of them being overwhelmingly voted out by an angry electorate. From a macro-level perspective, what happens in the Counties in 2018 is crucial because successful implementation of the third Medium Term Plan (2018-2022) of the Kenya Vision 2030 requires collaboration with and active participation by the County Governments.

The National Government has already pronounced that it will focus its development Agenda on four main areas, namely; growing the manufacturing sector; expanding access to universal health coverage; providing affordable and decent housing; and enhancing food and nutrition security. In all these thematic areas, the County Governments have a role to play – and especially in the area of health which is now a largely devolved function. The Counties are also critical in the realm of food and nutrition security. For this reason, a positive intergovernmental relation (in 2018 and beyond) between both levels of Government is crucial to the success of not only devolution but also the national development agenda.

It therefore becomes imperative to undertake an End-Term evaluation to determine the extent of implementation of the 1st Cycle County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) and address the challenges that have bedeviled devolution since 2013 so that the strategic issues emanating therefrom are addressed moving into the future. The Challenges faced together with the lessons learnt and performance gaps witnessed should subsequently inform the development of the 2nd Cycle CIDPs covering the 2018-2022 period. One of the key challenges encountered by the Counties so far has been the weak governance framework  and inadequate operational capacity, which has had  detrimental effects in most of the County Governments with  the major one being inability to absorb and optimally utilize the allocated and disbursed budgetary provisions.

On one hand, reports from the Controller of Budget and National Treasury advance the argument that most Counties have perennially underutilized their budgetary resources, yet on the other hand there is the argument by the County Governments blaming the National Treasury for limited funding or delayed release of the funds. But undoubtedly, other challenges facing Counties like low performance of own-source revenue, poor quality of County policies and laws, and poor service delivery can all be attributed to a large extent, to the weak technical and institutional capacity in most of the Counties.

Capacity building of the Counties therefore becomes a key area that needs attention of the Governors in 2018. It should also be an area of interest and focus for complimentary support by the National Government, for obvious reasons. First, improved capacity at County level will enhance the policy, planning, budgeting and program execution continuum at the County level. This would not only improve absorption of development funds, but also enable the Counties to conform to the fiscal responsibility principles spelt out in the Constitution and the Public Finance management Act, 2012 to ensure that at least 30 percent of their budgetary allocations go into development and not more than 35 percent goes into salaries. Capacity building would also improve the quality of the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) which are the core policy blueprints that guide development at County level. Better quality CIDPs would translate to more effective functional Strategic Plans and Annual Work Plans which guide the day to day operations of the County Government Departments, hence better service delivery.

Also central is the fact that better human resource capacity will lead to improved County policies and laws, hence better utilization of local resources and improved service delivery. Furthermore, addressing the capacity challenges at County level will not only strengthen accountability and  fiscal discipline but also enhance own-source revenue collection and management as well as improved management of assets.

What then are the opportunities abound for County Government in terms of capacity building that they need to exploit?. First is to appreciate that there is a mix of public servants in the Counties. The first category is the public servants who were inherited from the National Government and relatively have some good level of skills and understanding of Government operations. However, they still need to be capacity-enhanced to adopt the best practices for County Governments. The other category of staff is those who were employed by the County Governments upon inception in 2013 mainly to reward political supporters. We know as a fact that most of these were largely employed based on County regional dynamics, clannism, nepotism and other non-professional considerations. They therefore require greater training support than the aforementioned one.

Considering the responsibilities of County Governments, capacity building programs need to be tailor-made to address specific capacity gaps identified through formal capacity needs assessment. However, there are some cross-cutting capacity building areas that would be applicable to all Counties. These include: Training Needs Assessment(TNA);approaches to public engagement in policy and budgeting processes; County profiles and their application in county planning; the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) budgeting process; Organizational Design; Strategic Planning; performance management; Job Evaluation; Staff Rationalization;  Management of Strategic Change; Proposal and Report Writing; Resource Mobilization; Project Management; Monitoring,Evaluation and Reporting; the Labour Laws; Legislative Drafting;Internal-Auditing;and cross-cutting issues such as gender, HIV/AIDS and disability mainstreaming; among others.

Most significantly, the Counties need to undertake demand-driven training programmes based on the Mandate and Core Business of the County Governments that is adequately informed by their respective areas of comparative advantage as opposed to supply-driven training programmes based on personal staff desire. In effect, the Counties should undertake staff development programmes arising from a comprehensive Training Needs Assessment (TNA) that is effectively-aligned to the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) and the corresponding functional Strategic Plans. The County Governments should also undertake periodic Training-Impact assessment to justify the funds utilized on training during the preceding activity period so that any future training is purely informed by value-proposition.

The writer is a Management Consultant

What We Must Do As A Country To Realize Vision 2030

What We Must Do As A Country To Realize Vision 2030



The third Medium-Term Plan (MTP III) of the Kenya Vision 2030 covering the period 2018 – 2022 whose launch is expected in early 2018 will be the 12th cycle of National Development Plan. By the end of MTP III in 2022, the Vision 2030 will have undergone 14 years since inception and will be 8 years shy to its end. Therefore, while the launch of the MTP III will be a major milestone for the Country, widespread concerns abound as to whether the Plan is capable of addressing the myriad economic, social, environmental and political challenges that have traversed the previous national plan cycles.

As MTP III enters the arena, the critical begging question then remains; how can the National and County Governments meet the developmental expectations of Kenyans within a context of rapidly changing environment, population growth and limited resources? There are no straight-jacket answers to this question, but definitely the two levels of Government need to innovatively change their approach to planning and how they conduct business. In the circumstance, it is critical to ensure an efficient and effective continuum in policy, planning, budgeting and execution of Government programmes. The most basic implication is that we must integrate and ensure effective alignment of the planning framework at National; Sectorial; Ministerial and County Government levels if the intrinsic ingredients enshrined in Vision 2030 are to be effectively realized. To this end, I wish to postulate five imperatives to refocus the Country’s strategies and approaches in the MTP III period.

First, is the need to ensure that the MTP III and other lower level plans and strategies are effectively aligned to the Vision 2030 and major global initiatives. Alignment is vital as it ensures that the medium-term plans are able to actualize the goals and objectives of the long term blueprints, be they national, regional or global. Regarding global initiatives, it is important to note that the Vision 2030 incorporated the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which ended in 2015. Moving into the MTP III period, the country should align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were launched by the United Nations in 2015 to succeed the MDGs.

Alignment of the MTP III with the Vision 2030 and SDGs is the first level of alignment. Whereas this is important, it’s  my considered opinion that from the MTP III, we need to develop a minimum of twenty nine Sectoral Plans; 7 under the Economic Pillar, 6 in the Social Pillar, 2 in the Political Pillar, 11 under the Enablers, and 3 which are crosscutting covering HIV/AIDs; Disaster and Risk Management and Climate Change. Below the Sectoral Plans, all Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies should subsequently develop Strategic Plans aligned to the MTP 111 and the Sectoral Plans. And again at the County level, the County Governments must develop County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) which are aligned to the MTP in conformity to the County Governments Act, 2012. Subsequent to these should be Functional Strategic Plans at the County level well-aligned to the County Integrated Development Plans facilitate effective delivery of  the CIDPs.

These lower level plans are important for they form the bedrock upon which Government projects and day to day operations are anchored. Business people, economists and those interested in economic development know about and are likely to interact occasionally with the MTPs. However, very few Kenyans are aware of the Sectoral Plans, and even fewer numbers ever interact with Ministerial Strategic Plans and the County CIDPs. The lacuna in information and low participation in the preparation and execution of these important policy documents is a gap that urgently needs intervention. For example, it should be the interest of all Kenyans to understand in greater details what Government plans to implement in critical sectors such as water, oil and other mineral resources, energy, education, security and peace in the MTP III period.

The second imperative we must address as a Country is how to finance the plans. Budget-making through the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) is well-anchored in the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act, 2012. The National and County Governments participate in the process including the vetting and approvals which are done by the National Parliament and the County Assemblies respectively. The process aside, the Country continues to grapple with unmet revenue targets by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) and own revenue sources by County Governments, ever-increasing debt-burden and widespread corruption. These perennial challenges must be urgently addressed by both levels of Government so to realize adequate resources for implementing the MTP and the CIDPs. It is my conviction that we have adequate legal and institutional frameworks to address financial hemorrhage and corruption. We must have Fiscal discipline at both National and County Government Levels if we are to deliver the MTP III and the second cycle of CIDPs.

The third imperative is the need to improve the Country’s performance management framework. For a long time, the public service operated without a performance management framework till the same was introduced in 2003, anchored mainly on Results-Based Management and Performance Contracting. It was admirable when Kenya won a United Nations award in the year 2006 due to noted improvement in public service delivery as a result of Performance Contracting. Unfortunately, the vigour with which performance contracting was launched and implemented has since waned off. If Government is serious with delivery of public goods and services, it must strengthen and institutionalize a comprehensive and sustainable performance management framework at all levels, with the starting point being the rejuvenation of performance contracting. At County level, performance contracting has largely been ignored, with only a few Counties (in the 2013-2017 County Governments) implementing it albeit in a lukewarm manner. My well- considered opinion is that it behooves us Kenyans to push the County Assemblies to enact Legislation that entrenches performance management in the Counties – as the value for this cannot be gainsaid.

The forth critical success factor in my view is the need for reforms in the public service. We need to build on the recent reforms in the public sector that include the afforestated performance management framework and reforms in the Governance, Justice, Law and Order Sector(GJLOs) institutions which for instance saw noticeable improvement in the prisons, police and judiciary. Unfortunately, just like with the Performance management, the reforms have widely waned off. Again to facilitate the desired reforms, the Country urgently needs deliberate initiatives to inform sustainable change in the culture and attitudes of public servants. Let us urgently undertake a National Culture Audit to inform interventions that will close the Culture and Attitudinal Gap to support realization of Vision 2030.

Fifth, we must improve the monitoring, evaluation and reporting framework. The weak monitoring and evaluation could be a deliberate action by public servants to evade accountability. Today, there is scanty information about how government projects are implemented – and in most cases it is almost impossible to know the actual cost of the projects. Kenyan citizens must be kept aware of what Government is doing with the tax-payers money and the monies being borrowed. Furthermore, and very central, the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 requires Government to make available to the public information related to its programmes. Going into the MTP III, therefore, the Government should make good the Constitutional obligation of providing such information to facilitate Accountability that informs efficient utilization of the Country’s resources.

In conclusion, I want to pose a challenge: – What Prospects lie ahead for Kenyans in the period of the Third-Medium Term Plan of the Vision 2030? Will we achieve better results during the MTP III period? Will there be remarkable flagship milestones like the realization of universal primary education under MTP I, improved infrastructure or increased generation of power under both MTP I and MTP II? In sum, will we realize the envisaged 10% Economic Growth rate every year to increase the Per Capita income levels? Will there be enhanced Disposable Income for the Kenyan people to enhance the Marginal Propensity to Save and create wealth that informs Net-Economic Welfare?