Devolution at 10: County chiefs mark milestone

Naromoru Level Four Hospital

President William Ruto and other leaders during the official opening of the Naromoru Level Four Hospital, in Nyeri County, on Wednesday, August 9. 

Photo credit: Courtesy | PCS

Governors have painted a rosy picture of devolution since its inception in 2013, citing progress made in health, agricultural extension services, the establishment of modern markets, and the upgrading of feeder roads.

In a report on the state of devolution ahead of the August 16-19 devolution conference, the governors say counties have made commendable progress despite numerous challenges.

Council of Governors chairperson Anne Waiguru said counties have invested in irrigation kits and greenhouses and provided seeds to thousands of farmers.

On health, medics hired by the counties account for two-thirds, or 125,400, of the 190,000 workforce in public and private health facilities.

Counties have also recruited 107,839 community health volunteers, who’ve been integral in reducing the infant mortality rates.

“The under-five mortality rate has decreased from 52 to 41 per 1,000 while the infant mortality rate has declined from 39 to 32 per 1,000,” Ms Waiguru said.

At least 20,000 medical oxygen cylinders have been distributed to all the 47 counties, while 22 oxygen plants and 14 hospital bulk storage tanks have been installed.

On infrastructure, Ms Waiguru said counties have built 8,248km of new roads this year alone.

“In the financial year [FY] 2021/2022 alone, counties upgraded 6,193 km of roads to bitumen standard to enhance durability and safety. Similarly, counties rehabilitated 13,457 km of rural roads, improving mobility and boosting economic activities in rural areas,” Ms Waiguru said.

The Kirinyaga governor said counties have constructed 202km of new roads in 59 municipalities, provided an additional 5,250 parking spaces, established 31km additional sewer lines, created 12 additional recreational facilities, and built 12 fire stations in different municipalities.

“In FY 2022/2023, county governments have constructed 94 new markets and renovated 172 existing ones to provide conducive spaces for businesses to thrive. Further, 26 county governments have prioritised automating business registration services and licensing processes, simplifying registration procedures, reducing fees, and expediting licensing processes, making it easier for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to formalise their operations.”

“These efforts have yielded remarkable results, with the number of registered enterprises increasing by 35.2 per cent to reach 344,150 in FY 2022/23. In the past year, 32 counties established County Business Enterprise Funds and other financing programmes, leading to the disbursement of Sh1.73 billion to 7,975 MSMEs for business expansion, ensuring that access to finance remains accessible and affordable.”

On agriculture, Ms Waiguru said counties have this year distributed 30,200 tissue culture bananas to 2,420 farmers alongside 33 tonnes of cowpeas seeds, 2,000 bamboo seedlings, 153 tonnes of bean seeds, 941 tonnes of maize seeds, providing support to 1,049,896 farmers.

Additionally, 196 tonnes of sorghum seeds have been distributed, benefiting 93,507 farmers, alongside 185 tonnes of green gram seeds to 90,590 farmers.

Last year saw a boost in sugar and coffee production, Ms Waiguru said, with sugarcane deliveries increasing from 7.8 million tonnes in 2021 to 8.7 million tonnes in 2022 and coffee output hitting 51,900 tonnes up fro 34,500 tonnes.

“To support the fisheries sub-sector, county governments purchased and distributed 2,968,646 fish fingerlings targeting 2,606 beneficiaries. In the livestock sub-sector, county governments have successfully vaccinated 2,673,486 animals, procured 87,920 straws of semen, and distributed 336,667 chicks to 21,690 beneficiaries. The construction of 40 new cattle dips and the rehabilitation of 133 others are noteworthy achievements. Moreover, 10 new hay stores have been built, alongside the rehabilitation of two existing ones. Lastly, the installation of 22 milk coolers has significantly improved milk aggregation within the counties,” Ms Waiguru revealed.

She explained that 26 counties have enacted laws on disasters risk management and 24 formulated plans that will address handling of natural disasters such as floods, droughts that have led to loss of livestock and property.

Counties have also collectively allocated Sh7.88 billion and established 61 emergency operation centres, while 32 counties have set up functional Directorates of Disaster Management.

“Regarding the management and regulation of tourism activities, 17 counties have developed tourism-related acts, policies, and regulations, while nine have established wildlife-related acts, policies, and regulations. Notable examples include Lamu, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Nairobi, Tharaka Nithi and Kakamega, which have successfully organised and conducted cultural and tourism festival platforms and Trans Nzoia County that has established a Community Wildlife Committee to facilitate community engagement in wildlife conservation efforts,” said Ms Waiguru.

On climate change responses, 45 counties are reported to have enacted acts, policies, and regulations to guide interventions. They have also conducted Participatory Climate Resilience Assessments to evaluate areas of concern, and prioritise actions to build climate resilience.

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