Article 174 of the Kenyan Constitution stipulates the objectives of devolution on Kenya. The objectives of the devolved government in Kenya go hand in hand with the principles of devolution in Kenya stated in Article 175.
The objectives of devolution outline the purpose of devolved government in Kenya. The history of devolution in Kenya has been long (and rocky).
The independence government rolled back the strong system of devolution. It dissolved the Senate, regional governments and regional assemblies. This marked the end of devolution and decentralisation and the beginning of consolidation or centralisation. Power and authority consolidated under the presidency.
The Constitution passed in 2010 provided for the devolved governance, with the main purpose being making government services locally available to the people. It also aimed at cutting at bringing accountability to power by limiting the centralised power of government.
Decentralisation (and devolution, which is a form of decentralisation) should overcome this challenge by directly connecting the state actions at the local level with officers to be held accountable.
The objective of devolution in Kenya is, therefore, the restoration of power to local communities to manage their affairs particularly in matters of local development.
The Constitution secured devolution to facilitate citizens’ participation in governance as a basic principle and value outlined in the Constitution.
Kenyans hope in the long term that decentralisation of government will address the shortcomings of central planning, such as societal inequalities, resource disparities, economic gaps and political concentration. This will be achieved largely through the objectives of devolution in Kenya.
Objectives of devolution in Kenya
Article 174 of the Kenyan Constitution says the objectives of devolution in Kenya (or the objectives of the devolved government in Kenya) are to:
- promote the democratic and accountable exercise of power;
- foster national unity by recognising diversity;
- give powers of self-governance to the people and enhance the participation of the people in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them;
- recognise the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development;
- protect and promote the interests and rights of minorities and marginalised communities;
- promote social and economic development and the provision of proximate, easily accessible services throughout Kenya;
- ensure equitable sharing of national and local resources throughout Kenya;
- to facilitate the decentralisation of State organs, their functions and services, from the capital of Kenya; and
- to enhance checks and balances and the separation of powers.
Principles of devolution in Kenya
County governments established under the Constitution should reflect the following principles:
- county governments should be based on democratic principles and the separation of powers;
- county governments should have reliable sources of revenue to enable them to govern and deliver services effectively; and
- no more than two-thirds of the members of representative bodies in each county government should be of the same gender.
Therefore, as we can see, the objectives of devolution in Kenya originated from real problems Kenyans faced. They aim to put the people at the centre of power and to make the national and county governments accountable to the people.