Liz’ Corner: A year of devolved government and a call to action.


(Cartoon from )

Every year on our birthdays, we are faced with a choice to reflect on the life we have lived so far. Do we take center stage to celebrate or panic at the mere thought that we are getting older, yet not even close to where we want to be? This week we are celebrating Kenya’s first year acting as the devolved government, following its Jubilee anniversary of independence. After one year, there is still question on whether or not devolution will succeed in Kenya. The object of this form of governance is meant to be more inclusive, closer to the people and able to lead to fair and equitable development for the ordinary mwananchi. The only way to sustain it is to ensure there is enough community participation. My question today: is the community involved in decision making on ground? What are the good and bad parts of this year’s progress?

Majority of the people in Kenyan communities do not know who their leaders are. From this reality, I tend to think that public participation is yet to be fully accomplished. As a community organizer, I know that community participation is a fundamental aspect of any sustainable change and as a leader one must also be able to inspire others to action. So, I fail to understand how your constituency would be unable to recognize you if you are consistently in your area and with them during decision making. This leads me to believe that the politicians are not on the ground enough.

Some of our governors are currently facing corruption charges, which are grounds for impeachment. We may choose to view this as a bad omen or as a sign that Kenya is actually transitioning for the greater good – a place where corrupt governors are removed.

Within the last one year there have being positive events contributed by the new government, such as the Huduma center which is a one-stop shop for government services and also the Uwezo fund, which is a six billion shilling project aimed to enable youth and women to start income generating activities. However, does the community have hands on information to enable them to benefit from these initiatives? How long can these initiatives survive in being efficient and effective?

We may not be able to choose how many years we live, but we can choose how much life those years will have. We must all as a community take responsibility to make this new form of governance work. Why? When we voted for the new constitution in 2010, we accepted devolution. If corruption is in it, let us eradicate it, if there is inefficiency, let us fight it. We must be a team to ensure it succeeds. Let us not blame it all on our leaders or wait for commands to act but let us be inspired to act. If not by our leaders, by the fact that we are celebrating Kenya beyond 50 and beginning to nurture what may become of this country. And though we cannot go back and make a brand new start, we can start from now and make a brand new end. Join Tatua, join Kenya in participating in the devolved government. Tell us how you are or will be involved in your local government today?


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