In 2010, Kenya adopted a new constitution, which prioritised the principles of participation, accountability, and transparency. On the basis of these principles, the Government of Kenya embarked on a bold process of decentralisation. This involved transferring many government functions and spending to 47 County Governments, which were more closely connected to their people. This has been and ongoing process, with the continuous development of sub-counties, wards, and decentralised entities such as Village Councils with the aim of increasing public engagement in priority setting, decision-making, and governance.
Whilst working to devolve power, the central government has also been working to ensure coordination amongst local authorities to achieve their priority policy goals of increasing manufacturing, food security, affordable housing, and universal health care. Particular attention has also been given to enhancing the inclusion and representation of women, youth, and persons with disabilities in these processes.
Throughout this process, Kenya has been working with various international development agencies to conduct multi-stakeholder discussions (particularly with women and youth). The aim is to explore the gains achieved for marginalised communities as a result of this constitutional reform, and to better understand the barriers for their full political participation.
To support this work, local governments have been working to develop better information on citizen priority issues at the local level, which can help to inform their policies, laws, and legislation. For example, in 2019, the World Bank began working with the Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet county governments to develop a series of workshops to brought together 50 young people (aged 18-35) from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. The aim was to co-design solutions for enhancing youth participation in policy design and implementation processes. Some of the suggestions from these workshop for County Governments to implement included:
1. Prioritise engagement and training on how public participation is feasible at all levels, from the village to the county, and how youth can self-organise and turn their ideas into actionable proposals.
2 .Make available information about existing opportunities for youth participation. This could be achieved by advertising meetings – their agenda and actors – across social media and public forums, using language youth understand, and developing a youth-centred communication strategy for government policies and initiatives.
3. Grant youth more responsibility over budgets and policies, including directly allocating budgets for youth and advocate for and design policies with youth. This could be done by creating youth-led spaces for youth to mobilise their peers and aggregate their preferences.
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