Devolution in Kenya: Functions of the County and National Government

devolution kenya

On 27th August 2010 Kenya promulgated a new constitution that would change the landscape of the country in terms of governance.

The new constitution stipulated the dissemination of resources both political and economic from a centralized system of governance to the people in the grassroots in a process called devolution by providing a clear administrative framework between the National and County Government. This was meant to encourage a bottom-up approach of participation in development as opposed to the traditional top-down approach of governance which meant some regions in the country remained marginalized in terms of development. It envisages a relationship of both mutuality and independence.

However, years since it was promulgated a good number of Kenyans are still not aware of the functions of the national and county governments which has led to criticism for not receiving the expected services oblivious of the new separation  of power and allocation of functions leaving them feeling they are getting the short end of the stick.

Chapter Nine of the constitution contains the principal and structure of the National government with Chapter Eleven on the other hand containing the objects and principles of the devolved government.

Functions for both County and National governments are spelled out in the fourth schedule of the constitution and the Transition Authority Gazette Notice 2013. The National Government has a preserve of thirty four functions while the County Government preserves fourteen functions as spelled out below;

Functions of the National Government

  1. Foreign affairs, foreign policy and international trade.
  2. The use of international waters and water resources.
  3. Immigration and citizenship.
  4. The relationship between religion and state.
  5. Language policy and the promotion of official and local languages.
  6. National defense and the use of the national defense services.
  7. Police services.
  8. Courts.
  9. National economic policy and planning.
  10. Monetary policy, currency, banking (including central banking, the incorporation and regulation of banking, insurance and financial corporations.
  11. National statistics and data on population, the economy and society generally.
  12. Intellectual property rights.
  13. Labor standards.
  14. Consumer protection, including standards for social security and professional pension plans.
  15. Education policy, standards, curriculum, examinations and the granting of university charters.
  16. Universities, tertiary educational institutions and other institutions of research and higher learning and primary schools, special education, secondary schools and special education institutions.
  17. Promotion of sports and sports education.
  18. Transport and communications.
  19. National public works.
  20. Housing policy.
  21. General principles of land planning and the coordination of planning by the counties.
  22. Protection of the environment and natural resources with a view of establishing a durable and sustainable system of development.
  23. National referral health facilities.
  24. Disaster management.
  25. Ancient and historical monuments of national importance.
  26. National elections.
  27. Health policy.
  28. Agricultural policy.
  29. Veterinary policy.
  30. Energy policy including electricity and gas reticulation and energy regulation.
  31. Capacity building and technical assistance to the counties.
  32. Public investment.
  33. National betting, casinos and other forms of gambling.
  34. Tourism policy and development.

Functions of the County Government

  1. Agriculture.
  2. County health services.
  3. Control of air pollution, noise pollution, other public nuisances and outdoor advertising.
  4. Cultural activities, public entertainment and public amenities.
  5. County transport.
  6. Animal control and welfare.
  7. Trade development and regulation.
  8. County planning and development.
  9. Pre-primary education, village polytechnics, home craft centers and childcare facilities.
  10. Implementation of specific national government policies on natural resources and environmental conservation.
  11. County public works and services.
  12. Firefighting services and disaster management.
  13. Control of drugs and pornography.
  14. Ensuring and coordinating the participation of communities and locations in governance at the local level and assisting communities and locations to develop the administrative capacity for the effective exercise of the functions, powers and participation in governance level.
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