A Fair Share of the Budget: Principles and Practices in Public Resource Distribution in Kenya

August 2016 | by John Kinuthia and Jason Lakin, Ph.D. , IBP Kenya

Kenya’s 2010 constitution sought to establish a fairer way of managing public finance, stating that “expenditure shall promote the equitable development of the country, including by making special provision for marginalized groups and areas.” How to achieve a fair and equitable system for distributing resources, however, remains hotly contested.

This paper investigates what is actually meant by equity and fairness when it comes to sharing public resources. It reviews five principles – need, minimum shares, capacity, effort, and efficiency – that are generally considered in global discussions on fairness and looks at how these principles can be applied to distributing resources in Kenya. The paper builds on this analysis to review how resources are currently shared in Kenya through mechanisms such as the National Government Constituency Development Fund, various cash transfer programs, the Equalization Fund, and allocations for Level 5 Hospitals. It then looks at how public resources are distributed in India and South Africa, drawing lessons from these examples.

The paper concludes by identifying numerous gaps in current practices that policymakers should consider when debating how best to share resources in line with the spirit of Kenya’s 2010 constitution.




ibp kenya paper principles and practices in public resource distribution 8 2016.pdf

pdf, 0.43 MB

John Kinuthia

Senior Program Officer, IBP Kenya, International Budget Partnership

John is a Senior Program Officer at the International Budget Partnership Kenya (IBPK). He joined IBP in October 2012 just as Kenya’s ambitious devolution program was taking off. John leads IBPK’s research and analytical work in Kenya, and he is part of the team that works to promote budget transparency and to improve public engagement on how the government raises and spends public resources.

He has done extensive research on Kenya’s public finance system for evidence generation that IBP uses to provide technical support to civil society organizations and, in some cases, government agencies. John’s research focuses on equitable revenue sharing mechanisms, equity in government expenditure, social protection, budget credibility, public participation in budgets, sub-national budget transparency, among other areas. His role also includes supporting capacity building and the publication of guides and tools that IBPK uses to improve community engagement with national and sub-national government budgets. John also plays a role in coordinating IBP’s programmatic work in Kenya, including supporting fundraising and administrative tasks.

John holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), an MBA in Strategic Management from the Kenya Methodist University, and a professional award on Decentralization and Local Governance from SOAS University of London.

Before joining IBP, John worked with Twaweza East Africa as an Associate Analyst, where he helped to build the Kenya Budget Explorer, a centralized budget portal, to improve citizens’ access to budget information.  He is a big data enthusiast, a happy bee farmer, and a part-time historian.

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