Sharing Public Resources Within Counties in Kenya: How Fair Are Emerging Approaches?

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

In 2010, Kenya began an ambitious devolution process, with administrative, financial, and political power moving from the national to the county level. One of the main drivers of devolution was the glaring inequities between different parts of the country. Devolving resources and functions from the national level to counties can theoretically help to address regional inequality. However, inequality often remains a challenge after decentralization.

Inequality within devolved units may be severe, especially where decentralization does not provide full financial autonomy to villages or other small units. While much discussion of resource sharing in Kenya has centered on how to reduce inequalities between counties, inequalities below the county level are even more severe.

This paper argues that if devolution is to lead to greater equity within counties, resources in county budgets must be allocated equitably. Through the annual budget process, decisions are made about which services should be prioritized. The government should take the opportunity to reallocate resources to close gaps between parts of the county with better access to services and those that are poorly served. This paper explores how Elgeyo Marakwet, Meru, and Baringo counties address resource sharing challenges between counties and highlights some of the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches. It concludes by offering a set of recommendations for addressing resource sharing within counties in an equitable fashion.




ibp kenya paper sharing public resources within counties 8 2016.pdf

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John Kinuthia

Senior Program Officer, IBP Kenya, International Budget Parnership

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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