“Now we believe that something can actually happen. Before, the decisions were made far away from here and our opinions did not matter,” says Stella Mwangangi who lives in the Makueni county in Kenya. After a long wait, a new health centre, funded by the county, is being built in the village. “I would have liked to give birth at a health centre but it was too far away at the time. Now the services will be closer to us.”
The Constitution of Kenya, adopted in 2010, transferred powers from the central government to the 47 counties. The devolution of power aims to improve both citizens’ opportunities for participation and public services and to increase the transparency of administration. The pace of implementing the reform has varied from one part of the country to another. Concrete development results can be seen particularly in remote areas which the central government ignored for decades. Improving the knowledge of county employees, fighting corruption and improving the financial and administrative systems still require a lot of work. Finland supports the further development of regional administration, the improvement of accountability and the promotion of citizen participation in collaboration with the World Bank, the German agency for international cooperation (GIZ) and the Kenyan URAIA Trust.
Photo: Milma Kettunen, graphics: Juho Hiilivirta