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

Publication Type: Papers
August 2016 | by John Kinuthia and Jason Lakin, Ph.D. , IBP Kenya

resource sharing kenyaIn 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.

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