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The Impact of Decentralization on Development in Kenya: A Focus on the CDF in Kangundo Constituency

Kenya has been haunted by the issue of equity in resource redistribution (Bagaka 2008). Recently, Kenya launched a development strategy called Kenya Vision 2030 (GoK 2008) in which the prominence of equity in resource redistribution and poverty reduction is imperative. Under this Vision, devolved funds are expected to play a key role in realizing these goals. This study focuses on the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) which is one of the devolved funds in Kenya. The CDF was established by an act of parliament in 2003 and stipulates that 2.5% of the annual government ordinary revenue be devolved to the 210 constituencies of Kenya to promote grassroots development (Bagaka 2008, GoK 2003a and NCCK 2005).

The study was designed to explore the effects of the CDF decentralization on governance and service delivery as well as to understand the impact and the challenges facing the CDF in Kangundo Constituency, which is in the Eastern province of Kenya. It used a qualitative approach and employed interviews, documentary evidence and researcher’s observation as the techniques of data collection.

The findings reveal that the CDF decentralization has, to a large extent, lived up to its promise to deliver services to the local people, with increased efficiency and responsiveness compared with other development initiatives, particularly the former centralized system. Consequently, it has made a big impact on constituency development work despite the challenges of sustainability, political patronage, financial inadequacy, and lack of capacity building. The findings also pinpoint some shortfalls in governance caused by lack of awareness and professionalism.

The conclusions of the study concur with the findings, pointing out that the CDF decentralization has been in operation in Kenya since its inception and that it is highly valued by people. It has promoted governance of projects at the constituency level and, though faced by challenges, has improved governance of development financing. Thus it has made a big impact on development work in Kenya, in general, and in Kangundo constituency, in particular. The study recommends that for the decentralized CDF to continue delivering its promises there is acute need for capacity building, constant review of the legal framework, a turn to professionalism, networking with the central government and a consideration of raising the CDF allocation from the current 2.5% to 10% or more.


John Mbinda Makau 2009


Permanent link to this article: http://kimmagedsc.ie/dissertation/decentralization-kenya/