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Time for county to up its game

Time for county to up its game

Delegates attend a session at the Devolution Conference at Kirinyaga University on March 6, 2019. PHOTO | NMG

The Sixth Devolution Conference took place last week in Kirinyaga County. It was an opportunity, just like previous ones, for stakeholders to assess progress in implementation of devolution, for counties to learn from each other, and for strategies to be agreed upon to address teething problems. The theme for the annual conference was Deliver, Transform, Measure. Remaining Accountable.Accountability is about responsibility and reporting on one’s undertakings. The Cambridge Dictionary defines it as the act of being responsible for what you do and able to give a satisfactory reason for it, or the degree to which this happens. It is a fundamental aspect of the governance process that those entrusted with leadership demonstrate their efforts in discharging the responsibility entrusted on them.There are many ways by which this can be done. The Annual Conference is just one of the places where counties can demonstrate the progress they are making.As the conference was going on, a colleague shared a photo of the stand of Homa Bay County at the conference on a social media platform. The photo raised very interesting conversations amongst those who reside in and/or hail from the county. The debate revolved around the items that the county was displaying at their stand.For a county that has the Tom Mboya Mausoleum, the famous Rusinga Island, Takawiri Island and Mfangano Island and even huge fruit farming and processing potential, there was surprise at the things that it was displaying.Homa Bay was one of the counties that had suffered from underdevelopment during the centralised government system. There was huge expectation that devolution would help reverse the situation. Six years after the roll out of devolution, there should be tangible progress made by the county. It should not be debatable whether the county has things to display to the public on the unique contributions it has made to its residents and to the country.The discussions on Homa Bay County, however, goes beyond this year’s devolution conference. The county has been at a standstill, or almost, due to an election petition against the governor. With the petition finalised, the county must get back to the business of service delivery.

A few weeks ago, one of its neighbours, Kisii, was launching a huge medical facility. This should serve as a wake-up call for Homa Bay. Even before Kisii launched this hospital, a lot of residents of Homa Bay were already trooping to Kisii for medical services. With this new facility, the numbers of those going to hospital in Kisii from Homa-Bay will definitely increase.There is barely two years to the next election. The Governor must reflect and together with his team make devolution count for the residents of Homa Bay.Every county has fourteen broad mandates. Every Five years, counties develop county integrated development plans, capturing the priorities it will focus on during the plan period. With the short time remaining it is time for Homa Bay County to re-prioritise.This will require realising that it is not enough to spend money and report on the issues that the money has been put to. The counties where citizens are happy are those that have identified a few issues and made tangible and far-reaching investments.Whether it is a hospital, coffee processing factory, fruit processing factory or sports stadium, the evidence in these counties is self-evident and does not require review of annual reports and financial statements.The dominant political party in Homa Bay too has a responsibility. In the context of the Constitution, where parties play a more prominent role in government, the fortunes of the county must start concerning the ruling party in the county to avoid perceptions that it is part of the problem and not solution.To turn the fortunes of the county, the devolved government can borrow from the Big Four Agenda.

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