CoG Chair Anne Waiguru speaking during launch of World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework.

The Council of Governors (CoG) Chairperson Anne Waiguru has called for decentralization of the country’s social protection programs. 

Waiguru says that social protection programs for the marginalized and vulnerable groups such as the elderly, children, people living with disabilities and youth have remained under the management of the national government despite the fact it is the counties that know the people who need support.

“Counties are close to the people and we need to decentralize these services and allow counties to take lead. The essence of devolution was to bring services and power closer to the people”, she noted.

Waiguru who is also the Kirinyaga County Governor made the remarks during the launch of World Bank Group Country Partnership Framework (CPF) for years 2023-2028 held in Nairobi.

She emphasized that devolution was meant to enable communities to manage their own affairs, protect and promote the interests and rights of minorities and the marginalized as well as ensuring equitable sharing of resources.

The CPF launch brought together officials from the World Bank, the Council of Governors, the National Treasury, Development Partners Group, Kenya Private Sector Association and the Institute of Social Accountability.

At the same time, the second time, the COG Chairperson said that there was need for mind shift among leaders to recognize that devolution happened and Kenya will only witness inclusive development when the interests of the nation take precedence over individual interests.

She noted of many instances where national policies are crafted by technocrats and elites, some of who have selfish interests to the detriment of what the common person requires.  

“There are elites in the civil society, the private sector and the political arena, who all desire to influence policy for their gains without considering the welfare of Wanjiku”, observed the second time Governor.  

According to her, there has been minimal consultation on matters that affect county government, an issue that must be addressed if inclusive development is to work, noting that lack of consultation has led to some disagreements between the two levels of government when it comes to funding and resource allocation for devolved functions. 

She cited the partial devolution of resources for the health function where only a paltry 20% is devolved while 80% remains at the National Government despite the fact that the latter only undertakes only two functions; capacity building and standardization.

On his part, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof. Njuguna Ndung’u said that the World Bank remains the country’s largest multilateral partner with Ksh.800B in development projects’ financing.

He noted that 80% of these projects continue to register moderately satisfactory performance in the last three years according to the World Bank Independent Evaluation Group (IEG), an issue the government intends to address in the near future to cover the deficit of 20%.

Prof. Ndung'u said that the current administration will ambitiously pursue an all-inclusive economic growth model using the bottom-up approach that will establish appropriate institutional reforms to develop, regulate and protect markets that will ignite production and productivity downstream, and increased revenue upstream. 

He said pointed out that the implementation of the CPF will support the Kenyan economy in its development discourse and more so the constraints, particularly the emerging threat of food security and climate change.

“The current pre-occupation by the current administration is to enact innovative solutions for liability management that will also signal active public debt management and sustainability. Through the CPF, Kenya is expected to benefit not only from its natural allocation but also from other windows that provide finance for specific goals,” he remarked.

 At the function, the CoG Chairperson also raised the question as to why the equalization fund has not been fully implemented despite the fact that it was supposed to address the provision of services by channeling resources to identified marginalized counties to bring the quality of services to the level generally enjoyed by the rest of the nation.

On matters Universal Health Coverage (UHC), Waiguru said that there is need to protect Kenyans from health shocks noting that only 13% of the population is covered by safe nets or social insurance, which makes thousands of Kenyans fall into poverty due to hospital bills. 

She noted that though the country has prioritized the attainment of UHC through the expansion of health insurance coverage by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), there is need for reduction of out-of-pocket payments by patients. She said that the universal coverage dream will only be achieved by ensuring County Governments take lead.

“We need to work together and avoid pulling to different directions. Some of the frameworks signed by partners contribute to further marginalization,” she said, noting that some parts of the country have been isolated based on elites bargain and there was need to go back to the drawing board to ensure all parts of the country are covered. 

The World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia and Uganda Keith Hansen said that the Country Partnership Framework sets out the World Bank Group’s strategy for supporting Kenya’s Vision 2030 and to reduce extreme poverty and increase shared prosperity over the six.

Hansen said that the launch was an opportunity to share with all stakeholders the six-year WBG Strategy and how it aligns with Kenya’s key priorities and development agenda adding that WBG is committed to continue supporting Kenya’s aspirations of transforming the country into a middle-income economy with programs targeted at achieving inclusivity and resilience as an end goal. 

He added that the program will also complement Kenya’s own policy, public and private sector capacities, and financial commitments in areas already yielding good results by targeting WBG support toward emerging issues such as Universal health and social insurance.

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