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One UN on Gender in Kenya

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The Constitution of Kenya 2010 provided for a devolved system of government. The March 2013 General Election marked the beginning of devolution that saw functions and resources transferred by the national government to the 47 county governments. For the last three years, the Council of Governors (CoG) has been organizing annual devolution conferences that bring together varied stakeholders to take stock of the achievements and reflect on the challenges the counties face to map the way forward. This year marks the third devolution conference themed ‘The Promise of Devolution: Consolidating the Gains after Transition and Looking into the Future

Subtheme 1: Managing the Territory, Guaranteeing Sustainable Policies: Achieving Unity in Diversity


  1. Hon. Dr. Saara Kuugogelwa-Amadhila, Prime Minister Republic on Namibia
  2. Kassa Tekle Berhan – Minister for Federal Affairs, Federal Republic of Ethiopia
  3. Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri Cabinet Secretary, Devolution and National Planning
  4. Sen. Ekwe Ethuro, Speaker of the Senate
  5. Hon. Peter Munya, Chairperson Council of Governors
  6. Dr. Willy Mutunga, Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court
  7. Mr. Michel Balima, UNDP Resident Representative and chair of the Devolution Donor Working Group

Key Highlights

There were discussions on the need to reaffirm and strengthen the relationship between the national and county governments for effective decentralization of their functions.

There was emphasis on the need to ensure a seamless transition from the current national and county government leadership to the leadership after the 2017 General Elections to ensure the gains made so far on devolution are not lost but rather consolidated and strengthened for continuity.

It was noted that failure to tackle corruption and inequalities at both national and county government levels slows down the success and impact of devolution.

In the three years of devolution, there has been remarkable improvement to service delivery of devolved functions to citizens (i.e. Health, Agriculture and Early Childhood Development). These are critical in the efforts towards empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality.

Although the justice system in Kenya is not a devolved function, devolution allows citizens greater access to the justice system through collaborative efforts between the Judiciary and County governments in expanding the justice structures (courts and personnel). This is critical in addressing issues of gender-based violence where access to justice is a critical component.

The protection of democracy through devolution requires guarding against corruption and the discrimination of marginalized groups including women and youth.

It was stated that the division of national revenue should take cognizance of national interests which include empowerment of minority and marginalized groups such as youth and women. This is important in inclusivity and participation both at national and county levels, in order to address inequalities in all spheres (social, economic and political) and aid in closing the gender gap.

The President’s speech reiterated the need to realize the two-third gender principle in adherence to the Constitution as an avenue of increasing women’s participation in leadership.

Subtheme 2: The Place of State Corporations and Regional Development Authorities and their Effectiveness in our Devolved System of Government


  1. Governor Hon. William Kabogo, Kiambu County
  2. Hon Sen. Lenny Kivuti, MP. Chair, Senate Land and Natural Resources Committee
  3. Governor Hon. Amason Kingi, Member CoG Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee
  4. Deputy Governor Joash Maangi, Kisii County
  5. Mr. Njee Muturi, Solicitor General
  6. Ms. Ann Githinji, Speaker Kirinyaga County
  7. Mr. Mage Ng’ang’a, Chair Kenya Law Reform Commission
  8. Hon. Abdikadir Mohamed, Senior Advisor, Office of the President
  9. Mr. Ismael Shaiye, Chief Executive Officer, Water Services Trust Fund
  10. Mr. Simon Indimuli, State Corporation Executive Committee
  11. Hon. Martha Karua, EGH
  12. Waikwa Wanyoike, Executive Director, Katiba Institute

Key Highlights

  • The President’s speech reiterated the need to realize the two-third gender principle in adherence to the Constitution as an avenue of increasing women’s participation in leadership.
  • The discussions focused on the national government using state corporations to destabilize devolution. There were sentiments that this poses a risk on gains made particularly on gender as well as economic empowerment of women and youth bearing in mind that there are state corporations that administer women and youth funds (Youth Enterprise Fund and Women Enterprise Fund).
  • There is need for a gender responsive framework that defines and guides the definition of state corporations and their functions to address the duplication of roles, functions and resources.
Subtheme 3: Resourcing County Governments to ensure Sustainability of Devolved Function


  1. Governor Hon. Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya, EGH. Chair, CoG Finance Committee
  2. FCPA Agnes Odhiambo, Controller of Budget
  3. Governor Hon. Ahmed Abdullahi, Chair CoG Resource Mobilization Committee
  4. Mr. Henry Rotich, Cabinet Secretary National Treasury
  5. Ms. Rose Osoro, Commissioner, Commission on Revenue Allocation
  6. Mr. Edward Ouko, Auditor General
  7. Mr. Joseph Ponsonby, Deloitte

Key Highlights

The Public Finance Management Act in Kenya has gaps on how revenue is collected, allocated and expended, specifically on how public funds respond to human rights in the development agenda of county governments.

It was stated that the management and sharing of revenue from natural resources (gas, oil, and minerals) should be addressed at county level vis-a-vis the national government as this will be one of the key devolution financing issues in the next ten years. This presents an opportunity to influence the policy frameworks and mechanisms that will guide this sector.

The proposed comprehensive devolution financing policy and implementing strategy which seeks to address revenue collection and allocation, especially from natural resource-rich counties, presents a scope to mainstream gender equality and the empowerment of women.

The current resource allocation to counties by the national government has been deemed inadequate to the functions and responsibilities of the devolved government posing a risk to service delivery in key sectors critical to women, such as health, agriculture and basic education.

Three years into devolution, the capacity needs at county level still exist, especially in performance management (i.e. mainstreaming gender in policies, plans and budgets) and service delivery, especially in prevention of and response to GBV and HIV/AIDS)

“There is no peace without development and there is no development without peace, and none of the above without respect for human rights and the rule of law”

Jan Eliasson



Subtheme 6: Information Communication Technology as an Enabler for Economic Growth and Development

“I have never realized how deliberate marginalization was…

until I became Governor of Mandera County” –

Hon. Captain Ali Ibrahim Roba

Mandera County Governor



  1. Governor Prof. Paul Chepkwony, Chair, COG Committee on Education, Youth, Gender and Social Services
  2. Governor Cpt. Ali Roba, Mandera County
  3. Deputy Governor Jonathan Mueke, Nairobi City County
  4. Mr. Jerome Ochieng, Director, IFMIS
  5. Ms. Alice Munyua, African Union Mission
  6. Mr. Muchemi Wambugu, Pricewaterhouse Coopers

 Key Highlights

ICT was noted as an enabler for effective service delivery at the County government level, especially in hospital management systems, ease of communication across the county; automation of revenue collection and county operations; creation of employment particularly for the youth as well as bridging the digital divide among the marginalized and enhanced business opportunities for the citizens contributing to economic growth of the county.

ICT has also enabled counties to facilitate analysis of data to inform appropriate service provision to the citizens. This has been especially useful in counties classified as urban areas or cities.

It was also noted that the regulatory framework of ICT for National and County governments has taken into account gender considerations, especially in the area of cyber-crime and cyber security.

However, insufficient funds/resource allocation towards ICT development was still identified as a barrier and the requirement of counties to allocate 1% of their county budget was therefore inadequate.

The counties still lack skilled human resources in the area of ICT despite the fact that the ministry has rolled out the ICT master plan on digital literacy at the national and county levels. This is seen as critical because it is the route to create employment for 70% of the youth population in Kenya

Subtheme 8: Mainstreaming of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

“There is a culture of corruption that fights the

fight against corruption” –

Ms Kagwira Mbogori

Chair, Kenya National Human Rights Commission


  1. Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri, MGH, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Devolution and Planning
  2. Governor Benjamin Cheboi, EBS, Chair, COG Natural Resources Management Committee
  3. Governor Nathif Jama, Chair, CoG Trade, Industry and Investment Committee
  4. Governor Samuel Ragwa, Tharaka Nithi County
  5. Raphael Muriungi, Deputy Governor, Meru County
  6. Mr. Safari Ntalala, Member of the Speakers Panel, Meru County Assembly
  7. Ms. Enid Muthoni, Country Director, International Development Law Organization (IDLO)
  8. Dr. Josephine Kibaru-Mbae, Director General, National Council for Population Development
  9. Mr. Bradley Austin, Resident Country Director, International Republican Institute (IRI)


Key Highlights

  • The county governments are expected to be a key stakeholder in the implementation of the SDGs at the community level. Kenya being one of the two countries that coordinated the drafting of the SDGs together with Ireland is seen as a country with a progressive constitution, vibrant civil society and strong constitutional oversight commissions which are key to the successful implementation of SDGs.
  • To reap the full potential of SDGs it will be necessary to align policies at all stages of planning, coordination, implementation and monitoring of progress at both levels of government. The complexity of SDGs calls for the need of laying a solid foundation for Kenya’s domestication process.
  • At County level, the current County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs) provide an opportunity to put in place the equality and inclusiveness framework; facilitate county cross-learning and experience sharing; bring on board partners and ensure that county government stakeholders work together.
  • It was reported that currently the Ministry of Devolution and Planning is finalizing the findings of the study on Kenya’s experience in the implementation of the MDGs. This will address the unfinished business of the MDGs and facilitate successful rollout of the SDGs in Kenya.
  • Kenya has a large youth population whereby currently, over 70% of Kenya’s population is below 30 years old. The population grew exponentially from 7 million in 1956 (same as Sweden) to today’s 42.9 million, while Sweden has grown to 9.7 million. This implies that each year one million Kenyans join the work force but there are only 200,000 jobs created annually. Therefore, as Kenya rolls out the SDGs, the population size must be taken into consideration as it is expected to grow to 75 million by 2050.
  • In view of the population growth, achieving SDGs in a depleted environment in Kenya would be difficult. Currently, there are 80 people per sq. kilometer and this is expected to increase to 150 per sq. kilometer by 2050. To reap the demographic dividend, Kenya must ensure (1) a healthy population, (2) education that equips the youth with skill sets that are employable, (3) integrate the young people in economic development opportunities, and (4) ensure good governance.
  • It was noted that MDGs left out persons with disability. However, the SDGs make reference to this population group 5 times. Since 10 percent of the Kenyan population represents persons with disability, it will be imperative for counties and the national government to give due consideration to this population group as they roll out the SDGs.
Subtheme 9: Corruption in Kenya: Measures to Entrench Integrity in Public and Private Offices.



  1. Gathecha Waweru, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government
  2. Phillip Kinisu, Chair Ethics and Anti-Corruption
  3. Kagwiria Mbogori, Chair National Commission Human Rights
  4. Deputy Governor Joash Maangi , Kisii County
  5. Governor Cornel Rasanga, Siaya County
  6. Governor Okoth Obando, Migori County
  7. Ms. Hellen Obande, Lecturer Institute of Gender Studies, Egerton University
  8. Mr. George Kegoro, Executive Director, Kenya Human Rights Commission
  9. Ms. Sheila Ngatia, Assistant Director and UNDP Head of Programmes

Key Highlights

  • Corruption in Kenya was declared a national security threat by the president in 2015 with 70% of Kenyans admitting that it is highly prevalent. It is seen to be the biggest threat to the attainment of the Kenyan development blueprint and the SDG goals.
  • Grand corruption is seen to manifest itself in situations where there is a weak business case for transactions and where there is little or no public information. In addition, complexities of fighting corruption contribute to eroded national values, indiscipline, selective law enforcement and lack of political leadership.
  • Measures to address corruption include; understanding where corruption takes place, communicating about it and spearheading a national campaign to promote national values aimed at changing people’s behavior through inculcating ethics and values. In addition, the price of engaging in corruption must be high to end impunity and to hold individuals truly accountable.
  • At national and county government levels, there is need to build integrity within the governance systems, strengthen accountability mechanisms such as procurement and audit so as to curb corruption, as well as engage the citizenry in public participation to

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