Kenya Inequalities: SID County Forum in Kakamega
SID Kakamega County Forum
SID dissemination exercise of inequalities data at county level in Kenya went to Kakamega County, the second most populous county in Kenya second after the capital Nairobi. The county is located some 407.1 odd kilometers from the capital and requiring few minutes shy of 6 hours of travel by road from Nairobi. From a total of 60 wards and 9 constituencies, participants for this forum were drawn mainly from four wards namely Chemuche ward, Bunyala West ward, Isukha South ward and Nzoia ward. The ward representative from Nzoia Mr. Dickson Ombayo joined Mary Muyonga in facilitating the dialogue that looked at the major developments in the wards represented and their impacts to life at the grassroot level. Likewise some of the challenges being faced in the devolved system dispensation were highlighted.
Major developmental projects the county government of Kakamega had embarked on that showed the focus of the government were infrastructure development, improved access to education, access to water and improved access to health services. In Nzoia ward it was noted the feeder roads had been graded and renovations were ongoing to enable access to major highways. In Chemuche ward, the construction of the bridge and road from Kakoi to Quarry and Malava-Chimoroni road have made alleviated challenges of access. These were noted for improved access to schools, dispensaries and for farmers' access to market. Some roads, however, like the Quarry - Mating'ong'o road still needed urgent attention as farmers transporting produce to markets find difficulty using it as is.
Indicators to improved access to health care included the construction of Matunda health centre at a cost of Kes 10 M and Mabuu health centre in Nzioa, Malichi dispensary in Chemuche, Chief Milimu dispensary in Isukha South, Kisembe and Butingo dispensaries in Bunyala West wards. Although these facilities came in handy, it was noted that more needed to be done in staffing, provision of specialized wards i.e maternity care and adequate supply of drugs to improve the quality of health care in the county.
Planned construction of Musungutsu, Shirulo, and Ichina primary schools and Tumbeini Secondary school in Chemuche ward, St Joseph's, St. Stephen's Luanda and John Mutoni Secondary Schools in Nzoia ward, electrification and addition of classes at the Kisembe primary school in Bunyala West ward and the development of Shihuli, Museno, Irobo, Shitochi Primary Schools and Itumbu Polytechnic in Isukha South Ward were noted as indicators of improved access to education at different levels in the county. Kes 1M allocation for each of the county's wards to be used for bursaries to students, an arrangement with the national Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) involving a Kes 20M fund to ensure better access for Kakamega students to university loans and staffing of Early Childhood and Development Centers were noted as efforts to improve quality and access of education in the county.
By protection of springs in Bunyala West ward where 5 have already been secured and ongoing work on 10 more is on course and Tumbeini springs in Chemuche ward indicate efforts to improve access to clean water by the county. However, challenges in accessing safe drinking water and sanitation facilities continue to plague wards such as Isukha South construction of 4 pit latrines, one urinal and one bathroom notwithstanding. In some wards it was noted that residents still used river water for consumption which accounted for the 14% of Kakamega residents without access to improved sanitation facilities according to the SID Kakamega county Inequalities report.
Using the Kakamega forum it becomes clear that building the capacity of Kenyans to understand the functions of different arms of government in the devolved system of government is a critical factor that impacts on their quality of participation and oversight over elected officials. The participants in the forum left sure of the role of the county assembly in providing oversight over county executive functions and their role in providing oversight and seeking feedback from the elected representatives over matters of resource allocation for instance.
As the county dissemination exercises continues, fora like these enable us to gather new insights that become invaluable in mapping out areas that need intervention in addressing inequalities and disparities in Kenya's counties.
Photo L to R: Mr. Musa Chibole, Kakamega County Governor's Political Adviser; Mary Muyonga, Programme Officer, SID.
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