At the 4th legislative summit in Kisumu in April, deliberations left more questions than answers as to the essence and significance of the yearly devolution gatherings.
Happening a few months after the devolution conference of March in Kirinyaga County, the two summits had a lot in common. Notably, billboards everywhere besides the thousands of attendees, usually the political class, who use such gatherings for political capital.
Going by the theme Deliver-Transform-Measure: Remaining Accountable the 6th devolution conference in Kirinyaga County, 47 counties and the national government converged to take stock and probably come up with modalities of streamlining resource sharing and governance.
Besides the usual political din, these summits usually produce yearly accounts on devolution. However, generated reports lack collective action points for replication.
It was similar for the 4th legislative summit in Kisumu. Going by the theme ‘Accelerating Devolution: Assessing the achievement and addressing the gaps in policy and legislation, the summit concluded with the usual din for MCAs car grant and housing mortgages.
Nearly the same period, the meteorological department issued an alert of a delay in season rains besides a drop in volume. In other words, the country was facing an extended drought episode.
Already, some dry counties were experiencing drought and needed leadership and guidance on disaster risk management.
This opportunity was lost. Upon conclusion, little had been deliberated on disaster management, even though circumstances at the time demanding so besides disaster management being a devolved function.
Interestingly, during an inter-governmental meeting on drought and food security coordination, it was evident the majority of the county authorities were yet to set aside resources for tackling disasters.
Merely 0.8 percent of county resources were set aside for emergencies as affirmed by the controller of budget.
However, the Public Financial Management Act 2012, requires counties to set aside two percent of their allocation under emergency fund based on the counties last audited accounts. Only a few conform to this requirement.
In the event of a disaster, counties are quick to blame the national government for late responses.
Faced by disasters livelihoods of unprepared counties suffer the most.
For the annual devolution summits to have meaning, they should focus on areas of omission and commission in governance and constitutionalism. By building county capacity in the areas of governance and constitutionalism, there will be uniformity in the management of county affairs.
These huge gatherings at the yearly conferences are incapable of reaching a consensus on any subject.
Future gatherings ought to be lean, probably consisting of key members of the county executives, county assembly, and technocrats on the constitutionalism, financial management, and economics.
The show-off should stop and public resources allocated to counties used well.
Kiragu Kariuki,Public Policy and administration expert, Nyeri.