While a majority of the 47 counties have done pretty well, steadily inching towards fulfilling the devolution dream of taking development to the grassroots, some are a total disgrace. They include the more than 10 counties, whose economies have continued to shrink despite the billions that have been sunk into them.
The leadership has failed to make good use of those annual allocations. While it is quite true that the advent of the counties has enabled the most drastic transfer of resources from the centre since independence, some old bad habits, such as corruption and mismanagement, have, sadly, also taken root.
Interestingly, on this list of shame are counties that are endowed with vast agricultural potential and other resources that if well-managed could see progress made. According to the Economic Survey 2019, the worst-performing county, judging from the Gross County Product, is Nyamira, whose major asset is rich agricultural land.
Other surprise inclusions to the list are Nandi, Uasin Gishu and West Pokot in the North Rift, the country’s grain basket. A surprising entry, though, is Makueni County, under Governor Kivutha Kibwana, which has been feted for innovative ideas. However, as analysts say, this could be because the gains have yet to trickle down.
But all is not gloom. Some counties have shown laudable improvement. This report should be a wake-up call to the counties to tackle challenges and use resources more prudently. The capitation from the national Treasury was only meant to give them a start as they organise themselves to generate their own revenue. It is a big shame to just wait and share out these funds through corrupt deals while doing nothing to boost their capacity to attain self-reliance and justify their existence as viable administrative and economic units.