NAIROBI, Kenya, June 29 – County governments have continued to achieve remarkable success in the various devolved functions despite the challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19 in March last year.
Speaking in Nairobi while delivering the 8th annual devolution address, Embu Governor and Martin Wambora who chairs the Council of Governors (COG) said that devolved governance is key in implementing transformative agenda in the country despite the challenges faced.
“Delayed disbursement of equitable share by the National Treasury has led to a myriad of challenges which include non-compliance of timely payment of employees’ salaries, delayed settlement of eligible pending bills, derailment of counties’ response measures towards emergencies such as droughts, floods, and locusts in various parts of the country and the Covid-19 pandemic, ” Wambora said.
He noted that underperformance in Own Source Revenue (OSR) coupled with increase in fuel costs and agricultural inputs had severely affected the agricultural sector, with food production expected to deteriorate due to high production costs.
The outbreak of COVID-19 saw counties allocate an average of 32.9 percent of their total budgets to the health sector, an increase from 26.1 percent from the previous year .
“At the beginning of the pandemic, county governments had 6,094 isolation beds, currently, counties have 8,663 isolation beds. 36 counties have attained isolation facilities with a 300 bed capacity and functional ICU beds have increased to 440 from with 242 functional HDU beds,” he said.
Education, Trade, Tourism and Agriculture are some of the sectors adversely affected by COVID-19 restrictions while ICT, Energy and natural resource management registered marked improvement.
Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa challenged county bosses to adopt innovations in service delivery and to have transparency and accountability to citizens.
“It will take us having resilient counties for us to have a resilient country. In the middle of a global crisis, we have had an opportunity to improve. The challenge has made us do more in the health sector than we have done in the last fifty years,” he said, and added that “I don’t think devolution has ever been tested like it has been tested in the last one year.”
Wamalwa asked county assemblies to pass necessary legislations on climate change so that they can be able to access funding.
Currently, 29 county governments have enacted climate change Acts.
Climate change is expected to take center stage during the upcoming 7th Annual Devolution Conference scheduled to take place in August in Makueni County.