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The passing of the current constitution in 2010 ushered Kenya into a new system of governance, replacing the old centralised system with a new devolved system of governance. The new system consists of a national government and 47 county governments.

The creation of devolved units of government means that services and self- governance have been brought closer to the people. However, for citizens to effectively engage with the county governments, they need to understand the structure of the county government and the role and functions created under this new system. This article aims to look at the county structures and the roles thereof.

The Governor is elected directly by the registered voters in a county on the day of the general elections (Article 180(1) of the Constitution of Constitution of Kenya. The county governor and the deputy governor are the chief executive and the deputy chief executive of the county (article 179(4).

When the county governor is absent, the deputy governor shall act as the county governor. The Governor and the deputy are also part of the county executive committee which is established in Article 179(2) (a).

The legislative authority of a county is vested in, and exercised by its county assembly (Article 185 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (CoK). A county assembly may make any laws that are necessary for, incidental to, the effective performance of the functions and exercise of the powers of the county government under the Fourth Schedule.

The Parliament of Kenya consists of the National Assembly and the Senate and is established in Article 93 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 (CoK). A Senator is elected by the registered voters of the counties or nominated by political parties according to their proportion of members of the Senate elected (Article 98(1) (CoK).

The County Public Service Board is established in Section 57 and 58 of the County Government Act. The County Public Service Board comprises the following:

a) A chairperson nominated and appointed by the county governor with the approval of the county assembly;
b) Not less than three but not more than five other members nominated and appointed by the county governor, with the approval of the county assembly; and
c) A certified public secretary of good professional standing nominated and appointed by the governor, with the approval of the county assembly, who shall be the secretary to the board.

The County Governments Act (CGA Section 48-53) has established decentralised units for the delivery of services at the counties. These decentralised units are as follows:

1. Office of the sub-county administrator
These offices are in charge of the sub-counties equivalent to the constituencies within the county as established under Article 89 of the Constitution of Kenya (CoK).

A study titled ‘Is it my business? A national opinion poll on devolution and governance’ published by Transparency International Kenya in June 2014 indicated that low public awareness and participation are undermining devolution. The poll showed that less than four in every ten Kenyans had heard about public consultation forums, pointing to possible breakdown in communication between county governments and the citizens.

This should not be the case. County governments are required to establish mechanisms to facilitate public communication and access to information under section 95 of the County Governments Act and which may include: television stations, information communication technology centres, websites, community radio stations, public meetings and traditional media.

The objects of devolution as set out in Chapter 11, Article 174 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 are to among others ‘give powers of self- governance to the people and enhance the participation of the people in the exercise of the powers of the State and in making decisions affecting them (174(c))’.

This means bringing power and resources closer to the people at the grass root level. Devolution was introduced to give mwananchi greater opportunity to directly engage with the county government, be involved in decision making on matters affecting them, have a say on the development agenda and play an oversight role on the county government to ensure efficient utilisation of resources.

ALAC toll free line to jobseeker’s rescue

Mary* was very desperate to get a job after completing her studies. In an endeavour to seek employment, she was directed by a Mrs Peninah* to pay a bribe of Ksh 15, 000 to secure a job in one of the government ministries. Mary sent the money but did not get the job.

She contacted the Advocacy and Legal Advisory Centre (ALAC) Nairobi via the toll free number 0800 720 721, and the issue was followed up by the ALAC officers. As a result of the follow-up Mrs Peninah returned the money to Mary. The matter was referred to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) for action to be taken against Mrs Peninah for engaging in corruption. Investigations are ongoing.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the client 

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Its major cause is associated with increased levels of green house gases in the atmosphere due to human activities. The levels have been rising since industrial revolution. In the past, majority of industries ran on carbon fuels i.e. coal and oil. The transport industry then also ran on wood fuel as ships were a major form of transport before the invention of the automobile. Wood fuels came from trees hence deforestation is not new word in the environment world.

In the past, phenomena such as population increase and scarcity of natural resources was unheard of. Competition among developed countries fueled massive natural resource destruction. Back then the earth could sustain pollution, an era where the Gaia theory could apply. The theory which was stipulated by James Lovelock, a scientist proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surrounding on Earth to form a self regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.