I was privileged to have grown in a village during the one party state under President Toroitich Arap Moi. At that time we thought that service delivery was a preserve for the select few. Those who had direct links with the ruling party. There was even a Swahili slogan at that time ‘siasa mbaya maisha mbaya‘ loosely translated as ‘bad politics leads to poor living conditions.” People’s voting patterns determined whether they would get jobs, government funded-projects and even quality education and healthcare.
Fast-forward to 2010 when a new Constitution was promulgated. A new system of governance was introduced by the name of devolution. The system brought hope to lives of many people who had already tasted its benefits through the legendary Constituency Development Fund (CDF). As from 2013, financing started trickling down to the Counties.
In 2015 I visited Lodwar town – the administrative headquarter of Turkana County. I was impressed to learn that were were many during the dark days. The residents were excited to see tarmac roads being constructed. It was exciting for them, they even traveled from all corners of the county to witness the new changes brought about by devolution. For the first time, the streets of Lodwar became bright courtesy of the street lighting programme. Devolution also may be credited for ending the Catholic Church’s monopoly in delivering essential services to the residents.
The Catholic Diocese of Lodwar started out as an Apostolic Prefecture in 1968. This was a branch of Diocese of Eldoret. Later, on 30th January, 1978 Lodwar became a diocese. The church has established schools and healthcare care facilities over the years.
The residents of Lodwar were not a lone in marveling at the new development projects taking place. Nyangorora Village in Nyamira County is one of the thousands of villages around the country that benefited from devolution. The village just like many others has been in the dark for the past 53 years since independence! No electric power to light homes and run businesses. The big shots in the village (mostly teachers) used solar panels to light their homesteads. The rest of the population had just known lanterns and tin lamps as the main source of lighting for the last over a half a century. It was strange that no one realized that there is anything a miss.
Elsewhere, some big towns do not have sewerage and water supply system. This is quite unfortunate! Instead, they use huge diesel generators working alongside solar power panels for street lighting as shown in the picture below.
When I wrote about North Water Services Board Overview I felt it is fair to share. If you come from an urban area with clean piped water and a working sewerage system you are safe. This is not the case for everyone. For instance, in Wajir County there is no water and sewerage system. The Northern Water Services Board is at the advanced stages of establishing the systems. Let us not take anything for granted! My hope is strengthened because devolution will finally deliver services to areas where services have only existed in dreams and imaginations.