Northern Kenya’s marginalised counties are demanding that the National Treasury immediately release Sh12 billion equalisation funds due to them.
The money is provided for in the Constitution and is to be allocated to 14 historically marginalised devolved units according to a formula provided by the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) and passed by Parliament.
The Frontier Counties Development Council (FCDC), an association of northern Kenya counties, said no money was paid to them during the just-ended 2017/18 financial year, thus stalling efforts to improve the quality of life in the region.
FCDC chair Ali Roba, who is also the Mandera County Governor, said prompt disbursement of the funds would enable the devolved units to fund activities that spur development in northern Kenya and improve welfare of pastoral communities.
“We are sensing danger in policy reforms that are effected using the tyranny of numbers to change what is Constitutionally due to marginalised counties,” Mr Roba said at a press conference during the close of a workshop to discuss the development master plan for FCDC’s 10 member counties.
He was speaking in Naivasha where the leaders admitted West Pokot County to FCDC.
“I want to challenge my brothers and sisters who are opposed to disbursement of equalisation funds to assess how much national investment has occurred in favoured counties yet our people do not complain,” he said.
West Pokot County governor, Prof. John Lonyangapuo, said the marginalised have suffered since independence and that Kenya has totally ignored their potential.
“We saw hope during the launch of the Constitution in 2010, but equalisation funds remain inaccessible to communities that deserve it most and are plagued by underdevelopment,” he said.
The counties that were set to benefit from the kitty include Wajir, Turkana, Samburu, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Tana River, Narok, West Pokot, Kwale, Isiolo, Garissa, Kilifi and Taita Taveta.
They were identified as those whose basic infrastructure such as electricity, healthcare, roads and water services needed lots of investment to improve.
According to the Bill assented to by president Uhuru Kenyatta this year, Turkana County was to receive the largest share of the kitty.
Representatives of the poorest counties said it was unfair to keep condemning people from marginalised communities to continue suffering in contravention of the law.
At the meeting, the devolved units discussed a master plan that aims to opening up opportunities for investment interventions in the region.
Facilitators included former Economic Planning PS Dr Edward Sambili and Dr Mohammed Isahakia.