The Clarion Call: The Devolution Transformation
Theme: Devolution- Transforming Lives: Tell your story!
Date: 6th to 9th March 2017
The 4th Annual Devolution Conference 2017 shall be held in Nakuru County. The conference marks an important milestone in the Devolution story in Kenya. It is the 4th Annual Devolution Conference and the last Annual Devolution Conference for the Pioneer Subnational Level of Devolved Units which was ushered through the March 4th 2013 elections. The Clarion call is “The Devolution Transformation” and the Theme of the 2017 Conference is “Devolution – Transforming Lives: Tell Your Story!” The Annual Devolution Conference is considered an important event in the calendar of Kenya because it provides a platform through which all stakeholders in devolution evaluate performance of both levels of governments in matters of policy, law, accountability, good governance, and service delivery, among others.
For the past four years there have been concerted efforts to educate the public through word and deed of what devolution is & what it has achieved. The County Governments have put in place mechanisms to address the concerns that have accompanied the change of governance and continuously sought to reassure the public that devolution is indeed working.
The last four years also witnessed moments that were not pleasant and conducive for the growth of devolution between governments, within governments and among key devolution stakeholders. There were moments of expressed displeasure where citizens felt that they were not getting value for money from both county and national governments. The new governance system faced institutional challenges, political intrigues and dynamics, technical capacity gaps and resistance to change. But as the curtain falls on the pioneer governments it can be said that devolution is on track and devolution is here to stay.
That is why at this 4th and final pioneer devolution conference it is important to note that the verdict out there is that “the perspectives have changed, the narrative favors devolution 100% as the style of governance in Kenya and the incoming governments have only one choice – to entrench devolution” as the way of political, social and economic inclusiveness for Kenyans.
Successive Annual Devolution Conferences since 2014 have noted the enthusiasm with which Kenyans have embraced devolution. Further there have been reports on improvement of service delivery in health, water, education (ECD and Youth Polytechnics), agriculture, roads, employment, and agriculture among others. There have been reports of challenges especially touching on issues of corruption, capacity gaps, and inadequate financial resources among others. On the overall though, the report card from all Kenyans has noted that Devolution is the only way to go for now. Therefore the theme is indeed relevant as the first chapter on devolution in Kenya is written on the pioneer devolved governments.
The overall objective of the conference will be to safeguard the gains, enhance the understanding and appreciation of devolution as a system of governance that focuses on public accountability and learning new ways of socio-economic development and delivering services. The conference has the following objectives:
1. To review the socio-economic impact of devolution over the past four years.
2. To discuss how devolution has been a tool for socio-economic integration in the country in promoting equity and inclusivity.
3. To demonstrate the achievements in adopting the “Big Bang” Devolution implementation approach over the past four years.
4. To identify opportunities for change, growth and enhanced cooperation in changing perspectives, changing the narrative and entrenching devolution in Kenya.
5. Review the financial burden in applying two thirds gender principle as opposed to an inclusive policy in an electoral system.
The Fourth Annual Devolution conference will continue to provide a platform to celebrate and take stock on achievements of devolution, listen to the voices on the impact on Devolution, to interrogate the negative narrative about devolution and to seek to entrench the positive dialogue about devolution. It will provide opportunity for all stakeholders to share experiences and expand on solutions to address common challenges related to Devolution. It will be a moment to step back and reflect recognizing that devolution is what Kenyans have chosen as the model of governance and it has to be entrenched.
As the fourth and final pioneer Annual Devolution Conference it aims to learn from the experience gained by all County Governments in entrenching devolution in the last four years. The Council of Governors Secretariat has organized three previous conferences in 2014, 2015 and 2016 and established better follow up mechanisms for continuity of dialogues, but most importantly the continuity of networks, cooperation and ensuring implementation of the agreements reached. Due to the participatory nature of the conference, the results will help entrench and improve standards of service delivery in relation to developed policies and guidelines in all devolved sectors.
The conference will be organized around three topics: accountability, credibility and results.
The conference will adopt the form of a dialogue through panel discussions followed by planetary engagements. Discussion papers will be commissioned as input for the dialogue. Each topic will be discussed separately and in sequence by all the participants. Each paper will pose questions to the participants and the panelists to start a dialogue. The authors of the papers will be invited as speakers. The dialogue model has been found to be favorable in past devolution conferences since dialogue seeks to collectively arrive to answers to the questions. It is not the same as a debate in which the participants are trying to prove the validity of their propositions. A dialogue is a common search for meaning as ways of addressing common challenges. Participants will then be invited to share their national county experience in addressing and challenges identified. Professional facilitators will be hired to orient the dialogues towards identifying solutions and making prepositions for the way forward.
1. A video/ Snapshots with Headlines for the last four years/snapshots highlighting the devolution experience for the critical sectors(e.g. health)
2. The Chair of specific committee will give a presentation based on Country wide performance & results for the past four years as a compliment to the video.
3. ‘Wananchi’ to share their experiences on how devolution has impacted on their lives.
4. A moderated plenary.
5. Wrap up by the moderator will give a summary highlighting the challenges being experienced and progress made so far.
The conference will have a space for open exchange of experiences in the way of exhibitions and fireside chats, therefore opening opportunities for direct interaction in addition to the more structured dialogues. The abstracts will be shared in advance and will constitute a critical input for the final publication.
The conference will facilitate the direct exchange of experiences by all participants during all sessions which will also be moderated by experienced technical conference moderators.
The Council of Governors has identified that the challenges faced in entrenching devolution is not exclusive to County Governments or to Kenya as a country alone. In that sense it will invite representatives of national government institutions, civil society organizations, media, religious institutions, subnational governments from Africa and other regions, development partners, academia, private sector practitioners and other governments around the world with experience in a devolved system similar to Kenya. This approach will facilitate the exchange of experiences and potential learning from each other, but a special focus this year is to speak to how each player has contributed for the last four and half years in changing the perspective of governance from centralized to devolved, changing the narrative to underscore the importance of devolution and why Kenyans chose this governance style and entrenching devolution for posterity.
• The representatives of key sectors will be invited to contribute to the dialogue on their sectors
• The Council of Governors Committee members, Senate and County Assembly relevant committees will deal mainly with their committee areas.
• The representatives from the media will be invited to show how the Media and telecommunications have assisted in creating responsible media and ensuring that we have good communication for development. The media will present what in the four years is has changed the perspective, changed the narrative and entrenched devolution in the country through their coverage of happenings in the country.
The Council of Governors Secretariat will extend invitations to a number of institutions but most conference participants will be invited to register online to book a place at the conference. It will seek to ensure that no stakeholder who expresses interest to attend the conference is left uninvited.
Representatives of development partners and private sector will be encouraged as a follow up to the conference to identify ways to support the agreed actions, in the form of specific knowledge exchange among participants, capacity building or technical cooperation.
The proceedings and presentations made during this conference will be synthetized and published into a report – Conference Report. A final communique will also be issued at the end of the conference by the conference participants demonstrating their engagement to promote and protect devolution. The Conference will yield a public discussion on why certain interventions during the pioneer years of devolution were successful and able to contribute to inclusive governance, enhanced service delivery, economic growth and employment creation while others had very minimal impact. Finally, a dedicated website will be built to host the proceedings and major outputs of the conference.
The subthemes will be mixed (sectoral based and also include cross-cutting issues e.g. corruption, elections, media perspective in reporting)
The Sub-themes (sector based):
1. Health: Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being in a devolved system of Governance
2. Agriculture: Agricultural transformation for food security, rural development and wealth creation.
3. Infrastructure, Roads and Energy: Promoting accelerated investment and access to markets.
4. Natural Resource Management: The Potential and Opportunities for Natural Resource Management within a Devolution context.
5. Education, Gender, Youth, sports, culture and Social Services: Equality and inclusivity for sustainable development at the County level.
6. Urban Planning, Lands and Housing: Building Resilient and Climate Smart Cities for growth and sustainable development.
7. Trade and Cooperatives Promoting economic diversification through an enabled business environment.
8. Elections: Preparedness and planning for seamless transition.
9. Media perspectives on devolution for Development: The Role of Telecommunications in creating responsible Media and promoting inclusiveness, cohesion and development.
10. Corruption: Facing Corruption as a drawback to the Development Agenda.
The conference’s proceedings is expected to (a) give greater publicity to successful policies, programs and initiatives that helped entrench devolution (b) support the call for increased allocation of resources to devolution as key to economic growth and development for Kenyans (c) mobilize all Kenyans including but not limited to those in business, academia, artists, religious and civil society actors that will safeguard, entrench and sustain devolution as the vehicle for inclusive growth process for the nation.
Organization of the sessions
Each session will host a panel discussion followed by a plenary engagement with interactive debates for learning, stock taking and experiences sharing.