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Demand for a piece of the sh. 50b cake boost to counties to address drainage, roads.

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday launched a KES. 50 Billion boost to counties to enable them give quality services under two new programmes - the Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP) and Kenya Devolution Support Programme (KDSP).

The programmes will offer counties a new revenue stream for funding to turn at least 59 former municipal centres into towns.

The KDSP will have Sh30 billion ready for 45 counties to support urbanisation while KUSP, with a budget of Sh20 billion, will target urban centres' waste management, storm water drainage and investments in connectivity such as roads, non-motorised transport facilities, and street and security lights.

Counties will also be expected to invest the cash in urban economic infrastructure as well as fire and disaster management. 

To qualify for the grant, counties will be expected to open a special account as well as set up municipal boards, have a project team and appoint town managers. They should also harmonise the levies they charge to collect local revenue to eliminate investment barriers between them.

However, the president placed a caveat that the money would be performance based, meaning that select counties would only access the funds after meeting certain targets.

All towns except Nairobi and Mombasa are beneficiaries. 

Years of suffering.

With Ksh. 50 billion in the counties’ kitty, the Ksh. 372.7 billion allocated to them in the Financial Year 2018/19 and their own local collections, counties have no excuse but to deliver to its people.

Over the years, infrastructure, drainage and flooding has been a pain in the neck for the people of Thika Town Constituency.

In every year’s budget, both the defunct Municipal Council of Thika and the County Government of Kiambu have always set aside millions of Kenya Shillings for infrastructural development and in drainage projects in this year's budget but residents have to always hold their breath every time a hard rain is forecast.

The people have endured this in the past, but it has gotten to where they cannot endure it any more. It is now time the county government drew a comprehensive infrastructural and storm water study and plan for effective drainage and flood control projects.

A lot of these drainage systems are interconnected and piecemeal solutions will only improve a drainage canal for one area and end up flooding another.

Majority of these systems were laid down more than half a century ago and were only valid with the then small population. The town has now grown tremendously and the current infrastructure cannot hold in most of the area, demanding an urgent and comprehensive review.

Demand bold solutions.

The desire of every human being is to live in a neighbourhood that permits a life of dignity. What this means is that the authorities should work towards making our settlements safe, resilient and sustainable.

Residents should therefore demand the County Government to improve on basic and an improvement in the already strained infrastructure in the area. It is not enough to get frustrated by the poor services from the authorities. The current situation demands them to develop structured ways of advocating for better services and demanding compliance to the rule of law.

The citizens should no longer sit back and lament about poor services or wait for the county government to avail services. They should instead take charge and actively involve themselves in ensuring that they can access services such as garbage collection, security, water supply, protection of open spaces within the neighbourhood among others.

They must also demand that any new developments taking place within the neighbourhood must conform to the planning and zoning laws governing the area. This can be achieved by making sure that the county government raises development standards for future construction.

As the people who pay rates to the county government, the residents must resist being taken for a ride and overlooked when important decisions affecting their lives are made by the authorities. They must demand value for money.

Public participation.

And as the governors go about their business at the fifth devolution conference in Kakamega, they must ensure they address the issue of public participation going forward. The lack of feedback from few public participation avenues that are always poorly attended due to lack of mobilisation, makes residents not to reap from devolution.

There exists very wide gaps under key devolved sectors and the public expectations begging the question whether the counties are ready for residents to realise their fruits. They can only achieve their intended development agenda if they embrace public participation.

Part of the problem is that despite their best intentions, many governments (both national and county) continue to design and deliver services based on their own requirements and processes instead of the needs of the people they serve. 

When governments deliver services based on the needs of the people they serve, they increase public satisfaction and reduce costs. Delivering services to citizens should always be at the heart of what all government agencies do.

Let citizens tell you what matters most and then combine public feedback with internal data to uncover hidden pain points.

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