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Thursday, 19 July 2018 14:30

COUNTY BRANDING INDEX WORKSHOP

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Brand Kenya on 12th July, 2018 took the County Executive Members from Tourism and Trade through the County Branding Index Report. Also present in the meeting was Kenya Tourism Board. The County Branding Index was developed to determine the key brand strengths and weaknesses of counties in order to position them as centres of trade, tourism and investment.
County Branding Index was developed through a survey done by renowned research and consulting firm Infotrack in partnership with Brand Kenya. The sectors were grouped into three pillars namely economic pillar which comprises of energy, agriculture, transport /infrastructure, trade and investment and tourism. The political pillar comprises of security, County Branding, Service Delivery and Communication. Lastly, the Social pillar comprises of healthcare, education, water and sanitation, environmental conservation, housing, sports and cultural activities. The process involved an assessment of each county’s performance in 47 indicators and 115 sub-indicators spread across various sectors.
“County Branding is a critical component of Kenya’s branding. It accelerates the level of growth of both County and National brands. A significant component in building a country’s brand is to focus on improving geographical hubs to make them centers of excellence in commerce and industry,” said the Brand Kenya Acting CEO Ms. Floice Mukabana

Ms. Achie Alai, the Chair of CECs Tourism and Wildlife Committee making remarks on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee, H.E Samuel Ole Tunai, said that destination competitiveness is a key aspect of tourism that needs to be explored broadly in detail and that County Governments should not only rely on the comparative advantages such as sceneries and wildlife but should push to create competitive advantage building better structures to support the sector.
Brand Kenya continues to engage with each County Government to further help them on to improve their bands and identity.

The Union of Kenya Civil Servants led by the 1st Deputy Secretary Mr. Jerry Ole Kina paid a courtesy call to the Council of Governors on 11th July 2018 at the COG Secretariat. The Union is registered under Trade Unions Act (CAP. 233) to represent civil servants of all ranks. The purpose of the courtesy call was for the union to introduce themselves to the Council as well as with the need to engage with Excellency Governors to discuss issues impacting their members both positively and negatively.

Some of the issues discussed were:
1. 1. The Union’s Recognition Agreement
In the previous Government, the Union signed and MoU with the National Government. Health being devolved, the Union is interested in signing Recognition Agreements with the 47 County Governments to enable them to engage the counties directly.
Way forward: The CoG encourages the Union to engage with the respective County Governments for purposes of negotiating and signing Recognition Agreements since the Counties are the employers of their members.
1. 2. Pension Scheme for the staff seconded to the counties
After devolution, some staff were seconded/transferred to the Counties. The Union’s concern was that the staff seconded to the counties are not under any pension scheme.
Way forward: The Council of Governors is currently working with the National Government to develop one umbrella pension scheme for all employees working in the County Governments.
1. 3. Proposed Housing Development Fund
The union is concerned with the plan by the government to compel employees to contribute up to one per cent of their gross salaries every month to the National Housing Development Fund. The union was keen in stating that there needs to be consultation with them before this is effected as this move is likely to further raise the cost of labor.
Way Forward: The Council of Governors stated that they haven’t submitted their memorandum on the same, however, the Council is not in support of the idea.
1. 4. Non- remittance of the Union dues
The Union expressed their concern on some counties not remitting their union dues as required of them by the union stating that it’s being deducted from their salaries but on the other hand, some County Governments are not remitting it to the union.
Way forward: The Union to share with CoG the specific Counties which have not remitted their dues and the amount not remitted.
1. 5. Human Resource Matters
The Union expressed their concerns on other HR matters which includes; Promotions, leave allowances, discrimination in the counties, secondment and transfers, succession and planning, NHIF payments and salary delays by some counties.
Way forward: The Council of Governors committed to following up with those specific matters touching on the specific counties requesting the Union to share the report to allow the Human Resource Committee members to be able to follow it up.
The team also assured the Union officials that their concerns will also be shared with the Governors in the HR Committee members chaired by H.E James Ongwae so as to seek a way forward to improve the relationship between the Union and the 47 County Governments.

Wednesday, 04 July 2018 07:05

SUGAR SECTOR PRIVATIZATION

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The conversation on Sugar Companies Privatization continues to deepen as stakeholders try to find a long lasting solution to the tussle.
Towards solving the stalemate, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation Hon. Mwangi Kiunjuri convened a High Level sugar industry consultative meeting on 28th and 29th June 2018 at the Windsor Golf and Country Club. The meeting was to address the challenges affecting the Sugar Industry and discuss a way forward. In the meeting were Governors from the Sugar Belt led by HE Okoth Obado, Chairman of the Council of Governors’ Agriculture Committee.
The Sugar Industry is currently in its lowest point with Companies recording loses and some operating below their operation capacity. In his presentation before the plenary, the Managing Director Sony Sugar Company, Mr. Bernard Otieno noted that Sony Sugar Company is currently operating below 50% of its capacity. This is leading to loses in the company that has slowed down most of its operations and made sugar production unsustainably expensive.
Council of Governors has continually proposed on the change of strategy towards privatization of Sugar Factories in Kenya. This is informed by the challenges sugar companies are currently facing. These challenges include; Low cane supply, cane poaching, ageing equipment and obsolete technology, high debt portfolio, farmers’ arrears, lack of regulations among others.
To be able to address these challenges, the meeting recommended:-
1. THAT the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation will provide leadership in bringing together the relevant Government Departments and agencies to address the financial requirements of the Public Sugar Companies.
2. THAT the Public Sugar Companies shall seek strategic partners for capital injection.
3. THAT a multi-sectoral team be appointed to review the legal and regulatory framework and pay particular attention to the issues to the issues of cane poaching and need for zoning.

Click of this link for detailed resolutions.

 

Tuesday, 03 July 2018 10:33

GENDER EMPOWERMENT TRAILBLAZERS

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The Chair of the Gender Committee and Kericho County Governor H.E. Paul Chepkwony, with the support of UN Women held a benchmarking roundtable meeting for women self-help groups from Nyamira County. The meeting held at Chemosot Youth Polytechnic in Kericho County allowed the women from the two Counties to share their successes and discuss the challenges that they have faced in their journey towards achieving economic empowerment.

Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls requires more vigorous efforts in order to counter deeply rooted gender-based discrimination that often results from patriarchal attitudes and related social norms. This meeting therefore centred around creating a platform and working relations between the County government, the women, youth and persons with disability and development partners with the aim to advance their socio-economic status. Moreover, the meeting discussed the need to have a platform where women, youth and persons with disability in the County can showcase the success and impact of devolution as achieved through effective engagement in development and public participation in decision making at the County level.

The Women of Kericho County attributed their economic empowerment to the efforts of Kericho County Government. They noted that the County is very supportive of women initiatives. Some of the testimonials included a women group which focuses on coffee processing and packaging. In order to build the capacity of the women group, the County government donated a coffee roasting machine which enables the women to process the coffee. Furthermore, the trade committee works very closely with various wards to find markets for their produce such as exporting sweet potatoes to UK every fortnight. The County has also invested in technical capacity through training some of the residents on various aspects that would promote women economic empowerment. For instance, Agnes Okoth from Kericho County was trained on agribusiness and value addition and she in turn goes round the wards training women on the same.

H.E. Chepkwony affirmed the commitment of the County leadership in ensuring gender equality is engrained in County governance and practices in all the 47 County Governments. He equally endorsed the gender equality standards.

The Council of Governors is eager to share this success with other Counties in order to promote the empowerment of women and girls across the Country.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment is integral to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Council of Governors ‘Maarifa Center’ emerged 1st runners up in the Best Innovation in Service Delivery Category during the African Public Service Day held on 28th June 2018 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC). The event spearheaded by the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Services brings together Public Institutions to acknowledge and recognize the outstanding work being carried out by public servants across the county, country and continent.
The Kenyan Chapter of the African Public Service Day theme was “Innovating for socio-economic development; towards an all-inclusive society. Government agencies, ministries and County Governments submitted innovations under their jurisdictions that they have developed with the aim of making a difference in service delivery thus contributing to an all-inclusive and responsive public service in achieving the SDGs.
The Maarifa Centre, a CoG initiative was submitted alongside the Inaugural Speech book. The Centre is a knowledge sharing and learning platform that captures lessons and experiences from the 47 County Governments. This is done through collating, sharing and promoting the application of best practices, experiences, lessons and innovations from all counties and other countries in order to improve service delivery and effectively influence policies that promote devolution and the welfare of citizens. The criteria used to award the innovation award had 8 parameters including achievement of the SDGs, linkage with the organisations strategic plan, Vision 2030, the Presidents Big 4 agenda and the overall impact of the innovation in improving the lives of Kenyans.
The Maarifa Center platform has a Community of Practice feature where the public can interact with experts in different fields. On the platform Kenyans have an opportunity to learn from the Devolution Sector experts and give feedback on the progress of devolution. Further, the information shared will be used in policy formulation, and to improve service delivery practices.
From the Garissa County, Towfiq Camel milk self-help group was one of the innovations submitted for adjudication. The group, which consists of 60 members 40 of who are women, learnt the value addition skills from a milk processing firm in Nyeri through the support of the Ministry of Agriculture and Regal¬ir, a USAid ¬funded programme in arid areas. Towfiq Camel Self Help Group implemented what they learned in Nyeri and opened a camel milk processing facility. Now, Tofiq has scaled the value addition ladder and included Camel yoghurt, ghee and dried camel meat to the products they sell. In addition, to improve their competitiveness in the market, the enterprise is currently in the process of getting a quality assurance licence from Kenya Bureau of Standards to enable them stock their products in supermarkets.
In Siaya County, Sparrow Processors Youth Group which started while they were on attachment came up with an idea to use locally sourced mangoes to produce natural mango juice and Natural mango wine made from fermented mango peels. The youth group won an award in the Manufacturing Category. The Council of Governors is proud to associate with the enterprise, which also participated in a Training of Trainers Workshop in March 2018 on Establishment and Management of Agribusiness Incubators, which was conducted through a partnership between COG and Africa Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN).
During the award ceremony Hon. Safina Kwekwe Tsungu, Principal Secretary for Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs emphasized the need for more new and out-of-the-box innovations. “Public Service organizations worldwide are turning to innovation as an effective means of modernizing their operations and breaking new frontiers so as to improve service delivery in order to remain relevant in the global arena” she said.

Kenya Tradenet Systems Portal emerged the Best Innovation under the Service Delivery Category and the National Treasury’s M-Akiba came in as second runners up.

Lastly, the Council of Governors undertakes to work closely with National government institutions and private sector to support Counties accelerate delivery of the Big 4 and all devolved functions by leveraging on innovation.

The theme for the 2018 United Nations Public Service Day is, “A Path towards the Achievement of the Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals.” On the other hand, the African Union is celebrating the 2018 APSD under the theme, “Combating Corruption in Public Service Institutions through Stakeholder Participation and Promotion of Ethical Leadership to realize the Objectives of Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.” The global and continental themes emphasis promotion of innovations and excellence in the public service, in support of the realization of Sustainable Development
Goals (SDG’s).

H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, on 27th June 2018 at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) Warehouse in Industrial Area, Nairobi officially commissioned specialized maternal child-health and immunization Rapid Results Initiative (RRI), equipment and launched a National immunization accelerated outreach campaign targeting unvaccinated children throughout the country. He at the same occasion flagged off to the Counties, the 100 Cuban Medical Specialist who have been undergoing an induction program at the Kenya School of Government. Gracing the event from the County Government were Excellency Governors and Deputy Governors led by the Chairman of the Health Committee and Governor of Isiolo County H.E Dr. Mohamed Kuti, CECs in charge of Health from the 47 counties and Medical Superintendents in charge of the County Hospitals where the Cuban Doctors are going to work. The Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mrs. Sicily Kariuki led the team from the Ministry of Health.
The launch of the specialized maternal child-health and immunization equipment is the start of a 100- day accelerated National Immunization Campaign targeting some 400,000 unvaccinated children. The Ministry of Health and County Governments are committed to boost immunization activities and to strengthen Primary Healthcare to reduce a serious risk of vaccine preventable disease outbreak and lay a firm foundation on the journey towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). H.E President Kenyatta took the opportunity to immunize 3 babies present with the oral polio vaccine, cuddling one of the babies in the process!
Among the equipment the President commissioned and flagged off were specialized cold-chain equipment, motorbikes and pick-up moto vehicles acquired through Cold Chain expansion and Health System strengthening projects.
During the occasion, H.E. Dr Mohamed Kuti assured the President that all the counties were well prepared and are ready to receive the Cuban Doctors, having made all the necessary arrangements for their accommodation, transport and security. The County Governments, he said, will accord them all the support that they need to provide health service to the wenyenchi, as counties work towards the realization of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) which is a key deliverable in the President's Big 4 Development Agenda.

Friday, 29 June 2018 12:36

SYMBIOCITY CHANGE INCEPTION WORKSHOP

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The SymbioCity Kenya Programme in partnership with the County Governments and other stakeholders held an inception Workshop for the seven pilot counties implementing the SymbioCity Kenya Approach. The seven counties have developed integrated Change Projects and are expected to begin implementation of the projects in the next three months upon successful completion of the inception activities expected to last for three months. The five-day workshop therefore targeted developing inception plans including but not limited to a Monitoring and Evaluation Plan, Communication Plan and detailed implementation plans.

Among the participants were representatives of the working group, Monitoring and Evaluation Officers and the Communication Officers who form part of the project implementation teams who form part of the project implementation teams at the county level. More importantly the workshop brought representatives of the communities where the integrated change projects will be implemented underscoring the SymbioCity principle of inclusive identification of urban issues/ challenges and development of solutions.

The integrated change projects were developed after a long participatory process within the pilot urban areas which involved setting up of stakeholder and working groups at the county level to review urban sustainability within the urban areas and set priorities and strategies to address the sustainability issues, a process that led to the development of the urban sustainability reviews http://symbiocitykenya.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/USR-Meru-highres-SymbioCity.pdf. The change projects thus responds to a few of the set priorities and it is envisaged that the County Governments will respond to the other priorities.

Speaking during the official opening of the Workshop, the SymbioCity Kenya Project Manager, Planner Nicodemus Mbwika said that project he was glad that the project had concluded the urban sustainability review phase and that it was time to implement the innovative ideas of the stakeholders and communities through the change projects. During the workshop, Council of Governors Head of Communication Ms. Ruth Chitwa notified the participants of the existing opportunities they had through the Council’s communication platforms to communicate and showcase their results and successes. She underscored the fact that the only way their beneficiaries and the public at large would appreciate and own the project, was by sharing progress and experiences including successes and challenges throughout the implementation of the integrated change projects.

The workshop’s immediate outputs were: inception plans for the seven pilot counties, monitoring and evaluation plans for the seven pilot counties and communication plans for the seven pilot counties. Further a communications network for the seven pilot counties was established.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) was lauded as having consulted vigorously with the Council of Governors in preparation for the role out of its plans for the Big 4 Agenda. While briefing the Head of State during the summit meeting, the Cabinet Secretary Ms. Sicily Kariuki noted that the MOH had held at least six consultative meetings with the view of ironing out all issues in readiness for roll out of the Universal Health Coverage program. The purpose for the consultation she said was to get full support during implementation from the County Governments.
Before the Summit, the Ministry held a meeting with the Governors with their County Executive Members of Health to forge a way forward with regards to key issues touching on health. Led by the Chair of the Health Committee H.E. Dr. Mohammed Kuti, Governor Isiolo County and Dr. Andrew Mulwa, the Chair CECs forum, County Governments expressed their support to the Universal Health Coverage pilot.
Subsequently as part of this discussion and recommendations, the following was captured and brought forward for the Presidents attention at the 6th Session of the National and coordinating Summit held at the State House
1. That the Transforming Health Systems for Universal Care program (THS- UCP) funds continue to be utilized by County Governments to strengthen Primary Health Care services in all 47 Counties. The UHC pilot to continue in 4 Counties.
2. That an urgent meeting is convened between the National Treasury, the Council of Governors and Ministry of Health to brief the President on the Medical Equipment Supplies to review the increment from the annual Kes. 95M to 200M annually per county.
3. That a committee comprising of the Council of Governors, Ministry of labour and the Salaries Remuneration Commission is set up to deliberate on HR matters especially salaries, CARPS, post graduate training and public health service contracts. This comes Counties expressed a ballooning wage bill in the health sector based on the salaries agreement entered in the year 2017.
The recommendations from this working group will be presented in the next Extra Ordinary Summit scheduled for early August.

A Liberian delegation led by the Deputy Minister, Planning and Research Hon. Olayee was in Kenya through the Business Opportunities Support Services (BOSS) project a UNDP initiative whose aim is to enhance decentralization and support micro and small enterprises policy implementation in rural Liberia. This is done through the establishment of Business development and support services centres anchored to the County Service Center in the Counties to support start-up businesses and strengthen the capacity of youths, women owned enterprises, especially agric-producers’ to become successful entrepreneurs.

Decentralization is relatively new and the South to South study tour was meant to expose the Liberian delegation to the set up and work of the decentralized system and the economic empowerment programs in Kenya. Huduma Centres for example are delivering government services as a one stop shop similar to Liberia’s County Service Centres as well as the Biashara Centres which are identical to the BOSS project.

Ms. Cecilia Mbuthia, the Deputy Governor Nyandarua County who was present in the meeting congratulated Liberia for electing first woman president in Africa. She noted that this is something Kenya and the continent at large could learn from. Counties are in a phase where they are trying to align themselves to the National Agenda. She noted that devolution has brought a lot of changes and the people are able to contribute to their own development agenda away from the “Siasa Mbaya Maisha Mbaya” mentality. Availability of resources for counties to manage their own development has brought in a lot of change in the Country. Counties coming together in regional blocs based on their advantages is an indicator of the positive wind of change in Kenya, in general devolution has done well for Kenya.

The Head of the delegation Hon. Olayee, noted that one of the issues with regards to decentralization is the conflict that role of superintendents (appointed by President) and the role of Legislators (Members of parliament). The view that some of their roles are being shelved off has been one of the sticky issues in review of the Act for more than seven years. Similarly, to Kenya, the same arose in regards to Governors being elected or appointed. However, through the Constitution of Kenya 2010, Kenyans decided on the people whom they needed appointed.

Kenya has been congratulated throughout the world at the only Country that passed a Constitution, held and election and devolved 14 functions at a go. This has been a practice that many countries now admire and come to Kenya to learn about.

In conclusion, the highlight of the Kenyan situation is that Citizens were engaged from the word go and thus devolution enjoys a lot of support. Additionally, many corners of the country experienced so many firsts as a result of devolution i.e. first tarmarc roads, surgeries, caesarean sections etc and thus the results seen have given devolution major support.

National and County Government officials congregated at the State house for the 6th ordinary session of the National and County Governments coordinating meeting popularly known as ‘The Summit’ on Friday 22nd June 2018. The meeting was chaired by the Head of State President Uhuru Kenyatta and deputised by the Chairman Council of Governors H.E Josphat Nanok. The theme of the summit was 'Sustainable, Productive and Efficient Governments for Results Delivery.'
The President urged the leaders to ensure that resources allocated to them are put to good use for the betterment of the Country and improvement of service delivery. He noted that the meeting comes after successful deliberations at the 5th Annual Devolution Conference that advocated for unity of purpose to achieve greater success. The Chairman Council of Governors, pledged that counties will rise above party politics and support National Government in the realization of national goals.
The Summit resolved to form a technical committee to look into the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee Report for the year 2017. Among the issues to be deliberated on are; the County Government Pension, the Capacity Assessment & Rationalization of Public Service and Alternative Dispute Resolution among others. The Committee comprising of the Council of Governors, Ministry of Devolution and ASAL, National Treasury, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Attorney General and National Assembly will convene a special meeting within three weeks to submit recommendations.
On matters finance, the Summit recommended that the IBEC resolution to increase Fuel Levy fund from 15% to 20% is forwarded to the National Assembly for discussion and approval. The resolution was made at an IBEC meeting chaired by the Deputy President William Ruto and attended by Governors, Cabinet secretaries including Treasury, Trade & Industrialization, Agriculture, Health, Youth, Gender and Education.
In his closing remarks, Governor Nanok urged both levels of Government to work in harmony. Since the summit brings together Senators, Cabinet Secretaries, Governors, the Chairman of the Council of Governors encouraged all leaders to work collectively for the benefit of the electorate.
The National and County Government Coordinating Summit is the apex body for intergovernmental relations that provides a forum for consultation, cooperation and considering matters of national interest by both levels of Government.

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