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Wednesday, 29 April 2020 18:39

GENDER PERSPECTIVE ON COVID RESPONSE

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The County Directors in charge of Gender held a virtual meeting hosted by the Council of Governors on the 22nd of April 2020. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss Gender-Based Violence (GBV) emerging issues during the COVID-19 pandemic, the communication strategies that will aid in sensitizing communities on GBV prevention and response as well as the rescue of the GBV survivors during the curfew and partial lockdown.
“The gender issue is a vital part of the society that can easily be overlooked in this fight against the Corona Virus. We should be careful lest we neglect this part. To be able to effectively handle the COVID- 19 and its effects, we should look at it holistically, and that means take into consideration all the sectors including the gender function,” said the Caucus Chair.
The Corona Virus pandemic has far-reaching impacts on all sectors of the economy, the gender sector included. There has been a spike in reported domestic violence cases throughout the Counties sprouting from the fact that families have to stay indoors together for as long as the curfew, the cessation and the work from home directive lasts. This can also be attributed to loss of jobs, decline in family income and frustrations due to economic hardship. Many differences arising during the period have led to increased cases of domestic violence hence increase in gender-based violence cases. Defilement cases are also on the rise during this period with women and girls being the most affected as they are often the victims of rape cases.
There has also been an effect of curfews on infant and maternal mortality rate. If an expectant mother were to deliver past the curfew hours, it would be a whole predicament accessing maternal health services. The County Director of Gender for Nakuru noted with utmost concern the negative effects of all these on expectant mothers and highlighted the plight of a street girl who delivered on the streets during curfew hours. It is anticipated that there will be increased teenage pregnancy cases due to the extended closure of schools and learning institutions.
The homeless and the street children pose a great challenge to the authorities since they have nowhere to go in this very critical time when they should be indoors in obedience to the curfew directives. They constitute vulnerable groups at high risk of infection since they are mostly in groups, live in unsanitary conditions, lack adequate personal protective equipment and don’t have proper information on how to act around this pandemic. In light of this, the County Governments have come up with various interventions to address these gender-based issues and social.
Most Counties have established toll-free numbers which GBV victims call to report, established rescue centres, established active County GBV technical working groups, some have GBV response groups that offer protected visits to homes of GBV survivors, some have gone as far as designating ambulances to pick up pregnant mothers, trained gender champions that look into gender issues while some have GBV focal persons in sub- counties. Some of the issues suppressing the successful implementation of these interventions include lack of finances, non- reporting especially by male victims and overcrowding of rescue centres such that some of the survivors may not be taken in.
Moving forward, the Directors agreed that Counties shall designate safe places and shelters for GBV survivors, there’s need to lobby the inclusion of provision of and access to reproductive health and psychological counselling as essential services to GBV survivors during this pandemic. Furthermore, County gender champions responding to GBV at sub- county level and Community Health Volunteers creating awareness on COVID-19 should have a crash course on GBV prevention and response to build their capacity in addressing GBV. In order to maintain dignity of vulnerable women and girls, it was proposed that procurement and distribution of sanitary towels and care packs to be prioritized. To protect County social development workers, community volunteers and gender champions handling GBV cases, there is need to issue them with PPEs and allowances to effectively fulfill their mandate.
Wash your hands. Stay home. Observe social distancing. We shall overcome.

The spirit of adaptability and innovativeness amongst the youth is now emerging amidst a catastrophe of global proportion. Thousands of businesses across the world reel from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as Kenya and the world confront the grim reality of possible and massive job losses as a result of business closures. Recently, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, during his daily briefing on the status of the coronavirus at Afya House, called upon the Youth to take up a more responsible and responsive role in the fight against the pandemic. "The youth should be at the center of fighting this disease. It is a journey that requires the energy of young people. I ask them to take up the responsibility like previous generations that fought for independence. It is the youth who will suffer in future," he said.
Amid the looming job losses and business closures, the idea to develop and produce personal protective equipment such as masks, innovative ideas of doing business from Boda Boda deliveries to more sophisticated Health related Applications and public sanitary portable mobile units, have now become new lifelines for many young entrepreneurs across the counties. Many small-scale businesses are cashing in on the demand for personal protective equipment, among them the stylish and well-designed masks that are now vibrant on the faces of many Kenyans and available in many markets across major towns. According to Paul Katana, a young fashion designer, the dozens of rolls of Kitenge and cotton material lying idle and gathering dust in his store for weeks have found a new use.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020 18:14

PARTNERSHIPS TO FIGHT COVID-19

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 The Corona Virus pandemic has not spared any sector of the global economy. The biggest economies are equally suffering the impact of the Corona Virus and Kenya is not unique. We are witnessing shortage of medical equipment and supplies to fight Corona Virus occasioned by the global shortage in supply and production. This is further compounded by financial constrains facing many countries.
The Council of Governors, Kenya resolved to partner with different organizations in order to raise the much-required resources to fight the Corona Virus. In view of the aforementioned, the Council constituted a donations committee to champion this. The Committee’s members are: H.E Francis Kimemia, H.E Martin Wambora, H.E Prof. Paul Chepkwony, Siaya Governor H.E Cornel Rasanga, and is patroned by Council of Governors Chairman H.E Wycliffe Oparanya.
The donations committee has so far formed several partnerships between the County Governments and the National Government, Private companies, Non-Governmental institutions among other entities. Recently, through the donations committee, the Kenya Pipeline Company donated 20,000 liters of hand sanitizers to Counties. This will be distributed on a weekly basis for the period of fighting the Pandemic. The sanitizers are distributed to the Counties based on the effect of the virus in the County, number of confirmed cases in the County as well as the location of the County for instance border Counties which are more porous as well as higher effect of the virus in the Countries they boarder. Currently, Nairobi County has the highest number of confirmed COVID 19 cases followed by Mombasa County.

The Council of Governors has resolved to hold virtual extra-ordinary meetings to discuss key issues relating to COVID-19 in the Counties. This comes at a time when the global pandemic, COVID 19, has paralyzed normal operations across the world both in Government and in other sectors. So far, Governors have successfully held 5 virtual meetings to get updates from various Governors who sit in the National COVID- 19 response sub-committees.
Council of Governors Chairman HE Wycliffe Oparanya has emphasized the seriousness of the novel Corona Virus that has taken the world by storm and the need for partnership in the fight. “COVID- 19 is a serious pandemic that should be given the attention it deserves. It is important that as County Governments, we work together with the National Government to ensure that this pandemic does not have adverse impact on our people”. He further added that, the Country is in a crisis and as heads of sub-national Governments Governors have to be on top of issues that relate to the Counties.
It is during these virtual meetings that the Council receives weekly updates from the security preparedness and response committee that reviews security matters, food supply committee that reviews issues of food security during this period, the National Emergency Committee, National Economic and Business Response Committee and the National Coordination Response Committee.
County Governments have put in place measures in readiness if a reported COVID –positive case including but not limited to: Isolation wards, quarantine facilities, set up ICU beds, procured ventilators, trained Health Workers at the County, Sub-County, Ward and village level, procured PPE kits, raised awareness about the virus in the Counties and nationally. County Governments have also availed IEC Materials, fumigated and decontaminated public spaces, installed sanitation points in markets, bus parks and public offices, distributed face masks to the members of the public, set up County, Sub-County, Ward and Village Response Committees. They have set up incident command centers, County war rooms to monitor food situations and hotlines for the public to call in case of an emergency. County Governments have also set up temperature check points and have cumulatively set aside Ksh 6.2 billion as emergency fund to deal with COVID. The Council has also been very deliberate in informing the members on the progress made by County Governments in the various sectors through the weekly press briefing.
Currently, the Council is in the process of developing a socio-economic strategy paper that will help County Governments rebuild their economy following the adverse effects of the pandemic that has crippled many businesses and brought to a standstill the service industry.
As Counties continue to fight the effects of the virus under the stewardship of Excellency Governors, the GOG leadership through the Chairman has emphasized the significance of the stakeholders such as the development partners and the private sector who have supported the counties in various ways. “We would not be where we are now in this fight if not for the support we’ve had from the National Government, the development partners as well as all the other parties who have supported us during this period. The donations received so far have made a notable impact and we are grateful.”

Monday, 17 February 2020 07:05

NEPALESE EXPERIENCE KENYA

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Learning is a continuous process. Every single day comes with new experience. Learning gets better when teams from different abodes learn from each other. On Wednesday the 5th of February 2020, the Council of Governors hosted a delegation of government officials from the Nepal government. The delegation was visiting Kenya for the south to south knowledge exchange program. Mr. Arjun Prasad Pokharel, Secretary Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers, Province 4, Gandaki Pradesh led the officials who sought to experience Kenya’s Governance structure. As part of its efforts to strengthen capacity, the government of Nepal initiated a learning program for its officials and key stakeholders which includes study tours to targeted countries. Kenya is the second country they are visiting after Brazil.
The main objective of the visit was to learn the devolution structure in Kenya, to enable them better and fully transition into a federal, democratic republican state after the adoption of a new Constitution in 2015 that proposed a three tier government. Council of Governors CEO Ms. Jacqueline Mogeni welcomed the delegation and lauded their initiative to come and learn Kenya’s devolution model. “Devolution is one of the most transformative changes in the history of Kenya and is different for every other country. Ours is definitely not the same as Nepal’s or India’s and therefore we are glad that you could take your time to come and learn our style of devolution and we would be happy to learn from you too,” said Ms. Mogeni.
“We are grateful for the warm welcome. My team and I are so delighted to learn how you go about your devolution story. We are particularly interested in learning the administration, finance and dispute resolution aspects as well any other additional information,” said Mr. Arjun Prasad Pokharel on his part.
The CEO Council of Governors presented on the role and structure of the council. She also mentioned the role of the other intergovernmental bodies including the Summit, IGRTC and IBEC putting great emphasis on the fact that the Council works in collaboration with these bodies as well as the National Government and other stakeholders to make the devolution story a success and move the country forward.
The presentation on public finance management captured the aspect of the vertical and horizontal fiscal transfer of money to County Governments. The delegation also learnt about the three sources of the Counties’ revenue - Equitable Share, Own Source Revenue and the Conditional Grants.
On dispute resolution, one of the Council’s mandate is dispute resolution between Counties and therefore the Council has been able to support the Counties through the Legal and Intergovernmental Relations Committee at the Council. The delegation equally learnt a lot on natural resource management by County Governments with some of the notable challenges being the formula for sharing natural resources and National Government still holding on to some of the devolved natural resource management functions.
It would not be a learning experience if the Nepalese delegation didn’t also share their experience. The Council of Governors got to understand their mode of governance and especially the manner in which they execute their technical, political and their administrative functions. The delegation also visited the National Treasury, Ministry of Devolution and ASAL, Commission on Revenue Allocation, Office of the Controller of Budget, Office of the Auditor General, Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee, County Assemblies Forum among other institutions.

Monday, 10 February 2020 21:19

LAND IS LIFE

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Sustainable development goals are elaborate and constructive global development agenda that Kenya is committed towards achieving. The Swedish embassy on 6th February, 2020 organized a multi-stakeholder meeting to deliberate on and interrogate the implementation of SDG 15 – Life on Land. While addressing stakeholders during the land is life meeting, Council of Governors CEO Ms. Jacqueline Mogeni elaborated on the mechanisms the National Government and County Governments have put to ensure efficient and sustainable land use. “Key measures have been taken by the County Governments in order to ensure that there is efficient, productive and sustainable use of land. Both levels of Government have instituted mechanisms designed to induce land owners to put their land to productive use and encourage the application of efficient technology for the intensification of land use. Urban land use has also significantly improved through the application of measures such as establishing transparent, sustainable, comprehensive and participatory governance structures and decision-making processes,” she noted.
SDG 15 with 12 targets focuses to Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt land degradation as well as halt biodiversity loss. Counties have been hit by the effects of climate change and are at the fore-front towards realization of the goal.
Just as devolution provides a unique opportunity for development, SDGs provide a framework that elaborates the global development agenda towards achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. The 17 SDGs and 169 targets are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development, that is, economic, social and environmental.
While Kenya has made important policy strides towards promoting productive and sustainable use of land, there are still a number of challenges which need to be addressed at policy level. The question of appropriate and beneficial use of land in Kenya has gained prominence in the face of growing population and mounting demand for land resources. Problems of rapid urbanization, inadequate land use planning; unsustainable agricultural and industrial production methods, poor environmental management and inappropriate management of land are commonplace. These challenges call for appropriate policy responses in order to navigate these challenges.
“Additionally, we have seen a shift in the legislation enacted over the past few years that are aimed at ensuring the successful implementation of SDG 15. A case in point is the enactment of the Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016 which seeks to promote sustainable management of forests,” said the COG Chief.
The successful implementation of the SDGs global Agenda calls for the commitment of both levels of Government and the Good-will of Key stakeholders in the sphere.

Friday, 07 February 2020 17:41

URBAN LINKS AFRICA

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The Council of Governors, the county directors in charge of urban development held a consultative meeting with the connected places catapult (CPC) on Friday, 31st of January 2020 at the COG offices. Connected Places Catapult is the UK Centre of Excellence for urban innovation and mobility with a role to catalyze the innovation market in the UK and globally. In October 2019, the connected places catapult started a £2.5 million program in Kenya and South Africa known as Urban Links Africa.

The Urban Links Africa project will work closely with selected cities to identify the most urgent and the high level urban challenges. The Programme will equally run city capacity building workshops for partner cities. It has a span of 20 months which culminates in April 2021 and will focus on 6 cities: 3 in Kenya and 3 in South Africa. The three cities in Kenya are Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa.

The Kenyan cities are expected to identify the most constraining challenges facing them. These challenges will be discussed and looked through in a major meeting in March this year that will bring major stakeholders together. The challenges will be articulated to a broad ecosystem of UK startups and tech companies in the form of an audition. They will be paired with start-ups across Kenya and South Africa to propose joint tech solutions (equitable partnerships). The best association will get a grant to extend their technology products and services across these 6 cities while the Catapult will ensure their economic, social and environmental impact is closely monitored.

The meeting therefore proposed that the 3 Cities of Kenya identify their challenges and implement technological and innovation solutions that improve quality of life of citizens, establishment of equitable partnerships for innovation and technology sharing between Africa & UK cities, tech hubs and ecosystems, creation of an initial cohort of trained and innovation ready African cities and the project to recruit a technical Officer who will support the Urban Committee.

Friday, 07 February 2020 17:27

SYMBIOCITY KENYA HOMESTRETCH

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The Symbiocity Kenya project has made tremendous strides since iception inception in 2015. Some of the landmark achievements of the project thus far include: development of a toolkit for inclusive urban development dubbed ‘’Planning our towns”, impactful projects in the pilot counties, development of guidelines for place making (which is paramount for any urban sector), several successful capacity building sessions for county practitioners, among others. All these have drawn the country closer to sustainable urban development which was their high level expectation.
The Miji Endelevu project has not gone without its share of challenges. According to the project manager, the project still faces schedule constraints.
During this period ending in December 2020, Symbiocity Kenya’s objective is to implement the change projects as well as facilitate peer learning amongst counties. Mr. Mbwika, the project manager, pointed the need for early planning to achieve desired results. “We are planners, therefore, we have a tendency to prepare ahead of time to ensure things run smoothly. To this end, we have had several stakeholder meetings just to sit and look ahead of time about the things that we need to execute this year. What we plan for this year is basically to implement the change projects.’’
The project has focused on transparency and accountability in its implementation and especially in it procurement processes. To this point, the project has not had any negative procurement issues towards it. “The county does procurement, COG reviews through a ratification process and if the document is okay, we issue the county with no objection, which is basically a greenlight to get in to contracts with suppliers. An auditor from the Embassy is also expected to come and oversee the ratification process. For a county’s procurement process to be termed successful, it must have complied with Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 as well the Symbiocity Kenya implementation framework and guidelines,” he continued.
The aspiration of the Symbiocity Kenya is that the capacity building done among urban planning experts in the counties as well as the lessons learnt from the 7 pilot counties would be replicated in all the other counties to cause a revolution in sustainable urban development in Kenya.
Miji Endelevu or the Symbiocity Kenya Project is a partnership between the Council of Governors (COG) and the Sweden Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), to purposely test integrated urban solutions and strengthen planning capacity of the 7 towns in the 7 pilot counties in Kenya, selected through a competitive process in 2016. The towns are Mbita of Homabay County, Ahero of Kisumu County, Kwa Vonza town of Kitui County, Ontulili of Meru County, Njoro of Nakuru County, Kiminini of Trans Nzoia County and Butere of Kakamega County.

The Council of Governors led by H.E Prof. Kivutha Kibwana met Development Partners and held discussions about their support the 7th Annual Devolution Conference scheduled to be held on 20th – 28th April in Makueni County. The overall Conference theme is Multi-level governance for climate action and the guiding theme: Strengthing sub-national governments to act on climate change and develop stronger mitigation capacities.
Present in the meeting was the European Union Head of Cooperation Hubert Perr who on his side pronounced the strong support for Devolution process in Kenya that the EU has deeply institutionalized. “Climate Change is a topic that the whole world relates to. As it has been in the previous conferences, the EU will offer technical expertise during the conference to ensure that the discussions are significant,” said Mr. Perr.

Siddharth Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator, noted that the UN continues being a good partner to the Council of Governors and the process of devolution pointing out the the importance of the devolution Conference especially towards addressing the need to use innovations in Climate Action pledging the support of the United Nations towards the success to the conference and the mitigation of Climate change, a topic the UN is very passionate about.

Other partners present were the County Assemblies Forum, the USAID, JICA, World Vision and Nema who all indicated their support and participation during the meeting and planning process of the 7th Annual Devolution Conference.

Planning the future without the Children and Youth is effort in futility. Involving these groups is very important in steering the course of our nations. For this, the Council incorporated the Children’s conference to be held in Kisii County in April for the children to have a chance to air their voice and challenge the future of climate action.

For the first time, the Council of Governors and other partners will host Youth Conference as a pre-cursor to the Devolution Conference. This will enable inclusivity of the youth in decision making. The resolutions of the Children and Youth conferences will be presented in the 7th Annual Devolution Conference for adoption and implementation

Monday, 03 February 2020 13:14

COUNCIL OF GOVERNORS ELECTIONS

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Pursuant to section 19 (2) and (3) of the Intergovernmental relations Act 2012, the Council of Governors held its executive elections on 20th January 2020. This is the eighth elections held by the Council of Governors since 2013. The election process has always been efficient and with decorum with peaceful transition.
Speaking during the COG leadership unveiling luncheon, Devolution and ASALs Cabinet Secretary Hon. Eugene Wamalwa congratulated the Council of Governors for the long track record of peaceful elections and transition. “I must say congratulations to you for the peaceful transition in your leadership. This is something we can emulate as a Country,” he said.
Council of Governors executive leadership has promoted intergovernmental collaboration and integration between the two levels of Government. The Council has over the years been at the forefront in representing and protecting the interests of the County Governments at the intergovernmental level. “The leadership of the COG will play a major role in working shoulder to shoulder with the National Government and the two levels of government synergizing for us to realize our vision as a Country,” said Wamalwa.
The Council of Governors bestowed upon HE FCPA Hon. Wycliffe Ambetsa Oparanya. Governor Kakamega County a second term to lead as the Chairman Council of Governors. Governor Oparanya took over power from His Turkana Counterpart HE Josphat Nanok in January 2019. This marks the second and final term for the Kakamega Governor to serve as the chairman as enshrined in law.
“Let me convey a heartfelt thank you to all the Excellency Governors for their support in the last one year. I stand here proud of what we have achieved. On my part it has been a privilege, an honor and a humbling experience, to serve as a Chairman of the Council of Governors,” said the chairman.
H.E. Oparanya starts his second term when devolution is facing a myriad of challenges. In his acceptance address, he committed to work tirelessly to ensure that he tackles these issues strategically and sustainably. “There are several challenges that must be addressed in order to firmly anchor devolution. They include; 4. Underfunding of County Governments, delayed disbursements that paralyze activities at the County level, prolonged and tedious division of revenue process, challenges with KEMSA, corruption among other challenges,” the chairman highlighted.
Seven years into a devolved system of Governance, there is urgent need for the two levels of Government to deepen the working relationship to improve service delivery to Kenyans. Over the years, the two levels have met on several intergovernmental forums such as IBEC, the Devolution Conferences, and the Summit that is chaired by the president to iron out issues of concern to both levels of Government. Governor Oparanya and the elected executive have committed this year to deepen these relations. He called upon both levels of Government to work together as a strategy to achieve more success.
“As we move into another year of devolution, my desire is that this will be a year of closer and deeper partnerships. Synergy between the National Government and County Governments is so important in delivery of development agendas like the Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC). Without dialogue based on good faith and proper coordination, the two levels of government will achieve little. And cooperation should also be seen in the development partner and private sector fronts,” he concluded.
The current executive leadership (see full committee here) will lead the Council and the respective technical committees for the period ending January 2021 when the next election shall be held.

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