Cadets march during their passing-out parade at the Kenya Military Academy Lanet on May 31, 2024. [File, Standard]

The Kenya Kwanza administration has maintained its focus on strengthening and equipping the country’s security apparatus with a significant increase in this year’s budgetary allocation.

A close scrutiny of the 2024/2025 budget reveals that the security docket received an extra Sh39 billion from the previous budget and the third highest overall allocation after education and Energy and infrastructure at Sh377 billion.

“Enhanced national security creates an enabling environment for businesses to thrive while aiding faster economic recovery,” said National Treasury and Economic Planning CS Prof Njuguna Ndung’u.

At a time when Kenya has committed to international security missions, including the UN-backed Haiti mission, some analysts see the allocation as aligning with the ever-evolving security challenges facing the country.

Security challenges

“Kenya’s security needs and challenges are changing both internally and externally. We have committed to a lot more obligations, and therefore a boost in the allocation of funds is a step in the right direction,” observed Chris Otieno, a Nairobi-based security consultant.

The security budget will be shared across the Ministry of Defense, the National Police Service (NPS), the Kenya Prisons Service (KPS), and the National Youth Service (NYS).

The Ministry of Defence will get the lion’s share at Sh173.1 billion, while the National Police Service will get Sh110.6 billion. The National Intelligence Service (NIS) will get Sh46.3 billion.

The State Department for Correctional Services will receive Sh32.7 billion while Sh13.9 billion will go into leasing police motor vehicles and modernisation programmes.

To step up the war on crime and modernise the forensic laboratory at DCI headquarters, the CS proposed an allocation of Sh918.4 million.

However, not everyone agrees on how the funds have been allocated. Some security analysts, like George Musamali, expressed concern over what they see as a skewed allocation of funds within the security docket.

According to Musamali, the NPS and the State Department for Correctional Services should have been given priority as opposed to the military.

“The budgetary allocation gives the impression that Kenya faces more external security threats than internal ones. Unfortunately, it’s the other way around. We have more internal security issues to deal with than external ones. These allocations should reflect this,” he said.

Musamali argues that over the years, Kenya has continued to stick to this formula, but it’s time to rethink the approach.

“Think of the investment that goes into the Ministry of Defense every fiscal year and compare that to what our police officers are getting. It doesn’t compute! We keep parading sophisticated military equipment, which is hardly used and gets outdated with time, while if you walk into any police station in the country, you shudder due to the conditions you find there. Total misplaced priorities,” said Musamali.

Police welfare has long featured strongly in discussions about reforming and modernising the police in Kenya.

The National Taskforce on Police Reforms, chaired by former Chief Justice David Maraga, presented to President William Ruto last November proposals to increase police officers’ salaries by 40 percent in the next three years and improve their welfare.

The taskforce established that the NPS was underfunded despite having to confront enormous emerging security challenges.

Some of the challenges that have put a significant strain on the capacities and capabilities of the NPS include banditry in the North Rift, terrorism and violent extremism, human trafficking, cyber-crime and drug trafficking.

“Our security personnel still face serious welfare issues. They live in deplorable conditions and even their salaries are way off base. We expect that this budget will take this into consideration and improve the welfare of the police and by extension all security personnel,” said Otieno.

The Maraga taskforce established that in many places across the country, the living conditions for NPS officers were dehumanising, thus undermining their morale and ability to deliver quality services.

The report further said that in some cases, NPS officers and their families were living in dilapidated, congested, and condemned structures that were sometimes shared.

The lack of proper and sufficient infrastructure within the Kenya Prison Service has been one of the biggest problems for the country’s correctional facilities.

Currently, prison facilities have a capacity of 29,000 inmates but are holding over 60,000.