The county government of Kiambu is set to get a Sh1.6 billion grant from the World Bank to finance the development of its urban infrastructure.
The money is part of Sh7.8 billion allocated to counties by the Bretton Woods institution under the Kenya Urban Support Program Two (KUSP) in the current fiscal year.
The funds are intended to improve infrastructure - roads, sewer systems, street lighting, and water connectivity - in towns.
The money being given to Kiambu will be shared among Kiambu, Karuri, Thika, Limuru, Kikuyu, Ruiru, and Juja municipalities.
Juja municipality was established in March this year by Governor Kimani Wamatangi.
Ruiru is set to get Sh494 million, Kikuyu will get Sh326 million, Thika will get 253 million, Karuri will get Sh195.8 million, while Juja, which is getting funding for the first time, is set to receive Sh157 million. Others are Kiambu Township (Sh149 million) and Limuru (81.9 million)
Lands, Housing, Physical Planning, and Urban Development executive Salome Muthoni said the county leadership hopes five other municipalities can be considered for the funds in future.
Ms Muthoni said Juja was the only additional municipality picked for the funding. This was after the World Bank announced that counties with more municipalities would receive funding for just one more for the time being, with population serving as the primary criterion.
"Only one new municipality per county with the biggest population received financing. Of the six newly created municipalities, Juja has the highest population in Kiambu. That was the policy. Only 77 municipalities out of 97 from the 47 counties will be considered for KUSP 2," Ms Muthoni said.
“We have been conducting follow-ups to guarantee the funding for the other five confirmed municipalities," Ms Muthoni said.
Only 18 of Kenya's 38 municipalities set up before the end of the previous fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 202, were among the 77 that will be funded. The money is intended to enhance infrastructure and services in urban areas.
A letter by Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o, the chairman of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Committee at the Council of Governors, to Principal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Charles Hinga in April this year, said: “CoG in its wisdom, after considering the issues raised about funding municipalities, arrived at the 77 municipalities to be financed.”
Previously, there were 59 municipalities across the county. The move to reduce the number of municipalities being funded was done in agreement with officers from the World Bank and the State Department of Housing and Urban Development.
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"The merit of this decision by the committee of the Council is that it takes full account of equity and the decision by the members of the committee through consensus, which is important in providing legitimacy of the proposed programme. In view of the above, the Council of Governors maintains its position that the proposed KUSP II programme should benefit the 77 municipalities," Nyong’o said.
Wamatangi elevated the sub-counties of Githunguri, Kabete, Lari, Juja, Gatundu, and Githurai into municipalities as soon as he took office by gazetting them within 90 days.
He also established ad-hoc committees that have finished data collection and overseeing public participation for a final conferral, ratified by the county assembly and eventual gazettement.
Further, the county will recruit 12 municipal managers and board members, which is part of the requirements by the World Bank for the funding. Kiambu County Public Service Board (CPSB) has indicated that the recruitment process will be complete by mid-next month.
The CPSB chairman Allan Mwaura, while responding to Mr Hinga, said his board was already receiving applications for the positions of municipal managers following an advertisement after a request by the County Executive.
"The Board hopes to conclude the recruitment and eventual appointment of the municipal managers by mid-November 2023," Mr Mwaura said in a letter dated October 13, 2023.
The creation of the new municipalities, according to Wamatangi, was intended to achieve urban development in compliance with the Urban Areas and Cities Act (UACA), 2011 amended in 2019. It was also meant to increase resource mobilization through enhanced revenue collection, access to donor funding, economic growth and efficiency in management or urban areas in the county.
The governor added that his administration was still planning to elevate Thika municipality into an Industrial Smart City, which will see the town attract a yearly grant of Sh1 billion for infrastructure development.
The plan consists of manufacturing, an Economic Processing Zone, affordable housing on the Delmonte Land that was surrendered to the county, an international-standard stadium, technology, and transportation infrastructure, including the dualling of a section of the Thika-Garissa Road.
There would be other partnerships, with the national government and private sector, to put up facilities that would generate 50,000 jobs.