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How to align devolution to Vision 2030

By MBITHI MUTUA | January 29th 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Vision 2030 is arguably one of our most ambitious development plans since independence. Through its pillars, it envisions a much more developed Kenya in 15 or so years from now. Time has come to debate the crucial elements necessary in our strategic plan implementation if we are to achieve the vision. Some of these elements may be in place while others may be missing.

Three elements have elevated status. They include human resource, citizen participation and projects. We need to use the blueprint in planning for human resource needs. The document gives us a good platform on which to identify workforce requirements necessary to catapult this nation to the new arena aptly captured in our strategic plan.

We need to compare two scenarios, the desired human resource capacity versus the prevailing one. I am sure we will end up with shortages in some areas and surplus in others. Action plans will therefore be needed. Actually, the resultant scenario as a result of our comparison could as well inform training objectives in our universities. For instance, how many doctors or psychologists do we need for the realisation of our vision?

Let Kenyans not forget that our ultimate development framework ought to be this document. Therefore, we must break down huge elements of the plan to achievable projects. Development in counties should as well be vertically aligned to our national vision. I believe we also need to ask fundamental questions. How many Kenyans have read this document? Has the document been translated to a format and language that can be understood by wanjiku?

These two questions give rise to the role of development communication, a concept that ensures people participation in nation building. At a lower level, this participation may be termed as community participation. We need to perish the thought that development is given by politicians.

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Kenyans need to know that if the country lags behind in development, we are equally to blame and not necessarily political leaders. Unless Kenyans understand and internalise the development agenda of the  national and county governments, it will be difficult to achieve our desired state of development. Real development empowers ordinary people and pulls them out of poverty. Infrastructural projects are crucial in this.

Equally important are those projects that target poverty elimination directly but not necessarily designed to produce an end product like a road. The concept of community participation is key in achieving sustainable development. We also need to figure out how the newly adopted sustainable development goals (SDGs) can be cascaded in our development agenda.

In community participation, people identify crucial projects that must be implemented by governments. If not so, ownership of development projects by citizens is usually created. If you read our vision, you realize the vital role played by projects. Indeed, projects are the means by which our vision will be realised.

We also need a paradigm shift. As alluded above, projects are not necessarily engineering processes designed to produce a product such as a road or port. Equally important are projects that are aimed at reducing poverty levels, eliminating diseases as well as advancing entrepreneurial capacity among citizens.

Service-based projects are important in development. They produce a new state of affairs in a country or county. For instance, training one thousand youths on entrepreneurship in a certain county may not be seen as a project.

If such an undertaking is not seen in the right context, and designed using the fundamental principles of project management, it may fail to yield desired results since it will be seen as regular work.

Project management is an old field of practice but young in academia. The quest for nations to develop has led to the elevated status of this area of study. Governments appreciate the crucial role project management plays.

Most county governments may have failed to institutionalise project management using same structures as other functions of government.

This calls for dedicated full-time departments with specialised staff and budget lines. Most county governments have fallen into the trap of wanting to achieve everything within a limited time.

This has led to a situation where the devolved units have run out of money even to achieve basic things like paying contractors. Portfolio project management should be adopted within counties so that projects are managed as portfolios, eliminating duplication and selecting high-impact ones for implementation within financial means.Nothing illustrates the power of community participation than a story that appeared in the newspapers recently.

A water company had without success tried to bring water to citizens living in an informal settlement. Every time, the pipes were vandalized. They devised a new method such that community members could manage the water points. Money collected via mobile phone transfer payments is usually shared between the company and community members. Vandalism came to a screeching halt.

Sub-counties should become the new frontiers for community participation in development projects within counties. Thus, sub-county administrators as they are called should act as a link between citizens and county governments. Counties that implement sustainable development projects will flourish.

Overall, Kenya needs to take stock of its workforce and increase capacity in areas found wanting through a human resource planning process.

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