Since 2003, Sh137.7 billion has been disbursed to various constituencies across the country to stimulate development under the most ambitious programme ever witnessed in Kenya.
But now, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) following a High Court ruling on Friday which declared the fund illegal.
To date, more than 85,000 CDF projects in various stages of completion have been established throughout the country. According to available literature on the official CDF website, a significant percentage of these projects have already been completed.
“The impact of these projects is already being felt especially in the key sectors funded by CDF, like education (around 55 per cent of CDF allocations), Health (six per cent) and Water (11 per cent).
To a large extent, these are projects that have been identified by the community on priority basis and their completion and utilisation should therefore be satisfying genuine needs,” reads part of the information posted on the CDF website.
The CDF concept was created in 2003 immediately after the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) Government of President Mwai Kibaki romped into power. CDF, alongside free primary education, were just among the many progressive programmes which the Narc government rolled out with enthusiasm at the time. Then, Kenyans were polled by the Gallup International end of year survey as the most optimistic people in the world.
The kitty was set up by the CDF Act of 2003, with the primary objective of addressing poverty at grassroots level by dedicating at least 2.5 per cent of the government’s ordinary revenue to grassroots development.
In January 2013, the CDF Act 2003 (as amended in 2007) was repealed and replaced with CDF Act 2013 that is aligned to the constitution of Kenya 2010. Enactment of the latter was meant to align the law governing CDF with the devolution concept as captured in the new Constitution.
Main changes made to the CDF Act 2013 include reduction in size of the CDF Board from seventeen to eleven members and introduction of a new officer, the Corporation Secretary as secretary to the Board.
The separation of roles of the executive and the legislature is also well spelt out. There is also a change in the mode of appointment of CDF committee members and new roles for the area MP as ex-officio member rather than Chairman of CDF committee.
According to the stipulated flow of funds, the National Treasury is to release funds to the CDF Board through the Devolution Ministry quarterly.