Counties glow as devolution takes projects closer to people

A woman carries a giant replica of the constitution of Kenya to be installed on a stage during the inauguration ceremony of President Uhuru Kenyatta. [File, Standard]

When Kenya enacted a new constitution in 2010, one of the new provisions that were hailed by many as a milestone was devolution.

As opposed to the previous unitary system of governance where projects were domiciled at the national government, counties became the new units of development and grassroots empowerment.

And eight years since the advent of devolution, counties have witnessed exponential growth, with more resources being channelled to the devolved units.

Regions that hardly enjoyed or only got a whiff of the so-called ‘national cake’ can now boast of tangible development, thanks to devolution. Stories have been told of counties that had no single inch of tarmac but are now basking in improved infrastructure, courtesy of the funds derived from the devolved vote in the national budgetary cycle.

From roads to health facilities, agriculture to proper land utilisation and provision of water to lighting up of villages and urban centres, the rollout of devolution has seen the transformation of Kenya’s hinterland.

Counties are revelling in new stadiums, smooth roads, new health facilities as well as provision of clean water.

From the Coast to Western Kenya, Northern Kenya to Rift Valley, Nairobi to Central, the counties are buzzing with mega development courtesy of devolution.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta during the commissioning of the Margaret Kenyatta Mother-Baby Wing at the Nakuru Level 5 Hospital in Nakuru Town. First Lady Margaret Kenyatta hands a mother a gift during the commissioning of the Margaret Kenyatta Mother-Baby Wing at the Nakuru Level 5 Hospital in Nakuru Town. [File, Standard]

In Nakuru, for example, a state-of-the-art 262-bed capacity Margaret Kenyatta Mother-Baby Wing has been established at the county referral hospital. The Sh600 million facility was commissioned by the First Lady Margaret Kenyatta last year.

The county has also graded and rehabilitated more than 5,000 kilometres of roads under the Boresha Barabara project. The county acquired its equipment to carry out the works.

In Kisii, through public-private partnerships, Governor James Ongwae has spent almost 40 per cent of the county’s allocation on improving health services.

Two hospitals have been put up at Nduru and Marani sub-counties for Sh180 million.

“Health is an essential basic need and must be made affordable to the people. That is why we must also embrace Universal Health Coverage. I have involved various partners and stakeholders to pursue proper and quality healthcare for our people,” said Governor Ongwae.


The county administration has also opened close to 3,000km of access roads and supported value addition in banana, avocado and sugarcane.

In Nyeri, the county is building a level 4 hospital at Naro Moru and bus terminus in Nyeri town, both at Sh600 million.

“We are committed to reviving the town’s infrastructure and we plan to approach the outskirts of Nyeri. With the Asian Quarters bus terminus, we will have a robust economy which is the real outcome of devolution,” Governor Mutahi Kahiga said. 

Once complete, the terminus will have 800 business stalls, six restaurants, 240 matatu stages, taxi bays, tuk-tuk bays, 98 booking bays, 51 lorry bays, 94 passenger waiting bays and ticket offices.

Murang'a Governor Mwangi wa Iria will go down in history for putting up a 35-bed capacity Intensive Care Unit at Murang'a Level 4 hospital constructed in a record 21 days, May 4, 2020. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Murang’a County stands out of the crowd for building a 35-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in 21 days at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The facility has come in handy for neighbouring counties whose capacities have been strained.

Kericho’s major development project since Governor Paul Chepkwony won a second term is the construction of the Sh200 million CT scan centre at the county referral hospital. The project included the installation of the 64-slide (high level) imaging machine.

The main entrance gate at the Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital on February 1, 2020. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard.]

One of the mega projects being undertaken by Governor Wycliffe Oparanya’s administration is the 750-bed capacity Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital at the cost of Sh6.2 billion. It is 60 per cent complete. Phase One is complete and at least Sh2.5 billion has been spent.

The hospital is one of Oparanya’s flagship projects that have stalled due to delayed disbursement of funds.

“For the last three months we have not received any money from the National Treasury, which has resulted in the stalling of our megaprojects,” said Oparanya.

In Vihiga County, Governor Wilber Ottichilo’s Mwitoko Fish Farm project in Emuhaya Sub-county was put up for Sh32 million.

The county has constructed 1,200 fishponds covering 44.7 acres and 1,800 farmers have ventured into the project on large scale.

In Bungoma, Governor Wycliffe Wangamati is constructing a 20,000-capacity Masinde Muliro Stadium in Kanduyi, among other projects.

The Kiambu government is tarmacking roads in all the urban centres as part of its urban upgrade programme.

In Meru, one of the health projects nearing completion is a 380-bed ward block at the County Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Mombasa County, which became a shining example in the management of Covid-19, has invested heavily in new hospitals.

It is in the final stages of establishing a cancer centre at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital at an estimated cost of Sh700 million.

And Kwale last year issued over Sh400 million bursaries to support over 50,000 needy students.

[Reports by Lydiah Nyawira, Eric Abuga, Olivia Odhiambo, Stanley Ongwae, Kennedy Gachuhi, Nikko Tanui, Nathan Ochunge, Fidelis Kabunyi, Phares Mutembei, Murithi Mugo and Patrick Beja]