County governments too have a critical role in tackling insecurity

Police officers patrolling at Kasiela area in Mochongoi,Baringo south on March 8,2022. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

On December 19, 2022, The Standard reported that Governor Anyang Nyong'o had written to the Kisumu County Commissioner over worsening insecurity in the county.

The letter enunciates the dilemma at county level in defining the role of governors vis-a-vis national government officers in security provision.

County governments have at times felt they are at the periphery of national security processes. This feeling abounds due the different interpretation of the law and actual practice. The Constitution clearly states that security is a national government prerogative and should be carried out by national government officers.

This has led to the formation of county security committees as part of the national security infrastructure to effect the decisions of the National Security Council.

County governments have a role in security at the county level. Their inclusion in policing is articulated in the National Police Service Act, 2011, section 41 which designates the governor or her/his representative as the chair of the County Policing Authority. This forum has representatives appointed by the county assembly and civil society members appointed by the governor of the concerned county.

The membership also includes the county representatives appointed by the Inspector General of Police, comprising the heads of the National Police Service, the National Intelligence Service and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations at the county level.

The secretariat is hosted at the governor's office. The committee is meant to bring out local prioritised issues that the police should deal with. The authority only makes proposals on areas of priority for inclusion in the county policing strategy.

Parliament was very clear on the significance of county governments in national security leading to the formation of the County Policing Authority. In the expanded definition of national security, most of the functions that are performed by county governments respond directly to attainment of national security.

The tasks which include provision of health, water and food, which also correspond to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, fit into the expanded definition of national security.

Further, national security infrastructure be they police stations, prison facilities and such like are hosted within counties and any disruption would affect the functioning of counties as well as the national security.

Critical infrastructure at the counties including transport and logistics systems, water, communication, oil storage facilities and electricity are important as they contribute to national security. These critical infrastructure can be sabotaged by illegal groups with the consequence of affecting provision of services.

In the economic sphere, counties are areas where businesspeople invest in furtherance of national economic programmes. These investments contribute highly to the GDP of the State and therefore become an area of immediate focus for prevention of anything that may affect their proper functioning.

Protection of the environment, which is a critical element for national security, as well as water provision to the industries, is the prerogative of county governments.

In terms of response, the local governments are the first responders and would be affected more in the process of recovery. Likewise, governance and political processes alongside policies and laws that the counties come up with, would assist in building resilience within the resident population.

Good governance is able to reduce conflict which is a prerequisite for national security. Bad governance would accelerate environmental degradation, while poor health would affect peoples' welfare and therefore degrade the national security processes.

Visionary leadership in counties, cognisant of the national security processes, would enhance national security. The clear element is therefore for the local governance leadership to reduce vulnerability and create resilience within the population in order for them to recover in case of any security breaches.

County governments should understand the risks they could face so that they can be able to put forward laws and policies to help them recover in case of any serious insecurity. This can only be actualised if there is clear risk and prioritisation.

There is therefore need for collaboration between the national and county governments for enhancement of national security. Local governance areas become critical building blocks in meeting national security goals as the people's representatives at the county level are at the centre in the provision of services within the county.

This is because in case of any failure, county governments people would affected as they are closer to the people and would bear the consequences.

The functions of county governments should therefore be further integrated into the overall national security infrastructure due to their contribution to national security.