New year holds new promise for devolution

Homa Bay County governor Gladys Wanga. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

The year 2022, however eventful, has ended. Like others before, it has had highs and lows. As Kenyans, we should march into the new year with optimism that a better future is within reach. Yes, 2023 comes with fresh hopes and aspirations.

Equally, the new year comes with a big burden on the shoulders of the men and women whom Kenyans entrusted with leadership on August 9 last year. They must steady the ship and lead to more positive outcomes, especially on the economy. Kenyans want the high cost of living addressed. The poor and the middle class need jobs. There's pressing need to improve healthcare and revamp productivity of key sectors. Combating poverty within our borders requires total commitment. For counties, devolution must live the promise. Kenyans must begin to eat the fruits.

There shouldn't be any more excuses. Devolution's future must be even brighter, especially with sustained governance reforms, increased allocation and timely funds disbursement.

The 2022 polls saw seven women governors, including myself, elected into the office of governor. I have a firm belief that more gains in the gender equity front are in the offing. Indeed, women and youth deserve more space on the decision table, being the fulcrum of the economy who play socio-economic roles that have ushered in economic revolution across the world.

As we mobilise every effort towards sustained growth, we must remember to tap into the enormous strengths of Kenya's women and the youth. While their role in economic emancipation is incontestable, their enormous contribution to governance and political revolution still struggles to gain traction. However, more open and inclusive nations and societies tend to be more prosperous, effective, and resilient, as evidenced by overwhelming data on the roles and contribution of women and the youth. We must bring everyone on board, We need every hand on the deck.We must not relent. Ten years into devolution, the push for more transformative, efficient and inclusive governance system must continue not to mention the need for improved healthcare, ensuring food security, job creation and poverty eradication.

As any rate, to realise the full potential of devolution, there's isn't been a better time to eliminate graft and usher in good governance, improved health and well-being, enhanced food security, jobs, poverty eradication, and social and cultural development.

Poor governance practices are substantially to blame for our county's current social, political, and economic challenges. Ten years after devolution, our great county is still confronted with teething socio-economic challenges. At the same time, there's need to change tack in addressing the age-old challenges of poverty, corruption, wanting healthcare standards and high disease burden, poor infrastructure and insecurity. More than ever, we need evidence-based policymaking and the rule of law. It is vital to support citizens' participation in policy making and implementation to achieve inclusive governance.

Recognising that agriculture is the backbone of the economy, I foresee a situation where through innovative agricultural development models, we will catalyze economic growth in Homa Bay, reduce poverty, enhance food security through climate-smart agriculture and increase farmer incomes. It can be done. We can have food on the table, money in the pocket. The new year must deliver the promise of a power economic renaissance. Wishing the people of Homa Bay and Kenyans a prosperous new year.

-The writer is Homa Bay County governor