Governors must take blame for hunger 10 years into devolution

A county governor's official vehicle during a past event. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

There is no better way to spur growth and deal with the cost of living than activating a production economy from the counties.

Therefore, our governors must focus more on production in their counties than on national politics if Kenya must lower the high cost of living. 

We just came out of Covid-19 pandemic period that stooped our economies. Unfortunately, to date, most businesses that were left staggering have not recovered from the Covid-19 effects. Needless to say that the Ukraine war and extended drought in Kenya spurred economic travesties whose sting is still hurting. 

To cure the ailing economy, we must go back to the realisation that Kenya has the best edge in agricultural production. Thus, there is no excuse why Kenya cannot feed its citizens, and imports maize, sugar and rice. Gone are the days when relief food was for people in frontier regions and lower Eastern.

To the chagrin of the 2010 constitution, our governors invest too much in national politics than county economic production. Regardless of our counties controlling the lead factors of production such as land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship, they always look to the national government for everything, including resources for their recurrent expenditure.

Why are governors moving around with politicians planning for demos or attending Sunday services outside their counties? People elected them to manage development projects in the counties, but some are shuttling across the country politicking. We are quickly drifting back to the old order where the country dependent on the national government for everything. How Kenyans have come to be convinced that everything lies with the national government is strikingly worrying. Kenyans should be reinvigorated to shift their focus from Statehouse in Nairobi to the 47 governors’ offices dotting the country. 

Governors of Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot, Keiyo, Marakwet, Laikipia, Nakuru, Kisii, Bungoma, Mt Elgon and Kiambu should tell us where maize is, 10 years after devolution. Why do we dedicate annual allocation of funds in these counties if production cannot be maximised to reduce hunger and famine, at least in those counties? 

Likewise, where is tea production in Kericho, Nakuru, Narok, Bomet, Nyamira, Kakamega, and Kisii? Are you still waiting for the national government to subsidise inputs to be able to stand out to reap from this cash crop 10 years after devolution? Moreover, Kenya is a chapati and bread-loving nation. As a result, wheat does exceptionally well in Narok and Laikipia counties. So what are the counties doing to leverage these lead crops 10 years after devolution? 

These are the same questions we must ask Kirinyaga, Kisumu, Tana River, and Busia counties governors who are CEOs of these rice-producing regions. We should demand that the governors in these counties tell Kenyans what they have been doing with the devolved funds to leverage rice production in these areas. 

I can go on and on and ask about coffee from Nyandarua, Nyeri, Murang'a, Kiambu and Laikipia or sugarcane from Kisii, Nyanza, Bungoma, Nakuru, and Kericho. Chapter 11 of our constitution was created as a panacea for regional marginalisation before 2010. Among the key objectives of devolving government to the 47 counties was to “give powers of self-governance to the people and “recognise the right of communities to manage their affairs and to further their development.” 

In conclusion, my point is simple; Is whatever happening in our counties living up to our expectations? Are Kenyans getting value for their money ploughed back to the counties if we cannot feed ourselves—we must wake the sleeping giant!

-Dr Ndonye is a senior lecturer, School of Music and Media at Kabarak University