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Yes, CDF can be dependable job, startup creator

By Ken Opalo | Dec 11th 2021 | 2 min read

It has been 18 years since the creation of the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF). The NG-CDF has been a net positive.

Thousands of new classrooms, water points, sanitation blocks, and entire schools have been built that would otherwise not have been. Thousands of students have benefited from bursaries that would have otherwise been unavailable.

There are also political and institutional impacts of CDF. By giving legislators access to money for constituency service, the CDF freed them from having to beg for “development” money from the Treasury.

In 2020 Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, a “tangatanga” MP not in the president’s good books, topped the CDF performance charts.

Without CDF, he would not have had access to the resources needed to meet the needs of the people.

Similarly, the late Ken Okoth famously retained his seat in Kibra despite challenges from his party on the back of CDF excellence. Freed by CDF, legislators are no longer solely beholden to their party leaders.

However, despite visible successes of CDF, it needs revamping. First, there is certainly a need to stamp out corruption. For example, no constituency should spend hundreds of thousands of shillings planting seedlings at primary schools (an obvious boondoggle). The Kenya Forest Service should do that.

Second, looking at the profile of projects in the 2020/2021 fiscal year, the majority are in education, especially construction projects in primary and secondary schools.

This commonality is grounds for rethinking the design, construction, and maintenance of our schools. 

Instead of being just a “more formal Harambee,” the CDF ought to be a dependable job creator in constituencies. The sheer number of construction projects and sums involved (at least Sh30 billion annually) can support construction firms that, in addition to creating jobs, can serve as apprentice shops for TVETs and NYS.

Legislators should know that, if managed properly, the CDF can reduce the high turnover in Parliament at each election.

-The writer is an assistant professor at Georgetown University.  

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