What counties should do to be competitive

County governors during a past devolution conference. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Since the introduction of devolution through the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, the created counties looked forward to improving service delivery to their citizenry; develop infrastructure to support economic development and exploit local resources to create employment.

About eight years down the road, some counties have little or nothing to smile about devolution. Here are some of the reasons why the counties missed the boat that would have taken them to the promised prosperity.

Most counties prepared elaborate strategic plan documents that were intended to guide them on allocation of resources to identified priority development areas.

When the devolution euphoria settled down, some of the documents gathered dust that shall be wiped off for purposes of impact evaluation studies.

Serious counties should have factored in mid-term evaluations even though changes in county political leadership threw away the washing basin with the baby. Regardless of whoever holds the highest county office, the Strategic Plan should be continuously reviewed for posterity.

Although the devolution development model was new, counties should have undertaken baseline surveys to provide data for informed decision making on each sector.


The same data could then be available for comparison with future impact assessment surveys. Where the baseline data is lacking, what parameters will form the basis of impact evaluations? It is not late to undertake the situational surveys for mapping out future development priorities.

County governments’ staff members are a mixed grill in terms of competencies, working experience, salary scales and work cultures, among others.

Counties that did not harmonise the human resource (HR) architecture are still grappling with work performance issues inherited from the previous working arrangements. Counties should place HR at the centre stage of their operations for continuous improvement of service delivery.

Faced with staff who originated from various government departments/divisions, counties have numerous challenges on staff training and development.

This investment in people is worsened by lack of comprehensive training needs assessments that should be followed by relevant training programs.

It is, therefore, not surprising that employees undertake either local or international training programmes whose knowledge and skills are not utilized at the workplace.

Without baseline surveys, it is doubtful how some counties claim to have developed competitive strategies for conversion of local resources into income-generation projects.

For example, bananas-rich Kisii County would be the outstanding national and international supplier of banana products. County governments should identify and utilise their unique comparative resource advantages for employment and wealth creation.

The writer is human resources development consultant.