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Law change must focus on building a resilient society

By Christopher Owuor
Monday, November 16th, 2020 00:00 | 3 mins read

The debate on constitutional change may seem unfathomable during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic but may portend a blessing for a better future.  

Everyone must be encouraged to seize the opportunity to contribute ideas towards making Kenya a prosperous nation. Everyone must be their neighbour’s keeper against this invincible enemy.

In the midst of the pandemic, it must be remembered that the ability to effectively tackle challenges requires resilient communities. And such, communities are only developed where local policies are progressive and effective. 

Priority projects

Further, with public participation already anchored in Kenyan law, the possibility of local resources being utilised on priority projects is high. 

Therefore, the idea of anchoring ward fund kitty in the Constitution  will be fundamental in enhancing development of resilient local communities. 

Given the diversity of Kenyan communities, giving resources to the wards gives power to the local communities to decide on what projects to be implemented. 

For Kenya to compete favourably within the regional and global stage, there must be concerted effort to ensure national and local policies incentivise innovation and creativity.

Therefore, wise investment of local resources within counties is key if productivity has to be improved.

Of priority for the ward fund should be development of infrastructure such as the Last-Mile Electricity connectivity, development of local roads, infrastructure in learning institutions, especially local polytechnics to promote development of technical skills among the locals.

Beyond, infrastructure, counties must be deliberate in development of trade capability based on their comparative advantage.

With different counties having unique capability in production, governors must purpose to identify their strength and focus on improving that capacity, in order to benefit from the economies of scale. This in turn will boost cross-county trade.

Consequently, county governments must nurture continuous learning through regional block forums.

It is worth noting that development of satellite towns is a critical element in the country’s  development journey.

For instance, if Kisii County sets up a processing plant for a product, there will be no reason for Nyamira to establish a similar factory. 

This in the end will open logistical opportunities which could expand the economy of these areas. 

Divisive politics

This kind of complementarity, if taken down to ward level, means that each unit will specialise on production of different products.

However, for this to happen, one other critical area that deserves constructive conversation must be the land policy. 

Leaders must be innovative with formulation and implementation of land policies.

City and town plans must be comprehensive and favourable to accommodate the increasing population but also be prepared to absorb future industrialisation needs.

For counties with large tracts of land, clustering must be encouraged with zones for industrial parks set aside. This must be set up deliberately to attract private investors.

It is common knowledge that no economy has developed without industrialisation.

Adding value to products is essential for high returns. Kenya must strive to develop the ability to add value to the raw products. This way, the country can be competitive in the regional and global market.

But leadership is critical for this vision to be realised. The role of leaders must be to redirect the conversation to issues that matter.

At this point, while we speak of constitutional changes, it must also be remembered that Kenya is losing an unacceptable number of citizens to Covid-19 amid claims of theft of resources meant to assist the front-line workers. 

Reports of medical workers losing their lives because they lacked protective gears is outrageous. Finally, the statement by of Health ministry Cabinet Secretary that the National Health Insurance Fund will not be supporting those affected by Covid-19 is against the call of building resilient communities.  

This is the time that this facility is needed by Kenyans who are struggling to survive  in a Covid-19 ravaged economy. The government must bail her citizens from the pangs of the pandemic.  [email protected]

Christopher Owuor

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