The Citizen Handbook

Fundamentals of Devolution

Units of Devolved Government

County Government

The two primary organs of the 47 county governments are the County Assembly and County Executive. These two organs work together to develop and implement policies, growth plans and budgets. The county government must also operate in partnership with the National Government on issues related to the country's national development plans, policies, and revenue sharing. The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution provides more specific functions and powers of county governments.

County Assembly

The county assemblies are comprised of elected ward representatives (one from each ward), a number of nominated seats for marginalized groups (including Persons with Disabilities and youth) nominated by political parties, and a Speaker (serving as an ex-officio member). There are also a number of special seats in the Assembly to ensure it is comprised of no more than two-thirds of the same gender.

As the legislative authority at the county level, the county assemblies are in charge of drafting and passing laws necessary for the county government to perform effectively. In addition to its role as the legislative authority at the county level, Clause 8 of The County Government Act, 2012, outlines additional roles for the county assemblies to include:

   · vetting and approving nominees for appointment to county public offices;

   · performing the roles set out under the Constitution;

   · approving the budget and expenditure of the county government;

   · approving the borrowing by the county government;

   · approving county development planning; and

   · performing any other role as may be set out under the Constitution or legislation.

Leadership of the County Assembly

Removing the Speaker of the Assembly

A speaker of a county assembly can be removed from office through a resolution supported by not less than 75 per cent of all the members of the county assembly

– Clause 11, The County Governments Act, 2012

The county assembly will have a Speaker, leader of the majority party and a leader of the minority party. The Speaker, as stipulated in Article 178 of the Constitution, is the person in charge of presiding over the sittings of the county assembly. S/he cannot be a member of the assembly, but is chosen by assembly members through secret ballot. The actual process for electing a county assembly speaker is in the First Schedule of The Elections Act, 2012.

The majority leader is the person who leaders the largest party or coalition of parties in the county assembly. The minority leader, meanwhile, is the leader of the second largest party or coalition of parties in the county assembly. The order of seniority in the county assembly, therefore, should go like this: (1) speaker; (2) majority leader: and (3) minority leader.

Role of County Assembly Members

Clause 9 (1) of The County Governments Act, 2012 outlines specific roles for members of county assemblies. They are:

   · maintain close contact with the electorate and consult them on issues before or under discussion in the county assembly;

   · present views, opinions and proposals of the electorate to the county assembly;

   · attend sessions of the county assembly and its committees;

   · provide a linkage between the county assembly and the electorate on public service delivery; and

   · extend professional knowledge, experience or specialised knowledge to any issue for discussion in the county assembly.

County Executive

Citizens in each of the 47 counties delegate their county's executive authority, in the constitution, to county executive committees. These committees implement county laws passed by the county assembly, draft legislation for consideration by the county assembly, manage the county's administration and departments, and supervise service delivery in the county and in all of its decentralised units.

Each executive committee is comprised of the county's governor and deputy governor, and a number of committee members appointed by the governor and approved by the county assembly. Committee members are individually and collectively accountable to the governor for their work. A county assembly committee may require a member of the executive committee to attend or appear before the committee and answer any questions related to their responsibilities.

Determining the Number of Appointed Executive Committee Members

The total membership of the County Assembly determines the maximum number of members the Governor may appoint to the County Executive Committee. When the Assembly has fewer than 30 members the maximum number of Committee members the Governor may appoint cannot exceed one-third of the Assembly's total membership. When the Assembly's total membership is 30 or more, the maximum number of Committee members the Governor may appoint is ten.

County Secretary and County Chiefs

The executive committee also has a county secretary who the governor competitively recruits and appoints with the approval of the county assembly. The secretary, among other things, serves as the head of the public service, conveys decisions of the executive committee to the appropriate person or authority, and is responsible for arranging the business and keeping the minutes of the executive committee meetings. Finally, there are qualified county chief officers, appointed by the governor, who report to the respective county executive committee member for the administration of a county department.

Structure and System of Devolved Governance in Kenya

President + Deputy President

Governor + Deputy Governor

National Government

County Government

National Executive

National Parliament


Serves National & County Governments

County Executive

County Assembly

Cabinet Secretaries

Attorney General

Dir. of Public Prosecutions



Speaker + 67 Seats

National Assembly

Speaker + 349 Seats

Supreme Court

Court of Appeal

High Court

Subordinate Courts

Executive Committee Members

Memberscannot exceed one-third of  seats in the County Assembly

Number of seats based on number of wards in the County


People of Kenya

People of Kenya

Adapted from “The New Structure and System of Governance in Kenya,” Centre for Law and Research International (CLARION).

Roles, Powers & Functions

The primary role of county governments is service delivery in 14 core areas assigned in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution. Below are the 14 core areas:

   · Agriculture;

   · County health services;

   · Control of air and noise pollution, other public nuisances and outdoor advertising;

   · Cultural activities, public entertainment and public amenities;

   · County transport;

   · Animal control;

   · Trade development and regulation;

   · County planning and development;

   · Pre-primary education, village polytechnics, home craft centres and childcare facilities;

   · Implementation of specific national government policies on natural resources and environmental conservation;

   · County public works and services;

   · Firefighting services and disaster management;

   · Control of drugs and pornography; and

   · Empower local communities on governance issues.

In implementing service delivery, the county government has a responsibility to ensure that it adheres to the objectives and principles of devolution (Article 174 and 175) and that it transfers its functions and services to lower levels of government as much as possible.

Functions of the County

The Citizens’ Service Centre

A county executive committee shall establish a Citizens’ Service Centre at the county, sub-county, ward and any other decentralised unit of government. The Citizens’ Service Centre serves as the central office for the providing public services to the county citizens.

Clause 5 in The County Governments Act, 2012 gives specific functions to county governments, which include:

   · legislative functions through the county assemblies;

   · executive functions through the county executive committees;

   · establishing their own public service; and

   · other functions, including those in the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution, agreed with other county governments, and transferred from the national government.

Powers of the County Government

The County Governments Act, 2012 grants specific powers to county governments, which include:

   · entering into contracts;

   · acquiring land;

   · delegating functions to county and sub-county institutions;

   · partnering with public or private institutions; and

   · establishing agencies and departments for services and other functions.

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