The Citizen Handbook


Fundamentals of Devolution


Units of Devolved Government

Decentralised Units of Government

Article 176 (2) of the Constitution states: "Every county government shall decentralize its functions and provision of its services to the extent that it is efficient and practicable to do so." This means that county governments, as much as it is possible, should transfer governance and service delivery responsibilities to smaller governing units below the county level. This further decentralisation of county government will bring the government administrative functions and service delivery closer to you and your community.

There are several decentralised units of governance below the county level. These units include sub-counties, wards, cities, municipalities, towns, and villages. Each unit has a specific governance structure and fit into a classification as an urban or non-urban area.

Decentralised Urban Units

Urban areas and cities are areas below the county-level that have urban characteristics of development, service delivery, and population. The Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011, assented to on 27 August 2011, established a framework to:

   · govern and manage cities and urban areas;

   · provide mechanisms for residents of cities and urban areas to participate in the governance process; and

   · specify criteria and processes for classifying an area below the county level as either a city or urban area (i.e. municipality or town).*

*The table on the next page provides classification criteria for cities, municipalities, and towns.

Criteria for Classifying Urban Areas and Cities

City

Municipality

Town

A city must have a:

· Population of at least 500,000 residents based on the last official census

· Integrated urban area or city development plan

· Demonstrable capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operation

· Demonstrable good systems and records of prudent management

· Institutionalized active participation by its residents in the management of its affairs

· Infrastructural facilities, including but not limited to roads, street lighting, markets and fire stations, and an adequate capacity for disaster management

· Capacity for functional and effective waste disposal

A municipality must have a:

· Population of at least 250,000 residents based on the last official census

· Integrated development plan

· Demonstrable capacity to collect, have the potential to collect, revenue

· Demonstrable capacity to generate sufficient revenue to sustain its operations

· Capacity to deliver services to its resident effectively and efficiently

· Institutionalized active participation by its residents in the management of its affairs

· Sufficient space for expansion

· Infrastructural facilities, including but not limited to street lighting, markets and fire stations

· Capacity for functional and effective waste disposal

A town must have a:

· Population of at least 10,000 residents based on the last official census

· Demonstrable economic, functional and financial viability

· Existence of an integrated development plan

· Capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver essential services to residents

· Sufficient space for expansion

The Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011

Cities and Municipalities

Clause 12 (1) of The Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011, stipulates that boards supervise cities and municipalities on behalf of the county government. Cities and municipalities appoint managers who implement the decisions and functions of the boards. Both types of boards have the power, among other things, to exercise executive authority, oversee city and municipality affairs respectively, and ensure service delivery to its residents.

City boards consist of no more than 11 members, each of whom the county executive appoints and the county assembly approves. Municipality boards differ slightly from city boards in size – they are comprised of nine members (four appointed and five elected).City and municipality board members serve five-year terms on a part-time basis. Each board has a chairperson and vice-chairperson elected from among the board members during their first meeting. The board must meet once every three months, and may hold special meetings if at least one-third of board members submit a written request to the board chairperson to do so.


When a City is Also a County

In the case where a city is also a county (i.e. Nairobi, Mombasa or Kisumu), the government structure and governance shall be similar to that of the county government. This means that Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu are City Counties.

 

Towns

Town committees supervise towns on behalf of the county government. Unlike city and municipality boards, town committees are not corporate entities; however, committees serve similar functions as boards in terms of supervising and managing town affairs and service delivery. The county governor appoints and the county assembly approves town committees. The governor also appoints a town administrator who is responsible for implementing the decisions of the town committee.


Decentralised Non-Urban Units

Non-Urban Units

 

 

Sub-County Unit

A sub-county administrator is responsible for coordinating, managing, and supervising the sub-county; s/he reports directly to the relevant county chief officer

 

 

Ward Unit

A ward administrator is responsible for coordinating, managing, and supervising the ward on behalf of the sub-county; s/he reports directly to the sub-county administrator

 

 

Village Unit

A village administrator is responsible for coordinating, managing, and supervising the general administrative functions in the village; s/he reports directly to the ward administrator;

Each village unit has a village council chaired by the village administrator consists of not less than three and not more than five village elders

Non-urban areas are those areas below the county level not classified as a city or urban area under The Urban Areas and Cities Act, 2011. There are three decentralised units of governance in non-urban areas: (1) sub-county, (2) ward, and (3) village. Below is an overview of each unit.

Sub-County

Clause 48 (1) (b) of The County Governments Act, 2012 defines a sub-county as a constituency within a county. However, if a constituency (or part of a constituency)qualifies as a city or urban area it cannot be a sub-county. The County Public Service Board competitively appoints an administrator to each sub-county.

The sub-county administrator reports directly to the relevant county chief officer and is responsible for coordinating, managing and supervising the sub-county on behalf of the county government.

Ward

Each constituency has a certain number of wards determined by the IEBC. In non-urban areas, wards also serve as decentralised units of governance. The County Public Service Board competitively appoints an administrator to each ward in a sub-county.

The ward administratorreports directly to the sub-county administrator and is responsible for coordinating, managing and supervising the ward on behalf of the sub-county.

Village

County assemblies are responsible for enacting legislation to define and establish village units in their county. In doing so, the county assemblies must consider the following criteria: population size; geographical features; community of interest, historical, economic and cultural ties; and means of communication.Each village unit has an administrator appointed by the County Public Service Board.

The village administrator reports directly to the ward administrator and is responsible for coordinating, managing and supervising the general administrative functions in the village. Each village unit has a village council chaired by the village administrator. Village councils consist of not less than three and not more than five village elders.

The village administrator competitively appoints village elders upon approval of the county assembly, and taking into account gender balance. To qualify for appointment as a village elder, a person must be a citizen of Kenya, continuously been a resident or own property in the respective village unit, and is qualified for appointment under requirements in Chapter Six of the Constitution and any other Act or law.

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