In a bid to foster equitable development and empower local communities, the Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) calls upon Government to prioritize the amendment of the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) Act of 2018. This is a crucial step in enhancing the fund’s effectiveness and ensuring that it truly serves as a catalyst for grassroots development.
To achieve effective utilization of the CDF and promote decentralization, a comprehensive approach is needed. This approach includes streamlining approval processes,empowering local communities, and enhancing transparency and accountability mechanisms.
Transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of effective governance. Despite the CDF Act attempting to provide for accountability and transparency mechanisms by requiring the maintenance of a separate book of accounts for the constituency account, prohibiting the use of the fund for non-fund purposes, and requiring annual audits by the Auditor-General,the Act neither provides safeguards to prevent arbitrary use of discretionary powers given to the relevant authorities, nor provides for sufficient oversight mechanisms to ensure that these provisions are effectively implemented.
To effectively implement these proposed provisions,there will be a need for Government to allocate resources for the creation of an easily accessible online portal that provides real-time information on CDF budgets, expenditures,and project status updates. This will enable citizens to monitor the allocation and utilization of funds, fostering transparency, accountability and greater trust in the system.
Furthermore, to fully realize the core objective of CDF to finance projects that address the needs and preferences of the community and that promote local development and welfare,there is a need for the CDF Act to empower local communities with more decision-making authority in the allocation and utilization of these funds. While the Act provides for local community representation through membership in the CDF Committee, over half of all CDF committee members are appointed directly by Members of Parliament or local Councilors,and therefore the Committee’s ability to adequately represent and advocate for the
preferences of local communities is likely to be diminished.
Best practice in Kenya suggests that the CDF Committee members should be democratically elected by the community and not appointed to prevent any political inference and ensure that projects align closely with the unique needs and priorities of each constituency.
In addition, streamlining the approval processes for CDF projects will be imperative to expedite development and decentralization. While the CDF Act attempts to decentralize the fund, the Act nonetheless gives power to the Minister to approve funds for each constituency thereby centralizing decision-making processes and leaving room for abuse. Despite the Government's commitment to this process in the 2023 National Budget Address, little progress has been made to ensure the fulfilment of this commitment.
Luyando Muloshi (Ms.)
Legal Researcher – CTPD