The North deserves a higher revenue allocation
By Ali Edin
The tweet by Moses Kuria has enraged the political landscape in Northern Kenya and has even forced the NFD leaders to come out strongly like a rattled snake to term his sentiments as irresponsible. The social media erupted with leaders, think-tanks, activists all baying for his blood. Moses Kuria had apparently alleged that the 2019 census will give the right numbers on the population accusing the North of receiving resources when they had no numbers. I am hoping not to delve in that debate but allow me to take a completely different angle to this whole debate. Kuria believes his people deserve to be given more since they have immensely supported the president and according to him they have nothing to show for it.
To keep this debate going it will be important to give a brief analysis on the genesis of all of this. The issue of socio-economic exclusion of the North which for a while has made us acquire a new name, ‘Marginalized Group’.
The Issue of Marginalization.
Marginalized community is a group that’s confined to the lower or peripheral edge of the society. Such a group is denied involvement in mainstream economic, political, cultural and social activities. Social exclusion tends to deprive a group of its rightful share of reach to productive resources and ways to utilize its maximum potential to prosperity. The North has been neglected by all the previous regimes and has suffered for years by being excluded when it comes to development. As most parts of the Country were making strides we remained at the tail end, coping with issues of cattle rustling, poor and dilapidated roads, lack of clean water, poor state of education and pitiable health facilities. It’s now over 50 years since we attained independence but if a Northerner sets on a journey to Nairobi they normally talk of, “Tunaenda Kenya” (we are heading to Kenya).
The core essentials are still a luxury for most parts of this large land mass and it still looks like a mirage even with the advent of devolution. The news flashes from the North are always marred with images of malnourished children, women trekking long distance in search of water, cattle dying of drought et-cetera. The years of neglect have produced groups that have known no other way apart from receiving aid and grants. The years of suffering have turned the region into a good breeding hub for terrorist groups that have taken advantage of the vulnerable nature of the community.
Devolution is a baby that MUST be protected.
One of the most vital things that came with the new constitutional dispensation remains to be devolution, the idea of resource allocation to County Government as a way of bringing developments to the grassroots is critical in correcting years of neglect. Devolution was a well thought idea and a bold move by the drafters of the new constitution and their noble idea was to bridge the gap that existed between different regions. Even with the immense challenges that was apparent each and every single Kenyan knows that devolution has had huge impact to the lives of millions of residents. It’s through devolution that Counties like Wajir and Mandera saw tarmac for the first time. The success stories are too many despite the challenges that exist. Northerners have so much to hope for moving forward.
What is the dispute on CRA Formula?
The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) has come up with a new formula on allocation of revenue using whole different indexes. CRA hopes to give money by analyzing different parameters that include the revenue being generated by a particular County, a key thing being contested by the NFD leaders. Mandera Governor Ali Roba has openly discredited the formula insisting that their allocation should take into account the fact that the region is far much behind compared to other regions. The previous formula took into account population 45%, equal share 26%, poverty 18%, and land area 8%. The new formula will have marginalized Counties lose a total of Ksh. 10Bn a move that will affect the strides being made in developing these areas.
Devolution needs to be protected and the best way to do it is by ensuring that resources are allocated depending on the needs of each County and where they stand as compared to others. It makes no sense to allocate same money for Health in Kiambu and Mandera without taking into account that one, for a long time has never had any single referral hospital. The idea of even trying to reduce the money being given to NFD counties beats logic and should be rejected by all and sundry. The CRA should even be pushed to increase the amount of money being allocated to marginalized areas and make efforts to ensure they are used prudently. The debate should shift from the nonsensical issue of numbers but the years of neglect and high poverty level if we are to ensure all regions get to the same level.
Ali Edin is a socio-political commentator from Isiolo.