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Thursday, 18 December 2008

On Constituency Development Funds...

I came across this interesting paper Fiscal Decentralization in Kenya: The Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and the Growth of Government. Although the methodology raised a few questions, I was atleast happy to see that some analysis is being done on CDFs.

Zambia has had its own CDF since 1995. Under this initiative, the government allocates development funds on an annual basis to all constituencies under the control of the local MP. The
2008 CDF fund is K50bn though only K46bn appears to have been delivered because of the failure by some constituencies to do the job properly in 2007. Each constituency gets K400m, with increasing calls for this to be raised significantly. Infact Rupiah Banda when campaigning for the Presidency promised to raise it to K1bn. History also records that HH promised to increase it to K4bn. RB is the President, I wonder whether the new Budget will see this fund raised. The logical inference is that CDF is good. Well, atleast policians believe it is vote winner!

The idea behind the CDF is to empower local communities by providing a pot of funding for health, education and other initiatives. Some
great projects have actually been accomplished through it. In practice, it is more of a political tool to reward those areas that voted for you. Not surprising therefore that the CDF budgetfor this year (referenced above) was released on the 7th October 2008, in good time for the 30th October elections! Then comes the corruption cases (see here and here), poor financial management (see the comments from the recent Parliamentary Committee Report on Local Governance, Housing and Chiefs' Affairs . The news article on the same here ) and bizarre projects. Indeed the former Local Government Minister Silvia Masebo, when she was in charge, appeared to conceed that the CDF has been abused. The fingers of accusation are never too far away among officials. The role of chiefs also remains unclear. In December last year the GRZ was calling for chiefs to utilise these funds. Not sure how that works when the fund is controlled by the MPs. For their part, chiefs have been calling for the CDF to be properly monitored. Some of course, never bother to use the funds. Some just want the all thing to be abolished.

But here is the thing. How the CDF is handled signals something about the quality of the MP in the area. I just wonder whether GRZ can do more to ensure people are more aware of this. Consider the previous post -
Exposing corrupt politicians....lessons from Brazil . Assuming that the CDF is here to stay.

Update 1 : more on the debate in Kenya : Poverty Statistics versus CDF: Which Way for Kenya ?

Update 2: It appears that RB will indeed increase the CDF to K1bn next year. This article quotes the new Local Government Minister Tetamashimba saying, "Our projection is that let us have K1 billion next year because we want this Government to continue after 2011". The reference to 2011 clearly suggests that GRZ sees this as a critical way to empower local communities.


  1. Instead of having $50 million for MPs to parcel out, why not have $1,000 million handed over to local councils as a right, irrespective of who has been elected to that particular council?

    And of course rights can be revoked in cases of abuse or corruption by the same independent agency that hand the money out.

    However, that would be true decentralization.

  2. I don't follow your numbers....

    MPs get k400,000,000 or $80,000 dollars per constituency...


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