THE MAVERICK: One Vote One Shilling Highly Discriminative to Already Marginalized Regions

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The current senate stalemate is threatening to paralyze county operations. Some legislators, particularly those from the central Kenya region, are arguing for one vote, one shilling, while those from far-flung, sparsely populated areas are arguing for a different formula that takes into consideration the landmass. The current proposal assigns 20% of revenue on equality factor, 18% on the population, 17% on health and poverty level takes 14% percent. Other considerations agriculture (10%), access to roads (6%), landmass (8%), revenue effort (1%) and fiscal discipline (1%).

The 20% based on equality factor sends an equal amount to every county to cater for expenses considered standard across all counties. The issue of contention comes where the population and other factors come in. The 18% revenue is earmarked to be assigned based on population (18% of 316.5b = 57b). The junk of this money shall end up in highly populated counties like including Nandi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Kakamega, and Uasin Gishu. Other elements under consideration shall also favor these counties. Sparsely populated counties are likely to lose substantially on these monies.

Specifically, the four Northern counties of Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, and Garissa will lose a total of 6.7 billion. Other losers will include Kilifi, Turkana, Kitui, Makueni, Samburu, and Taita Taveta. A look at these major losers will indicate counties that have a history of marginalization. Even the very main reason why people have been moving from these counties to settle elsewhere is because of this marginalization. We do not need to continue marginalizing them, and we need to send more funds to assist them in the catch-up race.

An overview of the top gainers shall against illustrate counties that have historically been benefactors of skewed sharing of the national cake. Take, for instance, Nakuru and Kiambu. The National government retains around 70% of all sharable revenue (in previous years it has retained up to 84%). Direct spending, due to proximity to the capital city, or the presence of other important administrative offices in these counties, indirectly benefits people in ways someone in Turkana will never benefit.

A few statistics shall still indicate even when looking at things from a statistical perspective; marginalized counties are still far from coming close to counties that want to take a bigger share. On average, there is one doctor per every 8000 persons in Kenya. However, most of these doctors are concertrated in a few counties, with Nairobi taking almost half the total number of registered doctors in Kenya. There are 3,928 doctors working in Nairobi, giving a ratio of 1 doctor for every 1000 persons. Kiambu, as per 2018, had 289 registered doctors, representing around one for every 8,000 persons. Kirinyaga had 62 doctors, representing one doctor for every 9000 persons. Consider with marginalized counties, Mandera with 26 doctors representing one for every 33000, Wajir with 22 doctors representing one for every 35 doctors, and Marsabit with 15 doctors, representing one doctor for every 30,000 persons. Prior to devolution, some of these counties had no single doctor working there. Even today, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, and Vihiga have no single medical specialist in the whole county.

On average, there is a school within a radius of five kilometers of every homestead in Kiambu, and most parts of Nakuru. In Mandera, or Marsabit, or even Laikipia, the average radius of a school from every homestead exceeds 20 kilometers.

Is the situation different in other sectors like education, road access, electricity, and overall access to opportunities? No. On average, there is a school within a radius of five kilometers of every homestead in Kiambu, and most parts of Nakuru. In Mandera, or Marsabit, or even Laikipia, the average radius of a school from every homestead exceeds 20 kilometers. Schools are the responsibility of national government, but again when you see the number of schools in some counties, it becomes evident that the national government will send more support to these people than it will to areas with no schools. If we go by the money retained by the national government, you will realize that some of the top gainers will take almost everything. In education, a county like Wajir has less than 300 TSC Teachers (paid from national revenue), Kiambu has 8,000 teachers. Equality should mean that if the national government is employing one teacher for every 1000 learners, that should be the standard countrywide. To bring you to the level of historical marginalization, entire Northern Kenya has like one teacher for every 1000 learners, Kiambu has one teacher for every 300 learners. This kind of bias is reflected in almost every other economic area.

That means these counties that are seeking to gain from current revenue are simply being insensitive to the counties that have been historically marginalized. These counties are seeking to catch up. As noted earlier, the doctors employed in most counties happened after devolution. Before devolution, most marginalized areas had no single medical doctor. Increasing revenue to these counties will no doubt lead to a gradual increase in critical services. Counties that are fighting to take all will continue to take a giant share from the national government. These counties also happen to be proximal to critical government operations or centers, leading to convenience benefits (a national government water project, road project, will benefit those closer to Nairobi than those in Nyamira).

The appeal in this revenue allocation stalemate is that a pregnant woman in Northern Kenya needs a medical facility within a 30-kilometer radius. It is not an expression of equality when you want the facility to move from five to two-kilometer when someone is asking it to be moved from 60 kilometers to 30 kilometers. With that said, one vote one shilling would make sense had we all shared the cake from independence. But now, it is only fair to allow playing catch up to do so without our greed frustrating their efforts.

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Pius Barongo
Pius Barongo
3 months ago

Great Work

Emmanuel Ekakoro
3 months ago

If we want to view each other as fellow citizens then we must have this discussion soberly, otherwise we will forever look at each other with a suspicious eye and this is not good for our future.