Where Does the Money Go: Citizen participation in Turkana County, Kenya | Empowerment

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This case study is about Oxfam’s work with the Turkana people, who live in one of Kenya’s poorest counties. Kenya has a system of devolved budgets, which in theory gives local people the opportunity to become involved in local authority funding of community projects. However, initial surveys found that in fact few people knew about the budgets, and even fewer were involved. So Oxfam undertook a series of training workshops for local people, who then chose social auditors from within their communities who were able to look more deeply into how local projects were being run and how they could be improved. The project also worked with local government officials. This case study – one of a series of Programme Insights on Local Governance and Community Action – looks at what worked and the challenges that this kind of work continues to face.
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    ‘Where does the money go?’ Citizen participation in Turkana County, Kenya   Community members discussing social audit reports on devolved funds. Photo: Seline Locham, Turkana Women Advocacy and Development Organisation (TWADO)   This case study is about Oxfam’s work with the Turkana people, who live in one of Kenya’s poorest counties. Kenya has   a system of devolved budgets , which in theory gives local people the opportunity to become involved in local authority funding of community projects. However, initial surveys found that in fact few people knew about the budgets, and even fewer were involved. So Oxfam undertook a series of training workshops for local people, who then chose social auditors from within their communities who were able to look more deeply into how local projects were being run and how they could be improved. The project also worked with local government officials. This paper looks at what worked and the challenges that this kind of work continues to face.    P  r  o  g  r  a  m  m  e   I  n  s   i  g   h   t  s  2 Where Does the Money Go? Citizen participation in Turkana County, Kenya Oxfam Programme Insights Introduction Turkana County in northwest Kenya is one of the country’s poorest areas ‘Why should we, the Turkana people, live in so much poverty when there are funds to initiate development just like in other parts of the country? The question we keep asking ourselves is where does the money go? What can we do about it as a community?’ – Mary Kaukon, community member and social auditor, Turkana Central district Turkana County is situated in the northwestern part of Kenya and has a population of almost 900,000. It is hot and dry, and water is often scarce. It is inhabited by nomadic herders who depend on their cattle, camels, goats, sheep, and donkeys for a living. They have learned to live in the harsh landscape and have a strong sense of kinship and community.   With 94 per cent 1 Table 1: Kenya and Turkana County 2  of the population living below the poverty line, Turkana is one of Kenya’s poorest counties. This is partly because the Turkana people have remained marginalized in the country's development process. As a result, their access to employment and basic services is limited. Literacy (%) School enrolment rate (%) Households with no access to safe water (%) Children underweight (%) GDP index Human Development Index Kenya 71.4 70.5 43.0 20.0 0.44 0.56 Turkana 16.9 39.3 59.2 34.5 0.22 0.33  3 Where Does the Money Go? Citizen participation in Turkana County, Kenya Oxfam Programme Insights Government and local governance Kenya ranks 143rd out of 169 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index. 3  As Table 1 shows, there are also huge inequalities within the country between people in different regions, with pastoralist areas like Turkana being among the poorest. It is a patriarchal society, where the position of women lags behind that of men. Kenya also ranks 143rd out of 187 on the United Nations Index of Gender Inequality. Despite the 80 per cent of new MPs elected in the 2007 elections, endemic corruption and significant economic and social problems persist. One positive step in terms of governance has been the introduction of devolved budgets, where the use of funds is decided by a local committee rather than by central government. This opens up opportunities for economic development and improved performance at the local level. The budgets include funds for youth, women, people with disabilities, HIV and AIDS, for road maintenance, electrification, poverty reduction, and drought. One of them, the Local Authorities Transfer Fund (LATF), provides funds to local authorities to improve service delivery to the public, to improve financial management and accountability, and to reduce outstanding debts. Each year, 5 per cent of national income tax receipts are allocated to the LATF. Local authorities are supposed to combine the LATF monies with their own local revenues to implement services and investments at local level.  Another fund, the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF), aims to ensure that 2.5 per cent of government revenue is devolved to the constituency level for the purposes of development and poverty reduction, particularly by means of grassroots wealth creation. Both these funds are meant be used to improve participation and governance at local level.  4 Where Does the Money Go? Citizen participation in Turkana County, Kenya Oxfam Programme Insights Bringing change to the village ‘We want to bring change to this village. We are lacking essential facilities like schools, hospitals, and even good roads, yet money was provided by the central government, and it’s not being put to good use.’  –    Mary Nacham, women’s group member, Loima district, Turkana County   It is against this background that Oxfam, in partnership with the European Commission and Turkana Women Advocacy and Development Organisation (TWADO), a local partner organisation, decided to implement the Community Engagement in Good Governance project in Turkana County. The project’s overall objective is to ensure that the rights of poor and marginalized women and men are assured through their integration into political, social, and economic systems at community, district, and national levels. The first step was to survey how far community members were aware of, and involved in, decisions about local authority funding of community projects. A study was conducted of more than 700 people in 15 locations of the three administrative districts of North, Central, and Southern Turkana. More than half the respondents were women. Respondents were asked to prioritize local authority services. Their responses showed clearly that they felt their priorities to be basic practical needs such as clean water, reflecting the high levels of poverty in the area. Table 2: What are the services that local authorities should provide? Survey results Service Percentage of responses (%) Ensure I get clean water 78% Plan, build, and maintain roads 64% Health services, housing, and schools 60% Promote development of markets, slaughter houses 55% Garbage collection and environmental cleanliness 44% Maintenance of sewerage system 39% Enhance security 22% Provide services to prevent and fight disaster e.g. fire 21% Next, the survey sought to understand levels of community participation in local authority processes. It focused on Local Authority Service Delivery  Action Plans (LASDAP). These are supposed to be participatory planning processes linking locally developed plans with local authority budgets as part
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