Institutionalising Social Accountability in Devolved Governance

Kenya’s adoption of the devolved system of governance places citizens at the core of governance and with elevated hopes for improvement in the delivery of public services. Being cognizant that among the objects of Kenya’s devolution are: to give powers of self-governance to citizens and enhance their participation in the exercise of the powers of State and in making decisions affecting them; to recognise the right of communities to manage their own affairs and to further their development; and to promote social and economic development and the provision of proximate, easily accessible services throughout Kenya. A fundamental principle of democracy is that citizens have the right to exact accountability and public officials have a duty to be accountable.

While the constitution makes a resounding call for these hopes, we are conscious that devolution may not immediately lead to more accountable government at the County level. This handbook aims at providing easy to read information to leaders and citizens on social accountability. We define social accountability as the engagement of civil society or other non state actors to exact accountability from government and public service providers with the aim of improving quality and transparency in public processes. Social accountability is important in enhancing democratic governance and improving service delivery at both levels of government: the National and the County. It is therefore important to strengthen the voice of citizens to hold their leaders accountable.