By Caroline Kinyulusi
In the week ending October 29, 2022, the Commission visited Garissa, Nakuru and Elgeyo Marakwet Counties. During these visits, the teams held discussions with officials from the County Commissioners’ offices, County Executives and Assemblies in the counties.
The teams visited 10 sublocations in Garissa, three in Nakuru and in four Elgeyo Marakwet county. These have been listed as marginalised in the Commission’s Third Policy Identifying Marginalised Areas.
Comm. Fouzia Abdikadir (Garissa), Comm. Peter Gachuba (Nakuru) and Comm. Prof. Peter Kimuyu (Elgeyo Marakwet) led the three teams.
Residents hope for rain in Garissa County
The Garissa team led by Commissioner Fouzia Abdikadir visited 10 newly-listed marginalized areas in Garissa County.
Collins Wanyoike (Snr. ICT Officer) takes notes in Hagarjerer Sub Location, Garissa. Residents access health services in Garissa town, 149km away. There was no electricity here or in eight other sub-locations visited. Only Kora kora sub-location was lit.
The 10 new marginalized areas visited are Abdigab, Dogob, Hagarjerer, Jarriot, Korakora, Modika, Ohio, Saka Junction, Shimbirey and Warable.
In these parts of the county, the prolonged drought has pushed residents into extreme poverty, with most lacking basic needs like food and water. The price of water is beyond the reach of most and is climbing still. The residents say it has been three years since the last rain. They have to part with at least Ksh. 15,000 for 10,000 liters of water.
Access to other facilities is also a challenge. Abdigab sublocation, for instance, has only one primary school, which is shared with four other sub-locations. There is no electricity in the area.
We met with the area leadership and local residents of Abdagab sublocation in Garissa County
As we travelled further into Ohio sub-location, we met more and more dry land, with the picture of wasted animals a constant sight.
We arrived at Korakora sub-location in the midday scorching sun. Here, only four out of 11 households have access to pumped water from Tana River, which is just 500metres away. Although there are possibilities of pumping water from the river, this remains a pipe dream for many here. This situation is not unique to this area.
Water, health and education problematic in Elgeyo Marakwet County
As another team led by Prof Peter Kimuyu toured Kapkiptul, Resim, Kiptengwer and Cheptarit sublocations in Elgeyo Marekwet County, they observed similar challenges as Garissa.
Three of the four sublocations visited in EM have no health facility. Although Kiptengwer has one dispensary, it has no piped water, borehole or electricity. For their water supplies, the residents rely on two seasonal rivers from the rocky escarpment.
Education is equally a problem in Kapkiptul, which has two primary schools but no secondary school. Equally, Cheptarit has one primary school and no secondary school. Resim and Keptengwer also have no secondary education facilities.
Residents in Kiptengwer sublocation rely on seasonal rivers and streams that flow in the escarpments
Way out: Implementation of policy on marginalization and the Equalisation Fund
Marginalisation in Kenya has been linked to Kenya’s colonial past, ideology, democratic progress, and resource-sharing systems. To deal with this problem, the Constitution established the Equalisation Fund.
This Fund is a national government fund lasting twenty years. It will end in 2030. The Constitution of Kenya establishes the Fund and enables the Commission to develop a Policy Identifying Marginalized Areas for purposes of sharing the Fund.
Two policies and another on the way
The Commission has since the onset of devolution prepared two policies identifying marginalised areas. The Third Policy is under development.
The first three-year policy was developed in 2013. This policy identified fourteen marginalised counties. The implementation of the first policy began in the financial year 2016/17 and appropriated Ksh. 12.4 billion across different sectoral priorities that included roads, health, education, water, and electricity as well as fund administration.
The Policy was partially implemented due to a court ruling that nullified the Equalisation Fund Board. Out of the Ksh. 12.4 billion set aside for the implementation of this policy, only Ksh.6.9 billion was utilized.
The Second Policy, prepared in 2017 identified 1,424 areas as marginalized.
This Policy changed from identifying marginalised counties to identification of marginalized areas based on the smallest administrative unit for which data was available.
Identification of these areas was based on an index of deprivation calculated based on five indicators namely: access to safe drinking water, use of improved sanitation; use of electricity; net primary school attendance rate and net secondary school attendance rate.
This meant that deprived areas in otherwise well-developed counties had a chance of being identified as marginalised. Similarly, developed areas in otherwise poor counties would be excluded from consideration.
Marginalized groups or communities will benefit from the Fund.
The Second Policy also recognised that even within marginalised areas, there were some minorities that needed special consideration. These communities are: Elmolo, Makonde, Waata and Dorobo-Salieta. Identification of these communities was guided by Article 260 on: small population, unique culture, traditional lifestyle of hunter gatherer’s economy and pastoral communities that have suffered relative geographic isolation which hindered them from integrating into the social and economic life of Kenya.
The Constitution defines a marginalised group as people who, because of laws or practices, are disadvantaged by discrimination on one or more of the grounds articulated in article 27 (4). These grounds include race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.
The Second Policy was not implemented due to the disbandment of the Equalisation Fund Board. Since the Board is now operational, however, marginalized communities and areas will benefit from the Fund for financial years 2011/12; 2012/13/ 2013/14, 2017/18; 2018/19; 2019/2020, and 2020/21.