There are 1,450 Admin­is­tra­tive Wards in Kenya. Mem­bers of Coun­ty Assem­blies (MCAs) are the elect­ed polit­i­cal lead­ers of these Wards. Pre­vi­ous­ly they were referred to as Councilors.

Politi­cians often used the Coun­cilor seat as a step­ping­stone into the Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment (MPs) seat. Among politi­cians who start­ed off as Coun­cilors are Hon Fer­di­nard Wait­i­tu, who com­menced his polit­i­cal jour­ney in 2002 as Coun­cilor of Njiru Ward. He lat­er served as Embakasi Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment before being elect­ed as Kiambu’s sec­ond Gov­er­nor. Sim­ba Arati, the cur­rent Gov­er­nor of Kisii also start­ed off as nom­i­nat­ed Coun­cilor for Nairo­bi City Coun­cil in 2007.

I sug­gest that we rad­i­cal­ly change our per­cep­tion of this seem­ing­ly low­ly MCA Posi­tion. It’s not just a step­ping stone into high­er office. Our elect­ed MCAs have the poten­tial of becom­ing the most con­se­quen­tial lead­ers in the coun­try. I have pre­vi­ous­ly writ­ten in this col­umn why they are like Ward Pres­i­dents and today, I will focus on how they can deliv­er trans­for­ma­tive leadership.

Between 2013 and 2017, I was hon­ored to be one of the lead orga­niz­ers of Coun­ty Invest­ment Forums in sev­er­al Coun­ties. Through these forums, we were able to unwrap the immense invest­ment poten­tial in Coun­ties like Nan­di, Kisii and Baringo. We real­ized that Kisii had the poten­tial of fol­low­ing in the wine pro­duc­ing foot­steps of French regions like Bor­deaux and Cham­pagne. Sim­i­lar­ly, we explained how Baringo’s poten­tial of becom­ing a world class hon­ey pro­duc­er was unlimited.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, such invest­ment forums either died alto­geth­er or were expand­ed into region­al forums. In this new elec­toral cycle, we need to refo­cus invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties to our  Wards. Indeed, Wards must become like com­pa­nies that must return val­ue to their share­hold­ers. Here are three rea­sons why this approach may change the coun­try in a pow­er­ful, last­ing manner.

First­ly, we must unlock the human resources that are locked with­in Ward demo­graph­ics. For instance, Upper Savan­nah Ward in Embakasi East Con­stituen­cy has a pop­u­la­tion of almost 40,000 peo­ple. This con­sti­tutes near­ly half of all the peo­ple in Sey­chelles! As such, this pop­u­la­tion must be regard­ed as a pow­er­ful human resource.

How­ev­er, it is incum­bent on them to con­tribute sig­nif­i­cant­ly in Ward affairs. The most direct way for them to do so is through pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion that ensures effi­cient, account­able uti­liza­tion of Ward funds. But more than this, they should also con­tribute their skills to trans­form their Wards.

There is need to ascer­tain the depth of skills pos­sessed by con­stituents in any giv­en Ward. That will enable a sys­tem­at­ic uti­liza­tion of rel­e­vant skills towards Ward devel­op­ment. To illus­trate, it could be, that some con­stituents of Kasighau Ward in Tai­ta Tave­ta Coun­ty have eco­tourism skills that can help the Ward to earn rev­enue from eco­tourism. The same applies to every Ward in Kenya.

Sec­ond­ly, Wards will be trans­formed through the sus­tain­able uti­liza­tion of their nat­ur­al resources. Every Ward in Kenya is endowed with nat­ur­al resources that can great­ly enhance sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and job cre­ation.  A vast Ward like Mutha in Kitui Coun­ty is home to South Kitui Nation­al Reserve. With inten­tion­al invest­ment, this nat­ur­al resource can boost eco­tourism in the area, and in the process cre­ate thou­sands of sus­tain­able livelihoods.

Third­ly, finan­cial resources must flood into Wards through Ward-spe­cif­ic invest­ments. Just like we expe­ri­enced Coun­ty Invest­ment Con­fer­ences, time is ripe for tar­get­ed Ward Invest­ment Fora. Through such con­fer­ences, Wards will be able to take a pri­vate approach to pub­lic sec­tor devel­op­ment. This will com­pel MCAs to act increas­ing­ly like vision­ary CEOs and less like short-sight­ed politicians.

I nudge the Pres­i­dent to deploy the pow­er at his dis­pos­al in embold­en­ing MCAs. After all it is the MCAs who deter­mine resource allo­ca­tions for the Coun­ties cur­rent­ly at Kshs. 370 bil­lion. Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Chief Stew­ard of Green Africa Group, a con­glom­er­ate that was envi­sioned in 1991 to con­nect, pro­duce and impact var­i­ous aspi­ra­tions of human­i­ty through Sus­tain­able Mobil­i­ty & Safe­ty Solu­tions, Eco­pre­neur­ship & Agribusi­ness, Ship­ping & Logis­tics, Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Ini­tia­tives, as well as Hos­pi­tal­i­ty & fur­nish­ings sectors

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