From Center to Margin: An Appraisal of the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF) as a Decentralization Strategy in Kenya
Mwenzwa, Ezekiel Mbitha
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Since independence in 1963, the governance of development in Kenya has faced numerous challenges leading to poor economic performance and hence negative consequences on Kenyans. The poor-rich gap has not only widened over the years, but the poverty situation has worsened. Consequently, the government has identified centralized planning as a serious development bottleneck and devised strategies for gradual devolution of decision-making power to the local level. Among other development blueprints is the Constituencies Development Fund (CDF), which aims at decentralizing development planning to enable grassroots communities maximize their welfare in line with their needs. This fund is a consequence of the Constituencies Development Fund Act of 2003, which provides the governance framework for a transparent and accountable utilization of the funds. Although CDF is a noble decentralization strategy, it is still prone to centralized planning and hence cannot holistically be regarded as having moved the decision-making power from center to the margin. The paper examines the governance framework availed by the Act in the context of decentralization paradigm, the possible impact of passive civic participation and proposes strategies towards effective local level participation in the utilization of the fund.