The Urban Areas and Cities Act (UACA) provides that the management of a city or municipality shall be vested on the county government and administered on its behalf by a Board constituted in accordance to Section 13 and 14 of the Act.

Given the stipulated role of the Boards, it is clear that they will soon be the centre of focus at the county on issues of responsive governance, accountable management and service delivery. The effectiveness of the Boards will largely depend on how they involve and engage various stakeholders in decision making processes. To support the work of the newly established Boards and enhance effective public participation, KARA has partnered with the Civil Society Urban Development Platform (CSUDP) to promote engagement between the Boards and various county stakeholders.

It is against this background that Kara and CSUDP organized citizen engagement forum with the Kitui Municipal Board on 25th April 2019, at the Agricultural Training Center in Kitui County. The objective of the forum was to strengthen engagement between the Board and various service delivery stakeholders in Kitui County and facilitate effective discharge of the participatory mandate of citizens as provided for in Section 22 of the Urban Areas and Cities Act.  The forum provided an opportunity for the residents and the Board to discuss issues pertaining to urban management and service delivery in relation to the County.

Speaking at the forum, Kitui Municipal Board Chairman, Dr. Mbathi Musyimi said that the Board’s mandate is to ensure that residents have access to public services, enhance transparency in allocation of funds for various projects, empower youth and to facilitate engagements with various stakeholders in the county. He informed participants that that the County Government has received a grant of Ksh. 230 Million from the World Bank under the Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP) and this will be used to facilitate provision of various services in the County. The County Government also received funding from the United Kingdom Government after submitting a proposal on the Sustainable Urban Economic Development Programme. The programme supported by the British Government through the Department for International Development (DFID) aims to support up to 10 fast growing municipalities to develop sustainable urban economic plans and attract investment for critical infrastructure and value chain projects.

At the end of the forum, participants agreed to establish Kitui Citizens’ Forum to facilitate structured engagement between the County Government, the Board and the residents of Kitui County. An interim committee comprising of non-state actors representatives from Kara, Kitui Local Urban Forum, Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KNCCI), the Faith Based Organizations, was put in place to guide activities of the Forum and lead the engagement between the Board and key stakeholders in the County.

Kara and CSUDP will continue working with Municipal Boards across the country to promote effective engagements between the Boards and various stakeholders in the Counties and enhance participatory approach to service delivery.