Kenya’s Coast: Devolution Disappointed

The enormous public expectations which was raised by the devolved government on Kenya’s coast have turned into disappointment. Patronage politics that marked the former centralized system has been replicated in the new counties, making government even more inefficient and expensive. Power is closely held, though political leadership is now local and leaders are suspicious of both national and local rivals. Certain regions, communities and many youth still feel marginalized. Political devolution has deflected but not resolved grievances that fuel militancy, which continues to be met by hard security measures driven from Nairobi. Greater inclusion and cooperation within and between county governments, as well as national-county dialogue, is needed to maximize devolution’s potential and ensure militant groups, like Al-Shabaab, have fewer grievances to exploit.