By Treezer Michelle Atieno
Kenya’s Equalization Fund, established in 2012, is a critical instrument aimed at promoting equitable development across the country’s diverse counties. The roots of the Equalization Fund can be traced back to the Constitution of Kenya 2010, which introduced Article 204. This constitutional provision stipulates that at least fifteen percent of the national government’s revenue should be allocated annually to this fund. The central objective of the Equalization Fund is to provide financial resources to counties that are economically disadvantaged and face challenges in raising their own revenue.
The eligibility criteria for counties to receive funding from the Equalization Fund are multifaceted and designed to target the most marginalized areas. The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) is tasked with the responsibility of assessing and determining which counties qualify for Equalization Fund allocations.
Presently, there are 14 counties that receive support from the Equalization Fund. Some of the counties include Turkana, Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo. These regions are predominantly situated in arid and semi-arid areas and have historically grappled with high levels of poverty and limited access to basic services.
The core objective of the fund is to foster balanced development across all of Kenya’s counties. By providing financial resources to economically disadvantaged counties, the fund seeks to bridge regional disparities and reduce inequalities. It strives to ensure that all counties have access to essential services, infrastructure, and opportunities for socio-economic development.
One of the primary objectives of the fund is to support infrastructure development. While there have been notable improvements in infrastructure in some recipient counties, challenges persist. Uneven progress across the counties raises questions about the effectiveness of fund utilization. For example, counties like Turkana and Mandera have seen substantial improvements in road networks and water supply. However, in more remote areas, progress has been slower.
Also, the fund’s success in reducing regional inequalities is a complex matter. It has certainly helped improve conditions in marginalized counties, but disparities remain, indicating that additional measures may be necessary. Poverty rates have decreased in some areas, but economic inequality is still evident, and unemployment remains a significant challenge.
Efforts should be made to enhance transparency and accountability in fund allocation and utilization. Regular assessments of the impact of the fund in recipient counties are crucial to identify areas of improvement and ensure that resources are channeled effectively.
Additionally, enhancing the capacity of local governments in recipient counties to manage and implement development projects is essential. Strengthening the skills and governance structures at the county level can lead to more efficient and sustainable utilization of the Equalization Fund.