Strengthening Devolution for Sustainable Development in Kenya

Africa’s First School for CLD Launched in Kenya to Power Bottom-Up Development

March 16, 2023 marked the official launch of the Makueni School for Community-led Development headlined by H.E. Multula Kilonzo Junior, Governor Makueni County, and Dr. John Coonrod, MCLD Co-Founder. The event convened government leaders, CSOs, community leaders, and development partners. The school is a joint initiative by the county and MCLD to strengthen community-led development approaches to meet sustainable development goals, Vision 2030, and other country-specific development initiatives.

“The school has come at the right time as it will help us to answer the sustainability question of county government projects by addressing barriers to ownership of these projects by the communities. This has been a challenge over the years,” says Governor Mutula.

The school is designed to strengthen skills in transformative leadership in ways that inspire the inclusive socio-economic progress of communities. Through the school, civil society organizations, government officials, community leaders, and development partners will learn how to facilitate groups in discovering their own strengths and own vision and organizing themselves for effective self-reliant action. 

“The science of community-led development requires a school – a space where people work together to broaden their knowledge, sharpen their skills, and make connections with the many resources available in Kenya,” says John 

The School’s first cohort comprises 30 Ward Officers undergoing the trainer-of-trainer model. These dedicated women and men will be the front-line trainers who will deliver the training to communities and CSOs networks across the county.

To ensure true inclusiveness “ The school will adopt a hybrid approach of both physical classes and under-the-tree sessions in communities to build a shared vision that CLD is the way to localize SDGs through the principles of public participation and devolution as enshrined in the Kenya Constitution,” says County Director of Citizen Engagement Dr. Zipporah Wambua.

The 16-session CLD certificate course at the School comprises modules on the SDGs, community-based planning, gender equity, resource mobilization, community wealth-building, disaster preparedness, citizen-led governance, data for the people, and social accountability.

“Institutionalizing CLD through this school will play a critical role of strengthening devolution in Kenya by enhancing the bottom-up approach to development. In the long run, we anticipate that the institution will serve the rest of the 46 counties,” says Steve Ogutu, MCLD Kenya Executive Director.

The school is just one of the flagship initiatives captured in a memorandum of understanding between MCLD and the county resigned on the same day. 

Check out some testimonials from a section of this cohort’s members here.

Watch speeches by:

Governor Mutula Kilonzo, Makueni County
John Coonrod, MCLD

MCLD and Taita Taveta County Government Sign MoU to Deepen Participatory Development

MCLD and Taita Taveta County formalized their partnership on March 14 through a memorandum of understanding signed by MCLD’s John Coonrod and the county’s Deputy Governor H.E Christine Kilalo. The five-year partnership will see the two entities collaborate to, among other things, strengthen the quality of public participation through raising the profile of community-led development in the county; enhance research, documentation, and innovation in the area of CLD; enhance community financing, advocacy, collaborations and partnerships towards fundraising for CLD initiatives. 

Taita Taveta is among 29 counties in Kenya classified as Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) and which are faced with compounded crises like climate change, poverty, gender-related issues, health inaccessibility, and youth unemployment among others. 

“As a county, we have been struggling with getting participatory development right. This is the sure path to solving these challenges. This partnership is critical in helping us to properly integrate citizen engagement across our development projects,” says the Deputy Governor.

MCLD will also be working with the county to develop a CLD legal framework anchored in its Public Participation Bill. “This will be instrumental in safeguarding the sustainability of citizen-led development efforts,” says the Deputy Governer.