Post-independence Kenya has experienced bad governance that has led to a failure to deliver a faster and equitable economic development against the potential. The poor governance has manifested in, among others, imperial and autocratic executive, political leaders pursuing personal interests to the extent of being bribed to influence their voting on bills in parliament, lack of transparency and accountability in government, corruption, tribalism, impunity, poor service delivery, marginalisation of certain communities in allocation of resources and regional imbalance in economic development, violation of human rights, land grabbing, failure to conduct free and fair elections, poor service delivery, corrupt judiciary, wide socio-economic inequalities, etc.
The period following the January 2008 post-election violence is perhaps the worst, in the history of the country, in terms of heightened disillusionment of the citizenry with the country’s leadership. Never before had there been such a wide disconnect between the leaders and the people they claim to serve. The overwhelming approval at the polls by Kenyans of a new constitution on August 4, 2010 and the subsequent promulgation on August 27, 2010 have ushered a new constitutional order and a veritable rebirth of the nation.
All the above brought in the birth of the JADILI project and it focuses on the theme: “Towards People-Centred Leadership and Good Governance in Counties”. The project was earlier designed to empower wananchi to advocate for Constitutional and Electoral Reforms; Devolution (and Decentralization); and generally good governance. After the proclamation of the new Constitution, which is the fulcrum of the reforms process, we now propose to shift the effort to empower wananchi in targeted Counties to launch on the path of making Devolution (Counties) work for them to improve their quality of life. For the governance of the Counties to translate into improved service delivery, inclusivity, participation of people in policy and decision-making, protection of human rights (as contained in the Chapter on the Bill of Rights), and generally improved quality of life for the common Mwananchi, we assert that two factors must be at play. First, the people of the County must be empowered enough to choose the right leaders to serve them and then they play a watch dog role to ensure good governance; and, second, the leaders holding public officers must demonstrate a people-centred approach to leadership.