Kenya adopted a new constitution in 2010 based on a two-tiered devolved government system, which assigned many formerly central government public service delivery responsibilities to a new level of county governments. As an institutional response to longstanding grievances, this radical restructuring of the Kenyan state had three continuing main objectives: decentralizing political power, public sector functions, and public finances; ensuring a more equitable distribution of resources among regions; and promoting more accountable, participatory, and responsive government at all levels. Three rounds of national and county elections (held in 2013, 2017, and 2022) resulted in successful transitions of political and administrative power that place important service delivery responsibilities at the county level. Although Kenyans associate devolution with certain dividends brought about by the constitution, different aspects of Kenya’s multilevel governance structure—including increasing public participation and accountability, improving county administration and services, and ensuring an equitable and efficient use of public finances at all levels—continue to be a work in progress.

Subnational government structure

Nature of subnational governance institutions

Functional assignments

LoGICA Assessment

LoGICA Intergovernmental Profile: Kenya 2023 (Excel)

Selected resources

Kenya Country Profile (World Observatory on Subnational Governance and Investment, OECD/UCLG)

The Local Government System in Kenya (Commonwealth Local Government Forum)

Local government country profile: Kenya (UN Women)

Making Devolution Work for Service Delivery in Kenya (Muwonge et al, 2022).

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Last updated: September 22, 2023