University Dialogues Series I: Effective Participation in Devolved Governance


The Constituency Development Fund (CDF), Uwezo Fund and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) were all created with the intent to empower individuals and communities to have a greater role in the determination of their development priorities, address poverty, inequalities and reduce rising unemployment especially among the Kenyan Youth.

Between its establishment in 2003 and the year 2011, the CDF[1] had disbursed a total of Kshs.70.3billion to 210 constituencies with each constituency is allocated amounts between Kshs.50-100million[2] for priority projects. More than 85,000 CDF projects have been initiated across the country and are at various stages of completion. Since its formation in 2006, the Youth Entreprise Development Fund (YEDF) has disbursed around Kshs.11billion to finance 264,143 enterprises and provide training for 270,014 entrepreneurs[3]. The latest entrant is the Uwezo Fund which was allocated Kshs.6billion to support approved projects by youth and women.

The transformative potential of these devolved funds is immense. However, these funds have sometimes been plagued with concerns over integrity, efficiency and regional disparities in fund allocation. Even greater challenge has been how to find models that can ensure sustainability of such well-intended funds. The CDF has raised particularly significant concerns over the extent of public consultations and quality of management committees. More recently, its very legality has been challenged, resulting with the High Court declaring on 20th February 2015 the CDF Act 2013 defective and therefore unconstitutional. Both the Youth Fund and Uwezo Fund contend with issues around sustainability, limited public knowledge on purpose and eligibility, objectivity of the award process as well impact of the Funds given the continued rise of youth unemployment.[4]

There is also a persistent (mis)perception of the proliferation of Funds as being more of political posturing than well-thought long term interventions aimed at transforming livelihoods. In the context of a less than 50% loan repayment rate at the Youth Fund,[5] the relatively young Uwezo Fund faces similar concerns over viability and effectiveness in tackling unemployment amongst the youth and the demonstrated interest by Members of Parliament to be involved in its management especially in disbursement of funds.

Structured around a moderator and discussants, this SID University Dialogue Series brings together key leaders, public fund managers, governance specialists and students to explore opportunities for Effective participation in devolved funds: Role of students in building accountability for CDF, Uwezo and YEDF. Some of the key questions we will explore are:

  1. In terms of reach and impact, how do we rate the performance of the three devolved funds in the past 5years?
  2. There is significant effort by government and development partners to popularize entrepreneurship over employment, is it wrong to want to be employed? Is the State neglecting its role in creating employment opportunities?
  3. What are the three biggest obstacles to youth access to CDF, Youth Fund and Uwezo Fund and what can be done to remove them?
  4. What role(s) can young people as intended beneficiaries play to improve accountability in the management of devolved funds?
  5. Would it be more efficient to merge Uwezo and Youth Funds into a single mega-Fund?
  6. What role should, could county governments play in special devolved funds?

[3] Youth Enterprise Development Fund-Credit summary report as at 31st March 2015

[4] A study conducted in Siaya County in 2013 shows that out of the of 202,897 youth surveyed, only 40,063 had benefitted from the YEDF over the last five years