USAID’s Partnership for Resilience and Economic Growth (PREG) facilitated an Annual Learning Event in Isiolo, Samburu, and Marsabit counties from 18 to 23 of August 2019. The event engaged a total of 120 participants including representatives of the three county governments (Isiolo, Samburu, and Marsabit), the national government, PREG partners, private sector institutions, community-based organizations, and USAID staff from South Sudan, Washington D.C, Kenya, and other East Africa missions.
The event’s theme, The Journey to Self-Reliance through Resilience Building and Economic Growth, set the tone for a week of exploring the synergies between USAID PREG interventions and the county policy and planning processes detailed in the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs). Overall the group explored how these areas inform budgeting and spending, while also looking at how the CIDPs will shape county governments in their journey to self-reliance (at the local government level).
The Annual Learning Event included presentations by county governments and PREG county teams, as well as visits to 20 sites identified to demonstrate different stages of the journey to self-reliance in livestock, WASH, governance, health, nutrition, and community livelihoods sectors. At the end of each site visit, community members and partners held feedback sessions with county government representatives to identify action points for follow up after the visits. On the last day, a Joint FeedbackSession in Isiolo County brought together all participants and PREG county teams to reflect on key lessons. A key takeaway from these sessions is that alignment with county government priorities is both complicated and hugely important for fostering self-reliance in the county governments. In all three counties, PREG partners have made tremendous contributions in facilitating the development of formal and informal institutions, laws, policies, and plans, quite often in partnership with one another. The role of USAID PREG partners in facilitating the development of CIDPs, sectoral policies and plans in water, livestock, environment, health, peace, and cohesion were evidence of these investments. New institutions such as rural water companies, new public-private partnerships and additional financial resources (e.g. health and nutrition budget in Samburu County) have been mobilized as a result of these interventions.
A second takeaway is that strong community structures, where they exist, provide the best opportunity for increasing civic voice and accountability. Across the three counties, a consistent challenge that county governments shared is their limited effectiveness in community engagement and public participation. In Samburu and Isiolo counties, the departments of economic planning made an effort to visit all wards in the development of the CIDP and during the budget processes. However, resources to regularly undertake these processes are limited, skills for community engagement remain low, and the tools used are inadequate.
To ensure PREG takes forward the lessons learned in the Annual Learning Event, Africa Lead will facilitate a related working session as part of the September PREG meeting. This session will be an opportunity to review the key takeaways, develop a clear action plan, and agree on the how best to incorporate these lessons in partners’ annual work plans for the 2020 financial year