AN EVALUATION OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES REFORMS AND THEIR IMPACT ON SERVICE DELIVERY IN KENYA: CASE STUDY MERU MUNICIPAL COUNCIL

Abstract
Different reforms in the Local Government have emerged over time, in a bid to find better ways of enhancing citizen-citizen and citizen-state interactions. However, over the years the service delivery capacity of local authorities has deteriorated to the extent that even the most basic services are not always provided. This has been attributed to high population growth rates, insufficient resource base, mismanagement, weak technical and institutional capacity to increase service coverage, and lack of planning. This has led to increased borrowing by the local authorities and deficits which have seen a debt of Ksh 17.2 billion, which has now been transferred to the Municipal Boards who are presently in charge of management of urban areas within the County Governments.
The introduction of reforms in the Local Authorities created an entry point for the local authorities to constructively engage the citizens in matters of development. The Kenya Local Government Reform Program (KLGRP) was created to coordinate and oversee the implementation of these reforms. This research aimed at assessing reforms which had been incorporated within the Municipal Council of Meru and also, sought to know the contribution of these reforms in enhancing service delivery.
It emerged that majority of the residents were not aware of the reforms initiated by the local government, and the few who were aware, did not fully know what the reforms were all about. However, the study found out that these reforms have had a positive impact within the municipality. Generally, Local Authority Transfer Fund had improved levels of service delivery within the municipality, through funding of projects that had been initiated within the area. Nevertheless, residents complained of lack of adequate involvement by the council in project identification, monitoring and evaluation through the Local Authority Service Delivery Action Plan. The study further found out that Local Authority Information Operations Management System had not completely been implemented in producing of financial statements.
The study recommends measures that can be used by the Municipal Council to ensure efficient and effective utilisation of funds allocated to them, and suggestions on how the residents can be fully engaged in projects implementation to ensure better and efficient service delivery.

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