Kenya passed a law mandating all counties to develop GIS-based database systems and the results are incredible

Kenya Parliament. Image Source: REUTERS

The County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) is a plan prepared by all counties in Kenya to guide development over a five-year period. The Public Finance Management Act provides that no public funds shall be appropriated outside a county’s planning framework. The CIDP should contain information on development priorities that inform the annual budget process, particularly the preparation of annual development plans, the annual county fiscal strategy papers, and the annual budget estimates. In ensuring delivery of this, Clause 105 (f) of the County Government Act 2012 requires counties to establish GIS-based database systems for provision of data for the development of those plans.

Earlier this year, we wrote about how a Kenyan Governor is capitalizing geospatial technologies to solve developmental issues in his constituency called Vihiga County – read more about the story here.

According to Dr. Wilber Otichilo, the Governor of Vihiga County, “Over 80 percent of data and information used in planning and decision making is positional data (spatial data) – data relating to geographic position, to bring all these data together for use or manipulation, analytical tools are needed. This is where geospatial technologies come in, they include GIS, Global Positioning System (GPS), Remote Sensing and ICT. GIS allows for collection of data, analysis, manipulation, storage, output and presentation and enables data modeling and mining, which build up to what is currently referred to as data analytics. The application of GIS allows for rational decision-making based on data as opposed to personal biases”.

To fulfil this obligation in Clause 105 (f) of the County Government Act 2012, and to enhance the use of data and information in sustainable development, planning and decision-making processes, Vihiga County resolved to establish the Vihiga Geospatial Technologies Services (GTS)/GIS directorate. Because of the complexity involved in setting up of GIS systems, many counties in the country are yet to put up GIS facilities. Vihiga County has taken the lead in this technology, leveraging on my background as global GIS practitioner.

“I am happy to report that I used geospatial technologies during my tenure as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Emuhaya Constituency (2008-2017) in the implementation of Constituency Development Fund (CDF) development projects and activities. The success of the technologies led to my being named the best performing MP. It is during this period that the Constituency/County Development Information System (CDIS) concept of the use of geospatial technologies was conceived in collaboration with LocateIT Limited. CDIS is an integrated platform that helps to interlink departmental data and information in an organization to help in effective planning and decision making as well as monitoring. CDIS simplifies and streamlines county development programmes through modules like the Land Information Management System (LIMS), County Agriculture Management Information System (CAMIS) and Health Services Information System (HSIS), among others”. – Dr. Wilber Otichilo said during the commissioning of the Vihiga Geospatial Technology Services GIS Directorate on 16 May, 2019.

He continues; As the Governor of Vihiga County, I am bringing the application of geospatial technologies in the running of the county and sharing its possibilities with my fellow Governors and other stakeholders. To support other county governments to fulfil the requirements of Clause 105 (f) of the County Government Act 2012, Vihiga County will open its doors for benchmarking. The setting up of this lab will also be of great benefit to the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), as Vihiga Vihiga County spearheads the bloc’s ICT Pillar. At the national level, through the office of the Deputy President, Vihiga County is also spearheading the application of spatial technologies in open governance under the Open Governance Partnership (OGP). To this effect, Vihiga will be presenting the application of geospatial technologies at community and county levels in planning and decision-making in governance, in Ontario, Canada, at the end of this month.

Globally and locally, Vihiga County is working with GIS Technology company (ESRI Global), LocateIT (a Kenya geospatial technologies company), AIRBUS (an international aeronautical and space technology company), and Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN), to demonstrate GIS applications at community/county level to improve public participation and decision making and planning processes.

In February this year, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the Joint National Mapping and National Resource Mapping to allow for geospatial survey and mapping of national resources. The data sets unveiled that day were created using the GIS system, implying that the country had embraced geospatial technologies.

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