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County Functions/Services

A “function” is the responsibility to perform a role and deliver a given service. The Fourth Schedule of the Constitution “distributes” functions between the National Government and County Governments. Any function that is not explicitly assigned to any of the two levels is a National Government responsibility.

Before looking at the list of 14 functions specifically assigned to Counties, it is worth highlighting that the foremost responsibility of both levels of government is to provide for the well-being of citizen through the equitable and accountable provision of services (see objectives of devolution, Art. 174). This is often referred to as general mandate and it should be pursued within the respect of the inter-dependency, consultation and collaboration between levels of government, particularly in those sectors in which both levels share responsibilities (the so-called concurrent functions). 

The table below is adapted from part 2 of the Fourth Schedule of the Constitution to show examples of services associated with the functions specifically assigned to County Governments. Note these are examples taken from different county websites— noting that services and departments that have the responsibility for their delivery may have different names between counties.

County departments also have their own corporate functions, that allow them to work as effective governments; these include policy making, planning and budgeting, monitoring and evaluation, performance management, human resource management, etc. – all of which set the foundations upon which the following services can be delivered.


What services does this include?

Which county departments are usually responsible?

1. Agriculture, including—

(a) crop and animal husbandry;

(b) livestock sale yards;

(c) county abattoirs;

(d) plant and animal disease control; and

(e) fisheries.

  • Extension services and on farm demonstrations.
  • Inspection and regulations.
  • Research.
  • Small infrastructure such as abattoirs, markets.
  • Promote farmer co-operatives.
  • Computerisation of value chains, for example, tea, coffee, dairy, fish.
  • Department of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries

2. County health services, including, in particular—

(a) county health facilities and pharmacies;

(b) ambulance services;

(c) promotion of primary health care;

(d) licensing and control of undertakings that sell food to the public;

(e) veterinary services (excluding regulation of the profession);

(f) cemeteries, funeral parlours and crematoria; and

(g) refuse removal, refuse dumps and solid waste disposal.

  • Small infrastructure such as local health facilities, vet facilities, cemeteries.
  • Primary and public health care provision at the local level for example, vaccinations, antenatal care/women's health, child health.
  • Waste collection, recycling and disposal.
  • Provision of cemeteries and cremation services.
  • Department of Health Services

3. Control of air pollution, noise pollution, other public nuisances and outdoor advertising.

  • Measure air and noise pollution.
  • Develop and collect rates for billboard advertising.
  • Climate change policy.
  • Dept of Land, Physical Planning, Urban Development & Public Works

4. Cultural activities, public entertainment and public amenities, including—

(a) betting, casinos and other forms of gambling;

(b) racing;

(c) liquor licensing;

(d) cinemas;

(e) video shows and hiring;

(f) libraries;

(g) museums;

(h) sports and cultural activities and facilities; and

(i) county parks, beaches and recreation facilities.

  • Develop and collect rates for liquor licensing.
  • Maintenance of parks and recreation facilities.
  • Develop and maintain libraries and museums.
  • Department of Education, Technology, Gender, Culture & Social Development

5. County transport, including—

(a) county roads;

(b) street lighting;

(c) traffic and parking;

(d) public road transport; and

(e) ferries and harbours, excluding the regulation of international and national shipping and matters related thereto.

  • Road network plan for county.
  • Road maintenance plan for county.
  • Feasibility and environmental impact studies for any new roads.
  • Maintenance of ferries and harbours.
  • Road construction according to plans and studies.
  • Dept. of Roads Transport and Energy

6. Animal control and welfare, including—

(a) licensing of dogs; and

(b) facilities for the accommodation, care and burial of animals.

  • Develop rates and collection method for dog licences.
  • Dept Environment, Energy Water and Sanitation

7. Trade development and regulation, including—

(a) markets;

(b) trade licences (excluding regulation of professions);

(c) fair trading practices;

(d) local tourism; and

(e) cooperative societies.

  • Build, upgrade and maintain markets.
  • Work with private sector to develop tourism in county.
  • Depts of Land, Physical Planning, Urban Development & Public Works; Trade, Investment, Industrialisation, Tourism & Cooperatives

8. County planning and development, including—

(a) statistics;

(b) land survey and mapping;

(c) boundaries and fencing;

(d) housing; and

(e) electricity and gas reticulation and energy regulation.

  • Undertake all county planning mandates eg: CIDP, sector plans, annual plans, spaital plans.
  • Department of Finance and Economic Planning

9. Pre-primary education, village polytechnics, homecraft centres and childcare facilities.

  • Provide early childhood education in the county.
  • Department of Education, Technology, Gender, Culture & Social Development

10. Implementation of specific national government policies on natural resources and environmental conservation, including—

(a) soil and water conservation; and

(b) forestry.

  • Soil conservation.
  • Forestry policy development.
  • Water catchment conservation, control and protection.
  • Department of Water, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources

11. County public works and services, including—

(a) storm water management systems in built-up areas; and

(b) water and sanitation services.

  • Storm water management in built-up areas.
  • Public Works.
  • Water supply
  • Sewage and waste water treatment
  • Department of Land, Physical Planning, Urban Development & Public Works
  • Department of Water, Environment, Energy and Natural Resources

12. Firefighting services and disaster management.

  • Fire stations, firefighting vehicles and equipment.
  • Management of County Disaster Operation Centre (CDOC).
  • Coordinate County, Sub-County and Ward Steering Groups in disaster preparedness and response.
  • Conduct disaster risk analysis to determine actual threats and triggers for preparedness actions, capacity gaps and resources for response.
  • Department of Land, Physical Planning, Urban Development & Public Works
  • Department of Disaster Management

13. Control of drugs and pornography

  • Prevention of harm related to alcohol and drug abuse, and activities that aim at prevention of drug abuse behaviour.
  • Treatment and rehabilitation.
  • Policies on alcohol and drug abuse at the workplace.
  • Inspecting and licensing drug rehabilitation and treatment centers.
  • Depatment of Legal Affairs, Public Service Management & Administration
  • Department of Health

14. Ensuring and coordinating the participation of communities and locations in governance at the local level and assisting communities and locations to develop the administrative capacity for the effective exercise of the functions and powers and participation in governance at the local level.

  • Establish and maintain sub-county structure for public participation.
  • Develop a policy and annual budget for citizen engagement.
  • Develop partnerships with CSOs to ensure social accountability
  • Develop and implement processes for citizen engagement in county processes.
  • Departments of Legal Affairs, Public Service Management & Administration; Finance and Economic Planning and Youth Affairs