County governments have been asked to increase the absorption rates of funds extended to them for improved service delivery to the public.

In a consultative forum for North Eastern Development Initiative (NEDI) held at the residence of the Deputy President William Ruto in Karen on Tuesday, the World Bank said counties were not putting their funds to maximum use.

It said that for poverty rates to be brought down in the region, counties must put proper structures in place that will aid them in productive use of funds.

World Bank’s Programme Leader Sustainable Development Helene Carlsson Rex said there was hope in the absorption rate reaching 70 per cent from the current 33 per cent following interventions from development partners.

“You must also intensify citizen engagement as you strive to transform Northern Kenya,” she noted.

The Washington-based Bretton Woods institution said it is through the public that development can be realised.

“World Bank is committed to support the turnaround of the so-called marginalised areas in Kenya. We will not only provide resources but also use modern technology to monitor funds use and development projects in these regions,” she said.

Leaders present in the deliberations that was chaired by Dr Ruto included Governors Josephat Nanok (Turkana), Ali Roba (Mandera), Mohamud Ali (Marsabit), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), Mohamed Kuti (Isiolo), Moses Kasaine Lenolkulal (Samburu), Mohamed Abdi Mohamud (Wajir), Ali Korane (Garissa), several Senators and Members of Parliament.

Ms Rex said the initiative provided a unique opportunity to change and transform Northern Kenya.

She challenged area leaders to “think transformative”, adding that the World Bank is flexible to meet the development demands of the residents.

“We are ready to be your partners and help better the lives of the people of Northern Kenya,” noted Ms Rex.

Promising to rally the leadership of Northern Kenya in making the initiative a success, Dr Ruto said the national government and county governments would work closely with development partners such as the World Bank in bettering the lives of all Kenyans.

“We are devoted to making every corner of Kenya better. As leaders, we have the responsibility of cultivating synergy among ourselves,” explained the Deputy President.

He urged leaders to create conducive environment for development partners to work with the communities by not erecting roadblocks.

“We cannot afford to leave the region behind anymore,” said Dr Ruto.

With resources availed by the World Bank, the Deputy President challenged counties to up their funds absorption rates and delivery to citizens.

The initiative, which seeks to reduce poverty levels, increase school enrollment, better road networks, boost electricity access, enhance access to safe water and improved sanitation covers Mandera, Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir and West Pokot Counties.