NAIROBI, Kenya (GPI)-- Twenty-five years ago, John Odhiambo packed his dreams and moved to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, from the western city of Kisumu. “After completing my secondary education in Kisumu, I traveled to Nairobi to seek greener pastures,” he says. “I arrived in Nairobi with a dream of improving the quality of my life.” “In the long run, devolution has enormous potential to change livelihoods by bringing social services closer to the people.” Calvin Shavanga, chief finance officer, Ministry of State for Public Service Now 41, he works as a mechanic at a local garage. But he says he hopes that a new shift toward local governance in Kenya with the creation of county governments will enable him to start his own business. Odhiambo arrived in Nairobi in 1988 as an orphan who could not afford college, he says. His elder brother, a mechanical engineer at Toyota Kenya Limited, taught him skills to become a mechanic. After two years, Odhiambo used his savings to launch his own business specializing in automobile bodywork and painting. But business was slow, so he had to close his shop after another two years. He now specializes in the same work at a garage in Nairobi. But his responsibilities have increased now that he is a husband and father, so he says he dreams of opening his own business again. Odhiambo is hopeful that Kenya’s new devolution of government into a two-tiered system will provide the necessary social protection programs to support him in a new business venture, he says. Kenya’s 2010 Constitution mandated this decentralization, which divides funding between national and new county authorities. It is taking shape following the country’s March 2013 general elections. Odhiambo says he is optimistic after hearing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s promises in his April inauguration speech to uplift small-scale traders and to enhance business while supporting the new county governments. Odhiambo predicts that the new Nairobi county government will patronize the businesses of its constituents, he says. Patronage from the county government will help people like him grow their income and launch new businesses without having to take out a loan. “If my county gives us business, I will be able to save and eventually start my own business,” he says. He also hopes that each county government will prioritize health care, clean water and sanitation to make life better for Kenyans like him, he says. Maybe the next generation will enjoy a better standard of living, thanks to the newly devolved government, he says. With the creation of 47 new county governments, Kenyans say they expect an improvement in the delivery of social services. The county governments are currently forming with the support of national funds. The 2010 constitution that introduced these local governments also allows the public sector to play a more active role in determining how the government allocates the national budget. Financial and government experts say that the new system is promising but challenging and encourage local leaders to develop sustainable funding to support social programs in the long term. Among the objectives of the devolution of government are “to promote social and economic development and the provision of proximate, easily accessible services throughout Kenya,” according to Kenya’s 2010 Constitution. To do this, the constitution established 47 county governments in Kenya. But it suspended activity related to devolution until the completion of the country’s parliamentary elections in March 2013. The budget for the 2013 to 2014 fiscal year, introduced in the National Assembly last month, is the first budget under the fully devolved government that allocates money to the new counties, says Calvin Shavanga, the chief finance officer at the Ministry of State for Public Service, in a phone interview. The government has allocated approximately 1.98 billion Kenyan shillings ($23.5 million) to the county governments for the coming fiscal year, according to the 2013 Division of Revenue Bill.