Kakamega among counties accelerating Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda

President William Ruto (second right) and Prime CS Musalia Mudavadi (third right) with Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa (right) and other national and county leaders during the Kakamega International Investment Conference

The bottom-up economic transformation agenda is gaining momentum across the counties as the devolved units seek to boost investments in their regions.

Many of the county governments are aligning their goals to the national government’s Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA), with the focus being on the five key pillars namely agriculture, healthcare, MSMEs, affordable housing and digital superhighway and creative economy.

Kakamega County is among those implementing various development projects aligned to BETA pillars, with Governor Fernandes Barasa saying the devolved unit’s goals seamlessly support the national agenda. With agriculture being the economic mainstay of the region, Governor Barasa says the county is keen to enhance food security and support farmers.

One of the county’s flagship projects in the sector is the construction of an organic fertiliser and animal feeds plant at Matawa Industrial Park in Mumias West sub-county.

Regen Organics, a US-based private firm, is setting up the plant, which is expected to significantly create employment opportunities and ultimately boost food security.

“This plant will hire more than 500 people and will also provide sustainable and affordable organic fertiliser and animal feeds to the people of Kakamega and Kenya as a whole,” said US Ambassador Meg Witman at the recently held Kakamega International Investment Conference (KAIICO), where the deal was announced.

With concern over the quality and affordability of organic inputs for farmers in the region growing, the announcement on establishment of the plant has been met with great enthusiasm.

“I would love to grow organic food. However, the inputs are too expensive compared to synthetic ones. I believe once the factory is set up we would get affordable fertiliser,” said Selestine Isese, a resident of Lugari sub-county.

She added that there are many organic inputs in the market making it difficult for farmers to distinguish fake from quality ones.

In the livestock sector, a notable initiative by the county government is the promotion of dairy goat farming, which is expected to contribute to the wealth creation agenda, with 152 farmers already trained in production.

“To further support dairy farming, the county has invested in fodder processing equipment, including two fodder shredding machines and one hammer mill, aimed at increasing dairy feed production in the operational County Smart Dairy Farms located in Bukura, Matungu, Kabras and Khwisero,” said Mr Barasa.

President William Ruto interacts with a youth bee farmer during the conference

Further, the completion of the construction of the Isukha Central Fish Hatchery, with support from the national government’s Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP), will produce quality fingerlings for distribution to fish farmers at subsidised prices.

In the health sector, the county has not only expanded the infrastructure but also taken strategic steps in improving access to services.

“We have distributed medical drugs and non-pharmaceuticals worth Sh130 million across all health facilities in the county. The aim of this initiative is to ensure adequate and timely supply of health products and technologies to meet the needs of the community,” said the governor.

The county government launched the Community Health Strategy Policy, which is aimed at improving the welfare of Community Health Workers and enhance healthcare delivery at the grassroots. This aligns with the national government’s efforts to boost health care through the Community Health Promoters initiative.

The completion and operationalisation of the Level 6 Kakamega County Teaching and Referral Hospital (KCTRH) is also expected to turnaround healthcare provision.

On MSMEs economy, the county has automated the County Microfinance Loan Management System, a move geared towards enhancing efficiency and effectiveness in the disbursement of financial assistance. “Already, Sh23.2 million has been disbursed to 240 traders across Kakamega County, empowering local entrepreneurs and stimulating economic activity,” said Mr Barasa.

To enhance access to electricity, four transformers are being installed and 452 households connected to the power grid, improving livelihoods and fostering socio-economic development.

“As national government, we are happy with the efforts of Kakamega in regards to electrifying the county. We commit to supporting through the last mile project. By the end of this year, we will have linked 40,000 households to the national grid,” President Ruto stated at the event. This also aligns with the Fourth Medium-Term Plan (MTP IV) unveiled last week in which the national government will connect 2.3 million Kenyans to the national electricity grid.

The Kakamega Affordable Housing project is also on course, with 220 affordable housing units in Lurambi, already commissioned.

Through a partnership with the national government, the county seeks to build 2,000 units. Again, the drive aligns with the MTP IV, which seeks to build one million affordable houses in the next four years country-wide.

“The county has a shortage of housing. So, this is a great opportunity for investors,” said Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale.

Kakamega is keen on enhancing climate mitigation, especially projects that seek to protect the Kakamega Forest.

“We launched the Kakamega Forest Restoration Programme in collaboration with First Lady Rachel Ruto, which will see the erection of an electric perimeter fence around the forest to mitigate on human-wildlife conflicts, as well as stem the effects of climate change,” said Governor Barasa.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy, the county has boosted internet access, with free Wi-Fi services being installed at Mwiyala and Musoli primary schools in Lurambi and Ikolomani sub-counties respectively.


Story by Dibo Willis-Ambetsa, MPRSK, ILA

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