Top Stories / National
Tuesday, 06 Sep 2016 13:56 EAT
Wajir County has witnessed unprecedented development in the past three years courtesy of devolution. Once one of Kenya's most marginalised regions, Wajir is today beaming with excitement, thanks to the good performance of the county government headed by Governor Ahmed Abdullahi.
A look at the new county headquarters and the 28km tarmac road brings joy to the residents of the area who have only known marginalization and had never seen a tarmac road.
And that is why Wajir County, for instance, led the 47 counties with 58 per cent of allocated money being spent on development, according to a recently released report by World Bank. In a region where a kilometre of tarmacked road never existed, bulldozers roared for the first time ever and witnessed the construction of 25km of tarmac at a cost of Sh1.2 billion.
The governor has devoted a big chunk of the budget to address water scarcity, which has been the biggest problem facing northern Kenya. The county has drilled 32 new boreholes at a cost of Sh288 million, as part of efforts to provide safe water for residents and livestock.
Despite challenges in implementing devolution, Abdullahi says much will be achieved in the coming years. “Devolution will salvage our people out of historical hopelessness,” he says emphatically. The County government has invested in acquisition of new and repair of existing water and borehole equipment.
Mr Abdullahi, who is an accountant, says water was his main area of focus during the campaign period and wants by the end of his five year term to have fulfilled the promise of providing enough clean water in the county.
The county has also constructed 14 fresh produce markets across the county, the governor said, adding that people have long been neglected without having a single habitable open market in Wajir. The markets cost Sh6 million each. Wajir livestock market was also refurbished, while Soko Mjinga II Market was built from scratch.
In the health sector, the county has invested heavily in revitalising the sector, says the governor announcing that he has recruited 170 new health care workers and increased the headcount of county staff from 230 to 501. Wajir Medical Training college is another milestone in improving health services in the county. He has put in place strategies to operationalize the college to boost local enrollment and aid the health sector of the County.
The district and sub- district hospitals in Wajir town are for the first time operational for 24 hours, while clinics at Habaswein, Bute, Griftu, Buna, Korandile and Khorofharar are well resourced by drugs and personnel.
In an effort to address maternal and child mortality, the county has had 32 new maternity wing extensions. “We have purchased and await delivery of eight new ambulances for the sub-counties. Our facilities are now well stocked with medical supplies, and we are in the final stages of the construction of our medical training centre,” he said.
Although education remains under the national government, the early childhood development sector is greatly revitalised at the county level with the employment of 300 early childhood teachers.
Abdullahi says his county has recruited 320 Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) teachers and constructed 62 ECDE classes across the county, each at a cost of Sh600,000. “Six model ECDE schools were constructed in each sub-county,” he says.
However due to insecurity caused by attacks from Somalia based Al-shabaab, non-local teachers boycotted going back to North Eastern. To counter this, Abdullahi calls for the devolution of education so that the counties “can address the shortage of teachers and the perennial strikes”. “I still believe it is the quickest fix if it can be accepted,” he said.
To further promote education, the governor says his county will sponsor up to 500 students, who meet the minimum entry criteria into the teacher training colleges, to train as teachers in an effort to address teacher shortage in the county.
With the economic mainstay of the region being livestock, more than 600,000 herds of cattle, 4,500 camels and over two million goats were vaccinated against diseases, according to the governor.
The county has also constructed eight community centres at a cost of Sh18 million each within the town. The county has also established six flood lights in Wajir town. Solar street lights along one kilometre of the main roads in all sub-county headquarters at a cost of Sh39 million are also complete.
For Kenyans to realise the full advantage of devolution, he says, elected leaders at national level must cease to fuel instability in their counties and leaders at the county level, both the executive and the legislative, must constantly dialogue and put the interests of the people before theirs.