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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 2 November 2014

BUNGOMA NOW THE COUNTY TO WATCH AS IT INITIATES PRO-PEOPLE PROJECTS




Correspondents

Bungoma county is fast transforming and may soon become the best performing county in terms of development and economic growth. Having started off on a negative publicity slate, Bungoma has quickly cut a niche for itself as no day passes by without being featured in mainstream and other media, highlighting development activities happening in the county.
A fact-finding mission in the county established residents are proud of devolution and the benefits that have accompanied the decentralised system of governance in Bungoma.
Agriculture development
This sector is in high gear following a decision by the county government to adopt the value chain approach that has brought tremendous growth.
Already, the county has embarked on streamlining the management and operations of the troubled Kitinda Farmers Cooperative Society dairy plant in readiness for its revival to operate at full capacity. Milk processing will be enhanced once fully operationalised. Capacity will be increased in the other operational coolers of Kaptama, Naitiri and Tongaren.
The county cabinet resolved to enhance the region’s food security this year where 9,000 resource poor farmers, 200 from every ward were supplied with free fertiliser and seeds. The rest of the farmers bought the 50kg fertiliser bag at a subsidised price of Sh800.
To boost livestock production, the county cabinet further approved the expenditure of Sh56 million towards purchase of breeding stock of dairy cows and goats as well as poultry following a new policy presented by the agriculture executive.
Greenhouses have been distributed across the county. At the start of FY 2014/2015, 45 houses were distributed, one per ward. Earlier, 52 green houses had been given across the county to enhance the production of horticulture crops and ensure all year production.
Agriculture extension officers have been equipped with 15 motorcycles to enable them easily access and support farmers across the county while the Chwele Slaughterhouse is in its completion stage to increase poultry production.
Tea production in the highlands of Mt Elgon sub-county is on the rise. The county is in the process of procuring 0.5 million tea seedlings to encourage uptake. Tissue culture banana farming has been embraced and 80,000 seedlings purchased to support banana farmers alongside 500 bags of Irish potato seed. The county has also acquired strategic stock of agricultural materials and other small equipment such as tractors, certified crop seed and embarked on training staff and farmers on value chains.
Roads development
Roads infrastructure exercise is ongoing and offering employment to many youth, women and the disabled in the county. Nineteen dilapidated link roads in three major urban centres of Bungoma, Kimilili and Webuye are complete, upgraded at a cost of Sh230 million.
In Bungoma, the upgraded roads include Tourist Road, Posta-Kenya Seed-Chemist road, Cooperative-Municipal market road, Cooperative-Oldrex road, Simba Street and Police- Milimani road. The famous Moi Avenue which stretches from the airstrip to the bus stop is 80pc done and open for public use.
In Webuye, Kenyatta Street and all gravelled roads; Generation-Lufwindiri road, KMTC-SA Church Primary road, Sango market-Maraka road) have been reopened.
In Kimilili, Kitai-RC School-Full Gospel Roads, Soweto-Lane 1, 2 and 3 Roads, Basimaholia Road-DC-Mdogodogo market, Slaughter House-DO Office Roads, Maruti-Mount Crest- Posta Roads, Kweyu-Khamulati- Omwenge Roads and Highway- Police training centre Road have been reopened for public use.
Upgrading of rural roads is ongoing. Contractors are on site on 68 rural roads in all the 45 wards.
In Mt Elgon subcounty, an improvement program costing Sh98,344,838.48 million funded by the county government is underway on 12 roads to speed up delivery of agricultural produce to markets. The two bridges over Nguresai and Sasuri rivers are under construction at a cost of Sh12,124,134.
In Tongaren sub county, the county government is putting a lift on the poor road network with an injection of Sh64.32 million into the rehabilitation of eight roads to ease movement in this agriculturally rich sub county.  The roads under repair run for 45 km across Tongaren, Soysambu/Mitua, Ndalu/Tabani, Milima, Naitiri/Kabuyefwe, Mbakalo wards.
In Kabuchai, five rural roads are undergoing rehabilitation at Sh45.1million while Sh68 million has been splashed out on the improvement of roads in Webuye West subcounty this financial year.
In Bumula, a total of Sh48.3 million is being spent on the rehabilitation of eight key roads. The link roads covering a distance of 33.7km run across South Bukusu, Kabula, Bumula, Khasoko, West Bukusu, Siboti and Kimaeti wards.
More works are ongoing in Webuye East where seven roads are under upgrade at a cost of Sh 88,091,089 and four more rural roads in Sirisia sub county at a cost of Sh21,681,664. A total of Sh35,673,051 has been invested in Kimilili subcounty to rehabilitate five rural roads.
Kanduyi subcounty has the second highest budget of Sh83,653,095 million after Mt Elgon. Twelve rural roads are being upgraded to complement the seven urban roads that have been tarmacked and reopened to the public.
Some previously impassable roads like the Misikhu-Brigadier Road which was previously impassable is now under emergency programme construction, being upgraded into an all weather road. The county’s vision is to have an efficient and modern transport system that enhances mobility and safety.
The health sector
Health emergency response is set to improve with the procurement of five ambulances in the first phase for Bumula, Sirisia, Tongaren, Kanduyi and Mt Elgon sub counties, while six more are expected before the end of the year.
In an ongoing initiative to equip health facilities across the county, Bumula Health Centre received beds and mattresses as the county government unveiled plans to upgrade it to subcounty referral facility. The county plans to have a referral hospital in each of the nine subcounties and standard health centres in the wards.
Drug distribution is consistently done and remains a top priority to allay fears of the previous drug shortage. The distribution benefits the nine hospitals, 13 health centres and 261 dispensaries.
A programme to upgrade the maternity wings in key hospitals is under way to provide our mothers with a better environment. The maternity wing at Kopsiro Health Centre is complete soon to be officially opened.
The setting up of a blood satellite at Bungoma Referral Hospital is in final stages, a blood bank that will serve patients in need of blood transfusion. Procurement of five fridges for the blood bank is also underway.
The laboratory at the Bungoma District Hospital is now ISO certified as it has emerged to be the best performing in the whole country and now equipped with blood screening equipment for HIV Aids, Goitre, Herpes, Hepatitis and Prostate Cancer. Previously patients suffering from these ailments would be referred to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret or the Provincial General Hospital in Kakemega, which was costly.
Under Gender, Culture, Youth and Sports
The county government launched a Sh90 million youth fund to empower the youth through structured sustainable engagements and a Sh40 million women fund.
Sporting sector is set to get a boost too. The county is underway constructing a high altitude training centre at Chemoge in Mt Elgon. This would be a further boon to tourism fortunes in the western tourist circuit. The county government has also embarked on reclaiming historical and cultural sites for rehabilitation and development into tourism and cultural heritages sites starting with Sudi Namachanja mausoleum in Bumula.
In Tourism, Forestry, Environment and Natural Resources
The resource mapping of tourist sites and facilities is now complete. This is coupled with marketing of the sector, an initiative that has made Bungoma a new tourist destination as a result of the unique cultural backgrounds and breath-taking sites. Mt Elgon route mapping has also been done.
Tree planting exercise is on-going, aimed at increasing tree cover in the county and a community based ecosystem management plan for Chetambe and Mt Elgon done.
Environment conservation is continuous where the county acquired tools and equipment for garbage collection through the program “Rapid Result Initiative integrated solid waste management to deal with the garbage and litter menace in Bungoma, Webuye and Kimilili towns and their environs. Most youth have been empowered in this program, forming 90pc of total beneficiaries alongside vulnerable groups of women and street families.
Another urban cleanup community participatory project has been done in Bungoma and Chwele as well as waste compaction and rehabilitation of Tuuti dumpsite.
Beautification of urban centres is underway. A lot of marketing and publicity about the county’s potential tourism base has been enhanced through community interactive programmes such as environmental conservation, tree planting, and miss tourism competitions.
Documentary on circumcision is complete and has attracted the international tourism expo in  Las Vegas. The county is committed to promote its tourism. Recently, Bungoma came second after Mombasa county at the Magical Kenya Expo in Nairobi in October 2014, being the second best county to showcase unique and attractive tourism products.
The education sector
Cumulatively Sh172.5 million has been given in bursaries across the 45 wards in support of students who hail from poor backgrounds. The bursary has so far supported 60pc needy students in the county.
The sector has been developed further through the employment of 2,000 early childhood development teachers in all public schools across the county, an initiative that has improved the welfare of 2,000 families.
To support ECD education, construction of 135 modern ECDE classrooms, three in every ward and 405 toilets are on going. This is a project under FY 2013/14. The ministry also has secured collaboration with Kenya Technical Teachers College to train youth polytechnic instructors, in an effort to improve standards in the polytechnics.
Under Lands, Urban and Physical Planning
To boost security,  street lighting program has been launched. Construction is on-going in Chwele, Cheptais and Myanga market. The project will be extended to other market centers and key areas across the county. Moreover, high mast floodlights have been installed and are operational in Mjini, Muteremuko and Mandazini.
A modern bus park in Bungoma town is complete and has been launched. It has stalls, public toilet and restaurants.
In Trade, Energy and Industrialisation
Already, a Sh50 million ward trade loan was launched in July, 2014 benefitting 1,912 entrepreneurs. Pre - loan training was done to 1,144 approved beneficiaries and Sh1.1 million disbursed to each ward. This is a loan with very low interest rate of 5pc and a repayment period of two years.
The revolving county joint loan is also ongoing.  Sh10 million had been set aside in the 2013/2014 financial year budget to fund the policy that seeks to improve businesses in the county. Entrepreneurs are able to borrow up to Sh300, 000. The county joint loans board is also operational where you can borrow at least Sh50,000 up to Sh300,000.
Plans are underway to raise maximum borrowing to Sh1,000,000 through the county trade loan scheme whose policy has been approved by both the cabinet and county assembly. It targets graduating MSMES.
Capacity building of MSMEs on sound business skills was done in all wards where 3,703 entrepreneurs got trained. The training aimed to equip the small investors with business and entrepreneurial skills.
Jua Kali shades are under construction at Mbakalo, Tongaren and Lwakhakha markets at a cost of Sh45 million, the programme will be extended to all other markets.
High mast floodlights are being installed in six major markets in Bungoma county to enhance security and facilitate 24 hour trading operations. Installation of the flood lights are underway at Kanduyi, Myanga, Chwele, Kamukuywa, Lugulu and Cheptais by the ministry of Trade, Energy and Industrialisation will cost a total of sh18 million.
In partnership with Rural Electrification Authority, various projects are ongoing. Worth noting is the schools electrification programme with 152 primary schools completed. The project will be extended to other education institutions once all schools are powered.
Water,
There are 450 water projects, 10 in each of the 45 wards are on-going, aimed at providing access to clean water across the county. Schools are the main targets especially primary schools. Syombe water borehole project in Bumula has been commissioned. It is one of the 450 ongoing water projects. Piped water schemes in Mt Elgon have been completed namely; Kopsiro-Chebyuk water project, Emia- Kipsigon water project, Chesikaki water scheme and Cheseker water supply.
Affirmative action to ensure equitable distribution of resources has been adopted by the Bungoma county government to ensure previously marginalised areas are brought at par. 
More development plans are underway in the financial year 2014/2015; plans aimed at empowering the people of Bungoma and growing its economy to best compete with the other 46 counties and achieve the devolution dream.