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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 10 May 2015

Misconception of Infotrack on counties development

“Ukistaajabu ya Musa utaona ya firauni,” whatever this Swahili saying means, we cannot simply look at a county or listen to storytelling about development and begin to imagine that your county is developed without considering certain variables for development.
 First and foremost, a county is never said to be developed if its people are living in abject poverty as is the case with Vihiga County. A county whose people are over religious may also not develop due to the many beliefs and cultural practices. Communities which believe in unnecessary culture and traditions overtaken by time usually hate new “knowledge” because their societies emphasize traditional values and rituals which are some of the variables that retard development. It is unfortunate that Infotrack limited did not consider the most important variables while accessing performance of counties in Kenya. The big question is, how did Vihiga county emerge at the top of best performing counties like Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Mombasa and Kisumu despite presence of these cultural practices and beliefs? To the best of my knowledge, there is no single technology or manufacturing factories in Vihiga county apart from a tea factory at Mudete which is not very productive. How then could it emerge second to Machakos in terms of manufacturing and agricultural produce?
A county is said to be developed only if it has the capability to produce and exchange goods and services to other counties or if it can mobilise and move its factors of production across its borders. Unfortunately, this is impossible for Vihiga county. There is virtually nothing in terms of agricultural produce. All foodstuffs including maize flour, sukuma, kitunguu, nyanya, chicken and meat come from Nandi and Kisumu counties. In the absence of Nandi, Kisumu and Kakamega counties, there will be no Vihiga county. Vihiga county is only a market to other counties for it exports nothing but imports everything from outside. According to mercantilism, such a county can develop on its own only when Jesus Christ comes. How then could such a county emerge tops in terms of “happiness countrywide”? Development societies are those which have moved from ignorance, poverty, outdated beliefs and practices, to new paths of transformation, organisation, industrialisation, and acceleration in national economic growth - reduction inequalities, social and economic stratification and permitivity.
It is unfortunate that Vihiga county has not completely moved away from the above mentioned practices. How then could it emerge number three in terms of development? When Infotrack Limited speaks to a few people without considering their understanding of factors of development, you cannot use such conjecture to overtly declare a county highly or lowly developed. The purpose of this article is therefore not to glorify any county or lower down others but to disentangle truth from the false statistics of Infotrack Limited.
For a good survey poll results on development, they ought to have bothered to know the level of education of the interviewees and only pick information from those who are informed or are of aware of what constitutes development and happiness. The other thing would be to structure the questions correctly so as to capture the mind of lobbyists, interest – group spokespersons, journalist and commentators, businessmen, teachers, religious people, executives and the most poor. This would help stop skewing truth about development towards elites and those in power. Once the above variables were picked, the most important thing would have been to find out how they influence counties’ policy and decision making. The point I’m making is that in the absence of “knowledge and correct information”, on development Infotrack Limited was misled in thinking that Vihiga county had done more development in infrastructure and agricultural produce  than Nairobi and other counties in Kenya which is not the case.

Christopher Amasava

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