WEDNESDAY, 27TH FEBRUARY, 2019
It gives me great honour and pleasure to be here today to address this house following your esteemed invitation to update you on the state of our County.
It is important for me to point out from the onset that despite the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution and the County Government Act, this House and the Executive are one. Our roles may be different but our vision for this County should be shared.
This moment is also ideal for me to address you following the transition that we had in 2017 after the General Elections. As I address you today, I know you are now well acquainted with the success stories, the fruits of devolution as well as the challenges we face in delivering the devolution promise for this great County.
On a sad note, I stand before you addressing a House that is without representation from Lelan Ward following the demise of its representative, the late Vincent Tanui. I wish to yet again offer my condolences to this House for losing a honorable member who was not only a man of wisdom, but a hardworking leader. Indeed, we lost a pillar.
I wish to begin by appreciating the far that we have come as a County following the introduction of devolution in 2013. Six years down the line, I can confidently inform this House that a lot has improved through projects and programmes implemented by the County Government.
When we started this County to pick up from where the former local authorities had reached, we knew the task ahead of us was enormous. This is because we knew public expectations were high following the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution. It is for this reason that I resolved that we should begin developing this County with dedication and vigour. It therefore did not come to me as a surprise when we were recently cited by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics as being the top county in productivity in Kenya since 2013. These encouraging statistics were as a result of combined efforts by both the Executive and Members of this first House some of whom are serving their second term like me.
Since 2013, we were among counties receiving among the least allocation of the sharable revenue from the national government. But this did not dampen our spirits. As we silently pushed for increased allocation, especially the equalization fund, we used the available resources and decided to work hard for our people.
Unfortunately, after six years, our allocation keeps going down and we have not succeeded in having allocation to this County increased or be included among counties receiving the equalization fund, despite the fact that we are a hardship County.
Despite this, allow me to enumerate the gains we have made in various sectors of our County economy that have given us national recognition and which we hope to continue building on to achieve greater results by the time I will exit as Governor in 2022.
In education, we have been able to develop 11 existing and registered Vocational Training Centres (VTCs) with an additional three having been established. In these VTCs, enrolment was 925 before devolution but as we speak, we now have 1,422 trainees, representing a 53.72 percentage increase.
We improved the infrastructure in the VTCs by building five twin workshops, five classroom, nine dormitories and purchased equipment for the centres. We also employed additional 38 instructors bringing their total number to 59 instructors deployed across the 11 VTCs. The number of candidates presented and passing NITA and KNEC examination has increased from 397 in 2013 to 620 trainees in 2018 representing a 56.17 percent increase of those completing training and being certified.
Following the national government effort to ensure 100 percent transition of primary and secondary school candidates, I wish to request for support in ensuring that those who miss out on university and colleges are enrolled to our VTCs to continue with their education.
Achievements in ECD education can be measured in terms of increased access, equity, quality and relevance. These have been enhanced through infrastructural development, supply of learning materials, recruitment and training of ECDE personnel.
Since 2013 todate, we managed to construct 238 twin ECD classrooms spread across all the wards and four single classrooms in Chebulbul ECD in Chepkorio, Kipchorwa in Metkei, Emkong in Emsoo and Cheptulon. Majority of the ECDs have been equipped with furniture while pit latrines for both boys and girls is part of the ECD projects.
As a result of our intervention, the number of ECDs increased from 392 in 2013 to 500 in 2018 out of which 432 are attached to primary schools and 68 are standalone feeder centres. Enrolment has been increasing steadily from 26,800 in 2013 to 34,120 in 2017 and 31,503 in 2018 after the removal of baby class from the pre-school system.
The employment of 374 ECDE teachers in 2014 and 404 in 2017 is a big achievement in the staffing of early childhood education and easing the pressure off parents. Before this was done by the County Government, all teachers were employed by the communities.
We strive to supply instructional materials every year but in most cases, these materials are inadequate due to limited funds allocated by wards while some do not allocate any funds hence missing the materials every year. I request honorable members to help sensitise the public on the need to allocate funds for this purpose.
To ensure relevance in learning, all ECD personnel in the County were trained on the Competency Based Curriculum in January and each ECD centre supplied with two volumes of curriculum designs required for the implementation of the new curriculum.
Elgeyo Marakwet being an athletics powerhouse, we have supported county teams in over 90 athletics events within and outside the County. The County Government has also been organizing other tournaments such as soccer and volleyball tournaments from the ward level culminating to the County level to showcase and tap variety of talent inherent in other sports.
We have exposed these talents to national events including the Kenya Youth Inter-County Sports Association games that have been held in Siaya and Makueni respectively. Some of our youth have been identified and selected to join Kenya Academy of Sports and others have been recruited by professional clubs.
The County also embarked on sports infrastructure development to further improve talent development opportunities. To this end, the department in charge upgraded a total of 65 fields.
However, this plan to enhance accessibility to standard sporting facilities has been hampered by inadequate budgetary allocation and lack of public spaces with enough dimensions to accommodate standard fields. This has adversely affected athletes training program and sports tourism sector which is currently experiencing a downturn.
We have further enhanced youth technical skills development by supporting 930 youths to undergo technical courses in our VTCs and other institution such as KIBIT. The courses include plant operators, building technology, plumbing, design and garment making, hair dressing and beauty therapy, carpentry, motor vehicle technology among others. This we have done to enhance the capacity of our youth to engage in self-employment.
The County also launched the County Youth Forum which comprises of youth leaders elected at sub-locational level. The objective of the forum is to give the youths a voice to air their opinions and ideas on youth socio economic development initiatives from grassroots level.
To increase special interest groups engagement in productive ventures, we have supported 329 groups comprising 160 women groups, 103 youth groups and 66 groups of persons living with disabilities with income generating activities. They include heifers for dairy farming, merino and dorper sheep for sheep production, bee hives for honey production, diesel posho mills for business, car wash machines, water pumps for irrigation, attires for cultural groups, indigenous improved chicks for poultry production, tents, chairs and public address systems for event organizations among others.
I wish to call upon this House to reconsider the Elgeyo Marakwet Youth, Women and Persons with Disabilities Fund Bill 2018 which was shot down. The executive collaborated with the respective House committee to come up with this bill to provide capital to special interest groups for socio economic development. Some wards, Kaptarakwa to be precise, allocated Ksh 10.5 million for a revolving fund in the 2016/2017 financial year. However, they cannot utilize the money without this necessary legislation. Therefore I urge you to relook the bill, make amendments where necessary and pass it for the benefit of our people, especially the youth.
Rehabilitation of alcohol brewers is one of our biggest and one of my proud achievements having supported 1,200 women and some men in helping them to abandon the vice and engage in legal and meaningful ways of earning a living. We have partnered in this endeavor with Eldoret based NGO Empowering Lives International.
As regards the social protection of our people, we have enrolled 2,115 elderly persons of 65 years as well as the vulnerable members of our society such as orphans into the NHIF medical cover which is currently ongoing. We started this programme four years ago in a bid to enhance universal health cover. The biggest challenge has been delay in disbursement of development funds from the national treasury thus denying medical service to this group. This has since been addressed and from mid-February 2019, the medical services have resumed and it will be seamless.
In ICT, the County has embraced technology as a key enabler for improved service delivery. We have automated the County revenue collection system to enhance efficiency, curb pilferage and increase revenue collection. We have also collaborated with the national government and other stakeholders to fully roll out the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) to ensure prudent financial management and openness in our financial transactions.
It is worth noting that at a national accountability forum presided by the Deputy President early this month, our County and Makueni were cited as the only two counties that had fully complied with the presidential directive to implement end to end e-procurement through IFMIS while publishing details of tenders awarded.
Our various ICT platforms has also been key in ensuring timely dissemination of information to the public. Plans are at an advanced stage to establish a County radio station to enhance this purpose and also give this House a platform to air your proceedings for public consumption. We intend to integrate ICT services in all our 20 ward offices to ensure our people can access services in a one stop shop.
Our County has a total road network of 2,060 Kilometres of which 196.84 Kilometres is bitumen representing 9.5 percent. Another 178 Kilometres which is 8.6 percent is being upgraded to bitumen standards. The rest, 1,121.4 Kilometres or 54.4 percent is under gravel while 564.4 Kilometres is made up of earth surface, which covers 27.4 percent of the road network. Out of this, the County has been able to grade and gravel 340 Kilometres of road network since 2013, opened 103 Kilometres of new roads, constructed 11 foot bridges, 5 road bridges and box culverts on roads that required the same. Since 2013, we endeavored to ensure that all roads in the County were passable in all weather, while ensuring most parts of the County are accessible.
However, we are still grappling with challenges, the main one being limited funding to do major road works. We wholly depend on County resources to do our roads since there are limited opportunities for partnership from external development partners. Other bottlenecks include our topography which makes it expensive to do some road works, inadequate technical staff and equipment, encroachment of road reserves and natural occurrences such as landslides that wash away some roads.
Last week, we received a very favourable report on the state of our agriculture sector from the KNBS which stated that bounty harvests in our County since 2013 led us to emerge as the second most productive County in Kenya after Nyandarua.
Our agricultural productivity, according to the report, lifted our Gross County Product per capita by 151 percent since 2013. Our agricultural output placed at Ksh 34.7 billion was more than that of neighbouring counties which traditionally laid the claim to being Kenya’s food baskets.
This positive report is as a result of several strategies that we adopted as a County to take advantage of our agricultural potential which was sleeping giant when we assumed office in 2013.
Some of the interventions included the cash crop promotion and subsidy programme which we began in 2013 by sensitizing our people and offering them one free seedling for every one bought. These included tea, coffee, mango, macadamia, avocado, tissue culture bananas, pyrethrum and temperate fruits.
Since then, we have distributed 1 million tea seedlings and established 72 hectares of tea farms, 109,514 coffee seedlings planted on 44 hectares of land, 283,300 pyrethrum splits on 460 hectares of land and 38,800 mango seedlings grown on 50 hectares of land. We also distributed 5,400 temperate fruit seedlings planted on nine hectares of land, 24,000 tissue culture bananas covering 29 hectares and macadamia seedlings now grown on 20 hectares.
My government also introduced interventions in dry land areas of the County where we purchased and distributed drought tolerant seeds to farmers in Kerio Valley including groundnuts, peas, beans, sorghum, green grams among others. This was successfully done with support from USAID and Egerton University in the last three years. This support came to an end and going forward, we require more budgetary assistance to further sustain this intervention. We are now more focused on contract farming and just last week, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Rivatex Company to embark on cotton production in the valley.
We further worked on value addition measures by purchasing coffee pulpers, cassava chippers and groundnut processing machine among other initiatives which are ongoing. They include the construction of a passion fruit processing plant in Kapchemutwa Ward whose main works are complete. We are also constructing a tomato processing plant which is now 90 percent complete while procurement of machinery is ongoing.
In Kapyego, we have fenced the site where we envision to have our potato collection and processing plant as we also pursue a public private partnership which we entered into with a development partner, Kingdom Foods, to establish a potato factory in Chepkorio Ward.
In addition, we constructed five cereals stores and renovated one of them to provide storage facilities for our farmers. We further started constructing fertilizer stores beginning with one in Kapchemutwa Ward which is ongoing. Labot and Chepkorio stores are complete while others are near completion.
To further promote agribusiness in our County, we introduced greenhouse farming technology to our people. We purchased and installed 23 greenhouses across the 20 wards which are operational. The management of these greenhouses has been handed over to the beneficiaries.
We also introduced six model farms in Endo, Tambach and Arror wards to serve as training farms on modern farm practices while also expanding the capacity of the Chebara Agricultural Training Centre to serve farmer training needs. We bought a tractor for the ATC, did a perimeter fence and cleared the farm for cultivation. We also started the construction of a dining hall and kitchen which have however stalled due to lack of funds.
In irrigation, we rehabilitated and provided piping to 27 water furrows supplying water to our dry lands in Endo, Arror, Embobut, Sambirir, Soy North, Soy South, Cherangany/Chebororwo and Tambach, to encourage all year farming and boost food security in these regions. We supported the farmers with fencing materials and plumbers to manage the water systems.
To mitigate soil erosion, we purchased and distributed soil conservation tools but only to those wards that had allocated funds for this purpose. We still have a challenge of soil erosion in all wards which require adequate budgetary allocation to address the problem.
In the livestock sub sector, we also embarked on the promotion of pedigree dairy, sheep, goats, poultry, beef breeds as well as encouraging beekeeping among our farmers across the County.
To this end, we were able to purchase and distribute 261 pedigree heifers, 16 dairy goats, 45 wool sheep ewes and 125 rams, 30 dorper sheep and 75 rams, 103 galla bucks goats, 14,038 improved chicken, 28 sahiwal bulls and 157 beehives and their accessories.
Under our subsidized Artificial Insemination (AI) programme, we have so far been able to carry out 17,468 inseminations with an 80 percent success rate. We achieved this through employment of 14 inseminators and purchase of eight motorbikes for their mobility in the wards. We still need to employ six more AI officers to effectively cover all wards.
We went further to construct 10 milk coolers and installed 13 coolers in wards that had ready houses and this is ongoing in Sambirir, Kapsowar, Sengwer and Kapchemutwa wards. This is in addition to installation of one livestock feed formulation plant in Kabiemit, eight milk dispensers in Sengwer, Kapchemutwa, Tambach, Soy North and Metkei, one milk processing plant in Metkei, two milk software equipment in Kamariny and Kaptarakwa and a silage making equipment in Sengwer. Some of the milk coolers and AI kits were supported by the national government.
The County also purchased a wool cleaning plant based in Kapyego ward, 13 egg incubators in Cherangany Chebororwo, Soy North, Kaptarakwa, Chepkorio, Metkei and Kabiemit wards.
To promote livestock marketing and health, we constructed 9 sale yards in nine wards, 23 new dips, 10 vaccination crushes and rehabilitated 106 dips. We have further vaccinated over 592,000 livestock for various diseases.
To boost the cooperative movement in our County, we have offered support to our existing cooperative societies by purchasing pulping machines, coffee seeds, seed nursery establishment, pyrethrum seeds, tomato seeds, purchase of a tractor, an incubator, a forage shredder, tea farming support, nursery fencing, wool cleaning and dryer machine, AI kits, green grams polishing machine and milk coolers. We have also supported the construction of stores and offices for some cooperatives and purchased software to support digitization of the cooperatives.
Some of the challenges we have faced in this sub sector is low funding to control common livestock diseases and purchase of AI semen to cater for all farmers. Further, some projects and programmes proposed by our community lack land to implement in addition to some projects even being underfunded.
We are also grappling with reduced operation and maintenance for operationalization of development projects thus being a major impediment while old vehicles being used by the departments often break down.
In health, we have made major milestones top among them being the reduction of the average distance covered by our people while seeking medical services from 8 Kilometres to 3.7 Kilometres as a result of expansion of facility based services across the County.
Our health facilities increased from 86 in 2013 to 129 in 2018 thus improving access to health services. Opening up of new roads like Mung’wa in Embobut has also improved access to health facilities. We further increased the number of staff by 135 in 2014 to cater for the new facilities.
Significant progress was also made in the rehabilitation of infrastructure and supply of new equipment. We constructed three new outpatient department blocks, 5 maternal child health and family planning units, 15 maternity units, 22 emergency delivery rooms, 7 laboratories, 6 inpatient wards, 7 new theatres and 18 staff houses in rural facilities.
For mortuary services, we upgraded and rebranded equipment and building at the Iten County Referral Hospital’s Farewell Home and further constructed mortuaries at Kapkata, Kamwosor and one is under construction at Tot Sub County hospital.
We purchased 5 ambulances and one was donated to us by the national government. We however have 10 old ambulances which are operational but require further maintenance.
The County has ensured sufficient supply of medicines over the years, thus minimizing stock shortage. Cumulatively over Ksh 500 million has been spent in the last five years on medical drugs alone.
The County has also supported the establishment of community health units in all wards through the purchase of 14 motorbikes for community health extension workers, bought 300 community health volunteer (CHV) kits and payment of incentives to 250 CHVs for referrals. Another 700 CHVs will be factored before the end of this financial year bringing the total to 950.
In partnership with the national government, the County has since operationalized the renal unit, upgraded the radiology units at the Iten County Referral Hospital (ICRH) and Chebiemit Sub County hospital. The installation of the CT scan at ICRH has been completed and is set to be launched.
The County has further improved in immunization programmes and more so for the second measles vaccination where the County was ranked the first countrywide in the administration of that vaccine. This is attributed to the fact that we have supplied and installed vaccine fridges in 99 percent of our health facilities.
The Cuban doctors that we received courtesy of the national government continue to do tremendous work especially in reconstructive surgery being performed at Tambach Sub County hospital. This has been made possible by the opening of the Tambach theatre where plastic surgery is currently being done by the Cuban doctors.
Despite the improvement of the health status of residents, we still face several setbacks which include outbreak of diseases such as the recent cholera outbreak resulting from poor sanitation coverage and incidences of Hepatitis B which has led to the death of 9 residents.
As a result of the outbreak, we have screened over 22,000 people of which 353 unfortunately tested positive. We have since procured 45,400 doses, out of which 10,000 were donated to us by the national government. We vaccinated over 21,000 residents but these vaccines are not sufficient to effectively cover the entire County, especially school going children.
The other challenge is industrial action by health care workers seeking increased allowances which disrupt service delivery while causing a strain on the already meagre resources in the County.
We have also experienced drug stock outs in facilities located along our borders with neighbouring counties caused by residents in those counties seeking quality services from our health facilities.
Stunting of children still poses a great challenge especially along the valley and the escarpment. While a lot of attention needs to be focused on this problem, I wish to note and appreciate the support we are receiving from development partners such as World Vision through the ENRICH programme to alleviate it.
We have continued to make strides in the provision of water and sanitation services in the County, enhance sustainable management and conservation of the environment, ensure an orderly, coordinated, efficient and environmentally sound land use and development in both urban and rural. We have also sought to mainstream climate change in development and implementation of County projects.
Since 2013, we have been able to implement over 400 water projects, significantly reducing the travel distance by our residents to water points. We have done this through pipelines, masonry tanks, boreholes, water pans and dams. This has seen over 400 institutions and centres, and over 40,000 households connected with water supply.
Some of the successful water projects we have implemented so far include Emsoo, Singore-Kapkore, Kibuga, Kapsowar, Kipchiloi, Kilos, Sambalat, Katumoi, Mukurkoin, Ainobyat water projects and Kipsaina and Kaptubei boreholes among others.
As part of systems strengthening and the desire for project sustainability, the County through the support of World Vision, managed to train 45 water project management committees drawn from key selected water projects in the County.
Through the formation of the Cherangany Marakwet Water and Sanitation Company Limited (CHEMAWASCO) and with the ongoing implementation of a Ksh 14 million County flagship project, water supply has improved in Kapsowar and Kapcherop towns with little experience of water scarcity during the dry spell unlike past years.
The implementation of the Ksh 2 billion Sabor water project and continued pipeline extension has increased the number of water users and in turn improved the living standards of our people. Revenue collection has risen by about 19 percent for the Iten Water and Sanitation Company (ITWASCO) as a result of this project.
However, we still face a myriad of challenges with the Sabor project including small weirs that were constructed, drawing of water by other users, unaccounted for water which is being addressed with the ongoing meter installation, systems strengthening and maintenance of the water supply system.
Institution of policy documents such as debt recovery policy, water connection policy has been done as a measure to bring sanity in the company which in turn shall add to its improved performance.
Despite the challenges with the Sabor project, it is saddening that Rift Valley Water Services Board diverted funds amounting to over Ksh 300 million to implement a water project in Nakuru in the name of Sabor-Iten-Tambach.
Efforts to outsource funds for the proposed multi-million Kimanich-Kapsowar- Chesoi water project in Kapsowar and Sambirir wards is ongoing and already, preliminary designs, resettlement action plan and the tender documents have been prepared and shared with stakeholders.
The project is one of the major projects prioritized by the Lake Victoria North Water Services Board with clear indication of fundraising for the same. Once implemented water issues in the two wards shall be fixed.
We also have water projects that have been implemented but also benefit neighbouring counties. They include the Chebara Dam which provides water to Eldoret town, Murkukoin water project which serves our people in Chebiemit Centre and Kapsiliot settlement scheme. Others are Mosongo water project which is a cross border project between Elgeyo Marakwet, Uasin Gishu and Trans Nzoia counties. Already, Ksh 9.5 million has been allocated to this project by our County in the 2018/2019 financial year for the first phase. The other project is conservation of Kapterit river catchment between our County and West Pokot.
In planning our County, we concluded the spatial planning of Iten town where as plans for Kapsowar, Kamwosor, Arror, Soko Bora, Chesoi and Flax townships is ongoing. We are also fast tracking land registration and currently several areas of our County including Tuturung, Chepkum, Changach, Kocholwo and Kobulwo areas have already been declared adjudicated. Adjudication of Chesoi, Kaptum, Emsea and Seko areas is nearing completion. It is in the same spirit that we still pray for more support from the national government to complete land adjudication in all areas across the County.
I also wish to inform this House that we received a Ksh 130 million grant from the World Bank under the Kenya Urban Support Programme that will go a long way in improving infrastructure in Iten town.
We have been very keen on environmental management and protection and we promoted bamboo propagation to conserve wetlands, water catchment areas and escarpments. A total of 6,000 bamboo seedlings were planted in Emsoo dam, Kaptalamwa and Sabor river catchments with a survival rate of over 75 percent.
The County also rehabilitated landslide prone areas in Embobut by planting 45,867 trees and 3,850 bamboo seedlings in 9.625 hectares of water catchment areas in Anin, Rimoi, Kapchebau Girls, Lelan and Ainobyat.
The County, in collaboration with the Kenya Water Towers Agency will implement a Ksh 1.2 billion Bamboo Investment project in Kaptagat which will see our farmers diversify to bamboo for economic gain.
As part of farm forestry support, an estimated 1.1 million assorted tree seedlings have been planted on farmlands in the County since the start of devolution.
In efforts to further protect our environment we enacted the Charcoal burning law to control this hazardous human practice. In the 2018/2019 finance bill, we have factored in 5 percent revenue of every tree sold by the Kenya Forest Service to be remitted to the County Government.
Through support from the Kenya Devolution Support Programme, the County further trained 35 staff in Environmental Impact Assessment as a step towards actualizing the Environmental Management and Coordination Act of 1999 in our County.
As for solid waste management, the County has encouraged proper disposal habits through public sensitization. However, waste disposal sites across the County are lacking and there is need by both levels of government to acquire land for disposal sites in Iten, Kapsowar, Kapcherop and Chepkorio.
In addition, there is need to have a sewer treatment plant in Iten. The adoption of reduction, recycle, re-use of wastes should be encouraged to facilitate cleanliness of our County.
As you are aware, I established the department of public service management and administration in my second term to lay more emphasis on our human capital which is vital to the success of our project and programmes.
Since 2013, management of our human capital was under the County Human Resource unit and the County Public Service Board. Some of the achievements we made to date include the establishment of a human resource registry which has improved efficiency and effectiveness of human resource management in the County.
We also put in place a performance management framework to enhance efficiency in service delivery in addition to introduction of results based management initiatives which have been instituted through capacity building of all staff. Senior staff have been sent for training at the Kenya School of Government to improve their supervisory and leadership skills.
I also launched a Rapid Results Initiative (RRI) last year in November to improve performance of departments who now have targets to achieve by the end of the RRI period. Performance contracts were signed between myself and the County Executive Committee members and this is expected to cascade to the lowest levels of our workforce.
To manage the payroll, the County has put in place measures to ensure that malpractices and un-procedural inclusion of employees into the payroll system are eliminated. Monthly salary analysis has been introduced to enable departments track their salary expenditures against budgets and flag off any deviations.
We have also come up with a staff establishment which has already been prepared and approved by the County Executive Committee and whose objective is to identify and propose appropriate staffing in every cadre according to the functions, and align relevant services for better performance. This establishment will guide future human resource planning and staffing.
The County has further developed an Attachment and Internship policy which has been submitted to this House to establish a mechanism for managing an effective and efficient attachment and internship programme.
This policy is part of the County’s strategy to promote youth inclusion in the workplace experience and improve their labour market relevance and exposure. The County is planning to take in 100 interns when the policy is approved by the County Assembly.
On the important area of public participation through our staff, the County has developed guidelines that will provide a methodology through which projects can attain their set objectives, clarify their scope and improve proper identification of required resources. This is a means of ensuring accountability for results and performance and a focus on the final project outcomes to be achieved. The enhanced participatory monitoring will be achieved through the formation and capacity building of project management committees in all wards.
To improve service delivery and access to government information and services by our people, the County commenced the construction of ward offices which double up as Information and Communication Centre (ICT) and documentation centres. One positive example of the impact of these ICT centres is the case of Reuben Kimwolo, a youth from Sengwer Ward who utilized the Kapcherop ICT centre to apply for a green card to study and work in the United States of America and was successful. This youth was also very instrumental in assisting residents in the area file their tax returns at the ICT centre and we wish him well in the US.
These ward and ICT offices are at different levels of operationalization. The completed projects are waiting to be furnished and those incomplete are expected to be ready by the close of the 2018/2019 financial year.
The construction of the two sub county offices for Marakwet East and Keiyo South are ongoing. However, with the current budgetary constraints, phase two of these projects may not commence.
I wish to also inform this House that regrettably, we are the only County that has not received funding for construction of a County headquarters from the national government which has supported other counties. This has forced us to rent office space in Iten town to cater for our staff.
Through the directorate of alcoholic drinks control, the County has established a treatment and rehabilitation centre in Iten in collaboration with the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) which needs further support to be fully operational.
We have established alcoholic drinks licensing regulations, embarked on citizen participation in regulation of alcoholic drinks outlets, public education and advocacy on the negative effects of alcohol and drug abuse including schools.
The challenges faced in this area include lack of equipment for the treatment and rehabilitation centre and enforcement of various laws governing regulation of outlets and control of counterfeit alcoholic drinks. We also need resources to train our staff, for baseline surveys, and carry out countywide public sensitization.
As I conclude, our Tourism sector is yet to be fully tapped despite its immense potential. As from 2013, the County allocated this sector substantial resources as a result of huge underdevelopment. To start with, the department did not have a single staff and we had to hire a County Warden, tourism officer, marketing officer and community service rangers for the Rimoi National Reserve.
We also began opening up of roads leading to tourism sites by grading and gravelling them as well as carrying out infrastructural development at the Rimoi reserve. We also restocked the reserve with wildlife and drilled water at the park to help animals during the dry seasons.
The park was officially opened in March, 2016 and since then, its revenue stream rose from a paltry Ksh 10,000 in 2014 to over Ksh One million at the close of the 2016/2017 Financial Year. This also shows that visitors to our County increased and had other positive trickle-down effect to other sectors. This figure however dropped due to election related disruptions to the tourism sector and budgetary cuts to the department which would have further improved the reserve and marketed it to local and foreign visitors.
Nonetheless, the County has continued to use the available resources and sought partnerships to position the County as a top tourist destination in Kenya and globally especially in sports and culture tourism.
We have organized ward cultural events culminating in County competitions at the County headquarters. These events have served to showcase cultural talents existing in the County and ensures that our rich cultural practices are preserved. The various participating groups are given monetary reward which ensures these resources go directly to our people.
In this year’s cultural fete, judges were impressed by the performance of Kapkong’a dancers’ soloist, Eisteen Kibet, who had unfortunately dropped out of school due to lack of fees. The County took up his case and sent him back to school where he rejoined Form Three sponsored by the County.
Due to promotion of our culture, the County also received an eco-warrior award at a ceremony held in Nairobi organized by the Kenya Tourism Board and this goes to prove that we are a brand when it comes to our rich culture.
The County is now in the process of developing two cultural museums in Sambirir and Soy North wards. These facilities will link tourists with our rich culture. The County has also promoted camping sites such as excursion activities at Chebara dam, Kiplachoch caves, Kessup hills, Mureto campsite, Koisungur hills and Lolgarini dam. All the 42 tourist attraction sites have been mapped out.
This department requires additional resources to fully operationalize the Rimoi National Park and reap maximum benefits. Rimoi requires a hotel facility preferably an eco-lodge in order to attract visitors who wish to spend the night there. Presently, the reserve even lack funds for routine maintenance.
The reserve needs recurrent expenditure to undertake continuous bush clearing of invasive plant species as well as the maintenance of the electric fence. Soil erosion is also a major threat to the park and deep gullies have formed along the road and fence and there is need for drifts to be done.
Human wildlife conflict is still evident in the reserve due to surrounding communities, especially from Baringo grazing their animals in the reserve and competing for water and vegetation with our wildlife. This needs a concerted effort to resolve.
In Trade, we have worked hard to develop and regulate the sector. We have established several market stalls with modern toilet facilities across the County to improve small scale enterprises. However, there is lack of land to put up these facilities and new markets.
We continue to regulate these business through weights and measure enforcement carried out routinely through verification and inspection. This ensures farmers and consumers get value for goods sold and bought.
The County further supported the launch of the Kenya NationalChamber of Commerce and Industry chapter here in Elgeyo Marakwet to help in our regulation efforts as well as position our County as an investment hub for local and foreign investors.
Finally, I wish to now delve into the delicate matter of our financial status as a County. Before I do that, allow me to briefly state what we have been able to achieve as a County in the area of Finance and Economic Planning since we took over office in 2013.
Since then, we have ensured prudent use of the available resources while guaranteeing transparency and accountability in our financial management. It is no wonder that in 2017, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission listed Elgeyo Marakwet as being among the least corrupt counties in Kenya.
We were the only county in Kenya and third in Africa to enlist into the global Open Government Partnership (OGP) that recognizes national and regional governments that have proven efforts towards openness, transparency and accountability in their governance.
We successfully implemented our first pilot action plan under OGP in 2016 to 2017 and we were again included in the second action plan covering 2018 to 2020 which we are currently implementing.
Among the action plans include open procurement and as I mentioned earlier, we were the first County nationally to implement end to end e-procurement followed by Makueni. We went a step further to publish details of companies that do business with us thus complying the Presidential Order No 2 of 2018.
We have further made significant steps to open our procurement opportunities to our youth, women and persons living with disabilities under the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) policy. We have attained the 30 percent requirement and strategies to ensure compliance is continuous.
The County has established a help desk at Huduma centre to enhance access to information by the public and sensitization of contractors and supplies on e- procurement.
In revenue, the County procured and rolled an automated revenue system where all revenue streams are mapped into the system to reduce leakage. The County trained 30 revenue officers on the use and application of the point of sale system. We intend to train another 38 staff this year while procuring more gadgets for their use.
These interventions are beginning to bear fruits given that in the first half of the 2018/2019 financial year, the revenue unit collected Ksh 56,873,458 million compared to the same period in 2017/2018 where 43,879,671 million was collected representing an increase of Ksh 12,993,787 million.
We still have challenges in meeting our revenue targets and this is because of leakages caused by staff who pocket some of the revenue collected while colluding with some rogue traders to evade revenue payment. We have since taken action on some of these revenue staff and we have resolved not to spare any staff caught perpetrating these vices.
I wish to appreciate members of this House for assisting us in their respective wards in efforts to crackdown on revenue payment defaulters. We have seen you in our revenue barriers helping us in enforcement and this is commendable. This issue requires concerted effort as well as sensitization of our people to educate them that payment of revenue translates to effective service delivery.
I wish to propose that the Executive and this House work together to pass punitive laws against revenue pilferages.
In this second term of devolution in our County, we developed a participatory County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) covering 2018 to 2022 which involved a wide range of stakeholders within and outside the County who were placed into five main sectors of our County economy to enrich it and make the document ambitious but realistic.
In striving to achieve a coordinated development path with partners and interest groups, the County has began the process of formulating a donor policy which if transformed into an Act will facilitate enhanced participation, management and disclosure of donor funded developments in the County.
To ensure efficiency in our public accounting, we decentralized accountants from the Finance departments to all departments in the County to further ensure prudent utilization and accountability of our resources, increase efficiency in payments processing hence improving absorption rates and arrest the problem of pending bills. We have also ensured timely preparation and submission of financial reports to respective statutory offices.
These efforts resulted in a positive audit opinion by the Office of the Auditor General for the 2016/2017 Financial Year which gave us a qualified audit opinion.
However, I wish to inform this House that our financial forecast for the 2019/2020 financial year will for the first time be a negative one. The County Fiscal Strategy Paper (CFSP) for the next financial year will be presented to this House by 28th February, 2019 as required by law.
From our projection, further austerity measures need to be put in place to cut expenses on key expenditure lines to enable continuous service delivery in these hard economic times.
The exponential wage bill growth, caused by factors beyond our control such as salary increments by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and implementation of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) in the health sector, has led to my government reducing allocation to the overall operations and maintenance budget over the last few years.
After the operations and maintenance allocations came down to the bare minimum, we resorted to gradual reduction of County level projects. But for the 2019/2020 financial year, the projected wage bill increase shows that reduction in the County Assembly allocations and reduction in ward projects allocations are inevitable.
This is the reason you have heard me call upon the Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) to look into enhancing our allocation together with that of other small counties whose funds cannot allow sustainable recurrent operations while meeting a health fiscal responsibility.
I appeal to this House to look at this challenge objectively and together let us look for a solution that will not hamper service delivery to our people.
On this rather negative note, I wish to once again thank you Mr Speaker for inviting me to address you on the state of our County. I also appreciate the role this House has continued to play in the development of our County. Going forward, I hope we can build more synergy to further prosper this great County.
THANK YOU AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU