5 February 2013

Kenya: What the Coast Needs Urgently


Dear aspiring Governors from the Coast region

Allow me to share with you the voices of the people from the coastal region. As they say, the voice of the people in the voice of God and it is important to be in sync with the feelings and the aspiration of the people you wish to lead. During the recent County consultative forum for the 2nd medium term Plan 2013-2017, stakeholders from the six counties identified five priority areas for each of the counties.

Two priority areas --education and infrastructure --were cited by all the representatives from the six counties, health and sanitation were rated as important in four counties while land ownership/security, agriculture and food security and employment creation rated by half of the counties as being top on their development priorities.

My advice to those running for the senate or gubernatorial positions must seriously give some thought to these concerns. They must offer the electorate solutions for these challenges through policies, strategies and implementation programmes that work.

They want to be told what the candidates will do to address the issue of education where the county, indeed the whole province lags behind the rest of the country. They have solutions that they want to see prioritized and implemented.

On health service provision, for example, these representatives suggested upgrading Msambweni hospital to a referral hospital and equipping Hola general hospital to level 5. Implementation of some of these suggestions falls under the national government, how will our senate and gubernatorial candidates influence this?

I heard them speak loudly about land ownership and that in about 50 years after independence, they are still squatters in their ancestral land. The implementation of national land policy may address their concerns but it is the senate and the governor who will have a great influence in the setting up of land commission office at the county and grassroots to help address the rampant land problem.

They specifically want attention directed towards better farming methods, irrigation, subsidies on farm inputs, improved food storage facilities, revival of farmer cooperatives and stalled agricultural projects the development of the livestock sector and value added chain in the agricultural production systems. In some areas, the people would want to know how you would address marketing of their produce, wildlife/human conflicts, increase inland fish farming.

They also want concrete plans and programmes to deal with security and suggested that security improvement should range from community policing to an increase in the number of uniformed officers; establishment of more police .

They also want to know what you will do for the youth who are drug addicts and in desparate need for rehabilitation to combat their drug abuse.

What the electorate need are not empty promises but clear indicators on how we can measure your performance. Because you want an excellent score, think of innovative ways to deal crime, the use of technology in the police force to combat crime. Think of desalination of water for household and irrigated agriculture.

Consider the potential of the LAPPSET project and the port of Mombasa and how the Coast region and the entire county can benefit from the over 300 nautical miles of Indian Ocean resources, the mining in Kwale and Taita.

Take advantage of the newly established Universities and colleges to build human resource resources for home consumption and export to other counties, revive Mariakani milk, irrigation projects, Bixa enterprises, and cashew nuts, strengthen the coconut sector, just to mention a few.

Consult widely and take full advantage of those who can help make you a transformational leader.

Your faithful voter

Prof. Shaukat Abdulrazak is the CEO of the National Council for Science and Technology. 

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