Why County bosses are scrambling for El Niño cash
Kenya has prepared a budget of Sh37 million that will be used to buy bar soaps as part of the measures the country is taking to mitigate the effects of the El Niño rains.
Another Sh50 million of the Sh16 billion the government has set aside for the expected destruction has been allocated to sensitise fishermen on the effects of the heavy rains.
These are some of the things the national and county government officials are scrambling to control under the funds meant to reduce effects of the rains that have already started pounding some parts of the country.
Also, in the Budget, whopping a Sh30 million allocated to “investigate and confirm disease outbreak rumours”.
Despite the fact that schools have less than one month to close for the long Christmas holidays, Sh300 million has been budgeted for the school feeding programme.
The biggest allocation in the education sector, more than Sh1 billion, is for reconstruction of schools expected to be damaged by the rains.
But much of the money will be used to mitigate the effects of the rains with no evidence that sufficient precautionary measures have been taken in the most vulnerable areas.
In Budalang’i, Busia County, for example, which is a flood prone area, dykes of River Nzoia are yet to be repaired.
In Nairobi, not much has been done to prevent the flooding of sections of the roads.
Heavy rains have caused deaths, displacement of people and loss of property in the past, besides outbreak of disease such as malaria and cholera and Rift Valley fever.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was hard pressed to explain how he was able to raise Sh5 billion to mitigate the effects of the rains yet he could not get money to pay teachers during the strike.
Some Sh20 million from each county has been set aside for the fund. That leaves a deficit of about Sh10 billion.
In Homa Bay, Deputy Governor Hamilton Orata asked for the national government to boost their efforts to counter the floods.
Rachuonyo North and South, Ndhiwa, Mbita, Suba, Rangwe and Homa Bay Town are among areas prone to flooding in the county.
In Nyando Basin where thousands are displaced yearly by rains, dykes were supposed to have been erected but that is yet to happen.
Water and Irrigation minister Eugene Wamalwa promised, during a recent visit, that the national government will spend Sh6 billion to manage floods in the area.
Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma said the Sh70 million the county has set aside is insufficient since all the five sub-counties are flood prone.
“I am between a rock and a hard place. It may force us not to pay staff or to stop ongoing projects and channel the funds towards El Niño,” he said.
During the heavy rains in May, Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero stopped construction of a building, at the Langata, Mbagathi intersection, because it was located on a river thus affecting the flow of water. But despite the warning on the impending downpour, work has since resumed.
Some counties have also proposed budgets that have raised eyebrows. Turkana has allocated Sh800 million, Nandi Sh500 million and Uasin Gishu Sh200 million.