UK gives Sh6 billion for Turkana projects
BY KIBEI LOKAALE
LODWAR, TURKANA CENTRAL
The British government will spend up to Sh6 billion to fund various projects in Turkana County in the next five years, British High Commissioner to Kenya Dr Christian Turner has announced.The funding will go to projects onhealth, drought, education, cash transfer and Hunger safety net programs.During his three-day visit to Turkana recently, Dr Turner acknowledged the good relations and cooperation between the UK and Kenya, and particularly with the Turkana county government, saying his government would continue supporting projects in the county. “British taxpayers have been funding various projects in Turkana County in collaboration with other partners including Unicef, Help Age, and World Vision, among others for the benefit of the people. Through the county government and National Drought Management Authority, we are sure thatfunds sent to this region get to the right people,” said Dr Turner. He said the UK government was supporting more than 10,000 Kenyan schools and had given more than 30 scholarships through Tullow Oil Company, of which 15 are for Turkana County. Tullow, he said, was pumping Sh600m in various projects in the country annually, of which 50 per cent of these are in Turkana County. “We have received a request from the Turkana community to increase the number of scholarships for this area from 50 percent to 70 per cent since Tullow is doing its exploration in the county than elsewhere else. We shall discuss the matter and I’m sure we shall be able to come up with a solid solution on how to go about that concern,” Dr Turner said. On the other hand, the Turkana County Government through Governor Josphat Nanok has promised to cooperate with Tullow during its time of exploration, for the benefit of the Turkana people. In their press briefing after a closed-door meeting between the county government officials and the British High Commissioner’s team, the Governor said his government would work as per their agreement with the British government.
In April this year the company’s team had a closed door meeting with the county government, where their resolutions did not come to light but later the county government said they were working to resolve the issues. However, the Governor said the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) is designed to involve every stakeholder in the county to ensure mutual relationship. “I want to assure Tullow that the county government will cooperate with it to ensure that it reaches its goals and mandate as a company doing its explorations here. Our CIDP has already been approved by the county assembly and I have already signed it, it is now time for the implementation,” Governor Nanok said. And in a fresh twist, Dr Turner attended the Turkana county assembly proceedings and had an opportunity to answer questions from the MCAs on what the British government was doing to make sure that the exploration of oil in the county would not be harmful to the people. He said his government would make sure that all the policies governing oil exploration are adhered to, to reduce harm to the people. “There are policies governing this exercise that safeguards everybody, but as a county government if there will be anything that you will pass as an assembly, bring it to us so that we can compare notes. We are not going to be rigid in any way; instead we shall abide with all the reviews you will make. Make sure you liaise with the national government to avoid conflict of interest,” the British High Commissioner told the county assembly. The High Commissioner also took time to visit the Napete community who are the beneficiaries of a cash transfer project. Through their chairman Mr Mark Nakain, the community complained of the reduction of the number of beneficiaries from 1,700 to 300. They said the poverty level in the area was alarming and that 60 per cent of the beneficiaries that were left out were people living with disability who have no other country director sources of income. DFID’s Country Director Ms Lizza Philips said all the beneficiaries that had been left out in the current project would receive their four months’ pay soon and urged them open bank accounts so that their money can be wired directly to them.
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