County revels in Sh229 million win for prudent use of allocated resources

Nyeri County Government workers undertaking a road construction project. The county government is keen on making all roads motor-able. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]
After a turbulent start, the second County Government of Nyeri appears to be on course to deliver its promises going by a recent World Bank report.

Nyeri County was last month ranked after Nyandarua for prudent use of resources. With it came a pay cheque of Sh229 million to add to its development kitty.

It was an unexpected and tragic start for Nyeri County’s current administration in its first few months in office with the demise of Governor Wahome Gakuru.

But Gakuru’s Deputy and successor Mutahi Kahiga has weathered the storm and stabilised the devolved unit with residents starting to see the fruits of devolution.

Nyeri County was ranked second by the Kenya Devolution Support Program (KDSP) financed by the World Bank to support capacity building and technical assistance at the county level.

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This was no mean feat, considering that in the previous Financial Year (2017/18), the county was ranked 45 out of 47 counties and received nothing from the fund.

According to the KDSP parameters, the county must adhere to the law in Public Finance Management, have elaborate county plans and updated County Integrated Development Plan.

As part of overcoming the turbulence, Kahiga appointed Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu whom he has formed a proper working bond with.

Routine checks

The pair is always seen together, inspecting development projects across the county. Kahiga’s pet project is the health sector.

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After the stunning performance in KDSP, Karugu commended the county for emerging second with a score of 84 per cent in the country.

Nyeri County Referral Hospital has the only ISO accredited laboratory in the region, while the Mt Kenya Hospital has a new outpatient block.

Karatina and Mukurweini hospitals, both level four facilities, have also been equipped with newborn units.

One of the projects expected to kick off in the next financial year is the construction of the Narumoru Level four facility at a cost of Sh100 million.

Kahiga has often undertaken routine checks at the county health facilities to ensure the quality of service delivery and welfare of the staff and patients.

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For the two years the governor has been in office, the county has successfully rolled out a Universal Health Care programme that is running in all health facilities.

Roads in all urban centres have been re-carpeted, rural access roads graded and a digital financial system that has sealed loopholes in revenue streams put in place.

Farmers have benefited from free potato and beans seed as well as fruits seedlings, which have boosted agricultural income in some areas in the semi-arid Kieni constituency.

Nyeri Finance County Executive Robert Thuo said one of the ways the devolved unit has improved its financial management is in digitising revenue collection to seal loopholes.

The implementation of a revenue collection platform dubbed Nyeri Pay has raised revenues by 20 per cent in the first half of the 2018/19 financial year, he says.

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Nyeri County’s own revenue of Sh600,996,973 represents an increase of Sh 101,921,531 which is a 20 per cent rise compared to last year’s collection of Sh499,075,442.

“The current administration is focused on service delivery, unlike in the previous regime where there was infighting of leaders,” Thuo said.

“In the previous regime, there was a lot of bickering, and it is not easy to bring together the leaders and push a common agenda, he has realised he cannot succeed in chaos, and that is to his credit,” said Kamau Gatwechi, a resident.

The county is also implementing the Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) programme.

As at March 10, 697,343 people representing and 340,762 households had been registered under UHC which is 84 percent of county residents. Based on the progress report on the implementation of the UHC programme, the county and national government have committed Sh780 Million.

Further, 11 heath facilities have been connected to the power grid as part of last-mile connectivity as well as connection of water centres that did not have reliable supply as part of enhanced readiness for UHC.

Five dispensaries have been operationalised in the last two months as part of enhancing access.

Gatwechi observed it was important for the county to put in place measures to monitor the quality of health services in the health centres.

Good steps

“The UHC programme is a good project and it has benefited residents in a major way. The challenge is to ensure the services provided are of high quality, now that accessibility is improved,” he said.

Mathira resident Nelson Maina lauded the county’s plans to distribute Sh984 million among the 30 wards to carry out ward based development projects which would bring equity in the county.

“This is a departure from the past where the executive and the assembly would not agree on such projects which led to some wards being neglected. This is a good step,” Maina said.

However, Maina was critical of the administration’s failure to prioritise the sports docket by housing it under education, which has several projects.

“The sports department should be moved to the Youth and Gender department to allow it support youth programmes,” he said.

Major towns in Nyeri have received a facelift at a cost of Sh180 million which included recarpeting of roads, improving access roads, through maintenance of gravel roads and upgrading earth roads to gravel status.

Mukurweini bus stage has been refurbished and roads recarpeted after years of deplorable conditions.

The infrastructure department has demarcated parking slots afresh after it was forced to remove the concrete curb stones constructed by the previous regime to pave way for re-carpeting.

The agriculture sector has implemented several projects such as the distribution of 12 milk coolers to the 23 cooperative societies and self-help groups.

Kahiga asked dairy farmers to form cooperatives to form a giant umbrella organisation and start milk value addition.

To boost productivity, the county administration procured lime for farmers to neutralise soil acidity.

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NyeriWorld Bank reportMutahi Kahiga