MCAs' efforts to stop Sh80m free milk project fails

Efforts by some MCAs to scrap the free milk programme for Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) centres failed on Tuesday.

The MCAs opposed to the programme said the Sh80 million the government has allocated to the programme should be used to improve infrastructure in schools and employ more teachers.

"Development of infrastructure, procurement of teaching and instructional materials and hiring additional tutors would be more important than providing milk," said Municipality MCA Elias Murega who led the onslaught against the programme.

Debate on the Meru County Fiscal Strategy Paper 2019-2020 dragged into the night as Murega and his colleagues put up a spirited fight to have the programme scrapped from the next budget.

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Majority of MCAs supported the milk project, which saw the Murega team walk out of the chambers.

Some of the MCAs said the project would have no impact on the learners with Nominated MCA Gacheri Muthuri terming it a potential cash cow during the session chaired by speaker Joseph Kaberia.

Muthuri also claimed the project had been engineered to benefit some dairy farmers. She said providing ECDE children with milk is not a priority.

“As a mother, I understand the value of milk to children. However, giving 400 millilitres to a child and say it is beneficial, we are lying,” she said.

Providing milk to children was one of the projects governor Kiraitu Murungi and his deputy Titus Ntuchiu promised to deliver if elected.

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Murega launched the onslaught against the milk project immediately Budget and Appropriations Committee chairman Julius Mbijjiwe tabled the budget document in the House.

The government said the milk programme had not only improved enrolment and retention rates, but had also benefited dairy farmers who now have a ready market.

The department of education said due to insufficient funds, it was only giving milk twice a week.

Learning materials

“I met budget committee members and they told me the Sh80 million was to be diverted to infrastructure. If we buy learning materials and employ additional ECDE teachers, we will helping the governor,” said another Nominated MCA Kimathi Ithibua, who is also Public Accounts Committee chairman.

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Majority Leader Victor Kariithi dismissed Ithibua's claims he had been told the funds would be diverted to infrastructure.

Murega also wanted the Sh20 million allocated to Meru Youth Service diverted to other programmes, including supporting the disabled.

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ECDESchools Milk Project