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Sh10b refugees project in limbo as dispute erupts

By Roselyne Obala | March 8th 2021

The fate of a Sh10 billion project meant to facilitate integration of refugees in local communities in Garissa hangs in the balance following a dispute between the county and national governments over its implementation.

The World Bank-funded initiative dubbed Kenya Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (KDRDIP) aims at encouraging host communities to accommodate refugees and in return enjoy social amenities and economic opportunities that come with the plan, including roads, schools, healthcare, security, electricity and provision of water.

The project is also meant to address hostilities between the escapees and host communities in Daadab, Fafi and Lagdera sub-counties, which have hosted refugees for the last 26 years.

While the project was as a result of a deal between the national government and the donor, the county government is the implementer under the conditional allocation plan.

But Governor Ali Korane (pictured) is accusing the national government of sidelining his administration in the implementation of the KDRDIP and instead chosing to work with local MPs. Korane has consequently withdrawn his staff from the project, citing undue dominance. The project is also targeting refugees in Wajir and Turkana counties.

In a letter addressed to Arid and Semi-Arid Lands PS Micah Bowen, Garissa County Secretary Abdi Ali cites poor coordination in the implementation of KDRDIP projects and undermining the county’s role.

“You are aware we are contesting the approval of Annual Work Plan and Budget for 2020/2021, which was done irregularly and without consultation with the county administration for ownership and sustainability,” said the letter dated February 15, 2021.

It added: “At least 90 per cent of the proposed sub projects are not aligned to the County Integrated Development Plan and Annual Development Plans. Half of the groups selected from community for funding are also not in the County Development Plans for the three sub-counties.”

KDRDIP, a five-year project, is an integrated area-based support for refugee hosting communities which will, among other things, reconstruct and rehabilitate key socio-economic infrastructure and help contain conflicts.

Korane said: “Actions of Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa’s ministry call for revalidation and approval of all activities.” 

The governor claimed the Annual Work Plan and budgeting was done without involvement of his administration.

“In view of the above development, all chief officers involved in the project and sub-counties under the KDRDIP programme are hereby required to stop further engagements until advised otherwise,” Ali’s letter read.

“The same strict directives should be cascaded down to the technical directors and project implementation support team at the sub-county.”

However, Bowen maintained meetings were held and issues raised by the county government addressed.

“It was agreed all issues are finalised and addressed satisfactorily. We agreed the county government would retract the letter previously withdrawing county participation,” he said.

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