By Matilda Atieno
CEC member for Education John Awiti addressing participants during the SRHR and gender equality workshop held at Acacia Hotel In Kisumu
The county government in partnership with Family Health Options Kenya (FHOK) held a 3-day workshop in a deliberate effort to emphasize Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) and gender equality as fundamental to an individual, organization as well as to the social and economic of communities.
The training brought together key decision-makers and duty bearers including county directors, state and none state officers. The workshop was also graced by CEC member for Education, IT & Human Capacity Development, John Awiti, who acknowledged the need to create awareness on SRHR, urging the team to cascade the training to the community to create impact across the county. He noted that the training would provide a springboard for increasing knowledge on the SRHR and Gender Equality in the community.
The County Minister also challenged the duty bearers to reflect on how to capitalize on the different perspectives and mandates to catalyze and accelerate the achievement of gender equality in their jurisdiction.
The workshop confirmed important aspects of the relationship between sexual reproductive health rights and gender equality with the most encompassing the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health.
Most Importantly, the workshop signaled an integrated approach to gender equality and recognized that human rights have a crucial role to play in relation and access to quality sexual and reproductive health and were of the consensus that the right to sexual and reproductive health encompasses both freedom from discrimination, and entitlements, and in the context of sexual and reproductive health, freedom includes a right to control one’s health and body.
It was also noted that increased attention be devoted to a proper understanding of health rights, as well as gender equality, given the nature of the state policies on the right to health with the focus on understanding SRHR.
Considered together, the training was intended to contribute to the efforts by the decision-makers to exercise and champion the rights to sexual reproductive health and have an indispensable role to play in the struggle against gender inequality.
The workshop was directed by the Project Coordinator FHOK Mr. Edwine Nyanja with facilitators including State Gender Officer Joel Okumu, Patricia Orawo of KMET County officer in charge of Gender, Adah Omedi, and County Reproductive health officer Jackton Okeyo.
Members of the National Assembly Health Committee delegation on a fact finding mission to Kisumu County health sector hosted by the Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr. Mathews Owili on behalf Of KiSUMU Governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o and a visit to the health facilities. ( Pictures By Collins Owuor and Jacob Owiti)
By Matilda Atieno
The county government of Kisumu today hosted the National assembly health committee delegation who are carrying out a fact-finding visit to the County health sector.
The members of the delegation visited Kisumu to engage the county government with the purpose of establishing the facts on the impact of the resources delivered by the national government towards the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the county.
The team led by Hon. Joshua Kutuny was in the county to seek clarification on the efforts put in place by the county government and the challenges on the fight against the pandemic. Other members included Hon. Gideon Ochanda of Bondo, Dr. James Nyikal of Seme, Hon. Tongoyo, Gabriel Koshal of Narok West and Hon. Martin Owino of Ndhiwa.
Upon the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the national government embarked on an intensive program to impact the spread of the pandemic across the country through the various mechanism, including mobilization resources, improvement of infrastructure and resource allocation to the counties.
160 million was the confirmed allocation to the county government of Kisumu as part of the national government support in the fight against the pandemic in Kisumu as well as other benefits dispatched to the county through KEMSA and other agencies.
Following the support from the national government, the delegation sought information on the use of the funds received, relations with the National Agency KEMSA, the County interventions and the status of COVID-19 in the county.
The delegation met with the Deputy Governor Dr. Mathew Owili who chaired the meeting on behalf of Kisumu Governor, Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o, CEC member for Finance and economic development George Okong’o, Kisumu County COVID-19 response committee chair, Chief officer health, Mr. Alphonse Ouya, County Assembly health committee Chair Hon. Vincent Jagongo, County Director Health Fredrick Oluoch Dr. George Rae and CEO JOOTRH Dr. Peter Okoth.
The delegation then proceeded to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH), isolation center and later on to Kisumu County Referral Hospital (KCRH).
Kisumu County Secretary Mr. Geoffrey Kigochi (2nd right) exchanges documents with CCAK CEO Mr. David Njugi (2 nd left) after the signing of the MOU . They are flanked by County Energy and Industrialization Department Chief Officer Mr Daniel Okia (right) Victor Gathogo (left) from the SNV (Picture by Jacob Owiti)
By Jacob Owiti
County Government of Kisumu department of Energy and Industrialization has today signed a two-year Memorandum of Agreement with the Clean Cooking Association of Kenya- CCAK under the Voice for Change Partnership.
The partnership aims at supporting the clean cooking sector through collaboration in capacity building through evidence generation, awareness creation and strengthening clean cooking engagement frameworks by mainstreaming clean cooking agenda into county policy and regulations structures.
The parties undertook to work together in evidence generation and dissertation on issues of clean cooking Energy in Kisumu County, Development and inclusion of clean cooking into policies, regulations, County strategic plans and support their implementation.
The collaboration is on clean cooking awareness creation, capacity building activities for clean cooking entrepreneurs and clean sector forums and events at the County level.
The Agreement follows the county government’s efforts in ensuring safe and clean cooking technology among its populace. According to Ag. County Director for Renewable Energy Technologies Mr. Laban Okeyo, the directorate has embarked on encouraging the residents to move away from unclean sources of fuel which contribute to 79.8% of energy in Kisumu County households of which Firewood tops at 49.6, charcoal 22.2% and Kerosene at 7.8%.
CCAK on its part agreed to provide material (clean cooking budget tracking and fiscal incentive briefs), communication material for joint events convened by V4CP and other parties, present and exhibit on events convened by Kisumu County and other partners on areas of clean cooking, jointly facilitate building and awareness creation on the clean cooking sector for the County officials and private sector.
On the other hand, the Energy and Industrialization Department agreed to convene a Clean Cooking policy and strategy for development stakeholders’ forum at the county, facilitate capacity building and awareness creation forums on clean cooking in the County including farmers field days and other related events, convene joint review meetings on the progress in addressing clean cooking agenda at the County level, coordinate evidence generation actions at the County in collaboration with V4CP and other stakeholders, facilitate private sector investment in clean cooking through a conducive policy and business environment.
The aim of the County Department is to attain a 100% transition from unclean sources of energy to clean and affordable cooking solutions to reduce pollution pressure on our environment.
The documents were signed by County Secretary Mr. Geoffrey Kigochi and Chief Officer Eng Daniel Okia for the department and CCAK CEO Mr. David Njugi and Victor Gathogo for SNV.
By Nancy Claire Juma
Maseno now becomes the newest town in Kusumu following its unveiling by Governor Prof Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o on 10th September 2020.
Its inauguration as an official town is a major milestone in the realization of aspirations put forward by the Governor in his Manifesto to deepen the structures of devolution by bringing services closer to the people as well as unlocking the untapped potential for Kisumu’s urban centers to spur economic development.
The Governor on March 1st, 2020 through a Gazzette Notice elevated the status of five centers; Ahero, Maseno, Muhoroni, Kombewa and Katito to towns, the centers having reached a threshold of 10,000 residents.
While presiding over the launch alongside his deputy Dr. Mathew Owili, the Governor reiterated that the growth of the satellite towns will bring services closer to the people in addition to creating economic nodes to offer opportunities to many people as well as reduce pressure on the City of Kisumu.
He acknowledged that urbanization was real and people must be ready to embrace it.
“We must begin early to prepare for urban life. The earlier we plan for them and build necessary infrastructure, the better for our people in the next 10 to 20 years’’. He said
It is projected that by 2050, 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban centers and there is need to respond to the growing population demand by elevating their status.
With this in mind, the Governor quickly noted that the new status of Maseno town will enable the County attract financing from development partners and donors to improve the much-needed social infrastructure that will in turn provide a conducive environment for business to thrive, enhance trade and eventually drive the economy to greater heights.
He went on to say that Maseno by virtue of being a university town, has the capacity to contribute to socio-economic transformation of not only Kisumu County but also the Western Region and the East African region.
He called upon local investors to maximize on the opportunities presented by the new status by developing requisite infrastructure such as hotels to meet the growing demand.
“Let’s not think of investments as something that is always coming from outside’’. Said the Governor
He urged investors not to be discouraged by the existing challenges presented by urbanization assuring them that the County is working round the clock to put up proper physical infrastructure.
To underscore this commitment, Nyong’o said the County has appropriated over Kshs. 40 million under the FY 2020/2021 to cater for infrastructure such as water, sewerage, roads, lighting, solid waste management and tourism development and will in future have a dedicated budget for Maseno to adequately offer services to the populace.
The National Director for Urban Development Charles Otieno who represented the PS for State Department for Urban Development was excited with what Kisumu is doing in terms of unveiling towns and establishing urban areas noting it as the only way through which the city will attain the middle-income status.
He rallied the residents to support the Governor in ensuring that the urban areas are positioned to realize the dream. However, Otieno warned that the middle-income status will not be attained without providing the requisite infrastructure necessary for urban areas to provide the middle-income status for its residents.
He confirmed that with the new status, Maseno town can now benefit from programs under the National Government such as the Kenya Urban Support Program and Affordable Housing programme to help develop its foundational infrastructure.
Maseno University Vice Chancellor Prof. Julius Nyabundi who described the unveiling as long overdue highlighted that for Maseno town to grow, the university will have to be nurtured with the necessary infrastructure to meet the rising number of students. He revealed that through its students, the university pumps in close to Kshs. 2 billion a year into Kisumu’s economy, something he says cannot be ignored challenging the County to put in place proper structures to attract investments.
The Kisumu CEC for Lands Dickson Obungu in response to Nyabundi’s requests confirmed that the county is already working on an Integrated Urban Physical Plan that will streamline the land structure and address the existing land issues. This will be in addition to other development projects around roads, waste management, and sanitation.
Already the county has completed the Esivalu Water Project serving a population of over 60,000 residents around Maseno Town and its environs.
Obungu also revealed that the county has plans to finish the conferment process of the remaining 4 towns before the end of the year.
Kisumu West MP Hon. Olago Aluoch also added his voice into the conversation by proposing that the opportunities brought about by the new status be enjoyed equally by all residents to ensure peaceful coexistence.
Maseno town will now be headed by a Town Administrator working under the oversight of a town committee which the Governor says will recognize its cultural diversity.
Joining the Governor were members of Kisumu County Cabinet, County Assembly Members led by the Speaker Elisha Oraro, officials from both National and the County Government, and Community Elders among others.
The training exercise of the COVID-19 border surveillance volunteers at Sun Set Hotel ( Picture By David Wadulo)
By Jackline Omondi
At least 34 volunteers to the Border Surveillance team under the Covid-19 Management Committee have undergone a one-day training to help in manning the county border points to help curb the spread of corona virus in the County.
The training held at the sunset hotel in Kisumu was graced by the Director for Special Programs and Disaster Management, Emeritus Ruth Odinga and the Executive Director Lake Hub Mr. James Odede.
The training program was meant to equip the new Surveillance team with adequate skills needed to help them in their work.
Key areas of study included COVID -19 Protocols, COVID -19 signs and symptoms, preventive measures, various testing methods together with customer care tactics.
The surveillance team members will be stationed at the three border points in Kiboswa, Ahero and Kisian border points where they will work on a daily basis for a period of one month, as from 8 am to 6 pm.
Also present were Merab Ochieng, trainer and consultant on Matters COVID-19 and members of the Kisumu county COVID-19 secretariat.
Chief Officer for Energy and Industrialization Mr. Daniel Okia speaking to ACTS on Kisumu County’s Green Energy initiatives (Picture By Jacob Owiti)
By Matilda Atieno
As Kisumu moves towards embracing the green energy concept, addressing disparities in access and affordability have been determined as the solution towards a sustainable and equitable future.
The existence of the county directorate of green energy is a positive step towards setting up Kisumu with a greater focus on Renewable Energy (RE), green jobs and sustainable development path.
Often referred to as renewable energy/Clean energy, originates from natural sources or processes that are constantly replenished which principally includes, hydropower, wind, solar, geothermal, and bioenergy.
In Kisumu, 45% of households have access to clean energy, with most preferred being solar energy as 60% of households use wood as a source of energy.
According to the chief officer for Energy and industrialization, Mr. Daniel Okia, there are many opportunities in RE that can be explored, noting that with sunshine hours in the region, solar potential has continued to dominate renewable capacity expansion all over the county and that Biogas as renewable energy is an affordable domestic energy source and solutions to meet the energy need in rural areas.
In an interview with African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), Mr. Okia also pointed out that the county government has given energy a big boost in terms of financing, which will go a long way in propelling Kisumu to the level of being energy efficient.
With the adoption of the policy energy master plan which calls on government to promote the development of RE as an alternative source of energy to mitigate climate change and to boost energy efficiency in the county, the department of energy has so far established energy centers in Nyang’oma in Muhoroni and holo in Kisumu west.
However, there are challenges in achieving the county government’s goal of renewable energy, which includes poverty level and lack of awareness on clean energy opportunities. To confront these barriers, the department of energy welcomes partnerships to co-identify clean energy projects and investment opportunities that will ultimately benefit the community with low-cost, affordable and sustainable clean energy solutions.
In this regard, efforts towards achieving sustainable RE have kicked off in Kisumu through the project dubbed “100% Renewables Cities & Regions Roadmap” which offers support to national and regional level governments to promote a move towards 100% renewable energy strategies with increased awareness and stakeholder engagement.
The project was endorsed by the ministry of energy for implementation in the County Governments of Kisumu, Mombasa and Nakuru with the aim of building a path for focus cities to finance and implement renewable energy projects, through the assessment of local RE potential and project concepts, as well as the development of financeable projects.
As Kisumu moves in this bold new direction, the 100% RE project calls on stakeholders to be active participants in providing valuable input and guidance on the formulation of processes that will promote renewable energy strategies at the local level.
The county government is particularly focused on ensuring that clean energy is affordable to everyone, and particularly to the highly energy-burdened households.
“With collaboration from stakeholders and partners we can ensure Kisumu reaches its energy goals while also helping vulnerable residents,” Says Mr. Okia.
BY LORRAINE ANYANGO
Kisumu county has made strides in cotton farming, realizing 100 percent of the targeted acreage in just six months after the re- introduction of high breed seeds.
About 600 tons of cotton is soon ready for harvesting, up way from only 50 tones that was being produced in the county.
The county received 12, tones of cotton conventional seeds, 140 kgs of biotechnology (BT) high breed seeds and 480 kgs of high breed cotton seeds after the government lightened the ban on GMO (BT) cotton seed.
The seeds were distributed through cotton corporative societies which are eight. They include Kobura farmers’ cooperative society , Seme Kisumu – farmers’ cooperative society which is the largest with about 180 members, other societies are Muhoroni, Nyakach,Nyando, Kisumu East , Kimira and Kano Kajulu farmers’ cooperative societies.
The cooperatives received the high-quality seeds that were rolled out by the National government for trials from Agricultural food authority (AFA) which has partnered with the Kisumu county government through its Agricultural Sector Development support program (ASDSP), Agricultural Information Initiative (SAII) and the county’s cooperatives directorate to improve cotton farming in the county.
The re-introduction of the high breed seed has directly contributed to the increased number of farmers who are currently 600 and have cultivated 2000 acres of crop now awaiting maximum yield.
In an on-going stock take on the progress of project activities among project value chain actors in the field, for visibility and value chain actors’ feedback, it’s evident that the BT seed is resistant to ball worm, a stubborn pest in cotton production.
The already secured market and the price for selling cotton has also become an attraction to farmers, Seme -Sub county alone has registered an additional 30 farmers this planting season who are waiting to harvest as well as join a sacco.
“From one acre of land, the maximum yield of cotton translates to about Ksh 130,000 after sale, which other crop can pay you better? its only cotton.” Kisumu County government (ASDSP) Coordinator Mr Isaac Dawo said.
The current average yield of cotton seed is 300 kgs per acre, potential maximum yield of the new cotton hybrid or Bt seed under rainfed production is 2000kgs per acre while the potential maximum yield of the new cotton hybrid of BT seed under irrigation is 2500kgs pe acre.
Therefore from an acre of land , a farmer can get up to Ksh 130,000 from the new seed at the current selling price of Ksh 52 per kg of cotton.
Mr Dawo painted a comparison to other crops like maize and millet which fetches only about 17,000 from an acre of land.
“In the past farmers would store their cotton for even a year due to lack of market, however in this dispensation as soon as they harvest, the crop is transported to Salawa ginnery, soon after the farmers receive payment.” Mr Dawo said adding that Kisumu county has no functional ginnery.
“Apart from distributing seeds, we have made pesticides available to cotton farmers, during this stock take exercise, we have carried 78 liters of pest control chemicals which we are giving farmers for free.” Mr Nixon Chebuche, from AFA said.
Kisumu county government, through its ASDSP has been largely involved with capacity building for cotton farmers, this financial year they have set aside 1.4 million to further train more farmers as their goal is to transform, livestock, and fisheries into commercial oriented enterprises for food security as well as nutrition.
ASDSP was started back in 2013 when conditions dint seem apt for cotton farmers as their selling price was as low as Ksh 42 and the seed available in the market for farmers was of poor quality leading to low yields. The programme was later devolved to county governments in 2017.
Through ASDSP partnerships, farmers from Kisumu county bench-marked in Baringo with the Rift valley Traders also known as Salawa ginnery, singing an agreement with then for the purchase of all their harvested cotton, hence securing ready market for cotton.
Mr Henry Dickson Odoyo a farmer registered with the Kobura cooperative society, cultivated on virgin land after he heard of new cotton seeds, he is both surprised and joyed with the yield that is turning out so promising.
During the stock take, the team comprising of the Kisumu County Director of Crops, and agricultural officer advised the farmers to learn more about their cooperative society levies and ensure they were active in the given societies’.
They encouraged the farmers to use herbicides to clear weed as its cost effective and ensure that they keep records to inform their decisions the next planting season as well as cut down further on cost of growing the crop.
CEC Member Gilchrist Okuom launching the Kisumu County Agricultural call center
By Nancy Juma
Farmers in Kisumu County will no longer require physical contact with the extension officers to get farm related information following the launch of the Countywide Farmer Helpine Call Centre by the County Government with support from U.S Agency for International Development (USAID).
The 6.4 million USAID – KCDMS funded toll-free call centre, the first in the whole country and coming just weeks after the launch of E – Voucher system will help farmers receive virtual extension services, advisory services and market information as they carry out their business.
This marks a great milestone in the transformation of agriculture through technology and will go a long way in realizing increased productivity across the county. The centre domiciled at the County Department of Agriculture will be manned by four technical officers from the county government with expertise in crops, livestock production, veterinary medicine, and fisheries who will respond to questions from farmers providing them with the required information and support.
For a long time now, farmers have been complaining about the few number of extension officers in the fields and thanks to the call centre, they will now be able to receive assistance on whatever information they require.
In the recent past, the county was affected by the perennial flooding along the Nyando basin that swept a number of crops and livestock affecting many livelihoods. The Covid – 19 pandemic also hit hard, and Kisumu was not spared. This has had great negative impacts especially on the household economies supported by small scale farming as it hampered agricultural productivity. Several farmers were unable to access extension services resulting from restriction of movements as part of the protocols in containing the disease.
Speaking during the virtual launch, Kisumu Governor Prof. Peter Anyang’ Nyongo said that the call centre is an intervention that could not have come at a better time especially when the country is dealing with the Covid – 19 pandemic that has compromised food security and nutrition through the interruption of food related logistic services.
He reiterated that there is need to continue providing support to producers and step up monitoring for stock, prices and distribution systems to ensure that the county government can step in where the technical capacity in production is inadequate and market mechanisms fail.
He acknowledged that extension service provision despite being essential in ensuring food value chains function optimally has been greatly affected by inefficient extension services, poor infrastructure and inadequate personnel.
Effects he says will now be resolved by the call centre which he highlighted will help in reaching out to large population of farmers, address the existing shortage of extension officers and allow for real -time access to farmers in areas with poor road network like Nyakach, Muhoroni and Nyando.
He however rooted for enhanced and consistent transfer of current and relevant agricultural and climate technologies at the rural level where they can be implemented to increase productivity.
“There is need to capitalize on fast developing ICT technologies such as media, mobile phones and mobile applications which are becoming high valued communication channels for policy makers, extension workers and value chain actors for efficient and fast transfer of information and knowledge”. The Governor said adding that the extension approach will play a critical role in market linkages among value chain resulting in improved market information that will eventually lead to improved food and nutrition security, reduced poverty levels and improved living conditions.
The USAID Deputy Missions Director Heather Schildge who also joined the Governor for the launch lauded Kisumu for the continued strong partnership and demonstration of commitment towards the journey to self-reliance. She mentioned that the partnership to put up the call centre is part of USAID’s commitment to support Kenya’s response and recovery efforts to ease the immediate and long-term challenges of Covid – 19 pandemic. She applauded the Governor for his efforts towards ensuring the resilience of food suppliers and markets. She also noted that the partnership will greatly enhance Kisumu County’s ability and capacity to respond to the needs of the people of Kisumu.
Agriculture CEC Gilchrist Okuom on his part said that the call centre will go a long way in sensitizing farmers on different extension messages noting that lack of enough farmer information on best agricultural practices has greatly affected agricultural production within the county.
He however reiterated that agricultural transformation requires a robust enabling environment that attracts private sector investments.
“Investors tend to consider the agricultural sector as risky, especially at the primary production level’. He said
To this end, he pointed that the department is working closely with development partners such as USAID through the Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems Project (KCDMS) and other stakeholders to reduce the risks for the private sector to encourage more and better investments within Kisumu.
He says KCDMS is working with the department to strengthen market systems, enabling farmers to intensify and diversify into higher – value crops, value addition activities, and non – farm employment and enterprises. The project, he said has so far supported various initiatives by the county including training and capacity building, supporting public participation, provision of grants to private businesses with a total of 18 grantees in all the value chains, as well as offering ICT support for efficiency, and providing 534 farmers with certified avocado seedlings across 5 sub counties among others.
The helpline to run for the next 12 months will operate from Monday to Friday between 8 am to 5 pm serving farmers in Swahili, English, and Dholuo. It is is expected to directly benefit an estimated 40,000 smallholder farmers in Kisumu County.
Others joining the Governor for the launch were Chief Officers Dr. Paul Omanga, Rosemary Raluoch and USAID – KCDMS representatives Beverly Shitandi – Nyanza Regional Manager, Seth Yake – USAID KCDMS project Productivity and Bonface Musembi – Communication Specialist.
Lead photo, Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr. Mathew Owili flags of the relief items donated by UNICEF to be distributed to families affected by floods ( Picture by Collins Owuor)
By Collins Owuor
Kisumu Deputy Governor Dr. Mathew Owili has today flagged off water, sanitation and hygiene supplies worth Ksh4.6 million from UNICEF to assist communities affected by floods.
Speaking on behalf of Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Dr. Owili lauded the developments as he thanked UNICEF for their great support.
The donations will supplement the county government’s efforts to address recurring floods by opening and desalting of drainage to prevent water back flow.
According to the Deputy Governor, the county government through the special programs department has already set up evacuation centers to house the displaced families.
The county government he said had extended operations to engage its partners in assisting vulnerable households.
UNICEF will partner with the county government to increase water accessibility in Kisumu through the restoration of 13water supplies affected by floods to minimize Covid-19 infections.
Present were CEC’s, Salmon Orimba, Prof. Judith Atyang, Prof. Boaz Nyunya, UNICEF WASH expert Abdi Maalim Hassan, Chief Officer for Water and Sewerage Services Eng. Zacheus Okoth among other officials from the county government and UNICEF.