Speech by H.E the Governor during the flagging off of 50 United Nations volunteers in support of the Kenyan Government’s National COVID 19 Response on July 1, 2020.
Devolution CAS, Hon. Abdul Bahari,
My colleague Governors and Deputy Governors present,
The United Nations family led by Resident Coordinator, Siddhart Chatterjee,
The UNDP Resident Representative, Walid Badawi,
My Brother, Devolution PS, Charles Sunkuli,
My sister, Health PS, Susan Mochache,
The County Assemblies Forum CEO, Judy Oduma,
Our Speaker, Hon Johnson Osoi.
Ladies and gentlemen;
I welcome you all to Kajiado County. Karibuni sana.
Bwana CAS: It is three and a half months now since our country’s index Covid-19 case was discovered in Ongata Rongai within my county. Also, for its unique geographical position, Kajiado remains the most of the high risk counties. We are sandwiched between our nation’s capital, Nairobi, the epi-centre of the spread of the virus, and a 700 km stretch of the Kenya-Tanzania boundary. Not only that, we border six other counties; Narok, Nakuru,Kiambu, Machakos, Makueni and Taita Taveta.
In a sense, therefore, we are the playground of cross border transmission. And it is so, both, locally and internationally.
Bwana CAS, therefore, it couldn’t have been more apt than to choose our county to be the launching pad of this important effort; an effort geared towards the fight against this marauding pandemic.
For us in Kajiado, we believe in a united front against this pandemic. I have had countless encounters and engagements with the Ministry of Health officials as we continue with this important war.
Therefore, today’s encounter with the Ministry of Devolution and ASALs is yet another indicator that this pandemic is not just a health matter. It is affecting our lives in so many ways that each and every one of us has a role to play to contain the virus.
The tremendous negative impact of COVID 19 has effectively been devolved. The rising cases of intra-county, inter-county and inter-community transmissions clearly confirm that the virus is now with us; and is affecting our people’s lives in scales that we may take a while to recover from.
Seized of the dire need to set the pace in our preparedness to contain COVID 19, my Government has taken several measures:-
We have set up five isolation centres in our health facilities.
These are Kajiado Referral Hospital;
Kitengela Sub County Hospital; Ole Kasasi Health Centre; Namanga Health Centre and Oloitokitok Sub County Hospital.
We have set aside Ngong Sub County Hospital, Ng’atataek Health Centre and the KMTC Oloitokitok as COVID 19 Hospitals and Treatment Centres. In fact, health services that were being offered here have been referred to neighbouring facilities.
We now have 20 ICU beds in the county. Plans are under way to scale up this to 50 ICU beds.
We have just achieved the mandatory 300 beds capacity at our Isolation Centres. But owing to our unique situation as an emerging theatre of the virus transmission, we are set to have a total of 700 beds which are currently being made by our Vocational Training Centres(VTCs).
We have trained 720 health workers (or 60 %) of our health work force. We are looking for more support to train the remaining ones.
This pandemic has also re-awakened our creativity and innovation instincts.
To offer our people protective devices, our Vocational Training Centres started to manufacture face masks and sanitizers which we give free of charge to our residents. So far, we have made in excess of 100,000 masks and more than 5,000 litres of sanitizers.
Additionally, we have installed hand-washing facilities at all the main public places.
Ladies and gentlemen: This is just a snippet of what we have already done. We are doing much more on the ground going forward.
The Health nightmare is not the only impact of COVID 19. We have experienced loss of livelihoods as the output of our economy shrinks.
Thousands of our people are now more food insecure than at any other time.
More than 30,000 households in my county are in dire need of relief food support. So far, we have only managed to assist 10,000 families.
My Government is implementing a digital food distribution programme. Let me tell you how it works.
The County Government through our national and county administrative grassroot structures identifies vulnerable cases. A specially generated PIN is sent to each beneficiary to their mobile phones via SMS. The message asks the beneficiary to present the PIN to a pre-selected retail outlet within a walking distance from their homes.
Meanwhile, the pre-selected retailer has an APP (M-Riziki) installed on his /her phone which is used to VERIFY the personal details of the beneficiary.
Once verified, the retailer hands over our pre-packed relief food hamper to the beneficiary.
This ICT-driven initiative, Bwana CAS, has the following benefits;
It reduces crowding and scramble for relief food in public places in this COVID 19 sensitive time.
It has restored the dignity of vulnerable people as they are not exposed to public ridicule when collecting food.
It has boosted the local economy as County Government buys relief food from local shops and pays immediately via MPESA.It has reduced logistical nightmares associated with physical food distribution.
It is highly accountable. Every transaction is digitally monitored and reported to the County Government’s back office system.
This digital distribution of relief food is working very well. I wish to invite our national and international friends to partner with us to reach more vulnerable households through this system.
I wish to come to a close at this point. I look forward to receiving my county’s share of the UN Volunteers.
They are very welcome here and we look forward to working with them in the war against Covid-19 pandemic.
Thank you very much. God bless you all.
H.E JOSEPH OLE LENKU,
Governor, Kajiado County.