Deputy President Wiliam Ruto has asked donors and Government officers to involve communities in the implementation of development projects. He said projects under the North and North Eastern Development Initiative (NEDI) required input from the leaders and residents.
The counties, under NEDI include Mandera, Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir and West Pokot Counties.
Addressing NEDI stakeholders and partners at his Karen office, Nairobi, Dr Ruto said public participation was no longer a luxury but a necessity as enshrined in the Constitution.
National Assembly Majority Leader Adan Duale, Governors Ali Roba (Mandera), Ali Korane (Garissa), Josephat Nanok (Turkana) Hassan Abdi (Wajir), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot) and Mohamud Mohamed Ali (Marsabit) and 25 MPs from the NEDI Counties attended the forum.
Principal Secretaries and other top senior Government officials from the ministries of Treasury, Energy, Livestock, Water, Transport, Devolution, Education and Housing were also present.
The Deputy President said the community engagement strategies must involve key stakeholders, including leaders and local residents, in the planning and implementation of infrastructure, water among other economic development projects in their communities.
“It is important to involve leaders and residents because they understand their priority areas. We know that a thoughtful approach to project planning and design, which includes input from all interested parties throughout the process, builds trust and leads to success, “ said Dr Ruto.
“Public participation also helps initiate projects that have value chain and sustainability,” added Dr Ruto.
The Deputy President asked the Treasury to move with speed to ensure that the money that World Bank has allocated for projects under NEDI are used within the stipulated timeframe.
“The Treasury and those responsible for the implementation of these projects should move with speed to ensure the funds allocated by World Bank are used within the stipulated time,” said Dr Ruto.
He went on: “That’s why it’s important to identify the priority projects as soon as possible so as not to be the stumbling block to the release of such funds.”
Dr Ruto, at the same time, asked all leaders to attend meetings to be convened by the partners and stakeholders at the counties responsible next Monday, aimed at identifying the priority areas.
He said NEDI projects, which were conceptualized by the Government and the World Bank as an element of the affirmative action, saying the projects upon implementation would transform the lives of residents in the region.
“I urge all MPs from the NEDI counties to attend the meeting on Monday next week so that they engage the stakeholders and partners on the development priority areas,” said Dr Ruto.
The leaders said the funding of development urged donors and investors to inject fresh life into the counties that have suffered marginalisation since independence by initiating projects especially in the fields of water, agriculture, energy, and infrastructure among other areas.
They also underscored the need for increasing households’ access to modern energy services.
Ms Helene Carrison Rex, the programme leader for NEDI from the World Bank urged those responsible for the implementation of the projects to ensure the funds were released and used within the stipulated time period
“I want to encourage you to intensify in coordination and synergy in the implementation of the projects,” said Ms Rex.
She urged all the stakeholders to involve elected leaders and residents in the identification of projects that have direct impact on their lives.
Governors Roba and Mahammud lauded how the Isiolo-Moyale road had opened up trade and investments in the region previously shunned because of poor transport infrastructure.
The leaders said they were optimistic that the narrative about the northern region of the country being insecure, underdeveloped and unattractive for investors would soon come to an end.
“We want to sincerely thank the Government for the infrastructural developments in Northern Kenya. This is impressive and we are sincerely grateful,” said Governor Roba.
Governor Nanok said it was important that committees responsible for the implementation of the project involved the local communities.
“Projects should be owned and appreciated by the people. All committees should make sure that they get approval from the people before implementing any project,” said Governor Nanok.