NAIROBI– The Kenyan government has increased the number of counties designated as Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) from 23 to 29 to enable more counties to benefit from the ASAL aid and development programmes.
The increase follows a recommendation by the National Drought Management Authority (NMDA) that more counties be brought within the bracket of counties covered by the newly created State Department of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, said the Cabinet Secretary (Minister) for Devolution, Eugene Wamwala, on Tuesday.
The ASAL-designated counties require proper planning for acceleration of development as the move will help spur investments which will connect them to a potential 100 million consumers from neighbouring countries and those in the Horn of Africa sub-region.
He added that ASAL counties had the potential of 24 million acres for livestock production and a further nine million acres for crop production under irrigation, which, if well managed, could become the next frontier for business in the country.
This area has witnessed major discoveries of rare earth minerals which if properly utilized have the potential of accelerating our shared prosperity, he said.
Wamalwa who spoke in Naivasha, about 90 kilometres north of here, at the opening of a five-day retreat for the development of a strategic plan for the areas, said the plan will help address part of the historical injustices afflicting some areas and will also help the government put in place measures to develop the regions.
Part of ASAL agenda, he said, is to ensure the counties are food-sufficient as opposed to the regular distribution of relief food and pointed to the Galana Kulalu project in southeastern Kenya as a good example towards food self-reliance.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK