President Uhuru Kenyatta has launched a 6.0 billion shillings (about 59.4 million US dollars) Equalization Fund to uplift disadvantaged counties which have lagged behind others in development.

The 6.0 billion shillings allocated to the fund for the current fiscal year amounts to 0.8 per cent of the last audited revenues approved by the National Assembly, the lower House of Parliament, a notable improvement on the minimum constitutional requirement of 0.5 per cent.

“We plan to continue exceeding the minimum requirement until we compensate for the time that has lapsed without the Fund,” President Kenyatta said Friday.

Counties in the Arid and Semi Arid Land (ASAL) regions of Kenya would receive between 185 million and 650 million shillings this fiscal year, he said when he opened the Pastoralists’ Leadership Summit at the Samburu Simba Lodge in Isiolo County in central Kenya.

The summit, being held under the theme: “Devolved Governance: A call for more Effective Public Participation and Political Action in Pastoralist Areas”, brought together leaders from 14 of Kenya’s 47 counties — Isiolo, Mandera, Wajir, Garissa, Marsabit, Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo, Laikipia, Samburu, Tana River, Lamu, Kajiado and Narok counties.

President Kenyatta, who was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, expressed confidence that with proper co-ordination and administration, the Equalization Fund would spark a wave of public investment which would speed up development in the pastoralist counties and ensure equity in national development.

“With the money available, I urge local leaders to immediately begin leveraging the funds to cater to basic community needs in your respective counties and create meaningful change among your constituents,” President Kenyatta said. “In word and deed, my Administration has demonstrated unwavering commitment to investing in regions traditionally disadvantaged.”

The President also announced that a Livestock Marketing Authority would be set up in the 2016-2017 fiscal year to help the pastoralist communities reap maximum profits from the sale of their animals.

“We will allocate money in the 2016/-017 financial year to make the Authority operational,” the president said.

He also urged the leaders of pastoral communities to change their mindset and thinking positively. “Let us stop negative thinking. Let us think of what we need to do to improve the lives of our people. Let us say marginalisation is a thing of the past,” he told the summit.

Source: KBC