On March 11, 2016 In Statements and Speeches

Political and religious leaders, Fellow Kenyans, Karibuni Sana hapa Isiolo. What a pleasure it is to join you today. Let me begin with a little personal history. The first President of the Republic was confined in a dry semi-arid part of Kenya. I will not go into the details, but suffice it to say that I have often returned to Samburu, and to the north, for these parts of Kenya mean something special to me. Let me say, also, that I am especially grateful for the wonderful welcome that I always receive when I visit these parts of the country. I am truly grateful. Now: since independence, our country has registered tremendous economic growth, national development and social transformation. Unfortunately, the tangible benefits of our remarkable progress have historically been experienced exclusively - by a few regions, a few groups, a few people. Yet this kind of gap in inclusivity ultimately betrays the promise of our independence. Health, education, infrastructure, security, electricity, and other basic services were never meant to be the preserve of a few, but rather the right of the many. At independence, our rallying cry was ‘Harambee’ - implicit recognition that Kenya never truly grows until and unless we grow together; that no region, no constituency, no citizen could be left behind either in the work or the fruits of national development. In 2010, in a landmark national effort, we voted in a comprehensive constitution that put in place mechanisms to mitigate the reality of a system that was skewed and preferential in the way it allocated resources for national development. Devolution, which we have implemented thoroughly and without scruple, was one of those mechanisms. The Equalization Fund was another. Everybody here has eagerly awaited the inception of that fund. Today marks the end of our wait. As we launch this fund, the culmination of several years’ hard work, I could not be prouder to see it become operational. KSh. 6.0 billion has been allocated to it for the 2015/2016 financial year: that is 0.8 per cent of the last audited revenues approved by the National Assembly, and 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. Under the fund, counties of the ASAL region will receive between KSh 185 million and KSh 650 million in the 2015/2016 financial year. There is no doubt in my mind that the capital, with proper co-ordination and administration, will spark a wave of public investments that will hasten development in your counties, and bring greater equity to the process of national development. With the money now available, I urge local leadership to immediately begin leveraging the funds to cater to basic community needs in your respective counties and create meaningful change for your constituents. Now, as always, you are assured of my administration’s support. In word and deed, my Administration has demonstrated unwavering commitment to investing in regions traditionally disadvantaged. We defend devolution and empower responsive county governments to realize relevant initiatives that spur local development. Each year, we increase funding to counties, maintaining a level of financing that is well above the minimum constitutional requirement. In the last financial year, counties received a total of KSh 294 billion. Between 2013 and 2016, we devolved KSh 168.2 billion to our arid and semi-arid regions. Indeed, I am very proud that partnership between national government and county governments has yielded a marked difference in the ASAL regions, and in each of your counties. With over 6,000 administrative police and over 4,000 regular police deployed to the region, each county represented here has been provided with a greater police presence. 400 vehicles deployed to the region mean that police forces have greater mobility to rapidly deal with security threats, and curb criminal activity. But here, ladies and gentlemen, let me be blunt.  There are some young people who have been lured into violence and extremism. For them, the siren song of the fanatics beyond our borders has proved difficult to resist. Kenya must defend itself as best we can. The first step is to trust ourselves.  Parents who see their children falling into the clutches of extremists must call on the authorities. I say this because I know, as well as you do, that the defence of the nation, and the security of each and every one of us, begins with you and me. I ask you now to join with me, and with my Government, in protecting the lives and property of Kenyans. If you see something, say something. We are all in this together, and we will win this war only if we stand together. As well, you must be wary of ethnic and inter-clan conflict. These conflicts undermine cohesion, development, and ultimately, growth in these counties and our country. Ladies and Gentlemen, Dark days are quickly becoming a relic in this region, as thousands of schools and households are powered by solar energy. Wajir is connecting to opportunity with its first tarmac road. In Narok’s Transmara District Hospital, a new casualty, and a new general ward have been constructed. In Narok, an incinerator and minor operating theatre have been built, and refurbishments and improvements undertaken. Isiolo, Turkana, Narok, Kajiado and Wajir Counties all have Huduma Centers, and others will be opened in Marsabit, Samburu, Garissa and Mandera before June 2016. As national Government, we have also undertaken numerous national projects that improved lives of populations represented here. We have built roads, schools, improved access to and quality of healthcare, strengthened security mechanisms, increased our power production, connected more citizens to the national grid, invested in youth - and we are still going. In terms of roads, last year the Marsabit-Moyale road was completed, ferrying the citizens of Marsabit to better economic prospects. Major construction continues on the Marsabit-Turbi road, the Merrille-River-Marsabit road and the Turbi-Moyale road, all of which are approaching completion. On power generation, the KSh 70 billion Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Marsabit county was launched last year; it is poised to produce 310 MW of electricity for the country. As I speak, the first wind turbine is being erected, and will be up within the next few days. In terms of connecting citizens to electricity, my Government has connected over 2.1 million Kenyans to the national grid since 2013. If I may say so, that is a remarkable and historic feat. Also remarkable, is the fact that last year, for the first time in Kenya’s history, the residents of Lamu Island were connected to the national grid. That gave residents reliable and more affordable electricity and enables the construction of Lamu Port, the expansion of the Manda Airport and the construction of additional hotels in Lamu. And last year, Garissa and Isiolo were also connected to the national grid. In terms of health: the KSh 380 billion Managed Equipment Service Program we introduced last year will see Kenyans across the country experience radically enhanced medical service delivery through the upgrading of our hospitals. By June this year, two hospitals in every county will receive state of the art medical equipment - including diagnostic equipment. As part of my pledge to build a healthier nation, I, in 2013, declared free maternal health services, to stem a maternal health crisis which is particularly felt in the ASAL region. Since then, there has been an exponential increase in deliveries conducted in public facilities, and for many of the counties represented here, safe deliveries have approximately doubled. In terms of investing in youth and women, I can say without reservation that the Jubilee Government has been, without question, the single most pro-youth, pro-women administration Kenya has ever had. Even as I speak, the Women and Youth Empowerment Funds currently have cheques worth KSh 107.2 million for the 12 ASAL Counties ready for immediate issuance to 1,041 groups which successfully applied and qualified for the funds. Overall, Ladies and Gentlemen, as I conclude, the Jubilee Government is working. We have been working with you and we have been working for you. As we launch the equalization fund, I look forward to furthering the frontiers of our work, together. I look forward to collectively lifting the ASAL region to the highest heights of prosperity because I am confident that your success will, ultimately, be Kenya’s success. God bless you; God bless Kenya.

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