The Governments of Kenya and Finland have partnered to cushion residents of the seven districts in Busia County against high levels of poverty.
The joint partnership aims at reducing poverty and improving livelihoods and living standards of the poor communities in Teso-North, Teso-South, Busia, Nambale, Butula, Samia and Bunyala districts.
In a project dubbed Programme for Agriculture and Livelihoods in Western Communities (PALWECO), the two Governments are now strengthening the capacity of the population to influence structures and processes affecting them.
Dr. Edward Sambili, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 says that PALWECO is being rolled out at a time when Busia County continues to experience developmental challenges such as high levels of poverty estimated at 69 percent by the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey 2005/2006 which is way above the national average of 46 percent.
Speaking in Kisumu on Tuesday, during the official opening of the PALWECO roll out workshop, Dr. Sambili noted that the three components of the programme namely household economy, agricultural value chain and support functions are clearly in line with the three pillars of the Kenya Vision 2030.
“The positive outcomes of the programme will go a long way in contributing to the aspirations of Vision 2030 and the Millennium Development Goals. In this regard, therefore, there will be need to focus on results,” said the PS in a speech read on his behalf by Mr. Joseph Mukui, Director of Rural Planning Directorate.
He noted that already implementation structures and partnerships have been established, sensitization on the three components have been conducted and quick win activities identified by the districts focusing on conservation agriculture, grain storages, poultry and bee keeping.
“As the Ministry responsible for the coordination of the programme, we shall provide necessary guidance and support to ensure that the objectives of the programme are met.”
Addressing the same meeting, the Finnish Government through Ms. Marjaana Pekkola, Counsellor (Rural Development) expressed its commitment towards supporting Kenya's new constitution and devolution process.
“The new development policy program which was approved by the Finnish Parliament about a month ago, has Kenya as one of the main partner countries and recognizes human rights based approach as a central element,” said Ms. Pekkola.
She said that the new program also focuses on priority areas including; democratic responsible society, which promotes the human rights, inclusive employment generating green economy, human development, sustainable management of the natural resources and environmental protection.
“Our three main cross-cutting issues are gender, climate proofing and reduction of inequality,” added Pekkola.
On his part, Mr. Sakwa Mwangala, PALWECO Project Director, emphasized on the need for communities to have the capacities to learn their own development.
He said the aim of the roll out workshop was to set the stage for the programme implementation.
“The participants will review the programme approach and understand the linkages between planned PALWECO activities and with those of Governmental, District and other collaborating partners,” said Mwangala.
The total budget for the PALWECO programme for the five years is 30,500,000 (Kshs 3.4 billion) to be funded jointly with the Government of Kenya contributing 10 percent while the Finnish Government shoulders the balance.
Kisumu – April 3, 2012