The poverty index level of Busia County has drastically risen from 70 percent last year to 83 percent according to the latest survey as revealed by the area Governor Paul Nyongesa Otwoma during his inaugural address to the 3rd County Assembly.
“The current 83% poverty level has now placed Busia County to be the poorest county, a trend that is worrying to all leaders of Busia County,” noted Dr Otwoma in his opening remarks during his address to the County Assembly.
The governor noted that the county needs to address the matter with urgency which is due to an ailing economy characterised by poor health services, lack of reliable clean and safe water, poor infrastructure, limited access to education and training opportunities, poor business infrastructure and food insecurity.
“We are faced with many challenges in our healthcare system and food insecurity leading to stunted growth among children,” said Dr Otwoma.
The stunted growth of children in the County both physical and mental stand at 22 percent, with 20 percent of children in the area facing acute malnutrition.
Despite Busia being a gateway to East Africa, and high revenue contributors to the KRA with over Sh10 billion targeted this year at the Busia and Malaba One-Stop Border Posts, the county has failed to generate or initiate projects that inject revenue to the county contributing to the high poverty index.
Moreover, despite being at the border, the county government only managed to collect Sh 200,000 in revenue for the FY 2021/2022 with the leading revenue contributor being NHIF, a sector that has faced many challenges.
“It’s a big shame that NHIF is the leading contributor of our revenue, yet over 4000 trucks ferrying export goods pass through this county on a daily basis,” he added.
The governor disclosed that the county is in the process of reviewing the second generation and developing the Third County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) which will address the long-term plans of the administration hence forming a development blueprint.
The county boss said the county accumulated a local revenue deficit totaling Sh2, 704,143,214 between 2013- 2022.This deficit has led to high pending bills amounting to Sh1.7 billion which negatively affect expenditure.
“I shall be presenting in this assembly the policy on local revenue projections, ceilings and collection to maximise on our potential because I firmly believe that a budget should not just be a political document but an economic master plan,” said Dr Otwoma.
He added “to streamline the operations in the revenue sector I have directed sub-county, ward administrators and village administrators to supervise the revenue collection function pursuant to provisions of the law. This will create an effective interface in service delivery.”
“Poverty has been a key challenge and has remained persistently high in Kenya. Several measures have been undertaken toward poverty alleviation. However, poverty has remained pervasive in many parts of the country. In Busia County the poverty rate has remained persistently high,”Otuoma noted.
The governor has established a task force to look into measures that can be used to alleviate poverty by checking on county administration and policies that might be contributors to poverty.
By Absalom Namwalo