When you looked at Busia town especially after the rains, the surface runoff could not actually find its way.
But at the moment, the runoff easily finds its way due to the commendable work by the National Hygiene Programme youth, says Aggrey Ogendo, a public health officer in Busia Municipality.
Ogendo states that the drains that used to be clogged over the years have been opened and the debris transported to the dumpsite as opposed to the old practice where they could be dumped near the trenches.
“Once it rained, the same debris used to be washed back to the drainage,’ he says adding that the programme has assisted the Municipality in cleaning the drains by wheeling the debris away enabling smooth flow of runoff water.
He adds that the Municipality used to have bushes all over the town which would act as breeding places for mosquitoes, rodents and reptiles.
“You could even find snakes in such places but because of the kazi mtaani initiative, those bushes have been cleared,” he says.
The official adds that as a Municipality, they do not have enough staff but kazi mtaani has come in handy to ensure that the town is very clean.
Ogendo however cites garbage collection as a big challenge especially when it comes to transportation.
“The refuse is collected and heaped because we only have one truck which serves the entire County,” he explains.
Patrick Wandera, a tailor within Marachi area, says that the youth have done a commendable job on unclogging the drainages.
“Since the youth began working in this area, the road is clear and people here appreciate the good work,” he says.
Wandera recommends that the programme should continue so that locals stay in a hygienic place.
David Omollo, the Principal of Busia Agricultural Training College is also full of praise for the National Hygiene Program.
Omollo says that the Institution used to have a very big bush towards its lower side of the farm which used to serve as a hideout for thieves.
“People who steal items could hide them in those places,” he said adding that five livestock from the institution were stolen and driven away through the bushy area.
He adds that the Management does not have enough manpower to clear the expansive farm and at times had to request for labour from prison inmates.
“But they could not meet the target of bush clearing because by the time they cleared one side, the other has overgrown,” he says hailing the government for the good initiative.
The official now appeals to the government to consider embarking on legacy projects which could help the facility and local farmers.
“This being an agricultural institution, we are laying emphasis on horticultural fruit trees and even fodder,” he says adding that the area that has been cleared is around 4 acres and the institution could spare two acres for fruit trees and another two acres of fodder.
Sylvester Makodero an Ecosystem Conservator in Busia says that the National Hygiene Programme dubbed Kazi Mtaani has really helped in changing the face of Kenya Forest Services Office Premises.
“We had a lot of cleaning to do and around four ant hills that they have flattened since the youth were brought here during the second week of August,” he says.
Makodero adds that the youth have also cleared a stream within the forest area hence creating a smooth flow of water.
“They have planted 200 seedlings around the park,” he says adding that the youth have also planted k-apple around the forest park.
He adds that kazi mtaani cohorts have prepared 50 tons of tree nursery soil and filled 5, 000 pots with soil.
“We have also transferred 5,000 seedlings to the potting materials,” he says adding that the young casuals also helped in watering the seedlings during dry days.
The official at the same time says that weeding of the seedlings is also being done by the youth.
Makodero says that at least five youth have shown a lot of interest in tree nursery management and his team is committed to ensure that they achieve their dream.
He adds that the kazi mtaani youth have planted 3, 600 tree seedlings around the Municipality.
The official discloses that the institution only has three staff attending to two tree nurseries and according to their target, one staff is supposed to raise 20, 000 seedlings annually.
“Currently we have a target of 100,000 which I am sure we are going to achieve if we have these youths for the next three or four months,” he says.
He appeals to the government to extend such services to other Sub Counties so that they could help other than the Municipality alone.
“We have seen their importance within the Municipality and we encourage them to continue,” he says urging the County Government to work closely with them with a view to increasing the tree cover which currently stands at 1% against the National one at 7.2%.
“When we use the youth properly, I think we can be able to increase the cover to the required level within a short period of time,” noted Makodero.
The National Hygiene Programme famously known as Kazi Mtaani is a national Government initiative as a Social Protection Program aimed at protecting youth aged between 18 and 35 against the negative economic effects of the COVID 19 pandemic.
By Salome Alwanda