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Health, Agriculture dream come true after a decade of devolution

As Kenya marks 10 years of devolution, residents of Kirinyaga County are among millions of citizens who have immensely benefited from a devolved system of governance.

Transfer of powers and funding from the National Government to the counties has enabled county residents to have a bigger say and participate in making decisions on matters that affect them.

Devolution has provided greater freedoms and flexibilities at a local level, translating to delivery of more effective, efficient and better targeted public services.

Kirinyaga has made significant strides towards achieving its vision of being a County enjoying improved productivity through maximum realisation of its potential for sustained economic, social and political development.

The County Governor, Anne Waiguru, previously served as the first Cabinet Secretary for Devolution, a critical docket tasked with overseeing a seamless transition from a centralised system of governance to a devolved system.

She was elected in 2017 succeeding pioneer Governor Joseph Ndathi, and she is now on her second and last term after successfully defending her seat in last year’s General Election. She uses her wealth of experience in public service to run county affairs.

Health, one of the devolved functions, has undergone immense transformation owing to heavy investment in infrastructure and service delivery.

Beneficiary of hatchery supplied by Kirinyaga County to boost production

Notable is the recently commissioned State-of-the-Art Kerugoya Level Five Hospital Medical Complex,  whichis now offering comprehensive medical services to residents. The 341-bed hospital is equipped with modern equipment that enables the medics to offer high-quality diagnostic and treatment services, including critical care in the ICU and HDU.

The residents said devolution of health has made it easier to access services that could have required one to travel to specific towns, especially Nairobi.

Leah Mwihaki, a resident from Karumandi in Gichugu Constituency, is offering services on timely basis at the new Kerugoya Hospital.

“I am very impressed that a public hospital can have such standards. The charges have not changed despite the standards of the hospital changing,” said Leah.

Primary healthcare is at the doorstep through construction of health centres and dispensaries at the grassroots. Almost all wards have fully equipped dispensaries and laboratories.

Grace Migwi, a resident of Gathigiri and a beneficiary of Matandara Dispensary, says the facility has saved people from her village, especially pregnant women and mothers who had to travel all the way to Kimbimbi Hospital for their antenatal and child welfare clinics.

The dispensaries play a critical role, as they help in early detection of diseases for timely intervention as well as reduce congestion at higher-level health facilities, thus giving them space to effectively deal with more complex health matters.

Agriculture has been revamped by devolved units. The farmers, who are organised into groups, are given inputs as capital to start a project. This includes seedlings, fingerlings, Artificial Insemination services, feeds, or feed manufacturing equipment.

After the first harvest, the farmers use the proceeds to expand the group project and also start individual projects, using the experience gained.

The County government is now moving towards aggregation and agroprocessing, which will help address the challenges of post-harvest management and earn farmers more money from value addition.

This will be boosted by the upcoming Sagana Agro-industrial Park, which will have processing factories that will utilise local produce.

Stanely Munene, a fish farmer who is the beneficiary of the county’s programme, acknowledges the easy access to extension services. “Devolution has been of great help to farmers since they can now easily access support services from the government. This is one of the sectors where we can say devolution has greatly worked,” Munene says.

The County government of Kirinyaga has had a robust town infrastructure development programme aimed at creating a conducive environment for traders to transact business.

Construction of modern markets has gone a long way in providing farmers with a conducive place to aggregate and sell their produce to thousands of traders and buyers who converge in the markets.

As aofthe 10th Anniversary of Devolution, Kirinyaga has constructed 16 new markets. They include Sagana, Kibingoti, Kagio Fresh Produce, Kagio Cloths Market, Kutus, Kerugoya Fresh Produce, Kerugoya Fruits Market, Kagumo, Kianyaga, Kiamutugu, Wang’uru, Makutano Fresh Produce, Makutano Tomato Market, Githure, Karumandi, and Gathoge.

Samuel Mwangi, a trader at Kerugoya Fresh Produce Market, speaking in appreciation of the developments, says that the market has provided a conducive business environment for both traders and customers. He added that a good lighting system in the market also enables business transactions at night, hence increasing business hours.

By Mutai Kipngetich

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