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Kazi Mtaani programme transforming Thika slums, with calls for its sustainability

The  Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary, Charles Hinga addressing the press after an inspection tour of the government’s Kazi Mtaani and National Hygiene programme in Thika’s Kiandutu slums on Wednesday May 20, 2020. Photo by Muoki Charles/KNA.

The  government is making efforts to ensure the recently launched Kazi Mtaani programme, meant to cushion youth in Counties most hit by Covid-19, is sustainable post covid-19.

The  Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary (PS), Charles Hinga said the government will weigh its impact after the virus is contained, before deciding on its progress or whether it will be discontinued.

Speaking in Kiandutu slums of Thika during an inspection tour of the programme on Wednesday, Hinga said they plan to introduce Phase Two of the programme where the youth will be engaged in infrastructural development of roads, hospitals and other public utilities.

“We have seen a lot of success in Phase One and a lot of youth are engaged. In Phase Two, they will be helping engineers in casual jobs in construction sites and tarmacking of roads to keep them fully engaged,” he said.

He said the government is doing everything to protect jobs and incomes from the coronavirus pandemic economic crisis.

“If we tell Kiandutu residents to stay at home, what are they going to eat? The government is responding to effects of this pandemic in many ways among them such programmes,” he said.

Already Sh.354 million has been spent in the first phase of the programme on payment of wages and production of face masks.

The PS was accompanied by Kiambu County Commissioner (CC), Wilson Wanyanga and Governor James Nyoro.

Wanyanga said crime in Kiandutu, one of the biggest and riskiest slums in the County had dropped drastically since the launch of the programme in the area as the youths can earn and stay engaged.

On his part, Nyoro said the County government will help by providing garbage collection trucks, and ensure they are dumped at designated areas.

About 1, 500 youths have been enrolled in the programme in Thika, in jobs that entail sweeping, unclogging drainage systems among other casual jobs.

Kazi Mtaani and National Hygiene Programme is a labour-intensive public works programme launched by President Uhuru Kenyatta and has employed over 26,114 youths living in informal settlements in eight counties across the country.

The beneficiaries earn daily wages payable through mobile money transfers usually done weekly.

The  programme was first rolled out in 28 informal settlements across Kiambu, Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale, Nakuru, Mandera, Kilifi and Kisumu counties where Covid-19 cases are prevalent.

According to its beneficiaries, some of whom were on the verge of losing hope due to joblessness, they can now feed their families during this difficult period.

The programme has improved the face of the town and its estates that were characterised by heaps of garbage, clogged drainage systems and dirty streets that triggered stinking smell making the settlement inhabitable.

Joseph Njuguna and Rose Wanjiru some of the beneficiaries who used to work in construction sites called for the programme to continue post Covid-19.

By  Muoki Charles

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