The North Rift population coordinator John Anampiu has called on leaders in areas losing people due to migration to think of strategic areas they can invest to retain their population while attracting more people.
Saying that population is affected by fertility, migration and mortality, Anampiu said people will always migrate as they seek opportunities to earn a living which affects the population of the areas they are leaving and those they are moving to.
Anampiu especially appealed to leaders to invest in the development of skills among youths saying they comprised 70 percent of the population and they were likely to migrate in search of opportunities.
“As leaders we should invest in increasing skills development among the youths since they cannot generate jobs or invest without skills,” he said.
Speaking in Iten during a public participation exercise to review the current population policy which is being undertaken in all the 47 counties the coordinator said youths should be encouraged to enroll in vocational training to gain skills.
He said despite the government having invested in the centres most youths were not eager to join them since they are regarded as institutions for failures.
Participants in the exercise said the current mode of distribution of resources where population index was given priority was unfair to counties with a low population like Elgeyo Marakwet county.
They said the government should also look for ways of appreciating such areas with low population as a way of encouraging them to maintain their growth rates.
“This is a loophole that can be used by politicians to erode gains made in population control measures if they tell wananchi to give birth for them to get more funding from government,” said Edwin Kisang CEC Education.
The meeting was also told that despite the government offering free maternal services through the Linda Mama initiative, less than 30 percent of pregnant women in the county attend the maximum four visits to ante natal clinics leading to a high maternal child mortality rate.
“Though we are insisting that all women should give birth in medical facilities, most of our pregnant mothers still prefer giving birth at home under the care of traditional birth attendants,” said Dr David Tanui of Iten County Referral Hospital.
Participants also called on both the county and national governments to consider the plight of people living with disabilities especially in employment opportunities saying the 5 percent employment had largely been ignored.
The county director of planning John Maritim also called for the sensitisation of the residents on the need to give the correct data to census officials saying due to cultural beliefs they never tell the exact number of children and livestock.
By Alice Wanjiru