The United States and the county government of Kisumu on Tuesday signed a pact that could completely redefine how the US government engages with Kenya on the development front.
The five-year term Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) entered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) seeks to plug the resource gap and enable the counties to build the necessary capacity to deliver on the devolved functions.
The USAID Mission Director, Mark Meassick termed the MOU a deliberate policy shift by the US government to forge a working relationship and directly engage the counties in finding home-grown solutions to the development challenges at the grassroots level.
“This MOU should signal change and that Kenya and the US government is going to be doing business differently,” said Meassick.
He said the new arrangement presented a rare opportunity for Kisumu to leverage on USAID’s tested expertise in executing projects as the two entities would operate as a team. This, he added, would spur confidence and break the ground for more investors to directly channel investment to the county.
Meassick observed that an enhanced public private partnership was key to developing appropriate set skills for competitive and efficient production that would promote emergent of key value chains and help create needed opportunities and jobs.
The Kisumu governor, Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o hailed the new agreement, saying it bode well for the many agricultural activities currently staring at their deathbeds across the county.
Nyong’o said the arrangement would assure a good farm gate price and help set the county on the path of self-reliance by returning farmers to fields in crucial sectors such as rice and cotton growing.
“Kisumu just like other parts of the country has great economic potential but dismal achievement and this pact gives a vantage point from where to begin addressing the challenges,” he said.
The Nyando MP, Jared Okello among other top county and leaders present pledged legislative support to facilitate the speedy implementation of the MOU.
Okello said he was optimist the new deal would bring the local farmers agony of exaggerated production cost and poor harvest to an end through extensive investment in research and extension services.
Eight counties, including Isiolo, Kakamega, Kiambu, Kisii, Makueni, Mombasa and Nakuru have been chosen for the piloting of the USAID MOU with agriculture and health sectors identified as the launching pads in Kisumu County.
By Irene Anyango/Milton Onyango