Water, food security to form part of governor’s legacy
The Turkana County Governor, Josphat Nanok has prioritized provision of water and food security as he seeks to cement his legacy.
Nanok, who is serving his second term, has made it clear that he intends to ensure residents have access to clean water for both domestic and livestock use.
Majority of the population in the County are pastoralists who depend on livestock as their main economic activity.
Water scarcity has seen hundreds of them migrate to neighbouring Uganda in search of the precious commodity.
No wonder then that most of the conflicts especially along the borders have been partly attributed to the search for water and pasture.
“For the next five years, my administration will pay great attention to the water sector. We shall focus on interventions geared towards ensuring our people access clean portable water both for domestic and industrial use. Water for livestock will be enhanced through construction of mega dams capable of collecting and storing water for long periods. We intend to borrow applicable designs from our neighbours in Uganda and customize it to suit our terrain and climatic conditions,” said Nanok.
And as a show of this commitment, the governor launched a mega water project within his 100 days of office in Nakwamekwi, Lodwar.
“Residents of Nakwamekwi can now access clean water following the recent commissioning of 2C borehole at St. Kevins with a 50 cubic meter per hour yield. With enhanced connectivity, the borehole is expected to serve at least 15,000 direct beneficiaries,” said Nanok during launching of the project that was also funded by Save the Children, an NGO operating in the County.
Lack of water and rationing of the scarce commodity were some of the major challenges facing County residents.
The issue also became a major campaign issue with the governor being accused by his opponents of not having done enough to solve the problem.
The management of Lodwar Water and Sanitation Company was also another issue that led to a number of disputes ending in the High Court.
“To address the issues at Lowasco, we must reform the company so that it works within the County structures,” said Nanok.
The company was previously operating independently under the Rift Valley Water Services Board. Lodwar residents have accused the company of inflating water bills despite the long duration of water rationing.
Former LOWASCO Managing Director, (Rtd) Major John Esekon said the growing population of the town and underfunding of the company were to blame for the challenges facing the company.
Meanwhile, devolution has seen a rapid growth of the town and increased demand for water as more buildings were being constructed in the town.
The governor has appointed Namuar Emathe as County Executive Committee member for Water, a man considered to be experienced in the managing of the sector.
He previously served as a chief officer in the Ministry of Water towards the end of Nanok’s first administration.
On food security which forms the second key area of focus for the governor, Nanok has promised that investments in this key sector would be accelerated.
“Engagements with development partners, private sector and philanthropists to bolster resource mobilization and investment will also be strengthened,” he added.
He has also pledged to complete ongoing projects, secure equitable benefits of land and natural resources and deepen devolution and enhancing staff capacity to manage, monitor and evaluate projects.
However, critics argue that the County Government could have done more in this sector. “We expected the issue of relief food to be a thing of the past after we got devolved governance,” said Turkana South MP, James Lomenen.
Relief food was also key campaign agenda in last year’s elections and it has also featured in the ongoing gubernatorial election petition filed by former Turkana Senator John Munyes.
Both camps have traded accusations and counter accusations over the misuse of relief food to woo voters.
Elsewhere, Nanok named Christopher Aletia County Executive committee member for Agriculture, a man with vast experience in irrigation, perhaps an indication that the matter of food insecurity was close to the governor’s table.
On the other hand, the national government has promised to ensure that famine is a thing of the past in the county. Recently, President Uhuru Kenyatta met leaders from the County, where he promised to make the County a model of food security in the country.
In essence, the legacy of governor Nanok, being at the helm of the vast and dry County for the second and final term, would be based on how he performs in the provision of water and ensuring residents were food secure.
By Peter Gitonga