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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Turkana residents and refugees to benefit from and Sh3.2billion project

By Ekali Lucas

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More than 500,000 Turkana residents and refugees are set to benefit from a Sh3.2billion World Bank-funded project aimed at upgrading health, water, and education facilities.

The project is funded under Kenya Development Response to Displacement Impact Project (KDRDIP).

In its pilot phase, World Bank pumped in Sh500million and has already disbursed Sh400million for the second phase of the project.

KDRDIP County project coordinator Thomas Amoni on Wednesday said that the funds, which is a credit from the World Bank to Kenyan Government, will improve access to basic social services, expand economic opportunities, and enhance environmental management.

Amoni said the implementation of the project will change the narrative and perception that a refugee life is better than the host community’s lifestyle.

He said the project will also provide temporary employment opportunities for the local community and build assets that will boost measures that provided cushions on vulnerability shocks and risks as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This project will empower locals through a community-driven development model, where the community will solely own the project and the refugee community will also share benefits indirectly through accessing facilities like build roads, markets, and other facilities commonly used by the host community,” he said.

He said the KDRDIP project is geared towards development initiatives that provide control of the development process, management of natural resources, and decision-making authority by targeted beneficiaries.

“We are on the best foot to boost economic livelihoods of vulnerable groups of both locals and the refugee population who will benefit indirectly from the funds. The grants target to benefit women, youth, persons with disability groups. The communities have already felt the impact of funding with established businesses across Turkana West sub-county,” Mr Amoni said.

The project coordinator said the KDRDIP project which is a five-year intervention project will release funds that will have a direct benefit for more than 409,490 locals and 163,192 refugee population.

In the disbursement of the fund, in the group allocation per ward, Kakuma ward received Sh83million, Kalobeyei Sh30.7million, Letea Sh73.8million, Lokichoggio Sh18.9millioin, Lopur Sh35.3million,  Nanam  Sh16.7million, and Songot Sh29.2million.        

The Coordinator said the first phase under the roll-out of the project will include 608 community groups and close to 300 sub-projects with the priority given to the education sector, water, health, markets, road access, agriculture, and sustainable environmental management.

He told the fund beneficiaries to invest more in projects that have a positive impact on the community and are sustainable. 

He told the beneficiaries to act as whistleblowers for any misuse or diversion of the project money.

“This should include; misplaced priorities in projects budgeting and implementation, diversion of funds to ghost projects and indecisiveness in projects awards.” 

Amoni explained that the community should get organized and maximize profits and benefits from the funding especially women and youth who have a bigger take on the grant.           

“The social and economic investments and livelihood interventions are intended to expand access to education, health, water, and infrastructural services and improve the livelihoods of host communities that have been affected by the protracted presence of refugees,” he stated.

Turkana West legislator Daniel Epuyo advised against personalizing groups during the lifetime of the project as this would result in loss of focus and plunder of Projects at the expense of local beneficiaries.

Epuyo asked project Committees were also cautioned against compromising project implementation and irregular expenditure which may open floodgates of corrupt undertakings.    

The MP also informed committees of the strict Donor requirements with the ability to detect and punish fraud within the laws of Kenya.

He also asked the project implementers to act tough and ensure the benefits of the projects initiated are realized and cascaded to the entire community. They should put in place a robust monitoring and evaluation team to ensure proper utilization of the grant to attract further funding.

Turkana West Deputy County Commissioner Stephen Emojong assured the members of government support through close monitoring on misuse of funds.

“We require transparency and proper accountability of these funds ensure. No money will be returned to the donor because of low burn rate,” Emojong warned. 

He said the government will not relent on taking punitive measures to those out to squander the fund.

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