Kenya government has come under cross-fire following reports that it proposed to spend Sh37,500 to purchase bar soap that is sold Sh250 in most supermarkets across the country; for distribution to Kenyans who will be affected by El Niño rains.
In the El Niño response strategy, a copy of which was leaked to the local media, the government plans to spend Sh 37.5 million to buy 1,000 bar soaps – which comes to Sh37,500 per piece as against the Sh250 per bar soap across the country.
The cost of the bar soaps rekindles the memories of the Sh109,000 for the “non-carcinogenic” wheelbarrows that Bungoma County Government recently purchased.
In the same budget proposals, the government will be paying National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) Sh50 million in “agency and management fees” for unspecified tasks, raising questions why the government should pay its own department for public work.
The El Niño Response Plan will be implemented by a multi-sectoral taskforce led by the National Disaster Operations Centre (NDOC) under the ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government.
“Relevant national State organs and the county governments held a meeting on Tuesday September 8, 2015, under the chairmanship of the Deputy President (William Ruto) in order to develop strategies to minimise the negative effects of the phenomenon while at the same time maximising on the positive aspects of the abundant rains.
“A subsequent meeting chaired by the Deputy President was held on September 25, 2015, between the national government, county governments, development partners and the private sector. The purpose of the meetings (was) to forge a common approach to addressing the phenomenon,” the government plan states.
The El Niño forecasts are that most parts of the country will be expected to experience flooding, or ought to have started experiencing highly enhanced or enhanced rainfall.
The rains were to be experienced from October 2015 to January 2016. “This flooding will especially manifest in the low lying areas of Nyando river basin, Western Kenya, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera, and the lower parts of Tana, Kilifi, Kwale and the coastal region.
“Also affected by heavy flooding will be urban centres namely Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu and Narok,” the plan states.
Another expenditure that raises eyebrows is Sh50 million the government has set aside to “carry out sensitisation on disaster preparedness and risk reduction measures to fishers and fish farmers” in 30 counties.
And even though the Kenya National Examinations Council ought to have factored in the cost of transporting national examination materials ahead of the exams that started on Monday, October 12, the El Niño strategy plan shows that the national and county governments expect to spend Sh35 million for transportation of national examinations.
This is in addition to a Sh5 million allocation for “provision of psycho-social support to affected learners, teachers and parents/communities for acceptance and recovery.”
The outrageous allocations come at a time the government is experiencing a serious cash crunch that the National Treasury admitted, saying they are “challenges facing the global economy including Kenya’s.”
By Olisemeka Obeche