The people of Embu have great expectations about what this first County Government will do for them. It is a new beginning and one that not only offers us an opportunity to dream together but to chart a new course to transform Embu into one of the most admired Counties in Kenya.
As the Governor and with the support of Embu County, Embu is in the path of success. I will ensure an elaborate policy and legislative framework is in place to support the dreams we have for our people. I have undertaken to work with the key stakeholders from various sectors including education, trade, transport, tourism, hospitality, civil society organizations and men and women of this County when making key decisions.
On representation my government will be steadfast in ensuring gender representation and inclusion of persons with disabilities and minorities not just because the law requires it but because my leadership is committed to social justice.
As I said during my swearing in a few weeks ago, I intend to focus on a Ten Point program through which I expect that we can transform this County.
The agricultural sector remains the backbone of the economy of Embu County. The focus of my Government will be to seek ways and means to modernize farming methods, support access to affordable credit, and most important to add the value of the produce within the borders of the county so as to achieve two key goals. One, increase the wealth of our farmers and two generate employment for our young and growing citizens, mainly in dairy, coffee, tea and the horticulture industries. Already task forces are in place to implement these initiatives. My government will also employ the public private partnership approach in promoting agriculture in the county.
Water: Currently, from statistics available from Tana Water Services Board access to water coverage in Embu county stands at 96% . My government will be sourcing funds from GoK and other Development Partners to ensure adequate provision of water in the county. The County has a huge potential for irrigation. We must plan and actualize this potential in order to reduce over reliance on rain-fed agricultural production. In this regard, my County Government will work with key stakeholders to increase rain water harvesting especially in the dry parts of the county such as parts of Mbeere North and Mbeere South Constituency. We will at the same time look at rehabilitating dams which has the potential to supply water to a huge part of Mbeere. We shall also seek to improve sanitation in our major urban centres .
Infrastructure is an area that the Government of President Mwai Kibaki has had a singular focus on and President Uhuru Kenyatta has pledged to continue this legacy. In Embu County, out of a total of 1500 Kms of roads in the County, only 300 Kms are either tarmac or all weather roads. Improved roads facilitate movement of goods and people throughout the County which in turn increases trade and production. Our aim will be to upgrade the 1100 Kms of roads to all weather roads so that every home in Embu County has a direct connection with an all-weather or tarmac road. We will utilize local labour
when building these roads to provide opportunities for employment.
Education: I take delight in that Embu County has one of the best completion, retention and transition rates in the country at 89.4 per cent, 91 percent and 87 per cent respectively. This is good but can be improved to attain the 100% mark in all these measures in as leaders we create the necessary supportive environment. Currently, Embu County has 6 affiliates Universities. Several of our schools have also been upgraded to national level and we will be discussing with respective authorities on how to provide opportunities to our students in secondary schools so as to increase our transition rates to universities which remains low. In primary schools we shall remain supportive to the National Government as it seeks to improve the facilities of schools by upgrading the IT facilities in primary schools so as to give our pupils quality education. I commit to ensure that Early Childhood Education, which is critical in terms of laying a solid foundation for the education of our children, receives the necessary support and resources.
This should include the possibility of assessing the capacity of our primary schools to share facilities with ECD programs. To address the shortage of middle-level professionals, technicians and artisans,
we will aim to have a well-equipped polytechnic in each ward of the county. These polytechnics will address the shortage of skilled artisans while at the same time providing much needed employment for our youth.
Health as we know is central to our success as individuals and families. Embu is one of the most progressive areas in the country when it comes to indicators such as number of children immunized. In fact, the current County Profile shows that immunization stands at 100 per cent meaning there is almost universal access to health care services. We will work to consolidate these gains as we seek to improve to similar levels maternal health to ensure that pregnancy does not become a death sentence for our women and that child mortality is also significantly reduced. My administration will overall seek to bring health care facilities to the people and our long-term goal will be to have a district level hospital in every district in the county.
Trade: Small scale traders remain the engine of growth for the county especially in urban areas. My government will have a special focus on these small scale traders and will be looking at ways of reducing the multiple licenses that they have to pay while looking at other ways of increasing revenue for the county.
Towards meeting the objectives stated above, I have to date started several initiatives among them; A one day conference on Tea with all stakeholders in Embu County and Management of K.T.D.A., Agricultural Officers, Cooperatives etc with a view to coming up with ways of marketing value added Tea. In conjunction with Tea Factories and K.T.D.A. A task force appointed by the Governor is about to submit its report and recommendations.
A similar conference on Coffee has also been held whose objectives are to enable Farmers and Cooperative Societies to take charge of all operations including milling, marketing and selling of coffee. A further objective is to add value to coffee and market Embu coffee branded all over the world. Increased income to farmers will also be achieved through mounting a vigorous campaign to promote domestic coffee consumption.
The task force is set to visit Ethiopia for a comparative approach to marketing in the coffee sub-sector. Similar incentives are prepared for Horticulture and milk in the coming weeks. The overall objective is to have Embu County Farmers take charge of marketing and deal with value added products as opposed to primary products as has been the case since Independence. To realize all the foregoing, we have to date met and made presentations before Development Partners through the World Bank and other Donor Groups.
The culmination of all these initiatives will be on the 28th of May when we host Donors and Development Partners here in Embu to not only show case our potential but also invite partnerships with Investors and Entrepreneurs to do business in Embu. We are hosting the one day conference courtesy of Agricultural Sector Coordinating Unit (ASCU) from the Ministry of Agriculture and we take this opportunity to thank them for their assistance and encouragement.