With Eric Omwombo
The County Government of Siaya has allocated KES 33.9 million towards rolling out a grand school feeding programme targeting pre-primary pupils in 16 wards.
According to Siaya Governor James Orengo, the aim of the program is to ensure retention of pupils in schools and put to an end malnutrition that has caused stunted growth among the pupils.
“Studies are showing, particularly in this parts of the world, that kids have stunted growth, they do not have enough to eat and nutrition is a major concern,” said Orengo.
While meeting County Education Board led by County Director of Education Leonard Kabaka, Chairman of County Economic Budget Forum Alex Dunga and Siaya KUPPET Executive Secretary Sam Opondo, noted that the school feeding program idea was mooted during his campaigns. He has now factored the resources that will ensure its implementation in the (2023/2024) budget.
Orengo who was flanked by Education CECM Edgar Otumba and County Secretary Joseph Oguru said they have prioritized 16 of the 30 Wards in Siaya and would work closely with like-minded leaders and private sector to ensure the program extends to the remaining 14 wards.
“As a County, we want to embark on aggressive campaigns aimed at lobbying the private sector to join in the facilitation of programs including the school feeding program that has frustrated smooth learning in the institutions.”
He further said that the feeding program is equally fixed in the County Integrated Development Plan and assured the public that his government will put more resources in the budgets to facilitate it.
In the last regime, ECD schools benefitted from the feeding programme after West Alego Ward MCA Felix Ouma Judy Okumu factored it in the budget.
The county boss announced that his administration will upgrade Some ECD Centers in Siaya, Bondo and Ugunja Municipalities into centers of excellence.
“We can identify existing learning institutions and see what we can do to promote their situation for them to be regarded as centers of excellence,” said Orengo.
Some of the challenges enumerated by the Board included shortage of teachers, poor state of roads leading to the institutions, water, electricity among others.
Orengo further revealed that Council of Governors initiated talks with National government to handle ECD teachers personal emoluments now that counties wagebill is strained.
“The national government is being pushed by the Council of Governors to take up ECD teachers personal emoluments and infrastructure to relieve counties from wagebill distress,” said Orengo.
Governor Orengo regretted that Siaya does not have enough resources that can respond to the many challenges in key sectors including the education sector despite receiving billions just like other Counties.
“We need to build our economy so as to boost own sources of revenue,” said Orengo.
The county boss reiterated his early calls that unless we boost revenues, we won’t be able to undertake projects and programs as demanded by Siaya residents.
“It’s unfortunate that private business partners are not making use of the billboards in Siaya because the economy is low,” said Orengo.
Low money circulation in Siaya, can be circumvented by Advertising businesses to maximise returns, said Governor Orengo.
“We can no longer limit ourselves to the local market. We need to build our infrastructure and economy in a way that can attract investors that will help get more own source revenues,” said the County boss.