The plan to establish an economic bloc for counties at the coast got a shot in the arm yesterday after the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) signed a Sh19 million funding agreement with its secretariat.
The cash from FAO will go towards drawing up a plan that will see implementation of three key components – agriculture, livestock and fisheries – of the Jumuia ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP) initiative.
The United Nations agency’s representative in Kenya, Mr Gabriel Rugalema, said the funds will enable the bloc’s secretariat create a detailed strategy for implementation of projects in the three sectors that were key to development of the counties.
“I am glad you identified food security as the key component of your blue print because from densely populated urban areas in Mombasa to the rural, this is a matter of concern. FAO is funding a project to support JKP develop a food security chapter which will be a component of the blue print,” Mr Rugalema said after signing the deal at the Technical University of Mombasa (TUM).
TUM will be charged with the responsibility of ensuring that the plans are formulated according to the needs of residents and that they are implemented to the letter.
“The money will be used to do consultations with various groups including farmers, NGOs and county governments to make sure that the priorities they choose in agriculture and food security are those that reflect the needs of the people on the ground,” he added.
By involving TUM, Pwani University and Taita Taveta University in the technical drawing and planning of the projects, the bloc is hoping benefit from research conducted by the institutions.
Present at the signing ceremony were governors Hassan Joho (Mombasa), Hussein Dado (Tana River), John Mruttu (Taita Taveta) and Amason Kingi (Kilifi).
Kwale governor Salim Mvurya was represented by county secretary Martin Mwaro.
The county bosses are banking on the economic bloc to liberate the coastal region from marginalisation, underdevelopment and food insecurity.
“When we first mooted the idea of JKP, we were concerned about food insecurity at the coast despite the agricultural potential of the region…the reason we felt that projects in this sector should be prioritised,” said the Kilifi governor.
Noting that the initiative was received with stiff opposition from politicians and some technocrats at its inception , Mr Joho said they were relieved that the JKP was finally taking shape.
“The reason we took this long is that we wanted JKP to have a life even beyond our term of service…the reason we involved practically everybody from coast residents to professionals to county assemblies…anchor it within a legal framework,” he said.