By Cyprian Nyamwamu
Governor Prof. Paul Chepkwony as well as the Senator will easily be re-elected in 36 days time. So the contest in Kericho is not going to excite a great deal. I have had two Forums with Kericho political leaders this year alone and they seem settled. Jubilee will receive the vast majority of the vote here unlike neighboring Bomet which Isaac Ruto has partially led to NASA. The NASA enthusiasts here are few and far apart and NASA will receive minimal votes even with the proximity to Bomet. A concern arises therefore: How will NASA secure their vote in some place like Belgut from the more than willing IEBC clerks and P.Os who may want to collude to embellish the figures in favour of a party with agents from non-Jubilee parties hardly on the ground?
The seven Areas that the County must prioritize include the following:
· Address underlying poverty: most residents of Kericho rely on small scale tea growing, dairy farming and subsistence maize farming. The commercial sector although limited is in the retail, hotel and conference businesses, distributorships, real estate, communications, transport sector all mainly centered around urban centers. Decent jobs are hard to come by in Kericho apart from the few working in the public sector such as teachers, nurses and in the tea estates as skilled and unskilled labourers. Women are affected the more by this economic structure.
· Poor performance of education and manpower development: There still very many school dropouts and poor performance in Kericho mostly connected to early pregnancies, poverty, GBV and poor investment in the education sector. The Universities and colleges with campuses in Kericho and its other sub-counties have boosted access to tertiary education and skills but the need still remains big.
· Corruption and marginalization of the youth is widely spoken about in the county both as it relates to the County government, national government and other public and private sector agencies. The youth have been further marginalized because the monied and propertied use corruption and procurement to capture the governance structures and the youth are pushed further and further to the periphery. Nepotism and favouritism were widely mentioned in the study among young people in Kericho County.
· Health challenges: Most young people we interviewed said that health challenges in Kericho are compounded by poverty, poor access to facilities and limited medical personnel in many parts of the county. Water borne diseases, respiratory, reproductive as well as other non-communicable diseases remain a big concern. There is need to address the healthcare or disease burden that is weighing down the population of this county. Accidents and injuries from the increasing boda boda commutership were mentioned as a serious health and safety concern.
· Insecurity in the County is a major concern in all the six Kericho constituencies namely Ainamoi, Belgut, Bureti, Kipkelion East, Kipkelion West and Sigowet–Soin Constituencies.
· Issues of Land use, agriculture and land ownership remain thorny especially with a colonial legacy of displacement of peoples from land and the opaqueness surrounding the ownership of land after the end of the leases of most of the large scale tea estates.
· Social inequality including gender inequalities VAW, GBV are persistent are a not-so-loudly talked about topic but has far reaching impact on many families across the green Kericho County.
Since 2010, I have worked in each of our 47 Counties with Kenyans residing, working and having a huge stake in those counties. Kericho is one of these counties. Before 2010 working through NCEC I had managed to reach 198 constituencies of the 210. I have seen, judged and acted. Devolution was a recommendation that NCEC championed long before even the CKRC was set up in 2001. But increasingly, I am sensing that our kind of Democracy may not work for us. This clan and ethnic based elections after every five years may never work for us. A governor spends the first year trying to establish the bureaucracy he needs to deliver services, spends the last two years fighting for re-election. in between s/he spreads the county financial resources so thin trying to touch each and every single village and in that manner fails to think strategically. Elections are becoming such an expensive inconvenience since it’s the rich who are getting elected as governors anyway. What do we do my people??