, BURA, Kenya, Feb 18 – The government has waived school fees for students from drought ravaged parts of the country with immediate effect.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga said that the coalition government had resolved to directly foot the bills as part of the ongoing drought mitigation initiatives in the worst affected areas.
He told a rally in Bura constituency that the Ministry of Education was instructed to liaise with the Treasury to fast track the transfer of an equivalent fund in place of the waived fees, until the situation normalises.
"The government will pay fees for students from drought hit areas until the situation normalises," the PM declared.
The premier also announced that the government was developing a Sh7 billion drought mitigation programme to avert and contain the perennial recurrence of food deficit the country experienced during the prolonged dry spell.
He informed Tana River residents of plans to use the funds to reclaim at least 9,000 more hectares at the Bura Irrigation scheme to boost the country\’s food basket after a preliminary trial of the project recorded an impressive harvest.
"Our development partners have offered to give us Sh4 billion to the Sh3 billion that we planned to use to expand the scheme from the current 3,000 hectares to 12, 000 hectares starting this August," Odinga said.
Leaders from Coastal region concurred with the premier\’s wish to formulate long term measures that could permanently address the perennial problems afflicting residents in arid and semi arid areas in the wake of changing climatic patterns resulting from global warming.
Fisheries Minister Amason Kingi said it was time the government did away with the culture of giving relief handouts to famine victims and offer them an option that could make them independently sustain their livelihood.
Galole MP Dhado Godana however raised alarm that some politicians in the area were conspiring with immigration officials to enlist aliens in the voters\’ registers ahead of the 2012 polls.
He informed the gathering that some Somali refugees were being registered as Kenyans to tilt the numerical strength of native communities prompting the Premier to direct the security organs in the areas to stop the vice.
"We want the matter investigated because we have witnesses who can attest that corruption is rife in the vetting of ID card applicants and this is how these foreigners buy their nationality" Mr Godana protested.
Local leaders raised concern over the pathetic state in which the Garissa – Mombasa road had degenerated into and asked the government to rehabilitate the highway before the rainy season commenced.
Others accompanying the premier who is on a three days tour of drought hit areas in Coast province were Co operative Minister Joseph Nyagah, Assistant Minister Alfred Khangati and several Permanent Secretaries.