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New taskforce to boost poverty war

NAIROBI, September 18- Planning Minister Wycliffe Oparanya has set up a taskforce to review ways of strengthening the Poverty Eradication Commission (PEC).

Oparanya said on Thursday that the team was expected to recommend strategies that the government should take to facilitate the commission’s work.

“This taskforce will start its work on October 1 and work for a period of two months after which a report will be submitted to me,” he said.

PEC, which was formed in 1999, is mandated with spearheading poverty eradication. It is credited with helping the country to lower poverty levels from 56 percent in 2000 to 46 percent in 2006.

This number has however gone up following the recent post election crisis and the high fuel prices.

Oparanya decried the fact that Kenya has not been able to eradicate absolute poverty despite having policies, strategies and programs to address the problem and thus the need to empower such institutions.

“Many non-governmental organisations, donor agencies and other stakeholders have joined the war against this vice but the prevailing levels of poverty are still very high,” said the Minister when he inaugurated a new team of commissioners.

The minister also directed that the commission’s Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) be developed into a bigger purse that could support various income generating activities for the poor.

He also instructed them to harmonise the various funds that have been earmarked for poverty reduction to ensure that they are effectively targeted and easily accessible to the poor.

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“There are various stakeholders (fighting poverty) but working on stand alone basis but they should be properly coordinated because poverty requires collaborative approach,” Oparanya stressed.

He pledged to seek for more funds to assist the commission to enable it to scale-up the existing pro-poor strategies in the country.

The commission on the other hand asked to be involved in the formulation of anti-poverty policies saying this would help them to achieve their target of reducing poverty by 28 percent.

Through the newly appointed Chairman General (rtd) John Koech, the body also called on the government to operationalise the Anti-Poverty Trust Fund, which was established to provide grants for social projects and soft credit to community groups.

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