NAIROBI, Kenya, May 4 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday met World Bank Africa region Vice President Makhtar Diop and discussed initiatives to accelerate Kenya’s development, including the Big Four.
President Kenyatta and Mr Diop agreed on the need to pool resources from the World Bank, development partners, the national and county governments in order to ensure the success of the Big Four Agenda during the meeting at State House, Nairobi.
The Head of State informed Mr Diop that he was keen to ensure the Big Four delivers the desired transformation of the lives of Kenyans, especially on the provision of universal health coverage.
“This is very important to me during my final term in office as President. I really want to see the Universal Health Coverage work,” President Kenyatta said.
Mr Diop said the Bank was keen to assist Kenya meet its development goals, and strong partnerships around the Big Four offered a great opportunity.
Mr Diop met President Kenyatta as the World Bank and the Kenya Government launched a $1 billion initiative to support development in the Northern and North-Eastern region, covering 10 ASAL counties. Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa represented the President at the launch event in Garissa.
World Bank Country Director for Kenya, Diarietou Gaye, said the Bretton Woods institution was also working on the provision of affordable housing in support of President Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
“We are putting together a mortgage facility to see how we will attract the private sector in the provision of affordable houses to Kenyans,” she said.
On Agriculture, Ms Gaye said negotiations were underway between the Bank and the Kenyan Government so that the country could benefit from the Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat DDO) finance facility.
The Cat DDO is part of a broad spectrum of risk financing instruments available from the World Bank Group to help countries plan efficient responses to natural disasters. This type of financing is used to finance losses caused by recurrent natural disasters.
Ms Gaye said the facility would cushion farmers from the vagaries of extreme weather – droughts and floods – once approved by the Bank.
During the meeting attended by National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Mr Diop also updated President Kenyatta on the Bank’s proposed interventions with manufacturing and agriculture pillars of the Big Four.
The Bank was particularly looking at how to support small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), through its private sector lender International Finance Corporation, he said.
The North and North-Eastern Development Initiative includes building roads, providing clean water and solar energy. The 10 ASAL counties are Garissa, Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Turkana, Wajir and West Pokot.
President Kenyatta welcomed the initiative and expressed the need for its expansion to other counties including Baringo, Tharaka Nithi and Kilifi that also prone to drought.