, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday pledged government support to all Kenyans affected by rain-related calamities.
He said those affected by floods in various parts of the country and the victims of the collapsed dam in Nakuru will receive government assistance to both ease their grief and rebuild their lives.
The President spoke at the Moi Forces Academy, Eastleigh in Nairobi where he launched this year’s National Tree Planting Day and re-launched the Nairobi Clean-up drive.
At the event, President Kenyatta announced that an extra Sh1 billion would be made available to the Kenya Red Cross to continue with its relief work, in addition to the Sh1.5 billion already set aside for this purpose.
“Let them (victims of recent calamities) know that my government will give every support in this moment of grief and difficulty, so that they can rebuild their lives and livelihood,” said the President who led Kenyans in a moment of silence in honour of their fallen compatriots.
He added: “Indeed, every family in the republic that has lost a loved one can rely on a similar guarantee from my government. We will stand with you, we will pray with you, we will support you. Wherever you are in the country, we are with you.”
Following the rain-related havoc, said the President, the government had responded well in rescuing marooned Kenyans, providing water, food and essential medicines and restoring water systems and sanitation where necessary.
President Kenyatta who was accompanied by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto said the Tana River and Nakuru cases, in which many Kenyans have died, were extremely distressing.
“Many of the victims in Nakuru were children, they were our sons and daughters. To know that their lives were cut short so early is to know a deep sorrow and anguish,” he said.
He paid special gratitude to all Kenyans for their solidarity, unity and resilience in the face of adversity and the development partners who had freely and generously provided resources in response to an appeal by the Kenya Red Cross following the calamities.
President Kenyatta thanked development partners who have supported relief efforts noting that they had given a total of 3.3 million euros to support relief efforts.
The support includes 1.5 million euros from the European Union mission, 1.3 million euros from the United Kingdom through the Development for International Development Agency (DFiD) and 400,000 euros from the Dutch government.
President Kenyatta said the floods had affected 32 counties, left more than 100 people dead, displaced another 332,000 in addition to the destruction of property and infrastructure.
He reiterated that the multi-sector team in government tasked with responding to these emergencies will receive every support it needs to keep every Kenyan safe, and help those affected to rebuild their lives.
On environment, President Kenyatta noted that at 7 per cent, Kenya’s forest cover remains low against the targeted 10 per cent.
He said the government plans to achieve the globally accepted 10 per cent tree cover by 2022 by intensifying tree planting and protection through a massive national exercise.
Additionally he pointed out, due to changing climatic conditions, water resources continue getting scarce, droughts getting severe and disastrous floods wrecking havoc across the country.
He said climate change is now a mortal threat to the people and the prosperity of the nation and the country must learn from the recent tragedies.
As an incentive to conservation, the head of state announced the establishment of a Presidential Environment Award Scheme to honor those who distinguish themselves as excellent environmentalists.
President Kenyatta highlighted that that the government has already offered a framework for engagement with communities, stakeholders and private partners through the Forest Conservation and Management Act and the National Forest Programme.
He said the national government is working with the counties to develop Transitional Implementation Plans for devolved forest functions and called on the counties to implement these plans.
President Kenyatta said the new policy calls for a careful matching of effort between the counties and all arms of the national government.
The head of state said the government will look into opportunities for green bonds and tax rebates on forest products to create opportunities for innovation for the young people.
“We in Government see potential for new green jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for our young people,” he said.
He said environmental conservation and forest development must be more prominent if the country is to achieve the ambitious goals of the Big Four agenda.