I will invest more in environmental management, commits governor Ongwae

The County Government will invest more in environmental conservation and management for sustainable development, Governor James Ongwae says.

Governor Ongwae says time has come for the County Government and other stakeholders to take bold decisions to address the massive environmental challenges that threaten development in the region.

He cited reducing water levels in major rivers, drying up of springs and boreholes and destruction of water catchments as the danger signs for a looming environmental crisis in Kisii County.

Ongwae spoke while addressing over 300 members of the Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) Kisii branch during their annual delegates conference at Imani Conference Centre, Nakuru. Ambassador Prof. Sam Ongeri and senator Janet Ong’era flanked him.

"Over the last four years, we have invested heavily to improve water supply for our people. Initially, We focused on spring protection and rehabilitation of stalled water schemes before embarking on drilling boreholes. However, these water sources are drying up. Out of the 30 boreholes we have drilled so far, 10 dried up while six are productive. We must address this," said Ongwae.

Environment experts attribute the massive environmental challenges in Kisii to indiscriminate cultivation of the blue gum tree, encroachment onto water catchments and riparian land, pollution, improper solid waste management, destruction of wetlands and improper agricultural practices.

"We need a new, more dynamic approach to conservation that allows nature to adapt to a changing climate if we are to realize sustainable development. If I am re-elected, I will dedicate more efforts to environmental conservation and management," pledged Ongwae.

He defended his development record over the past four years citing improvements in the health sector, disbursement of bursaries to needy students, securing funding for the construction of a sugar factory and cancer centre, opening roads among other interventions.

"We assumed office as the first governors and went on to create our own job description. It has been a learning curve and now we better understand the system we have institutionalized. We are in the process of obviating some of the challenges we faced at the start," said Ongwae.

On his part, Prof. Ongeri challenged the school heads to be champions of transformative curriculum and appealed for caution in implementation of the new system of education.

"I have offered my candidature for the seat of senator therefore I seek your support. I look forward to interacting more with you because I feel attached to the education sector. Now, we are implementing the new system of education, which has got many grey areas, typical of anything new. We must speak about this and manage expectations of stakeholders," he said.

Hon. Ong’era thanked the heads for the good job they do in the education sector within Kisii and challenged them to craft homegrown solutions to the challenges facing the sector.

"We are in the election year where we are advocating for politics of change. We must change how we run our economy and I know amongst you is that team which supports change. I will continue supporting teacher welfare issues," said Hon. Ong’era.

The teachers through Kisii Branch chairman Jairus Onchoke lauded the County Government for supporting the education sector through the bursary fund and opening roads to learning institutions.

"We appreciate what the County has done especially through the bursaries. Some of the beneficiaries who would otherwise be at home will sit their KCSE this year. However, we ask that the fund is disbursed earlier," said Onchoke.

Others present were County Education Board Chairman Dr. Henry Onderi, Kuppet Chairman Osoro Okondo and ministry of education officials.

The theme for the conference was: Education reforms: Walking the policy talk. Some of the topics included; performance contracting, preparation for retirement, procurement and audit, the new curriculum, stress management and the rights of a principal.