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Uhuru unveils Sh53.7 billion package to boost economy: The Standard

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NairobiPresident says despite measures to curb spread of Covid-19, resumption of economic activities is key.

President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) has hinted at the possibility of re-opening the economy as he released an eight-point Sh53.7 billion economic stimulus programme to cushion Kenyans against effects of Covid-19.
The programme will cover eight sectors of the economy namely infrastructure, education, health, medium and small enterprises, agriculture, tourism, environment and manufacturing.
The president said Sh5 billion has been set aside to hire local labour to assist in the rehabilitation of infrastructure across the country, which will include foot bridges and damaged access roads.
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“We are convinced as a government that use of local labour and locally sourced construction materials will support micro and small businesses,” he said.
For the manufacturing sector, Sh600 million has been set aside to buy locally manufactured vehicles to protect jobs in the industry.
The agriculture sector will get Sh3 billion to acquire and supply farm inputs to 200,000 small scale farmers. “This is meant to cushion farmers from the effects of weather and to secure food supply chains in the Covid-19 period and into the future,” Uhuru said.
Pending bills
An additional Sh1.5 billion will also be released to assist flower and horticultural producers to access international markets during this period where there is a shortage of flights.
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The Head of State said the programme will issue soft loans to hotels and related establishments through Tourism Finance Corporation while a total of Sh2 billion will be set aside to support renovation of facilities and restructuring of business operations.
Some funds will also be set aside to support operations of the country’s premier hospitality institution, Utalii College, to inject more well trained professionals.
The tourism sector will recruit 5,500 community scouts under Kenya Wildlife Service at a cost of Sh1 billion and a similar amount will go to 160 community conservancies.
The president said an additional Sh6.5 billion will be allocated to the Ministry of Education to hire 10,000 teachers and 1,000 ICT interns to support digital learning programmes. The money will also go towards buying 250,000 desks from local artisans.
“In regard to when schools will re-open, we will in the very near future be communicating what plans and programmes we have for the education sector,” he said.
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The Head of State noted that Sh10 billion has been allocated to fast track payment of outstanding VAT refunds and other pending bills for small and medium enterprises.
“We released Sh30 billion yesterday towards payment of pending bills in the road sector,” he said.
Additionally, the government will inject Sh3 billion as seed capital through the SME Credit Guarantee Scheme.
Bed capacity
Under the programme, the health sector will employ 5,000 more health workers with diploma and certificates on one-year contracts.
“This will not only enhance our Covid-19 response capability, but also enhance the implementation of the Universal Health Coverage programme,” he said. “Further, the stimulus programme will set aside Sh1.7 billion for the expansion of bed capacity in our public hospitals,” Uhuru added.
The programme will also seek to revamp the environment by minimising the effects of deforestation and climate change.
“My administration will rehabilitate wells, water pans, and underground tanks in the arid and semi-arid areas. For this purpose, we have set aside Sh850 million. A further Sh1 billion has also been set aside for flood control measures, and another Sh540 million for greening Kenya campaign,” he said.
The Head of State announced that the programme is running alongside the Kazi Mtaani initiative where the government plans to spend up to Sh10 billion in restoration of public hygiene standards.
So far, 26,000 youths have been engaged.
The president noted that the government has been disbursing Sh250 million to vulnerable persons through mobile money to assist them during this period.
He defended the decision to send money directly to individuals as compared to buying food stuff, saying the latter method was hijacked by cartels and brokers. “So very little of the resources reached the intended group,” he said.
President Kenyatta said every country was struggling to get a way forward during this pandemic, and while he has no doubt Kenya will overcome, it does not seem fit to keep the country under lockdown.
He said he has communicated the same message to the relevant Cabinet Secretaries in the National Emergency Response Committee.
“The time has come to tell Kenyans that we cannot continue with lockdown. We cannot go on with living in curfew,” he said, as he announced that Covid-19 cases have hit 1,192 after 31 people tested positive. So far 57,650 samples have been tested.
The Head of State said despite the emphasis on the public to stay at home to curb spread of coronavirus, re-opening of the economy and resumption of normal activities was key.
“But if we open, then the disease spreads; let us all know that it will spread because we have not adhered to the measures, but if we do, we shall overcome. I have no doubt about that,” he said.
A week ago, the president extended the lockdown and cessation of movement in and out of Mandera, Nairobi Metropolitan, Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa counties until June 6.
The dusk-to-dawn curfew was also extended to June 6.
The president said his administration was aware of the adverse effects of the pandemic on Kenyans, hence the economic stimulus programme. He implored Parliament to appropriate the necessary budget.

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Beyond Zero, AMREF to train health volunteers on Covid-19 – KBC

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First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s Beyond Zero initiative has teamed up with the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) to train 5100 community health volunteers to boost the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The one-month Covid-19 training for community health volunteers in Nairobi county sponsored by Beyond Zero at a cost of Kshs 4.5 million will be delivered virtually by AMREF through a digital learning platform called “Leap”.

Speaking Tuesday during the launch of the virtual training at the AMREF International University in Nairobi, Beyond Zero Coordinator Ms Angella Langat said the training comes at the right time when community health volunteers who are at the forefront of the Covid-19 response efforts require accurate information.

“This Covid-19 training is especially timely, as the world and Kenya grapple with the disease,” Ms Langat said.

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She expressed hope that the training will equip the community health volunteers with the necessary information and skills to help combat the spread of the virus.

“Her Excellency the First Lady’s Beyond Zero Initiative is honoured to be part of this process through the funding of the first cohort of community health volunteers. I thank the Ministry of Health, AMREF and respective teams for their commitment towards the development of this training curriculum,” Ms Langat said.

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Ms Langat pointed out that Beyond Zero’s interventions in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is aligned to complement government efforts in promoting the health and wellbeing of Kenyans.

AMREF Enterprise CEO Caroline Mbindyo praised the partnership between Beyond Zero and her organization especially in the training of the community health volunteers, saying it will go a long way in scaling up efforts geared towards curbing the spread of Coronavirus in the country’s informal settlements.

Ms Mbindyo said AMREF has in collaboration with the Ministry of Health developed the curriculum for the training of community health workers, adding that the volunteers will access the training through their mobile phones free of charge.

Noting that there are about 70,000 community health volunteers in the country, Ms Mbindyo called on other organizations to emulate Beyond Zero and provide sponsorship for the training of the critical health providers across the country.

On her part, AMREF’s Community Training Liaison Officer Carolyne Wanyonyi said the training will enhance the awareness of the community health volunteers on Covid-19 and empower them with skills to help in the containment of the virus in their communities.

“The training will facilitate community health volunteers to be able to do risk assessment and they will also be able to know what needs to be done if an individual has been infected with the Coronavirus or is a suspected case,” Ms Wanyonyi said.

Ms Wanyonyi said the training has four modules with the first module focusing on what coronavirus is, its prevention, risks and transmission modes.

The second module will cover what the community health volunteers need to do in suspected Covid-19 cases.

The third module will look at the risks involved and the stigma associated with the disease in order to enable them counsel community members effectively.

The final module of the training will focus on community disease surveillance where the community health volunteers will learn about how to protect themselves from contracting Covid-19 in the course of their service delivery.

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Uganda moves to phased reopening amid rising Covid-19 cases

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CHARLES M. MPAGI

By CHARLES M. MPAGI
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Uganda will go ahead with its planned re-opening of the country despite recording more than 150 Covid-19 cases in three days, according to President Yoweri Museveni.

In an address to the nation on Monday evening, President Museveni said that public transport will resume but with necessary health and safety measures in place.

“We shouldn’t bite too much at a time. Opening for private cars has already unleashed big numbers of people moving. We have decided to postpone the opening of schools for another month,” Museveni said in his 15th address to the nation on Covid-19.

Buses and commuter taxis will resume on June 4 but will operate at half the capacity with commuters and operators “covering their mouth and nose all the time.”

Travel in districts bordering neighbouring countries is also not allowed for the next three weeks.

“For the next 21 days, no private or public transport is allowed in the border districts. There are forty districts in northern, northeastern, Bugisu, Bunyoro, Ankole and the Kigezi subregions,” added the president.

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Malls and stand-alone stores have also allowed been to reopen as long as clients observe physical distancing.

Schools, gyms, salons, bars and places of worship will remain closed for 21 more days.

Meanwhile, Uganda on Tuesday recorded 32 new Covid-19 cases raising the national tally to 489.

“Nineteen of the new confirmed cases are from 1,693 samples from points of entry while 13 are from 423 samples of contacts and alerts,” the Health Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Fourteen new cases were recorded in Elegu, near South Sudan, two each in Busia and Malaba near the Kenyan border, while one was recorded in Mutukula near the border with Tanzania.

Thirteen of the new cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases. All patients are Ugandans.

“Currently, there are 391 admitted Covid-19 confirmed cases in 15 referral hospitals in the country. All are in stable condition,” the statement added.

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Uganda moves to phased reopening amid rising Covid-19 cases

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CHARLES M. MPAGI

By CHARLES M. MPAGI
More by this Author

Uganda will go ahead with its planned re-opening of the country despite recording more than 150 Covid-19 cases in three days, according to President Yoweri Museveni.

In an address to the nation on Monday evening, President Museveni said that public transport will resume but with necessary health and safety measures in place.

“We shouldn’t bite too much at a time. Opening for private cars has already unleashed big numbers of people moving. We have decided to postpone the opening of schools for another month,” Museveni said in his 15th address to the nation on Covid-19.

Buses and commuter taxis will resume on June 4 but will operate at half the capacity with commuters and operators “covering their mouth and nose all the time.”

Travel in districts bordering neighbouring countries is also not allowed for the next three weeks.

“For the next 21 days, no private or public transport is allowed in the border districts. There are forty districts in northern, northeastern, Bugisu, Bunyoro, Ankole and the Kigezi subregions,” added the president.

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Malls and stand-alone stores have also allowed been to reopen as long as clients observe physical distancing.

Schools, gyms, salons, bars and places of worship will remain closed for 21 more days.

Meanwhile, Uganda on Tuesday recorded 32 new Covid-19 cases raising the national tally to 489.

“Nineteen of the new confirmed cases are from 1,693 samples from points of entry while 13 are from 423 samples of contacts and alerts,” the Health Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Fourteen new cases were recorded in Elegu, near South Sudan, two each in Busia and Malaba near the Kenyan border, while one was recorded in Mutukula near the border with Tanzania.

Thirteen of the new cases are contacts of previously confirmed cases. All patients are Ugandans.

“Currently, there are 391 admitted Covid-19 confirmed cases in 15 referral hospitals in the country. All are in stable condition,” the statement added.

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