After a tumultuous period in the wake of the Covid-19 which hit businesses and compromised livelihoods in counties, the Embu County Government is working to get out of the woods and has planned various measures to survive.
With rising food, fuel, and fuel prices hitting various sectors of the economy in Embu and other counties which have had a resultant devastating effect on residents’ purchasing power, Governor Martin Wambora’s administration is aiming to secure more public-private partnerships to exploit potential in various sectors.
With people especially in the marginal areas being some of the hardest hit by a diminished economy, the county is gearing to recover through various interventions
The county is focusing on major areas including agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining, manufacturing, energy, tourism, and financial services, to get out of the woods.
Finance Chief Officer Ruth Ndirangu contended that Embu was experiencing what she termed “massive destruction of the economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product decline and job losses, especially in the service sector.
The reported invasion of locusts in the marginal areas had also compromised food security and livestock pastures, giving the administration an added headache.
The administration has been reeling under the weight of a huge wage bill, with salaries for employees consuming 49 percent of the total revenue in the 2019/2020 financial period.
That figure was higher in 2020/2021 as compensation to employees consumed 51.3 percent of revenue.
The administration said the increase in wage bill was beyond its control as the revenue distribution formula takes no account of inherited staff from four local authorities and because Embu had a big number of them have been the headquarters of the defunct Eastern Province.
To address that Governor Wambora plans various measures including not to hire any non-essential staff.
Among other recovery, measures are expediting the development of roads, water, energy, and other infrastructure, intending to reduce the cost of doing business.
It also aims to improve access to healthcare, education and enhance cash transfers for the most vulnerable residents.
Other planned interventions are supported by youth, women, and people living with a disability.
Because of lack of resources the department of Infrastructure, Public Works, Housing, and Energy could not meet its target of tarmacking 15km of road in 2019/2020, as it only did six.
Efficiency was affected as the county could not afford to buy vehicles for its officers involved in supervision, while there was also inadequate technical staff and administrative officers.
With Kshs. 5.1 billion for the county government, Embu has to work hard to raise its revenue as Sh3.3b of that figure is the wage bill.
It has also got Sh453.8m in loans and conditional grants from development partners to work with mainly in agriculture, health development.
Health has Sh2.1b with Sh1.6b, more than half of payment to all county staff (52.5 percent) will go towards paying health workers.
Education got ShSh471.6m, Infrastructure, Public Works, Housing and Energy Sh685.7m, and Trade, Tourism, Investment and Industrialisation Sh101m.
Others are Land, Physical Planning, Urban Development, Housing Water and Irrigation, Environment and Natural Resources (Sh308.9m), Youth and Sports (Sh76m), Gender, Children, Culture and Social Services (Sh60.2m), Assembly (ShSh701.5m) and Ward Equalization Projects (Sh400, 000).