Lake Naivasha Resort, December 6th, 2019Rift Valley leaders Rift Valley MPs and Senators during a press conference after a two day meeting at the Lake Naivasha Resort. Over 90 Mps and senators attended the retreat and unanimously agreed to support the Building bridges Initiative in its current form. PHOTO COURTESY

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Recalling our constitutional mandate and responsibilities, Recognizing our duty to provide active, loyal leadership to our people, our constituencies and our country, Realising the unique opportunity to proactively interrogate and guide national discourse and consultations.

Rift valleys Members of Parliament and Senators arrive at Naivasha


We the elected Members of Parliament of the fourteen (14)Rift Valley counties held a retreat here in Naivasha with the twin objectives of reviewing the implementation of the Jubilee manifesto including the Big Four Agenda in our counties and to interrogate the report of the Building Bridges Initiative recently launched by , H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta.After intensive and careful deliberations, we, jointly hold and declare as follows:


Firstly, as advised by our President, an edict we nevertheless obey as a command, we strongly encourage and urge all our constituents and indeed all Kenyans- to read, internalize, reflect and debate the contents of BBI report frankly, openly and honestly.


We commit to facilitate this process of engagements with our employers, the people of Kenya in every appropriate forum so as to achieve the widest possible consensus. We want our people to read debate and engage on this report. We want our people to read for themselves. We want them to freely and openly discuss.


As elected leaders we shall take lead in these processes. It is our desire to see that everyone reads, understands and engages on the report as a whole, in order to contribute meaningfully to the various issues that are interconnected and often complementary. We consider this to be our mandate: Our responsibility.


Secondly, We promise that we have and shall thoroughly interrogate the BBI report. The purpose of this retreat was to incisively read, probe, discuss and analyze the report, from cover to cover.


Our purpose is to acquaint ourselves with what the report entails and as its implications for our counties and the people from whom we draw our mandate.


Our objective is to engage on the immediate political and economic implications of the BBI to our region in terms of our coffee, our tea,  our  livestock, our maize and our milk among others. Our Objective includes the importance of quality of representation, effectiveness of governance, protection of rights, strengthening devolution and the expansion of opportunities for higher incomes and better living standards for all Kenyan households, as well as employment, entrepreneurship and business opportunities for our youth.

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We have been quite thorough in our in-depth analysis, candid and frank in our robust discussions, and have remained cognizant of the shared aspirations of our people and thus, we are resolute in holding firm positions as we make our contributions on defining the next steps forward.
We have reflected deeply and meticulously taken stock of where we are as a region and as a people in terms of the challenges we are grappling with, the opportunities that exist in abundance, coupled with the aspirations of our people.


We considered the foregoing in tandem with desires our pioneering leaders inculcated in us to consult regularly and chart an inclusive path to a better future for our people.


After due consultation, we therefore hold as follows:-


THAT
a) We fully support the BBI report because it captures the concerns of our people especially matters of Agriculture and livestock, inclusivity and unity in diversity, security, social economic development and opportunities for the youth.


b) We are ready and will fully participate in the implementation of the BBI Report by whichever means or arrangement His Excellency the President chooses, including by appointing an implementation committee or by various institutions fulfilling their mandate as proposed in the report.


c) In line with what was proposed by wananchi and recorded in the BBI report, we are ready and will fully support any proposed amendments to the Constitution whether through Parliament or by the wananchi in a referendum.


THAT

d) Since the BBI report proposes amendments of various laws, we ask the government to establish a mechanism through the office of the Attorney General or a task force to expeditiously draft legislation and/or amendments and forward them to Parliament or County Assemblies or other relevant institutions.

We have witnessed consistent arguments that Parliament cannot be trusted to make law. We have absolutely no problem with the anti-Parliament crusaders as so long as they propose alternative constitutional mechanism for enacting legislation. The responsibility is on the relevant agencies to crystallize the issues and initiate appropriate implementation processes.


THAT

e) We note that the BBI Report makes reference to the existence of sinister cartels and calls for their removal. We humbly look to relevant Government agencies to move swiftly and firmly, decisively and exhaustively end the menace that has long undermined integrity and sustainable development especially in our agricultural sector. 

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THAT

f) We fully support all efforts and every measure aimed at fighting and eliminating corruption, beginning with the strengthening of governance institutions to ensure that the vice can be permanently dealt with.As representatives of the people, we shall be at hand in every step of the ensuing processes to offer any support required of us. We assume full responsibility to make it a success.


THAT 

g)As Elected Leaders we have resolved to particularly consider the BBI Report from the economic perspective in terms of those sectors that form the mainstay of our people especially agriculture.


Rift Valley is the breadbasket of our nation and for this reason; we have a duty to ensure such an enabling national process ploughs back tangible benefits to our people


The subject of inclusion is critical. For it to be effective it must extend to economic inclusion, meaning adequate access to nutrition and decent housing, lack of employment and incomes as well as low productivity and poor produce prices must all be seen as significant threats to economic inclusion.


Currently, rural agricultural communities are experiencing hard times, which leads to acute perception of neglect.The elimination of widespread feelings of abandonment through decisive intervention to boost productivity, incomes and expand employment opportunities calls for the scaling up of investment of resources, technology and dedication in the production of various crops, the raising of livestock and related value-adding activities.


Our grain, cereal and sugar farmers do not have clarity with regards to sustainable government support programme that ensures continuous and timely availability of affordable quality seed, appropriate fertiliser and reliable market access. As a result, even after undergoing harrowing difficulties, it is common for farmers to remain stuck with their produce for up to two years. In the era of the Big 4 Agenda, this is a cruel fate. The fortunes of dairy and poultry farmers are hardly better. Their earnings continue to dwindle steadily as imported eggs and milk flood the market, rendering diligent farmers destitute.


It is clear that the government policy under the Big Four Agenda and the Jubilee Manifesto, which states that the Government will create a food acquisition programme, which would mandate it to buy 50 per cent of its food requirement from small-scale farmers and double fertilizer subsidy in five years, is yet to achieve the necessary coherence to protect our farmers.


This incoherence is demonstrated by the tragedy of the continued strong presence of monopolies and cartels that conspire to wipe out farmers’ livelihoods, turning them into slaves and beggars. We are pleased that the BBI Report specifically addresses this matter and recommends that the parties involved be identified, investigated and prosecuted.

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We must develop policies to shore up the Rift Valley’s agricultural potential in order to deliver on the Big Four Agenda. A minimal measure of serious policy commitment to food and nutrition security is the assurance of a guaranteed minimum return as a signal to producers to ramp up production. 

THAT

h) Security is a foundational public good without which no meaningful economic, social, cultural or political activity can take place. Large parts of the Rift Valley have been subjected to perennial insecurity occasioned mainly by cattle rustling.The consequences of this situation are dire and amount to effective disenfranchisement of many innocent Kenyans who are unable to participate in normal life. We all lose tremendously on account of this persistent insecurity. As leaders, we demand a clear and effective policy, including a viable legislative framework, on matters pertaining to police reservists and the entire security sector infrastructure.


As has been well captured in the BBI Report, security must be re-configured to become a citizen-centred service and to move away from the casual and unsatisfactory manner that has characterised the handling of cattle rustling and insecurity so far. As a result orphaned children and widowed women have been locked out of basic services including school and access to health facilities. We must also ensure that land rights are protected as a means of promoting cohesion. To this end the sanctity of title must be guaranteed by the state.


THAT

i)As a result of the ongoing heavy rains that have caused deaths, distress to communities, destruction of property and infrastructure, we urge the ministry concerned to develop a comprehensive strategy of addressing and restoring normalcy to avoid further deaths instead of engaging on ad hoc reaction. The time has come for Kenya to show its commitment to the health, safety and security of the people by providing a better standard of mitigating effects of climate change and of disaster preparedness and response under all conditions, man-made as well as natural. a recent example if the over 50 deaths in West Pokot and over 300 in other parts of the country


Conclusion


As leaders from the Rift Valley we represent a wide range of diversity on basis of economic activities, ethnicity, religion etc. we have today resolved to walk together in addressing the diverse challenges affecting our people.We resolve to stay in close consultation and holding more frequent consultative meetings and we together confront chart as path to a more successful region and country as captured in the BBI Report.

God bless Rift Valley and God Bless Kenya. Asante Sana.!

Whispers from the North
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Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.