Kilifi County is one of the impoverished counties in Kenya. With a population of 1,10975 people which makes 2.9% of the total Kenyan population, the county run by governor Amason Jefwa has an average of 68% of the population living below the poverty line, with other areas like Magarini, where governor Kingi comes from registering a poverty rate of 89%. It has an Infant Mortality Rates of 71 per 1000, among the highest in the country.
The county has only 8 doctors, 10 clinical officers, 128 nurses, 3 district hospitals and 2 sub-district hospitals serving the 1.1million people. Many residents walk long distances to find health services in the few scattered dispensaries and health centers.
There is poor enrollment in both primary and secondary schools and the county is always among the bottom 5 counties in both KCPE and KCSE Nationa Examinations. The inadequate primary and post primary education has greatly contributed to poverty in Kilifi.
The major economic activities are tourism, mining crop farming and livestock production; with very huge potential yet to be exploited.
Kilifi Governor Amason Jefwa Kingi, the King of Kilifi
More than half of the land in Kilifi is arable. Indeed,the average annual rainfall ranges from 300mm in the hinterland parts of the County to 1,300mm along the coastal belt with fertile soils and a good weather patterns in Malindi, Chakama, Magarini, Bahari, Chonyi, Kikamabala, Mtwapa, Vipingo, Jaribuni, Mariakani and Rabai areas.
While maize and cassava are the main subsistence crops grown in the County, there is potential of growing vegetables such as kales, tomatoes, onions, peppers, water melons, cabbages, cucumbers etc, apart from the main cash crops grown in the county like coconuts, cashew nuts, sisal and citrus fruits such as mangoes and pineapples
Due to its proximity to the Indian Ocean, Kilifi can have a vibrant fishing industry if well exploited and managed. Deep-sea fishing can be a lucrative venture due to high demand for fish from the hotel industry. The county has 14 landing beaches and currently has only 5,000 fishermen.
This number can even be increased to 20,000 fishermen if investment is made to promote this economic activity. Sport fishing has also taken root, with fishing clubs established at various spots associated with tourist hotels and resorts.
River Sabaki, a perennial fresh water river, runs 150km across the county, is yet to be fully exploited. It has a potential to support various human and livestock activities not only along its path but also in the whole County. Indeed, the Zhakeem/Sabaki water pipeline that supplies Mombasa with fresh drinking water comes from this river. And yet most parts of the county lack adequate water supply and women Seasonal rivers in the county include the Nzovuni, Rare, Goshi and Wimbi, these can be exploited to boost food production and stop the ever reliance on food relief in Kilifi. There are also many seasonal streams found across the county. Kilifi County is an important tourist destination, with its major town Malindi well know all over the world as an important holiday destination. Very important persons visit Malindi, a town liked by Italians, Germans and other nationalities. From Mtwapa to Malindi, the Kilifi County boosts of classic hotels and beautiful beaches. The sector is however driven by the private sector, with the county governments virtually doing nothing to exploit this potential.
But Why the Poverty in the County?
Kilifi County has a problem of leadership. The Governor, Members of Parliament and Members of County Assembly seem visionless on how to improve the standard of living of Kilifi people. The governor, one of the few learned leaders in the county is extravagant. He recently purchased a governor mansion worth Ksh 140m, without following the due procurement procedures at a time when residents of parts of Ganze were on food relief to rescue them from the perennial famine.
Malnourished family in Kilifi outside their mud walled hut
Kingi, the former Alliance High School student and a law graduate from the University of Nairobi, is currently under investigation by the EACC from the mansion scandal and he has been interrogated by the commission, together with his Country Secretary Owen Baya.
More than a year down the line, the County Assembly has passed just one bill that established the Kilifi County Education Scholarship Fund. However, there is a lot of outcry on how the fund is managed by the MCAs, most of them dishing out allocations to their families, cronies, political campaigners, those with political influence and the rich.
Critically looking at the composition of the Kilifi County Assembly, most of the members are illiterate, and still operate like the former Counsellors. The MCAs do nothing, other than issuing bursaries to their selected beneficiaries. They think nothing about other activities in their wards.
Governor Kingi’s 140m Luxurious Mansion
The governor is said to have pocketed the MCAs and thus cannot initiate any motion to impeach him. It seems that among the benefits they enjoy are the frequent foreign trips outside the country, drawing huge allowances from the tax payers’ money, often for matters that do not help the county. They recently visited Singapore, Germany, Rwanda and Netherlands and came with nothing tangible for the people of Kilifi. Kingi silences his critics by bribing them to keep quiet. There are rumors that the MCAs are plannng for a trip to Brazil to watch the World Cup.
Governor Amasom Jefwa Kingi is capitalizing on the ignorance of the Kilifi people. The county government has sidelined the professionals of the area who are often viewed as enemies to the governor and his political cronies. Amidst the potential of Kilifi County is an extravagant and corrupt governor and his bunch of illiterate MCAs enriching themselves at the expense of the impoverished Kilifians.