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Stakeholders Progress Diaspora University Town at NEMA SEA Validation Workshop

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Dr.Justin Maghanga addresses stakeholders at NEMA SEA validation workshop Dr.Justin Maghanga addresses stakeholders at NEMA SEA validation workshop

Over 100 Stakeholders attended the Diaspora University Town National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) validation workshop held in Voi. The validation workshop was done for the SEA draft report presented to the public January this year for review by the Plan developers and NEMA SEA Experts led by Dr. Justin Maghanga. The stakeholders present included: NEMA professionals, Ndara B Community Members, Job seekers, Government Representatives, Religious leaders, Diverse Professionals, Material suppliers and Non-Governmental organizations reviewed the SEA. The workshop was conducted by Joseph Mwandairo. It was open by Ndara B Communtiy Chairman Benjamin Mwandaa.

Jackson Keke, presenting Ndara B Community Statement , read the remarks of the County Assembly Education Committee that reviewed the development plan as follows: “While applying article 185 (4) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 that reads, ‘A county assembly may receive and approve plans and policies for— (a) the management and exploitation of the county’s resources; and (b) the development and management of its infrastructure and institutions,’ the committee resolved that the county assembly approves the undertaking of the University and Town development project in Taita/Taveta County. This position was informed by the many benefits as listed in the committee finds.” 

The Community statement, as the biggest stakeholders, added, “Our Community Members in granting the land understood the individual benefits, the Community benefits and the Taita/Taveta County benefits. These benefits include: Jobs, Hospital, Houses, Education, Food and more revenue to the County Government that can be used for building roads. When granting the land we further created university education opportunity for 10 students from all our 20 wards a total of 200 students every year and 800 students in first 4 years.”

A statement on behalf of Diaspora Kenyans who are stakeholders through investment was read by Dan Kamau. He stated, “The Diaspora Kenyans living in the U.S in coming with this university town development plan were inspired by the use of resources of land, water, human and other resources in countries abroad. The efficient and productive management of resources enable Diaspora get the right of housing, food, clean environment, healthcare and other rights where they reside.”

Dr. Justin Maghanga, an environmental chemist and registered NEMA expert, who led the NEMA team of experts who conducted the SEA, gave an overview of the Strategic Environment Assessment of Diaspora University Town plan. He among other things said, “We got a lot of inputs from stakeholders within the County and NGOs and this improved on the Draft report submitted to NEMA. We also came up with the environment audit and monitoring plan.”  

David Kitawi, a senior citizen of Taita/Taveta said, “In a recent meeting at Retired Major Marsden Madoka office in Nairobi as we discussed this project with Ndara B Chairman Benjamin Mwandaa, we were all excited. For us who have lived our lives, this is a legacy of facilitating the building of a university and Town for ourselves and future generations.  

Rogers Mwawasi on behalf of the religious leaders stated that religious leaders are called to advance the wellbeing of humanity. He talked of the religious leaders meeting held in Wundanyi saying religious leaders support to the project. He said they welcome the project so as to benefit the young people and want the project started so those who shall get jobs can start working.

Representing and speaking on behalf of the National Government, Irene Ndambuki, the Assistant County Commissioner of Taita Taveta, said the National Government welcomes all investors and developments especially those that create jobs. She commended Diaspora University Trust and NEMA for working together to make the environment better saying, “Not following the environment requirements harms the environment for present and future generations.” 

NEMA Taita/Taveta County Director, Edith Kalo presented the review by NEMA SEA department. She through power point presentation took the stakeholders through the process of SEA that involves: plan screening, scoping, draft report, public review, validation workshop, Final Report, Final decision and then monitoring and audits as plan is implemented. She presented that the Workshop was to review the submissions during the public review stage. 

Surveyor Mathias Mjomba of Taita/Taveta speaking after the NEMA said the first job created of the 20,000 jobs was his Survey job. He explained the work and draft survey plan he has worked on and continues to work on in the planning stage of the project. 

Architects Emma Lukiso, Paul Gathitu and Rose Dama stated on receipt of the survey draft plan they have worked on the preliminary designs of roads and buildings for all plots. They presented on how they are incorporating measures in the design to ensure the right of clean and healthy environment as established in article 42 is met. Gift Matambo who is part of the Project ICT team reviewed the role of ICT in the environment sustainability. These young professionals, as stakeholders, said they look to continue to be productive as they use their human resource to build a better Kenya. 

Col (Rtd) Nyangala has worked on the Town Security Plan stated that no one will be allowed to enter the land without the permission of the security team. The retired colonel who guarded Kenya during his service in the Kenya Navy looks to implement a security plan that ensures property rights are respected, safety is achieved and in cases of emergency there is a ready execution plan. This implemented as the project security team works hand in hand with other public security organizations.

Ronald Mwang’ombe who spoke on behalf of persons awaiting to get Jobs and Income said they live in poverty without reliable sources of income. He said the little income they get only buys food. He said they had tried to get solutions through National Government and County Government. He thanked God for bringing the Diaspora project to them. He said the only source of income was through cutting trees for charcoal and this was harming the environment. His sentiments were also echoed by Barnabas Mwandembo who spoke on behalf of the families settled in the land area and along the Voi River Mto-Mwagodi area who rely on Sand Harvesting and in doing so affect the river environment and echo system. They welcomed the jobs to be created. 

Dr. George Mwaela, a member of Ndara B Community when speaking stated that Ndara B Community will be suppliers of Marram, Rocks and hardcores, Sand, Ballast, terrazzo materials, Tree seedlings and other products that are in their community land. He asked that the government offices should progress faster and there should be no delays so that persons can start work and use their human resource productively.

Government professionals offering services in different sectors also made their presentations: The civil-engineer of Roads Eng. Collins Otieno of Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) talked on how the project roads should be interlinked to Voi – Taveta A.23 National Highway. Kadenge Mwatete of Kenya Forest Service presented on the 10% tree cover that is a requirement by the government through the Kenya Constitution.

Ndara B Chairman, Benjamin Mwandaa, when closing the meeting asked anyone opposed to raise their hands. No person did. He asked those in favor for the project to progress raise their hands. Almost all stakeholders present raised their hands as they looked toward creating opportunities for themselves and future generations to come.

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