Opening of Mt Kenya Roads

The opening up of roads leading to the Mt Kenya national Park by the Meru county and national governments is expected to boost tourism in Kenya’s highest peak.

More than 40 percent of the mountain sits in Meru County but the region has not been benefiting from its tourism due to lack of infrastructure.

Meru county government is building a 25 kilometer access road dubbed the Themwe route, that can be accessed from Nkubu town. The national government through funding from the European Union (EU) has also completed the construction of Kalalu Farm- Sirimon Gate- Old Moses Camp Road, that can be accessed from Timau town.

According to governor Kiraitu Murungi, the road will enable tourists access Lake Ellis, as well as the peaks of Mt Kenya. Mountain climbers have been accessing Mt Kenya through Chogoria in Tharaka-Nithi, Narumoru in Nyeri as well as Laikipia and Nairobi counties denying Meru the vital revenue.

“We want Meru residents as well as tourists from Kenya and other parts of the world to easily access the mountain from the Meru side. Locals can easily ride a motorbike on a weekend and enjoy the scenic view of the mountain and lake Ellis. It is possible to achieve one million tourists every year,” governor Kiraitu said.

Meru roads executive Titus Taitumu said the county was spending Sh20 million in upgrading the road. Speaking during the commissioning of the Kalalu Farm-Sirimon Gate-Old Moses road early this year, Roads Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure and European Union (EU) First Counselor Walter Tretton said the improved road would ease access, boost security and rescue operations in the mountain.

The national government has also upgraded the Naromoru Gate – Met Station Road. KWS senior warden Isaac Mugo said Mt Kenya has seen a rise in tourists with 26,000 visitors in 2018 compared to 15,000 in 2017.

Meanwhile, Meru County government intends to use Mountain running sport to boost tourism in Mt Kenya. Meru Sports Council Chairman Joseph Kinyua said the inaugural race will be held at the end of this year. The sport will see athletes run up the mountain to finish at more than 2000 meters above sea level.

According to the World Mountain Running Association (WMRA), the first mountain race took place in 1068 when a Scottish King needed to select the best messenger. Mountain race started in the United Kingdon in 1895.

According to Wikipedia, mountain running is recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) and the WMRA has been organizing world championships since 1985.

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County government seeks to improve rescue services across the region

Meru County has partnered with Fire and Rescue Service crew from England in bid to improve rescue services in the region.

Governor Kiraitu Murungi recently created a directorate for special projects in his office aimed at streamlining service delivery.

He said the county government will enhance partnerships and allocate more resources towards purchase of advanced equipment, techniques and well trained personnel in Meru.

The county recently received two state-of-the-art fire engines becoming one of the best in efficient fire management in the country.

Governor Kiraitu said his vision is to have 13 more fire engines for quick and successful intervention in case of emergencies in any part of the county and neighboring areas.

“We want Meru to be the model county in firefighting and rescue services. We want to increase our capacity in terms of personnel and fire engines, and also give our people extensive training on maintaining the equipment, rescue services,” the governor said.

He added that plans were underway to make Meru a center for fire and emergency response training for the country.

Experts from the United Kingdom led by Mr Fred Akadi, the project coordinator, have been training Meru county Fire and Rescue Service team.

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Women Empowerment

Meru governor’s Wife Priscilla Murungi is spearheading an initiative known as ‘Twaweza’ aimed at addressing challenges facing women and young girls in the county.

Twaweza focuses on women empowerment and gender equality through enhanced maternal and child health care, provision of skills to teenagers, leadership training, cancer screening, imparting business skills, reducing gender based violence and promoting the welfare of the aged.

The activities of the initiative are being overseen by a board chaired by Josephine Mbaya.

The Twaweza initiative has kicked off with the launch of ‘Generation plus program as well as the launch of a menstrual hygiene management program.

Mrs Kiraitu said the menstrual hygiene management program would focus on keeping girls in school.

“We want to break the silence and demystify the taboos surrounding the use of sanitary pads. The program will focus on menstrual hygiene management, adolescent sexual and reproduction health education, nutrition education and policy among others,” she said

The county first lady said the Twaweza program will go a long way in eradicating ignorance among women.

“Majority of women live in rural areas and go through most of the challenges. The government has come up with several legislative attempts to ensure equitable distribution of wealth, jobs, political participation and leadership but there is a lot of ignorance among women,” Mrs Murungi said.

She said Twaweza will give women basic knowledge on their rights and access to government opportunities.

“Women make up 50.2% of Kenya’s total population. This makes them one of the largest, untapped participants of economic and social growth.

The Twaweza program seeks to remedy the situation by reducing women exclusion and promote their involvement in every aspect of growth and development,” she stated.

Twaweza also seeks to enlighten on the women rights against cultural biases resulting from women’s rights and their political participation, education, socio-economic status, legal rights related to land inheritance, health and welfare.

Education executive Linner Nkirote said the programme will promote nutrition among children helping end stunted growth in the county.

“We are looking at the whole scope of nutrition including feeding, deworming and provision of vitamins to early childhood learners. Teenage pregnancies, early marriages, HIV, FGM and school dropout rates will be addressed. We want to build the youth of tomorrow today,” Ms Nkirote said.

Under the program, women will be trained in entrepreneurial skills to empower them to engaging in businesses, profitable farming and economic activities.

The initiative will partner with the Meru County Microfinance Corporation to enable women access cheap loans and promote a saving and investment culture.

“The Department of Agriculture and Trade will also engage women in economic activities. We will ensure that funds are set aside to train women to gain efficiency in their economic undertakings and ensure that women benefit from 30 per cent allocation in tenders and appointments,” the first lady said.




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