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Lenku Blasts CS Balala On Claims He Is Blocking Ushanga Initiative funding

Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala has been told to stop sabotaging the Sh400 million beadwork projects under the Ushanga Initiative.

Shanga Initiative Project national chairperson Helen Nkaissery.

Kajiado Governor Joseph Lenku accused Balala of allegedly working in cahoots with some MPs to deny the Ushanga Initiative a budget in this financial year.

A furious Lenku told KNU Online on phone on Thursday the Initiative that works with 90 women cooperatives in seven counties had not received a single cent this financial year despite a budget of Sh417 being passed last year.

“It is crazy why the beadwork programme did not get money. We are now headed to another budget and some senior tourism officials want to politicise it and deny the initiative money,” said Lenku.

Records show the project was allocated Sh417 million in the 2018/2019 financial year. “We now reliably learn that Tourism officials have lobbied some members of the Sports and Culture Committee in Parliament to cut the Ushanga budget. It is offensive to pastoralist communities,” said the governor.

On Tuesday, this week, the Victor Munyaka-led committee put principal secretary, Joe Okudo on the spot over misappropriation of money in the Tourism Ministry and asked him to justify why the ministry’s programmes, including the Ushanga Initiative, should be funded.

Members of Parliament put the Tourism ministry to task over the project amid claims managers cannot account for Sh80 million disbursed by the National Treasury.

The first batch of money was disbursed to the Initiative in the 2017-18 financial year while another Sh462 million was approved in the current financial year, according to records presented in Parliament.

But Lenku defended the national chairperson of the Ushanga Initiative, Hellen Nkaissery, who is also the matron of the project, saying she is being allegedly harassed and blackmailed by Ministry officials.

“Mrs. Nkaissery has steered the project well without help from Balala’s Ministry. It is unfair to subject women to this kind of harassment yet this is a project President Uhuru Kenyatta gave to pastoralist women,” said Lenku on phone.

The initiative seeks to commercialise beadwork and market the products both locally and internationally.

Lenku said the initiative has co-operatives in Samburu, Kajiado, Narok, Turkana, Marsabit, West Pokot, and Baringo counties.

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