•The project aims at increasing agricultural productivity and profitability of targeted rural communities in selected counties and in the event of an eligible crisis or emergency, to provide immediate and effective response.
•However, the NARIGIP project is facing a major crisis after claims of graft.
Bungoma risks being dropped out of a list of counties benefiting from a Sh350 million annual grant from the World Bank following graft claims and infighting over agriculture projects.
The projects are funded by the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) implemented by the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, State Department for Agriculture (SDA), with funding support from the World Bank.
The intended beneficiaries of the project are communities in 21 counties which are - arid areas (Turkana and Samburu); semi-arid areas (Makueni, Kitui, Embu, Meru, Kwale, Kilifi and Narok); and medium-to-high rainfall areas (Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Murang’a, Nakuru, Bungoma, Trans Nzoia, Nandi, Vihiga, Kisii, Migori, Nyamira and Homa Bay).
The project aims at increasing agricultural productivity and profitability of targeted rural communities in selected counties and in the event of an eligible crisis or emergency, to provide immediate and effective response.
However, the NARIGIP project is facing a major crisis after claims of embezzlement of funds by county officials were raised to the World Bank prompting a forensic audit.
After the audit, World Bank recommended that the project is stopped.
At the center of the matter are Bungoma CECM in charge of Agriculture Chirasha Makanda, his chief officer John Wasike and one of the project heads Mary Situma .
Trouble started when Makanda and Wasike wrote to World Bank requesting Situma be removed from the project citing incompetency.
Situma however wrote back to the World Bank citing graft in the project saying she could only hand over after some audit queries are dealt with and adding she didn’t want to be followed thereafter because of mistakes committed by her seniors.
In several of her letters to the World Bank seen by the Star, Situma cites frustration from Makanda and pressure on her to give money which she has declined.
“The CECM for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Irrigation and Cooperatives, Mr Matthews Wanjala Makanda, has on many occasions put pressure on me to resign to pave way for his dubious deals which I have since declined ,” read the letter from Situma to the World Bank in part.
Situma in one of the letters further alleges Makanda has been taking away project money to fund his political ambitions .
“In June 2019, the CEC took the imprest of 2,714,100 through one of the project managers to allegedly bribe MCAs who had vowed to impeach him,” it reads in part .
Speaking to the Star, Makanda however refutes the claims, describing Situma as an "incompetent and incorrigible liar", saying she was haunted out of the project after she failed to make proper proposals.
“This I can even repeat in a court of law. Situma is being ousted out of the project because of incompetency. This woman not only is evil but also an incompetent and incorrigible liar,” Makanda said.
Makanda accused her of sabotaging projects funding by not submitting project proposals to the World Bank and failing to give cooperative societies money already availed.
“This lady has really let us down, we are always number last in the ranking because of her projects and we are forced to return money back to World Bank because she hasn’t given the cash to groups,” said Makanda.
He refutes claims that he embezzled funds, saying the money that was taken as imprest was returned after a few months and there was no cause for alarm.
Makanda further alleges that all his moves have a blessing of the World Bank regional offices.
Situma on the other hand refutes claims of her failing to submit proposals saying Makanda had forced the money to be diverted to build bridges for political reasons which she says the World Bank had declined.
“It is him Makanda who was trying to force construction of bridges for political reasons which was not part of the World Bank objectives which they declined. How am I supposed to be blamed,” she said.
In a preliminary audit report seen by the Star, the World Bank auditors propose that the project be stopped due to graft and infighting.