By Mohammed Mohamud
Wajir county has perennially been characterised by harsh climatic conditions making it challenging to cultivate different crops. To avert starvation, the government, alongside non-governmental organisations, have focused on distributing relief food, complementing ongoing efforts to enhance agricultural productivity.
Notably, in recent months, the government has launched the distribution of physical foodstuff alongside the cash transfer programme.
However, in the wake of relief and food distribution, queries have been raised regarding the county’s utilisation of the allocated funds. For instance, the county is on the spot for flouting the law in procuring and delivering emergency relief food worth Sh265.4 million.
A report by the auditor general reveals during the 2019/20 financial year, the county managers entered into a framework contract for the supply of relief food and assorted items with four companies.
This is contrary to the Public Procurement and Assets Disposal Act, which requires a minimum of seven alternative vendors to be included in each category.
The food distribution was an option to alleviate suffering among residents who were also hit by a locust invasion during the 2019/2020 financial year. The invasion accelerated the need for food, considering flagship projects to make the county food secure are in their infancy stages.
According to the CDIP report, the county is projected to allocate over Sh1 billion towards different initiatives in the agricultural sector.
The auditor’s general report further reveals that it was impossible to confirm whether the foodstuffs procured were received and distributed to the intended beneficiaries.
“The number of household’s beneficiaries and distribution schedules showing the date and specific venue where food was distributed, identity cards of beneficiaries and quantity of food given out were not provided for audit review,” says the report.
“In addition, there was no evidence that the County Executive Committee member for finance sought approval from the County Assembly after making payments from the Emergency Fund as required by Section 114(1) of the Public Finance Management Act, 2012. Consequently, the Management is in breach of the law,” the report adds.
Wajir County has also been in the limelight for weakness in internal controls. In the FY2019/2020, an examination of sampled payment vouchers revealed weaknesses in enforcing internal controls designed to ensure effective public funds administration.
As a result of weaknesses in the enforcement of internal controls, payments totalling Sh21.7 Million were made without authorization by the accounting officers.
Given the anomalies, the County Treasury operates without strong internal controls, which could lead to fictitious expenditure.
Image: World Food Programme offering food aid. Source: WFP
This story was produced by Wajir Community Radio in partnership with Code for Africa, Kenya Community Media Network and the Catholic Media Council with support from the German Cooperation as a part of the Our County Our Responsibility project.