In this untested, untried, unfamiliar, puzzling times the puzzle is how do we contain COVID–19 and simultaneously ensure continued economic productivity. It is an egg and chicken puzzle–which comes first, the egg or the chicken? Do we abandon all production, productive activities and quarantine ourselves in our homes so as to contain the spread of COVID-19 or we take calculated gambles to identify which economic activities may be engaged in at minimum risk of exposing oneself and others to the COVID–19.
So what initiatives have our respective Counties of Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga, and neighbouring Trans Nzoia taken, and mapped. Up as capable of permitting targeted economic activity with least risk of one being infected or infecting others in their execution. If farming agriculture, livestock husbandry are the economic activities with the least risk of creating the spread of COVID-19 then how the are County Governments sensitizing, giving awareness to the farmers on how to use the best husbandry practices that will result in optimum returns per unit one-acre given that where we are heading to as the average landsize. If it is to link inputs to the farmers then the County ought to identify the inputs like, maize seed, pesticide, herbicides suppliers and have them deliver using boda bodas the inputs once purchased by a farmer and paid by Mpesa. The physical contact will be very limited at the point of collection by boda and delivery by boda boda to the farmer and both of which can be easily, effectively managed to avoid any transmission of the virus.
The County Governments can use the local media houses in the region to educate the farmers on best practices and how to ensure effective, high-yield production on their farms. Regrettably the Counties are sending their critical workers home when they should be putting in maximum effort to find and execute measures to ameliorate the adverse economic effects of COVID-19 that are just starting to be felt and can only get worse with each passing day.
Yes in this unprecedented times if Counties shut down who shall take care of the people in their Counties? It can’t be the National Government. A glance at the websites of the County Governments and County Assemblies show very little information on the people are expected to navigate the tough times already facing them.
How come the County Governments have not come forward to demand that the National Government works out a formula where the broadband, internet providers lower charges of broadband and calls which are now the recommended means of carrying out human transactions in all their facets. After all the increased user of those services means that the providers will compensate for the lowered prices through the highest traffic they have ever experienced. As things go the National Government should already have done the sorting of the now must have items of liquid soap, sanitizers, spirits and set prices for them and not leave it to the manufacturers who are naturally smiling with the windfall in unlimited sales. Yes price controls are inevitable given the times.
Our question remains how we balance safety containment of COVID-19 and production. So long as we are all living we must produce to satisfy our basic human needs. Those elected to govern should not also look helpless and look only to enforcing containment prevention without answering the question what production must be maximized and how is that to be achieved