Thursday, September 04, 2008


Wajir East MP Mohammed Ibrahim Elmi has a tough task to accomplish.
Besides representing his constituency, Elmi is also expected to manage the Northern Eastern Province in his capacity as the Minister of Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Areas.

Coming from one of the regions often labelled as ‘forgotten’ and where clannism is seen as a main obstacle to development, Elmi says he is prepared for the dual challenges.

Running on an ODM, he beat former minister for Regional Development Mohammed Abdi Mohamud in a hotly contested race. The MP worked with various non-governmental organisations before quitting last year and has won accolades for humanitarian work.

In 2002, the Queen of England awarded Elmi the Member of the British Empire in recognition of his work.

Elmi will be juggling between projects in his constituency and the larger region.

"I have 15-year experience working with rural and pastoral communities and will use this to open up my constituency and North Eastern as a whole," The province suffers from underdevelopment in all sectors. This could derail Vision 2030," he says.

He cites lack of education as one of the major obstacles to development in the region whose population is over 2-3 million people. "For any community to make strides in development education is the key priority," he says.

The MP will focus on education, with emphasis on mobile school to reach nomadic children.
Sanitation is another major problem in the area. Most residents use buckets since they cannot dig latrines due to high water table.

Elmi, a doctor, says he will improve health facilities. He is also seeking ways of opening the region for business.

"My ministry will lobby the Government to offer tax holidays for private investors to create jobs for the surging number of unemployed youths," he says.

"People look at the MP as one who does things instead of facilitating. That is why they rush for handouts".

Elmi says the clan structure could be used positively rather than creating rivalry, as has been the case. He says there are arid lands policies that have not been enacted, a feat his ministry hopes to achieve.