Ambassador Godec Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of Lodwar Livestock Market and Water System, and Launch of USG Global Food Security Activity in Northern Kenya

Speeches Shim

Wednesday, October 24, 2018
U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec, cuts the ribbon to official open the Lodwar Livestock Market. With him is USAID’s Deputy Mission Director Heather Schildge, the Governor of Turkana County, Josphat Nanok and the Cabinet Secretary for Arid and Semi-arid Lands Eugene Wamalwa.
U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec, cuts the ribbon to official open the Lodwar Livestock Market. With him is USAID’s Deputy Mission Director Heather Schildge, the Governor of Turkana County, Josphat Nanok and the Cabinet Secretary for Arid and Semi-arid Lands Eugene Wamalwa.
USAID/Albert Mwangi

I am very pleased to join all of you today in celebrating the opening of the Lodwar Livestock Market.  I congratulate everyone who has worked so hard to bring this project to completion.   

A vibrant market system in northern Kenya helps the region in many ways: it spurs private sector investment, strengthens the resilience of pastoralists, and reduces the impact of climate-induced disasters such as drought and floods.  In recognition of its importance, the United States invested 38 million Kenyan shillings in the Lodwar Livestock Market to help upgrade its infrastructure and improve water access within the market so that buyers and sellers can focus on business.

Lodwar Livestock Market is now a model market for livestock producers, traders, and vendors.  Its improved structures and facilities encourage new economic activities, including the sale of food, clothing, and other necessities.  Thanks to this thriving market, the livestock industry is accelerating economic activities, employment, and ultimately, prosperity.

Through USAID, the United States has helped construct 20 such livestock markets across northern Kenya from Turkana in the West to Garissa in the East, including markets in Isiolo and one in Marsabit that I had the privilege of opening in 2015.  We have also supported the establishment of livestock-related businesses worth over 1 billion Kenyan shillings.  The United States is making these significant investments because we believe that they are the key to moving households from poverty to prosperity.

Kenya’s Vision 2030 identifies the development of arid and semi-arid land counties as a top priority.  Although the ASAL counties are making strides in economic and social development, they continue to face huge challenges: for example, more than three quarters of the people in ASAL counties are living below the poverty line.  I understand that the Government of Kenya is developing a National ASAL Strategy to address these challenges, and the United States will be with you every step of the way to help with these efforts.

To further demonstrate our support for the Government of Kenya’s priorities, today I would like to announce our launch of a 4.5 billion Kenyan shilling Feed the Future Livestock Market Systems Project.  Through grants, vocational and technical education, business support services, and strengthening policy, this five-year project in five northern Kenya counties is a part of the US-funded Global Food Security Plan for Kenya that President Kenyatta launched in April of this year.  It is another mark of our confidence in the future of Kenya.

As we collectively celebrate our successes and look to increase prosperity in ASAL counties and throughout Kenya, we must remember that real progress can only be achieved if youth and women are given equal opportunities to contribute.

Youth and women play a catalyzing role in bringing about the transformational economic, environmental and social changes required for sustainable development.  Women and girls in ASAL counties face tremendous challenges: high levels of illiteracy, discrimination, lack of access to health and education, FGM, and early childhood marriage.  To make real progress, youth and women must be able to participate meaningfully in the economic opportunities within the ASALs counties.

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate President Kenyatta on his appointment as the World Ambassador for Youth, a role he accepted recently at the UN General Assembly.  Certainly, Kenya’s youth can provide an example to the world as they continue to play a more prominent role in leading changes within their country based on inclusion, transparency and sustainable growth.

Also critical to further progress in the ASAL counties, just as it is across Kenya, is further strong efforts in the war against corruption.  All Kenyan know corruption is undermining the country’s future.  As a friend, the United States is encouraged by the recent commitment in this fight, but further and faster progress is essential.  Kenya will only truly prosper when corruption is brought to a halt and the rule of law prevails.

Finally, the U.S. government is committed to unlocking the full economic potential of the ASAL counties.  We will not only continue to support the trade of livestock, livestock products, pasture and fodder production, and fishing.  But we will also continue our longstanding efforts to ensure that Kenyans have access to the basic necessities needed to be active participants in economic activities - safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services, quality healthcare and education.

Congratulations again on the terrific work being done here to improve the livelihoods of Kenyans and on the opening of this market today.  We are committed, as a friend, to continuing to work with you to build stronger communities to withstand the toughest of challenges. 

Pamoja tusonge mbele.


Asanteni sana.

Issuing Country