Energy ministry to spend Sh2.4 billion on lesos, aprons and brochures for PR campaign

Cooking with firewood.

Cooking with firewood. The Energy ministry wants this stopped alongside the use of paraffin and charcoal. 

Photo credit: Pool

The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum will splash Sh2.4 billion on lesos, aprons and brochures, among other items, in a campaign for the adoption of clean cooking methods despite a cash crunch at the Treasury that has forced the government to slash the Budget. 

The ministry will spend Sh70.5 million to buy 1,000 lesos for each county, Sh211.5 million on 3,000 aprons per county, Sh11.75 million for 500 caps for every county, Sh23.5 million for 1,000 T-shirts per county and Sh14.1 million on 3,000 pens per county. 

It will also spend Sh235 million on 100,000 fliers for each county, Sh164.5 million on 50,000 brochures per county, Sh9.4 million on 1,000 size A2 posters per county, Sh37.6 million on dialogue forums, Sh220 million on broadcast dialogues and discussions and Sh6 million on a brand ambassador for clean energy. 

Further, Sh141 million will be spent on roadshows and a similar amount on county sensitisation workshops, Sh376 million on clean cooking events, Sh235 million on regional and county events such as agricultural shows. 

The spending is part of the ministry’s Behaviour Change and Communication Strategy for Promoting Clean Cooking in Kenya. The three-year campaign seeks to increase awareness of improved cooking solutions, especially in rural areas where reliance on firewood for cooking is high. 

“By the end of the three years of the implementation of this strategy, 60 per cent of Kenyans will have adopted clean cooking stoves,” said the ministry. 

Broke government

The spending shines a spotlight on the ministry at a time when the government is broke amid pressures to service a growing mountain of debt, fulfil ambitious campaign promises, pay salaries and fund big-money development projects.

The biting cash crunch at the Treasury has prompted President William Ruto to embark on a multi-pronged strategy to cut non-essential expenditures, cut subsidies and raise revenue collection to fund his key campaign promises. 

The President in September announced a radical Sh300 billion budget cut for the Sh3.3 trillion current Budget targeting spending on entertainment, public relations, operations and maintenance and travel. “Over the next three years, we must reverse this [borrowing to fund recurrent expenditure] and go back to where the government contributes to the national saving efforts by keeping recurrent expenditure below revenue,” said Dr Ruto. 

To lower immediate domestic debt repayment pressures, the Treasury also seeks to swap Sh87.8 billion worth of short-term debt with longer-term debt to create a breathing space to fund its operations amidst a tight fiscal environment.

Dr Ruto is also under pressure from the electorate to fulfil his campaign promises, key among them the Sh50 billion Hustler Fund that seeks to give low-cost loans to individuals and businesses. The money was not budgeted for in the current financial year, hence the Head of State has to devise a way of introducing it in the supplementary budget. 

The clean cooking campaign also comes despite the government failing to effectively deliver its cooking gas subsidy programme that was aimed at making the commodity cheap to enable poor households to adopt cleaner cooking methods. 

The gas subsidy was introduced by the ministry in 2016/17 to reduce the reliance of low-income earners on firewood, charcoal and paraffin, which have been blamed for causing health problems and contributing to increased deforestation and environmental pollution. 

The implementation of the programme was, however, hindered by suppliers who provided faulty liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders—more than a third, according to a report on the project.