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Centre avails opportunities for women living along the border to engage in trade

Located at Mauko village in a rented residential plot within the outskirts of Busia town is Busia Daycare Centre, a day time home to a number of children aged between six months to three years.

The facility was established by the Centre for Collaboration on Gender Development (CCGD) in collaboration with other partners after Florence Atieno, the chairperson of Busia Cross Border Women traders approached the organization for assistance.

Atieno says that an incident where a two-year-old child was defiled while the mother was away for business is what prompted her to approach the organization.

“I was advised to write a proposal which was approved and the project was established in August 2021 after undergoing certain procedures.

She now says that establishment of the Centre has cushioned children against child trafficking, Gender Based Violence and also expended the women’s businesses since the women no longer carry around their children or leave them behind at the risk of being abused or kidnapped.

“We are also trying to empower women so that they can trade across the entire African region,” she says.

The official further says that the facility has also attracted young mothers who are civil servants and do not want to hire house helps to take care of their babies at home.

Busia County Coordinator for the Centre for Collaboration on Gender Development (CCGD) Sharon Ngaira says that the organization which is keen in addressing Gender issues established the centre in collaboration with the University of Nairobi’s Women Economic Empowerment Hub (WEE) hub, the MasterCard Foundation and Busia Women Cross Border SACCO.

“Before the establishment of the facility, a baseline survey was carried out by the UON and the Ministry of EAC and the findings revealed that women were incurring extra cost when they carried their children to the market,” she says adding that the presence of the facility has seen the women increase their savings.

Ngaira adds that the organization understands the need to relieve women from the burden of unpaid care and domestic work so that they can engage in income generating activities, hence the reason behind the establishment of the organization.

“The project targets single mothers who are willing to go back to school and Gender Based Violence survivors who want to venture into business,” she says, adding that a number of civil servants have also taken advantage of the facility as a safe haven for their children as they go to work.

She adds that the facility has also taken care of nutrition among the children as it provides meals three times a day.

The official further says space is a challenge and appeals to the County Government to assist in acquiring a parcel of land for its expansion.

“We are appealing to the County government to help us expand this facility and at least be part of it because this facility helps the government generate revenue from the business women.

She reveals that the Daycare facility is one of its kind as the others that were privately owned were closed down during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Agneta Okumu, the child care Administrator of the facility says that the registration procedure for bringing children to the facility ensures that important details of the parents and guardians are well documented just to avoid any eventualities that may be detrimental to the children.

“We have admission forms and parents fill in their National Identification numbers, mobile phone numbers, the children’s birth certificates details, if the children have any special needs among other necessary details,” says Okumu.

“The center operates from Monday to Friday and we charge a small fee of Sh. 50 per day,” she says, adding they may be forced to raise the fee to Sh. 100 due to the current harsh economic times facing the entire country.

She however points out that some parents would want to bring their children to the facility as early as 6.00 am yet the facility operates from 8.00 am posing a challenge to the administration.

“Another challenge is that some parents do not bring enough clothing change for their children,” she says, adding that others insist on bringing their own food to the facility.

Busia County Director for Trade Hudson Sireka, says that the county needs to come up with more child support centres so that women traders are not interrupted by young children while engaging in trade.

Sireka adds that the County Government will come up with policies to ensure that women are supported to register in formal groups so that they can easily be recognized by the relevant authorities.

“So as a County government we want to urge women to register their businesses so that they can have a competitive advantage,” he said.

He at the same time says that the county leadership has established some funds for SACCOS, Small scale traders and signed an MOU with Women Enterprise Fund with a view to support women.

Busia Acting County Commissioner Kipchumba Ruto urged women to actively participate in trade instead of depending on men to provide for their families.

Ruto thanked the Centre for Collaboration on Gender Development for coming up with a childcare center that will enable women have a place to leave their children while engaging in business.

“This facility will go a long way in providing affordable child care for cross border women as they carry out their businesses,” he said.

He encouraged women traders to take advantage of the available Government empowerment funds to expand their businesses.

“The Government has plans of coming up with a Cross Border Jumuiya Market here and customs will also assist you to clear goods faster,” he said urging the traders not to engage in illegal business

Women are the major contributors in Cross Border trade volumes of Busia County ranging between 65- 70% of both imports and exports through the two border points of Busia and Malaba One Stop Border Posts.

By Salome Alwanda

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