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Child care messages benefiting Kajiado mothers

Save the Children Kenya, UNICEF and World Food Programme have partnered to educate mothers in Kajiado on several topics concerning children.

The topics which range from breastfeeding, nutrition, positive parenting and registration of children are packaged in Short Message Service and voice messages.

Save The Children International Programme Officer, Nancy Sironga said that though the Universal Child Benefit Programme (UCB) main focus was cash transfer to children below three years, they have incorporated other components for maximum value to the beneficiaries.

“The SMS and Voice notes are a value addition component to the Universal Child Benefit Programme. Though the programme initially focused on cash transfer, we incorporated other components for maximum benefits,” said Sironga.

The phone will ring and once received, the voice note will play for about 58 seconds. The first batch of the messages focused on child protection and nutrition. The messages are in Swahili, Mbeere and Maasai languages for comprehension.

Sironga noted that due to various issues, the mothers usually do not attend the mother to mother support groups which are used to relay critical parenting information hence the need for the SMS and voice messages.

“The messages are able to reach each individual UCB beneficiary whenever and wherever they are making them very convenient,” added Sironga. She noted that the messages are sent to the mothers monthly after all the partners agree on which message to be relayed.

Faith Naserian, a beneficiary of the UCB programme said she has learnt a lot concerning raising children from the SMS.

“I have two children under five years and before I got the messages, I did not know about exclusive breastfeeding. Since I learnt about it, I have practiced it with my second child and there is a big difference between him and the first born who was not exclusively breastfed in terms of immunity,” said Naserian.

Another beneficiary, Eunice Naserian said that she is glad the SMS service has been put in place as she is able to get information regarding motherhood even when she doesn’t attend the mother to mother support groups.

“Due to the ongoing drought, I have to zero graze the animals at the Boma unlike before so I don’t have time to attend the mother to mother support groups. I am glad I can still learn through SMS and voice messages,” said Naserian.

UCB programme which was being piloted by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with Save the Children organisation, World Food Programme and the Kenyan government is set to expire in December 2022.

Some 8,265 children drawn from Kajiado, Kisumu and Embu Counties have been receiving Sh 800 per child per month since the inception of the programme in December 2021.

In Kajiado County, 2,292 children from 2,103 registered households have benefitted from the programme.

By Diana Meneto

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