Governors’ spouses within the Lake Region Economic Bloc are building synergies among themselves and with the governors to tackle cross-cutting gender issues considered to be barriers to the socio-economic development of the region.
The bloc which comprises 14 counties within the Lake Victoria Basin include the counties of Bomet, Bungoma, Busia, Homa Bay, Kakamega, Kericho, Kisii, Kisumu, Migori, Nandi, Nyamira, Siaya, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga.
The 13 ladies and one gentleman held a meeting in Malindi at the weekend where they identified issues related to health, nutrition and sanitation as some of the challenges faced by women, children and the elderly that they would focus on.
They said women and their families as well as the elderly within the bloc were facing real challenges brought about by food insecurity, poverty, health, lack of education and financial exclusion.
Mrs. Emily Nyaribo, Nyamira Governor’s spouse and the LREB Spouse Chapter Chairperson told journalists in an interview that most women and children were vulnerable and needed people to advocate for their cause, a concern the Governors’ spouses, she said, had a passion for.
“We neither have funding nor salaries from the counties. However, partners come in to support certain causes that we do,” Mrs. Nyaribo said after the three-day meeting held at a Malindi hotel.
Mrs. Nyaribo, who is the wife of Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo, said the lake region had been left behind in many developmental economic issues that concern women that needed concerted efforts to tackle.
“So, for us to be able to advocate for their support, we came and had a discussion and looked for areas in which we can probably partner with our spouses and be able to support them,” she said.
She said the areas the first spouses would focus on include cancer issues, nutrition and sanitation including menstrual health of women and school going girls.
“During the meeting, we looked at the area of health, focusing mainly on cancer issues. We also looked at improving our nutrition, which means then we are going to advocate for agriculture, food crops and vegetable gardens,” she said.
“We also looked at the area of sanitation and menstrual health both for our women at home and school going children”, she added.
The chairperson said that they would also advocate for the safety and security of the elderly, advocate for their care, nutrition and health.
Noting that gender-based violence was rampant in all the region’s 14 counties, Mrs. Nyaribo said the first spouses would advocate against the vice to ensure it is eradicated.
She said the first spouses would jointly implement programmes, which would then be replicated in other needy counties within the region.
LREB Chief Executive Officer Victor Nyagaya said LREB was partnering with the Indian Government on several partnerships on the provision of solar panels, green energy and the development of an inter-county railway network among others through the ministries of Energy and Power.
Mr. Nyagaya said seven governors from the bloc visited India last year where they signed a memorandum of understanding with the two government ministries in connection with the partnership.
He said his vision was to make the bloc the most developed in the county, comparable to the Tennessee Valley Authority in America.
“We are the next Tennessee Valley Authority in this country because we are putting in place machinery to work on climate change, develop the Blue Economy since the bloc has the largest pool of fresh water and the second biggest port in Kisumu after the Port of Mombasa,” he said.
By Emmanuel Masha