Kakamega County Government is planning to establish rescue centres to provide shelter for children who have undergone any form of violence.
The County Chief Officer in Charge of Social Services Development Dr Brendah Barasa said while reviewing the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), they realised there was a gap in provision of children-friendly rescue centres.
She said the child rescue centres will be vital in addressing increasing cases of Violence Against Children (VAC) in the county as more efforts are done to reintegrate them with their families.
The centres will be constructed in Lurambi, Lugari and Khwisero to serve Khwisero, Mumias and Butere areas.
The Chief Officer said the county has been relying on the Gender Based Violence (GBV) rescue centre in Shinyalu to shelter both children and women who have been subjected to violence.
Another GBV rescue centre currently in use is the one located at the Kakamega General Hospital that shelters children who have been defiled, women and men who are victims of GBV in Kakamega.
“The centre admits those who have experienced any forms of GBV,” she said.
Apart from the rescue centres, the Chief Officer said the county government has started a programme on shelter improvement targeting to improve the condition of houses where vulnerable children live.
“Orphaned children live in houses that have leaking roofs, and are living in a deplorable condition,” she disclosed.
She said in the programme, the county government is constructing 20 houses per ward in the county’s 60 wards. Mapping of those houses is ongoing.
Recognising that shelter just like food is a basic need for children, Dr Barasa said the county government has continued to donate food to Charitable Children Institutions (CCIs) asking partners to encourage income generating activities in the institutions to support and sustain the feeding programme to the vulnerable.
The Chief Officer noted that VAC should not be condoned and efforts to stop it should start from the homes.
“We do not want to hear VAC whether it is physical, emotional, social or cyberbullying and any person should be willing to offer protection to children when they seek help,” she noted.
In addition, she said the county government is finalising the drafting of a policy which will offer a roadmap on addressing challenges affecting children.
Speaking in the same function, the Deputy Director Children Services in the Department of Child Protection, Nairobi, Mwambi Mong’are, said they have trained the area advisory council in Kakamega on how to work towards ending violence against children.
“We have come to disseminate Violence Against Children survey of 2019, the National Prevention plan of 2019-2023, child-friendly booklet and the National Plan of Action with the aim of ending online and other forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse in our country,” he noted.
The VAC report is a nationally representative household survey of children and young adults aged 13 to 24-years, measuring the prevalence and circumstances surrounding emotional, physical, and sexual violence against males and females in childhood (before age 18).
The report found that nearly half of the 18-24 years old females (45.9 percent) and more than half of males (56.1 percent) have experienced physical, sexual and/or emotional violence during their childhood. The survey also noted that levels of acceptance and normalisation of violence in Kenya are high.
The Government, through the State Department of Social Protection – Department of Children Services, has also come up with a National Prevention and Response Plan (2019 – 2023) that aims to reduce VAC prevalence by 40 percent in Kenya.
By Moses Wekesa and Cynthia Kerubo