Kenya and Finland have signed a collaboration agreement to promote prevention and raising awareness on Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the country.
According to regional coordinator Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland Harron Kadieda while addressing stakeholders in Mt Elgon Sub County headquarters said that the implementation component would be undertaken by the Kenya Red Cross Society.
Kadieda added that the project is going to be done in 3 counties namely Bungoma, Kilifi and Samburu
He noted that the counties were identified after a situation analysis done in the named counties established that GBV was still in existence in high numbers despite minimal cases reported to the relevant authorities.
“Hence there was need of raising awareness and prevention of GBV in the 3 counties with high numbers,” Kadieda said.
The regional coordinator confirmed that the project kicks off in June 2022 where stakeholders at the county level in Bungoma were engaged for their input are currently rolling it down to Sub County.
He noted that stakeholders have also been given an opportunity to understand the project goal, objective, design and give feedback on intervention strategies.
According to Margret Wanyonyi GBV project officer Kenya Red Cross Society Bungoma a total of 1.3 million people are expected to benefit from the project directly and indirectly.
Mrs. Wanyonyi said among the groups targeted reproductive age, adolescence between 10-19 years, adult men and people living with disability.
“With an aim of reducing GBV, enhancing capacity of duty bearers thus stakeholders through capacity building and to strengthen legal policy framework sustainability mechanism towards GBV prevention,” she noted.
She added that despite the fact that the project will run across the whole county three sub counties have been identified through a survey conducted by different organizations and established that Mt Elgon Sub county, Cheptais sub county and Kopsiro Sub county have the highest number of cases of GBV both reported cases and not.
Mrs. Wanyonyi noted that a survey with organization established that the major GBV in the three sub counties include female genital mutilation, violence due to land, early marriage, teen pregnancies and physical and emotional violence.
According to Solomon Kiterie from Adventure Youth Group (AYG) while representing Community Based Organization said that major challenge influencing GBV in the three sub counties is culture and traditions.
Kiterie noted that FGM was a tradition to the Saboat community among girls to enable them move from childhood to adulthood and the community has not found anything to replace hence they still practice secretly after the government outlawed the tradition with Anti FGM act.
He urged stakeholders there need to do serious sensitization to the community and involve elders to get an alternative way of transition from childhood to adulthood among girls.
Among other challenges raised by stakeholders include kangaroo courts, lack of proper information on GBV cases more so defilement, decision by courts of law of issues of bail on perpetrators hence interfere with investigation.
In a quick rejoinder Mrs. Wanyonyi said that as implementers of the project they will increase access to sexual and GBV and response information services.
She added that they will also strengthen the health system and support high quality GBV prevention and response service.
The project manager also assured stakeholders that frontline bearers will be trained to understand prevention and response including FGM for both development and humanitarian context.
Mrs. Wanyonyi also said they will improve the livelihood and resilience of GBV survivors and groups at risks.
While giving closing remarks deputy county commissioner Mt Elgon Sub county Benjamin Nziuki asked stakeholders to work together to ensure that GBV is a thing of the past.
He also asked the organizers to look into challenges raised by the stakeholders and fix them by formation of small committees to address them.
Among stakeholders present included Ministry of Interior and Coordination, Ministry of Health, National Police, Department of Children, County government, civil society organizations, Judiciary, community based organizations and media.
By Douglas Mudambo