Lactating mothers in Tharaka Nithi County are set to economically benefit from an applied research programme sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation through Kenyatta University in partnership with the county government.
The research dubbed ‘Initiative of what works in women economic empowerment programme’ under Kenyatta University Women Empowerment Programme will see the formulation of policies that will identify a workable environment for women.
The programme stipulates that women have experienced major losses in informal economic businesses as lactating mothers are unable to take care of their children while working.
The research will provide a favorable working environment that will substantially uplift women in the informal economic sector by providing conditions that will facilitate them to work while nurturing their children.
As part of the research, the success of the project will ease the burden on lactating mothers by construction of daycare facilities in schools for kids under 4 years and introduction of a new curriculum.
It will also see construction of cribs around market places in Tharaka Nithi County as well as the rest of the country.
In a consultative meeting held by Tharaka Nithi County Governor Muthomi Njuki with a delegation from Kenyatta University led by Vice Chancellor, Professor Paul Wanaina, the two institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure commitment on the project.
While addressing journalists after the meeting, the Vice Chancellor revealed the programme will help the county deal with gender related issues by filling gaps in key economic areas noting that if successful, the initiatives will be implemented in all counties nationwide.
The programme, the professor noted, was also established as a way of devolving national government resources to the grassroots.
“I came here with researchers from Kenyatta University to see how we can work with county officials and reach the people at the grassroots for data to ensure the success of the project,” he said.
Prof. Wanaina disclosed that Tharaka Nithi was selected as a pioneering county due to the previous construction of a crib at Chuka open-air market that provides a lactating space for ECDE teachers and toys to children.
With the success of the research, the county will be able to construct more cribs in several markets through the county.
Governor Njuki revealed some of the funds provided by Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation will be used to upscale the number of cribs in markets and schools around the county.
“The crib at the market was made out of need and demands from the mother to ensure their businesses run throughout the year,” he said
The governor added that with proven results, the research will be gazetted into a policy research paper that can be used internationally and the idea replicated across all counties in the country.
Governor Njuki expressed his commitment to avail the necessary research tools and other logistic support to ensure the success of the program.
By Sharon Gitau