Save the Children has launched an ambitious strategy targeting more than one million marginalized and vulnerable children in Kenya, in the next three years.
The 2022-2024 Country Strategic Plan will cost the organization USD 26million; finances that will be raised through enhanced resource acquisition and mobilization both locally and internationally.
The three-year goal plan directly contributes to Save the Children’s global strategy and builds onto the organization’s 2030 ambition of ensuring children survive, learn, and are protected and majorly focuses on health and nutrition, education, and technical skills for youth and adolescents, and the humanitarian situation. It highlights four strategic goals that it will be focusing on in the next three years. These include:
· Access to safe and quality education
· Children under five thrive
· Improved well-being for youth and adolescents
· Strengthened child-sensitive, shock-responsive social protection systems for vulnerable communities
Speaking during the launch of the strategy, Yvonne Arunga, Save the Children Kenya and Madagascar’s Country Director said the strategy focuses on the most marginalized and vulnerable children.
“We want our children, when they’re born, to stand the greatest chance of survival. Currently, we are losing too many babies at birth and in the initial years, from preventable causes like pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and malnutrition,” said Yvonne. “We want children to have safe and quality education; we also want to be in a place where when shocks happen, these children together with their families, don’t fall further behind because they’re already at a disadvantage.”
Mr. Shem Nyakutu, Secretary of Children’s Services from the Directorate of Children Services lauded Save the Children for the three-year strategy noting that it is an ambitious yet transformative plan that will safeguard the rights of children in Kenya and help them achieve their full potential. Noting that children constitute approximately 52% of the total population, he said many of them face various challenges including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, parental neglect, child labor, exploitation,and other forms of violations adding that partnering with like-minded organizations like Save the Children, goes a long way in safeguarding their rights.
“Child Protection calls for a multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary approach to prevent and respond to various ills committed against the child. The Child Protection Workforce, which provides services to children, is drawn from various disciplines and is found in both State agencies and non-state actors. We can work together to strengthen government systems for enhanced prevention, coordination, and support,” said Mr. Nyakutu.
The four goals within the strategy are a product of collaborative efforts between the organization and key stakeholders including the children, community members, the national and county government, donor partners, and civil society organizations among others. They build onto the 2019-2021 strategy that recently ended and have largely been informed by the great need in terms of access to children’s rights and the three Cs: Covid-19, climate change, and conflict.
The strategy is being launched at a time when Kenya is experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades, with 4.1m people said to be severely food insecure according to IPC Acute Food Insecurity Analysis in the March to June report. The analysis indicates that 942,000 children under five years require treatment for acute malnutrition and 134,000 pregnant and lactating women are acutely malnourished. A report by the Famine and Early Warning System projected another fifth, consecutive below-average rainy season between October to December 2022.
“The nutrition situation for children aged 6 – 59 months in Wajir County is critical with Global Acute Malnutrition of 15.9% and Severe Acute Malnutrition of 1.8 %. People are trekking long distances, up to 6.7km in search of water. The time to act is now,” said Abdullahi Sheikh, Head of Programmes, Waso Resource Development Agency (WARDA).
While addressing the drought and its effects on children, Mr. Nyakutu announced that the Directorate of Children’s Services is strengthening child protection at the community levels in the drought-affected counties and has trained 250 Child Protection Volunteers from the counties to enhance the prevention and reporting of child protection concerns to inform appropriate intervention, especially during this crisis.
While making her remarks during the launch ceremony, Hellen Avisa, Deputy Director of Education, Directorate of Field Coordination and Co-Curricular Activities, Ministry of Education, noted that the strategy will go a long way in helping the very marginalized children and those in emergencies, access education. She raised concern about the drought emergency saying it is highly affecting children and their education.
“Almost 1.13 million girls and boys of primary school age (6 to 13 years old) are out of school in Kenya, according to an Out-of-School Children Initiative study conducted in Kenya in 2020. The situation has worsened due to the impact of COVID-19-related school closures, followed by drought in 23 ASAL counties,” said Hellen adding that emergencies exacerbate pre-existing marginalization amongst vulnerable groups such as children with disabilities, children living in poor rural areas, orphans, street children, ex-combatants, child laborers, ethnic minorities and children on the move.
Noting the power of localization, Save the Children will be implementing the strategy with local partners and communities, national and county governments, and most especially children, as they’re at the heart of our work.
“We are embracing the fact that power is slowly shifting to those we work with, what we call our localization agenda. In the implementation of our strategic plan we want to progressively increase the leadership and authority of affected people in determining how resources are used within their communities to address their priorities,” said Yvonne.