Wycliffe Oparanya initiative to reward poor mothers on birth control

Governor Wycliffe Oparanya (holding a child) at Bukhungu Stadium on October 31, 2021, during the relaunch of the Kakamega County Maternal Child Health Fund; the Imarisha Afya ya Mama na Mtoto Programme, popularly known as Oparanya Care. [Nathan Ochunge, Standard]

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya plans to introduce birth restrictions in the county due to the high cost of bringing up healthy children.

Mr Oparanya made the announcement during the relaunch of the Kakamega County Maternal Child Health Fund dubbed ‘Imarisha Afya ya Mama na Mtoto Programme’ at Bukhungu stadium last Thursday. According to Oparanya, pregnant women enrolled on the programme will be subjected to a two-child limit arrangement.

Under the initiative, Oparanya noted, beneficiaries must agree to a health timing and spacing of pregnancies. Beneficiaries, mainly pregnant women from poor and vulnerable households, have also been placed on mandatory family planning methods.

This is to ensure they give birth to children they can comfortably raise. 

“We will only give Sh2,000 cash incentive every time a pregnant woman goes to the clinic for up to two children. The spacing from one pregnancy to another is strictly three years,” said Oparanya.

The county chief said beneficiaries would be delisted from the initiative as soon as the children attain 18 months.

He added: “If a woman decides to get a third child, she will be deregistered from the programme and will not qualify to receive the Sh2,000 cash incentive. She will have to carry the burden.” 

He noted that the new initiative that has received support from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) would encourage mothers to attend antenatal clinics and take up family planning.  

“In the expanded programme, we want to focus on the uptake of antenatal clinics in the first trimester and a comprehensive follow up on all immunisation stages for children as well as focusing on family planning and birth registration of our children,” said Oparanya.

UNICEF Country Representative Maniza Zaman, who was represented by Wangui Karanja, the Chief of Zonal UNICEF office in Kisumu, noted that the county was on the right track.

Ms Karanja said mothers who attended antenatal clinics in 2013, were 30.3 per cent and the number of fully immunised children stood at 81.8 per cent.

Wangui noted that skilled deliveries accounted for 44.2 per cent, while uptake of family planning stood at 29.5 per cent in the same year.

“Cash transfers are known to effectively alleviate poverty. The Oparanya Care programme has been a success and in the new programme, most vulnerable women and children will get social protection through access to food and good nutrition,” said Wangui.  

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