The Council of Governors is seeking a partnership with an international philanthropic organisation to accelerate health, protection and education programmes for children in the country.
In a meeting held between CoG Chair, Anne Waiguru and Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) Founder Christopher Hohn, the council sought support in scaling up interventions aimed at transforming lives of children.
The partnership involves support for an innovative school feeding programme, capacity building of Community Health Workers (CHWs) and implementation of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects.
“We have held very fruitful discussions on how counties can forge strategic partnerships with CIFF in order to scale up interventions for community transformation through initiatives such as school feeding and WASH programs, neonatal and child healthcare, child protection as well as support for Community Health Workers (CHWs),” said Waiguru.
Waiguru who is also Governor of Kirinyaga County said lack of proper nutrition has been a contributing factor to children dropping out of school and dismal academic performance.
She said that through such strategic partnerships, counties can implement school feeding programs, especially in Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) centres that are run by the county governments.
She noted the need to scale up models for resilient food systems such as involving the communities in growing food for supply in neighbourhood schools.
To further cut the cost of running school feeding programs, the governor suggested that parents can be involved in the provision of labour whereby they take turns to volunteer in cooking for the children.
Her sentiments were echoed by Christopher Hohn who said his organisation is willing to partner on a 50/50 cost-sharing basis with the devolved units.
This he said will be through capacity building of CHWs and providing them with digital equipment for capturing data and measuring progress of implementation of interventions such as newborn survival rates.
The organisation will also help counties to equip maternity hospitals and newborn units with an aim of reducing neonatal mortality.
Mr Hohn said similar projects have been successfully implemented in Ethiopia, Zambia and Malawi in partnership with the respective governments.
“We aim at eliminating all barriers to the successful realisation of the child health and education goal,” said Hohn.
Currently, there is no uniform school feeding model for schools in Kenya which leaves individual schools to figure out what best works for them.
While some governments subsidize school feeding, other schools have made arrangements with parents to sponsor the program.
Children in schools that do not operate such a program have to carry food from home, with some going to school without food. Other schools provide only porridge to their children.
Waiguru said even though various counties have diverse needs, there are cross-cutting issues that affect all counties such as the provision of healthcare and education, adding that through consultations, counties will be able to propose the specific areas in which they wish to partner.
“There is need to invest in preventive healthcare so as to cut the high cost of treatment which has been a burden to citizens and governments.” said the governor, noting that improved child nutrition and sanitation go a long way in disease prevention.
The governor said the council will in the next five years focus on strengthening the healthcare systems to ensure better outcomes pointing out the need to scale up the performance and quality management models and quality care provided by Community Health Workers (CHWs).
She said services rendered by community health workers are very critical in the promotion of primary healthcare and public health since they are the closest link between the community and the formal healthcare system.