Wednesday 20 May 2015

By Bill Kembo

Save the Children in partnership with the Kenya Alliance for Children’s Rights (KAACR) hosted a citizens hearing in Bungoma County on the 15th of May, 2015. The Citizens Hearing is a platform that brings together the community and government leaders to listen to, and act on, the views of citizens on national priorities.  The focus for the day was the health of women, children and new-borns.

As part of campaign integration tactics, Action 2015 Kenya and the EVERYONE Campaign all under Save the Children collaborated in the organization, messaging and the overall success of the campaign. The success of this collaboration is hugely significant because it fuses one topic specific campaign and a broadly focused campaign to deliver on a mutually shared goal of demanding from governments and leaders new energy in delivering on development goals. 

In Bungoma, the chief guest was the First Lady of Bungoma County Dr. Margaret Makello. Present also were the Women Representative and MP Hon Dr. Reginalda Nakhumicha Wanyonyi, and a few members of Bungoma’s County Assembly (MCAs). The forum was led by children from the Bungoma Children’s Network who addressed the various county officials present on issues to do with children’s health and nutrition. The children used this forum to voice out their issues on behalf of the community.

The Governor of the Bungoma Chapter of the Junior Assembly, Peter Kariuki, who is 12 years old was in attendance and ably and eloquently presented issues on behalf of the Children’s Assembly and the children of Bungoma. In his itemized wish list was the need to have legislation on feeding programs in the county to incentivize more needy children to attend school. Peter Kariuki also challenged the first lady and the county assembly members by saying “…it is not time for talk, it is time for action.”

Dr. Reginalda Nakhumicha Wanyonyi said “…there is a difference between politics and development” in clear reference to the need for renewed and increased efforts in tackling the inequalities bedeviling especially the children of Bungoma county.

Dr. Margaret Makello ably representing the Governor of Bungoma County impressed upon the members of the county assembly the need to have child friendly and child focused legislation in place to support child development work. She said “there must be prioritization in the budgeting process for education, health and nutrition of children and mothers”. She reiterated that it was a priority of the County Governor to ensure mothers’ and children’s interest are heard and addressed.

Parties with an interest in maternal and child health were well represented with the presence of World Vision and Save the Children ,Gates Foundation and KAACR technocrats in order to hold the intergovernmental process accountable to the citizens of the Bungoma County, and to facilitate and coordinate action by non-government actors.

Two hours of fruitful deliberations culminated in the signing of a memorandum by the eminent members present. The memorandum contained a raft of action demands including child protection, legislation on nutrition, tackling of the jigger menace amongst others. This was handed to the prominent members present who pledged to spare no effort in ensuring the issues raised in the memorandum are addressed. The memorandum was presented by Peter Kariuki, Governor of the Junior Assembly on behalf of the children and people of Bungoma County.