The British Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (PUSS) for International Development, Lynne Featherstone, has visited Kenya to view the work of the Department for International Development (DFID) in supporting the objectives of Kenya’s Vision 2030.
The visit took in a field trip to the remote county of Marsabit which gave the PUSS an opportunity to see some of the work that Britain is supporting in the arid lands of Northern Kenya. The Minister was accompanied by top officers from DFID Kenya office and programme heads from partner organisations - Care Kenya, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and Unicef.
She visited a health centre at Gus, where she met mothers who had brought their children for health and nutrition check-ups. The British funded project, implemented by UNICEF, enables mothers to get advice and support towards the best ways to prevent malnutrition. If a child is found to be below the nutrition threshold level, high impact nutrition supplements are given. Each child is issued with a record card that must be produced each time their mothers bring them to the centre for treatment. The Minister praised the initiative and urged the mothers to use the facility to ensure their children remain healthy. In the same area, she met people who have taken advantage of a livestock insurance scheme funded by the UK and led by the private sector, which not only helps pastoralists prepare for natural disasters but also helps deepen the financial sector in the region. The project enables the locals to insure their livestock to cushion them from potentially huge losses that could come as a result of animals dying due to biting drought and prolonged dry spells. Some of them have used their insurance payouts to stock-up on other goods, such as food, while others bought more livestock at the end of the drought period. Later in the day, the minister visited an agent of the DFID-funded Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) in North Horr. She saw how the programme is using a biometric smart card system to deliver cash to 69,000 of the poorest households. She met some of the beneficiaries who shared their experiences and lauded the project. Some of the beneficiaries said now they can take their children to school, thanks to HSNP. Speaking during her visit the PUSS said “Kenya’s economy is making impressive progress and there are real causes for optimism here. Yet we must not forget that around a quarter of Kenyans still do not have enough income to stave off hunger and malnutrition. That’s why Britain is helping the Government of Kenya to build a welfare system that can support those who are chronically poor. “I have seen for myself the impact that this safety net has made in helping people to protect themselves against hunger and disease in times of crisis, building resilience and saving lives.”
In the evening, the minister and her team met with various leaders of Marsabit County. They discussed and shared a number of issues affecting the vast county as well as those touching on possible bilateral benefits.
The Minister also visited Meru county where she held talks with the local council of elders and other leaders. Their talks focused on what the community was doing to stop Female Genital Mutilation through alternative rites of passage for girls. “Kenya took the vital step of making FGM/C illegal in 2011, but it is not just the laws or the threat of punishment that has brought about this amazing change. It is the simple truth that has persuaded these women that there is no benefit to harming your daughter’s body.” Said the Minister. In Nairobi the Minister called on several Cabinet Secretaries, held discussions with DFID’s partners working on girls’ education and met a range of women leaders to discuss gender equality in Kenya.