Unveiling the Kenya Health Facility Census Report: A Step Towards Universal Health Coverage

Recently, the International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRHK) had the honor of participating in a significant event hosted by the Ministry of Health. The occasion marked the unveiling of the Kenya Health Facility Census Report, a comprehensive survey that provides a detailed snapshot of the country’s healthcare infrastructure. Covering over 12,000 health facilities across the nation, this report is a critical tool in Kenya’s ongoing efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

A Comprehensive Overview

The Kenya Health Facility Census Report offers an in-depth analysis of the country’s healthcare landscape, revealing that the majority of health services are concentrated at levels 2 and 3. These levels encompass dispensaries and health centers, which serve as the backbone of primary healthcare services in Kenya. The report underscores the distribution of healthcare facilities and highlights areas that require focused attention to ensure equitable access to health services for all Kenyans.

One of the key findings of the report is the disparity in the health workforce across the country. Alarmingly, only 12 out of the 47 counties have met the required numbers of health workers per population, including nurses, clinical officers, and doctors. This shortfall presents a significant challenge to achieving UHC, as an adequate and well-distributed health workforce is essential for delivering quality healthcare services.

Addressing Workforce Challenges

The report’s findings on the health workforce have prompted the Ministry of Health to call for urgent and collaborative action. Ensuring that all counties have the required number of health workers is paramount to strengthening the healthcare system and improving health outcomes. The Ministry emphasized the importance of collaboration among various stakeholders, including development partners, the government, and healthcare providers.

By working together, these stakeholders can develop and implement strategies to address the workforce gaps. This includes investing in health worker training, recruitment, and retention programs, particularly in underserved areas. Additionally, there is a need to create an enabling environment that supports health workers’ well-being and professional development, ensuring they are motivated and equipped to provide high-quality care.

Commitment to Universal Health Coverage

Kenya’s commitment to achieving UHC is evident in its efforts to enhance healthcare infrastructure and address workforce challenges. The Health Facility Census Report serves as a critical resource for policymakers, health planners, and stakeholders, providing them with the data needed to make informed decisions. It highlights the progress made and identifies areas that require focused attention, guiding efforts to strengthen the health system.

Universal Health Coverage is a fundamental goal that aims to ensure all individuals and communities have access to the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. Achieving UHC requires a multi-faceted approach that includes expanding health services, improving healthcare quality, and ensuring financial protection for all Kenyans.

Moving Forward

The unveiling of the Kenya Health Facility Census Report marks a significant milestone in the country’s journey towards UHC. It provides a clear picture of the current state of healthcare facilities and workforce distribution, offering a roadmap for future actions. As ICRHK, we are committed to supporting these efforts through our research, advocacy, and community engagement initiatives.

By leveraging the insights from this report, we can work collaboratively with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to address the identified challenges and drive progress towards UHC. Together, we can ensure that all Kenyans have access to the healthcare services they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

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Overcoming Challenges: Successful Mapping and Listing Activities for the Women's Survey in West Pokot and Bungoma Counties

At the International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRHK), we are dedicated to advancing reproductive health through comprehensive data collection and research. One of our flagship initiatives, the PMA Agile project, recently undertook a significant task: mapping and listing activities for the Women’s Survey in West Pokot and Bungoma Counties. Despite facing considerable challenges, including heavy rains and treacherous roads, the team successfully completed these crucial activities, demonstrating resilience and determination.

Navigating Adversity: The Journey in West Pokot and Bungoma

The enumeration areas in West Pokot County presented unique logistical challenges. The areas are widely dispersed, and the onset of heavy rains made many roads impassable. Rivers swollen by the downpours created additional hurdles, making travel difficult and time-consuming. At one point, our teams had to wait up to nine hours to cross a particularly swollen river.

In Bungoma County, similar conditions prevailed. The bad roads, exacerbated by the heavy rains, tested the team’s resolve and required innovative problem-solving and a steadfast commitment to the project’s goals.

Team Resilience and Community Support

The success of the mapping and listing activities in these counties is a testament to the resilience of our team and the invaluable support of the local communities. Our central team, alongside the resident enumerators, displayed exceptional perseverance in the face of adversity. The involvement of village elders was crucial; their local knowledge and support were instrumental in navigating the challenging terrain and ensuring that all enumeration areas were accurately mapped and listed.

Collaborative Efforts and Stakeholder Engagement

The successful completion of these activities would not have been possible without the collaboration and support of key stakeholders. The West Pokot and Bungoma County administrations, Johns Hopkins University (JHU), and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) all played significant roles in facilitating the project. Their commitment to the PMA Agile project’s objectives and their support in overcoming logistical challenges were vital to our success.

Moving Forward: Data for Impact

With the mapping and listing activities now complete, we are poised to move forward with the Women’s Survey. The data collected will provide critical insights into reproductive health needs and challenges faced by women in West Pokot and Bungoma Counties. This information will be instrumental in shaping policies and interventions aimed at improving reproductive health outcomes in these regions.

The PMA Agile project continues to demonstrate the importance of resilience, community engagement, and collaborative efforts in achieving its goals. We extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in this endeavor, from our dedicated team members to the supportive village elders and key stakeholders. Together, we are making significant strides in advancing reproductive health and empowering communities with the data they need to drive meaningful change

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Navigating Challenges, Building Solutions: A Journey Through Kakamega, Homa Bay, and Kilifi Counties

In a bid to tackle capacity gaps and adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) challenges, the International Center for Reproductive Health – Kenya (ICRHK) embarked on a transformative journey, engaging with three Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) representing persons with disabilities, youth, and women. This collaborative effort unfolded across Kakamega, Homa-Bay, and Kilifi Counties, where insights were gathered, and solutions were sought to create a healthier and more inclusive future for all.

The journey began in Kakamega, where vibrant discussions and meaningful interactions took place. The CSOs, serving as pillars of their communities, shared valuable perspectives on the existing challenges faced by adolescents regarding their SRH and the prevailing capacity gaps. This exchange of insights laid a solid foundation for the collaborative efforts that followed, setting the stage for impactful change.

Moving forward, the journey continued to Homa-Bay County, where the focus shifted to engaging with youth-led entities. Here, the discussions delved deeper into the specific needs and challenges faced by young people regarding their SRH. The vibrant energy and enthusiasm of the youth brought a new dimension to the conversation, highlighting the importance of youth empowerment in driving positive change within communities.

The journey culminated in Kilifi County, where discussions with women-led organizations added a crucial perspective to the dialogue. The insights shared by these organizations shed light on the unique challenges faced by women regarding their SRH and the vital role they play in community development. This leg of the journey reaffirmed the importance of gender-sensitive approaches in addressing SRH challenges comprehensively.

Throughout this transformative journey, one thing became abundantly clear: collaboration is key to creating sustainable change. By bringing together diverse voices and perspectives, ICRHK and its partners are paving the way for a future where everyone has access to quality SRH services and the opportunity to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Additionally, the engagement with CSOs representing persons with disabilities added a crucial dimension to the discussions. In each county, the unique challenges faced by persons with disabilities regarding their SRH were highlighted, underscoring the importance of inclusive approaches in addressing these issues.

By actively involving persons with disabilities in these discussions, ICRHK and its partners are ensuring that their voices are heard and their needs are addressed, ultimately leading to more inclusive and effective interventions.

By collaborating with a diverse range of stakeholders and actively engaging with communities, ICRHK is not only addressing immediate challenges but also laying the groundwork for long-term, sustainable change. This journey has demonstrated the power of partnership and the impact it can have on transforming communities. As the program continues to unfold, ICRHK remains committed to its mission of creating a healthier and more inclusive future for all, leaving no one behind.

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Empowering Youth, Transforming Communities: ICRHK's Youth Dissemination Project

Empowering youth is a core pillar of our mission at the International Center for Reproductive Health – Kenya (ICRHK). We firmly believe that by investing in the youth, we are not only shaping a brighter future for them but also creating healthier communities and advancing sustainable development. This commitment is at the heart of our recent projects, including the groundbreaking, the first-of-its-kind- Youth Dissemination event, where passionate young minds came together to share insights from a comprehensive study on Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Cultivating Change: Planting Seeds of Empowerment and Sustainability

The Youth Dissemination event was more than just a one-time gathering; it marked a significant milestone in our ongoing journey to empower youth and drive positive change. One of the key highlights was the engaging discussions that featured youth voices alongside religious leaders, legal advisors, and service providers. Together, we delved into various aspects identified from the research findings, fostering a holistic understanding of GBV and its impact on communities.

Data-Driven Impact: Advocacy Based on Solid Research

A central theme of the event was Data-Driven Advocacy, where youth united to dissect study findings and craft impactful messages aimed at decision-makers. These messages, rooted in solid data, became the foundation for powerful advocacy campaigns led by our dynamic youth community. As a symbol of our commitment to sustainability, stakeholders planted trees during the event, symbolizing the growth and resilience of our collective efforts in combating GBV.

Inspiring Action: Engaging Discussions and Holistic Understanding

Additionally, the event addressed immediate needs by distributing dignity packs containing sanitary towels and personal essentials to the youth. This act underscored the importance of dignity and well-being, essential aspects of our mission at ICRHK. The event was not only an informative experience but also an entertaining and inspiring one, setting the stage for a future of youth-led advocacy and positive change.

Key to our approach is the use of comprehensive studies on GBV, which serve as the foundation for our youth-led advocacy efforts. Through these studies, young participants gain valuable insights into the root causes and prevalence of GBV, empowering them to craft powerful messages aimed at decision-makers and community leaders.

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Fostering a Culture of Research: ICRHK's Journey with the Mombasa County Journal Club

In the bustling city of Mombasa, where the ocean breeze carries the promise of change and progress, a dedicated group of researchers and health professionals is actively shaping the future of health research. Among them stands the International Centre for Reproductive Health – Kenya (ICRHK), a beacon of innovation and compassion in the field of reproductive health. One of ICRHK’s flagship initiatives is its active involvement in the Mombasa County Journal Club, a collaborative platform that aims to cultivate a vibrant culture of health research within the County.

The Mombasa County Journal Club is a consortium of six esteemed organizations, including ICRHK, LVCT Health, the Aga Khan University, the University of Washington, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the Department of Health, Mombasa County. This diverse group of stakeholders meets monthly to engage in rigorous discussions, critically appraise research papers, and share best practices in health research. The Club serves as a hub for intellectual exchange, where ideas are nurtured, collaborations are forged, and innovative solutions to health challenges are born.

At the heart of our involvement in the Journal Club lies a deep commitment to excellence in research and a belief in the transformative power of knowledge sharing. Through our participation, we have not only contributed valuable insights and expertise to the Club but has also gained invaluable lessons and experiences from our peers. By engaging in constructive debates and peer reviews, we have refined our research methodologies, enhanced its analytical skills, and strengthened its ability to conduct high-quality research that directly impacts the health and well-being of communities. As a member of this dynamic community, we remain steadfast in our commitment to advancing health research and improving health outcomes for all in Mombasa County and beyond.

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Building Capacity: ICRHK's Staff Empowered through Communication Workshop

In a quest to enhance their communication proficiency, the team at the International Centre for Reproductive Health-Kenya (ICRHK) convened for a two-day workshop at The Waterbuck in Nakuru. This workshop, held on April 17th and 18th, 2024, was not just an ordinary gathering; it was a transformative experience designed to equip participants with advanced communication skills and storytelling techniques, facilitated by a seasoned communications consultant.

The workshop’s curriculum was thoughtfully structured to cater to the diverse needs of the participants. They delved into various aspects of communication, including general communication skills, story spotting, and gathering, as well as phone photography. These sessions aimed to empower the staff to identify and select impactful stories that resonate with ICRHK’s mission and values.

One of the highlights of the workshop was the discussion on ethical storytelling. Participants were sensitized on the importance of telling stories responsibly, ensuring that the narratives they craft are not only engaging but also ethical and respectful. This aspect of the workshop resonated deeply with the staff, as it underscored the core values of integrity and empathy that guide ICRHK’s work.

The workshop also focused on enhancing verbal and non-verbal communication skills, providing strategies for effective written communication, including email etiquette. Participants were introduced to various communication channels and learned how to use them effectively. Additionally, the significance of communication in teams was emphasized, with tools provided for effective team communication.

As the workshop came to a close, the participants left with a renewed sense of confidence in their ability to craft compelling narratives and communicate effectively. The knowledge and skills acquired will not only benefit their individual growth but also contribute significantly to ICRHK’s communication endeavours. This workshop was more than just a capacity-building exercise; it was a testament to ICRHK’s commitment to excellence and innovation in communication.

The journey towards becoming powerful communicators aligned with the mission and values of ICRHK has just begun for the participants. Their stories will inspire change and drive the organization’s mission forward, creating a future where every voice is heard, and every story matters. Stay tuned for more updates as ICRHK continues to empower through effective communication.

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Empowering Stories: Resident Enumerators Prepare for Impactful Survey in Nakuru County

In the bustling town of Nakuru County, the air is filled with anticipation as 107 resident enumerators (REs) gather for a transformative 4-day training session. These dedicated individuals are at the forefront of the PMA Agile 2.0 project, gearing up for the upcoming Women’s survey across Kakamega, Bungoma, Kiambu, and West Pokot counties.

A Journey of Empowerment

For Leah, a spirited Resident Enumerator from Kakamega County, this training is more than just a professional development opportunity—it’s a journey of empowerment. With a passion for community service and a drive to make a difference, Leah eagerly immerses herself in the training, absorbing every bit of knowledge shared.

Equipped with Skills, Fuelled by Passion
The training covers a range of essential topics, from listing and mapping to advanced interviewing techniques and research ethics. Each session not only equips the REs with the necessary skills but also ignites a fire within them to drive meaningful change in their communities.

Stakeholders Unite for a Common Cause
The success of the training is a testament to the collaboration and support of key stakeholders, including Johns Hopkins University (JHU), the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD), and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS). Their commitment to the project is unwavering, providing the necessary resources and expertise to ensure its success.

Leah’s Vision: Empowering Kakamega County
As Leah and her colleagues delve into the intricacies of the household and female questionnaires, her vision for Kakamega County becomes clearer. She envisions a future where every woman and girl has access to quality healthcare and information, where their voices are heard and their needs are met.

A Bright Future Ahead
As the training draws to a close, Leah and her fellow REs are not just armed with knowledge—they are fuelled by a shared purpose. Their journey has just begun, but their impact promises to be profound. Together, they are ready to embark on a mission to collect valuable data, empower their communities, and drive positive change.
Stay tuned for more stories of empowerment and impact as the PMA Agile 2.0 project unfolds across Kakamega, Bungoma, Kiambu, and West Pokot counties

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Empowering Voices: The Art of Realizing Children's Rights

In every child’s heart lies a whirlwind of creativity, a unique perspective on the world that, when nurtured, can blossom into powerful expressions of identity, hope, and change. Recognizing this, we, the International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRHK) have embarked on a transformative journey through the Linda Mtoto initiative, aimed at championing the rights of children by engaging them in one of the most universal language of all; art.

The Power of Participation

Promoting child participation is not just an activity; it’s a fundamental principle in realizing the rights of children as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Participation allows children to express their views, be heard in matters affecting them, and play a role in decision-making processes. It’s about acknowledging children as active contributors to society, capable of inspiring change and advocating for their rights and the rights of others.

Art as a Medium for Expression

ICRHK’s initiative, under the banner of #LindaMtoto, leverages the power of art to give children a platform to express themselves, their dreams, and their understanding of their rights. This approach not only empowers children to be advocates for their rights but also provides a unique insight into their minds, showcasing their perspectives through drawings, paintings, and other art forms. By involving beneficiaries in this artistic endeavor, ICRHK is breaking down barriers to participation and giving voice to the most vulnerable members of society.

A Canvas for Change

The artworks created by these young artists are more than just pictures; they are messages to the world, illustrating their views on education, health, protection, and love. Through their art, children articulate their right to be protected from harm, their right to access education, and their right to be loved and cared for. These pieces serve as powerful advocacy tools, raising awareness about children’s rights and the importance of nurturing and protecting these rights.

The Impact of #LindaMtoto

The #LindaMtoto initiative has not only fostered a sense of confidence and self-worth among the children involved but also sparked conversations within communities about the importance of listening to and valuing the opinions and expressions of children. It has shown that when children are given the opportunity to participate and express themselves, they can contribute significantly to discussions about their rights and well-being.

 

 

A Call to Action

The journey of promoting child participation through art is just beginning. ICRHK invites educators, policymakers, parents, and communities at large to recognize and support the rights of children to express themselves. By providing platforms for these expressions, we can collectively work towards a world where every child is heard, respected, and valued.

The art created by these young voices serves as a vivid reminder of the importance of listening to and involving children in matters that affect them. It is through initiatives like #LindaMtoto that we can pave the way for a future where the rights of children are not just recognized but celebrated and protected.

As we move forward, let us all commit to being champions for children’s rights, encouraging and promoting their participation in all aspects of life. After all, in the brushstrokes of a child’s painting might just lie the blueprint for a brighter, more inclusive world.

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Empowering Peer Educators: The Digital Revolution in Kenya's Healthcare

In a remarkable stride towards revolutionizing healthcare management and delivery in Kenya, a groundbreaking initiative is underway, thanks to the collaborative efforts of ICRH Kenya and the generous support from USAID Stawisha Pwani. This pioneering endeavor focuses on leveraging technology to enhance the quality of healthcare services, a move that is set to transform the landscape of medical record-keeping in the country through the Kenya EMR (Electronic Medical Records) system.

The Dawn of a New Era in Healthcare

At the heart of this transformative journey are our peer educators, the unsung heroes who are often on the frontline, making a direct impact on their communities. The beginning of the year marked a significant milestone in this quest as we hosted a special training session aimed at equipping these dedicated individuals with the necessary skills to navigate and utilize the Kenya EMR system effectively. But what exactly is Kenya EMR, and why is it a game-changer for Kenya’s healthcare system?

Kenya EMR is an innovative digital platform designed to modernize how medical information is managed, stored, and utilized across Kenya. This system is not just about transitioning from paper to digital records; it’s about enhancing the efficiency, accuracy, and accessibility of medical data, thereby significantly improving patient care and health outcomes.

Empowering Through Technology

Recognizing the critical role of our peer educators in this transformative process, we have equipped them with tablets, empowering them to streamline data collection processes for their peers. This not only simplifies their work but also ensures that the information collected is directly inputted into the Kenya EMR system, maintaining data integrity, and facilitating real-time access to health information.

This initiative is more than just an upgrade in technology; it’s a revolutionary approach to healthcare. By integrating the Kenya EMR system, we are not only streamlining data management but also enhancing our capabilities in promoting health awareness, facilitating preventive measures, and improving access to healthcare services.

A Vision for a Healthier Tomorrow

The deployment of the Kenya EMR system through the training and empowerment of peer educators signifies a leap towards a future where technology and healthcare go hand in hand. This initiative underscores our commitment to not just collecting data but using it as a tool to revolutionize healthcare, making it more accessible, efficient, and effective for everyone.

As we embark on this journey, we invite you to join us in embracing the power of technology to create a healthier tomorrow. It is through initiatives like these that we can truly make a difference, leveraging innovation to overcome the challenges facing healthcare delivery in Kenya and beyond.

The support from USAID Stawisha Pwani has been instrumental in this endeavor, and we are grateful for their commitment to improving healthcare through technological advancements. Together, we are setting the stage for a revolution in healthcare, one that promises better health outcomes and a brighter future for all Kenyans.

Join us in this exciting journey towards healthcare innovation. Your support and involvement are crucial as we strive to make a lasting impact in the lives of many. Here’s to a healthier, more empowered Kenya!

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Breaking Barriers, Saving Lives: A Glimpse into the Maternal and Child Health Struggles of Homa Bay County

In the heart of Kenya lies Homa Bay County, a region grappling with some of the most challenging maternal and child health issues in the country. At the recent Homa Bay International Investment Conference (HOBIIC) 2024, a power panel led by Dr. Susan Ontiri, Country Director of ICRH Kenya, unveiled the stark realities faced by mothers and children in this region, shedding light on the urgent need for action and change.

Imagine a young mother, Mary (not her real name), in her early twenties, living in a rural village in Homa Bay. Mary has just given birth to her first child, a beautiful baby girl. However, Mary’s joy is overshadowed by the harsh reality of her surroundings. Homa Bay County has the highest rates of new HIV infections in Kenya, and Mary fears for her daughter’s future in a county where access to quality healthcare is a luxury.

Mary’s story is not unique. In Homa Bay County, gender-based violence (GBV) is on the rise, with many young girls like Mary experiencing abuse and exploitation. The county also faces a staggering 23% teenage pregnancy rate, leading to increased risks for both mothers and babies.

The statistics are alarming – maternal mortality in Homa Bay County is at 516 per 100,000 live births, and under-5 mortality stands at 92.2 per 1000 live births. These numbers paint a grim picture of the challenges faced by mothers and children in this region.

The power panel at HOBIIC 2024 brought together experts and stakeholders to discuss solutions to these pressing issues. One key focus was the need for a multisectoral response – collaboration across sectors such as health, education, and social services to address the complex challenges faced by the county.

Another crucial aspect discussed was the importance of policy support. By crafting and redefining policies, the county can drive impactful change in maternal and child healthcare, ensuring that mothers like Mary have access to the care and support they need.

Healthcare innovations were also highlighted, with panelists exploring groundbreaking approaches and technologies to improve maternal and child health outcomes. From innovative prenatal care to telemedicine solutions, the panelists emphasized the need for creative solutions to address the unique challenges faced by Homa Bay County.

Community engagement was identified as a key driver of change. By involving communities in healthcare decision-making and promoting health-seeking behaviors, the county can empower individuals like Mary to take charge of their health and the health of their families.

The power panel at HOBIIC 2024 ignited sparks of change and emphasized the urgency of addressing these issues to secure a healthier future for Homa Bay County. Through continued collaboration, innovative solutions, and community involvement, we can break barriers and save lives in Homa Bay County and beyond.

The stories of mothers like Mary remind us of the human cost of these statistics. Behind every number is a life, a family, and a community in need of support and care. By working together, we can make a difference and ensure that every mother and child in Homa Bay County has the opportunity to thrive.

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Breaking the Silence: Addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Kenya

In Kenya, the stark reality is that up to 30% of girls and 18% of boys experience sexual violence by the age of 18 years. These harrowing statistics reveal a deep-seated issue that requires  urgent attention and action. Sexual violence not only inflicts physical harm but also leaves lasting scars on mental health, often leading to increased mental health problems and substance abuse disorders.

At the International Centre for Reproductive Health-Kenya (ICRHK), our commitment to addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) is unwavering. Our research and interventions aim to uncover the underlying factors associated with SGBV and provide evidence to scale up quality prevention and response interventions. By understanding the links between individual and community factors, we can better tailor our interventions to meet the needs of survivors and prevent future occurrences.

One of our key initiatives is the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Center at Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital. This center provides comprehensive SGBV services and includes a newly launched child therapy room, ensuring that survivors of all ages receive the care and support they need to heal and rebuild their lives.

In addition to our clinical services, ICRHK is also actively involved in promoting school-based interventions. These interventions aim to build knowledge and empower young boys and girls about their rights to be protected from sexual violence. By educating and empowering the youth, we are laying the foundation for a future where SGBV is not tolerated, and survivors are supported.

The road ahead is challenging, but with each step forward, we are breaking the silence around SGBV and creating a safer, more inclusive society for all. Together, we can make a difference. Join us in our mission to end SGBV and ensure that every individual has the right to live free from violence and fear.

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Breaking the Cycle of Exploitation: The Story of Linda Mtoto

In the bustling streets of Mombasa, Kenya, lies a hidden reality that often goes unnoticed – the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). This global concern has deeply impacted the lives of many, including young girls and boys who have fallen victim to this form of sexual violence.

According to the Violence against Children study (VAC Survey, 2019), alarming statistics reveal that nearly half of females and over half of males aged 18 to 24 have experienced sexual violence during childhood. Among these, CSEC stands out as a prevalent issue, particularly along the Coast, where poverty, neglect, and cultural norms have created fertile ground for exploitation.

Amidst these challenges, a beacon of hope shines through the Linda Mtoto project, a collaborative effort between the International Centre for Reproductive Health-Kenya (ICRH-K), Kindernothilfe (KNH), and the County Government of Mombasa. This initiative aims to combat CSE among children aged 10-17 in Mombasa County by identifying victims, creating strong community structures, and providing essential support.

One of the key strategies of the project is a community-based approach, leveraging the efforts of Community Health Volunteers and Child Protection Volunteers. Through their dedication and commitment, these volunteers work tirelessly to raise awareness, identify at-risk children, and provide support to survivors.

Additionally, the project takes a holistic approach by integrating life skills programs into schools, empowering children with the knowledge and tools to protect themselves. Institutional linkages ensure that children and caregivers receive the necessary support and services to heal and thrive.

The Linda Mtoto project also focuses on capacity building and community sensitization, ensuring that stakeholders are engaged and advocating for the protection of children. Education and vocational support are provided to child beneficiaries, offering them a path towards a brighter future.

As the project continues to make strides in combating CSE, it serves as a reminder that with unity and determination, we can break the cycle of exploitation and create a safer world for our children. The story of Linda Mtoto is not just one of intervention but of transformation, showing that through collective efforts, we can protect the innocence and dignity of our most vulnerable.

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Transforming Lives: ICRHK's Impact in Reproductive Health, Maternal Health, and Family Planning

In the heart of Kenya, the International Centre for Reproductive Health-Kenya (ICRHK) is not just an organization; it’s a beacon of hope for women and families. We understand that reproductive health services are not just about health; they’re about empowerment, dignity, and the future.

At ICRHK, we’re dedicated to ensuring that every woman has access to quality family planning and maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) services. We believe that these services are not just essential for individual well-being, but for achieving broader development goals related to health, poverty reduction, gender equality, and environmental sustainability.

Our work goes beyond research and documentation; it’s about transforming lives. Through initiatives like the Performance Monitoring for Action (PMA) surveys and the Exemplars in Family Planning (FP) project, we’re not just collecting data; we’re shaping policies, improving services, and changing lives.

Our commitment to family planning is evident in our implementation of FP supply chain management activities. By rolling out an integrated logistics management information system, we ensure that FP commodities are available up to the last mile. This means that women in even the most remote areas have access to the contraceptives they need to plan their families and take control of their futures.

Our work doesn’t stop there. We’re also fighting against cervical cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among women in Kenya. Through early diagnosis, treatment of precancerous lesions, and access to advanced treatment, we’re working to reduce the burden of this disease and save lives.

In maternal health, our research on Birth Companion, Network of Care, and group Antenatal Care is not just about improving health outcomes; it’s about ensuring that every pregnant woman receives the care and support she deserves. By focusing on these areas, we’re not just improving health outcomes; we’re empowering women and communities.

At ICRHK, we’re not just a research institute; we’re a community of change-makers. We’re committed to continuing our work in reproductive health, maternal health, and family planning because we know that by investing in women’s health, we’re investing in a brighter future for all.

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Nancy’s Resilience: A Tale of a Child-Headed Family in Jomvu Sub-County, Mombasa

When Nancy (not her real name) heard from the Community Health Volunteers that the Linda Mtoto project team would visit her in their home, she was so excited and eager to share her personal experience in the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.

Nancy’s case was identified by one of the CHVs engaged in Linda Mtoto’s project in Jomvu Sub-County. Upon case assessment and verification, it was discovered that Nancy was not only a victim of CSE under survival sex but had also been neglected by her parents. Nancy is a child aged 17 and lives with her siblings in Narcol, an informal settlement in Jomvu Sub-county. She is the firstborn in a family of four: two girls and two boys. Unfortunately, she is a victim of family disintegration after her parents separated in 2013. The children were left behind with their father. Their mother’s whereabouts remain unknown to date. Nancy and her siblings live in a rental house where they pay a monthly rent of KSH1000. The house is connected to electricity but has no access to water. They are therefore forced to fetch water for domestic use from outside at a cost.

Nancy’s father does not have any reliable source of income and is an absentee parent. Sometimes the children do not know where their father spends the night, which causes anxiety among the children. Nancy also admits that the family relatives are present but are neither concerned about their welfare nor provisions.

Nancy, overwhelmed by family responsibilities, started engaging in in order to fend for her siblings. Life got tough. “Why do I have to go through all this?” Nancy asks, while nodding her head.

Nancy narrates the ordeal of being the sole breadwinner in the family as a child. She says that she really hates selling her body but blames the circumstances forcing the family separation. She sometimes fails to raise the rental fee of 1000/=.  She is always pleading with the landlord, who is constantly threatening them with eviction. Nancy stated that she normally gets KSH150, which is too little to take care of their basic needs such as food, education, and clothing. Sometimes her clients force her to have sex without payment.

Nancy also recalls the numerous times that distant relatives (from her father’s side) would ask her for sex in exchange for a packet of maize flour.

Psychological support: 

The Linda Mtoto Project offers structured psychosocial support to all enrolled children in the program. Counselors meet with children for 6 sessions over a period of 6 weeks. Topics discussed during the sessions include awareness of the emerging trends, e.g., online CSEC, child protection, self-awareness, self-esteem, effects of CSEC; effective communication, positive parenting, sex and sexuality, psycho-education and visioning.

Nancy was linked to counselors and received individual therapy for 7 weeks. ‘I learned the effects of engaging in CSEC and anger management,” says Nancy.

Current situation: 

Nancy presently engages in casual work, offering laundry services to individuals for a fee, and selling groundnuts to school-going children as a means to support her siblings. She has affirmed that she no longer engages in CSEC activities after completing counseling. Furthermore, during Nancy’s formative years, her aspiration was to become a teacher. However, following visioning therapy sessions with her counselor, she discovered her true passion for beauty and hairdressing. Thanks to the support of the Linda Mtoto project, Nancy has been enrolled as a part-time student at the Mikindani Vocational Training Center. She is currently pursuing a course in beauty therapy and eagerly anticipates completing her training. Her goal is to utilize these newfound skills to enhance her family’s economic prospects.

A child’s wish: 

Nancy really longs to see her family reconciled. She also longs to see her parents taking up their responsibilities, which include offering parental love to their children. This case was also reported to the children’s department and presented as neglect by the parents who are both alive.

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Khadija's Journey: A Promise to Make Her Parents Proud Again

The jovial and ever-smiling 15-year-old “Khadija,” not her real name, ushered us into their homestead. She was standing alone as her siblings were playing with their friends behind their mud-thatched house. Neighbors kept on peeping from every corner perhaps eager to discover what was happening.

“Don’t mind them let’s proceed,” she said with a gentle voice. Khadija was brought up in Bombo, Kisauni Sub-County. Her father worked as a casual worker, and her mother was a vegetable hawker in the nearby estates. However, their stability took a hit when her father lost his job, the primary breadwinner for the family. This setback triggered an unfortunate cycle of domestic violence and the relentless intrusion of poverty.

“I scored highly in my Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and I was among the top students in my school,” said Khadija. Which year? “In 2020.” She proudly responded.

Life became more manageable, a far cry from the struggles they had faced before “My dad had become a better person, and we loved him. My mother was at peace too,” said Khadija. The children found solace and love from their parents again.

Khadija had been accepted into a provincial school in Makueni County. However, her parents struggled to gather the necessary tuition fees. Khadija’s father made a courageous decision to secure a loan from a local financier, ultimately securing Ksh100, 000. The jovial Khadija joined Ngumo Girls High School in 2021.

Peer pressure:

Khadija reflected, her voice gentle as she spoke, “All my friends had expensive shoes and plenty of shopping. I used to envy them. On visiting days, their parents would bring them delicious roasted chicken, pilau, and more shopping. My own parents couldn’t afford such luxuries. To add to it, some of my friends constantly bragged about having boyfriends waiting for them at home.”

Under the pressure of her peers’ expectations, Khadija felt compelled to find herself a boyfriend during the holiday season. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before she found herself pregnant, forcing her to discontinue her education. Her father was furious, especially since he had taken out a loan to pay for her tuition. He made the tough decision never to send her back to school again.

Psychological support:

The Linda Mtoto Project delivers a structured program of psychosocial support to all the children enrolled in the project. Each child participating in the project undergoes a 6-week period of 2-hour group sessions. These sessions cover a range of important topics, including awareness of emerging trends like online CSEC (Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse), child protection, self-awareness, self-esteem, the consequences of CSEC, effective communication, positive parenting, sex and sexuality education, and psycho-education to equip children with better-coping mechanisms for various life situations.

Khadija was identified by trained community health volunteers associated with the Linda Mtoto project in April 2021. After thorough verification, she was connected with counselors who provided her with six counseling sessions.

Reflecting on her experience, Khadija shared, “Following the counseling sessions, I took the initiative to seek forgiveness from my parents, although my dad initially resisted. I also made the tough decision to end my relationship with my boyfriend. During the counseling sessions, I gained insights into the consequences of CSEC, dealing with peer pressure, and I felt empowered about my rights.

Family-centered therapy intervention

In June 2021, Khadija’s dad was linked to the Linda Mtoto counselors for psychosocial support. The family-centered therapy intervention focuses on improving family communication, raising awareness about child protection, and emphasizing individual psychological assistance for adults who are distressed in adversity-stricken communities.

‘By the time I was participating in this intervention, I was completely crushed by my daughter’s behavior. I had thought of chasing and disowning her. She had really embarrassed my family in the whole community. I thought my problems were the most complicated on earth. However, during the therapy sessions, I met other caregivers/parents who shared their experiences, and I realized that I wasn’t the only one with such problems. Some of their challenges were more complicated than mine, “says Khadija’s father.

Khadija’s father was engaged in different therapeutic problem-management sessions to reduce his anxiety disorders. Weekly phone calls and supervision were also conducted to provide him with the necessary support.

“When I started listening to other people’s experiences, I started consoling myself. The Linda Mtoto project staff gave me all the necessary support for my healing journey. I decided to give my daughter a second chance. I took her back to school and we decided to take care of the child. The man who was responsible for her pregnancy took off immediately when he heard Khadija was expectant. I embraced her despite what had happened. I built trust and now she is always open with me. I felt empowered and I started to detach myself from my worries. I apologized to my Khadija and we are a happy family again,” he says.

Education support:

 The Linda Mtoto project provides tailored educational and vocational assistance to children based on their individual needs. This assistance is extended following a comprehensive assessment of each child, conducted by both project staff and community health volunteers. Khadija was one of the children who received educational support amounting to 20,900 Kenyan Shillings.

Expressing her gratitude, Khadija declared, “I am deeply grateful for this support, and I am committed to making my parents proud.”

Khadija remained true to her promise, emerging as one of the top students in her class with an impressive B grade. Her father was overjoyed with pride. Presently, Khadija serves as a role model within the Majaoni children’s support groups.

Entrepreneurship (management of finances, savings, and increasing household income) Intervention:

 In August 2021, the Linda Mtoto project organized and provided assistance for an entrepreneurship and financial literacy training program. Khadija’s father was among the beneficiaries. The two-day was conducted by experts from the Women’s Enterprise Fund and representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture. The curriculum covered various topics, including group formation, value addition, agribusiness, soft skills, bookkeeping, savings, and connections to government funding sources.

 “We learned how to generate capital, how to start small businesses as well as keeping sale records. A week after the training, I expanded my charcoal business. We also formed a group with other participants and registered it through the Ministry of Social Services. Currently, we are in the process of applying for a government loan worth Kenya Shillings 100000,” says Khadija’s father.

Khadija concludes our interview by affirming “I’m content knowing my child is being well cared for by their parents, and I’m also performing well in school.”

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Faida's Journey: From Survival to Leadership: The Inspiring Case Story of Kenya Children Assembly's National Deputy Speaker

In the heart of Majoni, Kisauni Sub County, a story unfolds that exemplifies the power of determination and resilience. It’s the story of a young girl, whom we will refer to as ‘Faida,’ whose journey from a life of uncertainty to becoming the National Deputy Speaker of the Kenya Children Assembly (KCA) is nothing short of inspiring.

The principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the new Children Acts of 2022, and the Kenyan Constitution all share a common vision: to ensure children’s voices are heard, their rights are upheld, and their participation in decision-making processes is valued. In 2010, the Kenyan Constitution laid the foundation for the creation of Children’s Assemblies, and one such assembly, the Kenya Children Assembly (KCA), was established in 2011. The primary objective of KCA was to amplify the voices of children, providing them with a platform to express their views and concerns. To achieve this, operational guidelines were formulated by the Directorate of Children Services, with the ultimate aim of reaching marginalized children, and ensuring their participation in shaping their own futures.

Faida, a 16-year-old girl from Majoni, was one such child who found herself at a crossroads. A community health volunteer identified her as a young girl engaged in survival sex, and it was evident that she carried the weight of uncertainty about her future. Faida was subsequently connected with a counselor for psychosocial sessions, where she completed six counseling sessions. These sessions ignited a transformation within her, and she made a resolute decision to turn her life around.

Her parents who were peasant farmers, had faced their fair share of challenges. Prolonged droughts had forced them to scale down their farming activities after their wells dried up. Despite these hardships at home, Faida was unwavering in her determination to create a better future for herself. Her dream was to become an officer in the Kenya Defense Force, and she actively participated in children’s support groups, often taking on leadership roles and engaging enthusiastically in group activities.

On April 11, 2022, children from Kisauni Sub County came together to elect their representatives who would champion child protection policies within the Kenyan Children Assembly. The KCA allows children aged 7 to 17 to exercise their civic duties by electing their peers to represent them at the national level. Those elected serve for a term of two years, with the possibility of re-election for a second term. The children’s assembly empowers children to participate in decision-making, policy formulation, planning, and implementation of activities affecting them.

Faida’s boldness shone through, and she was elected as the Speaker of Kisauni Sub County. Her words reflected her sense of honor, “I felt honored to be called an Honourable member. This challenged me that if I work hard in school, one day I can make it to parliament.”  Following this, the elected children leaders embarked on a national election in Nairobi in December 2022. This national election was highly competitive, but Faida’s determination and commitment to leadership saw her elected as the Kenya Children Assembly National Deputy Speaker. She shared her excitement, “I’m honored and am looking forward to participating in decision-making, policy formulation, planning, and implementation of child-affected activities and issues affecting them.”

Faida’s journey from a life of uncertainty to becoming the National Deputy Speaker of the Kenya Children’s Assembly exemplifies the transformative power of providing children with opportunities to participate in decision-making processes. It empowers them to make informed choices, express their views, and claim their rights, including the right to be protected from harm. Faida’s story is a testament to the importance of enabling children to be active participants in shaping their futures, ensuring that no child’s voice goes unheard.

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