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Kakuma refugees showcase their businesses and farm produce 

Nabek Farmers' Group exhibit diverse vegetables during the Livelihoods Week, held in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County.

 

Kakuma Refugee Camp, in Turkana Country was the venue of  the first-ever livelihood event that brought together 3000 individuals from the private, government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and communities - from both the host and refugee fraternity. 
 
AAH Kenya organised the Livelihoods Week that ran from 21-25 March 2016. The event was aimed at bringing together different stakeholders to identify business opportunities and take advantage of existing market potential to sell their products.
 
The week-long event that was launched by Ms Honorine Sommet, Head of Sub Office UNHCR Kakuma, had a wide range of activities, including visits to demo farms and thriving businesses that have been facilitated by AAH Kenya. Other activities included a two-day exhibition at Napata Grounds, within the camp.  

Dr Githaiga Kamau, AAH Kenya Country Programme Manager, said after training, a number of refugees have ventured into successful businesses and farming. “We appreciate that a lot of work is going on in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Many refugees have benefited from training. This is an opportunity now for us to showcase all the activities that are going on so as capitalise on our synergies,” said Dr Kamau.
 
Five top business groups were awarded recognition certificates, with AAH Kenya supported groups, Rainbow Sparkles (shampoo business) and Nabek (agriculture group) emerging among the top winners. Other groups included a Lutheran World Federation (LWF) supported art and craft group- Saki and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) supported electrical and solar installation group.

The event was marked under the theme "Livelihoods for Self Reliance in Kakuma" and was supported by a live social media campaign reporting, using the hash tag #LivelihoodsWeek.

New health facility opened in Morobo, South Sudan

The newly-completed Kendila Primary Health Care (PHC) facility in Morobo County that was launched in March. It is set to enable thousands of locals access health services at less than five kilometres, from their homes.

 

Thousands of community members of Kendila Boma, Morobo County have been seeking medical services more than ten kilometres away in Morobo Hospital. However, the situation has changed for better with the opening of a primary health care (PHC) facility.
 
The Kendila PHC in Gulumbi payam, South Sudan was officially opened on March 24. Kendila Boma Development Committee chairman, Felix Sabuni, said the local community has been yearning for such a facility, for close to 40 years.

“We have been suffering since Morobo Hospital is far, and getting transport is difficult. Most of the roads are impassable. But now we can easily access medical services,” said Mr Sabuni.
 
AAH South Sudan collaborated with the community and the Morobo County Health Department to put up the Kendila PHC at a cost of $45, 000. Dr Mamude Dinkiye, the head of Health Sector for AAH South Sudan, urged the community to properly utilise the facility that was funded by Bread for the World (BftW) and Protestant Agency for Diakonie Development (PADD).
 
The commissioner for Morobo County, Hon. Jacob Toti, encouraged Kendila communities to continue embracing support from partners. “Be active through active participation in community initiatives that promote development,” Hon Toti said.
 
Dr Baba Samson, South Sudan’s Director General for PHC said the government would post a medic at the facility. During the occasion, AAH South Sudan Board Chairman, Hon Khamis Benz, pledged the organisation’s support to communities, through service delivery. “The facility’s management and AAH-I will introduce health education so that the community members can be educated on preventable diseases,” Hon. Benz said.

Africa must gear up and take firm action on gender equality

 

In the last 20-30 years, African governments and a number of organisations have made substantial commitments towards creating gender equality and have put in place laws and policies in support of this. Most recent, the African Union (AU) in January declared 2016 as the African Year of Human Rights, with particular focus on the rights of women. It signifies women's chance to unite, network and mobilise for meaningful change.

 

On various occasions, African leaders agreed to adopt strong instruments such as the Maputo Protocol, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, the African Women Decade, the Fund for African Women that mainly focuses on human and peoples' rights, particularly on the rights of women. Such actions have emboldened the women’s movement to urge Africa to gear up and step up action.

 

These commitments and policies are connected with this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) that is being marked this week. The 2016 theme for the occasion is Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality. The UN and other organisation’s observance of the event reflect on how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). It is worthy to note that the fifth goal of the SDGs envisions that gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls will be achieved by 2030.

 

This year’s IWD will also focus on new commitments under UN Women’s Step It Up initiative, and other existing commitments on gender equality, women’s empowerment and human rights. Step It Up initiative urges governments to make national commitments on laws, policies and investment, aimed at closing the gender equality gap.

 

This year marks important milestones in the continental and global women’s agenda for gender equality and women empowerment. In Africa, it is the 30th anniversary of the coming into force of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. In addition, it is the commencement of the second phase of the African Women’s Decade 2010-2020. The African Women’s Decade is the AU’s implementation framework which aims to advance gender equality through the acceleration of the implementation of global and regional decisions on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

 

The big and pertinent issue is whether the commitments have been translated into tangible action, and resultantly made the life of the majority of African women better.

 

Despite some of the gains made, such as bridging the gender gap in primary education, improving maternal health and fighting HIV/AIDS. Africa is still struggling in gender parity and women empowerment. Women are facing economic exclusion; where financial systems perpetuate their discrimination; limited participation in political and public life; lack of access to education and poor retention of girls in schools; gender-based violence; and harmful cultural practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). For example in Kenya, according to the government, 21 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 underwent then female cut in 2014. In essence, almost a quarter of the women in this age bracket undergo this demeaning cultural rite.

 

According to the UN, about 70 per cent of the crops in Africa are produced by women, yet they still own a meagre two per cent of the land, and have limited access to resources. There are cases where women do the farm work - tilling, planting and harvesting of crops, but men do the selling and take the money.

 

In another strand of women agony, the UN says that nearly half of the 42 ongoing conflicts globally are in Africa, and women face the brunt of these wars. Violence against women has reached startling levels, with one in every three women in Africa experiencing some form of violence in her lifetime.  For instance, women in war-torn areas are sexually abused and since majority of households are headed by women, they are compelled to seek food and shelter for their children, under difficult circumstances.  

 

But it is not late to solve the imbalance on gender equality and empowerment that entangle African women. Rwanda has made impressive progress; it has shone and made great strides on gender equality, 22 years after it suffered a devastating genocide. African countries ought to pick a number of lessons from this landlocked country, of about 12 million people. For example, the country has the highest percentage of women parliamentarians globally - at 64 per cent.

 

There is need to create and strengthen laws and institutions that will guarantee more central and involving role for women in spheres such as in  agriculture, politics and economics. These will create wholesome mechanisms for African societies’ development.

 

African governments and concerned agencies ought to join hands to enormously energise the efforts of women in the continent. They need to guarantee full support for women’s agenda in every undertaking.

 

Africa must gear up and take firm action in gender equality efforts. The actions should go beyond making declarations, and involve taking firm steps. There is urgent need for acceleration on commitments made in the last 20-30 years. However, the womenfolk need to amplify their efforts, make their voices louder, in order to catapult governments into action.

 

Dr Caroline Kisia

The writer is the Executive Director,

Action Africa Help International (AAH-I)

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Below are the links where the Op-ed was published:

 

Daily Nation

Lusaka workshop offers refugees tips on positive living

 

Participants during the two-day workshop on HIV and positive living 

 

“It is important for an expectant and HIV-positive woman to attend an antenatal clinic because the likelihood of her baby being born HIV-positive is reduced and the baby will receive the correct treatment on time,” says Mbombo Jujani, 55.
 
Jujani, a Congolese refugee living in Zambia's capital, Lusaka, recaps lessons she learnt during a two-day positive living awareness workshop, organised by AAH Zambia from 10-11 February.
 
She also participated in a similar workshop, last year, and could not hide her joy at the benefits of such sessions. “We learn a lot from these workshops. Just take a look at me, can you tell that l am living with HIV?,” she poses, adding that the workshops are informative.
 
Another participant, John Kayembe, 52, encouraged more refugees to come on board in the fight against stigma and discrimination in the refugees' community. “I commend the work, which AAH  Zambia is doing to help refugees and other disadvantaged communities,” Kayemba said.
 
Twenty refugees, who live positively with HIV, participated in the workshop. It sought to impart them with knowledge and understanding on HIV and AIDS and Family Planning. The participants were tipped on how to live positively, the impact of HIV and AIDS, how to manage it and the availability of support systems. AAH Zambia is implementing HIV and AIDS activities aimed at sensitising the community on the disease, and in supporting efforts for reduction of HIV infections.

A new way of making jewellery for Mara women

Naisenya weaves beads into a bracelet design during the training workshop in Mara, Narok County of Kenya

 

Sixteen women from Olderkesi and Olposimoru, in Mara, Narok County, have undergone a training on bead-making. The five-day training ran between 22-27 February 2016 at Olposimoru Training Centre, about three kilometres from the Kenya-Tanzania border.

 

Margaret Nukeini, 39, the group’s chairperson and also a beneficiary of the training, said the exercise was helpful as the women had learnt new skills. “At first we thought we could not make it; but now we know how to make good designs. We were used to making the traditional jewellery but now we have ventured into a whole new area of designs,” Margaret,  a mother of seven, happily remarks.

 

According to AAH-I Project Officer, Ms Caroline Jepchumba, the training was aimed at assisting the women view bead-making as a business. “The Maasai community is known for its bead-making, but mostly for pleasure and custom,” said Jepchumba. She said they are now introducing a new concept to the bead-making that is driven by market demand. “We will be assisting the women here to make beads that are unique and that in turn fetch better prices. Through this change,  they can make better incomes to support their families.”

 

“We are positive that  these women will produce the best beads in East Africa that will compete even at international markets,” said Dr Kamau Githaiga, AAH Kenya Country Programme Manager.

Inspiring story ahead of the World Refugee day.