By Caroline Katana
Lunga residents and girls in Kwale County are set to benefit from a one-year civic education and rights program dubbed the KWEMA project.
It is a pilot project implemented by the G for Girls organization aimed at sensitizing the community to child rights protection.
The new development follows the surging alarming cases of sexual gender-based violence among young girls in the area.
Speaking during an SGBV sensitization forum in Vanga ward, G for Girls, Director Prisca Mongera said they are partnering with different organizations to advocate for child rights in about six schools.
“We are implementing various projects in Lungalunga on children for them to effectively get their fundamental rights to education and sex education,” she said.
Mongera said the move is targeted at thwarting GBV cases and helping protect children’s rights.
She said the project focuses on girls’ needs following the low transition to secondary school each year.
“We have experienced low numbers of girls transiting to secondary schools in Lunga Lunga constituency,” she said.
Mongera said they are trying to bring the male gender on board since most cases of early pregnancies are associated with young men.
She said the project also seeks to create awareness of menstrual hygiene and end stigmatization.
Mongera said apart from advocating for children’s rights the organization provides scholarship information and application processes to help bright but needy students pursue their education.
“We have been getting scholarship forms from different organizations and assisting students to apply, and this has been successful,” said Mongera.
The G for Girls director affirmed that at least 15 girls in Lunga Lunga constituency joined secondary schools last year through the scholarship workshops initiative.
Mongera said the organization through the KWEMA project aims at building a library in Vanga to improve learning and literacy levels.
According to KNBS statistics, 45 per cent of Lungalonga residents lack formal education.
At the same time, Mongera challenged the Kwale County Assembly to move with speed and pass the Kwale gender bill.
She said the bill assists GBV victims with access to quality justice and maximum safety since it will give room for the construction of rescue centres among other facilities.
Kidscare Kenya deputy director George Baya called upon government agencies and other actors to ensure full implementation of the Child Protection Act.
Baya said Kidscare Kenya has put measures in place for networking with other stakeholders to protect the rights of children adding that they need more support.
“We are in partnership with different departments to discuss the challenges and come up with an amicable solution to this menace of GBV,” he said.
Baya underscored the importance of good parental practices adding that they provide a concrete background for children’s growth.
He attributed the rising cases of teen pregnancy, child labour and early marriages to poor parenting because most parents have neglected their responsibilities.
Lunga-Lunga Children Officer Elizabeth Kariuki said stakeholders have a long way to go in tackling child abuse cases in the area.
She said there is a need for cooperation to quell the swelling cases of GBVs against children.
Kariuki said for the last month almost ten cases were recorded. Five involve early marriage and the other half is defilement and are all in court.
The officer proposed that the Lunga Lunganga constituency should have a child protection unit for emergency cases of children.
“We had earlier banned the establishment of new rescue facilities because they were not used as planned, but I found it is good to have at least a CPU at Lungalunga police station for victims who will require emergency attention for a given time,” she said.e
Kariuki added that keeping victims in a CPU for a long time is unhealthy because children require proper parenting and guidance.
Lunga-Lunga Assistant County Commissioner department led by Assistant County Commissioner Gordon Papai confirmed to have arrested several perpetrators of GBV in the area.
He said security agencies have partnered with the children’s department and other organizations in rescuing victims of early marriage and arresting culprits.
Papai said the rescued children are counselled and taken back to school.
The officer said they have also launched sensitization campaigns against Female Genital mutilation targeting Maasai communities in the area.