The Kenya Citizens' Hearings
In Kenya, the citizens’ hearings brought together the community and government leaders to listen to, and act on, the views of citizens on women’s children’s and newborn health in two districts - Bungoma County and Tukana County.
Bungoma County Hearing
The hearing in Bungoma County on the 11th of May, 2015, was organised by Action 2015 Kenya and the Save the Children’s EVERYONE Campaign. The chief guest was the First Lady of Bungoma County Dr. Margaret Makello. Women’s Representative and MP Hon Dr. Reginalda Nakhumicha Wanyonyi, was also present at the hearing alongside 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 relating to children’s health and nutrition. The children used this forum to voice out their issues on behalf of the community.
The 12 year old Governor of the Bungoma Chapter of the Junior Assembly, Peter Kariuki, highlighted the need to have legislation on feeding programs in the county to incentivize children to attend school. He 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 to tackle inequality, especially among the children of Bungoma county.
Dr. Margaret Makello, 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.
The hearing culminated in the signing of a memorandum by the members present. The memorandum contained a number of demands including child protection, legislation on nutrition, and tackling 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.
Turkana County Hearing
The second hearing was hosted by Save the Children in partnership with World Vision in Lodwar Mixed Primary School in Turkana County on the 12th of June, 2015. Faith based organizations, civil society organizations and also some chiefs and sub-chiefs joined the discussions, alongside children.. In the forum, the issues raised were addressed the various ministry of health and education officials present.
One of the children, Terry Epakan, a member of the Turkana Children’s Assembly raised the issue of child nutrition in the area with regard to the school feeding programme: “We would like the government to consider changing the diet as it is mostly comprised of grains which makes it hard for the health of the children in this area to remain at an optimum level”
Eric Oyoo, the Area Manager for Save the Children in Turkana, was very pleased that the event had been a success. “We are glad that we have had fruitful deliberations and we hope that the issues that have been raised will be acted on for the good of the community and the county as a whole.”
After several hours of discussion and deliberation, the event culminated with the signing of a petition where all the issues that the citizens had raised were handed over to the county officials for signing.