Key stakeholders convened for a consultative meeting to include sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence (SRH-GBV) as part of amendments to the Disaster Risk Reduction Policy.
The meeting, supported by the Kenya Red Cross, brought together the County Assembly’s Select Committee on Health, security, gender, and youth affairs.
Directors from Health and Gender, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA), and the National Government Administration were also present at the meeting.
In his opening remarks, Turkana County Commissioner Jacob Ouma stressed that every person should be free from any type of violence including GBV.
“The GBV practice violates fundamental human rights and everyone’s rights must be protected,” he said.
He urged the elected and community leaders to address GBV and SRH issues through increased awareness and civil education, once the policy becomes law.
According to the County SRH Coordinator Gabriel Lokuwam, the worsening climatic conditions in the county have heightened the vulnerability of women and girls thus exposed to SRH and GBV risks.
“The policy should involve specific provisions to guarantee the availability of SRH and GBV services before, during, and after disasters,” said Lokuwam.
He pointed out that training healthcare workers, sensitizing them on early warning community systems, and establishing clinics in vulnerable areas, would assist in strengthening the healthcare system and empower communities to respond effectively.
The Kenya Red Cross Project Coordinator, Emily Gideon, said the organization recognized the urgency to address the growing risks to the sexual and reproductive health of women and girls and the escalating incidences of GBV in the county.
“We advocate for the initiation, assessment, and implementation of these measures to ensure quality, timely, and inclusive services during disasters,’ she said.
The Director of Legal Services, Ekai Nabenyo, emphasized the importance of inclusive planning, encouraging the active involvement of women and girls in the development and implementation of the DRR Plan.
He said it would be a collaborative effort to ensure SRH and GBV programming is tailored to the unique needs and challenges the community is facing.