Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) in Taita-Taveta County has unveiled an anti-Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) program which will create awareness on adverse effects of the practice in the region.
Sheikh Abdulaziz Noor, the CIPK Chair in the County, said the council was aware of the dangers of FGM and would start intensive awareness campaigns to fight against the vice.
Speaking during the CIPK annual General Meeting in Mwatate on Wednesday, Mr. Noor said the campaign, which would be managed through the Nilinde Program, would start by training imams and religious leaders on the practice.
The lessons would later be cascaded to the worshipers in mosques and other public gatherings.
Fighting against FGM is our responsibility and we will talk about this practice to create awareness in this region, he said.
During the AGM which was also attended by Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime, several CIPK top performing workers and staff of Nilinde Program from the four sub-counties were awarded with Bomeni CBO emerging as the overall winner.
The anti-FGM program by CIPK is viewed as a boost to fight against the vice which is rampant in the region.
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) of 2014, Taita-Taveta County was ranked first at 61.3 %, the highest recorded numbers of children aged below five years who had undergone FGM.Mijikenda came a distant second with 27.8%.
There are reports that due to intensified crackdown on the vice, FGM is now being done on weeks-old babies while young girls from a community in the region are being sneaked across the border to Tanzania to undergo this outdated rite of passage.
CIPK also plans to start a HIV/AIDS awareness program in 2019 to fight against the scourge and reduce stigma associated with the disease.
Mr.Noor said there was a wide-spread misconception that those infected with HIV/AIDS were promiscuous.
He noted that some people living with HV/AIDS were infected by partners while in legitimate marriages.
The program will be funded by Global Fund through the Red Cross.
In November, the Health Department in Taita-Taveta released a report that showed HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the region had gone down from 6.1% in 2015 to 4.2% in 2018.
The reduction was attributed to intensive anti-HIV campaigns, networking with vulnerable groups and increased awareness on condom use, frequent testing and counselling.
Mr. Noor said as more partners came on board, the prevalence rate was set to go further down.
Mwatate legislator Andrew Mwadime praised CIPK for the empowerment projects it was doing in the county.
The MP said the council needed to step up its activities and seek partnership with leaders and county government to allow for more robust engagement.
Mwadime further urged the council to step up its civic duty of calling for transparency and accountability in usage of public funds by leaders.
He noted that civil society groups in the region were no longer active in protecting the public resources.
We have seen what funds can do if well utilized. CIPK should ensure other funds meant for public are put into proper use, said the MP.
Currently, CIPK is supporting 6,352 vulnerable children in the region.
In 2018, the council spent sh 9.3 million as bursaries in schools for 955 orphans with each boarder getting sh 53,000 while day scholars got sh 20,000.
CIPK program manager Silas Simiyu said the council was committed to improve the lives of the local residents.
He added that several communities and homesteads have also been identified as focal points for community well-being.
We have ten sites across the county that act as innovation hubs where members of those hubs run a project to economically empower themselves, said the manager.
The council allocated S14,000 to each of the ten sites to run their project.
Source: Kenya News Agency