, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 20 – The United States has awarded a Sh13 million grant to 14 Community Based Organisations (CBOs) in a program tailored to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS.
The organisations selected from the counties of Nairobi, Makueni, Kitui, Homa Bay, Vihiga, Kericho, Siaya, Meru, Bomet, and Nandi, include the Children of Hope, a charity that operates a family-based outreach empowerment program for orphans and vulnerable children in Nairobi.
The one-time funding provided through a global health kitty initiated by ex-President George Bush will go into expansion of existing community-based health care programs for orphans and vulnerable children being spearheaded by the CBOs.
The health kitty popularly known as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) is currently funded to the tune of $6 billion and supports thirteen countries in Africa with a high burden of HIV/AIDS.
Speaking during the award of the grant to local CBOs, US Deputy Chief of Mission in Kenya, Mirembe Nantongo gave an assurance of continued engagement in the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“Health assistance represents the United States’ largest bilateral investment in Kenya and we continue to see the incredible positive impact form our longstanding partnership,” she said.
“We share a common goal in caring deeply out the health and welfare of our communities,” the diplomat indicated.
She urged the community groups awarded the PEPFAR grant to ensure projects undertaken uplift the livelihoods of locals.
Nantongo noted that the 14 organizations receiving the grants had shown tremendous ability to accomplish proposed programs having emerged top following a rigorous selection process during which 127 applications were considered.
“The organisations were visited by the PEPFAR coordination staff and the projects reviewed by an interagency panel showed a proven record of accomplishments in the past activities,” she observed.
The Deputy Chief of Mission assured the organizations of technical support to ensure the actualization of programs within the next year, the period during which the grants are to be executed.
“It is important to properly evaluate our programs and disseminate the results. We must access, based on clear evidence, how we engage with communities, our achievements, and impact by collecting data,” she said.
PEPFAR Coordinator Tamu Daniel told Capital FM News the agency had incorporated the support of County First Ladies in a move to ensure they work along CBOs in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“We are glad that CBOs we’re working with are able to take up the funding and do what is right for this country as far as HIV response in concerned,” she said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the grant award ceremony the Chairperson of County First Ladies Association Nazi Kivutha welcomed the partnership between PEPFAR and First Ladies saying it would boost efforts to combat the HIV epidemic.
“We’re here to support the CBOs so that they know they can count on our support in the initiatives they do in our counties. We assure them that we’ll be a link between them and the county government,” Governor Kivutha Kibwana’s spouse told Capital FM News.
“Our counties have the interests of our communities at heart and we are especially keen to address the high HIV prevalence rates among the youth,” she said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Pricilla Oparanya (Kakamega) and Rosella Rasanga (Siaya) who said counties will have a mechanism of making a follow up of the utilization of donor funds by CBOs.
“We’re now able to gauge the impact on programs by CBOs and even link other upcoming organizations to existing ones. We’re particularly keen on addressing high rates of new HIV infections,” Cornel Rasanga’s spouse said.
The National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) has highlighted HIV prevalence among the youth as a main issue of concern, the council noting in its latest report that 51 per cent of adult infections occurred among youths aged 15-24.
“Adolescents and young people account for 35,000 of new infections, translating to 97 new infections daily,” NCPD Director General Josephine Kibaru reported in May this year.
Adolescent girls and young women accounted for 29 per cent of new infections.
“Some 378,397 adolescent girls (10-19 years) presented with pregnancy in health facilities across 47 counties between July 2016 and June 2017,” Kibaru pointed out.
According to the report, 20,932 infections were reported among those aged between 10 and 14 while 349,465 cases occurred among those aged 15-19.