Every year in sub-Saharan Africa, one out of every 10 children die before their fifth birthday from preventable causes like pneumonia and diarrhea. Amref Health Africa takes a holistic approach to reduce these needless deaths by ensuring both a healthy childhood and a healthy community for the child to thrive in.
We strengthen health systems to offer better immunization and treatment services for common childhood illnesses, and establish hygiene and nutrition education programs in schools. We also educate communities on the harmful effects of some traditional practices that can affect children’s health, namely Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) which continues to be a social norm in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
Koota Injena ("Come, Let Us Talk" in Borana language) is an activity where we engage communities in Kenya to abandon Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) and Child Early and Forced Marriage (CEFM) and work with them to change their attitudes about the value that girls bring to their communities. In partnership with USAID, we are targeting 40 semi-nomadic clans in Kenya that continue to practice both FGM/C and CEFM. The clans or ethnic groups targeted are the Samburu, Borana, Rendille, and Gabra; all who migrate seasonally with their livestock.
Through Koota Injena, we identify and train “community champions” to facilitate dialogue between different generations and help their peers, family and friends re-envision how girls are treated, why their rights should be respected and why they should be promoted to finish their education.
Champions can be male or female and represent different age groups within the clans; from elders to youth to school-going children. This ensures that everyone in the community is involved.
Women leading a discussion on FGM/C and CEFM in their community (Photo: Amref Health Africa)
(Photo: Amref Health Africa)
First, champions are trained on the consequences of FGM/C and CEFM. Then they are taught techniques to hold discussions between different groups and generations who might have opposing views.
Lasting and sustainable change must first come from and be led by the communities themselves. That’s why Koota Injena’s goal is to help these clans reach collective agreement to take up new norms and values around that support the safety, rights, and empowerment of girls.
Koota Injena is also working directly with government officials to strengthen the existing Kenyan structures for child rights protection, anti-FGM/C, and anti-CEFM law enforcement.
According to UNICEF, Kenya is among the six African countries with the highest possibility to eradicate FGM/C nationally by 2030. With Koota Injena, Amref Health Africa is empowering communities to lead their own change in eradicating harmful practices and improve the health outcomes of their daughters and future generations.
Dagoretti Child in Need
Dagoretti, a slum in Nairobi, Kenya has a disproportionate number of children living on the streets. Some are from abusive homes, and many more are orphans who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. Our Dagoretti Child in Need project is a model for community-based childcare that specifically supports children on the street in a process that involves rescue, rehabilitation, re-socialization and reintegration. The program is operated through a center in Dagoretti that caters to 180 children. The program assists the children in rejoining the Kenyan school system or to begin vocational training programs. The children can visit the center on a daily basis and receive food, healthcare services and counseling.
Meet some of the kids at Dagoretti like Rose in this video in our video series Discover Dagoretti: