The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) in Taita-Taveta County has unveiled an anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) programme expected to further create awareness about the adverse effects of the female cut.
Sheikh Abdulaziz Noor, CIPK chair in the county, said the council was aware of the dangers of FGM posed to women and would start intensive awareness campaigns to fight 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 Programme, would start by training imams and religious leaders on the practice.
The lessons would later be cascaded to 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, also attended by Mwatate MP Andrew Mwadime, several CIPK top performing workers and staff of Nilinde Programme from the four sub-counties were awarded, with Bomeni CBO emerging as the overall winner.
The anti-FGM programme by CIPK is viewed as a boost to the fight against the vice that is rampant in the region.
According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) of 2014, Taita-Taveta County was ranked first at 61.3 per cent the highest recorded numbers of children aged below five years who had undergone FGM. Mijikenda came a distant second with 27.8 per cent.
There are reports that due to intensified crackdown on the vice, FGM is now being done on weeks-old babies, while young girls from one community in the region are sneaked into Tanzania to undergo the cut.
CIPK also plans to start a HIV/AIDS awareness programme this year to combat the scourge and reduce stigma associated with the disease.
Mr Noor said there is a widespread misconception that people infected with HIV/Aids were promiscuous. He explained that some people living with HV/AIDS were infected by partners while in legitimate marriages.
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 per cent in 2015 to 4.2 per cent 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.
Mr 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 said civil society groups in the region were no longer active in protecting the public resources.
“We have seen what funds can do if well utilised. 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 Ksh9.3 million (US$93,000) as bursaries in schools for 955 orphans with each boarder getting Ksh53,000 (US$504) while day scholars got Ksh20,000 (US$190).
IPK program manager Silas Simiyu said the council was committed to improve the lives of the local residents.
He said several communities and homesteads have also been identified as focal points for community well-being.
“We have 10 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 Ksh114,000 (US$1,085.7) to each of the 10 sites to run their project.