By Tony Wafula
The Bungoma branch of the Red Cross got a shot in the arm after receiving a Ksh. 106 million grant that will aid the running of community activities for three years. Speaking to the press at the Red Cross offices in Bungoma on Saturday during the branch AGM, Dr Ferdinand Nabiswa, the branch Chairman said that the organization signed an MOU with Christian Blind Mission (CBM) affirming that the grant will go a long way in aiding Bungoma run activities that will benefit the communities.
Nabiswa, however, said that the grant will support climate change issues and social inclusion in society. He added that Kenya’s Red Cross strategic plan envisages four pillars of growth and excellence in beneficiary, community engagement perspective, communities lead healthy lives and have opportunities to achieve social, economic and psychological well-being, youth initiatives and lead positive change in their communities and building a firm Kenya Red Cross Society.
He told the Star that in the last financial year, the branch has undertaken several activities with various stakeholders and partners to ensure that it meets its objectives and goals within its mandate. The branch Chairman cited; food distribution mobilization from other partners, sensitization of gender-based violence, anti-jiggers and fumigation, provision of psychological support, recruitment of new members, involvement of more youth and volunteers, mentorship programs for the volunteers and staff and governance training and induction on their roles as among the activities that the Kenya Red Cross has done.
In addition, he said that during Covid- 19 pandemic Kenya Red Cross played a crucial role in ensuring that the disadvantaged groups in the society are accessing foodstuffs saying that other Covid-19-related materials were also distributed among communities. “We were part of the journey that saw the successful transition during Covid-19, we pledge to continue supporting that community using the grant received from CBM,” Nabiswa said.
He said that Kenya Red Cross is now active in the space where they are actively undertaking psycho-social support and financial support to members of the society that are victims of gender-based violence. He revealed that after mapping was done in Bungoma County, Mt. Elgon was identified as an epicentre of GBV activities and together with other partners, the county government through the Department of Health commenced an outreach programme noting that it has covered many households.
He said that locals in Bungoma County have formed groups where the Kenya Red Cross is giving them entrepreneurial support, adding that women groups in Mt. Elgon will receive sheep and goats to rear. Nabiswa said that the board is in the process of setting up a disaster and management committee. “We have assured that once a disaster management committee is formed a legal framework will be put in place and we will now work jointly with the county government to manage disaster cases in Bungoma and its environs,” he said.
He added, “Already we are partnering with the county special programs department to plant trees and manage some of the locals affected by floods and schools that has experianced had fire,” He said that schools should buy ins and grant the Kenya Red Cross permission to undertake fumigation.
“Let us not wait for students to die in schools because of poor hygiene sometimes occasioned by an routine fumigation,” he said, calling on schools to reach out to the Red Cross to help. He said that climate change and social inclusion will be the targeted interventions in the three years project noting that people who are ordinarily excluded like the elderly, PLWD, teenage mothers and other members of the society with terminal ailments will reap big from the three years project.
Dr. Amin Ali Sheikh, Chairman of the development committee at Kenya Red Cross said that an annual general meeting gives the organization asses their milestones and make deliverables. Amin lauded President William Ruto for his commitment to supporting Kenya Red Cross execute its roles in society. Amin, however, said that the Red Cross is not there to respond during calamity times, adding that its work surpasses the times of problems.
He also called on the Bungoma County assembly to ensure that the County emergency disaster bill that has stalled for over ten years is hashed up arguing if passed it will give Bungoma a legal status.