Violence that followed Kenya’s 2007 elections left approximately 1,000 people dead, hundreds of thousands displaced and the entire nation reeling. With one of the world’s highest HIV/ AIDS infection rates, it’s estimated that between 1.5 and 2 million Kenyans carry the virus.
Following the worst droughts to affect the Horn of Africa in more than 60 years areas of Kenya have suffered serious food shortages and increasing malnutrition rates. Refugees from conflict and famine across the border in Somalia have swelled the Dadaab complex in Eastern Kenya to become the largest refugee camp in the world.
International Medical Corps has more than a decade of experience working in Kenya, much of it at the centre of the battle to contain Kenya’s HIV/ AIDS epidemic. We currently administer two large HIV/ AIDS programmes targetting vulnerable populations including young people, fishing communities, prisoners and sex workers. Our efforts also focus on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV/ AIDS.
In addition, we operate emergency nutrition programmes for drought-stricken populations in northern and coastal Kenya, where livelihoods have also been badly affected by the effects of unrest and famine in neighboring Somalia.
The first of our programmes focuses on Kenya’s extremely high-risk prison population. Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya meaning no formal recognition of sexual activity in prisons and, therefore, no protection against HIV infection. International Medical Corps currently supports HIV and tuberculosis (TB) services in 51 prisons with plans to operate in all 103 institutions throughout the country. The five-year programme has introduced innovations such as:
The second HIV/AIDS programme is a five-year initiative that focuses on the fishing communities in Western Kenya, who are among Kenya’s most-at-risk populations (MARPS). The MARPS project provides HIV prevention services to fisher folk and sex workers along beaches in Suba and Migori in Nyanza province.
In 2011, we reached more than 120,000 people with home-based testing and counselling. This follows a completed five-year International Medical Corps programme in Nyanza province which focused on preventing mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT).
International Medical Corps utilizes the innovative Mother Care Group model in Samburu, which involves training a core group of local mothers in good nutrition practices, then sending them to form their own local community groups. 1,200 such groups have already been formed and training is ongoing to improve nutrition and health education in local communities.
Also in Samburu and Isiolo, we provided an average of 21,500 individuals each month with nutritional support with assistance from the World Food Programme. Finally, we provide High Impact Nutrition Interventions in Tana River, Laikipia Samburu and Isiolo districts with support from UNICEF and in Meru North with support from the United Nations Office for the Coordinator of Humanitarian Affairs.
We are working to strengthen the Government-spearheaded “Free Primary education in Kenya” by improving the quality and quantity of water in 6 vulnerable primary schools in Samburu North District. We do this through the provision of rain water harvesting infrastructure and training of the Water User Committees. Due to water scarcity in the area, children are asked to bring drinking water with them for the day, and the water provided by our rainwater harvesting systems provides water for handwashing and food preparation for the children.
In April 2012 we started a year long intervention in 25 health facilities in Samburu providing support to o water and sanitation provision. Following a thorough assessment of each facility and identifying the most pressing needs, we are building staff and patient latrines, repairing current water distribution networks if required, and providing rainwater storage tanks.
International Medical Corps UK recognises the invaluable support of ECHO to make our work possible.