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Religious Leaders Call for ECD Centers at Vocational Centers in Homabay County

Religious Leaders Call for ECD Centers at Vocational Centers in Homabay County

The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) in partnership with Catholic Relief Service (CRS) is implementing the “Strengthening Faith Systems for Early Childhood Development” project. This project is being implemented in 7 counties including Busia, Vihiga, Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay, Kakamega and Nyamira which are within the Lake Region Economic bloc. The project is building the capacity of interfaith leaders to advocate for nurturing care for early childhood in the counties. Through sensitizations and training, religious leaders have been equipped with relevant information to use on their congregational platforms as well as in their various communities. 

These dialogues and sensitization held by the interfaith leaders are being cascaded to platforms that include intra-faith, interfaith and community levels. The discussions have encompassed various topics such as best practices for responsive care-giving, and promoting good health for the caregiver and baby. The Religious leaders through the nurturing care handbook for faith communities which has scriptural references from the holy books have ensured that all those mobilized groups have had specific key messages to support the behavior change towards positive nurturing care practices to influence positive child development outcomes.

Through advocacy efforts, Religious leaders have been able to influence behaviour change for the congregants in regards to practising positive nurturing care practices to influence positive early childhood outcomes for children 0 – 3 years. 

Omunga Julius, who is the secretary of Homabay Interfaith network noted that interfaith leaders have been able to collaborate and partner with different stakeholders in the county to advocate for children’s rights in the county. The Religious leaders have been involved in the development and validation of the third-generation CIDPs in the county; where they pushed for the incorporation of ECD matters.

“During the CIDP we advocated and recommended for inclusion of daycare centres in vocational centres as there are large numbers of young mothers at the centres. As interfaith members we are grateful that this has been incorporated in the document.” – Omunga Julius

The advocacy efforts by the religious leaders in this project have also been able to influence behaviour change for the congregants in regards to practising positive nurturing care practices to influence positive early childhood outcomes for children 0 – 3 years. The Religious Leaders have been able to influence legislation on nurturing care issues into different multi-sector policies/bills to ensure a safe environment for children to thrive and prevent cultural beliefs and norms affecting successful behaviour change in nurturing care.

Bishop Omunga highlighted that, “As Interfaith Homabay we were able to be involved in the development of the Child Protection and Welfare policy. The County Assembly also invited the interfaith members for public participation in the policy. The input that was shared by the Interfaith was incorporated into the document. We now await the validation.” 

The Strengthening Faith Systems for ECD in Homabay Interfaith Network has amplified interfaith presence in the County. The interfaith network was able to create linkages with various stakeholders – both state and non-state actors in the county. With the developed linkages and collaborations, they have been able to be involved in various policy development and validations. This has enabled them to champion children’s rights on these platforms.

“We have an interfaith representative on the mentorship program which is hosted by the Department of Gender. We have had collaborations and partnerships with different actors in the county. We appreciate the collaboration with government agencies such as the DCS. We have been able to collaborate with the Ministry of Health on various engagements such as Nutrition and Immunization. We have been able to support the ministry using our congregational platforms.” – Omunga Julius.

As the Strengthening Faith Leaders for ECD advocacy enters its 3rd year since its inception the religious leaders continue calling for enhanced collaboration with other key stakeholders in the county to ensure that the rights of children are championed. They are also calling on their congregants to ensure that they practice positive nurturing care by caregivers as the first 1000 days are critical for the development of any child. 

“Interfaith needs to be incorporated in all activities in the County as they can be able to advocate things like peace and nurturing care among the congregants.”

They have also applauded and called on the county government to continue incorporating the views of interfaith members in the development of crucial documents in the county by ensuring that the interfaith members are well represented in various forums. 

By Mary Ndulili

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