Enthusiasm marks launch of action/2015 in Kenya
Kenyans need to question whether poverty has been reduced, inequalities lessened and climate change addressed over the past 15 years due to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Speakers during the Kenya national launch of action/2015 in Nairobi said the MDGs were not inclusive of the voices of Kenyans at the grassroots level, something that has to be rectified during the discussions that will take place in 2015.
Dr. Reginalda Wanyonyi, the Women’s Representative for Bungoma, who was the guest of honour at the launch, said, “Let us look down at the villages where Kenyans come from when developing action/2015. Let us look at the issues of how we can address poverty for the widows in rural Kenya who are living in poverty.”
She said every stakeholder was important in the discussion. She said a connection needed to be made between stakeholders to ensure maximizing on dealing with issues. She also said civil society organisations needs to work together with the government and citizens in changing mindsets on issues such as family planning and gender issues.
Action/2015 is a growing citizen’s movement of hundreds of organisations around the world coming together to demand truly ambitious agreements on poverty, inequality and climate change in 2015.
In Kenya, according to Wendy Henry, post 2015 campaign volunteer with VSO Jitolee, Niko 15 (I am 15) is a campaign that will identify 15 year olds as ambassadors to be mentored by high profile figures as they work to mobilise communities and decision makers across the country.
The Chair of the NGO Council, Wilson Kipkabi, said action/2015 was meant to bring together all organisations in ensuring the eradication of poverty.
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“We will ensure that the government gets the message that Kenyans want to chart their way forward. Leaders must learn to take instructions from us since they are our employees.”
Kipkabi urged NGOs should listen to what people in the grassroots are saying regarding the development they want to ensure better lives.
Head of Policy and Advocacy at ACORD, Salina Sanou, said the youth should have the courage to take the post-2015 framework process seriously as they would be the ones who will implement it to its conclusion. Speaking on “Combating poverty in Kenya,” Sanou shared voices from the grassroots that ACORD had collected in 14 countries in Africa, including Kenya. She quoted a Kenyan voice from the grassroots saying that measures to reduce poverty did not involve them. She said that issues of farming and land ownership were prevalent in the grassroots, as was access to quality health services.
“For the new framework to succeed, we have to focus on justice,” she said. “Also, climate change is important because we have to protect the environment for our future generations.”
Sanou said the private sector also contributed to poverty and inequality through tax evasion, bribery, indecent wages, union busting, inhumane and unsafe working conditions.
“Our current financial and economic architecture causes and perpetuates poverty and inequality. We must stop illicit capital flows, eliminate tax havens and criminalise speculation that results in food crises.”
Jeffrey Maganya, Kenya Country Director, HelpAge International, said the Kenya Constitution has changed the power dynamics and distributes power to county governments; reduces executive authority; increases legislative oversight, judicial authority and autonomy; entrenches a strong, prescriptive and expansive bill of rights; and provides economic, environmental, social and cultural rights.
Speaking on “Profile on inequality in Kenya,” Maganya said 10 per cent of households in Kenya control 42 per cent of the total income in Kenya.
“We have done well in poverty reduction but not well in reducing inequities,” he said.
George Awalla, head of programmes, VSO Jitolee, said that more than 275 organisations have signed up to the campaign. He said the campaign would inspire the public with the possibility of change; inform them about the opportunities and threats posed in 2015; and organize the public to exert political pressure towards poverty eradication and tackling climate change.
Philip Odhiambo, project manager, energy and climate change, WWF Kenya, said that although communities have always relied on climate, it is only recently that we are coming to grips with the changes taking place in the environment due to human activity. Kenya has established a Climate Change policy. Odhiambo said that the government must develop legislation and design knowledge management systems.
The Speaker of Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly, Albert Kochei, said action/2015 would see greater interaction by the counties.
“We have common enemies to face in the counties so we will be working together,” he said. “We need to keep the fire burning in 2015. Together we can do great things.”