The county’s first ladies during the 11th summit of the Lake Region Economic Bloc held in Migori decried of lack of funds to complete their key life-changing socio-economic programmes within the region.
The first ladies, led by Dr Margaret Lusaka of Bungoma county, said that they have key roles to play in terms of complimenting the work started by the governors of the region and that would be only made easy with the allocation of more funds.
During a representation on day 3 of the summit, the leaders said that the devolved government hasn’t provided for the office of the first ladies making it difficult for them to accomplish their tasks.
“Having said that, we also do not have budgets to support the projects, so the only thing we can do is use word of mouth. We hope that someday we will get the budget from our good government but for now, we do with what we have, the mouth,” said Dr Margaret Lusaka.
The leaders although, admitted their happiness to see the advancements they have made within the block in terms of development and offering key services to the residents, one being a fight against cervical cancer, a move to restore the dignity of the ladies and women within the bloc.
The first spouses further added that they remain apolitical and that reduces their work to advocacy and persuasion for help from the office of the governor which makes them hit below the bar as compared to the expectations of the residents who view differently.
” We are apolitical. We do not subscribe to any political party or rally. Ours is the social aspect that we deal with in our community.” Said, Dr Margaret.
The first ladies further requested for support from the economic bloc partners saying that they do not have any national office to seek help and mobilize funds for the projects they roll out.
“The partners who are here, be open-minded, support us as first spouses because we do not have any rallies to speak what we are saying now. Our problem is what the community faces back at home,” Dr Margaret added.
Despite the lack of budget from both national and county governments, the first spouses are proud of having achieved milestones in terms of the social services which they do jointly with the help of the partners who support the projects.
The fight against cervical cancer already has reached 7 out of the 14 counties with plans underway to cover all the 14 counties that form the Lake Region Economic Bloc.
The first spouses however admitted limited health insurance coverage among the women from within the bloc, encouraging the government to fasten the rollout of NHIF coverage as a goal towards the achievement of universal health coverage (UHC) nationally.
Despite limited funds, the first ladies in coordination have ventured into different initiatives such as The Smart Start, an initiative to ensure that children receive good care during early childhood development, already covering 7 counties.
The initiative is driven by the need for good parental care during the first phase of development and the requirements which are security, good health and an opportunity for early education.
The speakers noted the need for government to allocate funds for the first ladies as they deal with key social problems, some of which have been ignored by the government.
“We call the governors and other partners to give support where necessary for us to deal with menstrual health awareness, an initiative that will ensure that we include everyone in fighting menstrual poverty,” said Dr Margaret who spoke on behalf of the first ladies.
In line with the National government’s initiative to achieve the 15 billion trees cover, the leaders further called on the government to support their already existing climate change program that is geared towards environmental preservation to bring ensure ecological balance.
Peace notwithstanding, the first ladies called for funds to ensure national awareness about peace, an initiative they derive from the 2007/2008 post-election violence lessons.
The call also comes at a time when the country is grappling with the nationwide high political temperature from the opposition demanding a lowered cost of living.
The leaders further added that the need for allocation of funds will make them boost their complimentary projects to realize the full growth and development of the counties in line with Vision 2030, which will not only look at women as vulnerable species but as an informed, tool of change in the society.