By Felix Pilipili, Communications Officer, World Vision Kenya
Children will have their voices heard, as Homa Bay County embarks on preparing its development plan.
Glady Wanga, the Governor of Homa Bay made this possible by rolling out an elaborate child participation process of ensuring that children are involved in the preparation of the County Integrated Development Plan (2023 – 2027).
World Vision has been facilitating engagements between children and the Homa Bay County Government through its advocacy work in Kenya, aimed at ensuring that children's voices are heard as both the national and county governments work on their development plans.
This deliberate approach to incorporate the views of children in development matters is inspired by various provisions in the Constitution of Kenya on public participation, as well as Section 28 of the Children Act 2022 which indicates that every child shall have the right to express their views in all matters affecting them, whilst having those views heard.
In addition, as per Section 108 of the County Governments Act, all county governments are required to have a five-year County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP) with clear goals and objectives, an implementation plan with clear outcomes, provisions for monitoring and evaluation, as well as clear reporting mechanisms.
The CIDP is developed by the County Executive Committees (comprising of experts on various children matters as well as other development matters). It is then approved by the County Assembly after every five years, immediately after the general elections.
The CIDP is one of the ways of demonstrating how a new county government administration prioritises the needs of people, including how such needs are to be addressed, as well as the budget required.
In their first engagement, the Homabay County Children Assembly and Governor Wanga agreed that children views will be considered in the preparation of the draft CIDP for 2023 to 2027 and also during its validation.
During a dialogue session with the Governor on December, 15, 2022, the Homa Bay County Children Assembly presented a memorandum highlighting the issues they want addressed, so as to enable children to enjoy all their rights.
They include improved access to clean and safe water, establishment of school feeding programmes, provision of adequate classrooms in schools and putting in place measures to ensure that the needs of children living with disability are well taken care of.
In addition, the children also want all forms of violence against them to be addressed, including child neglect, child labour, physical and sexual violence, as well as child marriage. They also want their safety and security guaranteed while at home, in the community and in school.
The children went further to urge the county government to tackle climate change and promote environmental conservation.
Governor Wanga affirmed that the Homa Bay County Government values and considers children's views as important.
"We have made a deliberate decision to involve children in all public decision-making processes in Homa Bay County, including public planning meetings during the budgeting process, as well as policy and law making initiatives."