Home » Health emergency response in Kenya: ‘looking back for a better future’

Health emergency response in Kenya: ‘looking back for a better future’
Posted in General by Jepchumba Violet on June 27th, 2012

Putting in place an overall policy to guide Kenya’s implementation of emergency responses was one of the recommendations made at a round-table meeting to share experiences from the just concluded GIZ Health Sector Drought Response Programme. Government officials, partners and key stakeholders attended the two-day meeting held in Athi-river where it was agreed that the policy would form the basis for overall coordination of emergency response, an aspect that was significantly lacking in the just concluded drought response. Participants at the meeting further express the need to support government to undertake the overall coordination in case of emergencies as a necessity to ensure there is no duplication of interventions. The meeting held on May 21-22, 2012 sought to share experiences, lessons learnt and best practices of the Drought Programme.

Kenya and the Horn of Africa in general, last year, experienced one of the worst droughts in history. The president in June last year declared the drought a national disaster.  Different governments and non-governmental organizations came together to offer relief interventions to worst hit areas like Northern Kenya and other dry parts of the country. Nevertheless, the government has for a long-time been challenged to look for long-term solutions to emergency preparedness. This issue was discussed at length at the meeting where participants put the government to task to wean affected population of dependency/aid syndrome’ noting that relief interventions should ideally prove to be a spring board for recovery by adopting a more developmental and sustainable approach.

Participants explored the effectiveness of existing government policies and systems in relation to drought response and capacity of partners and other stakeholders to respond to disasters occasioned by drought. They drew a lot of experience from the just concluded drought response programme which provided clear examples of how developmental aspects can be built into relief interventions. The developmental interventions have decreased the vulnerability of the affected populations in the long term and significantly increased the coping capacity of health system in case of any other health emergency.

As a way forward, participants agreed to commit to the following:

  • Development of a conceptual framework for co-ordination and nationwide communication strategy
  • Improvement of already existing early warning systems
  • Building a culture of safety and resilience
  • Collective Civil Society engagement
  • Linkages of short term to long-term measures
  • Strengthening of preparedness for response

Key participants at the meeting included: Dr. Heide Richter-Airijoki, -Programme Leader, GIZ Health Sector Programme, Dr. James Teprey – WHO, Grace Wangechi - Executive Director, Nairobi Womens Hospital-Gender Violence Recovery Centre, Dr. Samuel Mwenda - General Secretary, Christian Health Association of Kenya, Dr. Lennie Bazira - AMREF, Country Director, Dr. Amira - Head,  Department of Disaster Management & Preparedness, Mr. Kiptoo - National Disaster Operations Center.

At the end of the meeting it was unanimous that

“Long term solutions for disasters, such as drought, are in preparedness and mitigation”

Following the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) contribution of 7 Million Euro to go towards mitigating the effects of the drought last year, the GIZ Health Sector Programme was able to support the Kenyan Government in sustainably mitigating the effects of the drought in Kenya. A balance between humanitarian and developmental interventions were implemented to address the immediate health-related effects of the drought, and to build up resilience against future drought related emergencies. The approach was hinged on the growing necessity of relief/development assistance to reduce community vulnerability to hazards, while also increasing the coping capacity of communities and individuals.























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