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Wema Meals & Mentorship Project

With the pandemic continuing to impact child and maternal health and nutrition in unprecedent ways globally and nationally, families in slum areas face the greatest challenge of putting a meal on the table daily (over 85% food insecure and over 50% severely food insecure). Mental and psychosocial support needs have grown, with the increased cases of sexual and gender-based violence. Urban food insecurity is among the most under-estimated issues, yet up to 20% of families in Nairobi slums go whole days without meals (Dandc.eu). APHRC has also previously noted that slum families presented with the worst health and nutritional status of any group in Kenya and take the chunk of the 4 million food insecure urban Kenyans. The situation is likely to escalate with the increased cost of living occasioned by the recent tax hikes.

School closures due to the pandemic compounded the suffering of children, with sexual and gender-based violence directed at children escalating. This was worsened by the heightened household tensions due to perpetual congestion and degraded family incomes. Poor diet and malnutrition continue to affect children in poor households in unimaginable ways, creating a ‘perfect storm’ that threatens their survival (UNICEF). With over 30-40% of girls having to miss schools during their periods due to lack of sanitary pads, many get exposed to having to engage in sex to get money to buy pads (Kenyacic.org). All these call for urgent global and local action to save past gains and protect the most vulnerable from the ravages of the impact of the pandemic. 

Unireproc CBO aims to contribute towards alleviating the problem by identifying facilities such as churches, social halls children’s homes or chief’s centers where hygienic meals can be availed for vulnerable children, while providing food and basic household items for the most vulnerable families, targeting at least 500 households. The CBO also aims to reach at least 1000 adolescents with mentorship and peer support messages. The program will also involve sensitization sessions on food hygiene for women, adolescents, and food vendors. The CBO aims to achieve this through concerted local and digital fundraising efforts while seeking organizations and individuals interested in partnering to achieve mutual community impact goals.

As the program grows, it will diversify towards inbuilt sustainable and more impactful approaches including:

  • Provision of solar-powered radios with light bulbs to enable learners to study without the interruption of recurrent blackouts 
  • Provision of sanitary towels and menstrual health education
  • Training women groups and support them with materials for making masks to sustain continued mask use for pandemic control
  • Sensitization activities on GBV prevention
  • Conduct career coaching sessions for candidates (primary and secondary)
  • Initiating innovative urban farming programs for women and youth groups 
  • Research and policy dialogue initiatives with industry leaders
  • Identification and documentation of best practices