Six counties are set to benefit from a Sh600 million project aimed at reducing maternal and newborn mortality.
The project is funded by the government of Denmark and the United Nations Population Fund, under the banner of the UN Joint Programme on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health.
Speaking during the signing of the partnership Friday, Danish ambassador to Kenya Mette Knudsen said his country is committed to finding ways to save lives at childbirth and also meet the challenges of reproductive health in the counties bearing the greatest burden of maternal deaths.
“We cannot just watch while every year 5,500 women in Kenya die because of pregnancy complications. Two out of every three cases of maternal deaths occur in areas affected by a humanitarian crisis or fragile conditions, such as the northeastern region,” said Ambassador Knudsen.
She said the project will benefit Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Isiolo, Migori and Lamu counties, which are under an umbrella group called the Frontier Counties Development Council in their efforts to improve maternal and child health.
She noted that a combination of political goodwill and effective partnerships has resulted in an increase in the number of Kenya women giving birth under skilled care from about 40 to 60 per cent since 2013.
“It is also about empowering women to plan whether and when to have children, thereby putting them in position to complete their education, to increase their earning power and to reduce poverty,” she said.
The Ambassador urged the government and the governors in the six counties to allocate adequate resources to health, water and natural resource management to develop their regions.
“Our contribution can support you, but it is of course your efforts, your funding and your engagement with your citizens that will ensure real progress in improving the lives of children, women and men in the more disadvantaged areas of Kenya,” said the Ambassador.
She added that his country will for the next four years provide over Sh1.5 billion to water and natural resource management in Lamu, Tana River, Garissa, Wajir, Marsabit, Isiolo, Mandera and Turkana.
“We realise that there is need for special focus on these counties where challenges are many such as high maternal mortality, need for job creation, pressure on water and other natural resources and fragile security situation,” she said.
The signing was presided over by Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri, Council of Governors chair Peter Munya, UN Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee and the governors of the counties supported.