Kisumu: No GBV safe house despite fund allocations

Kisumu County has yet to set up safe shelters for gender-based violence (GBV) victims, curtailing the anti-GBV fight.

This, in turn, has forced the victims to survive on the limited spaces provided by private organisations as a larger number continue living in the same places with perpetrators amid court proceedings.

County principal gender officer Joel Okumu said that despite pushing Kisumu to set up the safe houses, their efforts have not borne any fruit.

“We started the discussions to put up the safe spaces in 2014, where we had three buildings commissioned for the services; however, none has been completed to date.”

Mr Okumu said the county now solely depends on private homes, which have not been reliable because of limited donor funds.

“Unlike county governments, the private centres often depend on donor funds, which are never reliable, and can only host a limited number of victims,” said Mr Okumu, adding the county has continued to report tens of cases monthly.

In 2020, the county recorded over 1,400 defilement cases at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital between January and August following the closure of Schools.

According to Mr Okumu, the cases may easily be on the rise. In 2016, former Kisumu Governor Jacktone Ranguma initiated a Sh15 million project that would see the county have its first safe space in Tieng’re, Kisumu West.

Funding hurdles

The county had allocated Sh4.5 million and Sh5.5 million for the construction in the financial years 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 respectively.

The county was also to put up another safe house in Ong’eche to serve Nyando and Nyakach sub-counties. It was to cost Sh3 Million.

Efforts to have the buildings concluded in 2017 were, however, shattered after the county failed to approve a Sh16 million allocation.

“Our efforts to have funds allocated for the building at the county assembly have been severely declined; the safe houses have never been given priority,” said Mr Okumu, who blamed county leaders for lack of commitment.

In an interview, Kenya Female Advisory Organisation (Kefeado) director Easter Oketch said, “We always reach out to the individual organisations who are not in a position to host all the victims. We have been receiving a total of three to four cases daily.

“Apart from defilement, we have cases of domestic violence adding to the growing conflicts of land succession. All these people are in need of safe spaces, which we are unable to provide.”

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