from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – HEALTH and violence risks are multiplying for girls and women in Kenya as the East African country suffers its worst drought in four decades.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) lamented that with thousands people having been forced to move in search of survival, vulnerable women and girls have been left with little to no access to critical health facilities or protection and support services.
UNFPA quoted medical practitioners lamenting seen an increase in gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and child marriage during the drought.
“Families are cutting their girls and marrying them off to pay for food or to re-stock cattle,” said Jackline Njomoni, clinical officer at the Samburu County referral hospital.
It is located north of the country.
UNFPA added that unable to access family planning and contraceptive services, teenage girls were also falling pregnant in higher numbers.
This is often unintentional, which can lead to life-threatening health complications such as obstetric fistula and a higher risk of intimate partner violence.
The UN agency warned it is usually women and girls who are sent to fetch water, heightening their exposure to sexual exploitation, violence and abuse on their search as they walk further from their homes and waiting for hours at boreholes.
The situation is seen as especially dangerous as hostilities mount among communities desperate to secure the scarce resources available.
In some areas, over 90 percent of water sources have dried up.
Crops are failing and families lose their livestock in the drought linked to climate change.
The UN is appealing for US$320 million to support more than 4 million people in dire need of assistance.
– CAJ News