Kiambu County Governor Mr. William Kabogo has hailed the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), the Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA) and the Women Enterprise Fund for their enduring partnership in empowering women in Kenya through financial and entrepreneurial skills development.
Mr. Kabogo was presiding during the official opening of this year’s Women In-country Training Programme at JKUAT, Monday June 3, 2013 whose theme is: “Incubating Grassroot Women Capacity for sustainable Socio-economic Empowerment and livelihoods Transformation.”
The Governor reiterated that the Jubilee government was committed to develop Arid and Semi Arid Lands (ASALs) taking cognizance of the fact that 80% of Kenyan land is arid or semi-arid, hosting about ten million people” majority of whom were women.
Mr. Kabogo said he was proud of the training initiative because “JKUAT had remodeled the program to include business incubation services” which “will create a platform to ensure knowledge gained during training enhances growth of competitive rural based SMEs and cottage industries that will consequently raise household incomes, reduce poverty and promote entrepreneurship.”
In her address, Kiambu County Women Representative Ms. Annah Nyokabi appreciated the transformative role of education and entrepreneurial training programme which she emphasized, “will help to lift women from poverty”, noting women were saddled with enormous responsibilities in the family across the country. “Women carry a significant load, if we help women, we will have significantly empowered the whole country” observed Ms. Nyokabi.
Ms. Nyokabi encouraged the participants to “ask the right questions so as to acquire the requisite knowledge that will impact on the other women in the rural areas of the country thus opening their eyes to new opportunities especially given that women own only 2 percent of the resources.” and appealed to the County government’s support in sourcing for markets for the services and products developed by the graduands of the programme.
JICA Chief Representative Mr. Hideo Eguchi recalled that the In-Country Training Programme was started in 1994 to “empower women for enhanced agricultural productivity’ and has since been modified to address “the socio economic challenges” prevalent among the grassroots women.
Mr Eguchi further said, JICA recognised the significant role women played in the country’s socioeconomic development and life transformation especially in the rural areas.
He told the participants that his organization was very encouraged by the fact that, “despite the numerous challenges and household responsibilities the participants encountered, the knowledge and skills acquired in the past had been applied profitably for the improvement of rural livelihoods.”
He thanked the Kenya government for cooperating and supporting JICA during the implementation of the Agency’s supported programmes at JKUAT. He underscored the need to acquire requisite skills, experiences for social economic transformation as a means to minimize inequalities among communities.
In her welcoming address, the JKUAT Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga said, the In-country Training programme “has seen a number of deserving Kenyan rural women get a lifeline through technology transfer and extension services on a wide range of social and economic issues” and that some beneficiaries had become successful household names in the political and socio-economic spheres.
The Vice Chancellor explained that, “the programme, now in its second phase, was conceived to respond to the needs of the rural women, who in many ways continue to bear the brunt of poverty, ignorance and disease despite the pivotal and dynamic roles they play in the society.”
Through the programme, “the university hopes to build the capacity of the rural women, by equipping them with requisite skills, competencies and attitudes necessary for socio-economic empowerment” said the VC adding that JKUAT believes that transforming the livelihoods of the rural poor, particularly women, will substantially contribute to the wealth creation national goal. She further acknowledged the Government of Japan through JICA for its continued commitment and support and commended Kenya Women Enterprise Fund for coming onboard to help actualize the programme.
Prof. Esther Kahangi, the JKUAT Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Production and Extension Division (RPE) where the training programme is domiciled, underscored the philosophy behind this year’s focus on the ASALs which were endowed with beef cattle, skins and hides, mining, tourism among other products and services that were not found in high potential areas yet they faced drought, conflict and cultural barriers that could be turned around the region to create sustainable development and opportunities for the improvement of livelihoods.
Professor Kahangi revealed that the Training of Trainers (ToTs) would move to other regions and help in training others in order to create the much needed critical mass of women who can impart in others similar skills.
The 21 day-training has attracted over 50 women trainers of trainees (ToTs) drawn from the ASALs.
Also present during the function were: Deputy Vice Chancellors Professors Francis Njeruh (Administration, Planning and Development) and Romanus Odhiambo, (Academic Affairs), Director of Extension Services Dr. David Kagima, Finance Officer, Mr Titus Wasike among others.