A few months ago, Safaricom Foundation launched its 3 year strategy to run from April 2018 to March 2021, in which it aims to focus on health, education and economic empowerment.
On the surface, the vision of this strategic plan may look simple and straight forward – ‘a thriving and prosperous Kenya’. Dig deeper and this short statement carries on its shoulders ruthless focus, adherence to global standards, choosing the right partners and of course having the right logistics and showing tangible results that should work as a catalyst for long term benefits to communities and therefore the country.
Despite Government’s best efforts for example, the healthcare system in our country is far from what it should be and one can only imagine how far behind we would be were it not for help from companies that put in money and effort to reach people far and wide with the necessary expertise and treatment. Being behind in matters health is not just being behind. It is loss of lives and livelihoods, loss of crucial support systems in communities and ultimately the vicious cycle of poverty that plagues so many areas in our country.
No mother should lose her life giving life and it is good to see that one of the major focus of the strategy is maternal health in struggling counties, especially considering that 98.7% of maternal deaths occur in just 15 counties. This is just sad and the foundation intends to look at and tackle the underlying causes of these deaths is affected counties so that children do not go through the tragedy of growing up without their mothers.
Other than maternal and infant deaths, the foundation has its eyes on communicable and non-communicable diseases as well.
As far as the education system is concerned, the foundation is not just looking at kids sitting and studying, but rather creating holistic enabling environments for study in the first place. We’re talking availability of water and latrines for example especially in arid and semi-arid areas which are most affected by poor education. We’re talking the skills mis-match between the education system and the employment structure by enabling technical and vocational skills.
As much as Government has made significant steps in matters education, there are still gaps that need to be bridged, especially with the provision of free primary school education that has seen the system strain to almost bursting at its seams. The foundation is here to help in problem areas especially in above mentioned arid and semi arid areas where a child is 3 times more likely to be out of school than a child in an non arid area.
One of the biggest problems our young men and women are facing today is unemployment, which is subsequently leading to disillusionment in life and vices like drug abuse and theft. For many it is a lack of opportunities that is turning them into people they otherwise aren’t, and it is good to see that the foundation aims to focus on youth empowerment through entrepreneurship opportunities. The youth is the most innovative and energetic segment of our population and in a few years of this kind of support, the ripple effects will be clear for all to see.
And not just the youth, but women too who are well known to be the thread that hold societies together. Empower a woman and you empower a community.
In the end, everything does fall into place if the population is healthy, relatively well educated and empowered. Because especially with empowerment, the people won’t just sit idle. They’ll work. They’ll feed their children. They’ll afford to take them to school. They’ll start businesses, circulate money and ultimately go ahead and catalyze community development. That is the kind of cycle I believe the foundation wants to see in its results. And this is essentially what Safaricom twaweza is all about.