Effectiveness of Makueni Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre (GBVRC) Moving Evidence to Policy Influence and Impact

By: KU WEE- Hub GBV Team led by Prof. Grace W. Ngare &Dr. Pacificah Okemwa


Prevalence of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) against women and girls in Kenya remains high at over 35%. Research has underscored the health, legal and psychosocial burdens, intergenerational effects, and demographic consequences of such violence (IMF 2021). Although GBV has a heavy economic burden on individual survivors, communities and governments at all  levels, its connection to women’s economic empowerment  (WEE) has hardly been explored.  Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Kenyatta University Women’s Economic Empowerment Hub (KU WEE-Hub) carried out a research titled “Impact of Programmes and Initiatives addressing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence as a Constraint to Women’s Economic Empowerment”. The research was carried out at Makueni Gender Based Violence Recovery Centre (GBVRC), established and fully funded by the County Government; and Life Bloom Services International (LSBI), a non-profit organization based in Naivasha, Nakuru County.

The study targeted 425 women survivors who had received services from both institutions. However, only 149 were reached: 91 (61.1%) in Makueni and 58 (38.9%) in LBSI. The targeted samples reduced drastically due to numerous factors, among them: multiple entries of survivors; relocation of survivors to other counties after receiving services; and reluctance to be interviewed after giving consent mostly due to trauma. The study identified gaps in GBV data management which made it difficult to verify the exact number of survivors attended to at the GBVRC.

The study established that GBV creates a heavy burden on survivors, their families, friends, neighbours and institutions that respond to the vice. The direct and indirect economic costs on survivors include transport, medical expenses, losses incurred as a result of destruction of personal property, lost time and missed school days for children.

The KU WEE Hub GBV team believes research, is only useful if findings are relayed to those concerned, who may use the evidence in policy development/revision with the aim of impacting the lives of GBV survivors. With this in mind, a policy-driven dissemination workshop to disseminate the research findings was held for the Inter-sector Gender Working Group in Makueni County. Held at Fort Hotel in Wote Town, the workshop brought together thirty-nine participants, among the Cabinet Executive Committee member in charge of gender, the Chief Officer and the Director in charge of gender issues, among other duty bearers from the GBVRC, police, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and civil society. .

In the dissemination, the KU GBV team partnered with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), a research and policy organization that creates stronger evidence, shares this strategically and equips decision-makers to use evidence.

IPA familiarised participants on the importance of good data in relation to GBV services  as well as the role it can play in improving data infrastructure in Makueni County. This would strengthen the foundations of decision-making and improve service provision thereby improving the well-being of women, girls, men and boys affected by GBV.  IPA has experience in tackling similar challenges in other country contexts through:-

  • Capacity assessment and capacity building- to identify immediate needs of data/technical personnel to tailor trainings accordingly, and develop best practices.
  • Embedding technical data staff within institutions to: support in improving and leveraging administrative data to generate relevant evidence that can guide policy decisions; build internal capacities and equip policymakers with tools and methods to generate and use rigorous evidence; develop policy-driven research agenda for the host institution; and facilitate the development of research projects to respond to the agenda.


This exercise enabled all the participating agencies to pick up key lessons in regard to pathways for closing the gap between research and policy uptake by government as shown in the figure below.

In this process, each of the actors plays a significant part  and recognizes the specific capacity, insights  and paramount role of partners in the progression and ultimate achievement of the desired outcome. The partnership brings to mind the following words of Meredith Mahoney” “Know where you want to go and make sure the right people know about it (and walk with you).”


Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (2022) Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2022 Key Indicators Report. Available @ https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/PR143/PR143.pdf

World Bank (2018). Facts on Addressing Gender Based Violence in Projects, World Bank Publication, Washington DC (http://gvrc.or.ke/facts-about-gbv/).

International Monetary Fund (2021) The Heavy Economic Toll of Gender-based Violence: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa. Working paper 21/277 Prepared by Rasmane Ouedraogo and David Stenzel. Available @https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2021/11/19/The-Heavy-Economic-Toll-of-Gender-based-Violence-Evidence-from-Sub-Saharan-Africa-509667.



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