On 27th July, 2021, a delegation of researchers from Kenyatta University-Women’s Economic Empowerment (KU-WEE) Hub led by Kenya University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Paul Wainaina, visited Tharaka Nithi County to discuss ways of strengthening the partnership between the Hub and the County Government. The team was received by the Governor, H.E Muthomi Njuki. The partnership will see the Hub conduct a research in the county to evaluate the effectiveness of the crèche programme, initiated within Chuka market to enable women traders accomplish the duo role of childcare and participation in income generating activities.
In partnership with the Economic Growth Center-Yale University, the research study aims to establish crèches with children’s feeding rooms and mothers’ lactating rooms, and evaluate the effects of the crèche programme on child development, women’s labour force participation and psychosocial wellbeing of both children and mothers. In addition, the researchers will seek to determine and evaluate factors that influence use of crèche, and quantify time spent on childcare and its application on women’s livelihood strategies, economic empowerment and wellbeing. The researchers will then make policy recommendations, based on evidence, for institutionalisation of the crèche and lactating rooms programme. The primary outcome of the study is improvement of women economic productivity or well-being by 20% through reduced childcare burden in at least five sub-counties in Tharaka Nithi County by 2025. Anticipated research outputs such as policy briefs, articles in journals, conference papers, media briefs as well as comprehensive database on women’s livelihoods in Tharaka Nithi County will be key in informing governments and other stakeholders at the county, national and regional levels on what works to enhance women’s economic empowerment, particularly through Female Labour force participation.
Besides the involvement of County officials as Principal investigators in the hub’s project, the county government of Tharaka Nithi will provide facilitation and provision of a platform for the Randomised Control Trial and a site for testing initiatives that work to improve women’s economic empowerment.
During the consultative meeting, the two leaders pledged their continued support for the partnership to ensure success of the Hub’s project. They confirmed their commitment to the Memorandum of Understanding and expressed optimism that the University and County government will continue to work together even beyond the current project. The county government has already constituted a committee to oversee the working relationship.