- Some families have secretly procured circumcises for their girls, believing that the practice will enhance their girl's purity.
- The efforts to end FGM however are bearing fruit because elders are gradually embracing the alternative rite of passage for young girls.
Calls to end female genital mutilation in Marsabit county dominated this year's International women's day celebration.
There have been increased cases of FGM in the region despite the efforts by the government and Non-governmental organisations.
The practice often peaks during holidays and the festive season.
The practice still remains notorious among the pastoralist communities with the claim that some parents collude with the local circumcisers to have their daughters cut as a symbol of transition into adulthood.
Female genital mutilation is among the top causes of increased school dropouts, early marriages and unwanted pregnancies among young girls in Marsabit county.
Some families have secretly procured circumcises for their girls, believing that the practice will enhance their girl's purity.
The efforts to end FGM however are bearing fruit because elders are gradually embracing the alternative rite of passage for young girls.
Instead of undergoing the cut, the girls are educated on how to become adults and pursue their education rather than being lured into early marriages.
The Borana's supreme leaders Abagatha threw their weight behind the push.
This year's celebration was held at Kalacha in North-Horr sub-county and was funded by the local organization including Mercy Corps, USAID/ Lms, FH, IREMO, CRIW, SIF, CIFA, county government and county first lady among others.
Marsabit Deputy Governor Solomon Gubo Riwe has urged residents to shun retrogressive culture saying girls are suffering because some people have refused to abandon negative traditions.
He termed the FGM as an impediment to the development of the girl-child.
"We must abandon bad culture. FGM causes physiological problems to the girls and women and causes difficulties during childbirth," he said
He commended women rights defenders in the region for being at the forefront of promoting alternative rites of passage and added that girls are in school because of their bravery.
The deputy governor advised residents to coexist harmoniously with each other so that the county can witness development growth, and pointed out that the tribal conflict has been the source of underdevelopment.
"I would like to encourage all people in the county regardless of their tribe to live in unity," said DG
He encouraged parents to invest in the education of their children to give them a strong foundation for prosperity saying education is the only inheritance children can obtain from their parents.
"Education is the only way we can equip our children to strive in this competitive world. Let us encourage our children to attend school and help them to achieve their dreams," he said
He advised farmers to embrace modern farming techniques that would enhance food sustainability, saying the small-scale farmers need to continuously improve their agricultural knowledge and skills in the wake of rapid changes in climate and weather patterns.
He said by embracing modern farming methods and adapting to climate change, farmers would be able to ensure food security is attained.
He noted that climate change is making weather patterns increasingly unpredictable, impacting negatively on small-scale farmers who depend on rain-fed agriculture.
He also encouraged farmers to engage in agribusiness as it will in the long run help them boost their agricultural livelihoods.
He said, the challenges facing agriculture lay in the adaptation of modern farming techniques.
"It is high time as a county we embrace modern technology in agriculture," said Deputy Governor
He assured farmers that the government was doing everything possible in ensuring the provision of irrigation water through the sinking of boreholes and the construction of water pans.
The deputy governor called on farmers to practice water harvesting and storage technologies for use during dry spells which would go a long way in improving crop yields.
Acting county commissioner David Saruni urged pastoralists communities to stop the retrogressive culture of female genital mutilation saying it is hampering even the education sector.
"These practices are outdated. There are cultural practices that we can retain but those that disadvantaged the girls should be shunned," said Saruni
He warned residents that action will be taken against those who will be found abetting early marriages and FGM.
The CECM culture, Gender and social services Jeremy Ledaany described female genital mutilation as a form of violence against girls and women saying FGM kills girls due to bleeding.
He said the county's FGM prevalence rate is still higher despite the efforts by the government and local NGOs to end the vice with some nomadic people practising the retrogressive culture.
He urged professionals from the region to step up and take the role of ending female genital mutilation in the county saying they were respectable members of the community.
He challenged the men to declare an end to FGM while promising that he will continue championing women's rights.
"We shall have no FGM if men stand firm and denounce the practice," he said
According to human rights defender madam Chuluke Duba, many young girls are married off once they heal from the cut.
She appealed for more players to come on board to save young girls from the practice to enable them to enjoy their rights free from FGM.
While terming the practice as outdated, she urged all women to rise and defend their girls from retrogressive FGM.
Chuluke said the efforts to end female genital mutilation must be sustained.
She encouraged the girls and the community to be strong and resolute on the matter.
During the event, vulnerable women groups in the North-Horr sub-county benefitted from the government relief food.