Cases of early marriages among members of the Maasai community in Olkaria Naivasha are expected to drop by over 50 percent following a new education scholarship programme targeting school going girls.
Under the programme in the geothermal rich area, the Baptist Church from Italy will sponsor girls from poor families from primary to university as one way of addressing the early marriages.
This came as details emerged that the area which is home to various Kengen power plants was facing a challenge of early marriages and pregnancies.
This emerged in Oloosinyat Baptist Church in Olkaria during a ceremony to inform area community of the scholarship which starts at the end of this month.
According to Engineer Renato Papale from Italy and who is involved in construction of Olkaria V power plant, 40 students would benefit in the first phase of the project.
Renato said that church had already released Sh2m for the first year in a bid to empower the students and give them a second chance in community.
“When you empower a woman you empower the whole community and this first phase will target 40 girls every year who will be sponsored from primary to university level,” he said.
Addressing the press after the ceremony, the engineer said that the funds would be used to buy uniforms, learning material and pay school fees for the identified girls.
“It’s time that we did away with some outdate cultures like early marriages and this can be done by educating and empowering these girls,” he said.
On his part, Pastor John Karani from Oloosinyat Baptist Church admitted that cases of early marriages in the area had disrupted learning for hundreds of girls in the area.
While thanking the Italian church, the cleric said that the programme would see cases of early marriages and pregnancies drop by over 50 percent.
“Girls in this area are disadvantaged due to high levels of poverty and drought thus prey to early marriages but this is expected to change under the learning scholarship,” he said.
The community chairman Maenga Kisotu while thanking the donors termed the project as God sent adding that they would fully back it.
“We hope that in the future the boys will be remembered too but at the moment we want to thank the Baptist church in Italy for giving our girls a chance to excel academically,” he said.