Kenya has continued to heavily invest in mega infrastructure projects to spur economic growth in the various sectors including Transport, Water and Sanitation, Energy and Housing. The development projects have variedly impacted the health status of the beneficiaries within localities where they are undertaken. Further, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) studies on projects have shown a huge impact on different health indicators including HIV and AIDS which legally should be factored in the project during the project design, implementation and overall monitoring. There has, however, been no legal and policy framework to safeguard the health and HIV interests.
It is against this back drop that the National AIDS Control Council through the department for HIV Investments led in the development of Guidelines for Mainstreaming Health and HIV interventions in Infrastructure Development Projects. The development process was through collaboration with state agencies undertaking infrastructure projects and the private sector. They include Kenya Airport Authority, State Department for Transport, African Development Bank, National Construction Authority, Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, International Labour Organization and Kenya National Urban Authority.
The guidelines provide a mechanism for state agencies and the private sector in addressing Health and AIDS related issues during the implementation of the mega projects. According to the studies, implementation of projects often increases income among workers, increases migration among the community, besides increasing sexual activities which often leads to a rise in new HIV infections.
In line with the principle of public participation the NACC led stakeholders in the validation of the guidelines to promote ownership among critical stakeholders drawn from different sectors undertaking the implementation of Government projects.
Validation of the Guidelines heralds a new chapter in the push for a sustainable financing for the HIV response. It’s envisaged that Project designers and developers will mainstream health and AIDS related issues in the entire project cycle in order to address emerging challenges. NACCs Deputy Director HIV Investments, Regina Ombam said, ‘’With the adoption of these guidelines and eventual roll out we envisage a reduction in prevalence, reduced HIV infections and improved health outcomes of the project beneficiaries along the infrastructure development corridor.”