August 1-15, 2011
A bimonthly newspaper by the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman and Child Feature Service
Calling for divine intervention Drought leaves Kenyans interceding to powers beyond humanity By HUSSEIN DIDO For those living in areas that have received rainfall, the story of the looming drought might sound farfetched. For those who have never missed food or water, it may seem like it is made up. However, those who have gone for a year without rains are living in hell. They have no food and water. Their animals and children are dying. This death is not restricted to children and animals, even adults are dying. While the world and the region at large is worried with the way things are, those who live in drought affected areas are worried that soon they may not be there. They have seen that for there to be a change in their current situation, they must seek help from somewhere beyond humanity. They are now calling for divine intervention as the last resort to saving northern Kenya and the Horn of Africa region as a whole. Sabbath Keeping Remnants Church of God is calling on the two Principals in the Grand Coalition Government, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to convene a national prayer that would seek divine intervention to provide food
where the Church donated foodstuff, soap, cooking oil, milk and clothes to hunger stricken villagers. He said that the Church would also dig a borehole that would help curb perennial water shortage in the area. “It is shameful that people are dying in this century of starvation while other continents are advancing towards development,” said the clergy. He observed: “Government ought to make concerted efforts that includes stakeholders to ensure that food insecurity is addressed once and for all.” The same sentiments were expressed by Council of Imams Upper Eastern officials led by the secretary Harun Rashid. They accused the Government of failing to act timely leading to death of thousands of livestock. “More than 250,000 people in Northern Kenya are at risk of starvation with women, children and the elderly bearing the brunt of food insecurity as the
“It is through concerted effort that we can be able to overcome this drought and save the more than five million people faced with hunger in the country.” — Bishop Francis Ringera for the hunger stricken families in the country. According to Bishop Francis Ringera, the mass prayer forum should bring together well wishers that would raise funds to purchase food for the starving Kenyans adversely affected by drought. “It is high time we pray to God for assistance and help and repent our sins especially at this time when our people are faced with starvation,” said the Bishop. He added: “Even God brought down Manna during the old days during difficult times.” This prayer should be accompanied with fundraising for the needy hunger stricken families. “It is through concerted effort that we can be able to overcome this drought and save the more than five million people faced with hunger in the country,” said Ringera. The clergyman challenged the Government to come up with clear policy on drought mitigation measures that would provide a lasting solution to recurrent dry spell in the country. Ringera was speaking in Daaba, Isiolo County
devastating drought depletes resources,” reiterated Rashid. “It is time we worked together and remember the less fortunate as we approach the month of Ramadhan,” said the Imam. International organisations that include the Kenya Red Cross, Action Aid and United Nations Children’s Fund say nearly 300,000 children may succumb to starvation unless urgent measures are taken to provide them with food. UNICEF had recently disclosed that the Horn of Africa region which is the most affected by the raging dry spell could suffer adversely especially now that the principal donor, USA had stopped providing relief to hunger stricken families in the region. Recurrent drought in Northern parts of Kenya has had serious socio-economic and political implications in that they adversely affect efforts to alleviContinued on page 5
Different faces of drought in various parts of the country. As Kenyans call for food aid, they are also looking to God for a solution to the biting drought. Pictures: Hussein Dido and Reject Correspondent
Read more Reject stories online at www.mediadiversityafrica.org
ISSUE 045, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Towards a journey of forgiveness and healing
Psychiatrists sound alarm on drug addicts and suicide By RYAN MATHENGE At least ten percent of drug and alcohol addicts in Murang’a County end up committing suicide due to frustrations and other difficulties. Psychiatric experts observed that the region has been rated among those with high incidents of people taking their lives either by hanging or drinking poison. Led by Dr James Mburu of Murang’a District Hospital, the doctors said, many of those seeking treatment and rehabilitation at Murang’a District Hospital were teachers and students. Sponsor of the mental health sessions Mr Chaxton Kamami Maina said he was moved after watching many of the youth turn to substance abuse due to frustrations. The experts said most of the alcohol and drug users especially the youth, end up committing suicide due to frustration and lack of information on where they can be helped. Speaking at Gitugu Anglican Church in Mathioya Constituency while on a mission of sensitising the youth on dangers of abusing drugs and alcohol, the mental health experts said most of the cases being treated by medics have been found to have psychiatric background.
By FRANK OUMA She was full of anger. She could fill with irresistible hatred and dread of revenge over the brutal manner in which her brother was killed. That was three years ago. Today the grudge and pain are no more. Thanks to an intensified training program that has seen her deal successfully with trauma. Cherono Kiplagat from Kericho recalls how she was tortured and beaten up by the police officer who also shot dead her brother. Kiplagat is among thousands of victims of 2008 post-election violence that left about 1,300 people dead and over 300,000 displaced. An organisation that is a global network of women and men known as Feminenza has been working with victims of post election violence who were affected directly or indirectly as well as victims of other forms of violence such as those that happened in Mt Elgon. The organisation has provided Kiplagat with the knowledge and skills needed to establish a strong base as a counsellor in forgiveness and reconciliation. It has not been easy to come this far. Kiplagat says since the violence, she has had a negative attitude towards police officers and would cry whenever she met with the police officer who shot her brother as she knew him.
Ms Cherono Kiplagat (third right) from Kericho among other women who had undergone a trauma, fear and forgiveness training session in Eldoret town. Pictures: Frank Ouma The organisation was established in 2000 and is currently represented in 17 countries with the purpose of assisting women and girls, championing their growth and development in ways that recognise the qualities, strengths, wisdom and values of all women as well as each and everyone representing the female gender.
The journey to forgiveness began in Kenya provoked by the first Humanity and Gender Conference in January 2006 before the general elections of 2007 were held. A second one would be held in July 2007, just a few months before the country went into elections. The focus on trauma counselling and community focused forgiveness and reconciliation workshops rapidly rose. As the bloodshed begun, it redirected its energies to assist the traumatised communities in Kisii, Eldoret, Nakuru, Mombasa, Trans Mara and Narok as well as within Kibera slums in Nairobi. The project is expected to be complete in 2011 with the aim that it will build women’s capacity through education and
“I even hated my own brother who was a police officer. Whenever he came home in uniform, I would avoid him,” she says. After taking part in trauma, fear and forgiveness forums, Kiplagat has been able to forgive and overcome fears that have been hounding her since 2008. She acknowledges that forgiving is very hard and needs courage. Feminenza’s three year programme on training of forgiveness and reconciliation counsellors was launched in September, last year with the support from UN Women. “The training programme is designed to meet the challenges presented by the post election violence in January 2008, using proven evidence based techniques to address the very real challenge of violence erupting in the run up to the 2012 elections,” explains Janny Slagman, an officer with Feminenza. According to Slagman, the strategic purpose of the project is to assist women to fully participate in the effort to maintain and promote peace and security and to play a more decisive role in conflict prevention and resolution.
mentoring of projects. “The intention is to build further upon the skills and abilities established in the first year, with intermediate facilitators training in year two, enabling more communities to benefit from this programme in years two and three,” explained Slagman. Chief Executive Officer of Feminenza, Mary Noble says the Government should consider setting up an institution that will take up the responsibilities of counselling victims of post-election violence as well as those who have suffered human rights abuse in Mt Elgon after the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission ends its work so that they continue to have peace of mind. Noble observes that for truthful reconciliation to occur, victims and perpetrators of all forms of violence in the country need to be taught about forgiveness and how to overcome fear and trauma. “We should not allow the victims and perpetrators in the country to be left vulnerable and confused after the TJRC comes to an end as they will need frequent counselling so that they forgive and overcome their fears,” explained Noble.
“I even hated my own brother who was a police officer. Whenever he came home in uniform, I would avoid him.” — Cherono Kiplagat
So far, the forgiveness and reconciliation training has benefited 40 women in the Rift Valley and Mt Elgon. It targets another 25 women before September. Noble said it was important for victims and perpetrators to speak about what happened so they can be able to move on. She also reiterated that there was need to create a platform that would enable rape victims and others who were affected by various conflicts to speak out openly. “The victims and perpetrators need to understand that it was not their fault and they need to have an opportunity for a new start and do away with the guilt of the past,” observed Noble. Mary Chepkwony of the Rural Women Peace Link in Mt Elgon said that about 60 former militia members of the Sabaot Land Defence Force members, 30 girls who were abducted and 200 women had undergone training on forgiveness and overcoming fear. “Those who have benefited are now living together in harmony as there cannot be peace unless there is forgiveness and removal of fear among the locals,” explained Chepkwony.
During the session, it emerged that 70 percent of cases admitted at the mental health wards from Kigumo District are related to bhang smoking. “It has been proven that many of the people seeking treatment ranging from headaches and abdominal pains at times end up being referred to mental health clinics where they are counselled to change their ways,” explained Mburu. The doctor said he was recently saddened when his patient, who was under rehabilitation died on the spot after jumping from the fifth floor of a building in town. Gitugi Parish Anglican Church Clergy Rev Peter Mwangi Ndirangu challenged leaders in Murang’a and especially Mathioya to use Constituency Development Funds to organise sessions for the youth where they will be counselled and sensitised.
Embu airstrip to get facelift By KariukI Mwangi Residents of Embu and its environs are set to enjoy the benefits of flying to the region after the Government set aside funds to rehabilitate the airstrip. The Government has allocated KSh130 million for the upgrading and rehabilitation of the Embu airstrip so as to open up Embu and the other districts for development opportunities. Embu West District Commissioner Maalim Mohamed said the airstrip will open up the region as the agricultural produce will now be transported faster to the various markets by air. “The airstrip will also benefit farmers in the surrounding districts of Meru, Mwingi and Kirinyaga,” said Maalim. He observed: “Miraa farmers will no longer risk the lives of people while transporting their commodities by road.” He noted that airstrip will also open the area to tourism since it is very rich in eco and cultural tourism which was yet to be exploited and which can benefit the region immensely in development.
Maalim who was speaking in Embu also called on the residents to invest more in fish farming as it would help a lot in mitigating against food security during drought. He noted that the area is very rich in rivers flowing from Mt Kenya. He said the Government also plans to put up a fish feeds manufacturing industry in Embu so as to provide adequate supply for fish farmers. “With the advent of the airstrip farmers will have a reliable means of transport to take the fish to the market,” said Maalim. He noted that the Kenya Power and Lighting Company has issued a contract that would will oversee the construction of a new power sub-station in Embu so as to put to an end the frequent electricity surges in the town. “Electricity is a major determinant of development and completion of the sub-station will also play a big role in attracting more investors to the town,” observed Maalim.
ISSUE 044, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Dekha Ibrahim Abdi
Tribute to the world’s peace guru By Rosemary Okello The Chinese Proverb which says; As fire refines gold so suffering refines virtues can be used to describe the life of Dekha Ibrahim. Despite the odds and numerous incidences of violence she saw in her rural Wajir home, Dekha rose to become the world’s peace icon. An unapologetically rural Kenyan-Somali woman, Dekha touched the world through peace work which saw her travel extensively locally and internationally. This earned her a special name among the local communities in Wajir who would refer to her as Dekha Nabad which means Dekha, Mother of Peace. As we mourn her demise and pay tribute to the gracious life that she lived, many recall how she taught the world her comprehensive methodology which combines grassroots activism, a soft but uncompromising leadership, and a spiritual motivation drawing on the teachings of Islam. “Coming from the same area with me, Dekha who used to call me aunty showed us how the diverse ethnic, cultural and religious differences can be reconciled. Even after a violent conflict, these were knitted together through a cooperative process that leads to peace and development,” says Rukia Subow, chairperson Maendeleo ya Wanawake. The late Dekha passed on last month in a tragic road accident that also claimed the lives of her husband and their driver. She was well known by local communities in Wajir from the time when she was the headmistress of Wajir Primary School.
Many times she put aside her administration job and mobilised other women to her home to discuss how they could bring together two warring communities of Ajuran and Degodia to stop the large scale violence that engulfed the district. Born in Wajir in 1964, Dekha’s wish was to see peace becoming a reality in her community. As captured in an article published in the mainstream media, what gave her the resolve to make a difference was her mother’s voice that would constantly let out a loud sigh and exclamation: “When will all this come to an end?” The older woman was then voicing the exact thoughts of the younger one who at that point wanted guarantees of a better life for her daughter. As a young mother, Dekha used her home as an office and meeting place where women from the two fighting communities would join hands with professional women to brainstorm on intervention tactics that they could use to bring peace. This was happening at a time when women were only allowed to stay at home and take care of their families as model housewives. The women came up with a strategy where each of them would go back to their communities and convince the men to lay down arms and negotiate with enemy community. The women further warned elders and men that they will strip naked if the armed young men did not lay down arms, despite opposition from the traditional clan leaders.
These threats made elders and other conflict players to think twice about fighting each other. More and more women joined in the campaign and pressure became so huge that it turned into a wave that swept across Wajir. The young men voluntarily surrendered their arms without seeking orders from their tribal commanders and joined the women led by Dekha in denouncing the violence. Dekha saw potential in women bringing change in society and she mobilised support from donor communities in training women from the entire North Eastern Province includ-
ing Wajir, Mandera and Garissa on peace building. She assisted women’s groups in setting up peace building associations that are now present in all the districts. Elders and other conservative community leaders sensed danger and sent a delegation to the Dekha led women’s group saying they were ready to negotiate with rival communities. This was the beginning of a dialogue and from here Dekha found herself moving between community elders and leaders. Her brief was to check on the grievances and what was the cause of the deadly clashes. Dekha’s efforts bore fruit as the two communities signed a peace agreement under the AlFatah Declaration. This stopped the fighting and all issues that caused the clashes were addressed. Since the signing of the agreement, Wajir has never experienced conflict. Women peace builders led by Dekha were able to bring calm to Mandera and Garissa. Since then she never looked back.
Between 1996-1997, Dekha was team leader for the community development training programme of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project in Kenya. She wrote extensively and was the organizing board member of Nomadic and Pastoralists Development Initiative, a Kenyan rural development initiative. Soon her peace work was noticed by the international community and in 2007, Dekha was the recipient of the prestigious Right Livelihood Award which was established by Sweden’s Jakob von Uexkull. This award is presented annually to honour those “working on practical and exemplary solutions to the most urgent challenges facing the world today”. According to a report by Right Livelihood who feted Dekha for her peace work, the model developed in Wajir, which Dekha describes as “a peace and development committee — a structure for responding to conflict at a local level”, informs her philosophy of inter-religious co-operation and subsequent peace work. Over the years this model has been used by various organisations both locally and internationally. In 1998, when the Christian community in Wajir was experiencing some violence, Dekha assisted in the formation of a disaster committee of Muslim women to assist and make amends with the Christians.
They held prayer meetings with Muslim and Christian women, in which both groups shared their experience and thereby strengthened their relationship. Subsequently the Wajir Peace Committee began to include Christian women, leading to the formation of an inter-faith committee for peace which has undertaken further activities to intervene in religious conflicts. Dekha’s work spread beyond her birthplace to embrace the flash-points in Kenya and the East African sub-region. She worked as a consultant to the Kenya government and civil society organisations. During the early days of her work, she became the coordinator for a mobile primary health care project for nomadic people and was elected as Secretary of the peace committee
hence undertaking dual roles. In 1997, she became a founding member of the regional Coalition of Peace in Africa (COPA). As the East African regional coordinator, she was involved in the Linking Peace Practice to Policy (LPP) programme of the COPA, funded by Comic Relief in the UK. The LPP seeks to support and link communities in volatile areas in conflict prevention and peacebuilding work.
Dekha also became in 1998 Training and Learning Co-ordinator of Responding to Conflict (RTC) which engages in conflict transformation: planning, organizing and facilitating a range of conflict resolution training programmes. She was also a board member of Co-existence International, an initiative committed to strengthening the field of policymakers, practitioners, researchers, advocates, organisations and networks promoting co-existence. Dekha was the founding member of a Global Peace Practitioners Network ACTION for conflict transformation. She was also a member of a consortium of African and international conflict transformation specialists working together on development of a series of intensive, participatory workshops the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). Since 2002, Dekha became a patron of the London-based NGO Peace Direct where she worked towards inter-religious/ethnic co-operation in this capacity through co-facilitating a project which aimed to provide a platform for young Muslims from all UK backgrounds, after the London bombings, to explore issues and challenges around being a Muslim and British in the current UK society. She was also a member of the international advisory board of the University of Ulster, INCORE London-Derry, North Ireland and also served on the Board of the Berghof Centre in Germany. “Dekha meant a lot to women and society at large here in Wajir and northern Kenya. It was evident how the community sent thousands of condolences through a radio call in programme that was broadcast by Star FM when the
As a young mother, Dekha used her home as an office and meeting place where women from the two fighting communities would join hands with professional women to brainstorm on intervention tactics that they could use to bring peace.
news of her death was announced,” says Abjata Khalif, Chair of the Kenya Pastoralists Journalists Network (PAJAN). He adds: “It is a great blow to the community and just like a butterfly that glides among people, Dekha, the icon of peace has glided through her community having touched thousands of people in urban and rural areas of northern Kenya.” Dekha had no boundary or clan nor class. Everybody was her sister or brother and she strived to have a free society built on social justice and without violence. Eulogizing the great peace-maker, Florence Mpaayei Executive Director Nairobi Peace Initiative Africa (NPI) said: “One memorable observation that Dekha made at a meeting convened to reflect on the Kenya mediation process following the post-election violence was how as Kenyans we knew how to debate but not to dialogue.” Mpaayei adds: “According to Dekha, in dialogue one listens and seeks to create understanding, build relationships and together explore the best possibilities or alternatives for everyone.” Betty Kaaria Murungi, a founder and a board member of Urgent Action Fund Africa (UAF), remembers how Dekha was instrumental in the thinking behind UAF-Africa’s early work on rapid response teams. “She was a mentor to me and the entire UAF team as we navigated the perilous conflict terrain across Africa. She taught us so much,” says Murungi.
Njoki Wamai of the Africa Leadership Centre/ Conflict, Security and Development Group King’s College in London says “She insisted that dialogue should not only be limited to those spaces at the national level in full view of cameras but to all levels from the national to the local.” According to Wamai, this model got the attention of Graca Machel, who asked Dekha to write a concept on the ‘Need for Dialogue and not Debates in Reconciliation’. For Selline Korir, the Team Leader of Rural Women Peace Link, Dekha taught her the peace work. “At a time when we did not know where to look to for support at the height of post-election violence 2007-2008, Dekha in collaboration with NPI-Africa gave the Rural Women Peace Link the first KSh100,000 that enabled us to start mediating between the women IDPs at the Eldoret showground and those who had remained with the community in Kesses and Burnt Forest region. As the country and the world at large mourn the death of Dekha, her wish was to start a peace institute. She had plans to establish the first peace institute in the East African region. Maybe the best way to honour Dekha and her exemplary work is to build Dekha Peace Institute. Additional information by Abjata Khalif
ISSUE 045, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Hard times send ‘five beardless men’ into unchartered territory By ADOW INA KALIL
The wise English saying, ‘necessity is the mother of all invention’, is making great sense in the North Eastern region following years of incessant devastating drought that has seen thousands of livestock die. Drought necessity has pushed five women in the remote Ijara District in Garissa County into a rare venture in a hitherto male dominated trade. Binto Abdullahi, Marian Ismail Gedi, Marian Abdi, Mariam Hilowle and Halima Siyat are not your ordinary Somali women in a buibui and headscarves. ‘The five beardless men’, as they are popularly known in Ijara District, are causing a storm in the conservative Somali pastoralist community for venturing into a male designated territory. The curiosity from the locals on this ‘abnormal venture’ has become a blessing in disguise for the ‘pentagon’ who are enjoying booming business in the butchery trade.
The brave women took the hard task of slaughtering goats to eke out a living for their respective families after the breadwinners (husbands), were denied their masculine pride of providing for the family by the ravaging drought which took away their livestock. They say: “Our action of venturing into butchery trade is putting immense pressure on our families, but curiosity among the residents has been nectar that pulls curious customers to our business.” “Here it was unheard of for the Somalis to imagine that a woman can slaughter an animal. It is a wide departure from the ‘known,” Jimale Omar told the Reject. At daybreak, the women will be found at the slaughterhouse among men donned in flowing white gowns with knives and cutlasses in hand slitting open the throats of goats and sheep as well as skinning the carcasses. Unlike other well groomed women, their scent is meat and their nails are polished with blood stains. The revolutionary journey of the five women started in early 1999 when Hilowle, 40, the eldest among them, saw a niche trade in butchery. “My family was wallowing in the effects of a devastating drought that swallowed up over 500 animals,” explains Hilowle. She adds: “My husband was devastated by the misfortune. I realised that relying solely on animals was not safe. You lose your livestock and your life comes tumbling down like a pack of cards.”
For the children
“I ventured into the business of slaughtering goats and sheep to help my children. Many could not believe that a Somali woman could run a butchery leave alone meddling with men or killing an animal that is ‘crying’,” she recalls. It was when she moved from Hullugho Division to Masalani, that she opened the floodgates for other women to join a hitherto male territory. For five years now Mariam Abdi, 35, has been in the business and she enjoys every bit of it. “We fled from Sangailu Division to Masalani town, the district headquarters’ after our livestock got swept by famine,” says Abdi, who went into the business to feed her children. “My husband was too old to work. The shock of losing his entire stock further resulted in his being bedridden. At first people
Mariam Hilowle, one of the Ijara women, slaughters a goat. Drought in the North Eastern region has pushed brave women into traditionally unfamiliar territory. Picture: Adow Ina Kalil thought I was crazy. I was tied onto a tree like a mad woman to stop me from ‘embarrassing’ my family,” recalls Abdi. At first people refused to eat the meat on learning that a woman had slaughtered the animal saying it was ‘haram’ (something that is forbidden by Islamic law). “The people’s antics did not discourage me because they were the same ones who laughed when my children went to beg for food handouts from them,” notes Abdi. She shifted her business base to Masalani where curiosity by the cosmopolitan populace played to her advantage in her butchery trade. “I recorded brisk business, better than my male counterparts. Besides curiosity, my good customer services ensured I maintained clientele,” observes Abdi. Binto Osman, 22, has been one year in the trade. “It is the hard economic times that pushed me into this male dominated trade. For the past one year, money has been difficult to come by due to drought that rendered our remaining cattle useless,” she says. “My husband who is a religious teacher doesn’t make much. He encouraged me to join the business to supplement his work which is more or less voluntary,” she explains.
Osman came to Masalani town from Jalish, a far flung village where life was simpler compared to her new settlement where she had to buy everything including firewood, water and food. “On the first day, it was embarrassing because I could not slaughter. The male butchers poked fun at me for intruding into their domain in the trade. However, the women encouraged me,” she recalls. “The trade earns me KSh400 per slaughter. I slaughter two animals per day. It is not much but it is better than idling at home, while my four children starve,” she says.
Mariam Ismail Gedi recalls: “When my husband saw me putting three square meals on the table from the slaughter proceeds, he encouraged me to go on. She adds: “Today he is the one who goes to the market to get me the best goat to slaughter. I now own 27 goats and sheep from the proceeds of meat trade.” Livestock trader, Ali Hussein Gulwathe, says he prefers selling his animals to women because they pay cash. “Unlike men who take the animals on credit and are poor in paying
“I ventured into the business of slaughtering goats and sheep to help my children. Many could not believe that a Somali woman could run a butchery leave alone meddling with men or killing an animal.” — Mariam Hilowle
their debts, women are better customers,” Gulwathe says. Ali Abdullahi says he has no problem buying meat slaughtered by the women. “It no longer bothers me who slaughtered the meat as long it is halal (legal),” he says. However, there are those who are concerned and still give the meat slaughtered by the women a wide berth. One of them, Ismail Dubat Walwal says he will never buy meat from an animal slaughtered by a woman. “Whenever meat is placed before me, I always inquire who slaughtered the animal,” observes Dubat. “It is an abomination for women to slaughter animals for meat. Women should only handle meat at its final stage in the kitchen and not at the slaughterhouse,” explains Dubat. He adds: “It is a violation of our culture for a Somali woman to engage in an exclusively male business.” The women said even the local council, which is male dominated is reluctant to issue them with licenses to enable them run the butcheries. “Some of us were forced to register our business under the names of our husbands. The macho council officers could not imagine a Somali woman running a butchery,” Hilowle says. “We have on several occasions demanded the council to provide us a separate slaughter house. It is no good mingling with men. We should have some barrier,” Hilowle says. The women say efforts to get assistance from non-governmental organisations to expand their business have been fruitless. They have also failed to get credit from financial institutions despite applying for loans.
ISSUE 044, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Al Shabaab blocks Somali refugees from entering Kenya By REJECT CORRESPONDENT
Thousands of people fleeing severe food shortage and acute malnutrition from south central Somalia have to endure strict security hurdles placed by the Al-Shabaab militia group. The militants have put in place tough conditions for those crossing into northern Kenya and accessing humanitarian assistance in the refugee camps. Group of elders, women and children arriving in the Kenyan/Somalia border frontier of HarHar confirmed that they started their long journey from Lower Shabelle area towards the Kenyan border. They were intercepted by hordes of armed men claiming to be Al-Shabaab who ordered them to return back and await their fate or assistance within Somalia.
The group comprising of families practising farming in the lower Shabelle areas claim that they were forced out of their homes and decided to seek humanitarian assistance or die along the way to Kenya. They ran short of food supplies as what they relied on was depleted eight months ago. This left them in a precarious situation that resulted in the death of 10 children and six elderly persons. They decided to cross over after sensing that the situation was going out of hand. Al-Shabaab which that controls large swathes of land in south central Somalia including lower Shabelle could not offer them humanitarian supplies like food, water and medicine for malnourished and sick children. They decided to trek towards Kenyan side with hope that they would reach Liboi, where they will be received by United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Fleeing hunger stricken victims attested that the outlawed group devised a method of forcing people to return and stay within Somalia territory. They were also forcing young boys in the groups to go with them. This raised speculations that the group was taking the fleeing boys to join their ranks. Asli Daab, a mother of four boys and one girl said they had moved from Middle Juba region and were stopped by armed men who frisked them before ordering them to cancel the trek to Kenya. She said that the armed men took all boys from the group of 20 families trekking toward
Refugees put their containers in a queue at the Liboi water field as they await clearance from UNHCR. Picture: Reject Correspondent Kenya, saying they will take care of them until the drought is over. Asli said: “We could not complain as we were dying of hunger and thirst. We feared their guns but they took many boys in the convoy of our group. I think they want to take the boys and train them to act as future fighters.” Similar concerns have been expressed by thousands of families flooding Dhobley border point with most of them expressing fears that their children have been taken to join the terror gang. The claims by fleeing families have put Kenyan security forces along the Kenya-Somalia border on high alert. Patrols have been intensified along the entry points and undesignated routes used by smugglers to conduct human trafficking from Somalia into Kenya. The routes have also been used to sneak in refugees without them passing through the registration stage. According to Abdullah Barre, an elder in a group that left in the morning of July 7, they defied orders from the Al Shabaab not to move out of their villages to the Kenyan side. It is suspected that the terror group fears the fleeing hunger stricken people will give useful information on its operations and their bases in what could compromise their existence in southern central Somalia.
Barre and his group left their village because drought was claiming the lives of the community’s members. They decided to leave the region for safer zones. The group had to survive on urine after the first four days of the journey expended the water reserves which were carried by one donkey that also carried eight new born babies. Barre says: “The first four days were challenging as I saw most of my community members were losing strength as they could not continue with the journey.” He adds: “We finished our water stock and had no option but to depend on urine. Even babies were given urine when they cried due to lack of food.” The hostile weather, uninterrupted movements and lack of tree shades to rest while travelling made the journey more tedious. Says Barre: “We had no option but to move and catch up with time as the Kenyan side of the border from our village is 700 kilometres away and there are no official routes that one can take. We depended on traditional routes that are used to transport livestock to markets in Garissa side of Kenya.” According to Barre they lost three elderly women to starvation and extreme fatigue. After an additional two days of the journey through the dry patched terrain and lack of water, they
had no option but to perform a quick burial and continue with the journey that saw them lose four newly born babies before they spotted any settlement. He adds: “We had to put mothers of the dead newly born babies on the donkey as they could not walk. We continued with the journey as we looked at each other wondering who will be the next to succumb to death.” Barre said that when his group reached some village far away from Somalia Dhobley border post, they were intercepted by armed men who accused them of blackmailing their country. The armed men said they were under strict orders to stop any groups from moving out of Somalia. “They told us they had intercepted several other groups and ordered them back,” said Barre. The gang leader said food assistance will be brought into Somalia. He said people moving into Kenya will have an entire population in south central Somalia moving to the neighbouring country and leave Al Shabaab alone in the vast land. “We had to go back for fear that if we disobeyed we could be killed. We travelled back for another two days moving towards where we came from before we decided to move eastwards instead of going back to Lower Shabelle area,” explains Barre. He says: “We took more days to reach some deserted villages with no people and dried water wells. We rested before continuing our journey to the villages of Daynunay and Kudda where we came across some people who relied on food supplies from Kismet.
Barre and his team were accommodated for two days while they nursed their wounds. They would later travel to the nearby Dhobley area that is controlled by Transitional Federal government forces. The group that arrived in Dhobley joined thousands of refugees camping at the border entry point waiting for the Kenya government to give them clearance so that they could move to any of the three main refugee camps of Dagahley, Ifo and Hagardhere camps in Dadaab. As thousands of refugees await government clearance and availability of camps that will shelter them in Dadaab, others are taking the risk of trekking hundreds of kilometres into Dadaab seeking food, shelter, treatment and security.
Country prays for solution Continued from page 1 ate and improve livelihoods among the pastoral communities. Both North Eastern and upper Eastern provinces are prone to drought. Records indicate that a major drought is likely to occur every four to eight years. Despite this knowledge, most pastoralist communities are caught unawares by drought, which finds them completely unprepared. This has led to emergency responses like relief food donations and livestock off take programmes.
Loss of livestock
A visit to Daaba in Isiolo revealed communities in dire need of relief food with women and children facing the brunt of the situation. “It is painful herders have lost hundreds of livestock they reared for years to drought due to the Government failure to adequately fund the ministry of livestock to cushion the communities from the current drought”, said Rashid. The drought situation in the region is of grave concern as hundreds of herds are lost while human life is endangered. The drought had also led to high rate of mortality among the human and livestock in general. “We are faced with many challenges as some of the few animals left normally suffer miscarriages due to hunger as drought depletes pasture occasioned by the animal diseases,” observed Rashid. The famine has also had a negative impact on the food situation since most of the pastoral
communities whose livelihood depends on livestock have been affected. In some areas including Isiolo, Mandera and Marsabit, people have turned to feeding on wild fruits to survive. This indicates some level of unpreparedness on the part of government and donor agencies as they have not been able to ensure food aid reaches these communities on time. “Government and donor agencies were least prepared in facing this challenge and the communities must dispose their herds at throw away prices,” the Imams said.
Opinion leaders feel that the country is in dire need of supportive policies and long term drought mitigation measures that are effective, practical, sustainable and acceptable if it would address the disaster. They say the Government must seriously commit itself through putting in place proper policies that would address food security and the drought situation in the country. “We should see commitment from the Government where it should come up with favourable policies and adequately budget for the ministries of Agriculture and Livestock to cushion the communities against adverse weather effects,” said the leaders. They reiterated that a recent move by the Ministry of Livestock to support restocking of camels in Turkana must be supported. They called on the Government to consider restocking pastoralists with camels that have proved to
Sabbath Keeping Remnants of God Church Bishop Francis Ringera (left) donated foodstuff to hunger stricken villagers of Daaba, Isiolo County. Emaciated children from Turkana District. Pictures: Hussein Dido and Reject Correspondent be resistant to drought and pump billions of shillings into the underfunded Ministry of Livestock Development. Hassan Shano of Waso Trust Land, an organisation in Isiolo said camel meat is a delicacy not to be missed especially during festivities, adding that communities that consume blood also breed camels for food. “We are sure those with camels will survive the current drought but more empathises must be put on camel rearing,” reiterated Waso. Male camels are also used for transportation and drought work apart from playing other roles in the community like traditional social relations including payment of dowry and compensation of injured parties in clan when disputes arise. In Isiolo and Laikipia districts, pastoral com-
munities that depend on camel milk earn over KSh50,000 per month from four milk-producing camels. The prices range from KSh15 to KSh40 per litre. On average, 59 per cent of the total income from the herd is from the sale of camel milk. Livestock Development Minister Dr Mohamed Kuti said the Government has dispatched a team to monitor the drought situation in the country. He said the Government through his ministry will buy livestock and provide them as relief food to hunger stricken families. The minister said so far KSh600 million has been set aside for the drought intervention through buying of hay and water for weak animals to cushion the families against the drought.
ISSUE 045, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Hope for TB patients as test kit is put up By JOYCE CHIMBI
A promising and innovative diagnostic test will now enable doctors to detect more people with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), thus increasing the urgency to respond to challenges of the pricing and supply of DR-TB medicines. TB has continued to be the country’s leading public health issue. The Ministry of Health says there are over 132,000 cases and the country has the 13th highest burden of the disease on the list of 22 high burden TB countries in the world. Further, this statistic places the country at the fifth highest burden in Africa. Evaluation reports show that Kenya is on the right track in the fight against TB with its national programme making it one of the first sub-Saharan African countries to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) targets for detecting new cases as well as treatment success. Consequently, according to infectious diseases report by USAID “the country continues to treat more and more TB patients each year. However, widespread co-infection with HIV — close to 48 percent of new TB patients — makes TB treatment difficult. While the number of new cases appears to be declining, the number of patients requiring re-treatment has increased”. It is an experience that Tabitha Makau knows
all too well. “When my husband visited a doctor due to a persistent cough, it took a bit of time before we could have definite results,” says Makau. When the results came back positive, her husband hid in the house for months because he was afraid of being stigmatised because one cannot suppress the persistent coughs associated with TB. “I became the father and mother of our three children, and he became like a fourth child. It is a draining process taking care of a TB patient,” Makau observes. With the prevalence of drug-resistance TB (DR-TB), the country is facing more than it can handle. According to a new report by the international medical humani- An MSF staff member demonstrates how the TB Gene Xpert Machine works. The machine will revolutionalise the time taken to diagnose TB from three months to three hours. tarian organisation Médecins Sans Picture: Courtesy MSF Frontières (MSF), DR-TB is on the rise, but less than seven per cent cle — not enough people are diagnosed and reinforcing supply and price problems.” of 440,000 new cases each year receive treatdrug supply problems along with high prices It takes three months for a definitive TB diment leaving the disease to claim 150,000 stand in the way of putting more people on agnosis to be achieved with the existing testing lives annually. treatment,” says Dr Tido von Schoen-Angerer, machines. Health practitioners have had to put a Despite the fact that TB is highly contagious Executive Director of MSF’s Campaign for Acpatient on treatment before a complete diagnosis and requires swift medical attention, diagnosis cess to Essential Medicines. He explains: “The can be achieved, meaning that the treatment is has remained a problem. low demand for DR-TB drugs has made the administered blindly. “Patients have been stuck in a vicious cirmarket unattractive for producers, which is
Living positively keeps HIV survivors alive By OMWA OMBARA It is yet another chilly morning at the Chulaimbo Health Centre at the foot of Maseno Hills, Kisumu County. It is 6am and the queue is already quite long. There are about 60 women and four men plus a few children. Many feel sleepy but are encouraged to stay awake by hundreds of birds singing different tunes from the trees surrounding the hospital. The early bird catches the worm, so goes the old adage. This is soon proved true by two beautiful yellow birds that peck on the grass and pick two fat worms and dance a jig before flying back to their nest. This little bird’s act is important to the patients because the earlier one arrives on the queue, the faster one sees the doctor and the more one learns from the wisdom of those who have been ill for a longer time.
On this queue are patients who pass off as self declared HIV Aids experts by virtue of the fact that they have lived with HIV for over 20 years. They give unsolicited advice on what food one should eat, how to sneak away from home when one is coming to pick ARVs without the neighbours knowing about it as well as how to convince one’s husband to use a condom. This women’s baraza (meeting) and is indeed entertaining. Majority of the patients in the queue are women and children. They have walked several kilometres to pick up their monthly antiretroviral drugs. Patients chat as they wait for the doctors and counsellors to arrive at 8am. This is a rural set up and everyone knows everyone, failure to greet fellow patients or engage in conversation is considered a sin. An elderly woman aged about 70, walks in with her head covered in a leso (wrap). She seems a favourite with the group, having openly confessed that she was recently inherited after her husband died. “Mama did you chew your groundnuts?” the women tease her.
She smiles and then sighs. “My children let me be honest with you. These groundnuts (ARVs) are too big and cannot pass down my throat. Besides, I did not have any food last night, not even a cup of porridge,” she explains. The women donate coins that add up to KSh10 and a young woman, Patient 5 offers to buy a calabash of porridge from the kiosk just behind the queue. Granny sips the porridge but does not swallow her medicine. “My grandchildren, how did you get this troublesome disease?” she asks loudly making everyone burst into peals of laughter. She is forthright in an endearing way and even the most uncomfortable and reserved of patients slowly open up. Despite living with the virus, these women have such a high sense of humour and have somehow learnt to survive by making fun of the condition rather than lamenting about it. However, Patient 6, a woman in her middle age is not impressed by the words, ‘big disease’. “I don’t want to hear anyone calling my condition big disease. HIV is bigger than what? What does it weigh? If anything I have lost quite a bit of weight since I got ill.” Widows who form quite a large section of the group begin recalling how they were inherited. “The wife inheritor came to my house at 9am and forced his way into my bedroom. I screamed for help but no one responded. “What can we do? The society will reject us if we refuse to be inherited. Yet this big disease is with us! What shall we do?”asks Patient 3. “Satan! Satan!” the other patients exclaim. It is 8 am and the official public counselling classes begin. The counsellor, dressed in a white lab coat asks anyone who is willing to give a testimony on their life with HIV. Patient 10, a light skinned mother of about 50 years of age shares her experience. Her deceased husband, a medical doctor hid his HIV condition from her for 15 years. “It was only when his office called me to pick his belongings that I found a heap of medicine as huge as the head of this baby you see here,” she says pointing to a child suckling a few
seats from her. After this discovery, her in-laws insisted she goes for the test and she tested positive. “That is why you see me here today my comrades with this HIV. I am on ARVs and I can assure you that for me, there is no turning back. My motto is perseverance, perseverance and perseverance.” Patient 10 narrates how her mother-in-law recently evicted her the family land after she refused to be inherited. “I thank God that I educated my four children and they have bought me a piece of land in Siaya town and built me a house”.
The other comrades encourage her to be strong and courageous. As one patient after another speaks up, some of the stories are heart-rending. However, the greatest challenge that keeps recurring is the fact that most women in the queue are on ARVs but their husbands have refused to be tested. It means that the women keep getting fresh infections and re-infections. With such a situation, the patients also develop a resistance to the drugs and this interferes with the treatment regimen. One of the doctors, who decline to be named, says there is a major problem of drug resistance among the patients and consequently quite a number suffer from opportunistic infections especially diarrhoea and chest complications. To beat this, the hospital has a public health programme that involves door to door awareness campaigns, Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and counselling of spouses. The patients are also provided with maize meal and cooking oil, an initiative that encourages them to attend clinic regularly. At 8.30 am, a team of four doctors from Moi Referral Teaching Hospital, Eldoret arrive in their huge four-wheel drive cars. This is the group assigned to this Health Centre to take care of the HIV survivors. There is a lot of excitement in the air. Hope has arrived. It is time to get up and pick the ARVs.
The new machine referred to, as Gene Xpert will be able to detect DR-TB in under three hours. “The test is quick, as it provides results in just two hours. It also has good sensitivity — meaning that it gives a positive result if TB bacteria are present. Compared to the existing benchmark method of testing, this new test has a sensitivity rate of 90 per cent, which is excellent for a rapid test,” expounds Dr Francis Varaine, TB expert at MSF. In light of these challenges, the development of a new TB diagnosis test has been received with excitement in the medical fraternity and amongst patients. Although TB can be cured, the drug treatment is a rigorous process that takes a toll on the patient both physically and financially. According to MSF, the treatment of DR-TB relies on old antibiotics, many of which have severe side effects, ranging from constant nausea to deafness, and must be taken as complex regimens where patients must take up to 17 pills every day for up to two years. World Health Organisation, however, has approved new guidelines of combining these pills that are cheap and more patient friendly by reducing the number of pills that a patient can take in a day to three or four as well as the course of treatment.
Although the idea sounds patient friendly, the country is yet to explore this new frontier of knowledge. The TB medication has not changed. The regimen for normal TB still takes between six to eight months while DR-TB goes for up to two years. Consequently, the duration remains the same and so does the combination of drugs. The only new aspect to the fight against TB is the testing process which has been hailed as promising and is bound to save thousands of lives. “Now that we have a new test that can detect DR-TB in less than two hours instead of three months, we are going to see many more people who will need reliable drug supplies to get cured,” observes Dr Jennifer Hughes of MSF. Each machine costs about $16,000 but WHO has promised to negotiate a lower price for low and middle-income countries like Kenya. A 24-month drug resistant treatment regimen can cost as much as 9,325 dollars for a patient, 470 times more than the cost of curing standard, drug-sensitive TB.
ISSUE 044, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Man illuminates profits in blackouts By HENRY KAHARA
Jack Guga 28, lives in Huruma Estate, Nairobi and here the term ‘blackout’ is not a new. When people are complaining over power surges, it is music to his ears. Whenever it power outages occur, Guga is sure that he will be counting profits as opposed to many entrepreneurs in the area who will be counting their losses. Guga’s business comes from manufacturing candles that get an instant market from his neighbours the minute a blackout occurs. He learnt the trade from an uncle who has since retired from his job as a marketing manager for East Africa at International Distillers Kenya Limited. “My uncle used to make his own candles but that was during his leisure time. He was a rich man and I think he despised the art as he never attached any value to on it,” explains Guga. What seemed to be of no value to his uncle is today providing his daily bread and rent contrary to what many would have thought. Guga is a diploma graduate in Graphic Design from the Kenya Polytechnic University. He makes at least KSh50,000 in one month although he says the amount varies depending on the frequency of the blackouts.
“Like now when the fuel price was hiked and there is a blackout, many people who live in this area will not use kerosene lamps. Instead they will use candles to light up their houses, so the demand rises,” he explains. What he has to do to make his candles is simple. “I just buy wax at Desbro, a company located in Industrial Area at KSh140 per kilogramme. Normally I buy as much as 25 kilogrammes at a time,” explains Guga.
He has been in the business which covers only Huruma Estate for three years but says he has plans of expanding it. “For now, I am satisfied with what I get as I am able to support my parents back at home. I have also been paying my brother’s school fees,” Guga explains. He is now preparing to pay his college fees. Other than having his uncle’s support, Guga says that his innovative nature may have contributed to his going into the candle making business.
“When we were young, we would be very innovative. We used to make toys and never ran out of ideas contrary to today’s children who always get ready made goods,” he says adding that internet and television has made today’s children lazy. Although he has come this far, Guga has had his own ups and downs. “Before joining this business, I used to be employed by
“Like now when the fuel price was hiked and there is a blackout, many people who live in this area will not use kerosene lamps. Instead they will use candles to light up their houses, so the demand rises.” — Jack Guga
my uncle in his business. When I started making candles some people used to despise me especially when I went to ask for orders from their shops,” he explains singling out women shopkeepers. Guga says despite all odds he has worked hard and respected them. Today, he has his share in the market. “You know despite the fact that sometimes people will look down upon you, you have to respect them because they are your boss even if they are Standard Three dropouts,” he observes. Early this year, Guga appeared in one of the major televisions in Kenya, something that has changed his life. He says that from that time, he has been receiving many phone calls from people who are interested in learning how to make candles. “Many people around the country have come to learn how to make candles,” says Guga who praises his business as one of the few one can carry out from his house. Training charges vary depending with the students. Jack Guga who is in the business of “Charges vary. There are some manufacturing candles at his house in Huruma people who will come but you estate. Picture: Henry Kahara just have to bear with them and sincerely you just help them give it a try,” Okoth explains. even if they have as little as Guga urges the Government to invest in KSh5,000,” he says. the youth. He tells the Finance Minister that According to one of his students, Violet the national budget will not be of any use if Okoth, she came to learn of Guga through people are still idle. He further urges the youth television and she decided to inquire from to involve themselves in activities which will him how to make them. help them financially instead of waiting for of“I saw him on TV. I discussed the issue fice jobs. with my husband who encouraged me to
Aids wreaking havoc in Migingo By ODHIAMBO ODHIAMBO Sixty eight out of 90 residents of the disputed Migingo Island in Lake Victoria are HIV positive. Although the island has over 500 traders and fishermen, only 90 agreed to be tested voluntarily for HIV and Aids. Nyatike District Medical Officer of Health, Dr Gordon Okomo said the situation was alarming and needed to be addressed immediately. “I sent my officers to test the islanders in a bid to establish the extent of HIV prevalence in the fish-rich densely populated island. Some declined to be tested for fear of testing positive,” he said. Okomo is now making plans to dispatch another medical team to take ARVs, condoms and offer Voluntary Testing and Counselling (VCT) services. “The officers will also tip the islanders on how to maintain high hygienic standards to avert break out of diseases,” the medic told journalists in Migori. Migingo is currently flooded by commercial sex workers from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda who come to partake part of the cash being earned by the traders and fishermen whose families live on the mainland beaches.
Makeshift guest houses
Makeshift guesthouses have been set up on the island, charging as low as KSh100 per day. The prostitutes provide “warmth and comfort” to the locals after a tedious day with unconfirmed reports showing some of their clients include the Ugandan security officers. “We are treating Migingo like Kenyan property following pronouncement by President Kibaki early this month that it is ours. I am happy that the Ugandan security forces did not harass my officers when they visited the island,” observed Okomo.
At the same time, the Kenyan Government is considering deploying its security personnel to guard the disputed Migingo and Ugingo islands. A senior intelligence officer from Nyanza who requested anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said they had received the green light from Nairobi to send a team of regular and administration police to guard the two islands.
“We are soon going to send our officers to the islands to replace the Ugandan security forces. We are currently working on the logistics of the new deployment,” he said. “The rows are going to be resolved soon. Finally, our government is showing firm commitment to reclaim the islands. A chief is also going to be posted to the islands to co-ordinate the administrative issues,” the officer explained. A recent visit by the Kenyan authorities to the islands was a precursor for the deployments, the officer explained. The Kenyan Government officials visited the troubled islands recently to assess the situation barely a fortnight after Ugandan Government officials from Kampala visited the area. Migingo fishermen are calling for action from the government saying the are tired of empty rhetoric. The fishermen said they were tired of “peace meetings” and wanted to see Kenyan security forces to take over the islands. Chairman of the Migingo Beach Management Unit, Juma Ombori said the Head of State should “follow his pronouncement with action”. However, Kenyan officials asked islanders from both sides to co-exist peacefully in the spirit of East African Community (EAC) as the two Governments sorted out the ownership row. Machari who was accompanied by other security officials declared that nobody should settle on Ugingo until the Migingo dispute is resolved.
Community health workers trained on treatment devotion By WANGARI MWANGI The public health department in Murang’a District has launched induction training for more than 200 community health workers to identify and take care of Tuberculosis and HIV patients who have ceased from taking drugs. District Public Health Officer, Joseph Nyaga said majority of HIV patients have withdrawn from seeking treatment as well as taking the recommended drugs and diet. He lamented that they stay at home and rush to the hospital only when the situation worsens. Speaking to the Press at the Murang’a District Hospital, Nyaga said they have a long list of people who had been put on treatment but have abandoned it. He singled out those on ARVs and TB treatment who he accused of not completing their dose and risking resistance towards the drugs.
“We are more concerned about the Aids and TB patients who have abandoned their treatment since most of them do not readily admit that they are sick and refuse to take the medicine or attend therapy,” explained Nyaga. He noted that a huge percentage of expectant mothers have also shunned antenatal clinics for immunization, counselling and treatment, putting at risk the health of the unborn babies as well as their own. “Most of the newborns die immediately or soon after birth because they con-
tract diseases from their mothers which would have been contained earlier if the mother had visited the hospital,” Nyaga pointed out.
He said increased home deliveries have been a major drawback towards reducing mother to child transmission, a situation that has resulted in high mortality rates. “We are highly discouraging home deliveries which seem to have taken root in our rural areas. Instead we want mothers to deliver safely at the health facilities,” reiterated Nyaga. He noted that reluctance of the people to go to hospital has been hindering the department from achieving its goal of providing treatment to all the people in the area. “There is need to use the community health workers as agents to sensitise people on the importance of visiting the hospital,” Nyaga observed. He said the community health workers will act as referral agents and provide home based care where needed adding that they will be equipped with the necessary facilities. He also revealed that they will have specific messages for different target groups to educate them on likely causes and prevention of various diseases as well as the need to consult a doctor if they experience any signs of sickness. However, Nyaga said financial constraints have been a major challenge towards achieving this objective since they have only managed to train 265 health workers out of the 1,286 who have registered.
ISSUE 045, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Food security and good nutrition are matters of national concern Hunger and malnutrition are some of the challenges facing Kenyans today. All these have been blamed on poverty as a key factor in food insecurity and poor nutrition in the country. Food insecurity amongst Kenyans is caused by both long term (chronic) and short term (transitory) factors. An estimated ten million Kenyans — 28 per cent of the population suffer from chronic food insecurity, caused most often by poverty. It is known that between two to four million Kenyans require food assistance at any given time. Addressing journalists in a workshop at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Thika, James Gethii, coordinator Maize Programme, KARI Katumani, said the population in Kenya has been increasing in numbers as the land continues to lose its fertility with people left with small plots to till and build homes. Gethii said Africa has the capacity to feed itself but insufficient and sustainable seeds supply is a major challenge with a variety of crops depending on soil, latitude and rainfall for better results. This scenario, he said, has hampered many farmers’ efforts to grow variety of crops with poverty taking its toll on them. “Most seed companies in the country are owned by government which controls most of the seed varieties imported for sale and distributions to farmers,” extolled Gethii. He called on farmers to diversify their farming techniques as the climate has changed tremendously and needs seeds of high quality that can withstand drought and other diseases. “Most farmers still think that the seeds they used to plant in 1990s are viable today. Some of them even use the seeds on the same piece land not knowing that pests and diseases wipe them out. It is high time farmers used modern farming inputs,” reiterated Gethii. He reminded farmers to invest in cultivating crops like cassava that are drought resistant and withstand tough weather conditions
By KARIUKI MWANGI The Government has established an organisation that will articulate issues of saving societies so as to strengthen the cooperative movement. Cooperative Development and Marketing minister Joseph Nyagah said that the Cooperative Alliance of Kenya will provide lobby and advocacy services on behalf of individual members of various cooperativs. “The cooperative movement has seen the establishment and growth of many institutions in Kenya. The only way to safeguard them is by having a strong united cooperative movement which will operate like a union to press for their rights and needs,” he said. The minister who was speaking in Embu during the launch of Embu County Cooperative Development Forum said the cooperative movement in the country is the strongest in Africa and ranks seventh in the world with a membership of over nine million people. He said the country has 12,000 registered cooperative societies in different sectors including agriculture, housing, transport, warehousing, finance and insurance. He reiterated that more than half of the population derive their livelihood directly or indirectly from cooperatives.
By HENRY OWINO
New body to manage cooperative societies
A cassava plantation at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute in Thika. Picture: Henry Owino making it possible for them to grow in semiarid regions. “Cassava has many varieties such as ndollo, extra mariakani, 0027 and 0127 among others that can be used for various purposes like in flour or eaten as meal yet is easy to manage,” Gethii explained.
According to Lucy Gwandari, the Agricultural Technician at KARI Thika, most farmers dwell on one particular crop forgetting about horticulture and thus fail to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers. She reiterated that horticulture can help farmers a great deal to withstand pests and diseases making it possible for them to reap from one crop if the other fails. “Fruits like passion, mangoes and oranges can earn farmers good money. These can also be grafted to mature early, resist diseases or withstand harsh weather conditions,” explained Gwandari. She said there are two types of passion
fruits — sweet yellow and purple — but the common ones are the purple which can earn the farmer good money. “Currently at KARI-Thika, we are trying to make the yellow passion fruit seeds available to local farmers. However, plans are underway to make it available to any farmer who wants them. We also encourage individuals to grow them at their backyard,” Gwandari explained. Nutrition The issue of food security must also look into nutrition. According to Terry Wefwafa, Director Division of Nutrition at the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, nutrition encompasses food diet, exercise, health and rest among other many things people do assume. Wefwafa said a big number of Kenyans are malnourished with a big percentage being children under five years. “Healthy children learn better and people with adequate nutrition are more productive and can create opportunities to gradually break the cycle of poverty and hunger,” she explained.
“Those in the agriculture sector contribute 46 per cent of all the agricultural activities in the country while savings and credit cooperative societies contribute 31 per cent of the national savings,” said Nyagah. Cooperative Bank, Cooperative Insurance Group, Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives, Kenya Rural Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies Union Limited and Kenya Cooperative Coffee Exporters Limited among others are some of the major institutions established under the cooperative movement. Nyagah said with the change that is expected to come with the devolved government, cooperative leaders should play an active role within the counties in order to influence the direction the movement will take once the County governments take shape. He challenged the youth to join cooperatives saying despite 65 per cent of the country’s population being below 35 years, the youth were missing in the movement. He observed that the Ministry of Cooperative Development had set up a special youth desk to promote their presence in the movement. “I direct that women and marginalised groups representation in cooperative leadership be included in all societies by-laws,” Nyagah directed, adding that the Embu County Cooperative Development Forum will ensure unity and development in the county.
New police station brings hope to Kakamega County By AGGREY BUCHUNJU There is growing concern about insecurity in various parts of the country with the ration of police officer to civilian wanting. Currently the ratio of police officers to civilians stands at one to 1,000. The international recommended standard is one to 400. This ratio indicates that the gap between police officers and civilians is quite wide and needs to be narrowed if security for a majority of Kenyans is to be achieved. However, in a bid to beef up security in the country, the Government has embarked on an ambitious programme to set up more police stations. Most police posts are now changing into police stations throughout the country amid allegations of rampant laxity and corruption in the force. Kakamega County’s Navakholo Police Post was recently elevated to a police station with mixed reactions from local leaders and residents. According to area District Officer (DO), Mary Kisaka, the newly established police sta-
tion will enhance security in the area. “I think with the increased number of police officers and the Officer Commanding Police Station (OCS), the crime rate in the area will come down,” explained Kisaka. She urged area residents to work closely with the police officers through the community policing programme in order to employ proactive rather than reactive strategies against crime. She said that although the police station has two gazetted cells for male and female suspects, it has no vehicle to ferry them to the law courts in Kakamega town.
However, she reiterated that despite the hiccup, the Kakamega Central OCPD normally sends a vehicle to the station to pick up suspects that the OCS feels should be arraigned in court to answer charges. While every police station should have a gender desk at the station, Kisaka said they were yet to establish one at the station. Kisaka argued that lack of a gender desk at the station has not affected the handling of rape and do-
mestic violence cases. “The absence of a gender desk is not a big issue because we have female police officers here who together with female village elders handle the cases effectively,” she said. However, Kisaka was optimistic that the station will establish the desk to address women’s issues. Mrs Dorcah Wanyama, a resident of Sidikho sub location in Kakamega County is optimistic that the police station will provide protection for women from brutal husbands. “I think women in the area will now not be beaten by their husbands on flimsy grounds since men will now fear to be arrested and called upon to account for their deeds,’ she says’ She, however appeals to fellow women in the area not to be rude to their husbands saying that with or without the police station women should always respect their husbands. One of the area residents, Cusack Mukhonge, cast doubt on the police officers’ ability to reduce crime in the area. “Laxity and lack of responsiveness to the peoples’ cries are still very common among the
police officers,” Mukhonge said. He observed that unless the officers undergo a complete metamorphosis and stop harassing people and demanding bribes before offering services, insecurity will still be a threat in the area.
He appealed to the officers to discard old habits and work professionally. “For change to be there in terms of service delivery and effective handling of crimes, police officers should stop demanding bribes and instead become responsive to the people’s problems regardless of their social status.” His scepticism is echoed by Mr Mohammed Otunga, a resident of Burangasi area in Kakamega County who feels that the police station may not add value to the residents’ lives if they are not going to work professionally and desist from demanding bribes. “My view is that for the police station to change matters in the area the officers should not be money minded but should instead deal with emerging issues without fear or favour,” he says.
ISSUE 044, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Anglican university gearing to open doors By KARIUKI MWANGI Since the introduction of the free primary education in 2003 many children have flocked schools in a bid to take advantage of affordable education. As more students continue to graduate out of secondary schools, majority do not join university and other higher learning institutions because of the limited places. This has posed a high demand for the establishment of more institutions to cater for the large number of the students. This then forms the basis of the dream that the Anglican Church of Kenya had in establishing their first university. The Kenya Anglican University is set to open its doors to the first batch of students in September. Head of the Anglican Church in Kenya Archbishop, Dr Eliud Wabukala, said the church had decided to start the university as part of its opening up opportunities of higher learning.
Right to education
He said all the children who access lower education have a right to more advanced education. “Education is the engine which will help the country achieve Vision 2030 and there is need to put up institutions that are professionally sound so as to promote guidelines to make a good society,” observed Wabukala. The Archbishop was speaking in Embu where he was joined by the head of the Anglican Church in England, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams in a tour of the upcoming university. Williams said the major role of the church university will be to promote peace, unity and
reconciliation in the country to ensure development. “Science and scholarships belongs to all human beings, no matter the tribe, race, or religion,” observed Williams. He added: “The University should be a unification factor for all Kenyans and that students should study to ensure they are one family.” Williams noted that having come from a difficult moment of an election crisis, the country is hungry for lasting peace and reconciliation and a university with a religious foundation will come in handy to ensuring the same. “There is need to give hope to the young generation to ensure they grow with love and that they be faithful children who will grow to acquire positive skills that will benefit the country in the future,” observed Williams.
Speaking at the same function, Higher education assistant minister Dr Kilemi Mwiria noted that the input by the church in the expansion of higher learning institutions is a boost that will address the issue of equality in the provision of higher education. Mwiria noted that many people fail to access institutions of higher learning due to the fewer chances. “Construction of this university in the grassroots will ensure affordability and accessibility,” said Mwiria. He observed that there was an urgent need for the provision of higher learning institutions in the country and that the Anglican University will ensure more students are able to get into various careers. “The ministry is working on initiatives that will foresee the establishment of public universities in every county within the next two years,” said Mwiria. He added: “By then Embu
The Archbishop of Canterbury His Grace Dr Rowan Williams and the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya lay a foundation stone at the proposed Kenya Anglican University in Kanyuambora Embu County. Picture: Kariuki Mwangi County will have two universities after the President signed for the establishment of a public university within the region.” He urged the Anglican University to work with the Commission for Higher Education to ensure quality education. He cautioned against duplication saying that the realisation of the Vision 2030 requires a learned workforce. Mwiria noted that by establishing the University in the arid and semi arid area of Mbeere, it will provide them with good research programmes that will address the issues of livestock
production, irrigation and mining in the area. Area Member of Parliament Lenny Kivuti pointed out that the establishment of the university is a major opportunity for the Mbeere community. He said this was a milestone in promoting education status in the area that has otherwise been lagging behind. “The construction of the ACK University will open up the otherwise remote constituency for agriculture and business thus boosting the economic status of the arid semi arid district,” observed Kivuti.
Kenya raising an illiterate generation Pregnancies deny By DAVID NJAGI From a mix of poor eyesight to absenteeism, to a perennial shortage of teachers, a new report indicates that Kenya is paces behind from achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on universal primary education. Details captured by the Uwezo Kenya 2011 annual learning assessment report, suggests that the Kenya government may have won global praise for investing in free primary education, but the system has failed in transferring skills to its school going generation. The country is said to be raising a semiliterate generation even with optimism that a renewed stream of funding would possibly shore up primary school education. According to the report, children in Kenya are graduating from primary school without having acquired basic skills in reading and arithmetic. “Only one third of children in class three have acquired competencies for class two,” says the report. It adds: “Half of the children in class four cannot do class two work. In numeracy, nearly one out of ten children in class eight today cannot do class two level divisions.” The report indicates that Kenya has failed to insulate the free primary education with basic comforts that make learning possible, a trend that has critics questioning whether the billions of dollars channelled to the sector have achieved the value they were meant for. For instance, in terms of access to school grants and facilities, 91.7 per cent had received the school grant allocated for January 2011, before the close of business the following month, in February. However, one out of ten schools did not have a usable toilet while 57.3 per cent had access to clean drinking water. Only 27.1 per cent and 24.3 per cent of schools were issuing sanitary towels and a first aid kit respectively, while 36.2 had a fire extinguisher. The school feeding pro-
gramme reached another 41.2 per cent. “This is a demonstration that schooling is not translating into learning,” says Rakesh Rajani, head of Twaweza East Africa, a watchdog that follows education trends in Kenya. He adds: “A great level of aspirations for parents and students are dashed. As nations, we are at a risk of being unable to imagine and craft better ideas.”
By AGGREY BUCHUNJU
Katita Wambua, David Macharia, Dicken Macharia (all in class one), Daniel Mwanzia (pre-unit) pupils from St Peter Clavers Primary School in Nairobi wait for their guardians to pick them from school after close of the day’s classes at 1.00 p.m. Picture: David Njagi
Researchers involved in the study link the poor performance in Kenya’s primary schools to establishment of institutions built on grand schemes but lacking in foundations. According John Mugo, Uwezo Kenya country coordinator, poor learning due to undetected eyesight problems could have been contained by having pupils attend regular comprehensive eye examinations. Details captured by the school and household based assessment which was carried out in 124 districts and engaged 134,000 children in basic English, Kiswahili and mathematics indicate that children are not learning because they cannot see the blackboard from where they sit. “Poor eyesight is among other factors leading to bad grades and poor overall performance of children between six and 16 years,” explained Mugo. He added: “The ability of the eyes to focus and move systematically when reading a book is affecting learning.” The Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (KEPSHA), said absenteeism and teacher shortages are setbacks that the government can easily contain by reviewing its Vision 2030 to focus on delivering simple
services in line with the MDGs. The report, which surveyed 3,574 schools, says on average there is a shortage of four teachers for every primary school in Kenya. According Joseph Karuga of KEPSHA the situation has been catalysed by graft in the Ministry of Education. “This has put a heavy burden on parents, majority of whom are illiterate but are expected to contribute revenue for the employment of teachers,” said Karuga. Out of all the 72,000 households in over 3,600 villages surveyed, one out of five teachers are employed by parents, out of whom 15.1 per cent of fathers have never attended school. John Mbugua, a parent from Ruiru in Central Kenya, and who was captured by the report recommends that schools should have designated days in which parents, teachers and pupils can sit together to discuss issues about schooling. It is a recommendation that Mukhtar Ogle of the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) supports.
Early marriages and unwanted pregnancies hamper girl-child education in the Western province. The Kakamega Central District Kenya National Association of Parents [KNAP] chair, Daniel Oyalo, says the rate of early marriages and unwanted pregnancies among school-age girls is alarming. Mr Oyalo was speaking at Chebuyusi High School in Kakamega County during Navakholo Division Education Day. He disclosed that 11 girls in Bunyala have dropped out of school due to pregnancies. Oyalo named some of the schools where girls have dropped out as Buhai Primary School - two girls, Sisokhe Secondary School – four girls, Namirama Girls - one girl and Sidikho Secondary School, four girls. Oyalo added that this unfortunate state of affairs is a major cause of school dropout among girls. He called on all education stakeholders, including Kenya National Union of Teachers [KNUT], to join hands and take remedial measures. “Knut officials should be bold enough to tell teachers that it is unprofessional to engage in illicit sex with school girls instead of protecting a few teachers who impregnate school girls,” he said. Oyalo appealed to Knut officials to engage other education stakeholders in dialogue whenever there is an alleged teacher-pupil sexual relationship. “Unionists should investigate issues of immoral activities in our schools instead of outright dismissal and condemning people who raise the issues,” he observed. He reiterated that only dialogue will solve problems affecting education institutions. Oyalo challenged parents whose girls are sexually abused to involve KNAP, chiefs, education officers and the police in order to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. A parent at Sisokhe Secondary School, Mr John Barasa told the Reject on phone that female teachers at the school are to blame for the mess. Much as parents have a responsibility to advise their daughters accordingly, female teachers on this school are equally to blame since they seem to have no time for female students,” he said.
ISSUE 045, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Peace race reconciles warring factions By EKUWAM ADOU Reformed battle-hardened warriors from warring pastoral communities congregated in Koom, Isiolo, to participate in a peace run organised to bring a long term solution to perennial cattle raids in the area. Violence weary morans from Samburu, Rendille, Turkana and Borana traded their guns for sports kits, and engaged each other in the gruelling 21 kilometre race organised by Northern Rangeland Trust (NRLT), a conservation forum operating in the area. Adversaries in long-running hostilities, the warring communities hugged and kissed each other after the competitive race held under sweltering heat which left warriors drenched in sweat. The scene was quite opposite for the warriors who have endlessly engaged each other in a vicious cycle of violence through retaliatory cattle raids. Over 50 morans who had confessed and discarded cattle rustling, participated in the inaugural event which brought together warriors from Isiolo, Samburu, Marsabit, Laisamis and Moyale districts in a bid to cement and create harmony among warring communities. The event’s coordinator, Gabriel Nyausi, a community development officer with NRLT, said the move was a longterm strategy that is expected to bring about change as well as cultivate positive attitude and co-existence among warring communities. “The morans have been embroiled in deep-seated mistrust and suspicions which breeds hostilities,” said Nyausi.
Koom Trading Centre, once a vibrant business destination but now in ruins after it was deserted at the height of incessant fighting between the Samburu and Borana between 2000 to 2003, was picked as the venue. It proved to be a reminder of the debilitating effects of conflict. Hidden and unexploited athletics talents among the morans came out evidently when Lkitangin Lengima, a 23-year-old herdsman ran under the one hour mark and posted an impressive 58 minutes at the finishing line. The raw bubbling talent for the upstart was astounding with the second runner distantly following him 20 minutes later. The encouraging performance prompted the former speaker of National Assembly, Francis ole Kaparo, to urge the participants to consider venturing into athletics to make a living. Kaparo who was the chief guest at the event said it was regrettable that most youth in the area languished in poverty since their talent was untapped. Various cash prizes were handed to the victors with the winning moran bagging KSh24,000, (equivalent of cow). The first runners up received KSh22,000 with second runner-up getting KSh20,000. There were consolation prizes being awarded to all participants who finished the race. The peace initiative comes in the wake of a renewed wave of pasture related violence in the region which culminated in the three separate killings.
Rescued from the hooks of retrogressive culture By KABIA MATEGA Culture and tradition have been the cause for underdevelopment in many parts of the country. The victims of these practices are normally boys and girls who have no say of what course their lives should take and depend on what is dictated to them by parents and the community at large. The girls are forcefully circumcised and married off many times when they have not matured for marriage. The boys are also not spared from early marriage either. However, 27 girls and boys from one village in Narok will live to tell a different story. The children from a village in the Mara Division, Narok South District have a reason to smile after they finally landed a sponsor to cater for their education and upkeep. The 23 girls and four boys are the recent victims of forced female genital mutilation and subsequent early marriage for boys. The underage boys were reportedly forced to herd family cattle as a way of instilling bravery on them before they join moranism. The sponsor who came to the rescue of the pupils aged between four and 14 years, some of whom were reportedly pregnant, is an investor in tourism including hotels in the Masai Mara Game Reserve.
Ann Naishipae, a Standard Six pupil narrated amid sobs how she was cornered by a group of women in her homestead and frog marched to a nearby bush where she was circumcised. “After a few weeks of healing, an elderly man was to me as my future husband. My father told me that the man had already paid part of the dowry and there was no going back,” explains Naishpae. She adds: “It was like a miracle when two days later I saw my headteacher Jacob Lolskan and other men that I did not immediately recognise storm our compound.” After a heated argument with my parents, Lolskan and his team took Naishpae away. “They admitted me to Nkoilkale Primary School while I was still dressed in my traditional headgear,” she explains with tears rolling down her cheeks. Andrew Stalwart, Managing Director and proprietor of Bushtop Camp/Hotel pledged to give full education and maintenance to the rescued children after their plight was narrated and a proposal forwarded to him by members of the rescue team led by Lolskan. “I note with concern that poverty has engulfed a good number of the Maasai community especially when they have lost almost all of their animals to the biting drought,” observed Stalwart.
A parent at Nkoilale Primary School in Mara division of Narok South District, Narok County attempts to forcibly remove his two daughters from the school. They were among the 27 rescued from forced FGM and early marriage. Picture: Kabia Matega He promised to mobilise other investors in the area to offer employment to youth from the locality who successfully complete school. The rescued children have found refuge at the newly established Nkoilale Primary School, boarding section, where they will remain under the care of the school management. The school’s headteacher is credited for having led most of the successful rescue missions and currently the school is home to over 100 such cases. “I organised the rescue mission soon after my teachers reported the absence of some of the girls and boys,” says Lolskan. He observes: “Swift action helped us manage to unearth the intended plans to marry off the girls.”
The rescued boys had been forced to herd family animals before they could be recruited to join moranism. Despite having positively identified the errant parents and those implicated in the illegal marriages, Lolskan complained that no action has been taken. “We strongly doubt the sincerity of the grassroots’ provincial administration and security in the fight against the ever increasing cases of early marriage and moranism menace in the area,” he lamented. However, a joyful moment engulfed Nkoilale Primary School grounds when government officers, political leaders and villagers came together as team to condemn the rising cases of dropouts. The unusual forum heard how some of deeply
rooted cultural practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage for underage girls as well as initiation into moranism activities had impacted negatively on the education of the children. Leaders and villagers pledged to cultivate teamwork spirit in the fight against retrogressive practices that were harmful to the community and more so to the children. Officials led by the District Education Officer, Ambolwa Obiri said no girl from the area had completed primary education while a handful of boys have managed to pursue higher education with none going beyond Form Four. Since the beginning of this year more than 270 girls have been rescued from early marriages and are pursuing their studies in other boarding schools like Siana and Talek. “Boarding schools in the Mara Division are like rescue centres as most of the girls are victims of early marriages who were snatched from their husbands. Some of these husbands are five folds the girls’ age,” said Obiri. He called for stern action against defiant parents implicated in the illicit marriages. District Medical Officer of Health, Dr Gideon Toroitich disclosed that a recent drive to recruit 15 trained nurses from the Maasai community could not bear fruits because he only managed to get five. Majority of parents indicated that they were unaware of the Children’s Act that could be invoked and land them in court for abuse and negligence.
Bank sponsors pastoralist students By HUSSEIN DIDO
Twenty nine bright students from poor families in Isiolo County benefited from Equity bank education sponsorship meant to cushion poor pastoralists against the ravaging drought. Out of 29 students 15 are in secondary school while 14 are pursuing degree courses in various universities in Kenya. Isiolo branch Manager Abdi Godana who paraded the students during this years Education day at Isiolo cathedral said the candidates were picked after thorough vetting to ensure chances go to deserving cases in the area. He said at least seven boys and five girls would be picked for sponsorship up to university every year by the branch. The first 13 graduates sponsored by the bank from Isiolo will be out in the market this year. “The bank has increased the scholarship
following the ravaging drought that has continued to hit parts of this region,” he said. The manager noted that those with 330 marks and above in last years KCPE exam and orphans will be given priority for scholarship. Fardosa Abdi aged 14 is among the students from the pastoral region who managed to secure a scholarship with equity bank under Equity foundation to further her education and join Kaaga Secondary school. A number of children who performed well in the last year’s exams mainly orphans were lucky to have been picked for scholarships by Equity bank Isiolo branch. Fardosa who was yearning to pursue her education to university was elated when the Isiolo branch Equity Manager broke the good news to her together with 15 year old Osman Adan who scored 375 in last years exam. She could not hide her joy after she secured
a chance to further her education and received a full payment cheque alongside school shopping package. “The biggest challenge in school is to overcome peer pressure and work extra hard to ensure that I keep the candle burning to join public university,” she says. A number of girls especially from the pastoral communities either drop out of school due to early marriage or Female Genital Mutilation, a culture she claims had retarded development in the region. Abdi claims the bank would absorb more students into the programme once they open a new branch in Garba-Tulla and Merti district next year to give desperate pastoral youths a new lease of life. More than 800 youths in the country have benefited from Equity bank scholarship fund which was launched by the Minister for Education last year.
ISSUE 044, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Service delivery falls short as drought bites hard By BENSON MWANGA Severe drought has started taking its toll in Taita-Taveta as the County continues to grapple with incessant food and water shortages due rapidly changing weather patterns. Not even institutions like schools and health facilities have been spared the food and water crisis unfolding in the region as the unrelenting drought has severely affected learning and service delivery. A high rate of absenteeism has also been reported as some school-going children are forced to stay at home to look after their younger siblings as their parents go look for food and water. The poor performance of the long rains this year has led to massive crop failure. Worse still, even where residents hoped to harvest some food, it was destroyed by marauding herds of elephants in the dry lowlands of the region.
In the lowlands, ten to 20 per cent of households harvested but the food would last for only one month. This has forced them to continue being relief-dependent. At the same time, the region has been experiencing conflicts over fast diminishing resources like water and pasture as it has been recording a huge influx of livestock from other parts of the country. Residents in the lower parts of the County have started incurring losses as their livestock have reportedly been dying from lack of pasture and water, an issue that has also put the lives of the local community at risk if it does not rain soon. In hardest hit areas of Kishushe, Sangenyi, Mwaroko, Buguta, Msau, Mahandakini, Mata and parts of Tausa it is evident that residents are starving as their entire maize crop dried up. According to nominated councillor Pencera Kisomba panic and anxiety has gripped Paranga and Mlilo areas of Taita District as cows have started dying as a result of drought. “The area has not received rainfall for the last four years. If it does not rain on time, then there will be a catastrophe,” warned Kisomba. Although food distribution programmes
are on-going and assisting households in the lowlands, it is evident that in the rainfed areas, majority of households are having one meal per day while a few go with one meal every two days. It is estimated that close to 100,000 people are in need of relief supplies to stave off hunger pangs in the County. Wundanyi District Officer David Boen says food security status is expected to deteriorate not only due to drought but also because of the escalating prices of food commodities and fuel. “The nutrition status of children below five years, the elderly included and people living with HIV/Aids are at risk,” he observes. Boen says they have started distributing relief food to local drought-stricken schools to stabilise enrolment that has been dropping at an alarming rate due to the drought. “Part of the 760 bags of relief received from the Government recently has been distributed to 13 schools that have been hit by drought,” he noted. The situation has been worsened by the withdrawal of the regular school feeding programme with education officials reporting that some pupils were even collapsing due to hunger.
Officials of the Arid Lands Resource Management Project II (ALRMP) say most water sources have dried up and public institutions are reporting water stress which is affecting learning and service delivery. Among the water bodies that have dried up is Voi River which is a major source for the area residents, livestock and wildlife. Though funds have been set aside for water trucking, payment of staff allowances and minor repairs, the challenge is that the County has only old water bower that breaks down frequently, reducing the turnaround time for water delivery to water stressed areas. “Water based resource conflict between
Drought affects food supplies in city market By Valerie Aseto It is 7.00 o’clock in the morning, and everyone at the usually busy Gikomba market seems idle with despair and hopelessness written all over their faces. Andrew Mathengea 42 year old, renowned onion supplier says the ongoing drought in most parts of the country has affected the food supplies in the market immensely. Mathenge wears a worn-out and desperate expression signaling dissatisfaction and disappointment. He tries to ignore some of the questions saying the drought is God sent and no one ought to speak about it. But in a turn of events, he quickly opens up and says his sales have gone down with no onions to sell but once in a while when the onions come by, the prices are high that he is forced to hike the prices in order to make something worthwhile at the end of the day. “Life is very difficult today and if the drought persists, the situation would be worse than today. We used to buy a sack of onions at around KSh1800 and now it has tripled,” he says. Mathenge however says that people would be forced to use other alternatives instead of depending entirely on the most common and staple food they are used to. According to him, the government ought to embrace the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) to supplement food supplies in the country.He says those who are opposed to the idea, have not yet felt the heat of the food shortage that has hit the country.
His neighbor Janet Adhiambo, who sells maize, says their suppliers continue to hike prices. As the food business is facing hard times, she is exploring venturing into other businesses. For the past 15 years, Adhiambo’s business has been doing well but the current drought is ‘spoiling the business’. She says: “What is happening in our country today is unheard of. This country has very rich soil especially in areas like Eldoret, Trans-nzoia, Kisii among others. But all shortfalls came about as a result of reduced rainfall and climate change that has affected the world at large.” Adhiambo is however optimistic that maize supplies will increase since some parts of the country are beginning to receive rainfall. She also argues that the ever rising cost of maize has been exaggerated by millers as the country has not run out of the precious crop. The same sentiments are echoed by Christopher Wamaitha who owns a grocery. But on the contrary, Wamaitha accuses the government of being reluctant about the welfare of its people. He says in most places especially in TransnzoiaCounty, farmers are looking for the buyers to sell to while the government enjoys politicking every step to curb the food shortage in the country. “Go to Trans-Nzoia now and you will find that maize is there in plenty. What is happening in the country at the moment is a mockery,” he says. Wamaitha feels that he cannot rule climate change. “But then I am very sure there is enough food in the country,” he adds.
Parents and pupils of Paranga Village in Wundanyi Division, Taita-Taveta fetching water at a drying water source in the County. Picture: Benson Mwanga farmers and pastoralists has been on the increase in the area,” says Preston Mwaponda, community mobilisation officer with the Arid Lands Resource Management Project II. Livestock body is deteriorating fast due to increased trekking distance to water points where the animals cover between four to six kilometres compared to County average of 2.5. This is according to a drought monthly bulletin for June released by Arid Lands Resource Management Project II. Mwaponda says there has been a high incidence of livestock grazing in Tsavo National
Park. This, he noted, has resulted in an increase in persistent human wildlife conflict in the area. He at the same time says another major challenge is the influx of livestock from North Eastern Province and Tana River County into the local ranches which pose a health risk to local livestock. Taita District Warden Constance Mwasho says wildlife has also been hit by the drought. “There isn’t enough pasture for wildlife in the park owing to drought which has made animals move out in search water. This has led to conflict with human beings,” explained Mwasho.
Government accused of failing to mitigate against drought By HUSSEIN DIDO The Government has been challenged to come up with clear policy on drought mitigation measures meant to cushion pastoralists against drought. Officials of Action Aid Kenya together with those from Sweden visited Isiolo and regretted that the recurrent drought has continued to affect human beings and animals with the Government failing to contain the situation by coming up with home grown solutions. Action Aid Country Director Bijay Kumar and his Swedish counterpart Ylva Stromberg said it was regrettable that more than five million people in Kenya are in dire need of relief food. They said there was need for the Government to adapt a holistic approach that would identify underlying causes of perennial drought before seeking solutions to combat the menace. The directors said it was pertinent for the communities ravaged by drought to be actively involved in identifying the causes and suggesting solutions that could mitigate against the perennial drought. They called on the Government to rise above expectations adding that the country had not effectively managed to fast track solutions in managing drought.
“The Government was relying on traditional approaches instead of embracing scientific methods that could offer solutions and avert further human suffering,” explained Kumar. The directors appealed to the Government to invest heavily in the livestock and agriculture sectors as a way of overcoming the challenges. The duo made the remarks in Isiolo during a tour of the County where they launched a school feeding programme. The directors called upon heads of 15 schools in Isiolo, which had received foodstuff from Action Aid International through the school feeding programme to waive fees for their pupils. “The organisation through its emergency intervention school feeding programme expects schools’ administrators to waive fees since it has provided foodstuff for pupils’ upkeep,” explained Kumar. Out of 4,000 school going children who benefited from the programme, some are from vast and hard hit areas that include Merti, Kipsing, Sericho and Oldonyiro. Stromberg said it was unfortunate that people were still dying of hunger and malnutrition in the 21st Century despite the technological advancements that could be used to harness agricultural resources.
ISSUE 045, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Return of imprisoned son stirs village By CAROLINE WANGECHI It was joy for Jotham Mwangi, 28, when he was released from Kerugoya Prison recently to return to his home in Kiamaina village, Kirinyaga Central district. Mwangi could not believe he was leaving Kerugoya Prison where he had served eight years and eight months after being convicted to serve 25 years for robbery with violence and rape charges. There was joy in his home where relatives came out in large numbers to welcome him back into the society. Tears flowed down his mother’s cheeks as she could not believe Mwangi would come back home a reformed man. His 50-year-old mother, Judy Kabuchi, had lost hope of seeing her son alive and said all she could think of is the prison wardens calling her to collect his body. Kabuchi says every time she sat with her other children, Mwangi always came to her mind. “I would get disturbed and ask God why he hated me so much that my first born had to carry such a heavy cross,’ recalls Kabuchi.
However, now that he is back, she says the family will take care of him to see if he can make use of whatever he learnt in prison. Mwangi’s father, Daniel Kabuchi, has only one request for the community, that they do not victimise or discriminate against his son since the torture the family underwent when he was in prison was still heavy in their hearts and minds. Speaking with tears rolling down his cheeks, Mwangi says that he is now a reformed man and that the courses he has learnt during the eight years of incarceration will be well utilised. He says life in jail is not a joke, citing that outside light seems to be brighter than the dim jail light. “I cannot believe that I am able to breathe fresh air and see the sun outside prison,” he says. While in prison, Mwangi says he tried to commit suicide several times but was rescued by warders on patrol who found him writhing in pain. “I had lost hope of being alive after the court ruled that I was to serve for 25 years. Every time I remembered how my mother cried loud while I was being taken away to the court cells, I felt that I was not supposed to be alive. I decided to look for a poison concoction which I took to die,” he explained. For Mwangi prison life is not what any human being should admire since it leaves one feeling abandoned and lonely. “In prison, there are no human beings. They are all animals since only animals stay in cages and closed places and when you call them people, one is beaten and reminded that they are animals and not human beings,” he recalls.
When he was first convicted to serve a 25year jail term by a Kerugoya court in 2003 aged 21, Mwangi felt like a hated man but admitted to having committed the two offences. Paying for the evils was a bitter pill for him to swallow. While in jail, he filed an appeal at the High Court in Nyeri and the 25 years were reduced to 10 after the robbery with violence case was dismissed for lack of evidence. According to Inspector Sammy Kulobar, Mwangi had reformed completely, saying that with the new rules that were introduced in the Prison Department in 2004, many convicts show change in behaviour. “They are often released so that they can put into practice what they have learnt while they were serving their term in prison,” explained Kulobar. He said that Mwangi’s case is very unique
and that for the eight years they were together, he had been obedient and committed to exploring new techniques of dressmaking and tailoring that he had learnt in prison. Kulobar said that the prison department gave Mwangi an electronic sewing machine worth KSh70,000 and cloth material to enable him start a life for himself.
Back to prison
“They will sometimes commit crimes so that they can get back to prison to a lifestyle they are used to,” observes KuMwangi carrying his sewing machine accompanied lobar. He says the only solution is to keep by prison warders after his release from Kerugoya ex-prisoners within the society by intePrison. Mwangi is hugged by his mother Judy grating them and not reminding them Kibuchi at their home in Kiamaina Village. of their previous wrongdoings. “When Pictures: Caroline Wangechi ex-prisoners are lonely and see that society does not accept them, they tend to years. From there, he went to Naivasha, Kisuengage in criminal-related activities so mu, Shimo la Tewa, Kamiti, back to King’ong’o, that they can return where they are accepted,” Embu, Meru and back in Kerugoya. During explained Kulobar. that time, he saw many inmates die in their Father Francis Githinji, chaplain at Kerutravel. goya Prison from the Catholic Diocese of “I saw my three friends die in prison in unMurang’a, said that the church has a role to play clear circumstances, but I give God the glory in designing follow-up programmes for all exfor making me come back home being safe and inmates so that they do not end up in jail again. sound,” he said. He said society has an obligation to accept He also said that relatives and neighbours ex-convicts back so that they can live in harvictimise ex-prisoners despite them changing mony and forget their past life. their ways. Before Mwangi went back to Kerugoya GK He also said Government should investigate Prison in 2009, he served in King’ong’o for four
“When ex-prisoners are lonely and see that society does not accept them, they tend to engage in criminal-related activities so that they can return where they are accepted.” — Inspector Sammy Kulobar
cases seriously since many are jailed innocently while the masterminds and planners are out enjoying their freedom. “Many of us who have come out of prison will carry other people’s burdens when a crime is committed since we will be the first suspects,” he said.
Society must make room for rehabilitated offenders By ERIC MUTAI As they come out of jail, ex-offenders are often faced with rejection which makes them return to the life of the crime that they are supposed to have reformed from. Prison officers blame the public for not accepting rehabilitated prisoners. They say the prisoners go back to criminal activities to fend for themselves after being shunned by the public. “We try our best to rehabilitate them but once the public judges them as criminals and treats them as such, they end up committing more crime. When they come back to us we feel like we have not done anything to rehabilitate them,” says Aggrey Onyango, the Embu prison boss.
However, not everybody feels the same about ex-prisoners. A group in Embu has come up with a way to integrate the ex-offenders to make them feel comfortable in the community and find a way of supporting themselves. The Vision Integrated Community programmes group, is an initiative by the Embu probation office in partnership with AMREF. Hundreds of released prisoners have been able to undertake training on life outside the prison walls. The group moves around creating awareness in the community that they should allow ex-prisoners to get back to normal life by transforming them from being ‘a mess to a messenger’. Thirty three year old Joshua Njeru Josphat
completed a six-year sentence at the Embu Prison in 2004. He was lucky to find the Maanisha programme in place. After training, he was adopted by the group before he graduated to an ex-offenders’ trainer on basic human rights. His job also entails going around the villages teaching families to accept his exprisoners back so that they can live full lives. The ex-offenders are organised into groups. They are engaged in activities such as fish farming where they operate two fish ponds with support from the Ministry of Agriculture, rabbit rearing and goat keeping as a means of income generation once they complete their jail terms. “Most ex-offenders were not being accepted by their communities and were often shunned which created a problem for their integration to the society,” says Paul Njagi, a trainer with the programme. He says convicts and the public at large need to be trained on integration to create conducive environments for the community and prisoners’ growth in their new lives. According to Njagi, some of the prisoners have contemplated running away from their communities but after training they accept their situation and end up contributing to the community’s well being. Not only does the programme work on rehabilitation, it also goes a step forward to make families of ex-prisoners comfortable with their circumstances. Margaret Njura Kariuki, 49, was widowed after her husband succumbed to Aids while at the Kamiti GK Prison serving a four year term. Through the programme, she was identified and trained on positive living. The now robust
woman says that those who expected her to die after she was diagnosed with the disease are swallowing back their predictions. “I have been able to accept my life through the training offered by this programme. I understand that life must go on. I have been instrumental in giving home care to families of those affected and infected,” she told the Reject. The group begun in 2004 with 29 prisoners — 11 men and 18 women — and has been growing as more ex-prisoners link it with the positive results they have seen on their colleagues. “Initially, we only attracted a few but on seeing how their colleagues who have joined the group are faring, we are getting new members as often as they are released from jail,” said Rosemary Wanja Nthiga, a trainer.
However, the ex-prisoners complained that they do not have chances for formal education after completing their sentences because they cannot acquire certificates of good conduct. Lack of recognition from financial institutions due to lack of capital was also identified as another major reason why their lives have not moved a notch higher. However, many appreciate that the programme is offering an alternative to a life of crime. Since last year, the programme has received donations of KSh664,570 from Maanisha Initiative to support ex-prisoners by providing them with agricultural inputs and also building their capacity on human rights advocacy and community sensitisation on Men Serving Men (MSM) in the Embu Prison.
ISSUE 044, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Search for water shortened as projects bridge gap By KEN NDAMBU Martha Kithome wakes up at 6 am in the morning to the scorching sun in Miambani location, Mui division, Mwingi District. At this time the humidity is high and residents attribute this to the presence of coal that geologists claim can be found in the region. Kithome hurriedly wakes up Beth, her 14 year old daughter, orders her not to go to school but to load eight 20-litre jerri cans on their two donkeys as they prepare for the 16 kilometre journey for water. As the young girl starts the trip, Kithome rushes to a nearby quarry to harvest some concrete stones and put them on the road for sale before going back home to prepare lunch for Beth. At mid-day, lunch is ready, and Kithome packs it as she joins Beth at the water point. She is hopeful that they will meet somewhere along the way after the girl has filled the containers and is on her way home with the precious commodity.
Kithome is not the only one faced with water problems. In her neighbourhood, Kathini Mutua lives on water handouts from friends after one of her donkeys died and another disappeared. Without donkeys, life is unbearable since it becomes difficult to access water. This is just the tip of the iceberg that explains how women in Kitui County must struggle to get water and eke out a living. The women and donkey are inter-twined, with the animal being a necessity in their lives. Kitui County lies in a semi-arid zone. Often it gets low rainfall and the water tables can get very low. When drought is severe, women forego other income-generating activities to search for water. “Boys are encouraged to get married immediately they finish school so that the young wives the take responsibility of searching for water since older women cannot make it to the far away water points,” explains Mzee Martin Muthoka, a villager in Mui Location. He says before a woman marries, her parents demand that the husband must have a donkey so as not to burden the newly-married girl in the search for water. “This is a requirement here and we have to live with it,” says Kithome, observing that due to the long distances that one has to walk in the search for water, a donkey is a necessity. The water and sanitation problem in Kitui County is so pathetic that only 6,000 households have access to portable water, which is only 5.8 per cent of the district population.
Access to water
According to the district 2001-2008 development plan, 6,319 households, representing 6.1 per cent of the district population of 780,729 people, have access to safe and clean piped water, while only 600 households, or 0.6 per cent, have roof water harvesting facilities. On sanitation, 2,400 homesteads have ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines, while the
average distance to the nearest potable water point is five kilometres. Northern, southern and eastern parts of the county are hard hit, with women and children being especially vulnerable since they spend long hours in search of water. The Poverty in Kenya Report of June 2000 shows the poverty level in Kitui County as being 65 percent, with two to three people in a family reported as poor. The poorest of the poor come from divisions that record erratic rainfall. However, through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) in Mwingi South and Mwingi North constituencies and with support from the National Water Conservation and Pipeline, several water kiosks have been established along the main roads so that residents can fetch water at minimal costs. Despite these efforts, residents still suffer from walking long distances to reach the water points, which at times will runs out of water due to over usage. “Each day, this water kiosk only supplies water to 110 20-litre jerri cans and those who are not lucky to get the commodity have to wait until the following day,” explains Mwikali Mutua, a water kiosk attendant along MwingiMui road. Maua Mwikya tries to fetch water from a deep well near the Mweiwa River in Mui Division. She attributes the problem to resiPicture: Ken Ndambu dents who bring their livestock to the kiosks to drink water. “If the community takes water for their livestock all be attributed to improper water and sanitaMwikya. home, the kiosks can serve more people each tion standards in schools and homesteads,” exAmong organizations with vigorous waday,” reiterates Mutua. plains Denge Lugayu AMREF Manager. ter harness campaigns in the region is the Through AMREF’s intervention, 155,600 African Medical Research Foundation (AMpeople — 48 percent — of the district populaREF), which has built 395 shallow wells with Due to inadequate water supply, the villagers tion in the project area now have access to safe the goal of reducing the walking distance to have grouped themselves into units to dig wells and clean water, while 13 primary schools in water points to two kilometres. along seasonal rivers as well as rock catchment Mwitika and Mutito have storage water tanks The organisation has projects in Mwitika, pans built with support from non governmenand toilets. Mutito and Kitui Central Divisions, where 13 tal organisations that they can turn to when the According to Lugayu, establishment of shalprimary schools have benefited from roof water kiosks run dry. low wells and provision of tanks in schools has catchment schemes, improvements to infra“Sometimes it is dangerous for women to ensured that the children now have clean and structures and promotions of health through get water from these wells because some are safe water. They also do not have to scoop dirty child-to-child approaches. very deep and they stand the risk of being water from the dry rivers. Peter Kasii who is the AMREF Kitui office buried alive,” says Maua Mwikya as she scoops In Mutomo District, residents can now public health officer says that a baseline survey water from a well along Mweiwa River, Mui breathe a sigh of relief after World Vision Americonducted in 64 primary schools in the project division. ca launched a KSh300 million project in the conarea showed that three quarters of the schools Some of the catchment water points are built struction of a water pipeline from Athi River to lacked classrooms, while half of the schools had high in the rocks, making it difficult for women Mutomo town, a stretch of 65 kilometres. no toilets, exposing the pupils to serious health to climb up to draw water. Under the Kenya WASH Integrated Initiahazards. “In such a situation, women are forced to tive (KIWI), 69,000 residents in four locations “Malaria, pneumonia, intestinal infections, hire men to draw the water for them,” explains of Mutomo, Mathima, Kivyuni and Kanziko TB and diarrhoea cases are high and they can will benefit from the facility expected to be implemented in five years. The World Vision Integrated Project Area (IPA) manager, Peter Nyororo, during the launch of the project in Mutomo, said 10 boreholes, 10 rock catchment pans and 10 earth dams will be constructed along the pipeline. At the end of the projects, 33,000 children from 4,000 households will benefit from water, sanitation and hygiene improvements at both a — Mzee Martin Muthoka household level and in schools.
“Boys are encouraged to get married immediately they finish school so that the young wives the take responsibility of searching for water since older women cannot make it to the far away water points.”
High population to blame for poverty By CAROLINE WANGECHI Rise in population has seen many families not able to cater for their children’s needs. Mwea though perceived to be the richest town in Kirinyaga County, has the largest percentage of poor people. The area is well known for growing of rice as the main cash crop, farming of French beans, tomatoes. Mwea also has the highest number of child labour with boys being forced out of school to either look after the cattle or work in the rice fields. According to Mary Muthoni a parent, de-
spite the town being cosmopolitan, very many children have dropped out of school due to poverty which has been attributed to the increase in population. She said that before Mwea increased to 190,512 people, it had only 90,000 people and parents were able to cater for their children’s needs. A mother of three boys, Muthoni’s sons have since dropped out of school. She argues that education cannot make them earn the amount of money they take home at the end of the day. Casual labourers go home with over KSh2,000, making it hard for them to continue learning as they have sustain their families.
Efforts to have Muthoni’s sons arrested and taken back to school have been unsuccessful as they ran away from home to be employed by a neighbour to man the rice fields. Githogondo slum has the highest population of migrants. Shauri Yako and Mathiga-ini slums are also overpopulated with an increasing number of street children. According to the area MP Peter Gitau, the rising number has made very many people poor considering that the largest number has not gone to school. “Poverty is also attributed to illiteracy levels considering that many boys and girls prefer to do domestic work that will enable them place
food on the table,” observed Gitau. He said that many people who cannot afford to pay for house rent have resulted in moving to the slums that are in the constituency. The MP also said that with the rising number of people, insecurity was a major challenge. Kirinyaga County has a population of 528,054 with 260,630 males to 267,424 females. Mwea has the largest number in population according to the 2010 population census. Mwea has a population of 190,512 in a 542.6 area square. The population rise has made some people encroach the banks of the dangerous river Thiba endangering their lives.
ISSUE 045, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Girl lands lame from suspect injection By ABISAI AMUGUNE When Stella Wambui enrolled for primary education eight years ago, she had dreams of becoming a medical doctor. At 13, Wambui’s dreams were shattered in 2005 when she was in Standard Four. The girl was disfigured while being treated for a convulsion. From numbness to several body disorders, which developed from an injection she received from a local clinic at Kiminini Township, TransNzoia County, Wambui now has to use a walking stick. A former athlete at Kiminini Primary School, today she can only spectate from the terraces. Wambui was bright and would always emerge among the top ten pupils in her class. Today she finds herself trailing behind her counterparts after she developed lack of concentration and disinterest. When she completed her primary education in 2009, she could only manage to score 250 points. Her former headmaster, Stephen Makali is worried about Wambui’s future if she does not seek urgent medical attention. Initially she had a permanent oozing wound on one of her toes on the left leg which was to be operated on at Kijabe Mission Hospital but her only surviving parent Joyce Kwamboka had been unable to raise the surgery fees. Makali and Wambui’s teachers are saddened with the girl’s frequent bouts of collapsing while in class and during parade. Makali said: “At times, Wambui has to be escorted back home, 600 metres away when she gets the convulsions.” “On many occasions, Wambui became a laughing stock to some of her friends and the community at Kiminini,” Makali added. This, however, did not deter her dreams of pursuing her education.
It was in October, 2005 when Wambui returned home from school complaining of headache. Her mother rushed her to a local private clinic where she was diagnosed and treated for Malaria. “I did not delay on seeing her body sweat profusely,” said Kwamboka, Wambui’s mother. Wambui collapsed minutes after receiving a dose of the quinine injection. However, the nurse reassured Kwamboka that her daughter would stabilise as soon as the quinine reaction slowed down. “But with time things got worse,” said Kwamboka. Wambui developed a disjointed ankle and perpetual sweating despite her mother taking her back to the same nurse for check-ups. Her hair kept on dropping while her general condition deteriorated. It is then that she was referred to Kitale District Hospital where she was fitted with a metal brace by the visiting doctor from Kijabe Mission Hospital. Her mother paid KSh1,100 for
the fitting exercise after which she was booked for an operation at Kijabe in 2006. To date she has not gone for the surgery. Not convinced with the way the matter had been handled at the Kitale District Hospital, Kwamboka decided to consult a Kitale-based private medical practitioner Dr Samuel Njenga for sample analysis. According to Njenga, Wambui’s left lower limb was swollen and, therefore, could not enable her stand upright. Njenga’s report dated May 23, 2007 said the left leg and foot muscles had total loss of flexion of movement while the left buttock had a permanent scar “but without any lump”. It read in part: “As a result of an injection, she sustained left sciatic nerve damage which created a paralysis of the flexor muscles of the left foot which caused a foot-drop”.
Grievous bodily harm
It added: “The clinical result indicate grievous bodily harm and I have accessed the degree of permanent incapacity to as much as 38 percent.” What this was alluding to was that Wambui may have been suffering from “professional misconduct”, leading her mother from one government office to another to seek assistance and justice. At the Trans-Nzoia District children’s officer, Kwamboka was advised to liaise with the Kitale chapter of Catholic Peace and Justice Commission where she received little attention. According to the commission’s programme officer Boniface Wanyoike, the organisation after exhausting its investigations handed over the matter to the Police to expedite the issue. Kwamboka reported the matter to the Kitale Police Station and after the normal transactions of filling the P3 Forms, no one was arrested. Even her pleas to a member of the Provincial Administration at Kiminini fell on deaf years. Kwamboka has no formal employment and makes her living from selling groceries at the Kiminini open-air market.
It was only after Kitale-based lawyer Eden Fuchaka intervened in 2007 that the Kiminini nurse who administered initial treatment to Wambui admitted liability through a signed agreement. Both sides consented to settle the matter out of court. The nurse (name withheld) agreed to pay KSh50,000 in damages in three installments of KSh30,000 and KSh10,000 twice. To date, apart from KSh20 Kwamboka was given as fare to Kitale District Hospital, no any other money has been paid. And the matter was compounded after advocate Fuchaka relocated to Nairobi while the nurse moved to Western Province for “greener pastures”, after her clinic in Kiminini was ordered closed by the Kitale District Health offices.
Kwamboka, Wambui’s mother adjusts her daughter’s leg at their home. Wambui talks to her mother and walks to exercise her leg. Picture: Abisai Amugune Sources said Wambui had been dispensed with expired drugs and that she was directly injected into a blood vein. Wambui’s case was a second one after another boy suffered a similar fate at the clinic. But what has surprised the community in Kiminini and at large is why the clinic has re-opened only five months after it was ordered to shut down and is still delivering services to the public. “What guarantee do we have that the same mistakes will not recurr?” asked Henry Matara, a resident who was a signatory to the out-of-court settlement agreement. The Kitale District Hospital Medical superintendent Dr. Meshark Wakwabu was at a loss to explain the issue while the Medical officer of Health Dr Philemon Too was reported to be sampling records at the Kiminini clinic for action.
Kwamboka, 35, laments that despite visiting the district hospital three times her daughter’s file could not be traced. She said both Dr Wakwabubi and Dr Too had assured her to pursue the matter to its conclusion each day, she says, she wakes up to seeing no light in the tunnel. She has no one to assist her reclaim damage and wonders why unethical medical practitioners should be allowed to continue being in service. “Perhaps, it is not my child only who has fallen victim to such malpractices. The Government should not allow quacks to administer
medicine on innocent citizens”, She said. Kwamboka recalls how she was rebuked while in her endeavours of seeking justice against those who had rendered her daughter disabled. She quipped: “Are these people going to assist my child regain normality?” As Wambui sits at the corner of their one-roomed house, she wonders wondering whether she will ever regain her former body structure, tears roll down Kwamboka’s cheeks. She curses the tragedy that has befallen her only child. “Perhaps it was the wishes of the devil but through prayers, God will one day overcome the demon through His powers,” Kwamboka said during the interview with the Reject. She is also appealing for assistance from well-wishers.
Many people have not read the Constitution By DUNCAN MBOYAH Majority of the population in South Rift Valley are in the dark over the country’s Constitution as many have not read it and do not know its contents. “It is now becoming clear that the communities living in this region earlier rejected the document and ended up voting as a bloc against it during at the referendum”, says Joshua Murgor, Programme Manager, Smart Citizens. According to Murgor, the electorate has inadequate knowledge of the new Constitution owing to the fact that politicians from the region led them to vote against the Constitution hence giving them no room to read its contents. “The political kingpins in the region have a
substantive influence on the voting pattern and political grouping that in the end led to influencing the population not to read the constitution,” he noted. In a meeting that was organised by the Fredrick Ebert Stiftung (FES) in conjunction with the Kenya Correspondents Association in Narok County for local leaders and journalists, Murgor said serious civic education campaigns need to be undertaken in the region to enable local communities understand it. A programme officer with Fredrick Ebert Stiftung (FES), Maria Okong’o observed that while the Constitution is meant to serve all citizens, some sections of the society are not aware of their rights as is enshrined in the document. “Even though some people voted for the document, it has some misinformation that need to
be clarified for easy understanding,” observed Okong’o. “As leaders at the grassroots, you must embrace and bring it to the people so that they can do things in compliance to the law,” Okong’o explained. She noted the 2007-2008 post-election violence was a wake-up call that must have Kenyans starting to do things right. Chairman of Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) William Oloo asked journalists to be careful while reporting statements made by politicians through the media. “The media must be sensitive about statements bordering on ethnic divisions that could bring animosity amongst neighbouring communities,” reiterated Janak. He urged journalists to avoid inflammatory
sentiments touching on discrimination of certain communities so as to help breed a society that can live in harmony. The National Commission on Integration and Cohesion (NCIC) Assistant for Information, Communication and Education, Linda Ochiel told the meeting that the Commission is facing challenges in getting witnesses to testify in hate speech allegations. She said a number of people who had earlier been lined up as witnesses ended up absconding. “We are in the process of training monitors and journalists who will be using cameras to track down the offenders,” she said. Ochiel revealed that NCIC is collaborating with the Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) to monitor messages that is sent through the mobile phone to unearth hate messages.
ISSUE 044, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Once considered weed, bamboo becomes a money maker By KEN NDAMBU Economic empowerment for residents in dry lands will come from diversification and investment in low-risk, high-return activities that are adaptable to climatic conditions. Although conventional farming has failed in arid and semi-arid lands due to poor weather patterns, the areas are endowed with high-value trees which, if well managed, can act as fiscal reserves to improve the economic status of marginalized communities. Trees provide more than one product, and unlike food crops and livestock, prices of tree products such as timber suffer little seasonal price fluctuations and have less risk of going to waste. It is with this realisation that farmers in the larger Mwingi District have discovered bamboo farming as a business that can improve their economic status. Mwingi is an area that suffers food insecurity.
Spearheaded by Kitui regional office of Kenya Forestry Research Institute, an initiative has been started in sensitizing farmers on the need to grow bamboo along the seasonal rivers. This not only improves their farms but also helps them gain maximum benefits through selling the high-value products from the woody grass. Gladys Koki Mutemi, a model bamboo farmer in Miambani location Mui Division, says that after trying all other tree varieties with no success, she settled on the bamboo which has thrived. “The high humidity witnessed in this region
is so harsh for exotic trees but the bamboo trees which I planted two years ago are doing well,” says Koki. She adds: “I hope to increase the number because I have discovered that it is the tree for the dry lands. Koki was speaking after taking farmers round her farm during a farmers’ field day organised by KEFRI, Kitui station. When the woody grass was introduced to her by one of the researchers, Koki thought it would not survive like other exotic trees. “Out of 130 trees I planted two years ago, 110 have survived. This is an indication that the climate is favourable for bamboo farming,” observes Koki. Today, although the trees have not matured, Koki has already received orders in advance for construction, fencing, basketry and other traditional craft activities. “Through my inspiration, over 50 farmers have planted at least 10 trees in their farms. I hope more will follow and plant the tree even for shade in the homesteads,” says Koki. KEFRI Regional Centre Director, Dr Kamiri Ndufa, says that when the tree was introduced in Mui, no environmental assessment was conducted to determine the impact of coal found in the Mui basin on environment and general vegetation. “Although the high humidity experienced here could be as a result of the presence of huge quantities of coal that can lead to low survival rates for exotic trees, the theory has not been confirmed by the researchers,” says Ndufa. Together with other collaborators, KEFRI introduced over 20 bamboo species adaptable to different areas in the country, with oxytenan-
thera abyssinica identified as the best species for dry lands. Ndufa says the best way to increase bamboo resources in the country is to domesticate farms through wildlings, offsets and cuttings, as well as use of culms. He adds that culms start sprouting within four weeks and should be allowed to stay in their beds for another five months for complete development of both roots and shoots, after which they can be planted.
Uses of bamboo
In Kitui, bamboo is used for making cattle sheds and in the construction of food stores. Mature timber products are used for building construction and poles. Kamba wood carvers have turned to bamboo for handcraft works such as tooth picks and other ornaments. Depending on the species, Bamboo farmer Koki Mutemi admires the trees in her shoots of bamboo can be used farm in Mui Division. Picture: Ken Ndambu as food. Shoots of yushania alpine species are used as food by people living around Mount Elefits in a sustainable manner. gon in Uganda and Kenya. “The institute is advancing vegetative propaFollowing a presidential ban on bamboo gation of bamboo since it takes 40 years for the harvest in 1986, KEFRI initiated a programme trees to produce seeds,” explains Ndufa. He adds: to investigate the potential of bamboo and “The tree that was initially regarded as a weed strategies for its cultivation and utilization that has turned out to be a multipurpose plant and a could empower farmers and produce ripe benvaluable timber substitute.”
Government launches guidelines Adopting horticulture farming as business for growing eucalyptus By JOSEPH MUKUBWA
By KEN NDAMBU
Eucalyptus is the most economically viable option for farmers when it comes to tree planting with studies showing they can earn more from the tree than any other crop. Globally, the tree forms the biggest portion of species used in commercial forests. Since most of the eucalyptus in the country is grown as investments for financial gain, many farmers have not been using the correct method of planting and maintaining it. Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Noah Wekesa (left) Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, Dr distributes booklets to residents of Kiawaithanji area in Noah Wekesa launched the booklet titled Tetu District of Nyeri County. Picture: Joseph Mukubwa Facts on Growing and Use of Eucalyptus in Kenya in Kiawaithanji, Tetu district. indicate that the best areas to plant the trees are marThe guidelines will help in effective growing of the ginal lands where soil has been degraded through eroeucalyptus tree. It is hoped this will lead to increased sion. forest cover, carbon storage and renewable energy as “The eucalyptus has a market niche which gives well as mitigating climate change, improve livelihood them a competitive edge over other tree species. Different eucalyptus trees are situated for different agroand wealth creation. ecological zones and, therefore, there are areas where the species should not be grown,” observed Wekesa. He warned that the trees should not be grown on Speaking during the launch Wekesa said: “I urge wetlands and marshy areas. He cautioned that riparfarmers, stakeholders and private land owners to ian areas, around lakes, ponds, swamps, along river embrace the fast growing species because it provides beds, sea shores and other water bodies, irrigated wood fuels, plywood, timber, building materials, fencfarm lands and areas with less than 400mm of rainfall ing posts and windbreaks.” should not be used in tree planting. The minister reiterated the fact that planting the tree was important because it provides important products that would otherwise have been sourced from natural forests. Both the Kenya Forest Service and KEFRI came James Kimuri, a local farmer who has been with information on the eucalyptus that will help growing the tree for commercial purposes over the farmers and technical officers understand proper last ten years said he has made profits amounting management of the trees. to thousands of shillings. “I cannot regret this work. According to Kenya Forestry Service board chairThe deal is too good. It requires little labour unlike man Richard Musangi the booklet forms part of the cash crops like tea and coffee.” corporation’s sensitisation and awareness creation Ephantus Waweru Kariuki, who has dedicated programme. It is intended to help the Kenyan pubtwo acres for the tree farming said he was making lic understand the vital role that forests play in the good returns. socio-economic and environmental stabilisation of a “Growing the trees in my two acres is more profitcountry. able than growing food crops. Many farmers find it “The directive to get rid of eucalyptus along river better to buy food at the market and instead use their lines was misinterpreted as it led to massive cutting farms to grow trees. The tree has many benefits such as of the trees including on properly matched sites. This firewood, timber and posts,” says Kariuki. had a negative impact on farm forestry in this country A study carried out by the Kenya Forestry Research especially in some areas of central highlands conserInstitute (KEFRI) and Kenya Forestry Service (KFS) vancy,” explained Musangi.
Two Nairobi based businessmen from Kitui County are working to end their community’s dependence on relief food. The two are doing this through educating farmers in the region on the need to adopt horticultural farming as a business. Kethi Wambua and Ngumbau Mulwa have emerged as role model horticulture farmers through venturing into water melon and grafted mango production. The two, in collaboration with St Patrick’s Mutune Catholic Church’s Christian Men Association (CMA), have been sensitising farmers about the importance of using the available water resources to maximise horticulture production. In his 15-acre piece of land in Kikanga village, Kitui Central District, Wambua abandoned maize and bean farming and became the first farmer in lower Eastern Province to grow water melons at a large scale. His first harvest has found its way into markets in Nairobi and oversees. Wambua’s produce weighs an average of seven kilograms and sells at between KSh30 and KSh40 per kilogramme, translating to between KSh210 and KSh280 per piece. He says in the January harvest, he earned KSh400, 000 from 8,000 tonnes at farm gate price. “I could not believe when the buyers from Nairobi came to my farm, harvested the produce and paid me,” says Wambua. When he was planting maize and beans, the most he earned was KSh20, 000 from ten bags. The earnings from melon motivated him to increase his acreage to 20 acres from which he hopes to harvest 12,000 tonnes. “I have also hired more workers because there is enough capital,” says Wambua. Wambua says water melon demand has outstripped the supply, hence the need to encourage farmers to plant the crop in or-
der to tap the enormous benefits and contribute to food security. In adjacent Mulundini village, Mulwa, a director with Horticulture Crops Development Authority (HCDA), owns a plantation of grafted mango with different varieties of boribo, ngowe, apple and kent which is used by farmers as a demonstration farm. He uses a unique innovation of water harvesting, where water from a strategically established water pan is pumped to 27 concrete water tanks that flows to the farm. “Although I have invested heavily in the project, the benefits are enormous because there is a ready market for mangoes in local and foreign markets,” says Mulwa.
Mulwa argues that the community would benefit as it would be able to come out of relief dependence once they adopt horticultural farming. The region is endowed with many seasonal rivers that can be used to provide the water needed for this type of farming. However, Mulwa says the Government should devise ways of enhancing water harvest policy along the river sources by establishing many sand dams for the residents to start minor irrigation schemes. The Father-In-Charge of Mutune Parish, Baron Mathenge, says the initiative aims to bring together the Church CMA members for the common goal of improving their living standards. “This is a cheap but profitable investment which the elderly can venture in,” says Father Mathenge. Kitui Central Division Agricultural Extension Officer, Titus Kimalu, says the move by farmers in the region to change to horticulture farming as a way of transforming farming as business is encouraging. “Earning from horticulture produce has greatly increased compared to previous years,” he says.
ISSUE 045, August 1-15, 2011
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Son finds father’s running shoes too big By EVELYNE OGUTU His other siblings followed other callings. He is the only one who tried to fit in his father’s big shoes. Welcome to the world of Martin Keino, son of sports legend Kipchoge Keino a renown athlete. Martin received a lot of pressure from people who wanted him to be just like his father, a legend and icon in athletics. He, however, curved his own niche emerging as one of the most sought after pace setters the world would produce. The son of sports icon Kipchoge Keino, Martin, now retired pace setter, aided some of the world’s greatest athletes to set world records. Unlike his father who is a former Olympic champion with two gold medals in his fold, Martin carved a niche in pace setting, a modern way of running. “I wanted to follow my father’s footsteps but with a name like that, I realised his shoes were too big. I could not fit into them. He was a legend and I was supposed to be my own person. Expectations were high from family, friends and even globally but I decided to be myself,” reveals Martin.
The third born in a family of seven, Martin is the only one who took after his father’s running boots despite them being too big for his feet. While studying in Canada on a sports scholarship, the father of one fell in love with running and went on to participate in several races. Martin’s father a former Olympic champion has two gold medals for the 1,500 metres in 1968 and 3000 metre steeplechase in 1972. The duo is the only father-son combination to run a mile in under four minutes. While, Kipchoge dominated the middle and long distance races in his time, Martin made a name for himself through pace making. Unlike his other siblings, Martin, is the only child who followed in his father’s footsteps as the rest ventured into fields such as medicine and administration. Pace-setters like Martin are unsung heroes who take off fast, running alongside elite athletes, pushing for speed but later drop out of the race. For a decade, since 1995 to 2005, the father of two competed in races while he also perfected the art of pacesetting. “The pacesetting career was by default. It came by accident. I was approached by one
of my managers, who asked me to pace set for an athlete. I did it so well and from there on every top athlete wanted me to do it for them. Majority of them wanted to break a record and I was paid to do just that. It is a lucrative business,” he says. According to Martin, pace setting is a modern component of athletics whose purpose is to help an athlete break his or her record and most pacesetters who help their clients break records, are paid handsomely. Martin’s clients included names such as former multi-record holder Daniel Komen, Ethiopian track professionals Haile Gebreselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.
Man of many caps
In 1996, he paced Komen to the two mile world best and helped him lower it a year later. The seven minutes 58.61 seconds set in Hechtel, Belgium on July 19, 1997 is yet to be beaten. He also paced Komen to a 5,000 metre world record in Martin Keino poses with morans during Brussels 1997 before helping Gebreselassie to lower it in the same a past event in Namunyak. Below: Keino year. He was also part of Bekele’s with Ethiopian athletics champion Haile pace setting team that helped the Gebrselassie. Pictures: Evelyn Ogutu Ethiopian to break the 10,000 metres (26:20.31) and 5,000 meand footballers. He also offers public relatres (12:37.35) world records in tions, money management and strategic adthe Czech Republic and Netherlands respecvice to top athletes. tively. However, before he started competitive athletics, Martin who holds a degree in InteThe 37-year old former athlete is also an rior Design, worked at Nike headquarters in entrepreneur and together with his father Beaverton, Oregon from 1995 to 1997. He started a water bottling company in their worked in the image design department and farm in Saruyot village in Eldoret. Saroyo was part of the team that designed the Nike Water Company, whose marketing tag line towns, including the one in Boston. is “water for champions” is a year old. “I am very good at interior design. That is Besides the water business, the early what I did at the university but after sometime riser starts his day at 5am when he does I realised my love was for sports and not for a morning jog. He also actively takes part designing. I resigned from Nike and dedicated in his father’s high training camp which my life to athletics,” explains Martin who rehas produced Olympic champions; Ezekiel tired from athletics in 2006. Kemboi, Asbel Kiprop and Janet Jepkosgei After his retirement from competitive runamong others. ning, Martin formed a Sports Marketing and Martin has in the past also spent some time Management company. He finds local enin a war torn part of Sudan, training coaches dorsements for Kenyan athletes, rugby players
“I wanted to follow my father’s footsteps but with a name like that, I realised his shoes were too big. I could not fit into them. He was a legend and I was supposed to be my own person. Expectations were high from family, friends and even globally but I decided to be myself.” — Martin Keino
Executive Director: Rosemary Okello-Orlale
Editor: Jane Godia
through a programme aimed at promoting peace through athletics. In the country, he is also part of the team that annually organizes Sports for Peace festival in cattle rustling prone areas of Samburu, Laikipia, Turkana and Baringo. “We organise several sports, both modern and traditional, where youth from Pokot, Samburu, Tugen, Njemps and Kikuyu come and participate. We are using sports to bring people together and we have managed to rehabilitate cattle rustlers turning them to peace loving people,” notes Martin. One thing comes out quite clearly; Martin’s career was long and accomplished. The only regret and disappointment during his career was not having represented his country at an international competition. He, however, remains best known for his role as a pace setter.
Sub-Editors: Florence Sipalla, Omwa Ombara and Mercy Mumo Designer: Noel Lumbama
Contributors: Hussein Dido, Frank Ouma, Ryan Mathenge, Joyce Chimbi, Adow Ina Kalil, Henry Kahara, Odhiambo Odhiambo, Evelyn Ogutu, Kariuki Mwangi, David Njagi, Kabia Matega, Ekuwam Adou, Valerie Aseto, Benson Mwanga, Caroline Wangechi, Eric Mutai, Aggrey Buchunju, Ken Ndambu, Duncan Mboyah, Abisai Amugune, Joseph Mukubwa and Henry Owino.
The paper is produced with funds from