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ISSUE 069 September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth


September 16-30, 2012


A bimonthly newspaper by the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman and Child Feature Service



The lucrative small arms trade


How weapons are finding their way into Kenya with among the suppliers being some prominent personalities. As the tribal fighting goes on in the Tana Delta, the presence of small arms leaves questions lingering as to where the ammunition came from. In this investigative report, Hussein Dido reveals the lucrative arms trade that is now claiming the lives of many innocent Kenyans. Last month, Kenyan security personnel manning checkpoints in Shanta Abaq area of Lagdera District intercepted a consignment containing 2,000 rounds of ammunition and one rifle. The consignment in four boxes was discovered in the cargo compartment of a bus plying Mandera-Wajir-Garissa-Nairobi route and the police claim that the cache was destined to conflict zone of Tana River where raging inter-clan strife has claimed over 100 lives left over 230 people injured and 340 houses torched in various villages of Kau, Zau, Riketa, Kilelengwani and Chamwanamuma. Discovery of the arms haul raised a red flag on the multi-million illegal arms trade flourishing in Northern Kenya, which is used as a conduit to various local and regional arms market.


The bus ferrying the arms left Mandera town that borders Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia and passed through various security checkpoints in Mandera, Elwak, Rhamu, Boreholefive, Wargadud, Kutulo, Hungai, Tarbaj, Lafaley, Lehey undetected before police acting on a tip off from a rival arms dealer stormed the bus and intercepted the boxes containing the assorted ammunition and one rifle. Did the arms haul passed all above mentioned security check points undetected? Was the con-

signment verified, checked and cleared at security check points along Kenya/Somalia border before reaching Mandera town? These questions lead to thriving small arms and light weapon trade in the two arms market located in southern central Somalia and are suspected to be managed by al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab militant group.


The bustling underworld business is undertaken by a well-heeled cartel that procures arms from the two markets before ferrying it across the border into Kenya and through some security checkpoints where they seem to enjoy protection. They then further take the arms through undesignated routes to various transit points like Garissa, Maua, Isiolo, Moyale, Samburu and Kiamaiko areas in

3 1-3: Police conduct security checks in the upper Eastern region. 4: Provincial administration addressing a security meeting. 5: An internally displaced woman with her child in the upper Eastern region. Pictures: Hussein Dido Nairobi. Insiders believe that the two markets that supply arms to Kenya and regional markets are located in Bualle and Bardera towns that are under the control of al-Shabaab terror groups with the port of Kismayu acting as the main gateway for various illegal arms exporters like Yemen, former Soviet satellite states, Libya, Egypt and Eritrea.

“I lost favour with al-Shabaab after they suspected me of procuring arms for a blacklisted community and I had to stop dealing with them but fled the area to a location which I cannot name.” — Ex-gun runner


Two arms markets were formerly located a few kilometres from Kenya’s border with Somalia in Burahache and Dobley border towns. These then moved further interior into Southern Central Somalia after Kenya Defence Force waged a war against the terror outfit following abduction of aid workers, cross border raids by militants and terror attacks in various Kenyan towns. According to one ex-gun runner based along Kenya-Somalia border, but who has since fled the area after losing favour with al-Shabaab groups due to his dealing with a community that had been Continued on page 5

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ISSUE 069, September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Solar power to help eradicate malaria By BEN ONYANGO      Residents of Rusinga Island can now have sound sleep after a research organisation based in Mbita initiated a project that would reduce incidences of malaria. The International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) recently initiated the project known as Solar power for malaria eradication’ or briefly SolarMal. The aim of the project is to demonstrate a proof-of-principle for the elimination of malaria from the island using the nation-wide adopted strategy, augmented with mass trapping of mosquito vectors.   It targets residents of Rusinga, a 44 square kilometre island just off the east coast of Lake Victoria, in western Kenya, principally comprising of a rural community that relies on fishing and agriculture for their livelihood. Rusinga Island has a diverse topography ranging from flat areas near the shoreline to a central hill, and from low to medium density vegetation cover.


According to Professor Richard Mukabana who initiated the project, although malaria is transmitted throughout the year, intensity varies greatly according to season. With the project, each house on Rusinga Island will be provided with a solar panel that will be used to power a  trap to catch malariatransmitting mosquitoes before they enter houses.  The project is developed against the backdrop that recent reductions in malaria morbidity and mortality are largely attributed to indoor application of insecticides through insecticide treated bed nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying (IRS), as well as the use of potent anti-malarial therapies.


“The long-term effectiveness of current vector control strategies is undermined by resistance to insecticides and changes in feeding behaviour, as well as outdoor transmission capacity of malaria vectors,” explained Mukabana.  He said odour baits that are capable of attracting as many malaria vectors as human subjects do can be exploited to capture and  kill mosquitoes  without the use of insecticides.  Malaria is endemic in Mbita township where humidity favours mosquito breeding. It is the leading killer of children and pregnant mothers in the area, accounting for

35 per cent of child deaths. Malaria is the most prevalent disease on the island, with an estimated prevalence rate of 45 percent. The region is classified as holoendemic, meaning the disease is endemic within all age groups at all times of the year. Though HIV transmission is also rampant and prevalence rates extremely high, stigma surrounding the disease prevents residents from bringing up the subject in casual conversation. A few interviewees commented that malaria was the biggest issue the community now faces. Both HIV infection and malaria are regarded as diseases of poverty. The two diseases are, however, distinctly different in their causality; one is driven by the search for money, the other as a result of not having money. Malaria is also driven by poverty, but in the sense that poverty inhibits the inhabitants from adopting proper mechanisms to halt transmission. High levels of poverty and low levels of educational attainment, especially among women, inhibits the community from fully understanding transmission and prevention techniques, as well as hindering their ability to pay for proper treatment.

By ROBBY NGOJHI While a chain of major development projects in the country such as the Lamu port and the Konza Technological City are in the pipeline, water experts have sounded an alarm that the projects could worsen the already escalating water crisis in the country. Officials decry that no proper considerations have been put in place to ensure that ample water will be available in the future ahead of the developments. Addressing an African Science journalists conference in Nakuru recently, Joseph Kinyua, Technical Officer in charge of Water Resource Management, expressed concerns that the projects in question are likely to create excess demands for water yet the commodity is increasingly becoming scarce.



Living by the lake-shore also increases the risk of malaria incidence. In this region, stagnant pools of water created by waves and hippopotamus footprints act as ideal mosquito breeding sites. “Poverty drives both HIV and malaria transmission through a need for and a lack of money to survive. Their continued transmis- A solar power installation. Below: An illustration demonstrating sion is aided by the presence of the how solar energy works. Solar will be used in the fight against lake. The lake is both a source of malaria. Pictures: Reject Correspondent and Ben Onyango life, providing water and fish, and a source of death, harbouring HIV The hospital is relatively inacces- from KSh50 from the nearest and malaria along its shores,” says sible to many islanders, as it is a points to KSh150 from the far side Pamela Mwajuma, a resident of distance from most points on Rus- of the Island. This is out of reach Rusinga Island. for most of the island’s inhabitinga Island. The sub-district hospital is loThe boda boda (motor cycle ants. cated in Mbita on the mainland. taxi) fare to the hospital ranges Apart from the hospital, Waware Dispensary serves as the main and sole health facility for the inhabitants of Rusinga East sub-location. The dispensary was built by the community in 2008 and currently receives medical supplies from the Government of Kenya. The dispensary is staffed by two clinicians, two nurses and one lab technician. Accessibility still remains an issue, with the furthest persons in the catchment area liv— Richard Mukabana ing 12 kilometres from the facility.

“The long-term effectiveness of current vector control strategies is undermined by resistance to insecticides and changes in feeding behaviour, as well as outdoor transmission capacity of malaria vectors.”

Accidents to blame for increased spinal injuries By ROPHENCE WAKIO Most cases of spinal injuries in Kenya have been attributed to increased incidents of road accidents in recent years. Medical officials say the high cost of treatment had denied many victims, in particular the poor in remote and far flung parts of the country, access to medical services. “An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 accidents are recorded annually in Kenya. Boda boda (motor cycle taxis) and motor vehicles have been identified as the main causes of spinal injuries,” said Dr Vincent Mutiso, chairman of the Orthopaedic Association.

He told a press briefing held during a science journalists conference in Nakuru, that lack of facilities and the high cost of treating patients with spinal injuries abroad must be addressed as an urgent health matter. “We need to acknowledge that many Kenyan are falling victim to increased incidents of accidents on our roads, many have been injured and recovered but not those with spinal injuries,” observed Mutiso. He pointed out that stakeholders should find a way to prevent or reduce the cases like imposing stiff penalties on reckless drivers and get rid of un-roadworthy vehicles. Mutiso pointed out this has had a negative

Development projects likely to cause water crisis

impact on not only the victims but to the country as well because resources have been diverted to cater for the treatment while those close to the victims have been left under intense emotional pressure. Mutiso also called for cooperation between orthopaedics and architects on building and construction matters to ensure they are safely built to prevent them from collapsing as this has also contributed to large number of people injured as a result of buildings collapsing. A report by the association also noted that change of individual lifestyle and behaviours will be a great tool in curbing some of these incidences.

“Right now most parts of the country are suffering from water scarcity. While the shortage escalates plans are underway to launch projects which are likely to multiply water demands yet no one has ever though where the water will be obtained,” cautioned Kinyua. He noted: “Graphics illustrating how the Konza Technological City will look like depicts the city with some gorgeous swimming pools outside some amazing high rise buildings.” However, he indicated that there was a high need for the bodies involved in the planning to involve water experts in the planning of the projects in question. According to the technician, water sources all over the country are currently stressed following vast population increase which has as a result contributed to huge encroachment of water towers. Consequently he called upon various stakeholders to come on board and find lasting solutions to the challenge. His sentiments were echoed by Engineer Wangai Ndirangu who criticised organisations running water projects for overburdening the existing water sources by continuing to establish strings water intakes at the sources without considering the future.


Ndirangu observed that this situation has resulted in mass drying up of some important springs and lakes. This, he noted, has contributed escalating conflicts over water. “When you go to areas like Aberdare and Mt Kenya there are multiple intakes that have been established without putting into consideration that the underground recharge could be on the verge of drying up,” Ndirangu reiterated. At the same time, he pointed out that once the projects become fully operational further challenges such as pollution due to refuge disposal could arise, thereby worsening the problem. Water crisis has been a looming problem in the country for some time now with worst hit areas being parts of Coast, North Eastern and Eastern regions. In Taita Taveta, for example, cases of young learners abandoning class to join their parents in the long trek in search of the vital commodity are a common scene. There are also cases where some residents complained they have gone for a couple of weeks without bathing due to water scarcity. “The situation is very serious. I am not ashamed to say that most couples are finding it difficult to share a bed due to the allpervading stench as a result of not cleaning themselves,” said Elia Mwandoe, a resident of Voi.

ISSUE 069 September 16-30, 2012


Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Oromo rebels were supported by foreign and local forces By ABJATA KHALIF Details emerging from ex-Oromo liberation front leader indicate that Bagalla massacre was among dozens of bloodletting activities undertaken by the rag tag army with support from foreign players based in Horn of Africa. According to ex-Oromo liberation officer, Abu Sharamo the period between 1997-2001 was the climax of their military campaign against the Ethiopian regime in Addis Ababa. They used various attack points in upper Eastern Province in waging cross border attacks. The foreign support was crucial to the rebels and other outfits which harboured a grudge and violent plan against Ethiopian regime that shares a common border with Kenya. The cross border incursions targeted various vulnerable and sensitive installation and facilities in southern Ethiopia and civilian targets that undermine the ideals and aspiration of the Oromo liberation front of seceding and forming their independent state of Oromiya.


Sharamo who has since left the rebel outfit rocked with defections, local infightings, intrigues, allegiance to terror outfits and long separatist fatigue admitted that Bagalla massacre killings and attacks was one of biggest successful operation undertaken by the separatist group in Wajir. He claims the mission enjoyed massive support from local leaders, prominent politicians, elders and senior government officials. “Bagalla massacre was perpetrated by Oromo Liberation Army and we used latest sophisticated weapons sourced from a red sea country which is friendly to our course and mission. We took months in training local youths to assist us in the attack and the government and local administration were aware. It was not our work the group was under pressure to do the act,’’ he said. He further alleged that before the attack some high command from the

rebel group visited Nairobi for high consultation and strategy where the attack was sealed and given approval and the commercial aspect of the mission was discussed. “I was in charge of administration, logistics and supplies in the movement and I remember one morning I was ordered by my commander to mobilise other field and training commanders to a meeting to discuss Nairobi meeting and the possible agenda in that meeting. I arranged and participated in the meeting that dispatched three of our commander to Nairobi.” Sharamo alleged that the commanders came back with the attack plan and timetable which he played part in ensuring it goes smoothly and successful. “They came back with strategy and plan agreed in Nairobi and we immediately mobilised all our units including summoning some who were based inside our discreet camps in Southern Ethiopia,” says Sharamo . He adds: “We expanded our guerrilla warfare training and included local youths from Moyale and Marsabit.” He went on to allege that senior government officials were driven by political pressure from local politicians and elders and also the commercial aspect of selling large herds of cattle, camel and goats in possession of the target community in Bagalla/Buthutha area of Wajir West “The attack had two angles, one the local community were driven by normal animosity and rivalry and they want to settle scores with the target community in Bagalla. The senior government officials who called us to Nairobi to plan the attack were not interested in local politics or rivalry but commercial opportunity from the herds of livestock present in the watering point on Buthutha,” Sharamo explains. He notes: “As Oromo fighters, we were answering a help call from our host community as well as listening and following what our national host [government] wanted us to do for them.’’ Sharamo further corroborated

A herd of camels in North Eastern province. The Oromo rebels would steal livestock to settle scores. Picture: Reject Correspondent earlier story on the massacre from one ex-local fighter Huka Dambelo that they allegedly received military Land Rovers to use in the operations and all security apparatus was diverted from the mission to avoid repulsion and interception by Kenyan security forces.


“We moved with ease to Bagalla and we were led by local youths. When we reached the attack point we launched an all assault on the village and we had no fear of being intercepted by security forces stationed in various camps in Wajir and Moyale,” explains Sharamo. “We did our mission and made sure that we attained the attack objectives before leaving with young girls and livestock who were taken inside Ethiopia.” The ex-rebel leader alleges that the rebel outfit based at various border points along Kenya/Ethiopia common border enjoyed support of the then Kenyan regime. Their activities and presence in Kenya was further cemented by a link between their then main funders in Eritrea and a son of prominent personality in the former Kenyan regime. “During that period we enjoyed massive support from Kenyan regime that enabled us set up camps in various areas in Wajir/Moyale border area, Moyale border point and villages within larger Moyale and Marsabit district,” observes Sharamo. He explains: “We also had many training camps in Moyale and Marsabit and a command post where rebels forces take orders and coordinate attacks, deliver intelligence report and strategizing on

Ethiopian troop movement within Kenya/Ethiopia border and from various garrisons in southern Ethiopia.” The ex-rebel who has since left the rebel group gripped with infighting, intrigues and growing division told The Reject that the link between the rebel and the son of the prominent personality gave them refuge in northern Kenya territory. They were then able to engage in both Ethiopian attacks and supporting some local conflicts in Moyale, Isiolo and Wajir areas that borders Ethiopia. “Our link in Kenya enabled us set structures in every village in Moyale and Marsabit. We were also able to establish elaborate intelligence network that traversed entire northern Kenya, Southern Somalia and Ethiopia.’’ Sharamo claims that the rebel leaders made frequent trips to Nairobi to facilitate procurement of various goods and services and also set up business deals with different business people who were close to the son of prominent politician in the then regime. “I remember my bosses making various trips to Nairobi to make some deals for the rebels and facilitate delivery of goods and services as well as arranging for safe passage of the rebels’ arms and other military assortments through Kenya/Somalia border.” The warm reception accorded to the rebel and political connection made them to side with their host communities in Marsabit and Moyale against any other perceived enemy or competitors of their host. This attitude of Oromo protecting and paying back to their host communities led to emergence of community security contracting whereby the reb-

els group found themselves waging war and bloodbath against other communities residing in Isiolo, Marsabit and Moyale. The rebel groups services was first sought by a community in Isiolo in 1998 at the height of inter-clan war that led to hundreds of deaths, massive displacements and thousands of people fleeing their homes to seek refuge and shelter in nearby Nanyuki and Meru town. The Isiolo conflict was first an act of normal inter clan clashes that was ignited by political supremacy, resource competition and land dispute but it went to large scale when one community went into security contracting with the rebel group.

Series of attacks

The then attack by the rebel group elicited hue and cry both locally and nationally and a peace meeting called by the then Isiolo district commissioner Eliud Parsankul and his counterparts from Marsabit and Meru ended in pandemonium as the attackers from Oromo liberation managed to sneak into the stadium and firing staccato of bullets towards the crowd and government officials. “The group was involved in many attacks including Isiolo inter-clan conflict, Turbi and Bagalla massacre, clashes in Marsabit and recent violent clashes that erupted in Moyale. Our attacks were different from inter-clan warfare and whenever you see large scale casualty, torching of houses, abduction of women and girls and military style fire-fight, then that is Oromo Liberation Hallmark and signs,” notes Sharamo.

Elders use culture and traditions to restore peace By KARIUKI MWANGI A community based organisation in Mbeere District, Embu County has undertaken to use home-grown methods to promote peace among the Mbeere community. They are using culture and traditions to unite two warring clans in the community whose divisions have derailed development in the area. According to Peterson Njeru, chairman of Thayu Mbeere (peace in Mbeere), the organisation has been holding meetings in various locations in Mbeere north and south with the aim of uniting the clans which have been hostile to each other for decades. “Since independence the Thagana and Muru-

ri clans have been living in disagreement and we have tried our best to ensure they get back together as it was before independence so they can live as brothers and sisters,” said Njeru. Speaking at a peace forum in Kirie Location, Mbeere North district, Njeru said that Mbeere region has for a long time lagged behind in development and there was need to reverse the situation. “We have decided not to involve politicians in our unity campaign as they are the major contributors to the clan divisions,” observed Njeru. He noted that politicians use the divide and rule formula to marginalise the small clans. Njeru observed that educated children from the small clan have failed to get jobs as they were being sidelined by those from the larger clan.

He reiterated that with culture and traditions they have been able to make strides in uniting the two clans. “We have been working closely with the church and youth groups in a bid to stamp out the clanism attitude and the Mbeere community has now realised the cost of division that has led to high levels of poverty,” said Njeru. He called on politicians who are seeking various elective positions in the region to use the peace, love and unity platform in seeking votes so as to ensure they don’t divide the Mbeere community. Kirie Location chief Domiciano Njagi said that the Mbeere community, particularly the youth, should wake up and shun clan divisions which were created by their forefathers saying

that it has cost the community dearly. “We are very happy that the youth have been interacting well despite their different backgrounds and we shall sensitise them on the importance of unity,” said Njagi adding that they will also fully monitor politicians to avoid hate speech during elections. Last year a group of over 1,500 youth from Mbeere community under the Universal Voice for All (UVA) met in the region to chart the way forward on how to fight against clanism and foster development in the region. Elders from the two major clans have also in the past sacrificed goats and bulls in unification ceremonies to save the community from further divisions.


ISSUE 069, September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Negative impact of light weapons as lives are lost to armed raids By HUSSEIN DIDO

Halima Hassan, Hawaye Boru and Kabale Dima are all women from Isiolo and Marsabit County respectively but the three have one thing in common, they are internally displaced persons (IDPs) and living in abject poverty. They found themselves in these circumstances after their houses were burnt down and livestock stolen. Boru, a 45 year old widow at Somare IDP camp in Moyale District is a mother of nine children. She lives with her children at the newly formed camp that has an estimated population of 22,000 people, most of them women and children. Boru has lived to tell her the ordeal after her husband was killed a metre away from their homestead at the border of Ethiopia and Kenya when armed rival communities struck and took away their livestock.


With tears flowing down her face, Boru recalls how she narrowly survived the attack when more than 100 armed men raided her village last month. It was late in the evening when the animals were getting into the boma (homestead) that the raiders struck and started spraying bullets all over shooting anyone on sight including women and children. “Our men were overwhelmed by the heavily armed bandits in an exchange that lasted eight hours before they drove our animals away,” she recalls. Boru’s story is just a duplicate of that of thousands of women who have been left vulnerable with their children and are now living in IDP camps after their husbands were killed and their only source of livelihood taken away. Cattle rustling involve forceful acquisition of livestock from one community to another depriving the rightful owner the right to own any animal. A fact finding mission to the region noted that Isiolo and Marsabit counties host the highest number of internally displaced persons as a result of cattle rustling.

Changing trend

Although cattle rustling has been an issue for a long time, the magnitude and dimension of the raids has changed from the old rudimentary ways to the modern advanced methods. Previously cattle rustling involved small-scale violence and theft of a sizeable number of livestock or replacement of animals lost through drought or disease. Today the trend has changed with loss of human life being too common. In the early days, a human death was compensated by cattle that was paid by the killers’ families to the victims or their families. However, in recent years, due to proliferation of small arms and commercialization of cattle rustling, there is an emergence of large-scale violent cattle raids between neighbouring pastoralist communities in Northern Kenya. Moreover, there is an emergence of commercialised cattle rustling where wealthy businessmen, politicians, traders or local people pursuing economic objectives take advantage of the situation to finance raids. The provincial administration, police chiefs and even some politicians in the larger Isiolo, Marsabit and Meru counties have been accused of colluding with businessmen to cash in on livestock stolen. In August more than 920 cattle on transit to a Laikipia ranch were stolen at Gambela in Tigania East District after the General Service Unit (GSU) platoon escorting the animals from Garissa abandoned them at Gambela without handing over to the next police camp. The animals were stolen two hours after the

GSU platoon in lorry and land cruiser with communication equipment left the area for Garissa. Later the police claiming to be in a hot pursuit of the animals lost truck of them and returned to their camps for fear of the heavily armed bandits within Samburu area. Luckily enough, the owner the cattle happened to be a white man who influenced the Lewa Downs Conservancy to use a helicopter to track down the animals. They managed to recover 500 herds of cattle, while 420 of the animals were hidden in the park and later transported to Nairobi at night. Twenty eight of the animals were later traced to a slaughter house in Ruiru where a broker was holding them for sale. None of the suspects were arrested after it was claimed that the businessman colluded with a senior police boss who was allegedly given 10 cows in order to block investigations. Sources in the area told The Reject that the animals stolen were always paid in cheque and in advance at half the price of what the animals fetch at the local market. A cow obtained through cattle rustling costs between KSh15,000 and KSh20,000 in the black market while in the normal market it’s double the price. Some of the animals stolen in large numbers are always transported by trucks at night to black markets in Kiamaiko, Dagoretti and Athi River in movements that are claimed to bribe police officers in road blocks to avoid arrests.


According to study by the African Centre for Economic Growth reports Kenya lost KSh30 billion between 1990 and 1999 to cattle rustling. Commercialization of cattle rustling has given it a complete redefinition. The thieves dispose of the livestock as quickly as possible in order for the cycle to continue without being caught. It is estimated that another whooping KSh15 billion was lost to cattle rustling and banditry between 1999 and 2002 in pastoralist areas. In Isiolo alone, according to data from Isiolo Peace and Conflict Resolution Committee, the number of incidents and killings reduced this year, with the months of February and March recording 16 and 19 deaths respectively. The total number of death since January is 54. The data also indicates that 37 people were injured since January this year with 1,721 animals having been stolen. In 2011, the committee recorded 61 people killed, 56 others sustained gunshot wounds and 9,878 animals stolen. Another 7,105 animals were recovered. The data clearly states that the State had failed to contain cattle rustling further aggravating the situation. This occasioned by other factors greatly interferes with the future and assets of the pastoralists. Consequently, pastoralist communities have been forced to arm themselves for protection against hostile groups. The threats caused by the increasing number of human deaths and livestock loss due to cattle rusting and other organised raids probably influences the pastoralists’ mobility and or their migratory decisions as well as herd size, thereby undermining their asset base and livelihood sources. Due to proliferation of small arms and light weapon in the Northern Kenya conflicts in the region will continue to suffer till the Government opts for a concrete disarmament programme or tangible solution to build up the trusts. Many people wonder where the communities access the firearms and ammunitions from but they forget the porous border that surrounds them. Major sources of arms to the Northern Kenya are from Somalia and Ethiopia, mainly Burahache in Somalia where the transitional federal govern-

“Our men were overwhelmed by the heavily armed bandits in an exchange that lasted eight hours before they drove our animals away.” — Hawaye Boru


ment base is located. 2 While in Ethiopia the main source is from Kadaduma, Zone 4 headed by a former militia commander who was a former corporal in the Kenya army. Some of the arms are also sneaked into the country through panya (illegal) routes by use of donkeys and camels. The arms find their way through into Marsabit via trucks or land cruisers carrying aliens to Nairobi from Ethiopia. The dealers or brokers always send an advance team to assess the security 3 situation before smuggling in arms. The dealers at times opt for Moyale, Duma and Kom routes before finding their way into Isiolo town. Some of the firearms, especially the new ones that find their way into Kenya are from the anti al-Shabaab who were trained in Kenya but defected to militia group as result of poor pay as well as lack of food and proper medication. The firearms and ammunitions are smuggled into the country through Elwak from the base into Wajir, Abaswein, Modogashe, Kachuru, Gambela and then Isiolo town where they are 1: An IDP camp elder raises concern that the families sold to individuals or transported to Nairobi, Kajiado and Narok by well were living in the cold and fear of wild animals at the camp. 2: Armed residents keeping vigil while on the connected dealers. road. 3: Hawaye Boru an internally displaced widow A source confirmed that the dealwith her children at the camp after last months ers are at times protected by the seconflict. Pictures: Hussein Dido nior security officials who provide them with information on the security situation. is manufactured in the United States of America. At one time a bunch of security officials in the A source close to the Reject confirmed that region were transferred to other regions on alle- the arms are channelled to Komarock and other gations that they were colluding with the dealers slum areas within Nairobi estates where they are and were being paid hefty sums of money. destined for other areas. In most cases dealers transporting the arms A hand grenade will sell for between along Isiolo-Nairobi routes were always armed for KSh12,000 and KSh15,000, while an AK-47 any eventuality and would use tainted four wheel or G-3 rifle goes for between KSh90,000 and drives such as the Prado and Rav 4 to escape police KSh120,000 respectively. check. However, among the pastoralist communities they exchange the arms with a certain number of animals. The arms transported in Prados include In Isiolo and Moyale, an AK-47 or G-3 riffle hand grenades used by TFG Somali and type F5 can go for at least three to four cows depending Russian made. These are normally transported on size and weight of the animals. to Nairobi and Mombasa due to the high deThe G-3 rifle is expensive because the ammumand. nitions are readily available in the area especially Other arms transported into other major from the police who are claimed to supply them towns include AK-47 rifle, G-3 and M-16 which to the locals at a lower rate.


ISSUE 069 September 16-30, 2012

Conflict hit Northern Kenya plays to the environmental card By DAVID NJAGI His occasional trips from Marsabit to Isiolo have always left him scarred from bandit attacks, but Steven Ali is lately figuring out how to rally the Upper Eastern communities against conflict. Recently, he was on transit from North Horr, when a gun wielding gang attacked the vehicle he was travelling in leaving one passenger injured. “We ducked to the floor of the bus,” recalls Ali. “This saved us but the vehicle was damaged by the bullets.” Like Ali, many communities living in this part of Kenya have found themselves in a web of conflict that no one seems to understand its cause. Some say it is politically instigated, others say it is fuelled by the struggle for resources, yet others think it has to do with the possibility of an oil find in North Horr. However, what is clear is that the tension is breaking up homes, with women and children being the most affected. Halima Halake, who sells Khat in Isiolo town, it is better to stay within the town than to travel to her village in Muguru na Nyori, only 30 kilometres away. “The bandits are operating within a two kilometres radius outside the town,” says the 32-year old mother of four. “I wait until it is safe to go and see my children in the village. Sometimes I wait for weeks.” The previous day to filing this story a

teacher had been ambushed at his home and killed amid heavy military and security presence in the town. A local leader in the region suggested that the clashes have been stirred by the Borana tribe, which is looking to dominate other tribes once the new Isiolo County is in place.


“When we are near a general election violence always erupts here,” says Abduba Adho, a former councillor. “There is nothing we can do until the elections are held. That is when there will be calm.” However, there are some who are trying. The Pastoralist Community Development Organisation IDPs scramble for water as at (PCDO) has started peace build- a Red Cross collapsible tank. ing activities that officials hope will Below: Displaced villagers at reduce tension among the warring a makeshift camp. tribes. Pictures: Hussein Dido “Those that have been identified According to Dr. Doroinclude educating the people about the need for peaceful sharing of resourc- thy Naitore, an officer with es such as water,” explains Ali, who is also TIST the most viable projects that can suit the region the chief executive officer at PCDO. Communities are also being encour- include water harvesting, aged to plant trees and practice dry land fencing existing water points as well as the plantfarming. The International Small Group ing of pioneer trees such as Tree Planting Programme (TIST) says the Neem. “Building extensions such an activity can serve to bridge the at water points could prevent over conpeace gap.

blacklisted by the terror outfit, the onslaught by Kenya Defence Force culminated with relocation of the arms market into areas viewed as bastions of the terrorist outfit. “I lost favour with al-Shabaab after they suspected me of procuring arms for a blacklisted community and I had to stop dealing with them but fled the area to a location which I cannot name.,” say the source. He adds: “I used to buy arms from Dobley arms market for various groups, communities and clients coming from as far as Moyale, Marsabit and people from Ethiopia. When I was in the business the market was located in Dobley and another one at Burahache which is close to Elwak town.” He says: “The current war in areas controlled by al-Shabaab has seen the group taking the market everywhere. I liked the former Dobley market as it was the supermarket of arms and weapon spare parts.” The relocation of the arms market from close proximity to Kenyan territory has not stopped the proliferation of small arms and light weapons into the country. It has only skyrocketed the price and the way these delicate and dangerous weapons are smuggled, handled and taken to various end users in various destinations within Kenya and afar afield. Al-shabaab is now using the two markets to sustain their armed activities as they rake millions of dollars from arms sales to support their militancy work, recruit more Kenyan youths into the terror outfit and also feeding conflict hotspots with sophisticated arms. This has caused death, destruction, massive displacement and recurrent conflict that undermine development and tranquillity. Southern Central Somalia arms markets supplies various types of ammuni-

tions like AK-47, G-3, Aker, Patchet, M-16 and FN rifle as well as various types of pistols. They also provide an assortment of ammunition that include home-made anti-aircraft launchers and various weapon spare parts. The arms smuggling and supply business is controlled and managed by various cartels and players who are in command of certain areas. The way arms are delivered is a long journey that it is not easy to pin it on one person. The initial person will deliver a cache of arms to other players who deliver it to the intended market and community for use in armed conflicts, inter-clan fights, highway attacks, cattle rustling and forceful displacement of people. They also use the arms in commissioning abduction of non-Kenyans operating within their areas and also attacking some strategic facilities like tourist resorts and aid organisations. Al-shabaab terror organisation places tight grip on the two markets for fear of arms falling into hands of their hands of their enemies or communities that are not subscribing to their thoughts, ideas, aspirations and mission. With that in mind, the organisation has appointed a commander to oversee the two arms markets with various deputies in charge of procuring arms from illegal arms source. These are the same people who are in-charge of the market and sales. Other deputy commanders take control of security for convoys that source arms from the market. Another one is in charge of money transfer as most transactions are done through hawala money transfer method while other buyers prefer dropping bags of dollars before collecting their cargo. It is the duty of the deputy commander in charge of the market and sales to establish which buyers are genuine before they take the ‘tricky’ journey from

Security officials alleged to be complacent in arms trade By HUSSEIN DIDO

sumption hence reduce tensions over the resource,” explains Naitore.

The lucrative small arms trade Continued from page 1


Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

various points in Northern Kenya to the arms market. This clearance procedure has seen formation of local clearance unit in a northern Kenya town whose responsibility is to check conflict trend between communities, collecting local intelligence and especially engaging the security machinery as they seek potential customers for their clients across the border. They then pass on the customers file to al-Shabaab deputy commander for clearance and arrangement of movement to the arms market. The clearance procedures claims were corroborated by Abdi Guyo, an arms sale fixer who has worked with various groups procuring arms in the two markets situated in Bualle and Bardera and the former markets in Burhache and Dobley.


“This is the only business I know and I have assisted many people, clans, militias, groups, bandits and security officials in procuring arms from initially Dobley and Burhache markets as well as the new arms market of Bardera and Bualle before I decided to withdraw from the business due to the risks and danger coming from new development in Southern Central Somalia,” explains Guyo. He says: “In the past I worked with various administrations that took control of the market including al-Itihahad al Islamiya, Islamic Courts Union and now al-Shabaab.” Guyo says: “My work was to coordinate potential customers, check their background and where the arms will be used.” He says he was also doing some ground work like collecting intelligence and checking which officers will be manning various security checkpoints along the borders,. He would also check of any movement of security personnel along the border areas who he would use to

sneak in the arms. Guyo says: “I would also check to see if the local communities along the border areas were unhappy with the consignments passing through their areas at night hours.’’ Guyo remembers vividly that his customers ranged from local politicians in high circles of northern Kenya politics to prominent community elders and also security officials procuring arms for crime markets in other parts of Kenya and especially Nairobi as well as Coastal towns. “I have many years experience in this work and the only livelihood I know is gun running and fixing,” says Guyo. He explains: “I have dealt with and assisted many people including some from northern Kenya holding senior elective positions as well as other prominent elders and personalities from Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, Moyale, Isiolo and Samburu areas.” Guyo reveals: “I have worked with them, it is business and I cannot divulge their names now. I use to receive many orders and each order takes me 15 days to investigate the potential buyer and where he or she comes from and if the buyer is connected to my client (al-Shabaab) enemies or spies.” Guyo says it would take him four days to establish the buyer and also liaise with other al-Shabaab agents in Kenya to follow up the buyer and obtain background information and submitting a profile to the commander before being given a go ahead to call the buyer and arrange for them to pick the arms in a secret location along the KenyaSomalia border. “Others would decide to go to the arms market and choose various types of arms and I would organise for their movement only after getting such an order or clearance from the al-Shabaab high command,” says Guyo.

Conflict in Northern Kenya is not likely to end soon as the scramble for county control under the devolved system of governance takes effect. Tricky issues on these conflicts especially in Isiolo and Marsabit County point to some rogue security agents who have been accused of taking part in fuelling the conflicts by disposing of ammunitions in their hands to local bandits at a fee. A critical case in Isiolo and Moyale is when more than 700 security officers were deployed to contain skirmishes in the region. It is claimed that some of the officers were busy taking advantage of the situation to dispose of their ammunition to the locals. It is alleged that the officers normally create contacts with the locals to whom they give the weapons and then claim that they encountered nonexisting raids where their ammunitions was stolen.


According to investigations, the officers sell the ammunition in exchange of animals, airtime and cash in order to survive in the arid area. According Isiolo County Commissioner Musiambo Wanyama the presence of illegal arms trade in the region is real. He regretted that the arms were fuelling conflict among the pastoralists in the area. “Proliferation of arms in the region has been an issue for years and the Government is working out strategy to curb the vice,” said Wanyama. He noted that some of the ammunitions were bought by wealthy businessmen, livestock owners and youths who spend most of their times with the arms. “I am assuring members of the public that one day we are going to catch up with those in possession of the arms and those behind illegal deals,” Wanyama warned. The Commissioner said this when he addressed a peace public rally at Isiolo Stadium called to ask warring communities surrender illegally acquired weapons. “We are not going to tolerate killings, raids and illegal arms. The Government has put in place stringent measures to address security situation in the area,” reiterated Wanyama. He said the Government will deploy enough security officers before, during and after the general elections in order to curb conflict in the area.


ISSUE 069, September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Kenyan pioneer first female bus driver in Kampala By MALACHI MOTANO She is a Kenyan woman from Kiambu County, a widow and mother of four. Alice Nyambura Kamau or Nyambu as referred to by her fellow drivers has defied all odds to take up a job that not many women in Africa have dared. She has become the first bus driver in Uganda, a society where women don’t feature as heavy truck or long distance drivers. They are not even taxi drivers whether within the city or in the countryside. Mama Gitonga, as she is sometimes referred to, studied up to primary level and followed her father’s footsteps into police training. She then became a traffic officer in Kenya at the wise counsel of her father, who worked in the CID department in Nairobi. A determined woman, she later resigned from police force and went to a driving school.



Upon completion of her driving course, she started as a taxi driver in Nakuru town and later drove Akamba (they are no more today) buses in Kenya. The company wound up in 2011 but Nyambura had left much earlier in pursuit of greener pastures. In 2004, Nyambura left the country to look for a job across the border in Uganda. She says the moment she arrived in Kampala, many bus companies were impressed by her skills and offered her opportunities.  “I think I should say I am a lucky woman because I never apply for jobs. It’s usually the bus companies that call me. During my career as a driver I have never been involved in any accident, thanks to God,” says Nyambura. She explains: “I do not think this is because I am a perfect driver, I believe it is God who has saved me and I’m always careful the moment I get behind the steering.” Nyambura observes: “The only challenge is in the roads within Uganda and poor road users especially lorry drivers carrying bananas (main staple food), cyclists and taxi drivers who do not want to drive on the roadside.” Nyambura who is 39 years old is currently a driver with Swift Safaris Bus Company plying Kampala-Mbarara route daily. She has become a marvel and subject of talk among travellers. She has also worked with Gaaga Bus that plies the Kampala-Arua route and Nile Coach which also operate on the same route for two and three years respectively. She also drove Kaliita Bus taking Kampala-

Matatu operators blame women for temptation to promiscuity

Alice Nyambura, a Kenyan woman from Kiambu has defied all odds to become the first woman long distance bus driver in Uganda. Picture: Malachi Motano Nairobi route for one year, before turning to Kampala-Mbarara route with Swift Safaris. Mbarara Bus Park In what has become like a daily rhyme for those patiently waiting for her arrival from Kampala at downtown Mbarara Bus Park, one staff assures impatient travellers: “The bus is arriving anytime with the woman (driving). She is very steady, so let us be patient.” Travellers are already filling the 60-seater company tent where they have been waiting. Nyambu is going to make an immediate return journey because there are very many passengers. For some reasons, they can’t board non-Swift buses and the beckoning by the brokers of other buses yields no attention, prompting an agent of Jussy Tours bus to retort: “With that woman you will sleep on the way (read reach late).”


In her uniform which is a white blouse and black pair of trousers, she arrives and after 15 minutes of lunch break, again takes her seat ready to get on the road. She hoots for a while to alert everybody that they are ready to leave the bus park for Kampala. Jean Ankunda, 33, is one of her faithful clients. “Nyambura is a diligent driver although she drives at

a slow pace. One day when I asked her about it she told me her reason simply is because the road is narrow, under repair and there are poor users like lorries carrying matoke.” “I drive fast when I’m on a good road but this one is not good. It takes me about five hours on the 270 kilometre Kampala-Mbarara road. My bus driving career spans over 10 years. Passengers in Uganda look at me with surprise and admiration. They get excited because I’m a woman driving a bus which they are not used to. Many have not believed, so they come to gaze at me when the bus stops. In Kenya, women are not afraid unlike in Uganda, that’s why there are no female bus drivers.” Described as a diligent driver, Nyambu stays on the road for 10 hours daily except when she is off duty which is rarely the case. Interestingly, because Nyambura wears a trouser and a cap, cutting a manly look, she has been many times beckoned by attendants to enter male places of conveniences only for them to learn that she is a woman. Unlike other women, Nyambura hardly gets time to go out because the nature of her job requires a sober mind. Donasiano Opwonya is the Southwestern Regional Traffic Officer’s in Kampala. “For the 17 years

I have been in the traffic department, I have seen Alice Nyambura as the only female bus driver for long routes. She is very strict, careful and her bus is always in good condition,” says Opwonya. “I have never heard her involved in an accident. Driving is not scary or a peculiar job that women can’t take up. All you need is to have the skills. May be it is because women are culturally supposed to be close to their homes looking after children and husbands, yet with that kind of job you have to sometimes stay away and travel. It is not easy for those who have families. It takes a lot of commitment and love for the job.” Nyambura does not divulge how much she earns in daily allowances and monthly salary. However, she admits that her earnings are not commensurate to her work. Fortunately, with the meagre pay, she has been able to educate her eldest son, a second year undergraduate at Kampala International University. Her other three daughters are in primary school. “This kind of responsibility is the very reason I’m working hard. I want to ensure they have a good life in future. The job is, however, emotionally exhausting because for two years now I have not had a maid yet my children are still young!”

Matatu operators in Nakuru are a tempted lot. While they have a strong resolve to halt promiscuity and alcoholism, they often fall prey for easyto-get female passengers while on duty. Speaking to journalists during a fact finding mission at the Shabab Youth Centre in Nakuru, matatu operators blamed women for offering their bodies as pay back for petty favours like free rides making the habit common amongst the group. According to Ndiragu Wagura, a peer educator from the industry, women use sweet names as a weapon to win over an operator’s heart. Thereafter, one thing leads to another before what was thought of as a needy commuter turns into a sexual partner. “Women are squarely to blame for the promiscuity in the matatu industry. They tend to apply ‘Ngeli ya My Dear’ when asking for lifts and then thereafter offer to pay through other means,” explained Wagura. He noted that the women’s acceptance to accompany the conductors at the close of business is a sure confirmation of their initial intentions.


He further admitted, amidst laughter from his colleagues, that no man would say no to a “Mungu leta”(a free gift from God). With increased competition on winning over each other’s girlfriend, HIV testing amongst the group has also become a nightmare with more operators opting to die in silence than admit that a former sexual partner, who had died of the scourge, might have infected them. According to Paul Nyamongo, Coordinator of the Transport Health Integrated Programme Project, disposable income and high alcohol abuse are also key contributing factors to the promiscuity levels among the sector’s operators. To counter this, APHIA plus in conjunction with the government has initiated a five-year USAID funded project that aims at improving access to health services in 11 of the 14 counties in Rift Valley. “It is not easy to reach out to players in the matatu industry because it has its own culture and language but after talking to players in the industry, Aphia plus, Nuru ya Bonde came up with a project tailored to meet the health needs of matatu drivers and touts,” noted Nyamongo.

Government moves towards zero infection By GRACE MWANYAMA The Ministry of Health has started a mobile HIV voluntary counselling and testing services targeting the Maasai community in Kajiado County, Rift Valley Province. This is seen as a measure to curb new infections and improve management of the disease.

According to Alice Njoroge, Kajiado District Aids and STI coordinator, the Government through the ministry has started the programme to reach out to the community whose lifestyle compels them to move constantly in search of pasture and water by bringing services to the scattered community. This is one of the areas in the coun-

try with some of the worst infrastructure, an issue which has adversely affected service delivery to the community. Briefing the press at Eremit village, Njoroge pointed out that HIV has become a big challenge to the Maasai community. “The area has only one illequipped healthy facility that covers

a big area. The National Aids and STIs Control Programme is geared towards ensuring that every Kenyan is aware of his/her HIV status,” Njoroge stressed. She added: “The fight against the Aids scourge will only succeed if Kenyans supported the VCT programme.” She noted that various strategies have been put in place to ensure far-

flung areas were covered under the mobile VCT programme. Njoroge said the Government was undertaking Home-Based Testing kits to the pastoralist community. “We’re currently giving nutritional support to infants whose parents have been infected by HIV to help control the rapid spread of the disease,” explained Njoroge.

ISSUE 069 September 16-30, 2012

Dare to choose

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth


Choices remain few as youth face reproductive health challenges Although controversies emerging from debates geared towards broadening people’s choices to enjoy and explore their sexuality are not new, a network of like minded organisations is spreading its tentacles across Africa in pursuit of a society where sexuality and reproductive health and rights are broader and accessible. writes Joyce Chimbi When Malyun Ali was a little girl, she was anxious to grow up, to become a woman. Elderly women would explain to her just how significant it was for a woman to be circumstanced, and whenever a fresh group of young girls queued for their fate with the circumciser’s knife, her excitement would rise as she imagined just how wonderful it would be, to be in their place. That was until her turn came. At only eight years and wide eyed with the curiosity typical of children, she realised that the reality of the cut was far more gruesome than she could have ever imagined. This realisation dawned on her as the sharp knife seared through her young and tender flesh. “It was a nightmare, I cried, I fought the old woman. I even run away but they caught up with me. It was just too painful and I bled a lot. In my culture, it is bad enough to show signs of cowardice while being circumcised, you can imagine how much more scandalous it is to run away,” she explains. The old and weathered hands of the circumciser did not falter. In any case, Malyun was just one of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of young girls to have passed through her hands willingly or by coercion.

Malyun says that the ritual did not make her the woman she had hoped to be. Instead, it turned the little girl into a bitter child who had seen and felt more pain than a child should. For days she could hardly relief herself, the urine would burn through her tender wounded flesh. But according to her culture, the eight year old had become a woman. Or so her people said. And with the onset of her menstrual period, a woman old enough to begin bearing children. “The only reprieve I got is that unlike many other girls, they did not perform infibulations. Where they cut a lot from your private parts and stitch you so much that only a very small hole is left to allow urine and menstrual period to pass through,” she explains. From this experience, the first born in a family of 15 children vowed to fight the harmful and retrogressive practice. None of her younger sisters is circumcised.


Deciding to pursue an education rather than bear children at early age, Malyun has had to understand the high price she may have to pay. “Educated women are a lot less eligible for marriage in Northern parts of Kenya. Every time you menstruate, in our culture, they say you are killing children, that instead of passing blood, you should be pregnant,” explains Hamisa, another young woman. Malyun’s story may seem removed from reality or from an under-

standing of how things happen in a world where choices are broader, where young women and men are offered a conducive environment to pursue their dreams. A world where children are allowed to be children. To play, laugh and not to be burdened with the responsibilities of growing up, as well as the pain that comes with adult experiences. But across the sub-Saharan region, many young people have limited choices. In Accra, Ghana for instance, young Flora Binka is coming to terms with the reality of an unsafe abortion. At the tender age of 16, her first ever encounter with a young man has opened her eyes and her body to a degree of physical and emotional pain that no child should have to endure. “I found out I was pregnant three months into the relationship. I felt I had only one choice, abortion. The father was an older boy, 22 years. He couldn’t understand how I had gotten pregnant after just one encounter. “A friend took me to a clinic where the man pocked and pulled, I thought I was going to die. When he finished, I could barely walk,” says Binka. But that was not the end. At home, she was expected to act normal and to help around with

Paul Adhochi a youth advocate addressing young people’s mentorship meeting in Mombasa. Picture: Reject Correspondent the household chores. Although it has been six months now, the physical ordeal may be over, but the emotional and psychological pain remain unresolved. Statistics show that this is only one of many such cases. Unsafe abortion is only one of the three leading causes of maternal deaths. In Kenya, for instance, unsafe abortion accounts for a staggering 40 per cent of all maternal deaths. “But at the hospitals and communities, challenges that young people face in regard to their sexuality are hardly addressed. When they end up in hospitals with complications relating to unsafe abortion, health attendants say that since they wanted to do what adults do, then like adults, they must endure the pain,” says Prof Fred

“It was a nightmare, I cried, I fought the old woman. I even run away but they caught up with me. It was just too painful and I bled a lot. — Malyun Ali

T. Sai, a distinguished Ghanaian health physician, during a meeting by the Reproductive Health Advocacy Network for Africa (RHANA). RHANA is an African wide network of civil society organisations working in the sexual reproductive health and rights issues as well as other related development issues.

New experience

Further Sai noted that when children begin child bearing, their growth is affected, their bodies simply stop growing. In all the countries represented by RHANA, these issues of young people paying the price for ignorant indulgence, are unfortunately not new. Where a majority experiment with sex and before they even grasp the intricacies of sexual intimacy, they quickly find themselves caught up in a whole new experience. Of vomiting, feeling sick, carrying a pregnancy that is difficult to relate to. The men too are not spared as they find themselves caught up in the dilemma of what some chose to call ‘forced fatherhood’. Sai explains: “Adolescent deaths are at an all time high in African countries.” He notes that

among women who die due to child birth related complications and specifically in the sub-Saharan region, a majority are young women aged 15 to 24 years old. “A number of young girls have come to my house to look for household work, all of them have at least one child and they are not a day older than 18,” he said. Although issues of abortion continue to raise heated debates and controversy, many stakeholders working on sexual reproductive health and rights issues feel that a time has come to relook the hard line position. Under the Clinton Administration in the United States, the then First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton fought long and hard for the right of women, and particularly employing the pro-choice approach where women could chose to keep or terminate a pregnancy. As RHANA pursues the possibility of attaining a society where people’s sexuality and reproductive health choices are broader, Amos Mwale, also a member of RHANA cautions that “both young and old will have to face the fact that more rights, choices and privileges come with responsibility”.

Nandi County is leading sexual abuse cases By DAVID KIRWA   Since January 2012, the Judiciary has registered over 1,200 cases of sexual offence at the Kapsabet Law Courts in Nandi County which include rape, defilement and sodomy. Principal Magistrate at the Kapsabet Law Courts Beatrice Mosiria noted that the Judiciary is concerned over the increasing number of sexual offences cases reported in Nandi County in the last eight months. Mosiria noted that out of 1,200 cases of rape, defilement and sodomy incidents which the local courts registered in the past eight months, 150 of them were defilement. For this the county topped the list of counties where the highest number of cases had been reported in Kenya. She reiterated that many such cases go unreported in the rural villages because of cultural beliefs and some of the cases are incest in which fathers defile their own daughters. “Nandi County is leading in handling rape, defilement and sodomy cases Since January the local courts in Kapsabet have registered more than 1,200 such cases which is a threat to young girls and boys who are no longer safe in society,” said Mosiria. She noted that most of the suspects involved include clergymen, teachers, fathers, relatives and

guardians who abuse children of both sexes. She added that some children who are abused are as young as two years old. Mosiria warned that under the Sexual Offences Act 2006 which is in force, persons found guilty of the offence will serve imprisonment of not less than 10 years. Speaking at the Judicial Marching Day at the Kapsabet Town Hall, Mosiria informed the public that persons accused of defiling children below 11 years are to serve life imprisonment, while those who have raped children aged between 11 and 15 will serve a maximum of 25 years. Those found guilty of raping children aged between 15 and 18 years will serve 20 years. The court, she noted, had the duty to protect children and promote morals in society and warned parents in Nandi County against agreeing to solve sexual offence cases out of court adding that Kenyans should read the whole Constitution and understand it because ignorance is not admissible in law. She informed members of the public that in cases where a father is accused of raping his daughter, the court is forced to hold separate court sessions and listen to young girls who are afraid of testifying against their fathers for fear of victimisation. She asked civil society organisations to mount up teaching against moral decay in society

and also come up with safe houses where necessary Mosiria said every day the courts handled at least three sexual offence cases. She challenged committed and upright church leaders to speak and preach against such evils which is a threat to young children. She announced that the local courts would not have mercy on accused person found guilty in order to correct moral decay in the society and restore moral. Just a few weeks ago Mosiria handed life sentence to a man Members of the judiciary at the Judicial March whom the court described as beastly which was conducted countrywide. and unfit to stay with normal peoPicture: Reject Correspondent ple in society. He was accused of sodomising a 10-year old primary nature but ran away and alerted a neighbour who school boy at a house in a church compound in in turn informed the villagers and the police who Nandi County. arrested Lesinye. The man Peter Moru Lesinye who washes cars The court also jailed a farmer for 20 years for was handed life sentence and hard labour after he defiling a 13-year old primary school girl. pleaded guilty to the offence but the court rejected William Kiptoo Limo, was charged that on his mitigation when he asked for forgiveness. September 18, 2010 at Itigo village in Nandi The sodomy survivor narrated to the court North district he defiled the girl. how he escaped naked from the man’s house at However, Mosiria noted that the accused was the AIC Church staff quarters and after promis- not remorseful for the offence and the man’s acing the accused he was going to answer a call of tion was unacceptable and immoral in the society.


ISSUE 069, September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Forgotten IDPs to be compensated By MAUREEN OGUTU Internally displaced persons from Nyanza region will finally be compensated following a meeting attended by government officials drawn from Ministry of State for Special Programmes and the provincial administration. Speaking outside the Nyanza provincial headquarters, National Humanitarian advisory board Chairman Moses Akaranga and Nyanza Provincial Commissioner Francis Mutie said that the Government will consider only genuine IDPs whose names had been profiled by their respective district commissioners.


”The Government will give each IDP KSh10,000 and an additional KSh25,000 the way other internally displaced persons had been treated after verification of their names at the district level,” said Akaranga. The meeting, which was attended by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Special Programmes Andrew Mondoh and officials of the IDPs is set to bring an end to protests that the Government had neglected those from the lakeside region. However, Akaranga ruled out the possibility of the victims being given land as demanded by their representatives. He said apart from the funds, the IDPs will also benefit from relief food to be distributed by the Government to cushion them from hardship. On his part the PC assured the citizens of security during the whole exercise, warning that those found inciting the public to violence will be dealt with according to the law.

Disagreements continue over Health Bill By DAVID NJAGI

The civil society is raising a red flag over an alleged plot to sneak the Health Bill into Parliament before consensus has been reached over unclear details contained in the document. Lobby groups claim the National Task Force is sidelining them, alleging the committee is not receptive to some proposed amendments to the draft law. Among the controversial issues being raised are clauses on abortion which are seen to be unclear, while the committee at the Ministry of Health and its officials are being accused of secrecy. For instance, officials from the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), Kenya Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society (KOGS) and the National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK) claim they are not being consulted in the process of developing the Bill.


Other accusations being traded suggest selective appointment of representatives to Minister of Public Health Beth Mugo holds a baby at one of the health facilities in the the Task Force, which is said to be pushing for country. The health Bill is yet to be debated upon as it has some controversial clauses. swift passage of the legislation. Picture: Reject Correspondent “With the current pace it is possible for the Bill to go through before the end of the year because Parliament is in a hurry to pass pending form the operation, but fails to define who such a the turnout was very poor,” says Bwonya. “Those laws,” says Prof Joseph Karanja, a reproductive practitioner should be. criticising us are the ones who do not want to parhealth expert from University of Nairobi. “The Bill lacks focus and may cause conflict of ticipate in the process. However, the opportunity According to Karanja, the Bill which is still interest if it is not reviewed,” says Dr Carol Odula for input is still there.” at the Health Ministry has some clauses which of KOGs. Commenting on the same, Minister for Mediby their meaning appear to be contradicting the However, officials from the ministry insist that cal Services, Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o says there is Constitution. the draft Bill is open to suggestions before it is pre- no cause for alarm because the Bill is still at the According to a document by the Reproductive sented to the Committee on the Implementation ministry level. Health and Rights Alliance (RHRA), such clauses of the Constitution (CIC). “The public will be given 30 days to debate on include provisions 6(1)c, 6(2) and 6(3) which refer According to lead officer, Dr Judith Bwonya, the Bill if no consensus is reached,” says Nyong’o. to abortion but are vague and unclear. lobby groups are unfairly levelling blame at the At least 2,000 maternal deaths are reported anIn the simplified interpretation by RHRA, the team working on the draft legislation, while the nually due to unsafe abortion while East Africa Health Bill is said to prohibit abortion since it re- whole process is becoming expensive. has the highest burden at 2.5 million unsafe aborquires a trained and licensed professional to per“We called a meeting for all stakeholders but tions, say experts.

Government urged to Hawkers arrested over harmonize facilities with staff selling suspect foodstuff By ALLAN MURIMI The Government has been asked to deploy staff to schools and health facilities funded through the Constituency Development Fund. Tetu MP Francis Nyammo said the facilities, which are constructed to take development to the rural areas, are understaffed and poorly equipped. “We keep in touch with the Ministry of Medical Services when we construct such facilities and they know when they will be completed, but there seems to be a disconnect because staff is not deployed,” observed Nyammo. Speaking during a free medical camp at Wamagana Primary School in Nyeri South district, Nyammo said the purpose of constructing the facilities was not met due to lack of staff adding that the residents do not benefit in time.


He lamented that the CDF projects could end up as white elephants due to lack of personnel adding that there is some disconnect between the development of projects and staffing levels. “There is an urgent need to harmonise development of schools and health facilities with the relevant ministries,” he said. He called on the Government to regulate medical bills to enable the sick make harmonised payments in hospitals. Nyammo said patients are falling victim of commercialised medical services and accused some health facilities of fleecing the sick. He was speaking at a medical camp where he

said there is an urgent need to have more regulations on the Health Bill to enhance medical ethics. He added that the sick know the bills they ought to pay after they are treated noting that in other countries the cost of treatment is known on diagnosis. According to the Nyeri district medical officer of health more than 3,000 Nyeri residents benefited from the medical camp where about KSh3 million was spent.


Speaking on behalf of the officer, Lydia Nyaramba, Nyeri South community medical officer said most of the patients suffered from cold related illnesses. She said most residents above 40 years were testing positive for pneumonia, ear, nose and throat ailments, as well as diabetes due to the cold being experienced in the area. “Most of those testing positive are above 40 years and those more than 70 years old. These age groups are also testing positive for diabetes due to poor eating habits,” Nyaramba observed. The sick were being referred to the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital and other health facilities for specialised treatment. The camp was organised by the FT Nyammo Foundation with several medical and financial institutions donating medicine, staff and cash. The camp is organised biannually to offer the Othaya, Mukurweini and Tetu residents free medical services closer to their homes.

By ALLAN MURIMI For the food hawkers in Embu, every day is a nightmare as they face customers and dread being arrested by municipal askaris. More than 20 hawkers were arrested for parking and selling unchecked foodstuff, which is banned in Embu town. The hawkers were arrested in the streets where they had been operating illegally and in unhygienic conditions. Acting District Commissioner Daniel Obudo said the hawkers have been preparing and selling unchecked foodstuffs. “The 22 hawkers were arrested by public health officers for preparing and selling unchecked foodstuffs contrary to Caps 242 and 252 of the public health Act,” said Obudo. He noted that the vendors will be charged in court adding that food hawking in the streets remains banned and that those selling it are contravening the law as they are not trained to handle food. However, area residents noted that the hawkers have been selling cooked rice which is packed in plastic paper bags. They sell this for as little as KSh10 adding that it is hotel owners who collude with hawkers to sell their leftovers. “The hawkers have been getting leftover foodstuffs from hotels, wrapping it with papers and selling to unsuspecting residents,”

said Obudo. He reiterated that the hawkers must follow public health regulations as concerns food handling and eateries. Boiled egg sellers have been the most notorious and have been collecting rejected tomatoes from the market which they offer to their customers as kachumbari (salad) after lacing it with pepper. Obudo called on the residents to be more careful when buying foodstuff from peddlers adding that the concerned ministry will revoke licenses of hotels that collude to sell leftover foods. “We will not allow this trade to continue as we fear an outbreak of cholera or typhoid as the foodstuffs are prepared in unhygienic conditions,” said Obudo. Food hawking has mushroomed in the town with peddlers trading in boiled eggs, milk, yoghurt, samosas and milk. Recently public health officers outlawed selling of milk in plastic paper bags after traders started recycling the papers. The district public health officer said it was a recipe for communicable diseases adding that it would not be allowed. The peddlers were also accused of adding water to their milk hence ripping off unsuspecting customers. Use of jerry cans to transport the commodity was banned and the traders must use aluminium jars which are easy to clean.

ISSUE 069 September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Suspected poachers arrested in Kenyan parks By BENSON MWANGA & Maureen Rose Akinyi The fight against poacher has gone a notch higher and Kenya Wildlife Services is not resting on its laurels as poachers target prime wildlife. So far, KWS has arrested more than 1,600 people in connection with wildlife related crimes in national parks to safeguard its tourism sector. Majority of the suspects were arrested at the expansive Tsavo National Park were found engaging in subsistence and commercial poaching as well as trafficking wildlife products. “Wildlife related crimes are jeopardising our animals based tourism industry. We have arrested 1,625 suspects in the past one month and intensified the war against the menace in the parks,” said Paul Mbugua, Assistant Director for Conservation Education.


Briefing the press on measures that have been taken to eradicate poaching and persistent human wildlife conflict, Mbugua said by last week 31 people had so far been killed by wildlife in various parts of the country. He at the same time noted a widespread invasion of the weed “Mathenge” and water hyacinth in Lake Victoria as frustrating conservation efforts. Addressing Africa Science Journalists during the 2012. Conference held in Nakuru town, Mbugua said the Government and donors were spending billions of shillings in controlling the invasive plant species which are a threat to the ecosystem. “There has been a reduction in the conflicts this year since the cases have reduced due to surveillance and installation of electric fences in several parks in the Country,” noted Mbugua. He cited wildlife conflict hotspots as Laikipia Rumuruti, Narok, Transmara, Taita Taveta,

KWS rangers guard ivory that was impounded recently. A number of poachers have been arrested in connection with the illegal trade. Picture: Reject Correspondent Rombo, Lamu, Imenti South and Amboseli. Mbugua said over 970 acres of food crops have been massively destroyed by marauding elephants this year compared to 1,580 last year.


“This has impacted negatively on food security in the affected areas,” Mbugua noted. He added: “In addition to that, 80 percent of the conflicts are caused by elephants while poisonous snakes had also become a threat to human beings in the recent past.” Mbugua insisted that there is need to conserve the environment in the Tsavo ecosystem which has of late been hit by environmental degradation due overgrazing. Mbugua’s remarks came at a time when the Government is still grappling with increased cases of livestock incursion in the parks,

an issue that has adversely affected tourism activities and revenue collection. Tourists have persistently been complaining that they have been seeing more livestock than wildlife in the parks. He pointed out that increased human population, climate change, poor land use, interference in wildlife habitats are some of the causes of wildlife conflict in the country. “There is no proper land policy and people have interfered with wildlife habitats hence aggravating the conflict,” Mbugua said. He added: “We have constructed water pans in the park and erected barriers. We have also deployed animal problem control unit.” However, he reiterated that the wildlife conservation body had taken stringent measures to tackle wildlife conflict especially in communities bordering national parks. He also noted that KWS had

embarked on programmes that encourage communities bordering parks to start eco-tourism related activities in order to benefit from wildlife resource.


Mbugua stressed that the quick enactment of the Wildlife Bill would be the only solution to unrelenting Human-wildlife conflict in the country. “The proposed bill has provisions for compensation for crops, livestock and property damaged that is not in the current laws. It will also increase compensation for people killed and injured by wildlife,” Mbugua said. Currently compensation as a result of death caused by wildlife stands at Kh200,000 while for those injured it is KSh50,000. The KWS has been accused of giving more value to wildlife than human beings.

Devolution to improve service delivery By TITUS MAERO County governments will be empowered through devolution of power and resources to provide better services to the people. According to Ministry of Local Government Permanent Secretary Professor Karega Mutahi the Government has picked his ministry to spear-head the devolution process which he noted was the cardinal innovation under the country’s new Constitution. Mutahi noted that devolution of power marked a major shift from the contemporary scenario where top-to-bottom approach had been used instead of the more productive bottom-to-top system which guarantees full citizen participation. “The new dispensation emphasis would be placed on service delivery and citizen participation,” observed Mutahi. At the same time he stressed that local authorities should be ready for change if the objective of the Constitution was to be realised. Speaking in Kakamega during the closure of the Kenya Inter-Municipalities Sports and Cul-

tural Association (KIMSCA) Games, Karega urged Kenyans to be champions of change if the objectives of the new Constitution were to be achieved. “Under the new political dispensation the environment in which the local authorities operate would be practically changed through the devolved system,” Mutahi said. He added that civic bodies also have an obligation to ensure that the country attains targets of Vision 2030.


He observed that it is encouraging to note that the Government had since 1988 supported local authorities through the Local Authorities Transfer Fund (LATF) and other central government fiscal transfers. He also disclosed that todate, local authorities country wide had received over KSh57.4 billion through LATF adding that under the new constitutional dispensation county governments will manage more resources since at least 15 per cent of all revenue collected by the central government will go to the 47 counties.

He directed all local authorities to expeditiously lay a foundation for a better future by ensuring the viability of their programmes. He urged them to put their houses in order before the counties come into operation next year. Karega noted that the Sessional Paper on Devolved Government under the new constitution lays the policy foundation and pillars for its implementation. He said: “The document outlines the policy frameworks and provides the needed legislation and administrative actions needed to implement the devolved government.” He said the Ministry of Local Government had revised its service charter to enable it realise its mandate under the constitution and Vision 2030. He said that the new charter was a major shift from the one established in the year 2009. Mutahi said his ministry through the service charter had committed its self to enhance public understanding of its new role under the new constitutional dispensation and also to contribute through policy interventions.


Dwindling flamingo numbers hurting tourism By REUBEN MWAMBINGU and ABRAHAM MARIITA Heavy rains that pounded parts of Rift Valley in the recent months are to blame for dwindling flamingo population. According to conservationists, Lake Nakuru being a saline water body favours growth of algae and other micro-organisms which form nutritious food for the birds. However, recurrent heavy rains as a result of climate change have diluted the salinity and made Lake Nakuru environment unfriendly for the big birds. Kenya Wildlife Service officials in charge of the park say the number of flamingos recently went down from a record 1.7 million to less than 10,000. According to the wildlife conservationists, Joseph Dadacha who is also the park’s deputy warden, the flamingos, migrated to other lakes within Rift Valley in search of a friendlier environment for survival. “Algaes such as spirulina are a source of food rich in protein and vitamins. These can only thrive within salinity levels of up to around eight to 10 PH levels or higher,” explained Dadacha. He said this when he addressed science journalists who made a field visit at the park. Dadacha noted that the region has experienced rising levels of water and the lake is “virtually flooded”. He hinted that the current phenomenon being experienced within the conservancy is a cyclic phenomenon which normally occurs after decades and the flooding was experienced in the last three decades. “If you move around you will not see many flamingos because most of them have migrated elsewhere. They have gone to other more saline lakes within the rift like Lake Baringo,” he noted. The flamingos are among 450 species of birds which form a unique attraction spot for tourists who frequent the conservancy.

Increased level

The park is regarded as one of the Important Bird Areas (IBA), a factor that singles it out as one of the leading national parks in the country. Waters in the Lake Nakuru are rising fast. Some parts of the park have submerged due to increased water levels attributed to increased rainfall being experienced in the area and the Mau Forest. According to Alice Bett, a scientist from the Kenya Wildlife Service, there has been an increase of silt levels carried into the lake by five rivers. “The silt contributes to the decrease of the lake depth thereby forcing the waters to flood to surrounding areas,” noted Bett. Meanwhile, the Kenya Wildlife Service project to raise KSh20 million for the conservation of Lake Nakuru National Park during this year’s cycle is slated for September. Dadacha announced that preparations are on course and over 200 riders have registered for the annual cycling event. “The funds raised will be used to rehabilitate the 74 kilometre electric fence at an estimated cost of KSh1.2 million per kilometre in order to restrain baboons from straying out of the park,” he said. Dadacha recalled that last year’s event managed to raise KSh10 million that was used to erect a 10 kilometre baboon proof electric fence. He said the fence will reduce human wildlife conflict which has been witnessed in the past as baboons cross over the existing fence and destroy crops in the community sparking confrontation. Speaking to journalists during a tour of the park organised by Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA), Dadacha said the fence will also protect the endangered rhinos. He said there are only 1,000 rhinos in Kenya adding that security around the park has been intensified to protect the few rhinos within the park. “The park’s sustainability is highly threatened by the increasing urbanization, pollution, land degradation and decrease in quality and quantity of water into the lake,” he noted.


ISSUE 069, September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Young people urged to embrace agriculture as a career By WANDERI NJENGA A non-governmental organisation has partnered with universities in Kenya to address food crisis in the country through teaching students to embrace farming. Pan African Agribusiness and Agro industry Consortium (PANAAC) has seen the need for the country to equip itself with better farming skills and address food insecurity, hunger and low standards of living especially in rural population hence involving the students. Chief executive officer PANAAC Lucy Muchoki says that the country is being faced by hunger because energetic youth have shunned agriculture and are busy looking for white collar jobs. “We are targeting the young people in universities to embrace agriculture as there is low numbers of students taking up agriculture courses and help them see its benefits so that they can help solve agricultural problems being faced by the country,” observes Muchoki. She noted that the young people are shunning agriculture because in school they are taught that farming is for those people who have never been to school or those who failed their exams and no one want to be associated with it. “There is much more financial and economic gains to agriculture than the young people think. Universities are not sufficiently geared to meet the needs of the industry,” says Muchoki. She observes: “Graduates often cannot find employment, while many small businesses lack staff with the education and skills needed to drive innovation. Essentially, the relationship between the demands of the private sector and what universities teach is too weak.”

Students benefitting from one of PANAAC’s programmes on field attachment. Students in college are being encouraged to take up agricultural courses. Pictures: Wanderi Njenga and we at PANAAC are poised to bring universities into agricultural innovation through increased and strengthened collaboration be-


College approach

Muchoki says they are currently approaching the universities where they pick a few students to teach in the Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) programme which responds to the recommendations by the African Union to strengthen linkages between universities, research and business. PANAAC has since picked students from various universities in the county to take part in various farming activities around the country like in Kiambu, Murang’a and Kisii. Muchoki says that the students familiarize themselves with what farmers in the rural areas do so that the students can promote agricultural innovation and produce graduates with entrepreneurial as well as business skills and research-based knowledge that is relevant to the development of agriculture and agribusiness. According to James Nyingi, regional youth Programme coordinator at PANAAC, the Government should put more emphasis on agriculture as the main source of income for the country.


Nyingi challenged the young people to break the mind set of being employed in white collar jobs but instead enable themselves through SMEs to access information and products on the innovative financing options by setting up green houses where they can grow their own crops with very little knowledge. “One does not need to go to school to be taught how to come up with a green house. This is a skill that one can be taught only once,

tween universities, research institutions and the private sector as well as improved teaching and learning through knowledge sharing for free,” Nyingi says.

“We are targeting the young people in universities to embrace agriculture as there is low numbers of students taking up agriculture courses and help them see the benefits of it so that they can help solve agricultural problems being faced by the country.” — Lucy Muchoki, CEO PANAAC

He suggests that government lend its ears to the youth on what they want to venture into and later empower them financially. “In this county we rely 80 per cent on agriculture and without the young people being actively engaged in agriculture this county will never have food security,” says Nyingi. He adds: The Government should listen to them and funds them to implement agricultural programmes.” Average farmers practice small scale farming which has been attributed to food shortage. “The Government should give out commercial lands for farming which will address the food situation in the country,” says Nyingi. The programme is being funded by the Royal Danish Foreign Ministry and implemented by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) through the ongoing Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) programme. According to Muchoki, “we need to embrace green house farming which does not use a lot of land and can be managed by young people and also find solutions to trap water during rainy season to be used for farming during sunny seasons. While there may be challenges, Muchoki notes that there are models to be emulated. “This will take a concerted effort across all government sectors, private sector, civil society organisations, development partners, institutions of higher learning and the average African to commit and contribute towards delivering and attaining the best agriculture for all,” she says. If the country does not invest in food and nutrition security, the consequences will be big and the young people should get involved in agriculture fully.

New technology for greenhouse farming introduced By KEN NDAMBU Environmental researchers from University of Nairobi have come up with a new technology of greenhouses brands capable of harvesting rain fed water from its rooftops. The technology administered by the university and being funded by Kenya National Council of Science and Technology (KNCST) is being tried for the first time in Kitui West Constituency in one college, two secondary schools and two farmer groups. The project dubbed “Water Harvesting and Greenhouse Farming for Enhanced Household Water, Food and Nutritional Security (WHENFS)” aims at empowering farmers to produce enough food for domestic use and sale. The hortipro greenhouses comes in various sizes with the smallest being that of eight by 15 metres all fitted with gutters to harvest water from the roofs during the rainy season after which the water flows by gravity to the farm through a tank. “This is an ideal greenhouse where farming activity is combined with added supply of water from the roofs,” said Dr Ayub Gitau, senior mechanisation lecturer at the University of Nairobi. “Unlike other greenhouses, hortipro products ease water problem by over 50 per cent as the water harvested from the roofs can be stored and used later during hard times,” explained Gitau. The technology is being tried in South Eastern University College (SEUCO), AIC Kyondoni Girls’ Secondary School, Matinyani Secondary School and through two farmer self-help groups of Mandongoi and Mutulu. “The three year programme is aimed at domesticating the existing greenhouse technology which uses only overhead tanks,” said Dr. Joseph Mugachia, WHENFS deputy team leader.

Improved security

He noted that the overall goal of the innovation is to improve efficiency of greenhouse farming technology in the country asserting that the method has proved to be a sure way of maximizing horticulture production in the households. If well managed, the innovation can greatly improve food security in the homesteads, which has over the years lacked especially in arid and semi-arid lands. According to Pauline Mwania, Principal of Kyondoni Girl’ Secondary School, which has the best practice of the new technology, signs from the first crop show that the yields are encouraging due to reinforced water harvesting system. “Water from the greenhouse roof tops flows freely throw gravity to the farm boosting the moisture content for increased food production,” noted Mwania. She observed that the innovation is an income generating activity that should be introduced in secondary schools to address food security and reduce costs of buying basic vegetables. “From the greenhouse project, the school is now able to make extra income through the sale of tomato to meet some of its needs,” explained Mwania adding that the nutritional value of the diet of the students has also been increased. According to Boniface Maanzi, chairman of Mutulu Farmers Self-Help Group, they intend to use proceeds from the sale of tomato to buy tanks to ease the water problem. “Farmers have been using cans to fill water in the overhead tank but to maximize the new technology, additional water tanks are necessary,” noted Maanzi. The new technology comes as farmers in Kitui County shift from conventional farming to horticulture farming using greenhouse method and drip irrigation to maximise food production in their backyard farms.

ISSUE 069 September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth


Prison officer quits job, excels in rabbit keeping By WILSON ROTICH    One year ago he could not pay his children’s school fees on time. He was surviving on green vegetables for his meals because he could not afford meat. He could not keep his two suits clean and tidy either. Today he is a happy man because bunnies are literally paying his bills. This was after Julius Kitur resigned from public service to rear rabbits as a commercial venture. He defied the Kalenjin tradition, which dictates that a man worth his salt must own cows, not small domestic animals such as rabbits or birds, as wealth. Kitur who hails from Kamagut village, in Uasin Gishu County, now smiles all the way to the bank with big perks from the sale of rabbits. Kitur says: “Feeding rabbits is not expensive. They feed on hay and a little dairy meal and water. The input is small as compared to the profit because you can sell one rabbit for between KSh3,000 and KSh5,000.”


His recent harvest earned him an amount he had never dreamt of receiving in his public service job. “I began this business in July, last year. I have since sold around 70 rabbits. I sold each for about KSh3,000 and fetched more than a person who has planted five acres of maize.” Kitur now plans to set up an industry out of a business that was previously seen by his peers as children’s pastime. Rabbits were better kept as pets, but not anymore as they have taken him places. “It is a profitable venture because it does not need big land. Many people have small plots of land. If children could keep them well then why can’t adults perform well? I travelled to China recently and I saw there is a big market for rabbit meat sausages,” said Kitur.

He added: “We are now planning to build a sausage factory that will require a lot of white meat like that of rabbits. Even now many supermarkets in Kenya are buying my rabbits.” However, the former prisons officer cautions that a serious farmer should invest in a decent shelter for his animals. “There are some diseases that affect ears and mouths of rabbits, especially when they live in a dirty place. When rabbits lack calcium, they can even eat their babies but there is medication for prevention of that as well as de-worming.” His venture was not just informed by economic problems. He also noticed that many people had changed their lifestyles, which resulted in a change of diet. “I realised that many people these days are shying away from red meat because of many ailments associated with it. They now prefer white meat, which includes rabbit that is high on protein and with little fat,” Kitur affirmed. The 36-year old father of three challenges young people not to waste time looking for hard to get and poorly paying white collar jobs. “I want to challenge schoolleavers not to insist on being employed. If you keep rabbits for one year, you can easily buy a Toyota Probox car.” Kitur also has a message for owners of large tracts of land who sometimes starve. He says

that a large number of rabbits can be kept profitably on a small parcel of land. “I want to challenge all and sundry not to be ashamed of small-scale businesses. Some people have half an acre and yet they drive cars. They are prosperous. Please use your farm to benefit you,” he advises. Kitur keeps three breeds of rabbits namely New Zealand White, Kenyan White and American Chinchilla on his two acre farm. He also keeps dairy goats for sale. He says that goats browse and do not graze. They would

“I want to challenge all and sundry not to be ashamed of small-scale businesses. Some people have half an acre and yet they drive cars. They are prosperous. Please use your farm to benefit you.” — Julius Kitur

Julius Kitur (right) with one of his workers displays his rabbits. The former prisons officer has been settling his bills with sales from the rabbits. Pictures: Wilson Rotich. flourish on land that would starve a cow. He says: “Keeping goats is cheap. They feed on four kilos of dairy meal or five kilos of hay per day. They should also be salted and de-wormed. One goat produces four litres of milk. Our four goats can give us 20 litres of milk per day.” Kitur tells youth that the goat milk business can change their lives for the better.


“I want to challenge young people who are not employed to venture into this business. For example, if you have five litres of goat milk, which sells for KSh150 per litre, then you will receive about KSh500 in a day. It is a booming business.” This booming business is not without hiccups, though. While blaming inexperience, Kitur recounts an incident where he lost a kid. “The he-goat killed one of

the best kids of my goat. I had not known that I had to separate the he-goat from the rest. Last year, we lost another dairy goat to a mysterious disease. We suspected she ate the wrong grass. We have since kept them on a zero-grazing shelter.” Contrary to traditional beliefs, Kitur says that “many people, even those living in towns are aware that goat milk is medicinal. Even fermented goat milk is more delicious than meat.. The former civil servant notes that many farmers in Uasin Gishu have started keeping dairy goats because of the favourable climate. He is asking them “to come together so that we can form an association of dairy farmers. This can help us market our dairy produce”. Apart from keeping the rabbits and goats, Kitur also keeps cows for food and commercial purposes.

While dairy farming is part of the backbone of the national economy, Kitur and many other dairy farmers are crying foul. They say that it is no longer paying. He laments: “In the month of July, dairy companies buy our milk at a very low price. We wanted them to buy a litre of milk for KSh60 up from the current KSh40. We are not satisfied by the current market share.” Despite all the challenges of marketing that are not about to diminish, Kitur and many other dairy farmers are resorting to industrialisation as a remedy. He affirms: “We have formed a group of a few farmers. We want to build a milk processing factory so that we can supply our processed products directly to the supermarkets who sell to consumers. We can then consistently supply cheese and milk to the vast market even during dry seasons.”

Oduor’s dream of being a journalist refuses to die By RICKY OKWAYO “Quitters are not winners” is the strong message that injects hope in the life of a 29 year old Stephen Oruoch Oduor. Oduor dropped out of school 10 years ago before rejoining and scoring a B in 2011. This has not marked the end of his dreams, he still aspires to be a journalist. Oduor believes that the sky is the limit and his dreams of joining the “Fourth Estate” will one day become a reality. Despite his advancing age and being a father of three children who looking up to him, Oduor is not giving up. Life has not been a bed of roses for the alumni of Nyanga Mixed Secondary School, Siaya District. Apart from juggling in his education after a sponsor agreed to chip in and pay his school fees, Oduor is the sole breadwinner for his family. Oduor sat for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Nyaganga Primary School, Siaya District in 1995

and was admitted to the prestigious St Mary’s School, Yala. Little did I know that a lifelong turmoil awaited me after I was sent home for school fees which my ailing mother could not afford,” he says.

Stayed Home

He was forced to stay at home for the whole of first term. St Mary’s being out of his mother’s reach he changed and joined Nyaganga Secondary School formerly Adeya Adongo Secondary School, following the intervention of Dongruok Alego-Usonga Initiative (DAU), a campaign platform under the tutelage of the current Alego-Usonga MP, Edwin Yinda. “After being out of school for some time, I managed position 28 out of 32,” he recalls. The next term he topped his class before his hopes was cut short after DAU failed to honour its promise of sponsoring his education for Form Two and beyond. However, a former teacher, the late Paul Baraza came to his rescue through

good Samaritans and he was enrolled in Form Three in 1998 at the defunct Mbeji Academy. Unfortunately, Mbeji was sold and the new owner could not hear of any previous arrangements for the students who could not pay school fees and Oduor was hounded out of the institution. Seeing that the future was bleak with no hopes of ever obtaining quality education, Oduor sought other avenues to fend for his family after marrying wife in 2003. They were blessed with three children. With the responsibility of a family, he went to Mombasa where he was recruited as guard into a security firm. He had barely worked for five months before his contract was terminated. “I felt like my world was crashing in on me since everything that I tried my hands on never succeeded,” Oduor says. After serious soul searching, Oduor decided to go back to his ancestral home in Mugana village, Bar Osimbo Sub-Location, South Alego Location, Siaya District where he ventured into any menial job that he would come

across. “However, things got worse as my mother succumbed to illness on December 26, 2010, just one day after Christmas,” he says. However, despite all these tribulations, he was not giving up on completing secondary schooling. In 2011 he joined Rambo Mixed Secondary School in Form Four. However, before he could do his exams his wife died in March forcing him to stay out of school for the rest of the term. When schools reopened in second term, he managed to score a C plus in the Siaya District joint mock exams before scoring B plain with 61 points in the 2011 Stephen Oruoch Odour KCSE examinations, missing the public holding his KCSE certificate university cut off point with three points. With a strong but simple command during the interview in Siaya. He scored a B plain. of the English language, Oduor brags that he left a record at his former school Picture: Ricky Okwayo for being the first student to have obtained an impressive grade B plain Oduor says his ambitions of becoming a since the institution was established journalist still stand. ”If I can get support, then I am sure of completing university three years ago. The third born in a family of six, and pursuing my dream career,” he says.


Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

ISSUE 069, September 16-30, 2012

Agriculture key pillar in achieving vision 2030 By HENRY KAHARA

Forum seeks innovative solutions to unemployment By CAROLYNE OYUGI Students from the University of Nairobi have innovated an electronic questionnaire. The devise known as Pima Sema, is a new way of getting rid of paper work in doing questionnaires. The devise can also be used in offices and institutions and offices to get the clients opinion on the quality of services offered. The device works by pressing your answer to the questions written and when you are done, the data goes straight to the computer and automatically updates. According to Ken Abwire, manager of Fabrication Laboratory, University of Nairobi: “We waste so much paper when doing surveys and the earlier we start changing that practice the better for planet earth.” This innovation also offers the public a chance to reduce if not get rid of corruption in public offices since you can include a question touching on that among other questions. One of the brains behind the devise, Nicholas Kamali said: “In most surveys, a lot of man power is used, someone has to sit down and analyse the data.” He noted that the devise offers cross tabulations of gender, location in terms of the department where it was placed and so one can read the results at any time.


The machine also has the advantage of being manufactured locally. Every part of it is made of locally available materials and assembled by Kenyan youths. The team is also proud of inventing a machine that offers privacy that is required when filling a questionnaire. “The data cannot be tampered with the moment you press finish. You can, therefore, be assured that it is accurate,” said Peter Mbari. The team has approached the government of Kenya with their great idea and some ministries already love it. One such office is the office of the Prime Minister. They have given the group a green light to improve on it and produce more. The device, when fully improved will be available for institutions on lease and maintained by the University of Nairobi Technology

Park. The devise was showcased by the students during an African Leaders Forum that also came discussed renewable energy and climate change. The meeting Students from the University of Nairobi was the first African Forum on Science, demonstrate how the Pima Sema Technology and Innovation (STI). The meeting, hosted by the Kenyan questionnaire device works. Below: the Pima Sema device that is currently in use at the Government, sought to discuss youth employment, human capital develop- Prime Minister's office. Pictures: Carolyne Oyugi ment and inclusive growth. known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles. Of these, 4.0 per cent are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 3.8 The meeting also raised concerns over the per cent are threatened. effects of climate change and global warming. It is home to at least 6,506 species of vascuIt was noted that Kenya has suffered the conlar plants, of which 4.1 per cent are endemic. sequences of global warming and there is need 6.0 per cent of Kenya is protected under the to put more effort in saving the situation. One International Union for Conservation of Naof the many ways of addressing the issue is by ture (IUCN) categories one to four. increasing the forest cover in the country that All these blessings and beautiful sites need is less than the internationally required 10 per policies that are detailed and straight to the cent. point for easy implementations. According to the Food and Agriculture One of the issues that was conspicuous durOrganisation (FAO), 6.1 per cent or about ing the forum is that countries lacked political 3,467,000 hectares of Kenya is forested. Out of commitment to draft national action plans and this, 18.9 per cent is classified as primary forest, set up monitoring frameworks dealing with rethe most biodiversity and carbon-dense form newable energy and climate change. of forest. Kenya has 197,000 hectares of planted The meeting noted that increased, politiforest. cal will was needed to create a future in which There is, however, a persistent trend of the there was food, water and health security. country losing forest cover instead of increasThe meeting reiterated that the youth ing despite the many attempts to plant trees. should be empowered with the requisite skills Between 1990 and 2010, Kenya lost an to play an active role in the transformation of average of 12,050 hectares per year. In total, STI toward energy renewal and climate change between 1990 and 2010, Kenya lost around solutions. 241,000 hectares of its forest cover. The experts chaired by Youba Sokona of the According to figures from the World ConAfrica Climate Policy Centre also considered servation, Kenya’s forests contain 476 million how partners and resources could be combined metric tons of carbon in living forest biomass. to solve problems related to climate change and Kenya is also blessed with some 1,847 move to action. They called for capacity building targets and training as well as support for the provision of sustainable energy infrastructure in rural areas. The meeting called for partnerships involving local, national public and private sector players together with academia were necessary to stimulate action; regional networks had to be in the spirit of finding local solutions to local problems. — Peter Mbari


“The data cannot be tampered with the moment you press finish. You can, therefore, be assured that it is accurate.”

Agriculture is one of the six sectors expected to generate the bulk that vision 2030 targets for economic growth. Kenya’s economy is mostly dependent on agriculture, where it accounts for about 50 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This makes the sector to be the central player in the country’s economy, meaning a need for it to be treated with the seriousness it deserves. Speaking while at a workshop organised by the Kenya Agricultural Transformation Forum in Nairobi, Prime Minister Raila Odinga emphasised on the need of investing in the sector as it plays a crucial role in the country’s economy. “Our passion to invest in this sector is because of the potential it carries for attaining food security objectives as well as increasing rural incomes,” said Raila. Currently the sector is one of the few enjoying a big share of the country’s revenue over the last five financial years. For now, the share of the annual budget allocated to agriculturally related investments is at 11 per cent which is above the 10 per cent commitment made by Kenya and many other African countries in the Maputo declaration that ushered in the Comprehensive Agriculture African Development Programme (CAADP). Raila noted that the Agriculture Sector Development Strategy (ASDS) which envisages a food secure and prosperous nation by 2020 is on its implementation. “By 2015 Agriculture Sector Development Strategy aims at reducing the number of people who are food insecure by 30 per cent and population below poverty line to less than 25 per cent.” In his speech, Raila noted that despite the steps the Government has made in ensuring that the country has enough food, majority of Kenyan families are still struggling to put enough food on the table. “Not only do Kenyans need affordable, nutritious food, we also need low food prices in order to attract investment that generates employment and we are aware how much we need jobs especially for our young people,” Raila reiterated. He added: “It is not just the quantity of the food that matters but its quality as well.”


He reiterated: “It is worrying to note that although Kenya’s agricultural system is amongst the most developed in Africa, millions of Kenyans still struggle daily to put food on the table. More over about 17 per cent of the children under the age of five suffer the effects of malnutrition.” Poor soils, limited storage facilities, inefficient markets and marketing systems, and persistent underinvestment in agricultural research continue to limit the potential of Kenya agricultural sector. Raila stressed the need to diversify food crops because of climate change, which is affecting more delicate crops such as maize. “We need to acknowledge this and quickly move to introduce or expand the alternative crops to help weather these climatic shifts.” Around three quarters of Kenya’s population is dependent on the agriculture industry but with its erratic weather patterns and vast regions of arid desert, it is a very unstable sector. Periods of drought can be crippling, not only in terms of food supply, but in jobs as well. Around three quarters of Kenya’s population is dependent on the agriculture industry but with its erratic weather patterns and vast regions of arid land, it is a very unstable sector. Periods of drought can be crippling, not only in terms of food supply but in jobs as well. Despite the challenges, Raila said he was optimistic that the high targets Kenya has put for itself are achievable. “This is because of the past successes in improving farming and the fact that there is increasing public and private investment towards agriculture,” he noted. During this year’s budget allocations, Finance Minister Robinson Njeru Githae added KSh8 billion to the sector in order for it to scale up the ongoing irrigation programme and initiate new ones. According to Githae, the Government is not only interested in attaining food security from the agriculture sector but also creating gainful employment opportunities.

ISSUE 069 September 16-30, 2012


Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Old man disappointed after computers reject his name By JOSEPH MUKUBWA An old man from Mukurwe-ini District in Nyeri County who is in twilight years is disappointed that the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) computers have refused to accept his name due to age. Julius Wanyondu Gatonga,128, from Mang’arang’ara village is at loss over what he should do next after his registration to be a member of NHIF was failed due to his old age. “What crime have I committed that my name cannot be accepted by the computers? The Government must answer me,” he complained. Wanyondu had his name rejected when he attempted to be registered as a beneficiary of

NHIF but failed as his age is said to be past the computer era. “I urge the Government to assist me in resolving the problem because I’m poor and relies on NHIF in case of medication,” said Wanyondu.


According to John Macharia, an official of Muungano Mwema Enterprises, a company that works hand in hand with registering people with NHIF, Wanyondu registered to be a member in March this year but only got a reply few months later that his name had been rejected in the system. “Wanyondu has been regarded as too old for the computer era despite the NHIF slogan that

there is no age limit with organisation. We are now wondering what to do next,” said Macharia. They now have to use his 89-year-old wife Beth Wanjiru as the contributor because he has completely been rejected by the system. Macharia says efforts to get assistance from the Nyeri NHIF Branch manager hit a snag as he also did not understand the error. Macharia noted that the NHIF considers people who were born from the year 1890 yet Wanyondu was born in year 1884. His fourth born son 70-year- old John Nguru says that they do not know what to do because their father is very old and anything can happen anytime and that is why they need the NHIF membership for him.

Women of child bearing age at greater risk of contracting HIV By TITUS MAERO                                    A research conducted by a university on HIV/AIDS awareness in relation to contraceptive use shows that the mode of its transmission places sexually active child bearing women at a bigger risk . Scholars from Kabianga University College, who undertook the study, noted that the disease is transmitted primarily through heterosexual contact. The research team led by Dr Makutsa Makila undertook the study in Kimilili Division, Bungoma District, where HIV infection cases were said to be high among married women compared to their male counterparts. In a presentation titled: “A study of HIV and Aids Awareness in Relation to Contraceptives Practices among Married Child bearing Women in Kimilili Division noted that married women sampled and studied were aged between 20-34 years. The study, which also investigated the use of contraceptives, found out that in spite of the women having knowledge on the mode of HIV transmission, this knowledge is yet to be translated into practical condom use. The team, which released the findings during the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) 4th Annual International Conference, pointed out that “the use of rational choices models in HIV infection preventive programmes may not be adequate to change people’s behaviour especially in societies where the prevailing cultural practices and norm encourages

Politicians have been warned to take care of what they say in public lest they find themselves behind bars. According to the Criminal Investigations Director (CID) Francis Ndegwa Muhoro politicians should watch their tongues lest they land into trouble. He warned politicians who use hate speech during this campaign period that they will be dealt with ruthlessly by the long arm of the law. “It is time politicians conducted peaceful campaigns and united Ke-

Woman calls for help as Chinese mines affect her livelihood By JOAN MWENDWA

Mothers and their children wait to be attended to at a clinic in Mombasa County. The study done reveals that women who are having children are at a greater risk of contracting HIV. Picture: Reject Correspondent large families and discourages the use of contraceptives of any type”.


The study took the form of crosssectoral descriptive study where the use of open and closed ended questionnaire and interview schedules were self administered. “Key informants were also used to obtain the data. Sixty women were selected using purposive and systematic sampling techniques,” says the report. The study also used units of

analysis of conjugal descriptive data analysis which was done to answer the research questions in which the detailed questionnaires had coded system of use.     According to the report, the main findings of the study showed that most of the married child bearing women in Kimilili Division perceived themselves not to be at risk of being vulnerable to HIV-infection. This was based on the belief that their spouses were faithful. It was also discovered that cultural practices such as male domination and wife

inheritance exposed women to high risk of contracting HIV. The detailed study highlights suggestions and solutions that can help in the prevention and control of HIV and Aids among married women in view of their vulnerability to contract the disease. The report also states that married women’s adoption of HIV prevention measures is limited. The study seeks to create awareness on the preventive measures they should adopt in cases where spouses have other sexual partners.

Politicians will no longer get away with hate speech By JOSEPH MUKUBWA

Julius Wanyondu Gatonga, 128 shows his ID after his name was rejected by NHIF in an attempt to get registered. Picture: Joseph Mukubwa

nyans in order not to have a repeat of the 2007-2008 post elections violence,” he said.


At the same time, Muhoro cautioned Kenyans, especially the youth and women, not to be mislead and exploited by politicians adding that there is life after elections. He observed that Kenya will remain after the polls and so there was need for Kenyans to avoid such politicians who promote hate speeches. “Let every Kenyan know that there is life after polls. The elections

will come and go but Kenya will remain,” he said. Muhoro, who was accompanied by Tetu District Commissioner Herman Shambi, was speaking at Ndugamano PCEA Church in Tetu district, Nyeri County during the burial of Monica Wangui Mwangi, 85 who was the mother of Deputy Commissioner of Police King’ori Mwangi. He urged Kenyans to elect people of integrity adding that they should pick managers of the county resources in order for those elected to take their counties to higher levels economically.

“Let us elect the best managers to oversee our resources. I am not saying politicians are not managers but let us elect people of integrity,” he said. He also urged Kenyans to ensure that they were in safe areas every time and should report to authority any suspicious character. Muhoro also urged leaders of Central Kenya region to join hands with police and provincial administration in order to eradicate illicit brews in the area saying that many have been rendered zombies due to the brews.

A woman is asking the Government to come to her aid because her life has been negatively affected by the coal mining factory which is sponsored by Chinese Flexi Mining Company. The mine is located at Kyanika Location, Mwingi Central, Kitui County. According to Rose Mathuki, a primary school teacher at Kyanika Primary School, the coal mine which is located just 200 metres away from her house has affected her health adversely. Mathuki says that she has developed chest problems and her voice has also been affected due to the dust and smoke coming from the mines. This has forced her to visit different hospitals in Mwingi, Kitui and Nairobi. Mathuki, a mother of three children and a widow says this has been a very hard time for her family. The factory usually closes at midnight and that is when the noise pollution comes to a halt. “Before they shut down we have to stay awake,” she says. Mathuki has four permanent houses which are now cracked and filled with holes. She is scared that the houses can collapse any time. “The compound is full of dust and small particles of stones which comes from the factory after the explosions, which is done after every two day,” says Mathuki.

No feedback

She reported the matter to District Officer and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) but has not received any positive feedback. “Instead they have asked me to take my complaints by filing a case,” says Mathuki. Mathuki barely has enough money to sustain her family leave alone extra funds to take the matter to the courts. Teaching has been very hard for her since she lost her voice. She informed the KNUT secretary of Kitui County but no help has come her way. . Mathuki is also unable to practice farming because all her land is covered with dusty soil and stones from the factory. She now gets low and unhealthy produce. This has forced her to buy foodstuff from the market which would otherwise have come from the farm. Mathuki faces the challenge of cleanliness because she cannot wash her clothes since they will be covered by the dust. Her house is covered in dust and the seats are white from the dust. Most of her domestic animals have died and she wonders for how long this will go on. Although her neighbours are also affected, it is not as much as hers since she is the one nearest to the mines. Mathuki insists that she was never given a notice by the company to vacate before they started the project and she feels betrayed that her rights have been trampled on.


ISSUE 069, September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Kenya leads in revenue collection By BONIFACE MULU Kenya is leading in as far as revenue collection is concerned compared to Uganda and Tanzania. This was said by Martin Napisa, Programmes Officer, with the National Taxpayers Association (NTA). Napisa observed that Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) collects revenue from the public on behalf of the Kenya’s government. “We (the NTA) trace corruption among the Government,” Napisa explained. He added: “The NTA is not a witch-hunting organisation but also involves itself in budget analysis.” He was speaking to members of the public at the Kitui Municipal Stadium during the official launch of the Kitui Central CDF Citizen Report Card by the National Taxpayers Association where acting local District Commissioner Emmanuel Mwachiro was the chief guest. Napisa said NTA work’s with the Global Integrity, which is funded by the World Bank, for the benefit of Kenyans.


“We have already audited the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) money in 128 parliamentary constituencies and the Local Authorities Transfer Fund (LATF) money in 21 local authorities in Kenya,” said Napisa. He added: “Every year we select several constituencies in Kenya and offer this report.” Napisa said they run a number of programmes within the NTA such as the Citizen Report Card, the International Budget Partnership and the Schools Support Project. In relation to the Schools Support Project, he said they support primary schools in the country. Napisa noted that the NTA was started by the Kenya Government in 2006 but officially started providing service in 2008. He said that the parastatal has eight offices in Kenya where each of the country’s eight provinces has an office. Mwachiro said that it is the right of every Kenyan citizen to get services from the government. “Citizens must know how their funds are used. They have been given power by the constitution to trace and know the usage of the funds,” Mwachiro said.

Justice taken to the streets as Judiciary cleans up By JOSEPH MUKUBWA Justice has never been brought closer to the residents of Nyeri as it happened last month. On that day, all judicial officials rolled up their sleeves and brushed shoulders with the common man and woman as they cleaned up the town on the slopes of Mount Kenya. Indeed, they are used to delivering rulings to petty offenders where the wrongdoers are ordered to clean up the Government officers, trim fences, collect garbage and tend flowers. The same magistrates and judges only sit in the ‘’mighty’ chair where they rarely mingle with the members of the public. However, it was a new dawn as they practically took up brushes and cleaned the court compound. The roles were reversed during the exercise when the magistrates and judges literally cleaned up the law courts, mopping up the walls and cutting grass while interacting with members of the public. You could easily greet and hug or even order Justice Joseph Sergon at the time when he launched the clean up exercise within the courts. Clad in white, mouth mask and blue aprons, members of the Judiciary scrubbed floors and trimmed the lawns with

other court staff including clerks, subordinate staff, lawyers and senior police officers. “Yes my Lord,” a lawyer answered the judge while still mopping up the floor e unlike other times when the lawyer would use such terms while at the court benches while advocating a serious court matter.


Some curious Nyeri residents could not believe their eyes as they watched from a safe distance as judges and magistrates cleaned the Judiciary premises. Lawyers and senior police officers also kept their suits aside and engaged in the community work. “I have realised that cleaners do a lot of work. It’s a tough job. I might turn out to be a trade unionist so that the cleaners can be paid good money. It’s also an interesting job and instead of going to the gym, you can be doing such a job,” noted Justice Sergon after cleaning for over three hours. He said this is a clear demonstration that everybody is equal before the law and God. Sergon said this was the first project the Judiciary had initiated to show wananchi that they are also human beings and everybody should work in a clean environment.

High Court judge Justice Joseph Sergon (right) together with a colleague cleaning up Nyeri law courts recently. Picture: Joseph Mukubwa “I have sweated until I cannot sweat any more. We shall henceforth be doing such work every month as part of radical judicial reforms,” Sergon noted. The judge said he had borrowed the idea from Kigali in Rwanda where all

businesses are closed for a day and all engage in a clean-up exercise. Other programmes include exhibitions which will be held next month and a judicial march in town which will help the Judiciary to interact with the public and educate them on court processes.

Government urged to weed out fake colleges By ANDANJE WAKHUNGU The Government has been urged to monitor and vet tertiary colleges across the country and weed out bogus ones. Speaking during the education stakeholders’ forum in Mombasa County, Joshua Rume, Principal Mombasa Aviation College said most of the colleges do not meet the required Government standards as per courses recognised by the Ministry of Higher Education. “These institutions are registered as certified institutions by the ministry, but you will find some of them having different curriculums contrary to the laid down regulations,” said Rume. He observed that once an institution has been registered, the Government, through the Ministry of Higher Education should ensure that the right courses are taught to the trainees. He said some the colleges had curriculums that did not go in tandem with the education standards in the country and the set of examination that did not run parallel with the job specifications within the country’s job market. “The Institute of Commercial Management (ICM) examinations are only curriculum developers unlike examination from kenya National Examina-

tions Council (KNEC) which is locally recognised and internationally approved. We want ICM examiners and developers to vet which colleges are affiliated with them so that they can offer quality and standard services to them,” Rume noted. He was reacting to issues raised after it appeared that some of the graduates from the sub-standard colleges failed to meet the required standards in the practicals due to incompetency at the level of education offered. However, he stressed that lecturers at the said colleges should be at the forefront to teach local content rather than concentrate on curriculum from abroad. Rume noted that the major challenge facing these institutions was that they lacked proper train-

“The Ministry of Education is not vetting properly these colleges and that is why we see graduates behaving as if they have never been inside a classroom.” — Joshua Rume

ing equipment. “We have a few colleges and universities that develop relevant knowledge on practical issues,” Rume said. He reiterated that the Government has not been keen in monitoring these training institutions leading to some colleges even registering as government oriented and ending up producing half-baked students who are unable to compete in the job market. “The Ministry of Education is not vetting properly these colleges and that is why we see graduates behaving as if they have never been inside a classroom,” Rume observed. He warned parents to carefully scrutinise vocational colleges and other training institutions before enrolling their children in them.   He also urged the Government to frequently monitor universities once they have been mandated to offer certain courses so that it can bring sanity in the education sector. “Who is monitoring universities? Nobody!” he lamented. Rume called for revision of KNEC syllabus stating that most students prefer international examinations since Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) is too complicated for the students and parents to categorise.

Children make streets their permanent home By KARIUKI MWANGI Seventy one percent of children who have been living and working in the streets of Embu have been there for more than three years as compared to 18.7 per cent who have been living in the streets for a period between one and three years. In a report prepared by the Department of Children Services in Embu West District, only 9.3 per cent of the street children in Embu town have been there for less than one year raising fears of increased child abandonment, abuse and neglect.

The data which was collected between 2011 and 2012 indicates that a majority of those above the age of 19 years were at 87.9 percent and had been living on the streets for three years. Those who had been on the street for less than one year stood at 9.3 per cent. Majority of the children between 10 and 14 years had been living on the streets for a period of less than one year at 50 per cent where as those who had been on the streets for more than three years are at37.5 percent. The study further shows that those who are of ages five and nine had been on the streets for more than three years indicat-

ing that they may have been born on the streets. The report also indicates that in the period between 2011 and 2012, close to 536 cases of child neglect were reported as their parents did not want custody which could be attributed to the increased number of street children. The percentage of individuals who are living below the poverty line is at 56 per cent as most children end up living on the streets in their day to day life where they can get some food to eat. According to Eastern Deputy Provincial Children’s officer, Irene Komu, KSh28,776,000 was paid to 1,399 beneficiaries where 489 in Embu

West benefited with KSh11,736,470 benefited with 1,280 in Embu East whereas 240 benefited with KSh11,570 in Embu North District under the orphans and vulnerable children programme. Komu cited challenges that included loss of programme identity cards, dependency syndrome, increased number of orphans and vulnerable children as well as transfer of children to non-beneficiaries and the elderly care givers as the major challenges that are facing the programme in Embu.

ISSUE 069 September 16-30, 2012

Vitiligo, the little known skin condition By HENRY KAHARA

Have you ever come across somebody with white patches, may be on his face or hands? What clicked in your mind? I know collection of questions, on what could have caused that, and so on. This is a condition known as vitiligo. According to experts, it is a serious pigmentation disorder and goes beyond the obvious psychological distress due to its appearance. James Laban Otieno is one such a man, both his hands and face has white patches, which distinguishes him from the crowd at a distance. To people from asking him many questions Otieno applies make up on his face, making it difficult to notice his condition. Otieno’s condition started with a scar on his right hand. At this time no one in the family including his parents were worried about the scar. This was back in 1998, he had just entered the adolescent age, confused and not sure whether it is part of the body changes. Otieno did not pay much attention to his condition. However, a few months before he enrolled in high school he noticed that the scar was getting bigger. “At this time many people had started noting the scar and it was raising eyebrows about what could be happening,” says Otieno. As is the norm, there were people who were already concluding as why his skin colour was changing. “Actually it was something I had never seen in locality and even today I don’t think whether there is another person who suffers from the same condition,” explains Otieno.


“Some people claimed that I had crossed a path where the water used to bath twins had been poured, Otieno says. He adds: “Whenever I meet strangers some say I was burnt with hot water.” Otieno who is a teacher in Huruma explains: “It is at this time when my parents, who were both teachers, decided to look for an advice on what could be happening with my skin.” They went for a medical advice at Homa Bay District Hospital where the doctor diagnosed Otieno and told them that he was suffering from a condition known as vitiligo and it is incurable. In disbelief his parents decided to look for treatment from Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu, where a senior doctor confirmed the same. To help them further, the doctor advised them to look for the hydro-cortisone ointment to apply on the affected areas so as to conceal the scars. Otieno did this for a period of time until he decided to google the Internet to know more about the condition. This is where he learnt of Orgauichop which costs KSh30,000 per packet which he just used for some months before surrendering because he could not sustain buying it. The first person he learnt that was suffering from a similar condition to his was a Nigerian. “Before that I had not seen or heard of any other person who was suffering from vitiligo and this one too was through internet,” he says.


Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

“It was until 2010 when I came face to face with a person suffering from vitiligo. I was connected to him through the internet by my Nigerian friend,” he explains. Up to date Otieno says that people suffering from vitiligo are still shy to come up and speak about the condition, but he has vowed to make it known. “I want to clear the notion that it is a skin cancer and also to make the society know that it is not spread in any way and it is not a curse,” he says.



For Otieno this is not a big issue as some people looks at it, but it has its own share of problems. He notes that there is some kind of stigmatization which comes with this condition especially if people don’t understand the survivor. This is what has made him go round the country educating people about it. On Sundays Otieno visits different places of worship where he requests for a chance to shed light on vitJames Otieno a teacher at Huruma Primary School who is a Vitiligo survivor. iligo. Like, Otieno, Catherine He urges those suffering from the condition to come out and speak about it. Picture: Henry Kahara Irura a lawyer by profession is suffering the same condition. that vitiligo is just but a condition and across both sides on the body. OccaIrura says that the condition made it is not infectious. sionally small areas may repigment as her feel inferior during her childhood “The group is known as Vitiligo So- they are recolonised by melanocytes. for she was more worried of what peo- ciety of Kenya (VISOKE) and our aim The location of vitiligo affected skin ple said. is to eliminate stigma which vitiligans changes over time, with some patches “I used to find solace in books face on daily basis,” she explains. re-pigmenting and others becoming for the condition lowered my self es“Some of us had a difficult time affected. Vitiligo may also be caused teem while I was in primary and high when growing up, explaining our- by stress that affects the immune sysschool,” explains Irura whose legs are selves to people about the condition tem, leading the body to react and start affected but one can hardly notice as but for now we want people to know eliminating skin pigment. she wears trousers most of the time. Vitiligo on the scalp may affect the what vitiligo is and not discriminate “I get really embarrassed about it us for fearing that we may infect colour of the hair (though not always), because I am naturally dark skinned. I them,” she says. leaving white patches or streaks. It will haven’t worn a skirt or shorts for long, Irura adds: “We are also on Face- similarly affect facial and body hair. because of the large patches on my legs,” book and we call ourselves, ‘Vitiligans in she says. Kenya’, we also meet on monthly basis,” All vitiligans worldwide are calling she says. Some of the symptoms include on United Nations to set aside June 25 as According to Wikipedia, vitiligo or white patches on the skin, including the World Vitiligo Day. leukoderma is a chronic skin disease the face, limbs, torso, and groin purple According to Washuka Njoroge, that causes loss of pigment, resulting in or golden brown patches on mucous an immunology expert from Kenyatta irregular pale patches of skin. membranes and around the eyes, nosUniversity vitiligo is an auto immune The precise cause of vitiligo is trils, and mouth; premature greying of disease where the body fights its own complex and not fully understood. hair; sun sensitivity system instead of defending it. Vitiligo is associated with auto-imThere is some evidence suggesting it “Vitiligo doesn’t have a cure, but is caused by a combination of auto- mune and inflammatory diseases such you can apply cosmetics to conceal the immune, genetic, and environmental as thyroid. patches,” she advises. Vitiligo can have a significant effactors. For now people living in vitiligo in Half of people with vitiligo develop fect on the psychological well being of Kenya have formed a support group patches of de-pigmented skin appear- the survivor. This is especially true for whose aim is to reduce stigma among ing on extremities before their 20s. The darker skinned people as the contrast people living with the condition. patches may grow, shrink or remain between pigmented and depigmented According Irura, who is the group constant in size. skin can be quite drastic. In some chairperson, they want people to know Patches often occur symmetrically cultures there is a stigma attached to having vitiligo. Those affected with the condition are sometimes thought to be evil or sick and are sometimes shunned by others in the community. People with vitiligo may feel depressed because of this stigma The late Michael Jackson also lived with this skin condition. He revealed this information on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1993, after being diag— James Laban Otieno nosed in the early 1980s.


“Some people claimed that I had crossed a path where the water used to bath twins had been poured. Whenever I meet strangers some say I was burnt with hot water.”

Micro finance to strengthen Luhya community The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has given a go ahead to the Luhya Elders Forum (LEF) to form a micro finance institution with its headquarters to be based in Nairobi. The move follows close and lengthy consultations the LEF officials have held with the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) management to start a micro finance Institution in the country. According to Engineer Julius Nyarotho, a member of the LEF the micro finance will be known as West End Deposit Taking Micro Finance (WEDTMF) Limited. Speaking in Kakamega recently Nyarotho said: “The microfinance trust will be launched at the end of this year after raising the KSh60 million as capital base as per Central Bank of Kenya requirement.” He explained: “We have been operating as the Mirembe Investment Limited and have managed to raise a KSh48 million through members buying shares and using other means as per the Central Bank of Kenya regulations.” Each share will cost KSh10,000 with members being allowed to buy up to 25 shares to avoid a situation of few people dominating the trust.


Nyarotho pointed out that they had managed to convince 1,000 people from Western Province to deposit KSh100,000 in the Mirembe Investment in order to be solvent and keep abreast with the rules and regulations governing financial institutions. He said as Luhya Elders they are looking beyond a micro finance and are focused on formation of a commercial bank to accelerate economic development and also foster unity between the Luhya and other tribes in the country. “However, more important is to empower the Luhya community to have positive thinking on securing credit from financial institutions to promote development,” noted Nyarotho. Under the devolved system of government, Kakamega County which is the second largest county after Nairobi County, expects to be given the second largest national budget allocation because of its dense population. In the meantime, Nyarotho has asked people from the community to change their low entrepreneurship culture and take loans to start business as we approach the start of the county government. He said fear to take loans must stop as no one can grow without taking credit. “Take a loan and prepare to repay it and that is the way Luhyas should go to succeed in business,” Nyarotho advised.


ISSUE 069, September 16-30, 2012

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

For Benter Bellah County Assembly remains the ultimate destination By AJANGA KHAYESI It all started when she first saw the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher addressing a huge gathering on Kenyan television. Benter Bellah, then a young girl admired Thatcher’s accomplishment and wanted to see something similar happen to her Nyalenda village in Kisumu town. However, a great challenge stood in her way. Born as a normal baby to Saul Barrack Mboyah and Mama Mary Auma, Bellah suffered from polio at the tender age of seven years. She over stayed at the New Nyanza Provincial General Hospital without walking, a condition that affected the right side of her body. “However, on recovery I became lame with a short and weak right leg,” she recalls with emotions.


When the Constitution of Kenya was promulgated in 2010, Bellah gathered courage and saw the sense of joining politics. Since then she has not looked back and has gone public about her ambition to seeking an elective post in Kisumu County. Coming from a poor family with two brothers and four sisters, Bellah joined Kisumu’s Joyland Special School for the Physically Handicapped. She sat for the Kenya Certificate for Primary Education (KCPE) in 1993 before joining Bishop Okoth Girls Secondary School where she graduated in 1997. She started showing leadership qualities while in primary school and ended up being elected the headgirl while in class seven. During this time she also displaced distinguished talent in music and reciting poems which saw her represent her school up to the national level.


Bellah believes that Persons With Disability (PWD) are best represented by one of their own who understand their situation best. This group forms about 3.6 per cent of the total population of 40 million people in Kenya. Stressing the saying that disability is not inability, Bellah appeals to parents not to discriminate against children with disability among normal children. “When given opportunity, they fully explore talents like music and other skills, especially when they intermingle with other members of the community,” she says. Even as she seeks a political position, she knows it comes with high level decision making. That is why as

the secretary to Nyalenda Housing Co-operative Society, Bellah intends to up-grade the slums into modern urban housing schemes with better infrastructure. Among issues that she seeks to address for Nyalenda residents include security, education, health, water and environment.


With a population of 34,000 people in Nyalenda ‘B’ sub location alone, Bellah says three primary and two secondary schools are inadequate to cope with the local demand. She notes the urgency in having the existing schools expanded and more built. “Bad road network, lack of water services, poor sanitary services, uncollected garbage, disposed polythene bags everywhere, poverty, lack of employment, lack of recreation centres and public markets are major issues facing Nyalenda people,” says Bellah. As a PWD gender leader who believes in action, she maintains that, “if your mind believes that something is achievable, it will find ways to attain it at all cost”. Born in 1978 at Kendu Bay in Wagwe village, Bellah was raised and has lived in Nyalenda all her life. However, she has had an opportunity to travel to Cheltenham town in the United Kingdom, for a youth exchange programme and was hosted by several families. The outspoken lady dresses like a fashion icon with character that dispenses dressing rules such as matching colours and material. She is amiable and has a good sense of humour and a powerful public speaker. In an exceptional progress, Bellah has lived in Nyalenda, served the people in various categories, understands problems facing her neighbours and the residents of the lakeside city that she calls home. “To be honest, I was anxious when I declared my political intentions,” reveals Bellah, who was the first to declare her interest for the seat of Kisumu County assembly member.

She believes that the day of reckoning has finally come and she is ready to take the step of faith into the murky waters of politics. Those who support only have encouraging words and hope that nothing will stop the journey that she has began. Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party delegate, Betty Ouko, describes Bellah as brilliant with integrity and one who has displayed a lot of determination as an activist who has worked as a volunteer at the grassroots level. By her own account, she believes that Bellah is up to the task like her counterparts in other developing countries like Liberia and Pakistan where women’s leadership qualities have been identified and promoted in politics and other spheres of life. When she walks in Kisumu town on her crutches, her supporters and the residents can only admire her. Bellah feels encouraged that her dreams and those of others will soon become a reality come the General Elections slated for March, 2013. It is because of this that she is championing for peaceful lections not only within Nyalenda and Nyanza, but in Kenya as a whole. For this reason she never fails to attend meetings calling for peace and plays an active role of ensuring that Nyalenda remains peaceful. In the past, most elective seats in the lake region were the preserve of men, with exceptions of Kisumu mayoral seat occupied by Grace Onyango who was the first woman MP and first woman Mayor in Kenya. She also has admiration for other women from the region who have held political positions such as Phoebe Asiyo of Karachuonyo and Grace Ogot of Gem parliamentary seats. Today, Bellah believes that her community has better opportunity to accord women a chance in the political arena, thanks to lobbying, awareness and the affirmative action clause that has been entrenched in the new Constitution. She is already serving as an example

“Since women do not have a tribe, I am inspired to end nepotism and clanism entrenched in the area as a result of bad leadership and intend to turn things around.” — Benter Bellah

Benter Bella who is physically challenged is interested in vying for the Kisumu County assembly seat. Pictures: Ajanga Khayesi and more women are now coming up to declare their interest to vie for the following seats county and/or women representatives; Members of Parliament, Governor, Senator and/or President of the Republic of Kenya. Indeed, Bellah’s quest will open doors to those who have been reluctant to pursue their ambitions especially persons with disability. “It is unfortunate that when women in other communities are contesting for the highest position in the country, here we are still struggling for the women representative positions,” says Bellah. She steers a sense of confidence that she has what it takes to lead the county to development and prosperity. “Since women do not have a tribe, I am inspired to end nepotism and clanism entrenched in the area as a result of bad leadership and intends to turn things around,” explains Bellah. Focused to work for the community, particularly empowering women, youth and the poor families, she stands to prove that women are able and capable of taking leadership positions on merit no matter their status in life.


Bellah has an impressive CV and has been trained in many areas such as being a peace champion. Trained as trauma counsellor with Amani Institute of Professional Studies, Bellah became instrumental to victims of the last post-election chaos. Her bravery and decisiveness qualities were exhibited during the 20072008 post-election violence that rocked some parts of the country including Kisumu City thus creating refugees in Nyalenda slums. Bellah’s home became the centre of contact where donors like KUAP and Care Kenya used to go out to reach refugees in the area. “Although it has taken me long to come out in the open and join poli-

Executive Director: Rosemary Okello Editor: Jane Godia Sub-Editors: Joyce Chimbi, Mercy Mumo, Carolyne Oyugi and Faith Muiruri

Designer: Noel Lumbama Contributors: Hussein Dido, Abjata Khalif, Kariuki Mwangi, Ben Onyango, Rophence Wakio, Robby Ngojhi, David Njagi, Binti Athman, Malachi Motano, Grace Mwanyama, David Kirwa, Ajanga Khayesi, Maureen Ogutu, Allan Murimi, Benson Mwanga, Maureen Rose Akinyi, Titus Maero, Reuben Mwambingu, Abraham Mariita, Wanderi Njenga, Ken Ndambu, Wilson Rotich, Henry Kahara, Joseph Mukubwa, Joan Mwendwa, Boniface Mulu, Andanje Wakhungu and Ricky Okwayo

tics, nothing is more satisfying than to realise that your efforts are being appreciated by the people you assist,” says Bellah with pride. After completing secretarial course at the Kisumu Christian Industrial Training Centre (CITC) in 2001, she trained as community health worker at the Kisumu Urban Apostorate Programme (KUAP). She has also specialised in nutrition and malnourished children. She became an activist fighting for the rights of the disabled women and children following a training by Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW).


Displaying an easy smile while exchanging greetings with people, she walks down with crutches along Ring Road’s dusty path in Nyalenda while headed to her house behind Ring Road Centre. The people here see her as a beacon of hope and a major solution to their predicaments. She cites Chapter Four of the Constitution which guarantees people with disability some rights including political, social, economical and cultural rights. “They are now coming out of stigma to speak for themselves”. “I am ready for nomination and the election. Let other people also rally behind me and vote for us as we have been doing for them,” says Bellah. Although the county government brings services closer to the people, her next move is to officially launch her manifesto. Her advice to women is to be focused, committed and embrace the spirit of supporting one another and ensure that they win as many seats as possible come the polls. Brought up by her loving mother, who was a fish-monger, she says it is easy for a man with disability to get a wife than a woman to get a husband. She is a single mother of one daughter.

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