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June 16-30, 2010


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

Power of the coin

Armed with only KSh20, women are turning tables on poverty By Muasya Charles Just a few months ago, Malaa Mwangangi would sit dejected outside her grass thatched hut in Mbusyani village. Her husband Mwangangi Mutinda, who occasionally works as a casual labourer in the adjacent farms had even run away from home to escape the grinding poverty. The family lacked basic items such as food, clothing and access to health facilities. None of their three children had gone beyond Standard Three due to lack of basic education needs. Water, an essential need was also hard to come by. The only stream where they could fetch water was 10 kilometres away and they had to rely on donkey services from a neighbour to access it. But things have now changed and Malaa no longer sits desolate by her door step. Armed with only KSh10, the couple is now full of smiles as this small amount of money has brought a big change to their lives. The KSh10 which she gives as a weekly contribution has brought smiles to the family as they can now afford most of the basic needs. Malaa is also a proud owner of a donkey which helps her fetch that essential commodity.

Standards of living Through a local self-help group fortunes have changed for Malaa. While she would initially contribute KSh10, she increased her savings to KSh20 with Kwika Self-Help Group. Slowly by slowly her savings went up to KSh1,450 and with this as security she was able to take out soft loans that helped improve the family’s

State of the Kenyan child



Ms Beth Twili serves customers in her wholesale shop in Yakalia. She started with a loan from her KSh20 weekly savings. Other members of the group are some of her prime customers. Picture: Muasya Charles

standard of living. Through the small loans, Malaa has been able to buy a donkey worth KSh4,500 for fetching water. She has also built a better house and is able to educate her children without stress. Malaa is not alone. She is among a group of women who have been empow-

ered by making small savings. Among them is Beth Twili, a peasant farmer in Yakalia Village, Mulango Location. For Twili, going without food was the order of the day. Her two children had dropped out of school because she could not afford to get them basic education needs.

When she received information of a group where one could join with only KSh10 and eventually get a small loan, she joined Yike Wikwe Women’s Self-help Group where she contributed KSh10 per week.

When she received information of a group where one could join with only KSh10 and eventually get a small loan, she joined Yike Wikwe Women’s Self-help Group where she contributed KSh10 per week. After saving KSh400, Twili got her first loan of KSh1,000 which she repaid. She then improved her savings to KSh12,400 and got a loan to start a mini shop. Twili now runs a wholesale shop in Yakalia Trading centre and her savings have accumulated to KSh80,000 from which she can apply for a loan of upto KSh200,000. Continued on page 2

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ISSUE 019, June 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…. just the gruesome truth

Another arms mop up operation launched By Hussein Dido A joint security operation to dispose off illegal firearms from the pastoral communities in Upper Eastern and parts of the Rift Valley provinces has been launched. Eastern Provincial police boss, Mr Marcas Ochola who will lead the exercise, recently briefed over 60 operation commanders at Isiolo Police Mess on details of the operation that will involve over 1,000 personnel. These will include officers from the paramilitary General Service Unit (GSU), Administration and regular police forces. The operation that commences soon after the expiry of an amnesty for hundreds of pastoralists who surrendered illegal guns and ammunition to the Government, will be backed by airplanes, gun-detectors and sniffer dogs. A medical team will also accompany the officers to ensure people injured in the exercise are attended to. Briefing journalists in Isiolo, Ochola said: “This operation will be carried out with ‘a human face’ but would ensure all illegal guns and ammunition were recovered.” The decision to launch the operation was reached after the compilation of statistics on people killed by cattle rustlers and the number of livestock stolen in the region. Majority of illegal guns are still in the hands of bandits, who continue with cattle theft raids and attacks on motorists along roads that traverse the region.

Policemen display some of the guns recovered in a mop up exercise early this year in Lorora. The government has embarked on another round of collecting illegal guns. Picture: Lydia Mwangi

Out of the thousands of illegal guns in hands of the common man, only a third had been surrendered to the authorities. Ochola said the Government would put in place measures to address insecurity in the region. “Insecurity is a problem that

has been compromising the Government’s development agenda for the expansive semi-arid region,” explained Ochola. Last year more than 2,000 guns were surrendered during the amnesty period that expired about four months ago.

Women are turning tables on poverty Continued from page 1

“I can now educate my children without much stress. Some of my children have been through college,” says Twili. Malaa and Twili are among a group of women who are now taking advantage of coming together in groups through merry-go-rounds in the villages as they have proved very viable. The two are among 1,166 women in Kitui District enrolled in 57 self-help groups. The women are trying to make ends meet in a simple way by saving only KSh20 per week and enjoy small loans at affordable interest rates to improve their living standards. From the KSh20 weekly savings, the women have saved KSh.1.3 million with an accumulated capital of KSh.2.6 million since the initiation of the programmes in 2005. The members have since received loans to a tune of KSh.9.2 million, while total loan repayment stands at KSh6 million as at December 2008 giving a loan/savings ratio of 7.1.1. The self help approach was introduced in Kenya in late 2005 with support from Kindernorthlife of Germany. By August 2008, there were 11 promoting organisations working with over 450 self-help groups with a total membership of 8,500 women in the country.

In Kitui District, the approach is promoted by Kitui Development Centre (KDC), an indigenous non-governmental organisation through 57 self-help groups spread in the Central and Chuluni divisions. The KDC programme manager, Ms Janet Mumo says the very poor women members of the society are organised to form self-help groups with a mission of empowering them to eradicate poverty in a sustainable way.

Poverty eradication “The approach can be compared to building a people’s institution founded on empowerment supported by three pillars of social, economic and political empowerment,” says Mumo. The approach sees every home as having potential which can be unleashed by providing the right environment to enable one lead a decent life. The organisation’s role is only to provide necessary capacity building and to give monitoring support services to the groups under supervision of the national coordinator. Other organisations involved in the approach are Undugu Society of Kenya, Presbyterian Church of East Africa (PCEA), Eastleigh Community Centre, Catholic

Diocese of Machakos, Association for the Physically Disabled in Kenya (APDK) and St John’s Community Centre. Others include Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Pact Kenya, Limuru Agricultural Youth Centre, Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), Ethi Polytechnic and Nature Kenya. “A key strength of the approach is the number of members and the number of groups which increases the demand for change to address the structural causes of poverty,” says Mumo.

Strength in numbers She adds: “The individual groups are encouraged and facilitated to come together in local clusters of eight to ten groups to learn and share experiences together.” Over time the clusters can form a representative group known as a federation which represents close to 2,000 women and their families that gives legal identity to the groups to advocate for social and political change. “The poor can become active members of the communities and cease to be passive recipients of handouts as individuals are vulnerable, voiceless and powerless but can develop enormous strength in the self help group,” says Mumo.

Prison in bold move to arrest Aids infections By Frank Ouma In an effort to combat spread of HIV/Aids in prisons, a non-governmental organisation, APHIA II Western has rolled out a programme to train inmates and prison wardens as peer educators. The inmates and prison warders in turn will take over the responsibility of training and counselling inmates on the scourge. “We want to train inmates so that they can assist in curbing the spread of HIV/ Aids in prisons,” said Mr Amos Murerwa, a Youth and Gender Advisor with the NGO. There are 20 inmates and six prison warders who have, been trained as peer educators. The officer in charge of Busia GK Prison, Mr Kyalo Mwangangi, recently announced that each ward in the facility will be allocated a peer educator. He advised prisoners and warders against engaging in sexual activities that could lead to HIV/Aids infection. “We don’t want to see the spread of HIV/Aids in prisons,” he advised during the graduation of inmates and prison warders after the week long training. He asked communities to accept inmates once released from custody, saying that they were in prison to be reformed. Mwangangi regretted the State’s expenditure to train inmates in various fields, only for the society to stigmatise and shun them. “We will continue to monitor and give support to the peer educators that have been trained. We are urging them to pass the right information to others,” said Joyce Otieno, the District VCT supervisor.

ISSUE 019, June 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…. just the gruesome truth


State of the Kenyan Child Gloom and misery paint the Levies forcing children out of school picture of Kenyan childhood


By Jane Godia

n one June 16, 1976, in downtown Soweto, South Africa, there emerged a major uprising. Protests against the apartheid regime were the order of the day and children, who were casualties of this human rights abuse were not spared. Thousands of black school children took to the streets in 1976, in a march more than half a mile long, to protest against the inferior quality of their education. They also demand their right to be taught in their own language. The apartheid regime was not happy with this. The police shot hundreds of young boys and girls; and in the two weeks of protest that followed, more than a 100 children were killed and more than a thousand were injured. To honour the memory of those killed and courage of all those who marched, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated on 16 June every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity, to draw attention to the lives of African children. As this day was marked on Wednesday June 16, 2010, The Reject team sought to find out the state of the Kenyan child in different parts of the country.

Findings What emerged was a gloomy and sad picture of children facing all kinds of problems despite Kenya being a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention deals with the child-specific needs and rights. It requires that states act in the best interests of the child. The Convention also acknowledges that children have the right to express their opinions and to have those opinions heard and acted upon. When appropriate, to be protected from abuse or exploitation, to have their privacy protected and requires that their lives not be subject to excessive interference. Children in Kenya are not going to school despite the free primary education programme. Majority of the children live in utmost poverty, have been neglected by their parents and guardians. Many have been forced to join the ranks of those working to earn a living and fend for themselves. To them child labour, which goes against the International Labour Organisation statutories is just a word like any other. Children are engaged in menial jobs just as some are working in what should be adult professions.

Abuse Child abuse that includes sexual abuse by family members and those charged with the responsibility of protecting the child is going unabated. Many children, and especially Aids orphans have taken up parental responsibilities just as many girls, mainly orphans barely into their teens are already mothers. Just as many more are trafficked into major cities for child labour and sex tourism. Many children have been incorporated to fight in wars they do not understand and as soldiers they have grown up not knowing what it means to be a child. The theme for this year’s Day of the African Child is “Planning and Budgeting for the Wellbeing of the Child: A collective responsibility”. This theme is wake up call to Kenyans that it is a high time all plans and budgets put into consideration the welfare of the children of this country. It is a call that the African culture of nurturing orphans and vulnerable children collectively must be reawakened from the ashes of selfishness that seems to have taken over. It is a call that the policy of free primary education should be practised with faithfulness and not with school committees charging exorbitant levies to enrich themselves at the expense of the Kenyan child.


By Gilbert Ochieng

t 16, Master Boniface Ochieng is supposed to be in school, nursing dreams and being hopeful of a bright future. However, this is not the case. Every morning instead of going to school, Ochieng, an orphan from Sigulu Village, leaves his rental house with a plastic basin on his head, headed for the Bumala Bus Park. The third born in a family of four, Ochieng lost both his parents seven years ago. He was forced to drop out of school in 2008, cutting short his dreams of making a good life for himself. The relative who took him into custody soon after his parents’ death could not afford to pay for the levies being demanded by his school. He was, therefore, forced to drop out. “On most occasions, I would go to bed on an empty stomach due to lack of food as my relative was too poor to afford more than one meal a day,” explains Ochieng. “He could not afford to pay for monies being demanded at school.” Once out of school Ochieng decided to relocate to Bumala town where his aunt, a fishmonger, was staying with her family. It was in Busia town that matters took a dramatic turn when the uncle turned against him and his siblings, forcing them to flee from the cruelty and seek refuge elsewhere. “It was then that I decided to look for employment as a casual labourer to provide for my siblings,” Ochieng says. He finally managed to secure a job as a herd’s boy at a nearby village earning a monthly salary of KSh1,500. A few months later, Ochieng left the job and went back to Bumala Trading Centre in Butula District, where he teamed up with a colleague and they jointly rented a house at Sh400 per month.

Business “I was determined to look for ways and means of getting adequate capital to enable me start my own business instead of depending on my relatives,” says the youngster. With these troubles, Ochieng and his siblings are no longer living together. His brother is staying with another uncle who is a fisherman on Migingo Island. His younger sister, in Class Three at Busire Primary School, is staying with their stepmother at Busire Village. Ochieng is now a hawker in Busia town and sells assorted items that include biscuits, sweets, roasted groundnuts, cakes, fruit juice and sodas among other items in the busy Bumala and Busia bus parks. “Since I ventured into this business, my lifestyle has improved a great deal because I am now able to provide for my basic needs, unlike before when I would depend on relatives,” explains Ochieng, who on a good day makes an average of KSh400. His ambition was to proceed with education but his dream was cut short when his parents passed on, a situation that shattered his dream of becoming a teacher. “I thought that when the government introduced free primary education I would be able to go to school uninterrupted,” says Ochieng. He adds: “But to my surprise that has not been the case. The school management committee introduced a number of levies that most of us could not afford, resulting in my dropping out.”

A young girl with a 20 litre water jerri can on her head. Many children have dropped out of school due to the high levies being charged. Picture: Ajanga Khayesi

Ochieng is not alone in this predicament. Most of his classmates whose parents could not afford to pay levies being charged also dropped out. The levies have denied a number of orphaned and vulnerable children in the greater Busia District access to primary education. A grandmother of three, Mrs Hereniah Ojukah, 50, narrates how her three orphaned grandchildren were forced out of school for similar reasons. The widow from Busia Municipality says: “I had no money so I asked them to stay at home as I had no means of paying their tuition.” A combination of widespread poverty and unscrupulous school committees are driving hundreds of children, majority of them orphans, out of school into hawking and other forms of child labour in the region. Samia District Children’s Officer, Mr Dishon Otuko says those who abuse children by neglecting, preventing them from accessing education, defiling them or subjecting them to child labour will be arrested and prosecuted.

Right to education “It is the right of every child to access education and, therefore, anybody including school management committees who will prevent children from accessing education will be punished in accordance with the law,” says Otuko. Similar threats are echoed by Busia District Education Officer, Mr John Owino, who says free primary education was meant to ensure that all the children accessed schooling. “Cases of school dropouts in various learning institutions in the district due to exorbitant levies being charged by some “get-rich-quick’ school management committees that have seen most children, especially those from poor families dropping out of school, have been reported to my office,” says Owino. He warned the committees to stop overburdening parents under the guise of improving academic performance.


ISSUE 019, June 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…. just the gruesome truth

State of the Kenyan Child

Rescue mission for girls under house arrest


By Musembi Nzengu

t a time when primary education is free, levies being charged by schools are hindering many parents from sending their children to school. Poverty is also hampering efforts to reduce levels of illiteracy and particularly for the girl child. This came out clearly when four girls who had not been going to school were saved from house arrest and taken to school.

Raid What started as a rescue mission ended up as a blessing for the four siblings when police officers recently stormed a lonely house in Mwingi town in an attempt to rescue the girls. Police were acting on information that the children were being held incommunicado and could not venture out. The four girls were being held in solitude by their father and this raised suspicion. According to Mwingi District Children’s Officer, Ms Jacinta Mwinzi, the action was taken following claims that the children were being mistreated. There were also fears that they could have been sexually molested by their father. A sympathetic neighbour informed the Mwingi Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRCE) gender and children rights officer, Ms Christine Kalikanda who subsequently informed the District Children’s Officer, prompting the raid. During the raid, the children were found to be living in filthy condition. They

wore tattered clothes and had never been to school. Their father, Mr John Mwendwa, 50, was arrested on suspicion that he could have been sexually abusing the girls. When police went to the house, they found the girls had locked the house from inside. The children resisted all persuasions and refused to open the door to strangers until their father arrived back home. Save for their unkempt condition, the girls appeared to be well fed despite wearing dirty and torn clothes. However, there were all indications that they may not have had a bath in recent times. Margaret (11), Esther (10), Vaati (9) and Ngili (4) together with their father were taken directly to the Mwingi District Hospital where they were examined by a clinical officer to establish whether they had been sexually abused. After thorough examination, the clinical officer cleared the father of any wrong doing. In defending their action, Mwinzi said: “Going by the condition in which we found them, everybody felt that something improper had been happening with the girls considering that they slept in the same room with the father on bedding spread on the floor.” However, this did not set the man free as the police and the District Children’s Office accused him of neglecting to take his children to school. Soon after the incident the human rights official took the initiative to enrol the children in school. They were admitted at Mboru Primary School. “The only problem we have is that all the children

Mr John Mwendwa takes a ride at the back of a policeman van after he was arrested for locking his children up. Inset: Mwendwa’s daughters in school uniform after they were admitted to school. Pictures: Musembi Nzengu.

dead body,” Mwendwa said. However, he was happy that besides the embarrassment the incident caused him, at least his children had been admitted to school.

Responsible father despite their age differences had to be enrolled in preschool as they had previously not attended any class,” said Kalikanda. “We are constantly watching their progress in school. The feedback we have so far received from the teachers is that the children are coping well,” Kalikanda told the Reject in a recent interview. She added: “We are also monitoring to ensure they are safe at home.” The girls’ father said claims that he could have sexually abused his own children were mere rumours by jealous neighbours. “I can only do such a thing over my

“I had initially tried to get them enrolled in a number of schools around Mwingi in vain. They asked for a lot of money before they could admit the children and because I could not raise the money the children could not be enrolled,” explained Mwendwa. He described himself as a responsible father who was taking good care of his young girls as their mother suffered from epilepsy and was not in a position to take care of the children. “From the little money I collect daily from selling water, I make sure I feed my children well,” Mwendwa said.

Mwingi paints a gloomy picture of her children By Musembi Nzengu


s the world marks the Day of the African Child, children in the larger Mwingi region have little to celebrate. According to the Children’s Officer, Ms Jacinta Mwinzi children in Mwingi Central, Mwingi East, Mwingi West , Kyuso, Mumoni and Tseikuru are faced with myriad challenges. Mwinzi says the problems are aggravated by occasional drought and famine as well as unparalleled levels child labour, school drop-outs, physical and sexual abuse, trafficking, parental neglect and female genital mutilation (FGM). According to a report released by the District Children’s office on the state of the Mwingi child, the picture emerging is one of piteous gloom. Faced with the prevailing situation, many children have dropped out of school or at worst failed to enrol. This situation

has effectively denied the children prospects of a promising future. “A high number of those out of school seek employment as herd boys, house girls, in shambas, matatu touts, cart and wheel-barrow pushers, porters and scrap metal collectors,” says the report. Girls have been cited as bearing the biggest brunt as they end up engaging in early sex even when they claim to have been employed as house helps. Mwinzi notes that the area has been a major outlet for traffickers as many children are taken out to major cities like Nairobi and Mombasa.

She isolates child abuse as a major challenge. “Sexual harassment directed towards both girls and boys is rampant in the region but girls top the chart,” she says. There are also high cases of incest involving parents and other close relatives. “Sexual abuse is often perpetuated by teachers, neighbours, parents’ workmates and friends,” says Mwinzi in her report. Family separation and divorce, domestic violence coupled with drug and alcohol abuse by young parents are some of the major cause of neglect. “Parents in this region have abdicated

“A high number of those out of school seek employment as herd boys, house girls, in shambas, matatu touts, cart and wheel-barrow pushers, porters and scrap metal collectors.”

their responsibilities by abandoning the children and leaving them under the care of grandparents,” she says. Data collected by the office indicates child neglect as assuming a worrying trend. Out of the 499 cases reported since July last year, 228 involved neglected children. However, she attributes this to high poverty levels. FGM is silently taking place and in most parts of the area with girls either being forcefully cut or facing the knife at their own volition. The report points out that due to high level of dropouts, the community has generally remained illiterate with most young people becoming adults before attaining basic education. Says Mwinzi: “Despite the opportunities created by free primary and subsidised secondary education, children continue to perform poorly in national examinations possibly due to lack of motivation and role models.”

ISSUE 019, June 16-30, 2010


Unfiltered, uninhibited…. just the gruesome truth

State of the Kenyan Child

Teacher Displaced children find a haven of comfort arrested over sexual abuse By Musembi Nzengu


he saying that a thief ’s days are numbered effectively came into effect in Tseikuru District recently, when a teacher who has been sexually abusing those under his charge found himself in trouble. The primary school teacher had allegedly turned his female pupils into sex toys. The arrest came following efforts of a volunteer children’s officer in the District. The deputy head teacher of Katilinge Primary School is alleged to have sexually manhandled a Standard Seven pupil in his office. The volunteer who engineered the teacher’s arrest said about seven girls had been molested by the educator. The latest incident took place when the teacher summoned a girl to his office and tried to seduce her. When she refused, he physically forced himself on her. A struggle ensued as the teacher attempted to undress and wrestle the girl to the ground.

Whistle blower The volunteer children’s officer told The Reject he decided to intervene when he saw no action was being taken. “In the commotion, the girl managed to disentangle herself from the teacher’s grip and dashed out of the office crying,” said the whistle blower. It is said that on suspecting what could have been happening to their colleague, other pupils attacked the deputy teacher with stones and other available missiles before the headmaster came to his rescue. The girl’s father arrived at the school seething with anger and armed with a machete swearing to finish off the teacher only to learn that he had gone into hiding. Fellow teachers and local education officers organised for emissaries to be sent to the girl’s home to ask her parents agree to a compensation and allow the matter to rest. On learning that no action had been taken to ensure the teacher’s arrest, the volunteer children’s office, who is also a trained paralegal officer sought the intervention of the Tseikuru District Commissioner. The teacher was eventually arrested at Sipate Village by Administration Policemen on orders of the DC slightly over a week after the offence was committed. The teacher has since been arraigned in court.

Mrs Nancy Nyambura Wachira with the children who were displaced from various parts of the country and have found refuge at Huruma Children’s Home. Picture: Joseph Mukubwa

By Joseph Mukubwa


hen they arrived at a home neighbouring Ruring’u Stadium in Nyeri Municipality in January 2008, the manager in charge had no idea that the internally displaced children would soon be calling her mum. It is now more than two years and the 13 children now only know Mrs Nancy Nyambura Wachira of Huruma Children’s Home as mother. The woman has offered the children not only accommodation but motherly love as well.

Motherly care “When they arrived here they were very traumatised. I told my God it was time to serve Him in a mighty way and took them in,” remembers Nyambura. It all started with the post election violence early 2008. The children who were initially 45 were relocated to Nyeri from the volatile Rift Valley Province. They could not find a place to go so they camped at Ruring’u Stadium. It was here that the owner of the children’s home, Rev Bernard Muindi found them. He then asked Nyambura to go and collect the children. The priest decided he would cater for them and informed the relevant authorities.

At the time, the children were dirty, hopeless, heartbroken and depressed. Today, they are clean, safe and have hope in life since they have been given a second chance and are constantly being counselled.

Healing process “We had to go and look for professional counsellors to help them understand the situation they were in,” says Nyambura. She explains: “The children have gone through a healing process and do not want to return to their homes. They are now much better and are able to concentrate in school.” Nyambura vows to stay with the children until their parents come for them. The children include Joyce Muthoni (10), Joseph Theuri (13), Susan Wangui (10), Kevin Mwangi (12), Amos Baragu and Paul Maina (15) all from Munyaka area in Eldoret. Those from Kapsabet include Patrick Maina (14), James Maina (17), Francis Kagunda (6), Martha Nyambura and 16year-old Moses Kimani who were evicted from Ng’arua in Laikipia division. Those from Mawingu in Molo included nine year-old Helen Wangari, Wilson Maina, Francis Kimondo, John Mwangi and Peter Karoro. “It is very hard to cater for many children from different parents but I have tried to cope with it,” says Nyam-

“The children have gone through a healing process and do not want to return to their homes. They are now much better and are able to concentrate in school.” — Mary Nyambura

bura. She adds: “Initially we did not have school uniforms, textbooks and shoes. We struggled until we were able to get them. Now the children are happy in school.”

Challenge Nyambura says they are operating with minimal resources since they had over 30 children before the displaced ones arrived. However, life must go on and the children are now learning comfortably at Riamukurwe Primary School in Nyeri Municipality. Others are at Riamukurwe Secondary School which is several kilometres away from the home.

Comfort “Here we are concentrating on learning and can no longer wish to return to the old school. I will refuse to go back when my parents come for me. I am comfortable here,” says Susan Wangui, 11. “The manager has provided us with the love, care and attention that we needed. We are comfortable here,” says Helen Wangari who was evicted from Mawingu in Molo and travelled for about 300 kilometres to get here. John Mwangi and Peter Karoro are brothers from Mawingu, Molo and are currently in Form Three. They do not wish to return to Mawingu Primary School which was burnt down. Last year, John Mwangi, 16, was second in the three kilometre Family Fund run sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank. “I have seen this as a blessing to have many children visitors since initially we used to have only destitute and orphans children who were depressed. They now see each other as brothers and sisters ready to chart the way forward,” she concludes.


ISSUE 019, June 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…. just the gruesome truth

State of the Kenyan Child

Children putting ugali on the table By GEORGE MURAGE


s the sleepy Karagita village wakes up with lanterns going off, soft cries of babies are heard from a distance. In a mud-walled structure, a boy who is about ten years old leaves the house rubbing his eyes as he ties a belt on a worn out trouser. After fussing and mumbling, he heads to a cart parked next to the houses and loads some two huge water jerricans. He moves to drag an emaciated donkey next to the cart and after shoving and pulling, his task is done. He then guides the donkey which is now dragging the cart to one of the many boreholes in the estate that mainly houses flower farm workers. Until late in the evening, he delivers water from one homestead to the next at a cost of Sh7 per 20-litre jerrican.

Earnings On a good day, he can make as much as Sh400 which is good money to feed his ailing mother and two younger siblings. For David Kimani, this has been his life since his mother was sacked from one of the flower farms in Naivasha. Being the first born, he is now the ‘man’ of the house and could not watch as his family went without food after their father abandoned them for another woman. With the little money that the mother was paid by her employer, the family bought a donkey and a cart ready to venture into the water business. “I was in Standard Three when my mother lost her job in one of the flower farms. I had no option but to drop out of school,” says Kim as he is popularly known.

The pain The boy wears a pained look on his face that tells of the pain and suffering the family has undergone since their father abandoned them. He says that after the father abruptly left their home with no reason, meals and house rent became a problem and they had to seek for other means of living fast. With no lessons or license needed to ride the beast of burden, the family was soon a proud owner of a donkey. From then, things have turned for the ‘better’ with the family even affording a quarter kilogramme of matumbo (tripe) twice a week. Kim adds that paying rent has become easier and the mother can get her drugs whenever she ails. On his future and education, the minor is vague saying that he will think about the issue later. This is the norm in Naivasha town where tens of minors have embarked on water vending as a means of earning a living. And due to the water problem in Naivasha, the business is lucrative forcing many of the minors to drop out of school.

Young David Kimani guides the family donkey as he heads towards collecting water for sale. Many boys like Kimani are catering for their families. Picture: George Murage

According to the District Children’s Officer, Mr Peter Kabuagi, child labour is one of the biggest problems in the district. It is estimated that cases of child labour have gone up by over 30 percent in the last one year with many of the minors working as house helps missing from the statistics. Kabuagi says that the post-election violence that displaced many people has largely contributed to the problem of child labour. “Many of the minors did not go back to school after the violence and are ready to work anywhere to support their families,” explains Kabuagi. The problem has been further compounded by the rural-urban migration as youths drop out of school in search of jobs in the flower farms. “Some of the youths come from neighbouring Kinangop with high expectations

It is estimated that cases of child labour have gone up by over 30 percent in the last one year with many of the minors working as house helps missing from the statistics.

that they will get jobs in the farms,” he says. Once they fail, many are employed as water vendors by traders who own several donkeys and carts.

Water trade Kabuagi is worried by the water trade saying that most minors have dropped out of school for the quick cash. “Once you go to various estates in Naivasha town, you will realise that majority of those delivering water are minors some as young as eight years old,” says Kabuagi. There are also minors working in the nearby quarries while many others work as porters carrying baggage for traders on market days but for a fee. Another emerging trade is that of collecting scrap metal and waste paper where minors deliver their harvest to dealers who pay on the spot.

He attributes the increase to child labour on increased poverty levels in some areas which has seen most minors fending for their families. Another factor is the flower farms in the area which pay meagre wages hence straining family resources. Kabuagi says their records shows a sharp increase in children being assaulted or in child labour. Official statistics shows that there were 177 cases of child abuse in January, 283 in February, 376 in March, 401 in April while in May the cases dropped to 392. In the case of child labour, there was a single case in January but by end of May 111 cases had been reported. “In March and April, we saw an upsurge in child labour as we recorded 119 and 137 cases respectively with girls being the most affected,” said Kabuagi. According to the official statistics, child labour in Naivasha is the leading form of abuse.

DC cautions on child labour By Gilbert Ochieng Busia District Commissioner, Mr Mwiandi Gitonga, has expressed concern over the high rate of child labour in Busia District. Many children have dropped out of school and are being employed by traders in the border town. The DC warned the business community against employing underage children as hawkers as this denied them a chance to learn.

Gitonga instructed chiefs and their assistants to identify dropouts and ensure they went back to school. “Parents who have allowed their children to engage in labour at the expense of education will be arrested and taken to court for denying the man opportunity to learn like others,” warned Gitonga. He urged parents to take advantage of the mandatory free primary education programme and enrol their children in school.

ISSUE 019, June 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…. just the gruesome truth

State of the Kenyan Child


Tribulations of orphaned children

Victor Owino has to do different menial jobs at the expense of schooling to enable him raise money for rent and food. Pictures: Ajanga Khayesi.

By Ajanga Khayesi Education, food, shelter and health are counted as among the most basic human needs. However, for Victor Owino Ouma, a pupil at Tiengre Primary School in Kisumu, the unavailability of the above are his daily nightmare. When his parents died in 2002, life became difficult for Owino and his elder brother Fredrick Ouma. Before succumbing to death, their father, a prison’s officer at the Kodiaga Prison Services in Kisumu, had buried two of his four sons leaving Owino and Fredrick on their own. At the time, Fredrick was a Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) candidate. His father’s colleague offered him temporary shelter at Otonglo market. Owino was in Standard two.


After exams, the brothers moved to stay with uncles in their ancestral home in Gem. According to Owino, the uncles would take advantage of them for their own benefit. “My father’s brothers would use us to acquire retirement benefits and any other property our father owned including household items,” says Owino. An uncle later took Owino to Nairobi to continue his schooling but with the post election skirmishes of 2007 they relocated to the village. Although the uncle has since reported back to Nairobi, Owino remains in the village. “My uncle keeps saying he has not made enough money for my upkeep and education,” says Owino.

School dropout

Due to financial constraints, Fredrick dropped out of school and opted to join the Boda-Boda bicycle taxi business. He entered into an agreement with a businessman hiring the bicycle for KSh100 daily. Fredrick could not make much from this business. He decided to switch to the Boda-Boda motorcycle and shifted from Otonglo to stay with a friend in Manyatta slums, Kisumu town. The daily income from the bodaboda was not enough to sustain them as it had

reduced tremendously due to stiff competition, high fuel and maintenance costs as well as the daily payments to the motorbike owner. Before leaving Otonglo, Fredrick had guaranteed financial support to Owino by providing rent, educational needs and food. As a guardian, he even enrolled Owino at Tieng’re Primary School. However, the dream of seeing his brother have a better life fell through when Fredrick was robbed of the motorbike. Today he is unable to cater for his younger brother as he strives to repay the lost motorbike.

Child labour Owino who has to walk six kilometres to school often plays truant as he looks for odd jobs in the neighbourhood. He works on farms, rents a bicycle to ferry water and sometimes as a porter carrying goods for business people at Otonglo market. “I would like to learn for a better and brighter future. I spend most of my school hours working for people to raise money for food and rent,” says Owino. He explains: “I work three days in a week and attend lessons for two days. I clean homes, assist maize roasters, dig farms, and hawk water just to earn KSh50 daily. He adds: “Sometimes I accompany my classmates during lunch break against their parents’ wishes.” Owino’s dreams to become a medical doctor may be soon be shattered since the KSh300 rent, food, medication and education costs are a major burden for him. Owino is not alone in this dilemma. He is among the thousands of children, often rejected, shunned and sidelined with no one wanting ever to care for them. Such children are languishing in the streets of Kisumu, beaches of Lake Victoria, peri-urban market places and the villages. There are also those who have been

catapulted to parenthood and are managing families, yearning for hope as they are faced with a myriad challenges.

Challenges Omega Foundation is one organisation that looks into challenges facing children and advocates for their rights. It looks at predicaments facing needy children that include lack of access to free primary education, effects of HIV/Aids, poverty and negligence by some parents. Rose Diang’, a field officer with Omega Foundation says: “HIV/Aids and poverty has lowered education standards of girls since they have to provide domestic services including sourcing for food, fetching firewood and water as well as care for the sickly and young ones.”

Peer pressure Alternatively, Diang’ says, boys are lured to the streets by peers since these offer easy money through begging from sympathisers. Diang’ believes that discrimination and punishment are major cause for children dropping out of school. This is heightened by peer pressure and erosion of culture that would have encouraged care for the needy children. Records at the Kisumu East District office show that out of 552,582 children in the entire locality, 78,056 are orphans. According to the District Children’s Officer, Ms Jane Rono, the state of children in the area has worsened with over 700 street children in Kisumu town alone. Rono identifies grounds for the poor state of children as poverty, divorce, HIV/ Aids, lack of parental care, child labour and lack of discipline among the children. “Lack of responsibility from parents and relatives push needy children from

“I would like to learn for a better and brighter future. I spend most of my school hours working for people to raise money for food and rent.” — Victor Owino Ouma

their villages whenever death strikes a home with some ending in orphanages which are not a better solution to needy children,” she explains.

Government efforts The Kisumu Area Advisory Council rescues five children below 14 years weekly. Rono says these children are taken to children’s remand home, interrogated and repatriated to their home villages. “The exercise comprising the Kisumu Municipal Council, security and stakeholders in children affairs has netted 122 street children since February 2010,” she explains. Since the government encourages community driven methods to care for needy children, budgetary cash transfer programmes aimed at providing social protection and empowering caretakers has picked up in Kisumu East District. Rono says, 2,441 household units, catering for 7,500 children in the district receive KSh1,500 monthly from the Government to support needy children in nutrition, health monitoring and schooling at household level.


Unfiltered, uninhibited…. just the gruesome truth

ISSUE 019, June 16-30, 2010

State of the Kenyan Child

Lack of identification document works against IDPs By Faith Muiruri


ucy Waithera Mburu is still bitter, almost three years since she lost virtually everything she owned during the skirmishes sparked by the disputed Presidential elections in 2007. Her wretched life is apparent. She had to endure the indignity of a desolate life in a transit camp in Kirathimo, Kiambu District. She was also forcefully ejected from the same camp following a presidential directive that all IDP camps in the country be shut down in September, last year.

Compensation Mburu who was evicted from Molo at the height of the skirmishes has been forced to rent a one-roomed house where she stays with her seven children as she awaits the government resettlement package which includes KSh25, 000 set aside for the IDPs who were integrated in the communities. However, the compensation is not forthcoming. In fact, her name is missing from the last list of beneficiaries at the Limuru DO’s office. Women who were displaced by post election violence of 2007 recall the day and say that they have been deserted by the government. “My name is not among the Picture: Fidelis Kabunyi list of 300 beneficiaries which is currently displayed at the DO’s “I have an ID but what will I be voting office in Limuru. The list was doctored ciation (KIDIPA), Mr. Charles Kariuki, doret comes third with 300 IDPs who are for? A new constitution? Oh no. We still and many IDPs have missed out since efforts to have IDPS registered for the yet to get their IDs. However, for Jane Wambui Wangari, had a constitution in 2007 when I witnobody advised us to register our case,” referendum have been hampered by the explains Mburu during an interview with fact that they lost vital documents in the the events that followed the disputed nessed the brutal murder of my own son presidential polls in 2007 are what will moments after the disputed presidential the Reject. “In fact most of us who were violence. Those affected are yet to receive new stop her from participating in the refer- poll,” Wangari recalls. She adds: “Eveassimilated in the communities have IDs as the replacement process is taking endum. Wangari was ejected from Burnt rything I had went up in flames. I am been left out of the list,” she adds. She says officials from the Ministry too long due to bureaucracy at the regis- Forest at the height of the skirmishes and now a beggar relying on casual jobs to has vowed never to go back as she has tend for my family. In fact this issue of of Special Programmes who compiled trar’s offices. “When IDPs apply for replacements, experienced violence during every gen- referendum only serves to reawaken the the list argue that people who did not wounds inflicted on us by hired goons present original Identity Cards when the they are required to get letters from eral election. who are still at large.” list was being compiled did not have any chiefs confirming whether they were acShattered life tually residents in areas where they were valid ground to lodge their claim. No help Wangari has painfully watched as eveforcibly evicted,” explains Kariuki. He Lost ID Wangari regrets that the government adds: “This is cumbersome and is what rything around her collapse including “I lost valuable possessions includ- has been delaying them from getting re- her marriage. “I broke up with my hus- has ignored their plight and they have no ing my Identity Card at the height of the placements. band because he could no longer sustain reason to participate in anything including the referendum. skirmishes in Burnt Forest. Why should In cases where they managed to se- our family.” “Why should we now be considered as I lose out on the compensation package cure letters, the IDs are not forthcoming. She has not received a single penny when I have a waiting card issued to me Majority of IDPs still cling on to waiting from the compensation package prom- Kenyans when we have been languishing after I applied for a replacement almost cards which are not helpful either. ised by the government. Hers is a story of in misery in our own country?” she postwo years ago. Is this not the height of They now want the government to lost hope, degeneration and harsh dep- es. “Refugees from other countries who oppression and disintegration of the help them get replacements. Nakuru rivation as she struggles to make ends have sought refuge in Kenya have better status than us. So do not tell us about the moral fabric?” she poses as grim reality North has the highest number of IDPs meet. referendum.” dawns on her. And with an overwhelming atmoswithout IDs. Kariuki says about 500 “We have been denied relief food by She has also missed out on the just IDPs from the area are yet to get replace- phere of pain and sorrow, she has vowed the area administrators who now quesconcluded manual registration of voters ments. Limuru follows with 374 and El- not to participate in the referendum. tion our legitimacy. To them, all IDPs as she does not have an ID. She will not ceased to exist when the camps were shut take part in the forthcoming referendum in last September,” says Wangari. on the proposed constitution. There are growing fears of insecuMburu is among 1,344 IDPs in Mai Marity among internally displaced persons hiu, Limuru, Gilgil, Mai Mahiu Jikaze area, (IDPs) who are still in transit camps in Ebeneza, Nakuru North and Eldoret who the North Rift region. A majority of them lost their IDs at the height of the violence. are reluctant to return to their homes According to the chairman of the — Mr. Charles Kariuki, KIDIPA due to fears of insecurity. Kenya Internally Displaced People Asso-

Efforts to have IDPS registered for the referendum have been hampered by the fact that they lost vital documents in the violence.

ISSUE 019, June 16-30, 2010

Concerns raised over women having babies at home


Unfiltered, uninhibited…. just the gruesome truth

Untapped game reserve could lose out to loggers

By Boniface Mulu The number of women giving birth at home is worrying doctors. Whether out of choice or for lack of maternity facilities, doctors in Kitui are worried about home deliveries.

Low turnout In Kitui District for example, only 12 per cent of pregnant women go to hospital for a variety of reasons, according to statistics from the Kitui District Hospital. Area District Commissioner Mr Chepchieng said the numbers are worrying. “If 88 per cent of the pregnant women are staying at home without going to deliver at the hospital, we are sitting on a time bomb. Going to the hospital as the last resort is not helpful to the expectant woman,” warns Chepchieng. An estimated 414 out of every 1,000 women in Kenya die from avoidable pregnancy-related complications annually. The problem partly attributed to the failure by a large majority of pregnant women to submit to maternity hospital for proper medical care. Addressing the International Midwives Week, recently, the Kenya Midwives Association chairperson, Mrs Loice Muteti, disclosed that thousands of babies are lost in the country every quarter, because they are brought to the midwives when it’s too late to attend to them professionally.

TBAs She also attributed many of the deaths to traditional birth attendants who lacked skills to stop mothers from bleeding after delivery. She strongly suggested that skilled midwives link up with TBAs to save the lives of both mother and child. “As midwives, we are working to bring these services to the community at the village level. Today we are having midwives who have elevated to doctoral degrees,” said Muteti. She pointed out the distinction between a midwife and nurse as the two, while working as a team, are trained for different roles. The International Midwives Week that came into being 18 years ago, was recently celebrated in Nyeri District. In his address, the second vice chairman of the National Nurses Association of Kenya, Mr Julius Muema regretted the needless deaths saying 414 out of every 1,000 women died from pregnancy-related problems. He reiterated that this was the average national figure.

Wardens at Kitui South Game Reserve with logs that were illegally harvested in the forest. Picture: Muasya Charles

By Muasya Charles There is no human-wildlife conflict. The animals which include elephants, warthogs, rock hyrax and lesser kudu freely intermingle with charcoal burners and timber poachers. The harsh climatic conditions have brought the wildlife and human beings together. Whereas the picture presents a unique phenomenon, it masks the destruction that could soon consign the picturesque South Kitui Game Reserve to the annals of history.

Deforestation Rampant felling of trees for charcoal and timber, targeting highly valued indigenous trees, has endangered the reserve, sending fear and shock to conservationists and stakeholders. Arm-twisting between government organs that should be working as a team, is the order of the day as timber and charcoal merchants from Nairobi and Mombasa, traverse the area. While the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) says the responsibility to manage the reserve is in the domain of the County Council of Kitui, the latter counters this by pointing a finger at the Provincial Administration, who in turn blame the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS). The reserve was gazetted in 1979 as one of the 23 game reserves in the country but has remained dormant over the years, giving a leeway to local residents to invade it and engage in rampant charcoal burning among other destructive activities. A biophysical survey on the reserve conducted in 2001 by the East Africa

Wildlife Society (EAWLS), underscores the tourism prospects of the reserve, and recommends that the area should be protected and conserved.

Rare species Among the attractions at the reserve is perhaps the last southern pack of the wild dog classified as endangered, in addition to rare varieties of birds. Also found in the reserve are rare species of hornbills, the rock hyrax, lesserkudu, Colobus monkeys and rare snakes in the virgin nature of the reserve that is also a perfect hide-away for tourists and nature lovers. The proprietor of Game Watchers Safaris, Mr Jake Grieves-Cook, recently toured the reserve and expressed interest in establishing tourist camps to open up the area. The investor, who is also the chairman of Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), operates Porini Camp and is keen on establishing similar camps in the South Kitui Game Reserve. Grieves-Cook owns camps in Selenkei Conservancy in Amboseli, Ol-Kinyei Camp in Maasai Mara. He says the Kitui Game Reserve has great tourist potential due to the variety of wildlife, plant variety and the rich culture of the Kamba Community. “I only fear that the encroachment on the reserve by local residents might interfere with the investment,” said GrievesCook. He says if he succeeds in establishing the camps, water sources among them Iwango and Mwangi seasonal rivers, will be rehabilitated to carry enough water for the wildlife that could migrate to other areas when it is dry.

Kitui-Mutomo District Game Warden, Mr Joseph Kavi says destruction of the reserve is worrying. He is now urging the Government to come up with a mechanism to reclaim the facility. ‘”There should be no human settlement in game reserves, though grazing and collection of firewood is allowed,” says Kavi. He expresses concern at the establishment of a trading centre in the reserve. The warden suggested that the memorandum of Understanding signed earlier between the KWS and the Kitui County Council, should be fast-tracked to come up with an integrated management plan for the reserve.

Management “My department has taken the councillors on a tour of other councils with game reserves to see how the facilities are managed so they could improve the council’s financial base,” notes Kavi. However, he is disappointed that the council has not borrowed a leaf from their successful counterparts. Mutomo District Commissioner, Mr Joel Cherop observes it has become difficult to control charcoal burning, as the merchants have the relevant permits. The mandate of the administration is to arrest the dealers on transit, not to keep watch at the reserve,” he says. “Ways should be sought to commercialise the charcoal trade, otherwise it will be difficult to stop charcoal burning in total,” warns the DC. The clerk to the County Council of Kitui, Mr George Wambua says several investors had shown interest in developing the reserve and hopes that soon its potentiality will be realised.


ISSUE 019, June 16-30, 2010

Unfiltered, uninhibited…. just the gruesome truth

Visitors to Isiolo at the airstrip. Plans to change the airstrip into a major airport to serve the northern frontier have stalled. Picture: Hussein Dido

Residents up in arms over delayed airport By Hussein Dido Wrangles over who is to get the lion’s share of revenue between Isiolo, Nyambene and Meru county councils has stalled construction of the Isiolo International Airport five years behind time. The project might fail to take off altogether as the three councils openly disagree on how to share resources that will accrue from the airport.

Stalled project The Government had allocated KSh200 million towards the construction of the airport in the 2009/2010 financial year, but serious work is yet to begin. Recently, local civil society organisations and the business community led by Mr Harrison Kinyua, threatened to petition the Government over its failure to commence work on the project or it faces mass action. The businessmen have already drafted a protest letter to the Ministry of Local Government, to take action and ensure that the project does not fail. “We are not going to accept delay or sabotage in this project and relevant departments must move fast to ensure it takes off,” said Kinywa.

Isiolo County Council has finalised relocation of those affected by construction of the airport. The Government, on the other hand, has only managed to fence the area set aside for the airport. Two years ago, the Government allocated KSh90 million towards the fencing of the proposed airport after evacuating those affected by the project. It had committed itself to developing Isiolo town into a bustling city with its own international airport that would serve the tourism, livestock and film sectors.

Task force To this end, the State formed a high-powered task force to develop the frontier town into a resort city. The 20-member team, chaired by the Head of Public Service Mr Francis Muthaura, first met at Harambee House in Nairobi. The task-force includes three permanent secretaries from the Transport, Roads and Public Works, and Tourism and Wildlife ministries, as well as the heads of the Kenya Wildlife Services, Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Tourism Board and Ewaso Nyiro North Development Authority. The chairman and clerk of Isiolo County Council are also in the team.

More than 4,000 people affected by the airport project have been relocated to Mwangaza, Chechelese and Kiwanjani. However, Isiolo County Council Treasurer, Ms Amina Racho dismissed the allegations and urged the communities in the region to prepare for the development. She assured the communities that Kenya Airport Authority was finalising on the project and would take off immediately. “There is no need for alarm and the project will take off as planned,” said Racho. She claimed that no revenue would be paid to any council from the construction of the airport except on the business and other economic activities generated from the project. Officials from KAA visited the Districts last week and met with the stakeholders and leaders on the same. Leaders who visited the areas prior to the December 27, 2007 General Election said the completion of the airport would facilitate easy transportation of beef and other livestock products from the region, and ensure products were timely processed and exported to other parts of the world. Livestock Minister, Dr Mohamed Kuti says the region has great potential to contribute to national development due of its strategic location.

Executive Director: Rosemary Okello-Orlale Programme Coordinator: Wilson Ugangu Programme Officer: Florence Sipalla Programme Assistant: Mercy Mumo Editor: Jane Godia Designer: Noel Lumbama Copy Editor: Frank Ojiambo Contributors: Muasya Charles, Hussein Dido, Frank Ouma, Gilbert Ochieng, Musembi Nzengu, Joseph Mukubwa, Faith Muiruri, Ajanga Khayesi, Boniface Mulu and George Murage

The livestock sector would greatly benefit from the projected development of the region.

Tourism The Minister decried the fact that whereas Isiolo is the leading tourist destination in the Northern Circuit, it is still downgraded in comparison to other tourist destinations. With its three game parks, Central Isiolo has several luxurious safari camps and tourist-class lodges, among them Samburu Serena and Sarova Shaba. It is also adjacent to Samburu Game Reserve, Meru National Park and other private wildlife conservancies. Kuti says once the proposed airport becomes a reality, other new development projects in the region would follow, including the infrastructure, and help bring the region at par with others in the country. With its proximity to towns around Mt Kenya, the proposed airport is expected to serve Meru, Laikipia, Embu and Nyeri districts. Religious leaders from the region led by Sheikh Harun Rashid, have also joined in the clamour for the new airport, and are urging the Government to speed up construction work that is five years behind schedule. Write to:

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Reject Issue 19  

In this issue: - Special Report - State of the Kenyan Child - The power of the coin - Another arms mop up operation launched

Reject Issue 19  

In this issue: - Special Report - State of the Kenyan Child - The power of the coin - Another arms mop up operation launched