ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
August 01-15, 2012
A bimonthly newspaper by the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman and Child Feature Service
Identity card nightmare Acquisition of identification documents remain a challenge to youths
By ROBERT WANJALA The sun is nearly on the horizon in Shauriko location on the outskirts of Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County. The sunset is certainly to usher in the dark night yet the queue for those seeking National Identification cards is still growing long. Eligible youth have turned up in their numbers to register for national identification document that has become a prerequisite virtually in Kenya’s social, political and economic circles.
For the youth this exercise is significant because it offers them an opportunity to making a mark on their nationality and a requisite without which one cannot purchase or own property, own mobile phone, open bank account, access higher education, get formal or casual employment or even register to vote in the coming General Election early next year. While loss in the ID exercise is the complexity of the coming polls for many youth and women ignorant of the election intricacies under the new constitution, yet to them
processing the document is a step toward managing down the coming ballot nightmare.
At Shauriako Chief ’s Camp registration activities have been a tall order since eight in the morning. The applicants thronging the venue range from youth who have clocked 18 years to those who lost their IDs under unclear circumstances as well as women claiming to have been denied this right to be Kenyan by their husbands after being married off at tender age. Teresa Kerubo, 32, lost her national ID 10 years ago and has braved corridors of registrar of persons for replacement without success. “I have been taken round circles all this time without success. I’ve missed out on many economic opportunities because I lack the document,” says Kerubo, a mother of three and fruit and vegetable vender at Eldoret market. She adds: “It is impossible to acquire birth certificates for my children, use a mobile phone or open bank account to save for them.” Kerubo is not the only Kenyan found between a rock and hard place in pursuance for national identification card. Patrick Wasilwa is another
disappointed man whose predicament dates back to 1997 when he lost his valuable documents among them the ID to muggers. Like Kerubo, Wasilwa, 35, has remained disoriented and is now wobbling in abject poverty. He lacks the document which has denied him an opportunity to invest and venture into partnerships or access loans for economic development and poverty reduction for his family.
Wasilwa regrets that his vote could have counted in electing leaders of high moral and integrity during the past elections. He urges the Government to speed up the issuance of IDs to enable many youth participate in the next general election. Chapter three of the constitution spells out the entitlement of every Kenyan. Article 12 (b) stipulates that a Kenyan citizen is entitled to a passport and any document of registration or identification issued by the State to citizens. It further adds that these documents may be denied, suspended or confiscated only in accordance with an Act of Parliament that satisfies the criteria mentioned in Ar-
Youths in Eldoret town registering for the National identity card .The process of acquiring the document is an uphill task to many Kenyans yet very important for the realization of young people’s future lives. Pictures : Robert Wanjala ticle 24 under the limitation of rights and fundamental freedoms. Phelix Ochieng, a youth leader at the Eldoret Municipal market claims many young people among them graduates have been frustrated in their pursuance of IDs forcing them to discard the process and eventually resign to fate. “Our politicians are telling us to
look for IDs yet they have no clue the intricacies involved in the process. If acquiring this document is made easy, it will enable many youth to get identity cards not only for purposes of election but also facilitate them to open businesses and bank accounts or team up with other likeminded youth to form organisation for income genContinued on page 2
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ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Trip to Israel sets farmer on track By WILSON ROTICH When he boarded a plane to Israel in 2008, Willy Kirwa was just another adventurous youth with little pocket money to buy personal effects. Five years down the line, however, he is among the greatest dairy farmers in Kenya. Kirwa, 40, now has more than enough to provide the best food and education to his five children. He delved deep into farming in 2008 after visiting Israel, which is reputed globally for its high food security. “Israel is naturally a desert but they use irrigation to do farming,” notes Kirwa.
Having seen what hard work can do, Kirwa braves the morning cold to begin his work at 5pm which earns him over KSh20,000 on a daily basis. From among his 36 herds of cattle, 18 now provide him with 380 litres of milk each day. “I sell some milk to the neighbouring Hillcrest School and the rest is ferried to the local market in Eldoret town at KSh50 per litre,” he says. Kirwa is quick to challenge Kenyans that “we have very fertile land and enough rain that should be used to produce enough food and generate income”. When the ancient economists said it was wrong to have one millionaire in a community of one million beggars, Willy Kirwa was hundreds of years yet to be born. However, he now practices the maxim ideology in Uasin Gishu County. Kirwa lives at Kapseret village, which is seven kilometres to the west of Eldoret town. In the local dialect, Kapseret implies a place characterised by humility and scarcity. However, his commendable work has positively impacted the lives of many beginning with those in his backyard.
He has trained more than 10 farmers who are now successfully practicing the trade in Uasin Gishu County and in the larger East African region. Even young university graduates seek advice from him which he gives them without hesitation. “College and university graduates should not waste time scavenging for employment but instead borrow a little money to start dairy farming,” he observes. According to the Kenya Dairy Board report 2012 “the dairy industry is a major source of livelihood to a large majority of Kenyans. It contributes approximately eight percent of Kenya’s GDP and acts as a source of income and employment to over 1.5 million smallholder dairy farmers in addition to offering 500,000 direct jobs in milk transportation, processing and distribution and a further 750,000 in related support services”.
At only 23 years Peter Kiplimo Koech is already working hard to succeed in dairy and poultry farming. He sees Kirwa as his role model. “I have been impressed by what Kirwa does and I do challenge other youth to try farming as it is good business,” he says, while admiring the milking machines. Others who come to pick ideas from Kirwa travel from far and wide. Eliza Lagat travelled 80 kilometres from Nakuru to learn from the farming expert. Even though she is still in employment, Lagat decided to get into dairy farming to boost both her income and nutrition. While addressing a congregation of budding farmers who had visited him, Kirwa advised them not to rely on rain fed agriculture. He said zero-grazing is not affected by drought or adverse weather conditions because the animals are sheltered.
Better farming methods and proper preparations are making farming a lucrative business in Kapsaret village, Eldoret town. Pictures: Wilson Rotich “The farmer only needs to budget and store enough fodder for at least one year,” he explains.
While Kirwa has concentrated on dairy farming, his wife is into poultry keeping. He explains that keeping chicken takes up very little space and provides a lot. He illustrates that out of his wife’s 200 hens, 170 lay eggs. She earns KSh1,700 each day by selling each egg for KSh10. This translates to KSh300,000 annually. Kirwa notes that many peasant farmers are going hungry because of marketing problems. “Others are fleeced off by middlemen. The government should strengthen the New Kenya Creameries Cooperative (KCC) as much as it liberalises the milk market,” he says.
Acquisition of identification documents remain a challenge to youth Continued from page 1 eration activities,” observes Ochieng. Nick Omitto, an assistant director with the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy claims that he has received many complaints from youth over the frustrating process. “Acquiring an ID in Kenya is so complicated with so many requirements. We will move to court if the government does not hasten the process to enable all eligible Kenyans acquire the document to vote their leaders of choice under the new constitutional dispensation,” threatens Omitto.
He observes that no one should be denied or be frustrated in the process of seeking to be a legitimate Kenyan because the Constitution is very clear under the chapter on citizenship. Lack of meaningful venture by youth has earned them a criminal gang tag. Recently, Eldoret residents led by various leaders from the region thronged the streets protesting against the killing of a businessman and a third year student from Moi University. The town has been hit hard by motorbike and carjacking. This is being blamed on idle unemployed youth. Stephen Mugwira, a businessman blames the wave of criminal activities
in the region for lack of employment among the youth. “With no identification document, the country’s security personnel will never be able to apprehend criminals,” observes Mugwira. However, Eldoret West District Commissioner, Christopher Wanjau says lack of IDs and the issue of unemployment in the country should not be the excuse for youth to involve themselves in criminal activities. Wanjau notes: “We have many people without IDs and unemployed yet they make honest living through legal means and activities.” According to the National Coordinating Agency for Population and Development (NCAPD), about 72 per cent of Kenya’s population is youth under the age 30. NCAPD report shows that unemployment rate among the youth is about 25 per cent and skewed in favour of males at 27 and against female at 22 per cent. Nancy Musundi says ID has become a password for everything in Kenya. Musundi 19, a Standard Seven drop-out says life is impossible today without the document. “I have been looking for a job as a house girl without success simply because I don’t have ID. No one is ready to employ a person without an identification document because you are either underage or out for no good,”
observes Musundi. Although she plans to participate in the coming general election, she is ignorant of the entire electoral process and only hoping someone will help her understand it before the election. Mugwira who has been instrumental in mobilising youth and women without IDs from various parts of Uasin Gishu including IDPs to acquire them says many youth are idle and in a state of hopelessness because without IDs they can’t venture into any profitable businesses. “I have been facilitating the KSh300 for those reapplying for IDs. I have also helped over age applicants to register for the document,” notes Mugwira. However, he is urging the government to consider reducing the ID registration and issuance requirements because some of them only frustrate willing applicants. “Charging unemployed youth the amount yet some barely make KSh100 per day is telling them not to bother pursuing to be registered at all,” reiterates Mugwira. According to Ken Ruto, coordinator of North Rift Theatre Ambassadors — a youth group for peace initiatives —through theatric campaigns held in the region many youth are now aware
of the importance of having an identity card. They are using theatre to demonstrate the importance of youth participating in various activities. “We use participatory theatrics such as dance and short skits which are captivating to most youth in the region. We try to encourage the youth to come out and apply for national identity cards. When time comes we will call upon them to come out and register as voters in order to participate in electing desired leaders in coming poll,” explains Ruto. Mugwira claims to have helped over 2,500 youth register for IDs. He plans to vie for Uasin Gishu County youth seat in the next polls. His strategy is to make sure all eligible voters have the document to enable them exercise their democratic right in the general election.
Mugwira says: “Our aim is to make sure all eligible voters have the document to enable them participate in the elections of leaders committed to addressing their plight. This initiative was informed by the fact that politicians exploit unemployed youth to advance their selfish interests.” Mary Kakuvi, a programme manager with Yes Youth Can in Rift
Valley, a programme sponsored by USAID and being implemented by Mercy Corps, says they have been on campaign trail to empower youth to involve in decision making process and take leadership role in their respective communities. Under a civic education programme dubbed ‘My ID my Life’, Kakuvi says the campaign is basically to ensure young people who have attained voting age in the community acquire identity cards. “We register eligible youth in the villages, assist those ignorant with the procedure and work with them through the entire process to ensure they get their IDs. We are very happy because youth have embraced the campaign and are coming forward to register”, says Kakuvi. According to Samuel Sagala National Registration Bureau, North Rift coordinator says despite the challenges, mobile registration exercise has seen about 17,500 people get IDs. Sagala says: “Many youth are turning up to register for IDs and this is very encouraging. The process has been eased and applicants are getting their IDs within a month.” He says the department is currently working with local chiefs to distribute IDs which remain uncollected from district offices.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
All is not well in Turkana’s oil field By CAVINCE ADHERE
Lobby group launches seeks to mitigate conflict By CAROLINE MANGO The Kenya Community Support Centre has launched the Coast Early Warning and Early Response System to prevent conflicts from escalating into violence. This being an election year, the organisation is seeking to tap on all peace structures and actors at the Coast to complement the work of the various state and non-state actors’ efforts to promote tolerance and prevent violent conflicts as the country gears towards next year’s general elections. KECOSCE seeks to do this through establishment of a system for provision of alerts and necessary information in good time to allow for conflict resolution and management.
When President Kibaki broke news on Kenyan oil prospects, Turkana County earned the envy of her contemporaries. Attention shifted to the hitherto ‘cursed County’. The residents were particularly elated. With smiling faces and new found agility, prospects of a better future overshadowed the historical hardships they had weathered. This optimism was further reinforced by additional information that the Ngamia-1 well was only one among many. With the experts report on the commercial viability of the Kenyan oil nearly consolidated, Turkana residents are feasting on hope. Amid this excitement, however, sits a deeply rooted fear. The residents must now grapple with intricate issue of governance. Many politicians have burst into the limelight, salivating for the new status oil confers on the County. Without an effective and sound multi-tiered governance structure, the residents fear they may not benefit from oil. According to Derrick Merinyang, a resident of Lokichar, Turkana County has high levels of illiteracy. “Because of limited education, residents have been manipulated by politicians who are not development minded,” says Merinyang.
Poverty has equally contributed to poor leadership and governance in the County. Hard living conditions have encouraged electoral malpractices, like inducements and intimidation. Residents of Turkana County have to solve the many challenges that already exist in the “Voter bribery and buying region in order for them to enjoy the benefits that come with the discovery of oil in their have defined past elections in this land. Pictures: Reject correspondent. County,” says Jackson Nakusa, who is eying the Turkana County disenfranchised many residents from particiWithout addressing the concerns identiSenate seat. pating in the electoral process. fied by the residents, the election of credible According to Nakusa, this has eliminated “With a population exceeding 850,000, and competent leaders will remain elusive in competent leaders that are financially disadbarely 100,000 residents can vote. This is unforthe County. vantaged. tunate. We are calling on the government to exPoor leadership will equally thwart the Although it remains the responsibility of pedite issuance of ID cards to enable our youth realisation of the hopes of Turkana residents, Independent Electoral and Boundary Comto participate in the forthcoming elections,” despite the oil exploration and extraction mission (IEBC) to conduct voter education to says Nakusa who is aspiring to be a senator. tipped to be actualised in the County. avert some of the malpractices, the region has Turkana South District Commissioner, no history of effective civic education. Joseph Kanyiri, advises the residents to elect According to Erick Lokai, a local trader at Even though the Constitution accord both people who will champion development Lokichar, civic education in the County has sexes equal opportunity in leadership, Turagenda in the region. been affected by poor infrastructure and inkana County hardly has female leaders. This “Let the community members pick leaders security. lopsided representation has been fuelled by wisely who can help them reap from this God “IEBC offices are located in Lodwar. With patriarchal societal structures. given resource and they should avoid electing no roads, they cannot access the remote areas “Our culture abhors women leaders, but selfish leaders,” noted Kanyiri. where most of the Turkana reside due to their under the new constitutional dispensation He urged the residents to embrace modnomadic lifestyle,” says Lokai. we hope things will change. Already we have ern education in order to capitalise on the oil According Lokai proliferation of small women administrators, including chiefs,” says and auxiliary services which will soon be dearms in the region has also negatively affected Lydia Awoi, a youth leader in Lokichar. manded in the region. civic education in Turkana. As the next six-pronged General “The insecurity has led to selective Elections approach, Kakalel David, regional civic education. Access to ina fresh graduate from Nakukulas formation through the media is also village, Lokichar, has a word of adnegligible. Newspapers get here days vice to fellow Turkana youth: after publication,” notes Lokai, adding “Let us be cautious of the shaky that television sets are a luxury in the leaders who have always taken region, only affordable to a few. advantage of us. Under devolved Oil as a resource is believed to be government and emerging oil isan impetus of the protracted boundsue, let us elect the best in order to aries wars. effectively manage our resources,” Of equal concern is the lack of reiterated Kakalel. identity cards among youth. This has — Lydia Awoi
“Our culture abhors women leaders, but under the new constitutional dispensation we hope things will change. Already we have women administrators, including chiefs.”
Speaking during the launch of the system at KECOSCE offices, Executive Director Phyllis Muema said: “Conflicts are often grounded in the stories and narratives that people tell themselves and the emotions that these stories generate. Narratives shape identity and social construct of reality — we interpret our lives through stories. These have the power to transform relationships and communities.” Muema explained: “We have set up a 50,000 strong member short message service (SMS) subscriber list in Mombasa, Tana River, Kwale, Malindi and Lamu to leverage mobile technology for awareness raising and civic engagement with the aim of preventing possible violence during next year’s elections”. The campaign focus is on voter education, community cohesion and rumour prevention. The system is designed not just to gather alerts on conflict; but also disseminate the same online to actors for immediate response and follow up. The Early Warning Early Response system seeks to create awareness among peace building civil society organisations and the general public about the need to inform of impending danger and take appropriate remedial actions. According to Muema, this comes in handy especially this time when the Coast is experiencing increasing tensions and ethnic based debates on the forthcoming General elections with members of Mombasa Republic Council calling for a boycott of the elections on one side and the government through IEBC preparing for the elections to take place in all regions in Kenya. With this mechanism KECOSCE hopes that conflict and tension alerts will be identified at an early stage and adequate measures taken to prevent conflict escalation.
The organisation encourages peace actors and the general public being encouraged to keep sending SMS alerts to 0726549400 for speedy interventions. KECOSCE has already trained over 36 peace monitors and is working closely with the peace committees and civil society organisations at the Coast to enhance citizen participation in conflict prevention. The system builds on the already established network of peace actors, the District Peace Committees (DPCs), the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) and National Steering Committee on Peace Building and Conflict Management (NSC). This way, KECOSCE hopes to link the governmental approaches to violence prevention to the civil society actors and social groups at the local level. This system will also provide a platform for gathering and providing information about conflict and potentially dangerous situations; support peace actors to adequately respond to conflicts and to monitor the aftermath of conflicts settlements. The platform will also serve to enhance coordination of state and non-state actions to conflicts, and communication from grassroots to national level. It is the organisation’s belief that this programme will be used to catalyse behaviour change vis-a-vis peace and conflict issues at the community level by amplifying new narratives via SMS and online system.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Student defies stigma to pursue dream By BONIFACE OTIENO Twenty one years ago she was born HIV positive and, since then she has had a journey full of challenges that are associated with stigma and discrimination. Dorcas Kawira was orphaned at the age of six, after her parents succumbed to the disease. Her Uncle, James Laibon, took her in and raised her but he too died later. Now a third year law student at Moi University, Eldoret, Kawira says that her health condition has not stopped her from pursuing her dream career, which, she says, was nurtured by her former high school headmistress, Eunice Maeke at Nkuene Girls’ High School.
“Don’t give up. Educate yourself and find something that appeals to your psyche and to your inner peace to help you deal with the information you will be getting because some of it is scary,” says Kawira. She opens up about the long journey to feel at peace again and notes that speaking publicly about her condition breaks down the walls of stigma and discrimination. “I have never lived a day without HIV. If I had a wish it would be to reverse the situation. Nevertheless, I thank God for having brought me this far through the basic education system of this country but I am saddened that many in my shoes have not made it,” observes Kawira. Developing a positive mind and doing the right things have kept her going. Virtues that have made her appreciate life and the cliché of living every day like is her last has resonated well with her. “Every day since my diagnosis, I have gained more confidence and I have learnt that the mind is the first thing that needs to be intact. You have got to grab a hold of yourself and come to a place where you are happy with whom you are by doing all the right things for yourself and reducing stress as much as possible,” notes Kawira. She adds: “If I really had just this one day to live, I would want to live it with purpose, with stability and with passion. It is a breath of fresh air to have more of this inner peace.”
Soft spoken and ever smiling Kawira has suffered discrimination, especially at school. The worst nightmare she recalls was in primary and secondary schools when some of her fellow students kept their distance from her because of her status, an attitude that made her feel neglected and isolated. At some point in high school she was forced to sneak ARVs in her uncle’s pocket after a new found friend requested her to share their school boxes. It was only after her uncle arrived home that he found the drugs in his pockets. “Disclosing one’s HIV status is hard. One of my friends, who is also HIV positive once told me that the moment she learnt about her status she always thought that people knew about it every time she went to the market and people stared at her, but the moment she went public about her status she discovered that they stopped staring,” Kawira explains. That was only her mental state. No one really stared at her because they thought she was HIV positive. The moment one discloses their status they find it easy to interact with other people without fear, although it takes courage, considering the stigma associated with being HIV positive. “However, I would say that it is the stigma associated with the condition that makes people remain silent rather than talk about their status,” she says. When Kawira came out openly about her status she had no clue whatsoever regarding what was happening around her community. Fear consumed her but the desire to address the
challenges faced by children infected with the virus prompted her to talk publicly about her status on their behalf. She painfully narrates how, in her former primary boarding school, a friend of hers would go about telling other students about her status. She would caution them not to share anything with her or they would get infected. At one point the same girl wrote her a note saying: “We know what you have been hiding. In fact, we’ve even told the boys not to associate with you.”
For Kawira, discrimination is not foreign. She faced it when her parents died when she was forced to go and live with her grandmother since other relatives feared to share utensils such as spoons and cups with her for fear of being infected. She says that sometimes when she fell ill, her relatives refused to pay her medical bill. They claimed that it was not necessary since she was on her way to die. She has since forgiven them and says that the same relatives have learnt to accept her. They have become supportive in her studies and social life. “Stigma and discrimination are difficult to address if people remain hidden. We have to accept that we have children living with HIV in our institutions who have chosen to remain silent, remain faceless and their needs are overlooked,” laments Kawira. She is currently on LNS medication, septrin and supplements of cod liver oil tablets. Even though she admits that finding love could be tricky for those infected, she believes that when one is not looking for it and is more focused on his or her passions, it seems to open up. She believes that when two people who are HIV positive meet, it sort of makes everything normal again.
In terms of disclosure, she says that at some point in the relationship she will be obliged to disclose her status before it can get further than a kiss. She urges those infected who are afraid of disclosing their status not to give up because they are not alone. “There are people out there to help. All they have to do is just look for the right people. First, you have to take care of yourself. Your mind is the first thing that needs to be intact. I know we talk about diets, but in my opinion, your mind is the most important. You have got to grab a hold of yourself and come to a place where you are happy with whom you are,” she says. Kawira tells those who are living with HIV to reduce stress as much as possible and avoid alcohol and hard drugs. Kawira is just one of the few who to talk about their status. She confesses that being HIV positive has taught her how precious life is. It has taught her how important family and friends are. “I understand the fear that takes place, which overrides the beauty that all these cultures have, because they don’t understand. My community too many times allows myths to shape its understanding of this epidemic. And it’s really sad because when a person is first diagnosed
what they need the most is their family. If they have the main thing, anything is possible for a long healthy life,” she says. She blames parents and guardians for shielding infected children and young people from knowing their HIV status. “This information is hidden, especially by those who love them to protect them from the shame and stigma labelled against HIV. Those who know their HIV status lead their lives in discretion for fear someone will find out and discriminate against them,” reiterates Kawira. According to Dr Nicholas Muraguri, head of the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme (NASCOP) disclosure of a child’s Dorcus Kawira has been living positively all her life and she HIV status is indeed in- knows well the challenges that come with the condition. She tricate. One is not sure is however very optimistic of the future and to her the sky is how the child will be the limit. Picture: Boniface Otieno treated henceforth, and they are likely to be deprived of privileges asAccording to Muraguri, the impact of the sociated with mental and psychological illness epidemic on children has increased infant and and school dropouts as they risk being discrimi- childhood mortality, with an acute increase in nated against. the number of orphaned children. The latest survey, released two years ago by the Kenya Demographic Health Survey “In order to reduce stigma and discrimina- (KDHS) puts the number of children 15 tion amongst HIV positive people, orphans, years and below living with HIV/Aids around and vulnerable children, psychosocial support 100,000 to 150,000. About 1.2 million are esmechanisms need to be harmonised in order to timated to be orphaned with the disease in adapt effective behavioural interventions to pass Kenya alone. The report also says that HIV information that is timely as well as age and sex transmissions from mother to baby are high in appropriate within the relevant socio-cultural teenage pregnancies. context,” Muraguri says. Muraguri, however, cautions religious leadHe adds that access to comprehensive infor- ers to stop stigmatising HIV in their congregamation relies solely on social media, learning tional messages through moral linkages. Instead institutions, Ministry of Education. He says this they should focus more on providing compreshould include parents but alleges majority are hensive information to their faithful in order to shying away from talking to their children about prevent new infections, especially among the sexuality. young people who form the backbone of this “In order to address the stigma and dis- country. crimination that is rooted in the minds of many “Today we have religious leaders living with people, a multi-spectral approach is needed,” HIV, and, therefore, we cannot ignore the presobserves Muraguri. He notes: “It will help to ence of the virus in the congregations of the ensure young people can access comprehensive faithful,” observes Muraguri. information.”
This is only achievable if parents and teachers are willing to address these concerns. “We have to put the young people on the driver’s seat by listening to their voices and providing mechanisms through which they can air their views to guide interventions,” advises Muraguri. He adds: “There has to be concerted campaigns that highlight the plight of these young people.”
“I have never lived a day without HIV. If I had a wish it would be to reverse the situation. Nevertheless, I thank God for having brought me this far through the basic education system of this country but I am saddened that many in my shoes have not made it.” — Dorcas Kawira
According to Everlyne Njagi, secretary Nairobi chapter, Kenya Primary School Heads Association (KEPSHA), there is need to empower young people by offering them comprehensive information. She recommends that policies on VCT services from the ministries of health and education should have children under 18 years tested with the consent of their guardians. She says mechanisms should be put in place to protect children living with HIV in learning institutions so that they can realise their full potential. Njagi notes that this is only be possible if psycho-social support mechanisms, including the formation of networks for children and young people living with the virus are included in the programme. “There is need to build capacity of teachers and lectures on the basics of supporting children living with HIV. Emphasis should be placed around disclosure, ARVs, side effects of the drugs and children’s circumstances brought about by stigma and discrimination,” says Njagi.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
President urged to assent to the child labour law By GILBERT OCHIENG There has been a rising incidence of child abuse including involving children in labour. Now, advocates of child rights are calling on President Kibaki to assent to the Child Labour Bill to help address the rising cases of child abuse and neglect in the country. According to Aston Maungu, Busia County Children’s Coordinator, if the bill receives Kibaki’s blessing, it will help eradicate the rising cases of child abuse and neglect by over 80 per cent within a span of six months. “The bill is comprehensive, direct and to the point. It contains punitive steps that will ensure stern legal action is taken against the perpetrators of child abuse and neglect, hence eradicate child labour within a span of six months by over 80 percent,” noted Maungu. He welcomed the Child Labour Bill saying that the existing statutes had failed to address cases of child abuse and neglect and left minors at the mercy of their molesters.
“The Children’s Department has exhausted all the available statutes that had been put in place purposely to help address rising cases of child abuse and neglect, but so far nothing meaningful has been achieved. If the Child Labour Bill is enacted into law, it will impose stiffer penalties that will help curb the vice,” said Maungu. He expressed concern, though, saying a majority of child abuse and neglect cases involved professionals that are supposed to protect children from abuse. “It is sad to note that the majority of crimes relating to child abuse are committed by professionals, such as teachers, who are supposed to be the custodians of the children under their care. In most occasions, teachers have been involved in sexual relationships with their pupils, a situation that has forced a majority of the victims to drop out of school after becoming pregnant,” noted Maungu.
He reiterated that culprits end up compromising parents of the victims to drop the case, hence defeating justice. “With the passage of the Child Labour Bill into law, parents who accept bribery from the perpetrators of child abuse and neglect will face stiffer sentence in accordance with the law. The perpetrators will not be spared either,” he said. Maungu noted that the major challenge they face in the war against child abuse and neglect is failure on the part of the prosecutors to understand the law relating to Children Act.
“We feel that the prosecution, as part and parcel of the Government, should help us by convincing the court through concrete evidence that the suspects are guilty in order to discourage the culprits from engaging in child abuse.” Maungu, at the same time, pointed out that the most notorious areas where child abuse and neglect cases had reached alarming levels included Butula, Bunyala and Teso South districts.
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Endless agony for kids with cerebral palsy By WANGARI MWANGI Close to 100 children from Makuyu, Murang’a County, are suffering from severe cerebral palsy. They have been unable to access proper medical care due to financial constraints facing their families. Most of the children’s parents are living in extreme poverty and are not able to raise the KSh50 required to seek treatment at a health centre, which is 10 kilometres away from their homes. This has forced most parents to lock the children in their houses as they go out to look for menial jobs that are not always guaranteed.
The children, who require undivided attention and special diet are only fed in the morning before their parents leave in the morning to look for jobs kilometres away. The children have no one to look after them, and this probably aggravates their problem since they don’t get assistance necessary to manage their condition. Occasionally, when a parent is lucky to get some money to take one to hospital, they are forced to carry the ailing child on their back because the cost of hiring a motor bike is also beyond their reach. Some mothers have, therefore, failed to take their children for regular checkups as they complain of severe back ache. Such is the agony that two families from Makuyu are currently going through. They narrated to the Reject their experience of bringing up children with cerebral palsy. Fourteen year-old George Murigi was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was eight months old. This was after his parents realised that he could not sit up or crawl like children his age and that his eyes were roving. According to his mother, Murigi was born normally. He was a healthy boy weighing four kilograms but never cried after birth. However, she says, during delivery she was unable to push out the baby and the doctor attending her pulled him out. She suspects the problem emanated from here. The baby grew up normally. He had noticeable weight gain until he was eight months old and things started changing for the worse. When he was four months old, the parents realised he was not behaving normally. He could not sit up or hold anything and they took him to hospital. The doctor only looked in his eyes and gave them medication and they were sent home.
However, they were not contented and made several trips to the clinic, which did not help in identifying the problem. On the fourth trip, they were referred to the Thika District Hospital, and it was here that the medical staff diagnosed him with cerebral palsy. The doctor said the boy has a problem with his foreskin, which they said was sagging and they recommended circumcision him for, but this did not offer a remedy to his health. The parent’s now just watch helplessly as his condition deteriorates, adding that they lack money to take him for therapy sessions. At his age, Murigi weighs 14 kilograms. His mother says that feeding him has been hectic. “It takes two hours to finish a meal, and at times he refuses to eat,” she notes. What worries the family is that his abdomen keeps shifting from one side to another, which is painful and traumatising for him. A few metres from this homestead, another family tells of a similar story. Twenty year old Lucy Wanjiru was diag-
nosed with the condition at a tender age. Her parents did everything they could to see her get proper medical care. Her mother, Hannah Njoki, says that she took Wanjiru to the hospital until she was ten years old, but she ran out of money and that was the last time she ever took her to the clinic.
With no reliable source of income, Njoki says it is also hard to get the special meal that Wanjiru requires to boost her health. When Njoki goes out to look for a job, she has to lock Wanjiru in the house until evening when she comes back. Hannah Njoki holding her daughter, 21 year-old Lucy According to Joseph Wanjau, Wanjiru .Below, 14 year-old George Murigi with his founder of Hope Foundation for the Orphans, many children in mother. Poverty and superstitious beliefs surrounding this area are suffering from cere- cerebral palsy have made life very difficult for both the bral palsy, yet a big number canparents and the children. Pictures: Wangari Mwangi not afford medical care. He says they have identified gait or mobility, difficulty in swallowing and 100 cases in Maragua District, pointing out with speech. that there could be more children suffering from the same but they are hidden by the parents who see the condition as a curse. Signs of cerebral palsy usually appear be“We have been sensitising parents on the fore 18 months of age, and parents are often negative impact these children have been gothe first to suspect that the infant is not develing through, and we want them to be accepted oping motor skills normally. like normal children,” notes Wanjau. Infants with cerebral palsy are frequently He says that there are plans to set up a slow to reach developmental milestones, such rescue centre for such children, calling for an as learning to roll over, sit, crawl, smile or intervention from the Government and other walk. This is sometimes called developmental well wishers. delay. According to the World Health OrganThe major types of cerebral palsy include, isation, cerebral palsy is a condition characSpastic, Athetoid, Dyskinetic, Ataxic and terised by an inability to fully control motor mixed forms. function, particularly muscle control and The condition is not treatable, but it can be coordination. Depending on which areas of managed to help the child achieve maximum the brain have been damaged, problems that potential in growth and development with may occur include: muscle tightness or spasphysicians, therapists, educators, nurses, social ticity, involuntary movement, disturbance in workers and other professionals assisting the family as well as the child. Certain medications, surgery and braces may be used to improve nerve and muscle coordination and prevent or minimise dysfunction. A large number of children in developing countries are born with or develop cerebral palsy. The problem is made worse by inadequate knowledge and treatment facilities. As a result, thousands of children with cerebral — Hannah Njoki. palsy live in burdensome dependence upon their families.
“It takes two hours to finish a meal, and at times he refuses to eat.”
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Schools in Nyeri County use chopper rides to motivate students By Joseph Mukubwa Initially, the best performing students were awarded bags, umbrellas, utensils, certificates and books, but things have since changed with time. Today, the top student goes home with a laptop, a brief case or trophy. However, this too is changing with rural schools innovating new ways of motivating and appreciating the students. Students are being offered free chopper rides, where a student is flown high for about ten minutes to inspire them to always aim high. In rural areas where choppers are only spotted in the air, the students burn midnight oil working hard in order not to miss that rare chance. The ‘flying rides’ have motivated the students, who not only enjoy a helicopter landing near them, but also flying for the first time in their lives. “Although we are happy appearing in the media as top performers, we are happier when we enjoy the ride. We compete a lot in order not to miss the ride,” said a student at Birithia Girls Secondary School in Othaya of Nyeri County after a six minute ride in the air. A joyful student in Form III who was flown for the first time in her life said, “I want to fly high like that chopper until I reach my destination. I know the journey is long and tough but with God’s grace, I know I will achieve it.” A recent prize giving at Birithia Girls Secondary School in Othaya also met top girls enjoying such rides for the first time in the institution, which was the first school to start such an initiative in Othaya. Three students who excelled in last year’s KCSE, the three best improved students and the best three in all classes were flown in a chopper in trips organized by the chairman of the school’s Board of Governors, Anthony Maina, as a way of motivating the girls to study hard. The girls were flown across Othaya and the surrounding towns, which was a symbolic representation that they can fly high in their lives and achieve much. Another best performing girl in last year’s exam, Rose Karuri, who joined the school with 317 marks from Giakanja primary and managed to get Grade A, the first to be achieved in that school, was excited when she enjoyed the ride. “It was the greatest experience and it encouraged me to work even harder at the University. I believe with determination and hard work one can achieve anything in life, no matter where they come from. I have come from a local school and I am dreaming high,” said the 18- year- old who plans to join Kenyatta University to study law. Another top student, Catherine Kagoko, says, “this is my happiest day in life. I have never had such an experience of being on top of the world.
Everything was below me. A big town was just as small as a village. I really enjoyed. I have never been near a helicopter in my life, let alone being flown away.” The BoG chairman said this was the only unique way that the flight was meant to send a message to the other students that every girl can fly high. He said the chopper ride was meant to motivate the pupils to work even harder in order to fly high as the helicopter. “Every year, we shall be looking for a unique way to motivate the girls, but this one seems to be the best of all. The girls and parents have really enjoyed the programme,” said the chairman. Maina was the first to bring such an initiative in Othaya, and said that he will ensure the programme is held annually. He noted that children in the area have a lot of potential and they only needed to be motivated for them to perform better. “I was very impressed after the school produced the first A- in the history of this school out of the 90 students who sat for the exams last year. I also promised to surprise the parents, teachers and students. We also have to improve infrastructure of the school,” he says. The chairman says that the board has resolved to reward the best performing students in the school as well as the most improved students in order to motivate the rest to work harder and perform better. “I want to be flying high like I have seen the pilot doing from now onwards. It was a good experience up there and hopes to remain on top of all students all the time,” another student adds. At the neigbouring Mathira district, area MP Ephraim Maina gives free rides to students in his constituency who excel in KCPE every year as a form of appreciation and motivation. The MP believes that the chopper ride motivates the pupils to work even harder in order to fly high. The chopper flew several rounds in the air where over ten students who excelled in last year’s KCPE joined for a free ride. Parents and teachers welcomed the initiative, saying that it is the best option, though expensive. “I personally I have never boarded a chopper. My daughter who is just 18 years old enjoyed the ride last year. She has since been narrating to colleagues how she enjoyed it. As long as parents will not cough any cent, we have no problem with the rides,” says 67-yearold John Maina, who is a Mathira parent. Several district education officers interviewed say that this is a positive move in motivating students instead of relying on the old ways of giving prizes. This, of course, comes with a prize since one helicopter charges about Ksh 200,000 per hour, and bearing in mind the function will take several hours, this will amount close to Ksh 1 million for that particular day.
Some of the best improved students of Birithia Girls Secondary School enjoy a chopper ride in Othaya recently. Rural schools are innovating new ways of motivating and appreciating the students. They are being offered free chopper rides, where a student is flown high for about ten minutes to inspire them to always aim high. Picture: Joseph Mukubwa
Students cautioned against bogus colleges By TITUS MAERO Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) has cautioned individuals wishing to enrol for the privately sponsored student programme to be wary of private universities that have opened up campuses in Kakamega town. According to Professor John Nandi, the University’s Director of Privately Sponsored Student Programme, some of the campuses have questionable credibility and students seeking to join such institutions should visit his office for guidance. Nandi noted that it would be an exercise
in futility for those wishing to pursue higher education to join institutions with questionable backgrounds, only to discover later that the degrees offered are not recognised in the country.
Addressing education stakeholders at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega, Nandi, who did not want to name the institutions he was referring to, said he was ready to furnish the information confidentially if approached by prospective students. He observed that there is a rush to open
up campuses by private institutions in the area due to the rising demand for higher education in order to fit in the new system of devolved government. “There is high turnout from civil servants and employees from the private sector seeking to register for university programmes in private university campuses, some of which are offering cheap courses to attract a large number of students,” he disclosed. He told the participants that the Commission for Higher Education has a compiled data on credible and recognised uni-
versities in the country whose details can be obtained from his office. Saying that individuals are likely to fall prey to such unrecognised university campuses, Nandi recognised this from the fact that many people are taking loans to undertake studies in universities. He noted that such people should be guided to avoid losing their money. “Some people are taking loans from commercial banks and Saccos to pursue higher education. They should be advised that not all universities are accredited and that they risk being conned.”
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Sect condemns conventional medicine By NZINGA MUASYA Death is the most feared eventuality in human life. When it strikes, family members of the deceased are thrown into a sombre mood characterised by wailing and shedding tears. However, this is not the case for a sect whose members believe it is the wish of God for any of them to die. Kavonokya Sect members believe that there is no sense in crying for the dead because the deceased have just taken a rest and will resurrect. What is baffling is that the sect does not believe in conventional medicine. When one of them falls sick, they gather in homes to pray for the sick member. They do not go to hospitals under whatever circumstances since to them that is against God’s will. “We call on God through prayers to heal the sick. God says we pray to Him and He will heal us from all evils, including diseases. At times some get healed while other times they die. Unlike the people of the world, God reveals to us when it is time for one of us to die through the holy spirit. So we just accept God’s will,” says David Kathu, a Kavonokya adherent. He reveals that they don’t mourn the dead and carry out their funerals in exclusive quiet.
Endui, located in Mwingi Central District, is believed to have the highest concentration of Kavonokya adherents in Kitui County. According to area chief Samuel Maithya the sect members are generally peaceful people. “However, when it comes to matters pertaining to their faith, even when it is obvious what they are doing is unlawful, they are very stubborn,” notes Maithya. Many times the provincial administration and the sect members have clashed severally, as matters of faith and the law pull in different directions. The recent clash concerned a bout of highly contagious measles that has
been spreading fast within Endui and neighbouring areas. The chief and a contingent of police officers from Mwingi Police Station were forced to storm the adherents’ homes and forcibly take the sick children to Mwingi District Hospital for treatment. The crackdown followed the death of three children in a period of two weeks in the location, as a result of measles. Another eight children died in Kyuso District as a result of malaria and measles because their parents stuck to their faith and refused to take them for medical attention.
Some of the parents have been charged at Mwingi and Kyuso law courts for child neglect. Kathu, a father of four who joined Kavonokya Sect in 1995, describes the government move to arrest their members and take their children to hospital as harassment. He says that they take consolation in the Bible, whose teachings are being fulfilled. “The Bible tells us that those who are holy and true believers of God through his son Jesus Christ will be persecuted in end times. The Bible tells us that we will suffer in the hands of evil men. That is what is happening, but His word reminds us to remain steadfast in our faith,” Kathu avers. He says that the harassment will not make them defy their faith, adding that the members will not shy away from giving their faith first priority when compared to government directives that contradict the Biblical teachings they believe in.
“What those people should know is that forcing us to take drugs is inviting God’s wrath upon themselves, which will be delivered in due time,” Kathu warns. However, Maithya says threats of a curse will not deter him from carrying on his work. “All we are doing is to save the lives of innocent children who do not understand their parents’ sect. If doing that will bring me a curse, then I’m ready for it,” he says, indicating that the drive to forcefully take them to the hospital will continue. While officiating a recent launch of Malezi Bora, an initiative geared towards protecting the health of children, Kyuso District Commissioner, Mr. Peter Maina, cautioned the sect’s members against breaking the law while practicing their faith. “We are not against anybody’s faith but those who abuse children’s rights will face the law; it doesn’t matter what sect they belong to. We are keen on protecting children’s rights that are safeguarded in the constitution,” he said. Maithya laments that their efforts to convince Kavonokya members to seek medication have been fruitless. “No amount of convincing will make them seek medication, which is why we have to use force to save lives.” According to Martha Mutia, whose four month old baby was vaccinated against her wish, if she had a choice she would have refused. “Because I am saved, all I do is to pray for my protection and that of my children. This noise about our belief with regards to seeking medication does not make sense at all,” she says.
“Because I am saved, all I do is to pray for my protection and that of my children. This noise about our belief with regards to seeking medication does not make sense at all.” — Martha Mutia
Martha Mutia a members of Kavonokya sect that has been at lock horns with the provincial administration over conventional medicine. The sect believes in spiritual healing. Pictures: Nzinga Muasya Before joining the Kavonokya sect, Kathu belonged to New Apostolic Church until a bout of cerebral malaria struck him. “In my sickness I heard the spirit of God urging me to visit a Kavonokya pastor for healing prayers. I instructed my parents, who took me to the pastor and true to His word, God healed me through prayers. Since then I have never looked back,” he says. Kathu reveals that the sect members do not practice conventional family planning methods. He terms the use of condoms and pills as satanic, saying that it is God’s wish for a couple to give birth to as many children as they can.
Even pregnant mothers do not attend clinics and end up giving birth at home, sometimes with fatal consequences. His mother, Kalimi Kathu, belongs to the Africa Inland Church and says she finds her son’s sect weird, but she has no control over how he and his family worship. More surprising is the fact that Kavonokya adherents do not participate in
electoral exercises. “We do not vote because God is the overall leader, the beginning and the end,” Kathu says, adding that what they do during elections is to pray so that “people of the world” can be guided by God to elect good leaders. “During campaign periods, there is a possibility to favour a certain candidate and hate another, which would prevent us from entering the kingdom of God. For these reasons we keep off elections and pray for God’s interventions,” he asserts. The chief says the provincial administration gives civic education to Kavonokya adherents regarding importance of voting and their rights over the same, but they take no heed. Kathu says their women must cover their heads and wear long dresses in line with God’s command. The women are not allowed to preach but should humble themselves before men. The biggest tussle between the Kavonokya Sect and the Government concerns their failure to seek medical help when they fall sick. Seemingly this tussle is bound to continue as the sect members won’t loosen the grip on their faith.
Speed guns to help reduce road carnage By NICOLE WAITHERA The introduction of speed guns along major accident zones in the country has saved millions of lives. The speed guns were introduced last year after the Government acquired 16 gadgets to help detect vehicles which exceed stated limits. Among the towns that benefited were Naivasha, Nakuru, Thika, Mumias and Mlolongo. Traffic police along the selected routes now have speed guns, which indicate the speed at which a vehicle is moving. The speed gun is handheld and pointed at the approaching vehicle. These cameras can also be mounted beside or over a road or installed in an enforcement vehicle to detect traffic regulation violations, including speeding or vehicles going through a red traffic light Errant drivers are instantaneously ticketed. Statistics from the police offices in Naivasha indicate a huge decline in the number of road accidents along the Nairobi-Naivasha highway since the guns took effect. The highway, which had been branded as one of the biggest killers in the country, now records less than five fatal deaths a month, from an estimated 15 to 20 deaths before the guns were introduced. According to traffic base commander, Roy Njeru, the speed guns, which were donated in August last year by the World Health Organization, have
been a basic tool in cracking down on speeding vehicles. “The speed guns are used as evidence in the courts and this has seen fatal accidents along the highway drop. However, we are appealing to WHO to facilitate the police with more speed gun equipments as a way of bringing down the number of road accidents,” urged Njeru. He noted that more than 80 people are charged before the Naivasha law courts daily after they are captured speeding by the cameras in the gun.
They are charged a fine of between KSh2000 and a maximum of KSh100,000, depending on the vehicle used. “This has caused caution among members of the public plying that route as they no longer over speed as they previously did. This has been a major tool in bringing about discipline and restoring sanity in our roads,” noted Njeru. However, drivers have reacted differently to the guns. They are torn between supporting the cause and declaring it as a tool for extortion. “It’s true that I drive more careful now on the roads, as I do not want to waste my money for being booked in courts. One also wastes a lot of time waiting for the hearing of the cases and parting with money in terms of fines is also painful,” says Eric Wakori, a driver. Recalling a time when he was once on the other
side of the law and was caught speeding, Wakori says he wasted a whole morning as he was enroute to Nakuru and this cost him a function he was to attend. However, some argue that police use the gun to intimidate them. “We are threatened that photos of our vehicles would be published before the law courts and A policeman gauges the speed of an approaching vehicle using we have to part with cash a speed gun. Naivasha Traffic Police Boss Roy Njeru says that in case we want them to accident rates have reduced by half since the speed guns were be deleted from the camintroduced on the Kenyan roads one year ago. Pictures: Nicole eras,” says Samuel Kinya. Waithera However, Kinya called on WHO to facilihave traffic legislations. Yet speeding is one of the tate the police with more road safety equipment as major problems affecting Kenyan motorists. The a way of bringing down the number of road acci- high number of accidents and injuries are mainly dents. caused by drunk-driving, speeding, failure to The guns are part of a project by WHO, which fasten safety belts and helmets,” noted Krug. He intends to save five million lives in the next ten added: “We want to raise the number of countries years. with these legislations to 25 per cent in the next ten According to Etienne Krug, a director at WHO, years.” over 1.3 million people die annually from road acHe praised traffic police in the area for using cidents globally, while 50 million others sustain speed guns donated by WHO to bring down the serious injuries. number of accidents along the Nairobi-Nakuru “Only 15 per cent of countries in the world highway.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Peace programme targets learning institutions By ROBERT WANJALA The United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Education have partnered to initiate a peace education programme that seeks to develop harmonious coexistence among the teaching fraternity in the country. The joint national peace campaign is intended to impart knowledge, skills and values among teachers, learners and the community at large ahead of the forthcoming General Elections.
According to Margaret Murage, senior deputy director of education in the directorate of Policy Partnership and East Africa Community, the education sector was the most affected during the 2007-2008 post-election chaos and the ministry had come up with the initiative to promote peace and viable conflict resolution mechanisms. She pointed out that several public primary and secondary schools learning programmes were disrupted following massive displacement of pupils and their parents in various
parts of the country. ”It is high time we bring all education stakeholders together as we approach the next general election to avert ugly incidents witnessed during the 2007-2008 post election violence,” Murage noted.
The national peace education campaign will entail peace awareness caravans, national peace torch activities and peace education campaign forums in the 47 counties spread across the country.
“We want to create public awareness on peaceful co-existence and give a voice to children and young people on matters of peace and unity regardless of one’s ethnic background or political affiliation,” stated Murage. She spoke in Eldoret during a sensitisation workshop on the National Peace Education Campaign for district education officers drawn from several counties. Murage said that the Ministry of Education has recorded a number of achievements since the start of the peace campaign.
She stated that some of the achievements recorded so far include the training of 8,909 field officers and primary school teachers on peace education between 2008 and 2011. The ministry had also sensitised 3,900 principals of public secondary schools and 4,000 Board of Governors members on peace education between 2009 and 2010. “The ministry has also carried out a peace education monitoring exercise in various parts of the country during the same period,” Murage observed.
Daisy Jepkosgei nurses wounds from a broken dream By WILSON ROTICH It is 3 pm in Baharini area, Eldoret North Constituency. Opening a gate, strapped with rusty barbed wires, is a brown woman wearing a light green blouse and grey corduroy trousers. She welcomes me into her home. In the compound is a-one bedroom house, which Perez Daisy Jepkosgei calls a home. Although she is limping on her right leg, she manages to lead me into her house with a hearty smile. As we walk, her artificial limb crackles. She clearly recalls how she lost her leg. “It was on January 31, 2008, at around 1 pm when we heard that Ainamoi MP, David Kimutai, had been shot dead.”
“We heard people making noise on the highway and gunshots. We then saw a military vehicle that turned back to the centre. I advised my sister and children to stay inside the house.” As we are talking a chocolate skinned, well built girl enters the room. She serves us a glass of cool milk. Evaline Chepngetich is Jepkosgei’s sister. She also vividly remembers the events of that fateful day. “We heard noises and gunshots from Maili Nne trading centre. We did not understand what was happening. Some people told us to run away. Then we heard gunshots at our doorstep. A vehicle made a U-turn at our gate and went back to the highway,” recalls Chepngetich. Little did she know that the worst was about to happen. “After a while, my sister said to me ‘let me bring a lesso and the child’s shoes so that we can run away for our safety’. When she went outside I heard her scream once. I rushed outside and found my sister in a lot of pain, she had been shot on both legs. I brought her inside and went outside to call for help. Some men came and took her to the hospital,” Chepngetich recalls, with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Jepkosgei, 28 and a mother of two boys says she had a hectic time in getting to the hospital, as the area had been cordoned off by police officers. About six men volunteered to take her to hospital. “On the highway, we met GSU police officers who stopped us and did not care that I was bleeding profusely from both legs. The men who were trying to help me complied as they were ordered to go and bring bows and arrows so they could tell which one between guns and arrows is powerful. However, they told the police officers that they were not at war.” “Fortunately a man in a pickup vehicle agreed to take me to the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. My husband was waiting for me at the hospital with other outpatient doctors.” While at the hospital, Jepkosgei had to make a hard choice between life and having her leg amputated.
“The doctors dressed the wounds and plastered the leg. After three days my right leg turned brown. The doctor in charge told me that to save my life they had to amputate my leg. I accepted and said if losing a leg could save my life then it is okay,” Jepkosgei recalls. She adds: “They referred me to a specialist in Eldoret. I was treated by one Dr Lelei until I got prosthesis. I used this for a short while until some friends raised Ksh50, 000 and bought me something lighter.” However, the loss of her limb changed her life forever. She could only clean dishes and wash clothes and could not go to far places as she did previously. “I used to buy clothing material and ladies shoes from Uganda and hawk them around in people’s homes. I cannot do that anymore,” says Jepkosgei. Living along the highway is a
Daisy Jepkosgei now with an artificial leg after her leg was amputated. She is a victim of a stray bullet. The accident has robbed her both her source of income and her husbands love. Picture: Wilson Rotich blessing to most Kenyans. To a farmer, it makes it easy to transport the produce to the market. For Jepkosgei, it is a curse. She is not sure whether or not it is the police officers who were driving along the highway near her home that shot her leg or if it was a stray bullet from somebody else.
However, despite the injury the P3 Form could not help her eithe because she does not know who shot her. “The X-ray results showed it was a gunshot. I highly suspect that I was shot by a police officer because there were policemen here on that day and there was a young man who was shot by a police officer on that day at the trading centre nearby. I do not have money to hire a lawyer. We tried to report to the human rights persons, but we have not received any assistance. We are just here,” explains Jepkosgei. When Jepkosgei was still learning to live without her leg, the worst hap-
pened. Her husband decided to marry another wife. She lost a close companion at a time that she needed him most. She lost her basic marital rights. Luckily, her mother-law gave her a shoulder to lean on. For most married women, many of their misfortunes are apparently caused by their mothers-in-law. For Jepkosgei it is her mother-in-law who has been her guardian and a source of inspiration since she lost her leg in the post-election violence. Her sister Chepngetich recalls: “I had gone to our parents’ home when my sister came with the children. She told me she had been beaten by her husband and his new wife. She had her luggage. However, she did not stay for long as her mother-in-law came for her and chased away her husband and Jepkosgei to stay in this house with her children.” “I was married and have two children. We continued well for sometime after losing my leg. Then my husband changed, left me and the children.
I am now struggling to provide for them. He decided to marry another woman. Maybe it is because I became a burden,” notes Jepkosgei. She adds: “However, today I buy and sell milk with the help of my mother-in-law because, we live together.” Jepkosgei is not about to close shop, even after what happened to her. “I have hope because I am able to do my daily chores. I cannot sit down helplessly even though I lost my leg. I still work hard to feed my children. Emmy Kosgei’s song, which says there is hope, encourages me a lot. It gives me hope in life.” Deserted by her husband, forgotten by the state, unnoticed by any human rights body, Jepkosgei falters, with a broken artificial leg towards another general election with fresh wounds from the previous one. She represents many Kenyans who lost their property during the 20072008 post-election violence. They are hoping the same will never happen again.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Government steps up measures to increase agricultural output By MARTIN MURITHI Meru County is endowed with diverse conditions which vary in terms of fertility especially in areas around Mt. Kenya Forest to the semiarid areas bordering Tharaka Nithi County and Ukambani, to the arid borderlands of the Northern Kenya. It is a vast county which is home to more than 1.5 million Kenyans. About 52 exhibitors participated in this year’s Meru National Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) Show, to demonstrate what they can offer when the county becomes operational. Agriculture Ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr. Romano Kiome who presided over the function said the government is putting in place mechanisms to ensure the region benefits optimally from its agricultural potential. Kiome said that Meru County earned KSh77.7 billion from the sale of horticulture produce and urged local leaders to submit proposals for funding to help establish processing plants in the region. He noted that the region supplies food to Northern Kenya and there is therefore the need to establish processing plants to meet increased demand for agricultural produce. “About 70 percent of Kenya’s economy is dependent on agriculture and it is the only means of uplifting the economy of this region. All you need is value addition for the produce by building processing plants for passion fruit, banana, mango and vegetables,” noted Kiome. He said that the government will support the endeavour as it is already building a cold storage facility worth KSh40 million at Kariene Market. The government is also construction six additional facilities for fresh produce markets at a cost of KSh148 million.
Kiome also noted that Meru County has overtaken Kisii region in banana production and is now the leading producer of bananas in Kenya. He urged stakeholders to also consider processing bananas and called on cooperative organisations to support the sector. The ASK Show National Chairperson, Harris Karimi, urged the Government to increase budgetary allocation for the agriculture line ministries to 15 per cent as this will help the country attain food security. “The main challenge faced by farmers in the country is that small scale farmers lack water for irrigation and access to markets where they sell
Meru County has overtaken Kisii region in banana production and is now the leading producer of bananas in Kenya. Picture: Martin Murithi their produce immediately after harvest when supplies are more and fail to reap maximum profits. All they need are proper storage facilities,” noted Karimi. However, there could be hope as President Mwai Kibaki, recently announced that the budgetary estimates will offer KSh104 billion for improving the agricultural sector whereas KSh20 billion will be spent for funding irrigation projects nationally. “The Coffee Development Fund was initi-
ated in 2007 with an initial allocation of KSh500 million and has been receiving KSh250 million annually. Farmers in Meru County are slated to benefit from KSh300 million which will be disbursed through Saccos at an interest rate of 12 per cent this year,” he said. However according to Mutwiri Muthige, General Manager of Muguna Coffee Society, farmers from Buuri and adjacent areas that share similar climatic conditions may not benefit from these loans because they have
witnessed a decline in their production due to unfavourable weather conditions in past few years. Kiome advised farmers in dry areas to consider engaging in cotton farming which can withstand harsh climatic conditions. “Ginneries that were mismanaged are being revived and this year and cotton industry has been allocated KSh180 million for the same. Last year Meru region received KSh30 million to uplift the cotton sector,” he said.
School children to benefit from balanced meals By HENRY OWINO About 3,500 school children in 15 public primary schools are set to benefit from a balanced diet programme jointly initiated by the Ministry of Education and the Nestlé Equatorial African Region. The programme targets lower primary school children aged between six and 10 years with the aim of improving their nutritional levels and promoting healthy lifestyles. The programme was officially launched by Education Assistant Minister Calisto Mwatela at St. Georges Primary School, Nairobi. The programme is dubbed “Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme in Kenya. Mwatela underscored the need to provide children with a balanced diet for optimal growth. He said most of the lifestyle diseases that are affecting people today can be traced back to childhood eating habits. “The rampant cases of poor nutrition among school going children is negatively affecting education performance of our children. While parents have a responsibility in providing their children with healthy diets, this role may be challenged by lack of proper information and also busy lifestyles,” said
Mwatela, adding that schools must actively take up their role to bridge the knowledge gap that exists in the area of nutrition and healthy eating habits. Mwatela alluded that ‘Nestlé Healthy Kids programme in Kenya’ has been aligned to the current school curriculum, and provides essential teaching materials including posters, flash cards and interactive games, which helps teachers to involve the children in interactive learning about healthy eating, physical exercise, hygiene and sanitation. He noted that 15 schools in Nairobi will be participating in the implementation of the first pilot phase, involving 3,500 children before the programme is replicated in other schools across the country.
According to Pierre Trouilhat, the Nestlé Equatorial African Region, Chief Executive Officer, the ‘Healthy Kids Programme’ in Kenya, is informed by research conducted on nutrition and physical activity among children at the lower primary school level. “The baseline survey had established that inclusion of healthy nutrition programmes into primary schools curriculum and other levels of formal and informal education can
improve knowledge and bring behavioural changes associated with eating habits, he noted. Trouilhat explained that Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme, is a global initiative, and by the end of 2011, there were 65 programmes operating in 60 countries and another 21 are in the pipeline to run from 2012 to 2014. He said Nestlé reached more than six million children across the globe in 2011 through the programme. He noted that the programme appreciates the diverse needs of school going children across different markets, hence the need to tailor the global programme to suit the needs of school going children in Kenya. Trouilhat pointed out research identified education and awareness as key area of concern and the company is pleased that the Ministry of Education and the Kenya Institute of Education have partnered with them for the successful implementation of the programme. “As I stand here today before all these young children, I am reminded of my childhood days, which are definitely the best years of a person’s life. I am very pleased to be here to launch the Nestlé Healthy Kids Global pro-
gramme in partnership with the Ministry of Education,” said Pierre Trouilhat. Trouilhat clarified that the objective of Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Programme, which started in 2009, is to raise nutrition, health and wellness awareness of school-age children around the world.
The intention he said is to implement the scheme in all countries where the company have direct operations. As the largest food and Beverage Company, Trouilhat felt it was their duty to alleviate the dual problem of obesity and malnutrition, which, together, affects over 2 billion people globally. “The Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Programme forms an integral part of our commitment to improving global nutrition and health through the promotion of greater awareness, improved knowledge and effective practice of healthy eating and regular physical activity among school going children in Kenya,” said Trouilhat. He emphasized that education is a powerful tool for ensuring that children understand the value of nutrition and physical activity, and continue leading healthy lives as they get older.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Community sensitised on reduction of carbon emission By KARIUKI MWANGI As the world joins hands in looking for ways of combating global warming, the emission of carbon into the atmosphere remains a major cause in the destruction of the earth’s Ozone layer. Most people use fossil fuels such as gas and oil, during cooking and other activities. This releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and plays a big part in destroying the same environment that they live in. In a natural scientific cycle, the carbon dioxide emitted from the burning of fossil fuels is supposed to be absorbed by plants and trees, but the rate of carbon emissions is too high compared to the level of absorption by plants. Moreover, people have continued to cut down trees and forests for human activities yet it is these trees that are supposed to be absorbing the carbon emissions leading to the increase of the temperature of the planet.
Water polluters at risk of prosecution By REJECT CORRESPONDENT
It is in this regard that the international small group and tree planting programme (TIST) has undertaken to enlighten the members of the public on the Bernard Githui demonstrating how to use an energy saving jiko during farmers training in Kerugoya. effects of carbon emissions into Picture: Kariuki Mwangi the atmosphere. According to Bernard Githui, a trainer on environHe said farmers are supposed to plant indigGithui said that the programme is also educatmental conservation in the Kerugoya and Mbeere enous trees and some exotic ones that are useful to ing farmers on conservation farming, in which regions, the programme has been rolled out in human beings, saying that they are discouraging they are supposed to carry out their agricultural Nyeri, Laikipia, Masai Mara and Bomet since it planting of trees that consume a lot of water such activities without using chemicals like fertilisers was started on 2005. as the eucalyptus. and sprays. “The main aim of the programme is to encourGithui said that so far the programme has “We are encouraging the farmers to use orage farmers to plant trees in large numbers to enpaid KSh25 million from last year to over 6,000 ganic manure in farming activities, as chemicals sure that the carbon released to the environment is farmer’s groups in the country, saying that most are also contributing largely in the emissions absorbed in equal measure to prevent environmenof them have been able to use it as an economic of the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” extal destruction,” he said. activity. plained Githui. Githui pointed out that due to the increased He said that they are also encouraging farmglobal temperature, climate is changing unpreers to embrace zero tillage which discourages the dictably as floods and hurricanes as well as heat “The programme has seen many farmers getploughing of farms when planting because then waves and droughts are affecting human beings all ting to their feet economically and getting into the carbon beneath the soil is let into the atmoaround the country. poultry, pig and dairy farming from the money resphere, saying that they should only dig small Through the programme, farmers are supceived out of planting trees in their farms,” he said. holes in the farms (enough for the maize and posed to plant as many trees as possible in their Apart from planting trees the programme is beans) and let them grow. farms. They lat get paid carbon credits as per the also enlightening the community on the impor He pointed out that the control of global number of trees they have planted. tance of using energy saving jikos, which use very warming is a collective responsibility for all the “The carbon credits payments are incentives little firewood and still produce enough energy for earth’s inhabitants adding that people were signing to the farmers in a group of six to 12 people so cooking and lighting activities. their own death sentences due to the continued that they can get the morale to plant more trees This action will help in the reduction of the destruction of the environment. for their benefit and that of the world at large,” obnumber of trees that are cut for purposes of cookserved Githui. ing and lighting in the country.
The Water Resource Management Authority (WRMA) has cautioned people against contaminating water sources as this has detrimental health effects on people living downstream. The organisation’s Tana Athi Regional Manager, Boniface Mwaniki accused people engaged in car wash business of polluting water sources in complete disregard of the people living downstream. “The authority will not watch as people engage in destructive commercial activities. Such people should stop or else they will face legal action,” he said. Mwaniki said effluent from muddy vehicles poses a big health risk to people and water creatures, which, if not stopped, could lead to contamination of the water and an outbreak of water-borne diseases.
At the same time, he called on residents to boil drinking water as a way of reducing catching water borne diseases. “Those who can afford to can also use chlorine, which is a cheap method to treat large quantities of drinking water,” he said. Mwaniki urged residents to harvest rain water, especially in the lower parts of Embu County and Tharaka, which are prone to drought due to low rainfall distributions. “The rivers are now full and people can fetch water and store it in large quantities at homes. They can alternatively dig run off trenches and let the rain water flow to their farms so that they can use the water for irrigation during dry spells,” he said. Mwaniki also advised farmers to plant as many trees as possible during this rainy season as part of conserving rainfall.
Council politics brings game reserve down to its knees By KARIUKI MWANGI Mwea National Wildlife is grappling with financial constraints largely attributed to poor revenue collection. According to Cornelius Muoka, Kenya Wildlife Service Embu District Warden, the national reserve which is jointly managed by the agency and Mbeere County Council has registered a major de-
cline in revenue collection due to poor road network. Muoka accuses the county council of reneging on its pledge outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding which was signed in 2010. In the agreement signed by Dr Julius Kipngetich, Executive Director KWS and the council in 2010, the wildlife Services was to train rangers from the surrounding area and provide the necessary equip-
ment while the council was to ensure the roads heading to the reserve are constructed. “The deal was that the council reserves the ownership of the land, while KWS holds the right of the wildlife, and we have played our part of the bargain,” he explains. However, since then the council has done very little to facilitate access to the sanctuary it has limited the number of tourists into fa-
cility which is home to crocodiles, elephants and other wildlife. He said that KWS and the county council usually share the revenue collected from the national reserve adding that the residents who were supposed to benefit from the deal are yet to realize its importance. “The leaders in the county council brought in their cronies to become staff at the national reserve, but there is no revenue to sustain
operations in the park,” He said. However the warden said that the service will continue investing in the park to help maintain the wildlife on behalf of the government and Kenyans despite the setbacks. “The reserve is part of the tourism economic activities that are supposed to benefit the local community, but instead politics has taken centre stage,” he said.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Controversy hits resettlement of squatters in Trans Nzoia By DAVID SIRENGO The Government has been asked to probe irregularities that have characterised resettlement of landless people at the Chepchoina Settlement Scheme in Trans Nzoia County. The programme, unveiled in March by Lands Minister James Orengo has sparked public uproar following claims of corruption and political influence. A local politician has been accused of importing people from Kakamega County and influencing their resettlement to the scheme. Documents available at the local lands office indicate that some of the people earmarked for resettlement include allies and workers of the politician. The Lands Ministry last year revoked allocations of former and serving government of-
ficials by the former Kanu regime to facilitate the resettlement of landless people from various communities in the county. Most of the beneficiaries of the land at the scheme were former and serving government officials, who were allocated between 10 and 50 acres. Some of the land has, in the past, remained idle after beneficiaries abandoned it due to insecurity.
While unveiling the resettlement exercise, Orengo said that about 1,600 landless people were targeted for the allocations. The beneficiaries are expected to be allocated between two and five acres of land. The allocations have elicited protest from the over 30,000 squatters in the county, with the group claiming that it has been ignored.
According to Christopher Mutasia, Trans Nzoia Squatters Alliance chairman, the resettlement exercise is a sham and he called for its nullification. “Not even one squatter from my group has benefitted from the land distribution. It has been politically manipulated and we are moving to court to stop the resettlement,” vowed Mutasia. He regretted that politicians have hijacked the process to suit their political interests at the expense of the targeted group. “It is a sham. It is unfortunate for a politician to import people from his native home and political allies to be allocated land when deserving people reside in squalid conditions along road reserves,” lamented Mutasia, who also called on the Lands Minister to stop the exercise. Mutasia threatened to name the politician behind the anomalies arguing that it is useless for the Gov-
ernment to allocate land to able people while deserving groups are left out. “It is a big shame for a politician to have his housemaid allocated land when some people are painfully suffering while living on road reserves. We want the whole exercise cancelled,” demanded one Councillor Joshua Werunga. Kwanza District Commissioner Gabriel Risie was reluctant to provide details on the resettlement but maintained that right procedures have been followed in the whole exercise. He said that 1,681 people are set to benefit from the resettlement and 400 people have already been shown their parcels of land. “We are appealing to those people with allotment letters to show up and get in touch with district land adjudication officer in order to hasten the exercise,” said Risie.
Common man suffers as cost of makuti goes up By SKINA HALISI Makuti has for many years been used as a cheap material for roofing by low income people at the Coast. However, this is no longer the case as more and more rich people are using the same material as roof tops for their residential and commercial buildings. “The business of selling makuti started in the 1980s. However, prior to that it was just free. Those without coconut trees could just collect it from neighbours and relatives free of charge,” Harun Charo, recalls resident of Likoni. Charo says before coconut products were commercialised, one would build a house for free because even building poles and coconut ropes were not sold. “You could just look for chicken and a guard of Coconut wine, or some farm produce, and get all you needed to put up a house.” For many years, the price of palm fronds has been affordable, because a head load would go for just KSh100, but in the last 10 years, this has shot up tenfold. Kazungu Karema, 65, of Ganze, Kilifi County, recalls building his two roomed makuti thatch with sticks and mud wall, at a cost of KSh10,000 in 1992. However, when his son Sila built a similar house this year, he spent KSh40, 000, with palm fronds alone costing him KSh15,000.
Averagely 60 per cent of the population in the region lives below poverty line and therefore not many people can afford to build or rent a decent house. Sila, a primary school teacher, was lucky to afford the money, thanks to his Sacco. When one travels along the road from Mariakani, through Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi to Lamu, one will notice so many shacks or booths with roofs of eroded makuti, with gaping holes. The owners of these structures say they can no longer afford the thatch to repair the roofs. Even the makuti thatched rental houses in the town’s estates are not
any better, because the landlords also complain of risen costs of the fronds. Marina Kadzo, a resident of Maweni slums of Malindi town, lives in a dilapidated makuti shack for which she pays KSh500 a month. “The landlord has promised to replace the worn out fronds for the last ten years, because the roof leaks and I have to bear that with my five children,” laments Kadzo who has been a widow for six years and survives by selling traditional vegetables. In the towns there are permanent yards by the roadside where traders display loads of makuti being transported on trucks from the rural areas. “Our target market are the moneyed people who buy in bulk for thatching big hotels and bungalows,” says Kalana Chidudu, one of the about 100 sellers of the commodity at a yard in Malindi town. Palm fronds are harvested and dried, then the upper ends are woven around a stick two-feet long, and this sheaf is called a kuti, of which many are makuti. This one measure that resembles a doormat is now sold at KSh10 up from KSh5, just four years ago. A ten square feet hut would require 1,000 of these to thatch, which is KSh10,000. One kuti, has a profit margin of two to three shillings. Besides the buying, there is also the transportation cost. The traders says demand for the commodity has been on the increase for those who want to spend an average of KSh50,000 in one purchase. However, there are also rich people who use makuti thatch on mansions, five star hotels, cottages, resorts and villas. Yet others have used it on entertainment halls, theatres and curio bazaars. The villas and hotels bear spectacular high roof designs of which most owners claim to have spent between KSh1.5 to KSh3 million on makuti alone. “To investors and the affluent it is not about using a cheap material; we still spend much on it, but the aim is to tap the historical and cultural heritage aspect of the makuti , for prestige and marketing,” notes Rossi Mancini, who owns makuti thatched tourist hotels in Mombasa and Lamu. Makuti thatch and the architecture
of the old towns, represents the history and heritage of the Arabs and indigenous coastal tribes. Most of the big internationally acclaimed beach hotels in the coastal towns have their roofs made of networks of hardwood poles, crowned with the grey colour palm fronds thatch. Below, a homestead in Malindi. Makuti that has been used for a long time “Since money is not a problem to wealthy people, to make traditional houses at the Coast region has become a very expensive they use up to six layers of commodity. Pictures: Carolyne Oyugi makuti, to thatch some of the roofs which cover up to of Italian contractor-cum-tourism prized villas and beach resorts, have 10,000 square feet,” notes said Karisa marketer, Armando Tanzini. been razed down by accidental fires Baraka, a roofing artisan. “The rich also like gigantic high in Mombasa and Malindi, in the last makuti roofs, with generous ventila- three years. According to a source fation because it makes buildings cool, miliar with developments in the maSome of these investors have besides blending well with the natural kuti industry said there is now a cerspent fortunes to put up villas with environment,” says Robert Kalu, who tain chemical on trial in South Africa the Indian Ocean as the backdrop, owns a sea front makuti thatched villa that can render dry palm fronds nonwhich they have used as a strong in Nyali, Mombasa. He says this cost inflammable in case of fire. marketing tool. They then market him KSh5.3 million to construct. While the rich are able to replace the buildings in the internet, and Then there are those who are not roofs in the event of a fire immediin glossy magazines to prospective so low to live in the shacks, and not ately, the same does not apply to the buyers in Europe. An internet site high enough to build the expensive poor who cannot rebuild their shacks shows one of such villas in Malindi makuti mansions. Most of them build as soon as is necessary. About 300 of offered at KSh7 million. To make the or rent houses roofed with iron sheets such houses have been swept after Rivroofs, architects and designers have or tiles. These different types of roofs er Sabaki burst its banks this month in mixed their technical knowhow and are seen side by side in many areas Malindi and Magarini Districts, disthe traditional artistry of the Giria- and help differentiate low, medium placing 1,200 people. ma and other coastal tribes. and high classes. “These fires have not deterred inThe mania for makuti roofs This mania for the makuti among vestors, because the number of makuamong the affluent has also spread the wealthy seems not to have been ti buildings constructed in the same outside the coast region; for example deterred by the numerous fire acci- period was higher than at any given the roofs of Safari Park Hotel in Nai- dents in the recent past. At least 200 time,” notes Hamid Jefwa, of the Minrobi is made of the material, courtesy makuti thatched buildings, including istry of Housing, Coast Region.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
School drop out generates power to light house By KARIUK MWANGI For a very long time Paul Ndwiga, a resident of Kanyueri village in Ishiara, Mbeere North District, has never known the price of kerosene. He is also not usually affected by the frequent increments in fuel and gas prices that have been affecting the country. In the region, which is home to the Seven Folks Dam that generates electricity for the country, residents of the area continually face power outages and stay in the dark. Many homes are not connected to the national grid under rural electrification. Yet, for the last two and a half decades, Ndwiga has never switched off his radio. Through individual innovation he generates power from a water turned motor, which he uses to light his home and power other electrical appliances. However, the creativity and innovations of the farmer have been dramatically stopped after illegal scrap metal dealers invaded his power plant and walked away with the whole power generating system, taking him many steps backwards.
“Vandals invaded my power plant and made away with the motor, fan belt, turbines, water pump and wheels,” says Ndwiga. He notes that the only thing they left was the running water that is used to roll the turbines. This, however, has not deterred him from continuing with his dream of generating electricity which he will be able to distribute even to area residents who have not benefited from rural electrification. “The act of stealing the whole power system only gave me the morale to
put up a more powerful system for better development,” he says. Ndwiga has already bought new appliances that he will use to put up another electricity generating system, which will be able to produce 300 watts. This is bigger than the previous one which only produced 24 volts of power. “The appliances are at home but I cannot put them up now because the river is full to capacity due to the ongoing rains. I will wait until August when the water level goes down,” he explains. Ndwiga notes that the thieves totally disrupted his budget and now he has to buy kerosene for lighting the house and batteries for his radio. The worst of all is that he cannot watch television.
Ndwiga, who dropped out of school at Standard Five under what he terms as ‘unclear circumstances’ says that his love and passion for electrical inventions started when he was still a young boy. He beams with happiness as he recalls his first invention in 1973. He was able to construct a toy vehicle, which, he says, surprised even his class teacher at Kanyueri Primary School. “The vehicle had a mechanism to move forward and managed to be voted among the best in a competition that was held at the Embu show ground that year. However, I only took home a kitchen plate as the toy vehicle had no functioning wipers,” he says. The dream to generate his own electricity started in 1988 when he was fascinated by the falling waters that are at the edge of his farm, which borders the River Thuci where the Ministry of Water has constructed a water intake.
Paul Ndwiga besides his power generator which was vandalized by illegal scrap metal dealers at the banks of River Thuci in Mbeere North district, he intends to put up a more powerful system. Pictures: Kariuki Mwangi
The self proclaimed engineer had assembled a structure using bicycle motor, wood planks and other metal pieces just next to the water intake. Ndwiga had also modified pans to make a fan which was rotated by the water released from a pipe under pressure. The pipe, which measures six inches, is used to release pressure from the water intake making the water gush out in high pressure, rotating the fan.
The main fan is connected to a 10 feet metal shaft that turns a crown wheel, whose chain rotates a motor that generates electricity, noting that he bought the motor at KSh4,000 in Nairobi and generates 24 volts of power day and night. The power is transmitted to his home a few metres away from the generator through two aluminium cables that traverse his land. “I do not switch off the lights in the house since I cannot control the
voltage or store it for later use,” he observes, adding that he uses the power to run his black and white television and other electrical appliances. Ndwiga notes that his children have never struggled to study at night as all the rooms are well lit with bulbs. He also uses the power when brooding his hens. He notes that the power is usually available throughout the year as s there is water and there is no pipe breakage. He adds that repairs do not
cost much, as what is required is only replacing brass plates inside the motor after some time. He has also improvised a water pump that he has connected to the rotating crown wheel, which he uses to irrigate his vegetables. Despite the setback, Ndwiga’s dream is to expand the whole project to generate more power and be able to light the whole village, which has yet to benefit from the government’s rural electrification.
Farmers establish modern coffee mill By KARIUKI MWANGI Coffee farmers in Embu North District can now invest more in production after the Kithungururu Farmers Cooperative Society Limited launched its second coffee milling factory, valued at KSh12 million. According to Joseph Mwaniki, the society’s chairman the machines in the new factory are operated under new technology making it possible to churn huge volumes of coffee cherries per day in a way that is also friendly to the ecosystem. “These machines have the capacity of producing 1,500 kilograms of coffee cherry per hour which end up being 10,000 kilograms of coffee cherry per day,” he observed, adding that it will ease the amount of time taken by farmers at the factory. Speaking during its inauguration, Mwaniki said the new factory has reduced the cost incurred by farmers during production. He noted that with the new technology all the cherry comes out clean and are taken directly to drying. “With the new technology, farmers are able to take their coffee cherries to the market as fast as possible, as the drying time for the coffee has been
reduced to two weeks,” he explained. Mwaniki said that the machines are designed to use very little water in operations, saying that this will cut on costs incurred while buying and repairing water pumps. He called on other societies to embrace the new technology so as to minimise pollution and reduce the amount of time farmers take in getting their cherries to the market. Echoing Mwaniki’s sentiments, Joseph Bullut, Embu North District Commissioner said that the start of a new coffee factory will boost the local economy as area residents depend on coffee as their only source of livelihood. Bullut said that the farmer’s society had gone to great lengths in putting up a coffee factory, saying that most other coffee factories in the country are old and do not give farmers the required service. “Coffee farmers should be supported to enable them reap highly from their produce,” noted Bullut. He added: “Other factories should also improve their systems to adapt to the new technology.” Bullut also reiterated that security had been beefed up around the factories to curb coffee theft which were rampant in Kirinyaga and Nyeri counties.
Embu North district commissioner Joseph Bullut (second left) and other provincial administration officials inspect coffee cherry which is on drying process. Picture: Kariuki Mwangi
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Radicalism among youth a threat to peace By CAROLINE MANGO Peace initiatives through civic education on the constitution has gained momentum as active non-governmental and community based organizations reach out to the youth at the Coast amid threats by social misfits which have threatened to boycott the forthcoming general elections. The stand by the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) and fears by the provincial administration that children from the age of 13 are being recruited as members of the militant group advocating for secession has led to a more aggressive approach by the civil society and government in preaching peace and disseminating information on the gains in the new constitution that can be used to address “historical injustices”. According to Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, chairman National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), the volatile nature of the Coast region, worsened by the MRC and its activities and having demonstrated that they intend to cause chaos to ensure elections are not held in Coast, is an issue that must be addressed by all stakeholders.
Kibunjia’s concerns opened up dialogue between the Commission and MRC to seek amicable solutions but that did not bear fruits as the group maintained the Government must first degazette its illegality through a gazette notice and further release unconditionally, 250 of its members being detained in various prisons at the Coast before any talks can kick off. About four months ago, hundreds of youths affiliated to the illegal group, disrupted a civic education exercise in Magarini where the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was conducting mock elections, set one its vehicles ablaze and stole a gun belonging to a police officer whom they injured during the melee. Active local NGOs and CBOs like the Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri), Kenya Community Support Centre KECOSCE, Action Aid, CLARION, Tangana Women Development (TWD) in Mombasa, Tumaini La Vijana in Mwatate and Kenya Muslim Women as well as Bidii Community Organisation in Taita Taveta have been educating the youth in various parts of the region although they admit that they are yet to make serious headways in fighting radicalism to ensure peaceful elections. KECOSCE, for instance has been reforming victims of the Somali war where Kenyan youth from the Coast were recruited to fight; some lost their lives while others lived to tell sad tales. However, the recovery path for the youths has been difficult and KECOSCE has had to go out of its way to keep the youth busy through small self-help groups.
According to Phylis Muema, Executive Director of KECOSCE, radicalism among youth at the Coast has been a major predicament towards peace and economic empowerment. “It is radicalism that is seeing hundreds of youth joining MRC even though most of them are ignorant and refuse to see the constitution as an avenue to administering justice through county governments.” KECOSCE’s sentiments are shared by those of MUHURI, who only two weeks ago, convened yet another successful multi-ethnic youth forum under the ‘Tuvuke Initiative’ that seeks to preach peace and empower youth on the opportunities in the Constitution as well as encouraging them to register as voters and to vote in credible leaders. The seminar, that took place at Royal Castle Hotel in Mombasa focused on addressing inequalities and imbalances in a region where high levels of poverty, joblessness, landlessness and drug abuse has been blamed on past and current injustices by successive governments. Muhuri’s programme’s co-ordinator Yusuf Lule Mwatefu, says although there has been tremendous improvement in the level of engagement that the youth take on civil society and the political leadership, they were yet to fully understand and embrace the opportunities in the new laws or even understand how the county structures will work.
Says Lule: “Let us just say the journey has began. The youth, who are the majority of voters, must understand their role in safeguarding the new Constitution by playing the watchdog role in ensuring its implementation by the government that will take over power.” He noted: “From most of these forums, what comes out is that as much as there are perennial problems that have been brought about by bad leadership and laws, the youth are unable to present these issues properly.” While calling on the civil society to pull up its socks in reaching out to the right targets to achieve multiple effect in preaching peace ahead of the elections, Lule says efforts by some youth in various counties who are taking up the initiatives through youth caucuses to empower themselves must be commended and supported by all stakeholders. One such group is the Taita Taveta Uwiano Forum, which has been hosting conferences targeting the youth to promote democracy and preach peace. The youth forum has successfully incorporated over 35 self-help groups from Voi, Mwatate, Wundanyi and Taveta and is currently seeking to unchain the economic potentials in the region to alleviate poverty amongst them. The brain behind the Uwiyano Forum which has also planned a series
of football tournaments and concerts within the cosmopolitan county is Ramadhan Bakari Itambo. Itambo is alive to the current threats posed by MRC at the Coast and the rising poverty levels and says there is need to educate the youths. “For instance, how many youth know that they have the right to know how their monies are being used by the local authorities? Do we even know the uses of funds like Local Authority Transfer Fund (LATF) or how to monitor Constituency Development Fund (CDF)?” Itambo poses He says for decades the youth have continued work as casual labourers in mines while only a clique of investors within and without pocket millions. “Taita Taveta has the best of fertile land that produces vegetables and fruits but impassable roads in Wundanyi for instance have been a major predicament in finding a good market in time. The same with the sisal plantations and sand harvesting,” notes Itambo.
The youth in Taita Taveta also seek to host the first ever investment’s conference with the help of government line ministries and the private sector to explore the untapped opportunities. “The issue of land in Taita Taveta cannot be wished away. The fact that not much has been done to settle the landless while few people own chunks of land are some of the issues we seek to address. This time round, we want the politicians, the aspirants who have been criss-crossing the county to tell us the agenda they have for the youth,” observes Itambo. He adds: “Times have changed and the youth will not play the role of campaigners or bodyguards.” A local vernacular FM station that transmits in Taita, Anguo FM has been commended by various stakeholders in its role of interrogat-
Mombasa Republican Council youths demonstrating in the streets. Right Muhuri’s programme’s coordinator Yusuf Lule Mwatefu. Picture: Reject Correspondent ing those who seek positions in the new constitution. The station, owned by Granton Samboja has made strides in informing and educating the masses on their rights as envisaged in the new constitution. The community radio which was initially transmitting from Nairobi, is putting up installations in Voi and Mombasa. In Voi, the youth believe that the role played by local radio stations is crucial and should not only focus on campaigning for aspirants, but educate the masses on how to elect credible leaders, not forgetting the youth agenda in the formation of counties. Says Samboja: “The youth constitute 70 per cent of the voters but they are nowhere to be seen or heard because they do not know their basic rights and cannot question the development agenda in their respective areas.” Samboja reiterates that the youth should ask themselves why they continue to suffer and live below the poverty line and yet they have multibillion resources which if managed properly could change a lot of lives. “A small example is the ranches, mines, fertile land that produces world class vegetables and fruits. However, poor roads, lack of education and empowerment continues to lag development.” Samboja’s take is overwhelmingly supported by Dr Ahmed Yasin of the NCIC.
Says Yasin: “Development cannot be done by one person. Leaders must unite for the sake of the development of their people. With the regional governments, involving the youth from scratch will do more good because they will feel like they are part and parcel of decisions that concern their lives.” The NCIC says a good revolution of change by the youth can play a powerful role in keeping peace and ensuring that only credible leaders ascend to power. Yasin who has criss-crossed most of the six counties at the Coast to speak to the youth says the Commission has partnered with political parties to reach out to the youth and educate them on the need to vote through which they can implement the changes they seek in matters governance. Yasin says it is important for civil society to undertake an all inclusive approach and reach out to the right target through proper priorities. “There is a big awakening at the Coast and the fact that the youth are taking civic education seriously, is a positive step. We are urging the youth at the Coast that they can better their lives and seek redress to the historical injustices through the new laws and the new structures of regional governments.”
Agricultural organisation to open show ground for investors By KARIUKI MWANGI The Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) is working on a strategic plan that will open show grounds to stakeholders to put up facilities that promote good farming practices in the country. According to Joseph Gachagua, ASK deputy national Chairman the move also seeks to generate revenue from investors who will be utilising the grounds for productive agricultural practices.
Gachagua notes that stakeholders will ensure show grounds remain active throughout the year as opposed to the past when they have been only active for just five to ten days when they are open for exhibition. “Show grounds can be active all year round by serving as training grounds, demonstration plots, conference facilities or camping sites to ensure they remain self-sufficient without necessarily relying on the national office for financial
support,” he observed. Gachagua said that ASK will soon invite proposals from groups or individuals willing to partake in the initiative. “We have 15 show grounds in the country, each of which has over 100 acres which need to be utilised and not left lying idle only to be used for seven days a year,” he reiterated, adding that stringent measures need to be taken to ensure the resource is fully utilised.
He pointed out that the 15 facilities can be used as training grounds for farmers to ensure maximum yields and boost food security in the country. Eastern Deputy Provincial Commissioner William Ole Sanya said the Government is committed to supporting shows to be successful and asked ASK to revive exhibitions at district levels to ensure education to more farmers. The two were speaking during the launch of the new Embu ASK committee in Embu.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Family turns to desperate measures By KEN NDAMBU Who is the poor of them all? It is a question that has remained difficult to answer. It requires a school of thought to give it a proper definition. Some people define it as someone without anything, lacking social amenities including shelter, clothing and food; someone who owns nothing in the form of assets, like land and simple domestic animals, such as cows, goats, dogs, cats and chicken. This definition suits the characteristics and lifestyles of the family of 80-year-old widow Kanuna Mueke, a resident in Masimba village, Kanyangi location, Lower Yatta District of Kitui County. The only exception to this definition is that the sickly and aging widow owns a piece of land, which has remained barren for three years after rains failed for three consecutive seasons. The reality of poverty in Kanuna’s homestead is sad. The three posts and grass thatched huts have fallen apart, forcing the family of seven to spend nights in the open.
What baffles is that her homestead is just a stone’s throw away from the busy Kanyangi market. It is surrounded by several churches and businesses and yet no one seems to have noticed the plight of the family. To add insult to injury, Kanuna has a deep wound on the left leg that has refused to heal. She uses a walking stick to ease mobility. As if that is not enough, she is also involved in a ‘woman to woman’ marriage with Kavengi Maleve. The marriage is common in the com-
munity, and happens when a woman fails to conceive a son who serves as a symbol to carry on the family name. For three years, the rains have failed and the family has depended on government famine relief food, which sometimes is not forthcoming, forcing them to go without food. “Sometimes we go without food for days, especially when relief food does not come our way,” says the frail-looking woman, adding that in such times the children do not go to school due to hunger.
The agony of Kanuna’s family first came to the public limelight in June following media reports that her entire family had fallen sick after eating meals prepared from chicken feed. In what seemed to be a worthy cause, Vetworks East Africa, a local non-governmental organisation had initiated a poultry project as a long term measure to mitigate against persistent drought. Through the provincial administration, the organisation identified the beneficiaries who got five chicks besides being supplied with chicken feed and layers mash. They were oblivious that it would turn around the life of one of the beneficiaries. Like other beneficiaries Kanuna took the donation home, but instead of using it for the intended purpose she sold the chicken to a friend and used the feed to prepare a meal for her family. The family used the feed to make porridge and ugali for four days before they started experiencing stomach complications.
80 year- old Kanuna Mueke struggling to get out of her hut in Yatta District.Poverty and consistent drought pushed her family to eat chicken feed. Picture: Ken Ndambu According to the local chief, Anderson Kangangi, the old woman was the first to start experiencing stomach pains, followed by her ‘wife’ Kavengi and her five children: Mercy, Muthui, Wavinya, Mathi and Kathini. “When I learnt that they had fed on chicken feed, I took them to Kitui District Hospital and they were treated and discharged,” says Kangangi. He adds: “It is true, the area has had no rains for three consecutive
Residents resort to illegal gangs in search for justice By BEN OROKO Delays in the administration of justice have been blamed on the mushrooming of illegal gangs as an alternative option to dealing with crime in the Gusii. Director of Public Prosecution, Keriako Tobiko observed that owing to delays in resolving court cases, the public had lost confidence in the justice system resorting to illegal gangs in their attempts to find home-grown solutions to their problems. Tobiko spoke in Kisii town when he paid a courtesy call on Lydiah Muriuki, Eastern Nyanza Regional Commissioner. He attributed the backlog to the challenges facing the administration of justice through the courts of law. Tobiko warned that intimidation of witnesses and the so called “instant administration of justice” by the locals was illegal. He noted that his department will Director of Public Prosecution, Keriako Tobiko addressing report such cases to the courts of law for action. the public when he paid a courtesy call on Lydiah Muriuki, The Witness Protection Agency and law enEastern Nyanza Regional Commissioner. Picture: Reject forcers should move in swiftly and address the Correspondent issue of illegal gangs which are rampant in this region,” noted Tobiko. said their lack of intervention was contributing to a backlog However, he assured local residents that the reformed of cases. “We are planning to recruits about 66 prosecutors durdepartment will liaise with relevant agencies to respond ing this financial year to fast-track the pending cases,” he quickly to their needs as regards to the delivery of justice. “Digitization of the case filing system is one of the resaid. forms underway in the Judiciary to enhance efficiency and However, Tobiko regretted that the said number of public expeditious handling of cases to address the problem of prosecutors to be recruited was far below those required owbacklog of cases and delayed justice,” noted Tobiko. ing to budgetary limitations. However, he reiterated that the provincial administraThe department of Public Prosecutions has been allotion played an integral role in the delivery of justice through cated KSh955m out of the estimated KSh3.3 billion in the arbitration of cases which could have ended up in court. He current financial year.
seasons and hunger could have driven the family to the act.” He admits that life becomes unbearable when relief food does not come in time. Among the leaders in the county who have been touched by the family’s plight include Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo, who visited the home and donated foodstuff and money to take the sick woman to hospital. Kilonzo appealed to chiefs and their assistants to closely monitor their subjects to help enable the gov-
ernment and other well wishers to intervene without delay. “It defeats sense to see someone on the verge of death due to poverty while in the midst of church leaders and able people. We should embrace the culture of helping the needy,” noted Kilonzo. He lashed out at the government for relaxing famine relief food distribution in the county asserting that poverty levels in the region have increased over the years due to inadequate rains.
More vigilance on SMS offences By CAROLYNE OYUGI The police will be more vigilant in addressing cases of hate speech through text messages during the electioneering period. Kenyans will recall the late Orwa Ojode, who was an Assistant Internal Security Minister saying that politicians and their supporters have developed a habit of solving their differences through sending abusive text messages which promotes hate speech. At the time before his fateful plane crash, he said those who commit the offence will not be spared. “You will soon start to hear of arrests being made as we approach the general elections,” he stated.
Ojode further stated that prominent personalities and politicians seeking various posts will not be spared. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) has been working hard to control and reduce hate speech in the country. According to the commission’s chairman, Mzalendo Kibunjia, it is not enough to follow what the politicians say in public. “We must also ensure that the
social media and mobile phones are not used to incite and promote violence,” said Kibunjia when addressing journalists at a Nairobi hotel. Hate speech is defined by the NCIC as any form of expression that is hostile to an entire community and is aimed at encouraging contempt, denigration, defamation, exclusion or victimization of individuals belonging to that particular community. This is further defined in Section 13 of the NCIC Act No. 12 of 2008. Recently one Benson Mugo was fined KSh120,000, or 12 years imprisonment for sending abusive and threatening messages to a friend. Mugo was charged before Murang’a Senior Principal Magistrate, Anthony Kanjaru, with the offence of misusing telecommunications systems. According to prosecutor Chief Inspector Paul Gathara Esther Kamende reported the incident at Murang’a Police Station and Mugo was convicted on his own plea of guilt. The Kenyan government is facing a headache on how to handle crime where technology is involved, as there are no any comprehensive laws to cover such vices.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Activist in campaign to promote justice By BEN OROKO As the country gears up for the transitional general election, women from the Kipsigis and Gusii communities, along the Borabu-Sotik common border, have embarked on a cross-border peace promotion initiative. The initiative seeks to ensure that residents from the two communities live in harmony in order to avert a repeat of the ethnic clashes witnessed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
The women from Borabu and Sotik districts, working under Sotik-Borabu Women Peace Drive, recently opened a resource centre at Chepilat Market along the two districts’ common border, which was the epicentre of the 2007-2008 ethnic violence. They mounted a peace caravan that criss-crosses the towns of Kaplong, Sotik, Nyansiongo and Chepilat, appealing to residents in the region to keep and
maintain peace as the country prepares for the forthcoming general elections. Responding to press interviews at Chepilat market during the meeting, Sally Kirui, who is the chairperson, said that women will reject political aspirants who incite the two communities to violence, as such leaders’ utterances led to the post-election violence witnessed between members of the two communities in 2007-2008.
Kirui stressed that the women from the two communities were committed to promoting peace under the motto “Women beyond borders, Amani milele”. The women are cognizant of the fact that they are the ones who bore the brunt of the politically instigated post-election violence that rocked the country after the disputed presidential election results. Kirui thanked the Government, through the district commissioners who attended the occasion, USAID and Kenya Transitional
Initiative NGOs for supporting the women’s peace initiative along the Borabu-Sotik common border.
She said that a rehabilitation centre for drug abuse among the youth was crucial in the area in order to discourage young people under the influence of drugs from being misused by some selfish politicians to cause mayhem, especially during election campaigns. “It is an open fact that young people are perpetually misused by selfish politicians, who dish out cash handouts to the youth for illicit drinks and drugs to influence the vulnerable young people to execute political revenge missions against the said politicians’ perceived political adversaries much to the detriment of the unsuspecting young people,” observed Kirui. According Rebecca Nyaanga, an official of the initiative, the resource centre will go a long way towards providing necessary informa-
tion on conflict resolution for the women and youths residing along the common border.
Seeking a just and fair society from the roots of a village By OMONDI GWENGI Rodgers Ochieng has the hallmark of a polished community worker cum human rights activist. His life experience reflects a man who has been fighting and risking his life in order to give a voice to the underprivileged in society. As a youthful activist, he bore the strain of leading his community towards an independent identity and providing it with a vision for the future. He has never lost sight of his dream, despite his initial patchy education in a fair and just society where all people have access to their rights, education and the basic necessities of life. While other people could criticise him on his fight against the violation of human rights, he is to be admired for the steadfastness with which he holds to his dream. While in Standard Two, his mother fell sick and travelled to Nairobi for medication, where his father worked as a carpenter. He had to stay with his elderly grandmother. “I was left with my grandmother who was too old to cater for my wellbeing, and I, therefore, decided to find something to do in order to provide for her,” he recalls.
He started selling sugarcane and used the little money gained to buy food for the elderly woman.His father was not providing for the family. At only 11, watching his mother suffer forced him to resort to fishing in order to provide for his family. “I couldn’t sit back and see my family suffer after our father abandoned us. It was hard to provide for the family and go to school at the same time,” he says. From fishing to selling bread, Ochieng came face to face with many challenges. “At one time, I was supplying bread for somebody from Usenge to Bondo town at a commission of 50cts per bread sold. It was challenging but I had no option,” he says. In 2004, when he went to supply
The inter-community conflicts occasioned by cross-border cattle rustling and land disputes involving members from the two communities were on and off, but heightened during the last general elections, with Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) yet to be resettled to date. Nyaanga said that the women wanted to leave a generation devoid of conflict by preaching a message of sustainable peaceful coexistence among members of the two communities. Speakers at the meeting included the chairmen of council of elders from the two communities, James Araka (Abagusii Cultural and Development Council), and Josiah Sang (Kipsigis Council of Elders) who called for a sustainable stakeholder approach to ensure that an everlasting, peaceful co-existence among members from the two communities prevails.
bread in Bondo town and sold only 27 loaves, he was annoyed and decided to call it quits. “I had taken bread to Utonga and Bondo. My bike broke down and I decided to quit the job since I was only going to get KSh13.50, which was just too little,” he says. As he sat at home pondering what to do for a living, an idea brewed in his mind. “There was a man who was supplying us with water, and I, therefore, decided to request him for one of his bikes for which I paid him KSh50 in return daily,” he says.
Church seeks to restore family values By MARTIN MURITHI
In many ways, the development of his human rights record, both as a parent and Rodgers Ochieng a human rights activist who has been working very a community member can be hard to reduce violence in his community. Picture: Omondi Gwengi understood as an attempt to overcome the deprivation of his ling,” he says. teach children good morals,” he urgchildhood. For cases of lost or abducted chil- es. He notes: “Our parents should The customer whom he supplied dren, Ochieng does investigations. not leave all the responsibilities to with water saw the potential in him “There are some children who are opinion leaders, and we should also and invited him to his office. He being abducted and trafficked to embrace dialogue in our families advised him to undergo training in neighbouring countries where they rather than resorting to violence.” behavioural change. After the train- are exposed to child labour. Through Despite the challenges he faces, ing, he started to work as a volun- investigations, I have rescued a num- Ochieng has never lost his faith in teer with Support Community in ber of children and families from the possibility of a just and fair soDemocracy Alliance, a community breaking up,” he explains. ciety. based organization. “Lack of adequate funds some“As a human rights activist, my times makes our work ineffective, work entails receiving, recording Through his hard work and a and because we still don’t have placeand legally redressing the cases heart for the community, Ochieng ment centres for rescued children through alternative dispute reso- initiated a water project, Ecosan Toi- and women, we expose the survivors lution (ADR) mechanism,” he ex- let, and a house for a widow, among of gender based violence to another plains to The Reject. other projects. “We recently initiated chain of violence,” he says. However, for cases that are be- a goat keeping project for widows As many youths opt to rush to yond his ability, Ochieng refers them where we gave out six goats to each urban centres to look for formal to other bodies, such as the police, widows’ group,” he says. employment, Ochieng is a living FIDA, doctors and provincial adOchieng’s life provides an insight testimony that you can still rise afministration among others. into what he’s been fighting for — ter falling. He has been conducting rescue human rights and creating oppor“Youths should start working in operations for children that have tunities for the community. The wel- their various communities in order been lured into child labour, fish- fare of families and children inspires to address issues affecting the coming, and prostitution. He assists him in his work. munity,” he says. them to return to school by involvAt heart he is a simple man, who Whether Ochieng is appreciing the police and provincial ad- believes that no one should have to ated or criticised by society, his ministration. suffer the effects of inequality. work in setting up a framework “I have been uniting families “In order to reduce the number of that could carry the community embroiled in disputes and violence gender based violence cases that we towards the kind of society he has through mediation and counsel- experience every day, families should desired is noteworthy.
Men in the Upper Eastern region of Kenya have been urged to shun irresponsible behaviour in order to reduce the rising cases of family breakups and neglected children. According to the National Council of Churches in Kenya (NCCK), marital breakups have become very common while child delinquency is on the rise. Chairman of NCCK Upper Eastern, Stephen Kalunyu, noted that HIV infections are increasing among married people which is due to the growing culture of infidelity and sexual irresponsibility. “As the church, we are working at restarting family education training to empower couples before and during marriage. If men remain irresponsible then the families will continue to suffer break ups irredeemably,” observed Kalunyu.
Speaking during a regional conference at Gitoro Conference Centre in Meru, Kalunyu called for diversification of economic activities for the people living in the region. He noted that most people in the area rely on subsistence farming, which hampers efforts in eradicating poverty. He said that there is a need for value addition of produce from the region and a comprehensive marketing and distribution base of products to ensure maximum benefits are realised for the farmers. “We will continue with efforts to provide financial literacy to the residents of our region, and in this regard invite like minded organisations to partner with us in this programme. Our goal is to empower the people to join together to form producer associations through which they will maximise production, value addition, marketing and distribution,” said Kalunyu. NCCK also said that they will preach in pulpits and any other forums against the culture of depending on handouts from politicians, family members, the Government or the church and instead empower the people to work hard to meet their needs.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
A first for Embu and Mbeere communities By KARIUKI MWANGI Embu and Mbeere communities will no longer use the Kikuyu translated Bible to spread the gospel after they became the 19th community in the country to get a Bible translated into their own language which they can read and understand. According to Elizabeth Muriuki, General Secretary of the Bible Society of Kenya (BSK) it has taken the organisation more than 16 years to translate the English and Kiswahili Bible into Kiembu and Kimbeere.
“The first attempt to translate the Bible into Kiembu and Kimbeere was in March 1998 when the Gospel of Mark was released, while in September 2003 the translation of the New Testament was launched whose completion is our purpose here today,” she observed. Muriuki said that with the Bible in their own language, the Embu and Mbeere language will stop being regarded as the devil’s language as compared to the Kikuyu language which has for a long been regarded as God’s language. “If you take the English Bible and compare the messages with the other translated languages they all mean the same and we hope it will play
a role in uniting Kenyans from all walks of life,” Muriuki noted. She said the organisation is currently working on the translation of the Bible into the Teso, Samia and Oluluhya languages adding that they will be launching the Lukakamega translated Bible later in the year. According to Bishop Henry Kathii of Embu Anglican Church of Kenya Diocese, the launch of the Bible is a reprieve to the Embu and Mbeere communities as they have been using the Kikuyu Bible. “I am happy that we now have a Bible in the language that we own and understand. We can now solve the issue of differences in the meaning of some Kikuyu and Kiembu words,” Kathii reiterated. He noted that the Embu and Mbeere communities have now been liberated from the Kikuyu language saying that now God will be speaking to them through the language that they understand well.
Anglican Bishop Diocese of Embu Bishop Henry Kathii (left) leads other members of the clergy in praying for the new first ever Kiembu Kimbeere translated Bible. Picture: Kariuki Mwangi According to Dr Cyrus Njiru, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, ignorance has played a big role in retarding the community
“I am happy that we now have a Bible in the language that we own and understand. We can now solve the issue of differences in the meaning of some Kikuyu and Kiembu words.” — Bishop Henry Kathii
and the new Kiembu Bible will enlighten the society. “The clergy must use it to enhance gospel outreach so as to solve the problem of moral decay among the youth, broken homes and alcoholism which are rampant in the country today,” reiterated Njiru. The PS who hails from Embu said that the vices are mostly due to lack of sufficient spiritual guidance. He urged the clergy to use the well translated Bible to change behaviours and negative attitudes of the society.
“Let us not develop the habit of complaining all the time about the issues affecting us. Everybody should do their part and be committed to it if we are to change things from what they are,” he stressed. Njiru who is also the chairman of the Embu Professionals Forum said that the launch of the Kiembu Kimbeere Bible is a major milestone in ensuring that Embu County becomes self reliant in economic development before 2030.
Peace programme targets learning institutions By ROBERT WANJALA
United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Education have partnered to initiate a peace education programme that seeks to develop harmonious co-existence among the teaching fraternity in the country. The joint national peace campaign is intended to impart knowledge, skills and values among teachers, learners and members of the community ahead of the forthcoming General Elections. Senior deputy director of education in the directorate of Policy Partnership and East Africa Community Margaret Murage said that the education sector was the most affected during the 2007/8 post-election chaos and thus the ministry had come up with the initiative to promote peace and viable conflict resolution mechanisms.
She pointed out that several public primary and secondary schools learning programs were disrupted following massive displacement of pupil’s and their parents in various parts of the country. ”It is high time we bring all education stakeholders together as we approach the next general elections to avert ugly incidents witnessed during the 2007/2008 post election violence,” she said. The national peace education campaign, she stressed, will entail peace awareness caravans, national peace torch activities and peace education campaign forums in the 47 counties spread across the country. “We want to create public awareness on peaceful co-existence and give a voice to children and young people on matters of peace and unity regardless of one ethnic background
Kibera Women for Peace dancing during a peace campaign event in Kibera. Picture: Carolyne Oyugi. or political affiliation,” stated Murage. She spoke in Eldoret during a sensitization workshop on the National Peace Education Campaign for District Education Officers drawn from several counties. Murage said that the Ministry of Education has recorded a number of achievements
since the start of the peace campaign. She stated that some of the achievements recorded so far include the training of 8,909 field officers and primary school teachers on peace education between 2008 and 2011. The ministry, she further revealed, had also sensitised 3,900 principals of public sec-
ondary schools and 4,000 Board of Governors members on peace education between 2009 and 2010. “The ministry has also carried out a peace education monitoring exercise in various parts of the country during the same period,” she added.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Reproductive rights of children with School intellectual disabilities needs to be protected in plea for help By CAROLYNE OYUGI
Mary (not her real name) an 11-year old girl living with Intellectual Disability was defiled by a neighbor in Migori town a few months ago .The crime was reported to the police but the case never saw the day light. Mary’s mother was paid Kshs 500 by the criminal and as simple as it sounds she lost interest in the justice process. She has spent the money but her daughter is pregnant and HIV positive. Njeri (again not her real name) 13 years girl also intellectually Disabled was defiled by her neighbor at their neighborhood in Nyeri town. She had visited her brother’s home and left when it was already dark. Her neighbor whom she knows very well took advantage of her. On arriving home, she told her mother what had happened .Her mother took her to the Police Station to report the crime. The police were not willing to help her and since she was determined to get justice together with her daughter they went to another police station though far from their home. Again there she met another obstacle. The police took her statement and wrote for her a letter showing that she had reported the case. Since it was already late at night she went back home hoping that she had taken a step towards justice. To her surprise, when she went back to the police station the following day she realized that the letter she was given did not have a date and the case was not recorded in the Occurrence Book (OB) By then she had bathed her daughter and burnt the cloths to get rid of the bitterness and the embarrassment that came with it.
There being no evidence, eye witnesses and no record of a reported case, the case was dismissed. These are just but two of the many cases that Fatuma Wangari, Kenya Association of Intellectual Handicap has been dealing with. Fatuma’s daughter Jane is 25 years old and living with Intellectual Disability. This motivated her to start fighting for the rights of people living with mental disabilities giving special attention to Reproductive Rights. “I knew nothing about this condition until I gave birth to Jane,” she said. Fatuma narrates how she noticed that her child was not performing well in nursery school. One day she was called to the school and told that her child could not scribble like other children and so she was advised to take her to a special school. She however knew no special school and they were almost not there during that time. Her daughter then stayed home for two years without going to school. “My daughter has been in school for the last 20 years but she has no papers to prove it. The education system is so poor and inaccessible. All they do is arrange bottle tops and building blocks,” Fatuma said. I had to step out from being a mother to being an activist. Though this condition affects both male and female children the girls usually bear the brunt more because their rights are violated day in day out. They are at times taken advantage of by the same people who should protect them at the
By BONIFACE MULU
Fatuma Wangari with her daughter Jane. After experiencing the challenges that come with interlectuall disability, Fatuma became an activist fighting for the rights of children. Picture: Carolyne Oyugi confines of their homes. “Children living with intellectual challenge never recover. It becomes a life long condition. This however does not mean that they do not develop physically. Their reproductive system is active but they can not make informed decisions,” she said giving an example of her daughter who despite being an adult does not know her menstrual cycle. Someone has to be there to tell her what to do when and how. Jane also says that she usually feels headache during her menstrual cycle but she does not know anything about it. She also asks the government to make the sanitary pads more accessible. She does not know her mobile phone number and can not even tell what time it is. According to Lorna Nyandat, Kenya Legal and Intellectual Network (KELIN) people living with mental disability have their rights clearly spelt in the constitution. “Though it does not narrow down to intellectual challenges it covers all forms of disabilities. We however have a problem with how sexual offences are handled,” she said.
Burden of proof
She feels that The Burden of Proof is posing a challenge to most parents and guardians. Parents are ignorant of the procedure to follow when a child is sexually abused and the children also may not be in apposition to communicate what has happened. This makes the perpetrators take advantage knowing that no one will find out. A parent may also realise that the crime took palace long after the evidence has been tampered with. The United Nations resolution on the Protec-
tion of persons with mental illness provides that: “All persons with a mental illness have the right to protection from economic, sexual and other forms of exploitation, physical or other abuse and degrading treatment.” 56% of Kenya’s population currently live below the poverty line resulting in hunger, malnutrition, and are unable to access basic health services, - all major causes of disorders in brain development. With the population standing at 40 million the World Health Organisation estimates that there are 3.6 million people living with intellectual disabilities in Kenya. Of the 3.6 million, less than 1% are able to access care and rehabilitation services. Dr. Magraret Makanyengo, Psychiatrist Division of Family Health, Kenyatta National Hospital advised that pregnant mothers should ensure that they attend antenatal clinic so that incase the child has interlectuall disability then it can be detected in time. She adds that prolonged labour which is the most common cause of intellectual disability should be avoided at all cost. She also lamented that though there is no clear recorded data of people living with the condition the number of medical workers trained to deal with the situation is disturbingly low. “Kenya does not have enough trained medical practitioners to help in detection and treating the children who have this incurable condition,” she said. Another cause of the condition is when the child falls down and knocks his head hard. The constitution has provisions that promote inclusion and protection of human rights. For this to be realized then it has to include everyone and that includes the reproductive rights of the children living with intellectual disability.
The Principal of Wii Mixed Secondary School in Katulani District Angeline Makau has appealed to well wishers to come to the aid of needy students to enable them complete their studies. Makau disclosed that the school has about 200 students in dire need of support and appealed to sponsors to come their aid to enable them accomplish their dreams. “These students are very bright and they are very much committed towards learning, but they have no sponsorship. Most of them come from poor families and some are orphans,” noted Makau. She was speaking at the school during a fund raising meeting that is seeking to raise money for the construction of a library and a computer science laboratory.
Makau thanked the Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) for having donated some textbooks to the school. She also thanked the Kitui Central CDF office for allocating them KSsh200,000 to help in the construction of a computer science laboratory. She urged the CDF office to continue supporting them. Makau noted that soon Wii Secondary School will be transformed into a community learning resource centre because it is far from Kitui town. “We have written our five year strategic plan which is one of the best in Kitui County,” Makau said. She thanked parents and the school’s community for according them support to develop the institution. According to Bart Mbuvi, WITU Group treasurer, they started the group in 1994 and had helped the community in many ways. “WITU is a community based organisation that supports community projects. We will continue helping the community because our mission is to help,” noted Mbuvi. Wii Secondary School Students’ Council Chairman, Henry Nzioka lauded fellow students for maintaining high standards of discipline which had helped them to excel in their studies.
Illicit brews poses a grave challenge to schooling By KARIUKI MWANGI Residents of Kangaru village in Embu West District have blamed the poor standards of education in the area to increased consumption of illicit brews in the area. Led by Transport Permanent Secretary, Dr Cyrus Njiru, the irked residents said that more students in from area were dropping out of school due to excessive drinking. “This area has become a haven for criminal activities where illicit liquor is brewed and sold unabated while bhang is being peddled in broad daylight,” noted Njiru. He added: “This is the cause of high incidences
of rape cases and incest in the region.” Speaking at Kangaru Boys High School in Embu, Njiru called on the police to crackdown on those behind the vice failure to which education and positive development in the area may not be realised.
“We cannot continue to expect schools to perform better when they are surrounded by chang’aa and bhang dens,” he said. He noted that “it seems as if the provincial administration is unable to deal with the vice at all”. According to Francis Nyaga, headteacher
Kangaru DEB Day Secondary School, the slum which is next to the school continues to present a challenge to the learning environment. “Some of these students live in the slums, and sometimes they fail to attend classes to assist their parents to brew and sell the liquor,” noted Nyaga. He added: “Others have dropped out of school as they have been lured into the illicit trade, which is threatening to wipe out the whole young generation.” Nyaga said that some of the students have difficulties in concentrating with their studies due to hunger because their
parents are lost in the brew dens and have no time for them.
He said noted that the school is usually forced to cook excess food during lunch time so that pupils who reside in the slums can eat the remaining food at 4pm before going home as majority sleep hungry. “We all know that there is nothing a student can grasp in class if they are hungry, and with such a poor environment for learning,” noted Nyaga. He called on the Government to intervene and save the students before the situation worsens.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Tea sector set for major reforms By CAROLINE WANGECHI Plans are underway to replace old tea bushes with clones developed by the Tea Research Foundation in a bid to improve the quality of tea in the country. Agriculture Permanent Secretary, Dr Romano Kiome, said the move is part of ongoing measures to improve on the quality of tea in the country. He said the Ministry of Finance had introduced a new levy on tea to help farmers upgrade their tea bushes and increase their production. “The tax introduced should not be seen as money going to waste as it will be used to improve the quality of tea by replacing the old tea bushes with new clones,” noted Kiome. He said the levy is going to be used for research, marketing and value in addition to upgrading tea bushes. Kiome reiterated that the Government plans to help over 600,000 small scale tea farmers uproot old tea bushes and replace them with improved varieties.
He observed that farmers have to know what the research centre is doing to improve the quality of tea and urged respective tea factories to sensitise farmers on the changes. He said that the government will set up a fund to mitigate farmers from losses during the exercise, which is expected to take around five years. Kiome noted that most of tea bushes in the country were planted between 1960 and 1970, saying that they were no longer giving maximum production to farmers. He was speaking at the Kangaita Tea Research Foundation of Kenya Centre (TRFK), in Kirinyaga Coun-
The ministry of Agriculture together with the Kangatia Tea Research Foundation are set to improve the quality of tea in the country by replacing the old trees with clones. Pictures: Courtesy Internet ty, during the “leveraging innovative technology in Tea Agribusiness for attainment of vision 2030” organised to educate tea farmers on new production techniques that have been developed by the foundation. Kiome observed that multina-
tional, large scale farmers have already begun the process of replacing their tea bushes and that the programme will be initiated by the Government to support individual farmers, saying that small scale farmers have to get their share of replacing
their tea bushes. “Currently most tea bushes produced an average of two kilogrammes of leaves, yet there were better varieties that could produce triple the amount under similar conditions,” he noted.
“Currently most tea bushes produced an average of two kilogrammes of leaves, yet there were better varieties that could produce triple the amount under similar conditions.” — Dr Romano Kiome,
Kiome reiterated that continued subdivision of land has exerted pressure on production and unless farmers plant the high yielding varieties the sector will be hurt by reduced returns. The tea sector earned the country KSh107 billion last year, with Kirinyaga County earmarked to receive KSh6 billion which is the highest in the country. Kiome, however, advised farmers against engaging in politics at the expense of tending their farms, adding that what counts at the end of the day is the income to an individual. “Tea was the number one foreign exchange earner last year, and we do not want politics to interfere with the production,” he advised.
Rice farmers set to Irrigation project affected by benefit from grant inadequate water in Nairobi River By CAROLINE WANGECHI The Government has set aside KSh7 billion to boost rice production in Kirinyaga County. According to Dr David Stower, Water and Irrigation Permanent Secretary, the move aims at increasing rice production to meet both the local and national demand. Stower said increased production will help alleviate hunger and increase farmers’ earnings. Research shows that Kirinyaga County has enormous potential to feed the entire country due to the favourable climatic conditions and fertile soil. Stower explained that part of the funding will be used in introducing new modes of farming from furrow irrigation to piped, drip and sprinkle irrigation. “Kirinyaga County has the potential to harvest rice in three seasons round the calendar owing to the availability of water. Through the programme we will change the irrigation pattern so that no water will go to waste,” he reiterated.
By ALLAN MURIMI
Dr. David Stower, Water and Irrigation Permanent Secretary. Stower pointed out that water management has been a real problem in the area and urged residents to manage the resource in the right way. “We have received very many complaints on water management and we want to make sure that the issues will be of the past once the programme is rolled out,” he stressed.
Farmers in Kieni East District have asked the Government to construct a dam across Nairobi River in order to provide them with enough water for irrigation. The farmers have, through sponsorship, completed a multimillion venture to provide them with water, but water levels in the Nairobi River have dwindled to pathetic state due to frequent droughts. Thirigitu location farmers say that the water is not enough for a major irrigation project, adding that they want to start commercial farming. Ngogithi water project chairman, Yustus Matu, asked the Government to construct a water storage facility in the river to supply the residents with water to sustain the venture. “The Government should construct mega dams to harvest rain water so that we can continue irrigating our farms during the dry weather,” he said. The farmers had been depen-
dent on relief food but they have changed the situation through the KSh11.3 million project which supplies them with piped water for irrigation and domestic purposes. They have constructed a 225,000 litres water tank a few kilometres from the intake on the River Nairobi to harvest water for use during the dry season. The farmers want to commercialise the project by distributing water to neighbouring sub-locations to earn income. “We now irrigate our farms and this has improved food and pasture security,” said Zavelia Gachambi. She added: “We now sell the surplus food to the local market.” The farmers need more water for fish farming where the 20 members of Mathina Cross Section Self-Help Group have set a pond as a pilot project. Safaricom Foundation in conjunction with ActionAid sponsored the project with KSh8.1 million and KSh2 million respectively. Nyeri Constituency Development Fund and the Municipal Council also
gave their contributions. “A few years ago there was sheer poverty in this dry area which had been forgotten because it is in the middle of a productive region,” noted Evelyn Samba, ActionAid head of programmes. She called on the Government to come up with a comprehensive way of solving food security, saying that it should look for the right investments to change the lives of the poor. About 300 households benefited from the project and they are now able to access clean piped water for domestic use. “We now have access to quality water at our doorsteps and we do not have to travel long distances in search of water,” said Gachambi. The farmers have been able to convert the once dry region into an agriculturally productive zone where they grow various kinds of foodstuffs. Gachambi observed that cases of domestic violence have gone down due to economic empowerment through agriculture.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Negative ethnicity affecting peace processes By BLESSINGS GRACE Since the post election violence of 2007-2008, Kenyans have been calling for forgiveness and reconciliation. While institutions such as the National Cohesion and Integration Commission have been set up to see the country reconcile, very few efforts have been seen at the individual level. According to John Busii, a conflict resolution expert who has been actively involved in discussions and research aimed at creating peace accords between the Kikuyu and Kalenjin as well as the Pokot and Turkana, the issue of ethnicity remains a huge factor causing division among Kenyan communities. “There is a conflict between conflicts in peacemaking in the country. Unless every member of the community decides to change his perception towards one another, it will be difficult to achieve peace. We must all replace the attitude of tribalism or ethnicity from our hearts with culture of respect, brotherhood and sisterhood,” Busii notes. He terms the ideology of superiority and inferiority among communities as a “pandemic
discrimination”, which must be broken down at the individual level. “It is deeply hurting when I see people from different tribes refuse to greet one another just because they come from across the bridge. What if I you sit down and solve your differences, how much do you stand to lose?” queries Busii. “While we apply the relevant methodologies to address the causes and symptoms of conflict to change communities to accept one another and live in harmony, how many are willing to change and how long will it last?” poses Busii.
According to Koigi wa Wamwere, a former member of Parliament promoting peace and unity in total disregard of influence and input of every individual is a futile exercise. Wamwere identifies negative ethnicity as a ‘monster’ that fuels hatred that converts into feelings of elimination, and, therefore, stirs the peace of the people in a region. “Negative ethnicity is a self seeking feeling, that is very selfish and wants to destroy or harm the ethnic other in order to be in control.
It is terrible and more than just a cult for blood sucking,” notes Wamwere.
He explains it as a step-tostep development that merely begins with cheap jokes that generate into stereotypes, and then grows into the ‘demonic’ feelings of genocide. “When someone easily refers to another as a chicken eater, then later calls a group of his kind as chicken lovers, then the next time identifies them as snakes, that means he has psychologically prepared to eliminate them; a process of a joke, to a stereotype, into genocide,” Koigi wa Wamwere, a former Member of Parliament. Wamwere notes. He recognises that every inedge that it exists within us. “That we move dividual is involved in it directly and indirectly, from an attitude of survival for the fittest to one and calls for self-examination to pull away from of survival for us all in a harmonious environit. ment. That we stand strong to disassociate ourTo fight negative ethnicity, Wamwere says selves from any tribal alliances or use of inflameverybody must be able accept and acknowlmatory language”.
Security beefed up in the wake of terror attacks By ALLAN MURIMI Police officers have been deployed to churches in Central and Eastern regions to tighten security and deter terror attacks. According to Marcus Ochola, Eastern Province police boss, plain clothe officers have been deployed to places of worship. The officers were supervised to ensure they do not go to their designated areas and relax, as security agencies review their operations. “If the terrorists want to attack us they can, but we have sent officers to places of worship because we have to protect the worshippers. When your neighbour gets shaved you have to wet your head,” said Ochola. He was referring to the increased
in attacks in the North Eastern region where 18 worshippers were killed in simultaneous grenade attacks in two churches in Garissa. A spot check by the Reject confirmed armed police were seen positioned at church entrances, frisking the church goers. The Reject team spotted two uniformed officers frisking church goers at the Our Lady of Consolata and Kenya Assemblies of God churches in Nyeri. Central police spokesman John Katumo said that four officers were sent to each church to ensure there was security. “We have deployed two uniformed and two civilian officers to churches across the region to tighten security to prevent terrorist attacks, especially after
Cleric raise alarm over rising suicide cases
the Garissa church attack,” he said. He also said that the officers were posted to the main churches depending on their availability and called on congregations to notify the officers on new faces. Embu police boss Gasper Makau said that four uniformed officers and two plain clothed detectives were sent to each church. “We have ordered the officers to patrol the churches, even after the congregation has left. We are also screening people going into the main hotels, bars and other places where there are many people as we do not want to risk anything,” said Makau. Ochola asked the officers to be on the lookout for suspicious characters, whether they are on duty or not.
By CAROLINE WANGECHI Clerics from Kirinyaga County have expressed concern over rising suicide cases. According to Anglican Church of Kenya Vicar Maina Thungururu, the rate at which the young people are committing suicide everyday is alarming. He said people aged 23-35 and 50-80 accounted for the highest number of suicide cases. Maina said that the reasons as to why there is an increase in suicide cases are multiple but land problems and illicit brew are the highest contributors. “Land and illicit brew issues need to be addressed with seriousness if the number of young men who are dying every day is to be decreased,” noted the clergy. Maina spoke as a 24 year old man was found dead in his house after committing suicide in Kirinyaga County. According to the area Chief, Jamleck Kabui, the deceased Muriithi Kabuci was found unconscious in his bedroom. He said that the mother suspected something was amiss when she saw her son’s house locked for two days.
Too many young people killing themselves By KARIUKI MWANGI In the month of June alone, more than 26 young people committed suicide in Embu with the police saying that the incidences are higher since last year. This has prompted the police in Embu to raise alarm over the rising cases of suicide in the area. According to Gasper Makau, Officer Commanding Police division: “What scares us more as a department is that the people who are committing suicide are school going children and youths aged between 14 and 40 years. These are the same people expected to play an important role in the economic development of the country.” Makau said in most cases the victims are either found hanging on a tree or from roof of the house. In January at Runyenjes Police Station, it was reported that Silas Mugendi Njeru, aged 40 years, was found dead. He had hanged himself
with a rope in his house. Makau said that the incident was reported by members of the public. They said that the victim had gone missing for several days only to be found later hanging on a rope on the roof of the house. At Manyatta Police Station in Embu North District, a report reads that Dennis Mugo, aged 19 years, was found dead. He had hanged himself with a rope in the house and there was no suicide note left.
“It pains me as a parent to see a 19 year old boy who is very young taking his own life,” noted Makau, adding that the country is losing an important workforce through preventable causes. In the same police station, 36 year old Stephen Kariuki Njogu was reported to have hanged himself with a rope on a tree at Manyatta in Embu
North District days after he went missing from his house. In Runyenjes, a report reads that a 16 year old boy committed suicide by hanging himself using a rope in his bedroom in Kathande under unclear circumstances. “The Form Three student at Kathande Secondary School in Embu North District had complained of a headache and headed to his bedroom. His brother later found his body hanging on a rope,” he noted. Makau said the boy was pronounced dead on arrival at the Kianjokoma sub-District Hospital and later removed to the Embu Provincial General Hospital Mortuary pending post mortem. “These suicide cases are just but a few, and we are calling on the parents, the teachers, the church, and all involved to join hands in trying to unearth the puzzle around the high cases of suicides,” said Father Joseph Kirimi
of the Embu Catholic Diocese. The priest noted that he had presided over the burials of hundreds of youths in the area, to an extent that he is finding it difficult to talk about it. “It is becoming a pandemic,” he stated.
Low self esteem
Kirimi said that the most affected are the young men, most of who have a very low self esteem and end up losing hope too early before exploiting all the possible ways of solving issues. “As a church we have been trying to talk to the youths, particularly he young men, and we are encouraging them not to engage into drinking illicit brews as well as chewing miraa and other drugs which are also a contributor to suicidal thoughts,” he said. He noted that the issue of unemployment, and the fact that most
parents have declined to give their children parcels of land to cultivate, is making most of the young people idle. Kirimi said it is not only the youth who are affected, but even young couples. He confirmed to having buried most of them, alleging that the hard economic times might be contributing to the death of many bread winners in the society. He reiterated the need for thorough research to find out the issues driving the young generation into committing suicide, adding that everybody in society must take up the role of a counsellor so as to save them. “There is also this perception that men don’t speak out about issues effecting them as women do, and we are encouraging them as a church to confide to their friends if not parents as a problem shared is a problem half solved,” he observed.
ISSUE 066, August 01-15, 2012
Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth
Progress in land reforms
Opportunities provided by the new land laws By REJECT CORRESPONDENT The National Land Policy and constitutional frameworks provide Kenya with a unique opportunity to undertake comprehensive land reforms in response to her complex historical land question. In this regard, and in keeping with the timelines provided in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the first pieces of legislation have been enacted. The National Land Policy and the Constitution, in keeping with the wishes of Kenyans, is driving this legislative framework. This is a great departure from the past, where Kenya’s land laws were largely influenced by the principles, practices and experiences of foreign jurisdictions. In addition, the new laws have made an attempt to revise, consolidate and rationalise the old ones. This approach is expected to reduce the number of land laws and create harmony in land administration and management. Below are some highlights capturing some of the key opportunities of the new laws: 1. The Environment and Land Court Act, 2011: This Act establishes a court of similar jurisdiction to the High Court, which will have jurisdiction over cases and disputes on matters relating to land and environment. It repealed The Land Disputes Tribunals Act No. 18 of 1990. It is expected that this Court may have presence in all the 47 Counties. Some of the opportunities include: • The courts will bring justice closer to the people and help reduce the heavy backlog of land cases pending countrywide. • The courts will be presided over by judges with specific competence on matters of environment and land, who will be singularly dedicated to these courts. This is expected to improve quality in the delivery of justice. • Issues relating to the enforcement of rights for a clean and healthy environment and the protection and conservation of the environment will be accorded faster attention. This will progressively improve the health of Kenyans. 2. The National Land Commission Act, 2012: This Act provides for the powers and functions of the National Land Commission, established under Article 67 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. It also provides the qualifications and procedures for the appointment of the chair and members of the Land Commission. This Act introduces a paradigm shift in the administration and management of public land. Once the land commission envisaged under the Act is in place, all public land in Kenya will be managed by the commission on behalf of the national and county governments. Such land has hitherto been administered and managed by the Commissioner of Lands,
with powers delegated to him by the President. This approach resulted in irregular allocation of our scarce stock of public land. The formation of the land commission is expected to stem such practices. Some of the opportunities of this Act include: i) Overall protection of public land. ii) Registration and issuance of titles to all unregistered land in the country within 10 years of the commencement of the Act. iii) Review of previously allocated public land within 5 years. iv) Recommendation to parliament, within 2 years, of legislation to support the resolution of historical injustices. v) Development of a modern Land Information Management System (LIMS), which will help to make land transactions more efficient and reliable and, hence, reduce incidents of duplicated titles. vi) Undertaking research relating to land and use of natural resources. This is expected to gradually improve future decisions on access and use of land and natural resources. vii) Establishment of offices and land management boards at a county level, which are expected to reflect the wishes and priorities of people resident in the counties. 3. The Land Act, 2012: This Act provides the body of Kenya’s substantive land law, earlier scattered in different pieces of legislation (like the Indian Transfer of Property Act 1882, The Government Lands Act and the Registered Land Act). It repeals the Wayleaves Act Cap 292 and the Land Acquisition Act Cap 295. This Act consolidates Kenya’s substantive law, so provides easy reference to the public, scholars and practitioners in Kenya. Other opportunities under the Act include: • The protection and conservation of
all ecologically sensitive land by the land commission. • For citizens, on the expiry of a lease, the land commission shall offer the immediate past holder of the leasehold the pre-emptive rights of allocation, provided the land is not required for use by the national or the county government for public purposes. This will stem incidents where the executive could allocate expired leases to developed properties in urban or rural areas to preferred persons using the discretionary powers provided under the Government Lands Act. Some business people have suffered this fate and lost major investments. In some instances, where leases held in the names of deceased persons expired before transfer to the legitimate heirs, the Commissioner of Lands’ office reallocated such leases with no regard to inheritance rights. Such practices will cease with this provision. • No public land will be allocated before the issuance of a notice of not less than 30 days to the public and all interested parties. • Substantial transactions involving conversion of public land to private land will require the approval of the national assembly or the county assembly. This will help to protect public forests and parks against unwarranted conversions to private land. • In line with protecting matrimonial property, as provided for in the Constitution, courts may reopen a charge of whatever amount secured on a matrimonial home in the interest of doing justice between parties on application by the charger or the Registrar. • In keeping with the Constitution, just compensation shall be paid promptly and in full to all persons with interests on land compulsorily acquired under the Act. • Identification of beneficiaries to land
in settlement schemes shall be done by inclusive sub-county selection committees, comprising of representatives of the county government, the Land Commission, the national government, people with special needs as well as women and youth. This will help to stem cases of selective and undeserving allocations of land in settlement schemes. • Land acquired in a settlement scheme established under the Act, or any other written law, shall not be transferable except through a process of succession. This will stop landless people from selling off allocated land and reverting to landlessness. • A Land Settlement Fund to buy land for the resettlement of landless and the displaced and for development and conservation will be established. • The Act provides opportunities to resolve the land rights of squatters and for regularising squatter settlements. For once, this gives a window for developing legal mechanisms for resolving the Coast squatter/absentee landlord issue and other conflicting claims in informal settlements around the country. • 4. The Land Registration Act, 2012: This Act will be the singular law to guide the registration of title to land in Kenya, which was earlier done under various statutes. It also repealed the Registered Land Act Cap 300, among other Acts, which applied to most rural properties surveyed under general boundaries and some few urban properties surveyed under the “fixed boundary” provisions of the Act. The application of this law will result in a uniform land registration system and uniform registries. This will ease land transactions and land development. Some of the key opportunities include: • A geo-referencing of land parcels. This will ensure that all properties in the country are geo-referenced.
Executive Director: Rosemary Okello Editor: Jane Godia Sub-Editors: Joyce Chimbi, Carolyne Oyugi and Faith Muiruri Designer: Noel Lumbama Contributors: Robert Wanjala,Wilson Rotich, Cavince Adhere,Boniface Otieno, Gilbert Ochieng, Wangari Mwangi, Joseph Mukubwa, Titus Maero, Nzinga Muasya, NicoleWaithera, Martin Murithi, Henry Owino, Kariuki Mwangi, David Sirengo, Skina Halisi, Caroline Mango, Ken Ndambu, Ben Oroko,Omondi Gwengi, Boniface Mulu, Carolune Wangechi, Blessings Grace.
It is an important measure towards enabling the development of a modern land information management system in Kenya. • Deems spousal rights over matrimonial property overriding interests. This protects rights of matrimonial properties, since all dealings entered into without the consent of the two or more partners involved in a marriage can be successfully challenged in court. Financial Institutions will have to undertake necessary diligence to ensure that they satisfy themselves that legitimate spouse(s) have provided equivocal evidence before accepting any matrimonial properties as security for any charge. • Deems all titles issued under the Registered Land Act and the Registration of Titles Act to be titles issued under this Act. Titles comprised in registers kept under the Government Lands Act and the Land Titles Act shall be examined before owners are issued with titles under the Act. This is because these are supported by deeds maintained over time, and their ownership revolves around the successive history of ownership, and, therefore, needs verification before registration under the new Act. Land owners in Kenya should rest assured that their titles issued under the old laws are fully recognized under the new law. Need for regulations and practice guidelines. The effective application of the above laws will require subsidiary legislation (i.e. regulations). Institutions charged with operating them will need to expeditiously develop practice guidelines to govern transactions by the public, and service provision by public officers and practicing professionals. Rules, standard forms, procedures and fees will also need to be developed. Courtesy of the Land Development and Governance Institute
The paper is produced with funds from