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ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth


April 1-15, 2013


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

Devolution may give children in urban slums a fighting chance By JOYCE CHIMBI Most urban residents are no strangers to children begging on the streets or in residential areas. This is in spite of the fact that in keeping with the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 1 to provide universal access to primary education, since 2003, a Free Primary Education Programme has been in place to ensure that all Kenyan children go to school. “The programme is not only free but compulsory. Still, thousands of children in urban slums continue to roam the streets and residential areas even as millions of children across

the country pursue their education,” explains Esther Mwaura, a teacher in the sprawling Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums.


With Government statistics showing that the population is growing at 800,000 per year, the number of people in urban areas has also continued to rise exponentially. This is even more so in the slums. Globally, one in every three urban dwellers lives in the slums, in Africa the numbers are staggering at six in every ten people. “We come to Nairobi because it represents opportunities for a better life

but once you land in this city, you quickly realise that we are all scrambling for very few resources,” says Maria Naliaka, a casual labourer in Nairobi. It is for this reason that many are looking forward to the operationalisation of a devolved system of Government. In the devolved system, it is believed that other regions will begin to exploit their natural resources and people will begin to move away from the congested urban areas. This is expected to progressively address the growth of urban slums Continued on page 6

Children from Kibera slum heading to school while others in a rural village stay home. Below: An urban street boy sleeping on the streets. Devolution could improve the lives of millions of children across the country. Pictures: Reject Correspondent

Read more Reject stories online at w w w. m d c a f r i c a . o r g


ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Life of 12-year old in danger over neck swelling By SHABAN RAWLINGS The life of young Petronillah Wakhu has taken a dramatic turn, and it is for the worst. The pupil at Bubaka Primary School in Lureko Location had until now big dreams. However, the recent discovery of a growth on the left part of her collar has threatened to shatter her young life. The 12-year old class four pupil in Mumias district has a rare swelling on her neck. Doctors at St Mary’s Mission Hospital recommended that she was entitled to free radio-graphic services after she was diagnosed of left post auricular/occipital neck mass. According to the doctor’s report which recommended for head CT-Scan, the girl developed a slow growing mass with pain which is lately growing at an alarming rate. “The origin of mass is linked to the spinal cord,” read the doctor’s report in part.


The girl’s father Otsieno Wakhu explained the difficulties his daughter goes through in the struggle to cope with the illness and attend school. “It started as a black spot then continued to gradually grow,” said Otsieno. A peasant farmer, Otsieno said he and the girl’s

Rights lobby groups cry foul over bill By KAMUNDIA MURIITHI Child rights lobby groups have termed as oppressive the clause in the Child Amendment Bill that places a child offender who is 18 years under indefinite jail term. The groups under the umbrella of Kenya Alliance for Advancement of Children Rights (KAACR) said under the current laws, such an offender is supposed to be moved to prison where adults are held until the president orders for their release. According to the KAACR policy advocacy coordinator Felicia Mburu, the clause exposes the young adult to hardcore criminals. She called for its repeal. Mburu appealed for quick amendment of the bill saying it had been pending for seven years due to wrangling among various children’s rights watchdogs. “Holding the young adult together with adults could traumatise and transform him into a hardcore criminal as some find themselves held longer than the stipulated term,” noted Mburu. She said some child offenders who turn 18 before completion of their term sometimes find themselves being transferred to maximum security prisons such as Kamiti, Shimo la Tewa, Naivasha or King’ong’o without a clear cut jail term. She said such an offender is held at the mercy of the president, which has led to some young adults who have less than three years term remaining being locked for up to 15 years. Mburu said her lobby group was pushing the Children's Department to take up the bill for amendment to parliament.

mother did not expect the growth to be severely serious and did not take the initiative to take her for medical attention early. “We, therefore, did not know what our daughter was suffering from since I did not have the funds to take her for the CT-scan at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret. I am just worried because the growth is developing rapidly and affecting her life,” he explained. The girl said the swelling has made it difficult for her to interact freely with her schoolmates especially during play time.


“I am appealing to well-wishers to contribute towards my treatment and enable me complete my education,” said Petronillah who aspires to become a doctor. She added that she wants to be able to offer medical services to people going through the inadequacies that she faces especially due to financial constraints. According to Peter Rodgers, head teacher of Bubaka Primary School, the girl’s academic performance has drastically dropped after the growth developed to an enormous lump. “The steadiness in learning of formerly one of the brightest girls in the school has detracted following the swelling,” he said.

Petronillah Wakhu with her father Otsieno Wakhu outside their house in Musango village. A growth on her neck is now threatening her life. Picture: Shaban Rawlings

School redeems its face from negative image By ARAKA MATARA Three years ago learning and examination performance at Kianyabinge Primary School in Kitutu Chache South Constituency, Kisii County had been adversely hit by jigger infestation on children and poor institutional management. A survey at the school then indicated the pathetic situation ranging from lack of physical facilities to drunkenness by some teachers and pupils. Pupils were attending lessons in dilapidated dusty classroom floors, a conducive environment for jiggers. Parents were not willing to chip in the provision of physical facilities claiming it was the responsibility of the local Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to do so. Some of the pupils who were from vulnerable families walked bare feet with no school uniform

as teachers displayed an attitude of carelessness in terms of cleanliness in the pupils and school compound.


A resident claimed that some of the pupils hailed from single mother headed families who left for the nearby Kisii town to eke a living leaving their children in the custody of poor and ailing grandparents. On that material day, a teacher who had not reported for duty is spotted as he approached the school at 10am drunk. There was a public outcry after the exposure of the situation prevailing in the school which prompted the education and public health authorities to move into the learning institution and act. The officials took drastic action by investigating and ordering the transfer of some teaching staff and improvement of physical facilities at

the school. The now transformed school with a new head teacher and management committee seems to be treading on the right path after posting a mean score of 263 in last year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations against 193 in 2010. The leading candidate scored a total of 348 out of 500 marks at the 500 plus pupil enrolment school. According to Alloys Maina, the head-teacher classrooms for Standard 1 to Three pupils were under construction while plans were underway to establish boarding facilities for Standard 8 pupils. “Provision of electricity will benefit the KCPE candidates in preparing for the examination if they were accommodated at the school,” said the head teacher. Maina appealed for help from the authorities and well-wishers to build a classroom for Early Child-

hood Development in order to provide for a holistic curriculum at the school. A parent, Mama Teresa Mayieka expressed satisfaction with the new development at the school which she claimed was at the verge of collapse before the area authorities acted.


“I thank the school management for eradication of the jiggers through improved sanitation, introduction of recommended uniforms and dedicated teaching staff,” she said. Parent’s cooperation with the school management, noted Mayieka, was encouraging and added that it had seen the general discipline improve. She was happy that their sensitisation campaigns had borne fruit citing the parents’ positive change of attitude towards supporting education development.

Women in Kitui lead in taking revolving funds By BONIFACE MULU Women in the Kitui County are positively responding to the borrowing, utilisation and repaying of loans from the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF). According to Joseph Oyowo, Women Enterprise Fund Eastern Provincial Regional Credit Coordinator, currently there are 646 women groups in the Kitui County. Of those groups, 210 are in Kitui Central Constituency, 142 in Kitui West Constituency, 87 in Mutitu Constituency, 78 in Mwingi South Constituency, 69 in Kitui South Constituency and 60 in Mwingi North Constituency. “The Fund has loaned the 646 groups a total of KSh35,000,378 with the Kitui Central Constituency leading by borrowing KSh11,000, 135,” Oyowo disclosed. Kitui Central is followed by Kitui West with KSh7,000,340, Mwingi South with KSh4,000,760, Mutitu with KSh4,000,280, Mwingi North with KSh3,000,953 and Kitui South with KSh3,000,910.

Oyowo was speaking at a sensitisation meeting with 35 women’s groups from Kitui Central and Kitui West constituencies on formation of cooperatives organised by the Kitui District Cooperatives Office where he was the chief guest. Oyowo said that the Nyanza and Rift Valley regions had fewer women’s groups as compared to other regions. He said that the women in Kitui Central are the ones leading in Kenya in borrowing and repaying the WEF money and urged the rest of the women in the country to emulate their Kitui Central Constituency counterparts.


He said that the Women Enterprise Fund was initiated in the country in 2007 by the government for the good of the country’s women. He noted that the period of ending the repaying of the loan is one year. “There are some groups that we lent money in 2008 and have not yet ended repaying the loans to us,” he observed. Oyowo said that they assist in looking for

markets for the groups for their products. He asked the women’s groups that have not gotten money to apply for the same. He noted that they accept men to be members in the women’s groups in the country but they should not to be more than 30 per cent in their membership. “The men should not be signatories in the women’s groups’ management committees,” Oyowo said. Speaking in the same meeting, Rosa Muthoni Kimotho, Kitui Deputy District Cooperatives Officer asked cooperatives to maintain good relations with the other societies. Kimotho asked women in Kitui County to have compelling economic objectives if they want to start cooperatives in the area. “Business plans should be written in the simplest way possible in order for any group member or person to be able to read and understand it,” she noted. She said that the loans given to cooperatives must be insured through the societies and urged them to keep politics out of their societies for their own good.

ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth


Victims of state atrocities hopeful as TJRC prepares report By HUSSEIN DIDO Residents of North Eastern Province and Isiolo County in particular have been crying out for justice 50 years after independence. However, when the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission was set up after the 2007-2008 post-election violence their hopes were raised. Today, they believe their tears and pleas have not been in vain because as survivors of Daaba massacre in Garba-Tulla and Merti districts in Isiolo County they will know what fate has in store for them on May 5. This is the time that the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission has announced it will release its final report and recommendations. According to a TJRC director, Elijah Letangule, the Commission chaired by Bethwell Kiplagat, which has been probing the complaints of charges against humanity will release its final report and recommendation on some of the injustices committed by state and non-state actors during the famous Daaba massacre in 1960s. Letangule assured the victims that the Commission will facilitate speedy and full implementation of the recommendations to ensure justice for the victims and those whose families were killed. He was speaking when he addressed civil society organisations, victims and peace elders during a reconciliation consultative forum at Isiolo Bomen. He noted that justice will be done according to their wishes.


Elder Hussein Mursal shocked the Commission he told them of the excessive force used by the soldiers during the attacks. He also said the bombs blasted were to blame for induced abortions, mental illness and impotence in Northern parts of the country since the 1960s. Some of the victims who presented a memorandum to TJRC during the hearing in Isiolo, dubbed ‘Dying an Invisible Death and Living an Invisible Life’ also confessed that women who were affected by the bomb blasts miscarried and that houses caved while some men were unable to sire children. The participants were moved to tears during one of the public forums when Godana Doyo, a lawyer and Yusuf Halake of Pastoralists Reform Programme narrated the story of untold suffering that led to killings and later destruction by the soldiers. Halake accused the soldiers of high handedness, indiscriminate rape of women before their children and husbands and massacring of villagers at the height of the Shifta War of 1963-1967.


They said the irate soldiers committed massive atrocities and buried victims in a mass grave after the then Provincial Commissioner Eliud Mahihu sanctioned the killings in 1965, when Somalia wanted to annex part of Kenya. The survivors further claimed that although the attacks were aimed at the Somalis, those from the Borana and Sakuye communities also became victims of the massacre since the army could not distinguish between them. The Commission led by Tecla Namachanja, were told that hundreds of the Sakuye and Borana community members fled to Somalia to avert the

86-year old Habiba Raqo, a survivor of the Daaba massacre displays her injured arm. Below: TJRC Vice Chairperson Tecla Namachanja listens in on the proceedings Pictures: Hussein Dido atrocities by the Kenya security forces. He said most of the returnees who occupied part of Gafarsa and Dabale have not been issued with national identification cards 14 years after they were re-united with their relatives in Kenya. “Some of our relatives who returned to Kenya as late as 1999 have never been issued with identity cards because the Government branded them foreigners,” notes Halake. Another survivor Boru Wako, 69, said the communities lost over 300,000 camels, 500,000 cattle and 3,000 donkeys worth millions of shillings leading to high poverty levels in the region. However, they thanked the Catholic and the Methodist church for assisting them to resettle after the Shifta War but regretted that the Government had since neglected the area and treated them as marginalised groups and at the mercy of bandits and security personnel who took away their livestock.

Nursing wounds

Decades after the massacre, Wako says, the communities in the region area still nursing their wounds. Fear and suspicion between them and security forces still exists. Wako blames the increased cases of insecurity and banditry to high levels of illiteracy and unemployment to idle youth some of whom engage in acts of lawlessness. The witnesses who testified during the TJRC session used the opportunity to petition the Government to compensate and issue them with

national identity cards as a means to woo Kenyans who were still living in Somali back into the country. Daaba, which literally means ‘when everything stopped’, refers to the period (1965-1967) when the Waso Boran of Isiolo District and their livestock were forcefully placed into three concentration camps. Meanwhile, 78-year old Habiba Raqa recalls how women were gangraped and their properties destroyed. “The army killed camels and cattle in order to deprive us of our living,” she says.


Daaba constitutes, perhaps, one of the greatest single transformation of people from prosperity to poverty that is recorded in the post-colonial Kenya. As the clamour for Kenya’s independence was rising in the 1950s and 1960s, new political parties cropped up in the south of Kenya. The northern frontier district of Kenya was not left out. Political parties representing the interests of the pastoralists emerged just like others mushroomed throughout the country. The two major parties from the north were the Northern Province Peoples Progressive Party (NPPPP), and the Northern People Union Association (NPUA). While the NPPPP, predominantly supported by the four districts of Garissa, Isiolo, Mandera and Wajir wanted the northern frontier district to secede to the Republic of Somalia, the NPUA predominantly supported by Marsabit and Moyale districts, agi-

“Some of our relatives who returned to Kenya as late as 1999 have never been issued with identity cards because the Government branded them foreigners.” — Yusuf Halake

tated for it to remain in Kenya. There seemed to be a split in the opinions of the people of the Cushitic part of the region. In a bid to determine the future of the northern frontier district, the British Government, through the office of the Secretary of State for the colonies, formed the Northern Frontier District Commission, late in 1962 (Report of NFD Commission, 1962). To satisfy the terms of reference, a referendum was commissioned between October and December of 1962. The report of the Northern Frontier District Commission showed that the people of the area overwhelmingly voted for secession to Somalia. However, the British Government did not grant them their wish. On March 17th, 1963 Sir Duncan Sandy announced that part of the northern fron-

tier district would become the seventh province of Kenya, and thus the NFD remained part of Kenya Those who were frustrated by the decision opted to wage a guerrilla war against the Kenya Government. This was the beginning of the infamous “Shifta War”. The Government of the newly independent Kenya under President Jomo Kenyatta used excessive military force to quell the uprising in most parts of the NFD. Though the civilians in NFD generally suffered from the retributive measures taken by the Kenyan authorities, the Waso Boran was collectively condemned to bear the brunt of the war. The TJRC was told that the security forces and military unleashed terror on the Waso Boran in what became known as “Gaaf Daaba” or the period of Stoppage.


Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Counties face financial setbacks By ALLAN MURIMI The country is in a transitional mood from a centralized system of governance to a devolved system. The Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC), county headquarters are facing challenges of office furniture and modes of transport for elected governors. According to CIC commissioner Kamotho Waiganjo the amount of money allocated to the counties by the National Transition Authority to set up offices is insufficient and cannot cater for all their needs. He said the Government lacks sufficient funds for renovations before the swearing-in of governors and asked the counties should prepare their budget estimates first.


“The local authorities should have made budget estimates by now to help the county governments prepare their budgets which will be presented to the central government to be included in the national budget,” said Waiganjo. The budget, he noted, is an urgent matter and there is very little time left for the governors to speed up the budget making process. Waiganjo said accommodation for governors could not have been dealt with as an urgent issue of transition noting that the 2012/2013 budget had been read without its inclusion. He said the governor’s accommodation facilities were left for the county governments to determine upon assumption of office. “The Transition Authority allocated KSh2 million for the ceremony on assumption of office and KSh2 million for renovation of the offices,” he explained. Speaking during an open forum in Nyeri, Waiganjo said there is a significant revenue shortfall and asked the county governments to make choices on their priorities. He said that the national budget preparations were heading to their final stages noting that the budget estimates will be presented in April.


According to Nyeri Municipal Council clerk Shadrack Mulanga, towns lack a judicial framework to show what they want to achieve within a given time and asked the CIC to describe towns as corporate bodies. However, Waiganjo said the Constitution recognises the county governments and cannot create other governments below the county. “Let the counties determine how they will govern because they are drivers,” he said adding that the towns can negotiate with other bodies but only the counties can sign contracts, sue and be sued as corporate entities. The commissioner asked elected governors to act as symbols of county unity without much regard to areas that voted for them. Waiganjo assured workers employed by the local authorities that they will not lose their jobs until the Transitional Authority presents its report on rationalisation. He said the county public service boards will determine issues of employment adding that the counties will retain staff on their capacity, competence, gender and ethnic diversities.

Challenges in Counties

ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Women ask to be involved in empowerment projects By YUSUF AMIN Women leaders in Kilifi District have asked the Kilifi County Government to intervene and sponsor them to boost their businesses to eradicate poverty in their families. Expressing their views during a stakeholders meeting in Kilifi town, the women said poverty that is characterised with the area is caused by poor strategies in empowering women to expand their businesses.


They expressed their concerns and called on Kilifi county government to involve them in its affairs, especially when discussing ideas towards initiating projects meant that benefit women. Kilifi County Maendeleo ya Wanawake chairperson Esha Saidi noted that women in the region had been struggling to expand their businesses due to lack of enough capital. Saidi further noted that women have been soliciting for funds from financially institutions but the high interest rates have been discouraging them. Participants at a workshop where they urged Kilifi county government to boost them in “Financial institutions charge high their businesses to curb poverty. Picture: Yusuf Amin interest rates and that is why women have been failing to service their loans ences and help empower women in the commu- agement,” she said. leading many to defaulting,” noted Karisa promised to unite all women to regnity,” she noted. Saidi. Shaha urged the county government to en- ister their groups with the Ministry of Gender She urged Kilifi County Governor Amason Kingi to cooperate with them in initiating wom- hance education programmes that are meant to and Social Services so that they can acquire en projects noting that empowering a woman is teach women how they can manage their busi- loans to boost their businesses. Addressing women in Kilifi town, Karisa nesses well. empowering the whole County. Shaha promised to cooperate with business pointed out that Kilifi County Government will The chairperson further urged Kilifi County Government to create a specially kitty for wom- experts in the country and initiate exchange focus on development in the region especially programmes that will help women manage their in developing the available resources to create a en to help reduce poverty in the region. good environment for business. businesses. Meanwhile Kilifi County Women’s RepreAccording to Linet Shaha, a community de- sentative, Esha Karisa has promised women “The devolved government is dedicated to velopment expert in Kilifi town, women in the in the region that she will initiate community county have been in the frontline in conducting development projects focusing specifically on have everyone in the county empowered with business skills and enhance development in the women investments. different types of businesses. Karisa further noted that she will make sure community,” Karisa said. Shaha stated with concern that although She noted that leaders in the County will alwomen have been struggling in their business- women’s capacity is built on how they can save low investors to put up businesses so that Kilifi and expand their businesses. es, they are faced with a lot of challenges. “Women in the county have failed in their County may have various means of generating “The governor and the recently elected leaders should set aside their political party differ- businesses due to lack of knowledge on man- income.



Nyamira County will have to reduce dependence on national government By ARAKA MATARA The high dependence on the national government by Nyamira County to deliver services has been cited as one of the challenges that will confront it as the devolved government takes effect. The County has been categorised as the most dependent countrywide on financial assistance from the National Government at the rate of 82 per cent as per a report by the Commission on Revenue Allocation, entitled ‘Kenya County Facts Sheets’.


This is contrary to the residents’ expectations on the operations of the devolved governments which should rope in existing revenue sources including Local Authorities Trust Fund (LATF), single business permits, property taxes among others to take off. It is feared, within government audit circles that the counties in the country will inherit cumulative debts from their predecessors to the tune of KSh24 billion. According to the sources, matters will be

further complicated as the counties risk losing a total of KSh51 billion in debts. According to John Nyagarama, a gubernatorial contestant for Nyamira County, this can only be reversed through prudent management of the available resources.


He attributed the envisaged high rate of dependence on the national government by the county to poor resource management, runaway corruption and lack of investments among others. “Massive unemployment and outmoded entrepreneurial skills are also some of the contributors to the county’s unpredictable and inadequate revenue base,” said Nyagarama. He challenged the diaspora who remit millions of shillings annually for private development initiatives to invest in income generating ventures. “Development partners, donors, receipt of grants and subsidised credit facilities need to mobilised to alleviate the dependence,” he recommended. Tourism potential at Manga Ridge and the

rich cultural heritage will have to be fully tapped besides establishment of cottage industries for value addition in the agricultural sector for enhanced revenue, he added. The county is endowed with tea plantations, fruits including pineapples and passion as well as a vibrant dairy industry that is currently underexploited. Bee-keeping potential is readily available owing to the eucalyptus forest cover necessary for the provision of pollen for quality honey while brick making in the expansive Sironga wetland could be harnessed to create jobs in the building industry. Nyagarama noted that achieving food security was imperative if the dependence was to be effectively tackled.


Stringent measures to deal with corruption in revenue collection and green leaf hawking will be instituted to streamline the county’s service delivery. “Institutions to impart professional and vocational skills must be established to provide the much needed human resource,” he asserted.

ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Challenges in Counties

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth


Peaceful election to spur improved tourism in Kilifi County By ROBERT NYAGAH The peaceful General Election of March 4 has improved the image of the country globally. This could spur tourism and attract investors in the various sectors of the economy. According to Roberto Macri, Kilifi County Italian government advisor on Italians living abroad, the attractive atmosphere created by peaceful elections must be supported by urgency to improve other sectors of the economy including the road network and security in tourist zones. Macri said that the peaceful polls had greatly improved the image of Kenya in the international scene and this was bound to have positive effects in the tourism industry and economy. “By voting peacefully and avoiding the things that took place after 2007 elections, this time Kenyans have clearly shown the world that they have matured politically and greatly improved their democracy,” said Macri.


He said Kenya should reduce the high cost of making holidays in the various destinations to attract more tourists. “The high entry visa charges levied on foreigners, the airport exit fee charged at KSh3000 per person by travel firms and the ever increasing national and game park entry charges only helped to divert tourists to other destinations,” Macri said. Speaking to journalists at the Bar Italian Restaurant in Malindi, Macri said that although the economic crisis in Italy and the Euro zone continued to affect travel by Europeans, the future looked bright for Kenya as a tourist and investment destination. Countries contributing tourists to the Kilifi County, the Coast and Kenya in general had been waiting keenly to see the direction the general elections would take. Macri explained that with the positive image now gained by the country

from the international observers, the high tourist season whose marketing and booking programmes were being presently set would find a conducive Kenya ready to attract its share of international tourists.


“The peaceful elections remain a good example of political and democratic maturity, that is welcome to interested investors and tourists and it is clear the fruits of that goodness will be seen in the next high tourist season which starts in August,” he noted. He also reiterated the need to improve and expand the country’s holiday facilities to international level. Macri said some of the roads leading to various game parks and those linking tourism shuttles to hotels needed to be improved to ensure that tourists did not waste long hours before they could access resorts. He advised that the government should firmly deal with the complex issue of poaching especially in protected areas arguing that the fact that poachers had access to the national parks and reserves clearly indicated some level of insecurity for tourists visiting such places. “The frequent reports that there has been an increase in poaching in the parks show that there are poachers in the protected areas and that could eventually become a threat to tourists and their security,” he noted.


While admitting that no direct security threats has affected tourists on safari in the Coast parks in the recent past, Macri however insisted that it was better to deal with the issue of poachers and the insecurity they pose to wildlife once and for all. The continued reports on the killing of the elephants and Rhinos by poachers was forcing some prospective tourists to Kenya to choose neighbouring countries such as Tanzania where they felt safe and are assured of seeing the big five.

Poaching and the reports emanating from such criminal incidents especially in the international media portrayed Kenya negatively and as a country which could not take care of its rare and profit earning wildlife.


He said it was becoming rare to see animals such as the Rhino in Kenyan parks and that had affected the flow of tourists targeting such animals as the main attraction. “These days it is very rare to see animals such as the Rhino in our parks, but we hope that the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is working hard to eradicate poaching from the parks and the country once and for all,” Macri said. He said that the present goodwill emanating from the peaceful elections could be utilised positively through increased marketing of Kenya as a destination by the Kenya Tourist Board. However, he noted that the Kenya Tourist Board should also offer professional guidance to the Government and other stakeholders to put prices and charges at management levels to avoid over pricing in comparison with other tourist destinations of the world. “Holiday packages to Kenya’s destinations should be made attractive and affordable in a bid to encourage more

Malindi curio trader Mr. J Kenyatta sells items to a tourist. Various beach villas in Malindi which are on sale in the wake of reduced number of bookings-with the peaceful elections such villas are expected to start attracting occupancies. Pictures: Robert Nyagah tourists to choose Kenya as the favourable holiday resort,” said Macri. He added: “The park entry fees and visa charges to foreigners visiting Kenyan should be reduced as well.” Macri noted that Kilifi County was bound to benefit greatly from the Italian market especially because there are signs that the economy of Italy was slowly improving from some of the worst crisis in the recent past when the national coffers nearly went empty. He appreciated that the country was presently enjoying perhaps the

best situation to take off economically based on the good politics at the moment and the recent national development programs which projected the building of an international port in Lamu and the discovery of oil and gas in various parts of the country. The Italian government advisor said that the time for Kenya to abandon the worst and adopt the best had come especially with the devolved system of government which he hoped would create a more conducive environment for investment and commerce.

Deep rooted bias against those living with disability By DAVID NJAAGA Even with the enactment of the new constitution stipulating the balance in the inclusion of people with disability in diverse positions in government, this seems to have borne little results. People with disability continue to face bias and stereotypes emanating from deep rooted traditional and cultural beliefs which propagate the misguided notion that they are incompetent to hold public offices.


The notion that has been in existence since time in memorial has, however, elicited reactions from different organisations, one of them being the Association of People with Disability of Kenya (APDK). According to Helen Obande Executive Director Association of People with Disability of Kenya the country is yet to cater for effective representa-

tion of people with disability. Obade noted their inclusion is important as an integral part of citizenry of a great country. “Whereas we realise the importance of including persons with living disability in the structure of the devolved system, we also realise that persons with disabilities also have a role and responsibility to come out and take up their part with a view to promote their own welfare,” she said. Obande observed that time has come for the country to recognise and appreciate the inclusion of persons with living disability as this will aim at realising democracy and good governance in the country. She said with the realisation of the new Constitution, the government should strike a balance when it comes to governance issues and the disabled. However, Obande observed that the recent election saw a fair representation in government, citing the

“We want to see the life status of persons with living disability improved in terms of economic capacity.” — Helen Obande Executive Director APDK

county representation as the one that did not perform too well. “At least the recently concluded election has revealed to us that democracy and transparency can work perfectly,” she added. The need for equal representation, she said, is over-riding as it will give equal advocacy particularly to persons living with disability who account for about 60 per cent of those who are illiterate. “Only 40 per cent of persons with living disability go beyond primary school,” Obande noted.


She was speaking during a workshop in Nairobi that aimed at enhancing the participation of women with disabilities in the electoral and political process. She congratulated the disabled who made it to various senatorial and parliamentary positions urging them to wisely utilise the opportunity and

make sure the position of people with disability is improved. “We want to see the life status of persons with living disability improved in terms of economic capacity,” noted Obande. Terry Anyango, one of those who won the senatorial battle took time to thank the voters for critically analysing the situation on the ground promising to fulfil every pledge to the letter. “This is appearing as a dream to me but I pledge to empower persons with living disability both economically and education wise,” Anyango said. The Association of People with Disability of Kenya was established in 1958 with an aim of offering rehabilitation and habilitation services to persons with disabilities. The association works with the Ministry of Medical Services through a network of nine counties with a mission of offering quality rehabilitation services.


Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Challenges in Counties

ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Taveta has ignored the needs of persons living with disabilities By ROBBY NGOJHI He saunters along the streets of Wundanyi town in steady and perfect strides. Occasionally he stops to chat and crack jokes with friends and acquaintances just like any other man in the street would do. Unless you notice his white cane — a special walking stick — he holds, you will hardly know that Venant Mwabara is visually impaired. Tall, dark and notably confident, Mwabara wears a pair of shinny-framed dark spectacles to cover his eyes and those unfamiliar with his condition often mistake the dark glasses for shades. He is an eloquent, outspoken and jovial man with an unmistakable tinge in advocating for rights of persons living with disabilities. “Some persons living with disabilities tend to hate themselves and prefer staying away from other people in the society but I think that is not how it is supposed to be,” says Mwabara. He adds: “Personally I love myself very much because I came to realise that if you fail to love yourself first, then nobody else is going to love you.” According to him, anybody living with disability has to accept the condition he or she is facing first and, thereafter, find ways to deal with the situation. “Self denial is the worst thing a person living with disability should do because it will make life more stressful,” he says.


As Mwabara explains, he was not born with the disability but encountered it after he completed his primary school education in 1997. He was preparing to join Form One when he fell sick and was put on sulfur medication which he was apparently allergic to. His father Mzee Goodrick Mwabara says after his son was given the medicine (Fansidar), his skin gradually peeled off his body and in the process his vision was affected. “I was with him at Wesu District Hospital where he was admitted for three months and I watched him suffer and finally lose his vision,” recalls the senior Mwabara adding that it was by grace of God that the young man survived. For Mwabara, it was not an easy thing to get used to the situation since the hitch meant that he would have to learn how to live with visual impairment. “Initially I was being given hope that there was a possibility of me regaining my vision but after it was confirmed officially that I had lost my sight, I had a rough time trying to accept the situation,” he explains.

“Eventually I came to realise that there was no otherwise but to accept it. I had to look for a special school to start learning from square one,” Mwabara explains. Since he had already learnt the basic education in primary school, he enrolled for Braille classes at Likoni School for the Blind in Mombasa before he went to Thika Salvation Army School for the Blind for four years. Despite going through the virtually insurmountable challenges, today Mwabara is a bona fide primary school teacher at St James Primary School in Mghange Location, where he teaches regular lessons in upper classes. As he narrates, joining the profession was not business as usual given that “facilities to cater for persons with disabilities were not there and are still not easily accessible owing to their scarcity”. “I went to Machakos Teachers’ Training College where I was forced to look for braille and an audio recorder to help me do my studies. I used to record the lectures and later use my braille to do my assignments. It was tough and were it not for some of my good friends who assisted me in different ways I do not know where I would be today,” he reminisces. It is the challenges Mwabara faced in the process of striving to achieve his career that make him feel that persons living with disabilities have been neglected for many years.


“Persons living with disabilities in the country have continued to encounter violation of their rights in spite of the fact that their rights are protected under the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” says Mwabara, adding “it is the wearer of a shoe who knows best where the shoe pinches”. Mwabara observes that apart from being discriminated by the society, most persons living with disabilities in the region have seen their rights denied because the local environment does not favour them to access quality education, information and public transport among other fundamental rights. “Why I say that the rights of persons living with disabilities have been violated especially in this County it is because in the first place there are no special institutions to cater for them,” Mwabara points out. He says: “We only have some few special units within regular schools. It is, therefore, difficult for persons living with disabilities to get education because the nearest institutions to cater for them are in Mombasa which is miles away.” As a consequence, Mwabara notes those with disabilities are likely to continue wallowing in

poverty in that without quality education they cannot compete in the job market. Article 54 of the Constitution section (b) stipulates that: “A person with any disability is entitled ‘To access educational institution and facilities for persons living with disabilities that are integrated into the society to the extent compatible with the interests of the person.” Section (c) of the same says persons living with disabilities are also entitled to reasonable access to all places, public transport and information. On the other hand Article 43 captures the economic and socials rights.


However, Mwabara expresses concern that it might be difficult for the government to achieve the above in the County because “no proper strategies have been put in place to ensure that the article is implemented to the letter”. “We are very much concerned because at the moment, the Government has never updated their statistics on the population of persons living with disabilities in the County. I wonder what plans they have in store for us because there is a lot of discrimination for persons living Venant Mwabara who is visually with disabilities in the society,” he says. impaired says Taita Taveta County does not Mwabara notes that physically challenged have facilities that cater for the interest of persons find it hard to access most buildings people living with disability. around because they are unfriendly to them. Picture: Robby Ngojhi “For example, a person using a wheelchair KSh70,000 depending on the quality. will encounter problems if they want to access Further, Aghan explains, the blind cannot the local library. The same applies to toilets and walk without the cane whereby the cheapest is other public facilities. This is an injustice to us,” he around KSh3,000. In addition, they also need says. special software to enable them access computer Daniel Aghan, a disability expert in Nairobi, services with ease. describes the life of a visually impaired person as “These software like jaws, mercury and thun“extremely expensive”. der cost between KSh20,000 to KSh40,000. In Having worked with Handicap International, short persons living with disabilities require a lot an international organisation working in situaof money to survive yet not all can afford this,” tions of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disassays Aghan. ter alongside persons living with disabilities and However, he notes that persons living with disother vulnerable groups, Aghan is well versed abilities should not be viewed as special because with the financial constraints which most disabled they are just like any other ordinary people and people undergo. if their needs are properly budgeted for, they are “For example if we consider those with visual likely to lead desirable lives. impairment they have a range of requirements to “If their data is captured well up to the grassassist them in life,” says Aghan. roots in an all inclusive style, and analysed propHe adds: “They also need guides to assist them erly, it will make budgeting for their needs even wherever they go and standard rates for such simpler,” Aghan expounds. guides are usually KSh2,000 per day plus all other He adds: “With proper and up to date staexpenses like accommodation, transport and tistics, it will be easier to empower them both meals.” socially and economically by setting up income He notes that they also require facilities such generating enterprises for them.” as braille which costs between KSh50,000 and

Devolution may give children a fighting chance

Continued from page 1 and with time, experiences of childhood for millions of children growing up in congested shanties may begin to improve. Although children in urban areas are perceived to be more likely to survive infancy and live beyond their fifth birthday since they enjoy better nutrition, health and education compared to their rural counterparts, statistics are proving that this is not always the case. For children growing in urban slums, life is difficult and is interwoven with tremendous risks ranging from communicable diseases to danger posed by child predators who lurk in the highly congested informal settlements. “In Kenya, the average death for children living in slums is staggering at 151 per 1,000 live births. The leading causes are preventable and include pneumonia and diarrhoea,” explains Dr Ken Onyango, a paedia-

trician in Nairobi. What is largely referred to as the ‘urban advantage’ no longer extends to children living in slums. “Urban advantage basically means that circumstances in urban slums are much different from those in rural areas. For instance, urban areas have better and more equipped hospitals, schools and living standards are generally better,” explains Anastasia Muthee, a social worker in one of the city slums. She adds: “This means that a child raised in an urban setting has more advantages than one raised in the rural areas but the truth is that a child in rural areas is much safer than one in urban slums.” Statistics show that in Korogocho slums for example, an estimated 200,000 people live in crowded conditions, a combination of extreme poverty and an absence of basic services characterising the circumstances under

which children in the slums are raised. “As experiences of childhood become increasingly urban, so are the experiences of extreme deprivation and a continuous fight for survival for children living in urban slums,” says Onyango who often volunteers his services to slum areas.

Comparative study

He notes that urban life is harsh for slum children but this is not a problem unique to Kenya; urban population is growing fast in Africa followed by Asia. As an increasing number of African children continue to grow up in urban areas, so has the number of children living in urban slums in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. This is according to UNICEF’s report dubbed Status of the World’s Children 2012 which documents the wellbeing of children in an urban world,

this ‘urban advantage’ does not extend to children living in slums. In Kenya, for instance, the report says “around two thirds of Nairobi residents live in crowded informal settlement”. The report by UNICEF supports this claim, in many African countries such as Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania and notes that children in slums are least likely to attend school. Although many African countries have drastically reduced deaths of children under five years, the rate is higher in slum areas even in a country such as Nigeria whose capital, Lagos, is among the 21 world’s mega cities and one of the only two African cities. UNICEF reports have shown that women in urban slums are more likely to wean their children earlier than their rural counterparts exposing their children to health risks and possibili-

ties of death before their fifth birthday. Although the UN-Habitant, keen on human settlements recommends that not more than three people ought to be sharing a room, in slum areas, the small shanties are often overcrowded creating the perfect environment for deadly contagious diseases. Nonetheless, there are African countries that are making tremendous efforts to make urban life friendly for children. Morocco, in North Africa, is working on a programme dubbed ‘Cities Without Slums’ in hopes of creating homes that are children friendly. Progressively, Kenya will join its counterpart in North Africa as the county governments begin to respond to the needs of their constituents, making it attractive for people to remain in rural areas, where they can raise their children in more spacious, clean and safe environments.

ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013


Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Kenya ranks high among countries most affected by TB By DAVID NJAAGA The Ministry of Public Heath requires KSh1 billion in the next two years to impede the level of tuberculosis (TB) prevalence. At the moment, Kenya has been ranked among the top 13 in the 22 countries burdened with TB globally.


According to Mark Bore, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Health, plans are underway to ensure that local laboratories were able to identify TB and drug resistant types of TB in the shortest time possible. Bore lamented that there were only three public laboratories in the country that were able to diagnose TB and appealed to the Government to invest more in the heath sector. “We need to urgently combine

efforts to rapidly expand the existing laboratory infrastructure to cope with the new demands while simultaneously making progress against the most serious existing cases through mobilisation of funding from local and international partners,” said Bore. The ministry plans to install 440 Gen-expert machines countrywide by 2016 so as to effectively increase the number of TB cases that will be diagnosed. Bore expressed fears over a new challenge involved in the development of Multi Drug Resistant TB where the number of cases reported with this rose from 58 cases in 2003 to 144 cases, in 2011. Bore said the prevention of multidrug resistant (MDR) TB is paramount because of the costs involved in treating it. So far, the Kenyan Government

is in the process of creating a facility at Kenyatta National Hospital where cases with MDR TB will be isolated from other cases. Availability Upon its completion all patients will be able to access it owing to available space and distance to the facility. Bore said: “Additional resources are required to make tools available for the care and treatment of those affected and infected.”


Indeed, as Kenya commemorated the Tuberculosis (TB) Day on March24, emphasis was made on the need to broaden the scope within which the Government operates in its management and effective control measures to impede the disease. “Kenya has made laudable steps in preventing the prevalence of TB in the

country, nevertheless there is much that needs to be done to ensure that every Kenyan has access to impartial TB health care,” said Dr Custodia Mandihate, World Health Organisation representative to Kenya. Comparison Mandihate noted that the problem in TB management is not only experienced in Kenya but in the African continent where it accounted for over 26 per cent of notified cases globally in 2011. She noted that in 2011 alone, over half a million people in the African region, only 62 per cent of the existing cases, were detected with the situation further worsened by the threat of drug resistant TB treatment and multi-drug resistant TB which again continues to complicate treatment of the disease. Many countries have continued to support Kenya in the fight against TB

with Japan playing a major role in financial support. “This devastating disease strikes people during their most productive years and that is why the Government of Japan will always play a role in the fight against the disease,” said Toshihisa Takata, Ambassador of Japan to Kenya.


He recalled that before the Second World War in 1945, TB was a national disease in Japan, and was the main cause of death. Since then, a lot of efforts have been put in place to curtail the disease. “However, we still have more than 20,000 new patients each year and lose 3,000 lives from this disease,” said Takata. He attributed the decline to better nutrition, preventive measures and treatment.

Walking the thin line between reality and morality

… as commercial promoting condom use is withdrawn By JOYCE CHIMBI Recently, a television advertisement dubbed ‘Weka Condom Mpangoni’, Swahili for ‘Make Condom Part of the Plan’ has raised controversy and hullabaloo as thousands of Kenyans took to the social media demanding that it be pulled down. The advertisemnt, which featured a married woman who also has a boyfriend being encouraged by a friend to use condoms has not gone down well with many. This is in spite of the fact that it has emerged that the bulk of new HIV infections is being recorded among those in marriages and or steady relationships. Statistics by National Aids and STI Control Programme (NASCOP) show that 44 per cent of new HIV infections are among those in long term relationships. “I believe that we should do all we can to fight the scourge that has claimed the lives of many Kenyans since the first case was discovered in Kenya in 1984 but we must be careful not to cross the moral line,” says Nderitu Kimani, a HIV activist. He adds: “While the intentions were good, the advertisement was taken too far.” Many claimed that the advertisement crossed the moral threshold rather than create awareness around HIV and Aids transmission. It was said that the advert was in real sense encouraging reckless behaviour.

New developments

Sponsored by Ministry of Public Health, USAID and UKAID, the advertisement could not withstand the heat and had to be withdrawn. However, after what seems like in house deliberations, the controversial advertisement might make a comeback but only after the concerns raised by the public and religious leaders have been put into consideration. According to stakeholders behind the controversial advertisement, there

are 100,000 new HIV infections every year and the rationale was to fight these figures by reaching out to a constituent at risk; those in marriages but who have extramarital affairs. It is important to note that the HIV scourge has not spared anyone. The young and old, single and married as well as religious leaders in all groups including Christians, Muslims and Hindu. Management and treatment of those who are infected with the viHIV and Aids activists who are infected or affected with the scourge against the suspension of Round 11 of rus has relied heavily on donor Global Funding for Aids, TB and Malaria to Kenya. The epidemic has taken a toll on families and has relied funding and new infections put a stress on already stretched reheavily on foreign aid in its management. Picture: Joyce Chimbi sources. and Aids, those against the commerTreatment for HIV and Aids has carry on with several sexual partners,” Nonetheless, indications are that there could be adjustments to cial are simply burying their heads in also been costly and the world is now Kimani emphasises. The ABCs of HIV infection prefocused on zero infections and zero make the controversial commercial the sand. vention are A=Abstain, B=Be faith“At least one million people die deaths. more palatable. from Aids every year in Sub-Saharan The 17th International Conference ful and C= use a Condom Abstain. Africa alone. Where are these people on AIDS and STI’s in Africa (ICASA Kimani says that the idea of using a Prof Alloy Orago, Director Na- getting the moral ground to stand on? 2013), Africa’s largest AIDS Conference, condom does not negate faithfulness tional Aids Control Council (NACC), Listen to our FM stations and you will be held at the Cape Town Interna- within relationships. while speaking on the rationale be- will realise that in as far as morals are tional Convention Centre (CTICC), hind the commercial, explained that concerned, this country went to the South Africa, from December 7 – 11 “Certain circumstances demand “the idea was to respond to the reality dogs a long time ago,” says Millicent 2013under the theme Now More Than Mesha, a member of the Bunge la Wa- Ever: Targeting Zero. This theme was that one uses a condom, for instance, of the times we are living in”. arrived at after an extended delibera- when in a new sexual relationship and He said that the term ‘Mpango wa nanchi lobby group. tion among the representatives of the involved parties are unaware of each Kando’, Swahili for an ‘a clandestine respective stakeholders at the first Inter- other’s HIV status,” he explains. relationship’ is an all familiar concept He lays emphasis on the fact that Mesha adds that while indeed the national Steering Committee meeting. to many Kenyans. “People are extremely afraid of advert does not seem to discourage It is derived from the UNAIDS vision Kenyans have come a long way since HIV but they make choices which do infidelity, it actually “suggests that one of striving for “Zero new HIV and TB 1984 and all measures should be taken not reflect an understanding of the can protect themselves from HIV in- infections. Zero discrimination. Zero to keep the fight against HIV moving devastating effect that it has had on fection while sleeping with more than AIDS-related and TB deaths”. This forward “but not at all cost”. In those days, since the virus ate mankind. In Africa especially, which one person. It is speaking to the real is- means that all necessary action must be continues to bear the highest burden sues that have made it difficult for this taken to ensure that infections are re- into their immune systems causing of the disease, risky sexual behaviour country to win the fight against HIV duced to zero and that there are no new their bodies to waste away, people called the disease ‘slim’ and no one ones coming up. remains rampant,” explains Ann Kari- and Aids”. Indeed the fight against HIV and In the early years when HIV and would touch a cup used by a person uki, a counsellor at a HIV and Aids Voluntary and Testing Centre (VCT). Aids has been long and winding. Sta- Aids was initially discovered, survivors suspected to have been infected, let Nonetheless, many felt that their tistics by UNAIDS, the Joint United were considered to be extremely pro- alone drink from. People would go to previous advert, ‘Wachana na Mpan- Nations Programme on HIV and Aids miscuous, isolated and when they died great lengths to avoid any form of body contact with the infected. go wa Kando’ (Put an end to clandes- prevention and cure shows that an they were buried in a polythene bag. Nonetheless, over the years Ke“This advertisement is taking us tine relationships) was much more estimated 22.5 million people are living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. back to those years when HIV was as- nyans have become more knowleffective. Still, there are also many who feel Slightly over half of them are women. sociated solely with promiscuity. The edgeable of HIV and Aids. Mesha that in a country where an estimated Children have not been spared, they ABCs) of HIV prevention encourage notes: “Stakeholders must build on 1.4 million people are living with HIV account for 2.3 million of these figure. use of condoms, but not so that I can these gains.”





ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Ignorance leaves village succumbing to Aids By VALENTINE ATIENO Mary Anyango Otieno who is 26 years old and a mother of six is no stranger to wife inheritance. According to her any widow who is not inherited is an outcast to the community. Anyango has been inherited three times now and in spite of her being HIV positive and openly saying it, she is pregnant with her seventh child. In her own words, she will not object a fourth inheritance should her current husband succumb to Aids. “I am from a background where wife inheritance was something we were used to. My dad was a ‘jater’ (wife inheritor), so when I was married and  my husband picked the habit, I considered that as normal,” says Anyango. In Oboke village, Migori County, where Anyango lives many men have died from Aids related complications and left behind very young widows, a matter that perpetuates wife inheritance. The tradition of wife inheritance is still rampant because people consider it as African and also by extension a culture and custom among Luo that must

be followed the way it was with the forefathers. It is also followed by other Kenyan communities such Luhya, Kisii, Kalenjin and Kamba among others. Anyango is the second wife to her current husband after being inherited; several widows have been inherited after her. However, Anyango says, she cannot insist on protective sex in spite of the dangers facing her. “I cannot insist on protection because it is against the Luo customs as it shutters down the continuity of the dead’s family,” observes Anyango.


The number of widows in the region is overwhelming, out of every five women you come across, three are widows and have been inherited. People believe in Oboke Village, that if you refuse to be inherited you will be cursed, so it is a normal habit which we cannot stay without. UNICEF has also tried to educate residents on the dangers of   wife inheritance and how it spreads HIV.The organisation has even gone a step further by paying guardians of orphaned children a sum of KSh4,000 after every three months for upkeep.

Women have in turn formed ways of seeking inheritance by telling men that they had dreams from the dead that they should be inherited by a particular person. Awareness has been carried out to help stop the wife inheritance habit and some have heeded the call while others are so engraved in it and cannot stop. According to Ojanga Kawaka, 54, an elder in Oboke Village, the culture of wife inheritance is one of the practices that have survived the test of time despite upcoming modern issues that have seriously changed how the community relates. “We have been discouraging them on the practice and no one seems to understand its impact in this era of HIV and AIDS. We meet often in funerals, barazas and churches to go for HIV testing before they inherit because it seems some of them are genetically tied to the call,” says Kawaka. According to Madoh Onyango, Nyanza coordinator of the movement for Men against Aids they have worked tirelessly with the Luo Council of Elders to create awareness on why the old age custom should be completely eradicated.

“We are going to work together with the area administration to ensure that the people in Nyakuru, Migori County go for HIV tests before embarking on wife inheritance,” says Onyango. He says that wife inheritance in the region has clicked 97 per cent and if nothing is done, the people are going to die of ignorance and an age-old culture.


He notes that the major cause of wife inheritance is poverty and illiteracy. According to Onyango, had there been income generating activities to occupy the minds of the widows, they would not even think of being inherited. Illiteracy comes in as most of the widows do not know the grave effects of the practice, they consider it normal and only a rigorous educative programme on the same can clump down the practice. "We are also going to try as much as we can to discourage the practice and ensure that all the men known by the community as ‘professional inheritors’ are recruited to the movement,’’ reiterates Onyango.

Due to the practice there are rampant deaths in the area and this is brought about by the AIDS scourge and as a result in every home there are orphans and even children headed families. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an organization working to ensure that the welfare of the children is taken care of came in and is taking care of some orphans around the village. The United Nations Women is also committed to actions to attack poverty and powerlessness among women and in the case of the wife inheritance, the organisation will ensure that the women empowered with economic opportunities. According to Zipporah Musau, UN Women Communication Officer, they are going to launch innovative mass media campaign against wife inheritance in the area. “This has proved to be a disaster to our people and we must, therefore, look for a way of curbing the situation by preaching on the effect of wife inheritance and even empowering the widows economically and educationally,” notes Musau.

Tegla Loroupe takes peace mission from Pokot to Tana River By ROBERT NYAGAH The first steps in the final journey to peace and reconciliation in the conflict torn Tana Delta District were recently taken when more than 350 people from the rival communities participated in a peace race courtesy of the Tegla Loroupe Foundation. Garsen town, in Tana Delta River County, burst into colour, joy and song when retired world marathon champion Tegla Loroupe led hundreds of men, women and children in a five kilometre peace race sponsored by Safaricom. Hundreds of people crowded the Mininjira-Garsen road on their way to Garsen Primary School where the race ended. Racing under the Tegla Loroupe Tana River Delta Peace Race-Tana Delta People for Peace, the participants celebrated the end of the event with song, dance and reconciliation discussions. In a brief address, Loroupe asked the residents of the County, to take the race as the first step towards the use of sports as a means to bring reconciliation and peace in the region.


Statistics show that at least 120 people lost their lives when the Pokomo and Orma communities clashed over grazing grounds late last year. Majority of those who died were women and children. Sports, Loroupe said remained a good means to bring people from different communities and background together. She called on the business community and the people of Tana Delta to identify a source of funds and gifts to undertake annual peace races in the region aimed at unifying communi-

ties in the region. Speaking at the end of the race, Loroupe praised the provincial administration in the region for launching successful campaigns to bring peace back to the region.


She thanked the provincial administration for working with various organisations including the Red Cross and the Ministry of Special Programmes to promote peace and reconciliation. Loroupe further thanked them for providing relief food to the communities affected by the violence and those displaced from their homes. “You must work with the police if you want the region to resume peace and ensure that violence against one another ends once and for all. You must value peace so as to promote it and live with harmony with one another,” Loroupe noted. The government, she insisted, should hasten campaigns to start rebuilding homes for the displaced families just like it has done in other parts of Kenya. She asked the Government to spare some of the resources used to beef up security to assist victims rebuild their homes.

Various participants in the Tegla Loroupe Tana River Delta Peace Race at the finishing line of the 5 kilometre race. Below: Fatuma Alggi an IDP from Chara area in Tana Delta District awaits for relief food at Mtangani centre in Malindi. Pictures: Robert Nyagah Meanwhile, the former marathon champion petitioned the youth from Pokomo and Orma communities to promote peaceful coexistence between them. “Those who participated in violence should seek for forgiveness from God and from those they attacked, that way peace and reconciliation will be achieved,” observed Loroupe. The peace ambassador, who has been noted for bringing peace and

“Those who participated in violence should seek for forgiveness from God and from those they attacked, that way peace and reconciliation will be achieved.” — Tegla Loroupe

reconciliation to West Pokot through sports and disarmament programmes, thanked Safaricom for agreeing to shift this year’s peace marathon to the Tana Delta. Loroupe condemned the killing of police in Baragoi late last year and urged all Kenyans to respect the security forces. “How can some Kenyans continue to kill the police and treat them as if they are our enemies yet they are our brothers and sisters hired to protect us and our property?” she posed.


Reformed warrior Robert Matanda warned Kenyans that taking illegal to weapons would only cause more deaths as well as displacement and should be shunned. “The Government is determined to protect Kenyans. No matter how many police officers were killed while on duty, the Gov-

ernment will never get tired of posting more officers to violence torn parts of the country,” Matanda said. The self-confessed bandit asked the youth to shun violence and participate in development and education programmes warning that violence bred more violence, and brought suffering and death.

ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth


An indelible mark left in the tooth of Kitui County residents By ANDREW ELIJAH The approximate cost for extracting a decayed tooth in a private clinic is KSh4000. Removing dental caries and filling the cavity is above this figure while acquiring a set of dentures after losing a set of teeth remains a pain in the neck even to the affluent. That can be understood, considering the high cost of acquiring and servicing dental equipment. This has left access of dental care to a few individuals who can afford the high charges leaving the poor with no option but resort to crude methods to solve their dental problems. Such challenges can be worse off to residents of a dry region, affected by seasonal drought and famine leaving many families heavily dependent on food aid. In situations like this, one will juggle the choices between spending KSh4000 for the extraction of a troublesome tooth and buying a sack of cereals to run a family for months. Most will rest with the second choice and opt to pour sulphuric acid on the decaying tooth to ease the throbbing pain, or constantly abuse depressants to overcome the pain for indefinite periods.


However, at the Mutomo Mission Hospital, an institution highly rated by the Ministry of Health for its medical proficiency, one can have a tooth extracted for as little as KSh200, polish and fill a decayed tooth at KSh150 and acquire a whole set of dentures for less than KSh5000. Professional experienced Swedish dentists are working here using state of the art equipment and tools to the satisfaction of the clients do the procedures. Providing affordable health care to residents of a dry and arid region, Mutomo Mission Hospital receives approximately 100 patients a day. The hospital’s dental clinic is in a class of its own, offering dental care at unbelievably reduced costs to adults while children are treated for free. This has changed the image of the hospital that is now attracting many people from counties within and outside Eastern Province. Initiated and sponsored by the Swedish Rotary doctors, the clinic is furnished with up-to-date equipment and receives a different experienced Swedish dentist every six weeks under the Swedish rotary doctor bank programme. Working on voluntary basis, close to 20 Swed-

ish dentists visit the clinic annually helping keep alive the dream their fellow Swede Lars Braw had in founding the charitable body in the early 1990s. Drewn by hope, Braw, a Swedish journalist founded the Rotary Doctors Sweden to help underprivileged people from poor villages, regions and nations in Africa lead better lives. Together with a colleague, Braw had come to do a documentary and publish stories on famine and diseases in the region; alongside sharing the optimism that motivated the people of East Africa to keep living despite the numerous challenges they faced.


Taken by emotions, Braw knew that if he could Helena Kaell, the current volunteer dentist at the Mutomo Dental Clinic attends to a find willing doctors, nurses and dentists back patient as Sister Mary Okumu, the clinic’s home, he could assist the people in overcoming administrator and Rose Musango, an some longstanding tribulations in medical care assistant look on. Below: Rotary Volunteer and supply of clean drinking water. “With that, people will improve their liveli- dentist Sten Kvarfordh demonstrates how hoods, increase life expectancy and reduce soar- best to brush teeth for proper dental care. Pictures: Andrew Elijah ing child mortality rates in East Africa,” Braw said. Kenya, like the rest of sub-Saharan countries Today, over a million students in thousands of was no exception and the charitable organisation set up a camp in Nairobi in the form of a subsi- schools from Kitui County have benefited from dised dental clinic. They also supported other wor- the free dental care with over half a million people thy causes for realisation of the founder’s mission having received treatment at the clinic. “I was able to purchase partial quality dentures and goals. The Mutomo Mission Dental Clinic was born after losing three of my teeth from this clinic at out of this dream. It was started in 1997 after the only KSh1000,” notes Isaiah Maithya, a 68-year old Rotary doctors moved their sponsored clinic from beneficiary. However, Rose Musango, the assistant in the Nairobi. After running the clinic in the capital for five dental unit since its inception is quick to confirm years, the Rotarians decided to take their services that more are still coming for they have found a to people who needed them most away from the safe haven to have their dental issues sorted admitcity dwellers who preferred service from private ting that every day they receive over 20 clients. clinics. Others had remained apathetic and ignorant of the clinic’s operations, bothering less to visit Extractions are commonest with close to 1,000 for any consultation. By the end of the year, the clinic had visited patients visiting the clinic with toothaches monthover 100 primary and secondary schools; with the ly. Filling, scaling and polishing of weakening teeth weekly round-the-schools dental trips, dentists is also common while a few come for dentures. “We encourage most children with dental examined students’ teeth and donated dozens of problems to have their teeth checked regularly tooth care gear. Those whose teeth were completely destroyed for polishing and filling to avoid losing teeth at an by cavities were booked to have them extracted early age,” Musango explains. The Rotary Doctors Sweden spends over back at the clinic. “I have had several of my teeth examined and KSh1,000,000 annually on supporting dental visits cleaned of dental carries, I shall remain grateful to for children, basic dental materials and equipment the donors,” says 13-year old Sammy Wambua, a like brushes and pastes donated to students. In excess of KSh1,000,000 is also spent on travclass seven pupil from Syunguni Primary School el and upkeep costs for volunteer dentists who stay in Mutomo District.


in the country. The purchase of tools or hardware is done back in Sweden where special fund drives are done for the purchase of hardware to all dental clinics in Africa under the umbrella of the Rotary Doctors Sweden. Sixty-year old Helena Kaell, the current volunteer in the clinic and with a 30 year practicing period as a dentist says she shelved her managerial duties in two firms where she worked back home to travel to Kenya and be of help to the people. “It is a great feeling seeing people walk out of the dental room satisfied with our services,” she says. However she maintains that people need more awareness on proper dental care to avoid the frequent visits to dental clinics for extraction. According to Karin Håkansson, coordinator Rotary Doctors Sweden, the Mutomo Dental Clinic is one of the best run clinics in Africa and they see nothing short other than continued support for the unit.

Kenyans get to deal with hearing disability By LARRY KIMORI More than 360 million people have disabling hearing loss, according to new global estimates released by World Health Organisation (WHO) for International Ear Care Day marked on March 3 annually. According to the Rift Valley Province Regional Audiologist Dickson Oyieko, disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40 decibels (volume intensity) in the better hearing ear in adults and loss greater than 30 decibels in the better hearing ear in children. Oyieko notes that hearing loss can be congenital; for example inherited, following maternal infections from maternal rubella, or following complications during labour known as birth asphyxia. “Other causes include ageing, certain infectious diseases such as meningitis, chronic ear infections, use of ototoxic drugs, and exposure to excessive noise,” he states. According to WHO statistics, prevalence of disabling hearing loss is highest in South Asia, Asia Pacific,

and sub-Saharan Africa. Oyieko observes that people with hearing loss often experience social isolation, stigma, and discrimination, have poor access to health services, and have higher rates of mental health problems. “On the other hand, their physical health may also be poorer than that of hearing individuals,” he explains.


Oyieko notes that half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through primary prevention such as childhood vaccination programmes and improved antenatal and prenatal care. “Beyond prevention, people with hearing loss can benefit from devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants and access to sign language, and educational and social support,” he says. Oyieko observes that health professionals must understand the needs of those with hearing loss and help tailor health facilities for this community. He says lack of adaptation to hearing loss in society is often what

disables an individual rather than their condition. “As the population ages globally, more and more people will lose some of their ability to hear,” Oyieko notes. He adds: “One in three people older than 65 years, approximately 165 million people worldwide, already live with hearing loss.” He says that scaling up prevention and care services will be essential to reduce the burden of hearing loss, and improve the lives of those living with the condition. “Hearing loss can be devastating for an individual but it does not have to be disabling,” says Oyieko. Over 4,000 deaf school going children in Kenya benefited from free hearing aids donations last year in a bid to boost teacher pupil interactivity in class. An audiologist consultant based at Kenyatta National Hospital Serah Ndegwa said that over 7,000 deaf school going children need hearing aids to help them boost their performance in school. Ndegwa said that Operation Ear Drop Kenya in conjunction with Star-

key Hearing Foundation based in the US who pitched camp at Ngala Special School for the Deaf estimated the cost of the hearing aids at over KSh30 million. Ndegwa who is also a lecturer at the University of Nairobi volunteers at the Operation Ear Drop Kenya. She said that they visit schools well in advance to screen the children, make ear impressions that help in making hearing moulds before they procure the hearing aids. The pupils who benefit from the hearing aids are given a free one-year supply of batteries. Ndegwa said that they continue following up on the beneficiaries in collaboration with the teachers to ensure the pupils use the hearing aids correctly.


Due to limited funding, Ear Drop Operation Kenya has not been able to reach most parts of the country to help children with hearing aids. William Austin, the Founder and Director of Starkey Hearing Foundation, said that they produce over

130,000 hearing aids annually to assist children with the hearing impairment to communicate. “Hearing creates peace and understanding among people in order to hear and respond with an aim to make a better world for those children born with hearing impairment,” Austin noted. According to Frederic Rondeau, a director at the foundation they have been coming to Kenya for the last six years to offer free hearing aids in partnership with the University of Nairobi’s Audiology Department and Kenyatta National Hospital. Rondeau decried the high costs of hearing aids making it impossible for ordinary Kenyans to access them. Kedowa School for the Deaf head teacher Stephen Ng’etich lauded the Constitution for recognising sign language as the third official national language for those with hearing handicaps to become self-reliant and productive citizens. Ng’etich challenged the Government to build a national university for the deaf in the country in its quest of achieving Vision 2030.


ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Cooperative societies benefit from coffee grants

Ken Gen sets aside money for water projects in Mbeere By KARIUKI MWANGI

By BEN OROKO Following increasing operational costs’ and inadequate capacity to handle and process coffee produce during bumper harvest, five primary producer coffee co-operative societies stand to benefit. The co-operatives from both Kisii and Nyamira counties have benefitted from the Ministry of Agriculture’s KSh3,250,000 grant as part of the efforts to reduce their operational expenses and maximise farmers’ earnings. The Chief Executive Officer of the Gusii Coffee Co-operative Union (GCFCU), Robert Mainya disclosed that the co-operative societies won the grant, following a letter from the union management to the Ministry of Co-operative Development and Marketing, requesting for funding assistance to the said co-operative institutions.


This is to enable them handle coffee that would have gone to waste due to inadequate handling and processing capacity. The letter dated November 21, 2012 read in part: “We urgently apply on behalf of coffee societies for funding to enable them handle coffee that will go to waste, if not urgently ad-

A farmer drying her coffee beans at a co-operative society in Kisii County. Picture: Ben Oroko dressed. All societies are affected because they have received so much coffee that they are unable to handle, because they have in-sufficient processing materials like Nylex, Sisal Tex and drying beds.”


However, Mainya disclosed that societies affiliated to the Union which benefitted from the grant include Nyaigwa, Nyaguta, Nyamarambe, Nyaturubo and Nyabomite farmers’ co-operative society with each of them receiving KSh650,000. The Union management’s move was prompted by the need to have efficient coffee handling and processing at co-operative societies’ level leading to poor prices in the market which also translates to poor payments to farmers. Mainya challenged the co-operative officials from the societies which benefitted from the grant to ensure the funds have been put into prudent use to enhance efficient coffee handling and processing at co-operative society levels. “I am reminding co-operative society of-

ficials from co-operatives which benefitted from the Ministry of Agriculture’s grant to ensure the funds have been put into the intended use to enhance quality as well as efficient handling and processing of farmers’ coffee produce at society levels,” stated Mainya. However, he warned co-operative societies’ leaders against going for advance loans from commercial coffee millers and banking institutions to pay farmers while their coffee produce was still in the market. He noted that such a move overburdened farmers with debts accruing from high interest rates from the advance loans.


“I am advising co-operative officials to resist pressure from their farmers to take advance loans which attract high interest rates from commercial coffee millers and banks to pay them while their coffee was still in the market,” stated Mainya. He added: “Such an action would lead to poor coffee payments to farmers as much of the coffee sales goes to servicing of the advance loans taken by the officials to pay farmers in advance as their coffee was still awaiting marketing.”

Nacada opens central regional office in Nyeri By JOSEPH MUKUBWA The war against drug and alcohol abuse in central Kenya will be intensified with a Government officer deployed to the region. The officer attached to National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada) will man the office which was recently opened in Nyeri town to serve five counties in the region. The counties are Kiambu, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Murang’a and Kirinyaga. According to William Okedi, Nacada chief executive officer other regional offices had been set up in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa and were aimed at enhancing public services across the coun-

try. “They will also be collaborating and facilitating the campaign against alcohol and drug abuse,” said Okedi. He noted that they had picked on Nyeri because the Central Kenya region had been adversely affected by alcohol and substance abuse, especially the youth. The production and consumption of alcohol and other drugs is notably high as demonstrated in various surveys and research studies conducted in the region. The recent report stated that prevalence of alcohol consumption among those aged between 15 to 65 was 10 per cent in the region. His sentiment were echoed by Kiplimo Rugut, Central Provin-

cial Commissioner who lamented that the magnitude of alcohol abuse in Central Kenya was a major problem due to high levels of consumption, ease of availability, affordability and accessibility.


“Two thirds of the community members report high or very high usage of alcohol in their areas vindicating the public concern,” Rugut noted. He challenged the new regional office to increase community education on the use of alcohol and its effects, enhance enforcement of the legal provision on alcohol and drugs and pro-actively engage the community leaders in spearheading the campaign

against alcohol and drugs abuse in the region. “I encourage individuals, firms, institutions, civil society, nongovernmental organisations, faithbased institutions and youth groups to make use of the regional office to coordinate the implementation of programmes to prevent, control and mitigate alcohol and drugs abuse,” Rugut appealed. He lamented that the high consumption of illicit brews in the region had adversely affected education and economic growth. He said Nacada has initiated a programme to team up with civil society groups and leaders to manage a sustainable civic education campaign on the control of alcohol and drug abuse.

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (Ken Gen) has set aside KSh65 million for two water projects in Mbeere District, which will provide water for Kiambere residents as a measure to reduce the continued crocodile attacks. KenGen operations manager in charge of Eastern Hydros Engineer Francis Kawa said that the two projects will involve construction of sand dams and provision of piped water from Masinga-Kitui water line which will be extended to Kivaa where many locals fall victim to crocodile attacks. Speaking during an inspection tour of the water projects, Kawa noted that the company took the initiative to save the residents from further attacks and provide water for the residents who in the past had to walk miles in search of the essential commodity. Kawa pointed out that the company has also provided water taps outside every power plant in the region so as to ensure all the residents living around the dams are able to get clean water for domestic use at their convenience.


“Of the KSh65 million, KSh15 million has already been spent in the purchase of pipes for the project that taps water all the way from the Mt Kenya Forest to Mbeere area where the residents of Issacco have already started benefiting,” he explained. Kawa said that they have already put up six sand dams spread in the region where water is tapped and the residents can take their animals to drink and also for their own consumption. He noted that with this there is no need to go to the crocodile infested Seven Folk’s Dam. He said at the completion of the projects, most residents will be safe from the attacks since they will be able to draw water near their homes through kiosks. “The company also has long term plans to put up more sand dams at strategic places where the residents can easily access water from the entire Kiambere location which in the past was in the limelight over crocodile attacks,” he observed. Kawa said that the residents have formed community liaison committees which work with the company to ensure their priorities are addressed. He noted that the community has been able to reap big from the company’s existence in the region.


He said the company was also concerned over the environment of the area and has come up with a tree nursery where last year they provided for free 19,000 tree seedlings to the farmers for planting in their farms with a 54 per cent survival rate being reported. According to Julius Mutune, chairman Musumaa Water Kiosk in Mbeere South District, cases of waterborne diseases have also gone down as the water provided is clean and treated. Dorothy Kanini, another beneficiary said women are able to get involved in other social economic ventures since they are now able to save time, previously used in fetching water many kilometres away. “We are also appealing to Ken Gen to explore the possibility of availing tanks which can preserve water to ensure the essential commodity is available at all times,” she said.

ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013


Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Inside story of how Ukambani poachers have used ‘nzevu’ to survive By ANDREW ELIJAH For ages, the Kambas have been linked to black magic or witchcraft. However, the most popular of the socalled magical powers have related to rekindling of lost love, strengthening of spousal commitment, getting promotion in the work place among other needs as presented by a client to a ‘doctor’. Interestingly, a difference between witchcraft and juju exists, though in most occasions both are used synonymously by laypeople. Indeed, both are based on beliefs. Witchcraft is defined as an evil permanent spell on an individual where the victim remains unaware until after a revelation from a witchdoctor, while juju — kamuti — is a temporal invocatory application of charms to find favours or privileges in one’s endeavours, lasting for a specified period of time, serving a purpose after which it expires.

black magic. “I know ‘nzevu’ exists as a Kamba but as a ranger I do my best for if we [rangers] allow ourselves to get completely sucked into the belief, then we will not serve diligently,” says the 50 year old woman who has been working with KWS for the last 32 years.


Although Kamba poachers have decreased following availability of other means of economic sustainability and awareness from KWS officials for the need to conserve wildlife — emphatically on endangered species — there still exists a remnant which uses the same old tricks in elephant hunting in the parks and game reserves surrounding the region. The rise in poaching is of concern, 92 kilogrammes of raw ivory were seized by KWS in 2010, and 96 kilogrammes in 2011 at Jomo Kenyatta


“Witchcraft is aimed at killing or subjecting an individual to lots of suffering, there can never be any benevolence in witchcraft,” explains 76-yearold Philip Ikuthu. However, Mary Njigira, a long serving Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) warden, thinks otherwise saying she has heard of the use of black magic by hunters, but disagrees that wardens’ efforts to catch up with poachers are completely hampered by

KWS officials inspect an elephant that was killed by poachers. Poaching continues to threaten the number of elephants in major parks. PPictures: Reject correspondent & Andrew Elijah International Airport followed by some arrests. According to 62-year-old Mwangu Kyosi, who began hunting in late 1970s until mid-1990s, a party visited a witchdoctor first, who by invoking supernatural powers looked into their mission ahead and presented to them their chances of succeeding and also the likelihood of getting

“The witchdoctor could display to the party vividly what was foreseen of the whole trip then guided them accordingly.” — Mwangu Kyosi, veteran hunter

into trouble. “The witchdoctor could display to the party vividly what was foreseen of the whole trip then guided them accordingly,” he said. On his part, a 67-year-old Mutia Muasya, an ivory trader of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s alongside selling arrow poison to hunters explains how poachers used nzevu and mung’oo to kill elephants. According to Muasya who also traded in other wildlife products, mung’oo was a ‘trap’ made of sewing string with some magical powers applied unto it by a witchdoctor and given to poachers which when laid on an elephant route, would have the mammals could be ‘called’ back after going past it. “Nzevu was ‘thrown out’ very early in the morning, at dawn before houseflies were awake, then the party set out for the day’s work,” says one hunter. It is this charm that provided an invisible security to a team during a

mission and although it was customarily cast at dawn, the men admit at the thick of things in the day, it could be cast out again to save them when heading into or already in trouble.


That aside, nzevu was also known to aid in the hunting game. Charms could be displayed and invocations made, through performing given instructions at a route where elephants were known to use and then a party could relax and wait for things to work themselves out. It is, however, interesting to note that juju was used in different ways before and after 1973 when hunting was declared illegal in Kenya. Before hunting of endangered species in Kenya was banned by the Government, poachers carried charms with them for safety against dangerous animals or attacks from other violent poachers who could try to rob them off of their catch.

These could be the last days of Taita-Taveta cultural shrines By ROBBY NGOJHI

Residents of Taita Taveta County have been urged to preserve shrines as they have previously helped to conserve the environment and curb environmental degradation as well as the growing human-wildlife conflict. Wildlife and Forestry Permanent Secretary Lawrence Mwadime said the shrines used to play a vital role in forest conservation apart from harbouring the important culture of various communities. “Our forefathers were not lucky to acquire formal education but they were experts at protecting the environment through keeping shrines. In those days it was rare to find people felling trees as it happens now because visiting a shrine required some special procedures,” he said. Mwadime decried environmental degradation through destruction of forests and called upon the residents to think about possible ways of reviving the shrines as one way of conserving the environment.   He was concerned that the locals’ move to abandon the practice paved way for encroachment on the shrines by destructive loggers and lumberjacks thereby leaving most of the land bare. “In the past people used to treat shrines with utmost respect. Shrines were regarded as protected areas meaning that all the trees found within the shrines were automatically protect-

ed,” said Mwadime. He added: “Consequently they formed important water catchments for streams and rivers and there was plenty of water for human beings, livestock and wildlife. There was no conflict.” He pointed out most forested zones at the hilltops were hugely encroached by the expanding population of residents thereby contributing to dwindling water levels and subsequent constant conflict between wildlife and human beings. Mwadime regretted that “most rivers and streams which used to flow from the hilltops to the lowlands have dried up” and insisted that if the culture of keeping shrines was maintained the condition could have been better than it is currently.

a situation they attribute to wanton destruction of forests at the hill tops by loggers and charcoal burners. Professor Petri Pellikka, the director of Finland’s University of Helsinki in charge of Taita Research Station observes that “continued cutting down of important indigenous trees have destroyed the nature and beauty of Taita Hills”. “Way back in the 1980s when I used to come to this place as a young researcher, there used to be a beautiful waterfall at Dembwa some few kilometers South of Wundanyi. That was part of the wonders of the scenic Taita Hills but today it seems it is no more. Where did it go? Of course it dried up due to severe logging that has been going on at the hill tops,” noted Pellikka.

Taita Hills are known for the scenic landscapes and beautiful forests that harbour unique birds and butterfly species. The hilltops form sources of multitudes of streams that cascade down to the lowlands where they serve tens of thousands of residents, livestock and wildlife. However, environmentalists have warned that in the near future these breathtaking features could be rendered history if strict conservation measures are not withheld. Researchers recently sounded an alarm that some of the local rivers are on the verge of drying up,

This, he said, could have a rippling effect downstream and result in famine which will affect both residents and animals in the lowlands. He was addressing residents at Mwakitau Secondary School during the commissioning of the girls’ boarding section which is funded by Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) at a cost of KSh15 million. The project is one of the KWS’s corporate social responsibility projects meant to ease the effects of rampant human-wildlife conflict in the area which has disrupted learning in most local schools.



Shrines were regarded as protected areas meaning that all the trees found within the shrines were automatically protected.” — Lawrence Mwadime


ISSUE 080, April 1-15, 2013

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Did media abdicate its watchdog role? By Odhiambo Orlale

An audit of the media performance in the just concluded General Elections shows there was a marked improvement from 2007, but its watchdog role was wanting. The media was commended for being more responsible, balanced and fair in its coverage, but was criticized for abdicating its investigative role by failing to question the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on the entire electoral process, especially on the controversial BVR kits and tallying of the presidential votes. The issues were raised by participants during a public forum organised by Media Focus on Africa, under the theme: “How Did the Media Perform During the March 4, 2013, General Elections?” The panellists at the third Media Roundtable for 2013 held at Alliance Francaise in Nairobi were NTV Managing Editor, Linus Kaikai, Rayhab Gachango, communications specialist and blogger, and Prof Kimani Njogu, director of Twaweza Communications, with Mburugu Gikunda, as the moderator.


The themes of previous forums included: “Are guidelines for Election coverage being adhered to/ are they enforceable; Do the results of opinion influence the airtime and space given by Media houses to the presidential candidates and coalitions in this election period and: Patriotism, the media and General Elections. During the March 26, forum, the three panellists were taken to task over why no single local or foreign journalists asked a question during the tension-packed period when IEBC top brass released presidential results at the National Election Tallying Centre at the Bomas of Kenya before the final results were announced by chairman, Isaack Hassan. Said Gachango: “There is no doubt that the media was put between a rock and a hard place after the 2007-2008 post-election violence which left one of them charged at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the ongoing cases. The media’s overall performance shows that it abdicated its watchdog role.” She also took issue with the media accusing it of “collective amnesia” and opting to play the role of the Government by promoting peace and national unity, instead of putting IEBC and the Government on its toes. Gachango, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Communications said they filled the vacuum left by the media who had shied away from touching some so-called sensitive issues during the elections. She admitted that some of her colleagues were sponsored by politicians to act as their mouthpieces thereby raising eyebrows on their motive and au-

Panellists Rayhab Gachango, Kimani Njogu and Linus Kaikai during the Media Focus forum where they debated on how the media handled election process with a specific emphasis on tallying of presidential results. Inset: Journalists working at the media centre set up at the national Election tallying centre where presidential results were being compiled. Picture: Odhiambo Orlale and Njeru Wangethi thenticity of their news reports. Njogu concurred with her sentiments and noted that the public had expected the Fourth Estate to keep the IEBC on its feet throughout the electoral process starting from the announcement of the polling date to the verdict of the Supreme Court petition, but this was not to be.


Njogu said he was aware that several foreign missions had raised concern about inadequate voter education by IEBC and the reliability of the controversial BVR kit and electronic voting equipment but the media gave these areas a wide berth. The panellists accused the media of self-censorship as well as over dependence and placing too much trust on IEBC as their sole source of news at the expense of the public’s right to information. However, Tom Wolf, a researcher with Synovate, a leading pollster firm, said it was important to breakdown the media into print, broadcast and social before coming up with a verdict on its performance. Wolf questioned how the media covered the electronic voting process before it collapsed as an example. “I was surprised that none of the media did an analysis of votes cast per region even after all the pollsters had shown results that the presidential race would be a neck to neck race?” posed Wolf. Coming to the defence of journalists, Alex Gakuru, chairperson of the Broadcasting Content Advisory

Council (BCAC) at Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) reminded the audience that some media reporters, photographers and editors were still traumatised five years after the post-election violence and that may have played a role in their being overly cautious in covering the polls. “As we raise criticism about performance of the media, can we also come up with solutions? The country has not moved since 2007, but the media has,” said Gakuru. However, Ketty Tikolo did not mince her words saying the media “slept on the job” and let Kenyans down by not telling them the full truth about what IEBC was doing. She cited the public launch of the BVR kits which malfunctioned in their presence but that story was given a blackout by the media. “The 2007-2008 post-election violence gave rise to a new Constitution and the media had a role to play to protect it to the hilt but it failed to do that. The media should have done better in covering the elections to help us avoid being where we are today in the Supreme Court,” noted

Tikolo. The issue of cross media ownership and monopoly was raised with some participants saying the media failed to raise a red flag even when IEBC electronic tally was releasing results very fast and showing a staggering 300,000 spoilt papers before even half the ballots had been counted. “The media bought into the whole idea to support the State. They stand accused,” said Clement Wambugu. However, Cynthia Maina, a student at the University of Nairobi accused foreign media of being biased and highlighting fears of another post-election while Kenyans voted in peace. Defending the media, Kaikai said they may have erred because they were overly cautious because of the post-election violence experience on the one hand and they (media) over trusted IEBC because it had a good record following the 2010 referendum and in conducting several byelections. Said Kaikai: “I must admit that covering the tallying of the presidential results was very complex for

“I was surprised that none of the media did an analysis of votes cast per region even after all the pollsters had shown results that the presidential race would be a neck to neck race?” — Tom Wolf, a researcher with Synovate

Executive Director: Arthur Okwemba

the media. Even now, the irony is that even as we speak, the IEBC does not know which register was used to register and allow voters to vote on March 4, 2013!” Kaikai revealed that all media house managers had to meet and agree to downplay some sensitive stories that would have incited and or scared the public on the eve of the polls; he cited an attack by suspected Mombasa Republican Council sympathisers on police armed officers in Kilifi County ferrying IEBC staff and materials to a voting centre as an example to avoid scaring voters on Election day.


In his contribution, Hassan Kulundu, a member of the Kenya Editors’ Guild recalled that in 2002 polls the former Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) chairman Samuel Kivuitu, had expressed shock when journalists who had a hostile attitude to the Government, joined the crowd at City Hall to clap and cheer when Narc’s presidential candidate, Mwai Kibaki, was declared the winner of the stiff race against President Moi’s choice, Uhuru Kenyatta. In the just concluded polls, Kulundu said, the media was a severely restricted outfit following the postelection violence in 2007. “We tried ‘crusade journalism’ because we did not want to be accused of pulling the trigger and gave IEBC space, but we have since realised that many things went wrong to our surprise!” Kulundu noted.

Write to:

Editor: Jane Godia Sub-Editors: Odhiambo Orlale, Joyce Chimbi, Mercy Mumo Designer: Noel Lumbama

Contributors: Shaban Rawlings, Kamundia Muriithi, Hussein Dido, Yusuf Amin, Allan Murithi, Araka Matara, David Njaaga, Robert Nyaga, Robby Ngojhi, Andrew Elijah, Larry Kimori, Ben Oroko, Kariuki Mwangi, Joseph Mukubwa, Valentine Atieno and Odhiambo Orlale.

The paper is supported by the Ford Foundation

Reject Online Issue 80  

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