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March 2014

ISSUE 095

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

Forgotten slum children nursing desperate ambitions By HENRY KAHARA “I will be very grateful if I could get somebody to sponsor my secondary school education. I would not like to live in slums in future,” says 14-year-old Millicent Achieng. “It is hard living in the slums, insecurity is very high and you have to struggle to make ends meet,” she says adding “having a meal is a miracle”. According to Achieng, the journey to

come out of the slums can only start if she gets a chance to pursue her dreams. However, if her prayer of joining secondary school is not answered, she is hesitant whether she will ever free herself from this lifestyle. Lack of resources will make it difficult for her to break the poverty cycle despite her academic capability. Achieng’s mother, Beatrice Atieno, a casual labourer, is not in a position to bear the burden of paying her secondary

school fee despite her willingness to see her daughter excel in life. “I am willing to give her education but I cannot afford to pay her school fees with my meagre income,” she says. Atieno does chores like washing people’s clothes in estates to cater for her bills and that of her three children. Just like her daughter, Atieno never went with her education beyond class eight. It is this low education that cannot Continued on page 3

Top: Students of Kibera Soccer Academy at their school when they received free sanitary pads from well wishers. Below: Millicent Achieng during interview. Pictures: Henry Kahara

Read more Reject stories online at www.mdcafrica.org


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ISSUE 095, March 2014

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Access to much needed health care cover By Ben Oroko

Following decades of neglect and lack of access to high cost healthcare services among majority of the poor residents in Kisii County, the Kisii County Government has finally come to their aid through establishment of a healthcare social protection scheme. This comes after Kisii County Governor, James Ongwae’s assurance that his Government will develop a social protection scheme through which the County Government will pay  National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) contributions  for the poor and vulnerable members of the society in the County to facilitate them access quality healthcare services. Afford Ongwae regretted that, majority of the poor and vulnerable members in the County could not afford to foot medical bills and heavily relied on fundraisers and contributions from well wishers to foot their personal or relatives’ medical bills, sources of funds which he said were unreliable and unsustainable  for most of the residents living below the poverty line. Speaking in Kisii  town, during the official launch of the  Kisii County Youth Development Forum’s NHIF reach out campaign at Kisii  Sports club, the Governor lamented that out of the County’s over 1.3 million people, only about 80,000 were registered as NHIF members and called for intensified membership registration campaign to raise the number to over 200,000 members. Ongwae reminded area residents that having majority of them being NHIF members will not only afford them quality healthcare services, but will also strengthen the local hospitals’ rev-

enues and revolving funds to assist them offer timely and quality healthcare service delivery to the public. “I am calling upon all residents from Kisii County to register as NHIF members, since the program will not only assist individual contributors and their beneficiaries access quality healthcare services, but will also translate to quality service delivery by hospitals whose revolving funds will have been strengthened by the NHIF contributions,” observed Ongwae. The Forum’s Youth President, Dennis Orioki discloses that the Forum partnered with NHIF Kisii branch to roll out the NHIF card mobilization campaign targeting 100,000 residents to register as NHIF members within a period of one month.

Inform

NHIF headquarters in Upperhill Nairobi. More people are being encouraged to join the scheme so as to have access to better healthcare. Picture: Courtesy

Speaking during the launch Orioki and the Forum Secretary-General, Justine Nyagami said the campaign was informed by increasing fundraiser requests made by majority of the rural poor who cannot afford to foot their medical bills in high cost health facilities in the County and other parts of the country. “We have taken up the initiative to sensitize members of the public on the importance of having an NHIF card to facilitate them access quality healthcare services and scale down dependence on fundraisers among the most vulnerable members of our society who move from one office to the other seeking assistance for their medical bills,” stated Nyagami.

Orioki, however, observed that the Forum picked on the initiative since a health population provides the required human resource that drives the country’s socio-economic development agenda. He disclosed that, the Forum has engaged 1,000 youths as facilitators alongside 1,000 youth groups to spearhead the campaign to the villages across the County. Establish Ms Julia Nyaboke, a single mother of four and Kisii town vendor welcomed the Governor’s dream of establishing an NHIF contributions kitty for the vulnerable members in the County Government to assure them of their welfare in accessing quality healthcare services. Ms Nyaboke said, the initiative was timely as it will assist the elderly and poor members of the

Elderly persons get a taste of quality health care By Gilbert Ochieng’ Over 200 elderly persons from Butula sub-County have every reason to smile after Busia County Women Representative, Florence MutuaWainga, donated KSh24,000 to enable them open an account with the National Hospital Insurance Fund. Mutua-Wainga appealed to all eligible residents of Butula to join and contribute to the National Hospital Insurance Fund as members in order to be able to access quality medical attention at various public and private health facilities in the County with ease. “I am calling on residents of Buriya sub-location and Butula subCounty at large to move with speed and open accounts with the NHIF to enable them get access to quality medical services,” she said.

Represent

Mutua-Wainga was speaking at Buriya Primary School in Butula while presiding over the registration of the elderly persons where she also expressed concern about the high death toll in the area due to ailments that are treatable. She noted that so far over 3,000 elderly persons from the entire Busia County had already registered with the Fund. “I am glad to hear that so far 3,000 elderly persons in Busia County have registered with the NHIF and I am confident that more will do so soon,” she said. The elderly persons will be required to pay KSh100 each every

month as deposit on their account. Mutua noted that she will work closely with leaders in the county to ensure that elderly persons get their dues promptly every month. During the occasion, the elderly, led by their representatives Francisca Atieno and Mzee John Lunani commended “Mama’ Florence for utilising every opportunity at her disposal to ensure the service was brought closer to the people of Butula, especially the elderly persons so that they too can also access quality medical services”. “We are grateful beyond words and we do not know how to thank you for the kind gesture you have shown towards us. We hope God will reward you abundantly for what you have done for people who had been neglected,” they said. The elderly persons appealed to other politicians in the county to follow suit by allocating resources at their disposal to enable them improve on their health and livelihood. “The cost of treatment at various health facilities in Busia County has increased to an extent that people who are financially incapacitated are unable to get access to quality medical attention whenever they fall sick,” observed Atieno. Apart from opening an account for the elderly persons, MutuaWainga also provided green houses to women from seven sub-counties namely Butula, Nambale, Teso South, Teso North, Funyula, Matayos and Bunyala. These are aimed at enabling them to actively participate in horticultural activities so that they

can create jobs and wealth as well as improve their standards of living. “I believe the green-houses will go a long way in enabling the womenfolk in the respective sub-counties to grow horticultural crops such as tomatoes, onions, spinach and sukuma wiki (kale) among others. She added: “They will not only feed their families but will also be able to sell to earn extra income.”

Assure

She at the same time assured them that she will provide them with farm inputs which include fertilizer and seed during the planting season to ensure that they get the same at an affordable price. “The high cost of farm inputs has barred majority of women, who I believe are the caretakers of their families from actively participating in agricultural activities. I will utilise every resource at my disposal to ensure I provide them with farm inputs which includes fertilisers and seed during the planting season,” she said. However, Mutua-Wainga called on them to discard laziness and instead take advantage of the facilities at their disposal to transform their standards of living rather than relying on hand-outs from politicians who will take advantage of their status to earn political mileage. “If you make full use of the greenhouses at your disposal, your lifestyle will change a great deal as you will be able to put a meal on the table for your family. This will make you become ‘somebody’ and you will earn respect,” Mutua-Wainga reiterated.

local community’s foot bills easily after accessing healthcare services in healthcare facilities. She regretted that, due to high cost of living and bad economic times, majority of the poor in the County died from curable diseases due to lack of funds to support them seek specialized and quality treatment. “It is true that majority of the rural poor who are not NHIF members resorted to fundraisers or disposal of their land and properties to foot their medical bills in high cost health facilities,” disclosed Nyaboke. In some cases, vulnerable and poor members of the society who do not have NHIF cards ended up being detained in hospitals for failure to pay their medical bills which are financially beyond their reach, prompting their relatives to organize fundraisers or dispose the affected individuals’ pieces of land to bail them out.

Children affected with HIV facing rejection from community By YUSUF AMIN The department of social work and gender at the Kilifi County Hospital has rescued over 16 children who are HIV positive in the past one year. Most of them were rescued after reports of mistreatment from their families were reported to hospital authorities. Areas like Misifuni, Tezo and Jaribuni among other rural villages in the vast Kilifi County are recording never ending cases of this nature. The department has noted that it has at times been forced into action after getting reports of mistreatment of the victims from the members of the public.

Deadly disease

Most of the victims are usually orphans left behind after their parents succumbed to Aids and are left in the care of ageing grandmothers or uncaring stepmothers, neighbours and other persons within their neighbourhoods. According to Christopher Chea, officer in charge of Social Work and Gender Department, most of the children who have been rescued are under the age of 16.

Chea noted with concern that these children have been going through harsh and unbearable conditions like being denied food or discrimination from fellow peers because they are affected by HIV. He said families taking care of these children have been reluctant to take them to clinics so that they can access antiretroviral drugs that will help them maintain their health. “We were forced to rescue the children because they were facing many challenges that have been the source of their deteriorating health status,” said Chea. He added: “Many of these children usually go without food and spend sleepless nights in the cold after being chased out of their houses.” Chea was speaking when he led a team of medics to rescue a 12 yearold boy in Misifuni Village, in the suburbs of Kilifi town. The orphaned boy has been living under the care of his uncle and ageing grandmother. Chea also noted that children who have been rescued are taken to children’s homes so that they can access a well-balanced diet that will boost their health. Continued on page 12


ISSUE 095, March 2014

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

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Access to markets a big challenge to women in small scale farming By Robert Nyagah Under the scotching sun, a middle aged woman works tirelessly in her farm. Once in a while, she bends to collect over ripe mangoes. Some of the mangoes are in the final stages of decay. The agony in her face is clear as the heap of the decayed mangoes grows. Her story is repeated in other neighbouring farms in the outskirts of Embu town within Itabua area of the Embu County. The problem has been brought about by a major crop failure affecting cereals such as maize, sorghum, millets, beans and sunflower while the averagely better yield of mangoes is being hit badly by lack of market and preservation. Mary Wamuyu is among small scale farmers in Itabua area of Embu County, a region generally considered arid. Small scale mixed farming in this area of Embu County is dominated by women who control at least 70 per cent of all production in food and cash crops as well as livestock. A simple survey revealed that in at least 20 homesteads with successful mixed small scale and mainly water fed farming, at least 15 of such outfits are headed by women. “It is women who are in charge of the largest percentage of management of agricultural based programmes right from food to livestock with the men playing minimal roles,” says Marc Muraguri, a resident of Gatondo and a casual worker whose farm and a handful of livestock is managed by the wife. He adds: “At times, the men are partly to blame for some of the failures and losses recorded at the domestic level.”

Shift

According to Wamuyu, in majority of the homesteads in the region women are in charge of food production, right from cultivation, planting, weeding to harvesting, delivery to market and actual marketing.

Faced with poor yields and low prices for cereals and bananas which are dominant cash crops in the region, the women have resorted to growing various species of mangoes. Among the more than 50 homesteads sampled, each of the small farms whose acreage ranges between two to four acres of land has at least 70 mature mango trees. However, more than 400 women farmers in the area are saying that both national and county governments have failed to intervene and provide professional guidance in the production of mangoes and even marketing to fetch the best yields and sales. “Even with the devolved system of government, experts in the agricultural sector are not giving us professional guidance required to help us reap the best profits from mango farming,” observes Wamuyu as she displays three boxes of mangoes she had harvested from her 70 mango tree farm — one of them with badly decaying fruits all headed for the trash bin or livestock shed as food.

Gaps

Listening to stories by women farmers in Embu County creates the impression that much needs to be done to spur professional production of mangoes and other fruits both by the county as well as central government. Wanjovi Wandavano is another small scale farmer in Gatondo village of Itabua area who has invested half an acre of her land to growing various species of the mango fruit. “I grow species such as Ngoe, Kendy, Tommy, Apple, Eden and Kent, but I must say all this is done on trial and error basis because although I get good yields, perhaps with the assistance of extension officers from the Embu County or Central government, profits would be more satisfying” says Wandavano who is also faced with the same scenario as Wamuyu where losses due to rot,

Mary Wamuyu, a farmer in Itabua, Embu County displays some of her mangoes. Like other farmers in the country she is struggling to get market for her seasonal produce. Picture: Robert Nyagah pests and lack of good market are a major drawback. Since she started growing mangoes in a small scale style at her farm in 2006, returns have not been very good but Wandavano hopes that in future she will register improved yields and returns when professional guidance is availed. She is upbeat that with support from experts, she could earn up to KSh100,000 from mangoes every season. Unplanned marketing, has been a major drawback with fruits which could fetch up to five shillings per piece at farm level, only attracting as little as one shilling a piece. Wandavano has been forced to sell her produce to middlemen at a throw away price despite the fact that the potential to feed a fruit processing factory is available. “Why has the Embu County government not considered welcoming investors to start fruit processing factories which would end up buying our mangoes instead of letting them go to waste in the farm or even in the local retail markets,” wonders Wandavano. According to Wandavano, even in the worst season, a single mango tree can earn a farmer at least 1,800 on a weekly basis. She also feels that with marketing experts, farmers in

the region could identify a buyer to take their fruits at the farm level and transport them to factories in Nairobi. “Itabua mango farmers are so disunited and their failure to come together and initiate professional farming and marketing teams for their mangoes is the worst enemy but the farmers also need experts,” says Wandavano. The fruits from the region, Wandavano argues could also be more succulent if the Embu County Government supplied the region with irrigation water. “Had there been irrigation water, we would produce more mangoes and perhaps end up attracting exporters or fruit factory investors to buy the fruits and produce fruit pulp or juice from them.”

Marketing

Wandavano is calling on the Embu County government to appreciate the role played by agriculture and establish a strong Ministry of Agriculture that will deploy extension crop and livestock officers to all parts of the county. “Since the Embu County government came into power, we have not heard them discuss agriculture yet this could be the pillar of the county’s economy and especially through irrigation in the lower parts which are arid and semi-arid,” she notes.

With her 120 mango plants, Wandavano says expenses incurred in spraying and taking care of the trees which is sometimes done without the proper professional guidance affects yields. The women farmers also have to deal with the theft of fruits and are at times forced to hire night guards to wade away thieves. However, Wandavano agrees that mango farming is satisfying and with proper assistance she can reap highly from the trade. Wandavano who also grows cereals in her seven and half acre land indicates that passion fruits can also do better in the area but water has been a problem. She suggests that the county and central government should supply piped irrigation water to residents of Itabua or assist them to dig boreholes and wells to water their cash crops. She has been hesitant to grow the Embu species of miraa (khat) locally known as muguka because she argues that despite the good profits her 300 plants bring her, she would rather go for crops with nutritional value. “Miraa is a drug and destroys the youth. I would rather supply them with mangoes and maize rather than expose them to addictive drugs,” Wandavano argues.

Forgotten slum children nursing desperate ambitions

Continued from page 1

enable her get a good job that can enable her cater for her children’s basic needs including secondary schooling. These circumstances forced her to get into doing odd jobs in order to cater for her family’s needs. “I know it is risky to have her in the house idle but what do I do?” poses Atieno.

Future

Although Achieng is bright, young and willing to continue with her education, her future is hanging in the balance since she is yet to get a Good Samaritan to pay her fee. Achieng scored 300 marks in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) results, just 200 marks below the total marks a student can score in such an exam. “I would like to go to school so that I can get education, pursue my dream, live a good life and then

help my mother and siblings,” says Achieng, a former pupil at Damascus Primary School in Korogocho. Although her mother is still hopeful that she will continue with education, Achieng fears this may be impossible bearing in mind that some of her former classmates have joined secondary school. The high fee charged in secondary schools is blamed as the reason why many children are not moving to the next level after primary school education. “The problem is that many high schools are charging a lot of money so it becomes hard for us parents to afford,” notes Atieno. She adds: “The Government should take care of people like us who earn very little.” According to the Ministry of Education, all candidates with 200 marks and above are expected to join secondary school this year.

However, this may be impossible bearing in mind that many parents are not in a position to cater for secondary education. Although the minister promised that, those who will not join high school will be enrolled for vocational training, there are few vocational training institutions across the country. According to Shadrack Juma, Baba Dogo Ward member of County Assembly, the Government needs to set aside more money to cater for education, especially for those who cannot afford. “I only had ten bursary slots and I have given them out,” says Juma. Jamleck Kabiro, a resident in Korogocho says: “I have never heard of any vocational training in Korogocho. The schools here are not enough. We need more schools which can accommodate the high population.”

Kabiro says many schools in the slums are private and, therefore, not affordable to area residents.

Learn

Halima Osman, a social worker at Miss Koch, a non-governmental organization based in Korogocho says that many children in the area are not lucky to continue with school due to lack of income as well as learning institutions. “Few parents can afford to pay secondary school fees in this slum. Actually, many children go to school courtesy of the non-governmental organisation,” explains Osman. For instance, this year Miss Koch has supported more than 50 of the best children from Korogocho to join high school. There is a lot of risk when these children fail to get into secondary schools; few of them are mature

enough not to engage in vices which can ruin their lives. Korogocho is the third largest slum in Kenya after Kibera and Mathare. Just as it names suggest — worthless — the people in this area may continue being worthless if the Government fails to come to their aid. “A lot of talent goes to waste in this area. We have bright children but many of them never go on with education beyond class eight. This is due to the poverty associated with this area,” says Omar. Teenagers not engaging in something constructive has seen a rise in crimes in Korogocho where currently people are being robbed anytime of the day. “You find very young boys taking drugs while girls as young as 12 year are indulging in commercial sex,” notes Omar.


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ISSUE 095, March 2014

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Back to school in a conflict zone By Plan International

The new term begins this week in South Sudan – amid overcrowding, security concerns, and the worry that some girls may choose marriage instead “In a year we have five to ten students dropping out, mostly girls due to pregnancy and marriage. Given the current situation it could get worse, but we are putting in all our efforts to ensure this does not happen.” Michael, the head-teacher of Gudele East Primary School in Juba, says there is an uneasy calm amid the preparations for the new school term in South Sudan next week. The school has already registered over 500 students, with 200 new students from Jonglei and Upper Nile (Malakal) who have moved to Juba as a result of the conflict. Michael worries that over crowding could become a problem. “One big challenge we already had and that could become worse this year is the issue of overcrowding,” he explains. “In some cases we have over 180 to 215 students in one class.” Christopher Lomugun, the school’s

deputy head-teacher, says that some students are not returning, fearing backlash from the conflict. “It’s clear that students from certain communities who fear directed killings are not returning or registering,” he says. “There are some of our students in the UNMISS compound and I am sure they will not return for the fear of possible targeted killings directed toward people of their community.” But according to Lomugun, many other young people are eager to restart classes. “They are bored and tired of staying home. Some say it is big source of stress and brings back lots of bad memories. School can help students recover quickly. We are encouraging all children to focus on school and together with the teacher help create activities that will help them forget. We will also improve our counselling classes and incorporate healing messages in all our subjects.” Despite mixed feelings, some parents are determined to register their children. Among them is Elikana Zikia Noti, a father of three, who has been registering his students at the school.

“I was worried when the crisis started. I don’t want to take my children to another country because I want them to learn here in South Sudan. In other countries, my children will be forced to learn geography and history of that Pupils of Don Bosco Primary School during a class session. Unlike them country and they will know some pupils in Juba will not be attending classes due to the aftermaths of nothing about their own conflicts. Picture: Courtesy country. I hope this crisis comes to an end and my ing the whole crisis. Some of the girls should find priority in relief and recovchildren can focus on their education from my class have already opted for ery efforts. Education and play sessions and build their future.” marriage and I’m sure they will not are essential to gain a sense of normalcy Susan Juma, a mother of two, return.” and together they work as catalysts for added: “We went to the village with Plan is setting up child friendly recovery.” my children but I brought them back spaces for children to play and connect, Michael says he is still hopeful that because I heard schools are opening, as well as temporary learning spaces by the time school resumes on Monand I don’t want them to miss out. I’m offering opportunities to restart educa- day 24th February, the classes will have not afraid, just hopeful that every- tion. reached the expected number of stuthing will be okay and I can help my “Thousands of conflict affected chil- dents. children through this time.” “The school is planning to hold an dren are missing out on the start of the Student Susan John, 17, started new term. This will have long lasting awareness session to help students unschool last year and says she isn’t scared consequences. Education is a key cata- derstand the current situation and have to go back. lyst for development and peace,” says mechanisms to help students recover “I know some students in the Unni Krishnan, Head of Disaster Re- quickly,” he says. “The existing counselUNMISS compound and others who sponse and Preparedness at Plan. ling classes will include a strong compohave crossed the border, they will not “South Sudan is a ‘new-born’ coun- nent of trauma counselling with regard return but our family was here dur- try. The needs and rights of children to the crisis.”

New levies squeezing small Education sector in businesses into a tight spot Narok County almost By Henry Kahara

Life has never been harder for Ann Wambui since she started her small scale business in Nairobi’s Riruta area to supplement her casual work. Everyday, the 35-year-old single parent opens her business at 5pm with a hope of making ends meet but the declining number of customers is causing her sleepless nights. By closing time at 8.30pm she has little to show for her efforts to woo her customers as the till is virtually empty.

Struggle

Wambui juggles between her casual job in Lavington and her business in order to put food for her and her children on the table. But of late her business has not been doing well and she is agonising with whether to soldier on or throw in the towel. “I do not understand why people are not taking kales (sukuma-wiki) as they used to. The consumption level has gone down. I do not know what to do because currently some of my products are going to waste,” Wambui, who is a mother of three boys, laments. She is pointing an accusing finger at the high tax regime which has hit the small scale traders like her very hard. “The circumstances have forced me to multi task as both a businesswoman and a casual labourer. You cannot rely on one job for now; you have to look for more than one job for you to survive in this town. I work as a casual laborer although it is seasonal during the day and I open the business in the evening,” she says. And in order to survive, she wakes up at 5.30am and heads straight to Kawangware market to buy vegetables

and transport them back to her house. Thereafter, Wambui embarks on her daily household chores and is expected to report at work at 8:30am. But even with the two jobs she is still struggling and cannot make ends meet because of the poor pay and rise of the price of commodities courtesy of the tax man. “I count myself blessed because there are many people who are completely jobless and they are expected to pay their bills.” The mother of three laments that the country’s economy is at its worst as far as ordinary people are concerned and points an accusing finger at the many levies and taxes being charged by the county governments. “This problem has been brought about by the county government,” she says adding that if the system is to continue the national Government must intervene and put some measures to protect the public. According to a parliamentary budget committee report last year, a population of 3.7 million households will live below the poverty line in the next two years.

Rise

The report further says that the cost of living has risen drastically in the past 10 years and the situation will get worse in the next two years. Like many other Kenyans who live in slums, Wambui has been forced to have skip meals in order to survive. To her, breakfast and lunch are a luxury that she can do without and focus on a family dinner with her children. While she represents the plight of families in urban slums like Nairobi, it is a reality that there are over 400,000 people in Arid and Semi Arid parts of Kenya also facing starvation and fam-

ine. For now many County governments have increased tax leaving Kenyans struggling to make ends meet. Recently there have been strikes in different counties where Kenyans have been protesting against the tax and levy increases. On his part, Alfayo Irungu, a Nairobi resident, also echoes Wambui’s sentiments saying the cost of living has been affecting by the new levies and taxes.

Pressure

“It is true Kenyans that most ordinary Kenyans like me are under pressure. The Government should step in look for extra ways of collecting tax other than making our lives miserable, especially for small income earners like me,” says Irungu. He laments that the situation has been made worse by the ongoing drought which has also seen the price of some commodities sky rocket forcing many people to cut down their budget. A report from the Kenya Agriculture Research Institute (KARI) says that at least one quarter of the 41 million people in East Africa lack sufficient food and 1.7 million are under threat of hunger and starvation. Indeed, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, aside from a few areas, no country is food secure as this season’s harvest of maize- the country’s staple food – was not enough to feed the nation. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations says Kenya is short of about 10 million bags of maize and has warned that the drought is expected to reach its peak in August.

on its death bed By LARRY KIMORI

Education standards in Narok County are said to be dropping and at a critical stage. According to a recent report by Uwezo National Learning Assessment gave a bleak picture of education standards in Narok County. The report disclosed that on average, 10 per cent of teachers are not in school on any given day, with teacher absenteeism being highest in the country at 21 per cent followed closely by Nairobi at 17 per cent. The statement further indicated that in Narok County, learning levels in Trans Mara dropped drastically whereby only one in every three pupils is able to read a Kiswahili and English paragraph.

React

Reacting to the report, Samuel Tunai, Narok County Governor noted that the education standards in the region were in Intensive Care Unit. Through this report, that gave the account of last year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) and Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE), Tunai ordered Kariuki Manyuira, County Director of Education to urgently convene a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the issue. Education stakeholders came together in a rare move to reverse the dismal academic performance in a forum dubbed Narok County Education Stakeholders Meeting held at Maasai Mara University.

During the meeting the governor challenged the stakeholders to cease operating from “business as usual” mode to “business unusual” in an effort to improve the education standards that were poor. Tunai ordered for employment of all graduate teachers who are not yet employed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to curb the teacher shortage.

Reveal

“As we wait for the teachers’ employer to post more staff, the county government will begin hiring graduates to fill the deficit,” said Tunai. He observed that his government had embarked on a serious programme of equipping all schools with proper structural facilities. “Our children must be provided with modern classrooms, desks and properly equipped libraries. This is the only way of ensuring that our county excels in academics,” he said. He challenged school boards to sit with teachers and explore ways of improving the transition rate from primary to secondary. Tunai observed that it is disturbing that Narok is ranked bottom among other counties and maintained that this trend must be reversed. “As a way of giving our children a good base we shall invest more on early childhood tutors. We shall increase the number by hiring more to supplement those who were in the defunct county council’s pay roll,” he explained. Continued on page 5


ISSUE 095, March 2014

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Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Poor feeding leaves Kenya with a high number of stunted children

By Patrick Mutisya Concern has been raised over the rising number of stunted children in the country. According to division of nutrition, Department of Public Health, the number of stunted children under five years has increased to 2.3 million. The Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) 2008/2009 shows that stunting in the country now stands at 35 per cent, a two percent jump from that of KDHS 2003 which was at 33 per cent.

Survey

Data from the same survey of the previous years showed that the stunting rate in Kenya before 2003 stood at 30 per cent. These figures are posing concern among Kenyans as the country’s future is threatened, a situation that makes the future for most children to remain bleak. According to Terrie Wefwafwa, head of Division of Nutrition in the Ministry of Health, stunted children are forced to be under performers in their studies by virtue of being mentally un-

der development from a young age. According to World Health Organisation, Kenya is number seven in subSaharan Africa and number 16 worldwide among countries with the highest number of stunted and malnourished children aged less than five years. India is home to over a third of the global population that suffers from stunting, although a number of other countries have higher rates of stunting in proportion to their populations, such as Burundi (63 per cent), Guatemala (60 per cent) and Ethiopia (57 per cent) among others. Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Ethiopia each represent more than four per cent of the global total. This is proved in an Annual Learning Assessment Report conducted by Uwezo Kenya in 2013 which showed that countrywide, only three out of 10 children in class three can do class two work. It noted that 11 out of 100 children in class eight cannot do simple class two mathematics and seven out of 100 of them can neither read simple English nor a Kiswahili story. One out of five children in class six to eight cannot tell the meaning of the colours on the Kenyan flag.

Women who have just delivered at Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi. Stunted growth in infants must be addressed in order to have healthy children. Picture: Reject Correspondent The nutrition expert stated that a child’s brain grows to its full potential from conception up to two years. “If the child is not fed well, the brain does not grow and, therefore, when the child goes to school, he or she cannot grasp basic concepts taught in the education systems. There is a drop in the measure of intelligence quotient,” says Wefwafwa. The quotient is a measure of the cleverness of an adult and when the brain doesn’t function well, scientifically academic level is low.

Potential

Wefwafwa laments that Kenya is losing children who would have had high potential in development issues, or would have become academic professors, scientists and great experts or innovators. “Failing to feed children well, who are less than five years old, is similar to sentencing them to death,” says Wefwafwa. Stunting is a continual underfeeding whereby a child does not get enough

to meet their daily biological needs for growth and development. According to Wefwafwa, children who have not been provided with adequate diet do not grow as tall as they would have, given their genetic bearing, they would have grown taller but because of poor nutrition they fail to. Even though food security facing the country was termed by the head of nutrition as one of the major problems leading to stunting in the country, according to the KDHS survey, the rich in Kenya also have a quarter of their children being stunted as compared to the poor families who had the worst burden of 40 per cent. Lack of knowledge on nutrition is another major challenge facing the country thus leading to malnutrition. Wefwafwa says her department is collaborating with all Kenyan employers to ensure that all nutrition information is available at places of work. “The poor may not have the means to afford the types of foods that is needed to feed their children on adequately while families that have enough food

are faced with misinformation,” says Wefwafwa. She adds: “They might be buying food but buying the wrong kind of foods.”

Fund

Poor funding and failure by all families to ensure prevention and control of infections to their children at the age below five years has impacted more on stunting and malnutrition in Kenya. Through the Ministry of Finance, the Government allocated KSh400 million to the Ministry of Public Health. Wefwafwa is advocating for strengthening of the school curriculum to allow involvement of nutrition studies to help enlighten children at a young age. “The power of nutrition is in knowledge and practice. Once people are well informed and are knowledgeable, they can be able to practice,” advices Wefwafwa. She adds: “When we wait until people become parents, then we talk about breastfeeding, we are too late in the day and we may not be impacting positively.”

Education sector in Narok County almost on its death bed

Continued from page 4

Manyuira challenged school management committees, principals, teachers and parents to develop a road map that will facilitate transition from primary to secondary schools and ultimately to tertiary institutions. He said each institution should set targets that must be in agreement with the county government’s targets. Manyuira noted that out of the 4,208 candidates who sat for examinations in 2012, only 187, accounting for four per cent managed grade B and above. “Those who scored grade D and below were 1,870 (45 per cent). We are coming up with strategies that will reverse this. This include capacity

building among our teachers, frequent monitoring and evaluation at the school level and benchmarking among performing counties,” Manyuira reiterated, noting that the county was ranked position 38 in KCSE and 24 in KCPE in 2012. According to William Otieno Osewe, Narok County Quality Assurance and Standards Officer, several challenges were responsible for the poor performance in national examinations. Osewe said understaffing and lack of secondary schools assessment by education officers due to inadequate resources were the major contributing factors. “There is weak curriculum super-

vision because our officers have been incapacitated by lack of motorbikes. In a number of stations some stakeholders discourage head teachers from carrying out curriculum implementation professionally because of personal interests,” noted Osewe. He pleaded with politicians to allow boards of management and education officers run educational institutions without interference. Other strategies include the establishment of low cost boarding primary schools as a mitigation measure to retain learners when their parents migrate from one area to the other in search of pasture for their livestock. According to Joe Mwasi, Narok South District Education Officer said

a number of strategies have been employed to address the issue of retention in schools. “We have supplied sanitary pads to primary school girls in 198 schools. We have also offered school meal programmes to 48 primary schools,” said Mwasi. However, Paul Chesimet, chairman Narok County Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association blamed lack of educational facilities and shortage of teachers as factors affecting quality performance in the region. “These challenges need to be addressed by all stakeholders in the education sector in totality if performance is to be improved,” said Chesimet.

But Stephen Nakola, chairman of Narok district’s Kenya Primary School Heads Association regretted that early pregnancies, FGM, retrogressive cultural practices and community’s lacklustre attitude towards education continue to negatively affect academic performance in the district. Some of the factors that impact negatively on education in the region is teachers being absent from school only to involve themselves in farming and businesses instead of being in class. This hinders students from completing their syllabus and hence the poor performance in national examinations.


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Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Busia orphans given a reason to smile

Students of New Hope Christian Academy posing with their Headteacher Gilbert Owino. The centre has been educating orphans who can not afford to pay fees. Picture: Gilbert Ochieng

By Gilbert Ochieng’ The high prevalence rate of HIV and Aids in Bunyala sub-County has left scores of children orphaned, a situation that has seen them drop out of school or engage in casual work to earn a livelihood. However, there are philanthropic organisations that are working towards ensuring that orphaned and vulnerable children have a bright future. Living Faith International, a faith-based organisation, has come in to assist orphaned and vulnerable children from Bunyala subCounty.

Establish

The organisation, with its headquarters in Nairobi, established a Christian academy — New Hope Christian Academy and Orphanage—in Bunyala in 2008 to cater for the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children. “The children being housed by the school had lost hope in life as they could not get access to basic education after losing their parents and guardians to HIV and Aids among other causes,” explains Gilbert Owino, the institution’s head. Owino notes that the affected children were identified by the local administrators from the respective locations working closely with the Children’s Department. “Those administrators assisted us in identifying needy cases from their respective areas of jurisdiction. We also work closely with the Children’s Department since they handle children’s cases on a daily basis,” explains Owino. Currently, the organisation is sponsoring 35 students in high schools across the country, which includes two who are pursuing university education. “Living Faith International is paying school fees for the 35 needy children in high schools across the country while two of them are in the university,” says Owino. This year, they are working on arrangements to sponsor some of the needy pu-

pils who had passed last year’s 2013 Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) examinations. Some of the beneficiaries who spoke to The Reject attributed the significant changes in their lives to the academy and especially the sponsor, Living Faith International saying the two institutions have indeed shaped their future, a dream they say would have eluded them. “After my parents’ death five years ago, I was forced to drop out of school and look for casual employment in other people’s farms where I was being paid KSh150 which I used to buy food for myself and my siblings,” says one of the beneficiaries who hails from Sirimba village, Bunyala East Location. He recalls when the area chief went to their home and asked that he accompanies him to an undisclosed destination only to find himself and his two siblings at the academy, which they now fondly refer to as ‘Home Away from Home.’ “My siblings and I had been forced to beg for food from well-wishers, but praise be to God for saving us and handing us over to the safe hands of New Hope Academy’s school management committee and our sponsor Living Faith international,” he says.

Emerge

The school emerged top among the private school category after scoring the high-

est mean score of 332.2 in last year’s KCPE examination producing a candidate, Best Oyoma, aged 15 with 380 marks. Meanwhile, Florence Mutua, Busia County Women’s Representative, has commended teachers, parents, pupils and the academy’s management committee for working as a team and leading to excellent results in the KCPE exams. Mutua promised to utilise every opportunity at her disposal to ensure orphaned pupils continue to do well academically. “I will use every opportunity at my disposal to ensure that this school is performing extremely well in national examinations in order to shape the future of these orphaned and vulnerable children,” she said. Mutua at the same time commended the sponsor of the Christian academy, Living Faith International based in Nairobi for coming up with the ambitious project aimed at catering for the well-being of orphans in Bunyala Sub-County, especially those from poor families so that they can have a bright future. “I am very proud of the sponsor for volunteering to come with this institution that has really assisted the vulnerable children from this area,” she said. During a recent visit to the school, Mutua presented 2,400 sanitary towels and blankets to 157 children. She also commended teachers, parents, pupils and the school management committee for working as a team to enable the orphaned children perform well in KCPE examinations. She urged parents and guardians to work closely with teachers as well as the school management committee in order to enable the school to continue performing better academically. “Without the cooperation of parents and teachers, the school cannot do well academically. I am appealing to parents to support and work closely with the teachers as well as the school management committee so that the school continues to achieve good results,” Mutua reiterated.

“Living Faith International is paying school fees for the 35 needy children in high schools across the country while two of them are in the university,” —Gilbert Owino, Head teacher

ISSUE 095, March 2014

An unfortunate encounter with child abuse A home is no longer a safe haven for many children, particularly in urban settings. Annie Waite recounts a recent encounter with an unaccompanied girl she found roaming around at night

It was around nine o’clock in the evening. The night seemed much like any other, nothing out of the ordinary. However, as I drove into the estate where I live, I found a young girl at the security gate, about eight years old. She was not dressed enough to protect her from the evening chill, and I could tell she was distressed. Without a sweater and in slippers, she stood at the gate crying. I got out of the car to enquire from the watchman what was happening with the young girl who was inconsolable. At one moment she went breathless, attracting neighbours who were walking home. After she had calmed down, I asked her why she was at the gate. Sasha* (not her real name) replied: “My father has sent me out, to go back to school and get the five textbooks which are missing. I do not know where they are or who may have picked them from my bag.” I asked myself, could this be a step child to this parent? In my imagination no parent would chase their child out of the house to pick books from school at 9.00pm. Had it not been for the watchman who refused the girl to walk out the security gate, I do not know what would have happened to this little 8 year old girl. When I requested her to give me her father’s number, she started crying out loud again, she was not willing to do so. At that moment I called the chief and the police to assist because I felt this was the highest degree of violation of a child’s right. A father figure does not have to be a biological father in order for children to benefit. It can be an adoptive father, stepdad, or an adult male in the household. It was getting cold and a neighbour Mama Vera* walked back into the house to get a sweater for the girl. As we waited for the police to come, at about 10.00 pm a small boy walked up to us. I sensed this could be a younger brother and for sure it was. The half-dressed young boy Vinny*, had been sent to look for his sister and take her back home. I was very disturbed at this point because I had expected the parent to be out looking for the girl. At 10.40pm, a lady by the name Rhoda* approached us and said that she had come to pick the children. I questioned her asking if she was the mother to the children but she said “I am their house help. The parents have gone to bed and I have sneaked from the house to look for the children”. With my neighbour Mama Jason*, we decided to go to the police station with the two children, the house help and three other neighbours. At the police station, I had the information put in the occurrence book (OB). The officer in charge of Lang’ata Police Station handled this matter in a unique way. He called the father from a number given to us by Rhoda, the house help, was given five minutes to be at the station. When the father Jack* finally arrived at the station, he faced the police officer, who was disgusted with this behaviour. The OCS asked Jack what the role of a father was, and the latter replied “to take care of children”. Soon after, the children’s mother arrived. The OCS turned to her and asked: “What is happening, why is your child out of the house at 9.00pm?”. Stacy*, Sasha’s mother, who is a nurse working in Kisumu replied: “Ilikuwa hali ya kushtuwa mtoto (we were just frightening her)”. Angry, the OCS demanded to know whether Stacy was the child’s real mother. “How dare you scare a child?” he asked her angrily. He informed both parents that a child is also a property of the state and if such things are happening to your daughter then the state comes in and at this moment he has the right to place into police custody the father because what they did is child abuse. Jack, a civil servant apologised to the OCS and so did the mother who said that it will never happen again. Jack was asked to report the following day at 9.00am.


ISSUE 095, March 2014

7

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Timothy Githogori:

From salesman to dog handler By LARRY KIMORI For the past 14 years Timothy Githogori has made millions of shillings, thanks to his love and passion for dogs. When Naivasha-based former salesman invested KSh30,000 in buying male and female German shepherd dog puppies in 1996 from Tanzania, he did not know that this would turn his fortunes into a business empire worth millions of shillings. Githogori is now a respected and admired dog-breeder, trainer and handler of repute after he nurtured his business from the initial two puppies — Sebastian and Kate. He is now a renowned businessman within Nakuru County and beyond courtesy of the two puppies and has been nicknamed Wa-madogs which translates to the one who owns dogs.     Driven by his keen business acumen and unrelenting spirit and passion, Githogori left his employment as salesman with a local brewing company 19 years ago and ventured into a business enterprise many people considered bizarre and a bother: the rearing, breeding and training of dogs for sale. Considered a pariah and shunned by his relatives and friends then, Wa-madogs was not deterred by being tagged and instead enrolled for correspondence courses abroad to sharpen his skills as a professional dog-trainer, instructor and breeder. Employing his professional salesman’s skills, he has since cut a niche for himself as an acknowledged canine breeder by mastering dog behaviour. Today he is a proud owner of over 60 breeds of dogs that are to be found in his kennels ready for sale.

Reveal

During a recent interview, Githogori revealed that the secret behind his success was his frequent interaction and engagement with local and international dog trainers. “This is what propelled me to become an authority and a point of reference in a field formally reserved for security agents in the country,” he explains. He admits that dog-breeding and the fortunes he has made have gone beyond his wildest dreams in a business that is not yet saturated. Wa-madogs rears and trains dogs for guarding, tracking and pets whose pedigree include Maltese, Schnauzer, Papillion, Rottweiler, British Bulldog and German Shepherd among other varieties. Speaking to the Reject at his Naivasha farm recently, Githogori said he always had a passion and love for dogs. “I only ventured into the dog business after discovering my business shrewdness when I had travelled to Tanzania as marketing manager for a local brewing company.” During the visit, he met an elderly Asian man, who was rearing high breed dogs for sale in Mikocheni. He then requested the man to sell him two German Shepherd puppies. However, before selling the puppies to Githogori, who was then 30 years old, the Asian offered him some words of advice: “If you want to be rich, venture into rare business since demand for services such as keeping dogs for security will always remain high amid low supply.” On his return, Githogori reconsidered his friend’s advice and threw in the towel and immediately started breeding, rearing and training dogs for sale. Saddened by the way most people mistreated dogs, he was convinced that they needed formal training to enable the canines relate with man as its best friend. His decision was also informed by his re-

One trillion shillings to run county governments By Nicole Waithera County governments will require 249 billion for the smooth running of the counties in this year alone. The counties are also expected to raise one trillion shillings so as to be able to sustain themselves. The Commission for revenue allocation (CRA) argued that the money could only be raised if the central government empowered the county governments with more technical staff. Speaking at a breakfast meeting organized by the Constitution Implementation Commission Martin Lugadi of the Council of Governors called upon the central government to release 72 billion ksh that had been budgeted for health under the National Government. “Health is the most devolved function; the health ministry should release the amount down to counties. Some counties are straining to provide health services and the amount if shared to counties would ease the burden.

Timothy Githogori with one of his dogs in his farm in Naivasha. He has been training dogs for the past 18 years. Below: his son Jeff cleaning one of the dogs. Picture: Larry Kimori search that showed that guard dogs were in high demand and the market could not supply enough of them. Githogori then set up a special school to train prospective buyers and any other person who intended to keep dogs on how to treat the canines well. He charges trainees KSh50,000 for a one month course. From meagre earnings of roughly KSh35,000 per month, as a sales manager, Githogori now rakes hundreds of thousands of shillings per month from selling his canines, hiring them out, cleaning and grooming them for clients and training people on how to handle them. Snubbed as a pariah for engaging in an ‘odd job’ by friends and peers, Githogori says his business has led him to rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty including top businessmen and politicians in the country. “The earnings from the dog business have helped me pay school fees for my children, clothe and feed my family apart from paying other bills,” he says. He advises people not to shy away from engaging in what some regard as ‘odd and dirty jobs’.

Opportunity

He says that there are many job opportunities in the country which people can exploit if only they can embrace what is considered as “dirty work”, saying money is money regardless of how one earns it. Noting that he would like to contribute towards reduction of unemployment and insecurity in the Nakuru County, Githogori has requested the County Government to recruit 11 youths from each of the 11 constituencies to enrol at his Wa-madogs Dogs Training Academy at subsidised fee. He says the training will equip the youth with

Employ

skills to empower them start similar businesses since the demand for dogs for security and pets is high. As another way of contributing to his community, Githogori says he has always availed his tracker-dogs, which have helped locals in Naivasha and its environs recover lost property such as livestock, in his efforts to fight escalating crime in the county. “The most recent incident was when the canines helped to track down a suspect who had stolen the local chief ’s bicycle and wheelbarrow,” he says. All said and done, Githogori has all reasons to smile all the way to the bank every day after he has vaccinated, sheltered, groomed, fed and trained man’s best friend.

According to CRA, there was need for county governments to employ experts who would assist them in matters to do with the running of the county like coming up with good budgets. The head of research at CRA Linet Omala said that there was no need to allocate huge amounts of money down to county levels where the county governments do not know the clear guidelines on how best to spend the money. “Counties need to be allowed to employ technical stuff and advisors. That way, they will be advised on how best to run the counties. It is zero work to give them money there is no one advising them on how to spend the money,”said Omala According to Omala, the National government had so many directors who would be more useful if deployed down to work at county levels. “The National Government is bloated while the County Government is wanting. There are so many directors who would be great advisors at county levels,” added Omala.


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ISSUE 095, March 2014

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Judith Uchi: Championing the war against GBV in Kilifi By YUSUF AMIN As she grew up in Ganze sub County, Judith Uchi was alarmed by the number of marginalised people lacking basic necessities in life. From persistent hunger and desperation, the future always looked bleak to the residents of Kilifi County. As she went to village schools and attended various girls meetings in Ganze, Uchi vowed that one day she will rise and defend the people and their myriad problems. “I grew up in a very challenging environment. The suffering of the people in Ganze was an ordeal. How can a starving child go to school and get quality education. What about walking for about 10 kilometres to get water? she asks rhetorically.

Right

Now an activist in the fight against gender based violence, Uchi is determined to fight until the rights of the people in Ganze, especially young girls and in the entire Kilifi County are realised. “My voice is the voice of the people. Though I was brought up in difficulty in the village where problems formed part of our daily routine, I want to see a changed lifestyle among our people,” she says. She is determined to see that Ganze residents’ campaign against gender based violence is successful. “This is a very delicate job and needs a lot of dedication. You are out of the family environment for long. This is can be challenging,” she says. Uchi who is known for her aggressiveness is so focused in this job and is always ready to wreak havoc on any gender based violence offender. Her name rings danger if mentioned to those who have been caught up gender based violence cases. “Our women have remained quiet and suffered in silence. I will not tolerate this in my life as I fight for the victims,” she said.

Those who happen to cross her path live to regret as she is the kind of woman you do not joke around with. She always ensures that culprits face the full force of the law. Born in 1968 in Ganze, Uchi attended Ganze Primary School and later joined Ganze Secondary School. As a secondary school student, she stood out and made sure that her fellow female students attended school despite the retrogressive culture of the Mijikenda community, which violated the girl-child’s right to education. During this interview, Uchi noted that she was recognised by the teachers as the most aggressive student who would then help the community to know the importance of education of the women. After completing her secondary education in 1989, Uchi joined a tailoring college in Kilifi town where she learnt skills to start her own tailoring business. However, she still had sleepless nights because of the difficulties the residents underwent in Ganze. Uchi started her campaign against gender based violence in 1990 where she used to educate women on their rights. Even as she studied in college, Uchi was still conducting civic education to women in the region. She wanted them to heed her efforts and change though it was not an easy task. At one time she had to face the wrath of elders who saw her as a traitor out to destroy traditions of the Mijikenda people. At this moment, Uchi saw the dangers of her involvement in the girl child campaigns “The Mijikenda elders held meetings to discuss my campaigns to rescue girls who were being targeted to be married off to old men in the region. They were concerned because I was giving another value to the girls’ lives,” Uchi says. She adds: “But I understood that this was a problem which still needed to be addressed.” Later on Uchi got married to Moses Karisa

Judith Uchi, Gender Based Violence activist. Picture: Yusuf Amin Kenga, a Ganze resident who has since then been of great help in her fight for children and women’s rights. They have now three children — two boys and one girl —who are all very supportive of her. She is confident that her children will follow into her footsteps. Uchi’s husband has been very helpful in her campaign since he would fund her transport to help police arrest those who are perpetrators of gender based violence.

Recognise

“I have always encouraged my wife to be courageous and make sure that women were relieved from being mistreated by men in the society,” says Kenga. Uchi is now recognised as one of the women heroes in the area who have brought change in the community. Although she works hard to make sure that gender based violence cases are reduced, there were still many challenges on her path. Uchi has been receiving threats from people

she does not know who have warned her to keep off activities concerned with women especially in cases of rape, defilement and divorce. She has been forced to record several statements with the police but so far no suspect has been arrested in connection with the threat messages she has been getting. Another challenge is the Kenya Police Service whereby officers do not carry out thorough investigations on cases reported to them. She urges the police to be very carefully in handling such cases so that women and children can get their rights which have been violated for many years. Uchi vows that the journey to rescue the children, particularly girl, is still on and with the support of an Action Aid, an international non-governmental organisation, they have formed a local organization called Sauti ya Wanawake. Uchi, is the chairperson of Sauti ya Wanawake in this region. She has engaged all women to make sure that the Ganze community is enlightened on how to protect both children and women’s rights. “With the support of the Action Aid we are making proper follow ups on the emerging cases. Action Aid provides transport among other logistics to ensure the cases reach Kilifi law courts,” she says. Although she has faced the rebellion, some of the elderly people are now cooperating with her in promoting girl child education. “Sauti ya Wanawake will make sure that women are not cowed in fighting for their rights,” reiterates Uchi. She hopes that the Government and other organisations will help join her in the fight against gender based violence. So far Uchi is proud to announce that since she started fighting against gender based violence, she has solved more than 200 cases. However, she laments that although many cases were prosecuted, most failed inability of the police due to provide evidence.

Why bride wealth payment will not die soon By HENRY NEONDO To pay or not pay bride wealth has been a debate that has kept rearing its head in Kenya’s public discourses for ages and this year will not be an exceptional. In late January, a Nyeri court granted a man orders to have the body of a 60-year-old woman he claims was his wife exhumed from her brother’s farm. Michael Mucheru had gone to court to complain of violation of his rights after Juliet Wachera’s brother, John Wangondu, decided to bury his late sister on his farm.

Saga

Wachera was living in the United States at the time of her death and her body was flown back to Nyeri for burial on January 2. The latest saga in Nyeri has once again revived the debate that has refused to die. According to Wangondu (the brother to the late), Mucheru (the widower) who hails from Kangema, in Murang’a County, had not paid bride wealth and, therefore, had no right to bury Wachera. Wangondu quoted Kikuyu traditions to argue why Mucheru could be allowed to bury Wachera at their matrimonial home in Murang’a County, hence his decision to bury Wachera at his farm in Nyeri County.  The saga has once again sent shockwaves around Mount Kenya region and beyond abuzz with audience calling-in to various radio stations with each expressing their opinions on the matter. Many proponents say bride wealth is a responsibility and not a burden of

the suitor and his family. Like many other African traditions, in the Kikuyu culture bride wealth is still highly regarded.  Peterson Njoroge, a social scientist in Kiambu, says bride wealth is a sign of admiration for the wife-to-be and her family. “It unites two families.” Ndungu Kioi, a Kikuyu elder, says that while historically cereals, maize, beans, potatoes, cows and goats used to symbolise bride wealth today, however, cash appears to settle all matters. However, it is increasingly becoming clear that many families prefer cash with the amount paid determined by the health of the girl and level of education among others. Quinton Ayimba, a social scientist based in Nairobi says bride wealth is what gives marriage legality. In African communities, a marriage is invalid if bride wealth has not changed hands. Usually, talks begin when the groom’s father contacts the bride’s father and makes a proposal for marriage.  In other communities, it is the groom-tobe who sends word through his fiancée to her parents that he will be leading a delegation to their home to do the needful. In 2006 study done among the Kipsigis by Robert Quinlan of the Washington University, it is noted that a common practice is that the first offer of bride wealth is always rejected in attempt to bargain for bigger payment. Quinlan notes that several suitors may be offering their proposals to the bride’s father simultaneously.   The process of negotiating bride wealth may last several months. In the

end, the bride’s father decides after consultation with other close kin. Quinlan says that among the Kipsigis the average bride wealth payment is livestock (cows, goats) and some cash equivalent, a third of a man’s cattle, half of his goats and two months’ wages.   The groom’s father makes the payment from his own resources coming from the natural increase of his herds, any bride wealth payment made to him for his daughters and cattle raiding (which still occurs in remote areas).  Gitonga Njeru, a journalist who recently married, supports payment of bride wealth noting that it is good for various reasons. First, it preserves customs. “As a man I feel that I have done something honourable by honouring culture,” he says. Gitonga notes that bride wealth is to the African what a ring is to those in the West. While a wedding ring signifies a union between a husband and wife, the bride wealth on the other hand is a sign of harmony between two families.  It brings the family of the man and that of a woman together. It defines the concept of marriage in an African context that is quite broader than that defined by the western cultures.

stake in the marriage. “This explains reason for the low or non-existent divorce and separation cases among the Africans in the past,” he explains. But while African men like Gitonga give a glossy picture of the bride wealth, it is not so for the African women especially those in the middle class bracket. According to gender activists, once a man pays bride wealth for a woman, she loses independence and becomes part of his property and household.  The 2010 annual report of the Federation of Kenya Women Lawyers (FIDA) notes that cultural practices such as payment of bride wealth has been identified as one factor that fuel hegemonic masculinity as men who pay bride wealth feel entitled to ‘discipline’ and even rape their wives.  A study by Men for the Equality of Men and Women (MEW) in 2008 found that men who paid bride wealth felt they owned their wives and placed myriad demands over them, which included unlimited conjugal rights and entitlement to their wives’ income, which invariably would enable men prove to their peers they are providers. The men also expect their wives to carry According to social scientists, the out parental responsibilities withbride wealth payment gives the groom out complaint, especially where the rights not only to a woman’s body, but children at hand are girls. However, children, (whether they are his or not) ironically, the men would claim paand rights to products of his wife’s work.   rental responsibilities over the ‘girls’ According to Njeru, bride wealth when demanding bride wealth from introduces a sense of culpability into a their prospective in-laws. marriage, giving not only the husband “When the bride wealth is paid and wife responsibility, but grants entire to the in-laws, a woman gets adopted families of the two marrying parties a into the family of the man that paid it.

Responsible

She takes the man’s last name and becomes part of his life. In other words, the woman loses her place in her birth place,” said Miriam Wamuyu, a blogger and social scientist. However, Martin Curtis of Phoenix, USA reacted to an article by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on the same topic in 2010 that it is misleading to argue that bride price is a ‘license’ for men to abuse their wives or to treat them as purchased goods.

Price

“I know a great number of men who never paid bride price but still treat their wives like pieces of garbage. Are we saying there is no wife-beaters in places where bride price is not common, say the West?” posed Curtis. However, Judy Thongori, a Nairobi-based family lawyer says there are other factors emerging that the youth opt for to beat the demands for bride wealth. She says many youths, especially in inter-ethnic unions, prefer cohabiting. While activists would wish to see bride wealth payment abolished as attested by the recently rejected Marriage Bill, men like Mucheru would equally wish the society at large respected marriage certificates. He wonders why despite the presence of the certificate which he got with Wachera on March 9, 2013 at the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the US, his brother-in-law could go ahead to bury his late wife on the premise of a tradition that is contestable. The couple had lived together for 25 years.


ISSUE 095, March 2014

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

9

Kenyan farmers turn to rabbit agri-business By Adhere Cavince When news broke out of the profitability of quail enterprise, many famers bought the concept, sinking millions of their hard earned cash in the business. Others rushed to the banks, got the cash and became instant suppliers of the much hyped eggs. The excitement never lasted long. Prospects dimmed. Money lost. As a number of farmers come to terms with the reality of business miscalculation in the quail frenzy, another crop of farmers have their eyes trained on something else, rabbit farming. Rabbit farming is catching up fast. A 2013 economic activity survey of Eastern, Central and Nairobi regions by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), identified rabbit farming among emerging viable enterprises. However, unlike with the magical birds, rabbit farmers are more cautious, have access to elaborate technical support and ready market, both locally and internationally. Why sudden shift from the boy’s hobby to commercial rabbit farming? Dr. Jane Gathenya of JKUAT reckons that rabbit farming is not only profitable compared to other farm animals, the overhead costs of starting and running the enterprise are equally low.

Capital

“One can start the business with as low as twenty thousand shillings. All you need space, even in your town residence backyard,” This was true for Mary Mwangi, who in 2012 started with 15 does in Ngong, having undertaken a business incubation course at JKUAT. Last year, she teamed up with another farmer, Ann Kanyi and the two founded Rabbit World, a private company that deals in rabbit value chain, from production to marketing, and processing of by-products. The company currently has over 3,000 rabbits and a network of 10, 000 farmers spread across the country. While a kilogram of rabbit meat current-

ly retails between Ksh. 600 and Ksh. 700, to Mary and Ann, Rabbit farming is not just for profits. They consider it an economic empowerment programme, with a potential of creating elusive jobs that the country’s youth are hankering for. “In my family, we regularly consume rabbit meat, which is nutritional with abundant Vitamin B12 and lower levels of cholesterol and saturated fats,” explains Mary. Ann adds that rabbits easily adapt to different holding conditions, mature faster and produce diverse by-products like skin, wool, manure and urine. It is these benefits of the rabbit enterprise that has seen a rise in a number of avid farmers rise up to the challenge.

Profit

One such farmer is Masesi Gideon from Machakos County who started off with 14 rabbits at the beginning of 2014. His stock has risen to 23 within a month. He explains why he added rabbit farming to his New Year resolutions: “I wanted a change from dairy farming. Rabbits are less costly to feed, occupy limited space and are well adapted to the arid lands in Ukambani, which cannot sustain conventional agricultural farming.” While the rabbit enterprise is agreeably low lying fruit, like any other commercial venture, it has rules engagement. This ranges from appropriate husbandry practices, getting the right breeds, correct feeds and market for the products. “The animals are very sensitive and can easily die from stress and unhygienic conditions. That is why we have a team of veterinary officers who visit our farmers to provide technical and extension services,” avers Mary Mwangi. As commercialization of rabbit farming becomes a reality in Kenya, there is need to expand and exploit the local market, besides reaching out to international markets. This will help the farmers eschew the current quails trap. To achieve this end, Rabbit World is keen

Mrs Mary Mwangi at the World Rabit Premises, Nyeri town. Below: rabbit meat and shoes made from it’s skin. Picture: Adhere Cavince on establishing a rabbit processing facility to eliminate waste and increase lifespan of the products. “Just like Kenchic and Farmers Choice, we are working towards having an organization that can holistically deal with rabbit value chain, because the potential is there,” concludes Ann Kanyi.

How corruption infiltrated allotment of ADC farms By ABISAI AMUGUNE In 1994 President Daniel arap Moi ordered for the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) farm in Trans-Nzoia County to be converted into a settlement scheme for the local landless people. The then ADC Managing Director, the late Walter Kilele handed the 16,000 acre Chepchoina ADC farm to the Settlement Department under the Ministry of Lands after finalising the concessions of purchase. The farm was subdivided into three phases and earmarked for the Sabaots, Pokots, Turkanas and other local communities. Initially, the settlement would have covered the 200 Sabaot, 300 Pokot and 200 Turkana.

Fate

As fate would be, the Sabaot and Turkana did not benefit from phase one and the reason why phase two had to be opened. The Pokot consequently increased their share of plots from 300 to 700. The Agricultural Development Corporation on the hand started to involve their employees in the settlement exercise. It transferred its 147 workers from Japata, Nai and Katuke ADC farms to be allocated plots at Chepchoina bordering Uganda and West Pokot County. The neighbouring Zea ADC farm was allocated to senior officers in

Moi’s government. With the exit of Moi, his successor Mwai Kibaki came with a new policy where the farm would also be considered to include other landless Kenyans outside Trans-Nzoia, West Pokot and Turkana counties. For Phase three, a total of 90 Sabaot, 618 Pokot, 70 Luhyia, 57 Turkana and 40 from other communities were issued with allotment letters. The issue at hand therefore, is that phase three plots cannot be developed when issues of phase two are still pending. Those allocated the five acre plots in Phase one are those in possession of letters signed by Ishmael Chelang’a, the late Rift Valley Provincial Commissioner. Kapenguria MP Samuel Moroto has admitted being a beneficiary. Upon the convening of the 11th parliament following last year’s General Election, an Agricultural Parliamentary Committee visited the disputed Chepchoina ADC farm and recommended that the plots be allocated between 2.5 to five acres because of variations in the state of the soils and other natural features. The report also recommended that all the local communities be involved in the settlement exercise to embrace cohesiveness in the area. The report was released after two months of deliberation in parliament and read to the public on July

29, 2013 by the Kwanza sub-County commissioner Gabriel Risie. In the meantime, an Allocation Committee headed by Francis Kapchanga was formed to implement the report with consideration for genuine local squatters. According to the Kapchanga committee that includes the Pokot and Turkana, the stalemate has been brought about by wrangling among the members of the Pokot community. About 101 Pokot who had been considered for allocations were from the distant Kacheliba and Sigor constituencies in West Pokot County leaving out the “stone-throw” away neighbours in Moroto’s Kapenguria Constituency bordering Chepchoina ADC farm in Endebess constituency. A similar situation faces the Turkana allotees who are reported to have been drawn hundreds of miles away from Lodwar in Turkana County, ignoring their “brothers and sisters” in Trans-Nzoia. It is believed that the Pokot in Moroto’s Kapenguria constituency did not see the sense to mad-rush for the Chepchoina ADC plots since the Moi Kanu regime had already settled them at Kanyarkwat scheme. Moroto, however, does not buy this school of thought and insists that all the Pokot no matter their homes of origin and stay have a right

to claim part of the disputed land as ancestral property. Both Moroto and his Endebess counterpart Dr Robert Pukose have made respective claims of Sebeii and Pokot of Uganda nationalities having been settled at Chepchoina. While Moroto says the situation had cooled down following the intervention of William Ruto Deputy President, Pukose on his part denied having been part of the delegation to discuss the dispute. Pukose says he is not a beneficiary of the plots.

Dispute

However, in a renewed flare-up at the farm last week, John Wafula is said to have died under mysterious circumstances as four houses were being burned down. Wafula, 70, and owner of plot No. 1250 is said to have been kidnapped by an armed group of youth at Kabotwa before he was found dead. The following day, a woman Salome Wanjiro and former Endebess Chief Ronald Mutende were attacked and seriously injured. By the time of going to press, Wanjiro had been removed from the Kitale District Hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit at Eldoret Referral Hospital. According to Lilian Okembo, Trans-Nzoia Police Commander

four suspects would be arrested and arraigned in court for murder. While suspending all the farm activities at Chepchoina, Okembo also extended the ban of meetings convened by politicians in the area saying certain leaders were using the occasion to incite for violence. “I am asking all the residents to co-operate with efforts towards restoring peace in the area by pinpointing those leaders holding night meetings to fan trouble,” urged Okembo. On his part Kapchanga denied that the Pokot had been targeted for eviction as alleged by Moroto. “The Luhyia and Turkana have come to terms that the conflict be resolved once and for all to enable them prepare for this year’s planting season,” said Kapchanga. He said the residents who led a demonstration to the Trans-Nzoia County government were now plotting to lead a protest to State House after failing to get assistance from local security chiefs and leaders. “The allotees have found it difficult to repay government loans they used to purchase the plots,” Kapchanga explained. He added: “It is regrettable that members of General Service Unit (GSU) who had been deployed in the area to provide security are the ones ploughing the plots for themselves.”


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ISSUE 095, March 2014

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Banana farmers smiling all the way to the bank By ABISAI AMUGUNE Over 1,000 women farmers in Trans Nzoia County are enjoying the fruits of their labour literally. For the past three years Elizabeth Wanjala and her 1,620 colleagues have seen proceeds from their banana plantations turning their lives around. Her son, Edgar Wanjala, no longer suffers from being kicked out of school due to lack of school fees and other levies like was common in the past. Today, the Form 3 student at Boma Secondary School in Trans-Nzoia County has had his fees paid promptly.

Switch

Wanjala is glad she made the decision to switch from growing maize to investing in banana production. Since then, she says: “My bank account has not only grown but my income has also been steady.” The 52 year-old farmer is a member of the 53 affiliate growers’ organisations on the outskirts of Kitale Airstrip. She is among the 1,620 banana small holder farmers under a joint project coordinated by the Kenyan Government and World Bank. The group has 27 women members who include 14 youths. Trans Nzoia is among the 20 counties that will benefit from the Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agri-business Project and has 45 groups under which the banana growers operate. KAPAP has contracted the Rural Livelihood Development Consortium (RULIDEC) to train farmers on the production of bananas and subsequent sourcing of markets for their

products. They started with the tissue-culture planting technology under capacity building offered by KAPAP.

Technology

Like Wanjala, Maurice Wanyonyi, former chairman of Siuna Organization which has been transformed into a SACCO, no longer depend on bread for breakfast. They have instead resorted to substitute it with ripe bananas. Wanyonyi, a retired government agricultural officer and his wife, Hellen say that the family’s six-acre farm with nearly 600 stems of bananas was providing livelihood for them. According to Wanyonyi’s counterpart, Alice Wafula, the KAPAP Initiative has helped them acquire loans from financial institutions, especially Equity Bank, to purchase major farm inputs. The members are engaged in merry-go-round savings schemes and table banking activities to keep them financial stable. The project has helped, Rachel Wakhungu, 70, who is a widow, to have a regular source of activity and source of income by selling her bananas to the nearly 3,000 residents at the overcrowded Point Moja slums. She is a member of the Siuna SACCO, whose other members are Susan Khaemba, Alice Manasseh and Grassland Assistant Chief Doreen Obino, who has gone a step further to invite her boss, Chief Isaac Mutarithia, to join them in the lucrative project. The group has been represented at agricultural shows and seminars in and out of the County, organised by Kenya Seed Company, Agricultural Development Corporation and Agri-

Women selling bananas at a market in Keumbu, Kissii County. Many farmers Kissii are happy with the amount of money they make from planting bananas as compared to what they used to make while planting maize. Picture: Courtesy cultural Society of Kenya. According to Michael Ochieng’, the group’s organising secretary, involvement of the youth in the project has also helped to create jobs and reduce crime in the area.

Involve

Ochieng’, himself a youth who had been supported for a family set–up through a wedding ceremony, says most local youths had registered for the banana project within the smaller pieces of plots instead of waiting to be allocated family or ancestral land. According to Jackson Mang’oli, Trans-Nzoia County coordinator of KAPAP, the project targeting value– change had emerged fourth in the crop production in the County behind poultry, dairy and maize farming respectively. Mang’oli revealed that the banana farmers transacted business equivalent to KSh46.7 million for the outgoing 2013 crop. He noted that the project would in the 2014 agricultural season target to include all the 45 banana growers’ groups into SACCOS. Siuna group is the only enterprise registered under the SAACO laws.

According Hezron Ambatsa, TransNzoia county RULIDEC Consultant, banana production is a stress-free business unlike other agricultural undertakings such as maize and dairy productions which require close supervision. “For banana production, you only plant, weed and wait for harvesting,” explains Elizabeth Wanjala, adding that the cost of production was lower than for other crops such as maize. She notes: “Sometimes the maize crop fails and there is nobody to compensate you.” Wanjala says bananas will hardly fail except for inadequate rains and diseases.

Variety

The Siuna project leader Jamin Wafula says the group had received most of its varieties and second generation stems from Coffee Research Foundation and local farmers, respectively. Some of the varieties include Mbogoya, Wambugu, Uganda Green, Uganda Red and Giant Cavandish which are ripened except the Uganda Green. Plans are underway for each of the five constituencies in the Trans Nzoia County — Saboti, Endebess,

Cheranganyi, Kwanza and Kiminini — to have their own banana nurseries. The group plans to set put up a factory for the banana by–products in the area as they look for bigger markets and come up with value-addition to the produce.

Expand

Apart from bio-gas and recycling of by products for animal feeds, Siuna farmers have expanded the programme to include poultry, fruits production and animal husbandry. The main markets for the farmers are local supermarkets and learning institutions, which have embraced bananas just like other foods. A bunch of green bananas retails between KSh400 and KSh580 while the ripe ones sell at between KSh800 and KSh1,000. The bananas are ripened in traditional chambers that include pots and ordinary carton boxes. To attract more members and uplift them, the group is selling banana seedlings at KSh100 each and second generation stems at between KSh20 and KSh50. The group has also been contracted by businesspeople and enterprises to produce bananas at regular intervals.

Fertilizer project launched to boost farming By ABISAI AMUGUNE The venue was the North Rift Agricultural Society of Kenya show grounds in Kitale and the Trans-Nzoia Governor Patrick Simiyu Khaemba was launching the first ever fertilizer subsidy programme for the local farmers. This was Khaemba’s second development launch after he had initiated the rural roads project criss-crossing the five constituencies — Saboti, Endebess, Kiminini, Cherangani and Kwanza. For Khaemba, this would have been the most attractive occasion for the Trans Nzoia community whose main economic activity resolves around the agricultural sub-sector. He went ahead to organise the forum, inviting major actors in the sub-sector including private and public players. Among those invited included government organizations such as national Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), Ministry of Agriculture and Mavuno who are fertilizer dealers. Khaemba also invited local leaders to come and integrate and bless the occasion. His intentions were that bringing together stakeholders would help boost the agricultural economy of

the county. However, the occasion did not turn out as it was supposed to be. First, Khaemba himself failed to come and instead delegated his deputy Dr Stanley Tarus to preside over the occasion.

Attend

Through Tarus, he apologised saying he was attending to other “important and preferential national issues” in Nairobi. A farmer in attendance was heard asking: “What important and preferential national issues was he attending to in Nairobi other than the agricultural activity that also caters for the entire country?” Trans-Nzoia is regarded as the country’s granary owing to its vast maize production that is used by Kenyans as staple food. According to Khaemba, the county is no longer regarded as the “food basket of Kenya” due to low production of food products caused by non-application of modern technology in the farming operations. By launching the fertilizer subsidy programme, Khaemba hoped that the stakeholders would come together to embrace the new technologies to improve maize production. What Khaemba was missing on board was a County executive officer for Agriculture be-

cause the one who had been nominated and vetted by the County Assembly resigned immediately. Patrick Ambani from KETEPA had just been appointed as the County executive officer for Agriculture before he resigned in a huff citing political interference. Nine months down the line, Khaemba’s government has yet to make replacement of Ambani and instead have appointed Moses Lokaliwa who is the County executive officer for Water and Irrigation to act in the agriculture docket. Questions have been asked why the agriculture docket would remain vacant or be grossed over for a long time when the subsector is the major player in the county’s economy. “What was the purpose of sending Gaudencia Malimbe, Executive Secretary for Public Service to the forum?” asked another farmer. Chris Wamalwa, MP for Kiminini was nowhere in sight, so were his colleagues David Lazaro Wafula (Saboti) and Ferdinard Wanyonyi (Kwanza) and Dr Robert Pokose (Endebess), Wisley Korir (Cherangani). Women Representative Janet Nangabo, nominated senators Catherine Mukite and Zipporah Kittony as well as local residents also kept away from the forum. Trans-Nzoia

Senator Henry Ole Ndiema was also absent. However, Khaemba was not deterred with the boycott by the MPs. He outlined measures that would fast-track increased production of maize in the region. The county government will provide KSh20 million to transport 90,000 bags of the Mavuno fertilizer to all the five constituencies. The fertilizer will cost KSh2,450 per 50 kilogramme bag instead of KSh2,500.

Appoint

Khaemba’s government will also undertake sampling and analysis of soil in all the 25 wards in order to advise farmers on the current varieties of fertilizers to be applied in their respective areas. Khaemba regretted that due a high level of acidity in the local soils, farmers were now producing 15 bags of maize under one acre piece of land instead of the perceived 35 bags. Dairy cattle yield 10 litres of milk daily instead of about 40 litres. “I recommend that Trans-Nzoia County be provided with non-acidifying fertilizers other than DAP in addition to CAN,” Khaemba said in a speech read on his behalf by Tarus. He added: “Today 56 per cent of the residents live below poverty line. Worrying still is the fact that 68 per cent are food striven.”


ISSUE 095, March 2014

11

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Goat rearing project launched amidst optimism

Chiefs under the influence BY BEN OROKO Following increasing cases of chiefs and their assistants engaging in taking of illicit liqour in Borabu sub-county, the Government has issued a notice that any chief or assistant found drunk in public will be sacked. The Government has come out to clear its image of rogue chiefs and their assistants reportedly engaging in the consumption of illicit brews to the detriment of the public service image.

Consume

By YUSUF AMIN Women groups in Kilifi County are benefiting from a goat rearing programme. The programme was started by Coast Women in Development, an organisation in the coast region. The 15 groups in Matano Mane, Ganze sub-County were given 18 high breed goats so that they could engage in income-generating to create wealth and jobs as they fight poverty that has been experienced in the area for many years. The goats were bought at a cost of Sh150,000 and are meant to benefit livestock rearing groups in Ganze sub-County.

Project

The groups to benefit from the project found in different parts of the region include Aim Higher, Tusaidiane, Madzo Madzo and Ndugu Mnani among others. According to Betty Sharon, chief executive officer Coast Women in Development the move was meant to help women change their lives for the better through trading in livestock. “The high breed goats are expected to attract many businessmen to the women when they are ready for sale,” she explained. The goats are expected to breed and these will be distributed to others in the area so that more women can benefit from the project. “We will make sure that the high breed goats are circulated among women’s groups so that they turn to goats rearing instead of concentrat-

ing on the maize crop which no longer does well in the region,” Sharon explained. Coast Women in Development will be supervising the progress of the project to ascertain its performance so that it can be spread across Kilifi County. “I know that goat rearing has its challenges, but that does not provide a room for you to abandon the trade, in fact I would urge women to come together and make sure that they help each other for its success,” reiterated Sharon.

Hope

She expressed hope that in future, women will be able to sell meat and milk to the cooperatives that will be established by the county government. According to Sidi Kazungu, a leader in one of the groups that has benefited from the project, the venture will go a long way in empowering women in rural areas. She termed the project as the best since high breed goats will continue to multiply. Sidi asked men in the area to help

Information Communication Technology (ICT) Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i has decried cases of chiefs and assistant chiefs consuming chang’aa, yet they were supposed to assist the Government in the crackdown on chang’aa brewing and consumption in their areas of jurisdiction. Speaking at Menyenya High School in Borabu Sub-County during the area leaders’ meeting, Dr Matiang’i warned any chief found drunk or enCoast gaging in consumption of Women in illicit liquor will lose their Development job for putting the public service image in disrepute. Executive The CS challenged Officer Betty area deputy county comSharon [in hat] missioner, Fredrick Ndshowing the ambuki to take stern disgoats to the ciplinary action against leaders. Goat any chief or their asrearing has sistants found engaging been found to consumption of illicit be one way of brews,reminding him that empowering the Government will not Kilifi women condone public officers financially. behaving disorderly in public. Pictures: Yusuf Amin

Engage

them in the project by making sure that goats get the required feeds. “I would urge men to cooperate with us so that the project does not fail and this will cushion the harsh conditions that many families especially those living in rural areas have been facing,” Kazungu urged. Kilifi county executive officer in charge of Agriculture and livestock, Mwalimu Menza, said that Kilifi County Government had set aside KSh2 million to buy high breed goats for meat and milk that will be distributed to groups comprising of women and men in the county. Menza said goat business had been ailing from abandonment as it has been left unattended for many years. He promised the farmers that it will be fully revived to benefit

them. “We are going to revive goat farming in the county especially in Ganze where poverty has been experienced for many years,” she said

Boost

According to Priscar Kashuru Shethi, chairlady of Madzomadzo Women Group, they will cooperate with the CWID to boost the life of the women in Ganze sub-County. She asked other organisations to intervene and help boost women’s groups with different projects since women are the ones who look after the families in villages. She asked agricultural officers to be visiting beneficiary groups and give technical advice on how they could prosper in the project.

“Will anyone complain that the Government has sacked any chief or their assistants found drunk in public or engaging in consumption of illicit brews while discharging their public functions as agents of the Government onthe ground,”posed Matiang’i Matiang’i also warned public officers against engaging in partisan politics at the expense of discharging their official duties to the public, saying, public officers should not take political sides while offering services to the public from whose taxes they get their daily bread.


12

ISSUE 095, March 2014

Unfiltered, uninhibited…just the gruesome truth

Fishing business gets fishy in Siaya County By OMONDI GWENGI As the first rays of the sun peep over the hills, the fishermen set off in their boat and sail out to the lake. The chilly, invigorating breeze brushes against them and they shiver a little. As the sails fill with air, the canoe moves swiftly over the water. Soon, they are in the middle of the glimmering lake and begin to let down their nets. The sky looks beautiful at sunrise with orange, gold, pink and blue tints. They are glad the day will be sunny and hope to get a good catch. Once in a while they pull their nets into the boat. Sometimes the nets are loaded with fish, prawns and crabs, but other times they are empty. By noon, they start rowing back to shore. Working in the hot sun is a tough job. As they reach the shore, their families and fishmongers wait with baited breath, to see if they have a catch. Then, when they have removed the fish from the canoe leaving some ‘pocho’ for food, they now sell the rest. In the afternoon, the fishermen sit under a shady tree or in the field and repair their nets. Some will also spend some time attending to their vegetable gardens behind their huts or in the farms. Evening comes and this is the best time of the day for some as they can now relax with their families.

Connect

As I watched these fishermen I am in awe. It is hard work but I think most of them love what they do. They have a special connection to the lake and to anyone who loves and eats fish. They put food on our tables and for that we should give thanks. As Siaya County government plans to set up fish processing plants in the County, fishermen and women wet their appetites looking forward to the day when such a plant will be a reality and will transform their livelihoods. For decades fishing has been the main economic activity for com-

munities living along the shores of Africa’s largest fresh water lake. However, days when fishing along the shores of Lake Victoria was lucrative business are long gone. Today, middlemen have taken over the fishing industry and are making a fortune at the expense of men, women and children who sweat it out day and night in the world’s second largest fresh water lake. Despite all their efforts, these fishermen wallow in poverty as middlemen profit and smile all the way to the bank. So, while a few residents see the fish as a blessing, fishermen who risk their lives and fishmongers who work for long hours under harsh weather are yet to enjoy the fruits of their hard labour. According to Pius OnFishing boats docked at Ngodhe Island along the shores of Lake Victoria. Fishermen will soon enjoy the yango, secretary Bondo fruits of their labour due to the planned improvements in the industry. Picture: Carolyne Oyugi Beach Management Unit (BMU) Network, lack of established systems to recently, fishermen can only get the ments in the industry,” Ochieng told lishing fisheries boards to improve which fish can be produced, pro- value of their hard work when facili- the Reject. the sector just like it is in the other cessed and marketed has made the ties such as the fish option centres On his side, Bondo BMU Net- sectors,” explains Okello. price value of fish to diminish. On- are established in order to create work Chairperson, Francis Olan’go, He suggests that counties that yango says the county government room for them to bargain with their says that the trend may impact nega- have fishing as an industry have should step in and regulate the fish- customers. tively on the county’s economy and autonomous cabinet slots to handle ing industry to ensure that the fish“By having such facilities, the urged local fish processing factories fisheries issues specifically as one ermen get better deals through bet- fishermen will be able to preserve to offer competitive rates to the fish- way of improving the sector. ter prices. their catch for a longer period be- ermen. However Cornel Rasanga “We end up selling fish to neigh- fore they go stale as they look for However, Geoffrey Okello, Field Amoth, Governor Siaya County says bouring industries in Uganda who better markets,” explains Okode. Coordinator with Environmental that his government has put in place offer better prices than the Kenyan Liaison Centre International (ELCI) mechanisms that will make fisherfish processing industries,” explains at Usenge Beach, the fishing in- men get value for their hard work. Onyango. Although there are economic dustry had for long been forgotten “We have already established fish In Kenya, for example, a kilo- gains from fishing, Willis Ochieng because the fishermen were disen- option centres in Usenge and Wich gramme of the Nile Perch is bought County Assembly member for West franchised and fragmented making Lum beaches which will enable fishat between KSh150 and KSh180 Yimbo argues that they could be it difficult for them to speak in one ermen to add value to their fish for while Ugandan industries buy the doubled if cooperatives were revived voice to bargain on matters affecting export,” Rasanga explains. same kilogramme of fish at between or formed and fishermen facilitated the growth of the industry. However, according to Joseph KSh250 and KSh300. with loans. “It is our appeal to both the na- Agoko, chairman Agriculture, LiveAccording to Siaya County As“Fishermen are exposed to pred- tional and county governments stock and Fisheries in Siaya County sembly Speaker George Okode, atory pricing by middlemen and which have fish as their major Assembly, there is need to make the who toured the beaches in Bondo, hence discouraging further invest- source of revenue to consider estab- fishing industry sustainable.

Effects

Children affected with HIV facing rejection from community Continued from page 2 “What we do is take these children to various children’s homes since returning them to their families means another nightmare in their lives,” Chea explained.   He urged the members of the public not to discriminate the children living with or affected by HIV but to help them access antiretroviral drugs and education. He said that rescue missions have been met by several challenges since many family members offer little or no support. “The children have going through hell. Some even go to point of biting the children for no ap-

parent reason but under the excuse that they are punishing them,” he said. Chea called on non-governmental organisations to step in and help these children access good infrastructure and help them leave like other people in the society. “We need to work together in this noble idea. These children need us as their only hope after they were abandoned by their families due to their conditions. We cannot sit back and watch their lives ruined by rogue, uncaring guardians,” Chea said. According to Emma Salama, a health worker in the County, cases of children living with HIV

positive being discriminated against are rampant. Salama promised the public that they will make sure that such cases are reported to the gender desk.

Avoid stigma

She asked guardians to take care of the children so as to avoid their being stigmatised. “We are asking those charged with the responsibility of caring for these children not to discriminate against them but to instead give them loving care that can only come from a guardian,” she said.

Executive Director: Arthur Okwemba

Editor: Jane Godia

Salama has been at the frontline in the fight against stigmatisation of those living with HIV. She has been conducting civic education to create positive awareness around the epidemic and also tackle stigma that is now being experienced in the remote areas of Jaribuni, Vitengeni and Ganze among others. “It is undermining the rights of the children. Citizens need to play a role in helping children living with HIV,” noted Salama. She added: “These children need us as much as we need them. They should not be stigmatized since they are part and parcel of our society.”

Write to:

info@mdcafrica.org

Programme Officer: Mercy Mumo

Sub-Editors: Carolyne Oyugi,Dan Orlale and Joyce Chimbi. Designer: Noel Lumbama

www.mdcafrica.org

Contributors: Omondi Gwengi ,Yusuf Amin, Ben Oroko, Abisai Amugune, Adhere Cavince, Henry Nuendo, Larry Kimori, Nicole Waithera, Gilbert Ochieng,Annie Waite, Patrick Mutisya, Henry Kahara,Plan International,Robert Nyagah.

The paper is produced with funds from

Reject Online Issue 95  

The Reject Online is a monthly publication by the Media Diversity Centre, a project of African Woman and Child Feature Service

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