Thursday, April 5th, 2018
Victims of sexual assault will be given free emergency treatment in a move meant to prevent infections and save lives.
In a policy statement released on Monday, the Ministry of Health argues that this treatment, which includes free emergency contraceptives, will also prevent unintended pregnancies.
Director of Medical Services Jackson Kioko directed all county health officials to ensure that emergency contraception is available all the time in all departments where services are provided to sexual assault victims.
“All county and sub-county health management teams to assist health facilities to strengthen the job capacity building sessions through continuing medical education,” Dr Kioko said.
He said the sessions will serve as useful forums for staff to get updates on various topics of interest to them, including sharing information on the best medical management for survivors.
“For purposes of accountability and effective coordination, all the departments that provide services to survivors of sexual violence are required to follow the existing procedures for dispensing and accounting for the commodities,” he said.
The government has traditionally subsidised emergency contraceptives, capping prices for the popular pill at Sh150, as well as providing free condoms in public health centres.
However, observers say this only serves people who willingly engage in sex but decide to prevent the aftermath, leaving out people forced into it.
Dr Kioko admitted that limited access to emergency contraception at night, after office hours and during weekends, has been cited as a challenge to sexual violence survivors.
“Sexual violence is a serious public health problem and a human rights concern globally and has adverse physical and psycho-social consequences hence the urgent need to address the challenges with a view to making services available to survivors,” he said.
The policy to provide more of contraceptives to health centres involved in treating sexual assault victims means that the government must provide more funding to ensure adequate supply.
Most government hospitals are supplied with drugs from the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.
But some run out, often due to delayed payments by county governments that manage these facilities.
Limited availability of emergency contraception to survivors of sexual violence has been a big challenge.
Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya has indefinitely suspended the surveying and demarcation of the controversial 64,000-hectare Naroosura Group Ranch.
The move came after two factions clashed at a meeting called to resolve a row over sub-division of the land.
Mr Natembeya also ordered the local criminal investigations office to look into claims by one faction that they have been swindled out of millions of shillings in survey and land adjudication fees.
“I condemn the clash, but I also blame the committee for the way they conduct their business.
“They should always provide progress reports to the members since they are only trustees. So I order everything to stop until this dispute is resolved,” he said.
On Wednesday, there was tension at the ranch after a meeting convened by the area security committee, led by Mr Natembeya, turned rowdy as the two factions exchanged bitter words and charged at each other as the administrator watched from a distance.
Trouble started when the faction allied to the group ranch committee, which is entrusted with sub-dividing the ranch among members, protested the presence of area member of county Assembly Stephen ole Kudate, whom they claim is inciting some members against the committee.
Police officers called to provide security had a rough time as the two groups brandished rungus.
They were forced to form a circle around the MCA and his wife, Soipan Kudate, who is the county woman representative.
Eventually, the faction led by the group ranch chairman David Kasare, and his officials, left in protest, saying they could not share the podium with the MCA and his team.
As the drama unfolded, Mr Natembeya kept his distance as the sub-county commissioner, Ali Duba, made frantic efforts to restore order.
Meanwhile, Ms Kudate appealed to Mr Natembeya to ask the national government to have private surveyors demarcate and sub-divide the land for free.
“I call on the committee to stop intimidating people and, since they have failed to work for the people, they should go,” Ms Kudate said.
The group led by the MCA also tore into the committee, accusing it of disinheriting widows, the youth and the aged, and called for a stop to the ongoing surveys.
“The officials have hired a private surveyor to demarcate the land against the members’ wishes. We want all these surveyors to pack up and go, until we agree on the way forward,” said Mr Kudate.
A resident, Mr Davies Neliang, said the committee does not issue receipts for money it receives from members.
Prison reforms that were started with pomp and pageantry by the Narc regime in 2003 never ran the full course.
Political goodwill died and the reforms ground to a halt.
But while they lasted, they made a difference for the institutions and inmates.
The concern over the poor state of the prisons remains and must be tackled.
Prisons are, by design, meant for correcting and rehabilitating offenders.
Never were they intended to dehumanise people. This is the reason why they are also called “correctional services”.
It is in light of this that we acknowledge the proposal to release more than 5,000 petty offenders from prisons; first to decongest the institutions and, second, to grant the inmates freedom to rejoin their families and regain their dignity.
One of the major challenges facing the prisons is congestion.
As currently constituted, the prisons can only accommodate 30,000 inmates but, on average, have more than 50,000 with 40 per cent awaiting trial.
Broadly, the mess in the prisons epitomises the weaknesses of our justice system.
First, suspects are kept for too long before their cases are determined by courts that they end up suffering double jeopardy; being treated like convicts when their cases have not been decided and, ultimately, punished if found guilty.
Second, which is what the reprieve is all about, is the folly of keeping people in prison for misdemeanour.
Evidence abound indicating that many petty offenders end up becoming hardcore criminals after they leave jail owing to their experiences behind bars.
Third, save for a few cases, prisons have not succeeded in correcting or rehabilitating inmates largely because of the conditions therein.
Inmates are mistreated and subjected to inhumane conditions that harden them.
While we commend the plan to release the petty offenders, that should be a stop-gap measure.
We call for a rethink of the entire justice system, in particular resuscitating and completing the prison reform programme.
The government must demonstrate goodwill and adequately fund prisons to improve their conditions and enact policies that promote inmates’ rights.
Parents of the 28 children who were injected with a toxic jab at Akichelesit dispensary in Teso North in 2015 want the Busia County government to honour a High Court order that gave them Sh40 million compensation.
Speaking in Busia on Thursday where they had gathered to seek audience with the County Assembly, the parents said they were concerned the process was taking too long.
Mr Abel Okrir, their leader, said the silence by the county government on the matter has subjected them to torture as their children continue to live in agony.
“The County Assembly, which deliberated on the matter, is also silent, leaving us worried,” Mr Okrir, the father of Vivian Asere, one of the victims, lamented.
“After the December ruling, the county government was given 45 days to compensate us or appeal. That time has lapsed and, until now, our legal team has not received any communication from their side,” another parent, Mr Mathew Abita, said.
On December 19, last year, the court ordered the county government to compensate the 28 children who were paralysed after receiving a malaria jab at the dispensary.
The money was awarded to the victims depending on the level of injury they suffered.
The judge noted that the victims suffered permanent physical disability of between five and 20 per cent.
“It is unfortunate for a child born without any disability to wake up and find himself in such a state. He is likely to suffer mental anguish,” the judgment read.
While the parents said they had made available the necessary documentation for payment processing, County Assembly budget committee chairman John Obwogo said they were yet to receive them.
This is despite the fact that the assembly discussed the matter in detail and unanimously agreed on compensation.
“The decision of the court is paramount. What we have advised the affected families is to submit the relevant documentation from the court to facilitate payment.
“We cannot deliberate on compensation without looking at the documents,” the Nangina ward MCA said.
“We will have a discussion with the governor and other leaders so that all parties are taken care of,” he added.
A woman in Sio Port in Funyula sub-county lost her two children after the vaccination.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will be remembered as the stoic figure with an almost-booming voice, who stood with a clenched fist at every meeting and political gathering and it was never complete until she shouted, “Viva Nelson Mandela! Viva!”
These are the words that fired the liberation struggle for the 27 years her then husband Nelson Mandela was in prison.
The picture of the couple holding hands and Winnie still raising her clenched fist as Mandela strode to freedom in 1990 was the icing on the cake for a determined wife, who had her husband taken away from her at a tender age, when most women would have remarried.
This is one picture that the world should cherish.
Without her and other African National Congress leaders who were in exile, the struggle would have paled and Mandela forgotten as the racist rulers wanted.
Even when she appeared to be disgraced and almost forgotten, Winnie identified herself with the residents of Soweto, whom the world will never forget as they provided the impetus and the support that freedom fighters needed to keep the fire burning.
As Julius Malema, the opposition leader, put it as he mourned Winnie, living in Soweto among the poor and the fact that she never looked down on fellow African people, rightly earned her the title, “Mother of the Nation”.
Viva Winnie Madikizela-Mandela! Viva!
The government has stepped up its bid to fight against the conviction and fining of its three top officers regarding fiery lawyer Miguna Miguna’s detention and deportation.
In documents sworn by Solicitor-General Kennedy Ogeto, the government has protested against orders issued when Dr Miguna returned into the country but was detained at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
On March 27, Justice Roselyn Aburili ordered that Dr Miguna be released from detention at JKIA and be presented in court the following day.
When the matter came before Justice George Odunga, he summoned Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Immigration Principal Secretary Gordon Kihalang’wa and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet to appear before him in the afternoon.
However, the trio failed to appear in court as ordered, which consequently led to their conviction before being fined Sh200,000 each.
“The declaration that the appellants are in violation of the Constitution renders them unfit to hold public office and therefore, unless stay is granted, they are likely to lose their respective positions in the public service,” Mr Ogeto said.
In the documents, Mr Ogeto has faulted Justice Odunga for punishing the trio without an application of contempt filed before him as well as evidence presented.
He argued that the three were not given a fair hearing.
He has further accused Justice Odunga of issuing orders that were never requested for by lawyers representing the activist.
He alleged that the order by Justice Aburili was temporary and could not lead to a final guilty determination and conviction of the officers by Justice Odunga.
“I am a law abiding Kenyan and I am shocked that a court of law would proceed without regard to my rights and the procedure under the Contempt of Court Act,” Dr Matiang’i said in a sworn affidavit.
He added: “The declaration exposes me to unwarranted stigma and public ridicule thus affecting my ability to discharge my duties effectively; should stay not be granted, the prejudice and harm occasioned in the meantime would be irreparable.”
Separately, at the High Court, the three also want orders issued by Justice Aburili to be set aside.
In the documents filed on March 28, the legal investigations officer at Immigration Department, Mr Jimmy Nyikuli, claimed that Dr Miguna declined to wilfully produce his travel documents at the diplomatic counter for clearance but instead became unruly.
He accused Dr Miguna of attempting to assault the JKIA OCS who attempted to calm him down before tearing statutory forms he was requested to fill in.
Early this week, the three top government officers appeared before a parliamentary committee for interrogation regarding denial of entry, mistreatment and deportation of Dr Miguna.
The wanton destruction of Kenya’s forests has been in the limelight following shocking footages of massive illegal logging and encroachments in the media.
Unfortunately, the destruction is due to greed, poverty and lack of strategic planning.
But now, there is hope for the survival of our forests following the intervention from the top leadership of the country.
We need urgent security measures to protect our water towers and increase forest cover.
There is a need for a professional security risk assessment to identify the reasons for illegal deforestation.
It appears, however, that we are rushing for quick-fix solutions.
Haphazard measures are doomed to fail, leading to waste of money and resources.
Many suggestions have been fronted, including installation of gadgets such as CCTV cameras.
But any security expert will tell you that forests don’t require such complex measurers.
There are three main types of illegal destruction of forests.
The first is the peasant-oriented illegal collection of firewood and charcoal burning.
Due to increased population and poverty, people have encroached on forests.
This is a serious challenge since any prohibition of the activities is likely to be met with stiff resistance by peasants.
We need an alternative source of energy to replace firewood and charcoal.
Mauritania, a very poor North African country, has heavily subsidised gas prices for the poor, leading to very few people using charcoal.
The second mode of destruction is encroachment on forest reserves for farming — which is a very difficult challenge since it is highly politicised.
Most of our water catchment areas are slowly collapsing and streams disappearing. National parks and reserves are in danger.
This requires both security measures and political approaches. The third is illegal logging by timber harvesters.
All the above are very easy to identify since they are openly visible.
Anyone overflying Ngong, Cherangani Hills, Nandi Hills, Chyulu Hills, Mt Kenya, Aberdare and other forests will notice the wanton destruction going on there.
This brings into question those entrusted with the security of the forests — the Kenya Forest Service (KFS).
To improve the effectiveness of the KFS, we need to recruit the right people and equip them with the necessary tools.
And we must do serious background checks on the recruits, especially on integrity.
Many illegal loggers improvise informal routes using tractors and donkeys to ferry timber.
But this can only succeed if they involve the residents.
There is, therefore, a need to recruit local informants to provide first-hand information on illegal timber harvesting.
A CCTV camera will not be effective here — unless you litter the entire forest with the gadgets, which is not practical considering the cost factor.
Vehicle movement inside the forests should be strictly monitored through a uniform access control system.
This may not require an electronic access control system but simple hard print booking since vehicular traffic in forest areas is usually low.
The Kenya Forest Service can also seek special assistance from the National Police Service, Kenya Wildlife Service and even the military in the form of random helicopter surveillance over forests to detect massive destruction. They can also use drones.
The last approach is public sensitisation about forests as national heritage and how they contribute to our survival.
With these simple measures, our forests can be well secured. There is, therefore, no need for costly high-tech gadgets that could be difficult to maintain.
Mr Mbarak is chairman, Association of Corporate and Industrial Security Management Professionals (ACISMP) [email protected]
According to Water for Children Africa (WCA), a charitable organisation that seeks to solve the problems posed by lack of clean water on the continent, some 30,000 children die every year after consuming contaminated water.
The organisation argues that 85 per cent of all deaths of children under five years in Africa are related to water-borne diseases.
Studies by water experts estimate that sub-Saharan Africa loses about five per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) every year due to polluted or contaminated water, lack of water or poor sanitation.
Though blessed with vast water resources — such as Rivers Congo, Nile and Zambezi and Lake Victoria — Africa is the second-driest continent after Australia.
While such statistics may seem remote or too general, it is a fact that, today, there are many dry gorges where there once were flowing rivers only a few years back.
We no longer, for instance, have the numerous natural springs that served as our clean — indeed, uncontaminated — water sources not too long ago.
Today, we live in constant alarm of the possibility of the havoc of floods and storm water may cause once the rainy season sets in.
We constantly worry about how our livestock will survive in the wake of diminishing water resources and worry about the unpredictability of rain-fed farming.
In a nutshell, the natural rhythms that dictated our activities and created hope for our survival have been greatly disrupted over time.
At the centre of this regrettable disruption is the question of water – its use, misuse, conservation and governance – in general.
This underscores the reason why a strategic and insightful rethink of water management in Africa is urgent.
From the trends that we have observed at personal levels and numerous studies around the water situation in Africa, it is clear that our continent is facing a huge dilemma.
It is upon the current leadership to carry the burden of inspiring the change demanded in managing our deplorable water situation if history is to judge us kindly.
That is our solemn duty to the future generations.
In retrospect, I would like to appreciate afresh the mandate given to me two years ago as Unesco’s Special Envoy for Water in Africa.
A major part of that mandate involves rallying top decision-makers across African states to pay special attention to sustainable water management in the context of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which seeks to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
I am particularly keen on the emphasis on “all” because water is the lifeblood of the old and the young as well as the poor and the rich in equal measure.
Another role that comes with the Special Envoy mandate involves participating in strategic, high visibility events to promote Unesco’s tools and initiatives on sustainable water management and education.
It is in this spirit that water experts drawn from across Africa are gathered in Nairobi to share their expertise and insights as they come up with a Strategic Plan for the activities of Unesco’s Special Envoy for Water in Africa for the period 2018-2022.
The idea is to ultimately evolve a blueprint for water management in Africa.
The blueprint from this engagement should boldly pinpoint the challenges Africa faces in managing her water resources but, more importantly, propose practical solutions that will avert the doom that could befall our continent if we fail to take the necessary action for posterity.
It is not enough to regurgitate dry statistics at forums that address the water situation in Africa.
Neither is it useful to debate a situation whose consequences the continent is already suffering without thinking of practical solutions.
Instead, we should dedicate time and resources in recharging our aquifers, protecting our water towers, harvesting rain and storm water and finding out ways of making the cost of desalination of seawater more affordable.
Time to develop home-grown solutions to Africa’s water woes has come.
I am sure there are numerous documents prescribing all manner of solutions to our water challenges that are gathering dust in research institutes and universities.
Before we engage in yet more studies, we should find out what is already established by research and implement it.
I have faith that Africa has men and women capable of changing the destiny of our people if they apply themselves.
Let us start with water.
Mr Kibaki is a former President of Kenya. This write-up is derived from his address to water experts from Africa gathered under the aegis of the Office of Unesco’s Special Envoy for Water in Africa.
Kamau Ngotho continues to regale Nation readers with reminiscences of his journalistic exploits.
His reflections and anecdotes are invariably fascinating, often entertaining.
However, his latest memoirs, Playing Spy on Comoros Islands (Sunday Nation, April 1), raises some ethical and professional questions.
He was assigned to go to the Comoros to gather background information on Fazul Mohamed, the terrorist who engineered the August 7, 1998 United States embassy bombing in Nairobi.
“When I was in active journalism, I struck a friendship with a gentleman from the intelligence service whom I will identify only as BC. I was not an ‘informer’ to him. Our relationship was peer to peer,” he explains.
“We met to compare notes, but he was like a sponge, absorbing everything and releasing too little unless squeezed.
“However, on at least two occasions, he gave me information that made headlines.”
Mr Ngotho was not “in full-time employment” at the time of the assignment.
He saw “no problem” in accepting the mission so long as it was not in a war zone.
So, he flew to the Comoros to gather information about Fazul Mohamed.
“The intelligence service wanted Fazul’s story done by a journalist and published in the media as part of an awareness campaign that terrorists live among us,” Mr Ngotho added.
He lied to the Comoros consulate that he was going to do a backgrounder on presidential elections in the islands.
In the Comoros, he talked to his sources, including a political science professor, using the same subterfuge.
“The Nation ran my story in a two-day series, while I wrote a longer report for my friend in the intelligence service.
“I had successfully played spy and scribe at the same time. More importantly, in a small way, I felt I had avenged for my two friends who perished in the 1998 terrorist bombing,” he concludes in his article.
What Mr Ngotho did is common in the world of journalism and espionage.
However, it has increasingly become questionable because any partnership, connection or interdependence with intelligence organisations undermines the credibility and public trust of the media.
I have borrowed the title of this article from another by Murray Seeger, Spies and Journalists: Taking a Look at Their Intersections, which appears in the September 11, 2009 Nieman Reports published by Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, an organisation dedicated to promoting and elevating standards of journalism.
The article shows how intelligence agencies recruit journalists for intelligence gathering because of their ability to ask questions without raising suspicion, access to inside sources and confidential information and insights into politics and policy.
Detectives also use journalistic cover (press cards and affiliations to media organisations).
“Spies and journalists, journalists and spies: Is there a difference?” Seeger asks.
In the search for information, the two professions sometimes come together — to the disadvantage of the media.
Spy agencies not only use journalists because they provide the best cover for intelligence gathering but also compromise the independence of the media by planting stories.
But by using journalism as a cover for their covert activities, intelligence agencies put journalists in jeopardy — especially in hostile environments.
Journalists should not work for intelligence or undercover sleuths who use journalistic cover.
When journalists work for intelligence organisations they operate in disguise, which is unethical. Even the perception is bad enough.
Journalists should never give the impression that they are working for someone else or a second, secret agenda.
Journalists should never be mistaken for spooks.
Two weeks ago, the world’s last male white rhino, Sudan, died at Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
With northern white rhinos preyed upon to near-extinction, Sudan’s death leaves just two — Najin and Fatu, his daughter and granddaughter, respectively.
The news, while greeted with unsurprising sadness in the conservation world, played out differently in Africa.
Following, especially the comments on Twitter and articles in the media, there was a sense of mortification; that something horrible had happened.
There was little of the cynicism that wildlife is no more than a nature ghetto preserved for Western tourists whose proceeds are pocketed by a corrupt elite.
In decades working on conservation, I have rarely seen this kind of emotion.
At 45, Sudan had already lived long and, with his health troubles, his death didn’t come as a surprise.
The sense of loss is, probably, down to two factors.
For the first, one has to go back to 2016, to the controversial relocation of rhinos from South Africa to Australia.
Australian Rhino Project, the charity behind it, said the plan was “to establish an insurance population and ensure the survival of the species”, and the Australian herd could be flown back to re-establish wild populations in Africa when poaching, which has diminished rhino numbers, becomes less of a threat.
For the rhino, that return might not be possible.
Sudan’s death, and the fate of the white horn, is, in part, a dramatic failure by Africa to protect its critical nature.
Najin and Fatu are infertile. The death of Sudan is not just the death of a rhino patriarch. It spells the end of a line.
In an Africa where traditional family ties, clan and, often, ethnicity run deep, that can be jarring.
Sudan’s death is, probably, the first time that young Africans have confronted extinction in their lifetime as something real, not as history or a story in a Discovery Channel documentary.
Fast-forward 30 years. A once-unthinkable idea now looks likely.
In the years to come, an African who wants to see an African rhino — and possibly elephant — is more likely to do so if they travel to a wildlife sanctuary in Australia or some such place than to a park on the continent. The meaning of that has to be unsettling.
Which ties to the second issue thrown up by the fate of the rhino.
With parts of the continent recently facing the worst droughts in two generations, and alarms about cities such as Cape Town in South Africa running out of water, there is a sense that disappearing wildlife and wild lands are a symbol of a deeper malaise.
There have already been warnings that the world didn’t quite heed.
Lake Chad, once one of Africa’s largest and a lifeline of more than 40 million people, is dying.
Over 60 years, its size has shrunk by 90 per cent as a result of extended drought, overuse and other climate change pressures.
Beyond making the case for rallying to see ecological crises as having potential for regional and global security impacts, at the national levels, failure to police protected forests against illegal loggers and wildlife parks against poachers is not a dysfunction that ends in the bushes.
It will often express itself in a failure to deal with crime on the streets, corrupt government, dangerous dalliance between criminals and sections of law enforcement and dry taps.
It is, perhaps, no accident that Botswana, which has the best conservation record in Africa, is ranked by Transparency International as the least corrupt country on the continent — even compared to the fictional Wakanda in Marvel’s superhero blockbuster Black Panther.
It’s also one of Africa’s most democratic, stable and richest countries.
Rwanda, East Africa’s least-corrupt country, leads the region in several other rankings, including the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business, and tops the continent in effectiveness of government.
It’s also a model of conservation, especially of the mountain gorillas, for which it has the biggest global naming ceremony — or for any other animal — called Kwita Izina.
In Africa, conservation management and diligent environmental stewardship are, then, fairly reliable proxies for broader good governance.
It is a less complex task than running a country.
A government that can’t secure a forest that is a water catchment will struggle to build storm drains to carry away flood waters or to maintain the sewer system.
And the fellow who kills a rhino and traffics its horn to Asia to be ground into an aphrodisiac or to treat gout is likely the same person who has a firm that will bribe to get a $25 million contract, bank half of the money abroad and build a shoddy road — if at all.
Sudan is what happens when the bad guys win.