Main Menu

Monday, June 11th, 2018

 

Suspended PS Lilian Omolo still at KNH private wing

By AGGREY OMBOKI
More by this Author

Suspended Youth and Gender Affairs PS Lilian Omolo is still at Kenyatta National Hospital, two weeks after she reportedly fell in court.

Acting KNH chief executive Thomas Mutie refused to divulge Ms Omollo’s sickness and details except to say that she was still in the private wing of the hospital.

“We are not allowed to release such details to the press without a patient’s consent,” Dr Mutie said.

He also refused to say if a doctor appointed by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations had examined her.

EXAMINE PS

DCI chief George Kinoti had said he would organise for a doctor to examine the PS later on Monday.

Prime Care private wing deputy head Julia Tinanga also refused to reveal the patient’s details.

Last Wednesday, the Anti-Corruption Court directed the police to visit Ms Omollo in hospital and find out if she is admitted.

RAISED CONCERNS

A team from the DCI is investigating the Ministry of Health and the Prisons Department regarding her admission, which has raised concerns that she is being shielded from remand life by powerful colleagues and State officials.

A letter from the hospital on Thursday asked that she be excused from court sessions, but the DCI wanted an independent doctor to examine the PS.

According to the medical report signed by consultant physician Stanley Ngare and presented in court, Ms Omollo “is still not stable enough to attend court proceedings and requires continued care in hospital”.


Fresh rules for schools to boost learners’ safety

By OUMA WANZALA
More by this Author

All schools will be required to install cameras at strategic points and complaints boxes, in new measures meant to improve safety in the institutions.

The rules, which come in the wake of the defilement of a student at  Moi Girls Nairobi on June 2, also require all schools to strengthen guidance and counselling units and appoint gender based violence champions and peer counsellors.

“The administrative measures include prominent display of gender violence prevention messages at every strategic points,” reads the guidelines which also recommended a minimum number of teaching and non-teaching staff who should access dormitories.

Others include ensuring proper lighting and conducting of due diligence procedures before the hiring of any employee.

Police are still investigating the Moi Girls incident, which provoked national outrage and led to the resignation of the principal Mrs Jael Mureithi.

PARENTS HELD PRAYERS

Yesterday, the school’s parents, teachers and students held prayers after all the students reported back on Sunday after a week’s closure to allow for investigations.

Kibra Deputy County Commissioner Nyamumbo Sese addressed the more than 1,000 students  and sought to assure them that the government will provide all possible protection to them, adding; “Let’s forget the past, these are challenges that we can learn from and move forward.”

Acting principal Florence Omusula said the leadership of the school will work together with the students to ensure an appropriate learning environment.

Reports indicated on Monday that matrons at the school had been sacked while all nurses were called in for fresh vetting.

The school’s administration did not indicate the number of those sacked but the decision was said to have been made during a board of management meeting  on Sunday. The meeting also raised questions about the school fees arrears, which it said were too high.

ARREST OF SUSPECTS

At the same time, activists demanding the arrest of suspects behind the defilement held a demonstration outside Jogoo House in Nairobi and handed in a petition to the Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Mr Benson Mugo.

The advisory team comprises sexual and gender based violence experts, forensic, pathology and safety in education practitioners and will advise on the process of putting in place a learner protection policy that will ensure schools are safer for children across the country.

Cases of sexual harassment of students have been on the rise since January this year and have resulted in the sacking of 111 male teachers by the Teachers Service Commission.


Banned in Europe but available in Kenya; we should be worried

By SILKE BOLLMOHR
More by this Author

The European Commission has banned three of the most widely applied insecticides due to the risk to bees and other pollinators.

The April ban on thiamethoxam, imidacloprid and clothianidin, expected to come into force this year, covers all outdoor uses in Europe. The chemical use will, however, be permitted in permanent greenhouses where exposure to bees is unlikely.

The commission considered scientific evidence that neonicotinoids not only cause disorientation and fertility reduction and weaken the immune system of many species of these insects but also affect birds and aquatic life such as fish and macroinvertebrates.

However, despite the African honey bee being more sensitive to these neonicotinoids than the European one, the pesticides are still heavily and widely used in Kenya. Imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, for example, are approved for use in controlling insect pests in coffee trees, French beans, maize, cotton, wheat, forestry nurseries, roses, tobacco and vegetables.

PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS

The Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) has registered 718 products, of which 28 per cent are not approved in Europe because of their potential human or environmental health effects. There are 41 products in the local market which contain these two active ingredients.

Considering that many crops grown in the country, especially those important to small-scale farmers, depend on insect pollination for good yields and quality and that these farmers are the majority in the sector, the welfare of bees is highly dependent on them. However, farmers are often not aware of the potential toxicity of pesticides available in local agro-vets towards pollinators.

A 2013 survey showed that farmers in various parts of the country do not follow pesticide usage advice — like avoiding application in the morning, when pollinators are active.

This exacerbates the decline in production of crops that are wholly dependent on pollinators, such as passion fruit, pumpkin, watermelon, okra and strawberries.

YIELDS AFFECTED

The yields and quality of other crops, such as coffee, avocado, mango and runner beans, are also affected negatively.

Risk to humans

Scientific findings show neonicotinoids pose a health risk to the human nervous system and contaminate waterways and food. Studies show nearly 75 per cent of honey produced in the world contains at least one  toxic neonicotinoid pesticide.

In Kenya, the highest level of thiamethoxam measured in pollen was 0.05 milligrammes per kilogramme, five times higher than the maximum residue limits (MRL) of 0.01mg/kg.

Given all these risks and the fact that Kenya is food-insecure, a ban on neonicotinoids in the country would be an important step. That would allow for further detailed studies to determine the extent of the damage that the pesticides have on the environment, pollinators and human beings.

These risk assessments would, however, depend on several factors — including how the regulatory authority, PCPB, views the risks to pollinators and other insects, the forthcoming studies on local pollinator populations and also how they are affected by the neonicotinoids that are in use.

SAFE METHODS

Strict measures should be enforced by regulators such as Nema, Kephis, PCPB and the Ministry of Agriculture so that pesticides proven to be toxic are banned and not made available locally.

Farmers should be advised on environmentally safe methods of applying pesticides and safe frequencies and beekeepers to locate apiaries away from cultivated areas of intensive conventional cropping to minimise honey bee exposure by foraging on contaminated pollen and nectar and carrying pesticides into the food chain.

Kenya should, however, prioritise a shift towards more natural and sustainable farming practices that minimise the use of fertilisers and pesticides and promote and preserve healthy and diverse soil ecosystems.

Dr Bollmohr is an environmental scientist and managing director of EcoTrac Consulting. [email protected]


This is how to optimise pension returns

By SIMON WAFUBWA
More by this Author

As the retirement sector regulator works on guidelines to enhance accountability and transparency by pension schemes to protect members’ contributions, it will be critical for trustees to establish an investment strategy that meets the set objectives.

Incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions, therefore, is key. These include corruption, politics, climate change, working conditions, health and safety.

The meaning of responsible investment and the understanding of how it is best practiced is varied, fast evolving and dynamic. In Kenya, there is little or no responsible investment, translating to poor appreciation of ESG within the pension funds’ decision makers.

The challenge lies in how to expand the market through supportive legal frameworks, availability of responsible investment products or securities to allow trustees to deliberately increase short- and long-term investment performance.

SEGREGATED FUNDS

Last year, Kenya’s guaranteed funds and segregated funds on average delivered approximately 10 per cent and 18.7 per cent, respectively.

Despite the strong economic growth prospects for 2018, it is important to factor in variables such as efficiency of the fund manager, risk profile, macroeconomic environment, asset allocation and investment policy or framework. Trustees must not only select investments that produce returns at an appropriate level but equally apply measures that take into account the nature and term of the underlying liabilities.

Adaptation and implementation of responsible investment strategies is the best route to attaining this. Responsible investment aims at incorporating ESG into decisions to better manage risk and generate long-term sustainable returns.

While the aspect of responsible investment is relatively new to Kenya, it is important for trustees, investors or policy makers to understand that incorporating environmental risk factor is part of investors’ fiduciary duty to stakeholders.

PENSION FUNDS

We can replicate efforts made by South Africa in terms of guiding principles set out in the 2011 Pension Funds Act Regulation 28 that requires trustees to include ESG in their investment mandates and portfolios.

Kenya has developed a strong savings pool through its pension funds and investment schemes with all registered local retail collective investment schemes as well as pension funds and institutional investment funds, asset holdings totalling Sh18 trillion last year.

A deep understanding of sustainable investment translates to improved understanding of current investment value and insights into future trends and value. A good investment framework also works to find opportunities to achieve superior risk-adjusted returns for beneficiaries, particularly over the long-term.

It is a fundamental principle that trustees always act with utmost good faith and in the best interest of the fund and its beneficiaries.

GOOD FAITH

Time has come for a paradigm shift in the management of retirement schemes through applying risk management models, identifying and pursuing strategic objectives.

Successful implementation of an ESG framework is pegged on the principles of responsible investment. Research- and report-related engagement, training and monitoring and performance indicators are some of the requisite tools. These should be considered and marked against standards and codes of good practice regarding responsible investment.

Institutional investors have a duty to act in the best long-term interest of beneficiaries. Trustees who pay attention to ESG stand a high chance of improving governance of pension funds and more accurately value funds’ assets, liabilities and long-term performance.

Implementing the principles will lead to increased returns and deflated risk.


Canada pledges to boost girls’ education in Kenya

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
More by this Author

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s trip to the G7 Summit has secured key commitments to fund education for poor girls and women as well boost the sea fishing industry.

State House said on Monday the Canadian government had offered to support girl education in poor countries such as Kenya.

“President Kenyatta hailed Prime Minister Trudeau’s plan for Canada to offer $2.9 billion (Sh290 Billion) with the help of its G7 partners to fund education for the world’s poorest girls and women.

“It is projected that the proposed investment in education could help educate more than eight million children and teenagers.”

The specific funding to Kenya was not immediately indicated, but State House said Mr Trudeau had pledged to continue with programmes already running in Kenya.

The Canadian High Commission in Kenya says it has spent up to $74 million (Sh7.4 billion) in various sectors including education.

INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE

“Canada’s international assistance is well aligned with Kenya’s overarching Vision 2030 strategy. Our support in this sphere is helping all Kenyans through creating economic opportunities for poor and vulnerable populations; improving access to quality health care for mothers and children; providing a safe, quality learning environment for children, especially girls; and by promoting inclusive governance,” the mission said.

The President attended the Summit in Quebec largely because Kenya and Canada are planning to co-host a conference on Blue Economy due in November in Nairobi.

The  meeting of the world’s most industrialised nations and which dwelt on gender equality, economic growth, security and climate change, was nearly roiled by the public spat between Canadian and US government officials over trade tariffs.

Ahead of the summit, the diplomatic brief from Nairobi had indicated that the President would seek partnerships on how to exchange knowledge on improving sea fishing and conservation of marine wildlife.

CONCRETE SUBJECTS

Most of the meetings the President had with leaders of France, Canada, Japan and Germany were largely informal chats, rather than arranged discussions on concrete subjects. State House however said the conversations were “significant starters.”

“The officials exchanged notes on critical areas. Canada described the Nairobi blue economy summit as very important and urged leaders at G7 to send strong delegations so that they can continue the discussion on a key area of economic growth,” State House said.

Despite more than 500 kilometres of coastline, Kenya’s exploitation of marine resources, otherwise known as blue economy are largely underutilised. With a potential of 300,000 tons of fish a year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Kenya only harvested about 10,000 last year, according to the Kenya Bureau of Statistics.

REFUSED TO SIGN

The G7 leaders said in a dispatch , which the US President Donald Trump refused to sign, that they will channel resources to protect the oceans by fighting plastics and climate change.

Poor nations, including Kenya, were also called out for their reckless debt management while lenders such as China were criticised for failing to demand prudent financial management, even as they supported development especially in infrastructure.


Treasury must end procurement chaos

By CHRIS WASIKE
More by this Author

President Uhuru Kenyatta has struck the right cord and must be supported by all to keep his eye on the ball for the desired results in the fight against corruption.

It is amazing that, except for salaries — whether in the public or private sector — any other expenditure is through supply chain process and yet not much attention is given to the calibre of officers who carry out this noble assignment.

It is inimical to good governance to have unprepared shepherds superintend such a critical function, determining profits or losses for organisations. Supply chain needs to be elevated to a strategic function for organisations to savour its worth.

The Constitution is the supreme law, the instrument of governance — albeit in general principles. To be effective, this charter is then subjected to enactment of various pieces of legislation (statutes) to address the ‘what’ aspect. Life is breathed into the statute through regulations. This explains the ‘how’ — the software on which the statute runs or is applied.

RELEVANT REGULATIONS

It’s a rarity to find a law that has been effected without relevant regulations. When that happens, it can only portend chaos.

Surprisingly, the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (PPADA) 2015 was operationalised on January 7, 2016 with a caveat to create regulations for it within 12 months. That has not happened and there is no communication on it from the National Treasury.

In the President’s various pronouncements, he has warned public servants against corruption and sloth. As citizens, it’s time we called out those sleeping on the job and demand delivery of quality services since we pay for them through taxes.

The confusion and cost to the taxpayer caused by non-promulgation of the regulations may be hard to quantify or even contemplate but are enormous.

Mr Philip Kinisu, the then-Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman, stated that we lose, on average, a third of the annual budget through corruption. That would be around Sh650 billion. Any reasonable person would want to save such huge sums of money for good causes, such as financing the ‘Big Four’ agenda.

PROCUREMENT PROCESS

A properly structured procurement process devoid of guesswork or ‘cooked’ documentation is urgent. And the confusion in counties is even more telling. When a forensic audit is done on procurement in the devolved units in 2013-2017, the National Youth Service scandal will look like child play.

Without valid regulations, procurement officers grope in the dark and make costly mistakes. Additionally, crooked people lurk in the wings, capitalising on the lacuna, albeit fraudulently.

It cannot be that PPADA 2015 repealed Public Procurement and Disposal Act (PPDA) 2005 but retained Public Procurement and Disposal Regulations (PPDR) 2006. What a contradiction! For all practical purposes, PPADA 2015 is still-born.

The Anglo Leasing scandal happened after then-Finance minister Daudi Mwiraria in 2003 suspended all supplies officers in an ill-advised bid to rid the public service of procurement corruption.

This, instead, produced opposite results — a scandal of monumental proportions — due to knowledge gaps by those left in charge.

WITHOUT A BOARD

Besides, the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) has operated without a board. The term of the oversight board under the previous Act (2005) lapsed three years ago and has not been reconstituted.

PPADA 2015 Section 10 states, “the management of the authority shall vest in a board to be known as Public Procurement Regulatory Board.” This literally means PPRA without a board is non-existent.

What would be the motivation to keep such a key governance institution without a board for such a long time? In whose interest is this dysfunctional status?

With all manner of rogue contractors in this market identified by county governments and other agencies for their shoddy work, delays and even abandonment of sites, PPRA has less than 10 vendors in its list of debarred firms.

OVERSIGHT BOARD

By law, the oversight board approves the list of blacklisted firms for breaches of the law.

The continued absence of such an important organ in such a critical sector can only favour merchants of impunity. As a matter of fact, the firms blacklisted recently at Kenya Power can sue and win their cases fair and square, citing irregular and illegal debarment.

There should be no discretion in the application of any law; the National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Mr Henry Rotich, must facilitate PPRA to perform its statutory functions. The procrastination is hurting proper public procurement functioning.

Mr Wasike is a procurement specialist and governance expert.  [email protected] Twitter:@ChrisMWasike


HIV pill ‘could be fuelling risky sex’, study reveals

By ANGELA OKETCH
More by this Author

A pill meant to shield people from contracting  HIV could be indirectly fuelling promiscuity by encouraging unprotected sex, a new study shows.

The study also showed that the introduction of the pill, known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), has coincided with increase in other sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia and syphilis, a sign that condom use had dropped.

According to the study, people are practising risk compensation, which means that they generally care less when they sense they have protection or are more careful when in deeper risk.

“When seat belt laws came into effect, some studies suggested drivers became more likely to speed or drive recklessly.

“It is the same thing happening among people at risk of HIV. Now that they can take drugs to protect themselves from the virus, they are not using condoms,” says the study, whose findings were published in the Lancet HIV on Monday.

BISEXUAL MEN

It surveyed 17,000 men who have sex with men in Sydney and Melbourne cities between 2013 and 2017.

The new study analysed the uptake and effect of PrEP, particularly on condom use by gay and bisexual men.

The findings revealed that consistent condom use dropped from 46 per cent to 31 per cent in men who reported having anal sex with casual partners.

A rapid increase in PrEP use by gay and bisexual men in Melbourne and Sydney was accompanied by an equally rapid decrease in consistent condom use.

Last year and amid much fanfair, Kenya launched  PrEP in a bid to reduce new HIV infections by 75 per cent by 2019.

REDUCE RISK

A year later, experts now warn that the uptake is still lower than expected. When taken as prescribed, PrEP can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by up to 90 per cent.

 “PrEP is not for everyone and it’s not to be taken for life. Individuals who perceive themselves to be at risk should visit a healthcare facility for a HIV test and have a discussion with the healthcare provider,” said Dr Nelly Mugo, the principal research scientist at the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the lead researcher on the PrEP efficacy trials conducted in Kenya.

Currently, the drug is only available for use upon prescription. “If a non-infected person takes PrEP, then the virus is killed if it enters their body.

HIDE RESERVOIRS

This means it doesn’t have a chance to hide in reservoirs, and so it is harder for that person to become infected,” explained Dr Mugo.

However, PrEP is only meant for specific populations at high risk of infection like young women, serodiscordant couples and sex workers and youth.

Experts, however, warn that PrEP is not a magic bullet, and must be taken in combination with safe sex practices like use of condoms. Moreover, after a month on PrEP one requires further screening to check levels of the drug in their blood and to check if they contracted HIV while on the drug.


Staff cuts rock counties in the wake of graft claims

By RUSHDIE OUDIA
More by this Author
By MAGATI OBEBO
More by this Author

Governors in western region have embarked on reduction of staff in their administrations, in what is viewed as an attempt to forestall any accusations of graft.

In the past one week, suspensions and sackings have characterised the said ‘cleansing of the payroll system’ and war on corruption by governors of Nyamira, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Vihiga and Kakamega counties.

But as expected the exercise has triggered court cases launched by the affected workers.

In Nyamira, Deputy Governor Amos Nyaribo sent home at least 30 staff over forged academic papers. The workers were found with fake certificates following a verification exercise done on 535 names forwarded to the Kenya National Examination Council.

Mr Nyaribo also interdicted 24 other county employees in the payroll department. 

“As a result we have resolved that the entire payroll staff leave office immediately pending a determination of investigations,” said Mr Nyaribo during a press conference.

COMPULSORY LEAVE

Just days earlier, Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga sent on compulsory leave, over 50 staff in finance and planning departments. alleged to have been involved in corruption.

A bloated workforce has been a major challenge to counties as most recruited additional staff even after inheriting a good number from the defunct councils.

A report of the Controller of Budget, Ms Agnes Odhiambo, indicated that Vihiga and Kakamega counties fared badly in local revenue collection in 2016/2017 yet had bloated wage bills.

In Vihiga, recurrent expenditure gobbled up  49.4 per cent of the budget, translating to Sh1.87 billion, against an annual revenue collection of Sh96.03 million.

STAFF RATIONALISATION

Already, Governor Wilbur Ottichilo has embarked on a staff rationalisation measure that will see up to 3,000 workers sent home to cut costs.

Kakamega posted a 12.1 per cent decline in revenue collection in the 2016/17 financial year. The county collected Sh443 million which fell short of the targeted Sh894 million.

In Homa Bay County, Governor Cyprian Awiti laid off 670 casual workers and also announced a workforce audit to tame the runaway wage bill.

But the casual workers, through their chairman, Mr Ocholla Owaka, have sued the county government for ‘wrongful dismissal’.

They complained that they have not been paid for the last six months and therefore sacking them without paying them their dues was unlawful.


Coast opposition leaders vow to back 2022 Ruto presidency

By MOHAMED AHMED
More by this Author
By FADHILI FREDRICK
More by this Author

Deputy President William Ruto reaped big during his three-day tour of the Coast when opposition MPs pledged to support his quest for the presidency.

Coast Parliamentary Group chairman Suleiman Dori (ODM), said the leaders would defy threats from the opposition and campaign for Mr Ruto.

The Msambweni MP accused ODM of double standards.

He said the party should first act on deputy party leader Hassan Joho who met Kanu chairman Gideon Moi and announced they would join forces.

FIVE TIMES

Mr Ruto has been at the Coast five times since President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Raila Odinga’s handshake on March 9.

He has visited Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River and Taita-Taveta counties.

The DP, who was in Kwale on Tuesday before returning on Saturday for a three-day tour of Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa has cashed on the handshake  to turn the Coast political tide in his favour.

1.7 MILLION VOTES

The Uhuru-Raila union has also destabilised the opposition, with two camps — one headed by Mr Joho and the other by Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi — battling it out for the control of the region’s 1.7 million votes.

The two governors have declared interest in the country’s presidency when their terms end in 2022.

While Mr Joho is keen on vying on an ODM ticket, Mr Kingi says he will form a party.

The Kilifi governor has ruffled feathers in the opposition by working with Mr Ruto’s allies, including Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa.

Yesterday, Mr Dori, Matuga MP Kassim Tandaza (ANC), Kinango’s Benjamin Tayari (ODD) and Ali Mbogo of Kisauni (Wiper) said they would mobilise their supporters to back Mr Ruto.

FRONTRUNNER

“Ruto is the frontrunner and the right candidate for the top seat,” Mr Tayari said.

Mr Mbogo said the region has benefited greatly from the Jubilee administration.

“Sixteen roads are being built in my constituency yet I was elected on an opposition party ticket,” Mr Dori said.

Mr Tandaza said anyone opposed to the leaders’ support for the government “is an enemy of development”. 

Mr Ruto said he is committed to working with Coast leaders “for the sake of development”.

“What is important for the 45 million Kenyans is development and that is what we will do,” the DP said.


Chance for South Sudan

By EDITORIAL
More by this Author

The signs of tangible movement towards resolving the deadly conflict in South Sudan is good news for the region. President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Dr Riek Machar, have in separate engagements shown their willingness to end the stalemate.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga, as Kenya’s special envoy to the South Sudan peace mission, has within the past two weeks made contact with both Mr Kiir, in Juba, and Dr Machar in South Africa, where he fled to at the peak of deadly skirmishes in Juba.

Mr Odinga, who knows both men pretty well, is upbeat that this initiative could bear fruit.

Interestingly, Mr Odinga has turned envoy just after reconciling with his hitherto archrival, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and sealing their pact with a handshake that has become the symbol of political reconciliation.

Mr Kiir and Dr Machar have an example they can emulate to end the suffering in their country. They will, definitely, also be inspired by another recent highly publicised handshake in the region between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his former top ally-turned-foe, Dr Kiiza Besigye.

The newest East African Community member has great potential that can be harnessed for its development and regional prosperity, but that cannot happen when it is so deeply divided and engulfed in a bloody conflict.