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Sunday, July 15th, 2018

 

Deteriorating food security in central, southern and southeastern Mauritania

Deteriorating food security in central, southern and southeaster Mauritania

KEY MESSAGES

• Although consumer markets are well stocked with imported food (rice, oil, sugar, tea, pasta), the continuing rise in their prices since the month of Ramadan (May) is limiting poor households’ access to them. The fall in livestock prices and the lack of seasonal rural income-generating activities are reducing poor households’ seasonal incomes.

• Faced with significant deficits in agricultural production and pasture, and difficulties in accessing water and income, poor rural households have been experiencing a longer and more difficult lean season since January (instead of March or April) than they would in an average year. In certain parts of agropastoral zones – the Senegal River Valley and the rainfed crop area – many households are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

• Assistance programs run by the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (Action Against Hunger, Oxfam, Save the Children, Caritas, Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD), the French Red Cross, Médecins du Monde, etc.) are under way in parts of certain livelihood zones. They involve free distributions of food and livestock feed as well as cash transfers and nutrition support for malnourished children and breastfeeding or pregnant women. However, they are still inadequate to meet the needs reported by humanitarian workers.


Gideon Moi: I will vie for the presidency in 2022

By FLORAH KOECH
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Baringo Senator Gideon Moi on Sunday said he will vie for the presidency in 2022.

Mr Moi dismissed claims by Deputy President William Ruto that being second in command will make it easy for him to clinch the post in 2022.

Speaking in Kipsaraman in Baringo North at the funeral of Mr Daniel Kipkebut, the father of his personal assistant, Mr Moi also rubbished claims by his political rivals that he is a political novice and unfit to vie for the top seat.

RUDE SHOCK

“I don’t understand why some people think I am a novice in politics. I have come of age and am equal to the task, so I will vie for the presidency. Some people started calling me names and trying to discourage me before I even announced my ambition,” said Mr Moi.

Mr Moi, the son of retired President Daniel arap Moi, has a frosty relationship with the DP over a supremacy battle for the leadership of the Kalenjin.

Tunaomba kumwambia naibu wa rais kuwa kutangulia si kufika (We want to tell the DP that being the deputy President is no guarantee that he will be the president of this republic. He should just be patient because he will be in for a rude shock,” added the senator, who is also the chairman of the Kenya African National Union (Kanu).

ABSENTEE LEADER

“I will be on the presidential ballot in 2022, and my political opponents should brace for a tough battle. I am not cowed, and I am not ready to shelve my political ambitions ,” he said.

The senator’s political opponents say he is an absentee leader who is unaware of his people’s suffering and rarely attends Senate sessions.

On several occasions, the locals have accused him of not playing an active role in county matters and threatened to elect leaders who will listen to, and act, on their problems.

LAUGHED OFF

Tiaty MP William Kamket said the Tugen community has its own bull (Moi) and it up the Kalenjin to decide wisely.

“I want to assure the Kalenjin that Senator Moi is a sure bet. Even before he announced his presidential ambition, it was causing jitters among politicians,” said Mr Kamket.

But Baringo North MP William Cheptumo dismissed Mr Kamket’s statement and laughed off Mr Moi’s 2022 presidential ambition, saying it is unrealistic.

DISMISSED KANU

Mr Cheptumo said that political division in the region risks costing the community the presidency in 2022. He appealed to Senator Moi and the DP’s perceived rivals to bury their differences and unite as a community.

He said the Jubilee Party had entered into an agreement that would see President Uhuru Kenyatta lead for two terms, after which the Mount Kenya region would back Mr Ruto in 2022.

The battle for the control of vote rich Rift Valley is shaping up and Baringo county is the epicenter of the tussle pitting deputy President against senator Gideon Moi.

The DP has been describing Mr Moi as a “political greenhorn who is not yet ready for State House” and has repeatedly dismissed Kanu as a party that has lost its footing in the Rift Valley.


Nyong’o markets Kisumu County strategy as Obama visits

By JUSTUS OCHIENG’
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Kisumu Governor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o is banking on development partners to sustain momentum in rebuilding western Kenya’s biggest urban centre.

In various forums, the governor and his officials say they are excited with the prospect of devolution as a key way of ensuring basic services are improved.

Prof Nyong’o says Kisumu’s position in western Kenya comes with great expectation from residents “whom I am happy to serve”.

“Kisumu’s physical infrastructure is dilapidated and contributes significantly to the high cost of doing business in the county,” the governor said in his manifesto last year.

He said things have changed when he talked to journalists last week.

“Through the projects that the county government and development partners have initiated, residents are enjoying the fruits of devolution,” Prof Nyong’o said.

URBAN PROJECT

Apart from the usual local revenues and allocations from the National Treasury, the county is a key partner of government schemes like the Kenya Informal Settlement Improvement Programme (KISIP) and the French Government-funded Kisumu Urban Project (KUP).

It is on this ground that Kisumu Public Works, Roads and Transport executive Thomas Ondijo says the county government embarked on an ambitious programme to ensure works on major roads are completed.

In an interview during a roads inspection, Mr Ondijo said the county has initiated a Sh242 million road building plan.

The programme, he said, would ensure the rehabilitation of feeder roads and the construction of more to improve transport.

“We want to ensure that work on roads, particularly in the sugar belt, rice-growing zones and those connecting major towns, is completed as soon as possible,” the executive told journalists.

Kisumu is on the shores of Lake Victoria and that puts it above other western counties in terms of economic power.

INVESTMENTS

It also challenges residents and government officials to think about investments in agriculture, transport, fisheries, tourism and other industries.

Rice is grown in the vast Kano plains of Nyando Sub-County while Muhoroni is known for sugarcane farming.

There is also potential for tourism since the county has a long beautiful shoreline.

Ndere Island National Park, which has an amazing variety of wildlife and Kit Mikayi rock in Seme Sub-county attract local and international tourists.

Then there is God Mesa viewpoint in Nyabondo, from which one has a panoramic view of Nyando plains and Lake Victoria as well as Impala Park within the lake city make Kisumu an amazing tourist destination.

Lake Victoria does not only link Kisumu to three other counties but also with two other East African countries of Tanzania and Uganda.

REGIONAL CENTRE

“This makes Kisumu have the potential of becoming a regional centre of lake transport and a gateway for Kenya to the rest of the African great lakes,” Prof Nyong’o said.

Geographically, Kisumu occupies an important position in the larger East Africa.

It serves as the headquarters of Lake Victoria Basin Commission, which brings together all the East African Community states of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

It also serves as the head office of the Lake Region Economic Bloc that comprises 14 counties.
“Good infrastructure is therefore key in enabling Kisumu achieve its huge socio-economic potential,” Mr Ondijo said.

The executive added that the county government will use Sh93 million to pave roads in Nyando and Muhoroni, the richest agricultural sub-counties in Kisumu.

UPGRADE ROADS

“The money will be used to upgrade roads used by trucks and tractors delivering cane to millers. They will also be used by vehicles transporting rice,” the executive said.
Governor Nyong’o says he will ensure the awarding of tenders for projects is transparent and accountable.

He has already formed committees expected to see to it that contractors working on public infrastructure projects do good work.

“This will reverse the trend of contractors walking away with millions of shillings for projects that crumble as soon as they are commissioned,” the Kisumu County boss said.

“We want to employ people to maintain the roads once they are constructed. This will ensure they last and money spent on repairing them every often used elsewhere or channelled into the pockets of the young people involved in their maintenance.”

Prof Nyong’o added that those serving in the committees would be trained on what to look out for when certifying the roads.

INFRASTRUCTURE

“The project will additionally be scrutinised by county government officials,” he said.

There are other important departments charged with managing and developing the county infrastructure.

They include the department of Lands, Housing, Physical Planning and Urban Development, the department of Roads, Transport and Public Works and the City Management department.

These departments usually come up with policies that help to regulate infrastructure development.

They work together with strategic partners in developing and upgrading infrastructure.

The impact of these projects has greatly been felt by Kisumu County residents, the governor and the executive said.

A clear example is the construction of roads in Nyalenda, which residents say has completely changed the landscape of the area.

Mr Dickson Mbogo, a Nyalenda resident, says new roads have improved movement, especially when it rains.

Mrs Margaret Oluoch, a resident of Obunga, is also happy with floodlights that have been put up in the slum by the county government and KISIP.

The businesswoman says the lights have enabled her and other traders work for more hours and earn an extra income.

“The floodlights have also improved security in our area,” Mrs Oluoch said. These infrastructural projects provide employment for Kisumu County youth.

Ms Ann Akinyi, a resident of Obunga and a single mother of two, earns a living by building drainages in the area.
“It has enabled me support my family,” she said.

Five schools have been upgraded to modern standards by the city department under the KUP project.

They are Angira, Rata, Thim Bonde, Rweya, and Got Nyabondo primary schools.


Secure your cryptocurrencies from hackers

By GEORGE MICHENI
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Adoption of cryptocurrency is taking a top notch in Kenya: We have a Bitcoin ATM in parklands, Nairobi, and a restaurant in Nyeri is accepting Bitcoin as a method of payment.

I have friends who have made successful crypto investments and others who have made huge losses not only from the current volatility but also hacking, transferring to the wrong address and lack of information.

Bitcoin was created using the blockchain technology, which makes permanent, secure digital recordings that don’t rely on a person or group. Multiple blockchain records are maintained simultaneously by a large group of unrelated individuals and their computers. Updates are seen immediately and manipulation is difficult.

Cryptocurrency is derived from ‘crypto’ and ‘currency’. Crypto is short for ‘cryptography’, a computer technology used for securing and hiding information from theft and alteration. Currency is, obviously, the money in use.

Cryptocurrency is digital money created with blockchain controlling its creation and protecting transactions while hiding the identities of its users. Bitcoin is the first and most common, created in 2009 by an unknown person or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto.

There are more than 1,500 other cryptocurrencies.

After purchasing crypto, you need a wallet — where you can store your cryptocurrencies. It can be a software on your computer (desktop wallet), phone, flash drive or exchanges. You can print a piece of paper as your wallet.

PRECAUTIONS

Nobody has hacked the blockchain network; the wallets is where hacks are happening.

Recently, a South Korean exchange lost $40 billion from hackers accessing their wallets. Individuals have lost tokens and coins worth millions. So, how do you keep your crypto investments safe?

Before you invest in the digital tokens, understand how they work and the safety precautions you should take. Currencies are different and vary between exchange platforms. Stay informed with what is happening, subscribe to news from the crypto world and follow known crypto investors.

Don’t trade on an exchange or transfer your funds between wallets on a shared computer. Generate passwords that are strong enough but easy to remember. Use Google’s two-factor authentication.

Distribute your funds across exchange platforms and offline wallets. Use trusted exchanges like Binance and Bittrex.

Talking publicly about owning cryptocurrencies is enough to draw criminal attention. Last November, Louis Meza of New York transferred his friend’s $1.8 million in ‘ether’ cryptocurrency to his own wallet at gunpoint; he knew the amount in the account.

DON’T TALK

Ian Ballina, a globally known crypto investor, regularly tweets screenshots of his portfolio. In April, while doing a live stream, he couldn’t log into the spreadsheet; a hacker had taken over his accounts.

As the New York Startup founder, Cody Brown, said, “Don’t talk publicly online, with your real identity, about your trades, portfolio or the exchanges”.

Mr Micheni is the Director of the Capital Markets Lab at Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. [email protected]


Approach to training solution to the personnel gap in healthcare

Kenya has committed to universal health coverage (UHC) to promote healthy lives and well-being for its citizenry. That will ensure everyone has access to basic health services irrespective of location or economic status.

The government has also committed to meeting constitutional requirements on health and implementing the health strategy in Vision 2030.

To achieve these goals, investment in a strong primary healthcare (PHC) system is essential. Lack of appropriate training in healthcare management is one of the causes of the underachievement in the goals towards UHC.

Kenya is one of the Sub-Saharan African countries battling various life-threatening diseases that can be prevented by the right combination of education and resources.

According to the WHO’s ‘World Health Statistics 2015’, the ratio of nurses and midwives in Kenya is six to eight for every 10,000 patients and only 66 per cent of births are attended to by skilled health workers. The number of healthcare workers across the cadres is inadequate and unevenly distributed.

SKILLED PRACTITIONERS

For improved healthcare and awareness on disease prevention, there is an urgent need to fill the health workforce gap through training and deploying highly skilled practitioners.

This also requires strengthening of linkages between communities and formal health systems through the training of community health workers and volunteers in Africa.

Commitment by health institutions should focus more on progressive development of innovative programmes catering to the present and future needs of African populations.

Additionally, to attain UHC and maximise health outcomes, investments in capacity building need to be objective and holistic.

Delivering high-quality healthcare, especially in rural communities, has for a long time been a growing challenge.

Access to primary care can be time-consuming and costly for medically underserved rural residents.

PRIMARY HEALTHCARE

Less-populated areas face a devastating shortage of primary healthcare workers compared to urban areas. As of May 2017, the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) ‘Data Warehouse Preformatted’ report stated that 67.52 per cent of rural dwellers cannot access primary healthcare.

Institutions offering health sciences education should re-dedicate efforts towards community and public health management to ensure the personnel gap is filled.

Virtual training should be scaled to allow those who cannot learn face to face the accessibility to improve their skills and knowledge.

The institutions should improve and evolve medical curriculums as approach to training determines the effectiveness of healthcare practitioners.

Prof Peter Ngatia, interim vice-chancellor, Amref International University.


Our rotten values to blame for students’ anti-social behaviour

By KALTUM GUYO
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I heard that doctors bury their mistakes while lawyers jail theirs. We, Kenyans, on the other hand, punish the youth for our mistakes.

I say this in objection to the new measures implemented by the government as a way of curbing the ongoing unrest in schools. Inasmuch as I agree something radical and drastic needs to be done to correct the situation, it needn’t be in the form of blighting young people’s future. Punishment is in order, especially for the young, but only if it is reformative. Keeping a record of a life-term of bad conduct by the youth will destroy lives.

What we are doing in our corruption-saturated society is to punish the young for our mistakes as adults. Children are a reflection of ourselves. We are, essentially, reaping what we sowed.

ACADEMIC HANDICAP

When society turns a blind eye to years of corruption activities in every facet of our lives, the price we pay is children who have little regard for law and order. They have grown up witnessing wanton disregard for the law. We are not being honest to expect them to live within the confines of the law yet we don’t respect legal boundaries.

Corruption within our education sector has not just been of monetary value. Children cheating in exams is not a factor of their own creation. Adult(s) are obviously behind the scam. Parents bending the rule to buy leaked exams for their child to do well despite his/her academic handicap ought to carry the blame. Adults resorting to violence to solve political challenges need to take the blame. Politicians forging degrees to gain political mileage need to take the blame.

MYOPIC WAY

Failure by the criminal justice system to deal with criminals effectively tells our children crime pays. Kenyan children understand ‘chai’ as euphemism for bribery and it is sad. Because they have seen adults in action bribing that policeman with ‘chai’ on the roadside, bribing the headmaster for a place in the school, the judge ‘dad’ bribed to influence a case, the border official ‘mum’ asking for a bribe for a passport, engineer ‘uncle’ bribing for a contract and bribery balls keep rolling.

Let us first consider all the factors on the ground that have caused behavioural problems in schools before we shift blame to the young.

We must take a step back and consider how we got here We need an honest approach to understanding the social ills afflicting the young people and, hopefully, find means and ways to help them. We are taking a one-way approach to anti-social behaviour. It is a myopic way to solve a complex problem that needs concerted efforts between teachers, psychologists and experts from the youth justice system.

MORAL DOLDRUMS

One glaring problem, like in many public sectors, is remuneration of teachers. When teachers and lecturers spend more time hustling on the side to top up their salaries, that is counter-productive. They will have very little time for teaching.

We have our salary structures all wrong. The pay gap between the executive, the legislative and the rest of the civil service is huge and grossly unfair. It is unfair when key workers are left to wallow in poverty instead of being remunerated well enough to comfortably provide key services. This goes for teachers, nurses, doctors and the police.

When our priorities are back-to-front and we reward those who have little impact on the lives of our children more, then we end up in the moral doldrums that we now find ourselves in.

KNEE-JERK REACTIONS

Funding for schools and colleges in Kenya is a lottery. We must consider investing in the institutions well so that all children can have access to quality education. There is no level playing field in education yet it should be the norm. Two-tier funding leaves some schools struggling to offer even the essentials, such as security.

A standardised education system is fairer to all the children than having some schools with more swimming pools than others. Standardisation should be from the facilities on offer to the quality of education.

Then there are not enough libraries in the communities or social and sports centres for the youth to attend. Just some example of distraction the youth need especially from poor backgrounds.

The measures taken to punish youngsters for life is too harsh and exonerates the adults, who ought to take the largest share of the blame. The measures are typical knee-jerk reaction to social problems afflicting our society. We need to rethink the punishment.

ADULTS OMISSION

Let us first consider the impact corruption and lack of funding has on education, for instance, then come up with a better solution for the youths’ behaviour. Juvenile delinquency will come and go. Children should not, therefore, be judged harshly 20 years later for childhood misdemeanours contributed by adults’ omission.

We are punishing the youth unfairly — for our failures.


Experts support push to amend Constitution

By KITAVI MUTUA
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The fresh clamour for the review of the Constitution being pushed by opposition leader Raila Odinga is gaining momentum after Constitutional experts concurred on the need to correct certain fundamental gaps.

Renowned constitutional lawyer Nzamba Kitonga said time is ripe for review of the 2010 Constitution to address what he termed as matters arising, which had been identified during the eight years of implementing the document.

Mr Kitonga, the former chairman of the defunct Committee of Experts which drafted the Constitution, said large sections of the country feel excluded from governance of the country, and therefore a review is appropriate to address such gaps.

SMALL GAPS

“As the committee of experts, we envisaged that a review of the Constitution will be done after a period of seven to 10 years, when the challenges of the new laws are experienced and identified by Kenyans,” the senior counsel said.

During an interview with Nation, Mr Kitonga said the current structure of the three arms of government — the executive, legislature and Judiciary — needs slight adjustments to address political inclusivity and negative ethnicity, reduce public wage bill and make the judicial system more effective.

He said the Constitution was generally good and progressive, but it had certain small gaps which needed to be improved to make it ideal for Kenya.

HYBRID SYSTEM

He said the presidential system of government adopted in Naivasha during the final phase of review process is a winner take it all model that has proved unworkable in Kenya because it excludes most communities in governance.

“The draft that the Committee of Experts came up with was a hybrid system that was both presidential and parliamentary to accommodate the opposition parties and make our politics less contentious,” he said.

The version we have, he added, is heavily watered down by politicians to provide for a pure presidential system which Kenyans rejected during the long and tedious constitutional review process.

“We had provided for a full pledged constitutional office for the leader of official opposition sitting in Parliament, which was removed, making a large sections of Kenyans to feel excluded from governance when they lose elections,” he said. On Judiciary, Mr Kitonga argued that the Judicial Service Commission should be composed of retired judges and senior lawyers as opposed to the current situation where recruitment and discipline of judicial staff is handled by serving judges and magistrates.

VESTED INTERESTS

“Ours is not an ideal model, it breeds suspicion and unfairness because a judge cannot get fair trial in a tribunal that consists of people  with vested interests,” he said.

Another legal expert, Mr Bobby Mkangi, who served with Mr Kitonga in the review panel, said the committee never anticipated that both levels of governments and their respective assemblies would be wasteful in mismanaging public resources. Mr Mkangi said the whole system of government is complex and expensive and therefore should be reviewed to eliminate duplication of public service roles in counties and national government, make it more effective and less bureaucratic.

“The country now has a reduced Cabinet where the Constitution provides a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 24 Cabinet secretaries as opposed to the previous 80 plus ministers and their assistants but our county and national assemblies are still bloated” he said.

DEVOLVED UNITS

He said they never envisaged that the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission will create a huge number of constituencies and wards, saying that can be addressed by amending the Elections Act.

There have been concerns over the two sizes of parliament and the cost of running the devolved units with some politicians calling for scrapping of the senate and reduction of counties.

In 2014, Parliament recently rejected a motion by former Mwingi central MP Joe Mutambu seeking to reduce the number of counties from the current 47 to 10, citing costs of running the devolved units.

Uasin Gishu County MP Gladys Boss Shollei has drafted a Constitutional Amendment Bill seeking to scrap the Woman Representative seat and increase the number of women to Parliament through election — not party nomination.

RESTRUCTURE

The bill, which was tabled in Parliament last week, proposes the pairing of constituencies to form one constituency that will be reserved solely for women. The existing constituencies will be vied for by both genders.

On the other hand, Mr Odinga has revived the push for review of the constitution to change the structure of the country’s system of government.

Mr Odinga argues that after eight years of governance under the 2010 constitution, it is time to review the document and correct the gaps that have been identified so far.

The former prime minister says the review will address issues bedeviling the country because Kenya has not followed the governance route and equitable development envisaged in the national anthem.

Mr Odinga is rooting for constitutional amendments to see through the nine-point agenda he agreed with President Uhuru Kenyatta four months ago, with proposals to restructure the Executive and introduce a three-tier system of governance.

LEADERSHIP

To achieve the envisaged changes, the ODM leader said, a series of public events will be organised across the country to outline the terms of the March 9 meeting, commonly referred to as The Handshake, to Kenyans.

“If you look at our national anthem, it says Justice be our shield and defender, may we dwell in unity, peace and liberty and that plenty be found within our borders, but Kenya took a different route” he said in Kitui on Tuesday.

Mr Odinga told guests on Tuesday during the launch of Kitui Villa, a hotel owned by one of his foremost advisers, US based law scholar Prof Makau Mutua that a Kenya free of tribalism, corruption, election rigging, poverty and insecurity is the Canaan Nasa leadership promised their supporters.

BROAD AGENDA

He said he agreed to talks with President Kenyatta that culminated into the famous handshake after reaching consensus on the need to address social, political and economic reforms through a constitutional review.

“The issues that need constitutional amendments had been identified in the nine point Memorandum of Understanding he entered with President Kenyatta but Kenyans will have a chance to give views on how the process will be conducted” he said.

The ODM party leader who spoke at length on the broad agenda of his political cooperation with the President said the taskforce mandated to work on modalities of actualizing the deal will soon start collecting views from the public on how they want the country governed.

Without giving specific timelines, Mr Odinga said the fresh public debate on constitutional review exercise will culminate in a referendum to change the 2010 constitution.

NEGATIVE ETHNICITY

“We have agreed with President Kenyatta that if we manage to accomplish correcting these constitutional gaps, we’ll have transformed Kenya into a better country for future generations” he said.

He said they had already appointed the taskforce that will go round the country collecting public views in all counties on how to improve the structure of government, electoral reforms and how to deal with negative ethnicity.

“You’ll be asked how you want to be governed and how we can improve devolution and distribute wealth in this country. You’ll also give views whether you want the executive structure the way it is or we adopt parliamentary system of government or hybrid” he said.

Mr Odinga emphatically said the constitutional review agenda was agreed upon with Mr Kenyatta in the MoU they signed and read to the country after shaking hands on the footsteps of Harambee House on March 9th.

“We have a good Constitution, but it is not working. That is why President Kenyatta and I decided to come together for the sake of changing what needs to be changed through laws review,” he said.

DEVOLUTION

However, President Kenyatta has since opposed the push to change the constitution saying he has no time running around the country asking people to support changing the Constitution.

“It won’t solve the problems we have. But engaging with the private sector on manufacturing like we are doing will,” President Kenyatta said at State House, Nairobi last month, when he hosted the 8th Presidential Round Table Forum between the government and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance.

Several other leaders, including Mr Odinga’s opposition allies Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, have supported calls to amend the Constitution to strengthen devolution and make it more people-centred.

But other powerful leaders, among them DP Ruto and the Council of Governors Chairman Josphat Nanok, have also rejected Mr Odinga’s call to review the devolution structure.


Ogiek to fight Mau evictions in Africa court

By ERIC MATARA
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By GEORGE SAYAGIE
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The Ogiek community will go back to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights this week over the ongoing Maasai Mau Forest evictions. The evictions started seven days ago and are being carried out by officers from the Kenya Forest Service, Administration Police and Kenya Wildlife Service.

Speaking in Nakuru yesterday, the community’s Council of Elders chairman, Mr Joseph Towett, said the evictions violate the court’s judgment issued last year. He said the court directed the Kenya government to compensate the people affected in previous evictions.

RIGHTS VIOLATED

“The ongoing evictions targeting members of various communities, including the Ogiek, are a violation of the judgment issued by the Arusha-based court. We will go back to court for review of the judgment and possibly introduce a fresh suit,” said Mr Towett.

After more than five years of litigation, the court ruled in May 2017 that the Kenya government had violated the rights and freedoms of the Ogiek by driving them out of their ancestral land nearly a decade ago.

It told the Kenya government “to take all appropriate measures within a reasonable time-frame to remedy all the violations established” and inform it of the progress within six months. The court told the Ogiek to file their requests for reparations within two months.

146,000 HECTARES

London-based lawyer Lucy Claridge represented the Ogiek.

“Instead of implementing the judgment, the government is evicting innocent people. As much as we support conservation, let us not politicise this matter,” said Mr Towett.

The evictions have so far affected 13 shopping centers, 772 houses, over 3,000 livestock and 8,860 people.

By Sunday evictions had been conducted in Nkoben, Kosia, Kass FM, Msaita, Arorwet with most of the evictees camping at Arorwet trading centre.

At least 12,000 illegal settlers living on 146,000 hectares of forest land are being targeted in the eviction that started last week.

CHARCOAL BURNING

A multi-agency team of Kenya Forest Service, Administration Police and Kenya Wildlife Service is involved in the operation.

Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya has maintained that the ‘squatters’ have homes and land elsewhere.

On Sunday he said they invaded the forest to burn charcoal and graze their animals.

Meanwhile Narok North Member of Parliament Moitalel Ole Kenta and his Bomet Central counterpart Ronald Tonui have differed over the ongoing evictions

Mr Tonui termed the decision harassment of citizens, saying those living in the forest were genuinely settled there by the government.

CHILLY WEATHER

He condemned the ongoing evictions terming it inhuman and uncalled for.

Speaking Saturday when he visited families camping at Kitoben trading centre at the edges of the forest in Narok South Sub-County, Mr Tonui faulted the government for flushing out the hapless people from their homes.

Mr Tonui wants the state to shelve the plans of evicting squatters from Mau Forest because of the chilly weather.

He appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto to intervene and give the settlers alternative land instead.

POWERFUL PEOPLE

“The weather is unfavourable for eviction. It is raining, people’s lives are being endangered,” said Mr Tonui.

However, Narok North counterpart Mr Kenta insisted the evictions must continue if the future of Kenya’s largest water tower is to be guaranteed.

Mr Kenta dismissed Mr Tonui concerns, saying most of the land beneficiaries were powerful people in the previous government, who also allocated or sold the land to their supporters.

According to the MP ,more than five million people depend on Mau ecosystem for their the well-being.

LOGGING MORATORIUM

“This MP who went to Mau should keep off Narok County. In Narok we have leaders, he should concentrate on matters affecting people of Bomet,” said Mr Kenta.

The eviction is aimed at halting further degradation of the forest and halt activities that hamper conservation of the vital water tower.

The forest has been devastated despite a national logging moratorium.

BIGGEST FOREST

The Mau complex straddles several counties and is Kenya’s biggest forest and is the catchment source for Lake Victoria and the White Nile.

It covers 400,000hectares and is the biggest single block of forest in East Africa.

It is also the source of numerous rivers, which carry Mau’s water throughout Western Kenya from Lake Turkana in the North to Lake Natron in the South.


State seeks MPs nod in plan to hive off Mount Elgon forest

By DAVID MWERE
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The government is seeking the approval of the National Assembly to degazette 4,607 hectares of Mount Elgon forest for the resettlement of the Sabaot community, a move that has already run into headwinds with environmentalists and politicians spoiling for a battle to protect the water tower.

In a petition signed by Cabinet Secretaries Keriako Tobiko (Environment and Forestry) and Farida Karoney (Lands and Physical Planning) and approved by the Cabinet, the executive wants MPs to approve the alteration of the forest boundary in line with the Forest Conservation and Management Act of 2016, which allows any person to petition the National Assembly or Senate for alteration as long as the grounds are convincing.

The planned de-gazettement comprises Phases II and III of Chepyuk Settlement Scheme in the forest reserve within Cheptais Forest Station in Bungoma County.

RESETTLEMENT

The move is meat to allow the resettlement of the Soy (Sabaot) and Dorobo (Mosop) communities to resolve historical land injustices, reduce security conflicts and spur local development.

National Assembly speaker Justin Muturi committed the petition to the departmental committees on Lands and that on Environment and Natural Resources for joint consideration within 60 days of its reading on the floor on July 5.

“A Petition of this nature is new to the House, being one that emanates from the executive having been approved by the Cabinet,” Mr Muturi said.

PUBLIC FOREST

“The committees should guide the House, by way of a report, on whether the petition satisfies the requirements of law relating to the grounds for variation of the boundaries of a public forest, having ensured sufficient public participation with relevant stakeholders as required by the law,” Mr Muturi said.

But even as the government verifies the true inhabitants of Chepyuk II and III settlement schemes and for how long they have lived there some, politicians from Western region have opposed the move urging the MPs to reject the petition, which requires a simple majority of the 349 MPs for approval.

 Nasa leaders Musalia Mudavadi, Moses Wetang’ula and former Kakamega senator Boni Khalwale say the government is using the squatters as an excuse to benefit a few politically correct individuals.


Kogelo to push for approval of 'Barack Obama University'

By VICTOR RABALLA
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Kogelo residents will push former United States President Barack Obama to publicly endorse a university to be named after him.

Already, locals have set aside 24 acres for the main campus of the university in Nyang’oma while plans are underway to admit the first batch of students to Siaya Agricultural Training Centre in September.

The establishment of Barack Obama University of Leadership and Technology will be among the six petitions to be presented to the former US president when he lands in Siaya today.

Community spokesman Nicholas Rajula said talks are at an advanced stage to make Siaya ATC a constituent college of the university.

OPEN POTENTIAL

He added that the college is working with Maseno University to offer a number of courses.

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga says the establishment of the university will open up the potential of Kogelo.

Mr Rasanga added that the university would play a big role in teaching unique courses that target the 14 counties in the Lake Basin “which have a common goal of fighting poverty”.

“When I visited Harvard University recently, the mention of Obama’s name elicited optimism. That is why the project is important,” the county boss said.

NEW COURSES

US-based scholar Michael Muiga, who was a policy staff member of Mr Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, said former Florida Senator Bob Graham is willing and ready to support the university.

He added that once the university begins operating, professors from the US would be called in to help introduce courses not offered in Kenya.

“We will offer industrial, material, foundation, petroleum and irrigation engineering courses,” Prof Muiga, himself a civil engineer, said.

He added that the establishment of the university would put Mr Obama’s name in education circles just like George Washington University, which is named after another former US president.

EXPAND GRADUALLY

Mr Rasanga underlined the need to introduce programmes like irrigation, tropical medicine and law.

Artefacts, including Mr Obama’s childhood history and speeches, would be collected and archived at the university.

The chairman of the committee on the construction of the university, Achola Waw, said renovation of lecture halls, laboratories, ablution blocks and computer halls at Siaya ATC is complete. 

“We intend to start with the school of agriculture, commerce and education as we seek to expand gradually,” Prof Waw told journalists.