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Wednesday, August 1st, 2018


Three thousand children on average are being displaced from Hodeidah every day

The exodus could cause a devastating ripple effect throughout Yemen

Eight-year-old Razan* was badly injured after shrapnel hit her left eye as she tried to leave Hodeidah

A fresh wave of violence that’s seen bombing escalate and deadly clashes erupt south of Hodeidah City is putting the lives of thousands of children in extreme danger, Save the Children is warning.

Even before the latest increase in violence, an average of 6,238 people-half of whom are children-were fleeing Hodeidah Governorate every single day.

In little more than 50 days (June 1st to July 24th) the constant threat of bombing, shelling, starvation and a lack of basic services displaced a total of 330,610 people from Hodeidah according to the United Nations.

The journey for those trying to flee, however, is often no safer-with families having to brave minefields, airstrikes and being forced to cross areas of active fighting all in a bid to escape the embattled governorate. Civilian casualties in the most impacted districts more than doubled in the start of July as the fighting moved to more populated areas, according to the UN’s Refugee Agency.

Eight-year-old Razan* was severely wounded in one eye after a bomb exploded nearby as she and her father tried to leave. She was in agony for days and her family feared she was permanently blinded.

Razan‘s father, Samir said:

“When Razan* was injured, the airstrike was just metres away from us. The airstrike hit an armoured vehicle nearby and flying shrapnel hit Razan in the eye. I tried to get us to a safe place to have a look at her eye, and then I bandaged her up with my shawl. Then we had to carry on moving.”

“Razan* had to go five days without treatment, because I didn’t have enough money. After five days I asked Razan whether she could still see through her injured eye. She lied and said yes. We went upstairs, and I asked her to count the birds outside, while I covered her good eye. She said there were two, but there were four.”

Razan* eventually reached a specialist hospital, where Save the Children referred her for emergency surgery that should restore her eyesight-but there are many more children like her who are not getting the care they need.

Even if they make it out, the villages and communities where they flee to are overwhelmed and simply can’t cope with the influx of people or provide them with essential services. This is putting the whole country at risk, leaving the most vulnerable living in crowded conditions and struggling to find enough food, water or medicine to survive. This could lead to extreme food insecurity or an outbreak of cholera, measles or diphtheria, diseases that have already taken hold in Yemen and disproportionately affect weak and/or malnourished children-leaving an already weakened health system on the verge of collapse.

Save the Children’s Yemen Country Director, Tamer Kirolos, has just returned from Hodeidah. He described what he saw there:

“Since I was last here just two months ago, Hodeidah City has become somewhat of a ghost town. The streets are empty even in the day and there are checkpoints everywhere. The devastation that airstrikes and shelling have caused is clear to see.”

“Hodeidah was already the poorest governorate in Yemen-which is the poorest country in the Middle East-before this latest offensive and it simply can’t handle another blow. People fear they will die whether they stay or they flee but even if they manage to get out their lives remain in danger. With the economy in tatters and health and sanitation facilities throughout the country destroyed, conditions are now rampant for disease and starvation to spread. Aid agencies are doing what they can to keep people alive but ultimately, our efforts are just a sticking plaster on a gaping wound.”

“We must see an immediate ceasefire to avoid any more civilian casualties and we call on all parties to continue to negotiate with the UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths in good faith, to achieve a workable peace deal that will bring an end to this brutal war and to the suffering of 22 million people in Yemen.”


*denotes name changed

Multimedia content of Razan* and Samir*, including stills and video, can be found here: (GVs from Hodeidah will be added later today)…

Spokespeople available in London and Yemen.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Simona Sikimic:, +44 7760 221890

Out-of-hours:, +44 7831 650409


  • Any disruption or damage to the port in Hodeidah could push parts of Yemen into famine. For more information see here

  • Save the Children is working in and around Hodeidah providing cash transfers, health, nutrition, water, hygiene and child protection services, to hundreds of households.

Court ruling on JSC sittings will open floodgates for allowance claims

The recent High Court ruling on Judicial Service Commission (JSC) sitting allowances by Justice Chacha Mwita will open the floodgates for claims.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) capped the sittings to eight per month following a public outcry over the ballooning wage bill.

The court ruling allowing unfettered sittings could be the beginning of many public financial woes that both national and county governments face. It empowers the MPs and MCAs to aggressively agitate for more allowances.

When President Uhuru Kenyatta announced his intention to have his salary and those of other public servants reduced by 20 per cent, the issue generated heated national wide debate.

In fact, opinion was deeply divided on this issue. Both the national and county governments have refused to embrace cost-cutting and austerity measures. Little wonder that the public wage bill has been rising steadily.

All non-value-adding activities should be discarded. Also, the issues of corruption, ghost workers and proclivity to spend, among other fiscal measures, should be handled with the seriousness that they deserve.

It is in the public interest that the government puts in place prudent fiscal measures to shun wastage. It should not continue bleeding a leech to fatten a heifer.

The SRC must appeal the court ruling in order to save the poor Kenyan taxpayers the agony of digging deeper in their pockets.

Joseph G. Muthama, Kiambu.

Focus on structures, systems and not individuals to end corruption

Governance is as good as the systems and structures. Former US President Abraham Lincoln once said that if given six hours to cut down a tree, he would spend the first four sharpening the axe. This was an emphasis on planning.

Incidentally, Lincoln’s approach ought to be our guiding principle while fighting corruption; else, our efforts might end up fruitless. Again, bungling would attract hefty compensation claims.

Corruption is complicated and amorphous, requiring keen and focused leadership, one that won’t yield to political pressures, tribal influence and lengthy judicial processes.


The renewed focus on the anti-graft war brings a sense of hope and direction. However, there is a need to evaluate whether we are on the right track. We could be administering the wrong drug, based on a faulty diagnosis.

What ails our governance systems is outright greed and theft of public resources. Call it white-collar theft. Suspensions, sackings and replacements of personalities implicated in corruption activities merely facilitate the turn-coat principle.

If anything, the undertones associated with some political elements should worry us all. It is common knowledge: To defeat or dent a well-meaning public policy strategy, just politicise it.


With the fight taking a political twist, the antagonists are alleging bias towards certain individuals, communities or class of people.

To paraphrase Prof PLO Lumumba, we are shifting the same old monkeys into new forests. End result? Zero. If governance systems are unchanged, no level of strategy innovation will change anything.

Governance systems are fond of weak policy strategies and systemic failures that are easily compromised. Where systems work, no matter who is in which position of authority, corruption incidents will be minimal.

Public policy strategists and administrators should take a leaf from the corporate world. What is it that works differently there? Simple; their systems work and are tamper-proof.

Our legislative and policy development ethos are poor; hence, the obvious grey areas in governance systems. We lack clear frameworks on accountability, transparency and openness in the conduct of public affairs.


Our leadership lacks integrity and is one that hoodwinks the citizenry instead of providing solutions. Talk of benchmarking in management of public affairs.

A word so popular with the current crop of leadership, benchmarking has become a conduit for soft graft. That’s how unpredictable and conniving corrupt elements can be.

For a hygienic governance system, what is required is a review of the existing structures and systems.

With weak systems, no one, not even the smartest individual, will make a difference.

Kiragu Kariuki, Nyeri.

Girlfriend’s murder earns city businessman 20 years in jail

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A city businessman found guilty of murdering his girlfriend almost four years ago at Buruburu estate in Nairobi, will serve 20 years in prison.

Justice Stella Mutuku said justice would be served by sentencing Erastus Ngura Odhiambo to a custodial sentence.

She said she sympathised with the family of 27-year-old Linda Irungu, who was murdered on the night of December 11, 2014 by Odhiambo.

Although Odhiambo regretted his actions, said the judge, nothing could be done to reverse it and her family continued living in pain after losing her.


She added that Odhiambo could have acted differently and avoided the confrontation.

Ms Irungu, a mother of one, was shot by 40-year-old Odhiambo after a quarrel outside her house in Waihura court, Buruburu Phase V.

Evidence showed the two had agreed to meet at a club in Kilimani on the fateful day. Odhiambo proceeded to the club and waited for her in vain. They talked for a while as she promised to show up only for her to start ignoring his calls.


The court heard that he went to the house and did not find her. This agitated him and he kept moving from the club to the house looking for her.

He eventually found her as she tried to drive to her parents’ home and pulled her out of the car. A scuffle ensued and he shot her dead.

The judge noted that the situation was explosive after Ms Irungu failed to join Odhiambo as promised.

Moi’s Kiptagich Tea Estate was meant to prevent encroachment

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The Kiptagich Tea Estate land acquired by retired President Daniel arap Moi in 1978 was never part of the Mau Forest Complex.

A source privy to the deal and who works at the Kiptagich factory but did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak on behalf of the factory clarified that Mr Moi did not use his position to allocate himself land in the Mau complex. At the time of the deal, he was Vice-President.

“This land was part of the trust land under Narok County Council and Mzee was allocated by the Maasai community to plant tea to stop people from encroaching on the forest; we have records on this,” said the source.

He said the land and its environs was part of the expansive bamboo forest legally allocated by the council.

Minutes of the council meeting chaired by William ole Ntimama seen by the Nation confirm the council passed a resolution to allocate the land to Mr Moi.


The minutes show that Mr Moi made a formal request to the local authority. He was allocated about 2,333 acres at Kiptagich area, formerly called Ilpontol.

The minutes further show the land was then trust land in the Transmara forest block under the County Council of Narok.

Councillors Shadrack ole Rotiken and William ole Yiaile proposed and seconded the request by Mr Moi. In latter years, both councillors became chairmen of the civic body.

It is said Mr Moi made the land request through prominent Maasai leaders including Senior Chief Lerionka ole Ntutu, Mr Ntimama, who later became Narok North MP and served in Moi’s Cabinet, and ministers Stanley Oloitiptip and Justus ole Tipis.

The leaders flew over the forest with Moi to see where he would plant tea. But later, Mr Ntimama disowned the allocation, saying the council was arm-twisted to approve it.

Documents from the Narok Council indicate the Maasai Mau forest was gazetted as trust land in 1957. Mr Rotiken, the proposer in the 1978 council meeting that resolved to allocate Moi the land, defended the deal.

Contacted, the former county chairman said there was no arm-twisting or manipulation of any kind.

“Moi was given land on request and the allocation was legal and binding,” he said on the phone.

He urged the government to respect the former President and let him enjoy his retirement in peace.

Mr Wilson Masikonde, who served as Olpusimoru Ward councillor for more than 25 years until 2017, also defended Mr Moi against claims that he used his influence to acquire the land.


“Mr Moi did not use his influence to acquire land in Mau. He was allocated the land by Narok County Council after he made a formal request. Mzee Moi is on record as saying the council regularly allocated the land to him,” he said.

Mr Moi asked the government to approach the land issue with sobriety, after a task force included his farm in the Mau Forest land.

Mr Masikonde said that were it not for Moi’s idea to set up Nyayo Tea Zones around the Mau complex, the forest would have been encroached upon long ago and completely cleared.

A task force report listed Mr Moi as one of the big shots who should be evicted from the area.

Why preserving Mau forest is not just Kenyan affair

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Kenya has an international obligation to protect the Mau forest complex because it is a source of livelihood for millions of people beyond the country’s borders.

In 2010, Kenya signed an accord meant to manage the resources of River Nile. The Nile gets its water from Lake Victoria which, in turn, is fed by rivers from the Mau complex.

The Nile serves South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.

The Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) was signed by former Water Minister Charity Ngilu following negotiations which lasted more than 10 years.

“The Maasai Mau and the Mau Complex are not just a Kenyan affair. It is a water catchment area and provides water for other countries. It is an asset that is transnational in character and nature,” said Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko during an interview.


But as the government recognises the treaty, residents of Sierra Leone, one of the most degraded areas in the Maasai Mau, say their only concern is the risk of losing their land.

“If this is where Egypt’s water comes from, let them pay us; we have the title deeds. We are not leaving. All we want is our rights to be respected,” said Mr Josephat Lang’at, a resident.

The Mau Complex also feeds Lake Natron in Tanzania through Ewaso Ng’iro. Lake Victoria is shared by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. “Interfering with the source of such crucial rivers would impact on Kenya’s obligations on regional and international treaties and conventions,” said Mr Tobiko.

“Kenya takes very seriously its regional and international obligations under the international law. This is not about Narok County or the neighbouring counties, it is about Kenya and the region.

Most importantly, it is about generations yet to be born,” said the CS.


According to Mr ole Karia, a Maasai elder and a conservationist, if the Mau Complex dries up, it will go with all the ecosystems that depend on it, including the Nile.

Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta said the Mau must be conserved for the benefit of the majority. “When people talk about human rights, you wonder what they mean. Just a few people destroying the human rights of millions of people. At the end of the day, we cannot justify that mistake,” he said.

The Nile Basin is depended on by over 160 million people and thus destruction of the water sources feeding it will adversely affect them.

The CFA has a long history.

Egypt and Great Britain (on behalf of her colonies in the Nile Basin) signed an agreement on the utilisation of the Nile’s waters in 1929. There was another agreement in 1959 between Egypt and Sudan.


But Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Ethiopia maintained that they were not party to both treaties and so in 1999, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) was born in a bid to resolve the crisis.

It was at this point that the countries involved — Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda — began developing a legal framework to govern the Nile Basin, which led to the 2010 CFA to which Kenya is a signatory.

Over the years, there had been disagreements on the use of the water especially because of bulging populations in the states sharing the Nile Basin, according to a writeup — Limits of the New Nile Agreement.

According to Mr Tobiko, while the fight for the Mau Complex may be seen to benefit the current generation, the impact of its continued destruction will be felt 50 years from today if nothing is done urgently.


“This is not a simple matter about now and today. The private rights of individuals must be balanced against the rights of the public and the generations yet to be born. It is now or never,” he said.

Kenya and Tanzania share the Mara River, famous for the wildebeest migration. “The source of the rivers that feed into the Mara River and that go into Tanzania is Mau. And that is why there can never be a Maasai Mara without the river. It cannot survive as a national heritage and the same applies to all the ecosystems supported by the river, including Serengeti,” said Mr Tobiko.

And so the government is not going to back down on the evictions in the Maasai Mau, said the Cabinet Secretary.

Trucking of oil yet to resume as residents disown MoU

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Turkana residents have decried the “tough conditions” contained in a memorandum of understanding drafted by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining.

The situation has worsened the standoff over mining of oil in the area and further dented hopes of resumption of its trucking from Turkana to Mombasa.

This was revealed as Turkana leaders said they had not been consulted in the drafting of the MoU and would oppose it, putting in jeopardy plans for urgent resumption of oil operations and transportation to the coastal city.

The MoU was expected to provide a solution to the month-long stalemate but leaders and residents yesterday said they were not satisfied with some of the provisos contained in a draft document that was being prepared for signing by various parties. In the document, the leaders were tasked with looking for peaceful solutions to emerging issues.


“It is the understanding of the Parties that in resolving the present suspension of operations and the avoidance of future work stoppages or suspension of operations, parties will be guided by the following principles: resolution of grievances in a peaceful, expedited, cost effective and project optimal manner,” said the proposed memorandum.

The parties to the pact will also be expected to commit to an assessment of the impact occasioned by the recent suspension and previous stoppage of operations on the cost of the oil project and its future schedules.

It says that the signatories would be expected to work together to ensure oil operations continue unabated and that a structure be formed for the channelling of grievances without future interruptions.


“The Turkana county government, the Members of Parliament and Turkana County Assembly will work together with the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to ensure deployment of adequate security agents across the county to guarantee security for the people of Turkana and their property and ensure smooth oil operations,” the draft says.

The document proposes creation of a Turkana Grievance Management Committee that will consist of representatives from the national and county governments, the oil company and the host community. It would address issues in a “respectable and non-confrontational manner.”

Treasury to release Sh1bn to revive miraa trade

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The Treasury is next week expected to release part of the Sh1 billion allocated to revive miraa farming, the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) has said.

Mr Clement Muyesu, the head of Miraa, Pyrethrum and other Industrial Crops Directorate, said they expect part of the money to be released as the implementation committee starts some of the activities.

“We will support the counties with funding so that they are able to monitor implementation of the task force (report),” Mr Muyesu said on phone yesterday.

The task force on revival of the industry was formed last year after miraa was categorised as a crop and placed under a directorate and allocated Sh1 billion.

The task force came up with recommendations including how farmers should be assisted to improve their crops.


Other recommendations were to do with reviving markets in Europe especially the UK and Netherlands where trade in the commodity was banned.

After its launch in May this year, a technical team set up to oversee implementation of the task force’s report identified activities that would be prioritised and is working on regulations to govern the sector.

While the regulations have been circulated for input by stakeholders, a baseline survey has been conducted and the report is being finalised.

This will give information on the miraa value chain mapping.


Mr Muyesu said some of the initial activities include building sheds where khat will be sold in hygienic conditions, sinking of boreholes in miraa growing areas for irrigation and opening of offices.

“We are in talks with the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) with the view to open an office at the Isiolo airport to facilitate export of the crop.

This means it will not be necessary to transport all the produce meant for export to Wilson airport in Nairobi,” he said.

Concerning the regulations, Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) chairman Kimathi Munjuri said they were informing and educating farmers and would present their suggestions when the food authority starts holding forums.

Assaulted woman in viral video to get aid

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The poor, defenseless, resigned Winfred Mwende who was filmed receiving a beastly beating from her husband David Nzomo will receive government support to earn an income, the Gender ministry said on Wednesday.

Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia said Ms Mwende, who is recovering at the Makueni Level Four Referral Hospital where she was rushed after being rescued by her in-laws, will be enrolled in a government financial programme.

“We will link the survivor with the socio-economic empowerment programme in my ministry will ensure that she is economically empowered,” said Prof Kobia in a statement to newsrooms yesterday, where she noted that she was “deeply saddened” by the assault.

Ms Mwende, whose tiny frame made many who watched the viral video suspect she is a minor, is in fact a mother of three aged 35.


The incident happened in Makueni County and according to Prof Kobia, Ms Mwende’s main occupation is herding family cattle.

“The husband, one David Nzomo, accused her of unfaithfulness after she received some phone calls and started to beat her,” stated Prof Kobia.

“I congratulate the in-laws for rescuing Ms Mwende and taking her to hospital. The matter was also reported at Makueni Divisional Police headquarters,” added the minister.

Prof Kobia has also ordered that officers in her ministry investigates the matter in conjunction with the police. This adds pressure on the police to arrest Mr Nzomo, who is said to be at large, after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on Tuesday also directed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to arrest him and have him charged.


“The DPP further directed that those who watched and participated in the unacceptable brutality, be arrested too,” said a tweet from the DPP.

The Federation of Women Lawyers has also called on Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinett and the office of the DPP to act “with immediate effect”.

Prof Kobia said the efforts to trace Mr Nzomo are being coordinated by the police, Makueni Woman Rep Rose Museo, officers from the Gender Affairs department, county officers among others.

“We anticipate that he will soon be arrested. We shall do everything possible within our means to ensure that the perpetrator is prosecuted within the law,” stated Prof Kobia.

The 58-second-long armature video that emerged online earlier this week has drawn outrage from far and wide. It captured Mr Nzomo raining blows, kicks and slaps on the helpless woman as a small crowd pleads with him in Kikamba to rethink his punishment.

Reforms must enrich the police formations

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Talks about the planned disbanding of the Administration Police had caused jitters in the service because of potential job losses and, importantly, a vacuum that could ensue in security operations at the grassroots.

It is fitting, therefore, that the National Police Service Commission has come out to clarify that, contrary to such talk, the two arms of the National Police Service — the Administration Police and Kenya Police — will continue to co-exist. However, they will be restructured and their roles sharply defined to ensure clarity in task execution.

This, we believe, is part of the envisaged police reforms that have been going on since 2010, and which, admittedly, have been slow and at times nearly faltered, creating the impression that the momentum was dying out.

Precisely, the question of disbanding the AP formation emanates from conflicts and duplication of tasks. Several incidents have been captured where the divisions appear to compete or fight each other, leading to the police service seemingly working at cross-purposes, which is detrimental to the broader goal of enforcing law and order.

For example, the recent crackdown on contraband goods revealed deep infighting and intrigues between the two formations, compromising the whole campaign.

The reforms began with the current Constitution, which brought together the regular police and AP under one entity — the NPS — with the objective of creating an ordered command structure under the Inspector-General of Police. Previously, the two operated independently, making coordination of security operations difficult.

Despite bringing the two formations under a central command, however, the details of their operations have not been properly delineated. Old mindsets persist and operations remain as before.

APs work with the provincial administration and handle matters right at the grassroots.


A colonial heritage, that arrangement has created an institution that is intrusive and focused on some base activities that though they cannot be ignored, consume inordinately much energy and resources that could as well be deployed to tackle more acute security challenges.

With the changed times, the role of APs must be redefined; they should play a bigger role in the mainstream security work rather than working with the provincial administrators for basic operations.

The regular police, on the other hand, have tended to look down upon the APs yet both work for a common cause.

The NPSC should expedite reforms, restructuring and clearly demarcating the paths and enriching the work of the two entities so that collaboratively, they can enhance national security.