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Friday, August 3rd, 2018

 

Patients suffer as drug shortage bites counties

By SATURDAY NATION TEAM
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A biting shortage of drugs in various county hospitals has left Kenyans exposed, with most of them having to incur the extra cost of buying them at private facilities.

The drug shortage, the Saturday Nation has learnt, is largely due to a decision by the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) to stop supplies to counties that still owe them money.

By June, counties owed Kemsa Sh2.3 billion, with Nairobi having the highest debt at Sh235 million, followed by Narok with Sh104 million.

And, even after Nairobi County paid Sh58 million to Kemsa, Governor Mike Sonko said on Thursday that the agency had still not supplied the drugs, prompting action from the ministry.

“I direct Kemsa to start supplying medicine to all Nairobi hospitals as the governor and his team sits down with Kemsa to see how the pending bills will be settled,” Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said during the launch of the World Breastfeeding Week at Pumwani Hospital, opening the floodgates for similar demands from other counties.

Mr Sonko yesterday said his team was working on an agreement with Kemsa to supply much-needed drugs.

“I acknowledge that there has been a shortage of medicine and I have taken action to ensure that this comes to an end. We have settled part of debt,” he said.

In Homa Bay, officials said that Kemsa had stopped distributing drugs including the vital anti-retroviral medicines until the Sh140 million the county owed was paid up.

“No drugs, including ARVs, have reached any hospital for eight months now. The national government issues the drugs free of charge. However, KEMSA must be paid to do the deliveries,” Maurice Ogwang’, chairman of the Health Committee, said in a report tabled in the county assembly.

Homa Bay County had tried in June to settle part of the bill but Kemsa reportedly refused the Sh60 million partial payment, MCAs say. The situation has put at risk HIV positive patients in an area where the prevalence rate of the disease is very high at more than 20 per cent.

The report further revealed several loopholes in the health department including stalled machines and vehicles, understaffing, poor nutrition, lack of clean water, dirty and torn beddings, and power disconnections among other challenges, which hinder service delivery.

The MCAs recommended that the officials in the county health and financial departments be suspended pending investigations. Patients at public health facilities in Kisii and Nyamira have been forced to buy drugs from private chemists.

Mr John Monari said he was forced to buy saline water for a patient he was attending to at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital. “Not even a panadol is available in that hospital. We need quick intervention,” he said.

At the Nyamira Level 5 hospital, the problem of drug shortage has been worsened by a two-month long strike by medics. Though County Health Executive, Mr Douglas Bosire, says they have tried to manage the situation by deploying more medics on contractual basis, locals say the situation is dire and needs urgent attention.

Kisii governor James Ongwae and his Nyamira counterpart John Nyagarama have in the past attributed the shortage to delays in disbursement of funds by the National Treasury.


One another, each other mean different things

By PHILIP OCHIENG
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A prominent headline alleged as follows on page 5 of the August 1 number of Nairobi’s Daily Nation newspaper: “Central leaders tear into each other in bid to host DP Ruto”. It may be a good investment to show such concern for a person who may be your next president in the squeezing of a lemon. But it was also an example of our media’s habit of confronting even our visitors with terms which only locals can understand.

Here we came across just one more example of that extremely bad habit. I am referring to the apparent inability by East Africa’s users of English to distinguish between the expression “each other” and the expression “one another”. But let me first reaffirm that, indeed, the two expressions are legitimate.

MUTUAL ACTION

The only problem for Kenyans, Tanzanians Ugandans, Zambians and Zimbabweans is that they habitually use “each other” and “one another” interchangeably every day that the sun rises in the orient. The problem is that each other and one another do not mean exactly the same thing. Therefore, they cannot be used interchangeably.

“Each other” refers to a mutual action or exchange between any two individual persons or things, whereas “one another” refers to any such action involving more than two individuals. Yet in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, we use the expressions “each other” and “one another” virtually interchangeably all the time. We use them, that is to say, as if they mean exactly the same thing.

UNEDUCATED

Let me emphasise, however, that “each other” and “one another” are not synonyms. For “each other” refers only to two individuals, whereas “one another” involves more than two individuals. “One another” involves at least three persons. That is why the two expressions “each other” and “one another” cannot be used interchangeably.

Raila Odinga, William Ruto and Moses Wetang’ula are in the extremely bad habit of hurling very uneducated words to criticise one another. Somebody ought to warn them and Kenya’s other politicians that, in this manner, the twain and other culprits do not score any marks from the minds of properly educated Kenyans, a section whose number is increasing apace every year.

COMMUNICATE

In other words, the expression “each other” is used to describe any mutual action between any two — but only two — individuals, whereas the expression “one another” is used to refer to any mutual action among three or more individuals. The general point, then, is that the two expressions (each other and one another) do not mean exactly the same thing and that the difference is important.

The expression “each other” describes two grammatical individuals in mutual action or reaction, whereas the expression “one another” describes any number of such subjects above two engaged in such an action and reaction. It is highly important to be aware of that difference every time you try to communicate in English.


Revolution is changing how we grow, buy food

By JUERGEN VOEGELE
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Technology has revolutionised agriculture at regular intervals, from the invention of the ox-drawn plough in ancient Egypt, to the first gas-powered tractor at the beginning of the 20th century. In the 1960s, the Green Revolution rolled out high-yielding cereal seeds, chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is no different. In 2017, a robotic farm in the UK harvested its first fully machine-operated crop. Five tons of barley were sowed, fertilised and harvested by autonomous vehicles. In the next two to three years, digital technologies in agriculture will have a sizeable market coverage around the world, estimates suggest.

GENE EDITING

In January, a World Economic Forum report developed in collaboration with McKinsey & Company identified 12 emerging technology buckets that have the potential to do good across several dimensions of the food system. They could change the shape of demand for food, through alternative proteins and personalised nutrition, for example; promote linkages along the food value chain, through mobile service delivery, big data, the Internet of Things and blockchain-enabled traceability; and create effective production systems, through water sensors, gene editing and other scientific advances that make agriculture more precise and high-yielding.

PRODUCTIVITY

Together, these innovations will transform a sector too often characterised in too many parts of the world by poverty and waste. But the potential of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to advance sustainable development in rural areas cannot be taken for granted.

Although world food production quadrupled between 1960 and 2010, in large part thanks to technology and an expansion of trade, this did not lead to uniformly better outcomes for food producers, consumers or the environment. Farmers increasingly find themselves in a high volume/low price equilibrium, where the gains in productivity that lift them out of poverty are partly eroded by the lower prices associated with increased supply.

DATA-DRIVEN

The real question, then, is not whether Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies will help us grow more food. It’s whether they have the potential to shift the current model to a smarter system that could leave producers, consumers and the planet better off. Some of the most exciting developments may not be on the farm at all. While much attention has been focused on farm-level improvements, an equal if not greater amount of disruption may be occurring in supermarket aisles, online and through aggregation apps.

The potential for change becomes apparent once you consider the complexity of the food system. It matches the 570 million farms that produce our food with the 7.6 billion people who consume it. Add to that picture roughly 100,000 upstream enterprises that supply farms with inputs such as seeds, fertiliser, finance and crop insurance, and millions of downstream enterprises moving, processing, and selling their outputs, and it’s no wonder that data-driven companies including Amazon and Alibaba are getting into the food business.

INEFFICIENCIES

Digital technology is a game changer for the agri-food system, because it dramatically reduces the cost of matching buyers and sellers in markets. In turn, greater efficiency in upstream and downstream markets could result in higher prices for farmers and more competition between middlemen.

The food sector is currently so riddled with inefficiencies (otherwise known as “market failures”) that it has started to attract serious tech business interest and solutions.

While times are exciting for ag-tech entrepreneurs, it’s too early to declare victory for inclusive and sustainable development. Disruptive technologies could help distribute food, wealth and data, reduce hunger and waste, and empower farmers to produce more valuable, climate-resilient and nutritious foods for their clients. Or they could spur a consolidation of the food sector, allowing a few companies to dominate the market, limiting food choices and expanding bad practices rather than correcting them.

NUTRITIOUS

Some of the policy choices that can steer the food system toward better outcomes have been clear for years. Green certification schemes, user-friendly nutrition information, local procurement rules and incentives for conservation all have a role to play in the battle for more nutritious and sustainable food systems. Reforms of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy have led to reduced fertiliser use, more crop diversification and payments for ecosystem services while continuing to support farmers’ living standards and high productivity. In July, four of the world’s largest food companies — Danone, Mars, Nestlé and Unilever — announced they were forming an alliance to advance sustainability and nutrition food policies in the US.

MAXIMISATION

Change is about more than technology. Policy innovations are urgently needed. At stake is the depth of agricultural transformation and the maximisation of its dividends for millions of small-scale food producers, as well as for food entrepreneurs and consumers around the world.

The writer is Senior Director, Food and Agriculture Global Practice, World Bank.

This article is part of the World Economic Forum’s Fourth Industrial Revolution for the Earth series, which explores how innovative technologies are beginning to transform the way we manage natural resources and address climate change and other environmental challenges caused by industrialisation.


We are all climate refugees now and must chart a path to safety

By JEFFREY SACHS
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Modern humans, born into one climate era, called the Holocene, have crossed the border into another, the Anthropocene. But instead of a Moses guiding humanity in this new and dangerous wilderness, a gang of science deniers and polluters currently misguides humanity to ever-greater danger. We are all climate refugees now and must chart a path to safety.

The Holocene was the geological age that started more than 10,000 years ago, with favourable climate conditions that supported human civilisation as we know it. The Anthropocene is a new geological era with environmental conditions that humanity has never before experienced. Ominously, the earth’s temperature is now higher than during the Holocene, owing to the carbon dioxide that humanity has emitted into the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and gas, and by indiscriminately turning the world’s forests and grasslands into farms and pastures.

WARNING LIGHTS

How utterly reckless of humanity to have rushed past the Holocene boundary, ignoring — like a character in a horror movie — all of the obvious warning signs. In 1972, the world’s governments assembled in Stockholm to address the growing environmental threats. In the lead-up to the conference, the Club of Rome published The Limits to Growth, which first introduced the idea of a “sustainable” growth trajectory and the risks of environmental overshooting. Twenty years later, the warning signs flashed brightly in Rio de Janeiro, where United Nations member states assembled at the Earth Summit to adopt the concept of “sustainable development” and to sign three major environmental treaties to halt human-induced global warming, protect biological diversity, and stop land degradation and desertification.

WILFULLY IGNORED

After 1992, the United States, the world’s most powerful country, ostentatiously ignored the three new treaties, signalling to other countries that they could slacken their efforts as well. The US Senate ratified the climate and desertification treaties but did nothing to implement them. And it refused even to ratify the treaty to protect biological diversity, in part because western-state Republicans insisted landowners have the right to do what they want with their property without international meddling.

More recently, the world adopted the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015 and the Paris climate agreement in December 2015. Yet, once again, the US government has wilfully ignored the SDGs, ranking last among the G20 countries in terms of government implementation efforts. And President Donald Trump has declared his intention to pull the US out of the Paris climate agreement at the earliest possible moment, 2020, four years after the accord entered into force.

WORSE COMING

Worse is to come. The human-caused rise in CO2 hasn’t yet reached its full warming effect, owing to the considerable lag in its impact on ocean temperatures. There is still another 0.5º Celsius or so of warming to occur over the coming decades based on the current concentration of CO2 (408 parts per million) in the atmosphere, and far more warming beyond that if CO2 concentrations continue to soar with the business-as-usual burning of fossil fuels. To achieve the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting warming to “well below 2ºC” relative to the pre-industrial level, the world needs to shift decisively from coal, oil, and gas to renewable energy by around 2050, and from deforestation to reforestation and restoration of degraded lands.

So why does humanity keep plunging dumbly ahead, toward certain tragedy?

LATEST FOOL

The main reason is that our political institutions and giant corporations wilfully ignore the rising dangers and damage. Politics is about obtaining and holding power and the perks of office, not about solving problems, even life-and-death environmental problems. Managing a major company is about maximising shareholder value, not about telling the truth or avoiding great harm to the planet. Profit-seeking investors own the major media, or at least influence it through their advertising purchases. Thus, a small yet very powerful group maintains the fossil-fuel-based energy system at growing peril to the rest of humanity today and in the future.

Trump is the latest useful fool doing the polluters’ bidding. Trump has filled the US government with industry lobbyists who are systematically dismantling every environmental regulation they can reach. Most recently, Trump has nominated a former lawyer for mega-polluter Dow Chemical to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund toxic cleanup programme. You can’t make this stuff up.

NARCISSISTIC POLITICIANS

We need a new kind of politics that starts with a clear global goal: environmental safety for the planet’s people, by fulfilling the Paris climate agreement, protecting biodiversity, and cutting pollution, which kills millions each year. The new politics will listen to scientific and technological experts, not self-interested business leaders and narcissistic politicians.

Climatologists enable us to gauge the rising dangers. Engineers inform us how to make the rapid transition, by 2050, to zero-carbon energy. Ecologists and agronomists show us how to grow more and better crops on less land while ending deforestation and restoring previously degraded land.

IGNORANT ELITE

Such a politics is possible. In fact, the public yearns for it. A large majority of the American people, for example, want to fight global warming, stay in the Paris climate agreement, and embrace renewable energy. Yet, as long as a narrow and ignorant elite condemn Americans and the rest of humanity to wander aimlessly in the political desert, the more likely it is that we will all end up in a wasteland from which there will be no escape.

People are suffering and dying in the new environment, with much worse to come. Hurricane Maria is estimated to have taken more than 4,000 lives in Puerto Rico last September. High-intensity hurricanes are becoming more frequent, and major storms are causing more flooding, because of the increased heat transfer from the warming waters of the oceans, the greater moisture in warmer air, and the rise in sea levels – all made more extreme by human-induced climate change.

FOREST FIRES

Just last month, more than 90 people perished in the suburbs of Athens from a devastating forest fire stoked by drought and high temperatures. Huge forest fires are similarly raging this summer in other hot and newly dry locales, including California, Sweden, Britain, and Australia. Last year, Portugal was devastated. Many record-high temperatures are being reached around the world this summer.

Writer is professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia University. This piece was first published in ProjectSyndicate


Lack of good land policies the real cause of Mau Forest crisis

The Mau Forest controversy has been with us since the Moi administration. It has now been turned into a political tool and politicians have been engaging in a blame game over conservation of the forest complex. The ongoing eviction of illegal settlers in the forest land has once again generated a heated debate in the country. Forest evictions continue to depict a dysfunctional leadership at war with itself, with some of its members supporting the eviction while others oppose it. This shows a double standard approach in resolving issues.

CORRUPT POLITICIANS

The eviction carried out by security personnel has shown how the government lacks fundamental plans towards resolving the Mau issue. Since capitalism only benefits the elite, the poor are the ones who are evicted while the “untouchables” (cartels) are spared. The 2004 land report, commonly known as the Ndungu Report, pointed out land allocations in the forest, terming them illegal, and recommended their revocation. Yet no action was taken. This shows that the crisis of the Mau was caused by the greedy and corrupt politicians who grabbed hundreds of hectares of its land. Through illegal transactions, these politicians sold some pieces of the forest land to poor people. Generally, our bad land policies have brought us this mess. Natural resources like the water towers are public properties which should be protected.

SHABANI MWALIMU, Nairobi.


We do not need to amend Constitution to stay united

I have been hearing some political, religious and trade union leaders proposing that the Constitution needs to be amended to unite Kenyans. Personally, I find such arguments baseless, dishonest, selfish and undermining the integrity of Kenyans.

Let us look at our neighbouring countries.

JULIUS NYERERE

Rwanda was one of the most divided countries before the unfortunate civil war of 1994, despite having only two ethnic communities. When the genocide ended, the new government installed new governance policies capped with a high level of honesty. Today, Rwanda is praised more than any other country in Eastern Africa. The rule of law is treated with the seriousness it deserves. Tanzania and the USA have more tribes than Kenya. However, they are more united than Kenya, which has only 43 tribes. Tanzania’s founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere established the instruments of governance in his country with honesty and faithfulness.

NEVER REWARDED

Kenya has the institutions, the Constitution, the education system, the healthcare network, wildlife, a modern railway and a robust IT infrastructure. Yet we are still the most divided state along ethnic lines in the region. Looking at Kenya from a distance, one may think Kenya is a beautiful forest where everyone works harder and smarter to make it look green and attractive. Yet those who work hard to make Kenya great are never rewarded.

Some leaders across the political divide reason that we need to expand the Executive to give leaders easy time to unite Kenyans. I think such leaders are driven by selfishness. If that was the case, Tanzania, with 120 tribes, would need at least five presidents, five deputy presidents, five prime ministers and 10 deputy prime ministers to stay united.

DELIVER SERVICES

The amendment of the Constitution to expand the Executive structure will not unite Kenyans. Neither can it cure the tribal animosity among Kenyans. What we need is a system that can ensure that all public, state officers and private offices deliver services to Kenyans honestly, faithfully, patriotically and passionately. Article 10 of the Constitution is very clear on what is expected of public and state officers. Articles 19-59 elaborate how we ought to be treated by any officer in both public and private sectors. Chapter six talks about integrity and ethical conduct.

The problems the country is facing are dishonesty, lack of institutionalisation and lack of patriotism.

We do not need any more laws, systems or technology; what we need is a system that will ensure honesty.

JOSEPH OWUOND, Nairobi.


New rules bar police officers from doing business without approval

By MOHAMED AHMED
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The National Police Service (NPS) has barred police officers from engaging in any form of business without its approval.

According to the new rules, the police will only be given a go-ahead to do business when the source of their income is known.

NPS commissioner Murshid Mohammed said the clearance will be issued to the police officers once an officer’s source of income is found to be “clear and transparent”.

He said after clearance, the businesses will be monitored to ensure it is not being used to disguise their “lavish lifestyle”.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

“We have specific guidelines to ensure what they do is genuine. We will also ensure they don’t go into businesses that are in conflict with their day-to-day activities,” said Mr Mohammed after an induction forum at the Kenya School of Government in Mombasa.

A number of police officers have directly or through proxies been involved in the matatu sector, with some using their positions to ensure “smooth” running of their businesses.

The commissioner said businesses that pose a conflict of interest include matatus and wines and spirits stores and will not be allowed.

PROVIDE MORTGAGE

“During vetting, we realised a big number of officers were involved in those kind of businesses and almost all of them had to be relieved of their duties,” he said.

According to the rules, police officers will also get proper housing, be involved in a chaplaincy programme and receive efficient training.

On the housing policy, Mr Mohammed said plans are underway to make proposals to the government to provide mortgage for police officers.

He said the housing policy will allow the police officers to live like any other public servants and be able to leave their families in a permanent place when they are sent to work away from home.

COUNSELLING

“The housing policy is quite a substantive one and so many arrangements are already in place to cover the house shortage,” he said.

“Other proposals will involve seeking the government to provide several aspects including house allowances and construction of houses, leasing of houses or a combination of all the three. Right now police officers are poorly housed and it is high time that officers are properly housed,” he said.

Mr Mohammed said currently, houses are shared between families, adding that the policy will improve the situation.

Meanwhile, the chaplaincy policy will go hand in hand with another which involves the officers and their families going through counselling.

TRAINING COLLEGES

“Chaplaincy policy will see the police officers embark on an ambitious programme that will involve both Muslims and Christians practising their religions accordingly, which will guide them in their work,” he said.

Police officers operating in places like Baragoi and Lamu will be the top beneficiaries of the counselling programme, he said.

“We have also seen cases of dishonesty within the service, suicides, issues of police officers killing their colleagues out of frustrations and others who are addicted to alcohol, but once we streamline these policies work will be smooth for them,” he said.

Police training will take into account fairness, accountability and improve the way their stay in training colleges.


MPs should not get away with sugar mess

By EDITORIAL
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The fresh controversy over a parliamentary report on the sugar import scandal compels us to revisit the matter which has refused to go away. Members of the two committees of the National Assembly that were investigating the scandal — Trade and Agriculture — are divided over the final report submitted to the House because the content has been doctored. This forced Speaker Justin Muturi to put on hold discussion of the report, directing the joint committee to revise and incorporate all the recommendations that had been culled out at the last minute.

CONSEQUENCES

Facts of the matter are follows. The joint-parliament committee had recommended that two Cabinet Secretaries, Henry Rotich (Treasury), Adan Mohamed (then at Industrialisation) as well as the then Agriculture CS Willy Bett be investigated about their role in sugar import scam and if found guilty, made to face the consequences. But apparently, this recommendation was pulled out to protect the ministers. This is outright mischief and deceit.

VESTED INTERESTS

But it is hardly surprising. We have argued all along that the investigation was imperilled from the start. Vested interests have been working round the clock to influence the outcome because of its potential to destroy careers and trigger political backlash. When the first report was presented to the House a couple of days ago, Mr Muturi threw it out after MPs complained it had been shoddily done. Indeed, the undertone was that the poor investigations and outcomes were deliberate; they were intended to create the impression that something had been done to resolve the conundrum when in actual sense there was nothing substantive to write home about. Similar tricks have been applied in the past and gave shelter for suspected criminals to escape the dragnet.

MISLEADING

The joint-chairpersons, Kanini Kega and Adan Ali must explain who altered the report and for what reason. And they must avoid simplistic explanations such as linking the machinations to the lawyer who drafted the report. It is unbelievable that a lawyer working under a committee could be as audacious as to change such a report. As we had observed before, the way the investigations were conducted were disastrous. Mr Kega was particularly on the spot over the way he handled the proceedings. For instance, he was cited for misleading everyone about the communication with Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i over summons to appear before the committee. Eventually it transpired such were designs to delay concluding the report, for whatever reason.

We are heartened that Mr Muturi has directed amendment of the report to integrate all the recommendations. But that is not enough. We demand action on those behind doctoring of the report. Chairpersons Kega and Ali have to take responsibility. We must uphold the sanctity of Parliament.


From patience to time keeping: How the young can be great leaders

By KELLEN KIAMBATI
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By ANNE KARIUKI
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The last three years we have been engaging and encouraging young people to take up leadership positions.

One of their greatest fears is the rate at which seemingly bright, talented, well-educated young leaders fail so spectacularly and often so abruptly.

What every young person should know is that succeeding and being a great leader is to not have too many flaws but to rise above those flaws.

There are a few nuggets that can help them prepare for leadership positions.

Having purpose and passion: When purpose and passion meet there is nothing young people cannot accomplish as individuals, teams or even organisations.

A purpose driven life makes leadership struggles they face become inconsequential. Lack of purpose make people not utilise their full potential leading to frustrations because deep inside is the conviction that they can achieve more but they are stuck.

Tenacity in pursuit of leadership: No matter how tough the journey becomes, you should not give up.

Everyday challenges youth encounter should give them an opportunity to question who they are.

The stories of struggle, diligence and perseverance should get them through.

Moral development: Moral deficiencies lead to primitive development, rationalisation and blame game.

All young people should take stock of their moral behaviour, respect for social order, universal ethical principles and guided conscience.

For any leader to influence followers they must have character infused with the highest level of moral development and admirable personality traits.

Ability to withstand pressure: The ability to handle high-pressure and challenging tasks can be addictive.

For some young leaders, that level of pressure, in combination with opportunities to behave unethically, has led to their failure.

Those defining moments of truth say a lot about leadership.

The choices made in critical moments of hardship tell a lot about true nature and character of leaders.

This should be a lesson for all young people before ascending to the position of leadership.

Being a good listener: The best leaders are good listeners. Leaders dignify their followers by paying attention to their input and concerns.

Young people should train to listen to others especially those that give them good counsel.

Effective time management: Young leaders should continuously discover what they do with their time.

It is amazing what they can discover when they truly measure and track activities using an activity log to see what they really spend time on and if those activities are adding value or destroying value.

Checking on the day to day activities helps youthful leaders to see whether their activities match up with their goals, desires, core values, and responsibilities.

In case of a mismatch, corrective action should be taken.

Embracing diversity: Young leaders should be prepared to strategically blend new ways of thinking with the current ways.

They should note that being a leader is not an entitlement.

It follows that they should have respect and creativity in helping the older generations understand why their new ways of thinking make sense and learn how to earn buy-in.

Paying attention to historical dynamics that exist even as they introduce new ideas is extremely important and can help minimise failures in leadership.

Dr Kiambati is a management consultant and a senior lecturer at Karatina University. kellen- [email protected] gmail.com. Dr Kariuki is a social scientist, management consultant and a lecturer at Karatina University. [email protected]


Put checks on movement of game trophies

By SHAMINI JAYANATHAN
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Anyone in Kenya who does business outside the country, especially with American, British, or European customers, will be familiar with the three letters KYC.

Standing for ‘Know Your Customer’, this is the growing collection of laws, rules and regulations for international financial transactions designed to root out money laundering and illegal cash flows.

KYC compels banks and other financial institutions to identify who they are dealing with, and to assess the risk that their services might be used for illegal purposes.

Questions about reasons for certain transactions might be an irritation for people running legitimate businesses.

But KYC has become an important and effective safeguard against those who are not.

We now urgently need something similar not just for international movements of money, but for the import and export of products globally, too.

Space for Giants, the conservation organisation I work for, has just published the results of an extensive study of wildlife crime prosecutions in North Central Kenya.

Among evident progress on trial preparation and increasing convictions for ivory, sandalwood and rhino horn crimes – now at 67 per cent in the courts we surveyed – one finding stood out.

The majority of prosecutions are still focused on the poachers and low-level middlemen rather than any of the bigger players higher up the criminal networks.

Why don’t the bigger fish end up in court?

Chief among the reasons is it is currently very hard to identify the source of seized consignments of illegal wildlife or forestry products, or to track precisely where they were heading. This often stalls investigations.

Agents facilitating transactions and shipments hardly vet their customers or their consignments.

They are not compelled to collect sufficient, accurate information, and what they do collect is rarely comprehensive enough for investigations that may start long after the transaction.

Kenya should lead the world in tackling this with new legislation compelling import-export agents, shippers and brokers to ‘know their customers’, and carry out the same checks on their business as banks must for financial transactions.

TRANSIT ROUTES

This would be of deep benefit not just to conservation, but to all Kenyans.

New catch-all ‘Know Your Customer’ laws would make it far more complicated to move weapons, counterfeit medicines, drugs, stolen goods, and even people, as well as tusks, horns and scales.

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji agrees, saying that this idea comes at “an opportune time” as Kenya “aggressively counters organised crime, corruption, and terrorism”.

The impact on wildlife crime would be enormous, because Kenya is now one of the world’s great transit routes for illegal wildlife products.

Ms Jayanathan is the Director of Wildlife Protection at Space for Giants and a criminal barrister.