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Thursday, August 30th, 2018

 

INGOs call for urgent aid to help 11 million people in Lake Chad region

Eleven international organisations call for increased protection and support to civilians bearing the brunt of the conflict in the Lake Chad region.

On 3 and 4 September, ministers from the affected countries as well as Governors of the Lake Chad region, alongside donor countries, UN organisations, international and regional organisations, and civil society representatives will meet in Berlin, Germany, for a two-day high-level conference on the Lake Chad region, including parts of Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.

The nine-year long conflict in the Lake Chad Basin has dramatically affected the lives of about 11 million people who rely on humanitarian assistance to survive. The insurgency as well as military operations across the four countries have displaced 2.4 million people and left 5 million people food insecure, while significantly reducing economic activity.

The conflict has taken a heavy toll on the local economies and people’s livelihoods, and has also led to a high number of civilian casualties and grave abuses, such as the recruitment of children by armed groups, sexual violence and abductions. The security situation further impedes the humanitarian actors’ access to people in need of life-saving support. For instance, in northeast Nigeria, over 800,000 people still live in hard to reach areas with no access to humanitarian assistance, while military operations in the Lake Chad Islands currently prohibit organisations from providing assistance to the population.

“Last year’s conference helped avert a famine in the region. This year’s conference must not only continue this lifesaving operation, but must make protection of vulnerable children, women and men a top priority. Conflict-affected families depend on the international community to put the lives of civilians over and beyond competing political agendas, such as their war on terror,” said Secretary General for the Norwegian Refugee Council, Jan Egeland.

The humanitarian community scaled up the response significantly in 2017, but humanitarian needs remain massive and will continue well into 2018 and beyond. Yet, eight months into the year, only 26 per cent of the appeal for funding to Cameroon has been raised and the humanitarian appeal to support people affected by the crisis in Nigeria is less than half funded. The United Nations estimates that USD 1.6 billion is required this year to help the 10.7 million in need of humanitarian assistance in the region.

“The crisis in north-east Nigeria is far from being resolved. Thousands of desperate people continue to arrive into congested areas on a weekly basis both from ‘inaccessible’ areas or across borders, some of them in a state of severe malnutrition. While development efforts to rebuild need to be stepped up, it is crucial that we maintain the necessary assistance to continue saving lives, particularly in remote field locations across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states,” said Jennifer Jalovec, Director of the Nigeria INGO Forum, which consists of 40 organisations working in Nigeria.

“As the protection crisis in the Lake Chad region rages on for another year, children make up over half of those displaced. Women and girls face gender-based violence daily, are abducted, sexually exploited and abused, and struggling to survive early and forced marriage and intimate partner violence,” says Hannah Gibbin, Country Director for the International Rescue Committee in Cameroon. She emphasises the need for participants at the conference to face the facts head-on and join forces to provide lives of dignity and security.

Hussaini Abdu, Plan International’s Country Director in Nigeria, urges “all humanitarian actors, including donors, to urgently increase prioritisation, funding and coordination of efforts to prevent and respond to ongoing gender-based violence and child protection needs and to fulfil adolescent girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).”

The conference in Berlin next week will constitute another opportunity to shed light on a crisis that not only requires financial attention, but first and foremost, a political will from governmental actors at all levels to address the root causes of this conflict and ensure the lives and livelihoods of millions of women, men and children living in the Lake Chad Basin are protected.

Organisations that have signed on:

  1. Action Contre la Faim
  2. CARE
  3. International Emergency and Development Aid Relief
  4. International Medical Corps
  5. International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  6. Lutheran World Federation
  7. Mercy Corps
  8. Nigeria INGO Forum
  9. Norwegian Refugee Council
  10. Plan International
  11. Save the Children

For more information on the conference, click here.

Facts

  • For more information on the conference, click here.

  • Last year, 14 donors gathered at the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, pledging USD 672 million to scale up the response to assist the affected people in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria for 2017 and beyond.

For more information, please contact:

Dakar:
Hajer Naili, Regional Media Adviser
hajer.naili@nrc.no
+221 76 637 43 99

Oslo/Berlin:
NRC’s media hotline
info@nrc.no
+47 905 623 29


MK80 SMS bandulo awards Mchinji MSCE leaver Aisha MK1 million

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Apart from the grand prize of MK10 million cash which will be awarded at the end of the promotion.

The ‘Bandulo Bandulo’ promotion, which will run for 16 weeks from 15th August until the 5th of December, will award 2 lucky winners with MK1m each every week; and by the end of the 16 weeks, 1,000 customers will have won MK10, 000 cash; and 1,000 customers will each walk away with a 4G MiFi router.

A total of 2029 winners across every town and district in the country by the end of the promotion.

Therefore each bundle purchase will qualify as ONE Entry in the Bandulo Bandulo Promotion so the more bundles customers buy, the higher the chances of winning prizes.

All winners will be contacted via the official Airtel promotion line +265121.


Kenya Ports Authority: Ocean land grabbing to curtail growth

By MOHAMED AHMED
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Grabbing of ocean land at the Kibarani dumpsite will hinder expansion of the Mombasa port, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) has said.

KPA on Thursday said the reclamation of the sea by private developers has made it impossible to undertake tides observations, hydrographic surveys and bathymetric measurement.

KPA senior surveyor Hussein Mamo said if the developments at the sea are not dealt with, operations will continue to be affected.

“This means that the ocean space left is no longer viable for any intended port operations and future expansion,” Mr Mamo said.

In a report presented to the National Land Commission (NLC), KPA says that construction of seawalls by the developers will damage the berths at the port, which is Kenya’s main international gateway by sea.

“The existing infrastructure sustaining the berths will not be spared,” the report says.

LAND GRABBERS

It adds that the high degree of siltation at the port has been a costly affair in terms of dredging, which is done after three to four years.

Kibarani is a prime area adjacent to KPA harbour on the Makupa causeway. Half of the area, which is a public land, has been grabbed by atleast 30 companies.

The Makupa causeway, which dissects Tudor Creek to the east and Port Reitz creek to the west, was built in 1920s with environmental surveys showing it has had a negative impact on marine life at both creeks.

It is one of three road links between the Island and the mainland – the other two being Nyali bridge and Kipevu causeway at the KPA headquarters.

Over the years, dumping of garbage at the site has gone on unabated, with most of the waste getting into the ocean.

SURRENDER TITLE DEEDS

Investors have also hived off parcels of public land and converted them to private property with approval from government officials.

Last week, during the National Land Commission inquiry on grabbing of Kibarani dumpsite, KPA expressed shock that Gapco Kenya, which is now under Total Kenya, claimed ownership of a piece of land that the commission acting chairperson Abigael Mbagaya said was actually in the ocean.

It also emerged that another company, Makupa Transit, owns nine acres of the ocean and had already reclaimed 6.5 acres, according to its lawyer Titus Mugambi.

Following the revelations, Ms Mbagaya ordered the KPA to compile a report on the effects land grabbing has had on port operations as he urged the developers to surrender the title deeds.

In its report, the KPA has recommended that the sea be reclaimed from land in view of restoring where the original water mark was.

“All titles at Kibarani must be cancelled and the development removed to restore the beauty of the Island,” Mr Mamo said.


Patients at Kisii hospital complain of staff laxity

By RUTH MBULA
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Service delivery at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital (KTRH) has deteriorated, shaming a facility that enjoys big funding from the county government.

A few weeks ago, Nation staff in Kisii visited a colleague’s wife after she had delivered a baby boy.

She had been admitted after a caesarean section and was doing fine two days after the operation. On the opposite end of the hospital, a young woman also had a successful delivery.

She however looked withdrawn and disturbed. Clearly, all was not well. The woman grumbled as she twisted and turned in her bed before taking her baby and handing it over to her shocked husband.

“I do not want to see it. Why would I hold a dead body,” she told her husband and other relatives who had visited her at Ward 8, which houses infants and their mothers.

CUSTOMER CARE

The woman was suffering from post-partum post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth. However, none of the nurses was willing to attend to her.

The level six hospital serves over six million people in Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Kericho and Trans Mara.

Governor James Ongwae holds it dear to his heart and boasts of its success in promoting devolution in the populous county.

However, residents are complaining of arrogant staff who mishandle patients and are doing little to promote smooth delivery of healthcare services.

“We have a problem, here doctors and nurses do not even bother to explain a patient’s condition to those who care,” Mr John Moracha, a resident, said.

He noted that the perception is that they are doing a favour to patients.

Further, patients at the hospital have also decried of lack of water and they are forced to buy medicine.

INVESTMENT

At the radiology section, patients said it takes up to three weeks for an x-ray to be interpreted.

Governor Ongwae promised to look into the concerns and hinted at transferring medical staff to turn around the facility.

He noted that the county will continue to invest substantial resources in the health sector.

“For instance, we have increased the number of specialists to 23 up from two in 2013. We have also increased the number of doctors to 170 up from 79 in 2013,” Mr Ongwae said.

He said a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine — the first in the region, CT scans and digital X-rays have also been bought.

“We have also received Sh2 billion for the construction of a modern cancer diagnostic and treatment centre. We will soon break ground for the project.”


Doctors in six counties issue 21-day strike notice

By MAGDALENE WANJA
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By VITALIS KIMUTAI
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Doctors from six South Rift counties have issued a 21-day strike notice protesting pending study leaves and promotions.

The doctors have blamed their employers for failing to implement the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that sought to improve the working conditions for more than 600 medics.

The medics – through Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) South Rift secretary-general Davji Atellah – spoke in Nakuru Town after a joint meeting.

They said on the lapse of the 21 days, doctors from Nakuru, Laikipia, Bomet, Kericho and Narok will down their tools until their demands are met.

“We have a number of issues that remain unresolved and whose deadline was in July. For example, all the doctors who have so far applied for study leave have been denied the chance despite holding discussions over the matter,” Dr Atellah said.

It emerged that only Kericho county released seven doctors for further studies.

RESIGNATIONS

Dr Atellah further said most of the doctors are now frustrated as a result of overdue promotions.

“We have consultants who have been in the same job groups for more than 10 years. Others have remained in the same job groups as interns,” he added.

More than 60 doctors who have applied for study leaves are yet to get approvals from their various counties. “So far, we have 61 pending applications in Nakuru (20), Kericho (14), Laikipia (11), Bomet (5), Narok (6) and Kajiado (5),” he added.

The strike notice comes in the wake of huge doctor resignations in the region in the last years.

In the South Rift, over 100 doctors have resigned in the last two years.

The worst hit county is Nakuru where at least 40 doctors have resigned, followed by Laikipia (34), Kajiado (13), Kericho (10) and two in Narok.

Dr Atellah regretted that despite a task force being formed earlier in the year to address the issues in Nakuru, its recommendations are yet to be implemented.

In Bomet, Medical Services executive Joseph Stonik said he had not received the notice, but promised to follow up on the issue.

“I am yet to get the notice and l am equally surprised, but l will follow up to have the matter resolved,” he said.

Efforts to reach members of the executive from Narok, Kericho and Laikipia Counties to comment on the matter were futile as calls and text messages directed to them were not answered.


Varsities told not to teach diploma, certificate courses

By OUMA WANZALA
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Thousands of students in universities pursuing diploma and certificate courses, and who hope to further their studies, will not be allowed to transfer credits after an education sector regulator said it will not recognise their qualifications.

The Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNQA) said in a statement that the diplomas and certificates being offered by universities cannot be recognised and registered under the Kenya National Qualifications Framework (KNQF).

Registration in the KNQF assures an academic institution, and the courses that it offers, international recognition.

The authority’s director general, Dr Juma Mukhwana, said that for an institution or qualification to be registered in the KNQF, it must be accredited by a recognised quality assurance body.

ACCREDITATION

Dr Mukhwana said for diplomas and certificates, this must be done by the Technical and Vocational Training Authority (TVETA), while for degrees (bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate) they must be accredited by the Commission for University Education (CUE).

“Most of the universities have been offering diplomas and certificates without bothering to accredit them with TVETA and neither are they accredited by CUE,” he said.

He also said that most of the diplomas do not meet the minimum standards set by KNQA, which is two years of full time study.

Dr Mukhwana called for dialogue among the stakeholders to address the issue to avoid disadvantaging the students.

The KNQF came into effect in 2016, meaning that any diploma or certificate courses offered by universities after this period are null and void.

QUALITY TEACHING

KNQA regulates, coordinates and harmonises the various levels of education (basic, TVET and university education) in the country and seeks to introduce international best-practice to the educational sector.

KNQA chairman Bonventure Kere recently scoffed at Universities still struggling to teach diploma and certificate courses.

He said the universities should be focusing on teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as doing research.

“We should not accept to reduce professors to teaching certificate and diploma students at all. Professors outside Kenya undertake research and do not teach students fresh from secondary schools taking certificate courses,” Prof Kere said.

He spoke during a stakeholders workshop to sensitise universities and technical and vocational education training (TVET) institutions on the new qualification framework policy.

Speaker after speaker from TVET institutions criticised universities for hanging on to certificate and diploma courses and abandoning their role in undertaking research.

Due to a decline in student enrolment, more than 71 public and private universities have launched intensive campaigns to attract students. The authority has indicated that it will only approve a credit transfer done in accordance with the regulations, and credits transferred will not be more than 49 per cent.

The move is aimed at addressing the problem of universities that admit students from other institutions without the requisite qualifications. Qualification framework regulation require those who intend to award national qualifications to apply to the authority for accreditation.


Hania Sagar: Judge to rule on appeal by Aboud Rogo's widow next week

By BRIAN OCHARO
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The high court will next week deliver judgement on the appeal by slain Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo’s widow Hania Sagar.

She is challenging a 10-years jail term handed to her by a magistrate court in 2016.

Mombasa High Court Judge Dorah Chepkwony on Thursday deferred the ruling to September 10.

Ms Sagar was found guilty of failing to give information about terrorists who attacked a police station in Mombasa two years ago.

In her appeal, she described the sentence by Senior Principal Magistrate Diana Mochache as “illegal, harsh and excessive”.

“The learned magistrate erred in law, convicting the appellant when the prosecution did not lead any evidence to prove the offence charged to the standard required in law,” she said in the appeal.

She further faulted the trial court for convicting her “by taking into account irrelevant and extraneous matters, assumptions, theories and speculative conclusions that were never backed by evidence”.

Ms Mochache said she was in constant communication with three slain suspected terrorists who attacked Central police station on September 11.

The suspects – Tasnim Yakub, Ramla Abdirahman Hussein and Maimuna Abdirahman – were killed after a foiled attack at the police station.


Bill seeks to curb government's appetite for borrowing

By WANJOHI GITHAE
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Unchecked borrowing by the government may soon be a thing of the past should Parliament approve a bill that will impose a debt ceiling for the country.

The bill by Emgwen MP Alex Kosgey seeks to put Sh6 trillion as the maximum amount of debt that government can have at any given time.

Currently the Public Finance Management Act gives Treasury leeway to set maximum ceiling to the national debt.

“The reason why I have put the ceiling in terms of actual figures and not a percentage is because we want wananchi to understand and internalise what we have here. A kid born today already owes Sh120,000,” he said.

Mr Kosgey said he has already presented the Public Finance Management (Amendment) Bill to the Speaker’s office for approval before it is taken up by the Budget Committee for scrutiny.

DEBT DEBATE

Over the last few years, Kenya has witnessed a sharp increase in the size of national debt, especially by the Jubilee government.

Kenya has the highest debt to GDP ratio in East Africa of 57 percent (in 2012 it was 40pc). Closely following is Burundi (55pc), Uganda (40pc); Rwanda (38pc) and Tanzania (39pc).

Sh6 trillion is in the region of 60 per cent of the GDP. Treasury has always argued that it can borrow up to 74 percent – which it terms as international best practices.

The respected international credit agency Moodys has projected that Kenya’s debt to GDP ratio will rise to 60 percent by 2019.

Kenya’s national debt presently stands at Sh5 trillion. The bill by Mr Kosgey is likely to kick-start the ballooning national debt debate and, aware of this, he called for more input from the public.

“Treasury, members of Parliament and the general public are free to suggest changes to the draft bill to either increase or reduce the amount at which the ceiling should be set. Further, the bill allows for the ceiling to be changed in future by Parliament should the need arise,” he said.

PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL

The proposed bill also requires the government to submit to Parliament a clear repayment plan for each new loan they wish to take.

“The bill seeks to entrench the oversight role of Parliament in law by ensuring that the National Assembly pays attention to the revenue side of the budget and not just on the expenditure part ….it mandates the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the National Treasury to seek the approval of Parliament before effecting any borrowing of funds,” the bill reads in part.

In 2014, Parliament increased external borrowing ceiling from Sh1.3 trillion to Sh2.5 trillion, but in 2015 the PFM Act was amended and parliamentary oversight role was removed.

Since then Government has been increasing the national debt at will.

The high national debt has also forced the government to increase taxes on basic commodities as it struggles to collect enough money for both development and repayment of the loans it has accumulated.

SGR EXPANSION

On Saturday President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to fly out to China where he will negotiate a further Sh380 billion loan for expansion of the Standard Gauge Railway line, further increasing the national debt.

There was reprieve however after Kenya appeared to reject a Sh300 billion loan from the United States for construction of Nairobi-Mombasa expressway.

Financial analysts have previously predicted that the national debt is unsustainable in the long term and government has already signalled the pinch of paying the debt by halting new projects.

In July, President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive freezing all new government projects until ongoing ones are completed.


Amina asks varsities to lay off staff in cost-cutting bid

By OUMA WANZALA
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Thousands of university staff are likely to lose their jobs after the government asked the institutions to consider sacking some for sustainability.

Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed said universities must address the ratio of technical staff to support staff who are in the institutions.

Ms Mohamed said the number of support staff is too high.

“We are encouraging and supporting rationalisation to guarantee sustainability of institutional operations,” she said.

Universities have a total of 27,000 staff, 9,000 being lecturers while the rest are non-teaching staff.

Ms Mohamed added that the government is in support of ongoing austerity measures in the institutions and asked them to rethink strategies to raise sustainable operations capital.

SATELLITE CAMPUSES

Some of these austerity measures by universities include a freeze on employment of new staff, retrenchment of current staff and closure of satellite campuses.

“Universities must also devise innovative ways to generate additional income to supplement government allocation,” she said.

In order to survive the tough economic times, she banned universities from setting up more satellite campuses across the country.

This financial year, the government allocated Sh91.1 billion to support university education; and Sh9.6 billion to the Higher Education Loans Board (Helb).

Universities – be they public or private – have been struggling for the last two years due to lack of enough students.

Some have closed their satellite campuses while others are unable to pay their staff.

The University of Nairobi has since announced plans to retrench some staff as it struggles with cash flow hitches following a dip in privately students enrolment and State funding.

The Treasury slashed allocation to the institution by Sh1.7 billion in the current financial year to Sh4.5 billion.

Moi University has since closed its Kitale, Kericho and Odero Akang’o campuses while Kisii University has shutdown more than six satellite campuses.

Kenya Methodist University (Kemu) and Catholic University of Eastern Africa (Cuea) are also struggling and have already announced plans to sell some of their assets to settle debts.

Garissa University is also facing a financial crisis as it has been unable to pay its workers and suppliers.

Ms Mohamed added that the Commission for University Education is reviewing the depth and substance of programmes to eliminate unit duplication and shallow course content.


Murang’a residents to get free water

By NDUNG’U GACHANE
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By GRACE GITAU
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Governor Mwangi wa Iria has directed that water be offered for free to all residents of Murang’a as the battle between him and tycoon Peter Munga over the control of a water firm escalated Thursday.

His decision came as a Nation journalist was briefly arrested by police at the premises of Murang’a Water and Sewerage Company (Muwasco).

The governor said he was angered by the water company’s decision to disconnect water to consumers for them to participate in a go-slow in protest over changes he made in the firm’s management.

He told the Nation that his decision to replace Mr Munga as the company’s chairman will not change, even after a court order stopped the replacement, insisting that the Equity Bank founder had served on the board for more than 16 years.

COURT JUDGMENTS

Justice Byram Ongaya suspended the appointment of Prof Joseph Kimura, which the governor had announced in a gazette notice dated August 15.

The county boss asked water consumers to disregard current bank accounts given by Muwasco for payments until his administration announces new accounts.

“There are two court rulings indicating that water is a devolved function and advising Muwasco and all the water companies that they should continue until we tell them that we are ready to take over the management.

“We wrote to them advising them to declare all the assets but they declined, stating that they are a private company that is not answerable to me. This is contravening the court ruling and this is the reason I maintain that nothing will stop me from taking over the management of Muwasco,” the governor told the Nation on Thursday.

WATER BILLS

Mr Wa Iria added that the Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) had earlier written a letter to Muwasco protesting the idea of Mr Munga serving for 16 years on the board in disregard of the two terms enshrined in the Water Act.

Asked whether he would obey the court order that reinstated Mr Munga, Mr Wa Iria said, “I have no issues with the court order. The fact remains there are two sets of rulings which pronounced that water belongs to the county government.”

He vowed to continue managing the water companies in the county, adding that he would not let a private company continue collecting money in form of water bills from members of public.

Mr Wa Iria oversaw the takeover of Muwasco on Monday.