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Sunday, November 18th, 2018


Kenya joins globe in remembering road accident victims

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Kenyans joined the world in remembering victims of road accidents on Sunday.
The day was marked in Sachangwan, on the Nakuru-Eldoret road, where more than 130 people perished when an oil tanker exploded eight years ago.
The day is usually commemorated on the third Sunday of November.

It was set aside to remember people injured or killed in road accidents, their families and friends.
National Transport Safety Authority officials, stakeholders in the transport industry, relatives and friends of people who lost their lives in road accidents and the public converged on Sachangwan to mark the day.

NTSA Director-General Francis Meja used the event to emphasise that the crackdown, mainly targeting defective public service vehicles, would go on.
He urged motorists and other road users to observe the Highway Code, adding that licences for rogue drivers could be cancelled and culprits prosecuted.
Mr Meja said many road accidents are caused by negligence by drivers.

“As the festive season sets in, be prepared for more crackdowns because we do not want to lose more lives,” Mr Meja said, adding that drivers should observe speed limits.
He asked passengers to report drivers flouting traffic regulations.
Mr Meja said the Sobea-Mau Summit stretch on the Nakuru-Eldoret road registers the highest number of fatalities every year.

The section begins in Sobea to Salgaa, Migaa, Sachangwan and Mau Summit. It also includes Jolly Farm and Mkinyai.
The government is constructing a dual carriageway at the stretch where truck drivers have been blamed for the many crashes and collisions.
According to NTSA, more than 2,210 people have lost their lives in road accidents this year alone.

Kenya National Highways Authority South Rift Regional Director Isaiah Onsongo cautioned hawkers against conducting their business on the road.
For his part, KENHA Director-General Peter Mundinia called on every road user to be responsible.
Mr Mundinia added that motorcycles have become major killers on Kenyan roads.

“Boda bodas need to be informed that safety starts with them,” he said, adding that the agency would erect speed humps and road signs to avert deaths and injuries on roads.
Nakuru Deputy Governor Eric Korir said construction of the dual carriageway would reduce accidents on the notorious stretch.
“Many accidents occur at night. Lighting poles on roads need to be erected to enhance visibility,” Dr Korir said.

Also present were Rift Valley Traffic Commandant Zero Arome, Nakuru County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha, County Police Commander Hassan Barua and Molo OCPD Kioko Muinde.
A memorial service for the Sachangwan victims was held at the spot of the tragedy.
Survivors and family members of the fire tragedy victims said they are still pursuing compensation from the government.

Kenya to pilot new elephantiasis treatment

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Kenya is the first country in Africa to pilot a new treatment for elephantiasis, the Health ministry has announced.
The triple drug therapy, known as IDA, is a combination of three drugs for lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) with potential to reduce treatment time considerably.

Speaking to End Fund — a private philanthropic initiative dedicated to some neglected tropical diseases — the head of the department of neglected tropical diseases, Dr Sultani Matendechero, said: “This is going to have a lot of benefit to our people because we will shorten the period of elimination from five years to two years, and then there are additional benefits in terms of clearing things like scabies, which comes with the triple drug therapy approach.”

Mr Trevor Mundel, the president of Global Health at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, posted on his Twitter account thus: “The Gates Foundation is proud to support the Kenyan government’s launch of the first IDA pilot in Africa.”
Lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, is one of 18 little known diseases clustered by the WHO as neglected tropical diseases.

It occurs when filarial worms find their way into the lymph nodes. The worms stretch these nodes until lymph fluid can only flow downwards causing swelling of limbs and the scrotum in men.
An estimated 3,700,000 people living in Kwale, Tana Tiver, Kilifi, Mombasa and Lamu are at risk of infection with this disease.
The current treatment regimen consists of diethylcarbamazine and albendazole. The new treatment adds to ivermectin to the regimen, a combination that studies have shown reduces treatment time.
Kenya is marked as a standard unit from where other countries affected by elephantiasis can gain insight on eliminating the disease, as well as stay on the path to join another 14 countries that have eliminated the disease.

Toilets are a ticket to dignity and health

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When nature calls, we need a toilet. However, in Kenya, there are 5.6 million people — 12 per cent of the population — who do not have access to one. There are significant disparities in the availability and access to proper sanitation — with 15 per cent of people in the rural areas defecating in the open compared to three per cent in urban centres.

This means that human faeces are not being safely disposed of on a massive scale. In many parts of the country, open defecation poses serious health concerns, such as cholera outbreaks. Poor sanitation also has broad impacts beyond public health, including living and working conditions, nutrition and economic productivity. It also affects girls’ education. In schools where there are neither safe nor private toilets, girls often drop out. Every year on November 19, World Toilet Day places sanitation at the centre of the development agenda. It is about dignity, gender equality and safeguarding our health and well-being.

Kenya has adopted the Sustainable Development Goals. SDG 6 aims at ensuring that open defecation is eliminated by 2030. Kenya committed itself to ending open defecation by 2020. This requires county governments to plan how to support households and communities to invest in latrines and hand washing facilities.

Some counties have already made remarkable progress. Busia and Kitui have been declared open-defecation free, while Siaya and Isiolo are nearing the finish line.
Isiolo County began its journey in 2016. Then, 44 per cent of its 143,000 people practised open defecation. A 2014 World Bank analysis estimated Isiolo to be losing Sh139 million in revenue annually due to poor sanitation, mostly attributed to health care expenses and lost wages.
Since 2016, Isiolo County and Unicef have invested resources for public health officers, community health workers and volunteers to engage with communities and households about the spread of disease-causing germs from exposed human faeces.
Increased awareness of the link between disease outbreaks and open defecation from the lack of latrines and poor hygiene is leading to action. Today, 154 of the 263 villages in Isiolo are free of open defecation, meaning all households have a latrine and a hand washing facility with water and soap. Isiolo hopes to eliminate open defecation by March.

For every dollar invested in sanitation, $5.5 is returned as savings derived from communities needing less health care, travelling less to clinics and missing less work due to illness. With a price tag of Sh30,000 per village, dedicated teams of health workers engage communities in promoting the uptake and usage of proper sanitation and hygiene. This saves lives, restores dignity and reaps economic returns. We call upon other counties to push for progress in providing access to safe toilets for every household.
On World Toilet Day, we renew our commitment to support the government to realise the tremendous health benefits, economic opportunities and — most importantly — the human dignity, which proper sanitation provides.
Dr Kuti is the governor of Isiolo and Mr Schultink, the representative of Unicef in Kenya.

Banning Marie Stopes services will be felt by the poor

Information is power. When people have access to accurate information on how to remain healthy and where to get services, they are more likely to make informed decisions.
The decision by Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board to ban Marie Stopes Kenya from conducting abortions, publishing safe abortion information on its website and running safe abortion adverts is uncalled for.
Kenya is struggling with a large number of maternal mortality and morbidity as a result of unsafe abortions. This is because people lack access to accurate abortion information and comprehensive abortion care services.
Banning Marie Stopes from offering such information services will only make the situation worse.
It will erase the gains made over the decades in ensuring we reduce maternal mortality and morbidity.
This will make women and girls take the route of unsafe abortion services.
Everyone has the right to information, The right to the highest attainable standards of reproductive health services is included.
Abortion information and care is part of reproductive health services, and denying women and girls these rights is a crime in itself.
We all know that prevention is better than cure.
We need to keep ordinary women and girls healthy by making safe abortion information and services available to them.


Our universities should do away with the full-time study system

The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education tests are coming to an end. Our universities will admit about 70,000 of these students.
Their luxury of university placement will depend almost entirely on their guardians’ financial clout. The learners’ primary job will be to consume and study.

The Higher Educations Loans Board (Helb) will come in handy for almost all the learners. For some, the sudden cash will go to luxuries.
Those not be so lucky will look for “sponsors” or “blessers”.
Students have very few options when it comes to generating income, yet they are intelligent. They can be employed as cashiers, waiters or even models and still pursue their studies.

Universities should do away with the full-time study model.
Ironically, academic results for those daring enough to pursue their talents and business ventures are often not good.
Having a work-friendly academic plan will increase and diversify the application of what one learns.
It will also ensure students have enough time to share their skills and experiences.

Students pursuing IT, graphic design, accounting and marketing courses, for example, can easily form a company.
That is how some of the world’s biggest companies, like Microsoft, were born.
That is what will help and reform university education in our country. It will also help in realising President Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
FANON KIHIU, Kenyatta University.

The holiday season is here. Urbanite Kenyans have sent their children to relatives in rural areas while village youngsters are now in towns.
There is nothing wrong wit that since Kenyans want their children to bond and have a taste of both worlds.
It is always a relief for parents because they spend a lot in terms of pocket money, food and other necessities when children are around. Unfortunately, many lose contact with their children during such moments.
They have this feeling that the children are in safe hands.

When the holidays are over, the children are rarely debriefed. It is the gifts they come back with that matter. The success of the holidays is measured in terms of the chickens, clothes or shoes they return home with.
What we need to know is that some of these children literally become house helps. Others are introduced to drugs and crime.
We must listen to our children when holidays are over. They may have gone through some horrible experiences.
Let us not make the assumption that the children are too young to decipher what is happening or that our relatives are always good.

Changing structure to enhance the delivery of judicial services

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We launched last week the ‘Organisational Review Report for the Judiciary’, an instrument that encapsulates the measures to enable effective execution of our mandate for greater efficiency in the delivery of services to the public.
The 2010 Constitution recognises the people of Kenya as the source of judicial power and vests the same in the courts and tribunals. The Constitution lists the values, objectives and principles that should be ingrained in the exercise of judicial power.

The principles include fairness and equality before the law, efficient administration of justice, embracing alternative forms of dispute resolution, upholding the substance of justice without undue regard to technicalities and processes, and the promotion of the values espoused in the Constitution.

In summary, the purpose and goals in the Constitution call upon the Judiciary to refocus and recast our operations and processes to ensure a sustained pursuit of constitutional goals. However, efforts to address the challenges facing the Judiciary are much older than the text of the 2010 Constitution. From the Fleming Commission established in 1960 to reform the judicial service, there have been no less than 13 other committees to look into the question of judicial reform.

The last was the Task Force on Judicial Reforms that was headed by Justice William Ouko in 2010 to address service delivery problems. The constitutional reforms, which culminated in the adoption of the 2010 Constitution, created an impetus to ensure comprehensive judicial changes.

In 2012, the reforms began with the launch of the Judiciary Transformation Framework (JTF) by then Chief Justice Willy Mutunga. It made landmark achievements in capacity building.
Last year, I launched the ‘Sustaining Judiciary Transformation: A service delivery agenda’, a blueprint for improving the speed and quality of service delivery by increasing efficiency and effectiveness at institutional and individual levels. The organisational review we launched last week, therefore, comes at a time when the Judiciary is focused on accelerated service delivery.

No judicial reform can be realised without a proper institutional framework. To discharge the current mandate of the Judiciary, proper planning is imperative. Otherwise, as American statesman Benjamin Franklin noted famously, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

The report presents an approved organisational structure for the Judiciary and Judicial Service Commission, including the courts and directorates. It provides for an optimal staff establishment for courts and directorates, job descriptions and grading. Its recommendations include the restructuring of directorates and court stations for efficient operations, and setting up of new units to manage additional processes not adequately catered for under the current structure. This will result in substantial changes in the institutional arrangements and structures in the Judiciary and the Judicial Service Commission. There will be no job losses, only re-adjustments to ensure optimal allocation of the human resource outlay.

The proposed structure will start with six model courts, which will provide a basis of how other courts will work within it. An appropriate number of staff with skill mixes will be deployed. Directorates will be reorganised and appropriately staffed.
This will involve setting up and training implementation teams and change agents, developing and rolling out a communication strategy, conducting change awareness sessions for judicial officers and staff, and carrying out a comprehensive human resource skills audit. It will also involve training staff in customer service, setting up model courts and supporting the implementation of new structures.
Mr Maraga is the Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court of [email protected]

Rugby flop a wake-up call

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The national Rugby 15s team, Kenya Simbas, suffered their second consecutive defeat on Saturday, losing to Hong Kong 42-17 in a 2019 World Cup qualifier in France. The Simbas, who the previous Saturday lost 65-19 to Canada, are out of contention for the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.
For the umpteenth time, Kenya have fallen at their last hurdle, failing to qualify for the world cup, after coming close in 2015. After being defeated by Namibia in the Africa qualifiers, Kenya chose the toughest path to Japan. Realistically, it was impossible for the Simbas to even dream about making it from France.
Kenyan standards are still wanting. The quick fixes the Kenya Rugby Union (KRU) opted for did not help at all. Signing two coaches from New Zealand and expecting them to perform miracles and help Kenya qualify for Japan within three months after paying them millions was futile.
The coaches spent most of their time trying to fix the fitness level of players with little time to impart technical skills. Their job was made even worse with no build-up matches either ahead of the Africa qualifiers or in France.
Many developed rugby nations have well-structured and practical systems developed both for players and coaches right from the low to top levels.
The KRU will need a different approach to the game’s development if the country is to compete effectively at this high level. Our local leagues are oozing with talent but need to be restructured with good sponsorship to make them more vibrant and competitive. Local leagues need good investments both in capital and human resources for the game to grow.

Seek lasting solution to raging maize crisis

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The government must find a quick and lasting solution to the raging crisis over maize production, supply and marketing. It has become a subject of political debate, but without practical solutions. Maize has become a cash cow for politically-connected individuals, while farmers are hurting. Market is saturated with imports, resulting in huge losses to farmers.

Only the other day, the Strategic Food Trust Fund chaired by former Cabinet minister Noah Wekesa announced a new price of maize of Sh2,300 a bag, which the farmers have rejected. It does not make sense to them; it simply means they are going to make losses given the costs they incur to prepare farms, buy seeds and fertiliser and other inputs. The price simply makes maize farming a worthless business.

But the major cause of the maize crisis is the poor management of the crop by the National Cereals and Produce Board. First, it owes farmers huge sums of money. Paradoxically, it has spent lots of money to pay brokers, some of whom may not have even supplied anything or if they did, imported the stuff and skimmed off the fat and left local farmers stuck with their produce.
Worse still, a parliamentary committee was told recently that thousands of tonnes of maize in NCPB depots is contaminated and will have to be destroyed. Some have raised questions, arguing that that could be a conspiracy for an equally dubious deal. But the concern here is the condition of maize in the stores.

Secondly, politicians have taken to meddling in maize affairs. They manipulate the NCPB and get their proxies given contracts to supply maize and prioritised when it comes to payment. Others are riding on the plight of maize farmers to make political capital. It is a sad state of affairs that must addressed.

Last week, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri visited the North Rift, the grain basket, to assess the situation on the ground. The farmers were categorical that they cannot continue suffering when a cartel is making a killing at their expense. They demanded quick action to clean up the mess at the NCPB and streamline the production chain, including the supply of fertilisers and post-harvest management. The government must review the pricing so that farmers get value from their sweat.
We seek a quick resolution to the maize crisis. Politicians must stop meddling and for those with evidence about who is messing up the business should provide that for action. As President Kenyatta directed recently, Minister Kiunjuri must fix the maize problem quickly.

Honest discussions needed on abortion and contraception

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Praying that things go away, seems to be a Kenyan, or indeed, African way of dealing with matters that we wish not to confront because they are incomprehensible, sinful or God’s will. Mental health is one such example. This myth has been dispelled by Hauwa Ojeifo, the founder of ‘She Writes Woman’, a mental health helpline in Nigeria.

Hauwa offers people who suffer mental health breakdowns an opportunity to talk their problems out and seek psychological help. I must acknowledge the phrase, “Praying things away”, as hers. We are also experiencing our own challenges of “praying things away” when dealing with incessant traffic accidents, corruption, election violence and now, abortion and teenage pregnancies.

Abortion and the use of contraception have been controversial in religious spheres, not just in Kenya, but also in many other countries. Given the risks that many women and girls are facing in Kenya at the hands of quack doctors and sexually abusive individuals, it might be time to have an honest discussion around these divisive issues in order to save lives and reduce teenage pregnancies.

Blaming the explosion of abortion and teenage pregnancies on moral decay and then doing nothing to correct it is akin to burying our heads in the sand and hoping for miracles. Teenage pregnancies are clearly not of miracle conception and the solution lies with society.

Objections to the use of condoms at the onset of the HIV the epidemic shows how unifocal reasoning can lead to devastation. A few years ago, many religious groups were against the use of condoms to fight HIV despite its rapid spread. As a result, HIV ended up taking a huge toll on many African countries, in particular.
The Philippines, a predominantly Catholic country, has borne the brunt of unplanned pregnancies due to the church’s objection to contraception. Free contraception was recently introduced to reverse the rise in population and tackle poverty.
Not legalising abortion leaves women at the mercy of unqualified doctors and nurses, who operate unsafe and unsanitary backstreet clinics. These clinics are hardly ever licensed, which makes it difficult to get justice for women when a major clinical negligence or even death occurs. Women should have the autonomy to decide on their health.

Use of contraception and procuring abortion is part of that autonomy. It is women who bear the biggest burden of unplanned pregnancies, anyway. Not supporting them will also cause serious challenges as witnessed in the number of street children and poverty due to large unplanned families. Contraception and sterilisation can help women who suffer from physical and mental health impairment and who otherwise would be at a higher risk of being sexually abused. Allowing powerful minority groups to object to abortion and use of contraception for cultural or religious reasons is biased.

The women who cannot afford abortion in the unlicensed clinics end up in a cycle of poverty as a result of unplanned pregnancies. Street girls and women would face even further risk of exploitation if contraception and abortion are not legally offered to them.

These issues cannot be determined at political rallies or press conferences. They are complex and need complex solutions. We require serious and honest discussions to protect women and girls. The calls for castration show that we only assume teenage pregnancies are as a result of predatory men alone. How many school boys understand the risk of being involved in sex, for instance? Education on sexual matters would be uncomfortable for many families, but leaving teenagers to wade through the murky world of sex alone would not be wise either.

The time to consider sex education is now to help sensitise teenagers on the issue to protect themselves. With that, considerations must also be made as to whether it would be feasible to allow use of contraception to protect girls who might end up in a sexual relationship early.

Praying things will go away may not always work in this day and age where youngsters are influenced by cultures outside the conservative norms. We cannot underestimate the impact of the internet on youth. We can choose to be pragmatic and honest in tackling unplanned and teenage pregnancies or face the consequences of premature deaths of women.

If we object to abortion and use of contraception by teenagers, then we must bolster child protection laws and set up enough children’s homes to protect them from harm and hardship. It is time to get the blinkers off and see abortion and teenage pregnancies as serious problems and seek the best way to manage them.

Soccer-Mahrez double books Algeria’s spot at Nations Cup finals

JOHANNESBURG, Nov 18 (Reuters) – Riyad Mahrez scored two stunning goals as former winners Algeria qualified for next year’s African Nations Cup finals on Sunday, with Guinea, Mauritania and the Ivory Coast also sealing their places.

Mahrez struck twice in the opening half hour as Algeria, who won the continental title in 1990, sped into a three-goal lead away against Togo before eventually winning 4-1 to take top place in Group D.

Mauritania qualified for the first time from Group I as they came from a goal down to beat Botswana 2-1 in Nouakchott with Ismael Diakite scoring an 84th minute winner.

Guinea qualified without kicking a ball several hours before their Group H game against the Ivory Coast in Conakry when Rwanda and the Central African Republic drew 2-2 in Kigali.

Guinea then went on to win the group with a 1-1 home draw against the Ivorians, who got the point they needed for qualification when Jean-Michael Seri equalised Mohamed Yattara’s early goal for the hosts.

Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Zimbabwe all missed out on a chance to book their berths. Burkina Faso were beaten 2-1 in Angola while captain Willam Jebor scored the only goal as Liberia checked Zimbabwe 1-0 in Monrovia.

Tanzania lost 1-0 away in Lesotho, who won a rare competitive international with a header from tall centre back Nkau Lerotholi.

The 2012 champions Zambia were eliminated from the race in Group K as they went down in Maputo to Mozambique with Reginaldo’s 63rd minute goal separating the two teams.

Jordan Ayew scored twice as he and his brother Dede returned to the Ghana team for the first time in a year to help beat Ethiopia 2-0 away in Group F.

The derby between Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo ended 1-1 in Brazzaville, keeping both sides’ chances alive in Group G.

The top two teams in the 12 groups qualify except Group B which includes already-qualified tournament hosts Cameroon, where Morocco have made sure of the lone slot.

Egypt, Madagascar, Senegal and Tunisia all booked their place last month while Mali, Morocco, Nigeria and Uganda were added to the list on Saturday.

The rest of the 24-team line-up will be decided in the final round of qualifying in March. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Christian Radnedge)