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Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

 

L’hydrocéphalie, une maladie infantile grave expliquée à des femmes à Abidjan

Publié le 12.12.2019 à 01h18 par APA

Des femmes, réunies mercredi à la formation sanitaire de Koumassi Campement, un quartier précaire dans le Sud d’Abidjan, visualisent des images d’enfants atteints d’hydrocéphalie, élargissement anormal de la tête dû à un cumul d’eau, sous des conseils de l’expert en imagerie médicale Kevin Lohouri, membre de Esperance’s Hope, association spécialisée dans la prise en charge de cette maladie.Donnant la parole à ces femmes, celles-ci, non moins ignorantes de ce mal souvent attribué aux génies ou à des prédestinations supposées, M. Kevin Lohouri a fait savoir que l’hydrocéphalie est une maladie qui peut affecter l’enfant par manque de suivi médical chez la femme enceinte. 

Au travers d’images, il a expliqué les signes de l’hydrocéphalie et des malformations du tube neural, affection du système nerveux central. L’hydrocéphalie se manifeste généralement à la naissance par un élargissement de la tête et des fontanelles.  

Les enfants atteints de l’hydrocéphalie ne sont « pas des enfants génies, c’est dû à une maladie, du fait de l’eau qui monte dans la tête de l’enfant », et ce, parce que le tube neural, dans le ventre, a une période donnée devant se fermer, reste béant et l’eau qui va dans la tête s’accumule, a-t-il dit. 

La malformation du tube neural intervient pendant la période fœtale où le cerveau et la moelle spinale ont l’aspect d’un tube au 28è jour de vie intra-utérine. L’absence de fermeture provoque notamment des malformations : l’encephalocele (au niveau de la tête) ou le spina bifida (au bas du dos). 

Ces affections nécessitent une chirurgie qui dans la majorité des cas requiert la mise en place d’une valve de dérivation du liquide cerebrospinal. Le diagnostic et le traitement tardif sont malheureusement responsables de retard dans le développement intellectuel et moteur de l’enfant. 

« Dès que vous êtes enceintes, venez voir les sages-femmes » pour assurer le suivi de la grossesse, a-t-il lancé, faisant observer que des médicaments permettent d’éviter cette maladie. Cependant, si cela arrivait elles ne devaient pas rejeter l’enfant, car il y a d’autres voies pour aspirer l’eau. 

Selon Mme Fofana, sage-femme, pour contenir ces cas de maladies, lorsqu’une femme enceinte arrive pour la première fois, il lui est demandé un bilan prénatal dans lequel, des examens sont recommandés afin de rechercher des microbes qui entraînent des problèmes neurologiques.

L’hydrocéphalie peut-être causée par le manque de vitamine B9 (acide folique) pendant la grossesse. A ce facteur, les experts médicaux ajoutent la méningite de l’enfant qui est une cause majeure d’hydrocéphalie.

L’Association Esperance’s Hope, dont la présidente est Broalet Espérance, professeure agrégée en neurochirurgie, apporte de l’aide aux enfants malades atteints d’hydrocéphalie et de malformations du tube neural, aux enfants en situation de handicap ainsi qu’aux orphelins.   


One year since Stockholm Agreement, Hodeidah still most dangerous place in Yemen for civilians

“A quarter of all civilian casualties across Yemen in 2019 were recorded in Hodeidah Governorate. Despite a ceasefire in the port city being at the heart of last year’s Stockholm Agreement, Hodeidah has seen 799 civilian casualties since the Agreement was signed, the highest toll countrywide.

Families continue to flee for their lives, with close to 390,000 Yemenis uprooted from their homes across the country so far in 2019. Half of all those displaced came from just three governorates – Hajjah, Hodeidah and Al Dhale’e.

Despite drops in the levels of violence compared to 2018, Hodeidah, Sa’ada,
Taizz, Al Dhale and Hajjah remain the most dangerous governorates for civilians in 2019.

As aid agencies working in Yemen, we are outraged that after almost five years,
Yemenis continue to suffer from an incalculable humanitarian crisis fuelled by conflict. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the violence. Houses, farms, markets and health facilities are damaged and destroyed, worsening an already dire humanitarian situation.

Yemen is the world’s biggest humanitarian crisis. Ten million people face starvation and 7 million are malnourished. Fighting and restrictions put in place by the authorities are hampering our organisations from reaching the communities in greatest need. Conflict also continues to block people’s access to markets and services, and inflicts damage on essential infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, and water systems.

Last month’s signing of the Riyadh Agreement as well as a general de-escalation in hostilities presents a real window of opportunity to end the war. If urgent action is not taken we could see another five years of conflict, leading to a greater catastrophe for civilians.

We call on all conflict parties, the UN Security Council and countries with influence, to work together and speed up implementation of the Stockholm Agreement. The recent announcement on opening Sana’a airport for medical flights is a positive sign. If actioned it will help thousands of sick Yemeni’s access lifesaving medical care.

Now is the time to build confidence towards peace through the Agreement and beyond, by implementing revenue-sharing from Hodeidah port to pay salaries across the country, and ending the politicised deadlock over fuel to resolve the crisis.

While we call for full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, it should not be a pre-condition for peace in Yemen. A nationwide ceasefire must also be immediately put in place to secure long-overdue peace talks. What Yemen needs most is an end to the violence, through a political solution to the conflict that takes into account the needs of women, youth and all of civil society.”

Signed by:

Action contre la Faim Adventist Relief and Development Agency CARE International Danish Refugee Council Handicap International – Humanity and Inclusion Islamic Relief International Rescue Committee Intersos Medecins du Monde Norwegian Refugee Council Oxfam Première Urgence Internationale Saferworld Vision Hope International ZOA

Latest casualty and humanitarian figures

· A total of 1,008 civilians were killed by armed violence so far this year, down from 2,049 for the whole of last year.

· More civilians were killed or injured by ground fighting this year than in the 12 months before.

· Over 2,100 incidents of armed violence impacted civilians since the Stockholm Agreement – no improvement on the 12 months prior.

· An increased number of civilians were killed or injured by explosive ordnance, from 349 people impacted last year to 504 so far this year.

· 327 incidents of armed violence directly impacted civilian houses in 2019, 60 per cent of the total incidents. Half the child and women casualties in 2019 resulted from incidents impacting houses.

· Over 40 per cent of all incidents of armed violence impacting civilians occurred in Hodeidah Governorate. A quarter of all 3,086 country-wide civilian casualties took place in Hodeidah, followed by Taiz Governorate.

· The overall number of civilian casualties dropped compared with 2019, largely owing to a significant reduction in airstrikes in Hodeidah, and a recent de-escalation of violence across the country.

· Data and analysis on civilian casualties and impact on civilian infrastructure was conducted by ACAPS and CIMP. This is open source data and has not been separately verified by the INGOs that are signatories here.

Photos, videos and stories of displaced people:

· Photos of people displaced from Hodeidah can be found here (https://nrc.smugmug.com/Country-Programmes/Yemen/2019/Souk-Al-Lail-Camp-in -Amran-city/Souk-Al-Lail-camp-in-Amran-September-2019/n-fb5C7L/i-qTPXQmj).

· Stories about a displaced family can be found here (https://nrc.smugmug.com/Country-Programmes/Yemen/2019/Souk-Al-Lail-Camp-in -Amran-city/From-a-landlord-to-a-displaced-man-looks-for-safe-land/n-dsRG83/i -D3qbPdW).

· Video of a displaced family can be found here (https://www.dropbox.com/sh/s4dtd06to1ck099/AAAKhdmJYYRd_EFDcyfCA4Mda?dl=0).


Disparition d’un avion militaire chilien : des débris retrouvés en mer

Publié le 11.12.2019 à 23h50 par AFP

Des débris ont été retrouvés en mer sur le site de la disparition d’un avion militaire chilien, introuvable depuis deux jours et qui transportait 38 personnes, a annoncé mercredi soir l’armée de l’Air.

« La découverte a été faite par le bateau battant pavillon chilien Antarctic Endeavour et il pourrait s’agir de morceaux de mousse des réservoirs internes de combustible du C-130 », a annoncé à la presse Eduardo Mosqueira, commandant de la IVe Brigade aérienne à Punta Arenas, à 3.000 km au sud de Santiago.

Les débris ont été localisés à 30 km de la dernière position connue de l’appareil.

« Nous allons faire les expertises correspondantes et lorsque les morceaux de mousse seront ici, nous pourrons déterminer s’il s’agit vraiment du C-130 », a ajoute le commandant Mosqueira. Les débris sont attendus à Punta Arenas « demain ou dans les prochains jours », a-t-il précisé.

L’appareil, un Hercules C130, avait décollé lundi de la base Chabunco de Punta Arenas (pointe sud du Chili) à 16H55 (19H55 GMT) pour rejoindre la base antarctique Eduardo Frei. Le contact radio avec l’avion de transport militaire a été « perdu » à 18H13 (21H13 GMT), selon un communiqué de la Force aérienne chilienne (FACH).

Il survolait alors le passage de Drake, bras de mer qui sépare l’extrémité sud de l’Amérique latine et l’Antarctique et qui est considéré comme redoutable par les marins.

Dans ces eaux, parmi les plus tumultueuses de la planète, entre océans Pacifique et Atlantique, ont péri plus de 10.000 marins et sombré 800 bateaux depuis le 17e siècle.

– « Tout notre possible » –

L’avion a été déclaré « sinistré » sept heures après l’incident, a indiqué l’armée de l’Air, en soulignant qu’il disposait de réserves de carburant suffisantes pour voler jusqu’à 00H40 (03H40 GMT).

Depuis, une quinzaine d’avions et cinq bateaux participent aux opérations de recherche. Outre le Chili, l’Argentine, l’Uruguay, le Brésil et les Etats-Unis ont envoyé des moyens aériens et maritimes sur place.

« Toute l’armée de l’Air chilienne et les forces armées sommes en train de faire tout notre possible pour chercher le C-130 qui a disparu », avait déclaré mercredi matin le commandant Eduardo Mosqueira.

La zone de recherche a été étendue mercredi, « les conditions étant meilleures », avait-il ajouté. Au total, elle mesure 960 km2 environ.

Les proches des passagers de l’avion disparu sont arrivés mercredi à Punta Arenas.

L’appareil transportait 38 personnes : 17 membres d’équipage et 21 passagers. Parmi ces derniers figurent 15 militaires de la FACH, trois de l’armée de Terre, deux d’une entreprise privée de construction, Inproser, ainsi qu’un fonctionnaire de l’université de Magallanes.

Ils devaient effectuer des « tâches de soutien logistique », et notamment réviser un oléoduc flottant alimentant en carburant la base antarctique, la plus importante du Chili.


Aide au développement du Maroc : La Cour des comptes européenne recommande d’améliorer les indicateurs de performance

Publié le 11.12.2019 à 23h18 par APA

La Cour des comptes européenne a recommandé de concentrer l’aide destinée au Maroc sur un plus petit nombre de secteurs, d’améliorer les indicateurs de performance afin qu’ils permettent une évaluation objective, de renforcer les procédures de contrôle relatives aux décaissements, d’intensifier le dialogue sectoriel et d’accroître la visibilité du soutien de l’UE.Dans une analyse des aides versées directement par l’UE sur le compte du Trésor public marocain pour la période 2014-2018, les auditeurs de la Cour ont constaté que « la gestion, par la Commission, des programmes d’appui budgétaire en faveur du pays a pâti de faiblesses dans la manière dont ils ont été conçus, mis en œuvre et suivis, ainsi qu’en matière d’évaluation des résultats ».

Pour la période 2014‑2020, la Commission a programmé 1,4 milliard d’euros d’aide, principalement dans les trois secteurs prioritaires que sont les services sociaux, l’état de droit et la croissance durable.

Fin 2018, elle avait conclu des contrats pour un montant de 562 millions d’euros et versé près de 206 millions d’euros au titre de son instrument d’appui budgétaire, qui vise à promouvoir les réformes et la réalisation des objectifs de développement durable et représente 75% des dépenses annuelles de l’UE en faveur du Maroc.

Si l’appui budgétaire accordé par l’UE pour les secteurs prioritaires au Maroc de 2014 à 2018 a été géré efficacement par la Commission et si les objectifs ont été atteints, les auditeurs se sont intéressés aux secteurs de la santé, de la protection sociale, de la justice et du développement du secteur privé.

« L’appui budgétaire de l’UE en faveur du Maroc n’a pas permis de soutenir suffisamment les réformes du pays et peu de progrès ont été accomplis en ce qui concerne les principaux enjeux », a déclaré Hannu Takkula, membre de la Cour des comptes européenne responsable du rapport.

«Pour optimiser l’impact des financements de l’UE, la Commission devrait concentrer l’aide sur un plus petit nombre de secteurs et renforcer le dialogue politique et sectoriel avec le Maroc ».

La Commission a considéré que l’appui budgétaire était le bon instrument pour octroyer l’aide au Maroc. Or, l’appui budgétaire de l’UE s’élève actuellement à quelque 132 millions d’euros par an, ce qui représente environ 0,37% des dépenses budgétaires annuelles du Maroc.

Concernant les trois secteurs prioritaires, la Cour a constaté qu’ils comportaient 13 sous-secteurs, dont beaucoup pouvaient eux-mêmes être considérés comme des secteurs à part entière.

« Les programmes sont actuellement toujours en cours, mais ils n’ont pas produit d’impact notable à ce jour, étant donné que moins de la moitié de leurs objectifs chiffrés étaient atteints à la fin de 2018. En outre, un certain nombre de ces objectifs n’étaient pas suffisamment ambitieux pour soutenir de véritables réformes, puisqu’ils avaient parfois déjà été atteints (ou étaient en passe de l’être) lorsque les conventions de financement ont été signées », affirment les auditeurs.

La Cour a relevé un manque de contrôles rigoureux lors de l’évaluation des résultats ainsi que des paiements effectués alors que les valeurs cibles n’avaient pas été atteintes.


Espagne: Sanchez chargé de former un gouvernement

Publié le 11.12.2019 à 22h50 par AFP

Le socialiste Pedro Sanchez, vainqueur des législatives de novembre en Espagne, a été formellement chargé mercredi par le roi Felipe VI de former un nouveau gouvernement même s’il ne compte pas encore les soutiens suffisants pour être investi par les députés.

« C’est un mandat que j’assume avec honneur, avec responsabilité », a déclaré Pedro Sanchez devant la presse à l’issue de deux jours de consultations entre le roi et les dirigeants des partis représentés à la Chambre des députés.

« Les Espagnols sont fatigués des affrontements et des bagarres » politiques, « l’Espagne a besoin d’une période de stabilité », a-t-il ajouté alors que la quatrième économie de la zone euro est empêtrée dans une instabilité chronique depuis 2015 et a connu depuis quatre élections législatives en quatre ans.

M. Sanchez, arrivé au pouvoir en juin 2018, est sorti vainqueur mais affaibli du scrutin du 10 novembre, qui a été marqué par un bond du parti d’extrême droite Vox, devenu la troisième force politique du pays.

Le socialiste avait déjà remporté le scrutin précédent du 28 avril mais avait échoué à se faire reconduire au pouvoir, notamment en raison de son incapacité à s’entendre avec la gauche radicale de Podemos.

Les socialistes du PSOE sont parvenus cette fois à sceller un accord avec Podemos juste après le scrutin de novembre en vue de former un gouvernement de coalition.

Mais les deux formations restent loin de la majorité à la Chambre des députés, nécessaire à l’investiture de M. Sanchez comme chef du gouvernement, et ont besoin de l’appui d’autres partis dont les indépendantistes catalans d’ERC.

Le PSOE et ERC négocient depuis plusieurs semaines mais sans succès pour le moment. ERC réclame une négociation avec Madrid sur la crise en Catalogne dans le cadre de laquelle puisse être abordée la question d’un référendum d’autodétermination, ce dont le gouvernement central ne veut pas entendre parler.

M. Sanchez, qui espérait initalement être reconduit au pouvoir avant la fin de l’année, ne s’est pas avancé mercredi à donner une date pour la session d’investiture à la chambre des députés.

Et il n’a pas voulu non plus donner de détails sur les négociations avec ERC. « Elles doivent être suffisamment discrètes pour que nous puissions arriver à un accord », a-t-il dit.

La Catalogne, qui a été au centre du débat lors du dernier scrutin, a été secouée par des manifestations, parfois violentes, après la condamnation mi-octobre de neuf dirigeants séparatistes, dont le président d’ERC Oriol Junqueras, à la prison pour leur rôle dans la tentative de sécession de 2017.


Family's agonising search for mother, daughter who drowned in Kiambu

JAMES KAHONGEHBy JAMES KAHONGEH
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A short journey to church for Lucy Wairimu and her daughter Ruth Nduta from Kwa Maiko village in Kiambu County ended in tragedy when the two drowned while trying to cross River Ruiru using a makeshift bridge on Sunday morning.

Wairimu, Nduta and her son Anthony Njuguna were headed to church in Komothai area in Githunguri  when the accident happened on Sunday morning. 

According to Njuguna 30, who survived the accident, the trio had taken turns to cross the swollen river using a log. Nduta, 13, went first, when the log twisted, plunging her into the river.

Wairimu fell into the water while trying to pull her daughter to safety.  

A frightened and helpless Njuguna watched as the two were quickly swept away by strong currents before he could do anything to save them.

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For the fourth consecutive day now, a search party made up of mostly villagers has been scouring the river and surrounding bushes for any traces of their bodies. Without any luck.

Using wooden rods and on foot, villagers have spent hours by the river valley trying to locate the bodies.  

By Monday afternoon, only Wairimu’s handbag had been located by the searchers a few metres from the point where the two drowned.

On Wednesday, her mobile phone and her personal effects, including vegetables she was carrying, were also located further downstream.

Search efforts have largely been hampered by raging waters of the flooded river that drains into River Chania, and lack of specialised equipment and skills among the villagers.

By the close of search mission on Wednesday evening, the family had yet to locate the bodies. They are now calling out to the government to help them find the bodies of the mother and her daughter for burial. 

Other than a promise by the local administration police to help in the search on Thursday, nothing has been forthcoming.

As the short rains continue to be experienced in the country, more than 130 people have lost their lives, thousands of others displaced and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.

In response to the disaster being wreaked by floods across the country, the government has set aside Sh200 billion to evacuate and provide aid to the victims.


Mike Sonko goes home after posting bail

MAUREEN KAKAHBy MAUREEN KAKAH
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Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko was a free man Wednesday evening after he posted Sh15 million bail.

Earlier Wednesday, Anti-Corruption Court Magistrate Douglas Ogoti freed Sonko on a Sh30 million bond, a surety of a similar amount or a cash bail of Sh15 million.

The governor and 12 others, who were on Monday charged with several counts of corruption.

Seven of his co-accused were freed on a bond of Sh3 million, a surety of a similar amount or a cash bail of the same.

Five other accused persons were granted a Sh30 million bond or a Sh10 million cash bail.

The county boss, along with his co-accused, were ordered to deposit their passports and any other travel documents in court.

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Sonko was also asked to ensure that his supporters maintain peace. He will appear in court on January 15.


The women of miraa: Soldiering on despite societal backlash

In Garissa, the trade is scorned and admired in equal measure.

By NASIBO KABALE

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It is 5:45am and as the sunlight colours the sky with a pinkish hue ushering a new day, about 30 women hurl up at a corner of the Garissa town market ready to receive pickup trucks which travelled overnight from Meru with their merchandise.

The goods in question is khat (miraa) which are packed in gunny bags clearly labelled with each of the women’s names to avoid confusion over who ordered what.

Unlike the other women in the market, Sareye Budul Shafat does not appear bothered by the hustle to get the goods. She sits comfortably with her fingers clasped, three gold rings visible from a far as she nonchalantly looks on as her employee does the heavy lifting.

Her ten sacks are quickly opened up and repackaged into smaller sacks that will then be sent out to various distributors in Garissa town, Dadaab refugee camp and even Somalia.

SWIFT BUSINESS

By 10am, the distribution is done and the 50-year-old mother of ten is ready to run some errands in town before she goes back home and tends to her family.

Shafat, who has been in the miraa business since 1997, says she got into the business out of desperation. Her husband was diagnosed with glaucoma and could not work as much as he used to, leaving her with the heavy burden of fending for their family.

“His illness left very little option for me, I sold clothes at the market and I would go days without selling a single item. I saw that the miraa ladies were making a lot of money and that attracted me to the business,” she says.

Despite the fact that the business has had great financial impact on her family, Shafat says it has not been easy to sell miraa in a county that is predominantly Muslim.

This is because miraa is a narcotic that yields a jittery high and feelings of invincibility that results into a lethargic stupor and although alcohol and other drugs are considered haram, there is grey area when it comes to miraa.

The sun-blasted streets of Garissa are dotted with miraa stalls, indicative of just how successful a business venture this is, but majority of people remain unhappy with women like Shafat.

She buys her miraa from Meru County and she and her chama have also bought pick-up trucks to transport the merchandise on their own. Her miraa comes from farmers such as Jennifer Kathure in Maua where miraa is deemed as a precious commodity.

Kathure’s two-acre farm features not only miraa, but also other crops that provide food, forage and other household products. After inheriting the land from her brother, she decided to go into miraa farming because she had seen the success of it from her father.

“My brother inherited three acres, which already had miraa and I thought it best to follow suit and start miraa farming as well. I have been able to educate my children,” says the 47-year-old.

RESPECTED CROP

Unlike in Garissa, miraa in Meru is a crop that is loved and its trees dot school and church compounds. Here, it is a celebrated form of agriculture and no, the idea of calling it a drug does not augur well with the community.

The government also believes in the potential of miraa as a cash crop with President Uhuru Kenyatta announcing the creation of a Sh1 billion fund to assist farmers affected by the UK ban in April, 2016.

Kathure agrees with the opinion that miraa is just like coffee and those who condemn its farming are simply jealous, and not aware of what they are talking about.

She is not just a farmer. Kathure has previously vied for an elective post and although she was not elected as a member of county assembly, she says she would not have been able to vie for the position had she not attained success in miraa farming.

CONTRARY OPINION

Paul Goldsmith an American researcher and writer who has lived in Kenya for decades, however, argues miraa is stronger than coffee, and this is especially true depending on the crop variety.

“Miraa is stronger than coffee, and considerably so in the case of certain varieties. Its highly variable stimulatory effects are one of the more complicated differences between drinking the bean and eating the trees,” he says in ones of his articles.

While many may think negatively of miraa, it is considered a form of bonding among friends in places such as Pangani shopping centre where the parking is full of cars with open doors full of men who sit and chew leisurely every weekend.

BONDING OVER MIRAA

Yusuf Khalif is one such individual who makes time, at least one day every weekend, to sit and catch up with his childhood friends from Moyale.

“We went to high school with most of these guys and I see no harm in sitting while drinking tea and chewing miraa as we catch up and even go over business ideas,” he says.

While the men chew freely in the open, women are more private about it and can be found a few blocks away at the Asmara club where they meet up in an enclosed space.

Kheirra Jamal and her friends are apprehensive about opening up on their lifestyle given that it is frowned upon for women to take miraa and she says she prefers doing it at home.

“I meet with my friends on some evenings, especially Friday, and we chat just like the men do but it is such a big deal to be more open about it although I see no harm,” she says.

LEGIT BUSINESS

Rose Kajuju who is also a miraa farmer in Meru says it is wrong for people to think of a plant that has given great economic returns as a drug. The 35-year-old says that making the cash crop illegal would hurt families like hers.

“It cannot be compared to tobacco or marijuana because those destroy families. This is a recreational product like tea or coffee, which creates an environment for people to sit and discuss issues,” she says.

The two women make money from the crop; with quality and type of product as the deciding factor on pricing of the crop says Kathure.

“The price of miraa has gone up. On my two-acre farm, for example, I can sell the miraa for around Sh200, 000 per season and sometimes the season comes twice a month,” she says.

Her only issue is that women should not climb trees to pick the miraa because that would be culturally wrong. Aside from that, there is nothing wrong save for the occasional thieves who break in.

“One of us was paid for the season in advance and before they could pluck, thieves came in at night and stole everything which meant returning the money and considering that season a loss,” says Kathure.

RUINING LIVES

Back in Garissa, the trade is scorned and admired in equal measure, Halima Haji a 53-year-old mother of six says that women like Shafat who sell and distribute miraa are making a living from ruining the lives of men and boys and would like to see it banned.

“They are hurting other families and they do not care as long as they get their money. It is wrong to chew miraa and the religion does not allow it. Our young boys are missing out on prayers as they waste their days chewing this thing,” she says.

Shafat, however, believes it is the responsibility of the parents to ensure their children do not fall in the trap of consuming alcohol and drugs like miraa.

“I have five boys and none of them have taken it, if anything it is the business that has made it possible to offer my children this lifestyle,” she says.

Khadija Dabar, a mother of ten who also sells miraa alongside Shafat says that her conscience eats her up despite all the money she makes from the business.

“I had a farming business that fell through and I did not have a fall back plan so I decided to try this as a way of making money. I still wish I did not have to do it because my husband used to chew miraa and I know the havoc it can wreck on a family,” says the 52-year-old.

GOOD RETURNS

Despite her reservations it is evident that she, like Shafat makes a lot of money from the business. Unlike the female farmers in Meru, the women in Garissa are apprehensive about mentioning how much they make in a month.

The two are part of the ten-member Al-Amin Women’s Group who pay Sh200,000 each to join and pay a monthly contribution of Sh10,000.

Shafat says she makes about Sh20, 000 from selling miraa. This is a modest figure based on the opulent lifestyle they lead. She has a big house and two other businesses on the side, which she started with other miraa-selling women. They have also bought a pickup truck to transport their miraa rather than rely on hired transportation.

Both have several employees working under them and their women’s group has afforded them the luxury of buying four pick-up trucks that deliver miraa from Meru every day.

Shafat says she orders ten sacks that weigh 50kg each and that miraa prices range from Sh200 to Sh1,200 per kilo depending on the quality.

“I order about 70 kilos of Alele miraa, which costs Sh1,200 per kilo, while the rest of my stock costs much less,” she says.

BREADWINNERS

Shafat and Dabar are the breadwinners of their families, a situation that is out of the norm in this region. Dabar’s husband, a diabetic, is a driver of one of their vehicles that ferry miraa.

“He needed something to do given his illness,” she responds when asked if she is her husband’s boss.

The situation is no different for Shafat whose husband does not have a job. During a visit to her home, we find him sitting outside on a mat and half way through the interview he mentions that he is stepping out to get a haircut.

One of their sons comes in to get money from Shafat before he and the dad leave for the barbershop.

The role that Shafat and the rest of the women at the market play in the sale of miraa is crucial. Even though they have gotten used to the backlash for their choice of business that does not seem to bother them as much as the threat from Al-shabaab who threaten to stop them by any means possible.

“We used to have the deliveries done in Somalia but now we just send them to the border and have our clients pick it from there,” says Dabar.

Despite the backlash they continue to receive, it is clear that selling miraa has had great impacts on their families and even if they wanted to get out of the trade, these women have invested a lot of time and money in the business to simply walk away from it.


MPs want old ferries grounded for safety reasons

SAMWEL OWINOBy SAMWEL OWINO
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The operations of three ferries that have been running for more than two decades in Mombasa may soon be stopped after the National Assembly adopted a report of the Public Investments Committee on the safety of the ferries.

Following the adoption of the report, the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) is expected to ground and cancel the certificates of all ferries that do not meet safety standards. If implemented, it will mean that only three ferries will be in operation.

The committee, chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, found that three of the six ferries have operated for 30 years now, contrary to the Kenya Ferry Service (KFS) policy that ferries be replaced after 20 years. KFS Managing Director Bakari Gowa confirmed to the committee that they were operating the old ferries against their own policy because they don’t have money to buy new ones.

The MPs said in the report that during their inspection visit, they found out that KMA had raised 12 defects on MV Harambee, including damaged prows.

“The non-functional prow played a part in the accident that claimed the lives of two people when a vehicle slipped off MV Harambee in September 2019,” the report states

In the 2016/17 audit report, queries on the safety status of ferries operated were raised, including failure to service them on schedule.

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Lamu chief, his assistant hacked to death

KALUME KAZUNGUBy KALUME KAZUNGU
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A Lamu chief and his assistant were on Wednesday killed in cold blood inside their office in Mbwajumwali village.

Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said unknown assailants stormed the office around midday and hacked Chief Mohamed Haji Famau and his assistant Malik Athman Shee to death.

Mr Macharia said the two attackers were wearing Islamic clothing for women commonly known as buibui.

The county security boss said the motive of the attack remains unknown. He added that officials have opened investigation into the crime.

The killing comes barely two months after a police officer was murdered by unknown people near the same area.

The officer’s mutilated body was found dumped in a thicket on the Mbwajumwali-Kizingitini road on October 5.

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Early this year, a Nyumba Kumi official was murdered by unknown assailants in Mbwajumwali village.

Amina Bakari, 30, who was also a volunteer with the Kenya Red Cross Society, was slashed to death at around 11pm.

This is not the first time that chiefs have been killed in Lamu East.

In 2016, Mbwajumwali Chief Mohamed Shee Mohamed was hacked to death by unknown assailants in the morning while he was on his way to work.

The motive behind the killings of the local administrators is yet to be established.