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Monthly Archives: June 2012

HUMAN AND WILDLIFE CONFLICTS:

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Last week, many were taken aback by the killing of six lions by morans in Kitengela. This should be condemned in the strongest terms possible. It should, in fact, be considered economic sabotage.

But as we condemn this wanton destruction of wildlife, it is necessary to take a long-term look at the matter. Demographic and social changes are placing more and more people in direct contact with wildlife. As human populations grow, settlements expand into and around protected areas, as well as in urban and sub-urban areas.

In Africa, human population growth has lead to encroachment on wildlife habitats, constricting species to marginal habitat patches and leading to direct competition with local communities. In areas with abundant wildlife such as Samburu, Trans Mara, Taita, and Kwale, conflict is intensified by land use fragmentation and the development of small-scale farming.

In fact, state and trust ranches have been subdivided and sold as smallholdings and cultivated with commercial horticultural crops. This is what is now happening in Kajiado and Kitengela, where flower and vegetable growing has gone up. The solution to these human-wildlife problems lies in a selfless balance of planning to promote coexistence and minimize conflict.

The Nairobi National Park is left porous on the southern edge to allow unrestricted entry and exit of animals, which wander back south towards the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro around the Amboseli a Unfortunately, due to increasing human encroachment, the large herds that were previously sighted grazing, hunting, and roaming to and from the Nairobi plains are no longer visible.

Saving land for animal migration corridors and containing suburban sprawl is a necessity. We have finite resources in terms of the land that we can expand into; Nairobi should not have grown all the way to Kitengela, Rongai, or Ngong, and the pain of this sprawl is not only causing us agonizing travel to work, but also severe human-wildlife conflict at the edges of the Nairobi National Park. Humans have encroached where animals used to range freely. It is not the lions that are coming into people’s homes, it is people’s houses that are being built where the lions used to freely range and hunt.

Our city’s radial plan, where everyone converges in the CBD for work and to the periphery for sleep is mainly to blame for this. This poor planning has contributed in a big way to what is making everyone build far away from the CBD, and a huge uptake of public transport to the centre for work. The city planning department, therefore, takes the most blame for failing to create a mixed-use scenario.

SOURCE Daily nation newspaper 28/06/12

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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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STANDING UP AGAINST TRADITIONS IN FIGHTING FOR GIRLS RIGHTS:

AMONG THE MAASAI, GIRLS ARE MARRIED OFF EARLY IN LIFE TO FETCH WEALTH, BUT ONE WOMAN HAS COME OUT TO ENGAGE THE VICE:
Little known activists, retired teacher she fights for the rights of Maasai girls whom they are engaged into marriage before they knew their status in the society.
A professional teacher and women’s activist to boot, Priscilla Naisula Nangurai has seen it all in a crusade spanning decades to rescue culturally marginalized Maasai girls. “I have rescued over 700 girls from forced marriages and helped arm them with an education,” she says proudly, clutching a battery of awards she has won over the years.“Initially on moving to Kajiado AIC Girls Boarding Primary School as headmistress in 1981, I was scared of facing retrogressive Maasai culture head-on. It was not until three years later that I gleaned the courage to put my foot down. “I started by bringing some teachers on board to persuade girls to say no to circumcision that made them believe that they were adult women at age 12.
The mentality badly affected their education. “But the real breakthrough for me came in 1986. A class seven girl, Jane Naleku, arrived home for April holidays only to find people celebrating her marriage as a second wife to an elderly suitor she had never met. The marriage was scheduled to take place two days after her arrival. “Stunned, Jane wrote a note to me with a copy to then Kajiado District Commissioner (DC) Mr Harry Wamubeyi with a terse but poignant message ‘Please rescue me. They want to marry me off and kill my ambition of becoming a nurse’”.
Mr Wamubeyi promptly swung into action with a rescue team only to find that Jane and her purported husband had crossed the border into Tanzania. The raid had leaked. “The DC and his rescue team crossed the border in a determined bid to locate Jane whom they found in the company of her husband and best man. She was rescued and brought to school under tight security.
To pre-empt any counter raids by her distraught father and his sympathizers, the DC provided the school with 24-hour security, as there was no school fence at the time,” she recalls. “I had received threats for going against Maasai culture.”
Fortunately, the girl had not been defiled by the husband, thanks to an age-old Maasai culture that gives newly married brides five days of counselling by their in-laws on their new roles before consummation can take place. She resumed her studies unblemished. Nangurai says Jane’s rescue gave birth to the Maasai Girls Rescue Program at AIC Girls Boarding Primary School that was to attract support from all people of goodwill locally and abroad and guarantee education for hundreds of girls, many of whom are holding responsible positions today.
“It was really hard at first as I had to live with Jane and other first batch of rescued girls at my house. Jane proceeded to Secondary school and went on to become a nurse. She worked for 10 years in a remote part of Maasai land before she finally opted to marry a man of her choice. I buoyantly took rescued girls to her wedding ceremony,” she recalls.
Priscilla recalls how in the initial stages of the rescue program, she would take with her to her home for Christmas holidays eight girls banished from their homes for going against their families wishes to be circumcised or married off. “When the number grew bigger, I arranged for them to stay at school under the care of a teacher and a matron and organized Christmas trips for them. By 1990, I had 45 girls who could not go home during holidays.“At this juncture, it was apparent that the school needed a rescue centre. I approached the Federation of African Women Educationists (FAWE) that had just been formed and they promised to help put up a hostel.”
“The rescue centre crystallized into reality after the 1985 women’s congress in Beijing, China that I attended. A paper I presented prompted FAWE and other organizations to ask me for a proposal that culminated in donations to put up a home away from home for rescued girls. The home with a capacity of 60 girls was completed in 1986 at a cost of Sh2.2 million,” she notes.
To cater for girls rescued after traumatic experiences such as losing a baby or suffering damage to their sex organs, the school in conjunction with FAWE provided medical care and counselling.“Teachers were trained in counselling, guidance and gender responsiveness. To reach more needy girls, we extended the training to neighbouring schools as well,” says Nangurai.
A woman committed to the girls’ noble course
Mrs Priscilla Nangurai says she dedicated Sh300, 000 of her retirement benefits to the welfare of Maasai girls and children in general. Fourteen girls live with her today at her home in Oloosuyan near Kajiado town.
The veteran teacher has amassed awards, among them one declaring her Ambassador of peace. Also in her large arsenal of awards is the Guinness Stout Effort Award she received in 1994 from Parents Magazine, Woman of the year 2007 award from Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), Order of the Grand Warrior of Kenya given by the State and an award in memory of the late father John Antony Kaiser. She also has the National students Leadership Award from the law Society of Kenya and an award from the Rotary Club of Nairobi. She is the co-ordinator for a local humanitarian organization known as Efforts for Learning of Girl-child in Africa (HELCA) that works in partnership with the Humanitarian efforts for African Learning (HEAL) based in the USA.
She receives some funding for the children she sponsors from International Partners in Mission (IPM) also based in the USA. Apart from the girls she sponsors in neighbouring schools, Nangurai has privately enrolled 60 pupils, both boys and girls currently learning in prefabricated classrooms at her homestead.“I have friends in the United States, the United Kingdom, Geneva and other parts of the world who sponsor two to three children each,” she says.
She was educated by an elder sister who on being removed from school and forcefully married off, took her along and promised to give her what she had ‘missed in life’.“I went to then African Girls Government School (Alliance Girls High School) after primary school, later training as a teacher at Kenyatta College (now Kenyatta University). I swore to help other girls just as I had been helped,” she says.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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PASTORALIST IN AMBOSELI TURNING INTO SQUATTERS:

It’s horrifying to learn that pastoralists of Amboseli are selling their land. That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on where you stand. If you are a conservationist, the news is gutting wrenching because it means Amboseli National Park could be history.

Experts say Amboseli is too small to feed elephants without the community owned wet season grazing grounds that the Maasai are now selling. But if you are a good investor, these could be an opportunity for your only chance to rob the nearest bank and get yourself a chunk of bush land on the cheap — Sh400, 000 to one million for 60 acres.
When Amboseli became a national park, experts correctly said the area bordering the park should not be sub-divided or turned into human settlements and farmland, but should be kept ‘open’ for migrating wildlife. The local community would pool their land into group ranches. Livestock husbandry within the ranches would be made more scientific improved pastures, stocking livestock numbers the ranches could support and provision of water and cattle dips. As a group, they would access credit, negotiate for better markets and prices for their beef and milk and get fat and rich. You know all those sweet things educated people conjure up in workshops and seminars and then put together in a sexy report.
The only problem is that once the Maasai formed group ranches, the Government went underground. So everyone else was getting fat and rich apart from them. Selling a few beads to the odd tourist in Namanga doesn’t earn much.Neither do decrepit community owned campsites on group ranches pay when you are competing with perfumed investors who speak smart English in Nairobi.
At some point, the Maasai must have said, to hell with it. They weren’t making money from livestock or tourism. They weren’t getting access to tools, like education, that would enable them to compete on an even keel with other Kenyans. So they erected ‘land for sale’ signs. Those lands are going like crazy. Kimana, one of the towns near Amboseli, was just a dusty little market two years ago. Now it’s a bustling town with pubs and ‘plots for sale’. This brings us to the obvious question; when they are done selling those group ranches, where will the Amboseli Maasai go? I got the answer in a pub in Kimana. A Maasai man staggered in (it was lunch hour) and said, “Woman (meaning the barmaid), give me beer!”
The ‘woman’ lazily lifted one eyebrow and said, “Woman is the one in your house. Here, we deal with ‘men’ and men have money.”That Maasai man most likely sold his land. I doubt he will be moving from place to place with his three cows because there is nowhere to move to. It’s frightening. All the choice Maasai land between Nairobi and Tanzania is being bought and fenced daily by speculators in Nairobi while Maasai leaders fume about historical injustices.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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