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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Gallant helpers Assist Pastoralist Women in Isiolo To give New life:

Every other day, Kenyans who have done something exceptional are recognized and their achievements celebrated. However, there are others who do real heroic acts in their communities but might never be acknowledged nationally.

These are the gallant health workers in remote areas who use their skills, without demanding commensurate pay, to help bring forth a new life. Rose Muya, Gabriella Joni and Sabina Yepon are community health workers in Isiolo County. Muya is also a teacher at Attan Primary School while Yepon and Joni are birth attendants.

GENTLE AND EMPATHETIC

Joni says she has helped many women deliver because they trust her. She is gentle and empathetic to their situation. “We know how to deal with these women. We respect their customs and this makes them have confidence in us,” she says.

When labour pains begin, Joni or Yepon are called as they are just a walking distance away. Many of their patients find this arrangement more convenient than going to health facilities, which are usually far away and expensive in this poor semi-arid area.

Muya will also be at hand advising on what course of action to take health wise. Yepon has done this job for four years now. She knows when a woman goes into labour, something has to be done fast or else the consequences can be dire. She says, “If you can’t help the baby quickly enough then it will die and this will just be another senseless loss of life.”

They have trying moments in the course of duty. For example, when the umbilical chord entangles the baby’s neck during birth, the ‘expert’ must act quickly. Otherwise it can choke the baby or cut out oxygen, which could leave the baby with a permanent disability such as spina bifida.

Tricky situation

“This is always a tricky situation that needs a lot of expertise; but what happens when the hospital is far away? Then we have to do it. We become the experts,” quips Yepon. Despite their enormous task, these women have no facilities to make their work easier and safer for themselves and the mothers.

They say they are sometimes forced to use nylon papers as gloves. This is a health risk to both mother and child but the other option — using bare hands — is worse. Without proper facilities there is also the danger of contracting or spreading HIV. “The threat of contracting diseases during childbirth is as real on our side as it is on the side of the babies or mothers. If we are

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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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13 killed, 207 animals stolen in Samburu raid:

At least 13 people have been killed after two warring communities turned against each other in Samburu County. Three others are nursing serious gunshot injuries after the incident which occurred on Monday night. It was reported that heavily armed raiders from the Samburu community invaded Nachola village and made away with 205 camels and two donkeys during the 3am incident.

According to area civic leader Cllr Lawrence Lorunyei, the raiders attacked several manyattas where they managed to drive away the animals prompting a fierce shootout between the raiders and the owners. “It was at night when they invaded the area and took away the livestock after shooting several times in the air. They made away with the livestock after they terrorized most of the residents,” he said. Lorunyei said the raiders drove the animals towards Ngilai area in Baragoi district where they were being followed by a contingent of security personnel deployed to quell the mounting tension.

By the time of going to press, security details led by anti-stock theft police officers and rapid deployment unit were following the raiders but no recovery had been made. Area OCPD Maurice Makhano said that over 200 security officers had been deployed in the region to quell the skirmishes. “We are still investigating the matter and that is why we have deployed police officers to do the follow-up. We have also set up camps in all areas where we believe that violence could erupt,” he said.

According to residents who spoke to the press, tension is high as the resident fear that the attacks may continue as the communities plan retaliatory attacks. They at the same time accused security officers attached at the nearby police post of taking too long to act on information provided by the members of the public over the looming attack.

They alleged that some security officers could have been behind the attacks as they also took long to respond to distress calls from the victims despite it being short distance from where the animals were stolen.

They called for immediate transfer of the officers claiming that they have overstayed at the station and hence making it possible for the police officers to collude with criminals. The incident comes barely a day after Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka toured the area and called on the residents to embrace peaceful coexistence in order to foster meaningful development.

The vice president was on a three-day tour of the Samburu County where he took his presidential campaigns to woo the pastoral communities to support him in his presidential bid.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that Internal Security Minister Katoo Ole Metito would be leading a high profile security detail in the area Wednesday.

Source standardnewspaper 31/10/12

 

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Dawn raid leaves village in despair:

Children look up to their parents for a sign of hope that tomorrow will be better than today, but what they see in the blank faces of their mothers and fathers is hopelessness.

These residents of Arabal location of Marigat District, Baringo County, have been living in five primary school compounds for eight days since they ran away from their home last week after rustlers raided the village and drove away 2,000 cattle. These schools — five primary and one secondary — which have been closed, have become a refuge to more than 4,000 residents who can no longer feel secure in their homes. Rustlers from neighbouring Pokot East District are said to have attacked the village at 4am, disrupting the people’s life and making them refugees.

No peace

For 30 years, the Arabal residents have not known peace due to the frequent raids. In the latest incident in Lorumoru village, more than 200 suspected armed rustlers injured one person and stole the livestock. Locals say the rustlers raided 60 homesteads at dawn, taking them by surprise. The raiders shot in the air to scare away anybody trying to stop their mission. A Form Two student, who had gone out to find out what the commotion was all about, had his leg shot.

This raid has raised tension between the two communities. Local leaders led by Arabal/Chebinyiny ward councillor Kimunyan Meja accused the area provincial administration and security agencies of laxity in dealing with rampant insecurity in the area. Meja said locals were fleeing their homes fearing for their lives since the Government cannot guarantee their security. Insecurity, he said, has derailed development in the area. We had informed the local DC’s office, the OCPD and County Commissioner early enough that the raiders were planning an attack but they took no action despite giving promises that they will deal with the issue,” decried Kimunyan.

Baringo County Commissioner, Benard Leparmarai, has however given a seven-day ultimatum to four chiefs in Tangulbei Division, East Pokot District, to produce the stolen livestock and the culprits immediately failure to which they risk losing their jobs. But they are yet to do so. A number of people have been killed since 2005 as a result of rustling; he said adding that losing livestock —the people’s only source of livelihood — to cattle rustlers leaves them poorer and desperate. Area residents who spoke to The Standard expressed fear of more attacks if security is not improved.

Stamp out

“How can we continue living here when we are not assured of our safety? We are now moving with our remaining belongings to safer grounds though we do not know exactly where we are going,” said Wilson Wendot, desperately.

Despite being attacked regularly by the rustlers for decades, says Wendot, there is no visible plan of stamping out the menace.

Some of the villagers have moved in with friends and relatives in neighbouring villages such as Kasiela and Mochongoi while many others are at the primary schools.
Teachers and their pupils have also left the area to seek refuge elsewhere.

This incident has affected candidates preparing for this year’s national examinations as primary schools Kapindasum, Arabal, Chemorong’ion, Lorumoru, Kasiela and Arabal Day Secondary Schools remained empty since Monday last week when the village was attacked. Kapindasum Primary School head teacher, Francis Chebotibin said: “All the five primary schools have been closed. Our candidates might register poor performance in the coming exams due to this interruption.” Chebotibin now wants the Government to step in and ensure the residents return to their homes and learning resumes. Some of the candidates who spoke to The Standard say if the situation does not change, they might not sit the coming national examination.

Tracy Jerop, 14, and Richard Komen,15, who are candidates at Kapindasum Primary School, say this interruption may make them post poor results if at all they sit the exams. “Since last Monday, I have not attended school. There are no classes going on,” says Jerop, despair in her voice. Jerop says it is not the first time she is out of school due to rustling  and she has spent many days in school agonising about ‘what if?’ rustlers attacked her family.

Insecurity reigns

Knut Baringo Branch executive secretary Charles Kamuren among other local leaders visited the displaced. “How does the Government expect the candidates in this area to sit the same examination with others in secure environments? No teacher or student can risk his or her life to attend classes.”

As an effort to stem out cattle rustling, leaders, elders and provincial administrators from the pastoralist Pokot, Tugen, Turkana and Illchamus communities have held several peace meetings but their suggestions have never been implemented and insecurity continues to reign. For example, early this year, eight people were killed, 14 schools closed and thousands of livestock stolen after suspected Pokot raiders attacked Baringo North District.

Source standardnewspaper 24/10/2012

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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CAUSES OF CONFLICTS AMONG PASTORALIST COMMUNITIES:

The pastoralist communities in Kenya comprise of four regions namely North Rift, South Rift, North Eastern and Upper Eastern. Majorly they live in arid and semi arides parts of the country which has sparse population density, majority of whom are poor pastoralists. Some of these pastoralist communities depend on relief food for long periods especially from North eastern and upper eastern parts. They are living in the rural areas, and a few small and scattered settlements, poor infrastructure, with only some parts of their Towns served with facilities like electricity, piped water and telephones. There is a significant lack of modern economic activities in all areas except the major towns. Compounding this underdevelopment, pastoralists have suffered clan-based conflict dating back to the start of the colonial Kenyan state. Conflict in parts of north and upper eastern is chronic and has a tendency of taking a cross-border dimension. Numerous cross-border raids and alliances, especially along the Wajir, Mandera, Tana delta, Isiolo, Pokot, and Turkana Borders complicate the conflict even further.

Permanent water sources are rare and the amount of water available from boreholes and springs is limited. Resources such as pasture and water sources are often at the center of conflict between these communities. The ever-increasing human population in the major towns, especially over the last few decades has put more pressure on natural resources. Availability of water and pasture fluctuates with seasons and differ between areas. Mobility as well as considered sharing of resources is a major and traditional coping strategy. Several challenges are the ever facing this traditional mobility. The new face of administration and constituencies boundaries which are results in shifting of boundaries have profound more implications on livelihood patterns of grazing movements between these communities. The creation of new districts, divisions, locations and sub- locations and the posting of administrative personnel are extremely sensitive and contested. Confusion and overlap between ethnic, community, administrative and electoral boundaries exacerbate competition, with communities laying claim over land that they believe will secure them political, economic or social advantage. The proliferation of constituency districts has brought with it unrealistic expectations and the view that new districts are exclusive homelands of specific clans.

The local administrative system in pastoralist communities is characterized by inadequate capacity and the declaration of new districts has only exacerbated the situation. Transport and communication is a major problem for the local security forces, in areas where the terrain is most challenging. Proliferation of small arms is a major problem in greater parts of pastoralist. This is attributed by failure of the state to protect pastoralist communities from invasion by Ethiopia and Somalia militia. Also attributed to the proximities of borders which have made it easy to acquire arms from the Ethiopian, Uganda and Somali communities across the border, coupled with the civil war in Somalia. These conflicts have had negative impacts on lives, livelihoods, trade and education of the communities. There has been unnecessary loss of life and many injuries, cases of rape and displacements. Factors that influence these conflicts include severe drought, boundary issues, access to pasture and water resources and identity politics.

A number of actors have been involved in ending conflict and restoring peace in these pastoralist communities. These include government, civil society organizations, community based organizations, local leaders (clan elders, religious elders) and local communities

Finding a lasting solution to the pastoralist conflicts requires commitment of all actors involved. The government will in particularly need to demonstrate more commitment in addressing the underlying causes of conflicts in these areas. Improving the socio-economic lifestyle situation in terms of infrastructure development, enhancing access to water points, pasture, improving livelihoods of these communities and resolving boundary related issues are particularly crucial. Involvement of the pastoralist communities in decision making especially in areas where their interest concerns should be a key consideration.

During drought seasons, at times a small misunderstanding between herders may lead to a major fight; clan ownership becomes an issue where new water point is developed, especially where it is located near a boundary between two clans.  For instance a borehole in Alango borehole in Mandera is a case in point. Pasture availability, like availability of water, also fluctuates with seasons and differs between pastoralists areas. The pastoralists have developed and prefer to graze their animals in specific areas where the grasses are plenty and water is salty. As pasture becomes scarce over the dry season, the pastoralists have traditionally seen migrating with their herds from one area to another as a means of survival. For instance, the Pokot herders looking water and pasture in Marakwet as well as in Turkana areas, Borana and Gabra are fighting for pasture and water.

Failure by the local security forces to prevent escalation of clan based conflicts points to lack of or inadequacy of security intelligence system on the ground. Conflicts build up over time, and a working intelligence system should be able to detect them in good time. For example, ‘Proxy indicators’ may highlight preparation for conflict by a clan, for an effective militia cannot be organized secretly. Water will have to be ferried by those going to fight; youth and fighters mobilize for hostility. Conflicts are costly, and belligerents will make efforts to collect money. The price of bullets usually goes up before clashes, and goes down when conflict is dying down. The activities of tribal leaders may give away intentions. Yet the realities on the ground are constant administrative finger pointing; The chiefs are also to blame – they do not give intelligence reports about the militias on time for prompt action by the police.The police accuse the clans, especially the religious elite, the traders, the intellectual and developmental elite who ‘sometimes work together and sometimes are divided along clan lines. The community members are accused of complicity with their militias to conceal information from the administration. Such a mental framework absolves the local security forces of responsibility for protecting lives, limbs and property, shifting the blame to the local communities, who they act as being responsible for the banditry, eventually justifying communal punishment.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Security sector reforms take back seat as clock ticks towards polls:

With barely five months to the elections there are concerns that the slow pace of reforms in the security sector may compromise the realization of a peaceful poll. As the country readies for the March 2013 poll, a string of grenade attacks, emergence of criminal gangs and revival of outlawed groups, clashes in Coast and North Eastern regions, and violence at political rallies is raising questions on the level of preparedness by security organs ahead of the first election under a new Constitution

In just under 10 days, the nation has awakened to reports of an explosion at a Sunday school service in Nairobi, a machete wielding gang’s disruption of a rally at the Coast and manhandling of an MP by a mob at a political rally in Makueni.  Between August and September, more than 100 people were killed in clashes in Tana River County, in what was reminiscent of past election year cycles of violence. Weeks earlier, Mombasa town was turned into a ‘war zone’ as youth fought pitched battles with police after the killing of controversial preacher Sheikh Aboud Rogo.

Fisheries Minister Amason Kingi was addressing a political rally in Kilifi when a gang alleged to be affiliated to the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), struck, killing Kingi’s bodyguard.  The MRC, a group pushing for secession of piece of Coast Province from Kenya, is also alleged to have warned locals against participating in the forthcoming poll, heightening fears it may disrupt election-related activities like voter registration.

To date the country is yet to get an Inspector General of Police and two deputies to the position, amid concerns key reforms in the police force are on the back burner. Although the newly sworn in National Police Service Commission has promised to have the position filled by December, security experts argue this is not the only issue ailing the sector. “We should by now be training police officers, specifically on electoral security, to enable them handle disputes that may trigger violence at polling stations,” says African Centre for Security and Strategic Studies Chief Executive Officer Simiyu Werunga. Operationalization of the Commission is expected to set the stage for recruitment of an additional 7,000 officers before the elections. A similar number of officers graduated recently.

Captain (rtd) Werunga also weighs in on the emergence of illegal gangs, which he says points to lapses by security agencies. The Standard on Sunday last week reported the emergence of politically connected criminal gangs in Kisumu, in addition to other groups like Mungiki, the MRC and al-Qaeda linked terror cells in the country.

Peace efforts

“Once the Government has declared an outfit illegal, it becomes the responsibility of the police to enforce the attendant regulations. This means investigating and arresting persons, regardless of their status, who may be supporting, or directly involved with activities of such gangs,” says Werunga.

Among those who have urged the country’s leaders to expedite security sector reforms before the March 4, 2013 election is former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. While on a visit to the country last week, to ensure the laying of a peaceful groundwork for the   elections, Annan said reports of violence and regrouping of militia gangs was worrying. Calls to enhance security ahead of the elections have also come from the Church, which last week said it was finalizing a suit against the Government for its failure to protect Christians and their properties.

Churches have borne the brunt of grenade attacks in recent months, recording more than 15 deaths in one day when two churches were attacked in Garissa, in July. Kenya Human Rights Commission Programmes Officer Lillian Kantai says besides making a substantive appointment to the position of Inspector General, there are crucial reforms in the security sector like vetting of police officers, which should have been addressed before the election. “There is a possibility we may be moving into another election with some officers who still hold responsibility for commission of crimes during the 2008 post-election violence. We needed to have all officers vetted,” says Kantai who is in charge of Security Sector Reforms at the commission.

Kantai says besides retraining officers, it is also important to ensure they are technically equipped to respond to crises. Lack of a unitary command within the police force, and proper co-ordination among security organs has been cited as a contributor to the current spate of insecurity.

There have also been suggestions for security organs to profile electoral violence cases to help craft better responses to such incidences. While maintaining that police reforms would benefit both citizens and officers, Kantai says there is need to establish basic electoral guidelines ahead of the 2013 poll. “Basic minimum electoral policing guidelines would include addressing issues of force, handling of public rallies, identifying and instituting prosecution on hate speech, and having an effective co-ordination mechanism between the police and National Intelligence Service,” she told Standard.

Institute for Security Studies researcher Emmanuel Kisiang’ani says besides appointment of an IG, there are much broader issues in the security sector like pay, housing, and a change of attitude among officers that must be addressed. He cites some provisions of the new Constitution like devolution, which if not well handled could result in mobilization of people along sectarian lines.

Dr Kisiang’ani, a researcher in conflict prevention and risk analysis, also points to Kenya’s engagement in Somalia as another security threat that must not be ignored. “As we go into the election we must be alive to all possibilities of security threats including attacks targeted at voters on polling day. We still have extremist groups like Al-Shabaab that have resorted to guerrilla tactics on realizing that they could not fight a conventional war with the better equipped armed forces,” he says.

 

No preparations

PeaceNet’s policy advisor Nyang’ori Ohenjo says the country’s security sector is still unprepared in terms of numbers and structures that should have been in place before the election.

Should timelines within the Constitution have been kept then the country would have had an Inspector General of Police, a year after promulgation of the Constitution in August 2010. But delays in passage of critical legislation on security sector reforms, as well as wrangles between coalition partners President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga contributed to the late establishment of a body mandated to recruit the new IG.

Members of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) board, which is mandated to investigate complaints related to disciplinary offences committed by members of the National Police Service, took office earlier in July.

According to Ohenjo the security organs’ (miss) handling of the Tana clashes was a pointer to the state of the security sector’s unpreparedness in dealing with conflict that may arise during elections. “What would be considered as hotspots, or potential security threats are increasing, given recent events in the Coast and Nyanza regions where militant groups have emerged,” says Ohenjo

The situation, he says, is worsened by the ethnic trajectory taken by politicians. “We find ourselves in a catch-22 situation because any occupant of the Inspector General of Police office would need political goodwill to effectively institute reforms. Then there is also the fact that the police themselves have internal issues that may affect officer’s morale,” he says.

source standard newspaper 14/10/2012

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Constructive Creativity thinking In Achieving Gender rule:

Kenyans agreed that women and men have the right to equal treatment, including the right to equal opportunities in political, economic, cultural and social spheres. (Article 27 (b) of the Constitution) requires the State should take legislative and other measures, including affirmative action, to entrench this (Article 27 (6)). These provisions are fair for the progressive and civilized minds and, I earnestly appeal to all to disentangle themselves from past prejudices and biases, and constructively think of means to achieve this ideal. The unanimously agreed goal post was two-thirds and herein is a suggestion on how to score without contravening the Constitution.

The supreme law restricts the membership of National Assembly to 350 out of which 290 should be elected competitively. The Constitution does not say that the persons who emerge with the largest number of votes after competitive voting must automatically win. Even presidency will only be attained when a candidate wins at least 25 per cent of the votes cast in each of more than half of the 47 counties.  Elsewhere, the final and official outcome of US 2000 election was 50,456,002, 50,999,897 and 2,882,955 for George Bush, Albert Gore and Ralph Nader, and yet Bush was sworn-in as the President.

Consider these scenarios:

Scenario One:  The worst-case scenario where only one gender presents itself for elective positions. Of course, if one does not get into the arena, then one will certainly not win a battle. In all fairness, there are known factors that have impeded women from offering themselves for competition for elective positions.  Some factors lend themselves to long-term interventions, while other should be resolved immediately in accordance with Article 27 (6). Not taking any measure is unconstitutional and I do suggest legislative measures should be taken to ensure that the competing political parties and stakeholders present equitable number of each gender for the March 4 elections.  The two-third-gender rule should start with   party nominations.

Scenario Two: 290 women are elected to give 337 elected female members (remember the elected 47 female members at Article 97(1b)) and one elected female speaker. At worst, a maximum of eight women so that to achieve a constitutionally acceptable threshold for the National Assembly, elections in 113 constituencies would need to be revisited to elevate men.

Scenario Three: If the 290 men are elected we will end up 47 elected women county representatives, and a possibility of eight nominated men, and a male speaker of the national assembly. Sixty-five constituencies will need to elevate women.

Scenario Four: If Kenya repeats the trend of the 2007 elections where women achieve 7.6 per cent representation after competitive elections, 42 women will need to be elevated. Revisiting elections to correct for deficit in the gender parity will involve elevation of the next best performing ‘lesser’ gender to Parliament at the expense of a ‘winner’. How do you chose the lesser gender (man or woman) and in what constituencies?

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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