Thursday, 14 October 2010

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Need to invest in water

Water catchments are becoming increasingly degraded in Kenya while agricultural areas, industry and human population are steadily expanding. Therefore, human settlement coupled with deforestation and soil erosion has led to water and food shortages.

Water resources in particular comprise one sector that is highly dependent on and influenced by climate. Climate thus, presents a risk, to livelihoods and sometimes lives at the individual level and to the economy and infrastructure at the national and regional levels. At the same time, it also presents opportunities that can be exploited.

According to Prof. Fredrick Semazzi, Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences & Department of Mathematics and Prof. Laban Ogallo, Nairobi University in their paper “Numerical Simulation of Intra-seasonal inter-annual and inter-decadal climate variability over Africa.

They note that, droughts and floods in Africa have become a common feature. They rank among one of the most devastating natural tragedies in recorded human history and have claimed thousands of lives as well as causing massive population displacements and economic disruption. Although, major advances in understanding the nature and causes of these climatic events and their manifestations have been achieved during the past decade, a coherent picture that links the many factors which help to initiate, sustain and amplify them is still illusive.

Early September 2010, a full page advertisement signed by the Director of Meteorological Services and Permanent Representative of Kenya to the World Meteorological Organisation showed a very comprehensive, sector by sector analysis of the effects of depressed rainfall over the next three months.

Was it a cause for alarm? Worst-case scenarios have been witnessed and reported should governments ignore the negative effects of global warming.

All over, deadly riots in the streets of Mozambique over sharply higher food prices that left 13 people dead, angry Egyptian and Serbian citizens taking to the streets, while Russian shoppers cleared shelves of staple grains.

Farther East, raging floods left as many as 10 million Pakistanis homeless, also raising concerns about the country’s ability to feed itself and North Korea begrudgingly accepted a grain donation from its arch-enemy Seoul, to silence rumbling stomachs.

Barely one year ago, had extended periods of dry weather that left hundreds of thousands of livestock dead and panicked herdsmen scrambling to reach Kenya Meat Commission plants to sell the remaining emaciated animals.

Today, residents of North EasternKenya, the pastoralist communities are struggling to access water, fighting for the scarce commodity between humans and animals, North Rift residents of Turkana have no option but to eat dog meat as a solution to their rumbling stomachs as the government shout out loud for answers as to why food agencies are giving conditions to the way the food being provided needs to be shared.

But were the harsh lessons of last year learned? What about this year? Perhaps not and that is why the Meteorological Services Department is warning of a repeat.

Consequently, in order to cope with these changes to improve the livelihoods of the local communities, according to the World Bank Group Strategic Framework on Climate Change and Development (SFCCD) report “Making Development Climate resilient: for Sub-Saharan Africa”, rural populations heavily dependent on rain fed agriculture are the most affected.

Today, the country is on high alert to mitigate the effects of climate change. The mention of it is seen as an omen, landslides, floods, disease outbreak and other catastrophes is expected. This has sent many farmers to their farms to plant trees. On the other hand, measures have been put in place by the government to make citizens aware of the effects of the climate change.

However, less has been done to educate the nation on how to harness the benefits of planting and conserving forest. According to the United Nation Environmental Programme, Division of Environment policy, in many countries, rainwater harvesting is still marginal and often goes unacknowledged as a means to improve the economic, social and environmental livelihoods of local communities (urban and rural).

Further, the untapped resource of rainwater is a valuable component of integrated water resources management that contributes to the global efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.

After decisions were floated to tap the raging water by digging pans and building new dams. How many water pans were dug? Are the dams overflowing from last year’s and this year’s torrential rain? Is electricity generation assured so that industries do not grind to a halt again?

Rainwater harvesting improves water availability, its proximity and its quality. Thus, improving the access of poor people to water has the potential to make major contribution towards poverty eradication.

The reasons behind Kenya’s reliance on rain-fed agriculture are varied and complex. Alternative farming technologies are rarely adopted because farmers lack adequate access to credit inputs and markets. Water is another limiting factor. Only farmers with access to water and efficient water management technologies can effectively practice crop diversification.

Despite the potential of rainwater harvesting to empower local communities and enhance their development capacities, there are several hindrances. These include: lack of awareness, lack of institutional framework in terms of non-existent or poor policies at national and local levels, information gaps, low investment in research and development and lack of private sector participation indicates the SFCCD report.

With rainwater harvesting, farmers can regain control over when and how to use water effectively to enhance food production. Utilisation of the harvested water is integrated with other complementary technologies (e.g. drip irrigation); improved sanitation; livelihood activities; environmental conservation; and training to ensure a sustainable rainwater harvesting system.

As a result, there is need for practical assistance and capacity building to be provided by the private sector. Secondly, financing rainwater harvesting projects through micro-credit organizations that appear to be a sustainable delivery vehicle to enabling communities address the challenges of access to water and sanitation.

Finally, in spite of current actions and aid, more must be done and fast. A framework must be formulated to have rainwater harvesting mainstreamed into development policies and programmes.

Katie Allan, Information and Communication Officer for The Greater Horn of Africa Rainwater Partnership/ Kenya Rainwater Association (GHARP/KRA) emphasizes that, for food insecurity to become a distant memory in Africa, rainwater harvesting systems and complementary technologies need to be implemented on a large scale across the continent.

Communities should be fully involved in this process and supported by local and national governments. This goal will be more attainable if these communities also have adequate access to inputs and markets. The key to improving food security in Africa lies with the move toward agricultural independence, with wide-spread and well-managed rainwater harvesting systems.

The overwhelming economic benefits of improved water supply and sanitation and water resources management provide a compelling case for decision makers to take immediate action to resolve water challenges. Thus, as climate change knocks once more, the momentum should grow in the light of the fact that the investments required is within reach of our country.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Looking at Bashir more closely as a neighbour

Many sat with the fugitive President of Sudan, Omar Hassan El Bashir, who is increasingly taking on the image of a wanted criminal on the run. El Bashir is a real prisoner, because he is accused for allegedly using government-backed militia to carry out atrocities against the local population, including the destruction of hundreds of villages, the murder of thousands of people and the rape and assault of thousands of women and girls.

He has no where to run to but to remain true to his home, Africa. His case reminds me of the African proverb “When a needle falls into a deep well, many people will look into the well, but few will be ready to go down after it. This is the case of Sudan and Bashir.

August 27 2010 he was seen in Nairobi a historic moment for Kenya, to the surprise of many because he was a wanted fugitive a paradox of the year 2005 which was a historic moment not only for the Sudan but also the region. With the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement at Nyayo National Stadium by the SPLM leader John Garang and Sudan President Omar al-Bashir was a new dawn for a country whose people had never known peace.

An assurance to the two leaders that the world was behind them in the new chapter they were turning, 15 African Heads of State witnessed what ended decades of conflict, which claimed more than two million lives.

Today, the world has turned its back on him Omar Bashir; they want him not looking what lies ahead come January 2011 as his words continue to reverberate “Today is a glorious day for Sudan and Africa, a day to alleviate the distress and suffering of our people. It is a great day when insecurity will be replaced by security and displacement by homecoming."

Lest we forget, Kenya played an important role in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, on the other hand, his coming tarnished our country’s image but we have a role to play to ensure our commitment to ensuring peace and stability in Sudan despite concerns that implementation was slow.

This would serve as a window of opportunity for the international community should help Sudan to uphold the peace agreement.

Therefore, we should stop derailing the whole process by craving for his neck because they only undermine hopes of transforming the country and could end up fuelling violence again. It will not only be the people of Sudan who will bear the brunt of the fluid situation. Kenya stands to lose given that it is the country the people of Sudan call a second home.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

leaders to inspire us youths

Today marks a great milestone to us Kenyans. A day our country is being reborn, a day that inspires by the opportunities that will make each day afford us to wake-up and live another day striving to reach our goals as a nation.

Goals that will make us make strides, in our social, political and economic endeavors; Strides that will raise our education standards to provide opportunities for the youth, homes for the homeless, and food for the hungry.

As a youth, I am inspired by the kinds of dreams that motivate us to become leaders in new and innovative ways; because let’s face it, our generation needs a revolution to move this world forward always

More importantly, a good leader needs to be able to lead others and uphold the interests of their followers. Leadership does not only provide the path on which others may follow, it also ensures that leaders will point her or his followers in the right direction.

Consequently, the many youths within the country are looking upon these very leaders who will enable us to stand up and say “I’m going to change the world, I’ll start today.”

Our leaders are to inspire us are those who are already out there. They don’t do it to get attention but they do it because they want to be the change they wish to see. They know that young people’s opinions are seen as whispers, but they understand that whispers create voices.

As a result, we mark a great day to curve a niche for us youth. We hold on to the hope to achieve that change to which we look forward every day. The realities of the problems that face our country have solutions and or can be improved. Investing our energy to reach a point where we can all listen and concentrate on achieving our common goals as Kenyans.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Together for a better Nation

History is littered with scalps of arrogant rulers who paid dearly for persistently refusing to learn from the past. Ensconced in the illusion of false infallibility, such leaders loaded from one fatal goof to another, stupidity ignoring even the most tell-tale signs of social disorder.

Consequently, over the past, the people of Kenya have engaged in activities that became symptomatic of a break down of social disorder and values, these include: irresponsible leadership, violence and hate speech.
However, on 27 of this month, will mark a great milestone for us, ushering in a new Kenya, our country being reborn. A day that reminds us of john f. Kennedy’s w “ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."

Therefore, we cannot expect the leaders to do all for us as their responsibility, unless we join hands in implementing the new initiatives that will be brought forth to make a brighter and promising future for the youth, women and children.

This is a real opportunity for us as a nation to forge a forward motion by trying all we can in rebuilding this nation. We need a resurgence of national values to give a long term solution to achieve our dreams and aspirations.

In my opinion, August 27 is a day that will enable us to re-examine ourselves. We have paid dearly in our journey to reach this far, many have died along the way and we are fortunate to reap the fruits of the struggle.

On the other hand, the price may also be too high to pay with its implementation. Consequently, it would be a constant reminder to avoid a repeat of where we are coming from and an avenue that brings us on board to help in the formulation of meaningful ideas of transforming the society. Ideas that will mutually enable us live peacefully with each other.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Anguished Laments

Anguished laments I have in my heart
Everyday wondering how Vera would carry on
Dawn cracks she’s there awake doing chores
While Mutethia busy sleeping and snoring hmmm!
Warmth of his bed eating his flesh and engulfing him
Vera busy with chores while Mutethia snoring zzz
Mutethia wakes up, eats and drives his sleek BMW to work
While she’s there at home sitting and waiting for him in evening
Like a faithful dog she accept everything she’s given because of being a woman
She can’t object because its Mutethia’s belief she’s feeble
But how long shall this continue in our society while we stand
When Mutethia’s want to maintain status quo of their own
At our very own home we are the very one destroying our Vera’s
Mutilating them in the name of tradition, their womanhood destroyed
While Mutethia go scoot free while tradition protecting them
A pack of hounds we are surely in this society!
How long shall an African woman sob and we stand on the fence
I cry! Because she’s been left in an island unguarded and susceptible
Have we ever sat back and thought about our women’s emotions
The pain, the agony and psyclogical torment and aftermath
Because of it mother Africa encounters problems and pain
In giving birth to Mutethia junior, senior and the rest
Let’s feel their sorrow and agony filled in their heart but, why
All this?
I stand over a weeping African woman because of my pride
To rub away tears of sorry and replace it with jovialness
To nurture the strength and woman in an African woman
To her, light is glowing and slowly rising to shine its fullest
Let’s heal our women and protect them not to darken her light
Because at the end of the tunnel, there is light for her African women.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Conservation of forests is all about us not the government

“The forest is running away from us each time we try to move closer to them…” I this was the voice that reverberated across the crowd the year 2008 when the government and private partners came together to launch program to sensitize communities on the need to protect our forest lest we regret the consequences.
Many years ago, it was an up-hill task engaging communities to jointly come together to help in the conservation efforts. Consequently, there was limited buy-in from local communities, many of whom remained hostile to conservation.
However, many communities have felt the consequences that are being caused by climate change as a result of not conserving our resources, poor crop yields, and delay in rains and erratic weather patterns. These have made them to become conscious of what the environment means to them.
On the other hand, it is sad to note that Mt. Kenya forest is being degraded because the Kenya Forest Service officers are colluding with illegal loggers who are destroying the forest cover in the name of fire wood and poles.
Communities coming forth to protect the valuable resource are being threatened as indigenous trees that have taken lots of years to grow continue to be cut and burned.
The government’s effort to save the Mau is now being seen as neglect to the other forest areas. However, this is a wake up call for all of us to ape the Mau efforts and learn from it. It is not time to wait upon the government to come and bail us out but to use the Mau model to be able to sustain the meager resources we have.
As a result of collective efforts, evaluation of community initiatives of integrating the various activities undertaken in conservation, and the impact on national policy making and on the local livelihoods will be achieved in the long run.