31 December 2008

There is still time to make a donation

I have decided to take down the donation links from the side bar. I have been very fortunate to raise most of my expenses and well excede both my own expectations and what has been asked of me. Any financial support is still greatly appreciated, but I feel that in order to reduce the clutter on the main page I will remove the links and move all the information onto a single post. This post can easily be accessed by clicking on the label titled 'Donate Today.'

Click here and make your NVMVA donation (please enter "Tom Murphy" where it says DESIGNATION)

Click here to make your CMMB donation

Kenya's Inflation Down, Malawi Cholera Up

--Kenya's rate of inflation fell to 27.7% in the month of December.  Down from 29.4% in November.  This seems to be a small sign that nations problems concerning electricity, fuel, and food have begun to improve.  By comparison the United States' rate of inflation in November was 1.07%.  

--An outbreak of Cholera in Malawi has claimed eleven lives in the trade city of Lilongwe.  The outbreak that began last week has resulted in 248 cases.  Zimbabwe on the other hand is continuing to have problems.  To date there have been over 30,000 reported cases of Cholera and 1,608 deaths.  There have been no real indications that the country has been able to make gains in controlling the outbreak.  As the rainy season in these countries approaches, it will be hard to prevent Cholera from spreading even further within Zimbabwe and Malawi.

30 December 2008

Ebola and Corn

--Since the Congo is a mess, an outbreak of Ebola has occured and Kenya is taking measures to keep people with Ebola from crossing the border into the country.  I am happy that this precaution is taking place, but it is not great to know that it the point of entry is not all too far from where I will be.  I have the greatest of confidence that the outbreak will be contained, but it is still not good in the least

--In order to alieviate the maize shortage in Kenya, the government has begun to accept bids by companies to import mazie into Kenya.  50 companies have already expressed interest in working with the Kenya government.  Hopefully this will allow more corn to enter the country and in turn lower the price of maize for the people who are unable to afford it.

29 December 2008

More Moves to Control Media

Control FM radio stations, says politician
By DANIEL NYASSY

A member of Parliament has asked the Government to control vernacular FM stations to prevent violence similar to that which rocked the country after the December 2007 General Election. Mr Gideon Mung’aro said such stations had great influence and if not properly used, could easily spark violence.

According to the Malindi MP, the media were largely to blame for the post-election violence that nearly destroyed Kenya. However, he asked President Kibaki not to sign the Kenya Communication (Amendment) Bill into law in its current form. In his view, the contentious sections of the Bill should be amended before it can become law. “A certain degree of freedom of the press is OK but absolute freedom is dangerous,” he told journalists at St Anthony Catholic Cathedral on Sunday. “That is why I am advocating for some control of the media like it happens in other countries.”

Read On...

Interesting BBC Article

While the following is an interesting article, it is important to remember that the violence that took place in Kenya after last year's elections was not rampant and countrywide. I do not want to reduce the significance of the post-election events, rather I wish to point out that it is irresponsible of Western media to continue to only talk about how terrible the Kenyan elections were last year and only produce stories that are negative. There is still much that needs to be done to rectify what took place a year ago, but the country has moved forward over the past year. 

Orphaned by Kenya poll violence
By Juliet Njeri
BBC News, Nairobi

Kibera, a sprawling slum in the heart of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, was the scene of some of the worst violence after last year's disputed elections. Neighbours turned against each other because of ethnic and political rivalries and the police were accused of using brutal force to quash clashes and protests. But it was here that John Okello and Jane Ogolla, both ethnic Luos like then opposition leader Raila Odinga, sought refuge after they were orphaned during violence in other parts of the country. Fourteen-year-old John says he walked more than 62 miles (100km) to Nairobi from Naivasha after his parents were shot and killed. "I didn't know where I was going but luckily through God's grace I finally arrived in Nairobi," he says. "I don't remember how I walked but it was many days."

28 December 2008

Good News and Bad News

Police and Councils Still Top Bribery List

The Kenya Police still remains Kenya’s most corrupt institution, albeit with considerably lower levels of graft than in previous years. The latest findings of a Consumer Insight report show that the police force and local authorities remain the two most corrupt institutions in the past three years. In the latest survey covering the past 12 months, the police scored 37 per cent followed closely by the City, county and municipal councils across the country with a score of 16 per cent.

Read On...

26 December 2008

For all possible visitors...

Visitors to the five East African Community countries could soon have a common visa if high-level talks between representatives of the countries bear fruit. Consultations are at an advanced stage with meetings between ministers and other top officials taking place in various capital cities. East African Community minister Amason Kingi said the integration of the immigration departments in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda would open up the region for economic advancement. “A common visa would enable visitors to visit the member states with ease. This will result into an unrivalled wide package for our region and pool tourists to the hub,” he said. Residents of the member states would also cross the borders to carry out business and other activities for the benefit of their individual countries and the region, said Mr Kingi. “We want to market East Africa as a single tourism package as opposed to the current scenario in which individual countries are marketing themselves,” said Mr Kingi, who is the Magarini MP. 

Read On...

Contact Info: Address and SND Phone Number

The following will be my mailing address for next year:
P.O. Box 323
Malava 50103 Kenya

Telephone:
254 723 205 003

The address will be where you can mail me letters. Some people have mentioned sending packages, and I appreciate the gesture, but please do not send any packages. The Kenyan mail system is very unreliable and there are laws which ALLOW the opening of letters and packages. This means that things are sent will often not make it all the way, especially food and other goods. Letters should be relatively safe, but email is much faster.
The telephone is for the Sisters of Notre Dame who I will be working with throughout the year. I will have a cell phone when I arrive and will share the number as soon as I arrive in Kenya. Unless it is an emergency, please use the cell phone number. With a calling card, incoming calls will cost me nothing. I will provide information in the future about obtaining a calling card for Kenya and which places are the best.

Merry Christmas

24 December 2008

Kibaki Seals Electoral Comission of Kenya's Fate


President Kibaki has signed into law the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2008. With his action the President has sealed the fate of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, which now stands disbanded. 174 MPs passed the Bill a week ago in Parliament. It will replace the ECK with an Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) and also set in motion the review process that will ensure that Kenya gets a new constitution. The Commission will comprise of nine members. Already a 27-member parliamentary select committee, chaired by Mandera Central MP Mohammed Abdikadir, has been set up to nominate members of the IIEC. 

The IIEC has the mandate to carry out wide ranging electoral reforms, register voters afresh and install new systems of tallying votes to ensure that elections are free, fair and credible. The new law, which amends Section 47 of the Constitution also provides for a referendum and establishes an Interim Constitutional Court to preside over disputes that are likely to arise from the review process. The 22 electoral commissioners have since moved to court to contest Parliament’s passage of the Bill. They now want the election of Mwai Kibaki as president of Kenya declared null and void by a court since it is the ECK that presided over the presidential elections.

23 December 2008

One Year Later, and the Ramifications of Last Years Elections are Still Felt

Revealed: The full cost of poll violence
The full impact of the post-election violence on the economy was on Monday laid bare in a Government report, which lists tourism, manufacturing, transport and agriculture as the sectors which declined most. The report by the National Bureau of Statistics also says that the economy will grow by only 2.1 per cent this year and not the 6.3 per cent that the Government had projected. This means that there will be increased unemployment and that businesses in key sectors will not reap as handsome profits as they did last year.

Experts said the effects of violence were likely to haunt Kenya for a long time to come. The situation has been worsened by the global economic slowdown which has hit hitherto strong economies like the US and EU. According to the Bureau of Statistics, tourism was the biggest loser, declining by 34.7 per cent. Hoteliers are feeling the pinch the most as the number of visitors has declined significantly. It was followed by agriculture, which fell by 4.7 per cent this year yet it had declined marginally by 0.3 per cent last year. The decline in agriculture is already being felt in the rising food prices and the shortage of maize, which has compelled the Ministry of Agriculture to seek the importation of three million bags of maize.

Read On...


Why Kibaki may have to recall Parliament
The resolve by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to have suspected architects of the post-election violence tried locally is set to motivate an early recall of Parliament to pass laws setting up the Special Tribunal for Kenya. Reports suggest that President Kibaki is likely to recall the House on January 20, 2009. This week, the two leaders signed a pact to set up the tribunal. Had they failed to sign the agreement by last Wednesday, the suspects would have been left exposed for a possible trip to the International Criminal Court at The Hague in Netherlands. Chief Mediator Kofi Annan, while acknowledging the commitment by the President and the PM, has however dashed any hopes of extension of the deadline set by the Justice Waki Commission in a bid to ensure those behind the violence that left 1, 133 people dead and at least 350,000 displaced are brought to book.

Read On...


Experts: Growth prospects slim
Kenya may not achieve its annual economic growth target of four per cent, experts have warned. The country would not recover soon especially from the effects of post-election violence, said Kenya National Bureau of Statistics director general Antony Kilele. His statement came only a day after KNBS released growth estimates for the third quarter of this year. On Tuesday, Mr Kilele told Nation that with the world moving into a recession resulting from the global financial crunch, Kenyans can only pray that things get fixed. “We might not achieve even the projected four per cent annual growth given the dismal performance of the last three quarters. We only hope the global mechanisms being put in place work.” The first quarter growth for Kenya had been revised upwards to negative 1.0 per cent as the economy seems to have rebounded in the second quarter of 2008, during which it is estimated to have expanded by 3.2 per cent.

Read On...

22 December 2008

What the heck are you doing in Kenya?

I can finally not only tell you where I will be working for the next year, but also the specific tasks that I will be doing while in Kenya.

"The St. Julie Programme, a non-profit organization run by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in collaboration with parents of special needs children and the local community, seeks to improve the quality of life for children who are physically and/or mentally disabled. We provide opportunities for children to maintain their present abilities and to advance toward their fullest potential as individuals and as members of their families and communities.

We serve children with many disabilities including club foot, cleft palette, cerebral palsy, paralysis, hydrocephalus, spina bifida, epilepsy, mental retardation, blindness, and hearing impairments.

The main objective for the St. Julie Centre, which is part of the St. Julie Programme, is to bring regular occupational therapy services within reach of children in this rural area both with regard to distance and cost."

My tasks while will there will include any mixture of the following:
  • Liaise with government and community officials and workers to facilitate implementation of programme.
  • Organize and carry out community awareness raising and education meetings, with assistance of local government officers and CBRWs.
  • Assist with aspects of Liliane mediation tasks as requested.
  • Visit client homes with CBRW when there appear to be problems, such as poor attendance at therapy, poor nutrition, etc.
  • Attend  staff meetings once a month or as called by director, and advisory board meetings when invited by director.
  • Assist at  parent and community meetings, volunteer and CBRW trainings as
    needed.
  • Assist at epilepsy clinics at centre as needed.
  • Keep account of Saint Julie Programme child registration payments and issue membership cards on completion.
  • Operate toy lending library for children attending centre.
  • Keep account of transport assistance given to clients to reach centre for therapy.
  • Assist with play therapy activities at centre when free to do so.
  • Assist with transport of children to hospital, clinic, school as needed.
  • Assist with secretarial tasks.
  • Assist with Saint Julie Programme account keeping.
  • Assist with proposal writing for funding.
  • direct and help with set-up tasks, following listed instructions.
  • Direct play therapy volunteers as needed, especially in selecting appropriate activities.
  • Assist volunteers to record activities correctly on play therapy forms.
  • If there is need, remind volunteers to engage parents in their children’s play activities.
  • Make play activity forms for new children who have attended 3 times, and ask therapist to complete the therapy information at the top.  
  • File forms alphabetically by first name in the ring binder.
  • If the therapist has no specific play therapy to indicate, add the child’s name to the list of these children at the front of the binder.  
  • Help volunteers to engage the child in any activity suitable to age and ability.
  • Oversee cleaning of toys by volunteers after use.
  • See that toy cupboards are kept in order; check shelves at end of each week.
  • Direct and help with clean-up tasks at end of therapy time.

19 December 2008

Lack of ARVs a risk to 10,000 children

By ODHIAMBO ORLALE Posted Thursday, December 18 2008 at 21:39

Up to 10,000 Kenyan children might die of HIV and Aids early due to lack of life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs, the Government has admitted. The director of Medical Services, Dr Francis Kimani, however, denied media reports quoting Human Rights Watch that 40,000 children would be affected. Dr Kimani blamed the problem on lack of fixed drug combination of paediatric ARVs, making children use separate drugs in contrast to adults who have access to combined tablets; and the fact that only 80 per cent of women attending antenatal clinic accept HIV testing and had access to mother-to-child transmission of HIV services. “Only 42 per cent of these mothers deliver in health institutions, which denies them an opportunity for interventions to prevent transmission,” said Dr Kimani. He maintained that 550,000 patients were receiving care for HIV at government and non-governmental facilities. Dr Kimani said that only 230,000 of them, including 40,000 children, were on ARV therapy.

Read On...

UN Secretary General on Human Rights

Written by Ban Ki-Moon
December 19, 2008

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the world’s most translated document. It is available in 360 languages. Its tenets have been absorbed into the constitutions of many newly independent States and new democracies. Its words ring in every corner of the planet. The Universal Declaration embodies ground-breaking principles: the universality of human rights, and their indivisibility. It enshrines the interdependence of security, development and respect for human rights. And it places a moral obligation on States not to pick and choose among rights and freedoms, but to uphold them all.

The Declaration’s framers proclaimed the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings. They unequivocally linked destitution and exclusion with discrimination. They understood that social and cultural stigma makes it impossible for people to obtain justice or participate fully in public life. The Universal Declaration was born following the utter devastation of the Second World War. The international community drew ideals, principles and achievements from diverse cultures to form this foundation on which we have built a great tower of human rights law. We pay tribute to all the activists who refused to be silenced by their tormentors.

Who knew that right must triumph over might. Who were inspired by the Declaration into elaborating specific laws that now protect countless people around the world. The world did not adopt such an impressive list of human rights instruments just to put them on a shelf somewhere at the United Nations. These should be living documents that can be wielded by experts who scrutinise country reports or assess individual complaints. Many delegates meet at the United Nations, but among the most passionate are the human rights experts. Non-governmental organisations carry the banner as well. Whether working with States or in opposition to them, these groups are crucial in pressing for the rule of law and holding governments to their promises. They may be outspoken, but they are not out of line. Today is also their day.

The press likewise deserves credit for bringing human rights abuses to light. Courageous journalists have risked and lost their lives to report on threats against others. This 60th anniversary is a milestone for them, too —a day on which to stress again the need for media to be free to do their job, and free of harassment, intimidation and worse. We have come a long way since the Declaration’s adoption. But the reality is that we have not lived up to its vision - at least not yet.

17 December 2008

Kenya agrees to election tribunal

BBC

Kenya's president and prime minister have signed a deal that will pave the way for an election violence tribunal. They agreed to it within hours of a deadline set out in a report into the deadly clashes that erupted after last December's elections. The court will seek to try the ringleaders of the violence. Parliament now has 45 days to set it up to begin hearings by March or a sealed list of suspects will be handed over to the International Criminal Court. 

The deadline for Wednesday's agreement was set out by a commission of inquiry into the violence, chaired by Justice Phillip Waki, which reported in October. That commission also handed over a list of suspects, some thought to be prominent politicians, to the mediator of the power-sharing deal, former UN chief Kofi Annan. 

On Tuesday, Kenya's electoral commission was dissolved by MPs - a key recommendation of another inquiry into the election.  Some 1,500 people died in the post-election clashes and another 300,000 people fled their homes. President Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga signed a power-sharing deal in February to bring an end to the violence and formed a coalition government.

16 December 2008

"A Question of Life or Death: Treatment Access for Children Living with HIV in Kenya"

More than 40,000 children in Kenya are likely to die in the next two years if they do not receive anti-retroviral treatment, a report released on Tuesday has warned.  Human Rights Watch’s 100-page report “A Question of Life or Death: Treatment Access for Children Living with HIV in Kenya” documents how the Government’s HIV treatment programme has failed to get life-saving drugs to the majority of children who need them.   Ms Juliane Kippenberg, a senior researcher on Africa in the Children’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, regretted that the Government focuses on getting treatment to adults and has neglected children living with HIV.

Read On...

Read a second article about the report

Read the report here

Lets hope that this can be resolved

Alarm as four infected with cholera
By WALTER MENYA

Fear of a fresh outbreak of cholera gripped Kisumu residents after at least four people were admitted to a local hospital suffering from what is suspected to be the killer disease. The provincial director of medical services, Dr Ojwang’ Lusi, on Monday said two of the patients had been admitted to Nyanza Provincial General Hospital before they were transferred to Kisumu District Hospital.

Read On...

14 December 2008

This may only interest me but...

the National Intelligence Council released its report called "Global Trends 2025." In it, they make predictions based on the current international system. This report makes predictions as to how the international system will look in the year 2025. The report is long and I have not read much of it, but I would encourage everyone to at least look at pages 10 and 11. It is there that the NIC gives a general summary of what developments will take place over the next few years and the consequences of these changes. You can go here to read it:


A few thoughts:
Based on what I have read so far, I have trouble imagining the emergence of China, India, and Brazil to the extent that this report believes. While many will argue that the growth of these nations indicates a dramatic shift in international relations and economics, I think that they will be hampered by a state-led capitalist system. China is growing at a rapid rate, 11% GDP growth last year and between 8% and 9% this year, but there are two things to remember. First, China is still an emerging market and rapid growth always occurs. For example, when the USSR was beginning to industrialize it had growth years of up to 15%. As we now know USSR was unable to maintain this growth and unwilling to make the proper changes to continue. China is different in this respect because it has begun to lightly embrace capitalism, but the state still is a major player in the countries markets. Second, China is so large in terms of population that it must grow at a rapid rate. As the population continues to grow (despite laws concerning the number of children that a family can have), the need for more and more jobs must be met. 
According to the World Bank, China must maintain a rate of 8% growth per year in order to avoid this. However, with the financial crisis in the United States and the lower demand for imported goods, China will find it hard to continue this level of growth. With a large class of peasants and farmers, China is vulnerable to a revolution (think France in the late eighteenth century).
That is not to say that China is unable to make the necessary changes in order to maintain growth and emerge as an economic superpower, but there would need to be a systemic change. The NIO argues that China will lead the globe into a new form of state-led capitalism, but I see that as the impediment to growth. The government of China must allow for internal growth and the creation of a legitimate middle class that reflects that of the West. Once achieved, China would not need to rely so heavily on exporting goods. 
But, as long as China can maintain a steady level of growth that will allow the individuals who are realizing success, there is no real reason to push harder. To do so would expose the existing middle class and especially the upper class. As more multinational corporations come into being, the only thing that really matters is the continuance of the current economic system. Companies can now operate outside of the jurisdiction of countries and also find willing partners with less that honorable workers rights laws.
The United States is certainly losing its ability to have full control over the world economy and the current crisis has exposed some of the weaknesses. I will not claim to be some sort of economic expert, but a nation that relies heavily on imported goods will inherently rely on the nations that export the goods. Hopefully this will change with the emergence of new industries such as energy.
In the end, the report is informative and brings forward the fact that there is now a shift towards a true multi polar system. This to some scholars will signal a growing instability as many nations will be vying to achieve hegemony. They may argue the re-emergence of wars, but would certainly say that opposing forces would become more adversarial.

For all you possible visitors next year....

The Government is set to upgrade Kisumu Airport to an international airport, President Kibaki announced on Sunday. The Head of State added that the Government would also build another airport and an airstrip in Kisii. This, he said, was part of efforts to open up Western Kenya as a tourism and business hub. Players in the tourism sector have been gearing up for increased tourist traffic in the Western region following the election of Barack Obama as US president. Very soon people will now be travelling to and from Kisumu and other destinations in Africa once the upgrade of the airport is complete,” he said.

In doing so, anyone who is planning on visiting next year will have an easier time making their way out to the Malava area. The bus ride from Nairobi to Malava is ten hours, while it is only about two hours from Kisumu.

13 December 2008

Jimmy Carter on the US and Human Rights

US May Still Reclaim its Moral Authority
by Fmr President Jimmy Carter

The advancement of human rights around the world was a cornerstone of foreign policy and US leadership for decades, until the attacks on our country on September 11, 2001. Since then, while Americans continue to espouse freedom and democracy, our government’s abusive practices have undermined struggles for freedom in many parts of the world. As the gross abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay were revealed, the United States lost its mantle as a champion of human rights, eliminating our national ability to speak credibly on the subject, let alone restrain or gain concessions from oppressors. Tragically, a global backlash against democracy and rights activists, who are now the targets of abuse, has followed. The advancement of human rights and democracy is necessary for global stability and can be achieved only through the local, often heroic, efforts of individuals who speak out against injustice and oppression — endeavours the United States should lead, not impede. If the early warnings of human rights activists had been heeded and tough diplomacy and timely intervention mobilized, the horrific, and in some cases ongoing, violence in Bosnia, Rwanda, Sudan’s Darfur region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo might have been averted. This week marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With a new administration and a new vision coming to the White House, we have the opportunity to move boldly to restore the moral authority behind the worldwide human rights movement. But the first steps must be taken at home.

Shut Down
President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to shut down the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and end torture, which can be accomplished by executive orders to close the prison and by enforcing existing prohibitions against torture by any US representative, including FBI and CIA agents. The detention of people secretly or indefinitely and without due process must cease, and their cases should be transferred to our courts, which have proved their competence in trying those accused of terrorism. By putting its house in order, the United States would reclaim its moral authority and wield not only the political capital but also the credibility needed to engage in frank but respectful bilateral dialogues on the protection of human rights as central to world peace and prosperity.

11 December 2008

Kenya Defends New 'Media Gag' Law

This could end up being an interesting development in Kenya.  Possibly a reaction to the events that took place after the elections at this time last year.  I have been reading the two major independent newspapers from Kenya for the past few months.  We will have to wait and see how this legislation, if approved, will affect the independent media. 


Thursday, 11 December 2008
BBC

The Kenyan government has defended a contentious media bill which critics say is intended to gag the press. The Kenya Communications Amendment Bill, which was passed by parliament, gives the state power to raid media houses and control broadcast content. Information Minister Samuel Poghisio insists that the government is committed to press freedom. Kenya's press has feared for its independence since a 2006 raid on a TV station and newspaper offices. The Standard and its sister KTN TV station were accused of inciting ethnic hatred. The raids by armed and masked police officers followed a series of exposes about official corruption. In May 2007, parliament passed a media bill that sanctioned tighter media controls and would have compelled journalists to reveal their sources. Hundreds of journalists held a protest with their mouths symbolically shut with sticky tape, and the bill was later rejected by President Mwai Kibaki.

10 December 2008

Since You Probably Did Not Know....

Today is Human Rights Day.

60 years ago the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights(UDHR) was issued by the United Nations.   The UN has marked today as Human Rights Day in recognition of the important work. The declaration itself has been the guide for human rights for now over a half of a century. Unfortunately, it has also been a source the violation of human rights.  Actions have been taken since 1948 in the spirit of the UDHR that have violated the rights of people throughout the globe. Sadly, we currently are fighting a war based partially on the violation of the rights of the Iraqi people by its former government, while a genocide continues in Sudan. 
I do not wish to make this a condemnation of any individual people or countries.  However, I believe that this is an important day because of what the declaration actually says.  I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to read the UDHR. It is not terribly long, but I am sure that it will provide you with many ideas.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The UN's Website for Human Rights Day
Know Your Rights 2008

Obama urged to make genocide prevention a priority

Some Kenya News

Some Kenya News

Some Kenya News

BREAKING NEWS 
By ANTHONY KARIUKI

Kenya Members of Parliament have passed a contentious law allowing raiding of media and giving Government powers over broadcast content. The Kenya Communications (Amendment) Bill 2008 now awaits Presidential assent. The Bill allows for the seizure of broadcasting equipment, the tight control of media programming, the arbitrary denial of licenses and frequencies and restrictions on cross ownership. It gives the Internal Security minister the right to declare an emergency unilaterally and then enter and search broadcasting stations. “The Minister for the time being responsible for internal security may, by order in writing, direct any officer duly authorised in that behalf, to take temporary possession of any telecommunication apparatus or any radio communication station or apparatus within Kenya.”

Kenya Withdraws Poll Reforms Bill 
BBC

Kenya's government has been forced to withdraw a bill that would have led to the dissolution of the country's electoral commission. This was the recommendation of an inquiry into the poll fraud that led to deadly protests nearly a year ago. MPs said the electoral reform bill was flawed and vowed to shoot it down in parliament if it was not amended. Earlier, some 600 electoral staff said they had gone on hunger strike, angered at the possible axing of their jobs. More than 1,500 people were killed and some 300,000 more fled their homes in the unrest that followed the December election. It was suggested the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), which was accused of meddling with the vote-counting, should be replaced with an interim independent commission.


University students champion green efforts
By SHEILA MASINDE

The battle to protect the earth’s precious natural resources in the face of climate change, rapid deforestation, air and water pollution has been taken to our local universities. As last month came to a close, about 210 academicians, policy makers, students other stake holders in education, development and the environment from across the world gathered at the United Nations Complex in Gigiri to discuss how African universities can best contribute to efforts to conserve our environment. The conference facilitated by the United Nations Environmental Programme sought to find ways in which environment and education for sustainable development concerns can be incorporated into the teaching, research, community engagement and management of universities in Africa. Education for sustainable development is a concept that embraces the use of innovations that will improve the quality of life without compromising the lives of future generations.

09 December 2008

You Must Listen to This...

The following is an interview with Williams visiting professor Binyavanga Wainaina. The subject is one that I have struggled with as I have made my preparations for my year in Kenya.   I feel strongly that international aid is not a simple and straightforward subject.   In fact, everyone must remain aware of what is actually be done in the countries that we have determined to be in need. Aid with the ability to actually provide support for people to continue to grow is different than aid that simply gives things (ie. food, clothing, and medicine).  I know that I will learn much about this subject over the next year when I will have the opportunity to see the impact of aid work within Kenya.
The audio is an hour long, but the first fifteen minutes are what I feel are the most important.   If you can listen to the whole thing, I encourage you to do so.  I will also provide additional information below that can be an additional resource to this vast subject.
Lastly, I must thank Jim Messina for sending me this interview, without his email I never would have listened to this.


How to Write About Africa

By Binyavanga Wainaina
Granta.com

Always use the word ‘Africa or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

Read On...

08 December 2008

This could make for an interesting year...

Kenya PM calls for troops to 'dislodge' Zimbabwe's president

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNN) -- The prime minister of Kenya Sunday called for troops to "dislodge" Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe as the country's humanitarian crisis worsens. Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the international community must "respond to the call of the African people, and must help end the murderous reign of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe." The United Nations has said more than half of Zimbabwe's population is in dire need of food and clean water. The country is suffering from a cholera outbreak that has killed close to 600 people since August.

Read On...

Kenya News Over the Weekend

10,000 diabetic children to get free care

The gospel of reforestation takes root

Touched by the plight of the mentally disabled

World winning battle with measles: report

Alarm as residents turn mosquito nets into fishing gear

Human rights: What regional and world lobbyists should consider

Three Videos in a Row!!

03 December 2008

Kenya AIDS Crisis - National Geographic



Check out this short video on the AIDS crisis in Kenya produced by National Geographic.

Better Late than Never

A special "Eyes on Kenya" is on right now on My9.  I watched the first few minutes but will watch it all tomorrow (gotta love DVR).  It is pretty interesting so far, but I will share my thoughts when I see the whole thing.  I have a feeling I am going to have a bit to say.

Kenya team to probe MPs tax plan

BBC Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Kenya's parliament has set up a committee to review MPs' generous salaries and allowances. This follows a widespread public outcry over a decision by the country's legislators to drop a proposal to tax their allowances. Kenya's 222 MPs each earn more than $10,000 (£6,800) a month but only pay tax on their basic pay of $2,500. The country is struggling to finance a 42-member coalition cabinet, and subsidise record-high food prices. But Johnstone Muthama, one of a handful of MPs who have agreed to pay taxes, criticised the move, saying it is time-wasting gimmick. "Once a tribunal is formed, it will take two, three years. So whatever advantage that will be brought by the tribunal will mean that the enactment of that act will be put into place in 2017," Mr Muthama told the BBC's Network Africa programme. He said it was the MPs' obligation to pay taxes and that he had personally remitted more than $3,000 to the revenue authority.

Read On...

02 December 2008

More Kenya maize cost cuts urged

Kenya's government has been urged to cut maize costs even more, after announcing a drastic reduction in the price of the staple food. A 2-kg bag of maize was selling at 120 shillings (£1; $1.50) last week - up from some 48 shillings last year. The authorities have agreed with millers a bag should now sell for between 65 and 72 shillings. But a senior governing coalition party member warned that the reductions were not enough.

The government has said low-income consumers will be able to buy packets of government-branded flour at 52 shillings per packet under a new pricing system, which is due to come into force over the next five to 10 days. Jakoyo Midiwo, chief whip of the Orange Democratic Movement and MP for Gem, told Kenya's Standard newspaper that consumers could only afford to pay 40 shillings. Prices have been slashed in response to public anxiety over the rising cost of the food, amid shortages from post-election violence earlier this year.

The government had already said it would import a further 5m bags of maize to avert a food shortage caused by the unrest which destroyed fields and forced thousands of farmers to flee their homes. A statement from Prime Minister Raila Odinga's office also said the government would provide affordable fertiliser and seeds and import 150,000 tonnes of fertiliser to boost maize production. 

BBC Tuesday, 2 December 2008

01 December 2008

Today is World AIDS Day


Just a few facts and thoughts since it is World AIDS Day today:
- 5,700 people die per day due to AIDS related causes
- 740 of thoses deaths are children
- At the beginning of 2008, one-third of people in low and middle income countries needing anti-retroviral treatment and one-third of women requiring drugs to prevent transmission of HIV to their children received them.
- As of 2007, an estimated 33 million people are living with HIV/AIDS
- In 2007, Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 59% of the worlds cases of HIV/AIDS
 
In Kenya:
  • 2 million people have HIV/AIDS
  • Over 1 million are women
  • 180,000 are children
  • Over 1 million children have been orphaned due to HIV/AIDS

Learn More...

Kenya Celebrates World AIDS Day

Sarah Hussein Obama (right), grandmother to the US President-elect Barack Obama, flags off the World AIDS Marathon race at Jommo Kenyatta sports ground in Kisumu on Monday. Photo/JACOB OWITI 


Youth assistant minister Wavinya Ndeti holds a testing kit after being tested for her HIV/Aids status on Monday during the Worlds Aids day in Nairobi. Photo/Fredrick Onyango 


Young Sallon Oluoch at the Nyayo Garden in Nakuru during World Aids Day celebrations on Monday. Photo/JOSEPH KIHERI 


Members of the public light candles at a symbolic grave during this year's World Aids Day marked in Eldoret on Monday in remembrance of those who have died of HIV/Aids. Photo/JARED NYATAYA  

25 November 2008

For all you hit counters.....

I have restored the hit counter to what it once was.  Therefore, I can resume my goal of 100,000 hits by the end of next year.  That is only 274 a day.  A number which was easily being surpassed on a daily basis.  Enjoy....

Kenya Health

Women to Promote Male Cut

By John Ngriachcu Posted Monday, November 24 2008 at 21:05


Spurred on by reports of a significant increase in HIV infections among married couples, health officials want to involve women in the drive to have more Kenyan men undergo circumcision. Speaking at the launch of the voluntary male circumcision programme at Panafric Hotel, Nairobi on Monday, Public Health and Sanitation assistant minister James Gesami said the ministry would provide free counselling for couples on the benefits of male circumcision.  Counselling will be part of Government’s strategy to promote the male cut in Kenya, partly funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the US Government.  This follows recent release of data from the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey that shows two-thirds of Kenyan adults infected with HIV are legally married or cohabiting and that in one of every 10 marital unions, at least one partner is living with HIV, forming what doctors call ‘discordant couples’.


Read On…


TB Vaccine Trials in Fourth Month

By Gatonye Gathura Posted Tuesday, November 25 2008 at 21:50


Clinical trials of a new TB vaccine enter their fourth month next week in Kombewa near Kisumu amid fears that funding gaps may worsen with the deepening global cash crisis.  In the first stage of human testing, known as Phase I trials, the new vaccine is being tested for safety on adults with no previous history of TB at the Walter Reed Project in Kombewa.  The Walter Reed Project is the medical research arm of the US military, and has been working with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) on several programmes.  Researchers hope the candidate vaccine will improve immunity in people who have already received the standard Bacille Calmette GuĂ©rin (BCG) vaccine.  Although most Kenyans were vaccinated with BCG, the vaccine is said to be no longer as effective as it once was.  


Read On…

Kenya’s Food Crisis

While crisis has become a newer part of our vocabulary, this is part of daily life in Eastern Africa.

Kenya Food Crisis Worsens
By LUCAS BARASA Posted Tuesday, November 25 2008 at 22:51

The country is in a serious food crisis, with only 1.2 million bags of maize remaining as strategic reserves instead of the usual four to six million bags, the Government has announced. And the current high price of maize flour could only come down after two to three weeks, Agriculture minister William Ruto said on Tuesday. Addressing journalists after a meeting with millers at his Kilimo House office, Mr Ruto, however, assured consumers that there was no cause to worry as the Government had put in place measures to address the food crisis.

Read On…

If There's No Solution, Brace Yourselves for Food Riots
By JAINDI KISERO Posted Tuesday, November 25 2008 at 19:30

I don't like commodity marketing boards. Nor do I accept the idea of giving bureaucrats the responsibility of dictating producer prices and setting quotas for the amount of maize and wheat which millers have to buy from the local market. More than 10 years after the cereals sector was liberalised, it remains festooned in stifling controls, quotas, administratively-set producer prices, "infant industry" taxes – all those elements of the command economy of the yesteryear. The reason we are teetering on the brink of food riots right now is bad policy. Indeed, the rate at which the price of maize meal has risen is a complete outrage. On Tuesday, long queues started forming in front of the major stores in Nairobi, signalling that some consumers had resorted to panic-buying.

Read On…

24 November 2008

Astounding..


The pitfalls of Africa's aid addiction
By Sorious Samura
BBC Panorama reporter


Where I come from in West Africa, we have a saying: "A fool at 40 is a fool forever", and most African countries have now been independent for over 40 years. Most are blessed with all the elements to help compete on a global stage - abundant natural resources, a young population and the climate and conditions to be a major agricultural force. And yet today, my continent, which is home to 10% of the world's population, represents just 1% of global trade. I have no doubt we have to take responsibility for our failures. We can't afford to keep playing the blame game. But when 50 years of foreign aid has failed to lift Africa out of poverty, could corruption be the reason? Could that really be all there is to it?

Read On...

23 November 2008

So What are you bringing with you?

As of today, this is my unofficial pack list for next year. I will do my best to update as often as possible and provide more specific details for each item (ie. what brand and how much). I have learned that I can get some things when I arrive (ie. toothbrush, toothpaste). 

  • Supplies
    • Treated Bed Net
    • Flashlight
    • Leatherman
    • Headlamp
    • PacSafe Security Web (for travel bags)
    • Insect Repellent (>30% DEET)
    • Sunblock (SPF 30-45)
    • Water Bottle (1 Liter and 3 Liter)
    • Duffle Bag
    • Day Pack
    • Clothesline and Hooks
    • Duct Tape
    • Carabineers (2)
    • Rechargeable Batteries w/ charger (AA and AAA)
    • Small Digital Camera
    • Travel plug adapter and voltage converter
    • Laptop Computer (maybe)
    • I-pod
  • Clothing
    • Button down shirt (3-4)
    • Khaki Pants (3-4)
    • Gym Shorts (2)
    • Tech Wick T-Shirts (4)
    • Tech Wick Long Sleeve (1-2)
    • Running Sneakers
    • Hiking Boots
    • Tevas/Crocs
    • Underwear (7)
    • Rain Jacket
    • Poncho
    • Light Fleece
    • Hiking Socks (5)
    • Bandanna (2-3)
  • Medicine/First Aid/Toiletries
    • Deodorant
    • Chapstick (spf)
    • Nail brush (firm)
    • Pumice Stone
    • Thermometer
    • Neosporin
    • Imodium AD
    • Pepto Bismol
    • Benadryl Pills
    • Melatonin
    • Tylenol
    • Dayquil/Nyquil
    • Multi-vitamin
    • Tweezers
    • Safety Pins
    • Dental Floss
    • Nail Clippers
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Toothpaste w/ listerine (which I am told is a great remedy for sore throats and colds)

22 November 2008

Kenya and the media

Raila: West not to blame for bad press
By LUCAS BARASA Posted Friday, November 21 2008 at 14:01

The foreign media should not bear the blame for their reporting on Africa, Prime Minister Raila Odinga has said. He disagreed with some speakers at Congress of African journalists held at the Stanley Hotel, Nairobi who said that foreign media only highlighted negative aspects on the continent such as war, disease, floods and other disasters. “I don’t agree with Mutua (director of information Ezekiel Mutua) that you don’t uncover your mother’s nakedeness,” he said. “I believe it is time we in Africa put our act together and our house in order.”

Read On...

20 November 2008

My letter

I wanted to share the letter I wrote explaining what I am doing in Kenya.  I figured that it would be best to post it.  Please feel free to pass it along to friends, family, and co-workers.  The more people who learn about this the better.
Also, I must thank Scott, who kindly gave me a copy of his letter as a template for mine.  I owe much of the structure to him.  He is right now on his way to Swaziland to work at a hospital with CMMB.  Thanks.

More stuff and more confusion

So I have launched a second page at the request of CMMB.  It is really just a simple support page that you often see for other fundraising groups that makes it easier to make a donation.
I want to make it clear that all the money raise so far and donated to NDMV will be handed over to CMMB to cover my costs.  This means that if you have already made a donation, you do not need to make another to CMMB.  If you have not, you may choose to donate to either organization.
I am sorry for the confusion, but I could not put up this page until I met the agreed $3,000 as per my agreement with NDMV.

With no further adieu, check out my CMMB page.....HERE!

19 November 2008

I don't want to say too much

but this is a story that is really unfortunate.  A video of the beating of inmates in a Kenyan jail has surfaced.  I will provide the link to the BBC article for those of you who want to find out more and see the video.  However, please be aware that the images on film are deeply disturbing.


"Kenya's vice-president has condemned the alleged assault of prisoners by warders and ordered an investigation.  The incident, shown on Kenyan TV, was filmed secretly on a mobile phone and shows naked inmates at a Nairobi jail on the ground as warders beat them." (BBC Online)

Other News in Kenya

US envoy urges reopening of Somalia border
By SAMMY CHEBOI Posted Wednesday, November 19 2008 at 22:27

US ambassador Michael Ranneberger on Wednesday called on the Government to reopen and expand the Liboi Reception Centre near the Somalia border to meet the needs of new asylum seekers. Despite the border closure, more than 55,000 new refugees had entered Kenya since January, Mr Ranneberger said. A reception centre for orderly registration and medical and security screenings is urgently needed to provide protection to the Kenyan host population and for the refugees in the camp, he added. He was speaking during a visit to Dadaab Refugee Camp to express appreciation for Kenya’s continued role in supporting asylum seekers from Somalia and to review the conditions in the camp.

Read On...


UN seeks $7 billion in aid to Africa and M. East
Posted Wednesday, November 19 2008 at 17:25

GENEVA, Wednesday - The United Nations asked on Wednesday for a record $7 billion in aid for 30 million people in Africa and the Middle East in 2009, and stressed that the global financial crisis should not distract donor governments. The appeal is the largest in the U.N.'s history, nearly double the amount it initially sought last year to help victims of conflict and natural disasters, and comes during the most severe financial crisis since the 1930s. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the turbulent world economy should not detract from the urgent needs of those in stricken states such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Read On...

18 November 2008

Thanks to all of you...

I have now exceeded the required $3,000 as per my agreement with NDMVA.  I am overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and family.  However, it will still cost a total of $15,ooo for CMMB and NDMV to fund my year of service.  It is still my hope to be able to to cover all of my costs, so that these two organizations can continue to provide medicines to people in need.

THANK YOU

Some new stats about Kenya's poor


600,000 poor in Nairobi region
By DAVID MUGONYI Posted Tuesday, November 18 2008 at 22:29

More than 600,000 people live in poverty in Nairobi Province, with Makadara being the poorest constituency, a Government report says. However, one in every three poor people are found either in Kasarani or Embakasi constituencies. About 30 per cent of residents in Makadara constituency are poor despite the overall poverty of Nairobi Province declining from 44 per cent in 1999 to 22 per cent in 2005/2006. With 41,624 poor people, Westlands is the richest in the province, which has eight constituencies. In Central Province, Kipipiri constituency is the poorest, with 59.3 per cent of the people living in poverty.

Read On...



Revealed: The richest and poorest regions
By SAMUEL SIRINGI Posted Tuesday, November 18 2008 at 22:29

Free education, CDF and scrapping of some medical charges in public health centres have helped to reduce poverty in Kenya, says a new report. The survey released on Tuesday shows how the levels of poverty are distributed in each of the 210 constituencies. Kajiado North constituency was ranked top while Turkana Central took the ‘poorest’ slot. Nationally, the number of poor people fell from 52 per cent in 2002 to 46 per cent in 2006, according to the “Wellbeing In Kenya” survey released by Planning assistant minister Peter Kenneth. The survey will now be used to determine how much money each constituency will get in the next financial year since it ranks the richest and poorest areas of the country.

Read On...

17 November 2008

Finally!

We finally heard about the second site in Malava.  The Tumaini Miles of Smiles Centre is an orphanage where two of us will be serving while in Kenya.  The website is quite basic, but they describe themselves as:

"Founded by Christians who had the same calling and vision to give hope and to help the most underprivileged, deprived and vulnerable members of society especially orphaned children and widows.

Tumaini Miles of Smiles Centre is located in Rural Western Province, Malava Division along Kakamega – Webuye Road. Rural western is one of the areas, which are marginalized and have no access to many things including development and education projects offered by large organization. Children in these areas suffer and most of them are not accessible to basic education and health facilities. This has increased the level of poverty and ignorance in rural areas. Tumaini has a desire to provide physical, Spiritual, emotional and intellectual needs of a poor child, woman and the community in general."


Planting the seeds of subsidies in Kenyan farms


By JUSTUS ONDARI Posted Monday, November 17 2008 at 18:06

If you can’t beat them, join them. That seems to be the government’s newest mantra as it tries to tackle food insecurity in the country amidst runaway prices in the face of a dilapidating global food shortage. Determined to improve the country’s food productivity, the government has began offering a form of subsidy to its farmers. This is despite the controversy surrounding the subsidies at the seemingly never-ending World Trade Organisation negotiations.

Big differences have characterised the WTO talks over the subsidies as developed nations, which coincidentally heavily subsidise their farmers, try to stop their developing counterparts from implementing such schemes. But under the National Accelerated Agricultural Inputs Programme, the government began rolling out a targeted or smart subsidy scheme dubbed Kilimo Plus last year. “We are closely monitoring the programme’s implementation besides training the beneficiaries at no cost,” says Dr Romano Kiome, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture.

Read On...

15 November 2008

Floods problems continue

Floods: Red Cross in rescue efforts
Posted Friday, November 14 2008 at 17:32

The Kenya Red Cross has launched rescue efforts to floods- hit areas of Nyanza and Western provinces. In Budalang’i, at least 2,000 people are trapped in flood waters in and rescue efforts to move them to safer grounds are underway, the Kenya Red Cross says. Kenya Red Cross is responding to flood disasters in Siaya, Budalang’i, Kisumu and Migori by supplying tarpaulins, kitchen sets, and mosquito nets, rolls of tissue papers, blankets and bars soaps. In partnership with the Government, the Society has distributed 1,000 bags of maize, 600 bags of rice, 100 bags of beans and 60 cartons of cooking oil in Budalang’i.


25,000 at risk as Tana swells
By NATION Team Posted Friday, November 14 2008 at 21:30
Panic has gripped residents of Tana Delta District after River Tana burst its banks on Thursday night, threatening more than 25,000 people. On Friday, area district commissioner Charles Monari mobilised the provincial administration and other government officers to tell people to move to higher ground as the situation became increasingly worrisome by mid-morning. “The river is swollen and in some areas it has started to breach the bank. We are facing eminent floods and we had to move in fast to avert any crisis,” said the DC. Mr Monari said that the district was experiencing only light rains currently but the heavy rains falling upcountry were responsible for the imminent flooding. All residents staying near river banks between Mnazini and Kilelengwani downstream were advised to move to higher ground immediately.

Read On...



13 November 2008

A little change

I am trying to resolve an issue with adsense (hence no more ads) and in the interim I have found an alternate tracker for site hits.  However, this tracker only will register individual IP addresses (in other words individual computers).  Therefore the numbers are much lower, but it is pretty cool to see that over 40 people a day check out what I am writing.  If the issue is not resolved I will have to readjust my goal of 100,000 views.  
Thanks for the support so far!
Tom

Floods: Red Cross appeals for funds


By CASPER WAITHAKA Posted Thursday, November 13 2008 at 13:42

The Kenya Red Cross has appealed for funds to assist thousands of Kenyans affected by floods throughout the country.  Secretary General Abbas Gullet has reached out to local and international well wishers to give out their donations.  “We need Sh585 million to help our staff and volunteers on the ground. Our main objectives are to buy non-food items, improve health care, water and sanitation and logistics.”  He put the number of those affected by floods and landslides at over 300,000 since the onset of the rains in early October.


300,000 flood victims need aid

By NATION Team Posted Thursday, November 13 2008 at 20:25

More than 300,000 Kenyans have been affected by floods and landslides that have rocked the country since the onset of the short rains. The victims are in need of urgent aid, the Kenya Red Cross Society said on Thursday, adding that it needs Sh585 million for emergency assistance. In Budalang’i, one of the areas most affected, Agriculture minister William Ruto called for speedy construction of dykes as one more person drowned. The floods have resulted in loss of lives and devastating impact on the infrastructure, livestock, water and sanitation facilities according to secretary general Abbas Gullet. “Our main objectives are to buy non-food items, improve health care, water and sanitation and logistics for three months.”

Read on...

Permissions