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 Guérin (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


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.


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


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!

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...

Yea, this economic problem is global

WB to triple loans to poor nations
By Walter Menya Posted Thursday, November 13 2008 at 12:36

World Bank lending to developing countries will triple to Sh7.7 trillion ($100 billion) by 2011.  Apart from the increased lending, the World Bank Group is also working to speed up grants and long-term, interest-free loans to the world’s 78 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.  This follows the bank’s commitment ahead of a G20 summit this weekend to increase financial support for developing countries over the next three years driven by a desire to forestall severe effects of the global financial crisis.  This year, lending could almost triple to more than Sh2.7 trillion (US$35 billion) compared to Sh1.04 trillion ($13.5 billion) last year.

Kenya shilling loses against the dollar, seen weaker
Posted Thursday, November 13 2008 at 12:29

Kenya's shilling fell sharply against the dollar on Thursday as importers sought greenbacks and traders said they saw the local currency weakening further.  At 0756 GMT, commercial banks posted the unit at 79.80/90 against the greenback compared to Wednesday's close of 78.70/80.  Traders said the unit was likely to trade in a range of 78.00-80.40 over the coming days as dollar demand continued to outstrip inflows. They said appetite for dollars during a brisk session had come from the energy sector and grain and fertiliser importers. "There is very little to support the currency in terms of inflows, so the local unit could still cede more ground to the American currency," said Stephen Kimani, a Co-operative Bank senior dealer. Bank of Africa said it expected the shilling to continue falling in the near term as supply remains subdued. "We however anticipate the direction to change as we approach the end of the year as the corporate activity traditionally reduces towards the festive season meaning demand could reduce," the bank said in a market report.

12 November 2008

Good News for Kenyan Economy

National Bank’s earnings rise
By JEVANS NYABIAGE Posted Wednesday, November 12 2008 at 17:34

The National Bank of Kenya has announced a 35 per cent increase in pre-tax profit for the first nine months of 2008.  The bank recorded Sh1.354 billion pre-tax profit compared to Sh1.004 billion during the same period last year.  NBK attributed the growth to an increase in non-interest income which grew by 35 per cent from Sh1.154 billion in 2007 to Sh1.563 billion this year.  The total operating income grew by 17 per cent from Sh3.324 billion in 2007 to Sh3.887 billion this year.

Read on...

Safaricom profit up to Sh8.9bn

By WACHIRA KANG’ARU Posted Wednesday, November 12 2008 at 17:09

Safaricom is betting on alternative income sources to complement voice-generated revenue as it seeks to maintain super profit levels in the face of increased competition.  The company announced this as it released its financial results for the half year ending September 30 reporting a marginal increase in pretax profit of about two per cent.  The pretax profit rose to Sh8.9 billion up from Sh8.7 billion recorded over a similar period in 2007.

Read on...

Wow! I hope this is true...

Patient gets accidental Aids cure
Posted Wednesday, November 12 2008 at 19:32

BERLIN - The startling case of an Aids patient who was cured after undergoing a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia is stirring new hope that researchers might someday find a cure for Aids.  The patient, a 42-year-old American living in Berlin, is still recovering from his leukemia therapy, but he appears to have won his battle with Aids.  Doctors have not been able to detect the virus in his blood for more than 600 days, despite his having ceased all conventional Aids medication.  Normally when a patient stops taking Aids drugs, the virus stampedes through the body within weeks, or days.

11 November 2008

Three more shots...

Had my second of three rounds of immunization shots.  Today was part two of the Hepatitis A/B, Polio, and Tetanus.  I am sure that my arms will be feeling great at this time tomorrow.

Why "A View From the Cave"?

So I figured that I should eventually explain the reasoning and the meaning of the name of my blog.  I can't really say why this name came to me because its influence is something that I have not thought about for a while.  There are two things that I have read that continue to occupy my thoughts and random moments.  The first is the section in Milton's Paradise Lost when Adam goes to sleep and has a dream that he is flying over Eden with God and comes to realize that he was not sleeping but awake (Keats sums this up saying, "The imagination may be compared to Adam's dream, - he awoke and found it truth").  The second is the allegory of the cave from Plato's Republic.  That takes a bit more to explain, but it is what I decided upon as the inspiration for the title of my blog.
I have included a video that depicts the section that I am speaking of.  I feel that if you do not know this part or just forgot, this video will provide a sufficient explanation (plus you have to love claymation).

I believe this to be an apt way of describing the experience upon which I will embark this coming year.  I think this allegory can be relevant to the way that many people live today.   It seems that when one spends his or her life amongst the same things and ideas without ever striving to challenge the existing frameworks, then that person is really not different than the people in Plato's cave.  In other words, how can man have an understanding of the world around himself when he has only ever looked at the shadows on the wall?  It is my hope and goal that this blog will offer a view of the world away from the metaphoric cave.  Hence the title "A View From the Cave."

This is a brilliant Op-Ed from the Daily Nation

Circumcision and ‘freedom’
By ASUNTA WAGURA Posted Tuesday, November 11 2008 at 16:57

My son Peter was circumcised three years ago and I still remember the agonising moments I endured before he “faced the knife”.  For starters, he had never gone for an HIV test. I gave birth to him in the days when programmes such as prevention-of-mother-to-child-transmission of HIV hadn’t hit the scene. In fact, back then I was told Peter wouldn’t live to see his first birthday.  

Fast forward to his teen years, and I wanted him to undergo this rite of passage. However, I had one small problem. Okay, it was huge enough to give me sleepless nights.  “Should I take Peter to have a test first?” I asking myself over and over, as my mind see-sawed between one answer and the next.  I knew my ABCs. I knew that facing the knife meant blood had to be spilled. And I knew that sometimes accidents happen, and transmission of HIV can occur even in an operating theatre setting.  That’s why in HIV-speak there is what is known as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). In layman’s terms, PEP means taking anti-retroviral drugs as soon as possible after exposure to HIV, so that the exposure does not result in infection.

Read the rest...

Gov't to increase Agriculture budget

By MUCHEMI WACHIRAPosted Tuesday, November 11 2008 at 15:34

The Government will increase its budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector as it seeks to transform it into a commercially viable business.  Following the change, Kenya will become the grain-basket for the East African region.  President Kibaki made the remarks when opening the National Agriculture Sector Conference at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi.  He, however, did not disclose the actual allocation the sector will get.

10 November 2008

Bank cuts Africa’s growth projections

By REUTERS Posted Monday, November 10 2008 at 18:19

Africa’s economy will grow by less than previously expected in 2008 as the global financial crisis hits demand for commodities and Africans working abroad send less money back home, the head of the African Development Bank (AfDB) said on Monday.  As it prepares to host a meeting this week of African finance ministers and central bank heads to discuss the crisis, the AfDB’s President Donald Kaberuka said the bank had lowered its forecast for Africa’s economic performance.  “We see an effect on the growth of African economies, which this year we expect to be not more than 5 per cent, whereas before we said around 6.5 percent,” Kaberuka said in a telephone interview from the bank’s headquarters in Tunis.  

African economies grew by 5.7 per cent in 2007, according to the AfDB, the only multilateral development body devoted specifically to Africa.  Kaberuka said the impact of the financial crisis on African banks was quite small given their limited integration into global markets and a general absence of derivative products on their balance sheets.  “However, the economic impact is beginning to be felt. In the short term it will be felt in terms of a drying up of credit finance, and we’re already seeing falling demand for products such as oil and minerals, even coffee and cocoa,” he said.  “Clearly there is already a decline in remittances from migrants, which plays a very big role in some economies,” he added.  

Kaberuka urged the richer industrialised countries of the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development to enact economic stimulus plans, saying it would help the world emerge quicker from recession.  He called for a rapid deal to free up global trade and said the global financial regime needed to change to be more inclusive of the world’s emerging economies.  Africa represents a small share of global markets, with 1.3 percent of world stock market value, 0.2 per cent of debt securities and 0.8 percent of bank assets, according to AfDB.  “This crisis has shown the deep integration of the world economy,” Kaberuka said. “New rules should be global and inclusive and like that we will rebuild confidence quicker.”

Jabs drive for killer diseases planned

By NATION Reporter Posted Monday, November 10 2008 at 21:07

Kenyan children will be vaccinated against pneumonia and meningitis from next year.  Dr Issac Mugoya, the deputy head of the Division of Vaccines and Immunisation in the Ministry of Public health said funding had been secured for the project.  The Global Alliance of Vaccination Initiatives (Gavi) has pledged to buy the pneumococcal vaccine from manufacturers at $5 (Sh375) per dose, with the division paying 15 cents of each dollar spent.  Although the vaccine has been available since 2000, the $50 (Sh3,750) per dose made it unaffordable. Successful vaccination requires three doses.

Respiratory illness

The division is targeting 1.5 million children aged a year and under in the programme, at a cost of Sh56 million per year during the five-year initiative, said Dr Mugoya at Monday’s briefing, prior to the International Symposium on Pneumococci and Pneumococcal Diseases later this week.  Pneumonia, a respiratory illness, is the most common disease caused by the pneumococci bacteria. It kills one in every 10 children who die before the age of five.  Twenty per cent of the 175,000 infant deaths in Kenya are caused by pneumonia, according to a recent joint report by the Government and the United Nations Children Fund.  Pneumonia can also lead to other diseases such as meningitis and infections of the upper respiratory tract. However, it can be prevented by improved nutrition and reduction of other risk factors such as prevention and treatment of HIV.  Meningitis is an infectious disease characterised by inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and the spinal cord, known as the meninges.

09 November 2008

East Africa to have joint plan on lake

By OUMA WANZALA Posted Sunday, November 9 2008 at 21:34

The three East African countries sharing Lake Victoria are set to establish a joint strategic plan on the use of the resource in December.  Fisheries Development minister Paul Otuoma said the plan would propose mechanisms of reducing pressure on the lake.  Dr Otuoma said that Kenya’s strategic plan was ready and was just waiting for Uganda and Tanzania to finalise their plans before they could be harmonised and implemented to ease pressure on fish in Lake Victoria.  “We are worried at the high rate of fishing activities in Lake Victoria and that is why we have decided to come up with strategies that will ensure that we ease pressure on the Lake in the three states that share Lake Victoria resources,” the minister said.

Kenya and its economy

Economic growth drops by nearly half
By WAIKWA MAINA Posted Sunday, November 9 2008 at 19:08

Kenyan economic growth has gone down by nearly a half this financial year from earlier projections. Acting finance minister John Michuki has also blamed the current inflation to congestion at the Mombasa port.  He said that the economy will grow at between 4 and 5 per cent against the expected 8 per cent. This is in comparison to last year’s 7 per cent growth.  Mr Michuki attributed the drop to the post-election violence that rocked the country early in the year following disputed presidential election results.

Board expects bumper coffee yields
By MUCHIRI GITONGA Posted Sunday, November 9 2008 at 18:44

Coffee production could surpass the 60,000 metric tonnes projected by the Coffee Board of Kenya this season.  The main reasons are the favourable weather and a move by farmers, particularly in Mt Kenya region, to embrace production of specialty coffee.  CBK official Richard Wahome said on Sunday that the main coffee growing districts of Nyeri, Kirinyaga and Embu were projecting a 77 per cent increase in production.

Financial crisis may make Africa less aid-dependent
By RASNA WARAHPosted Sunday, November 9 2008 at 16:42

Many Donor-dependent countries are worried that the global financial meltdown and impending recession will lead to reduced foreign aid.African countries, in particular, are worried that domestic financial problems will force rich countries to cut down the amount of resources allocated to international development assistance.  Rich countries, on the other hand, are being urged to continue supporting developing nations to prevent the latter from sinking further into poverty.  

At a White House summit on international development held last month, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated: “Some will ask the inevitable question in these troubled times: ‘How can we afford it?’ I would ask instead, ‘How can we not afford it?’ ”  Ms Rice inadvertently admitted what many critics of development assistance have been saying for years – that foreign aid helps donor countries more than it does recipient countries, and that countries that give maintain an upper hand over countries that receive.  Foreign aid is, in many ways, an “investment” for rich countries as it allows them to gain tremendous political and economic advantage over poor nations for a very small fee.  Think about it.   Official overseas development assistance (ODA) accounts for less than 1 per cent of donor countries’ GDP.

Notre Dame Mission Volunteers

The second group that will be involved with my year in Kenya, and will be my primary support system, is the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. More specifically, I am a part of their volunteer program titled Notre Dame Mission Volunteers(NDMV).  NDMV is a volunteer program that works in conjuntion with AmeriCORPS to provide opporunities for service within the United States.  The goal is to reach the parts of this nation that are in need of help and are currently underserved.  With 20 services sites, NDMV reaches thousands of Americans each year.  In the spirit of the sisters, the program's focus is on education.  

NDMV is comprised of volunteers ranging from recent high school graduates to recent retirees.  Every person makes a one year commitment to serve the people in their choosen locations.  Service ranges from teaching in Connecticut to rebuilding houses in New Orleans, and from providing services for the children of incarcerated parents in Baltimore to developing the work and community of migrant farmers in California and Florida.

This past year, I was an NDMV member working as a teacher at St. Martin de Porres Academy in New Haven, Ct.  Where I had the pleasure of living and serving with four otherNDMV volunteers.  At the school I had the fifth grade boys homeroom, taught English (5th and 6th boys), Social Studies (5th boys), Religion (5th boys), and coached the girls basketball team.

NDMVA also has an emerging international program which started a few years ago.  In the spring I applied and was accepted to the international program, where I will be serving in Kenya for the next year.

The following is the NDMV mission statement:
Notre Dame-AmeriCorps, believes that education is the fundamental tool in the struggle of the poor for human dignity, self-esteem, and self-determination. We seek to build community among our members, as well as the people with whom we work by reaching out across culture and class. We are committed to helping people help themselves. Our goal is to promote and encourage education, community empowerment, leadership development and multicultural harmony in hopes of producing greater unity, less violence, and better-informed citizens in our communities.

08 November 2008

Mudslide kills 11 villagers

By EDWARD KOECH and WYCLIFFE KIPSANG Posted Saturday, November 8 2008 at 21:09

At least 11 people were killed in a massive mudslide in West Pokot Central district as rains pounded the North Rift region on Saturday.  The victims, most of them school children, were caught unawares at night when their houses were swept away by mudslides at Cheptulel village of Chesogon division.  Area councillor Simon Loitapel said 10 children, all from the same clan, and a woman were buried alive in the mudslide following an all-night downpour.  Eight of the children were pupils at Annet primary school; the other two were toddlers. “The eight were reading in a hut when they were swept away by the mud,” Mr Loitapel said. “We will evacuate another 100 who are in a risky area.”

Maize rots in North Rift

By PETER NG’ETICH Posted Saturday, November 8 2008 at 18:07

The heavy rains in the North Rift have disrupted maize harvesting in the region, deepening fears of poor yields.  Farmers in the region say that much of the crop is rotting in stacks in the fields and in stores due to the high moisture content.  Agriculture officials say the country might lose 20 per cent of the grain if the current climatic conditions continue.  Speaking to the Sunday Nation, Cereals Growers Association (CGA) chief executive officer David Nyameino said the country’s production is expected to drop from an average of 34 million bags to about 27 million bags while consumption stands at 32 million bags.

Read on....

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Meet one of my other neighbors, the forest snake.  Standing an average of 2 meters high, the forest snake is one of the largest of the cobra family.  They are very fast and because of this no significant attacks have occured.  They are not agressive snakes, but will defend themselves if they feel threatened.  There home is made, as their name indicates, in the forrest.  Where it is dark and damp.  They are a popular inhabitant of the Kakamega Rain Forest.

07 November 2008

This seems to be a good sign in Kenya...

Surprise surge in Kenya’s population as fertility rises

An increased birth rate among Kenyan women and low levels of contraceptive use are the main causes of the robust population growth in recent years, experts have said.

According to Government demographers, up to 25 per cent of men and women would like to use contraceptives but have no access. The level of contraceptive use remains at 39 per cent, where it was 10 years ago.

Is Kenya experiencing a baby boom?

The number of women giving birth in public and private hospitals has increased in the last nine months with the figures expected to rise, a survey conducted by the Saturday Nation has shown.

Maternity wings in various hospitals in Nairobi have recorded an increase in the number of births.

Though experts point a finger at the election campaigns and the violence that followed, it has emerged that there was an acute shortage of contraceptives in August and December last year.

45,000 need food relief as rains fail

More than 45,000 people in Taita and Taveta districts are facing starvation as short rains failed, a Government report says.

The document, prepared by the Ministry of Northern Kenya and Arid Lands, says residents would be put on the food-for-work programme because of the gravity of the situation.

The report warns that the number of people affected was likely to rise after the short rains that were expected to start in September failed.

“An assessment by the ministry has revealed that the lowlands of Taita district and rain-fed areas of Taveta district have shown indicators of severe food stress, with household members appealing to the Government and non-governmental organisations for assistance through food for work or general relief distribution,” the report says.

Read on...

06 November 2008

Doin Well

The site has surpassed 2,000 hits and will pass the $100 earned mark.  All has basically been done in a week, so thank you for your support thus far.

Diabetes and the Credit Crisis

Diabetes threat 'to increase'

By JOHN NGIRACHU Posted Thursday, November 6 2008 at 21:31

Risk factors that have been blamed for diabetes will continue to increase in the next few years unless the Government and private health care providers introduce drastic preventive measures, a meeting of experts heard on Thursday.

Africa to be hit hard by credit crisis, says IMF

By ZEPHANIA UBWANI in Arusha Posted Thursday, November 6 2008 at 21:40

Africa will be hard hit by the current global financial crisis, a senior official of the International Monetary Fund has warned. Equity markets have fallen sharply in some countries, including Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria and Mauritius, she told about 200 financial experts drawn from Tanzanian banks and other local and regional financial institutions.

Rain + Forest= my backyard

Kakamega Forest National Reserve is located 50 km north of Kisumu. This is right about where I will be living next year. The reserve is 240 square kilometers and houses a variety of animal species. The reserve supports over 300 bird species, 350 tree species, 27 snake species (there have been no bites in the 20+ year history of the reserve), 400 species of butterfly (that's 45% of all recorded species in Kenya), and 7 primate species. It also is home to various reptiles. 

"With that sort of biodiversity you surely cannot be bored once in the forest. The endangered Turner's eremomela, Charpins flycatcher and the voice mimicking African grey parrot are also found here. The forest is also home to the endangered DeBrazza monkey found at the isolated Kisere Forest Reserve, which is part of the larger Kakamega Forest National Reserve. The majestic black and white colobus monkey alongside flying squirrels, blue monkey and potto (the world's slowest mammal on earth), are among the attractions. Forest bucks, duikers and dik diks are found in this equatorial rain forest."

Check out more info

Kakamega Forest National Reserve

Kakamega Forest on Wikipedia

Kakamega Bird Species


Obama name craze for Kenya babies (BBC)

Mothers in Kenya have marked Barack Obama's historic win in the US presidential elections by naming their newborns after him and his wife.

Obama victory sparks baby naming frenzy (Daily Nation)

The US election has triggered a new generation of mini Barack Obamas with parents in Kenya and the United States naming their newborns after the new president-elect.

I think we all can agree that it is much better than all the names that would have become popular if McCain/Palin won. I mean do we really want kids named after a high school math class (Trig), the thing that people run on/trains ride on (Track), a city famous for its NASCAR raceway (Bristol), a movie character who rides on Val Kilmer's back for two hours (Willow), and the guy who comes to Hamelin to abduct children (Piper).

05 November 2008

Hey! There is a 12 foot snake in the tree!

I want to introduce you to one of my future neighbors Mr. Black Mamba.  He is actually more olive green than black, but don't let that fool you.  He is the second larges venomous snake (the King Cobra is called the king for a reason).  So, I will be on the lookout for him and hopefully share a few pictures if I find one.

Black mambas are fast, nervous, lethally venomous, and when threatened, highly aggressive. They have been blamed for numerous human deaths, and African myths exaggerate their capabilities to legendary proportions. For these reasons, the black mamba is widely considered the world’s deadliest snake.

Black mambas live in the savannas and rocky hills of southern and eastern Africa. They are Africa’s longest venomous snake, reaching up to 14 feet in length, although 8.2 feet is more the average. They are also among the fastest snakes in the world, slithering at speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour.

They get their name not from their skin color, which tends to be olive to gray, but rather from the blue-black color of the inside of their mouth, which they display when threatened.

Black mambas are shy and will almost always seek to escape when confronted. However, when cornered, these snakes will raise their heads, sometimes with a third of their body off the ground, spread their cobra-like neck-flap, open their black mouths and hiss. If an attacker persists, the mamba will strike not once, but repeatedly, injecting large amounts of potent neuro- and cardiotoxin with each strike.

Before the advent of black mamba antivenin, a bite from this fearsome serpent was 100 percent fatal, usually within about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, antivenin is still not widely available in the rural parts of the mamba’s range, and mamba-related deaths remain frequent.

The black mamba has no special conservation status. However, encroachment on its territory is not only putting pressure on the species but contributes to more potentially dangerous human contact with these snakes

Celebration in Kenya

Government declares a public holiday on Thursday to celebrate the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the US.
Celebrations break out in Kisumu and Nyangoma Kogelo after Obama wins US Presidency.

Kenya declares holiday for Obama

I couldn't make this up.  Check out this BBC article about the celebrations and holiday due to the election of an American president.

04 November 2008

This is kind of funny...

So everyone around the world is waiting to see what will happen tonight in the elections.  Kenya has a deep interest due to the fact that Obama is of Kenyan descent.  There have been a steady flow of news articles about the election and this one makes me chuckle.  You must read to see why it is so funny, but will also be the nearest major city to me next year.

The anxiety and excitement over the US elections boiled over to the streets of Kisumu, where a couple of comedians organised mock elections.

And wananchi who had got to the town centre flocked the scene where Lawrence Oyange and Milton Obote held the exercise in Kisumu on Tuesday to imitate the American presidential election.


Plight of poor to worsen, says UN
Official urges leaders to control commodity prices to reduce the effect of global crises

Conflicts lead to bad blood between Kenya and Uganda

The European Union has pledged to give Kenya Sh10 billion for improving agriculture.

Some of the areas earmarked for improvement include extension services and rural access roads that hinder farmers from delivering their produce to the market.

Extension services alone will be allocated Sh100 million according to Agriculture minister. The money will be used to enhance capacity by his ministry to deliver information on new farming technology to farmers.

“With new farming technology, our farmers will also enhance their productivity and turn their farming into business,” Mr William Ruto said.