Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Kenya: Leaders to Blame for Food Crisis

By David Kigochi

It is a shameful and difficult moment for Kenyans as the world watches the images of people dying of hunger in some parts of the country. The apathy by the government is despicable as it has been clear that there was going to be a shortage of food. It is sad that the government has had to be jolted into action by individual Kenyans and corporates.

This is a reflection of an increasingly indifferent and inhumane leadership which lives on the great largesse and expense of tax payers whose resources they have failed to manage better.
The privileged few are busy creating a welfare state for themselves while the rest of the citizens wallow in poverty and hunger. The famine has not spared anyone irrespective of ethnicity, region or political enclaves. The areas ravaged by famine have MPs and ministers in the government. Their inaction borders on criminal negligence. They only give knee-jerk reactions when images of the dying invade their living rooms and appetites.

And if deaths are not reported to them, then no one surely could have starved to death!

Most Kenyans know what is needed to mitigate against drought and famine- water harvesting, sustainable land policy, efficient farming methods, resistant crops, forestation, banning useless imports, cheap credit, good storage facilities and irrigation.

Infrastructure is crucial. If there were accessible roads in these regions, food would be available to the drought struck regions and farmers would not be feeding their potato and cabbage crops to their livestock because they lack accessible roads to get their crop to market!

It smacks of criminal negligence for the government to admit its food distribution system is ineffective and the only response is to deploy the military and National Youth Services when people are dying. It appears that famine is big business. Famine is a cash-cow to well-heeled operatives in the corridors of power. There is big money in transport and logistics as administrators divert and sell famine relief supplies. Coincidentally, every famine is preceded by a season of plenty. Last year, for example, there was the glut that saw dairy processors empty thousands of litres of milk into trenches.

Less than eight months later, milk prices have risen from Sh21 to Sh30. Another bumper harvest in parts of Eastern went to waste due to poor storage. At the same time, the Government announced a measly price of Sh1,200 for a bag of maize due to glut. This price was considerably lower than the Sh2,500 being offered to farmers in neighbouring countries. Naturally, farmers found it only sensible to sell their produce to the more lucrative foreign markets, leaving the country struggling to replace the depleted strategic grain reserve.

We cannot talk of Vision 2030 as there can never be a vision for the dead. We need to get our priorities right. For decades we have been talking about food security and yet we continue with the same trend of talking and doing nothing.

We know the solutions to the problem-provide water for irrigation, educate farmers on modern agricultural practices, infrastructure to distribute food from surplus to deficit areas. For this to happen, we need proactive leadership one that is listening to the people. Kenyans are starving not because the land is infertile, but because there is total mix up of priorities. In the short term, the government can suspend the servicing of the Sh32 billion debt to the Central Bank of Kenya and divert the funds towards an aggressive programme to put up dams in drought prone zones, upscale irrigation projects, open up the road network in the famine ravaged zones to ensure access and supply of food in the affected areas.
Kigochi is the national convenor, Central for United Kenya Forum.

Read more here

Monday, September 26, 2011

So Long Wangari Maathai!!!

Wangari Muta Maathai
1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011
Kenyan environmental + political activist + custodian of Nature
First African woman to be awarded the Nobel prize for peace 2004
Founder of The Green Belt Movement

"MAMA EARTH" Wangari. You fought for green B4 it was cool. R.I.P"

Jamhuri Wear

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Somaliland President Siilanyo Monitoring Progress First Hand

While in southern Somalia Al Shabaab are busy blusting away small surveillance aircraft aka drones, in the north Somaliland President Siilanyo accompanied by the first lady, Presidential Minster, Somaliland Chief of Police and the deputy director of Somaliland Intelligence, were spotted on Friday September 23rd strolling different parts of Hargeisa, the capital.

Read more here

Mozambique Report Card by President H.E. Armando Guebuza

The President of the Republic of Mozambique, H.E. Mr. Armando Guebuza speaking at the 2011 Blouin Creative Leadership Summit.

What keeps President Armando Guebuza awake at night?-with all the work that he has to do daily as president, he gets very tired ....he sleeps 8^)

Key points and take aways:
  • The country has witnessed alot of positive strides since the end of the civil war
  • Growth rates at 7-8%... goal is to achieve two digit growth rates
  • Better utilization of local resources towards economic growth
  • 95% enrollment rate into primary education and would like 100% enrollment-though classes are overly congested. Goal is to have at least 30 students per class.
  • Mozambique used to import maize but stopped importing maize in 2003
  • More than 1 million Mozambique citizens outside the country and many have returned home to settle and help rebuild the country
  • 4.5 internally displaced... a majority returned back to their original home areas to begin to rebuild their lives

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Updates from Dr. Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs

Crisis in the Horn of Africa: A Somaliland Perspective was the topic of an event featuring Dr. Mohamed Abdullahi Omar, Somaliland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. The event hosted by IRI was moderated by Dr. J. Peter Pham, Director of the Michael S. Ansari Africa Center at the Atlantic Council.

In his remarks, Dr. Omar highlighted Somaliland’s successes in holding democratic elections and conducting a peaceful transition of power from one political party to another, the country’s support in the fight against terrorism and piracy, and its growing economy with a private sector as the country’s main employer.

Although lacking international recognition, Somaliland has avoided the chaos characteristic of south-central Somalia. Dr. Omar credits Somaliland’s success and stability to good governance. Even as the Horn of Africa faces the worst famine in 60 years Somaliland has been able to stave off famine conditions despite widespread drought. However, Dr. Omar warned increased foreign assistance was required to ensure that catastrophe in Somaliland is avoided.

Read more here

Friday, September 16, 2011

At 27 Kingwa Kamenchu Is Ready For The Presidential Seat

A 27 year old Kenyan student from Oxford University has become the latest entrant in the now seemingly crowded 2012 presidential race. In announcing her intentions, Kingwa Kamenchu says that what she lacks in age and experience she makes up in a passion and determination to improve the lives of ordinary Kenyans. Evelyn Wambui tells us about a young poet and writer's dream to change not just the face but also the style of leadership in Kenya.

More grease to your elbows girl!!!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting it Right from the Start-Priorities for Action in the New Republic of South Sudan

Amidst jubilant celebration, the new Republic of South Sudan entered the international stage in July 2011 albeit as one of the least developed countries in the world. The challenges and opportunities are enormous, and donors, the government, implementing agencies and most importantly the people of South Sudan have a lot at stake – but much more to gain. This paper presents ten areas for action based on the experience of NGOs operating in South Sudan and lessons learnt during the Comprehensive Peace Agreement interim period. Donors must prioritise them in the first years of the country‟s independence so as to ensure the best possible results for the people of South Sudan.

1. Balance development assistance with continued support for emergency humanitarian needs
2. Understand conflict dynamics.
3. Involve communities and strengthen civil society.
4. Ensure an equitable distribution of assistance.
5. Prioritise the most vulnerable and ensure social protection.
6. Promote pro-poor, sustainable livelihoods.
7. Strengthen government capacity, from the bottom up.
8. Allow sufficient time for transition towards government management of international aid.
9. Provide timely, predictable funds.
10. Ensure integrated programming.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Famine in the Horn of Africa: Challenges and Opportunities for Mitigating Drought-Induced Food Crises

The current famine engulfing the Horn of Africa and threatening the lives of nearly 13 million people continues to dominate discussions about development worldwide. As relief efforts continue, experts and stakeholders from the region will gather in Nairobi to discuss longer-term evidence-based solutions and interventions needed to avert the profound effects of predicted extreme weather events in the future.

Although droughts can result in failed harvests, they do not have to result in famine. Famine mainly has to do with inappropriate policies, conflicts and neglect, which reduce people’s access to food, grazing for livestock, and water for both. We must support agencies delivering emergency aid today.

And we must do more.

Almost everyone living in the drought-afflicted areas of the Horn produces food from these drylands. Research into dryland agricultural and natural resources thus plays a critical role in uncovering the causes of food shortages and identifying ways of reducing these. Linking smallholder farmers and herders with research knowledge, products and innovations – from better uses of land, water and other natural resources, to better grazing and pasture management, to weather-based insurance that protects against drought and other shocks, to drought-tolerant crops – could greatly enhance the resilience of vulnerable dryland communities to future droughts.

Experts within the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) met in Nairobi on 1 September with a few selected development partners to discuss how CGIAR research can be used to find long-term solutions to improving and sustaining agricultural livelihoods in the drylands.

Lloyd Le Page, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium
Mark Gordon, Co-Chair, UN Somalia Food Cluster, World Food Programme
Namanga Ngongi, President, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)
Joseph Mureithi, Deputy Director, Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI)
Jeff Hill, Director of Policy, Bureau of Food Security, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

Topics addressed include:

  • Promising options and innovations to help farmers become more resilient and food-secure in the face of weather and other shocks
  • The role of infrastructure and access to viable, functioning markets in food security and prices
  • Whether drought-tolerant crops and large-scale irrigation are the answer
  • Whether pastoralism is a driver of drought-induced food insecurity or a buffer against it
  • Policies that are needed, and at what levels, to ensure that recommendations and innovations for drought-prone areas are put in place in those areas that need them most

Read more here

Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson joins UNAIDS-led effort to end HIV-related travel restrictions

News worth sharing...The British business pioneer Sir Richard Branson has thrown his support behind a global drive to rid the world finally of the remaining discriminatory laws that keep people from visiting, or living and working in countries solely because they are HIV positive. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has called for the global freedom of movement for people living with HIV.
Sir Richard Branson said, “I applaud UNAIDS' tireless efforts to encourage countries to remove travel restrictions on people living with HIV. Everyone should have the chance to travel freely, and I welcome the opportunity to work together on such an important issue.”
Last month, Fiji became the latest country to lift its restrictions on entry, stay or residence based on HIV status.

Read more here
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