State of Affairs

Education is the Solution to Somalia's Famine/Drought/Food Crisis Perhaps?

Nicholas Kristof from the New York Times recently visited Dabaab Somalia refugee camp in north eastern Kenya. "I visited this class of 130 Somali students in a tent at Dadaab. Only 38% of Dadaab kids go to school at all" 

Less than 20% of Somalis in Somalia are literate and of this 13% are women. Is education the ultimate key to unlocking the poverty cycle in the horn and an end to the recurring drought and food crisis plaguing the horn?

Somalia: Massive School Dropouts As Famine Continues 

The war torn country has the lowest primary school enrolment in the world as aid agencies prioritise feeding and treating those affected by the famine and drought. Jamaal Abdi, an eight-year-old boy at the Badbaado camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, would like to have an education. He has his own dreams for the future.

But since Abdi and his family arrived at Badbaado camp - the biggest camp for people displaced by the drought and famine in southern Somalia and home to nearly 30,000 people, mostly women and children - he has done nothing but sit around all day. But for Abdi, it's nothing new. He's never been to school.

"I learned from my friends how to write my name only. Now I just stay at the shelter and do nothing. I want to study because when I grow up I want to be a doctor and be a good man who helps people, sick people," Abdi told IPS, as he played with his friends outside his family's makeshift shelter at Badbaado. Apart from a few informal Islamic schools where children are taught to memorise the Quran, education at the camp is almost non-existent as aid agencies prioritise feeding and treating those affected by the famine and drought.

And across the country the situation is no better. A rapid assessment conducted by the Education Cluster, which is co-led by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Save the Children, warned that the number of children out of school, especially in southern and central Somalia, could double. The report noted that with an estimated 200,000 school-going Somali children have moved from their homes to other places in search for food.

But for more than 20 years, only 30 percent of Somali children have been able to go to primary school. It is the lowest enrolment in the world. This compares very poorly with its neighbour, Kenya, which has an enrolment rate of 92 percent in primary schools. However, primary education in Kenya is free while in Somalia it is not and many children have to get financial support from their communities to attend school.

"Funding received to date is inadequate - while funding gaps in the education sector have reached their highest levels in the last four years," UNICEF said.

Despite the tough climatic conditions and conflict in the country, Somalis have demonstrated that they know the value of education. Before the famine they ran schools by themselves in a war-ravaged country where the government has a tentative hold of power.

"Schools in Somalia are run by communities since there is no ministry of education. With support from humanitarian organisations, they give incentives to the teachers and donate funds for running school programmes," said Lisa Doherty, UNICEF's education specialist and programme manager at the Integrated Capacity Development for Southern Somali Education Administrations. Following the famine in parts of the country, most of the support from the international community has been to supply food and medical assistance.

But according to Doherty, there is a need to attend to all the needs of a child, and education is an important need. Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF's Somalia representative, echoed her sentiments and said that education is a critical component of any emergency response.

"Schools can provide a place for children to come to learn, as well as access health care and other vital services. Providing learning opportunities in safe environments is critical to a child's survival and development and for the longer term stability and growth of the country," said Chorlton in a statement.

Humanitarian organisations are setting up schools in some camps.

"At UNICEF alone, we are supporting 155 schools in camps of internally displaced persons, which at the moment benefits 37,000 students - 40 percent of them girls," said Doherty.

However, there are plans to expand the number of classes subject to the availability of funds. But until schools reopen, the available classes are being used to provide psychotherapy for children and their parents who have been through traumatic times. Meanwhile, former teacher Burhan Mohamed, a drought victim himself, says things at Badbaado camp should change.

"(These children) will grow to nothing and will be a further burden to society if education is never made part of the humanitarian effort," Burhan told IPS.

educating their children is as much a priority as feeding them is.

Read More Here:

President Obama Meets Leaders of Four African Nations

President Boni Yayi of Benin, President Alpha Condé of Guinea, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, and President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire are in Washington to discuss the Administration's support for emerging democracies. July 29, 2011.
Hunger Irony In Kenya
And as efforts to come to the rescue of starving Kenyans gain momentum, a rather ironic situation is unfolding in Kinangop area, of Nyandarua County. A bumper harvest has led to a glut in the market and farmers are now feeding their cows with harvested vegetables, while the rest of it rots in their farms. The farmers say it's unfortunate for their produce to go to waste while other Kenyans starve to death and are urging the government to consider redistributing their produce to the needy. Peninah Karibe has more of that unusual twist to the hunger crisis in the country.

 Farah Maalim Deputy Speaker of the House of Parliament Kenya & Member of Parliament Lagdera Constituency Home to the Dabaab Camp Speaks on the Humanitarian Crisis

"Somalians are walking from inner depths of Somalia...they see the Somali people who live on the route share the little they have with those refugees ...they have an intrinsic,  pathological,  historical, social structure that appreciates that when your brother is hungry you need to share the little you have because you are  going to be hungry anytime too...although they have had 20 years or war...series of droughts...they have been able to take care of themselves...if they were not taking care of themselves ....if it was everybody for themselves and God for us all non of them would be alive today"

Farah Maalim, MP Lagdera

Al Shabaab is an organization that should not have a place in this modern day in any society in the is not led by Somalis....this are foreigners who have that global desires global ideological persuasions that they are fighting....they are essentially from all the countries al queda have been kicked out from....the bulk of the leaders are Caucasians...they dont have such massive is not a big problem in my opinion...
with the right intention, with the right support and  logistics they can [African Union Mission in Somalia] wipe out the entire al shabaab force in less than 2 months ....with the right fire power!!!

Farah Maalim, MP Lagdera

Top Ten Most Expensive Cities To Live in Africa for Expatriates

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso is one of the most expensive cities to live in for expartriates
Interesting story posted on the How We Made It In Africa-Insight Into Business In Africa cites the Mercer’s 2011 Cost of Living Survey on expatriates costs of living in Africa

The top 10 most expensive African cities are listed below:

1. Luanda, Angola
2011 overall ranking: 1
2010 overall ranking: 1
2. N’Djamena, Chad
2011 overall ranking: 3
2010 overall ranking: 3
3. Libreville, Gabon
2011 overall ranking: 12
2010 overall ranking: 7
4. Niamey, Niger
2011 overall ranking: 23
2010 overall ranking: 23
5. Victoria, Seychelles
2011 overall ranking: 25
2010 overall ranking: 13
6. Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
2011 overall ranking: 28
2010 overall ranking: 67
7. Djibouti, Djibouti
2011 overall ranking: 39
2010 overall ranking: 62
8. Lagos, Nigeria
2011 overall ranking: 41
2010 overall ranking: 62
9. Dakar, Senegal
2011 overall ranking: 44
2010 overall ranking: 32
10. Khartoum, Sudan
2011 overall ranking: 44
2010 overall ranking: 141

 The Least Talked About
Sexual Violence Against Men in Africa is Real

Stumbled across an alarming report in the Guardian newspaper on an issue that currently is a problem in Africa especially in the conflict zones. It is sad to note that to date it has elicited very little if no significant attention

Of all the secrets of war, there is one that is so well kept that it exists mostly as a rumour. It is usually denied by the perpetrator and his victim. Governments, aid agencies and human rights defenders at the UN barely acknowledge its possibility. Yet every now and then someone gathers the courage to tell of it. This is just what happened on an ordinary afternoon in the office of a kind and careful counsellor in Kampala, Uganda. For four years Eunice Owiny had been employed by Makerere University's Refugee Law Project (RLP) to help displaced people from all over Africa work through their traumas. This particular case, though, was a puzzle. A female client was having marital difficulties. "My husband can't have sex," she complained. "He feels very bad about this. I'm sure there's something he's keeping from me."

Owiny invited the husband in. For a while they got nowhere. Then Owiny asked the wife to leave. The man then murmured cryptically: "It happened to me." Owiny frowned. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an old sanitary pad. "Mama Eunice," he said. "I am in pain. I have to use this."

Laying the pus-covered pad on the desk in front of him, he gave up his secret. During his escape from the civil war in neighbouring Congo, he had been separated from his wife and taken by rebels. His captors raped him, three times a day, every day for three years. And he wasn't the only one. He watched as man after man was taken and raped. The wounds of one were so grievous that he died in the cell in front of him.

"There are certain things you just don't believe can happen to a man, you get me? But I know now that sexual violence against men is a huge problem. Everybody has heard the women's stories. But nobody has heard the men's."

Margot Wallström, the UN special representative of the secretary-general for sexual violence in conflict, insists in a statement that the UNHCR extends its services to refugees of both genders. But she concedes that the "great stigma" men face suggests that the real number of survivors is higher than that reported. Wallström says the focus remains on women because they are "overwhelmingly" the victims. Nevertheless, she adds, "we do know of many cases of men and boys being raped."
But when I contact Stemple by email, she describes a "constant drum beat that women are the rape victims" and a milieu in which men are treated as a "monolithic perpetrator class".
"International human rights law leaves out men in nearly all instruments designed to address sexual violence," she continues. "The UN Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000 treats wartime sexual violence as something that only impacts on women and girls… Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently announced $44m to implement this resolution. Because of its entirely exclusive focus on female victims, it seems unlikely that any of these new funds will reach the thousands of men and boys who suffer from this kind of abuse. Ignoring male rape not only neglects men, it also harms women by reinforcing a viewpoint that equates 'female' with 'victim', thus hampering our ability to see women as strong and empowered. In the same way, silence about male victims reinforces unhealthy expectations about men and their supposed invulnerability."

AlJazeera reports hundreds of thousands of men have been raped by other men, but it is such a taboo subject that few are aware of the real extent of the problem. So, what support and legal resources need to be given to the victims of this crime?

Field for dumping the dead now hosting hungry refugees 

It is known as Bula baqti, Somali for the place of the carcass. Until a year and half ago, refugees in Dagahaley Camp in Dadaab dumped their dead relatives as well as livestock in the field. Not any more. It is now teeming with 22,000 Somali refugees crossing the border to Kenya from the ravaging drought and insecurity in their country. The dump site has become a refuge for thousands fleeing the twin catastrophes, but who cannot get a place in the designated camps that are already full. The other alternative would have been Ifo II, but the controversy over the new camp persists as the government appears to be going back on its word.
Here in Bula baqti is where Sangabo Mohamud, a mother of seven, now calls home. She arrived at the Dagaheley reception site four months ago. Then, the Dagaheley Camp was already full, with the estimated 1,300 refugees crossing the border to Kenya daily according to aid agencies in Dadaab. As if that was not enough, the Ifo II Camp still remains out of bounds under the directive of the Kenya government. Left with no alternative, Mohamud took her rations and proceeded to settle at Bula baqti. She has no plans of going back to Somalia; neither is the name “the place of carcass” a bother to her. She has arrived in the “Promised Land” where there is food, water and security.
Read More Here

Osama Bin Laden Dead

Osama Bin Laden assassination reported to be on 2nd May 2011 brings to a climax the largest manhunt in recent history. Bin Laden is reported to have been shot dead at a compound near Islamabad, Pakistan in a ground operation based on US intelligence. Osama Bin Laden was the son of a wealthy Saudi construction family. He joined the mujahideen soon after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and fought alongside them with his Arab followers, a group that later formed the nucleus for al-Qaeda. The African continent has not been spared the wrath of  Osama as he is held responsible for the horrific attacks of the USA embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that left scores dead and injured.

USA Embassy bomb blast in August 1998

Rutundu Lodge Kenya - Prince William to Kate Middleton...Will you marry me?

As Kate Middleton and Prince William tied the knot in England, Kenya is basking in the glory of having been the home that created a perfect romantic setting for the prince to propose to his bride. Prince William popped the question in a remote log cabin in the Lewa conservancy last year. Citizen TV Kenya  followed in the footsteps of the royal couple and takes you back to the exact place where Kate Middleton accepted a marriage proposal from the future king of England.

Prince William the Duke of Cambridge and Princess Catherine the Duchess of Cambridge... William also became the Earl of Strathearn and Baron Carrickfergus, and Kate the Countess of Strathearn and Baroness Carrickfergus
Uganda has the highest % of women internationally agreeing to wife beating...

Uganda records the highest percentage of women internationally who agree that wife beating is acceptable if a wife argues with her husband according to the World's Women and Girls 2011 Data Sheet. According to the report, 40 per cent of the women interviewed in Uganda said it was okay for a man to beat his wife if she argues with him over any issue. India is second with 30 per cent of its women holding a similar view, and Ghana comes third at 21 per cent. Ironically, there are more women than men who find wife beating acceptable in all the three countries. Thirty six per cent of Ugandan men said it was acceptable to beat their wives if they argued with them while India had 26 per cent men and Ghana had 11 per cent men holding a similar view. The report is prepared annually by the Washington based Population Reference Bureau.

However, at 36 per cent of its men accepting wife beating over an argument, Ugandan men lead the world in condoning wife beating followed by India, at 26 per cent and Armenia at 22 per cent. The data sheet also indicates that 31 per cent of Ugandan women and 19 per cent of Ugandan men said it is acceptable for a man to beat his wife if she refuses to have sex with him. In India, 14 per cent women and 8 per cent men interviewed said it was okay for a husband to beat his wife over refusal to have sex while in Ghana 12 per cent women and 7 per cent men held such a view. Ugandan men lead the world in accepting wife beating over sex denial at 19 per cent followed by India, at 8 per cent and Ghana at 7 per cent.

The report states: "In many developing countries both women and men believe that wife beating is acceptable, and it is not unusual for women to condone the violence more than men. " The report adds: "When women are unable to refuse sex with their husbands for fear of violence, they are less able to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV/Aids." The report states that only 42 per cent of the births in the country are attended by skilled personnel. The country had 480 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008 and chances of women dying from maternal causes is 1 in 38.

Read more here

 £380,000 royal car for King Mswati...Memo Sire: 1/3 of Swaziland needs food aid...

Assembled by hand in Germany. Powered by a six-litre bio-turbo engine. Fitted with a television, a 21-speaker surround sound system, a heated steering wheel. Champagne flutes within reach from fully reclinable seats.
The basic DaimlerChrysler Maybach 62 costs £280,000, but the one bound for Swaziland has enough extra trimmings to add another £100,000 to the price. Which can mean only one thing: King Mswati III has been shopping again.
A third of the population needs food aid. Almost 40% of adults have HIV, the highest rate in the world. A tenth of all households are headed by children. Swaziland's average per capita income is $1,181, a figure distorted by huge inequality. Some aid agencies estimate more than 80% of the population lives in absolute poverty, earning less than $1 (52p) a day. 


This episode shows a film of Libya's leader making a trip to a school in Tripoli.

His visit took place on Saturday and was his first televised public appearance in five days. Trying to look as relaxed as he could, even while surrounded by bodyguards, Gaddafi toured the school at a leisurely pace, listening to the children shouting anti-Western slogans and watching appreciativley as they chanted: "Only God, Muammar and Libya."

This episode of Inside Story aired on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 on AlJazeera


Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone sit on a bed at the Hotel du Golf in Abidjan after their arrest on 11th April 2011. Forces of the internationally recognised winner of the November polls Alassane Ouattara, backed by French and UN troops, captured Gbagbo at the climax of a deadly five-month crisis. Gbagbo, who has held power since 2000 and stubbornly refused to admit defeat in the presidential election, was seized and taken to his rival’s temporary hotel headquarters, with his wife Simone and son Michel.


Gaddafi Meets the African Union Delegation

Muammar Gaddafi has accepted a roadmap for ending the civil war in Libya, South African President Jacob Zuma said after leading a delegation of African leaders at talks in Tripoli. Zuma, who with four other African heads of state met Gaddafi for several hours at the Libyan leader's Bab al-Aziziyah compound, also called on NATO to stop air strikes on Libyan government targets to "give ceasefire a chance." No one at the talks gave details of the roadmap for peace in this oil-producing nation. Rebels have said they will accept nothing less than an end to Gaddafi's four decades in power, but Libyan officials say he will not quit.

Read more here

 Buzz Buzz News speak

Somalilandpress Questions: Is the dividing of Somalia by neighboring Kenya, AU and IGAD, good or bad news for Somaliland? How do you see that AU claims it is maintaining Africa’s colonial borders while helping to draw one amongst the many Somali clans that live in Gedo, lower and middle Juba regions? If Kenya is able to create a “buffer zone” in a sovereign country– why isn’t Ethiopia allowed to recognize Somaliland?

New semi-autonomous Somali state born

After seven days of deliberations, Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, members of parliament, civil society groups and clan elders agreed to the formation of a semi- autonomous state to be called Azaaniya. Originally known as Jubaland, Azaaniya comprises lower and middle Juba and Gedo regions on the Kenya-Somalia border.

And yesterday, Prof Muhamed Gandhi Mohamed was sworn in as the interim president of the newly-created state. “We agreed on a plan that would see our people enjoy peace again. It has been over 20 years of death and tears. We are determined to restore nationhood and unity in Somalia,” said Gandhi during the ceremony held at a Nairobi hotel.
The move is said to be supported by the international community, including the African Union and Igad members, and backed by the Kenyan Government in the hope it would help crush al-Shabaab insurgents.

Although the Kenyan Government did not send a representative to the event, there was obvious presence of Kenyan security personnel at the venue of the meeting, indicating it supported the formation of the new state along its border. Immediately Gandhi was elected the president unopposed last Wednesday, Kenyan security personnel were deployed to guard him. Yesterday, tens of plain clothe security officers thoroughly screened all delegates before they could enter the venue of inauguration. The state will act as a buffer zone to help keep al-Shabaab militia away from Kenya. Last week, al-Shabaab militia attacked a police station at Liboi town.
Jubaland Initiative Coordinator Prof Mohammed Mohammed said the group would go to the ground to seek legitimacy from the people and denied they have broken away from the main government. He said just like Puntland and Somaliland, Azaaniya supports Sheik Sheriff’s government.

“The Somali Constitution allows the formation of two or more regions to form semi-autonomous state loyal to the main government,” he said. But a swift censure greeted the creation of the new autonomous state. Maslah Mohammed, son of former Somali President Siad Barre, dismissed the move terming it a serious breach of international law and unrecognised by the Somali people. Mohammed said: “Prof Gandhi neither has the support of the people of the region nor Somalia.”

Why Libya-Obama Speaks

Youthful Ministers Dressing Youthfully...

Kenya's Makadara Member of Parliament, Michael Mbuvi a.k.a Sonko, has never been shy of controversies. And yesterday he stirred yet another controversy in parliament when he sauntered into the chambers like a hip hop star, with Ear studs and stunners...and chewing gum to boot. Now to some members, this was inappropriate dressing, not fit for the august house, but to others and even Sonko himself, this was just a statement of the changing times and that it was time for the youths to make their statement in parliament. 
Food for thought: Was Michael Mbuvi sunglasses and earrings accessories the wrong clad for parliament? Or are the senior members of parliament simply overreacting???

Really Mr President...

Interesting comments by President Museveni:

" I wouldn't say soon...I am looking forward to retirement ..."
"Main point is how will Africa transition from backwardness to modernity"
"Every year we add something new"
"A revolution happens where there conditions for it...I don't see those conditions here(Uganda)"
"Uganda was a country which had a lot problems, stealing of money was the least of the problems we had, top of the list was the the stealing of the lives of human beings, people were being slaughtered like chicken..."
"when you are dealing with thieves they don't steal during the day, they steal in different is not as obvious as killing a human need fresh capacity..."
On homosexuals- "some Africans those people with a dark colour you must heard about them they believe this is not a normal way of life"

Sustainable Urban Planning and Real Estate Development

Laila Macharia of Scion Real speaks at TEDx Nairobi on September 18th , 2010 on the value of good urban planning and the future of sustainable real estate development in Kenya.  Laila holds a doctorate in law from Stanford University and has practised law in the US and Kenya. She is the Principal and Founder of Scion Real one the region's leading real estate infrastructure and investment firm. Laila has extensive experience in urban development and corporate finance.

Key Points from her presentation:
  • East africa is leading the world in urbanization, as the fastest urbanizing region in the world. By 2017 most East Africans will be residing in urban areas.
  • Rapid rate of household formation
  • Economic growth has been high in East Africa, regional average growth rate of 7%
  • Emphasis of national planning by governments in the East African region to enhance the way of life for communities
  • If the urban areas are strategically planned it can provide many economic opportunities 
  • Building industry can be used as a pillar of urban policy and utilized to absorb people with different skill sets and get cash moving out into the economy. It also has dramatic multiplier effect and serves as a key economic development indicator.
  • There is movement to create building structures and utilize methods that are environmentally sustainable 
  • As Africans we should consider investing  in property and infrastructure
  • Africa needs to set aggressive and high standards for ourselves, and focus on commercially viable solutions

"Talking of Libya, the place seems to be actually different. The upheaval that is rocking the Arab world has miraculously by-passed the place. And that notwithstanding Gadaffi’s rash lament for his old friend Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali, the deposed Tunisian despot. There’s been no whiff of a copycat repeat, not even the Facebook and Twitter rumblings that are egging on the Egyptians.
Why is this? Libya is not less autocratic. Gaddafi doesn’t hold elections. If we talk of obscene longevity, he beats the Mubaraks and Ben Alis by miles (he has ruled uninterrupted since 1969!). And it can’t be that Libyans are zombies and that Tunisians or Egyptians are more wild. Of course, Libya’s copious oil wealth helps. Apart from the wacky posture Gaddafi cuts abroad, he has created one of the most generous social welfare systems in the Arab world, certainly the best in Africa."

Read more here


Kenyan Elders Crown Gaddafi 'King of Africa'

South Sudan-What Next

South Sudan
To Be or Not To Be? That is the Question...

  • Capital city: Juba
  • Demonym: South Sudanese
  • Area: 619,745 km
  • Population:11,000,000–13,000,000 ???
  • Ethnic Groups: Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Lotuko, Kuku, Zande, Mundari, Kakwa, Pojulu, Shilluk, Moru, Acholi, Madi, Lulubo, Lokoya, Toposa, Lango, Didinga, Murle, Anuak, Makaraka, Mundu, Jur, Kaliko, and others.
  • Official language: English
  • Did you know: Southern Sudan produces 85% of Sudanese oil output!

The African continent is gearing up as the geographical land map is about to witness significant change!

The secession of South Sudan is more likely, & a new nation is about to be born in the African continent. This marks the end of a new beginning as the journey ahead as an independent international sovereign state begins.

So what would their To do list look like:

  • Sustain the peace dividend
  • New name
  • New National Anthem
  • National Pledge perhaps
  • Dialing code
  • Domain name
  • Good governance
  • Development Strategy
  • Education, Education, Education!!!
  • Strong, independent, transparent, accessible institutions
  • Become an economic powerhouse in the continent
  • Don't become another Eritrea
  • Be serious

Not to do list:

  • War
  • Corruption
  • Inefficiency
  • Nepotism
  • Tribalism

Sudan as it is today

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