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Monday, September 27, 2010

Drought Strikes NEP

KBC News

Drought hits Kenyan county

Written By:Kendagor Obadiah, Posted: Sun, Sep 26, 2010

A biting drought has hit Garissa County causing untold suffering among residents and their livestock.

Water has become just a mirage in the region, further endangering the lives of the residents who are already battling with an acute shortage of food.

The government however, has kicked off an intervention program of water tanking to the most hit areas to remedy the sorry state.

In Garissa residents and their livestock are scrambling for water which has become a rare commodity. Water wells are few and far between making it difficult for residents especially the young ones to access the vital commodity.

Besides frantic efforts to drill more water wells, the government has also kicked off an intervention program of trucking water closer to the people as a remedial measure.

There are concerns however that drivers ferrying government water may have started cashing in on the unfortunate situation prompting livestock assistant minister Adan Duale to warn of stern action against any rogue driver.

The most hit areas are Nuno, Gulan, Shimbire Saka and Abdisamat in Dujis constituency.

The region is prone to perennial droughts which ussually have devastating effects on the people and their livestock.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Govt to market North Eastern kenya

Govt to market North Eastern Kenya

Written By:Kamau Mbote, Posted: Fri, Sep 24, 2010

The government plans to make North Eastern a tourism hub to showcase its cultural diversity and unique tourist products.

Speaking to Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, Assistant Minister for Tourism Cecile Mbarire says the ministry is diversifying from the known safari and beach attractions to encourage more local and foreign tourists.

Kenya is best known internationally for its wildlife and white sand beaches and less known for its desert scenery and camel rides in the deserts.

According to the ministry of tourism this will be the new approach that the government will be taking to encourage more tourists in the area and uplift the living standard of the north eastern people.

The ministry is aiming to maximize on the potential of the Lamu-Ethiopia highway that will be passing through Garissa town.

Mbarire says Garissa can then be used as a transit town for business men and investors thereby showcasing its products and earning the local community a living by supplying meat and agricultural products to hotels and resorts.

The ministry also aims at working with the counties entrenched in the new constitution to develop tourism by formulating policies that favor tourism nationally, while counties will be allowed to come up with new innovative products.

Among activities that are set for this week include workshops to teach communities on eco and cultural tourism, tree planting, public events and a carnivore around Garissa town.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Untamed Beasts of NEP

      Shoot me for being a believer in fairies and I'll die believing the people of NEP have their better days ahead of them. The current brain-dead leadership in our region will not steer us to the promised land. I'm sure most of us would welcome any phantom over the current cadre of MPs who have lowered us several rungs below where we were in 2000. Between the last three MPs, we've heard ministers, assistant Ministers and generals who've held position of power and wealth. Where did all this great power and influence take us? An infrastructure worse than that of Ancient Greece,perennially failing schools, super-high unemployment and a lack of basic needs. A Leaddership that has encouraged and at times bank rolled intra-tribal conflicts for their own political gains. A power hungry class that divides people into class and clans to exploit them.

    Maybe this is the time for the Achebe reading youth of Garissa High, Umu Salama and Wajir High, who wouldn't mix well at the privileged tables but are bound to be an improvement over the current illiterate and socially connected class. This is time for the youth to vie for positions of leadership. Its the right time for 25 year olds from Nep who hold University degrees but are held in doldrums of despair and hopelessness to take up their rightful position in society.

I wish they would run and if they do, I'll wish them the very best. I hope no one goes to a voting booth to cast their vote for an incumbent.Its time for unleashing the untamed beasts.
Currently there are a number who are considering vying for positions. The likes of Devii, Sadeeq, Salah and numerous others who have decided to put themselves on the line for the greater good of the common class. Kick out the old guard for the fresh blood has far greater things to offer. Let the revolution start.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sadik B Abdullahi: 'Opening up the north' - disappointment


'Opening up the north' - disappointment
I am very disappointed. Disappointed at the fact that the proposed ‘corridor’, that I somehow, in my naivety, believed would pass through North-Eastern Province (NEP), would after all be connecting Lamu and Ethiopia through Isiolo and Moyale. Turkana County will also benefit from this venture. The ‘opening up of the north’ is indeed intended for linking up the proposed port in Lamu to both Sudan and Ethiopia. Thus, NEP does not at this juncture appear to feature anyway in the plan.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to also hear any voice from the political leaders from NEP. Either they are oblivious to these facts or I can only come to the conclusion that they don’t care. This is, without a doubt, very depressing. It’s depressing because the very ones tasked with fighting for our cause are obviously sleeping on their job.

With this tendency, I only envision NEP to continue wallowing in the poverty and misery that it is synonymous with. Ours will continue featuring at the bottom of all positive indicators and vice versa. More importantly, the infrastructure that we so earnestly desire will remain a dream and just that, a dream. We will just be deluding ourselves that our future would be bright when indeed we are not doing anything laudable to achieve such noble goals.

In this case, the onus then lies not with the elected leaders but with the electorate. The residents of NEP need to ask themselves why their leaders continue performing so dismally. Are they elected only to earn obscene amounts of tax free salaries and polish their CVs? Or, is it to only help their immediate families and their cronies? The answers definitely are far from these. We get these visionless leaders primarily because of the intrinsic clan nature of the Somali. And that’s what we need to fight as the electorates in NEP.

However, it doesn’t mean that we should keep quiet until we overcome this cancer that ails all Somalis. On the contrary we need to put these leaders to account for their inactions. They also need to be reminded the reasons they got elected in the first place. They specifically need to be asked what they are doing as regards the lack of roads in the province. Don’t these leaders understand the importance of this vital infrastructure?

Even more appalling is the fact that a reader pointed to me that we are indeed partly responsible for our lack of infrastructure in NEP. The claim that some wicked business people from the province are against the idea of improving the road networks, in the mistaken belief that such a vital resource would have a dent on their profit margin. This is, sadly, something that I had heard before. The authenticity of this despicable allegation, however, can not be ascertained but it is not completely impossible. If this is true then we need to expand ‘our war’ and not only fight for our rights but also fight against these imbeciles. You honestly have to be the biggest fool ever created to even think of such an idiotic proposition that would deny us the opportunities to advance to the 21st century.

Also, as a Muslim, I know and believe that Allah is the best of sustainers. And, in the event that our communication network gets improved then we all will gain from it. I don’t think anyone would lose his God given source of livelihood. In reality, the cost of transportation would definitely come down and effectively lowering the price of goods. Even though some imbeciles would only think of the reduced prices and come to the logical fallacy that their profits would decrease, they need to be informed that the consumer base would expand. This growth in the number of consumers, even regardless of reduced prices, would for sure increase their profit margin. Actually, it would be a win-win case instead of the current scenario where the businesspeople think they are winning at the expense of the masses. And, of course, the better infrastructure would also substantially reduce their operational cost.

A good example of this is traffic between Garissa and Nairobi. The road between the two towns, by Kenyan standards, seems to be in very good shape. This, evidently, reduces the fare and makes more people afford the ‘luxury’ of travelling to Nairobi and vice versa. Contrast that with the time that the road network between the city and Garissa was almost non-existent? We had fewer buses plying this route and by extension only a small number of people travelling. I also dread going to many parts of NEP because of the poor roads and I believe the same is true for many other people. Anyway, we don’t have to think the same way but having proper roads and improvement of other infrastructure in the province would only make life better for all of us, without anyone losing his daily subsistence.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Business Daily: �- Northern Kenya deserves attention

Ibrahim Mwathane

Northern Kenya deserves attention

Please look out and tell me what you see below,” I asked my Burundian friend as we entered Kenyan airspace from a Trans-Atlantic journey.

“Nothing. Just darkness”, she said.

“That’s the northern part of my country. Looks like it’s uninhabited, doesn’t it, compared to what we saw while overflying America and Europe at night. Yet it forms a major part of my country”, I told her.

As if to vindicate, the space below suddenly lit up as we approached Nakuru and proceeded through Naivasha to Nairobi.

The neat darkness was gone. Rather humbling. This undeveloped North challenges our national economy and business enterprise.

After six years, I returned to Garissa, provincial town, Northern Kenya. End of tarmac. To Isiolo, Wajir and Mandera is a very rough road.

And the many extras we take for granted out here in “ developed Kenya” are scant.

I for instance remember newspaper vendors bursting into laughter when I asked for a newspaper at about 12 noon.

“Not yet arrived”, they told me.

Six years back, they’d just shaken their heads, amused and in disbelief when I made a similar request at about 8 am.

I thought things must have improved. Not at all. Residents read rather stale news here.

Challenges in aspects like entertainment, accommodation and travel are galore.

Yet Garissa, compared to the wider arid North, is modern and well connected to “Kenya”.

But in many aspects, the town is fighting back admirably. It’s growing. The skyline, given what I had seen earlier, has changed.

New and higher commercial buildings have come up.

And numerous modern residential units have mushroomed all around.

Garissa will soon force itself to national attention.

But we need to be more proactive about its growth and its central role.

We must remember that it provides co-ordination and entry to the rather “dark North”, the Kenya we need to reclaim.

Reminds me of the book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”, where author John Perkins observes how in the ‘70s , America helped to transform the desert Oil Kingdom of Saudi Arabia into a modern Industrialised Nation.

Through massive investments of capital and technology, shopping malls, housing complexes, hospitals, water and sewerage, communication, electrical and transport networks replaced the once archaic systems of the Kingdom.

Of course, the take for America too was immense. But the lesson here is that our arid North can be turned around.

If America, limited by distance and language, could achieve such a feat in under a decade, what about us?

With a common language, fairly short distances and compelling national reasons, we should transform our North.

That is why the President’s Madaraka Day speech indicating that feasibility studies are on going for a railway network to connect the Indian Ocean port of Lamu to Isiolo and Juba in Southern Sudan with a link from Isiolo to Moyale to connect Ethiopia to promote tourism, trade and investments must be lauded.

These plans should incorporate modern highways and an oil pipeline alongside.

And Garissa must be connected too. It is gratifying to note that the Vision 2030 sectoral plan for Lands 2008-2012 incorporates plans to source land for this important transport corridor.

The recent pronouncement allocating Sh4.2 billion for the development of roads to open up Isiolo as a Resort City by the Finance Minister in the 2010/11 budget also aligns well to developing Northern Kenya.

Those keen on tapping the latent business opportunities from irrigation agriculture, livestock production, real estate, the provision of service infrastructure and oil exploration in this area must therefore gear up early.

Makes good business sense.

The Double Standard in Issuing National IDs

Sdiq's thoughts: The illiterate councilors in NEP - Kenya

By "the incredible" Sdiq Baqad
There are only a handful of magnificent architectural structures in Garissa, the capital of North-Eastern Province in Kenya (NEP). And, one of these buildings is the Catholic Church in the town. You might wonder why the presence of a church would be very conspicuous in a majority Muslim town. However, this has everything to do with the quality of the councilors we have in the province – the elected local government officials. The public library in the town is also outstanding and is actually rumoured to be the best in the country.

Due to the poor pay associated with such onerous but important tasks, most of the elite shun these junior political positions. They instead prefer the other more prestigious occupations that come with the money. Politically, the least they accept are parliamentary positions, which in Kenya are known to pay very well - and tax free salaries at that. This, therefore, leaves some, mostly illiterate, persons to take the local governance jobs. And, that’s where our problem stems from.

In addition, town planning is usually done at the central level - in the state capital. Technocrats in Nairobi are the ones tasked with planning for the whole of Kenya. It is these groups that draw maps for all towns in Kenya. Though there is nothing wrong with these surveyors, cartographers and other similar professionals being adherents of a particular faith, the maps they draw usually come with a wrong assumption that everyone in Kenya is a Christian. Thus, they fallaciously indicate ‘church’ on the maps rather than leave this option open, or write 'place of worship' instead.

And, this is where our ill-educated leaders come in. For some reasons, they take the word 'church' literally, not realizing that the proposed church land is in fact a space meant for the majority of an area to establish their own place of worship. Thus, if the residents of a region are predominantly of a certain faith, say, for example, Islam, then it is a mosque that deserves priority in such an area. Conversely, if the same region was predominated by Catholics, then a catholic church should be given precedence over other houses of worship.

It is for this reason that you will find almost all mosques in Garissa, and by extension in the whole province, being built on privately acquired land. A Muslim could, for example, buy a plot for the purpose of an Islamic worship centre, or offer a piece from their own parcels. This, sadly, makes most of the mosques in the region to be squeezed on some small plots. Expansion of the same, or the establishment of a madrassa within the compound of the masjid, thus becomes an impossible feat. On the other hand, the minority Christians in Garissa enjoy the prime most areas for their churches, and on relatively expansive plots.

The Somalis never see this as a problem though. As long as they have access to some place they can go and do their worship, then there isn’t a dilemma, regardless of the quality of the same. This effectively denies the Muslims in this region enough spaces for their other religious needs, and notably, madrassas.

Whereas this setback is primarily caused by the experts in Nairobi, the councilors aren’t infallible too. They do also contrive to deny residents of other social amenities. You will be surprised that there are whole sections of Garissa that are inaccessible by road. Apart from some school playgrounds, the town also does not have public recreation facilities. All these are solely as a result of the illiterate officials that locals elect every so often.

Now, the residents of NEP have to pay a price for the ineptness of the central government combined with the idiocy of their local officials. You will be surprised though if you contrast what happens in NEP and the reality in other parts of the country. Muslims in other parts of the country, or even adherents of other faiths, are primarily considered if they form the majority in a given place. A good example would be towns in Central Province like Thika, Muranga and Margua - places I have visited before.

Luckily, the newly promulgated Kenyan Constitution devolves a lot of the power initially concentrated at the central level to the county level. This would, therefore, make all developmental decisions, and other issues regarding the advancement of the citizens, to be deliberated by the locals themselves. Also, many educated youth are now eyeing these junior political positions, mostly out of desperation for unemployment is very high in the region. Therefore, and as a result of the above two, the future seems to be very bright.

Competition for Resources between Somali Refugees at Dadaab & local Somali residents

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Standard | Online Edition :: Eastleigh's illegal DSTV Business

The Standard | Online Edition :: Two convicted for illegal sale of DSTV signals

Two convicted for illegal sale of DSTV signals

Published on 09/09/2010

By Wahome Thuku
Police in Nairobi have dismantled a racket involving illegal connection and distribution of signals belonging to a broadcasting firm.
Two men involved in the scheme were on Thursday charged and fined Sh800,000 or face two years in jail. They were convicted after accepting the charges.
The racket, which has been flourishing in several city estates, entails linking numerous homes to a few legally acquired satellite dishes to enable beneficiaries illegally access paid up services.
One satellite dish is illegally connected to more than 200 households at a fee of Sh1,000 per month each.
The two men, Habane Mohammed Abdi and Addirizak Mohammed Gelle were arrested for distributing DSTV signals in Eastleigh area in the outskirts of the city centre and infringing on the copyright of Multichoice Kenya.
They were arrested on Wednesday at Eastleigh Sixth Street, 2nd Avenue where they had linked two satellite dishes to more than seven blocks of residential flats.
Investigators traced numerous cables running from one house to various adjacent premises.
They entered the house and arrested the two men, one of whom was not a Kenyan. They also recovered two satellite dishes, 23 decoders, video disc players, amplifiers, nine modulators, 19 remote controllers, a TV set and other related gadgets.
The two were charged before Principle Magistrate Grace Macharia with two counts of distributing infringed broadcast signals and being in possession of equipment for the transmission, contrary to the Copyright Act.
They pleaded guilty and asked the court for leniency. But Ms Macharia said the offence was serious as the accused were harvesting where they did not sow. She ordered each to pay Sh200,000 for each count.

The Standard | :: Somali refugees' tale of blood, sweat and tears

The Standard | Online Edition :: Somali refugees' tale of blood, sweat and tears

Somali refugees' tale of blood, sweat and tears

Updated 9 hr(s) 51 min(s) ago

By Amos Kareithi
Sitting on the barren ground and waving away dust swirling around her, Khadija Abdi Hajji patiently waits for the metal gates to open.
Hajji, 62, is in a group of Somalis who have just entered Kenya to escape years of violence in their country.
Travelling in a rickety van, they are lucky to have made it safely to the sprawling Ifo refugee camp in Garissa. As the van comes to a stop and gates to the camp are swung open, a stream of haggard looking women and children disembark.

Newly-arrived refugees rest as they wait to be registered at the Ifo camp in northern Kenya.

"I fled from my home in Kismayu last week. I will never go back ," she declares.
For months, she persevered as ten of her close relatives were gunned down by Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group that controls swathes of Somalia.
"A few weeks ago, a group of youths stopped me and decreed that the material of my bui bui (veil worn by Muslim women) was not heavy enough. They arrested and locked me up for hours," Khadija recalls.
After three more arrests and whipping, she sold all her belongings and headed for Kenya.
As she waits to be registered, she is living at Ifo, one of three camps which make up Daadab.
The other two are Dagahaley and Hagadera.
If she is lucky, Khadija will join an estimated 271,000 of her countrymen and women who are currently residing in the camps. The entire settlement has a population of 289,000 souls.
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the fighting in Somalia has caused a steady flow of people into Kenya. More than 1,000 Somalis are arriving in the camps weekly.
The UN body said this year alone, more than 37,000 people have crossed the border into the camps.
However, conditions at the camps are deplorable. Firewood supply is rapidly diminishing, posing unprecedented problems to UNHCR, which has ran out cash.

Cultural practices

UNHCR’s spokesman Mr Emanuel Nyabera says the camps are congested as they were originally meant to accommodate only 90,000 people.
"We are having a serious problem as we can no longer cope with the high number of refugees coming in," Nyabera explains.
In handouts to journalists, the organisation said maternal mortality was high, with 298 deaths per 100,000 people.
"Cultural practices commonly prevent women receiving the appropriate care in a timely manner. For instance, caesarean birth is usually not accepted and as a result, many women die because of breech babies," it said.
Awareness about HIV/Aids is low, and few know how to protect themselves from infection. Poor sanitation also exposes refugees to disease as there is a shortage of 39,000 toilets.

A child prepares a meal for her family at Kakuma refugee camp in Turkana Photos: Amos Kareithi Thuku/Standard
So grim is the picture that the UNHCR chief executive, Antonio Guterres jetted into the country last week to assess the situation.
After being conducted round Ifo, Guterres expressed dismay at the conditions there.
Hovels dot all the major roads leading in and out of Ifo. Every available space has been taken over by shanties.
Cases of sexual violence have also been reported.
"We have not been able to offer dignified services to the refugees here," Guterres comments.
Tired of waiting to be allotted spaces to erect their tents, some refugees have resorted to grabbing available space.
Somalis say they are tired of atrocities committed by Al-Shabaab. Last month, the insurgents attacked a hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, and killed up to 30 people, including six MPs.


During a meeting with refugee representatives, Guterres was shocked to learn that some people had been exploiting the refugees by charging fees for services that should be free.
However, there is a glimmer of hope following several projects aimed at making life better.
A new expansion phase has started. Several boreholes have been sunk and a school is under construction.
Once complete in a few months, the new phase will accommodate an additional 80,000 people. However, this is still not enough.
As busloads of desperate refugees arrive daily, Somalis who have been at Dadaab for more than 20 years are longing for peace in their country.

Education Development Centre's Garissa Youth Program (Courtesy of Karl Grobl)

Sura Ya Kazi: Cheery, Chatty and Well Patterned. 

 Yeah...We are self employed. Not pirates!!

 Keen Listeners. Dream students!

 And there was time for the ladies to share Ideas

 There is always time for some Football.  He is a good jugular/dribbler (whichever is the correct terminology here)

G-Youth Head office

Faces from EDC
 Those that Studied well got Internships ;)

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Standard | Online Edition :: MP faults President's move on Indemnity law

The Standard | Online Edition :: MP faults President's move on Indemnity law

MP faults President's move on Indemnity law

Published on 12/09/2010
By Ally Jamah and David Ochami
Nominated MP Mohammed Affey has expressed disappointment at the move by President Kibaki to veto the Indemnity (repeal) Bill.
The proposed law, passed unanimously by Parliament in April, would have lifted immunity from Government officials and security personnel against claims of human rights violations in parts of North Eastern and Coast Provinces between 1963-67.
But Affey said he is confident MPs will roll back the President’s veto when they resume sittings this month by raising the required two-thirds majority.
"The President’s rejection is quite unfair since the Indemnity law denies victims of human rights violations the right to seek legal redress and compensation," he said.
The Indemnity Act was passed in 1972 to grant blanket immunity to members of the military and Government officials who participated in operations in Isiolo, Lamu, Marsabit and Tana River.
Draconian law
According to documents seen by The Standard, the President justified his veto, saying the draconian law only required a few amendments. But Affey differed.
"For me, there is nothing to amend in that law since the whole piece of legislation goes against the spirit of the new Constitution and must be done away with," said Affey.
President Kibaki rejected the proposed law on September 1, despite its approval five months earlier.
Sources told The Standard the Attorney General delayed submitting the Bill to the President contrary to procedure.
"The AG is required to submit a Bill approved by Parliament to the President within two weeks while the President has another two weeks to approve or veto the proposed law. But Wako took months before submitting it," said the source.
The Nominated MP urged his colleagues to prioritise the Bill, saying it will boost national reconciliation and allow the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission to work in areas affected by that law.