Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheserem's emotional moment brings more blessings for poor school

By Andrew Munyoki
Lingithya primary school, where Commission on Revenue Allocation [CRA] chairman Micah Cheserem broke down in tears after he found pupils learning under trees when he visited Kitui county has reaped big from the man’s tears.

Apart from the Kshs 100,000 the CRA chairman donated from his pocket , another Kshs 100,000 from the CRA corporate social responsibility kitty and some Kshs 1 million from the county government of Kitui, the learning institution will now benefit with close to Kshs 10 million from the Kenya Airways which will be spend on construction of  classrooms and other structures.

The tiny school in Kanziko location of Kitui south with an enrolment of 112 pupils and three teachers will receive a new look after construction of a nine classroom block, a modern library, dining hall and dormitory for learners.

Kenya Airways head of corporate social responsibility for
sustainable development Ms. Georgina Ndawa interacts with
pupils at Lingithya primary school in Kitui South after the
KQ teams visited the school on Tuesday last week

 (Photo:Andrew Munyoki)
It will also have a modern fence erected to secure the compound from wild animals from the nearby Tsavo east national park, several water tanks for provision of safe water for learners and staff and modern toilets to boost hygiene and sanitation which is visibly lacking in the school.

Ms. Georgina Ndawa, the KQ head of corporate social responsibility for sustainable development unit said work will commence immediately and is expected to be completed in six month’s time to provide pupils with a new and better learning environment.

Kenya airways felt compelled to sponsor development of the school after the standard newspaper carried a story earlier last week showing the harsh conditions children as young as five years old endured to obtain education in a region largely affected by poverty.

“We were touched by the story and felt our support was needed most in this school to help these children obtain quality education to enable them compete fairly with others from privileged regions”   Ms. Ndawa said when addressing parents and members of the community at the school on Tuesday.

Area member of county assembly James Munuve who led both the CRA and KQ teams in their visits to Kitui south to see the school thanked the team for its role in ensuring poor children in Africa receive education and other necessities for development under its sustainable projects.

“It is a pity to see some of our kids learning under trees with no structure to call a classroom when we are waiting to celebrate the millennium development goals less than two years from today” Mr. Munuve lamented.

The Lingithya primary school project is the first of its kind by KQ in Kitui County

Auto mechanic jobs,no longer a preserve for men

By Daniel Mwendo
From time immemorial, auto mechanic jobs have always been associated with the male gender. But one woman in Mutomo town of Eastern Kenya has broken this norm and ventured in the business.

From afar, one would easily mistake 19 year old Muluki Mwanzia to be a man until a closer look reveals that she is actually a woman dressed in a work apron. Muluki is a resident of Kyatune Location of Mutomo district and the only lady auto mechanic in Mutomo Township.

From when she was a little girl in Primary school, Muluki always aspired to be an auto mechanic, a course she vowed to pursue no matter the grade she would get in her studies.

“Immediately after I finished my primary school education in 2010, I enrolled for a motor mechanic training at the Kitui Polytechnic,” says Muluki adding that she successfully passed her Grade III exams in 2012 and has since then been doing the job she always dreamt of.

The job comes with many perks; self-employment being the most important of all. Muluki adds that starting a business venture in the auto mechanic field is very cheap as one only needs to have a simple toolbox which is affordable.
Muluki at her place of work (Photo:Daniel Mwendo/MCV)

“For me, being an auto mechanic is a job like any other. One only needs to be focused and determined. I am lucky because I am self-employed at a very youthful age, “says the 19 year old. She continues to say that she considers this to be a job like any other and feels fulfilled by what she does.

Just like with any other job, Muluki reports to her job early. She is of the opinion that people in the jua kali sector should wake up to the reality that theirs are jobs like any to other and treat their jobs with discipline and professionalism.

“I do not mind being soiled, this job provides me with my basic needs and gives me financial independence, “says Muluki adding that she despises ladies who would like to be smart yet lack financial independence. 
She says that her ambition is to scale the heights of her career, further her training and establish her own garage.

She discloses that the job is well paying as a small mechanical problem can bring in a good amount of money. She further advises the youthful ladies around to consider penetrating in jobs traditionally considered to be a preserve for men.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Organization sets precedence in citizen journalism

By Andy Munyoki

Over a dozen youths from Mutomo district of Kitui south have received empowerment to become assertive voices for the speechless in a marginalized region haunted by poor leadership, drought, hunger and other natural calamities for decades.

After a week long training in citizen journalism organized by Arid Lands Information Network [ALIN] the youths left with knowledge enabling them to identify and report effectively community issues that have remained unreported for long.

“Many things happen here, we never hear them on radio nor read them in papers” a trainee claimed.
The trainees had expressed their interest in the training organized by ALIN’s local Maarifa Centre at Mutomo which has remained a reputable centre for information and training for the community since it was established in 2007.
A training session in progress (Photo:Rhoda Musili/ALIN)
The citizen journalism training is the first of its kind in the region aimed at moulding community journalists who are expected to lobby and advocate on behalf of fellow residents on matters of governance and local leadership.

Lead trainer Dennis Kipkirui, a lecturer and media consultant urged the trainees to “provoke action and address issues affecting their immediate society without fear or favour” when winding up the course on Friday last week.

18 year old Millicent Susa says the urge to pursue a career in journalism was so overwhelming that she could not help walking for over three hours a day to attend the training from her home.

The trainees will receive certificates to prove their merit in the course in a profession invaded by quacks and infiltrated by other professionals diminishing the true spirit of journalism.

Among the youths were a 61 year old retired educationalist and a 42 year old vicar who termed the training an entry point towards empowerment of a community often overlooked by professional journalists in the county during their reporting.“I feel empowered and digitalized after this training” quipped pastor John Mutua Nyamai

Rhoda Musili, ALIN’s Field Officer for  the Mutomo Maarifa Centre challenged the trainees to put their knowledge in proper use while assisting them create a blog site called “ Mutomo Citizen voices” where the citizen journalists will publish their articles and features.

It is expected the citizen journalists will provide a shift from the past by utilizing their online publication site filling copy and uploading photographs that will tell their community’s stories.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Citizen Journalists’ day in the field

By Samuel Gitonga Makanya
Memorable, exciting and thrilling are some of the adjectives used by a group of citizen journalism trainees at Mutomo Maarifa Centre to describe a photo shooting session they had. When their facilitator Dennis Kipkirui informed them of a photo shooting field session, the trainees could not hide their joy at the prospect of putting what they had learnt into practice.

Mr.James Wambua Mwendo, a trainee
 busy during the learning session 
Each of the trainees had been given a topic on which they would write on. As such, they were assigned a field work exercise for a photo shooting session to capture photos to accompany their stories. With the help of facilitators from the Maarifa Centre, the trainees embarked on a photo shooting fieldwork to capture relevant photos to accompany their articles which were to be posted on the Citizen Journalism blog.

One of the trainees Mr. John Kasimu had this to say, “This is such an exciting opportunity, I cannot wait to see my photo online,” said the jovial 20 year old former student of Mutomo Mixed Secondary school.

During the field exercise, the trainees learnt on how to frame a photo, how to focus on the subject, factors to consider when shooting a photo and zooming options. They also had an opportunity to prepare subjects for photo shooting as well as instilling confidence in subjects.

Earlier on, each of the trainees had an opportunity to practically learn on how to hold a still camera as well as techniques used in capturing great photos.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kitui County to receive equalization fund next year

By Andrew Munyoki
Kitui County will be among the top regions for consideration during allocation of the equalization fund in the government’s next fiscal year, Commission on Revenue Allocation [CRA] chairman Micah Cheserem has said.
“Yes Kitui missed in this year’s allocation, however, it will be among the counties for prioritization in the next allocation,” Cheserem promised during a meeting with the governor Dr.Julius Malombe.
CRA chairman Micah Cheserem (Photo: Andrew Munyoki/MCV)

The CRA wound a two day familiarization trip to Kitui County on Wednesday where the team visited mineral rich areas like Mui Coal Basin in Mwingi East and limestone and iron ore belts in Mutomo and Ikutha districts respectively.

The CRA team asked for a quick resolve to all issues holding back mining of the minerals in the region which could be explored to improve the lives of residents with most living below the poverty line.

The chairman also challenged local leaders to spearhead civic education on devolution matters at the same time encouraging citizen participation and consensus to fast-track mining activities in the region for revenue.
CRA visited for an assessment of the economic status of the county among other objectives. The revenue allocating body met the reality of poverty after visiting Kitui south, a constituency where residents walk long distances in search of water while pupils learn in the open or makeshift structures.

Lamenting the high rate of poverty among residents, Cheserem blamed past leadership for a systemic failure to tap into the county’s natural resources that could have been exploited long ago for revenue that could have changed the lives of locals.

  “Surely leaders from this region should be ashamed of themselves if a county with so many resources should be in such a condition” the soft spoken man told county assembly members when he addressed them.

He further urged all elected leaders from the region to ensure that they transform the lives of residents before expiry of their term in leadership failure to which none should seek re-election.

“None of you MCAs [members of county assembly] or any other elected leader from this region should seek re-election if five years from today residents would not have seen any improvement in their livelihoods” he quipped.

Advocating for a sustainable food production in the region the CRA urged the county government to promote farming of crops suitable for the little rains received in the region.

Cheserem shed tears on Tuesday when he visited some of the poorest and driest parts of the country. In Lingithya primary school in Kanziko ward of Kitui south, Cheserem was overcome by emotion and  broke down when he found hundreds of pupils huddled in a few desks under a shade without a single structure as classroom.The former Central Bank Governor donated Ksh 100,000 from his own pocket and another Ksh 100,000 from the CRA corporate social responsibility kitty for the rehabilitation of the school.

Youth shun HIV testing

By James Kimanzi
The rate of the spread of HIV/AIDS in the country is estimated to be 6.3% according to Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2008-09 done by USAID IN Action. This survey shows that youth are the majority group in the society affected by the pandemic painting a bleak picture of the country’s future. What is even more saddening is that majority of the youth don’t know their HIV/AIDs status yet they are sexually active.

Mutomo Health Centre billboard (Photo: James Kimanzi/MCV)
A spot check conducted in Mutomo town’s youth population by this citizen journalist revealed that a big number would not dare visit a Voluntary Testing Centre (VCT) for an HIV/AIDs test and even if they did, they will not have the courage to wait for the disclosure of the results. Majority of them say that nervousness, fear of the unknown, and their active sexual behavior attribute to this behavior.Many refer the waiting as the scariestmoment they can ever imagine of.

A 24 year old man who is a sales person of a prominent company in town, confidently narrated about his relationship with a 13 year old form one girl. What is more, the young man blatantly admits that a condom has never featured anywhere in his sex life.This also paints a bleak picture of where Kenya’s youth are headed.
Sadly, this is not just an issue with the youth as even the town’s adult population has also fallen victim. A middle aged resident who spoke on conditions of anonymity disclosed of how he visited a VCT Centre for testing but his courage failed him midway and he could not wait for the results to be disclosed. “Singevumilia kungoja results za VCT (I could not wait for the results),” he confessed.

Another youth shamelessly admitted that if by any chance he was found to be infected, he would ensure that he spreads it around before his last breath, a clear indication that Mutomo residents ought to be cautious whom they form sexual relations with.Because as somebody pointed it out, “I am the only safe person that I know it’s prudent to abstain and keep off premarital sex”.

HTC stands for HIV/AIDS Testing and Counseling. These services are in the while a fundamental exercise that everyone should adopt to be able to know his/her status. It assists in mapping management activities and schedules to the infected and affected persons in the community. The managerial activities may include psychological support, spiritual, physical, as well as diet wise. For those affected, a lot of counseling is advised to manipulate positive attitude towards their infected persons since AIDS is real.

Security to be beefed up along Kitui-Tana border

By Andy Munyoki
The county government of Kitui will work with the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to beef up security at the border of Kitui and Tana River counties, Governor Dr. Julius Malombe has said.

Dr. Julius Malombe Kitui County Governor (Photo:Andy Munyoki/MCV)
With banditry and crime at the border reaching alarming rates Dr. Malombe has also promised to meet Mr. Hussein Dado, the Tana River governor to lay parameters that will bring to an end increasing insecurity and crime at the unmanned border of the two counties.

Close to a dozen people have lost their lives this year alone while others have escaped with fatal injuries upon criminal attacks as they cross over from one county to the other.

Traders from the Kamba and Somali communities have also lost goods worth millions of shillings to criminals as they transport them via the border.

The border line located in the south Kitui national game reserve is also considered a route for transportation of guns and other ammunitions by criminals who find safe grounds within the reserve to hide from security officers from Kitui County.

“I have spoken to my colleague Hussein Dado over security matters at the border and we shall hold a meeting later this weekend to discuss that” Dr. Malombe said.The two leaders will also discuss their governments’ participation in an operation organized by the ministry of interior and coordination of national government to drive out all encroachers from the south Kitui national game reserve.

Three shopping centers found within the reserve are considered the most insecure places in the region with frequent mugging of traders reported by security officers.

Political interests, ivory and charcoal trade have been mentioned by security officers from the region as the greatest hindrances to a successful eviction of encroachers from the game reserve.Despite concerted efforts by the Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service officials to drive out pastoralists, charcoal burners and poachers form the bulk of nomadic and Kamba communities still living in  the 1833square km reserve.

And now government officials blame local politicians for failure to support them as they labor to redeem the image of the resource gazetted in July 1979 and recorded as the largest game reserve in the country.
31 people were arrested by Kenya forest service officials while burning charcoal in the reserve and arraigned in a Tana River court on Friday where ten of them were sentenced to a six month imprisonment while the others were released on a Ksh 500 fine.

Mutomo town faces water scarcity

By Anne Musau
Water scarcity in Mutomo town has become a recurrent problem as water prices skyrocket each day. Despite the fact that there is a TanAthi Water Services Board water project in town, perennial drought has seen water supply become unreliable thus leaving town residents at the mercy of water vendors who exploit them.

Woman fetching water in a rock (Photo: Rhoda Musili/ALIN)
TanAthi Water services Board project was established in 2011 to serve Mutomo community. The water is drawn from three (3) boreholes in Ilusya from where it is pumped to a booster station at Ikanga trading Centre, 55 KM from Mutomo town. The boreholes have a combined yield of 60M3/h.
However due to persistent drought that hits Mutomo District from time to time, the project has not been able to sustain  water demands of the growing town. Long queues for water are a common sight in the town as residents strain to get access to this rare commodity. 

This inconsistency has left town residents at the mercy of water vendors who hawk the rare commodity at high prices. A spot check around Mutomo town shows vendors strategically placed at various points within the market where they sell this precious commodity to residents at hiked prices.
For instance a 20 Litre jerrican costs Kshs.2 at the water kiosk selling point but water vendors hawk the same quantity of water at prices ranging from Kshs.25-30.This price changes according to water availability at the selling point as well as the season. 

According to Mwikali Timothy, a vendor, they sometimes have to walk for long hours to search for water at water harvesting structures which are quite a distance from Mutomo town. “This is why we sell the commodity at high prices since it is our source of livelihood,” says Mwikali.