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Archive for November 11th, 2010

Kenyan shines his way to CNN awards with solar lantern

Posted by Administrator on November 11, 2010

Evans Wadongo, Kenya’s finalist in the 2010 CNN Heroes Award. You vote for him at heroes.cnn.com/vote.aspx. Photo/SULEIMAN MBATIAH

Evans Wadongo, Kenya’s finalist in the 2010 CNN Heroes Award. You vote for him at heroes.cnn.com/vote.aspx. Photo/SULEIMAN MBATIAH

It all started in a room at his hostel when he invented the first ever solar-powered lantern back in 2004.

His desire to provide sustainable energy to communities was hatched while studying Electrical Engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.

As he fiddled with an experiment involving the timing of Christmas lights the idea to provide an environmentally friendly light source for rural homes struck him.

Today, Evans Wadongo’s initiative, which involves supplying solar-powered lanterns at no cost, has transformed the lives of thousands of rural families who have no access to electricity and live below the poverty line. He has received 200 supply requests from countries interested in his lanterns.

“We plan on opening an office in Lagos Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and the US to meet the growing demands.”

Coming from a poor family of four children, he relied on a kerosene lamp to study at night. At some point he develop poor eyesight because of smoke from the kerosene lamp.

Wadongo, the only African in the finals for the 2010 Cable News Network (CNN) Hero Awards, will be travelling to the United States on November 15 to represent Kenya at the awards ceremony in Hollywood.

The award, which attracted over 10,000 contestants form all over the world, is given to young persons with innovative projects geared towards eliminating poverty and creating sustained social development in local communities.

The 24-year-old will be relying on votes from Kenyans to clinch the coveted award come the finals to be aired on CNN live on November 25. Voting is still under way on heroes.cnn.com/vote.aspx and is expected to close on November 18.

If he gets voted as the finalist he stands to bring home $100,000 (about Sh8 million) which he says would be channelled towards financing production of more lanterns and other economic ventures his organisation supports.

He says part of the cash will finance a project in Migori, Nyanza, that targets to transform the area into a virtual tower.

“I plan to invest the money in setting up an ICT centre, a solar-powered fish processing plant and build more lanterns for distribution to needy homesteads in the country,” he said.

In a media briefing held on Thursday organised by Brand Kenya Limited at NHIF building an upbeat Mr Wadongo urged Kenyans to vote for him at the same time exuded confidence of victory in the competition.

During his visit, Wadongo is expected to hold meetings with top business leaders and tour several States and institutions of learning.

“I intend to spend a month in the US and meet with business executives from Microsoft and Apple, hold media interviews and address students at Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology,” he said.

His innovative programme dubbed ‘Use solar, save Lives’ produces lanterns at a cost Sh1,600. The production is funded by donors. The solar-powered lamp can light up a home for six hours if it is fully charged by being left in the sun during the day.

The inventor says the life span for the lamp is between six and 10 years. Wadongo says he has designed a new lantern that has a radio and a slot for charging a mobile phone. This one is still in the test stage.

Operating from his office in Nairobi’s South B area, which also hosts a workshop and employs eight permanent staff and over 10 volunteers each month, Wadongo estimates he has distributed 14,000 lanterns to rural communities across the country and hopes to hit 150,000 by 2015.

His group buys excess pieces of solar panelling cut from commercially sold panels and collects scrap metal to make the lamps.
Wadongo plans to train more youths to handle the large orders.

He says his dream of providing sustainable development to the poor has become a reality. “Children can now study, households can buy food with the money they save on kerosene, and carbon emissions have been reduced,” he says with a smile.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Kenyan%20shines%20his%20way%20to%20CNN%20awards%20with%20solar%20lantern%20/-/1056/1051858/-/4se85wz/-/

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Kenya CEO’s take HIV test publicly

Posted by Administrator on November 11, 2010

More than 50 Kenyan Chief Executive Officers Thursday took an HIV Aids test publicly in a bid to influence the management of HIV in the work place.

The event spearheaded by the East African Business Council, took place simultaneously in the five East African countries, and is mainly aimed at reducing HIV related risks of business processes in the region.

Stigma still thrives in many working environments, despite the availability of company HIV and health policies, an issue the bosses noted should be looked into, to improve the business environment.

The event, the first of its kind took place in Uganda, Tanzania Rwanda and Burundi simultaneously, and will be held annually henceforth.

The goal of CEO and business leaders public testing is to influence business leaders and their peers to take action on the issue of HIV and Aids management in the workplace, said EABC.

“By getting tested publicly (though the results remain private and confidential) business leaders will both reinforce the message that knowing one’s health status is an empowering experience and encourage other business leaders to take action against HIV and Aids in the workplace,”

New infections are still on the rise, with prevalence rates ranging from 2-7.1 percent in the region.

Source: http://www.kbc.co.ke/news.asp?nid=67530

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We were bribed to implicate Ruto, claim witnesses

Posted by Administrator on November 11, 2010

Ruto claimed that Mr Omar recruited, coached and paid witnesses to implicate him in the chaos

Ruto claimed that Mr Omar recruited, coached and paid witnesses to implicate him in the chaos

Two people Thursday came out publicly to claim that they were among witnesses supposedly bribed and coached by Kenya National Commission on Human Rights commissioner Omar Hassan to implicate Eldoret North MP William Ruto in the 2007 poll chaos.

The two Kipkemboi Rono and Ken Wekesa took journalists to houses in the leafy Kilimani suburbs, where they alleged to have been housed and given monthly allowances by the human rights body.

Rono, on his part claims to have been moved to the lavish three bedroom apartment since March and received 60,000 shillings per month for upkeep.

But Wekesa also surrendered his fully furnished apartment claiming to have been receiving a similar amount for upkeep.

Also in the offing he claims, was an offer of a cool 1.5 million shillings after giving the false evidence to the ICC, asylum with his family in a country of his choice and a lucrative job abroad.

The two witnesses’ claims come in the wake of a warning to Ruto by Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo to avoid sideshows which may undermine ICC investigations and the currently ongoing statement taking process by ICC investigators.

On Tuesday, the suspended Higher Education minister claimed that Mr Omar recruited, coached and paid witnesses to implicate him in the chaos.

Speaking to journalists at parliament buildings the suspended higher education minister claimed that the commissioner visited Eldoret way before the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators commenced their probe.

A KNCHR report on the post election chaos named Ruto as an alleged perpetrator after interviewing victims and witnesses.

Omar however dismissed as baseless the claims by Ruto saying that they were aimed at tainting the credibility of the human rights body.

Omar argued that the Commission holds no political interests and therefore would have no reason to pay witnesses to implicate anyone in the post election violence.

KNCHR chairperson Florence Jaoko Wednesday defended Omar and maintained that their report which implicated Mr Ruto was above board.

Ruto jetted out of the country last week to meet ICC investigators and give his version of the events that occurred after the announcement of the disputed 2007 general elections.

The clashes left over 1000 people dead and hundreds of thousands of others displaced mostly in Ruto’s home turf of Rift Valley.

 Source: http://www.kbc.co.ke/news.asp?nid=67528

Posted in Kenya | 7 Comments »

KENYA: Exposed! A high-risk porn business

Posted by Administrator on November 11, 2010

Many young people are attracted by the relatively high earnings of pornography compared to street-based sex work

Many young people are attracted by the relatively high earnings of pornography compared to street-based sex work

NAIROBI, 11 November 2010 (PlusNews) – The US adult film industry was brought to a virtual standstill recently after an actor tested HIV-positive and all his sexual partners were tested for the virus. There are no such precautions in Kenya’s porn industry, where actors usually perform without a condom or routine HIV testing.

“I don’t know my HIV status and I can’t say I know that of the men we act with,” said Angela*, who recently made the switch from eight years of street-based sex work to acting in local porn films. “I know it is a dangerous thing I am doing, but I console myself that it is the same people all the time we act with in the videos… at times, doing it without a condom might give you extra pay.”

Kenya’s local porn industry, once limited to photography, has grown in recent years. DVD peddlers surreptitiously hawk films on street corners while some producers and distributors have created adult web sites and even clubs where audiences can watch films or witness live sex acts. More profitable than street- or bar-based sex work, acting in porn films is an attractive option for many young men and women struggling to make ends meet in the capital, Nairobi.

Producing, trafficking or performing in pornographic films is illegal in Kenya under section 181 of the penal code, and is punishable by a prison sentence of up to two years.
According to one producer and distributor who preferred anonymity, this makes it difficult to regulate health and safety in the industry.

“We encourage people to test for HIV but it’s not mandatory, and even when they do get tested, we have no way of knowing that the papers they bring are genuine,” he said. “Sometimes one participant will agree to go for a test and the other won’t; because we are working on deadlines, we often just get them to do it live [without a condom].”

He added that while he encouraged condom use, the actors were often drunk when they performed and protecting themselves against HIV was not high on their list of priorities. “Sometimes they say the styles they want to use are not condom-friendly – it’s really up to the actors if they want to use them,” he said.

Unlike the US, where porn stars can make thousands of dollars, local actors earn between US$70 and $150 per film, according to the producer. For many of the girls, this means they need a second job.

Veronica*, 19, does sex work when video work is slow. “You know videos don’t come every day so when they are not available, I continue with my work as a prostitute,” she said. “When I am working as a prostitute I use condoms all the time with my clients but you know in acting, it is not automatic… I have never thought of it as that risky, you know.”

Although there are no figures for HIV prevalence among those working in Kenya’s porn industry, sex workers and their partners are considered a “most at-risk population”, accounting for an estimated 14 percent of new infections annually. They can also act as a bridge for the spread of HIV into the general population.

“The men I act with in the videos are colleagues… my boyfriend doesn’t know what I do and I would never want him to know,” Angela said, adding that if he ever found out, the relationship would be over.

The government, which has this year increased its focus on most at-risk populations, has started targeting sex workers for HIV prevention. It is also conducting a “risk factor analysis” of these groups to better understand their risks and how to address them.

“Many of the people who take part in adult films are commercial sex workers from what we know, so I think they can greatly benefit from prevention programmes that target commercial sex workers and other most at-risk populations,” said Nicholas Muraguri, head of the National AIDS and Sexually transmitted infections Control Programme. “Maybe what needs to be done is to educate them and emphasize to them the need to first test for HIV and [practise] consistent condom use in whatever it is they are doing.”

ko/kr/ks/mw

* Not their real names.

Source: http://www.plusnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=91062

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