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Archive for February, 2012

Superhighways give impetus to learn driving afresh

Posted by Administrator on February 29, 2012

Photo/File Thika road is now an eight-lane superhighway constructed by China’s Sinohydro Corporation East Africa. Kenyan drivers need refresher courses to be able to use these new roads with caution.

Photo/File Thika road is now an eight-lane superhighway constructed by China’s Sinohydro Corporation East Africa. Kenyan drivers need refresher courses to be able to use these new roads with caution.

This is indeed a sad week for Kenya as we lay two great men to rest. These individuals had the vision and resolve to change things for the better.

In honour of the Late John Michuki the Police have embarked on a crackdown of traffic offenders.

They have found good reason to finally do their job.

While it may make them feel good it does not at all help the situation if they will not sustain it.

The impunity with which Kenyans drive is of viral proportions and it filters to other aspects of our lives.

We are living in a society so content with mediocrity it hurts to imagine ourselves free from mental poverty.

Why would we knowing and willingly board a dilapidated public service vehicles and proceed to encourage the driver to break every traffic rule in the book just because we did not wake up on time?

Why for example would you walk into a showroom and buy a pickup truck that does not have basic safety features like ABS and airbags and continue to issue it to your team of qualified staff and expect them to drive around the country.

I recently witnessed a Isuzu D-Max pickup lose control and crash right in front of my eyes at a corner because the driver did not know the limits of driving without an Anti-lock braking System (ABS).

You may remember the accident on the news in early 2008 when a hijacked white pickup lost control and rolled, killing and injuring demonstrators on board.

Can anything sustainable be done about our driving?

With our improved road network Kenyans will imagine that something magical has happened and their vehicles have become more stable with amazing powers of speed and control.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

What we forget is that you must only drive as fast as your car can confidently come to a stop.

The Transport Minister should shift focus from the matatu industry and look at the barrage of private and commercial vehicles on the roads.

The Vehicle Inspection Unit should not allow any vehicle without ABS and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) onto the road.

The pickup mentioned above rolled at the Kisumu-Ahero Junction after failing to negotiate a corner was stopped by a matatu that was picking passengers in the middle of the road at a junction.

The casualties would have been higher but luckily the last row of seats was empty.

How on earth would a public service vehicle blatantly endanger its passengers just 50 metres from where a Road Traffic Survey was being conducted under police supervision?

It is about time the government and its functional agencies put stringent rules that insist on mandatory checks of public service as well as private vehicles.

All garages must be inspected to verify that they are equipped to conduct standard maintenance and repairs on vehicles.

Many accidents on our roads are caused by incompetent drivers behind the wheels of unroadworthy vehicles.

Every driving school must be vetted to determine that the trainers are competent before they can dispense the skills to unsuspecting novices.

Did you know that if you increase your speed from 110kph to 130kph – up just 15 per cent – in reality you jolt your vehicle’s kinetic energy by about 30 per cent.

This means that you will take a lot longer to bring your vehicle to a safe stop.

If you double the speed of an object you quadruple its kinetic energy. Increased kinetic energy means when driving your vehicle at 130kph, you will need 120 metres to bring it to a complete stop.

That is about 30 car lengths or the length of a football pitch. Reducing your speed to 110kph reduces your stopping distance to about 100 metres.

And all this is assuming you have ABS and a set of good brakepads.

Without ABS you can safely double or triple the distance and dig an early grave.

On that note I think the Transport Ministry should urgently write into law that every vehicle on the road today, as a bare minimum, must have ABS and Traction Control.

No vehicle dealer or manufacturer should remove ABS, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) as well as airbags to reduce the price of their vehicles.

Have a safe driving year.

Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Superhighways+give+impetus+to+learn+driving+afresh+/-/539444/1356416/-/i1waet/-/

Posted in Kenya | 8 Comments »

Kenyan assault victim’s sister is now by her bedside

Posted by Administrator on February 29, 2012

Esther Wanjru Mwikamba

Esther Wanjru Mwikamba

Dubai: Kenyan assault victim Esther Wanjiru Mwikamba is no longer waging the fight of her life on her own in a coma at Rashid Hospital.

Her sister Lucy has flown into Dubai and is staying by Esther’s bedside in the intensive care unit, praying for a miracle to save her oldest sibling.

When the life of a family member is hanging on a thread, Lucy said you hope against hope for the smallest sign that your prayers will be answered.

“The doctors have told me that she’s still bleeding and she’s not responding to medication or treatment,” Lucy told Gulf News in an interview. “Esther’s condition is still the same, there are no changes.”

Esther has been on life support in the Rashid Hospital trauma centre since she was admitted in the early morning hours of February 18 following a brutal assault by an unknown assailant in a parking lot behind Crowne Plaza on Shaikh Zayed Road.

Diminished brain activity

Doctors have told Lucy that the 26-year-old former sales clerk at a major music store in Dubai is experiencing diminished brain activity.

Dubai police, meanwhile, said that an Emirati man remains in custody while a second man has been released on bail as investigation continues into the incident. A check of the online case file reveals no charges have yet been laid.

Lucy, meanwhile, is attempting to bring her mother Anna to Dubai to visit Esther with the hopes that hearing her mother’s voice may help aid the healing process.

Mother Anna remains in Thika, a small industry town lying about 40 kilometres north of Nairobi. “I’m fine, I’m okay, but my mom is not. We need her here,” Lucy said. “When my mother talks to Esther, maybe she will wake up, we don’t know.”

The outpouring of tweets, online postings and phone calls from the Kenyan community in the UAE eager to help ease the burden on the Mwikamba family means a great deal, Lucy said.

“It feels good to see there is so much support for my sister,” she said.

In recent days, small groups of up to 20 people have joined in an ongoing vigil of sorts outside Rashid Hospital, offering whatever support they can to Esther.

Kenya Ambassador to the UAE Mohammad Abdi Jillo visited Esther at Rashid Hospital last week along with Kenyan community leaders from the UAE.

After the visit, Jillo told Gulf News that it was “heartbreaking to see her in this condition” and said embassy and consular diplomatic staff are helping the family, including legal assistance as the case moves through the courts.

Jillo said the embassy would work to help process travel papers for mother Anna if needed. “The probability is that the mother doesn’t even have a passport, but we can arrange for one as soon as possible,” Jillo confirmed.

Source: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/crime/kenyan-assault-victim-s-sister-is-now-by-her-bedside-1.988265

Posted in Diaspora News | 17 Comments »

US based consulting company has a job opening in Kenya: Alliance & Partnership Specialist

Posted by Administrator on February 29, 2012

SSG Advisors (an international consulting firm based in Burlington, Vermont, USA) has an opening for a Kenya-based Alliance & Partnership Specialist with experience in engaging local, regional, and or international private sector businesses and companies in brokering and building public-private alliances with social development objectives.

The specialist will play a leading role in designing, brokering, and building public-private alliances with leading regional and multi-national companies in support of major objectives related to food security and technological innovation. Please note: only Kenyan citizens are eligible for the position.


The position is expected to begin in March 2012. The responsibilities of the Alliance & Partnership Specialist include but are not limited to:

  • Working with a US-based Alliance      Advisor, develops strategic partnerships and alliances with private and      public sector actors and other implementers to achieve project objectives;
  • Serves as principal project liaison      with private sector partners and stakeholders;
  • Assists project stakeholders in      developing public-private partnerships and alliances;
  • Organizes meetings with local and      international business representatives;
  • Coordinates conversations,      roundtables, and activities across a number of industry groups, business      sectors, and organizations.
  • Provides thought leadership in      support of alliances, including the development of new alliance      modalities;
  • Provides timely and accurate reporting      to SSG, implementing partners, and USAID on all partnership project areas;
  • Maintains records and data bases of business prospects and      contacts;


  • Demonstrated experience in      understanding, brokering, and/or overseeing the development of public-private      alliances and partnerships;
  • Experience with Kenyan and      international business and corporate social responsibility;
  • Solid network of local and/or      international business contacts;
  • Excellent understanding of the local      business context;
  • Ability to communicate effectively      and establish and maintain effective working relationships with the      private sector, citizen groups, and other key project stakeholders.
  • Experience delivering responsive and      timely support to demanding clients;
  • Familiarity and experience with the      USAID/GDA business model desirable;
  • Bachelors Degree in relevant field; Business degree a plus;
  • Proficiency with MS Office Suite;
  • Ability to work flexible hours      including occasional evenings;
  • Comprehensive English and Swahili      language skills;

Interested candidates should send a CV and cover letter to jobs@ssg-advisors.com with “Kenya Alliance & Partnership Specialist” in the subject line by March 5th, 2012. Please note: only citizens of Kenya are eligible for consideration. Only finalists will be contacted for interviews. No phone calls please.

Company Profile: SSG Advisors is an international consulting firm based in Burlington, Vermont, USA, that works with a variety of government and commercial clients on market-driven sustainable development solutions around the world. Since 2005, we have completed assignments in nearly 40 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. SSG is currently preparing for a new program in Kenya that will focus on food security and innovation with the private sector.

Posted in Kenyan Businesses | Comments Off on US based consulting company has a job opening in Kenya: Alliance & Partnership Specialist

Family of Kenyan killed in Nebraska Car Crash Still Searching For Closure

Posted by Administrator on February 29, 2012

OMAHA, Neb. — The Douglas County Sheriff’s  Office said it is willing to exhaust all resources to find the driver who caused  a fatal hit-and-run Friday.

Deputies said Elly Mijungu died after swerving to miss a car that ran a  stop sign near 116th and Harrison streets. The Kenyan native hit another car  head-on as a result.

Five days after the crash, deputies are still searching for the driver  who fled the scene of the Feb. 24 crash. Douglas County deputies have asked for  the public’s help to find the car. It is described as a red or burgundy Ford  Taurus, or a car similar to that description.

The sheriff’s office said it is looking for closure for the family.

“We’re not looking just to write a ticket. We want to give closure to the  families that were affected by this fatality accident,” said Lt. Joe Martinec,  of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Mijungu’s family said it needs that closure to move on.

“There’s no way he’s out there and nobody knows anything. Somebody knows  somebody or someone,” Mijungu’s sister-in-law, Lina Oduwo, said.

Deputies said the driver didn’t hit anyone in the crash, and that is  making the car harder to find.

“With this we don’t have any type of physical damage or description that  would set this vehicle that we’re looking for apart from the others, so it makes  it real tough,” Martinec said. “We’re going to have to rely on somebody’s  conscience bothering them to come forward and do the right thing and say, ‘Hey I  think I’m your driver.'”

Authorities said if the driver does come forward, he or she only faces a  ticket, since the car wasn’t directly involved in the crash.

“It’s not even a misdemeanor,” Martinec said. “It’s just a traffic  violation. Basically, our hands are kind of bound with what we can charge him  with. We would have to get him for failing to yield or for failing to stop for a  stop sign, that would be it.”

Any charges against the driver would be up to the county attorney. The  family said that the situation is frustrating for them after such an unexpected  loss.

“If this person would come up and take care of his responsibility, we  would be glad,” Oduwo said.

The family, however, said that for now, even though they want to find the  driver, the focus is to get Mijungu’s body back to Kenya. They want to get him  back to his wife and son for a proper burial.

The family is accepting donations at any Bank of the West under the “Elly  Mijungu Funeral Fund.”

Source: http://www.ketv.com/news/30574440/detail.html#ixzz1npnoru9r

Posted in Diaspora News | 1 Comment »

Miguna Miguna: My book is the third most anticipated Kenyan event of 2012

Posted by Administrator on February 29, 2012

Strange Bedfellas: Controversial US publisher Jerome Corsi and bitter Raila critic Miguna Miguna

Strange Bedfellas: Controversial US publisher Jerome Corsi and bitter Raila critic Miguna Miguna


Raila Odinga critic Miguna Miguna told a controversial US publisher that the launch of his book was one of the most anticipated events of 2012 by the Kenyan people.

Jerome Corsi, the right wing publisher said on WND.com, that Miguna told him that the hype and suspense about his book would make it a bestseller in Kenya even if a US publishing house publishes the book internationally.

Miguna is said to have claimed that a foreign embassy in Nairobi had conducted a non-scientific survey which put his book as the third most anticipated event of 2012 in Kenya behind the ICC rulings on the Ocampo six and the general elections.

In an email exchange with Mr Corsi, Miguna claimed to be a very popular public figure in Kenya.

“Other than Odinga himself, my name receives the most hits in all Kenyan websites and blogs,” Miguna pointed out. “It does not matter the topic.”

In a separate post, the controversial author claimed that Miguna Miguna has invited him to Kenya for his book launch.

Mr Corsi revealed last week that Miguna had handed to him an 800 page manuscript of his book containing information that would “seriously damage” Prime Minister Odinga’s chances of being elected president.

Corsi states that Miguna invited him for the book launch which is scheduled for 2013 but that he would have to receive an invitation from the government as he does not want to be deported again.

He said Miguna’s book launch was earlier scheduled for this year but has now been moved until after the upcoming elections. He said that the delay appeared to be “government censorship.”

The right wing author also seemed to boast that word of the upcoming book is rocking the country.

He pointed to last week’s article by the Daily Nation which he claimed “berated”him.

In his post, Corsi claimed that the Kenyan media is in the bag for Mr Odinga hence the “name calling.”

“The Kenyan media is as in the bag for Odinga as the mainstream media is in the bag for Obama in the United  States. I’m called a racist and a liar in Kenya, just like Media Matters does here in the USA, for my book ‘The Obama Nation’ – a book that was on the NYT best-seller list for 10 weeks and was #1 for a month in 2008.

Corsi also linked to a forum post on a Kenyan discussion board Jukwa Proboard Forum which was discussing the Daily Nation article and noted that majority of the comments were in support of Mr. Odinga.

He also linked to a post on the popular Kenyan forum Kenyanlist.com containing a story on Raila Odinga who is said to have acquired the services of a USA strategic firm GQR to develop a winning strategy for the 2012 Kenya Elections.

Posted in Kenya | 6 Comments »

Kisumu to have its First Large food festival in April 2012

Posted by Administrator on February 28, 2012

“Taste of Kisumu”- A 3 day Festival will give attendees a taste of Kisumu’s culinary expertise and culture, showcasing the diversity of Kisumu’s dining community and promoting Kisumu as an emerging tourist hub.

Taste of Kisumu will feature restaurants &food, musical acts and family fun. Taste of Kisumu will be organized on a larger scale than most festivals & at a more competitive scale with regards to international standards. In the years to come, the organizers intend for this festival to be the LARGEST Food Festival In East Africa.

The expected results from the festival include improving Tourism prospects in the region. Festivals are just as much a tourist attraction, both locally and internationally as monuments or geographical wonders. The taste of Chicagofor example, brings in over 3.5 million attendees in a span of one week.

In the long run, expected growth from this annual event will create  a vast seasonal employment opportunity for many of the Kisumu residents including but not limited to security, entertainment, cleaning, vendor stations, cooks, attendants etc.

You only need to walk in Kisumu for a day to realize that it becomes a more diverse city every year.  Cohesion comes from appreciating what each different culture brings to the table.  This will be showcased via the difference exotic foods and music that will be feature at the event. Apart from the staples from the nyanza region like Fried fish, “Aluru” (Quail), “Aliya” Dried cured fish and Peanut Sauce, you will find mutura from central and mursikh  from Nandi among other Kenyan delicacies to be tasted at the event.

Festivals are not uncommon In Africa. Calabar Carnival inCross   River StateNigeriais estimated to  have raised over $5 million (Ksh 500 million) in revenue for the state and its residents in 2011 and is expected to have doubled its growth in 2012)

The taste of Kisumu Will include fun filled family events and activities  that will draw in the crowds.


The best restaurants and caterers (Must be based in Kisumu) will provide an unmatched culinary experience


  • Daily Easter Egg Hunt and Egg painting for Kids aged 3-10 in a large hay patch.
  • Ugali Eating Contest
  • Foot Ball Juggling Contest
  • Gunia (Sack Race)
  • Best of Taste of Kisumu Award

Arts and Crafts

  •  Display and or vendor showcase of kisumu arts and crafts

Family Fun Zone

  • Carnival with great games and rides


  • Vendors & Corporate entities can set up promotional and Sales booths


  • Stage performances that include Live music and Artists.

Contacts for this event are

Website               www.tasteofkisumu.co.ke

Facebook            www.facebook.com/tasteofkisumu

Twitter                 @tasteofkisumu

Mobile                 +254 714 832 508

Email                     tasteofkisumu@gmail.com

Posted in Kenya | Comments Off on Kisumu to have its First Large food festival in April 2012

Ambassador Odembo pays a courtesy visit to Beth Mugo in US hospital

Posted by Administrator on February 28, 2012

Ambassador Elkanah Odembo and Cabinet Minister Beth Mugo chat after the US envoy paid her a courtesy call at a Pennsylvania hospital

Ambassador Elkanah Odembo and Cabinet Minister Beth Mugo chat after the US envoy paid her a courtesy call at a Pennsylvania hospital

On Friday 23rd February, Ambassador Elkanah Odembo visited Hon. Beth Mugo; the Minister for Public Health & Sanitation who has just completed the first phase of preventive treatment for breast cancer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


The Ambassador found the Minister looking well and in remarkably good spirits in the company of her husband Ambassador Nicholas Mugo.


Hon. Mugo shared with the Ambassador that she had held discussions with Senior Vice President of thePerelmanCenterfor Advanced Medicine at the University of Pennsylvaniaon a proposal where the University would support a cancer program in Kenya.

The Minister also affirmed that the Cancer Prevention and Control Bill was up for debate in Parliament and hence the government was committed to prevention and control of cancers.


Ambassador Odembo in return briefed the Minister on discussions he has held with a number of US based Cancer Institutions like the MD Anderson Cancer Center & others, where Kenya would benefit in Cancer research, screening, control and prevention.


The Ambassador also informed the minister that there were several Kenyans in the US who were Cancer researchers and Oncologists who were willing to work with the government for the betterment of cancer management in the country.


The Ambassador further stated that it is critical and essential that the Government of Kenya establish an infrastructure that would facilitate the engagement of Kenyan Medics in theUS.


These Diaspora Medics have keen interest to support Kenya’s effort to improve and enhance health care and health services, especially the Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

Hon. Mugo supported the Ambassador?s views and reiterated that linkages are very important and she would liaise with her colleague in the Ministry of Medical Services; Hon. Anyang’ Nyong’o to tap into the Diaspora’s expertise and capacity in order to enhance Kenya’s Health system’s ability to manage cancer through prevention, early detection and prompt affordable treatment.


This courtesy call took place a day after former cabinet Minister Hon. Njenga Karume passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer. Hon. Mugo and Hon. Nyong’o have both come out publicly that they have been diagnosed and treated for cancer.


Minister Mugo was also optimistic that sharing her experience would help to enlighten Kenyans on the importance of recognizing possible warning signs of cancer and taking prompt action for early diagnosis and treatment.


The minister also said she would be returning to Kenya in a few days time, and Ambassador Odembo observed that Minister Mugo has actually continued to attend to some of her Ministry duties even while in the US.

Posted in Diaspora News | 16 Comments »

Obama’s half sister helps in promoting sports for social change in Kenya

Posted by Administrator on February 27, 2012

Auma Obama a half sister to US President Barack Obama, and CARE International helps children realize their potential by getting them involved in sports.  Girls are educated and taught to defend themselves and stand up for their rights, enabling them overcome the harsh realities of poverty.  Find out more by visiting http://www.care.org

Posted in Kenya | Comments Off on Obama’s half sister helps in promoting sports for social change in Kenya

Insuring Livestock in Kenya, Via Satellite

Posted by Administrator on February 27, 2012

Index-Based Livestock Insurance enables a private insurance company to create policies for northern Kenya’s herders. (John Warburton-Lee/Awl Images/Getty Images)

Index-Based Livestock Insurance enables a private insurance company to create policies for northern Kenya’s herders. (John Warburton-Lee/Awl Images/Getty Images)

Camels mean cash in Kenya. But severe drought routinely kills off livestock, and families go bankrupt, unless they have an innovative insurance plan.

Brenda Wandera’s iPhone buzzes in her lap. A text message has made its way through the blurry heat of Kenya’s Chalbi Desert, and it changes her next move. “As soon as we get to Kalacha, we have to go to Network,” she says.

Go to Network, I wonder. That must be a Kenyan turn of phrase for “finding a cell tower.”

I’ve been warned that Kalacha is off the grid, which would make it one of the more remote corners of Africa, where mobile-phone and Internet service in even far-flung villages can be stronger and more regular than in parts of the American Southwest or Appalachia. Indeed, Kalacha is isolated. It sits in northern Kenya, about 40 miles from the border with Ethiopia, just at the edge of the Chalbi. Rounded huts of thatched grass zigzag across dry land. The horizon is dark and bulbous and looks very, very far away.

Our Land Cruiser drives toward one of those bulbs, a massive mound of volcanic rocks. Wandera hops out of the car, clutching her iPhone, and springs up the uneven hillock, 30 or so feet tall. At the top, a half dozen local women huddle on one edge. Their abayas — lemon-yellow, tomato-red, sequined garments — look especially colorful against the monochrome flatlands stretched out below. They chat on cell phones tucked under their tightly pulled scarves.

Wandera claims the other side of the mound. In black kitten heels, she hops from one irregular rock to the next until she finds a stable perch. Then she lifts her phone above her head and waves it at the sky. It turns out this mound is Network — the only place between here and forever where you can make a phone call, if you catch the wind just right.

Wandera reaches her boss, whose caravan from Ethiopia has been delayed. Andrew Mude is bringing 12 elders from across the border to witness the small institutional miracle he and Wandera have pulled off. Thanks to them, in Kalacha, cows have insurance.

Wandera manages an innovative insurance program that offers cash-poor pastoralists low-priced insurance for their only assets: livestock. The plan was crafted precisely for places as remote and vulnerable as Kalacha. Here, each morning, men set out with their cattle to look for pasture. Women and girls wait at wells for their turn to pump water into yellow plastic jugs, then haul it on their heads back home, where thirsty goats wait impatiently. The camel herders have it the hardest; the roving Gabra tribesmen move endlessly across the desert.

For these pastoralists in northern Kenya, where most people don’t have bank accounts, cows and camels are cash. If animals die in large numbers, families go bankrupt.

That makes drought one of the biggest financial risks that people face here. “In this area, you get a severe drought about once every four years,” says Mude, an economist with the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi. Severe drought can kill off as much as a third of a herd, he says. That level of devastation is like losing your home to a fire or totaling your only car.

Americans hedge against such risks with insurance, paying monthly premiums in order to be compensated if disaster strikes. Americans insure almost everything — cars, houses, boats, artwork, cell phones, even their bodies — against almost every kind of risk: fires, floods, theft, sickness, death. This works because a system exists for vetting claimants: insurance adjusters verify and appraise all damage, whether from a fire or a fender bender. Insurance companies can afford that personnel-intensive model of verification because most of us are buying insurance, paying into the companies’ large pools of funds, and we’re generally easy to find.

But in northern Kenya, traditional insurance is impossible. The vast area is mostly without roads, and villages are difficult to reach. “It would be really quite expensive” to make a conventional system profitable in such a remote area, Mude says.

The same problem besets many other rural communities in developing countries. So six years ago, the United Nations’ World Food Programme piloted a new insurance model in Africa.

Visiting farms to appraise damage would be too expensive, so WFP found another way of “verifying” that crops were succumbing to drought. In Ethiopia, researchers took rainfall data and crossed it with harvest data. Statistical analysis proved mathematically what the farmers already knew from experience: low rainfall levels suggest that crops are going to die, and when crops dies so do animals.

WFP’s rainfall-index insurance was the first of its kind in Africa. The industry was pioneered in India, and it has since expanded. Today, rural farmers can buy rainfall insurance for crops in Malawi, Rwanda, and the Philippines, among other places. Premium prices are low, ranging from about $3 to $10 — even in distant, poor communities.

A good index depends on data that are easily available and objectively verifiable. Farmers and insurance providers alike trust government data on rainfall, and each group can find that information independently. But the data also have to relate directly to the problem. Whether crops die depends more on how much rain falls in a season than, say, the number of cloudy days.

When Mude and his research team, in concert with researchers at Cornell University, decided to build an index for livestock insurance, they needed two sets of substantial data. The first set was easy to come by: statistics on livestock mortality have been available from the Kenyan government since 2000. Finding the second set was more complicated. Rainfall data isn’t easily available here, and micro-regions can experience quite different weather patterns, making rainfall too inexact a measurement. For the index to work, the team had to find something that measured how much food was available for herds.

Since the 1980s, NASA has used satellite pictures to measure global drought. Every 10 days or so, a satellite snaps a picture of the northern Kenyan plains and adds the information to a free public database that shows how green or brown the ground there is. The logic seems obvious: without green stuff to eat, cows and goats will probably die. But the economists had to confirm that the two different sets of data had a strong statistical relationship and then use that to predict what portion of a herd might die under various weather conditions.

The resulting formula became the basis for Index-Based Livestock Insurance. The index enabled a private insurance company to create policies for northern Kenya’s herders. “The index is a way to ascertain the kind of information we need,” says Anthony Muthiora, a policy manager at UAP, the Nairobi-based private insurance partner for IBLI. “We can’t go up there and confirm, ‘That grass there should [feed] about 15 animals.’”

Making the math work was only half the battle. Explaining the product to pastoralists was another matter. Mude and his team use games and theatrical skits to convey the concept of insurance. But to explain how insurers will know what’s happening to the animals — how the satellite figures in the process — they use a different metaphor.

“These are populations who understand the stars very well,” Mude says. “They are aware that there are ‘stars’ that move around at night that are different from permanent stars. We let them know these moving stars are satellites taking pictures.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

In the winter of 2010, during one of Kenya’s worst droughts in recent memory, Marsabit District is as brown as Ireland is green. The district, IBLI’s pilot region, which includes Kalacha, is seven hours, by rickety overnight bus, from the end of Kenya’s paved northern road, and the population, estimated at 144,000 in 2008, is spread thinly across the 66,000 square miles. No one really knew if the insurance program would work here. But the costs were low enough, and the institutional infrastructure stable enough, that the policies sold well, even in the first year.

Insuring a goat in the driest and most expensive part of Marsabit costs a little more than a dollar. A cow costs about $10, and a camel costs $14. To pay for the policies, bought mostly for their most valuable animals, most herders sell a few goats.

But how do you collect and keep track of $1 payments across a barely inhabited region? Though the team at the International Livestock Research Institute built the index that makes the insurance work, a private insurer sells the policies and covers its risk by taking out a policy with a reinsurance company. Herders hand cash to a sales agent, who works for a bank and travels between villages. He carries a kind of portable cash register, a handheld device that uses cell phone networks to register payments and print receipts.

Insurance money doesn’t flow out as soon as things start looking dry. The data are analyzed over time, and any payouts are made at the end of the dry season. To trigger a payout, things have to be really dry: the policies are built to protect herders against catastrophic livestock mortality — deaths in numbers so great that a family might never financially recover. IBLI sets that threshold at 15 percent of the herd. If the satellite shows drought so severe that the index predicts that more than 15 percent of the livestock will die, herders get paid for every animal they’ve personally insured. At the end of the second dry season covered, the payments totaled around 1,850,000 Kenyan shillings — or about $20,650 U.S.

At this stage, the insurance products aren’t making enough money to interest private insurers in developing them on their own. In 2009, the pilot year, the IBLI team sold nearly 2,000 insurance policies, totaling almost $47,000 in premiums. And in a purely commercial market, an insurance product with such low premiums couldn’t exist. That’s why nongovernmental organizations are at the forefront of weather-index insurance pilots in Kenya and elsewhere. Insurance companies are willing to join these experiments now, though, because of the possibility that the market for small-scale insurance could explode, as micro-banking did in the last decade. Still, at some point, someone has to make some money.

To succeed in the long term, “commercial viability is an absolute requirement,” says Martin Buehler, the principal insurance officer at the International Finance Corporation, which manages a program and associated trust fund that support six early weather-index-insurance projects around the world, including IBLI. Buehler believes such programs will need three to five years in areas as challenging as northern Kenya to become profitable.

“It falls along the spectrum between pure capitalism and pure altruism,” says Jürg Trüb, the managing director for environmental and commodities markets at the global reinsurance giant Swiss Re. But as the market develops, policies can take off. In India, which Trüb says is the only commercial market in weather-index insurance so far, he saw annual premium sales jump from $100,000 to $100 million in seven years. With that kind of tantalizing growth in mind, the IBLI team is planning to expand into southern Ethiopia.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Meanwhile, in Kalacha, one enterprising young man realized that, even with small-scale insurance, speculation could pay off. Abdinoor Kochale understood sooner than most what the index really means: It doesn’t matter if your cows or camels actually die; it only matters if the index says they probably will.

Kochale gambled that he might be able to turn probability into profit. If a drought were bad enough to trigger the index, he’d get paid for his insured animals. But if he were clever or lucky enough to keep his animals alive, he’d end up with cash and animals.

So he chose to insure several camels. Camel premiums cost the most, but they pay out the most. And Kochale knew that camels are the most drought-resistant livestock in the region. “If the index triggers, I’m in a good situation because I’m going to be compensated, and the camels are still going to be there,” he explains, grinning with self-assurance.

Still, as the drought stretched on in 2010, herders in three of the pilot villages grew frustrated. Some said they had seen their cattle die but had heard nothing from their insurer. Others complained of losing cattle to raids or disease — circumstances that aren’t insured — and asked for a program that covered more risks. Most simply felt confused. They knew the satellite was collecting information, but no one had told them what it was saying. The drought seemed so obvious to them; why couldn’t the satellite see it?

“Me and you could go around and see that livestock can’t graze in the forest,” one frustrated pastoralist shouted during a mid-February community meeting in the village of Dirib Gombo. The forest might look green from space, he argued, but on the ground, the land where cattle graze was dry and useless.

Mude acknowledges that his team could ease some frustrations by providing regular updates about the satellite data. But they’d still have another problem. George Gerada Nerada, the chief of Dirib Gombo, says that his villagers are confounded by how the formula relates to their daily lives. “What our people know is what they see and what is happening around them. Everybody knows that the drought is there, that there’s no grass for their animals, and they’re expecting the insurance people will pay them something at least.”

The IBLI team has tried to focus herders on the narrow slice of probability that the insurance actually covers: catastrophic drought. The formula factors in a certain level of normal livestock mortality — the usual number of cows a herder can expect to lose during typically dry periods. On a visit to the pilot villages, Brenda Wandera explains premium payments like this: “If you get a night watchman to keep people from stealing at your house, but at the end of the month no thieves came, you’re not going to not pay the watchman.” Usually, her explanation is accepted half-heartedly.

The dissatisfied villagers of Dirib Gombo get no sympathy from some IBLI customers, like the respected local elder Adan Sora, who persuaded a group of men to take out policies. Sora sold some goats to insure five of his cattle in 2010, and he says he’ll insure again next year. But he adds that he’s known for months that the drought won’t get bad enough to trigger a payout, because he and his fellow elders have been consulting an index of their own.

“We read the intestines of animals. Whenever an animal is slaughtered, it can help predict the coming rain,” Sora says. “The intestines also indicate whether a reduced rainfall is going to cause the massive death of livestock. The current reading tells us that the rains will be late, but the animals will not die.”

He pauses for a moment, reflecting. “Actually, that’s what we’re seeing,” he says. “Normal death at this point.”

Source: http://www.miller-mccune.com/business-economics/insuring-livestock-in-kenya-via-satellite-39911/

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Nigeria ‘wants to buy Kenya navy ships’

Posted by Administrator on February 27, 2012

The Nigerian government has reportedly included Sh5.2 billion (Naira 10 billion) for the purchase of a naval ship for which Kenya paid Sh4.1 billion in 2003 and which has not been delivered. Nigeria’s 2012 budget proposal has listed the purchase of the naval ship to be approved by Parliament. And sources at Kenya’s Department of Defence said the ship is scheduled to be delivered this year.

According to Pointblanknews.com, a Nigerian internet newsletter, the Nigerian National Assembly is scheduled to approve the the purchase of the navy vessel valued at about $30 million for the Nigerian Navy, although it already has Kenyan military insignia. The Federal Government of Nigeria’s 2012 budget allocations indicated that Naira 6.7 billion has been set aside under code 0116004 for the acquisition of two offshore patrol vessels labelled as “Kenyan OPV” that will be based in Calabar/Lagos. Six patrol boats and six X17m inshore boats are included in the Naira 10 billion Nigerian naval purchases.

Kenya was made to sign the contract for the vessel procurement in 2003 but had to stop payment when Euromarine, the company based in Barcelona, Spain, contracted to do the job reportedly inflated the cost of the project. The vessel was supposed to be delivered to the Kenya Navy in August 2005. Kenya also discovered that Euromarine has a business relationship with Anglo-Leasing Finance, which was indicted by the office of Controller and Auditor General’s Report on the Anglo Finance Scandal.

The Auditor General published a report on the single sourced security contracts where widespread fraud through non-delivery and overpricing were suspected with Anglo-Leasing Finance owned by one Deepak Kamani. Euromarine, a company whose address could not be found in Spain where it claimed to be domiciled, is linked to the Sri Lankan tycoon Anura Pereira who has been investigated and indicted for corruption in Kenya.

A team of Kenyan military and State Law office officials are currently negotiating with the contractor Astilleros Gondan over payment. “The ship is coming to Kenya. We have sorted out all the hurdles that were there. This matter was brought to our attention two weeks ago but only time will tell. We will display it for all journalists to see when it arrives,” stated the DOD source.

Another source within government dismissed the Nigerian report as pure rumours. “This is just porojo (rumours) from Nigeria”, stated the source. Multiple sources stated that Kenya signed a deal with Euromarine three weeks ago to deliver the ship.  Two weeks ago, DOD director of communications Bogita Ongeri told the Daily Nation that Kenya was expecting the delivery of the naval ship anytime now. The Daily Nation quoted him saying: “Negotiations are at a very advanced stage to have the ship delivered. Our officers from the Kenya Navy and the State Law office have been negotiating with the suppliers and we will soon have it delivered”.

In the report, Ongeri said the renewed negotiations followed a report by the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations in September 2006. “The committee gave the contract a clean bill of health so what remains is for our officers to finalise negotiations so that the ship is delivered. We hope to complete that very soon,” Bogita said. Payments on this contract were stopped in June 2005 over the Anglo Leasing Finance scandal. The supplier then sued the Kenya government for withholding payments.

The Nigerian government’s Sh5.2 billion budgetary allocation is part of the 2012 budget proposal for capital projects for the Nigerian Navy which also includes additional Naira 6.7 billion for purchase of two offshore patrol vessels, Naira 1.2 billion for purchase of six Coastal Patrol Vessel for South South and South West and Naira 1 billion for purchase of 6X7 M Inshore Boats and Spares. Although the naval ship was specifically built in 2003 for the Kenyan Navy, it is a subject to litigation at the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, UNCITRAL.

The vessel, codenamed KNS Jasiri, has been docked at a shipyard in Spain since 2005 rusting away with most of its parts reported to be malfunctioning. In February 2008, Euromarine wrote to the Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura complaining that the Kenya government had stalled payment and threatened to sell the naval ship. Middlemen then brokered a deal with Nigerian ministry of Defence officials to purchase the same ship.

The investigative website Pointblanknews.com reported that since completion of the naval ship in 2005 it has developed technical malfunction with Z-drive lower unit gear, major rust underneath, a rusting exhaust pipe, and parts of the hull do no fulfil military requirements as a research vessel. “Much of the equipment on board is outdated and not functioning any more. It is full of rust and other possible defects as the vessel has not been operating since it was manufactured in 2005,” the website quotes a source in Spain.

Reports indicate that Nigeria will spend more that Sh2 billion ($25 million) on the ship’s repair. The Nigerian Minister for Defence Bello Haliru, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Pentirin, and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral OS Ibrahim, are reportedly privy to the plan to purchase the ship. In 2007, Kenya Parliament’s Committee on Defence chaired by then Laikipia West MP GG Kariuki went on a fact finding tour in Spain where the ship was docked and held meetings with the suppliers before preparing its report.

The report, adopted by Parliament in May 2007, was heavily criticised by civil society groups which accused the committee of taking part in a cover-up to swindle the Kenyan taxpayer out  of billions of shillings. Independent anti-graft watchdog Mars Group questioned why the Parliament’s committee did not meet with the Attorney General or scrutinise the legal and financial contracts to satisfy itself that procurement rules were followed and that the ship was value for money.

Source: http://www.the-star.co.ke/national/national/64197-nigeria-targets-kenyan-naval-ship

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