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Archive for March 2nd, 2012

Kenyan farmers to start growing GM cotton by 2014

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2012

According to a Kenyan research institute, farmers are likely to embark on growing genetically modified (GM) cotton in the country by 2014.

As revealed by the researchers at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), they are awaiting the nod from National Biosafety Authority, prior to entering into contracts with farmers for undertaking GM cotton cultivation.

The National Biosafety Authority is the chief regulator in Kenya authorized to approve GM products.

KARI’s Thika centre Director, Dr. Charles Waturu said it has been proved by their survey that GM cotton has the potential to reduce the high cost of production that cotton farmers in the country are enduring at present.

Addressing a biotechnology meet organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and the University of Nairobi in Kisumu, Dr. Waturu said they have selected 06k485, 06k486 and 06k487 as the highest quality cotton varieties which would be used to grow GM cotton in the country.

He added that the seeds would be multiplied manifold in the country, which would serve to establish Kenya as the regional supplier of the same.
The GM cotton seeds would be of better quality than those presently available in the market, he informed.

He further said that contracted farmers would be asked to produce the cotton seeds that would be used in the next cultivation season.
The Director said the seeds would be distributed through ginners in association with Cotton Development Authority to ensure proper auditing and to curb misuse.

Source: http://www.fibre2fashion.com/news/textile-news/newsdetails.aspx?news_id=108590

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Men battered over ‘low libido’

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2012

Kenya’s Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojode Thursday said in Parliament that the main reasons why women battered their husbands in the country’s central region were inability to satisfy them sexually and overindulgence in illicit brews.

The minister disclosed further that only five cases of husband battering had been reported to the police in Nyeri County, despite the high number of occurrences in many homes in the region.

In the case of Nyeri, he said, stress arising from unemployment and failure by men to provide for their families had been cited as one contributing factor. (READ: Irony of battered men in Mungiki backyard)

Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo had asked how many men had been battered by their wives in Nyeri County over the last three years and what the ministry was doing to discourage the menace.

Responding, Mr Ojode said police and the provincial administration had launched a crackdown on illicit brews and creation of employment to curb consumption of illicit brews.

Nominated MP Amina Abdalla said such problems could be handled well through the enactment of the Family Protection Bill and urged the Cabinet to expedite it.

Molo MP Joseph Kiuna said the problem in Nyeri was serious and should not be taken lightly.

Source: http://www.africareview.com/News/Men+battered+over+low+libido/-/979180/1357694/-/j5yw0kz/-/index.html

Posted in Kenya | 27 Comments »

The child brides of Butula

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2012

Millicent Atieno is six months pregnant with her seventh child. Ordinarily, these should be exciting times for the average rural Kenyan mother, but Millicent is no ordinary mother. When her older sister died in 2005, this 15-year-old orphan was inherited by her 38-year-old brother-in-law, through a Kenyan Luhya tribe cultural practice known as siebo. She dropped out of school and took on the care of the three children that her sister had left behind.

Elders Millicent is now 21-years-old, and she has since given birth to three additional children of her own, one being physically disabled. She has to be up by 5am daily to get her children to school, and then be at the neighbours’ farm by 6am. She tills land for seven hours in exchange for the equivalent of one euro, which she uses to feed and clothe her children.

Her husband, a construction worker, is presently unemployed and lives far from home. He absolves himself of all responsibility, claiming “I did not ask Millicent to marry me. It is the elders who gave Millicent to me to take care of her sister’s children. For women, there is no right age to get married. Millicent now has three children. If she was a child she could not have given birth.”

HIV and superstition In this community of Butula in western Kenya, Mary Makokha is a local activist who is the director of a non-governmental organization, REEP (Rural Education and Economic Enhancement Programme) which handles child marriage cases. She says that the organisation handles an average of 12 such cases per week.

Besides cultural practices, Makokha also attributes HIV as one of the leading causes of child marriages in Butula. “Due to ignorance and cultural beliefs, there is a common belief that HIV infection is a curse and a bad omen. When people become ill, they sell off their property to pay oracles and witchdoctors, who they believe can cure them. Eventually they die, leaving behind a poverty-stricken homestead and vulnerable orphans, who will resort to either prostitution in exchange for food, or will get married just to survive.”

Abused orphan Celestine Naiti is a 15-year-old orphan. After her parents died from AIDS, Celestine ended up being abused by her guardians. “My uncle would come home drunk everyday and beat me up. One day I went to get my hair shaved at the village centre, and my best friend introduced me to her 24-year-old brother-in-law. I went home with him that day and became his wife.”

Her husband, Geoffrey Wesonga, claims that he did not think that what he did was against the law because she came on her own accord. “I have seen other girls even younger than Celestine get married, so I thought it was fine. Celestine told me she was ready to stop school and marry me, because she was tired of the cruelty she was facing at her uncle’s home.” Celestine was rescued a week later and placed in an orphanage.

Children marrying children There are also cases of children marrying children. These children attend school, and in the evenings they go back to the boy’s traditional hut. Miriam Mwachesa, a 16-year-old mother of two, recalls: “I had my firstborn child when my uncle raped me. Two years later I started a relationship with my classmate and I got a second baby with him.” Miriam has since dropped out of school to take up her mothering responsibilities.

With at least 12 child brides being rescued weekly in this community, Millicent Atieno’s children’s only fighting chance is perhaps the stable homestead that their mother currently provides, and staying in school. It may be too late for Millicent now she has resigned her life to motherhood and doing manual labour as a means of survival for her family. Perhaps she can live to see her dreams fulfilled by her children.

Source: http://www.rnw.nl/africa/article/child-brides-butula

Posted in Kenya | 10 Comments »

Kenya launches huge port project

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2012

"The demands for the rights of Lamu people have fallen on deaf ears," say local community groups (AFP, Tony Karumba)

"The demands for the rights of Lamu people have fallen on deaf ears," say local community groups (AFP, Tony Karumba)

LAMU, Kenya — Kenya launched the construction of a massive port, railway and refinery Friday near a UNESCO-listed Indian Ocean island in a project it bills as the biggest ever in an African nation.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir unveiled a plaque at a ceremony to mark the official start of building work near Lamu island in Kenya’s southeast.

Nairobi hopes the $24.5 billion (18.5 billion euro) project will turn the east African country into a regional economic hub and propel it to become a middle-income economy in the next two decades.

Dancers and singers marked the formal start of construction at the inauguration at a muddy Indian Ocean shore where pristine mangrove forest is already being cleared.

The port to be constructed with 32 berths and be connected to Ethiopia and oil-rich South Sudan by a super-highway, a railway and a pipeline to export Juba’s crude.

The project is expected to be funded by regional financial institutions, governments and international lenders, with China believed to have major stake.

However, Lamu residents protest that the huge port, although located some 10 kilometres (six miles) from the UNESCO-listed island, will impact on their livelihoods and accuse the government of ignoring their concerns.

“The demands for the rights of Lamu people have fallen on deaf ears,” said a statement by Save Lamu, a coalition of local community groups in Lamu.

“We are greatly concerned that the lack of transparency, secrecy and poor accountability in the way the project is being implemented is a dismal reflection of our rights as governed by the constitution,” it added.

Conservationists fear that monster earth movers and dredgers will destroy the mangroves and plough ship channels through coral reefs that are crucial fish breeding grounds.

“We’ll be losing a certain percentage of our coral reefs, and we’ll be losing our pristine beaches to some extent, and also the fishing and breeding grounds for turtles,” said Atwaa Salim Mohamed of the Lamu Marine Conservation Trust.

Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gyoEo7cW2gfVZ_yNpwfEstMiWhMA?docId=CNG.fe1245d46ab71882e956e375ece52394.101

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NBK seeks to tap expat for managing director’s position

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2012

Photo/File National Bank of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi. The bank has placed an advertisement in the latest edition of the influential The Economist magazine in its search for a new managing director.

Photo/File National Bank of Kenya headquarters in Nairobi. The bank has placed an advertisement in the latest edition of the influential The Economist magazine in its search for a new managing director.

The National Bank of Kenya (NBK) has widened its search for a new managing director to include expatriates and Kenyans in the diaspora as it seeks new ideas to firm foothold in the lucrative corporate lending.

The bank has placed an advertisement in the latest edition of the influential The Economist magazine after running a similar job search in local media on January 20 to find a replacement for Reuben Marambii, whose contract is ending in December.

NBK on Tuesday said it was looking for a new managing director to lead its diversification into investment banking and insurance and to strengthen its presence in the homes loan market and corporate banking.

These offer big ticket lending at relatively lower cost.

The bank relies heavily on consumer lending, which accounts for 85 per cent of its loan book, for growth.

This has seen its rivals like Co-operative and Equity banks race ahead of it in recent years.

“We are increasingly looking at the international market to fill NBK’s top job given our diversification strategy that will require high competence in corporate banking,” said a director at the bank who declined to be named.

“Our focus here will be expatriates and Kenyans in the diaspora but this does not mean we are overlooking local talent. We are broadening our search.”

If it taps an expatriate, it will be following the path taken by then loss -making KCB—another bank with significant government shareholding—which hired Briton Gareth George from Barclays Bank to engineer its turnaround in 2001.

Analysts, however, reckon that the bank may be eying the growing list of Kenyans in the diaspora who are looking for opportunities back home.

“I think NBK is looking at Kenyans in the diaspora rather than expatriates especially given that its owned by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the government,” said Kuria Muchiru, the country leader of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Banks such as Equity have tapped Kenyans in the diaspora in the race for a larger share of the corporate lending market that is dominated by big banks like Barclays, Kenya Commercial Bank and Standard Chartered.

Last year, Daniel Odong’o joined Equity as head of corporate risk from Bank of America, while Henry Kimani, from Standard Chartered Bank (South Africa) was hired as general manager for corporate banking. It also hired Paul Njaga from BNP Paribas as finance director.

The hiring of executives from international banks is in line with its plan to replicate their business model in what could raise the stakes in the lending market.

Human capital has become the most sought-after resource for market share growth in the local banking industry in which business ideas are being copied with speed, sparking a talent war.

The NBK— ranked Kenya’s eighth largest bank by asset size— is also seeking to lend more to companies and big ticket projects in the property market to grow its loans book and push it to the top tier of the country’s banking sector.

In the nine months to September, the bank made a net profit of Sh1.23 billion compared to Sh1.35 billion a year earlier—which pales in comparison to quarter three performance of its peers like I$M Bank  (Sh2.56bn), NIC Bank (Sh1.76bn) and DTB (2.17bn).

Its share has lost 55 per cent in the past year to drop to Sh20.25 on the bearish run at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the below analysts performance.

Mr Marambii was tapped from CBK where he was the chief manager of banking and was instrumental in returning NBK to profitability—which culminated in the bank paying its first dividend in 12 years in 2010.

The search for the MD is set to open a fresh battle between the Government and the NSSF over control of the lender’s executive suite.

The Government has for years influenced the appointment of the bank’s head on the strength that the lender is a State corporation, but the board of NBK–which is in the firm grip of NSSF — insists that it will shepherd the search and make the final appointment without seeking the blessings of the Treasury.

(READ: NSSF sets off fight over top National Bank job)

In June, the fund ousted three State appointees from the board of NBK and replaced them with its own representatives.

Treasury owns 22.5 per cent and NSSF has a 48.05 per cent stake in the bank.

Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Corporate+News/NBK+seeks+to+tap+expat+for+managing+directors+position+/-/539550/1355726/-/5eef9jz/-/index.html

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Women MPs visit Mugo, to seek cancer funding

Posted by Administrator on March 2, 2012

Thirteen Kenyan women MPs have said they will seek funding to create a programme for early detection and treatment of cancer during a visit to Public Health minister Beth Mugo in the US March 1, 2012. FILE

Thirteen Kenyan women MPs have said they will seek funding to create a programme for early detection and treatment of cancer during a visit to Public Health minister Beth Mugo in the US March 1, 2012. FILE

Thirteen Kenyan women MPs have said they will seek funding to create a programme for early detection and treatment of cancer.

The MPs, who were in a group of 17 Kenyans, had visited Pubic Health minister Beth Mugo on Thursday at her hotel in Philadelphia, US where she is undergoing cancer treatment.

A Ministry of Health statement said the agreement followed talks with Mrs Mugo.

The minister noted, the Ministry said, that such a programme in Kenya would be consistent with global health officials’ shift in emphasis from communicable to non-communicable diseases in developing countries.

Mrs Mugo assistant, Rosalind Murimi, said the minister was unavailable for an interview with the Nation Questions about her health and treatment should be directed to her physician in Nairobi, Ms Murimi said.

Hon Mugo was reported to be doing well, however, and planning to return to Kenya later this month.

“The ladies found Hon Mugo in good health and cheer and spent the better part of the afternoon visiting with the minister and her daughter,” the Ministry statement said, referring to the Kenyan women MPs.

The Dagoretti MP is undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the Perelman Centre for Advanced Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

The minister has had discussions with a senior vice president at the centre regarding Kenya’s cancer programme, the Ministry indicated. It said Hon Mugo expects to hold further talks regarding technical support and provision of equipment for cancer-treatment initiatives in Kenya.

The MPs have travelled to the US as Kenya’s delegation to an Inter-Parliamentary Union conference taking place on the sidelines of a review session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Women+MPs+visit+Mugo++to+seek+cancer+funding/-/1056/1357768/-/103p0lfz/-/index.html

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