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Archive for September 30th, 2012

Kenya: Security to be beefed up during National Examinations

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2012 Maurice Alal.API reporter Kisumu.Kenya Maurice Alal.API reporter Kisumu.Kenya

By Maurice Alal, reporting from Kisumu. Kenya

Police in Kisumu County of Nyanza region have warned those that are usually involved in examination irregularities to be prepared to face full force of the law as the country prepares to kick off the exercise.

It is said that examination irregularities are rampant in Western
Kenya where selling of fake examination papers is believed to be a booming business mostly during the exams period by the unscrupulous traders.

Some of the district said to be rampant in exams irregularities
include Kisii, Nyamira, Nyamira south and Kisii Central among other districts where most candidates’ results were canceled last year due to cheating.

Nyanza Provincial Police Officer (PPO), Joseph Oletito said that security will be beefed up in the exams centres to curb cases of irregularities adding that the government have put in place various measures to reduce such vices.

He said the number of security officers manning the exams centres will be increased, both regular and administration police. The PPO said the postponement of the national examinations dates will give them ample time to prepare adequately for the exercise.

“We as the security agent, we are going to use that period to initiate the necessary measures to ensure the region does not involve in cheating during exams the way it has been witnessed before,” Oletito said.

The examination dates were rescheduled by three weeks following the just ended teachers’ strike that paralyzed leaning activities in public schools countrywide.

Oletito further appealed to the Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) to ensure that examination papers reached the station in time.
The police boss further revealed that last year some centres had shortage of papers that delayed examination in most schools in the region.
The police boss warned those teachers that are said to be colluding with parents and students to cheat in exams that they will be arrested and charged in court.

“Those obtaining money with false pretense. The law is clear and will be arrested,” Oletito said adding that there is increase of unscrupulous people who sell fake papers to students especially during the examination.

The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams is set to kick off in October 15, to December 15, 2012 while Kenya Certificate of Primary Education is schedule to commence in early December this year.

This was arrived after the teacher’s strike a deal with government who agreed to pay them a total of Shs 13.5 billion salary allowance to 275,000 teachers following the three-week countrywide strike.

However, the Education Minister, Mutula Kilonzo said that the strike have interfered with school calendar making the government to push dates by three weeks to enable teachers to complete syllabus.



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Fresh tears, steeled will

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2012

CONAKRY,  – One after the other, women visiting their sick friend Aïssatou Baïlo Diallo, a 42-year-old teacher in Guinea’s capital Conakry, are overcome with emotion and leave her bedside crying. Diallo has been in and out of hospitals since she was raped in the 28 September 2009 stadium attack, and in recent weeks her health has deteriorated rapidly. Three years after the stadium massacre, the pain is fresh.

Three years ago, at Conakry’s 28 September Stadium, hundreds of people were injured or killed and hundreds of women raped when the military cracked down on a rally to protest the presidential candidacy of coup leader Moussa Dadis Camara. The stadium is named for the date in 1958 when Guineans voted against adopting the French Constitution.

Three years on: Fresh tears, steeled will
 View slideshow

But if the survivors’ pain endures, so does their determination. People who have allegedly been tortured, raped or otherwise injured by security forces in Guinea say they are committed to sticking with the judicial process. Legal experts say the victims’ solidarity -including a pledge not to accept bribes in exchange for silence – is making an enormous difference.

Human rights and legal groups say the fight against impunity in Guinea is advancing slowly but surely. In the past several months, current and former government ministers have been charged with crimes relating to the stadium attack, and other officials face charges for later crimes including torture.

But much tough and delicate work lies ahead. The International Criminal Court (ICC), which did a preliminary examination in Guinea days after the attack, is closely watching; it will take up the case if the Guinean authorities do not carry through. ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said after a visit in April 2012 that she is encouraged by the progress, and that either Guinea or the ICC will prosecute. “There is no third option,” she said.

Thierno Ousmane Diallo, who was among several men who were allegedly tortured by security forces in 2010, says he’s received several death threats since the case came to light. “I make these statements openly because I know I’m telling the truth,” he told IRIN. “We are afraid, yes – but we must be brave. This happened to people before us, now it’s happened to us. We can do something so others don’t live through it in the future.”




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A community protector called Love

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2012

Love, a community hired security guard, with his young child in Bevilany, in south east Madagascar

BEVILANY,  – In 2010, scores of bandits attacked Bevilany, a charcoal-producing settlement in Madagascar’s southern Anosy Region. By the time the fight was over, 11 outlaws and one ‘zamasi’ – a security guard hired by a community for protection – were dead.

The ‘dahalo’, as the bandits are called, are thriving in the country’s rural south, where security forces have been unable to stop them. The dahalo’s primary enterprise is the rustling of zebu, a distinctive and prized breed of humped cattle, which are estimated to number in the millions. The zebu are, by and large, the only possessions of value rural residents have – though the dahalo steal cash and other assets when possible as well – forcing many communities to fend for themselves.

Love, 40, who goes by a single name, is one of three zamasi hired to protect the Bevilany settlement. The community sells two to three truck-loads of charcoal per day, and the cash business is an attractive target for the dahalo.

Love wears a steel-handled dagger at his side and a sword slung across his chest, but carries no guns. “What is sad for me is that we are not armed,” he told IRIN. “We only have machetes and big knives. If we had guns, I could have killed many dahalo.”

The gendarmes, a paramilitary police force with a national complement of about 11,000 personnel, is mandated to provide rural protection, “but they never come here”, villager Rene Rakotmanga, told IRIN Rakotmanga said.

“Before, we tried to protect ourselves, but now it is not possible anymore because the dahalo carry guns, so we cannot fight back… So we hired zamasi,” Rakotmanga said.

The zamasi are each paid about US$400 a year through contributions from the villagers and – according to their contract terms – they also receive coffee each morning and are supplied with soap.

Love is described as an “exceptional fighter” by community members. Still, his weapons are rudimentary compared to his opponents’ firearms.

“We want the government to give us guns, so we can fight the dahalo. That is what we want,” a villager said.

No money, no security

Lt-Col Mbina Mamelison, gendarme commander for the Anosy Region, told IRIN the gendarmes do not cooperate with the zamasi, “but we are thinking about it now”. The problem is that some zamasi have divided loyalties.

Insecurity in south Madagascar
 View slideshow

“The first type [of zamasi] is paid to protect the population of the village, and the second type of zamasi is really just dahalo. They just tell their friends not to attack the village because they are being paid by the villagers not to be attacked,” he said.

The rule for the zamasi is simple: no pay, no protection.

“There was one village nearby, where they did not pay the zamasi and the village was attacked by the dahalo. There is usually one person in a village who knows the dahalo and tells them if there is any money,” villager Allain Ratahafehy told IRIN.

“The dahalo are going from bad to worse. There have been several attacks recently, but we are overwhelmed,” Mamelison said.

Community self-defence units

In Ambinanibe, a lagoon settlement a few kilometres from Taolagnaro, two self-defence units were established after eight of the chief’s zebu were stolen in August. “My grandson needed to pee, so my wife opened the door for him, and she noticed a person in the shadows. She pulled my grandson back as a shot was fired, and then there were two more shots. If I went out, I would have been killed,” Chief Julien Tsarandro told IRIN.

He blamed the theft on the dahalo “because they are the only ones who carry guns.”

Five of his zebu were recovered after trackers pursued the cattle thieves and communities further down the coast were alerted by cell phone of the theft, but the perpetrators have not been caught.

“I am still angry about the theft. One zebu is worth a million ariary [$500]. I gave one zebu to the trackers and five were recovered, so now I have four,” he said.

Now, one of the community’s self-defence units guards the chief’s compound while the other stands vigil for the rest of the village. The patrols offer only limited protection, Tsarandro said, as they possess crude weapons, including axes, rocks, iron rods, knives and a single 12-gauge shotgun. The only qualifications for enlisting are that members be male and over 18 years old.

“If the patrols see the dahalo, they can’t fight them because we don’t have guns and the dahalo have guns. So they will warn us, and we will take our valuables and run into the bush and hide.”

Sgt Jules Tsitonizara, 34, who has fought against the dahalo in the Anosy Region and is now based in Taolagnaro, provides advice to the volunteer self-defence units when he is off-duty.

Tsitonizara’s mother Josephine, 56, was a victim of the recent crime wave in Ambinanibe; the entire $200 contents of her local shop were stolen. “We [the community] asked for help from the military and gendarmes, but they said they could not help,” she told IRIN.




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Senators laud IITA’s efforts in improving crop productivity

Posted by African Press International on September 30, 2012

  • Filed by Godwin Atser,

Nigeria’s senators have commended the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) for excellent scientific research, which has resulted in increase in agricultural productivity and improved livelihoods for farmers.

Also the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike wants stronger ties with IITA to help serve Nigeria, in particular, and Africa in general.

Members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture who paid a courtesy visit to IITA were unanimous that research and development efforts by IITA were major factors that have made Nigeria a global leader in cassava, cowpea and yam production.

“I must commend the work that you are doing to improve agriculture… We are impressed and glad with the role you are playing— not just in Nigeria but also in Africa,” the Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha said.

Senator Bwacha, who was received by the Deputy Director General (Partnerships and Capacity Development), Dr Kenton Dashiell on Tuesday, called for more support and attention to international agricultural research, adding that such efforts were needed to further advance the dissemination of technological innovations at the research centre to farmers.

Dr Dashiell thanked the senate delegation for the visit to IITA. He pledged that IITA would continue to play the role of improving food security in tropical nations with the aim of increasing agricultural productivity, creating wealth and, more importantly, reducing poverty.

In another related development, the Executive Director of NRCRI, Dr Julius Okonkwo has said that a stronger partnership between IITA and NRCRI is necessary to boost agriculture.

Dr Okonkwo said that past experiences underscored the necessity for more collaboration between the two institutions, citing that joint efforts between IITA and NRCRI led to the release of 41 improved cassava varieties.

“These varieties have contributed in making Nigeria the world’s largest producer of cassava,” Dr Okonkwo said during a courtesy visit to IITA in Ibadan.

“Besides cassava, another milestone the two institutes have achieved over the years is the development of and release of 17 improved yam varieties,” he added.

Collaboration between IITA and NRCRI began as far back as the 1970’s.

Dr Okonkwo who met with the Director General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga; and Dr Dashiell said NRCRI was proud to be associated with IITA.

He noted that scientists from NRCRI had benefited a lot from IITA’s capacity building programs.

As a global leader in crop improvement, IITA devotes its resources to crop research, natural resource management, partnerships and capacity building. Traditionally, IITA’s work was concentrated on cassava, yam, cowpea, soybean, banana and plantain, maize and cocoa. However, the refined strategy of the Institute offers the opportunity to expand to other crops with the ultimate aim of reducing poverty in tropical nations.





IITA ( is an international non-profit research-for-development organization established in 1967 and governed by a Board of Trustees. We work with partners in Africa and beyond to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture. Our award-winning research for development is anchored on the development needs of tropical countries. IITA is a member of the CGIAR Consortium.



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