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Archive for April 13th, 2013

Kenya rice farmers suffer huge loses

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya
Farmers continue incurring losses estimated to run into millions of shillings as last season’s rice crop kept in poor conditions at Ahero National Irrigation Board (NIB) rots away in Nyando District of Kisumu County . - A grain dryer – A grain dryer -Extreme state of negligence -Extreme state of negligence - Who will save the rice farmers? – Who will save the rice farmers? - Torn sacks pours rice on the dirty floor – Torn sacks pours rice on the dirty floor - Cooperative officials (Walter Angura (Vice Chairman), Emmanuel Nudi (Chairman) and Francis Nyamache alongside Ben Opolo and Oguma Kibondo at the facility – Cooperative officials (Walter Angura (Vice Chairman), Emmanuel Nudi (Chairman) and Francis Nyamache alongside Ben Opolo and Oguma Kibondo at the facility - Clearing the blocked drainage – Clearing the blocked drainage - Removing grass – Removing grass Serious state of negligence witnessed when API toured the facility Serious state of negligence witnessed when API toured the facility - Rice germinating due to the poor storage at the facility as one of the officials displays – Rice germinating due to the poor storage at the facility as one of the officials displays - Proper drying of rice should be as seen in this picture. – Proper drying of rice should be as seen in this picture.

A survey by African Press International (API) established that the neglect at the rice drying and storage facility was not only attributable to failure by the local NIB top brass but also persistent wrangles threatening to balloon into a full-scale conflict.

It emerged that elections held on April 3, 2013 at the facility presided over by Muhoroni District Cooperative Officer (DCO), E. L. Tolo elected Moses Wayumba as the new Chairman, Sylvanus Munga (Vice Chairman), Clakson Abiero (Secretary), Ben Odhiambo (Treasurer).

Others members to the executive include; Ben Orimba, Camlus Onyango, John Odola, M/s Syprose Ojwang and Apollo Ayoo.

The cooperates also mandated the supervisory team to be headed by; Emmanuel Nudi (Chairman), Walter Angura (Vice Chairman) and Francis Nyamache with Ben Opolo and Oguma Kibondo as the support.

However, the former office bearers were only two people; Laban Akeyo (Chairman) and Mathews Ogallo Dodo (Secretary) who sidelined everyone else and took up all the responsibilities allegedly for narrow, selfish interests thus perpetuated corruption.

Ahero NIB storage facility has a storage capacity of approximately 80, 000 bags but in he last harvest season this was over-stretched prompting some farmers to sell their produce at a throw-away-prices for lack of storage space to curb losses.

The titanic battle for supremacy has seen the former officials lock out the new team by neither showing up at the agreed venue (facility) nor sending an apology explaining why they didn’t turn up for the meeting.

Ahero NIB is now over-grown with grass with the plastic sacs containing the rice yet to be milled torn, pouring most of the content on the dirty floor without any hope of anyone moving in to clear the mess.

Attempts by the writer to seek audience with Ahero NIB Manager, P. N. Langat proved futile as he was said to be away on official duty outside Kenya.

The whereabouts of the Engineer in whose hands Langat was said to have entrusted the management of Ahero NIB while away could not be traced, even though some of his apprehensive colleagues insisted that he was out for lunch with his jacket on the chair.

Inside sources confided to API that Ahero NIB drying and storage facility receives annual allocation of Kshs.1.5million for maintenance but the funds usually goes to line the pockets of a few corrupt people.

Nyando District Agricultural Officer (DAO), Tabitha Ajwang referred the writer to her Muhoroni counterpart, J. T. Kagunza but his phone went uanswere several times thus making it difficult to get the official position.

Muhoroni District Commissioner, Solomon Abwaku promised to take up the matter with the DAO (Kagunza) and DCO to chart the way forward on how best to navigate the rice farmers out of the poverty cycle attributed to poor management.


Photos By: Maurice Alal -API Kenya


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An escalating refugee burden: Regional insecurity

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2013

Photo: MSF
An escalating refugee burden

NAIROBI,  – Chad is grappling with an influx of refugees and returnees into its south-eastern regions, mainly from neighbouring Sudan, and others from the Central African Republic (CAR) following a series of inter-ethnic clashes in Darfur and a recent coup in the CAR, respectively.

At least 74,000 people have fled into Chad from Darfur in the past two months, 50,000 of them in the past week alone, sparking the largest influx of refugees from Sudan into Chad since 2005, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Waves of refugees

In March, the first wave of 24,000 people fled from Darfur and arrived in Tissi, a remote area in Chad’s southeastern Sila Region; 8,000 were Sudanese and 16,000 Chadians. Most of them are women and children.

“Under every tree, there are women and children who are trying to protect themselves from sunshine,” Abdellahi Ould El Bah, a UNHCR programme officer on mission in Tissi, told IRIN.

UNHCR staff on the ground say they “found women and children very scared, exhausted with haggard eyes”.

In Tissi, basic amenities are lacking.

“People lack everything and are living in very dire conditions. They need food, water and shelter. People are obliged to drink water from the river,” Aminata Gueye, the UNHCR representative in Chad, told IRIN. “Those who are wounded need healthcare, while health centres or clinics in Tissi [are] not functional.”

Access to Tissi by air is impossible, meaning aid workers have to spend eight hours by road, and they have to cross 21 wadis (seasonal rivers).

With insecurity rife, more refugees are expected. “We fear a new wave of refugees in the next few days, as there are reports of continuing violence on the side of Darfur,” said Gueye.

Most recently, clashes have been recorded between the Misseriya and Salamat ethnic groups in Um Dukhum, Darfur, with dozens of deaths reported.

On 12 April, UNHCR started the relocation of at least 8,000 Sudanese refugees from Tissi, to the Goz Amir and Djabal refugee camps in Sila Region. The relocation is expected to help in the provision of assistance to the new arrivals and to improve their security.

Local authorities have provided some 100 ton of food for the new arrivals, with UNHCR and partners coordinating efforts to provide emergency assistance in Tissi.

Refugee population already large

The new refugee influx constitutes a huge challenge for UNHCR, which was already facing limited resources as it provided protection and assistance to the large numbers of refugees in Chad. Months earlier, UNHCR and the governments of Chad and Sudan had started discussions on the return of Sudanese refugees to Darfur.

“Under every tree, there are women and children who are trying to protect themselves from sunshine”

Eastern Chad is already home to about 300,000 refugees from Darfur and thousands of others from CAR. Chad has, since December 2012, received at least 4,000 new refugees from CAR, in addition to some 65,000 already there, according to a 6 April updateby the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Besides the new refugees, Chad is also grappling with the returns of hundreds of Chadian migrants released from detention centres in Libya.

“It is with great concern that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is monitoring the multiple migration crises currently developing along the Chadian borders. IOM is already responding to the influx of 1,200 extremely vulnerable Chadian migrants returning to Chad after having been released from detention centres in Libya.

“At the same [time], IOM is in the process of providing life-saving assistance, including homeward transportation, to over 17,000 Chadian migrants, [that] are fleeing the intercommunity violence in Sudan, that are arriving in remote border towns in Chad without means to support themselves,” Qasim Sufi, IOM chief of mission in Chad, told IRIN.

Measles outbreak

Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is treating the wounded in Tissi, with serious cases being referred to the towns of Goz Beida or Abéché.

At the same time, teams are trying to contend with an outbreak of measles in a nearby area: “In Saraf Bourgou only, our team has confirmed 35 cases of measles, which represents 25 percent of consultations,” said Alexandre Morhain, MSF’s head of mission in Chad. “The disease has already killed seven children, five of whom were under five years old.”

An emergency measles vaccination campaign is expected to be launched in Tissi, with severe acute malnutrition cases and paediatric emergencies also being treated.

According to MSF, the situation of the refugees there is precarious as the rains approach. “We need to act now, because within two months it will be impossible to access this area by road.”

aw/rz source

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Child protection a low priority

Posted by African Press International on April 13, 2013

JAKARTA,  – Efforts to protect children in Indonesia from abuse are obstructed by barriers to crime reporting, which may worsen with the threatened closure of police-run units that handle crimes against women and children. 

Usman Basuni, assistant deputy minister for child participation at the Women Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry, told IRIN these specialized police units – known by their local acronym, PPA – are at risk of closing because crimes against women and children are rarely reported, which has led police to shift their resources elsewhere.

Last year, 12-year-old Riri* was sent from her village in Central Java to live with her uncle and aunt two provinces away, in Jakarta, the capital.

Over a period of four months, she was repeatedly raped by her uncle, who threatened to kill her and possess her with evil spirits if she reported the abuse. He then forced her to become a sex worker.

For two weeks, Riri was forced to charge US$21 per sexual encounter in East Jakarta, according to the head of the shelter where she is now recovering. After fleeing from her uncle’s house, she happened to rest mid-escape near the home of a local community leader, who brought her to the government-run shelter.

The extent of such abuses is unknown, Basuni said. Even if they are reported, they rarely make it up to the national level for recording.

Attitudes to abuse

According to the National Commission for the Protection of Children (Komnas PA), a child-rights NGO based in the capital, Jakarta, there were 2,637 reports of domestic abuse against children in 2012, up from 2,509 the previous year.

World Vision’s child protection specialist in Indonesia, Pitoyo Susanto, said child abuse is severely underreported, what he called an “iceberg phenomenon”, because of the public’s view of child abuse as something to be resolved in the home.

“People still believe it’s a private thing,” said Susanto. “If neighbours know what’s going on next door, they won’t intervene. Even in the cases that are reported, we see that the abuse has been going on for years.”

And should family members or survivors make a public claim, they risk being stigmatized, said Santi Kusumaningrum, co-director of the Centre on Child Protection at the University of Indonesia (UI).

Families have been asked to move out of villages by the rest of the community, with schools even refusing to accept the child.”

In addition, Kusumaningrum said parents often turn to violence when disciplining their children. “The only way many parents know to deal with their children, if their child is misbehaving, is to hit them,” she said.

Influencing parent behaviours at the national level is near impossible, said the government’s Basuni.

“When the government says ‘don’t beat your child’, parents say it’s their business, and the number of people who think this way is huge,” he said. “The ministry doesn’t have enough resources to make 240 million people aware of this issue.”

A remote crime scene

Abuse can be reported at police-run units for women and children; there is one such unit in each of Indonesia’s 500 districts. Reports can also be made at hospitals and at the NGO-run Child Protection Institute, which has locations in each of Indonesia’s 34 provinces.

However, World Vision’s Susanto says many families live far from reporting centres and public service providers able to offer life-saving medical and psychological care.

“There’s a lack of access at village level,” he said. “We’re trying to improve this by training community volunteers to [triage] victims and their families, and help them report to police or service providers at the district level.”

The University of Indonesia’s Kusumaningrum said that despite laws protecting children – instituted in 2002 – and criminalizing domestic violence – instituted in 2004 – difficulties filing abuse claims and bringing cases to court have largely deterred reporting.

“When people report [at the village level], police ask for money to transport the evidence to district level [for investigations],” she said. “It’s already emotionally difficult to report, but for poor families this cost makes it even harder.”

What to do?

Basuni said the Women Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry is trying to change attitudes toward child-rearing.

“We’ll only solve this problem by going to its source and promoting good parenting skills, and through creating child-friendly cities,” said Basuni.

Sixty Indonesian cities are trying to achieve “child-friendly” status by meeting criteria tied to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which Indonesia has ratified. Cities must prove their commitment to fulfilling the UNCRC.

The ministry has also introduced an Indonesian Association of Child-Friendly Companies, with at least six major companies participating by agreeing to put children’s rights at the centre of their corporate social responsibility programmes.

But still largely unaddressed is why convictions for child abuse are so rare. This past February, an 18-year-old man was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for raping his girlfriend, a minor, but such successful prosecutions are an exception.

In local media, abuse victims, their families and supporters have spoken of threats and intimidation by friends, family members and even neighbours of alleged perpetrators, who have pressured witnesses to withdraw testimony mid-trial. Police have been called “sluggish” and “insensitive” in their investigations.

Police spokesman Senior Commander Rikwanto, who goes by one name, said child abuse cases were sometimes slow to reach trial because of difficulty establishing evidence of abuse.

“It’s necessary to convince witnesses to come forward, and make sure we have sufficient physical and scientific evidence of the abuse,” he said. “Sometimes this can slow the progress of cases down.”

In addition, the 2004 regional autonomy law transferred powers to local governments to handle basic services, including health, education, infrastructure and security. Basuni acknowledged child protection was a low priority for local government officials.

He added that he was trying increase the priority of children’s issues nationwide by meeting with and convincing district heads to promote children’s rights. While most of those consulted agree in theory, he said, they say their budgets are already overstretched.

*not real name

mw/pt/rz  source

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