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Archive for May 9th, 2013

Kenya: Police imposter shot dead

Posted by African Press International on May 9, 2013

By GODFREY WAMALWA, API-Kenya

A middle-aged man posing to be a criminal investigation officer succumbed in his destiny after he attempted to exchange bullets with armed security perssonel in Bungoma.

Bungoma south deputy police chief Mutume Maweu said the man has been in the recent past masquerading as a police office officer where he used the rank to obtain money cash from unsuspected residents and terrorising locals. Popular known as Symo, police sources said that he stole the pistol from an administration police after involving in a road accident at Sikata centre along Bungoma-webuye highway.

The impostor was shot to dead with police from Bungoma as he tried to escape.The incident comes at a time when insecurity in Bungoma county has skyrocketed with unknown assailants attacking villagers.

Meanwhile four people are nursing injuries after armed gangs with pangas attacked Bungoma surbubs leaving locals in shock.As the police continues to grill suspected people alleged to be behind the spate,former youth leader Augustine Mayavi has been grilled and an officer from ministry of lands.

Police sources says that investigation is on for his accomplice where they will help the officer gather reliable information concerning the security.

 

 

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Kenya: Shortage of Engineers might jeopardize Kenya’s Vision 2030, says PS

Posted by African Press International on May 9, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya
www.africanpress.me/ Kenya Permanent Secretary speaks out

http://www.africanpress.me/ Kenya Permanent Secretary speaks out

Kenya is faced with shortage of qualified engineers in various sectors that might jeopardize the success of Vision 2030, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industrialization Dr Cyrus Njiru has said.

Dr Njiru said some of the best engineers are exported to neighboring and international countries leading to brain drain in the sector making it difficult to undertake flagship project in Kenya.

Speaking during the Innovative Engineering Solutions for Industrialization of Counties conference held at Tom Mboya Labour College in Kisumu City, the PS said funding should be improved to promote engineering courses from certificate level to doctorate to meet the current demands.

He added that middle colleges should be revamped in the 47 Counties as this will increase the number of students enrolled in engineering courses.

“With counties in place focus now shift to the industrialization processes in these devolved units of governance to realize the objectives outlined in Vision 2030,” says the PS.

Dr Njiru revealed that for a quick industrialization to be achieved, promotion of innovative engineering, scientific and technological interventions as well as providing the country the vital technical human resource should be given a first priority.

He stated that industrial sector is a key driver for increasing economic growth rates, generation of sufficient employment opportunities and integrating an economy of Kenya into the global economy.

“Most developed countries and emerging economies have recorded rapid economic development through embracing industrialization,” Dr Njiru said.

The PS added that it is for this reason that the Vision 2030 aims at making Kenya a newly industrializing, “middle- income country providing high quality life for all citizens by the year 2030.

However, it is envisaged that by year 2030, approximately 30,000 engineers will be required facilitate the flagship projects in line with newly industrialized countries.

“For every engineer, 3 technologists are required and for every technologist, 4 technicians are required. For every technician, 5 craftsmen are required,” he explained.

This he said translates to a ratio of 1:75 for every engineer vis-à-vis support staff required as per the Vision.

The Chairman of Institute of Engineers of Kenya (IEK) Eng. James Ruingu said concern has been expressed by some employers over the quality of education and training of engineers in Kenyan universities.

Eng. Ruingu said adoption and continuous updating of high quality engineering syllabus should be embraced to produce highly qualified graduate engineers in various universities.

 

 

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She injected cooking oil into her face in search of more beauty

Posted by African Press International on May 9, 2013

This is a very sad affair. Women and men in search of beauty should listen to their doctors.

Hang Mioku before she injected her facewith coooking oil [left] and after [Photo: Daily Mail

A plastic surgery addict injected cooking oil into her face when doctors refused to give her any more silicone.

Former model Hang Mioku has been left permanently disfigured following the DIY beauty treatment.

After injecting an entire bottle of black market silicone into her face, Hang resorted to using cookingoil that left her face severely swollen and scarred.

Her plights was featured on Korean television and viewers donated thousands of pounds to pay for corrective surgery.

During the first of 10 operations, surgeons removed 60g of silicone, oil and other foreign substances from her face and 200g from her neck.

However, Hang is still disfigured and she said she wishes she could have her old face back.

Hang had her first procedure aged 28 and then moved to Japan where she had repeated treatments.

She quickly became obsessed with having smoother and softer skin.

Doctors eventually refused to carry out any more work on her after her face became noticeably enlarged.

-Adapted from Daily Mail

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Kenya: Woman involved in carjacking arrested

Posted by African Press International on May 9, 2013

  • BY JACK MARWA 

Police ion Naivasha have arrested a woman who was involved during a carjacking incident and robbing a popular TV show comedians of ‘ Tahidi High’.

During the incident a carjacker who fell asleep while guarding his victim after his accomplices left to withdrew money using his ATM card was shot by police.

The thug had drank too much and fell asleep giving a room to the victim, a taxi driver Macharia Githogori, to untie himself and flee.

Macharia said that the thug had robbed the actors some alcohol and started drinking it before falling asleep and started to snore.

Naivasha Deputy OCPD Paul Korir said that the suspects were cornered by police at Malewa lodge in Naivasha through a tip off from a mobile services provider trying to commit a robbery.

Korir said that some of her accomplices managed to escape after spoting the presences of police officers in the compound and had launched a manhunt for them.

The police boss said that the suspect a woman will also face other charges of killing Githunguri District commissioner James Hungi Mugwe in Kiambu.

 

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Kenya: Marginalized and radicalized

Posted by African Press International on May 9, 2013

Countering the radicalization of Kenya’s youth

Radicalized, marginalized, poverty-stricken young people are saying, “We don’t belong to Kenya”

NAIROBI,  – Unemployment, poverty and political marginalization are contributing to the Islamic radicalization of Kenya’s youth, a situation experts say must be addressed through economic empowerment and inclusive policies.

Youth unemployment is extremely high, as are levels of political disenchantment. An estimated 75 percent of out-of-school youths are unemployed, according to the US Agency for International Development(USAID).

“The unemployment crisis is a ticking bomb. Over 60 percent of the population is under 25. You cannot ignore that,” said Yusuf Hassan, the Member of Parliament for Nairobi’s Kamukunji Constituency, which has a large Muslim population. “A huge and significant population is restless. And the gap between the rich and poor is getting wider.”

“When access to resources is based on ethnic, cultural or religious characteristics or there is a growing divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in countries and communities, economic conditions further contribute to instability,” says a new report by the Institute for Security Studies in Africa(ISS). “Countries confronted by large differences between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ are additionally vulnerable to conflict, which may include resorting to acts of terrorism.”

Marginalized and radicalized

A string of grenade attacks – some allegedly by Somali Islamist insurgent group Al-Shabab or their sympathizers – have occurred in the Kenyan towns of Garissa, Mombasa and the capital, Nairobi, since Kenya began its military incursion in Somalia in October 2011.

But Islamic radicalization is not new to Kenya. Kenyans were involved in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and the Tanzania city of Dar es Salaam; the coordinated attacks, which killed more than 220 people, were Africa’s first suicide bombings by Al-Qaeda’s East Africa cell. In a 2002 dual car-bomb and suicide attack on a hotel and plane in Mombasa, at least one of the suspects was Kenyan.

Muslims make up an estimated 11 percent of Kenya’s population; large Muslim communities can be found in the country’s northeast and in the coastal region. Traditionally, Kenya’s Muslims are moderate, with the community peacefully seeking participation in politics. But ISS pointed to the historical political marginalization of Muslims – right from negotiations for Kenya’s independence, in which ethnic Somalis, who are overwhelmingly Muslim, were not represented – as a contributor to the radicalization of young people.

“Although Kenya is a secular state, it is essentially a Christian country because of the dominant Christian population… There is the perception that Islam is ‘alien’, despite the fact that it came to Kenya before Christianity,” the report notes.

The report also found that some young Kenyan Muslims have been influenced by radical preaching, which leads them to believe that wars being fought against Muslims abroad – for example, in Afghanistan and Iraq – are part of “a global campaign against Islam”.

According to a 2011 report by the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, non-Somali Kenyan nationals constituted the largest and most organized non-Somali group within Al-Shabab.

Taking advantage of vulnerable youth 

“We’ve already seen the rumblings of ‘Pwani si Kenya‘ [Coast is not Kenya, the slogan of a separatist group in Kenya’s Coast Province] – radicalized, marginalized, poverty-stricken young people are saying, ‘we don’t belong to Kenya’,” said Hassan, who was seriously injured in a 2012 grenade attack in his constituency.

The ISS report found that Islamist militants were exploiting sub-standard socioeconomic conditions, and the government’s inability to provide basic services, by positioning themselves as providers of assistance. “Creating or infiltrating bona fide charity organizations… is a sure way to win the general support of ordinary people,” the report said.

The report points to the growing influence of the Muslim Youth Centre (MYC), a Kenyan group whose objectives include promoting community health and social welfare, but which also advocates “an extreme interpretation of Islam and prepares members to travel to Somalia for ‘jihad’ [holy war], thus attracting the attention of security agencies in Kenya and abroad.” According to the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, Al-Shabab announced a merger with MYC in 2012.

Hassan Sheikh, a cleric in the northeastern town of Garissa, said extremist groups have taken control of many mosques and Islamic schools, setup orphanages, and employed teachers and imams.

“North Kenya is a hub for mercenaries. You can easily get [attract] them – it’s out of poverty,” said Khalif Aabdulla, a civil rights activist from Wajir, also northeastern Kenya.

NGOs and government officials in Kenya acknowledge an urgent need to develop a counter-radicalization policy to prevent young people from turning to violent groups, and some say Kenya’s newly elected government may be an opportunity to tackle the issue. NGOs say the government must do more than promote economic empowerment among marginalized communities; it must also foster a sense of belonging.

“There are some efforts to use the Council of Imams or Islamic Preachers’ Association to talk to the youths,” said Mwalimu Mati, CEO of governance watchdog Mars Group Kenya. “The moderates are trying to assist the government, but I can’t say it’s a complete success.”

Counter-productive counter-terrorism

“The problem is exacerbated by counter-terrorism programmes by the Kenya police who carry out mass raids rather than targeted arrests. It keeps the youths feeling repressed generally. They then identify that as oppression based on religion,” Mati said. He says the problem is primarily in North Eastern District, Eastleigh and Coast Province.

The ISS report describes the current approach as “collective punishment based on perceptions”.

Separatist groups like the Mombasa Republican Council attract disenfranchised youth

“Most perceptions are completely wrong, especially that Somali nationals are responsible for attacks in Kenya or that Kenya is an innocent bystander when acts of terrorism are committed on its soil,” it stated.

Following attacks in Nairobi, ethnic Somalis – both Kenyan and foreign nationals – said they experienced xenophobia and lived in constant fear of arrest.

Under the government of former president Mwai Kibaki, both the Ministry for Peace-building and Conflict Management and the Ministry for Education told IRIN that they had no programmes to address radicalization.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport said they ran “empowerment programmes” in conjunction with the formal education system. But as Leah Rotitch, a director in the education ministry, said, “The people Al-Shabab target are normally young people who are out of school.”

The persecution felt by ethnic Somalis and other Muslim communities has only increased in recent years, with police allegedly engaging in extrajudicial use of force and even killings of terror suspects; the police deny these claims.

“Since the passing of the new anti-terror bill, we have seen a huge spike in extrajudicial killings. And terrorism has become an easy label,” said Horn of Africa analyst Abdullahi Halakhe. “Such efforts only succeed in alienating the local population, who usually have critical human intelligence. They are turning the Islamic radicalization of young people into a matter of national security, making those young people their enemies, thus making it worse.”

The ISS report calls for “introspection on the part of the police officer stopping and searching a person because he looks Somali”.

Reaching the young

Tom Mboya, who established the Inuka Kenya Trust in response to the role young people played in perpetrating the post-election violence of 2007-2008, says now is an opportunity to engage the youth. “They’re what should be the engine of this country,” he told IRIN.

“Devolution is positive,” he says, referring to the process of decentralizing power from Nairobi, which was set in motion by Kenya’s new constitution. Mboya believes this process will create opportunities for young people. But, he says, “in parts of the country more prone to violent extremism, there needs to be policy in place. The leadership will have to be more alive to that problem”.

A focus on young people formed a key part of new President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election campaign – his government will now have to work out an acceptable and effective approach in tackling the issue of violent extremism.

Mars Group’s Mati says using moderate imams to neutralize potentially radical youths does not work because young people no longer regard them as credible. “It’s a generation gap – control over youths has somehow become difficult. In the old days, what an imam said went. The radical preachers are young,” he said.

Hadley Muchela, programmes manager for Kenyan rights group Independent Medico-legal Unit, says targeting violent extremism will require sensitivity because, thanks to the way the issue has been handled in the past, it is often seen as an indictment against all of Islam. “You find very few Kenyans willing to go into it,” he said.

Abdikadir Sheikh, who works with the Sustainable Support and Advocacy Programme, a local NGO, said the group has set up a pilot project to dissuade youth in the northeastern towns of Dadaab and Garissa from joining extremist groups.

“We are very careful or [we could] lose our lives; you can’t confront radicalization directly – you need different approaches,” he told IRIN. “We have established a strong team of more than 600 youths… some have so far joined colleges. We plan to work with the county governments.”
The ISS report warns that “there is no quick fix for the level of radicalization seen in Kenya”.

“The biggest threat to stability in Kenya will be if extremists succeed in dividing Kenya between Muslim and non-Muslim,” the report said.

jh/na/kr/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Food security: Cassava flour is consumed by millions in Africa

Posted by African Press International on May 9, 2013

“Super-fly” threatens “Rambo” cassava, food security

Cassava flour is consumed by millions in Africa

JOHANNESBURG,  – A tiny, rapidly breeding cyanide-munching insect, dubbed a “super-fly” by scientists, is threatening the food security of millions of Africans.

The Bemisia tabaci – one of several whitefly species – carries lethal viruses that cause cassava brown streak disease (CBSD) and cassava mosaic disease (CMD), which have decimated the hardy cassava plant.

Cassava, a tropical root crop, is the third most important source of calories in the tropics, after rice and maize. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it is the staple food for nearly a billion people in 105 countries, where it comprises as much as a third of daily calories consumed. The cheapest known source of starch, cassava is grown by poor farmers – many of them women – often on marginal land; for these people, the crop is vital for both food security and income generation.

The threat to cassava is particularly alarming as the plant is often called the “Rambo” root for its ability to withstand high temperatures and drought. With climate change expected to take a major toll on maize in the coming decades, many hope cassava will offer an alternative route to food security in Africa. Cassava may also prove to be an important source of biofuel.

Experts plan to take aim at the whitefly this week, at a conference of the Global Cassava Partnership for the 21st Century (GCP21), at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center in Italy. The conference is dedicated to “declaring war on cassava viruses in Africa.”

Pandemics

From the 1980s to the mid-2000s, CMD ravaged more than 4 million square km in Africa’s cassava-growing heartland, stretching from Kenya and Tanzania in the East to Cameroon and the Central African Republic in the West. But in recent years, the scientific community developed cassava varieties resistant to CMD.

James Legg, a leading cassava expert at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), who works out of Tanzania, told IRIN, “The premature celebrations for this apparent victory were very soon squashed, however, as sinister new reports were received of the occurrence and apparent spread of CBSD in southern Uganda.”

Bemisia tabaci on a cassava leaf

Until then, scientists had assumed that the viruses causing CBSD could not spread at medium-to-high altitudes; the disease had previously only been reported in coastal areas of East Africa and the low-altitude areas around Lake Malawi. “The spread recorded from Uganda instantly cast doubt of the validity of that earlier theory,” said Legg. “Worse still, the disease spread out from Uganda over following years, and into the neighbouring countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.”

CBSD is now a pandemic, threatening Nigeria, the world’s largest producer and consumer of cassava. The cassava starch industry in Nigeria generates US$5 billion per year and employs millions of smallholder farmers and numerous small-scale processors.

Only in 2005 were scientists able to confirm that the whitefly responsible for spreading CMD was also responsible for spreading CBSD.

“With this realization, it became clear that the spread of these two disease pandemics was really only a consequence of the fact that East and Central Africa was experiencing a devastating outbreak of the whitefly that transmits both of them,” explained Legg.

He told IRIN that in the 1980s, researchers recorded an average of less than one fly per plant, but by the mid-1990s, the number of whiteflies had increased a hundredfold.

“These insects also seem to have a close relationship with the viruses that they transmit, and some evidence has shown that the insects do better on virus-diseased plants”

Arms race

It seems Bemisia tabaci has been assisted by climate change: The warmer temperatures occurring in higher altitudes have created optimal conditions for the insect to breed rapidly, speeding its adaptation and evolution. More importantly, said Legg, is the fact that these flies seem to have worked out how to do better on cassava plants, whose cyanide production deters all but a very small group of insects. As the whitefly population has exploded, rapid spread of the viral diseases – CMD and CBSD – was an inevitable consequence.

What makes a bad situation even worse, however, is that these diseases, in turn, may promote the whitefly. “These insects also seem to have a close relationship with the viruses that they transmit, and some evidence has shown that the insects do better on virus-diseased plants, leading to an ‘I scratch your back, you scratch my back’ type of mutually beneficial relationship,” Legg said.

Scientists are working towards solutions. A member of Legg’s team is examining the impact of climate change on the whitefly in search of ways to deal with the pest. Other planned projects are working to control whiteflies directly, either through introducing other beneficial insects that kill whiteflies, or through producing varieties that combine whitefly and disease resistance.

Efforts to breed high-yielding, disease-resistant plants suitable for Africa’s various growing regions will involve going to South America, where cassava originated, and working with scientists at the cassava gene bank of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), IITA’s sister organization, in Colombia. CIAT is the biggest repository of cassava cultivars in the world.

Experts at the conference in Italy will also discuss a more ambitious plan to eradicate cassava viruses altogether. The aim will be to develop a regional strategy that gradually replaces farmers’ infested cassava plants with virus-free planting material of the best and most disease-resistant cultivars. Approaches to developing these cultivars will include new molecular breeding and genetic engineering technologies to speed up selection. The hope of the team is that by joining forces, and employing the whole range of technologies available, a lasting impact will be made in tackling a crop crisis that poses the single greatest challenge to the future of Africa’s cassava crop.

jk /rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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