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Archive for June 10th, 2013

Kenya :Fish Production has reduced drastically due to excess fishing pressure

Posted by African Press International on June 10, 2013

  • BY MAURICE ALAL,API Kenya

Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Felix Koskei yesterday said fish production has reduced drastically due to excess fishing pressure in the country.

Koskei said the production has reduced from 220,000 in the year 2000 to 130,000 metric tons in 2012.

He stated that Lake Victoria has been a major contributor of fisheries resource in Kenya, accounting for 85 percent of the fish production in the country.

According to Koskei the current fish demands cannot be achieved as the lake can no longer support any more fishing pressure.

This, he said called for immediate action and asked for cooperation from all stakeholders to observe the Dagaa (“Omena”) closed season to enable fish to mature.

www.africanpress.me/ Fish harvesting demonstration in Kolwa Sub-location, Kisumu County. (photo by Mr Alal)

http://www.africanpress.me/ Fish harvesting demonstration in Kolwa Sub-location, Kisumu County. (photo by Mr Alal)

“The demand for “Omena” for animal feed industry poses challenge in as far as availability of fish for human consumption is concerned,” he said adding that anyone found breaching the ban will face full force of the law.

Koskei further urged stakeholders to make concerted efforts to ensure sustainable utilization of fisheries resources to reduce post harvest loses and increase production from aquaculture to meet the increasing fish demand.

In a speech read on his behalf by Permanent Secretary Prof Micheni Ntiba during fish farming projects tour in Kisumu County, he called small scale fish farmers to take advantage of Trilateral Tilapia Cooperation and do fish farming as a business.

The Trilateral Cooperation is funded by Kenya, German and Israel governments at a tune of Ksh 262.2M. The project is to enhance suitable ways of protecting the Lake Victoria environment by creating alternative livelihood for the community living along the lake.

Through the program a total of 132 extension officers out of the targeted 130 and 58 farmers out of 300 fish farmers have been trained.

Currently the government has already invested a lot in aquaculture sector by financing the establishment of a bout 40,000 fish ponds across the country through Economic Stimulus Program.

However, the German Ambassador Margit Hellwing-Boette and her Israel counterpart Gil Haskelat said the program is to reduce excess fishing pressure adding that the projected started in June 2012 and will end by June 2014.

www.africanpress.me/  Left,Permanent Secretary Prof Micheni Ntima with German Ambassador Margit Hellwing-Boette and Israel Ambassador Gil Haskelat during fish farming projects tour in Kisumu County.

http://www.africanpress.me/ Left,Permanent Secretary Prof Micheni Ntima with German Ambassador Margit Hellwing-Boette and Israel Ambassador Gil Haskelat during fish farming projects tour in Kisumu County. (photo by Mr Alal)

They also said fish project is to improve tilapia aquaculture in Western and Nyanza regions saying Kenya contributed Ksh. 7.98M, German Ksh. 159.6M and Israel 2.3M.

 

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E-PILLS NOT A FAMILY PLANNING METHOD, MEDICS WARNS

Posted by African Press International on June 10, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

THE level of awareness on proper use of emergency contraceptive pills (E-pills) among the university and college students in Nyanza region is still low, health officials say.

They are worried that despite the increasing popularity of the drugs among the sexually active group, there was little understanding on their working and side effects, so much so that most users had turned them into a family planning tool.

As such, the medics are now demanding that aggressive sensitization on the drugs, popularly referred to as the Morning-After-Pills, be mounted in the region to raise the level of awareness.

“It is important for this sensitization because these people do not know,” says Dr Paul Mitei, a Gynecologist and Deputy Director for Medical Services,Kisumu County. He suggests that schools, colleges and other public places should be targeted with the awareness creation information on the availability and correct usage of these pills.

“We must use all the forums and platforms available to educate our women about these drugs,” he says, expressing the need for a regulated wider availability of the drugs.”But this should not be seen or interpreted to mean someone is trying to encourage promiscuity,” he says.

Rising Demand

His comments come against the backdrop of chilling statistics that indicate a huge rise in demand of these pills among an increasingly sexually active group of Nyanza’s populace.

At a Chemist outlet located in Maseno township in the vicinity of Maseno University the owner tells African Press(API) that in less than two weeks, they sell over 1000 doses of emergency contraceptive pill called Postinor 2 that is popular among the students eager not to conceive after having unprotected sex.

“We have booming business especially when the students are here,” says

Lamek Otieno. Demand for the E-pills starts from Thursdays towards the weekends but peaks on Mondays after the weekend.

“They come apprehensive that they might have conceived so they demand for the pills as a cautionary measure,” she says.Asked whether they give instruction on the E pills usage, Lamek says that most of the ladies do not have that time for guidance. They come for specific pills with fixed amount of money.

Most of these ladies are in the age bracket of 18 and above, therefore they prefer going to local chemist which most of them are operated by those who are not qualified health providers.

This shows that a lot of sex happens towards weekends, from Friday to Saturday especially in night clubs, mostly attended by the students.

In Kisumu City, the same story replays. A spot check shows that the pills are increasing getting popular among the sexually active age group.

The interesting aspect of this demand is that although the emergency pills are offered free of charge at government hospitals, not many of these users choose to get them from there and instead settle for the over-the-counter self prescription purchases from, drugs shops some of which are run by unqualified personnel.

A nurse at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital Mrs. Mary Ngoya laments that the rate at which E-pills are used in hospitals is very low.”We have established that these users will rarely come to hospitals to get the pills, but instead prefer buying them from the local chemists and backstreet shops,” she says.

Perhaps this has to do with the stringent check measures attached on those seeking the pills from the public hospitals so much so that they would rather go where no questions are asked.

E- Pills are given for free in public hospitals after the users are interviewed and counseled. The pills are mostly used in rape and defilement clinics.

“We interview and counsel the victim be¬cause ethically we have to ascertain that the victim qualifies to use the pills. We have to be careful and follow professional guidelines because the pills can be helpful or cause harm if carelessly used,” Ngoya explains.But while the intents of such ‘stringent’ measures might be good, the would-be users of the emergency contraceptives especially those in the low age bracket are left out “Young girls are scared and feel uncomfortable being interviewed about sex hence they prefer to buy the pills from the many local chemists,” Ngoya says.

The concern at this trend lies in the fact that most of the people dispensing the drugs do not have knowledge and offer the users no counseling before dispensing them.A high school teacher, Margaret Benswell, says time was ripe when Nyanza parents encouraged an open debate on the usage of the contraceptive pills among their teenagers “We cannot pretend that our children are not having sex.

The easy availability of the pills means they can easily get carried away to have unprotected sex,” she posits. She suggests that parents should be frank and advise their children on the dangers of early sex and the need for proper protection.

It cannot be over emphasized that one of the toughest decisions faced by teenagers in today’s era is whether to have sex and the appropriate time. Health workers therefore advance that teenagers should take responsibility to protect themselves from unplanned pregnancies and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs).
In the recent years, the usage of E-pills has shot countrywide. Basically E-pills are medically and legally considered forms of contraception measures that if taken after unprotected sex may prevent pregnancy.They can also be used in rape cases so as to prevent a victim from undergoing the trauma of carrying an unwanted child as a result of the cruel act.

The now popular e-pill is recommended to be taken within 120 hours of having unprotected sex, but is most effective if taken within 72 hours. But in Nyanza there is a thin line between its proper usage and abuse.

The most popular E-pill, Postinor 2 (P2) should to be taken within 120 hours of having unprotected sex, but is most effective if taken within 72 hours.

The pills prevent ovulation from taking place. The hormones contained in the pill prevent pregnancy by suppressing the pituary glands which stops^ development and release of the egg in the ovary, medics say.
How¬ever, in cases where ovulation has already taken place, the pills change the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation from taking place.

Dr Mitei explains that E-pills make the lining of the uterus not responsive to implantation. He says women in their reproductive age can use E-pills to prevent un-wanted pregnancies on instructions from a certified medical practitioner since fertility starts as early as the age of nine.

The medic explains that women who take birth control pills can use E-pills in case they engage in unprotected sex and forget to take the birth control pills.
“When an Inter Uterine Device (1UD) comes out and the woman does not want to get pregnant, she can use E-pills,” he says.Caution

However, Dr Mitei warns that people with hypertension, obesity and people of varicose veins (abnormally swollen veins) are not advised to use these pills. He explains that if one makes it a habit of using E pills, they suppress the work of the ovum which later on may forget its work and this might cause infertility in a woman.

On her part, nurse Ngoya asserts that E pills were not a method of family planning as presumed by a number of women.”These pills safe only supposed to be used to prevent unwanted pregnancies in cases of emergency”, she emphasized. One sensitive and important issue that people using these pills ignore is that E pills do not prevent AIDS and STDs.

“As much as one would want to use them, they should bear in mind that they have a high chance of contracting STDs and HIV/AIDS unless one uses a condom,” she says.

Conversely, there is a misconception that by using E pills one will be carrying out an abortion. The medics discount this saying E pill is used to prevent the pregnancy from occurring and will not have an effect once the pregnancy has already taken place.

Even so, Dr Mitei explains that misuse of E pills is bound to lead to menstrual problems that might include feeling nausea, headaches and disruption of the menstrual cycle, “Sometimes, the user might experience heavy menses.”Roseline Adhiambo, a student from Jomo Kenyatta, does not advocate for the use of pills because she believes they do not work. In contrast, Becky Akinyi, a student at University of Nairobi advocates for the use of E pills on condition that the users do not misuse them.

“People using them should follow instructions and be careful not to damage their reproductive system,” she says. A Kisumu resident,

Mathayo Amonde begs to differ. “To prevent unwanted pregnancy, I would rather advocate for people to use a condom than these pills,” he says.Kisumu County has various institutions such as Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi, Maseno, Bondo, Jomo Kenyatta, Catholic University, Uzima University and Moi University. Other institutions include Kisumu Polytechnic and Nairobi Aviation among others.

Unfriendly health services to blame on misuse of E pills

Lack of youth friendly integrated health services in most Kenyan medical facilities has been blamed for the increase of contraceptive abuse among high school girls.

Medical practitioners say school girls abuse family planning methods because they lack proper information on how and by whom the contraceptives are used.

Most hospitals in the country do not have Sexual Reproductive Health experts to ensure the youth are well guided on the dangers of contraceptive use in their young age.

The 2008 /2009 Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) indicates that the use of modern contraceptives among adolescents aged between 15 and 19 is at 36.5 percent with majority 39 percent using the injectable.

The survey showed that Central region was leading with 57.5 % of the adolescents using modern contraceptive method while Rift Valley was the lowest at 24 percent in all the provinces nationwide.

The survey further indicated that more educated adolescents who are more educated, richer, living in the urban areas and married have higher use compared to their counterpart.

Researchers points out that most hospitals lack that facility where the youth can freely obtain information. “Lack of information has led the girls and their mothers to buy the contraceptives from across the counter,” they say.

A Reproductive Health consultant with the United Nations Population Fund, Dr Dan Okoro says although the KDHS showed that public, health facilities were the major source of the contraceptives, the emergency pills are mostly provided by the private sector, especially pharmacies.

He points out that 80 per cent of the adolescents have knowledge about contraceptives, adding that the survey showed that most of them 

had got the information from radio stations.
He however, observes that this may change, especially with the advert of ICT use of mobile technology that includes m health, Facebook and twitter.The existing family planning facilities seemingly are unfriendly to young girls because of the stigma involved and the advertisement pictures on the walls.

“Even if a girl wanted counseling on a SRH-related issue, she may lack confidence because the facility environment favours married women,” says Mary Okiya, a high school student in Homabay County.

She observes that even the pictures in the family planning facility discourage young girls from sitting in the queue to be attended to.
“They are pictures of pregnant mothers, mothers carrying their babies or accompanied by their spouses.

Because of this young are discouraged from seeking for guidance and counseling session with health providers. The medics now call for the government to improve family planning services to adolescents saying that they need information on the subject.

However, health providers have also called upon Nyanza residents to embrace family planning methods to enable them have children they are able to educate and provide for.

“Family planning methods enable the government to budget well for her people,” researchers say adding that if the rate of birth is not controlled then the country will not meet the demands of the populace.

They add that family planning services are offered free of charge in public health facility and called upon residents to take advantage of that to improve their living standards.

All Kenyans are affected by the nation’s rapid population growth, which has nearly doubled to 38.6 million people over the last two decades and is estimated to grow to 71.5 by 2030.

Without Family planning methods a decrease in the number of births per woman, this level of growth will push the country’s economy, social services and natural resources past their limit and threaten the achievement of the national goals outlined in the Kenya’s vision 2030.

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Thugs in Kenya robbed Chinese workers close to 8 million shillings

Posted by African Press International on June 10, 2013

  • BY JACK MARWA  – Kenya

 Four armed thugs robbed Chinese workers close to Sh 8million along the busy NairobiNakuru highway in a mysterious incident.

The thugs who were allegedly dressed as police officers grabbed the loot near Karai trading center in Naivasha before escaping.

The gangsters did not shoot or injure the two Chinese and their driver during the early morning incident.

According to a source, the three were driving to Naivasha town when the incident occurred after collecting the cash from Nairobi.

“The driver claims that a white car overtook them and two men brandishing guns ordered them to stop,” said the source.

Naivasha deputy OCPD Paul Korir said that the cash was meant to pay workers in Geothermal Rich Olkaria area where the construction of the 280mw geothermal power plant is going on.

Korir wondered why the three decided to carry such a huge sum of money without asking for police escort.

“The three claim that they were ambushed by armed thugs along the highway who took the cash before fleeing towards Nairobi” he said.

The police boss added that they were interrogating the driver adding that they did not rule out an inside job.

 

Ends  

 

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reintegration scheme in the spotlight

Posted by African Press International on June 10, 2013

KUNDUZ,  – A process of voluntary disarmament and reintegration of ex-combatants, the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP), has been under way since 2010, but in the absence of a wider settlement, how successful can it hope to be?

APRP aims to reintegrate low level fighters, while simultaneously reconciling top commanders with the government through political dialogue, according to the US Institute for Peace.

In return for renouncing violence and accepting the Afghan constitution, ex-fighters are promised reintegration into their communities, assistance with education and vocational training, and a degree of protection and security.

The formal reintegration scheme is implemented by APRP and its High Peace Council (appointed by President Hamid Karzai to negotiate with elements of the Taliban). NGOs and international organizations support APRP through things like programme monitoring, capacity development, study/analysis, and project implementation.

According to the UN Development Programme (UNDP), as of May, 6,840 fighters have been reintegrated under the scheme.

The APRP guide says the programme “is anchored in the reality that most Afghan insurgents are fighting in or near their communities, and only a minority is ideologically motivated”.

According to UNDP, the scheme uses three approaches: outreach/negotiations, reintegration/demobilization and community recovery.

All enrolled “reintegrees” are given various types of assistance – for example a transitional assistance package provides US$120 per month for 3-6 months. Most also work on community projects in their districts and villages.

Training and employment opportunities vary, depending on the specific programmes being implemented in the area, and personal interest. In Chardara (Kunduz Province), for example, an area known for carpet-making and agriculture, anti-government fighters and their family members learn to weave, and study agriculture and mechanics. Each family member is given 4,900 Afghanis ($90) a month for attending the project.

Scepticism

Some observers are sceptical about the scheme and whether the provision of material support can really change mindsets.

According to researchers Andrew Garfield and Alicia Boyd working for the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), the main motivating factor for anti-government fighters taking up arms against the government is not money but opposition to the “Western presence, values, and influence over the Afghan government, as well as the perceived severe shortcomings of the Afghan government itself.”

“Reintegration offers money or other material incentives, and this is not the main – or sole – motive of many insurgents. I had the feeling that the `ten-dollar Talib’ was a psychological warfare invention,” Thomas Ruttig from the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) told IRIN.

There is also a question mark over who is joining the scheme.

Several “reintegrees” told IRIN that former-fighters who joined APRP for money were not considered “real Taliban”.

“It seems that the largest figures of `reintegrees’ were generated in peripheral provinces, and often, if not in their majority, the fighters were not Taliban, but Hezbis or members of other freelance illegal armed groups, also including people linked to some of the organizers,” said Ruttig.

Project woes

The process of delivering projects on the ground has been a major challenge, according to an AAN report. Only $63 million of the more than $176 million set aside for the programme has been spent so far.

Long delays in project implementation and lack of an accountability strategy in vocational projects were just several problems mentioned.

Waheedullah Rahmani, spokesperson of the High Peace Council in Kunduz, said at the provincial level, directorates struggle to implement projects, which results in donors rejecting extension requests.

The principle of the reintegration initiative, common elsewhere in the world, is to allow ex-fighters to create a new, peaceful basis for earning a livelihood in their communities.

Rahmani said the High Peace Council has been able to provide some employment opportunities from the projects for reintegrees. “Dashti Archi District provided work for 272 fighters who joined the peace process. And last year at least 1,000 men worked in agricultural projects. Some of these people then merged into the Afghan Local Police forces.”

However, the AAN report found that few were able to find lasting sources of income after the training, and two thirds of the small business start-ups failed.

Threats

Several men said that before joining the reintegration process, the only option had been to continue fighting. “Now I understand this is my country and I should help my people,” said a 23-year-old ex-fighter from Baghlan, who preferred anonymity.

“But I am not happy with the Afghan government because when I first joined the peace process they arrested and threatened me. Why did they treat me like this? I came for peace, not for battle.”

Complaints regarding security from low-level fighters are widespread. In eastern Nangarhar Province, one former anti-government fighter was forced to move his family from the village to the city after constant death threats.

Commander Behru from Kunduz received threats not only from the Taliban, but also government-backed militia known as “arbakai”.

“I receive calls from my close friends; the other night [a] mullah called me. He said to me `Behru, we were very close friends, and then you went and became an infidel.’ I know we are Muslims, but now they see us as infidels, and they will not let me live.”

Debatable impact

APRP is due to continue until 2015 and currently around 841 fighters are negotiating to enter the programme, with reports also that several anti-government groups are expressing interest.

A recent study on public awareness of the scheme by UNDP suggested most Afghans had heard of the process.

As to the impact of the scheme, the jury is still out.

“The reintegration programme might have weakened the insurgency here and there in some provinces, but apparently nowhere to an extent that it really made a large difference,” said Ruttig.

UNDP has identified things that can be improved in the scheme, for example the use of more experienced staff in project oversight and implementation teams, and better coordination between partner organizations and stakeholders.

But the fundamental challenge for any such reintegration scheme is the ongoing conflict.

The Garfield and Boyd study found the anti-government groups deeply committed to their fight, including a strong commitment to carry on fighting the current regime.

bm/jj/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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A call for food systems to improve nutrition

Posted by African Press International on June 10, 2013

New FAO report urges food system changes to eradicate malnutrition

JOHANNESBURG, – Poor health and losses in productivity caused by malnutrition are costing the global economy US$500 per person per year, or a staggering $3.5 trillion annually, according to a new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Many communities rely on foods that do not meet their nutritional requirements, and when faced with food price shocks, poor families often cut out nutrient-rich foods like milk. The 2013 edition of FAO’s annual State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report, released today, underlines the need to ensure all the institutions and people responsible for producing and processing food “align to support good nutrition”.

The report also provides an overview of the linkages between agriculture, quality food, health and the economy, emphasizing that “agriculture and the entire food system… can contribute much more to the eradication of malnutrition”. But while discussions on these linkages have been taking place for at least three decades, the problem of malnutrition remains unresolved.

Malnutrition comes in a variety of forms: undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies, overweight and obesity. Two billion people in the world suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, such as anaemia, for example, and more than a billion people are overweight and prone to chronic and life-threatening illnesses like diabetes.

The report urges policymakers to address malnutrition through changes in food systems, public health and education, as well as improvements in supply chains and agricultural productivity.

Incentives needed

John Hoddinott, a senior researcher at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), told IRIN that the 2013 SOFA report “gets many things right: that malnutrition imposes high costs on individuals and societies, that addressing malnutrition requires multisectoral approaches, and that agriculture is essential for better nutrition.”

But Hoddinott – who authored several 2008 studies in the Lancet showing that inexpensive nutrition interventions can reduce infant and maternal mortality and boost economic growth in developing countries – has some reservation about the report.

He says SOFA “has less to say about the incentives needed at all points in the supply chain to ensure healthy food is available and accessible for all.”

For instance, rapid agricultural and economic growth has not translated into a significant reduction in child malnutrition in India, which has the largest population of undernourished children in the world. Various explanations such as economic and gender inequality have been offered, says SOFA, but the phenomenon remains “largely unexplained” and needs more research.

Lawrence Haddad, head of the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) says his problem with all reports that consider the linkages between agriculture and nutrition is that they do not talk enough about how to provide incentives to the agriculture sector to improve nutrition.

He said in an email, “We know WHY it is important, and there are plenty of opportunities (the WHAT), but they are only seen as opportunities by nutrition people, not by agriculture people. We need research to better understand institutional drivers, incentives and barriers.”

Questions remain

The 2013 SOFA recognizes that knowledge about many of the issues covered in the report remains incomplete. Many countries lack basic data and indicators for evaluating and monitoring the effectiveness of initiatives attempting to improve food quality.

And the report points out that there are still many questions about the effectiveness of home gardens, the role of gender, the fortification of food with micronutrients, technological innovations, biodiversity and the role of local foods in improving nutrition.

There are also gaps in researchers’ understanding of consumer choice and nutritional outcomes. “Concepts such as ‘dietary diversity‘ and ‘healthy diets’ remain fuzzy and difficult to measure objectively,” the report says.

Additionally, contentious issues involving import restrictions and targeted farm subsidies, which serve as a barrier to food production and trade, remain unresolved at the World Trade Organization.

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

 

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