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Kisumu Local Interactive Platform (K L I P)has received a massive financial boost from the Swedish Government

Posted by African Press International on December 4, 2013

  • BY JEFF OTIENO, Kisumu-Kenya

Kisumu Local Interactive Platform (K L I P)has received a massive financial boost from the Swedish Government to cater for the on going scholarship programmes.

Speaking during  a colourful event in a Kisumu Hotel the Director of the body who is also the Vice Chancellor of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University Prof Stephen G Agong applauded the staggering 3.7 Swedish Cronar grant.Prof Maria Nystrom who is technical advicer of KLIP from Chalmers University Sweden also told the audience during her speech that its under the sterling tulelage of Prof Agong Nowander they will continue with their noble gestures to the body.

The body which is only two years old is so far offering 43 scholarships to PHD students from both Jaramogi University and Maseno University and their specialities covers Eco tourism and market places. Speaking on behalf of Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma,the executive in charge of infrastructure Eng Vincent Kodero vowed to tackle the dilapidated state of roads in the county which he said are a hindrance to KLIP envisaged goals singling out Dunga Beach road as an example.

“We now have the money and the good will is there, count that  the said roads as done Kodera told the audience amid applause”.Dunga Beach has been identified as one of the tourist attractive sites.Also through KLIP initiative, another funding to the tune of millions to tackle waste management has also been received and it will soon roll out in the beginning of the year which will be a milestone.

“Ours is to purely champion for residents agenda and im singling out the July 2013 event in Dunga Beach where 25 locals were trained to market their products from within and without the borders”,Prof Agong said.Prof Agong concluded by hailing the county government under stewardship of Governor Jack  Ranguma and all the stakeholders for the support and conducive atmosphere which he said has enabled them achieve alot.”With the prevailing atmosphere expect more he crowned.”

END

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Kenya: Maize remains the food of choice for many people

Posted by African Press International on September 4, 2013

KISUMU,  – A maize research facility designed to reduce the time it takes to research and develop varieties resistant to viral maize lethal necrosis (MLN ), which has been reported in East Africa since 2011, is to be established in Naivasha, Kenya.
The facility, funded to the tune of US$1.2 million by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is expected to be operational by the end of September 2013.

“The facility will enable public and private sector institutions that are engaged in the development and delivery of improved maize varieties in Eastern Africa to screen their breeding materials [including inbred lines and hybrids] under reliable disease screening procedures,” Boddupalli Prasanna, an MLN researcher with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), told IRIN.

“This will help in identification of MLN-resistant maize lines that can be used by these organizations to develop MLN-resistant elite maize varieties that can replace the existing susceptible varieties in the market,” he added.

The facility is expected to serve as a hub for training young researchers and students in Africa on MLN screening and for identifying MLN-resistant maize germplasm. Maize virologists from CIMMYT, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and institutions in the USA (e.g., Ohio State University/US Department of Agriculture) will work together at the facility.

“When you talk to farmers, they tell you it is not profitable to grow maize any more and this can lead to serious shortages of the crop and in turn, food insecurity. Remember that maize remains the food of choice for many people in the region”

MLN first appeared in Kenya’s Rift Valley in 2011 and quickly spread to other parts of Kenya, as well as to Uganda and Tanzania, according to CIMMYT.

MLN occurs after combined infections by two viruses – maize chlorotic mottle virus (MCMV) and either maize dwarf mosaic virus (MDMV) or wheat streak mosaic virus (WSMV). Infected maize plants are short; their leaves show chlorosis (indicating insufficient chlorophyll and thus pale in colour) and they die at about flowering time.

MLN can cause total crop loss if not controlled effectively. Infected plants are frequently barren; ears formed may be small or deformed and set little or no seed.

In 2012, the disease affected an estimated 300,000 smallholder farmers in Rift Valley , traditionally Kenya’s largest maize producing region. This year alone, the government estimates the disease has affected some 18,500 hectares.

Recent research carried out in Kenya by CYMMIT and KARI featuring 119 commercial maize varieties artificially exposed to the virus during 2012-2013, revealed that as many as 117 were susceptible to MLN.

Farmers could switch to other crops

Experts like James Samo, an agricultural production officer at Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, say unless the disease is controlled, it could lead to a shortage of maize, as farmers might decide to turn to other crop varieties.

“When you talk to farmers, they tell you it is not profitable to grow maize any more and this can lead to serious shortages of the crop and in turn, food insecurity. Remember that maize remains the food of choice for many people in the region,” he said.

Some farmers told IRIN they plan to plant alternative crops should efforts to control the disease fail.

“Last year alone, I lost crops to the disease worth $1, 200. Come this year, I thought the government would come up with lasting solutions but that never was. Even this year my crops have been attacked yet again. I have since uprooted maize and will then plant millet come next planting season,” Daniel Tirop, a 46-year-old farmer, told IRIN.

In Tanzania, cases of the disease were first reported in August 2012 in Mwanza, near Lake Victoria, and in Arusha.

Rapid spread hampers control efforts

Experts have welcomed efforts to control the disease, saying it has devastated crops – in part due to the lack of knowledge among farmers and agricultural extension officers in identifying it in good time, and also due to its rapid spread.

“Because it is a new disease both to farmers and to agriculture extension officers who are supposed to advise farmers, the disease has become very hard to control. The only option so far and which must be pursued vigorously, is to come up with maize varieties which are resistant to the disease,” Samo told IRIN.
Kenya’s government has spent some $113,000 since 2011 raising awareness of MLN among agricultural extension officers and farmers.

According to CIMMYT, the disease is hard to control because “it is caused by a combination of two viruses that are difficult to differentiate individually based on visual symptoms and also, the insects that transmit the disease-causing viruses may be carried by wind over long distances.”

In the meantime, experts say farmers should rotate crops and diversify as a way of controlling the disease.

“Some interventions include adoption of crop diversification and rotation with non-cereal crops to beat its spread. Since the vectors are insects, so controlling them using chemicals that would stay in the soil for three weeks – long enough to allow the seeds to germinate – combined with development of genetically resistant varieties, could curb the disease,” Mathews Dida, a maize virologist at Kenya’s Maseno University, told IRIN.

Experts say other than developing MNL-resistant varieties, there is a need for “on-farm demonstrations of the improved products, which help farmers to realize the benefits of these new varieties, including their resilience to MLN, and a strong communications strategy [including local media] should be designed and implemented for accelerating the technology’s adoption.”

ho/ko/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Kenya: KLIP DIRECTOR URGES SPEEDY GROWTH

Posted by African Press International on August 5, 2013

  • BY JEFF OTIENO.

Kisumu Local Interactive Platform (KLIP) Programme Director Prof Stephen Agong has urged both local and International investors,and entire stake holders to join hands for the aims of KLIP to be achieved as envisaged.Speaking during a colourful dinner party held in Dunga Beach Kisumu in honour of the local populace who have so far exhibited consistent cooperation with the body,

Prof Agong who is also the Vice Chancellor of Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University  stressed the need for unity and cooperation among key stake holders in the region in order to achieve the said goals.During the party all the traditional luo dishes were availed ranging from dried fish of tilapia(Obambo), Osuga, mito, omena, busaa,brown ugali, among other delicacies. Local traditional dancers were also not left out to flavour the attentive audience.

Kisumu Governor who is in a foreign trip in the United States was represented by his Deputy Ruth Odinga. Executives of the county like Eng Vincent Kodera of Roads and infrastructure, Tourism Rose Kisia and Education docket were also in attendance. Ruth Odinga vowed to tarmac the dilapidated Dunga route in order to open the area for development and sports tourism.

Dunga Beach is one of the tourism attractive sites of Kisumu.Rose Kisia urged other partners to join hands to ensure that within two years Kisumu is ranked together with Mombasa tourism wise. KLIP was launched in Nov 28th last year by acting Swedish head of Embassy in Nairobi Bjorn haggmark.Sweden has strong engagement for urban development in Kenya through urban cooperation and it also supports cooperation around Lake Victoria.The participation of  Kisumu in the work of Misra Urban Futures another link has been established between Kenya and Sweden.

At present research institutions in Shanghai China,Cape Town South Africa,Greater Manchester in addition to  Kisumu and Gothenburg take part in the global network.Activities in Kisumu will be spear-headed by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University, Maseno University among other key stake holders.

The research will be conducted on the basis of KLIP.Environmental degradation,poverty are still the challenges Kisumu  share with other rapidly growing urbanization.The infrastructure development and service expansion has not matched the rapid population growth thus proving great challenges to city authorities. KLIP concluded its busy week by a mammoth symposium which all the stake holders attended and fully participated in Kisumu museum.

 

ENDS

 

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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.

END

 

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Nutrition and food security can be improved

Posted by African Press International on April 20, 2013

Photo: FAO
Needed: Improved access to wild foods such as insects

NAIROBI,  – Malnutrition could be greatly reduced and food security improved by ensuring improved access to nutrient-rich forest-derived foods like berries, bushmeat, roots, insects and nuts for the world’s poorest populations, experts say.

“I believe forest foods are particularly important for reducing malnutrition when it comes to micronutrients such as vitamin A and iron,” Bronwen Powell, a nutritionist and researcher at the Centre for International Research on Forests (CIFOR), told IRIN.

Making these foods accessible would mean bringing them to markets to benefit the urban poor, many of whom find imported fruits and processed foods unaffordable, and giving people legal access to forests to obtain bio-resources like game meat and honey in areas where it is illegal to do so.

Nutrient potential

Experts told IRIN that while forest foods are underused, they could prove more affordable and more acceptable than other food options.

“With food becoming scarcer, there are calls for communities to look for alternative food sources and foods – some of which might not be readily acceptable to them – but wild foods and fruits have been a delicacy for generations and would be readily acceptable to many people,” said Enoch Mwani, an agricultural economist at the University of Nairobi.

In its 2011 Forests for Improved Food Security and Nutrition report, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) noted that households living on the margins of poverty could, during the “lean season” or in times of famine or food shortage, rely on forests to provide “an important safety net.”

Others, like Monica Ayieko, a family and consumer economist and an edible insect researcher at Maseno University, say more efforts are needed to change people’s perceptions about wild foods.

“The Westernization of diets has made people associate wild foods like edible insects – a vital source of amino acids and minerals – with poverty. It is a pity because so many children die as a result of nutrient deficiency, yet these are abundant in wild foods,” Ayieko noted.

“The Westernization of diets has made people associate wild foods like edible insects – a vital source of amino acids and minerals – with poverty. It is a pity because so many children die as a result of nutrient deficiency, yet these are abundant in wild foods.”

Studies have recently suggested that insects are a better source of protein as they produce less greenhouse gases than cattle and pigs.

“We must broaden the use of wild foods like wild insects, like crickets, in poor people’s diets, and the good news is FAO has begun to take [the] lead on this,” she added.

Globally, an estimated 1.6 billion people rely on forests for their livelihoods, according to FAO.

Some 870 million people globally are food insecure, while a further 2 billion suffer from nutrient deficiencies.

In Tanzania, a 2011 study of 270 children and their mothers, conducted by CIFOR, revealed that children who consumed wild fruits from forests were more likely to have more diverse and nutritious diets.

The wild foods contributed over 30 percent of the vitamin A and almost 20 percent of the iron that the children consumed each day, even though the foods accounted for just two percent of their diets.

Another study in Madagascar revealed that 30 percent more children would suffer from anemia if they had no access to bushmeat. And studies in the Congo Basin show that bushmeat accounts for 80 percent of the proteins and fats consumed by the local communities.

Strategies needed

According to FAO , the critical role forests could play in improving food security and nutrition is usually “poorly reflected in national development and food security strategies. Coupled with poor coordination between sectors, the net result is that forests are mostly left out of policy decisions related to food security and nutrition.”

CIFOR’s Powell noted that “forest foods haven’t received much attention” in part due to the current method of “measuring food security in terms of energy [or calories] and not in terms of micronutrients, which has meant that foods that aren’t a good source of calories [but have plenty of micronutrients] have been overlooked.”

A lack of national policies to guide the use of wild foods, lack of knowledge about the benefits of such foods, and deforestation and land use changes continue to hamper access to these resources.

Bushmeat consumption is also dogged by concerns over conservation and possible health issues, which could result in calls for stronger policies to regulate their use.

Increased investment in forest development by governments and organizations, increased local control over forest management and use, pro-poor forestry measures, and the integration of forests into national food security strategies are some of the ways to boost access to forest-derived foods.

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

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