Posts tagged as: county

DP Tells Odinga to Wait for 2022 If He’s Not Ready for Oct 26 Poll

Kitui — Deputy President William Ruto has asked Opposition leader Raila Odinga to wait for 2022 if he is not ready for the October 26 fresh election.

Speaking on Monday at Zombe Trading Centre in Kitui County where he accompanied President Uhuru Kenyatta on the campaign trail, Ruto said those who have withdrawn from the race should not prevent those who are willing to participate in the October 26 poll from doing so.

“If you decided you are not interested in the October 26 fresh election and withdrew from the race, we are appealing to you to allow us to elect our President in peace,” the Deputy President said.

“Since you withdrew from the fresh poll, why are you demonstrating and causing commotion? Allow us to elect President Kenyatta on October 26 and prepare to meet me at the ballot in 2022 if by then you will be ready,” the DP told Odinga.

President Kenyatta said the Opposition leader’s fear of defeat should not be allowed to deny Kenyans their right to express their will through the ballot box in line with the Constitution.

The President said the Opposition is free not to participate in the October 26 fresh election but they should not prevent those who want to exercise their democratic right from doing so.

“Whereas we appreciate the constitutional right of every Kenyan to demonstrate and picket peacefully, we also as a government understand our obligation to secure the lives and property of Kenyans who do not wish to participate in the demonstrations,” President Kenyatta said.

He added: “And we shall take action against anyone who chooses, under the guise of demonstration to loot, to vandalise, to rob or to injure innocent Kenyans.”

President Kenyatta termed the opposition “a group of self-seekers” who have no agenda to transform the country.

He urged Kenyans to turn out in large numbers and vote for him as they did on August 8, so that the country can continue on the path of growth and transformation.

The President assured Kenyans that his focus will remain trained on implementing policies and projects that will continue lifting the lives of all Kenyans.

He cited construction of new roads, expansion of electricity connection to households, improving health and education provision as key planks of his development agenda that would be interfered with if the opposition had their way.

National Assembly Majority leader Aden Duale said anybody who tries to block Kenyans from voting on October 26 will be engaging in crime and will be punished according to the law.

Kitui leaders including MPs Nimrod Mbithuka Mbai (Kitui East) Rachael Kaki Nyamai (Kitui South) and former senator David Musila who has since joined Jubilee vowed to rally residents and consolidate support for the President in the coming October 26 fresh poll.

“There is nothing to show in terms of development for all those years we have been in the opposition. We want development and we know we cannot get that from the opposition and their demonstrations,” Musila said.

Kenya

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Kenya:3 Die in Suspected Dysentery, Cholera Outbreak in Kisii

By Magati Obebo

Three people have died in Kenyenya , Kisii County in a suspected dysentery or cholera outbreak.

Two people died at Royal Hospital in Rongo where they had been taken for treatment while the third person, 21 year old Alvin Makori, died on Sunday at Sengera Mission Hospital.

The three had suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea and doctors suspect either dysentery or cholera as the cause of death.

Another 31 from Nyambunwa, Getacho and Kemoncho villages in Mokubo area are admitted to various hospitals with similar symptoms.

FUNERALS

Health officials in the sub-county said many of patients experienced dizziness, vomiting and diarrhoea.

George Makori, a brother to one of the victims, Alvin Makori, said his brother was in the company of other villagers who had attended two funerals at Mokubo between Thursday and Friday before he returned home complaining of diarrhoea.

Mr Makori said his brother told them he did not eat anything at both funerals.

“He told us he did not eat food at either of the funerals and so we don’t know what happened,” he told reporters at their Mokubo home.

ADMITTED

Mr Makori’s aunt Ms Jane Bochere and four of her grandchildren were also taken ill and were admitted to Sengera Mission for emergency care.

“They are currently receiving medication and are making positive progress,” said Mr Makori.

At least 8 children, 10 men and 7 women were admitted to Kenyenya Sub-County Hospital by the time the Nation Team visited the region.

Sub-County Health officials said they suspected acute dysentery and cholera outbreaks even as they struggled manage the situation.

DRUGS

At Kenyenya Sub-County Hospital, some patients decried lack of drugs.

Others said they were told to buy drugs for their treatment from chemists outside the hospital

Ms Agnes Akama, 19, who was rushed to the facility on Sunday morning said she was given a drip and told to go and buy drugs from outside.

“The doctors gave me a prescription but I don’t have money to buy the drugs” Ms Akama said, adding that her mother was also admitted to Sengera Hospital where she was taken on Saturday night.

MEALS

They both said they did not take any meal at the said funerals.

Ms Sarah Gechore , another patient at the hospital said she was responding well to treatment although she was still experiencing bouts of diarrhoea and dizziness.

Her father-in-law, Mr Nyambego Okengo, who was admitted to the same facility also denied eating at the funerals.

“We have never seen this in the whole of Gusii , it came like thunder . Some people are claiming we ate human flesh at the funeral yet some of us did not eat meat, ” Mr Nyambego said.

ASCERTAIN CAUSE

Kenyenya Sub-County Medical Officer, Dr Nyabera Omari told the Nation they were yet to ascertain the cause of the outbreak.

“We have taken various samples including the food eaten at the funerals, blood and stool to help us accurately diagnose the condition,” he said.

Dr Omari added that they had also taken water samples from springs near the epicentre of the outbreak to ascertain if the water was contaminated with cholera.

At Kenyenya Sub-County Hospital, at least 10 patients were awaiting to be attended to.

There was one doctor, two volunteer nurses and six clinicians on duty, indicating any further spread of the ailment could stretch the staff.

Kenyatta, Ruto Urge Garissa Residents to Give Them Second Term

Garissa — President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy William Ruto on Monday took Jubilee campaigns to Garissa County where they asked residents to give them a second term to continue implementing Jubilee development projects.

President Kenyatta asked residents to turn out in large numbers and vote for Jubilee, saying the Opposition has no agenda for the country.

The President said it was unfortunate that the Opposition has resorted to violence and chaos as a way of ascending to power.

“On the October 26, turn out in large numbers and vote for Jubilee so that we can beat Raila Odinga by a bigger margin compared to August 8 elections,” said President Kenyatta.

He added “Our opponents have no agenda for the country, they believe the way to ascend to power is through chaos”.

President Kenyatta said the Jubilee Administration is committed to implementing the free maternity program, last mile project, building roads and hospitals among other projects.

The President said it was not his wish to have the elections repeated even though he won but he will respect the Supreme Court ruling, asking the opposition to do the same.

“If you (NASA) are not ready for the fresh election why do you want to stop those who want to vote?,” he asked.

President Kenyatta dismissed claims that his government has marginalised North Eastern, citing key positions awarded to leaders from the region in national government.

“Tell me which government has given North Eastern region positions of power like majority leader and three cabinet secretaries?” asked President Kenyatta.

The President announced that he will sign the Garissa University charter on Thursday, a move that will see the institution become a full university.

Addressing the rally, the Deputy President said Jubilee was ready to face the Opposition in the fresh election.

Ruto asked the Opposition to stop sideshows and excuses and instead allow Kenyans to hold peaceful election and continue with development.

The Deputy President told the opposition is was impossible to change what is on the constitution through demonstrations.

“We have accepted to participate in the 26th election not because President Kenyatta won or because he will win but because we respect the constitution” said the Deputy President.

He said it was clear the opposition has sensed defeat in the fresh polls.

“The reason he has withdrawn is he realized he will lose by a bigger margin” said the Deputy President.

Ruto said Jubilee was ready to continue serving Kenyans by implementing projects that will transform their lives.

The Deputy President told the Opposition leader to prepare to face him in 2022 if he was not ready for the fresh polls.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said Garissa residents and the rest of North Eastern region residents will vote for Jubilee.

“As the people of Garissa, Wajir, Mandera and Marsabit have resolved to vote for President Kenyatta” he said.

Duale who is also the Majority Leader in the National Assembly told the opposition that there will be no dialogue over power sharing adding that the constitution must be followed.

His sentiments were echoed by Garissa Governor Ali Korane who said the people of Garissa were ready to vote for President Kenyatta come October 26.

School Boy Mauled to Death By Stray Dogs

By Philemon Suter

A six-year-old nursery school boy was on Monday mauled to death by stray dogs on the border of Elgeyo-Marakwet and Uasin Gishu counties.

Efforts by a passer-by to rescue the victim were futile.

According to Mr Ben Kipchumba, who took the victim to Iten County Referral Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival, the boy was heading to school unaccompanied when the dogs attacked him in Kapsimbol.

“I spotted the large number of dogs and I went closer to see what they were up to.

“I thought they were eating an animal but they turned wild when I approached before I noticed they were mauling the boy,” he said, adding that he called for help.

“I borrowed a motorcycle and rushed the boy to hospital. Doctors said he was already dead,” he said.

The boy’s father Robert Kibet was undergoing counselling at Iten County Referral hospital.

KILL DOGS

The child’s uncle Fredrick Kiptum said local authorities were not concerned about the rising number of stray dogs in the border village.

“The family has not come to terms with what happened this morning. We are still asking many questions,” he said.

Keiyo North veterinary officer Roselyne Bundotich said residents had not reported the stray dogs to authorities.

She said plans to poison stray dogs in various towns and shopping centres in Keiyo North were under way.

Kenya

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New Narok Stadium Offers Hope for Sports Tourism

By Elias Makori

As largely expected, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) at the weekend handed Morocco hosting rights for next year’s Africa Nations Championships (Chan) after stripping unprepared Kenya the onus.

The confederation’s argument was that Kenya was politically, and in terms of infrastructure, unprepared to host this second-tier tournament that counts for little, save for player exposure.

Subsequently, Kenya’s home-based players will miss the opportunity to strut their stuff in front of continental television cameras with the hope of attracting the eye of talent scouts.

As usual, it was a mad, last-minute rush to ready stadiums to beat Caf’s deadline.

Eldoret’s Kipchoge Keino Stadium, Meru’s Moi Kinoru Stadium along with the Machakos and Nyayo National Stadium were considered far from ready for the tournament, traditionally hosted in January, with renovation works lagging way behind schedule.

Football Kenya Federation is now rallying to have the regional Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Kenya next month.

Nakuru, Kisumu and, possibly, Mombasa will most probably host matches of the annual East and Central Africa tournament, Africa’s oldest regional competition.

Bizarrely, Narok hasn’t been considered for the annual tournament, and wasn’t even in the FKF radar for the aborted Chan competition. Yet the Narok County Stadium is one of the hidden treasures of Kenyan sport that’s yet to be exploited, although AFC Leopards have already wisely adopted it as their temporary home ground.

The Narok stadium was commissioned in 2012 through the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Ministry of Local Government, following a request from the local authorities.

Some Sh313.6 million was allocated to the project whose first phase — which has been completed – saw construction of the playing field, running track and VIP terraces, with an initial capacity of 5,000 people. The second phase will include more terraces, a swimming pool, basketball courts along with a lower boundary wall and landscaping.

Located just 80 kilometres from the world-famous Masai Mara Game Reserve, the Narok stadium holds huge potential for Kenyan sports tourism.

Benson Kariuki, an experienced sports administrator, who is currently managing the stadium on behalf of the Narok County Government, is already working on programmes that will see the stadium play a pivotal role in cashing in on the splendour of the Mara.

“It’s surprising that we were not considered to be one of the Chan venues, yet what we have developed here can easily gain approval to host such a tournament, especially with the completion of the second phase of the project and the vantage point we hold next to the Masai Mara,” Kariuki wondered when I happened by the stadium for a brief tour last week.

What comes to mind, for instance, is a “Mara Sevens” rugby tournament where world class teams could camp at the five star hotels and lodges in the Mara and drive down for their matches at the stadium during the long wildebeest migration seasons.

Or indeed an invitational “Mara Cup” football to be organized on a similar basis. The ministries of Sport and Tourism really need to think outside the box and cash in on new attractions and revenue streams rather than over-rely on traditional assets.

It’s tedious to continuously harp on “fauna and flora,” “game drives,” the “big five” and “sandy beaches” while we can be innovative and attract some fresh offerings while still cashing in on our traditional touristic vantage points.

Narok is a treasure and thanks to specific attention that Governor Samuel Kuntai Ole Tunai’s county government continues to place on sport, something positive will most certainly stem out of Kenya’s perennially tainted sports management.

Indeed, as I’ve previously pointed out before, county governments will be pivotal in helping develop Kenya’s sports potential and boost sports funding as we cannot continue relying on an over-burdened national exchequer.

It would be awesome to have youthful Governor Stephen arap Sang’s Nandi County Government complete works at the Kipchoge Keino Stadium in Kapsabet, while it’s reassuring to see steady progress at the Eldoret stadium, also named after the Olympic legend, under the supervision of Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago.

For years, we’ve been told about money being set aside by the Kisii County Government for the refurbishment of Gusii Stadium, and now that Governor James Ongwae is through for another term, such talk should translate into action.

Ditto Nyamira County where Governor John Nyagarama broke ground for a county stadium in his first term, but to date, it’s been just that: ground-breaking.

In Mombasa, Governor Ali Hassan Joho’s decision to put up several turf pitches, including at the famous “Uwanja wa Mbuzi,” is a step in the right direction, as is Governor Alex Tolgos’ allocation of funds for refurbishment of the historic Kamariny Stadium in Iten, a town famous for distance running training and paragliding.

In drawing up and approving their budgets, county executives and assemblies should not treat sport as a fringe concern, but rather as an additional revenue stream.

Sports is too important to be left to national government alone.

Samburu Parents Marry Off Girls for Food as Hunger Bites

By Godfrey Oundoh

Parents in Samburu County are marrying off their underage daughters in exchange of food and livestock due to the biting drought, the Nation has learnt.

Girls as young as nine years have been given out to elderly men by their parents as a means of saving their siblings from starvation.

A spot check by the Nation in different parts of the county including Baragoi, Illaut, Nguronit, Keleswa, Lemolog, Suyan, Ngilai, Bendera and Barseloi in Samburu North revealed that hundreds of underage girls have also dropped out of school for early marriages.

According to Mr Simon Lalalaki, the deputy head teacher at Keleswa Primary School in Ndoto Ward of Samburu North, about six girls have been withdrawn from the school and married off by their families for food.

SURVIVAL MEANS

The minors who were in his school, the only educational institution in the area that has only three levels of classes (standard one to three), were among 76 pupils who make the entire school population.

“The drought and famine situation in this area has led families to look for survival means and marrying off these girls is one of them. Parents have given out their children to obtain water and food,” said Mr Lalalaki.

The teacher who hails from South Horr which is about 32km away stays within the village.

He said the water problem has also led to massive school dropouts.

STAY HOME

This is as women ask their daughters to stay back at home and watch their siblings as they set for a more than 30km journey in search of the commodity.

“Many of the girls are asked to stay at home to take care of their younger sisters and brothers as some are tasked with taking care of goats with the cultural belief that goats tend to be more productive when taken care of by girls,” added the teacher.

Mr Lalalaki called upon both the national and the county governments to intervene and rescue the girls whose future is being thrown away.

He termed water and food as urgent resources that are needed in the region to save residents who are losing hope day by day.

Keleswa Primary school has a total of three teachers.

The three depend on pupils’ parents for water for their domestic needs and laundry as they have no time to leave the school and travel for tens of kilometres to get the commodity.

Kenya

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Mike Sonko Set to Pick County Secretary

By Lillian Mutavi

Lydia Kwamboka, governor Mike Sonko’s lawyer, and former Makueni speaker Stephen Ngelu are among those shortlisted for Nairobi County Secretary position.

Others shortlisted candidates include David Kinisu Sifuna, Acting County Secretary Simon Leboo Morintat, Peter Kariuki Mbugua, Khalid Masud Salim, Reuben Kipkemoi ChirChir and John Njuguna.

During the reign of Evans Kidero the position was held by Dr Robert Ayisi, however, during the transition period after Mr Sonko took over, the position held by Mr Leboo in an acting capacity.

Speaking to Nation, Mr Sonko said that the position had been advertised in conjunction to the county government act and the county will follow due process to ensure the suitable candidate is picked.

“The County Secretary shall be competitively sourced from amongst persons who are university graduates with at least ten years’ experience in administration and management,” said Mr Sonko.

The office of the County Secretary is the heartbeat of all operations by the Executive in the county.

The mandate of County Secretary include being the Head of the County Public Service and also the secretary to the County Executive Committee among others.

In a document seen by Nation those shortlisted have been scheduled to attend interviews on October 23 and 24.

“Upon conclusion of the interviews, the board will forward the names of suitable candidates. On receipt of the concurrence of the above shortlist, we will publish the list on our website and newspaper,” read the letter.

Kenya

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Drought Pushes Pastoralists to the Brink

Lodwar — In February, when 23 of the country’s 47 counties were affected, and after the number of food insecure people had more than doubled, from 1.3 million to 2.7 million, the Kenyan government declared a national drought emergency.

Since then, the situation has worsened considerably. The annual “long rains”, which usually fall between March and May, ended early. It was the third successive poor or failed rainy season.

By August the number of food insecure Kenyans – those lacking access to food sufficient to live a healthy life – had risen to 3.4 million. According to a flash appeal published in early September by OCHA, the UN’s humanitarian aid coordination body, half a million Kenyans fall into the category of “emergency” food insecurity.

In Turkana, “very critical” rates of global acute malnutrition (one of the key indicators of humanitarian crises) of up to 37 percent or above have been recorded in some areas – more than double the emergency threshold of 15 percent. This is largely a result of higher food prices and a reduction in milk and food supplies.

Dying animals and vanishing vegetation

“Turkana is the epicentre of the drought,” Chris Ajele, director of the county’s ministry of pastoral economy, told IRIN in late September in Lodwar, the county capital.

The drought “has rendered some families destitute”, he said. “In Turkana, the economy revolves around pastoralism,” he explained. “People attain their daily requirements through the sale and consumption of livestock.”

In arid counties like Turkana livestock usually accounts for some 80 percent of a household’s income through sales of animals and milk. Livestock also represents a considerable store of wealth: Many herders with few other possessions aside from a wooden stool, a knife, and some cooking utensils own 100 or more goats and sheep, each worth around $60. Camels are worth more than 10 times as much.

“We have lost about half a million head of livestock [in Turkana] – mostly sheep and goats, as well as cattle and some camels,” Ajele said. High rates of livestock death have also been recorded in the counties of Isiolo, Laikipia, Marsabit, and Samburu.

This is mainly because the animals don’t have enough to eat. According to a chart complied by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, things are only going to get worse in the months to come: In the map for November 2017, almost the entire country is shaded red, indicating “extreme vegetation deficit”. Just last year, foraging conditions in most of the country were either “normal” or “very good”.

And the longer a drought lasts, especially when coupled with over-grazing, the greater the risk that subsequent growth and reproduction of the grasses eaten by livestock will be compromised. There is strong correlation between foraging conditions and levels of human malnutrition.

“Drought is a part of life for pastoralists, but whereas they used to happen every 10 years, now, because of climate change, the gap is narrowing and they are becoming unpredictable,” said Josephat Lotwel, who works on drought response in Turkana for the National Disaster Management Authority. “The forecast is that this drought will continue, malnutrition will increase, and more animals will die.”

“I live like a dog”

All the pastoralists IRIN met in Turkana said most of their herds had perished as a result of the drought.

“200 of my goats died,” said Joseph Lopido at a livestock market in the small town of Kerio. “I used to be a man. Now I live like a dog because I am poor.”

Lopido said everyone in the community was affected because getting enough food to survive was a real problem.

“Some of my family eat wild fruit to survive and sometimes it can cause health problems,” he said. “The only thing that helps us is rain. When it rains, the grass grows and the goats graze. How can we survive without rain?”

Lopido had come to the market hoping to sell his two remaining goats, but the prices he was offered were so low he decided to hang on to them.

According to OCHA, average prices of livestock in Kenya “have declined by up to 40 percent, and the combination of low household incomes and high staple food prices has significantly reduced the livestock-to-cereals terms of trade”. In other words, goats, sheep, and cows are worth far less maize than they used to be.

On the road to Kerio, camel herder Ebei Lotubwa was trying to flag down cars, waving a yellow plastic cooking oil bottle cut off at the top to serve as a jug – he was desperate for water.

“This is the worst drought. There is no grass. It did rain last month, but they were only showers,” he said, explaining that 16 of his camels – animals renowned for their ability to survive for months without drinking – had died during this drought.

“To find water for our animals, sometimes we have to walk for 30 kilometres. That’s why we beg water from passing cars. Not everyone stops.”

“When there is no rain, we get no milk from the camels.”

Another herder, Peter Okapelo, said 100 of his sheep and goats had died, leaving him with 20. “The only way for me to get more is for them to breed. But if this drought continues, these 20 will also die. I don’t know what I will do then.”

Asked about the long-term future, he said: “I think pastoralism will be finished because of the droughts. All the animals are dying.”

Vulnerability to climate change

In the absence of prolonged drought, pastoralism generally makes better use of open rangeland environments, and delivers better food security than other agricultural systems. It delivers greater returns per hectare, for example, than ranches. And while often dismissed as geographically isolated and economically peripheral, the African Union recognises that “pastoralists supply very substantial numbers of livestock to domestic, regional and international markets and therefore, make crucial – but often undervalued – contributions to national and regional economies in Africa”.

Pastoralists have long coped with – even thrived on – wide variations in temperature and rainfall, but they are extremely vulnerable to the harsher weather shocks brought about by climate change in three ways: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.

As a 2014 paper on pastoralism and climate change adaptation in northern Kenya explains, pastoralists are especially exposed to climate change because in east Africa it manifests itself in “increasing temperatures and higher rainfall variability… with both escalating the likelihood of more frequent and extended droughts.” According to a 2007 study by the International Panel on Climate Change, Kenya is warming at a rate roughly 1.5 times the global average.

The paper’s authors add that Kenyan pastoralists are particularly “sensitive” because their livestock “depends on the availability of water and pasture which is negatively affected by climate change”.

And on the third vulnerability, the paper explains that while “pastoralists have developed their adaptive knowledge and skills over centuries, their options for adaption and economic assets have been limited by political and socio-economic marginalisation.”

According to Johnstone Moru, who advises the county government in Turkana on climate change on behalf of German consultancy firm Ambero, “the colonial and successive governments [in Kenya] had no proper policies on the development of arid and semi-arid lands, including pastoralism.”

The International Livestock Research Institute sums up the chronic plight of those who live in Kenya’s drylands: “With a dearth of alternative productive livelihood strategies to pursue, scant risk management options to provide safety nets in the event of shock, diminished rangelands and increasing incidents of violent conflicts, these populations grow ever more vulnerable to the range of risks that afflict them.”

Solutions?

That’s not to say nothing at all has been done, or could be done in the future, to make pastoralism in Kenya more sustainable and resilient to climate change.

Cash transfers, an index-based insurance scheme, an off-take programme under which the government buys livestock in times of drought to give pastoralists a monetary lifeline as well as meat from the slaughtered animals, and efforts to diversify sources of income through the promotion of agro-pastoralism and the processing of animal by-products, are examples of recent investments.

But there are shortcomings to many of these initiatives: The feed stores where pastoralists are supposed to spend their insurance payouts to ensure their animals’ survival are often far away; the off-take programme generally pays less than potential market rates; land exploited for agriculture tends to be close to rivers, blocking traditional migration routes; and a tannery near Lodwar, conceived to boost pastoralists’ income through the production and marketing of leather goods and launched with some fanfare in April, was entirely dormant when IRIN visited in September, with no clear timetable for a resumption of its operations.

The adoption in Kenya of a new constitution in 2010 set in motion a process of political devolution and led to the creation of county governments, with the aim of improving services better suited to local needs.

Turkana County’s 2016-2020 Investment Plan sets out 16 areas for “quick wins” in scaling up the pastoralism sector. These include exporting live animals; setting up feeding ranches as well as meat and processing plants; building more tanneries; and developing bio-gas projects.

But the pastoralists IRIN spoke to were less than impressed. “Devolution hasn’t made any difference I can see,” said Lopido. “The local government has built some structures, but we don’t have any food in our stomachs.”

Senate Concludes Public Hearing on Electoral Laws

By Davis Ayega

Nairobi — A Special Senate Committee formed on a short notice to analyse the controversial electoral laws wrapped up its public hearing midday Thursday, with the Bills expected to be given a nod by Jubilee legislators.

The Senate was forced to go back to the drawing board on Wednesday afternoon session to form a special committee to handle the electoral laws so as to avoid any legal battles that could challenge the legitimacy of the legislation of the Bills in the Senate.

The Committee Chair Fatuma Dullo however explained why the Senate had to convene to receive input from the members of the public yet a joint parliamentary committee had previously gone through the same exercise at County Hall.

“Procedurally for the Senate this is a new Bill because the amendments have been incorporated and we are supposed to follow the procedure and open it to the public to see if there are more views,” said Dullo.

Media Owners and the Media Council of Kenya who were expected to appear before the committee on Wednesday did not show up but the Isiolo Senator said they had received plenty of written submissions which will aid the committee in preparing a report which will be tabled in the House Thursday afternoon.

Kenya

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Kenya: Mental Health Services Hard Hit By Nurses’ Strike

By Barnabas Bii and Winnie Atieno

Mental health units in Kenya have been among the hardest hit by the ongoing nurses’ strike.

As the country marked World Mental Health Day on Tuesday, families of mentally-ill people pleaded with care-givers to resume duty.

The worst-hit hospitals include Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret and Port Reitz District Hospital Mental Health and Substance Abuse Department in Mombasa.

The facility in Eldoret, which serves about 80 patients — double the capacity — is overwhelmed.

MINIMAL CARE

Not much is going on at the department due to the nurses’ strike.

This is after nurses who are expected to offer medical care to mentally-ill patients joined the general strike, leaving patients with minimal care and treatment.

The hospital has two psychiatrists and four more from Moi University, three clinical officers and five nurses in the mental health unit.

“We get 60-70 outpatients in a week who need mental care, which is higher than the normal 30 to 40 patients. Some patients relapse on failing to get medication and treatment at county hospitals,” said Dr Asha Mwangi, who is in charge of the unit.

SERVICES

Since the launch of the mental health policy last year, the unit has been training more professionals in psychiatry to enhance services.

But implementation of the policy is being slowed down by the nurses’ strike. The same scenario is replicated across different counties.

Patients in Mombasa County have resorted to private clinics some of which are owned by the striking nurses.

This is after services at Port Reitz – the second largest mental health institution in Kenya after Mathari Mental Hospital in Nairobi – ground to a halt.

ONE PSYCHIATRIST

The hospital has only one psychiatrist, who also attends to patients battling drug abuse at Coast Provincial General Hospital.

It also has less than 20 health personnel (nurses and clinical officers) against a maximum 40 in-patients and about 60 out-patients.

The hospital serves Kilifi, Lamu, Kwale, Tana River, Taita-Taveta, Mombasa and other neighbouring counties.

Relatives of mentally-ill patients said they were seeking treatment at private health facilities.

DETEROTIATING CONDITIONS

“It is very expensive but it is better than allowing their conditions to deteriorate due to lack of treatment. The only service my brother is missing is counselling,” said one relative.

The source, who sought anonymity, added: “My brother suffers from depression and has battled drug addiction. A nurse normally gives him antipsychotic medication when he becomes aggressive.”

In June, more than 30 patients admitted at the Port Reitz facility were forcibly discharged when nurses withdrew their services.

A month after that, a mentally-ill patient from Kilifi committed suicide at the hospital using his belt.

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