Posts tagged as: environment

Zimbabwe: Only 15% Zim Youths Know HIV Status

JUST 15 percent of young people in Zimbabwe know their HIV status, a regional organisation has said.

Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) started operating in 2001 and is now present in 13 countries in the sub-region.

The group says the absence of investment in psycho-social support has discouraged young people from wanting to know their status in a country where stigma and discrimination remains rife.

“Our context is that less than 15 percent our young people know their status which means the rest don’t know,” REPSSI country representative Sibusisiwe Marunda told Parliament’s HIV/Aids thematic committee on Monday.

“They (youths) have never been presented with an opportunity to get tested or, if the opportunity is there, they don’t feel confident enough. The environment doesn’t encourage them to access testing services and treatment.

“Again, as parents we are still stuck in the space that I want my 15-year-old to be a virgin. I don’t want to find a condom in their bags. Fine they will not access but still be sexually active and contract HIV.

“A study done in Africa also showed that 48 percent of students think a student who tests positive for HIV should stop coming to school.”

Marunda said the cultural connotations to age and sex also affect service providers resulting in them passing comments which discourage young people from using HIV services.

HIV sector workers and interest groups have been advocating for the creation of youth friendly zones manned by young people instead of the elderly workforce as is the case currently.

The country’s prevalence rate is at 15 percent with at least 1,2 million Zimbabweans living with the virus. Aids is the leading cause of death in adolescents in southern Africa.

Zimbabwe

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Plastic Bags Ban Benefits Exceed Burdens, Says CS Judi Wakhungu

By Samwel Owino

Environment and natural resources Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu has accused the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) of dishonesty and exaggerating figures on the number of jobs that could be lost when the ban on plastic bags takes effect in September.

Appearing before the National Assembly’s Environment Committee, Prof Wakhungu accused KAM of not telling the truth and promised to provide the exact figure at a later date.

“I want to assure the public that the figures being put by KAM of the job loss are exaggerated and they know the truth as we have been engaging over time. The number of jobs that will be created will be more than those lost,” the CS told MPs.

“The issue of good faith is important here and KAM should tell Kenyans the truth. We have all records of our engagement and will table them,” she added.

BAN IMPOSED

The manufacturers’ lobby had earlier said the ban imposed by the minister will lead to loss of about 600,000 jobs and indirect employment through retailers, wholesalers and outlets.

But the CS accused KAM of always making an about-turn and asking for more time whenever they inch close to a deal on the ban.

“This has been going on for the last 15 years and it is now time to implement the ban,” Prof Wakhungu said, adding: “The association knew 15 years ago that this day would come.”

On February 28, the minister published a legal notice announcing a ban on both domestic and commercial use of plastic bags from September.

She said the proposal had received a lot of support, especially from pastoral communities, who said plastic bags have been the major cause of death of their livestock.

SAFEGUARD ENVIRONMENT

Several MPs supported the CS on the ban, saying the country needs to have alternatives that safeguard the environment.

Emuhaya MP Wilber Ottichilo said the impact of the ban is more beneficial to the economy than the few job losses KAM is worrying about.

“The negative effect of the ban to our economy is just 10 per cent, we stand to gain 90 per cent and more jobs will be created when the ban is implemented,” said Dr Ottichilo.

Bungoma County Woman Representative Reginalda Wanyonyi said plastic bags had caused more harm to the economy, especially on sectors such as agriculture and tourism.

“I fully support the ban, the plastic bags have caused more problems and job losses and the ban is appropriate.”

KAM has asked Parliament to suspend the implementation of the notice on grounds that the six-month grace period to stop manufacture and use of plastic bags is too short.

Kenya

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Ghana: We Need to Rethink Mining in Ghana

By Matilda Asare

James Kwabena Bomfeh has asked State authorities to “rethink mining” in the country.

According to him, if mining cannot be regularized to ensure the activities of the miners do not lead to environmental degradation and further threatening the lives of residents in the mining communities, then it is prudent for the minerals to remain in the land.

To him, though exploiting the minerals is good if it leads to development and not destruction of the environment and water bodies, it is however not advisable for the miners to continue to extract the minerals when their activities are having adverse effects on the society.

James Kwabena Bomfeh, popularly called Kabila, dreaded the effects of the mining activities and so urged the authorities to clamp down on the illegal miners as well as legal miners who abuse their work permits.

“Even legal mining, people with appropriate concessions and permits and things; they abuse their permits including the big mining companies.”

In his view, it is better for the minerals to remain in the land without any exploitation since the minerals don’t rot until the country has gained knowledge enough to extract them without destroying the water bodies and the mining communities.

Also addressing the issue on Peace FM’s ‘Kokrokoo’, PPP Communicator Nana Ofori Atta upheld the views of Kabila, stating that the “menace of galamsey (illegal mining) is life and death”.

He also commended President Nana Akufo-Addo for assuring the nation that his government is putting comprehensive plans in place to address the menace.

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Namibia: Farmers Vow to Continue Killing Marauding Lions

By Marx Itamalo

ANDREAS Ndakukamo, the Omusati farmer and businessman who lost 16 cattle to lions since last month, said until the lions have returned to the Etosha National Park, they would be pursued and killed.

Ndakukamo, who is just one of the affected area farmers of Omutambowomawe in the Otamanzi constituency of the Omusati region, was approached about the latest incident of a lion killed at Omutambowomawe last Friday.

The environment ministry offers farmers an off-set fee of N$1 500 per head of cattle killed by a predator.

“We will kill them. We will protect our cattle, and no longer wait for the ministry to come,” an agitated Ndakukamo said.

He had lost 12 head of cattle by the end of last month, and another four last week to the lions.

The lions, believed to have strayed from the Etosha National Park, the boundary of which is a mere 7km north-west of Omutambowomawe, a communal grazing area in the Ongandjera communal area, were initially a pack of six, of which two were shot on 24 April.

The other four escaped, and have been wreaking havoc in the area.

On Friday, prior to a large male being killed, the four lions killed 15 cattle, bringing the total number of cattle killed since last month to 27.

Apart from the four cattle which Ndakukamo lost last week, three other animals belonging to Ongandjera King Johannes Mupiya were also killed, while the other eight belonged to other area farmers.

“I always maintain that cattle are expensive and hard to look after. We have already lost cattle to the drought, and now the cats are killing our cattle again. We will not rest until they are all dead,” Ndakukamo stressed.

He also rejected government’s N$1 500 off-set amount.

“Where have you seen cattle going for N$1 500? I cannot accept that nonsense. They [ministry] better take that [N$1 500] and go buy cattle to come and give us.

“We do not know where to get cattle for that amount,” he said, adding that if an animal is slaughtered, the meat could fetch six times that amount.

Another farmer in the Omutambowomawe area, who has not lost cattle to the lions because his farm is surrounded by other farms, agreed with Ndakukamo.

This farmer, who declined to be named, said that apart from the cattle being killed, the lions also posed a danger to people in the area.

“They will now become aggressive after losing members of their pride. Mark my words, it will not be long before you will hear of a person killed or maimed by a lion in the area,” he said.

Human-wildlife conflict has intensified across the northern regions lately. Elephants destroyed mahangu crops last month at the Onamatanga village, and at the Amaupa village near Omakange.

Meanwhile, The Namibian understands that another herd of old elephant bulls, believed to have come from Angola, are terrorising Ohangwena farmers since last week. The elephants are allegedly eating crops at villages bordering Angola, between Okongo and Eenhana.

A source has also indicated that three lions have escaped from the Oshikoto side of Etosha, and are roaming near Oshivelo. No reports of cattle killed have been received so far.

Speaking on NBC TV recently, environment minister Pohamba Shifeta said the ministry was doing all it could to control wildlife, especially lions.

He stated that lions stray from Etosha during mating season.

He added that weaker male lions escape from the park with their female companions to avoid losing them to powerful males.

“When they come out of the park, to protect their females, it is when they start troubling people.”

Shifeta pointed out that the ministry was still to fence off about 824km of the park with an elephant-proof fence to secure the whole park, an exercise he said was “expensive and will take time”.

He also said government did not compensate for the damage caused by wild animals.

“What the ministry give is an off-set to farmers,” he stated, adding that the ministry was still drafting a compensation policy.

Kenya: Amu Power Signs Sh206bn Deal With China Power Global

By Olive Burrows

Beijing, China — The Lamu power generating coal plant incorporated as part of the LAPSSET corridor is well on its way to realisation following the signing of a Sh206 billion agreement between China Power Global and Amu power.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter who described the plant as “one of the biggest plans under the public-private partnership framework,” and who together with President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed the signing of the deal, is optimistic that the plant should be up and running in two years’ time.

“We are almost reaching conclusion, they have initialised the PPA. What is remaining which we are working on is the letter of support which we’ve given them the standard, they’ve made comments, which is still now between Treasury and the Attorney General, they’ve also signed the LAPSSET lease. If all goes well they can do their groundbreaking by June, July.”

“We’ve already started the process of transmission line, the 400kV line from Lamu to Kitui to Nairobi which we’ve awarded to three contractors already.”

The plant is expected to inject 1050MW into the power grid and will contribute to a stable power supply.

“It is important because it’s a base load. Like now, we closed down Masinga until last week. Kenya has been depending on hydros and because of the advanced weather condition we are experiencing a lot of problems.”

Its biggest selling point is however, is that it would provide a cheap source of power. “We’re saving a lot in terms of kWh,” Keter said.

And while environmentalists would cite the cost to the environment and respiratory health, Keter stands behind the plant.

Kenya

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Government Rules Out Capping Interest Rates

By Edward Ssekika

Government has ruled out capping interest rates as one of the proposals from borrowers who needed cheaper credit.

David Bahati, the minister of state for Planning, said capping interest rates is not a solution.

“We are not going to cap interest rates because it doesn’t work. It has not worked in Kenya and it has not worked anywhere,” he said.

He added that government can only regulate the high interest rates, although he did not explain how it can be done. Bahati was speaking at the 7th Annual High-Level Policy Dialogue on the Budget under the theme, “Unlocking Uganda’s economic potential: Investing in strategic sectors of the economy” at Sheraton Kampala hotel recently.

The conference was organized by the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE) and the ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

The business community has been pushing government to cap interest rates to affordable levels. Interest rates in Uganda hover around 23 per cent, which is quite high compared to the return on investment that many companies make. Last year, Kenya capped interest rates in order to protect borrowers.

RECAPITALISING UDB

Instead of capping interest rates, Bahati said government plans to recapitalize the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to provide affordable credit to borrowers.

He revealed that government is to inject Shs 300 billion into UDB in the next five years. Next financial year, which starts on July 1, UDB will be recapitalized by Shs 50 billion.

Dr Ezra Suruma, the keynote speaker and former minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, attributed the collapse of many businesses to high interest rates.

He said the high interest rates have something to do with the structure of the economy and have been responsible for the collapse of many businesses. He implored government to make available affordable and long-term credit to the private sector.

“Until the money is finally injected in Uganda Development Bank, I will not believe you. This is what we have been pushing for over the years,” he said.

He also advised government to improve on the capital markets so that Ugandans can safely invest in them. Suruma also proposed that “some of the money from oil should be used to start new special banks like an agricultural bank and an infrastructure bank, among others. This will stimulate growth and financial inclusion.”

The Public Finance Management Act, 2015 says that the money from oil shall be used to finance infrastructure projects. Bahati also said that although the economy has not grown as projected, it is expected to recover.

This financial year, the economy is expected to grow below 4.5 per cent instead of the projected five per cent. He attributed this to regional instability, especially in South Sudan, and the drought which has ravaged the agricultural sector. South Sudan is one of Uganda’s main export destinations.

Bahati was optimistic that the economy is expected to again grow at six per cent annually after the next financial year. Bahati said in the next financial year, government plans to reduce on domestic borrowing through the issuance of securities such as treasury bills and treasury bonds.

Currently, he said, domestic arrears stand at Shs 2.7 trillion. This has crowded out the private sector from the financial market since banks prefer to lend to government than private businesses.

Keith Muhakanizi, the secretary to the Treasury, warned against excessive borrowing.

“We must not put the country into a debt crisis.”

He added that the pressure for borrowing is too much and that if this appetite is not curtailed, it could put the country into a crisis, to a point where the country will not be able to repay the loans.

Suruma advised government to invest in sectors such as agriculture for inclusive growth. He gave the example of the coffee industry that he said has the capacity to bring in more money than oil, and can directly benefit households.

He said government should invest more money if the country is to achieve its target of producing 20 million bags of coffee annually by 2020.

OIL SECTOR

On the oil sector, the Danish ambassador to Uganda, Mogens Pedersen, warned that if stern action is not taken to fight corruption and promote inclusive growth, Ugandans should forget the anticipated benefits from the oil industry.

He warned that Uganda is headed on the path that many African countries have taken of abundant oil resources amidst poverty.

“Please, tell me one African country, where oil has been a blessing. It is always a curse for inclusive development, mainly because of corruption,” he warned.

Uganda discovered commercial quantities of oil in 2006 and efforts are underway to start oil production by 2020. Bahati assured the audience that Uganda is going to be an exception from those African states where oil has been a curse.

“You are going to see Uganda; our oil will not be a curse. All the systems have been put in place to ensure oil is a blessing for Uganda. That is why we have been cautiously slow,” he said.

Bahati said the country is looking at oil to solve its financial woes, including cutting down on borrowing.

“As government, we believe by 2020 we shall see first oil production, which is going to give us $2 billion annually [approximately Shs 9 trillion]. So, we shall be able to solve some of these challenges,” he explained.

Bahati said this financial year, government plans a massive investment in the oil sector to ensure first oil by 2020.

“We are going to invest at least Shs 1.1 trillion in the sector in order to realize the first oil target of 2020,” Bahati explained.

However, Elly Karuhanga, the chairman of Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (UCMP), asked the government to put in place a team that will make first oil a reality.

“Let us put in place a team, a dream team comprised of genuine government officials and the private sector, which will be charged with the duty to implement the oil project and en- sure first oil by 2020,” he said.

Short of that, Karuhanga doubts whether the 2020 oil target will be met.

Zimbabwe: AfDB Avails U.S.$3,5 Million Sanitation Equipment

By Innocent Ruwende

Government yesterday received sewer cleaning vehicles, domestic and commercial water meters and other associated equipment worth more than $3,5 million from the Zimbabwe Multi Donor Trust Fund. The Trust Fund is embarking on the second phase of its Water and Sanitation Programme in Zimbabwe. The phase will see the African Development Bank (AfDB) administered fund releasing $36 million for reinforcement of water distribution and waste water collection systems in Harare and four other cities.

Speaking at the handover ceremony, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said water and sanitation were at the core of sustainable development and were critical to the survival of people.

She said continued investment in water supply and sanitation services generated a number of economic environmental socio benefits.

“Access to clean drinking water and sanitation reduces health risks and frees enough time for education and other productive activities, as well as increases the productivity of the labour force,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.

“Safe disposal of waste water, which is grey and black water, helps to improve the quality of surface water, with benefits for the environment, as well as for economic sectors that depend on water as a resource.

“Government of Zimbabwe, therefore, greatly values enormous contribution from the Zimfund donors that is aimed at improving service delivery to our country’s citizens.

“The cleaning equipment we received today comprises of sewer cleaning trucks, utility tractor and laboratory equipment, water meters, sewer pipes, among others.”

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said the operations vehicles would facilitate emergency responses to reports from the public, while the tankers would increase local authorities’ capabilities to deal with blockages.

Among the equipment were sewer cleaning vehicles and equipment worth more than $1 million, domestic and commercial water meters worth more than $1 million, sewer maintenance tools worth more than $400 000, laboratory equipment worth more than $142 000, and spare pipes and fittings worth more than $399 000.

In a speech read on his behalf by his deputy Christopher Chingosho, Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said the generous donation of equipment, vehicles, associated tools and vacuum tankers was highly appreciated by the Government and people of Zimbabwe.

“For many years, local authorities have been severely handicapped in the effective delivery of their mandate due to limited resources and capacity constraints,” he said.

“Due to lack of preventive regular maintenance, most of the water and sanitation infrastructure had fallen into disrepair characterised by aged and overloaded infrastructure, perennial breakdowns, inadequate resources such as sewer cleaning vehicles, laboratory equipment, among others.”

African Development Bank group officer-in-charge, Zimbabwe country office, Ms Mary Monyau commended Government for identifying water and sanitation as key priorities within the national policies and strategies.

Zimbabwe

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Kenya: Nakuru County Sets Aside 60m for Doctors Arrears

By Francis Mureithi

Nakuru — Nakuru County Assembly has set aside Sh60million out of the consolidated fund to pay the arrears of the striking health workers.

These funds are contained in a hurriedly drafted Sh166million Nakuru County Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2017.

More than 70 doctor and specialists in the county went on strike last Friday protesting over unpaid salaries for the months of December 2016, January, February, March and April 2017, which they have not received.

The medics went on strike on December 5 last year for 100 days in one of the longest and most painful strikes that left pain and death of patient in its wake.

The new round of strike has paralysed health services in all public hospitals in the county after doctors and specialist downed their tools.

APPROPRIATION

However, the assembly has moved fast to end the strike and the Supplementary Appropriation Bill 2017 is set to be passed by the House before it goes for indefinite recess on June 16.

The Bill has already been read for the second time and now awaits the third reading before the House authorize the issue of Sh166million out of the consolidated fund.

The Bill drafted by the Finance, Budget and Appropriation committee recommended that the county suspends the recruitment of 220 additional enforcement officers with a proposed allocation of Sh20million be channeled towards payment of arrears of health workers.

The report further recommends the suspension of recruitment of Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers and their allocation of Sh16million be used to clear the health workers pending arrears.

STRIKING

The recruitment of village administrators with a budgetary allocation of Sh20million has also been put on hold and the money will now be used to pay the arrears of the striking health workers.

“These suspensions of additional staff is aimed at averting imminent adverse industrial action by health workers whose revised salaries and allowances have not been paid,” said the chairman of the Budget and Appropriation Committee Mr Moses Ndung’u Kamau.

The committee also put on hold the reinstatement of Sh22million sport fund due to heightened political activities ahead of the August 8 polls.

ALLOCATION

“This allocation may not serve the intended sector and it is recommended that this allocation be suspended,” said Mr Ndung’u.

The biggest winners in the Bill are the 140 casual youth polytechnic instructors who have been absorbed into permanent establishment with effect from June this year after Sh6million was set aside for their salaries.

The committee also set aside Sh10million to cater for the employment of casual workers in the department of environment, water and natural resources.

Kenya

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Liberia: Man Suffering From Liver, Kidney Failures

Musa Sheriff, 25, is one of over 40 patients currently in Liberia’s central tuberculosis treatment facility known as TB Annex. It’s located in Congo Town, a suburb of Monrovia.

For weeks now, Musa has been lying on a bare plank bench. Neither he nor nurses here can say why he’s not among other patients in the male ward.

Musa lacks energy even to speak. His whole body is swollen – the stomach the most protruded. According to him, his situation is due to the many rehydration drips given him by nurses. But nurses attending to him say his swollen body is due to series of complications he himself may not be aware of.

Stains of blood can be seen around body parts where needles have been inserted. His skin is pale and finds it difficult to get up from his bench-bed. Doing so comes with much pain.

“I think I am already dying. I am in so much pain now. I no longer feel like I am alive. They (nurses) should just tell me that I am dying. This is so much pain,” Musa moaned in pain.

For days now, if not weeks, he has not taken his bathe – his odor and stench of the environment is a testimony.

Nanejae Nagbeh is a physician assistant. He has followed Musa since 2015 when he first came to TB Annex for tuberculosis treatment.

Nanejae says the patient got treated of TB and was discharged. Early 2017, he returned to the hospital, but this time in a more deplorable condition.

As focal person for multiple drugs resistance (MDR) cases at the hospital, Nanejae suspects Musa may be suffering from more than just TB. “He may be suffering from organs failure. We suspect kidney and liver failures as evident by his swollen stomach and face. We have given him a lot of treatment to detoxicate his system. He urinates, but very scantly,” he says.

For Nanejae, Musa’s complication presents a clear and serious threat to his life. “The liver is responsible to detoxicate the body while the kidney excretes these toxic wastes from the body. So, if you have a situation like Musa’s where he doesn’t urinate, you can imagine how much toxic wastes are being deposited in his body and how much danger those are doing to his body and life. That is why we keep giving him some attention to manage the danger the toxic materials are doing to his body until we find a way to transfer him to a bigger hospital.”

Musa hails from neighboring Sierra Leone, but has lived in Liberia since five years no; three of which he spent in Grand Cape Mount County. He needs to go to a bigger hospital because TB Annex does not have the sophistication to manage kidney and liver issues. But the patient has no one to foot the bill.

Unfortunately, too, TB Annex says it does not know how to go about it. Nanejae: “This is a problematic situation. We do not have that capacity to handle his skills. We’re planning to transfer him to any bigger hospital like Tappita or JFK; but the question is ‘who will take care of his bill’? The man does not have any family, not even a friend that we know. Apart from the bills, who will even take care of him when we transfer him?” Nanejae wants immediate help to save Musa’s life.

With the unanswered questions of who foots the bill, Musa continues to lie on his bare plank-bench bed wearing away in so much pain.

Liberia

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Tanzania Emerges Top On Managing Chemicals

By Bernard Lugongo

Tanzania’s management on chemicals and waste chemicals has attracted international recognition, enabling it to emerge among Africa’s best for having sound management systems.

The country won the position during the just-ended international conference on sound management of chemicals and waste held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the meeting is conducted at two-year intervals, as a followup to the three Conventions focused on protecting health and the environment. These are Basel Convention (BC COP- 13), the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-8) and the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-8).

During the meeting, which was held from April 24 to May 5, the member countries of the three conventions showcased what they were doing to implement better practices of the chemicals management.

According to the Chief Government Chemist (CGC), Professor Samwel Manyele, Tanzania was placed at third position for having a good legal system and organisation structure for handling chemicals and waste chemicals.

South Africa was overall winner, followed by Nigeria. Elaborating, Prof Manyele said the country was deemed to have a good Industrial and Consumer Chemicals (Management and Control) Act 2003.

The Act provides for the management and control of the production, importation, transportation, exportation, storage, dealing, and disposal of chemicals and for matters connected therewith.

“The way we crafted this law and enforcing it demonstrated our expertise to the international community,” noted the Chief Chemist. He further explained that placing chemicals management under the ministry in charge of health demonstrated how Tanzania attached great importance to the environmental and health impact of the chemicals.

Winning third position was also a result of having the Government Chemist Laboratory Agency (GCLA) as the entity specifically charged with chemicals management.

“In many countries, issues of chemicals are handled by environmental experts. But here in Tanzania, the management of chemicals is done by the chemists, who are the right professionals,” added Prof Manyele.

Africa

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