Posts tagged as: environment

Pastor Kakande Defies Bamugemereire Led Commission On Nema Permit

By Christopher Kisekka & Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa

Masaka — City Pastor Samuel Kakande has declined to submit the Environment Impart Assessment (EIA) permit to the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema) as directed by the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s – led commission of inquiry, Daily Monitor has established.

While closing the public hearing on land maters in Masaka on October 6, Justice Bamugemereire directed Pastor Kakande of Synagogue Church of All Nations, who personally appeared before the commission, to return his EIA permit to Nema for cancellation after violating certain laws.

Mr Kakande had been given an ultimatum of October 10, 2017 to fulfil this requirement which he failed to comply with.

According to records before the Commission, Mr Kakande under his Aqua World Uganda Ltd owns over 40 square miles of land along the shores of Lake Victoria in Masaka, part of which has wetlands and forests which have been greatly depleted.

Justice Bamugemereire had also directed Mr Kakande to immediately halt farming activities in the area, remove all his graders and excavators, surrender copies of his audited books of accounts, copies of his company annual tax returns to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) among other vital documents to the commission to allow it investigate alleged fraud in acquisition of land in the area.

Mr Kakande was also directed to appear before Masaka District environment authorities in person since they complained that he was elusive and had earlier turned down their summons.

According to Ms Noami Karekaho, the Nema spokesperson, the Authority has not yet received the permit from ‘the man of God.’

“Pr Kakande has obstinately refused to return that permit even after writing to him, we thought that he would bring it as the commission directed, but he is still dilly-dallying, I think the law should now take its course, ” Ms Karekaho said during a telephone interview last weekend .

Ms Karekaho told Daily Monitor that Nema had warned Mr Kakande after discovering that he had failed to adhere to the set terms before he was granted the permit to grow palm oil ,but he kept a deaf ear.

“During our investigations we discovered that Pastor Kakande had violated the EIA when he carried out rice growing, instead of palm oil, we terminated his permit, but continued with his activities” Ms Karekaho added.

But Mr Mathias Kintu, the coordinator of Pastor Kakande’s projects in Masaka, said they had complied with everything Justice Bamugemereire’s commission asked for but insisted that it was pointless to return an EIA permit to Nema yet it had already been cancelled.

“Nema has the powers to cancel permits and once they do it then the document becomes as good as useless. Let them write to us informing us that our permit was cancelled,” Mr Kintu said.

However, Ms Karekaho noted that it is a requirement to return the permit to Nema as someone may wrongly continue to use it.

She further revealed to Daily Monitor that after asking Mr Kankande to return the said permit, he instead submitted new terms of reference applying to grow rice.

“We told him that we cannot grant him a new permit unless when he has returned the one that was cancelled,” she added.

The commission of inquiry into land maters is still investigating circumstances under which the pastor acquired over 40 square miles off the shores of Lake Victoria. Mr Kakande has since accepted to cooperate. Information before the commission indicates that Ms Noeline Ndagire , a secretary to Mr Kakande purchased 150 hectares of land from Masaka District land board at only Shs250,000 on September 30, 2014 , which she later sold to Mr Kakande at over Shs70 million which the commission found irregular.

Another questionable land deal was that of 235 hectares in Buwunga Sub -county in Masaka District which was allocated to the deputy Chief of Defense Forces, Lt. Gen Wilson Mbadi at Shs200,000 which the latter also reportedly sold to Pastor Kakande at Shs80million after a few days. This implies that Pr Kakande purchased each acre of land from Gen Mbadi at Shs851, which the commission found to be irregular.

He told the commission that though the land is registered in his names, it will soon be transferred in the names of Synagogue Church of Nations, which he heads, insisting that the property belongs to his followers.

Africa:Food for Thoughtful Health

By Doaa Abdel-Motaal

Oxford, United Kingdom — Milk and cookies, macaroni and cheese, fish and chips. Some foods seem to match perfectly together to the point where one can’t go without the other. Food and health, while maybe not as catchy, should be viewed in the same light. Without good food it is hard to maintain good health; without good food growing practices it is difficult to maintain a healthy planet.

It is hard to believe that in 2017, with all the advancements made in agriculture and the food industry, many people around the world still do not have enough to eat. This is a tragedy. There is more than enough food produced to feed everyone, yet according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 800 million people suffer from hunger and more than 2 billion from micronutrient deficiencies.

This will only get worse as the world population is expected to reach over 9 billion by 2050. Conflict, and with it the displacement and migration of people, further compound the food security and nutrition equation. In 2017 alone a number of crises have made millions worldwide severely food insecure.

On the flip side, there are many people going to bed too full across the globe: an estimated 40% of adults and millions of children worldwide are overweight.

We are witnessing an overconsumption of food often coupled with a lower nutritional quality. This is having a major impact on obesity, heart disease and other issues, and is no doubt adding to the looming heath crisis. Obesity tends to affect poorer populations more, suggesting that the issue is not only the availability of food, but the type of food available.

It is becoming increasingly clear that food systems, and diets, are not sustainable. What is urgently needed is a holistic approach to address food and health as well as sustainability along the entire food chain

We are also losing many of the traditional diets found throughout the world in favour of less sustainable diets. Developing countries are moving away from traditional diets high in cereal, green vegetables and fiber to more Western style diets that are high in sugars, fat and animal-source food. This is not only bad for human health, but potentially catastrophic for the environment.

A look at livestock alone and its contribution to climate change demonstrates this point. According to the FAO, the sector emits 7 gigatons of CO2 equivalent every year, representing around 14 percent of all human-induced emissions. Planetary boundaries may well be surpassed if current trends continue. Also, it takes ten times more water and twenty times more energy to produce one kilogram of wheat as it does to produce the same weight of beef, and at present three quarters of the world’s wheat is grown to feed livestock.

And while certain agricultural practices contribute to climate change, climate change is also likely to have a serious impact on our food security. Climate models indicate that while rising temperatures may have a beneficial effect on crops in temperate areas, tropical areas may experience a significant reduction in their crop productivity in the long term.

Equally serious will be the impact of climate change on the nutritional content of key crops which could put hundreds of millions of people at risk of vitamin deficiencies. Studies show that higher CO2 levels significantly reduce the levels of the essential nutrients iron and zinc, as well as protein, in such staple crops as wheat, rice, maize and soybeans.

While these crops are relatively low in iron and zinc compared to meat, in poorer societies where meat is not consumed as much as in wealthier nations, they remain a major source of the nutrients needed for children to grow and to develop.

And then there is the waste. Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted, with fruits and vegetables having the highest wastage rates of any food, says the FAO. This waste amounts to roughly $680 billion in industrialized countries and $310 billion in developing countries. If we are going to meeting Goal 12 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals – to reduce global food waste in half by 2030 – much more needs to be done.

This World Food Day, we have to acknowledge the multiple problems that exist within our food systems and that nutritional problems are escalating. It is becoming increasingly clear that food systems, and diets, are not sustainable. What is urgently needed is a holistic approach to address food and health as well as sustainability along the entire food chain. Awareness raising on what a healthy diet means is also key.

Through the newly established Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health at the Oxford Martin School, we will continue to find solutions to health risks posed by poor stewardship of the planet. In an era of global environmental change, the food-health connection must be made central to any such investigation.

Over the next 18 months, the Economic Council – made up of world leaders from government, international organizations, civil society, business, finance and academia – will bridge knowledge gaps on the links between economic development, natural systems and human health to compel collaboration across disciplines and coordinated action to address the complex challenges of the 21st century. A century where the food and health connection will need to be viewed inseparably, like an order of fish and chips.

This article is part of a series of stories and op-eds launched by IPS on the occasion of this year’s World Food Day on October 16.

Zimbabwe:Farmers Rue Poor Practices

By Jeffrey Gogo Climate Story

When farmer David Nyamadzawo left Dande in 2005 he was looking for land with a bit more rain – and a lot less heat. After ten years wandering, he found that his new home at Wormwood farm, Concession, offered more than just rain – the soils could still hold water, rivers flowed perennially and trees still stood, thanks to the prudent farming practices of previous farm owners.

“Dande was simply very dry,” the 73-year old, a 5-hectare plot beneficiary of the Zimbabwe government land reform programmes, told The Herald Business.

“It (Dande) never rained enough. The soils were tired and the rivers dried up as quickly as they filled up. They had too much sand (sitting at the bottom).”

In the desperate search for moisture, communal farmers in Dande – a low-rainfall district in the country’s north-east – have invaded river banks, as livestock scrounge for pastures scorched away by the hot, dry conditions, Nyamadzawo said.

As farmers clear out key vegetation such as grass and trees along rivers to make way for growing crops, eventually the soil becomes loose, easily washed away by rainwater and into the river. Now, such rudimentary farming practices are widespread, and together with over-grazing are some of the biggest causes of soil erosion and land degradation, say experts.

Soil erosion represents a downward spiral of degradation of the land – soil erodes, which means less fertile soil, which means plants grow less vigorously, which means less ground cover, which then means more erosion etc. On and on it goes. In Zimbabwe, the equivalent of 58 000 square kilometres of soil -about 64 times the size of Harare – are susceptible to erosion, particularly in the areas where shallow Kalahari soils dominate, according to environment regulator EMA. The worst affected river catchments are Save, Umzingwane, and Sanyati, it says.

Lost water

“The effects of soil erosion go beyond the loss of fertile land. It has led to increased pollution and sedimentation in streams and rivers, clogging these waterways and causing declines in fish and other species as well as hydrological droughts,” the Environmental Management Agency says in an article on its website.

What Nyamadzawo, the Concession farmer, refers to as rivers having “too much sand” is as a matter of fact a process called siltation. When rain falls it washes away that fine top-soil, as it runs off, depositing it into rivers and dams. Top-soil is very useful for agriculture, and for vegetation growth (which holds the soil together to prevent erosion). But when in the river, sand washed off from bad farming practices such like stream-bank cultivation steadily fills up the water body to hasten its demise.

“The problem is the loss of soil that all this reflects. Hundred and fifty years ago nearly all the water would have sunk into the ground where the rain falls feeding grasses and trees and then feeding underground water which in turn fed streams and rivers with clean water,” said John Wilson, a Harare agro-ecology expert, in a past interview.

At Lake Chivero, a key source of drinking water for Harare, and irrigation for farmers on the outskirts of the capital, the damage caused by siltation is already evident. According to EMA, the lake’s capacity has shrunk one fifth in the last 60 years. Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri, who has headed the Environment Ministry before the October 9 Cabinet reshuffle, has previously cited the biggest causes of siltation as stream-bank cultivation, deforestation, alluvial mining, settling on wetlands and poor land management. Mazowe, Umzingwane, Runde and Gwayi dams are affected the most, she said.

Switch to contours

And as soil runs away into water bodies, communal farmers have been left ruing poor agricultural practices that not only drag farm output but also hurt nature.

“It will be very important for rural farmers to be informed of the long-term impacts of bad farming practices on food production and on the land,” cautioned Nyamadzawo.

On the average, soil erosion in Zimbabwe washes away 1, 6 million tonnes of nitrogen every year, 15,6 million tonnes of organic matter and 0,24 million tonnes of phosphorus, say experts. On this basis, arable lands alone lose 17,8 million tonnes of soil nutrients each year due to erosion, they say. Much of this damage was occurring in resettled areas, Mr Rukoza, an expert with the Ministry of Agriculture, told a ZTV farming programme on July 11.

He blamed a lack of contour ridges in the resettlement areas as the single largest driver of soil erosion. Contours are a practice in farming designed to prevent runoff from wandering aimlessly, taking with it treasured top soil. They are built with soil across fields contrary to the slope, running between 250 and 400 metres in length depending on soil type, and height of up to 20cm, creating ridges that help channel water away without chaos.

“Farmers are encouraged to build contours, together with storm drains and water runways to prevent water runoff from washing away soils,” Rukoza advised.

Erosion means water lost, said Wilson, the agro-ecologist. “There doesn’t need to be run-off water except off very hard surfaces like rocks and roads and roofs etc,” he told this publication.

“Water in the ground is a positive force. Water running off above the ground is a negative force, as simple as that. All our practices should be geared towards getting water into the ground.”

Tanzania:Fears Mount Over Hospital Waste Disposal Near Human Settlements

By Bernard James

Mkuranga — A hospital waste incinerator is the centre of a scandal with far-reaching environmental and public health consequences facing some 4, 000 residents of Dundani Village in Mkuranga District, Coast Region.

The incinerator, which The Citizen learnt was installed before an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted, has exposed the residents to extreme health and environmental hazards caused by heavy smoke and a chocking smell produced by the plant.

The facility – known as ‘Safe Waste Incinerator’ – has been used in burning hundreds of tonnes of medical waste.

This state of affairs is enough to instill fear in the wellbeing of the local community.

Earlier on, not many locals sensed the possible danger of toxic emissions being spewed out of the incinerator. But that sense of safety vanished when the facility – which is located in a relatively densely-populated residential area, public places and natural environs – started incinerating massive medical waste.

Apparently, the place on which the incinerator was built between 2013 and 2014 was unpopulated when its owner acquired the land for the project.

But, the situation changed over time, and the facility is today slap-bang in the midst of residential houses, whose residents are now up in arms in protest against the adverse effects of the incinerator’s operations.

The current situation has put political leaders and public health officials in Mkuranga District under pressure to act in efforts to minimize possible damage to the environment, and harm to the health of the surrounding communities.

“The heavy, smelly smoke produced by the burning of hospital waste in this area is putting us all in a very difficult situation. It is very irritating; it smells like burning (human) bodies, or noxious toxins… It is really difficult to exactly describe thetype of smell which we inhale,” complained a Dundani villager, Mbarka Salumu.

Mr Salumu claimed his family almost incessantly suffers from bouts of flu, coughs and severe fever, strongly believing that the contagions are the effects of the smoke billowing out of the incinerator’s chimney.

The National Environment Management Council (NEMC) says it has not received official or formal complaints about the alleged toxic emissions.

“We received the information only a few days ago – and we are now preparing to visit and inspect the facility. We can only draw conclusions after visiting the site and inspecting the facility,” said senior NEMC official Alfred Msokwa.

Hinting that the Mkuranga District authorities had actually cleared construction of the incinerator at its current location, Mr Msoka said that they did this without first conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the project.

“District councils permit such sensitive facilities to be installed and operated in their efforts to boost revenues – but they sometimes overlook safety and other issues concerning the environment and public health. They approve environmentally-sensitive projects at the local level – and, thereafter, fail to effectively monitor them,” Mr Msokwa explains.

A top official of the company operating the incinerator, who asked not to be named for not being the official spokesperson, said the concerns raised by Dundani residents and local leaders were ‘normal challenges facing businesses.’

“We have received calls from several people in Mkuranga who want us to surrender our documents. We have written to them to seek an appropriate time to sit with all responsible authorities to respond to their concerns,” said the official.

The Mkuranga incinerator does not operate daily, but when it does, the huge choking smoke produced by its operation does indeed spread far and wide into houses and open spaces.

Another resident of Dundani Village, Saidi Mnage, a petty trader has also complained that the choking smoke from the incinerator cannot be a good thing for humans and the environment.

“The emission is chocking and smells like toxic chemicals. When we ask them about it, they tell us that they are burning expired medicines! However, we don’t really know what exactly is being burnt,” Mr Mnage laments. He claims to have seen lorries coming to the incinerator under the escort of uniformed police officers to offload what could very well be expired medicines which are then burnt at night.

Dundani residents want the facility to be relocated soonest – or the chimney be elongated well into the sky.

“We are still in the dark about when this misery will end as the pollution continues relentlessly to adversely affect us as days go by,” says Mr Mnage.

Worries of health complications

The nuisance and possible health effects that could be caused by the Mkuranga incinerator were also raised by women living close to the incinerator.

“Our frustration is that the facility emits highly irritating smell. It affects pregnant women badly. Sometimes my husband buys fresh fish that we prepare for consumption. But, when it comes to eating the meal, we sometimes are unable to do so because of loss of appetite as a result of the smoke,” says one pregnant woman whose identity is withheld.

Her view was echoed by another woman, Najma Saidi. “The irritation caused by this installation is unbearable. You may prepare your food but fail to eat it because the smell that comes from that incinerator is too irritating. Now that you have come here, please go back and report about the misery we are subjected to – that the situation here is not good; it is intolerable,” Ms Saidi stated.

Students also affected

Students of Dundani Secondary School routinely complain of breathing difficulties and other irritating inconveniences caused by fumes from the incinerator.

“This situation causes us difficulties in breathing. Sometimes we fail to study in class. Once the smoke comes our way, the classrooms become inhabitable because of the swirling smoke,” says Form IV student Saidi Sadi.

Another Sudent Zuwena Salim adds: “When the smoke comes in all of us, teachers and students, are forced to exit our classrooms. It is like they are burning rotten stuff out there… “

Authorities speak out

The Assistant Health Officer for Mkuranga Ward, MrJuma Shari, said the residents became aware of the situation after a Dundani Secondary School teacher, Mr Saidi Hemedi, called to notify the ward authorities of the choking smoke from the incinerator that was adversely affecting teachers and students.

“In light of that information, we visited the area and personally witnessed how the ugly smoke was affecting the school community and residents in the area,” Mr Shari said.

The Citizen also witnessed a huge quantity of burnt hospital waste being taken from the incinerator and dumped at unauthorized sites in Mkuranga.

Lack of an ash pit for the burned waste has also been cited as a serious shortcoming at the plant.

The councilor for Mkuranga Ward, Mr Hamisi Abdallah, admitted that Dundani residents had complained to him about the irritation they were subjected to when the incinerator was operating.

“Initially, I sent my officers there to assess the situation – and the feedback was that the situation was indeed adversely affecting people in the area.

“My fear is that these people are dumping remains of burnt hospital waste in unauthorized areas within Mkuranga,” the councilor stated.

Why the proper authorities have not acted on the issue despite the endless complaints remains a difficult question whose answer Dundani residents are begging for.

The acting Mkuranga Ward Executive Officer, Mr Juma Difa, said they have requested the environment department of the Mkuranga District Council to inspect the facility and establish if it indeed meets the statutorily laid-down standards. “It is a serious problem. The incineration area is in the lowlands while the school and residential houses are on higher ground. So, when the incinerator is switched on, plumes of smoke easily spread around,” says the local leader.

He accuses the owner of the facility and his supervisor of not cooperating with the authorities. The Headteacher of Dundani Secondary School, Mr Saidi Hemed, says the school is one of the areas that are adversely affected by the choking, smelly fumes caused by the incinerator.

“It is true that this factory is causing us all problems. Students are not comfortable in class when the incinerator is in operation – and they try to cover their noses with pieces of cloth; but it doesn’t help,” he says. He revealed that his school was already in the area and was operating long before the incineration facility was constructed.

Six Killed as South Sudanese Gunmen Attack School

Five students and a security guard were shot dead early Saturday morning at a secondary school in Turkana County in northwestern Kenya.

Confirming the incident, Turkana County Commissioner Seif Matata said one of the attackers was a student at the Lokichogio Mixed Secondary School who had been suspended due to indiscipline.

The attack, according to the county chief, occurred between 3:30am and 4am.

“Several students were injured. We cannot confirm the number until we liaise with the hospital,” Mr Matata told journalists in Lodwar town, the county’s capital, before leaving for the school, which is about 200 kilometres from the Kenya-South Sudan border.

“The preliminary information we have is that this attack was carried out by a student of the school in the company of other unknown people,” he said.

The student was only identified as Abraham and, according to Mr Matata, is from the Toposa tribe of South Sudan.

The student is said to have issued threats to his teachers and fellow learners after he was kicked out of school.

Girls injured

“He was heard telling fellow students that he is going to burn the school or he will come back and avenge because of the suspension,” the county chief said.

The student is said to have gone to the school with about three other people in the wee hours Saturday and shot dead the security guard.

“(They) proceeded to the boys’ dormitory where they targeted particular students whom they thought were behind his suspension,” Mr Matata said.

The administrator said the gunmen shot the students before moving to the girls’ dormitory where they injured several others.

“We are appealing to everybody to remain calm while the police do the investigation and apprehend the culprits,” said Mr Matata.

Kenya

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20 Arrested For Violating Plastic Ban Order

By Hilary Kimuyu

The National Environment and Management Authority (NEMA) on Friday said they have so far arrested 20 people for violating plastic bag ban order.

During a press briefing at their offices, the authority said most affected counties include Nairobi, Mombasa, Bomet, Marsabit and Embu.

NEMA Director General Geoffrey Wahungu said two days ago they arrested 12 people in Bomet, 11 in Mombasa and three in Embu. Arrests have also been reported in Marsabit and in Nairobi.

ARRESTED

“We did manage to arrest a manufacturer who was manufacturing flat bags at 3am in the morning. Our officers have arrested many individuals and cautioned them to comply with the ban,” said Wahungu.

Any person who contravenes the provision of the gazette notice shall be liable to a fine of not less than Sh2 million and not more than Sh4 million, or imprisonment of a term of not less than one year but not more than four years or to both.

On February 28, the Environment Cabinet Secretary Judi Wakhungu announced the ban on the use, manufacturing and importation of plastic bags.

Kenya

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Mauritius: Workshop Focuses On Mitigation Actions for Gas and Fuel Emissions

press release

A two-day sub-regional workshop focusing on cleaner and more energy efficient vehicle strategies for Mauritius and the Southern Africa regions, kicked off this morning at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel in Balaclava in the presence of the Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Mr Etienne Sinatambou, the Minister of Public Infrastructure and Land Transport, Mr Nandcoomar Bodha, and other eminent personalities.

In his address, Minister Sinatambou underlined that the protection of environment stands high on Government’s agenda and relentless efforts are being made to tackle the pressing challenges of pollution and climate change in Mauritius.

He highlighted that over a decade, the increase in the number of motor vehicles has led to a rise of 30% in fuel consumption. Greenhouse gas emissions are being fuelled to a large extent by the transport sector and this alarming situation needs to be rectified, he stressed.

On that score, Minister Sinatambou recalled that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions, submitted to the United Nation Conference on Climate Change held in Paris in 2015, signifies Mauritius’s intention to increase green energy to 35% by 2035. It is therefore vital to come up with mitigation strategies and action plans to achieve a cleaner, greener and safer Mauritius, he reiterated.

For his part, Minister Bodha underscored Government’s objective to provide a modern and safe land transport mobility of people by adopting more energy-efficient vehicle strategies. Speaking of the Metro Express project, he emphasised that the light rail system is much more sustainable and environment friendly compared to other means of transport.

The Workshop

Some 80 local and international delegates are attending the workshop on Promoting Cleaner, more Energy efficient Vehicle Strategies. The main objective of this forum is to address the causes of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption by the transport sector. It will also provide a platform for the participants to share their knowledge and expertise in order to come up with a regional fuel economy roadmap.

It will be facilitated by resource persons from the United Nations Environment, the Southern African development Community, the East African Community amongst others. The workshop forms part of the Global Fuel Economy Initiative project which is funded by the European Union and the Global Environment Facility. The aim of this project is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel use by at least 50% by 2050.

Mauritius

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Nigeria: Oluwatayo – Mental Health Issues Can Impair Performance At Work

By Martins Ifijeh

As part of efforts to create awareness on the consequences of mental health issues on Nigerians and the economy, a mental health expert and the Chief Executive Officer, The Retreat Healthcare, Dr. Olufemi Oluwatayo, has called on the citizens to avoid factors that cause mental health issues.

He said mental health in a workplace was one of the challenges affecting the productivity of a society, hence the need to tackle it.

Stating this in a message to mark this year’s Mental Health Day, the Consultant Psychiatrist, said while most Nigerians spend significant parts of their lifetime at work in order to add more meaning to their lives and improve their self esteem, the work itself and the environment where it takes place can have a negative impact on the people if not managed properly.

“Employees suffering from mental health issues are likely to have impaired work output. This is therefore in the interest of the employer to support them to recover as soon as possible and to provide a workplace that foster mental well-being.

“In Nigeria, there are no data on financial losses to businesses resulting from poor mental health of employees. Estimates from the UK indicate that up to £70 billion pounds is lost annually due to mental ill health and reduced productivity of employees with up to 20 per cent of the workforce taking on average, one day off annually because of stress and other mental health related issues.”

He said it was obvious that poor mental health of individual employees has significant repercussions for businesses including poor motivation, increased staff turnover, sickness, absence due to stress, burnout and exhaustion.

For employers of labour and organisations to provide enabling working environment for their employees and help them deal with mental health issues, the Psychiatrist said awareness represents the starting point, such that employers recognise that they have a responsibility to their employees, some of which are statutory.

“The workplace must be an environment that challenge, support and help develop a sense of purpose of the employees. A mentally healthy workplace is built on good basic line management relationships, clear human relations policies and engagement of staff in decision making.

“There should be a clear grievance process and ways of seeking redress when things go wrong. When employees have a mental disorder and it is disclosed, employers must keep the information confidential and the employee should be supported to return to work after recovery with reasonable adjustments made to their job if necessary and/or be allowed to return in a graded fashion or be placed in less demanding and more appropriate roles within the organisation. There should be access to stress management courses, occupational health services and to mental health specialists, preferably outsourced,” Oluwatayo stated.

On the employees’ part, he said they are under no obligation to disclose a mental disorder to their employers except on some positions that for instance involve having contacts with vulnerable people.

He said, however, it would be impossible for the employers to provide support if nothing is disclosed. “This is obviously a very sensitive issue in our society with potential adverse outcomes including loss of job and inappropriate use of the disclosed information. This is further compounded by the general culture of silence in our society when it comes to talking about mental health issues or how it impacts us.”

World Mental Health Day is commemorated every year on October 10. The Retreat, Nigeria’s first privately-owned mental health facility, joined health stakeholders in marking the day through awareness programmes.

Malawi:Environmental Degradation Affecting Fish Farming in Zomba

By Synd Kalimbuka

Zomba — Fish farmers from Sub Traditional Authority Nkapita in Zomba have expressed concern of the early drying up of rivers which has affected supply of water to their fish ponds.

One of the fish farmers from Group village head Nkasala, Bakali Malosa said the drying up of rivers is as a result of degradation in most river banks.

“Our ponds are not surviving because rivers are not supplying enough water throughout the year as it was used to be some years back, ” Malosa said.

He said this is forcing many people to quit fish farming.

Malosa added that previously, rivers in the area could supply water for fish farming and irrigation farming throughout the year, but things are not the same nowadays.

He further said because of this early drying up of fish ponds, farmers are forced to harvest their fish before October.

“Such a situation is not good because we may end up losing some of the fish species,” Malosa said.

He called for the need to restore the environment mainly along the river banks to reverse the situation.

“We need to check our river banks, restore the degraded resources to get our rivers back to the normal way of supplying water throughout the year.”

In a separate interview, a forestry official for the area Aida Moffat acknowledged the problem but was quick to say that efforts to reverse the situation are in place.

“We are engaging community members in restoring natural resources to minimize exposure of the rivers to sunlight,” Moffat said.

She further said that department of forestry formulated committees in each village to conduct patrols in Zomba Mountain forest which is source of all rivers in the area.

Moffat hailed organizations such as United Purpose, Shire River Basin Management Project and the Zomba Forestry Department for the support they render to communities towards environmental conservation.

Nkapita area and the whole of Zomba district face threats of environmental degradation due to rampant illegal charcoal production.

Malawi

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Malawi: Environmental Degradation Affecting Fish Farming in Zomba

By Synd Kalimbuka

Zomba — Fish farmers from Sub Traditional Authority Nkapita in Zomba have expressed concern of the early drying up of rivers which has affected supply of water to their fish ponds.

One of the fish farmers from Group village head Nkasala, Bakali Malosa said the drying up of rivers is as a result of degradation in most river banks.

“Our ponds are not surviving because rivers are not supplying enough water throughout the year as it was used to be some years back, ” Malosa said.

He said this is forcing many people to quit fish farming.

Malosa added that previously, rivers in the area could supply water for fish farming and irrigation farming throughout the year, but things are not the same nowadays.

He further said because of this early drying up of fish ponds, farmers are forced to harvest their fish before October.

“Such a situation is not good because we may end up losing some of the fish species,” Malosa said.

He called for the need to restore the environment mainly along the river banks to reverse the situation.

“We need to check our river banks, restore the degraded resources to get our rivers back to the normal way of supplying water throughout the year.”

In a separate interview, a forestry official for the area Aida Moffat acknowledged the problem but was quick to say that efforts to reverse the situation are in place.

“We are engaging community members in restoring natural resources to minimize exposure of the rivers to sunlight,” Moffat said.

She further said that department of forestry formulated committees in each village to conduct patrols in Zomba Mountain forest which is source of all rivers in the area.

Moffat hailed organizations such as United Purpose, Shire River Basin Management Project and the Zomba Forestry Department for the support they render to communities towards environmental conservation.

Nkapita area and the whole of Zomba district face threats of environmental degradation due to rampant illegal charcoal production.

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