Posts tagged as: river

Nigeria:Obasanjo, IG to Inaugurate Abuja’s Upscale River Park Estate

In its determination to bridge the housing deficit across the country, beginning with the nation’s capital, Abuja, River Park Estate will on Monday unveil its range of innovative houses.

The houses, spanning across 501 hectares of land, and grouped into five clusters, with all being developed simultaneously, would be inaugurated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The event which is scheduled to hold at River Park Estate will also host the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, who will unveil the state of the art police station in the estate.

A statement by the Chairman of River Park Estate, Paul Odili, noted that, “River Park Estate is an exclusive community carefully designed for upper-middle class income earners who desire unique luxury in a serene environment with easy accessibility to major areas in the city.”

Other unique features of the Estate, according to Adrian Ogun, the Vice Chairman, include – A police station, asphalt surfaced road network with functioning street lights, underground drainage system, constant water supply and general electrification as well as a nine-hole members’ golf course.”

Continuing, Adrian also mentioned the established of a fully stocked health clinic and a nursery and primary school all in operation.

Nigeria

How I Will Spend My U.S.$250,000 World Food Prize Money – Adesina

Nigeria’s image received a boost on Thursday before the international community as former Agriculture Minister Akinwumi… Read more »

South Africa:Minister Nomvula Mokonyane – Sand River Mining Consultative Workshop With Traditional Leaders

press release

Address by Ms. Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water and Sanitation at the Sand River Mining Consultative Workshop with traditional leaders at Karridene Protea Hotel, Illovo, KwaZulu-Natal Province

Introduction

South Africa is a water scarce country, with very high variability and unpredictability in water availability. The rainfall is highly variable and is characterised by incidences of extreme weather conditions leading to drought and flooding.

As a result, the water management context of this is driven by these prevailing conditions, which has led to a demand for water exceeding the supply by a large margin. To this end, water conservation and water demand management become central in mitigating these conditions.

Water is a precious resource in South Africa and is fundamental to our quality of life. An adequate water supply of suitable quantity and quality makes a major contribution to economic and social development. To achieve this, healthy water ecosystems are imperative to sustain the water resource, which, in turn, provide the goods and services on which communities depend.

Legislative imperatives

The Constitution, which is the cornerstone of the democracy in South Africa, lays the foundation of a more just and equitable society. It guarantees everyone the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing, the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures, the right of access to water, amongst others.

The Department considers fresh water aquatic ecosystems to be the base from which the water resource is derived. Fresh water ecosystems must be effectively protected and managed to ensure that our water resources remain fit for the different water uses on a sustained basis.

The National Water Act, seeks to ensure that the country’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner for the benefit of all people. The Act assigns the national government as the public trustee of the water resources. Acting through the Minister, it has the power to regulate the allocation, use, flow and control of all water in the Republic.

To ensure that our citizens abide by the rules, we have a dedicated team for compliance, monitoring and enforcement to assist in bringing water users into compliance.

The department however has over 50 000 lawful water users which in itself is a significant amount of users to monitor and we need the help of communities to support our monitoring work.

Concerted efforts of compliance, monitoring and enforcement together with our vigilant community members and action groups will see a reduction in unlawful water use as well as adherence to water use authorisation conditions.

The department therefore seeks to safeguard:

the promotion of the rule of law and good governance;

the ensuring of fairness;

the strengthening of the credibility of environmental requirements;

the protection of the goods and services provided to a society by a well-functioning ecosystem;

the protection of public health;

the increase of investor confidence by reducing business risks.

Impacts of sand river mining

Most sand mines impact on characteristics of watercourses, namely the flow -(surface flow, interflow, ground-water flow), water quality, ecological connectivity, aesthetics, natural scenery and recreational use. Furthermore it impacts on air quality (silica dust).

Sand mining also impacts on ground water flows, availability and recharge that can further impact upon riparian habitat.

Typical impacts include extraction of bed material in excess of replenishment. A change in the slope of the river comes about as a result and this often increases water speed (flow-energy and flow-sediment equilibrium);

In addition, the river becomes degraded/eroded with accompanying bank collapses, reduced bank storage under flooding conditions, habitat destruction, destruction of fish populations, erosion around infrastructure like bridge foundations, weirs, pump structures.

Ecological degradation cannot be permitted. Sand mining must be sustainable.

Challenges within provinces:

The issue of a Mining Permit or Mining Right in the absence of a water use authorisation is a serious challenge. There needs to be alignment in the authorisation processes of the two departments, namely, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

Some of the issued directives have been challenged at court by the sand miners, claiming that they have a mining permit or a mining right.

The department has encountered a challenge of resistance in different forms from the regulated community, which has caused difficulties in the department’s monitoring programmes and has, at times, threatened the safety of officials.

In November 2014 there was a violent protest by community members – carrying weapons and burning tyres – against the officials while they were conducting the monitoring function in one of the river systems in KwaZulu-Natal.

Some officials have been threatened by gun-carrying mining operators and told not to return to site. This may be due to lack of jobs; and lack of understanding of the direct impacts this may have on the community such as disturbed water supply, pollution and accidents to cattle and even children in the community.

Another challenge faced in KwaZulu-Natal is that some traditional leaders give permission to the sand miners to undertake sand mining activities in the river without obtaining the necessary environmental authorisations.

Proper Identity of the individuals or companies undertaking unlawful water use through sand mining is also a challenge as the miners on site either give false names or give the name branded on hired machinery that is incorrect;

And at times, they move from site to site within days as they have no legal mining permits and water use authorisation which would clearly identify the permitted location and company name. This makes it very difficult to identify them.

There is an Increase in the number of cases of unlawful water use through sand mining. Even though the department has noticed very few cases of sand miners that actually stop the illegal activity to comply with the issued notice, many do not stop and instead new operations and companies are discovered each time.

There is delay in prosecuting the offenders which have criminal charges laid against them by the department. The challenge has been at times the South African Police Service misplacing the docket or putting incorrect charges on the charge sheet; and at times, deciding on a small fine without the matter being heard at court.

Objectives of the consultation with traditional leaders:

Today’s interaction and consultation with the traditional leadership is intended to:

Ensure an improved understanding of the impacts of sand mining and gravel extraction operations,

Ensure that there is a good relationship between Traditional Leaders and the department, that will ensure that sand and gravel are mined in a sustainable way,

Ask Traditional Leaders to work with the department on identifying illegal sand mining and reporting transgressors,

Ask the participation of Traditional Leaders on a door-to-door awareness campaign in affected communities; as well as other awareness activities in communities

Conclusion

As a country, we need, to proactively root out unlawful water use, non-compliance to water use authorisation, water losses, leaks and to further mitigate against climatic changes that are largely beyond our control.

Abiding by the law and authorisations will assist in achieving our vision of equitable and sustainable water and sanitation that support socio-economic growth and development for the well-being of current and future generations.

We, therefore, then, ask our Traditional Leaders and local government to join hands with the department in addressing unlawful activities in our rivers.

Dankie

Ngiyabonga

Issued by: Department of Water and Sanitation

Nigeria:Govt Absolves Military On Rumoured Monkey Pox Vaccination

By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah

Abuja — The federal government has dismissed reports that the military was carrying out vaccination in some states and spreading Monkey pox in the areas.

This was disclosed by the minister of health, Isaac Adewole after the Federal executive council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.

Adewole, who stated that the military is not involved in any vaccination exercise, added that the federal government cannot carry out any vaccination exercise without collaborating with state governments.

According to him, the federal government was only carrying out vaccination campaigns in Kwara and Kogi states on Yellow Fever and Cholera diseases in Borno State.

He said “It is also important to use this opportunity to dispel the rumour circulating in the country that the military is vaccinating people and trying to spread monkey pox across the country.

“The military is not involved in any vaccination exercise and I must also really educate the Nigeria people about how vaccination campaigns are done. Federal will take the lead but we do not conduct campaign without working states.

So, there is no way we will do campaign for without working with the states and it is the state that will be in front and we provide support. The rumour that federal is vaccination campaign is not true. And as of today, we are only doing vaccination campaign in three states.

“We are doing vaccination campaign against yellow fever in Kwara and Kogi because of yellow fever outbreak in some parts of the country.

“We are also doing cholera vaccination in Born state and so anybody carrying the rumour, please help us educate Nigerians that it is not true, we are not vaccinating anybody, we plan to do missiles campaign very soon and we will also do yellow fever before the end of the year and we will let you know.

“You will never find Federal staff conducting vaccination campaign without the support and active participation of the state ministry of health, this is just to correct the misconception.”

“With respect to what the military is doing, I spoke about vaccination and not about military campaign. The military as part of a campaign of winning over the heart and soul of the people will get engaged in several things.

“In the past, the military was noted of even constructed roads, the military will do outreaches, measure blood pressure, talk to people. These are normal things, I referred only to vaccination. We had to request for the assistance of the military in Borno state to reach inaccessible area with respect to the polio campaign so we have worked with the military in the past and we will continue to work with them.

“There are doctors in the military, there are nurses and when you go abroad, some of the best institutions abroad are those ones managed by the military. So we cannot disown the military. But what I want to put across is that the military is not involved in any vaccination.

He also disclosed that Monkey Pox has spread to 11 states with 74 suspected cases being examined.

He listed the 11 states ravaged by the disease as Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa and Rivers.

He also said 12 of the suspected cases in Bayelsa State tested negative while three of them tested positive and that further tests are ongoing to identify the true nature of the disease.

“Council also received an update of the public health of the nation. We informed Council about the latest development with respect to the Monkey Pod virus outbreak. So far, as of today, there are 74 suspected cases in 11 states of the country.

“We have confirmed three in Bayelsa state, and 12 of the Bayelsa suspected cases from Bayelsahi tested negative, four suspected cases from Lagos tested negative. We are still expecting the results of other ones.

“We are also doing advance test in NEDE, that is the African Centre of Excellence for Genomes and Infections Disease to really understand the genomes of this virus. Even when they are negative, the laboratory attendance should be able to tell us what exactly they are. We will also be able to locate and identify the origin so that we can take adequate precaution,” he added.

On his part minister for water resources, Suleiman Adamu said FEC approved N280 million for the completion of an irrigation project started since 1997.

“One Memo from my ministry was considered today as part of our efforts to improve the hethrege for irrigation, we have been committing ourselves to completing many of the irrigation projects we inherited in the past two years. One of such is the Softcare irrigation project.

“This is a project that started as far back as 1997 during the PTF days but was abandoned and then reawarded in 2009, completed 95 percent by 2012 and again abandoned. When we came into office, I commissioned a technical audit of all the ongoing project and n the ministry and because of the status of that project having attained 95 percent completion.

“It became a priority project because it was a low hanging fruit for us to complete. Unfortunately, when the contractor was mobilised to site, we found out that a lot of component of the irrigation project had been vandalized and for us to be able to put that project into effective use.

“We now have to do a lot of rehabilitation works and we therefore brought a memo seeking Council to give us an augmentation of about N280m for us the able to complete the work 100 percent and make it fit for purpose and Council considered and approved this memo,” he stated.

Nigeria:Monkeypox – Suspected Cases in Nigeria Spread to 11 States – Minister

The monkeypox virus may have spread to 11 states with 74 suspected cases recorded, Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has said.

Mr. Adewole made the disclosure in Abuja on Wednesday when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC.

President Muhammadu Buhari chaired the meeting held at the State House Council Chamber, Abuja.

The Federal Government on October 11 confirmed that 33 suspected cases of the virus were recorded in seven states.

However, after samples of the suspected cases were sent for test at a WHO laboratory in Senegal, only three cases from Bayelsa tested positive.

Monkeypox is a rare viral zoonosis (a virus transmitted to humans from animals) with symptoms in humans similar to those seen in the past in smallpox patients, although less severe.

Smallpox was eradicated in 1980. However, monkeypox still occurs sporadically in some parts of Africa.

The minister, who updated the Council on developments in respect of the outbreak, listed the affected States as Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, Nasarawa and Rivers as well as the FCT.

“The Council also received an update on the state of the public health of the nation. We informed the council about the latest development in respect of the monkeypox virus outbreak. So far as of today, there are 74 suspected cases in 11 states of the country.

“We have confirmed three from Bayelsa and 12 of the suspected cases from Bayelsa tested negative; four suspected cases from Lagos tested negative. We are still expecting the results of the other ones.

“We are also doing test at the African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases (ACEGID), Edeh, to really understand the genomics of this virus.

“Even when they are negative, the laboratory attendant should be able to tell us what exactly they are,” he said.

The minister dismissed the rumour that the military was spreading Monkey Pox virus through vaccination.

He said that the military was never involved in any vaccination in the country, adding that any vaccination must involve state governments and the Federal Ministry of Health.

“It is also important to dispel the rumour circulating in the country that the military is vaccinating people and trying to spread monkeypox across the country.

“The military is not involved in any vaccination exercise.

“And I must educate Nigerians about how vaccination campaigns are done. The Federal Government will take the lead but we do not conduct campaign without working with states.

“So, there is no way we will do campaign without working with the states,” he said.

The minister announced that his ministry was conducting vaccination in only three states of the federation, namely Borno, Kwara and Kogi.

He stated that the cholera vaccination was being conducted in Borno while that of Yellow Fever vaccination was being carried out in Kwara and Kogi.

He stated that the ministry would soon start vaccination against measles while a nationwide vaccination against Yellow Fever would commence before the end of the year.

Also addressing the correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, revealed that the Council approved N236 million for the completion of Sabke Irrigation Dam in Katsina State.

He said the contract for the dam was initially awarded in 1997, re-awarded in 2009 after it was abandoned, but would now be completed by the current administration.

(NAN)

Nebbi Locals Stuck After Bridge Collapses

By Patrick Okaba

Nebbi — At least 5,000 residents of Jupumbanya Village in Nebbi Sub-county, Nebbi District, are stranded after the bridge that links them to the municipal council collapsed following a downpour.

Namthin bridge was swept away by floods at the weekend, blocking residents from accessing social services such as schools, markets and hospitals.

Residents have resorted to crossing through the flooded River Namthin, exposing themselves to drowning and hygiene-related diseases.

Some youth have taken advantage of the situation by charging residents Shs1,500 to carry them across the bridge.

One of the residents, Ms Janet Thorach, said the bridge was the only shortcut to Nebbi hospital and secondary schools.

The municipal engineer, Mr Joseph Olore, said the wooden decker at the bridge was constructed by the community when the municipal council was still at the level of a town council.

He said the municipal lacks funds to construct a better bridge.

Uganda

Where do ‘Idi Amin’ Rhinos Belong?

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Uganda:Nebbi Locals Stuck After Bridge Collapses

By Patrick Okaba

Nebbi — At least 5,000 residents of Jupumbanya Village in Nebbi Sub-county, Nebbi District, are stranded after the bridge that links them to the municipal council collapsed following a downpour.

Namthin bridge was swept away by floods at the weekend, blocking residents from accessing social services such as schools, markets and hospitals.

Residents have resorted to crossing through the flooded River Namthin, exposing themselves to drowning and hygiene-related diseases.

Some youth have taken advantage of the situation by charging residents Shs1,500 to carry them across the bridge.

One of the residents, Ms Janet Thorach, said the bridge was the only shortcut to Nebbi hospital and secondary schools.

The municipal engineer, Mr Joseph Olore, said the wooden decker at the bridge was constructed by the community when the municipal council was still at the level of a town council.

He said the municipal lacks funds to construct a better bridge.

Uganda

Where do ‘Idi Amin’ Rhinos Belong?

Uganda and Kenya are bickering over white rhinos that were evacuated from the country during former president Idi Amin’s… Read more »

Zimbabwe:Raising Hope – From Street Child to Mother

Abandoned as children, women in Harare are now teaching one another to fight for their futures.

A bright pink comb is perched jauntily on Edith Kanengoni’s head. It bobs and weaves defiantly as she stirs a pot of maize porridge bubbling on an open fire, while jiggling the toddler strapped to her back to sleep.

Her three older children are playing around the fire. Kanengoni (25) is raising them in a shack on the banks of the Mukuvisi River – it coils, putrid and heavy with industrial waste and raw sewage, through the densely populated suburb of Mbare in Harare.

Nobody taught Kanengoni how to be a mother.

Her own died before she reached puberty, as did her father. Left with relatives, who beat and mistreated her, Kanengoni eventually ran away from the rural village of her birth, without much schooling and no money. She was 15 when she came to Harare – naive, if not clueless, scared and not knowing anyone.

By that time, the capital’s streets had already become home, or a source of income, to thousands of children, as Zimbabwe’s battered economy and persistent droughts plunged families into poverty and parents succumbed to Aids.

In 2007, almost one in three children in Zimbabwe – 1.6-million – had lost at least one parent and were orphaned, the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) said in a statement.

A 2004 report by the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children – in collaboration with the Harare Task Force on Children Living and/or Working on the Streets and Unicef – says an estimated 5 000 children were on the streets of Harare during this period.

Researchers found that many of these children turned to the streets because of a breakdown in the family or sexual or physical abuse, only to then be treated with scorn or once again subjected to rape or other violence. Some participated in sex in exchange for goods or protection.

Now a new generation of children is being raised on the streets by mothers who were street children themselves and are ill-equipped to be parents, explains Enias Marama, a child protection officer at the Italian humanitarian organisation Cesvi.

The nongovernmental organisation runs the House of Smiles in Harare, a drop-in centre for abandoned or orphaned children.

“These street mothers had no role models. Most of them lack basic life skills and parenting skills – knowledge we would take for granted,” says Marama. “The majority of these young mothers come from broken families, particularly if their own mothers died. When the father remarries, they are pushed out to the streets to beg.”

Marama says many young women are sexually molested as soon as they arrive on the streets. There is no one to protect them.

“You can imagine how vulnerable a girl in puberty is. She can be forced into unprotected sex by outsiders or other street children. Many then get sexually transmitted diseases or fall pregnant.”

Within two years of Kanengoni’s arrival in Harare, she had a child with a man who also lived on the street. Their son is now eight years old.

“I gave birth here because I didn’t have the money to visit a clinic,” she says, gesturing in the direction of the Mukuvisi shores where, among piles of dirty plastic containers, more makeshift shelters are knitted together against wind, rain and sun.

The baby fell ill when he was a few months old.

“[His] head started swelling and blood-like seepage started oozing from his head,” Kanengoni explains.

Not being able to a afford a doctor or hospital – and, in fact, not realising it was even an option – Kanengoni took the baby to a faith healer. The young mother trusted him, implausible as his advice would seem.

“[He] prayed and gave my son some holy water and gifted [us] stones together with prayer instructions.” This, Kanengoni believed at the time, healed her son.

She now says she was deceived. Not only is she a regular at the local clinic these days, run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), she also encourages other street mothers to take their children there.

Kanengoni is a peer educator – one of 10 women recruited and trained by the House of Smiles to help the other street mothers get medical help and improve their parenting skills. It is part of an outreach programme to women on the Mukuvisi that has been running for about two years.

Marama explains: “They are making a big difference because the other women trust them and confide in them. Edith has become a real leader in her area.”

“Our life skills [training] start with the mothers. They will not be able to look after their children if they can’t take care of themselves,” Marama says. “A big issue is to provide them with sanitary pads – it is important to help restore their dignity.”

Women are also given sexual and reproductive health advice.

Kanengoni says she doesn’t want more children. “I discussed with my husband which family planning methods to use and had an implant as my family planning method, to which my husband agreed,” she says.

It is this confidence to assert her rights that she now imparts to the other women, many of whom are sex workers.

Sensitive matters

Rusty rail wagons in an abandoned locomotive yard in Harare is where Privilege Zvirevo (22) came as a teenager to earn a pittance. Having left school early, she had no skills.

“I was going to a disused National Railways of Zimbabwe site to work as a sex worker,” she says.

That was before she fell pregnant with her first child, Zvirevo explains. Her daughter, now six, was taken to a children’s home when Zvirevo – who claims her own mother beat her up before she fled home – couldn’t look after the child.

The girl ended up with Zvirevo’s grandmother. Her nine-month-old baby and a child of three are still in Zvirevo’s care, who says she sells sweets, beer and airtime.

Marama says it is important to empower the young women to negotiate for safer sex. “It is not an easy process. The abuser will always ‘dangle a carrot’ such as the promise of more money for sex without a condom. She is in the weaker position, so we have to empower her to insist on protection.”

The women are helped to get tested for HIV and to use antiretrovirals correctly if they test positive. The peer educators make sure street mothers also know to have their children tested for HIV if they are infected themselves.

“We tell them to immediately take their children to the clinic if they aren’t well,” Marama says. “We also work with them to get their children immunised [against childhood diseases].”

He explains: “You have to approach these matters with sensitivity. So a peer educator will explain informally that you can’t leave a sick child in a shack and go looking for your boyfriend all night if they have noticed that happening.”

If there is an outbreak of diarrhoea, for example, they will get the mothers together and tell them how to sterilise water.

“They need to be able to respond to what they see,” Marama says.

So popular has Kanengoni become that even the men in the community are seeking her confidential advice.

Kanengoni and the other peer educators are all volunteers, but get their “reward” in the higher status they enjoy in the community.

“The difference in the educators is incredible. We have seen such a tremendous change in the way they look at issues and assume authority. They now have pride and the more knowledge they get, the more they gain in confidence.”

It is not only this knowledge they are slowly imparting to the other mothers, Marama says, but also self-belief in their parenting.

Outside her shack on the river bank, Kanengoni has dished up a small bowl of maize porridge for each of her bigger children. The family is gathered around the fire. “Eat,” she smiles, and strokes the back of one of her girls. “You have to grow strong and healthy.”

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Nigeria:’Monkeypox’ Not for Political Point-Scoring

opinion

The spread of a new disease called monkeypox is disturbing and government must avoid its politicisation, writes Olawale Olaleye

The Monkeypox outbreak was first recorded in Bayelsa State. And since then, suspected cases of it have been reported in more than six other states, including the federal capital territory, Abuja, bringing the total number of suspected cases so far to about 33. The states currently with reported cases of the virus are Bayelsa, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom, Lagos, Ogun and Cross River, for now.

The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said samples had been collected from each of the suspected cases for laboratory confirmation and results were still being awaited.

NCDC’s executive officer, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, who gave an update on the development, said no deaths had been recorded so far as a result of the virus, adding that it remained unlikely that many of the suspected cases were actually monkey pox.

“All the suspected cases are currently receiving appropriate medical care and the patients are all improving clinically in their various states. The Federal Ministry of Health, through the NCDC, is supporting the affected states to ensure the outbreak is brought under control and to limit further spread.

“NCDC has activated an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) to coordinate the outbreak’s investigation and response across the affected states. The EOC is currently supporting state ministries of health in their response to the outbreak through active case finding, epidemiological investigation and contact tracing.

“Measures have been put in place to ensure effective sample collection and testing to enable laboratory confirmation. Risk communication activities have been heightened to advise the public on preventive measures. All 36 states and the FCT have been notified for preparedness,” he said.

Apart from Ekiti State with two new suspected cases, the case in Enugu State is somewhat different as tension reportedly gripped residents following an unconfirmed case of the disease at the State University Teaching Hospital, Parklane, Enugu.

A female patient at the hospital was said to have shown signs of the disease as some strange pox were seen all over her face.

The discovery made other patients to panic as they feared the disease might have finally got to the state. But the state government had swiftly denied any such thing.

In the same spirit, the Senate has urged the Federal Ministry of Health, state governments, local governments and community-based organisations to be proactive in containing the spread of the diseases. It also called for sustained enlightenment and education of citizens on efforts to take to reduce exposure to the virus.

The Senate resolution, however, followed a motion sponsored by Senator Ali Wakili (Bauchi South), who expressed worry that the unavailability of vaccines or specific treatment for the virus had caused panic amongst the Nigerian people.

It is therefore safe to say that both at the states and federal levels, efforts are still being made to halt the spread of the disease. Whilst government must not relent on these efforts as well as explore other options to keep the nation safe, the possibility of a descent to politics must be avoided otherwise the concerted initiative at arresting the situation would be jeopardised.

For instance, the allegations that the disease was introduced by the federal government through vaccination were a bit beneath logic and off all possibilities of what may have happened. Those who propounded this story and are selling it are not patriotic in their position, because the degeneration to political irrelevance is not in anyone’s interest.

Although the federal government had described as fake and sinister, the report that the disease resulted from a free medical care exercise it allegedly administered in some parts of the Niger Delta, the need to come together as a people to support each other at a time like this is very instructive in the interest of all.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had said in a statement that Nigerians should disregard the report, adding that “The federal government has not conducted any free medical service or care in either Bayelsa or Rivers State, as alleged in the fake report being circulated. So, that could not have been the cause of the outbreak of Monkeypox in both states.

“Monkeypox is a virus found only in monkeys and it is rare in human beings. It belongs to the same family as Chickenpox and Smallpox. It is suspected that someone may have contacted it by eating monkey meat, thus triggering the current outbreak,” Mohammed said, explaining the side of the government.

As it is, the likelihood of a spread is worrisome and so, engaging in needless distraction through unfounded allegations is the last thing government wants to do. The need for a well-coordinated sensitisation, education and enlightenment of the people on this disease is also not debatable. Government must put its resources together and make this very health challenge go away once and for all.

Sudan: River Nile Specialist Medics Threaten Strike Action

Atbara — Specialist doctors at Atbara Hospital in Sudan’s River Nile state have threatened to strike beginning on Sunday in protest against the poor conditions in the hospital, lack of proper work environment, and inadequate medical equipment.

A statement issued by the specialists held the director of the hospital and the Minister of Health responsible for the deterioration of the situation and pointed to the submission of a memorandum to the governor of the state.

They explained that the governor has promised to respond to their demand to change the management of the hospital without keeping his promises.

The statement accused the director of the hospital of breaking the locks of offices of the specialists in the hospital and transferring the equipment of their offices for use elsewhere.

The statement said that the deteriorating conditions in the hospital have sparked many specialists and doctors to emigrate abroad and pointed out that the state government has not complied with the directives of the Vice- President.

Sudan

Are Sanctions Working?

It’s remarkable how quickly the tables have turned in the Sudans. Just a few years ago the infant state of South Sudan… Read more »

3.5 Million Face Starvation Amid Prolonged Drought

By Silas Apollo and Boniface Mwangi

At least 3.5 million Kenyans are facing starvation due to the prolonged drought and erratic rains.

The figure is an increase from the 2.6 million projected by the government at the beginning of the year.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett on Thursday said the majority of those affected are from arid and semi-arid counties in northern Kenyan.

This comes even as Mr Bett said the country expects an increase in the amount of maize that will be harvested by the end of this crop year, a situation he argues will help ease the food shortage currently bedevilling the country.

Besides families, millions of domestic and wild animals are also suffering the effects of delayed rains in the Coast and Rift Valley.

FOOD SITUATION

In a report on the current national food situation that was released on Thursday, Mr Bett says the ministry has projected a harvest of about 37.9 million bags of maize by the end of 2017, up from 36.9 million bags harvested in the same period last year.

The figure is, however, a drop of about 4.4 per cent of the 40 million bags the ministry had expected at the beginning of the year.

“Of the counties facing starvation, Wajir, Turkana, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River, Garissa, Mandera and Baringo, as well as parts of Kitui and Kajiado, have been listed as the worst hit,” said the CS. The armyworm, which destroyed maize in the country’s food basket areas of Rift Valley, has also been blamed for the drop in production.

“The decline in overall production of maize was attributed to a reduction in the area under maize by 5.1 per cent, the late onset of rainfall, coupled with long dry spells mid-season and fall armyworm invasion,” Mr Bett told journalists at the ministry’s headquarters in Nairobi.

POOR RAINFALL

At the same time, production of beans and Irish potato will decline by about 29 per cent and 17 per cent respectively due to inadequate certified seeds and poor rainfall.

According to Mr Bett, there will be a slight drop in the production of other food crops such as bananas, sorghum, cowpeas and green grams.

To avert a possible shortage, Mr Bett said the ministry plans to buy all the maize offered by farmers from the 2017 crop.

The purchase will begin on Monday, with farmers offered Sh3,200 per 90-kilogramme bag.

Elsewhere, the government has doubled the food ration being given to starving Kenyans as it seeks to mitigate the effects of the drought.

Devolution CS Mwangi Kiunjuri said his ministry has been giving out a ration of 15 kilogrammes of cereals and cooking oil every two months but will now give the same quantity each month.

He said the increased allocation will run until mid-next year.

HUGE LOSSES

“We are aware a few counties are still facing food and pasture shortage. My ministry has already supplied cereals in these counties. The food is enough to last till mid-next year,” he told the Nation.

Herders in counties hit hardest by drought have suffered huge losses after their animals died. Others have had to sell their weak animals at a throw-away price of as little as Sh500 a cow.

Mr Kiunjuri said no Kenyan would be denied food due to their political affiliation. “I am warning chiefs and their seniors not to discriminate or deny any person food due to his or her political affiliation. This food is for any Kenyan facing hunger,” he said.

Weather reports received by the Devolution ministry from the Metrological Department indicate that normal rains will resume in early March.

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