Animated Social Gadget - Blogger And Wordpress Tips

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

RABAK eyes Laikipia

By Kelvin Njuguna

Laikipia County is bracing itself to practice a new type of livestock farming-rabbit keeping. This is after a protracted campaign by the Rabbit Keepers Association of Kenya (RABAK) and the Ministry of Livestock to have residents embrace the art of rabbit keeping. So far the two institutions have had a series of seminars and workshops in the area to inform farmers on the benefits of this venture. 

In Kenya, rabbit keeping started on a wrong footing twelve years ago. Lack of market and insufficient capital were the major setbacks. However, this was been solved through different government. Currently, there is a plan to construct a 22 million worth slaughter house in Thika which shall help farmers slaughter the rabbits using the right procedure. The Leather Council of Kenya (LCK) has also established a ready market for rabbit hides in Turkey. Leather- made items are known to sell fast in this country. The World Bank has also extended its support to this area. Recently it funded a training dubbed ‘treaty and processing of hides.’ LCK has approached shoe makers to use rabbit hides in making shoe linings in an effort to boost rabbit business in Kenya. 

 RABAK Chairperson addressing  the public at Lariak Day Sec.School.
Apart from hides being one of the profitable products of rabbits, meat is a very valuable product. Rabbit meat is classified as white meat. It is in the same class as chicken, pork among others. White meat is nutritious and harmless to human compared to red meat. Therefore there is ready market for the meat. However, because of people’s taboos, many consider this meat to have an odor. To avert this, the right slaughtering procedure must be followed .This involves hitting the head before slaughtering because these animals are known to have internal excretion when scared therefore causing its meat to be odious.     Rabbit droppings are also used as manure. A research is being conducted on the use of rabbit heads and legs in making dog food.

Laikipia County RABAK representative Mr. Waweru Kanja has been in the forefront urging residents to start rabbit breeding. He has held a series of meeting in Kio, Kahuruko, and Ndurumo area. In the month of May, a seminar cum exhibition was held at Lariak Day secondary school to pass information to participants on how to run rabbit business. They were shown different breeds of rabbits that include New Zealand, California White, Ear-lop, Blemish Giant, Chinchilla, and Angora. Members of the public were urged to be careful on where they source the rabbits for breeding.

Breeding stations are normally chosen by government. At the moment they are situated in Nakuru Mombasa and Nyeri. 

Rabbits are the easiest animals to rear in Laikipia. Since early seventies the area has undergone different climatic changes which rabbits can thrive well in. It also needs low capital to start. One can build them a hutch or chose to rear them in an open field but it is important to build them a hutch because they are susceptible to diseases. They also require supply of enough food and water. Though rabbits freely feed on fresh leaves it is important to first dry the leaves in sun light for few hours. This reduces their chances of being sick. A healthy rabbit has a smooth coat, clear eyes, and clean ears and breathes quietly when relaxing in the hutch.

Waweru has a word of advice to farmers, “every family shall be assured of meat at least every week if they rear rabbits because two rabbits are enough to give birth to a litter which when calculated translates to two rabbits per week on a family table”


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The lethal brew of Ngomongo

By Priscah Karachu
The introduction of the Alcohol Drinks Control Act 2009 (popularly known as Mututho law), is nothing to Ngomongo village. Evidently, this drinking hub is slowly being destroyed by the effects of uncontrolled brewing. Villagers are up in arms due to lack of assistance from the local administration to regulate the illicit brew which has blinded economic development in the area. Ngomongo is one of the villages located in Wangwaci area of Laikipia County. It is typographically rocky and the local brew has literally rocked the livelihood of people in the area.

Young man overwhelmed by Chang'aa
Cracks are appearing in many families thanks to unregulated operation of this business. Men are reported to snatch food from their families and take them to these joints. Young people who are supposed to engage in meaningful activities have joined the bandwagon of those who roam around looking for drinking dens. This has also heightened insecurity because the young men are forced to mug people to get money for the drink. One motor bike operator confessed being robbed of his items as early as 7pm. He suspects the culprits to be young men idling around looking for money for beer.

Typically, the area is endowed with lands suitable for poultry and dairy farming. The large dam in Wangwaci can also sustain irrigation activities. But the beer locally referred to as ‘steamers’ and commonly called chang’aa has ravaged the potential of the area. 

Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) conducted a spot check and the reporter met Mrs. Jane Wambui a seasoned brewer. Jane just like all other brewers uses pseudo names to be at home with revelers and to conceal quick identification by the local administration. In her case she is popularly known as ‘Mama Pima’ loosely translated as ‘the one who metes out’. Jane defends the beer business arguing that she has been able to fend for her family through brewing. “I have been in this business as long as I can remember. It has supported me very much. I have fed and educated my seven children. All have gone up to O-level and can now work for themselves, courtesy of chang’aa,” she said. “Furthermore, the government should come and support this venture because we are contributing to the economic growth of the nation. We congratulate the Minister for Finance Hon. Njeru Githae for acknowledging the importance of this sector in the development of our country and not imposing taxes as has been done over years during budget reading.”

Jane admits that there are greater risks involved in running the business. The biggest one is the many people which must be tipped to allow smooth operation. The police are the worst since they part with hefty amounts or risk being arraigned in the court of law for engaging in the activity. Even with the presence of Mututho Law, they will bend it to the extent that you will be found to have broken it in one way or the other. 

Residents on the other hand argue that the police are bending the law to suit the brewers to the detriment of the village. One villager who wished not to be identified for fear of reprisals confessed that people in one of the drinking dens drink at any time of the day. He further said that the local administration is aware of it but since it is part of the cartel they cannot do anything about it except turn on a deaf ear and blind eye to what is happening there. “It is a pity when you see the government officer who is supposed to protect the law goes ahead and drink in the morning. Some of them are even drunk while on duty,” our source revealed.

Investigations done by LRV showed that one of the brewing dens near Ng’arua Maarifa Centre admits revelers any time of the day in total violation of the law. The local police and the administration are also located near the centre and have not done anything to bring the culprits into book.

The smell from the brewing den is another nuisance altogether and Public Health officers have not taken the initiative to contain it. Sights of young women fighting in broad daylight while drunk are becoming common scenes in the small town. Business operators in the centre are appealing to the government to reign in this sector and bring sanity to the centre.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

World Day to Combat Desertification

By Dennis Kipkirui

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought(WDCDD) is a day set aside by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994. It is an international day held on the 17th June every year. The main aim for this day is to promote public awareness of the issue, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in those countries experiencing serious drought and desertification, particularly in Africa.

The theme of this year is: Healthy soil sustains your life: Let’s go land degradation neutral.
Thomas Gichuru, Director TILT Watering a tree seedling
In Nyandarua County the World Day to Combat Desertification was celebrated in Mairo Ikumi Primary School, Ndaragwa Constituency. The day was marked by a marathon race. Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) attended the event which was hosted by Tree Is Life Trust (TILT), a Nyahururu based NGO and sponsored by Act Change and Transform (ACT).

 The main areas of operation for TILT is awareness creation, networking, advocacy, natural resource management and community development.

 Marathon races were held in four categories comprising adults, secondary, primary, and juniors. 
Winners were awarded special prizes which promote climate change.In each category, a total of twelve winners were awarded, Six from gents' side and six representing ladies. Male adults were given plastic tanks for water harvesting while females were given energy saving Jikos. 

 In the secondary category, both genders were given solar lamps which use solar power and have different modes of brightness.This was done with the knowledge that most of the learners in the area come from day schools and therefore lack money to buy kerosine. Juniors were given energy saving lamps that use dry cells.

Speaking to the participants in the function, Mr. Thomas Gichuru, Director of TILT thanked the participants for turning up in large numbers. He also challenged them to improve their livelihoods using the information availed to them by the organization.
Pupils of Kio Primary School plant trees to mark the WDCDD
Elsewhere, in Laikipia County, members of public celebrated this day at Kio Primary School in Sipili Division, Laikipia West District. 

Members of the community and school children together with people from all works of life turned up to combat desertification. Pupils entertained the attendants with poems, songs and stand-up comedies which were geared at urging them to conserve the environment. The theme of these genres touched on soil conservation, tree planting and environmental conservation.

Every speaker who rose asked the people to reduce global warming by ensuring that the amount of carbon emitted is cut drastically. “You can only live in a safe and fresh environment if you take matters of environment seriously. Each one of you should strive to prevent soil erosion, plant trees regularly and reduce carbon emission. Trees use carbon for food manufacture and release oxygen which we in turn use. Therefore you can only cut carbon amount by planting more trees,” said Mr. James Kamau the Divisional Agricultural Officer. 

The area Assistant-chief Mr. John Kimaiyo told pupils to plant a tree at every birth day so that by the time they reach adulthood, many trees would have been planted. Residents were also asked to use innovative skills like energy saving Jikos which use less firewood and conserve heat to be used in the rest of the cooking. 

After the tree planting exercise, participants were treated with a movie-watching session where Ng’arua Maarifa Centre showed them several videos on how to conserve water and soil.

 Nationally the event was marked on Sunday the 17th at Tana River County. 

Monday, 18 June 2012

Farming alligators as non-conventional livestock

By Anne Wanjiru
Crocodiles are traditionally considered wild animals. Today, some people have domesticated and kept them for food and other products. Crocodiles are bred mainly for commercial purposes. The products obtained from this reptile and exchanged for money include head, meat, skin, eggs, and live hatchlings. They have white meat. This means it is high in proteins and low in fats similar to poultry meat. The skin provides valuable leather used in making bags, shoes, belts among others. Hatchlings are sold to other breeding establishments.

Like any other livestock enterprise, crocodile farming entails routine management like feeding and breeding. In feeding management, the crocodile should be kept in conditions where they can look for their own food from the environment as well as supplementation. This involves stocking the farm with animals preyed by crocodiles as well as supplementing with water from the abattoirs.

Crocodile farming can be part time activity because it does not need much of the farmer’s time. This means it can be integrated with other livestock enterprises since less follow-up is needed. Moreover, it does not need much labour.
Picture of Nile Crocodile commonly bred in Kenya

The establishment of this non-conventional livestock may, however, need a relatively higher amount of capital. This includes getting a permit from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The potential rancher submits a short feasibility study with a management plan of proposed ranching operation to the Management Authority (MA). Upon acceptance by the MA, the applicant submits a detailed project proposal detailing location of the proposed ranching operation, water supply, evidence of secure food supply to feed a stated and projected number of crocodiles and a detailed plan of the operation. The applicant  will have to show also proof of sufficient financial resources to cover at least four years of operation without expected income from the ranching operations, expertise on crocodile handling and husbandry.Furthermore,one needs to demonstrate an elaborate  farm business plan with projected expansion and production and a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report.

Crocodiles have a low rate of maturity. This is a challenge to the farmer since it cannot be taken as the only source of income. They take up to six years to be sexually mature. Therefore, alligator farming can be more of conservation than domestication. However, when they mature their products are very expensive and are usually exported.

 Hunting and dealership in wildlife products is outlawed in Kenya. The Wildlife Act, however, allows the minister in charge of wildlife to make regulations for the better management of wildlife farming. Crocodiles are gazetted as prohibited exports unless authorized by the minister in charge of wildlife. Exports of crocodiles and their products are therefore subject to approval by the minister responsible for wildlife. Crocodile farmers apply to the MA to export their products. The MA In turn advices its secretariat which links up the market and ensures that payment has been done.
Crocodile’s, brain is the most developed among the reptiles. In captivity, some species are known to recognize their keepers; therefore it is rare to find them attacking the owner or the servants. This form of ranching also does not impact negatively on the environment.

The main alligator farms in Kenya are: Nile Crocodiles, Kenya Crocodile (Mamba Village), Baobab Crocodile Farms, Mark East Brook Crocodile Farm, Larfarge Ecosystems and Galaxy Crocodile Ltd.

Friday, 15 June 2012

An insight to early detection of deafness

By Sammy Kirumba

Two important aspects of man’s ability to communicate with others and with his environment are hearing and sight. In a deaf child, deafness impairs this communication and if it has been present since birth, it may hinder or even prevent its development. If hearing impairment is detected in a child at the earliest possible time, it is better as this enables intervention or corrective measures to be instituted. A child born with hearing impairment is not able to fully communicate with its environment; this is because, development of speech and language depends on hearing and repeating what has been heard. 

There are two types of deaf children: Pre-lingual deaf [those that are born deaf] and Post lingual deaf (those who developed deafness after having developed speech and language). Pre lingual deaf has a greater problem than post –lingual deaf. 

A woman shouting at a deaf person
It is of paramount importance for parents, teachers and caregivers to detect speech and language development delay early enough in their children. Delay in detecting hearing loss in children born deaf is due to the fact that delays in speech and language is considered as a result of the child being a “slow” learner. At the same time it is also good for parents and teachers to be able to detect early signs of deteriorating hearing loss in a child who was not born deaf. One of these signs is poor school performance. Such a child may fail to respond to instructions, answer questions or participate in class discussions. He/she may at the same time start losing interest in class work. More often than not these children are said to be “naughty” and repeatedly punished for being inattentive in class.

A number of factors increase the risk of a child being born deaf or developing hearing impairment in the first years of life. They include: hereditary- family history of deafness, severe illness of the mother during pregnancy, Children born prematurely, Prenatal and postnatal problems e.g. prolonged labor or failure to cry immediately after birth, administration of certain antibiotic drugs and Children developing severe illness after birth. Any child with these signs should be screened for hearing loss. 
The word 'deaf' in sign language

A child develops deafness later in life due to acquired causes such as: ear infection, trauma, childhood illness like malaria, measles, mumps or meningitis and use of some drugs.

Deafness is often caused by infection and poor nutrition. For most deaf children, deafness could have been prevented by taking care of basic needs (food, clean drinking water, a safe clean place to live and access to health care).

To prevent deafness communities must work together to solve the social causes that medicine cannot fix.
Children’s health and hearing thrives well when communities have clean air (free of smoke and dust) and good sanitation, and are free from violence. Good health care, including health education, immunizations, and early treatment of illness is key to protecting children’s hearing.

It is also important to consider the educational needs of children with hearing impairment. Some children may be integrated into a normal school since they have either been treated or have had hearing aids fixed on them while others may need to be placed in special schools. Whatever the case, the best results are obtained when hearing loss is detected early and intervention planned as early as possible.

The ''man eaters'' of Laikipia west

By Bett Kipsang'

Lions' invasion on peoples farms in Laikipia west has become a menace! The canines yesterday ate three donkeys at Nyakinyua village. LRV has confirmed that two women were also mauled by the marauding animals two weeks ago. Another woman was last year eaten up in the neighboring village the vicious lions.

On thursday, three lions attacked and killed three donkeys in broad day light. The incident sparked a wave of demonstration by residents to Kinamba Police Station. Even before the police officers arrived, the furious residents had surrounded the small thicket where the lions were hiding and provoked the fierce beasts by hurling stones at them. When LRV arrived at the scene, one resident narrated how they have ''scared'' the lions and one of them had emerged form the thicket, with a thundering roar and sped off towards a nearby conservancy. Residents scampered helplessly to escape the lions.

 The whole incident reveals how people are living in total danger. No one could believe that the animals they were throwing stones at was actually lions! It is feared that if the Lions were to emerge, many casualties  would have been reported. In the evening, students from Nyakinyua secondary school came out after school and went through the thicket to their homes, a total risk to their lives.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Sipili: from grass to grace

By Simon Njoro

Sipili trading centre started in seventies. It began as a shopping centre where people came to buy items that were not produced in their farms. Later, some began to exchange their farm produce in the centre. Buying and selling began to gain pace and a trading centre was born. It was later renamed Cotton City before reverting to its original name, Sipili. The name originates from the Maasai word ‘sipil’ meaning ‘tip of a spear’. The netizens argue that it was called Sipili because the Maasai warriors used to make spears in the area before the colonial period.

When the whites came they drove out the original inhabitants, and converted their land into ranches. Area assistant-chief Mr.Kimaiyo attests to this: “my father left Elgeyo-Marakwet in 1920s to work as a herdsman in the white ranches. But later did not see the need of going back to the ancestral land. When independence time came, the settler sold the land to Hon. G.G Kariuki. He in turn sub-divided the land and sold it in form of shares to different people. This area is inhabited by people from different communities. ”

The old structures in Sipili being phased out
 When Sipili became a home of different people, life for the new inhabitants was not a bed of roses after all. Fate appeared to have selected the economically weak in the society and pile them here. People had to start development projects from the scratch. However, they lacked the financial muscle. The newly inhabited place began to take a snail-pace in growth. One mini-bus called ‘Gachuru’ was the only reliable mode of transport. Let alone the pathetic state of the road to-date. According to Mr. Ndichu an old resident of the vicinity, it was very difficult to access learning institutions. “Lariak Primary School was the only one available. It was not a school as such but just a field. No blackboard, no chalk, many pupils but only four teachers. The teacher used to write on dust and the pupils follow suit,” says Mr. Ndichu.

Many other issues ganged up against this old centre. Among them include: poor road network, poor farming methods, lack of market for farm produce, perennial tribal attacks and cattle rustling, wild life invasion just to name a few.

 Today people in the area are full of thanks to the various groups who have come to the area and initiated development projects to aid them out of the quagmire. Shops are innumerable, services uncountable, and lifestyle has improved in leaps and bounds. Sipili is now a host of people from diverse academic, cultural, religious and social backgrounds.

The old Sipili has slowly paved way to the new town. Buildings constructed using timbers are currently being pulled down to give room to permanent storey buildings.

Sipili serves as an administrative town for the division. Government offices are littered in this once-humble set up. A random survey by Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) in the Divisional headquarters finds people queuing to apply for Identity cards and birth certificates. Farmers also made a visit to agricultural offices to get information. The centre has a Government Health Centre and a number of private clinics. Security has also been beefed up in the area. Police lines have been set with special units like the Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) have very strong presence to curb livestock theft.
Storey buildings coming up in Sipili centre

In spite of the good fortunes visiting Sipili, the centre still lingers with other challenges. The most profound one is lack of piped water. It is served with borehole water carted by donkeys. This poses health risks to the consumers because the handling is wanting. Waste management is also below the bar. People dispose wastes anywhere without caring for the environment.

 The new Liquor and Alcoholics Act has been received with mixed reactions in the area. To the proprietors, it is good riddance since they can make the local brew in the centre. No need to be concerned about the irritating smell of busaa hovering in the centre. Moral decadence has been given way by the cheap liquor. Young men and ladies are now misusing the liberty of law.

Arid lands Information Network (ALIN) has tremendously made an input in the growth of the centre. The provision of ICT and library services has boosted the technological and knowledge level. People can freely interact with the rest of the world using the services offered in the centre. Marketing of farm produce has been eased by the use of sokopepe service offered by ALIN. This is an online marketing service that helps farmers to find the right market for their produce
Indeed sipil ‘the tip of the spear’ has become the spear of growth.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Maize farmers cry foul over hiked labour

By Duncan Ndegwa

Labour force in maize farms in Ng’arua area of Laikipia West District has become scarce. Farmers cannot get people to weed their farms. It is weeding season in the area after a month-long rainy season. Rain came in plenty and made farms in low altitude areas to be water-logged. Weeds are now turning to be bushes in these farms.

The few labourers who are available are charging exorbitantly. A farm measuring 20 feet by 20 feet was initially weeded at a cost of Ksh150 but today it costs between Ksh300 and Ksh400.The problem is compounded by the migration of young men who used to provide affordable labour in these farms to the boda-boda industry (motorcycle transport). They are running their errands in Kinamba and Sipili shopping centres.

“We opted to work in the boda-boda sector because it is not tedious. It is paying us well because in a fruitful day we go home with more than 1000 shillings,” Said Mr. Gitonga a boda-boda operator at Kinamba shopping centre.

A visit to a maize farm in Kiriko village by Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) ends up in Mr. Mwangi’s farm. He is a man full of wrath because of the prevailing state of work force. He complains that the few who are available are doing shoddy jobs since they want to rush to other farms. “They are also not ready to weed farms that have maize and beans inter-cropped,” says Mr. Mwangi whose face barely conceals anger.
Mr.Joseph Kalulu a casual farm labourer weeding maize plants.

LRV made an investigation on the welfare of the labourers and discovered that they were reaping a lot this season. Sipili shopping centre hosts most of them after the day’s work. One can easily notice clean well dressed young men carrying not-very-cheap mobile phones. David Thuo a casual labourer talked to LRV reporter: “this year, it is the worker who decides what is to be paid unlike the previous seasons. Things have totally changed. The landlords are begging us to work at the prices we solely quote.” He says that he has earned more than Ksh20000 in the last one month. On average he takes home Ksh1000 a day. Having just completed secondary school education, he is full of dreams with the current pay. He plans to save more money to take a driving course in Kinamba centre in the month of August.

Farmers are not the only one affected. Primary schools have recorded shortage of pupils because of the lucrative sector. School children are missing classes because they have been lured to work in these farms to make a kill. They are conspicuously present in cafeterias and video halls. They can afford these pleasures because of the money they make in the farms. However, it has impacted negatively on their class performance. A teacher who spoke to LRV but sought anonymity since he is not authorized to speak to the press confirmed this.

The Divisional Agricultural Officer (DAO) Mr. Kamau advised farmers through LRV to prepare adequately before planting. He advises them to use alternative farming methods such as chemical farming. He also emphasizes on the use of pre-planting herbicides that prevent weeds from germinating. The DAO’s parting shot to farmers is to keep proper farm records to avoid engaging themselves in activities that end up at a loss.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

World Environment Day celebrated in style

By Dennis Kipkirui

World Environment Day is a day set aside by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to celebrate the need to have a clean environment for human beings. It is an annual event held every 5th day of June.

It aims at encouraging people from different backgrounds to ensure green, cleaner and brighter environment for themselves and their posterity. This include carrying out activities like neighborhood-cleanup, discouraging use of plastic bags, planting trees, walking to work to avoid carbon emissions and coming up with recycling plants.

The day has been celebrated for the last 40 years. It has served as the principal vehicle employed by the United Nations (UN) to trigger governments toward initiating positive actions on environment protection.
Pupils make balls by recycling plastic bags

The theme for this year is: Green Economy: Does it Include you? Last year the world celebrated with the theme “Forests-Nature At Your Service”

In Laikipia County, residents of Sipili celebrated the day in style. Pupils from Sipili School for the Deaf embarked on an aggressive clean-up exercise in public utilities. They cleaned Sipili Health Centre and Sipili Police Post. They also collected litter in Sipili shopping centre.

The pupils were happy to identify themselves with the rest of the world in ensuring a clean environment for human habitation. Despite their handicap they chose to defy their disability and promote the need for clean environment. Their silence could only reflect the importance of peaceful environment. More than seventy pupils led by their Principal Mr. Gikunda and teaching staff participated in the event. They challenged members of the public to take serious action towards environment conservation. Most people in the area were not aware of the world environment day.

They collected several plastic bags which were later on disposed off properly. To ensure they were in- line with the theme, they recycled plastic bags. Pupils made balls of different shapes and sizes to be used during recreational times. They were happy to learn that such discarded material could still be used for other purposes in building the economy of the country. They told Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) scribe, with the help of sign language translator that they were happy and ready to participate in such functions because they understood the benefits of clean environment.

Teachers and pupils plant trees in the school forest yard
The school has primary section and vocational training. It also acts as a rehabilitation centre. Pupils are mainly deaf, dumb, epileptic, physically challenged, mentally retarded and others have autism.

The event culminated in the planting of over 50 seedlings in the school forest yard. The plants were donated by the Ministry of Agriculture. Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) through Maarifa Centre  participated in the exercise.