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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Multi-million airstrip project raise eyebrows

By James Maina

About one mile off Kinamba-Sipili –Maralal Road lies an old airstrip which was last used in 1960s.It seats on a 5 ha piece of land. The landing strip is just along the road and is frequently used by vehicles as an alternative route considering the poor state of the main road. Not many people know the function and relevance of this facility.  Very few ever witnessed its utility. For the few who ever saw it functioning they only have very glimpse memories of former colonial masters and politicians using it.

Landing strip under rehabilitation currently being used as alternative road.
Recently, the airstrip has been rehabilitated. It is said that the work was done through the funding by Laikipia West CDF, a region under Hon. Nderitu Mureithi. The rehabilitation was launched on August 2012 & over 15 million Kenya shillings were dedicated to this project.

The project has however raised eyebrows in the area. Many people are questioning the timing and funding of the project. LRV found out that there is general dissatisfaction among the residents. They question why the project had to be revived towards a general election. Was there a plan in the first place to use CDF in the project? Who is the contractor and when was tender was advertised?

Mr. Ware Mania a farmer hailing nearby told LRV that he woke up one morning only to see an excavator busy moving the earth. No project billboard was ever erected as this has been the formality. “The contractor himself is not known to us yet we should know’’, said Mr. Ware. He pointed out a case of the rehabilitation of Nyahururu-Ndindika road. “The ministry of roads through Kenya Highways Authority (KenHa) called for tenders and was won by Equaline Suppliers & We are surprised with this one drawing money from CDF kitty.”           

Windsock in the landing strip
An investigation done by LRV revealed mixed signals from residents of the larger Ng’arua area. Some saw it as a noble development activity in the region. They said that the area can now access air-transport and make them market their produce easily.

 Others are still of the view that this was another white elephant meant to fleece tax payers off their money. According to Mr. Kabuchia, a local businessman in Kinamba town, residents in Ng’arua have not yet reached such high levels of using air-transport since many are low-class and middle class citizens.  “For now they need better and meaningful development activities like putting tarmac on Sipili-Kinamba road. This is mockery of the highest order,” quipped Mr. Kabuchia.

Monday, 29 October 2012

FAO and Ministry of Agriculture fetes Maarifa Centre

By Joseph Kanyi

Ngarua Maarifa Centre has been awarded a certificate of recognition for their efforts that contribute to food security in Kenya. The recognition came from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Republic of Kenya.

Residents of Laikipia West District joined the rest of the world in celebrating World Food Day on 16th October. The Centre together with other stakeholders had ensured the success of the day. Residents converged in Sipili stadium to discuss ways of enhancing food security in the district. This year’s theme was: Agricultural cooperatives: key to feeding the world. The theme was chosen in line with United Nations’ declaration of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.

Chief-Guest visits one of the stands to mark WFD 
A gathering of around two hundred and twenty people attended the meeting, which was presided over by Laikipia West District Commissioner represented by senior D.O Henry Katana. There were a number of twenty-six stands of different categories ranging from government departments, NGOs and those from individuals.

The ceremony started by visiting of the stands and planting of ceremonial trees. Later the guests were treated to an entertainment from the surrounding schools and from individual groups. Poems and songs they had a common theme of integrity and cooperation. They emphasized on peace and unity without which famine will devour and consume the country.

The guest dwelled on importance of agricultural co-operation in feeding the world. He stressed the need for different farmer groups to come together to avert hunger crisis in the country. He also explained the critical role that peace and security plays in fostering agricultural sector. He urged the residents to live in harmony to enable the district chat meaningful development.

Pupils entertaining guests at WFD celebrations
In addition to that, the D.O called upon the individuals to make strong cooperation that will raise food production. He also said that the main tool in fighting economy crash is agriculture. If people will turn to agriculture the economic crisis will be something of the past. With cooperatives, farmers are able to voice their concerns and produce. And they are able to find markets for their produce. He also added that well improvised machines would easily reach small-scale farmers if they will be in these cooperatives.

The D.O also campaigned against HIV/AIDs. He said that this is the greatest enemy of food production. He therefore alerted the residents to be much careful of this deadly disease. To this, he said that after getting their dues they should spend them wisely.

The chief-guest also read the speech from the Director General of Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Below is the full speech:

Message of the Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva

The theme of this year’s World Food Day is Agricultural cooperatives: key to feeding the world.
This theme was chosen to highlight the many, concrete ways in which agricultural cooperatives
and producer organizations help to provide food security, generate employment, and lift people
out of poverty. For FAO and its partners, agricultural cooperatives are natural allies in the fight
against hunger and extreme poverty. Their importance has also been acknowledged through
the United Nations’ declaration of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.

Over the three decades of decline in national investments in agriculture and official development
assistance, millions of small producers have struggled to respond and to cope with variability
and crises in climate, markets, and prices. Since the food crisis of 2007-8 many countries have
renewed their commitment to eradicating hunger in the world and improving livelihoods. But in
some cases, concrete political, programme and financial support are lagging behind verbal

The opportunity that the food price spikes of 2007-2008 might have provided as a pathway out
of poverty for small producers was not realized.

Every day, small producers around the world continue to face constraints that keep them from
reaping the benefits of their labour and contributing to food security not only for themselves but
for all through active participation in markets. However, poor infrastructure and limited access to
services and information, productive assets and markets, as well as poor representation in
decision making processes, mean that this potential is not realized.

Evidence shows that those strong cooperatives and producer organizations are able to
overcome these constraints and to mitigate the negative effects of food and other crises.
Strong producer organizations have helped to fill a void. They have been able to overcome
market and policy constraints by providing their members’ access to a range of assets and
services. For instance, they can reduce costs to farmers by allowing them to purchase in groups
and benefit from better retail prices of agricultural inputs. They also make it possible for
members to voice their concerns and interests – and to play a role in decision and policy making

There are numerous examples of strong and inclusive organizations that foster collective action
among people who depend on farming, fishing, forestry, livestock and related employment for
their livelihoods. These organizations operate at the community, national or international level,
working to combine the economic and social goals of their members.

It has been said repeatedly that we have the means to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. What
is needed is the establishment of an enabling environment that allows small producers to take
full advantage of available opportunities. Strong cooperatives and producer organizations are
an essential part of that enabling environment.

FAO supports member governments in helping cooperatives and producer organizations to
thrive, by developing adequate policies, legal frameworks, economic incentives, and forums for
dialogue on policy making. In addition, FAO generates evidence, knowledge and good practice
that supports the emergence of more self reliant, inclusive, gender- equitable, and market
oriented producer organizations and cooperatives.

FAO, together with UN and other partners, including the Committee for the Promotion and
Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC) and the Rome based agencies, will continue to
strengthen and support cooperatives, as key stakeholders, to open the door to new
opportunities and to achieve our common goal of a more food secure and sustainable world.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Baby dumped in plastic bag found

By Dennis Kipkirui

A new-born baby was found dumped in a thicket beside a road hours after birth on Friday afternoon.  The girl child who was inside a nylon bag in Mugiko area along Sipili-Kinamba road was found by two women who were passing by. She was rushed to Sipili Maternity and Nursing Home where it is reported that she received care and is now in stable condition. She will spend few days in the hospital while awaiting her eventual transfer to Nyahururu District Hospital. 

The child is currently in custody of the local provincial administration and the Children's Officer. A man-hunt has been launched to nab the mother of the child.

The incident has attracted condemnation from the local administration and church leaders in equal measure. Church leaders have called on the society to re-think on the core societal values. They pleaded with the residents to avoid habits that jeopardize human life and always acknowledge that life is sacred. In a sermon by Mrs. Catherine Njihia at Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG) Church, she urged the congregation to evaluate themselves and live up to the calling of preserving human life to avoid incidences such as one witnessed in Sipili. Catherine likened the child with the biblical baby Moses who was rescued by an Egyptian lady after her mother hid her in a swamp to avert his death. She said the child is destined to be a great person like Moses.

In another incident, a power blackout has hit a section of Sipili centre. The blackout has brought to a halt operations in one of the busiest sections of the centre. It is alleged that one of the transformers has malfunctioned. They are appalled by the lack of quick response from the giant company. The business community is asking Kenya Power to restore normalcy to allow them continue with their activities.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Man shot by raiders and several animals stolen

 By Rose Nyambura

One person was shot and seriously injured by raiders in Ng’elecha sub-location Marigat district early Monday. The 5am incident saw the raiders escape with 150 herds of cattle and a flock of 1000 which has not been recovered since then.

Herder fleeing attack by raiders (Photo: Dennis Kipkirui)
Johnstone Lomatice Chesang’, 16 who is a form two student at Sabor High School is currently receiving treatment at Sipili Nursing Home. He was rescued by the Red Cross team and taken to the hospital after being given first aid. Chesang’ was shot on the right thigh but is now in stable condition. Part of his animals have been driven to Sipili for safety.

It is suspected that the raiders came from the neighboring Pokot area. Eye witnesses allege that they were speaking Pokot dialect.They raided five villages while wielding dangerous weapons that included guns.

The security situation in the area is dire. Residents have fled their villages for fear of subsequent attacks. By the time LRV went on press, the security situation was still wanting with no response from the government since the attack occurred on Monday. An interview, conducted with one of the fleeing victims revealed that the area has been ignored and have since witnessed a series of attacks. 
Part of the flock being driven to safety after attack (Photo: Dennis Kipkirui)

LRV met a herd of 1000 cattle and a flock of 500 being driven to a more secure place in Minjore, Laikipia district for fear of another attack. The Pastoralists were angered by the way government responded to their predicament. They pleaded with the government to be more proactive in responding to frequent attacks facing the area.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Elephants destroy maize farm in Leleshwa

By Dennis Kipkirui

Three elephants invaded a maize farm in Leleshwa village in Sipili Division. The elephants which are believed to have come from Laikipia Conservancy arrived in the wee hours and destroyed the maize field. The caretaker of the farm informed the authorities who responded after several hours. The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers arrived at the scene and by the time we went to press they had not succeeded in driving away the herbivores. It is believed that the animals defied the scare-mastery by the KWS wardens and continued to graze on the maize field.

The 15 acre maize farm belongs to Albert Waigwa Kariuki a brother to the former area MP and powerful cabinet minister G.G Kariuki. According to Duncun Waigwa the son to Waigwa Kariuki, the elephants invaded the farm at around 4am. The farm has green maize and is believed to have made the elephants to defy orders from the KWS officers to move. 

Our source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter revealed that KWS officers were planning to kill one of the elephants to scare the rest from the farm. When LRV contacted the local administration, they could not confirm nor deny the matter. Senior Assistant-Chief John Kimayo was non-committal and argued that probably the KWS team is waiting until evening hours when the elephants are believed to be on transit.

Elephant and the calf (Photo: Courtesy of
Sipili OCS urged  residents not to go near the scene to avoid putting their lives in danger. Mr.Duncun Waigwa, son to the farm owner, was full of wrath, “every time we see these incidences happening and the government has not done anything to curb the situation. We are never compensated in the pretext that the bill is in parliament and has not been passed to warrant compensation.”

LRV has confirmed that an electric fence had been constructed around Lariak forest but was destroyed by the residents. CDF funds have been used to replace the fence and work is currently on progress.
Other schools of thought believe that the wildlife could have come out of Lariak forest and discovered the maize field. Traditionally Lariak forest has been the place of birth for elephants in Laikipia County. They travel all the way to give birth there. It is therefore believed the calves came out of the forest. The forest also serves as the migration corridor for the elephants. 

Human-wildlife conflicts are common in Laikipia. In July buffaloes invaded a 10 acre maize farm in. June also saw three donkeys mauled by lions in Nyakinyua village. People have also lost lives due to constant wildlife invasion in the area.