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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Three feared dead; many displaced as election draws

By Bett Kipsang'
Three people are feared dead in Olmoran division Laikipia west. Sources privy to the information have informed the Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) that several heads of cattle and goats have been stolen in a spade of cattle rustling in the past one week.

 Two people are reported killed last week as they pursued the stolen cattle, no sooner had they closed in on the animals than the rustlers opened fire killing them on the spot. The other person was butchered in cold blood and his herd of cattle stolen on Tuesday night.

Several people have been displaced from the area, a situation that will badly affect the Monday vote.
It is believed the raiders are crossing over from the neighboring Baringo East District. 

In a chilling report similar to the Baragoi incident where over forty police offices were killed. The bodies of the two men killed last week are still lying in the bush and their families are living in anguish.

LRV is pursuing the story and will bring you more details as it unfolds.   

Monday, 25 February 2013

Kabati residents cry for water

By Peter Kagiri

Water is a natural resource; a basic commodity for human being. Unfortunately for the residents of Kabati in Laikipia West District clean piped water has only remained literally as a pipe dream. In this semi arid land things are not the same .Water is a tale. There are only two little dams, unfortunately 8km apart. For schools, Nature Walk is critical in this part of the country. Pupils have to be taken for trips to see what a stream or even a river looks like! 

Kabati resident carts water
Of great concern is that a medical officer in the area has declared the water unsafe for not only human consumption but also domestic use. This is after carrying out a sample test of the water. In spite of this, most locals are still using the water seeing that they have to walk long distances looking for water. Fate seems to be on their side and their determination in the life ahead has made them to rely on it despite its impending fatality.

Those who heeded to the expert’s advice have to trek long distances with their donkeys to a dam nicknamed “red dam” for their only hope of survival. The worst of this condition is during the months of December, January and February. This is because in that period, the area receives hardly a drop of rain. During this period, families have to search for water which also proves hard to come by. Livelihood is almost halted at this time as education is not spared. School going children have to stop their learning and help the rest of the family to get water.

The Kabati problem has not escaped the political eye. Every politician has been using it as a campaign tool. A dream of clean piped water is now the catch phrase of many politicians touring the area.

It is the hope of the residents that with the coming of county governments, the problem is going to be addressed. The locals dream of a future with water; clean water for domestic as well as for irrigation. It is not lost to them that a Good Samaritan will read this story and bring salvation along their way.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Elephants terrorize residents of Laikipia

By Samwel Wanjohi

Residents of Laikipia for the last decade have had to learn how to live with the constant invasion of the elephants. To them, these members of the big five have only come to put checks on their only source of income-agriculture. Despite claims that forest areas of Naibrom, Naigara and Gatundia where these animals reside will have an electric fence; little has been done to avert the menace. Elephants have had a field day in people’s farms and homesteads.

Locals have only wondered whether the terror reigned on them is a silent message from the authorities asking them to abandon their livestock and domesticate elephants! The effect of this has gradually spread from the productive dairy lands of Muhotetu to horticultural potential Marmanet and currently residents of Sipili are leaving in awe. One question the people have been asking themselves is, if the government can afford aerial counting using airplanes, why can’t they afford to keep these dangerous mammals in their right places of abode?
Photo of an elephant attacking man

The past two weeks saw a man in Chereta area of Muhotetu break his leg while running away from the elephants that invaded his homestead. What is annoying is that the man cannot claim compensation for his broken leg because the elephants did not directly broke him but happened while running for his dear life. Two farmers in Karaba reportedly had their horticultural farms destroyed.

The dry spell in Laikipia is literally spelling doom to farmers. The crops while battling for survival only end up being ruined by elephants. Farmers fear that even if these crops escape the menace in the farm they may still be followed to the store by elephants who dread no one.

The recent aggressiveness they have exhibited is enough for the people to raise the red flag. These animals have resorted to roaming in groups. This is dangerous to those who would wish to play the sentry role. One may never know how many groups are in a particular area in a certain time.

Residents are now accustomed to hearing sounds of drums and tins and constant shouts and screams accompanied by curses in a bid to scare them away. The once fenced farms are like plain fields. Fences have been trampled by these fearless animals. Farms are turning to cemented surfaces because of the heavy weight elephants pass on them while tresspassing.

Education has not been left behind by effects of elephant menace. Fear has gripped villages on the fate of school children who must wake up and leave for school very early in the morning. Coincidentally these early morning hours are the time elephants troop back to the forest. Incidences have been reported where learners meet these animals posing danger to their lives.

Most of these elephants come from conservancies. Little if any has been known on the benefits these conservancies pass to residents. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the owners of these conservancies do not pass the benefits to the country. It is reported that the guests who visit them pay money to their foreign accounts and pose as family friends visiting their hosts. This is a widespread knowledge among residents of Laikipia and thus increasing the tension between rangers and farmers.

One farmer quipped “we only wake up every morning to find a mountain of dung and dry ponds of water an indication that we really feed these animals. They feed enough to the extent that they litter twigs and branches of trees everywhere. I haven’t seen even a single coin these elephants bring to us. They only attract tourists at night using our produce. It is even sad to know that the owners don’t pay revenue to the country but remit them to their homes. It is better we have our crops because we pay taxes than to host animals for others to benefit from.”

Government plans to settle the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Muhotetu. Residents are ready to welcome their new neighbors albeit with concern that they came from one problem only to end up in another.

Although Laikipia has pockets of parched lands, most of it is rich in good agricultural soil suitable for mixed farming. Residents are asking concerned parties to step up measures to alleviate the age-old problems of elephant invasion to enable them realize the fruits of their labor.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Passion fruit farmers smile their way to bank

By Joseph Nderitu

Farmers in Laikipia County are fetching high prices on passion fruit growing. The high temperature facing the County has opened fortunes to the residents. Fruits are ripening faster. Almost every home has now adapted to this type of farming. Despite the area being semi-arid fruits are doing so well without the farmers having to irrigate them thus saving the cost of labor.

Photo of passion fruit vine
Mr. Mwangi, one of the farmers highlighted to Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) reporter how the fruits are grown. “They are planted on nursery bed and when they reach the height of 15-20cm, they are transplanted to the field where all field management practices have been carried out. After two months, the fruits are produced. The fruits take 2-6 months to ripen and harvested for marketing. ”

Mr. Mwangi sells his produce in the nearby Sipili market which is normally open on Saturdays. Most buyers come as far as Nairobi for this precious commodity. Passion fruits are well known to produce juice of their own kind. It is not lost to the farmers in the area to build a factory of their own so that they can process their juice locally.

Ripe passion fruit
John, a passion fruit farmer from Dimcom appreciates this type of farming. He has managed to educate his children from passion fruit sales. He acknowledges the tremendous about-turn that the passion fruit farmers have undergone in their living standards.

A kilo of this fruit costs between Ksh 70-150 when the pick is high. Of late farmers have not witnessed drop in prices. Most farmers are not ready to forsake this successful business venture.

Last year, Ng’arua Maarifa Centre had linked farmers in the area with international market for their produce. Exporters could come to Sipili and pick fruits for international destinations like Germany.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Leaders Discuss Management of Natural resources

By Dennis Kipkirui
Laikipia County leaders converged on Wednesday to discuss the management of natural resources in the county. In a forum attended by aspirants for the posts of senator, governor Member of Parliament and county assembly representative, the leaders were in agreement that natural resources in Laikipia County was an essential requirement to realize economic success of the county They acknowledged that the resource was indeed the  pillar of county economy.

Joshua Irungu of TNA addressing participants in the forum
Those who attended include The National Alliance Party (TNA) flag bearer for the gubernatorial seat Mr. Joshua Irungu, United Democratic Front (UDF) party gubernatorial running mate Ms Jane Ptunoi and Mr. Munene vying for the Senatorial seat in Agano Party, among a host of aspirants for both MP and MCA posts. Other leaders who could not attend sent their apologies. The forum was organized by East African Wildlife Society.

 The meeting held in the Catholic hall in Rumuruti explored different ways of enabling good resource management so that the residents can realize full benefit. It was noted that The Commission on Revenue Allocation had placed Laikipia County at Number five nationally on economic potential. Ironically 46% of the residents live below poverty line. Leadership was attributed as the biggest contributor to mismanagement of County resources and therefore the need to elect leaders that have integrity and are beyond reproach.

TNA’s Joshua Irungu stressed his competence in managing natural resources since he had a first degree in Natural Resource Management and has been working for ACT organization for many years.

Participants put the aspirants to task to explain ways in which they will ensure that natural resources in the area were protected. The minority group expressed dissatisfaction on past leadership in the county which propagated their marginalization. Mr Koskei from the Endoroiis community asked the aspirants to ensure equitable distribution of resources and positions in the county. The leaders committed themselves to serve the people with particular emphasis on proper management of natural resources.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Blown roof cuts electricity line

By Dennis Kipkirui
Blown roof cut electric power line on Thursday afternoon in Kahuruko village Laikipia West District. This occurred after raging winds blew off the roof of an old wooden building incidentally slashing electricity line. The incident saw the whole of Sipili trading centre and neighborhoods stay without electricity for the rest of the day. Kenya Power technicians visited the scene and reconnected the power at 9pm. No casualties were reported when the tragedy occurred
Earlier in the day the centre had witnessed power outage only to be cut off again after resuming in the afternoon. This has been happening for the past one week.
Laikipia is currently experiencing a dry spell with strong winds. This is what largely contributed to the incident coupled with caving and deteriorating buildings. It was only recently when the electric power line was connected to the area. The people of Kahuruko attribute this development project to one of their sons who is a senior government official.
Age-old wooden buildings characterize Kahuruko centre. Silence and horror engulfs the centre after it was deserted due to security concerns. Residents have in the passed witnessed a series of robberies and break-ins. This made most of them close their premises and move to the neighboring Sipili. The government has been forced to place an Administration Police post in the centre to curb the menace. 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Youths flock Maarifa to acquire skills

By BettKipsang'

One hundred and twelve (112) community members, majority of them youths, have been recruited to start computer lessons and Journalism skills training at Ng’arua Maarifa Centre.  The trainees converged last Friday for orientation to familiarize them with the training and some other responsibilities. A timetable was developed and shared with the students. Both lessons commenced Monday. 

One of the youths acquiring skills in Maarifa Centre
 A team of 18 youths, 11 males and 7 females interested in Community Journalism were recruited. RisperMukamiKiguru 18, a form four leaver is a happy girl; she is awaiting her KCSE results but has commenced ICT trainings and Community Journalism at the Ng’arua Maarifa centre. ‘‘I had not touched a computer before, but the lessons are presented well by the teacher’’, said Risper adding that she understood the introduction to computer and hoped the preceding topics would be good.
The young lady is aspiring to pursue accounting as a career, because she liked mathematics and business education in school. ''I want to acquire the skills so that I can access and store my personal and professional data in future” she said.  Risper observed that fewer women than men could use computers in the locality, and according to her the reason is that most women lacked computer skill.  

 ‘‘I want to learn Community Journalism so that I can report issues happening within my home area’’ Said Risper, who is bothered by human-wildlife conflict where elephants frequently invade their farms.  Risper likes reading novels, newspapers and playing volleyball. 

 Samuel Njoroge 20, who hails from Mithuri in Olmoran Division, is also awaiting his KCSE results due in the next two months. Meanwhile, he has heard a lot of stories about Ngarua Maarifa Centre and its services like free access to information, book library, Internet and free ICT trainings. One day he came to the Maarifa Centre to inquire and that is when he got a chance to commence the training.

 ‘‘I want to start and run a business in future and I hope the computer skills will enable me to keep and manage my data’’,he said. Samuel heard about Community Journalism training for the first time during the orientation and developed a lot of interest.  He also enrolled for the lessons that will run concurrently with ICT lessons. His expectation is to acquire skills in both fields in order to enable him create employment for himself and help people in the process. ‘‘I want to use my reporting skills to voice up community issues like land disputes, insecurity, poor infrastructure among others’’, said Samuel. 

Like many others who have commenced the trainings, Samuel is very grateful for ALIN for according him the learning opportunity.  ALIN is implementing the free ICT training courtesy of a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Community Journalism and market access programs are made possible with the support of the Ford Foundation.