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Friday, 26 April 2013

Child drowns in a pit

By Martin Wamae
A three year old child fell in a pit containing rain water on Wednesday afternoon and died. The tragic accident happened in Mahiga village of Laikipia West District while the child was playing near the pit. It is reported that the child in the company of two others tripped and fell on the pit but could not be rescued immediately since there was no adult around. It is believed that she drowned since there was plenty of water in the pit.

Parents of the child have separated and she was living with her father and her other sibling after their mother left with other two children. The father was not around when the incident happened and had gone to look for food. She had been left in the company of their grandmother who at the time of the accident had dashed to console with a bereaved neighbor. The grandmother was shocked to hear the sad news while taking a cup of tea in the neighbor’s house. She rushed home only to confirm that the incident had happened within a short time after her departure.

The father of the child only identified as Maina and of middle age separated with his wife during the2007 post election clashes that rocked the country. He is now left with one child to take care of while the wife has two.

Area assistant chief Richard Mutahi while confirming the incident directed the residents to ensure that all boreholes are fenced and any bore hole which is not used should be filled. He told them that he will be conducting a search in the homesteads to check on those who will not heed his directive to face the full wrath of the law.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Laikipia farmers say Co-operative Society is the way to go

By Dennis Kipkirui
Farmers in Laikipia County have formed a producer and marketing co-operative society. Laikipia Producers and Marketing Organization (LPMO) initially formed as a Community Based Organization (CBO) will now be transformed into a co-operative society. This was arrived at a two day workshop held in Sipili Catholic Hall Wednesday last week.The workshop aimed at training farmers on importance of value chain. The theme of the inception workshop was ‘Enhancing Farmers’ Capacity to Harness the Agriculture Value Chain and Promoting Citizens’ Engagement through Media Using ICTs’.
James Nguo Regional Director opening the workshop

The Ford Foundation has funded a two year project aimed at promoting agriculture value chain through ALIN in collaboration with the Kenya Agricultural Productivity & Agribusiness Programme (KAPAP). The workshop attracted people from various sectors which include KAPAP, Kenya Seed Company, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Livestock, Provincial Administration and other partners of ALIN.

The workshop was officially opened by ALIN’s Regional Director James Nguo. He was accompanied by Deputy Director Anthony Mugo and Project Manager Noah Lusaka. While opening the ceremony Mr. Nguo urged farmers to emphasize value addition in their produce so as to empower them. He thanked farmers from the area for cooperating with ALIN through Maarifa Centre and asked them to work together especially in attaining success in the upcoming project. 

On his part Mr. Mugo gave an overview of ALIN activities with special emphasis on sokopepe service which uses SMS to link farmers to markets. Farmers can access market prices for their produce at the comfort of their homes without necessarily travelling. They can even now order for farm inputs using the phone through sokopepe service. Mugo informed participants that it is now possible to register for the service using the phone without visiting Maarifa Centre to register with a computer as before. 
David Kimaru training participants on sokopepe service
Different presentations were given at the workshop which aimed at making farmers identify specific value chains. In the long run, farmers agreed to have three value chain crops namely, maize passion fruits and tree tomatoes. They also agreed to form a co-operative society and mandated a team of persons to report back the progress of full registration within a month.

Through facilitation made by Fanuel Lubanga, farmers saw the need to have a society that will enable them market their produce while at the same time do business and own property. This would not have been possible if they remained as a CBO because of stringent statutory regulations. Lubanga enumerated success stories of co-operative societies in the US and encouraged farmers to have joint efforts to boost their bargaining power.

There was excitement and a barrage of questions when Charles Nyakiongora representing Kenya Seed Company rose to make his presentation. Farmers demanded to be told why fake seeds found their way in the market yet Kenya Seed had a mandate to supply them with certified seeds. With his charming personality, Mr. Nyakiongora smoothened his way to the hearts of participants and explained how it was not possible for the company to easily detect the suppliers of fake seeds. He asked farmers to join hands with Kenya Seed to fight the mess in the sector because ultimately the farmer will lose. He also informed them that the company do not have prosecutorial powers but has been left with a sister parastatal KEPHIS.

ALIN’s project manager Noah Lusaka helped participants identify desired qualifications for the office bearers. After the session members identified their leaders on an interim basis. He later closed the workshop with a review of all activities done for the last two days. He thanked participants for availing themselves.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Laikipia wilderness safari and tourism

By Joseph Nderitu
Laikipia, one of the 47 counties in Kenya is one of the world’s most exciting wilderness safari and wildlife tourism destination. It is located in the former Rift-Valley province one of the largest provinces in Kenya. It stretches from the slopes of Mt Kenya to the Great Rift Valley thus becoming the largest of all Kenya’s national parks and reserves after the Tsavo. Its magnificent escarpment descends into the arid lands and semi deserts of northern Kenya.

Laikipia wildlife sanctuary consist a wide variety of mammal species; they include rhino, elephant, lion, leopard, zebra and other African game. All the big-5 mammals occur in Laikipia and half of all endangered black rhinos in Kenya today are in Laikipia.

It is not just the rare and the endangered animals that make Laikipia so special, it also plays home to a great diversity of life, from the smallest insects to vast herds of impala, buffalo and zebra. It is also renowned for the richness of its bird life. Other tourist attraction sites in Laikipia is the amazing Thomson’s Falls, Laikipia plateau and Ole Pejeta conservancy.
 Cottage in Ol Lentille Sanctuary

A well developed tourism infrastructure complete with high levels of community involvement and participation gives the visitors privileged access to the cultures and customs. The region is well endowed with cultural communities that include Maasai, Samburu, Turkana, Pokot and other peoples.

Investment and conservation are the key factors practiced by people of Laikipia County. Hundred of thousands of acres were set aside over years for conservation and eco-tourism developments. Both locals and white ranchers here own ventures in form of lodges or tented camps. These include Tassia and the sanctuary at Ol Lentille. They also have tourism facilities. They include small lodges, tent camps, ranch houses, community lodges and resorts based in natural wildlife areas.

There is need to conserve Laikipia wildlife and ecosystem to improve the lives of its people by bringing its societies together to conserve and sustainably use the wealth of these natural resources.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Wildlife invasion takes toll of Laikipia and Baringo Counties

By Beatrice Nyambura
Rampant cases of human-wildlife conflict have been witnessed lately in many parts of Laikipia and Baringo Counties. Many of the affected areas include Wangwaci, Naibrom, Kiriko, Kaptuiya among others. 

Elephants are one of the animals that have left farmers pointing fingers at because of their incessant invasion to farms. Food crops such as maize, beans, sorghum among others have been left at the mercy of these herbivores. Despite farmers practicing irrigation in the semi-arid counties, their source of living has been endangered over time by these animals. They are no longer ready to condone it and are now up in arms. 

That elephants and buffaloes eat everything living a bare land is what residents have had to come to terms with, albeit with bitterness. Chasing them away from farms whenever they invade is another nightmare. It is now very common to hear sounds of drums, bells and jingles in the evening when farmers are attempting to drive them back to their place of abode.

Farmers sacrifice their night in the farms guarding their crops for fear that they may not harvest after working very hard for them. They have secured bright torches to light well during the night. They have been using also fires as an instrument to scare away these animals. These methods are simple but dangerous for the farmers as often times animals become enraged and charge at them, especially when they are directed with bright light.

Each year residents of these areas count losses incurred from these animals. Food security has been endangered resulting to increase in crime rate. Barns and houses are also prone to these destructions as the elephants bring down such buildings and eat up whatever in the store. People do also die in such incidences whenever they invade without knowledge while deeply asleep in the house. Indeed, life has been complicate for residents of these counties. 

Approaches have been made to the Kenya Wild Life Service (KWS) to manage these animals and prevent them from destroying farm produce. It is amazing that responsible authorities have turned deaf ears to the incessant pleas made by the local community. Worst can only be mentioned on the part of the rich ranchers who never enjoy the confidence of the residents. Bad blood exists between the two groups and hinders any progress towards solving human-wildlife conflict.
Laikipia Rural Voices (LRV) is asking stakeholders to make necessary intervention to resolve this long standoff in Laikipia and Baringo counties. No meaningful development can be achieved without having concrete solution on this matter.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Family escapes death while hurrying to mortuary

By Benson Maranga
A family was involved in a car accident on Saturday after their vehicle rolled several times. The accident happened in the morning hours a few metres from Gatero Girls High School, 35km from Nyahururu town. Eye witnesses reported that the vehicle which was at a high speed was trying to avoid bumps on the road when the driver lost control and the vehicle rolled.

Wrekage of vehicle that was involved in acccident
The family in their private car was hurrying to Nyahururu District Hospital Mortuary to view the body of their deceased when the accident occurred. 
Nobody sustained serious injuries in the incident.

The road between Kinamba and Nyahururu is laced with bumps. It is reported that the area is prone to accidents and this inspired the erection of bumps. Public service vehicles occasionally try to avoid the bumps which are too high and concentrated.

Vehicles plying the route are known to over speed. They also carry excess passengers. This is done at the full watch of the traffic police. It is also an open secret that the police receive bribes in the area. They do it at the full watch of the passengers. Residents are appealing to the Inspector General David Kimaiyo to act with speed to ensure that reforms in the police force trickle down to the grass root level.