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  • 29 Aug 2016
    I use my skin care products religiously and I am loyal to several brands that have proven to be good for my skin over the years. Top on my list are Neutrogena and Clean and Clear facial scrubs that leave my skin feeling smooth and silky. So imagine my shock when I saw these products on the list of those causing harm to marine life and affecting the water quality. I will be honest; the research I have done on these products has been purely based on what I could gain from them and not what their use could potentially mean to the environment. However, a time comes when you can no longer ignore the facts glaring in your face. The past week has seen an active debate and discussion on the effects of microbeads on marine life and water supplies. Microbeads are small plastic particles found in different hygiene products. They provide color and texture; exfoliating dead skin particles from our skin. Microbeads are smaller than one millimeter and are made of polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, or nylon. The 5 Gyres institute estimates that a single tube of scrub can have more than 300,000 microbeads. They create a rough texture that is used in exfoliating scrubs and color in toothpastes. What complicates matters with microbeads is that they are non-biodegradable and its size makes it possible for it to pass through the waste water treatment systems. This means that the microbeads are washed into rivers and lakes and eventually make their way into the ocean where they contribute to the plastic soup.   Environmental activists claim that microbeads are clogging the water affecting marine life and eventually putting man at risk through the food chain. Beat the Microbead, an international campaign geared towards the complete phasing out of microbeads in hygiene products claims that the small size of the beads confuses the marine species to believe it is food. Microbeads also have the ability to absorb dangerous chemicals posing more threat to animals that consume them. Depending on the goodwill of companies to phase out the use of microbeads has not yielded any tangible results so far. As a result active restrictions on use of microbeads may be the next best alternative as some states in the USA have proven. Therefore, companies that produce products containing microbeads will have to reevaluate their products and redevelop new brands in order to conform to these new requirements. I am experiencing a personal struggle because I am an advocate for behavior change to promote environmental protection and conservation but this time round I need to heed my own advice. This time I am not writing about what other people should do but what I am supposed to do and that in itself is difficult. I am still using the said products but every time I do some guilt eats at me. I am not an extremist when it comes to sustainability but I believe in doing the little I can to make this world a better place. There are many other products on that list and groups like Beat the Microbead are pushing for legislation change in different countries to ban the use plastic microbeads in hygiene products. I need to believe that if a few of us can stop using these products before their production ceases can have even the slightest impact in protecting marine life. I also need to start doing my research on alternative products!   For more information: https://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/science
    1132 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I use my skin care products religiously and I am loyal to several brands that have proven to be good for my skin over the years. Top on my list are Neutrogena and Clean and Clear facial scrubs that leave my skin feeling smooth and silky. So imagine my shock when I saw these products on the list of those causing harm to marine life and affecting the water quality. I will be honest; the research I have done on these products has been purely based on what I could gain from them and not what their use could potentially mean to the environment. However, a time comes when you can no longer ignore the facts glaring in your face. The past week has seen an active debate and discussion on the effects of microbeads on marine life and water supplies. Microbeads are small plastic particles found in different hygiene products. They provide color and texture; exfoliating dead skin particles from our skin. Microbeads are smaller than one millimeter and are made of polyethylene, polypropylene, polyethylene terephthalate, polymethyl methacrylate, or nylon. The 5 Gyres institute estimates that a single tube of scrub can have more than 300,000 microbeads. They create a rough texture that is used in exfoliating scrubs and color in toothpastes. What complicates matters with microbeads is that they are non-biodegradable and its size makes it possible for it to pass through the waste water treatment systems. This means that the microbeads are washed into rivers and lakes and eventually make their way into the ocean where they contribute to the plastic soup.   Environmental activists claim that microbeads are clogging the water affecting marine life and eventually putting man at risk through the food chain. Beat the Microbead, an international campaign geared towards the complete phasing out of microbeads in hygiene products claims that the small size of the beads confuses the marine species to believe it is food. Microbeads also have the ability to absorb dangerous chemicals posing more threat to animals that consume them. Depending on the goodwill of companies to phase out the use of microbeads has not yielded any tangible results so far. As a result active restrictions on use of microbeads may be the next best alternative as some states in the USA have proven. Therefore, companies that produce products containing microbeads will have to reevaluate their products and redevelop new brands in order to conform to these new requirements. I am experiencing a personal struggle because I am an advocate for behavior change to promote environmental protection and conservation but this time round I need to heed my own advice. This time I am not writing about what other people should do but what I am supposed to do and that in itself is difficult. I am still using the said products but every time I do some guilt eats at me. I am not an extremist when it comes to sustainability but I believe in doing the little I can to make this world a better place. There are many other products on that list and groups like Beat the Microbead are pushing for legislation change in different countries to ban the use plastic microbeads in hygiene products. I need to believe that if a few of us can stop using these products before their production ceases can have even the slightest impact in protecting marine life. I also need to start doing my research on alternative products!   For more information: https://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/science
    Aug 29, 2016 1132
  • 22 Aug 2016
    My name is Muthoni daughter of Kimonye and the Agaciku clan. Lately, I have been thinking deeply about whom I am and my identity as my father’s daughter and by extension as part of my community. I belong to the “house of Mumbi” which makes me a Kikuyu. I am named from my mother’s side of the family and my name Muthoni is derived from the name uthoni meaning “the place my father took dowry to get a wife.” Ironically, it is only my father that uses this name in my family. The Kikuyu believe that we all came from Mumbi and Gikuyu. They had 10 daughters but it was considered bad omen to count all your children so they referred to them as “nine daughters full” When the nine daughters reached marriageable age, Gikuyu and Mumbi could not find husbands for them so they made a sacrifice to Ngai who they believed lived on top of Mount Kenya or Kirinyaga as it was referred to back then. In response Ngai sent nine very handsome men to Gikuyu and so a tribe was born. The Kikuyu tribe is very matriarchal and all the clans that exist are named after one of the daughters of Gikuyu and Mumbi. I learned all this in my lower primary classes but sadly I have forgotten most of it and frankly the older generation no longer speak of it. The blame does not lie with them entirely but with the younger generation as well who are no longer inquisitive about their own culture. See, the Kikuyu are known to be among the tribes that have almost completely abandoned their culture for westernization. We have still retained our culture in naming children and to some extent in carrying out the marriage ceremony. Our language has also evolved from one filled with proverbs and sayings into a much simpler plain language. Most times when I sit down with my elders I have to ask them to interpret some words because I have no clue what they mean and I assure you my case is not unique. Every tribe in Kenya and by extension Africa has a story that defines them and their culture. There may be similarities if they belong to the same family like the Bantu or Cushites and Nilotes but there is uniqueness in every one of them. The Kikuyu belong to the Bantu family and I always find it fascinating that I can understand some words spoken by other Bantu tribes from other African countries. Such uniqueness and likeness should be celebrated and passed from one generation to the other. Instead our differences in culture and religion have been mostly used to divide and cause harm to those thought to be different from us. Many people will tell you that the colonial period and the contact with the outside world is to blame for eroding our culture and beliefs. That may be true to some extent but I think we have not worked hard enough to retain our systems. In my culture, a child belonged to the clan and anyone could raise them. Young boys and girls went to their aunts and uncles to be taught the way of life and what their community expected of them. Disputes were settled by the elders of the clan and the grandfathers and mothers would pass on the cultural beliefs through story telling. We had our own religion but somehow we came to believe that what we believed in and practiced culturally was archaic and wrong. Staying true to who we are as a people does not mean we will live in isolation from the rest of the world. We have so much to offer and we should not allow outside influence to take that away from us. We owe it to ourselves and the future generations to stay true to who we are and keep our roots firmly in the ground. To ask the older generation questions until we figure out who we are and gain the confidence to share it with the rest of the world.
    1450 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • My name is Muthoni daughter of Kimonye and the Agaciku clan. Lately, I have been thinking deeply about whom I am and my identity as my father’s daughter and by extension as part of my community. I belong to the “house of Mumbi” which makes me a Kikuyu. I am named from my mother’s side of the family and my name Muthoni is derived from the name uthoni meaning “the place my father took dowry to get a wife.” Ironically, it is only my father that uses this name in my family. The Kikuyu believe that we all came from Mumbi and Gikuyu. They had 10 daughters but it was considered bad omen to count all your children so they referred to them as “nine daughters full” When the nine daughters reached marriageable age, Gikuyu and Mumbi could not find husbands for them so they made a sacrifice to Ngai who they believed lived on top of Mount Kenya or Kirinyaga as it was referred to back then. In response Ngai sent nine very handsome men to Gikuyu and so a tribe was born. The Kikuyu tribe is very matriarchal and all the clans that exist are named after one of the daughters of Gikuyu and Mumbi. I learned all this in my lower primary classes but sadly I have forgotten most of it and frankly the older generation no longer speak of it. The blame does not lie with them entirely but with the younger generation as well who are no longer inquisitive about their own culture. See, the Kikuyu are known to be among the tribes that have almost completely abandoned their culture for westernization. We have still retained our culture in naming children and to some extent in carrying out the marriage ceremony. Our language has also evolved from one filled with proverbs and sayings into a much simpler plain language. Most times when I sit down with my elders I have to ask them to interpret some words because I have no clue what they mean and I assure you my case is not unique. Every tribe in Kenya and by extension Africa has a story that defines them and their culture. There may be similarities if they belong to the same family like the Bantu or Cushites and Nilotes but there is uniqueness in every one of them. The Kikuyu belong to the Bantu family and I always find it fascinating that I can understand some words spoken by other Bantu tribes from other African countries. Such uniqueness and likeness should be celebrated and passed from one generation to the other. Instead our differences in culture and religion have been mostly used to divide and cause harm to those thought to be different from us. Many people will tell you that the colonial period and the contact with the outside world is to blame for eroding our culture and beliefs. That may be true to some extent but I think we have not worked hard enough to retain our systems. In my culture, a child belonged to the clan and anyone could raise them. Young boys and girls went to their aunts and uncles to be taught the way of life and what their community expected of them. Disputes were settled by the elders of the clan and the grandfathers and mothers would pass on the cultural beliefs through story telling. We had our own religion but somehow we came to believe that what we believed in and practiced culturally was archaic and wrong. Staying true to who we are as a people does not mean we will live in isolation from the rest of the world. We have so much to offer and we should not allow outside influence to take that away from us. We owe it to ourselves and the future generations to stay true to who we are and keep our roots firmly in the ground. To ask the older generation questions until we figure out who we are and gain the confidence to share it with the rest of the world.
    Aug 22, 2016 1450
  • 15 Aug 2016
    It is funny how you can be going about your day and you have no idea that the universe is conspiring to turn your life around. In the past week I have known sorrow deep enough to drown in after I lost someone dear to me and my very close friend lost his father but I have also witnessed unadulterated love as one of my closest friends became a first time father. It is actually comical listening to him go on and on about how the daughter is not allowed to date until she is forty and you can bet I take great pleasure in tormenting him with just how karma will get him back for all his sins. As you can imagine it has been emotionally frustrating to be so far from home when all I want is to be surrounded by friends and family. To give and receive comfort. Regardless of the happenings my internship at the UNU-FLORES has been good and a great learning experience. I have also had immense pleasure of exploring the city and its rich history especially during the reign of Augustus the Strong. I have visited the castles and some of his hunting grounds and it felt like I was literally walking through history. I studied European history and as many of you may be aware Germany and France are at the center of it. I was always greatly fascinated by leaders like Otto Von Bismarck and Napoleon Bonaparte and left to wonder how men like Adolf Hitler could have possibly risen to power. Walking through Berlin brought all the history I could remember back to life and I took great pleasure in walking through it and knowing what it all meant. Yet even as a foreigner you can tell that the past is still influencing the present either by how people interact or even by what is left unsaid. I like to travel and being here is a testament to that. I honestly believe that travelling to new places opens up your mind to new possibilities and limitless opportunities. The biggest challenge however is in making new ties and friendships and carving a place for yourself in people’s lives. Sometimes it is difficult to establish roots when you do not intend to stay at a place for too long but other times you meet adventurous spirits like yourself and a connection is formed. Yet you have to keep trying because part of learning and growing as a person is getting to know how to break the social barriers and stereotypes. I love watching animation movies and if you are like me I am sure you have watched “The Lion King” which holds so much truth even in real life. There is so much in this life to be done and seen and it can all seem so daunting. In the midst of it all we have to remember who we are and what defines us and keep those we care about close. Life will change whether we want it to or not, that is just the circle of life but we can all ease into it through making subtle changes. In the end we have all loved and lost, gotten it right or wrong but that is what makes this life so intriguing.
    1094 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • It is funny how you can be going about your day and you have no idea that the universe is conspiring to turn your life around. In the past week I have known sorrow deep enough to drown in after I lost someone dear to me and my very close friend lost his father but I have also witnessed unadulterated love as one of my closest friends became a first time father. It is actually comical listening to him go on and on about how the daughter is not allowed to date until she is forty and you can bet I take great pleasure in tormenting him with just how karma will get him back for all his sins. As you can imagine it has been emotionally frustrating to be so far from home when all I want is to be surrounded by friends and family. To give and receive comfort. Regardless of the happenings my internship at the UNU-FLORES has been good and a great learning experience. I have also had immense pleasure of exploring the city and its rich history especially during the reign of Augustus the Strong. I have visited the castles and some of his hunting grounds and it felt like I was literally walking through history. I studied European history and as many of you may be aware Germany and France are at the center of it. I was always greatly fascinated by leaders like Otto Von Bismarck and Napoleon Bonaparte and left to wonder how men like Adolf Hitler could have possibly risen to power. Walking through Berlin brought all the history I could remember back to life and I took great pleasure in walking through it and knowing what it all meant. Yet even as a foreigner you can tell that the past is still influencing the present either by how people interact or even by what is left unsaid. I like to travel and being here is a testament to that. I honestly believe that travelling to new places opens up your mind to new possibilities and limitless opportunities. The biggest challenge however is in making new ties and friendships and carving a place for yourself in people’s lives. Sometimes it is difficult to establish roots when you do not intend to stay at a place for too long but other times you meet adventurous spirits like yourself and a connection is formed. Yet you have to keep trying because part of learning and growing as a person is getting to know how to break the social barriers and stereotypes. I love watching animation movies and if you are like me I am sure you have watched “The Lion King” which holds so much truth even in real life. There is so much in this life to be done and seen and it can all seem so daunting. In the midst of it all we have to remember who we are and what defines us and keep those we care about close. Life will change whether we want it to or not, that is just the circle of life but we can all ease into it through making subtle changes. In the end we have all loved and lost, gotten it right or wrong but that is what makes this life so intriguing.
    Aug 15, 2016 1094
  • 09 Aug 2016
     A Case Study of Okavango Basin   According to the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) the Okavango River rises in the headwaters of the Cuito and Cubango-Okavango Rivers in the highland plateaus of Angola. The river is drained by Cubango (referred to as Kavango in Namibia and Okavango in Botswana), Cutato, Cuchi, Cuelei, Cuebe, Cueio, Cuatir, Luassinga, Longa, Cuiriri and Cuito Rivers and the Okavango Delta. Flowing from the Angola highlands the Cuito and Cubango Rivers meet to form the Cubango-Okavango along the border of Namibia Angola before flowing through the panhandle to into the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Current and future challenges While Okavango is one of the least ‘developed’ river basins in Africa, there is an increasing pressure to develop the basin’s resources (Nicol, 2003).The fact that Okavango is a shared water resource between Angola, Botswana and Namibia means that each country not only has to deal with internal water challenges but also with trans-boundary water challenges as well. In addition it is a Ramsar site with rich biodiversity which has attracted international concerns bringing in stakeholders beyond the riparian countries (Peter Ashton, Public involvement in water resource management within the Okavango River Basin, 2005). These current and future challenges are discussed below in detail: Population Dynamics: The present population in the basin is 921,890 and is projected to increase to 1.28 million people by 2025 with 62% living in Angola, 16% in Botswana and 22% in Namibia (Commission, 2011).  The increase in urbanization partly because of the high population growth all around the basin presents a new challenge in meeting the present and future demand for water and sanitation. For example the centre of Rundu in Namibia is growing at a rate of 2.5% compared with the growth of 1.5% per annum in the rural areas of Kavongo. In 2009-2010 the Kavongo region was subject to severe flooding which was attributed to the increased population in the floodplains in Caprivi and Kavango and development of infrastructure (rail, road) that interfered with the natural flow of the river. The Namibian and Botswana sectors of the Okavango catchment represent a relatively arid environment and most communities tend to be located close to the available water resources. This concentration of human activities in close proximity to the water resources of the Okavango River and the Okavango Delta represents a growing dependency on these resources and could represent a potential threat to the ecological integrity of these systems if resource exploitation patterns are not carefully balanced by resource protection (Ashton & Neal, 2003; Turton et al., 2003). Climate change: an analysis of projected climate change effects predicts a rise in the temperature and rainfall in the basin. Higher temperatures of 2.3°C-3°C will affect the Southern basin more than the North with increasing evaporation. There is also a projected rise in rainfall of 0-20% with the greatest effect on the North (Commission, 2011). During the dry season an increase in evaporation may exceed the inflow from the catchment causing drier conditions whereas there would be increased flooding during the wetter seasons downstream. This presents a current and future challenge for the riparian countries. A collaborative study by Sweden, South Africa and the UK showed that the flow of the river would decrease by 26% by 2100 under the A2 scenario and 17% under the B2 scenario. International interest on the river basin: Okavango River Basin is a Ramsar site and therefore attracts a lot of international interest. The interest from international groups in protecting the wetland conflicts with some of the development plans for the three states. For example Angola was not able to secure funding for a dam along the Okavango River because of the fact that it is a Ramsar site. Land use change: there is an increased demand for land for crops along the river basin from the Angolan highlands and with the projected population growth the demand will only increase. There are expansive agricultural irrigation activities in Angola (15,000 ha) and Namibia (338,000 ha) along the basin which translates into the use of fertilizers and pesticides posing the danger of eutrophication and surface and ground water contamination from the use of pesticides. There has been proof of decline in forest cover over the last 25 years which affects the hydrological regime of the basin. Livestock numbers are expected to increase substantially in Angola and Namibia leading to overgrazing and encroachment. This will result to higher levels of erosion resulting to siltation which affects the water quality for those who are downstream. This will result to higher levels of erosion resulting to siltation which affects the water quality for those who are downstream. Conflict in Angola: Following the signing of the peace accord in Angola between the Government of Angola and the leaders of National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) in 4th April 2002 it is clear that the country needs to rehabilitate all its resources for economic growth after 30 years of civil war. In the pursuit of economic growth the Angola government will seek to develop the country’s hydropower capacity and agricultural irrigation schemes (Peter Ashton, Public involvement in water resource management within the Okavango River Basin, 2005) and increased urbanization and industrialization will also put more pressure on the water resource. This presents a problem for those living in the lower Okavango basin since it will mean construction of hydro dams, irrigation pipeline schemes and water treatment infrastructure will have to be laid out. The Angolan portion of the Okavango basin contains some of the most remote and sparsely populated portions of the country. However, this region was a UNITA stronghold and some of the most ferocious battles of the civil war were fought here. A large number of mines have been laid along all of the roads and encircling each urban centre, as well as along many parts of the border with Namibia and at all bridges and river crossing points. As a result, road travel and access to the towns in the catchment (Menongue, Longa, CuitoCanavale, Mavinga, Savata and Caiundo) is extremely dangerous and air transport to Menongue remains the most reliable means of access to the catchment (Dr Chris Brown, CEO: Namibia Nature Foundation, personal communication, 12 May 2003). The long civil conflict in Angola prevented the collection of data in the basin region and the participation of local communities concerning the utilization of the basin (Mbaiwa, 2004). This is contrary to Namibia and Botswana where stakeholder participation is encouraged. The lack of data availability from Angola makes it very hard for the riparian countries to coordinate their planning and management efforts of the Okavango basin. The prolonged period of war in Angola also means that communication systems are not developed compared to Namibia and Botswana. Communication challenge: The cultural, linguistic diversity of the communities living along the basin poses another challenge in data collection and carrying out of research. According to the Summer Institute of Linguistic 2002, there are 13 different indigenous languages as well as five official languages. This represents a challenge in communication and the ability to incorporate the different cultural beliefs in water resource management in the three basin states.  Poverty: Unequal distribution of wealth in the three countries is partly to blame for the poverty level along the basin and so is the remoteness of the basin area. The majority of those living along the basin rely on natural resources to meet their needs through fishing, agriculture, charcoal burning and livestock keeping all of which have an impact on the vegetation cover and consequently on the water quality. If the trend remains the same the pressure on natural resources in Angola will increase nearly by 50% and by about 25% in Namibia and Botswana (Commission, 2011). This will result into further degradation and loss of wetland and forest cover. Weak institutions: The establishment of the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) in 1994 as a coordinating organization that acts as the technical advisor to the three member states regarding conservation, development and use of water resources of mutual interest was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, OKACOM has no legal authority, suffers from inadequate financing and has no enforcement mechanisms and each country maintains full sovereignty over its water rights. The commission is therefore unable to fulfill its mandate. In conclusion, the trans-boundary development and management challenges faced in the Okavango River Basin are not unique to it but are reflected across Africa with other shared water resources. The three states need to come to a consensus on how the Okavango River Basin will be managed and allow OKACOM to carry out its mandate independently in order to sustainably and equitably achieve social and economic development without compromising the environment. Different stakeholders local, national, regional and international need to be fully involved in planning and management of the basin if any meaningful gains are to be made in the protection and management of this water resource.   Works Cited Commission, T. P. (2011). Cubango-Okavango River Basin Transbooundary Diagnostic Analysis. Botswana: OKACOM. Mbaiwa, J. E. (2004). Causes and possible solutions to water resource conflicts in theOkavango River Basin: The case of Angola, Namibia and Botswana. Elsevier ltd. Nicol, A. (2003). The dynamics of river basin cooperation:The Nile and Okavango basins. In A. W. International., Transboundary Rivers, Sovereignty and Development:Hydropolitical Drivers in the Okavango River Basin. Pretotia. OKACOM. (2016). Retrieved January 9, 2016, from http://www.okacom.org/knowing-the-river/okavango-countries Organizations, A. N. (2007). Source book On Africa's River Basin Organization. Kampala: Warner Consultants Limited. Peter Ashton, M. N. (2003). An overview of key strategic issues in the Okavango basin. Transboundary Rivers, Sovereignty and Development: Hydropolitical Drivers in the Okavango River Basin , 31-63. Peter Ashton, M. N. (2005). Public involvement in water resource management within the Okavango River Basin. In Public Participation in the Governance of International Freshwater Resources (pp. 169-198). Tokyo: United Nations University Press. Ruud Jansen, M. M. (2003). The Okavango Delta Management Plan project:The need for environmental partnership. In G. C. African Water Issue Research Unit, Transboundary Rivers, Sovereignty and Development: Hydropolitical drivers in the Okavango River Basin (pp. 141-166). Pretoria. Tlou, T. (1985). A history of Ngamiland:1750–1906 The Formation of an African State. Gaborone: Macmillan Publishing Company. Turton, A.R., P.J. Ashton and T.E. Cloete. (2003). “An introduction to the hydropolitical drivers in the Okavango River basin”, in A.R. Turton, P.J. Ashton and T.E. Cloete, eds, Transboundary Rivers, Sovereignty and Development: Hydropolitical Drivers in the Okavango River Basin, Geneva: Green Cross International, Pages 6-30.    
    1203 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  •  A Case Study of Okavango Basin   According to the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) the Okavango River rises in the headwaters of the Cuito and Cubango-Okavango Rivers in the highland plateaus of Angola. The river is drained by Cubango (referred to as Kavango in Namibia and Okavango in Botswana), Cutato, Cuchi, Cuelei, Cuebe, Cueio, Cuatir, Luassinga, Longa, Cuiriri and Cuito Rivers and the Okavango Delta. Flowing from the Angola highlands the Cuito and Cubango Rivers meet to form the Cubango-Okavango along the border of Namibia Angola before flowing through the panhandle to into the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Current and future challenges While Okavango is one of the least ‘developed’ river basins in Africa, there is an increasing pressure to develop the basin’s resources (Nicol, 2003).The fact that Okavango is a shared water resource between Angola, Botswana and Namibia means that each country not only has to deal with internal water challenges but also with trans-boundary water challenges as well. In addition it is a Ramsar site with rich biodiversity which has attracted international concerns bringing in stakeholders beyond the riparian countries (Peter Ashton, Public involvement in water resource management within the Okavango River Basin, 2005). These current and future challenges are discussed below in detail: Population Dynamics: The present population in the basin is 921,890 and is projected to increase to 1.28 million people by 2025 with 62% living in Angola, 16% in Botswana and 22% in Namibia (Commission, 2011).  The increase in urbanization partly because of the high population growth all around the basin presents a new challenge in meeting the present and future demand for water and sanitation. For example the centre of Rundu in Namibia is growing at a rate of 2.5% compared with the growth of 1.5% per annum in the rural areas of Kavongo. In 2009-2010 the Kavongo region was subject to severe flooding which was attributed to the increased population in the floodplains in Caprivi and Kavango and development of infrastructure (rail, road) that interfered with the natural flow of the river. The Namibian and Botswana sectors of the Okavango catchment represent a relatively arid environment and most communities tend to be located close to the available water resources. This concentration of human activities in close proximity to the water resources of the Okavango River and the Okavango Delta represents a growing dependency on these resources and could represent a potential threat to the ecological integrity of these systems if resource exploitation patterns are not carefully balanced by resource protection (Ashton & Neal, 2003; Turton et al., 2003). Climate change: an analysis of projected climate change effects predicts a rise in the temperature and rainfall in the basin. Higher temperatures of 2.3°C-3°C will affect the Southern basin more than the North with increasing evaporation. There is also a projected rise in rainfall of 0-20% with the greatest effect on the North (Commission, 2011). During the dry season an increase in evaporation may exceed the inflow from the catchment causing drier conditions whereas there would be increased flooding during the wetter seasons downstream. This presents a current and future challenge for the riparian countries. A collaborative study by Sweden, South Africa and the UK showed that the flow of the river would decrease by 26% by 2100 under the A2 scenario and 17% under the B2 scenario. International interest on the river basin: Okavango River Basin is a Ramsar site and therefore attracts a lot of international interest. The interest from international groups in protecting the wetland conflicts with some of the development plans for the three states. For example Angola was not able to secure funding for a dam along the Okavango River because of the fact that it is a Ramsar site. Land use change: there is an increased demand for land for crops along the river basin from the Angolan highlands and with the projected population growth the demand will only increase. There are expansive agricultural irrigation activities in Angola (15,000 ha) and Namibia (338,000 ha) along the basin which translates into the use of fertilizers and pesticides posing the danger of eutrophication and surface and ground water contamination from the use of pesticides. There has been proof of decline in forest cover over the last 25 years which affects the hydrological regime of the basin. Livestock numbers are expected to increase substantially in Angola and Namibia leading to overgrazing and encroachment. This will result to higher levels of erosion resulting to siltation which affects the water quality for those who are downstream. This will result to higher levels of erosion resulting to siltation which affects the water quality for those who are downstream. Conflict in Angola: Following the signing of the peace accord in Angola between the Government of Angola and the leaders of National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) in 4th April 2002 it is clear that the country needs to rehabilitate all its resources for economic growth after 30 years of civil war. In the pursuit of economic growth the Angola government will seek to develop the country’s hydropower capacity and agricultural irrigation schemes (Peter Ashton, Public involvement in water resource management within the Okavango River Basin, 2005) and increased urbanization and industrialization will also put more pressure on the water resource. This presents a problem for those living in the lower Okavango basin since it will mean construction of hydro dams, irrigation pipeline schemes and water treatment infrastructure will have to be laid out. The Angolan portion of the Okavango basin contains some of the most remote and sparsely populated portions of the country. However, this region was a UNITA stronghold and some of the most ferocious battles of the civil war were fought here. A large number of mines have been laid along all of the roads and encircling each urban centre, as well as along many parts of the border with Namibia and at all bridges and river crossing points. As a result, road travel and access to the towns in the catchment (Menongue, Longa, CuitoCanavale, Mavinga, Savata and Caiundo) is extremely dangerous and air transport to Menongue remains the most reliable means of access to the catchment (Dr Chris Brown, CEO: Namibia Nature Foundation, personal communication, 12 May 2003). The long civil conflict in Angola prevented the collection of data in the basin region and the participation of local communities concerning the utilization of the basin (Mbaiwa, 2004). This is contrary to Namibia and Botswana where stakeholder participation is encouraged. The lack of data availability from Angola makes it very hard for the riparian countries to coordinate their planning and management efforts of the Okavango basin. The prolonged period of war in Angola also means that communication systems are not developed compared to Namibia and Botswana. Communication challenge: The cultural, linguistic diversity of the communities living along the basin poses another challenge in data collection and carrying out of research. According to the Summer Institute of Linguistic 2002, there are 13 different indigenous languages as well as five official languages. This represents a challenge in communication and the ability to incorporate the different cultural beliefs in water resource management in the three basin states.  Poverty: Unequal distribution of wealth in the three countries is partly to blame for the poverty level along the basin and so is the remoteness of the basin area. The majority of those living along the basin rely on natural resources to meet their needs through fishing, agriculture, charcoal burning and livestock keeping all of which have an impact on the vegetation cover and consequently on the water quality. If the trend remains the same the pressure on natural resources in Angola will increase nearly by 50% and by about 25% in Namibia and Botswana (Commission, 2011). This will result into further degradation and loss of wetland and forest cover. Weak institutions: The establishment of the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) in 1994 as a coordinating organization that acts as the technical advisor to the three member states regarding conservation, development and use of water resources of mutual interest was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, OKACOM has no legal authority, suffers from inadequate financing and has no enforcement mechanisms and each country maintains full sovereignty over its water rights. The commission is therefore unable to fulfill its mandate. In conclusion, the trans-boundary development and management challenges faced in the Okavango River Basin are not unique to it but are reflected across Africa with other shared water resources. The three states need to come to a consensus on how the Okavango River Basin will be managed and allow OKACOM to carry out its mandate independently in order to sustainably and equitably achieve social and economic development without compromising the environment. Different stakeholders local, national, regional and international need to be fully involved in planning and management of the basin if any meaningful gains are to be made in the protection and management of this water resource.   Works Cited Commission, T. P. (2011). Cubango-Okavango River Basin Transbooundary Diagnostic Analysis. Botswana: OKACOM. Mbaiwa, J. E. (2004). Causes and possible solutions to water resource conflicts in theOkavango River Basin: The case of Angola, Namibia and Botswana. Elsevier ltd. Nicol, A. (2003). The dynamics of river basin cooperation:The Nile and Okavango basins. In A. W. International., Transboundary Rivers, Sovereignty and Development:Hydropolitical Drivers in the Okavango River Basin. Pretotia. OKACOM. (2016). Retrieved January 9, 2016, from http://www.okacom.org/knowing-the-river/okavango-countries Organizations, A. N. (2007). Source book On Africa's River Basin Organization. Kampala: Warner Consultants Limited. Peter Ashton, M. N. (2003). An overview of key strategic issues in the Okavango basin. Transboundary Rivers, Sovereignty and Development: Hydropolitical Drivers in the Okavango River Basin , 31-63. Peter Ashton, M. N. (2005). Public involvement in water resource management within the Okavango River Basin. In Public Participation in the Governance of International Freshwater Resources (pp. 169-198). Tokyo: United Nations University Press. Ruud Jansen, M. M. (2003). The Okavango Delta Management Plan project:The need for environmental partnership. In G. C. African Water Issue Research Unit, Transboundary Rivers, Sovereignty and Development: Hydropolitical drivers in the Okavango River Basin (pp. 141-166). Pretoria. Tlou, T. (1985). A history of Ngamiland:1750–1906 The Formation of an African State. Gaborone: Macmillan Publishing Company. Turton, A.R., P.J. Ashton and T.E. Cloete. (2003). “An introduction to the hydropolitical drivers in the Okavango River basin”, in A.R. Turton, P.J. Ashton and T.E. Cloete, eds, Transboundary Rivers, Sovereignty and Development: Hydropolitical Drivers in the Okavango River Basin, Geneva: Green Cross International, Pages 6-30.    
    Aug 09, 2016 1203
  • 01 Aug 2016
    Kenya is situated in Eastern Africa and lies across the equator. Most of Kenya’s water originates from the five water towers namely Mount Kenya, Mau forest, Aberdare ranges, Mount Elgon and Cherengani hills (NEMA, 2010). Kenya also shares a number of rivers and lakes with other countries for example Lake Victoria and Ewaso Ng’iro which is part of the larger Shebelle-Juba basin. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization 2014, the country’s total renewable water resources are 30.7km3 with water scarcity index of 674.043 m3 per capita significantly below the 1,000 m3 per capita marker for water scarcity. This means that Kenya is a water scarce country.Kenya, like any developing country faces water challenges which hinder the provision water and sanitation to its people. These challenges are both current and future as discussed;   Rapid population growth: Kenya’s population has doubled over the last 25 years and according to United Nations projections it is expected to grow by one million per year over the next 40 years and reach about 85 Million in 2050. The current water scarcity per capita is at 674.043 m3 per year and is likely to drop to 359 m3 per year by 2020 as a result of population growth. This not only presents a challenge in access to water but also a blink outlook in the future. With the rapid increase in the population more pressure is put on the finite resource. This means there is and will be more mounting demand on water for domestic use, industrial and agricultural purposes. This threatens the present and future county’s ability to meet the fundamental water needs of the people, water for economic development and environmental protection.   Ineffective water resources management: According to the Government of Kenya’s National development Report 2006, Kenya’s water resources have been mismanaged through unsustainable water and land use policies, laws and institutions, rapid population growth and increased degradation of rivers, lakes and wetlands and their catchments. The government budget allocation to water development and management has been affected since over 51% of the budget is allocated to recurring costs and expenditure. There have therefore been insufficient funds to allocate water, police illegal water extractions and obstructions and monitor water pollution. This is both a current and future problem unless the budget allocation trend is changed.   There are also gender disparities between men and women in water resource management in Kenya. Women are responsible for multiple uses of water resources and principle decision makers regarding its domestic and sanitation uses and yet more often than not men control this resource and make major decisions related to its allocation and type of facilities available (Wambu Charles.K, 2015). Women are not fully involved in formulation of water policies, public discussions and in community and national water committees. For example interventions such as irrigations fail to consider the gender dynamics in land ownership rights, labour force and income. High level of women illiteracy rates in rural Kenya also hinders women in participation of water project planning and management.   Forest degradation: According to the United Nations illegal encroachment have reduced Kenya’s forest cover from 12% to 1.2%. Rivers and lakes have shrunk as a result affecting access of water. One of the forest complex adversely affected is the Mau Forest complex. The water shed feeds 12 rivers and hydroelectric dams downstream and replenishes the famous wildlife preserves of Maasai Mara and Serengeti in Tanzania. Unfortunately, loggers and farmers have destroyed up to 400,000 hectares of forested land (Marshall, June,2011). This has led to increased run off and flash floods in the towns neighbouring the forest. For example in 2015 heavy rainfall in the Mau forest led to heavy flooding in Narok county resulting into the loss of life and destruction of private property. The Narok case is not unique and heavy rainfall in other parts of the country has led to erosion from cleared forest cover, poorly maintained agricultural land leading to accelerated siltation and loss of storage capacity in the country’s storage dams and pans. Out of the estimated 3,200 dams and pans countrywide, between 80% and 90% have lost at least 50% of their expected economic life from siltation (Hezron Mogaka, 2006).   Climate variability: Many parts of Africa, Kenya included are experiencing high variability in rainfall and frequent occurrences of flooding and drought with the latter causing drying of surface water resources. For example Kenya has over the past experiences severe prolonged drought spells between the years of 1990-1992, 1998-2001, 2004-2006. Droughts have devastating impacts on water availability and quality, human security and food health (Ngaira, 2009) for example, the 2004-2006 drought led to the loss of 80% of the livestock in semi-arid districts in Kenya due to lack of pasture and water. This variability not only threatens the livelihoods of pastoralists but of farmers, fishermen and even tourist operators among many others. This has a direct impact on the country’s economic growth and development.   Trans-boundary ground and surface water challenges: Kenya shares the Merti Aquifer basin with Somalia and the Kilimanjaro Aquifer Basin with Tanzania. Unlike trans-boundary surface water and river basins there is not much documentation and research that has been done on groundwater. Moreover there is no any memorandum of understanding that exists on how these aquifers are to be utilized. On surface water Kenya shares the Mara River Basin with Tanzania which has conflicting water uses for example, the Mara River Basin supplies water to the Maasai Mara and Serengeti game reserves and is also used for irrigation, livestock and domestic purposes. The rapid population growth along the basin has seen pressure rise on the water resource, clearance of land for agriculture and deforestation all which have a negative impact on the water quality and could result into human-wildlife conflict. The Lake Victoria Basin is also another example of a shared water resource in Kenya. The Basin is shared by Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi and occupies about 251,000 km2 while the lake itself covers 69,000 km2. 6% of the lake surface lies within Kenya, 45% in Uganda and 49% in Tanzania (UNEP, 2008). The lake is utilized for agriculture, fishing, transport and domestic use. The population around the lake annual growth is 3% which put great pressure on the water resources of Lake Victoria affecting the water quality of the lake through release of untreated sewage, overfishing and competing water needs between the riparian states. For example, Uganda has been accused of over-releasing of water at the Kiira and Nalubaale dams in order to power its dams. This is against the agreed curve agreement at how much water can be released at Owen falls (Lubovich, 2009). Such conflicting water use needs create tension among the states and hinder cooperation in managing the Lake.Invasive species: Water hyacinth was first reported in Ugandan waters in 1988 and has now spread through the lake reaching Kagera River and the Kenyan waters (Lubovich, 2009). The water hyacinth infestation affects transportation, fishing, and aquatic life and affects dam operation. According to the World Bank estimates the first outbreak in 1997 cost the riparian nations between US$6 million and US$10 million during which period Kenya saw a decline of 70% in its port activities.      On point and non-point water pollution: the causes of water pollution in Kenya are industrialization, agriculture, urbanization. The quest for Kenya to attain industrialization has seen an increase in the pollution and degradation of water resources quality. The Nairobi River which is drained by Ngong, Nairobi and Mathare rivers is heavily polluted by raw sewage from the numerous informal settlements along its banks and effluent from the industries who find it cheaper and easier to discharge their waste into the river without adequate treatment. Other examples include the Kericho tea farms, Ahero rice scheme and Mumias sugar farms discharge of domestic and industrial effluent into water bodies leading to eutrophication. Lake Victoria suffers from pollution from agricultural areas such as Kericho and Nandi tea farms while Lake Naivasha is polluted with chemicals from the horticultural farms in the area  According to the National Environment Management Authority (2004) Kenya’s urban population growth rate is 8% per annum which not only presents a present problem in domestic and industrial waste management and provision of safe water and sanitation but also paints a grim picture for the future.     Inadequate funding: Kenya’s ground water potential has not fully been realized because of the high cost associated with drilling for water and the technical challenges in finding sources that are large enough to cater for the needs of the population. In some cases where wells are in existence, they are poorly maintained due to limited financial resources leading to easy contamination of the water. Limited funding has meant that research in this field is not sufficient and data and information that could contribute to water resources management is scarce (Hezron Mogaka, 2006).  For example, water allocation and abstraction decisions are based on inadequate data opening opportunities for water permits to be issued out without following proper procedure to meet the interests of a few. There is also inadequate investment in the water sector by private investors since it requires heavy investment and is closely regulated by the government since it is a national resource.   Weak environmental institutions: the institutions mandated with the protection of the environment and its resources are underfunded, under staffed and over worked. This has made it difficult for example, for the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to fully prosecute those polluting water resources and carrying out illegal activities such as sand harvesting, effluent discharge into rivers, and abstraction of water. The fines associated with these offences do not reflect the damage caused or the cost of rehabilitating the affected water resources. There is a common saying in Kenya that NEMA is a toothless dog since it has no capacity or financial ability to fulfill its environmental protection mandate which include the protection of water resources. In conclusion, Water is a fundamental human right, one which every Kenyan has a right to enjoy without any limitation. This right is embedded in the National constitution of Kenya Article 43 (1d) states that every person has the right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities. Therefore, the water challenges need to be addressed through the collaborative efforts and involvement of all stakeholders so that this right is secured and assured to for all citizens.       Works Cited FAO. (2014). The state of food insecurity in the world. Rome: Food and Agriculture Orrganization of the United Nations. Hezron Mogaka, S. G. (2006). Climate variability and water resources degredation in Kenya:Improving water resources development and management. Washington: World Bank Publications. Kenya, T. G. (2008). The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Lubovich, K. (2009). Cooperation and Competition: Managing Transboundary Water Resources in the Lake Victoria Region . Foundation for Environmental Security and Sustainability. Marshall, S. (June,2011). The Water Crisis in Kenya: Causes, Effects and Solutions. Global Majority E-Journal , 31-45. NEMA. (2010). Kenya state of the Environment and Outlook 2010. Supporting the delivery of vision 2030. National Environment Management Authority. Ngaira, J. K. (2009). Challenges of water resource management and food production in a changing climate in Kenya. Journal of Geography and Regional Planning Vol 2 , 97-103. UNEP, G. (2008). Transboundary issues. Wambu Charles.K, M. K. (2015). Gender Disparities in Water Resource Management Projects in Njoro Sub-County Kenya. International Journal of Social Science Studies . WRMA. (2015). WRMA perfomance report. Kenya: Water Resource Management Authority.    
    1245 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • Kenya is situated in Eastern Africa and lies across the equator. Most of Kenya’s water originates from the five water towers namely Mount Kenya, Mau forest, Aberdare ranges, Mount Elgon and Cherengani hills (NEMA, 2010). Kenya also shares a number of rivers and lakes with other countries for example Lake Victoria and Ewaso Ng’iro which is part of the larger Shebelle-Juba basin. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization 2014, the country’s total renewable water resources are 30.7km3 with water scarcity index of 674.043 m3 per capita significantly below the 1,000 m3 per capita marker for water scarcity. This means that Kenya is a water scarce country.Kenya, like any developing country faces water challenges which hinder the provision water and sanitation to its people. These challenges are both current and future as discussed;   Rapid population growth: Kenya’s population has doubled over the last 25 years and according to United Nations projections it is expected to grow by one million per year over the next 40 years and reach about 85 Million in 2050. The current water scarcity per capita is at 674.043 m3 per year and is likely to drop to 359 m3 per year by 2020 as a result of population growth. This not only presents a challenge in access to water but also a blink outlook in the future. With the rapid increase in the population more pressure is put on the finite resource. This means there is and will be more mounting demand on water for domestic use, industrial and agricultural purposes. This threatens the present and future county’s ability to meet the fundamental water needs of the people, water for economic development and environmental protection.   Ineffective water resources management: According to the Government of Kenya’s National development Report 2006, Kenya’s water resources have been mismanaged through unsustainable water and land use policies, laws and institutions, rapid population growth and increased degradation of rivers, lakes and wetlands and their catchments. The government budget allocation to water development and management has been affected since over 51% of the budget is allocated to recurring costs and expenditure. There have therefore been insufficient funds to allocate water, police illegal water extractions and obstructions and monitor water pollution. This is both a current and future problem unless the budget allocation trend is changed.   There are also gender disparities between men and women in water resource management in Kenya. Women are responsible for multiple uses of water resources and principle decision makers regarding its domestic and sanitation uses and yet more often than not men control this resource and make major decisions related to its allocation and type of facilities available (Wambu Charles.K, 2015). Women are not fully involved in formulation of water policies, public discussions and in community and national water committees. For example interventions such as irrigations fail to consider the gender dynamics in land ownership rights, labour force and income. High level of women illiteracy rates in rural Kenya also hinders women in participation of water project planning and management.   Forest degradation: According to the United Nations illegal encroachment have reduced Kenya’s forest cover from 12% to 1.2%. Rivers and lakes have shrunk as a result affecting access of water. One of the forest complex adversely affected is the Mau Forest complex. The water shed feeds 12 rivers and hydroelectric dams downstream and replenishes the famous wildlife preserves of Maasai Mara and Serengeti in Tanzania. Unfortunately, loggers and farmers have destroyed up to 400,000 hectares of forested land (Marshall, June,2011). This has led to increased run off and flash floods in the towns neighbouring the forest. For example in 2015 heavy rainfall in the Mau forest led to heavy flooding in Narok county resulting into the loss of life and destruction of private property. The Narok case is not unique and heavy rainfall in other parts of the country has led to erosion from cleared forest cover, poorly maintained agricultural land leading to accelerated siltation and loss of storage capacity in the country’s storage dams and pans. Out of the estimated 3,200 dams and pans countrywide, between 80% and 90% have lost at least 50% of their expected economic life from siltation (Hezron Mogaka, 2006).   Climate variability: Many parts of Africa, Kenya included are experiencing high variability in rainfall and frequent occurrences of flooding and drought with the latter causing drying of surface water resources. For example Kenya has over the past experiences severe prolonged drought spells between the years of 1990-1992, 1998-2001, 2004-2006. Droughts have devastating impacts on water availability and quality, human security and food health (Ngaira, 2009) for example, the 2004-2006 drought led to the loss of 80% of the livestock in semi-arid districts in Kenya due to lack of pasture and water. This variability not only threatens the livelihoods of pastoralists but of farmers, fishermen and even tourist operators among many others. This has a direct impact on the country’s economic growth and development.   Trans-boundary ground and surface water challenges: Kenya shares the Merti Aquifer basin with Somalia and the Kilimanjaro Aquifer Basin with Tanzania. Unlike trans-boundary surface water and river basins there is not much documentation and research that has been done on groundwater. Moreover there is no any memorandum of understanding that exists on how these aquifers are to be utilized. On surface water Kenya shares the Mara River Basin with Tanzania which has conflicting water uses for example, the Mara River Basin supplies water to the Maasai Mara and Serengeti game reserves and is also used for irrigation, livestock and domestic purposes. The rapid population growth along the basin has seen pressure rise on the water resource, clearance of land for agriculture and deforestation all which have a negative impact on the water quality and could result into human-wildlife conflict. The Lake Victoria Basin is also another example of a shared water resource in Kenya. The Basin is shared by Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi and occupies about 251,000 km2 while the lake itself covers 69,000 km2. 6% of the lake surface lies within Kenya, 45% in Uganda and 49% in Tanzania (UNEP, 2008). The lake is utilized for agriculture, fishing, transport and domestic use. The population around the lake annual growth is 3% which put great pressure on the water resources of Lake Victoria affecting the water quality of the lake through release of untreated sewage, overfishing and competing water needs between the riparian states. For example, Uganda has been accused of over-releasing of water at the Kiira and Nalubaale dams in order to power its dams. This is against the agreed curve agreement at how much water can be released at Owen falls (Lubovich, 2009). Such conflicting water use needs create tension among the states and hinder cooperation in managing the Lake.Invasive species: Water hyacinth was first reported in Ugandan waters in 1988 and has now spread through the lake reaching Kagera River and the Kenyan waters (Lubovich, 2009). The water hyacinth infestation affects transportation, fishing, and aquatic life and affects dam operation. According to the World Bank estimates the first outbreak in 1997 cost the riparian nations between US$6 million and US$10 million during which period Kenya saw a decline of 70% in its port activities.      On point and non-point water pollution: the causes of water pollution in Kenya are industrialization, agriculture, urbanization. The quest for Kenya to attain industrialization has seen an increase in the pollution and degradation of water resources quality. The Nairobi River which is drained by Ngong, Nairobi and Mathare rivers is heavily polluted by raw sewage from the numerous informal settlements along its banks and effluent from the industries who find it cheaper and easier to discharge their waste into the river without adequate treatment. Other examples include the Kericho tea farms, Ahero rice scheme and Mumias sugar farms discharge of domestic and industrial effluent into water bodies leading to eutrophication. Lake Victoria suffers from pollution from agricultural areas such as Kericho and Nandi tea farms while Lake Naivasha is polluted with chemicals from the horticultural farms in the area  According to the National Environment Management Authority (2004) Kenya’s urban population growth rate is 8% per annum which not only presents a present problem in domestic and industrial waste management and provision of safe water and sanitation but also paints a grim picture for the future.     Inadequate funding: Kenya’s ground water potential has not fully been realized because of the high cost associated with drilling for water and the technical challenges in finding sources that are large enough to cater for the needs of the population. In some cases where wells are in existence, they are poorly maintained due to limited financial resources leading to easy contamination of the water. Limited funding has meant that research in this field is not sufficient and data and information that could contribute to water resources management is scarce (Hezron Mogaka, 2006).  For example, water allocation and abstraction decisions are based on inadequate data opening opportunities for water permits to be issued out without following proper procedure to meet the interests of a few. There is also inadequate investment in the water sector by private investors since it requires heavy investment and is closely regulated by the government since it is a national resource.   Weak environmental institutions: the institutions mandated with the protection of the environment and its resources are underfunded, under staffed and over worked. This has made it difficult for example, for the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to fully prosecute those polluting water resources and carrying out illegal activities such as sand harvesting, effluent discharge into rivers, and abstraction of water. The fines associated with these offences do not reflect the damage caused or the cost of rehabilitating the affected water resources. There is a common saying in Kenya that NEMA is a toothless dog since it has no capacity or financial ability to fulfill its environmental protection mandate which include the protection of water resources. In conclusion, Water is a fundamental human right, one which every Kenyan has a right to enjoy without any limitation. This right is embedded in the National constitution of Kenya Article 43 (1d) states that every person has the right to clean and safe water in adequate quantities. Therefore, the water challenges need to be addressed through the collaborative efforts and involvement of all stakeholders so that this right is secured and assured to for all citizens.       Works Cited FAO. (2014). The state of food insecurity in the world. Rome: Food and Agriculture Orrganization of the United Nations. Hezron Mogaka, S. G. (2006). Climate variability and water resources degredation in Kenya:Improving water resources development and management. Washington: World Bank Publications. Kenya, T. G. (2008). The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. Lubovich, K. (2009). Cooperation and Competition: Managing Transboundary Water Resources in the Lake Victoria Region . Foundation for Environmental Security and Sustainability. Marshall, S. (June,2011). The Water Crisis in Kenya: Causes, Effects and Solutions. Global Majority E-Journal , 31-45. NEMA. (2010). Kenya state of the Environment and Outlook 2010. Supporting the delivery of vision 2030. National Environment Management Authority. Ngaira, J. K. (2009). Challenges of water resource management and food production in a changing climate in Kenya. Journal of Geography and Regional Planning Vol 2 , 97-103. UNEP, G. (2008). Transboundary issues. Wambu Charles.K, M. K. (2015). Gender Disparities in Water Resource Management Projects in Njoro Sub-County Kenya. International Journal of Social Science Studies . WRMA. (2015). WRMA perfomance report. Kenya: Water Resource Management Authority.    
    Aug 01, 2016 1245
  • 28 Jul 2016
    The human body is an aggregate of many parts all working in unison to ensure normal functioning. Of the very many parts, let me draw your attention to the heart, what it basically does is to pump blood that flows to the rest of the body parts right from the left little toe of the left foot to the right ear. One can say, why left little toe and right ear? Well, diagonally we can take that as the representation of the longest distance on a human body. Besides pumping blood, the heart also regulates how much goes to where and when depending on the circumstances. The gist of the matter is, the heart keeps the body running efficiently just like an engine in a motor vehicle, and that’s one of the reasons why organizations like Red Cross Society were created to help save the suffering wounded and sick by collecting the heart fuel which is blood. Has anyone ever wondered why we give blood for absolutely zero payment? Reason is, there is no sum of money that can buy the heart fuel, that’s how precious the heart is. No wonder since the days of Romeo and Juliet, we continue to pledge to our loved ones the sweet words….from the bottom of our hearts, not our feet! Yet the feet are farther. I trust now that everyone appreciates that the importance of the heart cannot be underestimated, undervalued and hence miscalculated. That is exactly how vital energy is to the development of any country. Nothing can progress without energy, be it sleeping - I am sure no one would sleep on an empty stomach, you need energy to cook. May be you can sleep today but surely you will not the next day. Like the heart pumping blood to all body parts, energy affects everything in the country - from the subsistence farmer who vends tomatoes on the roadside stall in the village to the biggest factory in town employing a 1000 workers, nothing can really happen without energy. Looking at the world economics stats, Africa is home to some of the most struggling countries. It is not by surprise that these figures are like that because this rich continent still has the lowest energy access and energy consumption per capita figures. What does this mean for development in Africa? This means a lot of things which can’t all be mentioned in this write up. However, just to highlight a few;  As long as the continent dwells in energy poverty, no development is going to happen; Unemployment rates are still going to grow high; More people are still going to die because high unemployment means inability to afford proper healthcare; More political incorrectness and dictatorships will roam on the continent because no one would want to leave the center/ control room to sacrifice their families and mates to the roaming problems; More uprisings and wars because people feel a need to fight for a better life (#fight_for_survival); More Europe immigrant problems and hence drownings leading to more deaths because it is in human nature to search for better palatable conditions.It is a plethora of negative things that translate from lack of energy, just like a lot of negative things that can happen to the body due to heart malfunctioning. Alot is needed to ensure efficient running energy systems in Africa, the big question is, whose role is it to ensure a functioning heart/ energy system? It is our role, you and I to raise awareness of the cruciality of the energy matter to our leaders, I am sure a little reminder will not kill. Meanwhile you can start with your family members – sister, brother, father, mother who will eventually progress to the village leaders and finally to the big guys who stay behind the protected glasses aka presidents (ahem...why do they even have to use glasses in their buildings?). This will probably show how important energy is for every one’s development and mother Africa as a whole. One shouts while many echo, let us together echo the prominence of energy to our communities and leaders.   tonnykukeera@gmail.com
    1466 Posted by Tonny Kukeera
  • The human body is an aggregate of many parts all working in unison to ensure normal functioning. Of the very many parts, let me draw your attention to the heart, what it basically does is to pump blood that flows to the rest of the body parts right from the left little toe of the left foot to the right ear. One can say, why left little toe and right ear? Well, diagonally we can take that as the representation of the longest distance on a human body. Besides pumping blood, the heart also regulates how much goes to where and when depending on the circumstances. The gist of the matter is, the heart keeps the body running efficiently just like an engine in a motor vehicle, and that’s one of the reasons why organizations like Red Cross Society were created to help save the suffering wounded and sick by collecting the heart fuel which is blood. Has anyone ever wondered why we give blood for absolutely zero payment? Reason is, there is no sum of money that can buy the heart fuel, that’s how precious the heart is. No wonder since the days of Romeo and Juliet, we continue to pledge to our loved ones the sweet words….from the bottom of our hearts, not our feet! Yet the feet are farther. I trust now that everyone appreciates that the importance of the heart cannot be underestimated, undervalued and hence miscalculated. That is exactly how vital energy is to the development of any country. Nothing can progress without energy, be it sleeping - I am sure no one would sleep on an empty stomach, you need energy to cook. May be you can sleep today but surely you will not the next day. Like the heart pumping blood to all body parts, energy affects everything in the country - from the subsistence farmer who vends tomatoes on the roadside stall in the village to the biggest factory in town employing a 1000 workers, nothing can really happen without energy. Looking at the world economics stats, Africa is home to some of the most struggling countries. It is not by surprise that these figures are like that because this rich continent still has the lowest energy access and energy consumption per capita figures. What does this mean for development in Africa? This means a lot of things which can’t all be mentioned in this write up. However, just to highlight a few;  As long as the continent dwells in energy poverty, no development is going to happen; Unemployment rates are still going to grow high; More people are still going to die because high unemployment means inability to afford proper healthcare; More political incorrectness and dictatorships will roam on the continent because no one would want to leave the center/ control room to sacrifice their families and mates to the roaming problems; More uprisings and wars because people feel a need to fight for a better life (#fight_for_survival); More Europe immigrant problems and hence drownings leading to more deaths because it is in human nature to search for better palatable conditions.It is a plethora of negative things that translate from lack of energy, just like a lot of negative things that can happen to the body due to heart malfunctioning. Alot is needed to ensure efficient running energy systems in Africa, the big question is, whose role is it to ensure a functioning heart/ energy system? It is our role, you and I to raise awareness of the cruciality of the energy matter to our leaders, I am sure a little reminder will not kill. Meanwhile you can start with your family members – sister, brother, father, mother who will eventually progress to the village leaders and finally to the big guys who stay behind the protected glasses aka presidents (ahem...why do they even have to use glasses in their buildings?). This will probably show how important energy is for every one’s development and mother Africa as a whole. One shouts while many echo, let us together echo the prominence of energy to our communities and leaders.   tonnykukeera@gmail.com
    Jul 28, 2016 1466
  • 25 Jul 2016
    Climate change is real and happening now with severe and diverse impacts being felt all over the world. While Africa is the least contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, she is the most vulnerable and has been the hardest hit by the impacts of climate variability and climate change. There has been a rise in annual temperature and changes in rainfall patterns particularly frequency in floods and droughts. The impacts of climate change effects are economic, environmental and social. Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is amplified because we are heavily reliant on rain fed agriculture. Research has shown that rainfall in Africa (one of the global very water scarce regions) could drop by about 10% for the period 2000-2050. A fall in the rainfall received poses a great challenge because over 90% of arable land in sub-Saharan Africa is under rain-fed agriculture (Misra, 2014). Research indicates that about 67% of this land will be lost to agricultural droughts by the year 2025 and the output is projected to drop by about 50% by the year 2020 (A, 2014). This means that African countries are going to be put under more pressure to ensure that their populations are not undernourished and food insecure which is already a challenge at present. The current and projected impacts of climate change on food security in Africa calls for proper adaptation mechanisms to be put in place. Adaptation involves reduction in risks and vulnerability through the actions of adjusting practices, behavior, processes in order to respond to the risks posed by climate change (John R.Porter, 2014). Adaptation to climate change will involve changes in the decision making structures (social or institutional) that influence the making and implementation of policy. This policy changes should strengthen the conditions that favor effective adaptation including investing in new infrastructure and technologies (Jane Kabubo-Mariara, 2015).  They will also safeguard the agricultural sector against the effects of climate change and go a long way in alleviating food insecurity in the region. There is also the need to merge climate change scientific research with existing indigenous knowledge on the climate. In various African communities agro-pastoralists are known to predict drought through the observation of the flora, fauna, moon and wind (John R.Porter, 2014). At present there is a mismatch between the uptake capacity of communities and the volume of scientific information released on climate change. Therefore, there is a need for proper dialogue and consensus between the researchers and local communities as to how best to disseminate information on climate change adaptation and mitigation measures so that the communities benefit. To this regard there should be exploration of the indigenous knowledge in the traditional prediction mechanisms in these communities and how this can be integrated into scientific information for the benefit of rural communities. The rural communities’ adaptive capacity should also be enhanced through creation of awareness on the impacts of climate change and capacity building initiatives on adaptation and mitigation mechanisms. The adaptation of crops will also play a vital role in ensuring food security for Sub-Sahara Africa as well. This would involve the altering of cultivation, sowing and adapting to new crop species that are drought resistant or require little water to survive (Heather E. Thompson, 2010). In Africa most of the farmers practice small scale farming and therefore intercropping (Mouk Bernard, 2012) would play a big role in increasing the productivity per unit of land. Studies show that adaptation of new crop species and altering planting seasons can increase the yields up to 23% (John R.Porter, 2014). Funding also needs to be availed by the government and the private sector so that there is more research done in breeding drought tolerant crop varieties. To ensure that the continent is on the right track in implementation of the climate change adaptation mechanisms the different initiatives and mechanisms put in place will have to be regularly monitored and evaluated. This will help in providing sufficient information on what the impacts of these initiatives are towards ensuring food security. It will also allow for incremental changes to be made as more data and information becomes available on the impact of climate change on food security.  References A, Z. (2014). Impacts of Climate Change on Food Security: A Literature Review in Sub Saharan Africa. Journal of Earth Science & Climate Change , 5:225. doi: 10.4172/2157-7617.1000225. Heather E. Thompson, L. B.-F. (2010). Climate Change and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Literature Review. Sustainability,2(8), 2719-2733; doi:10.3390/su2082719. Jane Kabubo-Mariara, M. K. (2015). Climate Change and Food Security in Kenya. Nairobi: Environment for Development Center. John R.Porter, L. X. (2014). Food Security and Food Production Systems in Climate Change 2014:Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. United Kingdom and New York: Cambridge University Press, . Misra, A. K. ( 2014). Climate change and challenges of water and food security. International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment , 153–165. Mouk Bernard, O. A. ( 2012). Case Study on Climate Compatible Development (CCD) in Agriculture for Food Security in Kenya. Nairobi: African Centre for Technology studies.  
    1072 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • Climate change is real and happening now with severe and diverse impacts being felt all over the world. While Africa is the least contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, she is the most vulnerable and has been the hardest hit by the impacts of climate variability and climate change. There has been a rise in annual temperature and changes in rainfall patterns particularly frequency in floods and droughts. The impacts of climate change effects are economic, environmental and social. Africa’s vulnerability to climate change is amplified because we are heavily reliant on rain fed agriculture. Research has shown that rainfall in Africa (one of the global very water scarce regions) could drop by about 10% for the period 2000-2050. A fall in the rainfall received poses a great challenge because over 90% of arable land in sub-Saharan Africa is under rain-fed agriculture (Misra, 2014). Research indicates that about 67% of this land will be lost to agricultural droughts by the year 2025 and the output is projected to drop by about 50% by the year 2020 (A, 2014). This means that African countries are going to be put under more pressure to ensure that their populations are not undernourished and food insecure which is already a challenge at present. The current and projected impacts of climate change on food security in Africa calls for proper adaptation mechanisms to be put in place. Adaptation involves reduction in risks and vulnerability through the actions of adjusting practices, behavior, processes in order to respond to the risks posed by climate change (John R.Porter, 2014). Adaptation to climate change will involve changes in the decision making structures (social or institutional) that influence the making and implementation of policy. This policy changes should strengthen the conditions that favor effective adaptation including investing in new infrastructure and technologies (Jane Kabubo-Mariara, 2015).  They will also safeguard the agricultural sector against the effects of climate change and go a long way in alleviating food insecurity in the region. There is also the need to merge climate change scientific research with existing indigenous knowledge on the climate. In various African communities agro-pastoralists are known to predict drought through the observation of the flora, fauna, moon and wind (John R.Porter, 2014). At present there is a mismatch between the uptake capacity of communities and the volume of scientific information released on climate change. Therefore, there is a need for proper dialogue and consensus between the researchers and local communities as to how best to disseminate information on climate change adaptation and mitigation measures so that the communities benefit. To this regard there should be exploration of the indigenous knowledge in the traditional prediction mechanisms in these communities and how this can be integrated into scientific information for the benefit of rural communities. The rural communities’ adaptive capacity should also be enhanced through creation of awareness on the impacts of climate change and capacity building initiatives on adaptation and mitigation mechanisms. The adaptation of crops will also play a vital role in ensuring food security for Sub-Sahara Africa as well. This would involve the altering of cultivation, sowing and adapting to new crop species that are drought resistant or require little water to survive (Heather E. Thompson, 2010). In Africa most of the farmers practice small scale farming and therefore intercropping (Mouk Bernard, 2012) would play a big role in increasing the productivity per unit of land. Studies show that adaptation of new crop species and altering planting seasons can increase the yields up to 23% (John R.Porter, 2014). Funding also needs to be availed by the government and the private sector so that there is more research done in breeding drought tolerant crop varieties. To ensure that the continent is on the right track in implementation of the climate change adaptation mechanisms the different initiatives and mechanisms put in place will have to be regularly monitored and evaluated. This will help in providing sufficient information on what the impacts of these initiatives are towards ensuring food security. It will also allow for incremental changes to be made as more data and information becomes available on the impact of climate change on food security.  References A, Z. (2014). Impacts of Climate Change on Food Security: A Literature Review in Sub Saharan Africa. Journal of Earth Science & Climate Change , 5:225. doi: 10.4172/2157-7617.1000225. Heather E. Thompson, L. B.-F. (2010). Climate Change and Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Systematic Literature Review. Sustainability,2(8), 2719-2733; doi:10.3390/su2082719. Jane Kabubo-Mariara, M. K. (2015). Climate Change and Food Security in Kenya. Nairobi: Environment for Development Center. John R.Porter, L. X. (2014). Food Security and Food Production Systems in Climate Change 2014:Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. United Kingdom and New York: Cambridge University Press, . Misra, A. K. ( 2014). Climate change and challenges of water and food security. International Journal of Sustainable Built Environment , 153–165. Mouk Bernard, O. A. ( 2012). Case Study on Climate Compatible Development (CCD) in Agriculture for Food Security in Kenya. Nairobi: African Centre for Technology studies.  
    Jul 25, 2016 1072
  • 17 Jul 2016
    There are some things I remember growing up and I look back and smile fondly. I remember the good times and the not so good but there are some memories that have stayed with me. They have marked me and made me to the woman I am today. My father made sure we had everything we needed growing up and one of those things was an education. We had this great wall TV that was black and white (I never said I am young) and we spent every possible minute watching the one channel that would broadcast back then. My father however, saw it as his parental duty to regulate the amount of time we watched TV or videos (anyone remember the VCL’s?). I can still hear his voice in my head telling me he did not buy that TV for our entertainment but he wanted us to see what those who had gone through school had achieved and the possibilities we could have if we took our class work more seriously. These memories have been replaying in my mind more after I read the book “I am Malala”. It is a great read and one I can highly recommend. As you all know Malala Yousafzai is a young Pakistan female education activist who became the youngest winner of the Nobel Prize in 2014. In 2012 the Taliban tried to kill her leaving her gravely wounded for standing up for the rights of children especially girls to go to school at a time when the Taliban were reigning havoc in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She had so much against her quest for an education I am surprised she didn’t just quit. Reading the story you understand where her unwavering strength comes from; a mother who dropped out of school and was determined her daughter would not do the same and a father who turned a deaf ear to cultural beliefs and practices to make sure his little girl got an education even when his life was threatened.  Education is a basic human need, one to which every child regardless of gender, culture or religion is entitled to. The highest level of illiteracy in the world is found…wait for it…in Africa. Big surprise there, NOT! Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 47% of out of school children worldwide with 57% of those children being girls. I could go on and give you the stark statistics in countries like Niger where the literacy level is at 19.1 %, Guinea 30.4% or South Sudan at 31.9%. I will also recognize the progress made by countries like Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda among others where the literacy level is above 70% but we are barely hanging in there quality wise. So how are we supposed to compete with the rest of the world when we have such a reality on the ground? The African child is faced with many challenges right form birth especially if they are born in the rural areas. I do not know why our ancestors thought the only job a woman could do was get married, bear children and take care of her husband. Who am I to say it was not working for them back then but it is clearly a custom whose time has passed. Today girls across Africa are forced out of school for early marriages or if the family cannot acquire school fees for all its children then the boy is given priority. Civil war or political unrest has seen many schools razed down and families flee to seek safety. Our governments have let us down and we have no one to blame apart from ourselves. We continue to watch from the sidelines as they squander the future of the next generations and by extension this continent. They continue to line their pockets with money meant for education and meanwhile the school infrastructure is falling apart, books available are outdated and the teachers are among the most poorly paid in the world. No wonder private schools are thriving but what happens to the 42% of the population living below the poverty line? To be honest I do not have answers to all these questions. I do not know what to do to ensure that every child has access to quality education. May be what we need is a political, social and cultural overhaul in order to have a clear plan on how to secure the future of our children. Sure there are other paths to follow in life like sports, arts, music and so on but education offers a fall back plan. It is a security cushion. I believe with all my heart that the greatest gift a parent could give their children is an education.
    1173 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • There are some things I remember growing up and I look back and smile fondly. I remember the good times and the not so good but there are some memories that have stayed with me. They have marked me and made me to the woman I am today. My father made sure we had everything we needed growing up and one of those things was an education. We had this great wall TV that was black and white (I never said I am young) and we spent every possible minute watching the one channel that would broadcast back then. My father however, saw it as his parental duty to regulate the amount of time we watched TV or videos (anyone remember the VCL’s?). I can still hear his voice in my head telling me he did not buy that TV for our entertainment but he wanted us to see what those who had gone through school had achieved and the possibilities we could have if we took our class work more seriously. These memories have been replaying in my mind more after I read the book “I am Malala”. It is a great read and one I can highly recommend. As you all know Malala Yousafzai is a young Pakistan female education activist who became the youngest winner of the Nobel Prize in 2014. In 2012 the Taliban tried to kill her leaving her gravely wounded for standing up for the rights of children especially girls to go to school at a time when the Taliban were reigning havoc in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She had so much against her quest for an education I am surprised she didn’t just quit. Reading the story you understand where her unwavering strength comes from; a mother who dropped out of school and was determined her daughter would not do the same and a father who turned a deaf ear to cultural beliefs and practices to make sure his little girl got an education even when his life was threatened.  Education is a basic human need, one to which every child regardless of gender, culture or religion is entitled to. The highest level of illiteracy in the world is found…wait for it…in Africa. Big surprise there, NOT! Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 47% of out of school children worldwide with 57% of those children being girls. I could go on and give you the stark statistics in countries like Niger where the literacy level is at 19.1 %, Guinea 30.4% or South Sudan at 31.9%. I will also recognize the progress made by countries like Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Rwanda among others where the literacy level is above 70% but we are barely hanging in there quality wise. So how are we supposed to compete with the rest of the world when we have such a reality on the ground? The African child is faced with many challenges right form birth especially if they are born in the rural areas. I do not know why our ancestors thought the only job a woman could do was get married, bear children and take care of her husband. Who am I to say it was not working for them back then but it is clearly a custom whose time has passed. Today girls across Africa are forced out of school for early marriages or if the family cannot acquire school fees for all its children then the boy is given priority. Civil war or political unrest has seen many schools razed down and families flee to seek safety. Our governments have let us down and we have no one to blame apart from ourselves. We continue to watch from the sidelines as they squander the future of the next generations and by extension this continent. They continue to line their pockets with money meant for education and meanwhile the school infrastructure is falling apart, books available are outdated and the teachers are among the most poorly paid in the world. No wonder private schools are thriving but what happens to the 42% of the population living below the poverty line? To be honest I do not have answers to all these questions. I do not know what to do to ensure that every child has access to quality education. May be what we need is a political, social and cultural overhaul in order to have a clear plan on how to secure the future of our children. Sure there are other paths to follow in life like sports, arts, music and so on but education offers a fall back plan. It is a security cushion. I believe with all my heart that the greatest gift a parent could give their children is an education.
    Jul 17, 2016 1173
  • 11 Jul 2016
    This is going to be a quick one mostly because I am worn out and it is almost time to board my flight. It is past midnight and as I sit here in the waiting lounge I am hit by memories of when we were all here together. I can almost hear the voices and see where each of us sat last time we were here. Good memories those are. There is always comfort travelling in numbers because you know you have something to fall back on. This time I am travelling alone and I am both excited and a bit anxious to be doing this. I always look at such trips as a challenge to get out of my social shell and expand my networks and build on my communication skills and explore. That said this trip has been a long time coming and I have learnt so much along the way I thought I should share some of the lessons; The most important lesson is surrounding yourself with positive people. I have to confess that there are times I wondered if all the effort was worth it but I have two very important positive ladies in my life that would not let me give up midway. We are all filled with doubt once in a while but when we surround ourselves with positive people who believe in us and our abilities we can feed off their positive energy until we believe it ourselves. We need to form strong friendships that not only feed our emotional needs but also those that push us to greatness. I also came to realize that most times we do not receive because we never ask. We are so scared of what people are going to think or the correctness of our questions that we end up missing great opportunities. There are so many people willing to help us and hold our hand that all we need to do is ask. Sometimes the answer will be no but eventually a resounding yes will come our way down the line. We have to be willing to take that risk though by making ourselves vulnerable and putting our pride aside and asking for help. We are living in an age where there is so much evil going on that sometimes we forget the human goodness that surround us. I have been a recipient of kindness these past few months and it has completely blown my mind. There are so many people who have gone out of their way, friends and strangers that without them all this could not have been possible. It is heartwarming to be on the receiving end of such acts and I hope I can pay it forward. I think we will never realize what is on offer unless we ask. We have to show consistency in our commitment and reach out to those who have used the road before us. Life is a give and take and it is beautiful when you get to walk it with likeminded people cheering you on.
    1266 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • This is going to be a quick one mostly because I am worn out and it is almost time to board my flight. It is past midnight and as I sit here in the waiting lounge I am hit by memories of when we were all here together. I can almost hear the voices and see where each of us sat last time we were here. Good memories those are. There is always comfort travelling in numbers because you know you have something to fall back on. This time I am travelling alone and I am both excited and a bit anxious to be doing this. I always look at such trips as a challenge to get out of my social shell and expand my networks and build on my communication skills and explore. That said this trip has been a long time coming and I have learnt so much along the way I thought I should share some of the lessons; The most important lesson is surrounding yourself with positive people. I have to confess that there are times I wondered if all the effort was worth it but I have two very important positive ladies in my life that would not let me give up midway. We are all filled with doubt once in a while but when we surround ourselves with positive people who believe in us and our abilities we can feed off their positive energy until we believe it ourselves. We need to form strong friendships that not only feed our emotional needs but also those that push us to greatness. I also came to realize that most times we do not receive because we never ask. We are so scared of what people are going to think or the correctness of our questions that we end up missing great opportunities. There are so many people willing to help us and hold our hand that all we need to do is ask. Sometimes the answer will be no but eventually a resounding yes will come our way down the line. We have to be willing to take that risk though by making ourselves vulnerable and putting our pride aside and asking for help. We are living in an age where there is so much evil going on that sometimes we forget the human goodness that surround us. I have been a recipient of kindness these past few months and it has completely blown my mind. There are so many people who have gone out of their way, friends and strangers that without them all this could not have been possible. It is heartwarming to be on the receiving end of such acts and I hope I can pay it forward. I think we will never realize what is on offer unless we ask. We have to show consistency in our commitment and reach out to those who have used the road before us. Life is a give and take and it is beautiful when you get to walk it with likeminded people cheering you on.
    Jul 11, 2016 1266
  • 04 Jul 2016
    It is an illness spoken in harsh tones and whispers. It is surrounded by shame and stigma you would be forgiven to think it is contagious. Mental illness. Unlike popular belief mental illness does not mean going cuckoo and collecting rubbish on the road as Nigerian movies would have you believe. According to Mayo clinic mental illness refers to a wide range of health conditions or disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples include depression, anxiety, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. The rich and famous have not been spared either like Jim Carrey, John Hamm and Angelina Jolie who have suffered from depression, Catherine Zeta and Demi Lovato from bio polar disorder and the list goes on and on to our family members and friends. I will be the first to own up to having suffered from depression some years back after the loss of a loved one and it is a dark place to be, even darker if you have no support system in place. So why do many cases of mental illnesses pass through the cracks and go undetected? To start with very few African countries have mental health policies and mental health illness is at the bottom of most governments priorities. Mental illness is considered a silent crisis. Some could argue we have more urgent things to handle like malaria, HIV & AIDS, hunger and I agree but mental health should be on top of the list of any country seeking to ensure maximum productivity of its people. The situation across Africa is traumatizing and there is not mush data to go on, take for example South Sudan where no mental illness hospital existed up until 2012 and those thought to be mentally ill were put in jail. In some parts of Ghana and East Africa those suffering from mental disabilities are chained to trees or inside the house with little to no care. Psychiatric institutions are like a scene from a horror movie. The patients lack basic sanitation and care and sadly there is no one to follow up on their therapy and treatment routines. They have been stripped off their human dignity. Families of those suffering from mental illness or disability are considered outcasts in the community and some hide their children out of shame and in a bid to fit in. Most of the African cultures associate mental illness to curses, witchcraft, and punishment form the gods or plain bad lack. Patients are taken through healing rituals that demean them and bleed their families financially dry as they seek answers to what could be ailing their loved one. I am sure you have also seen countless religious ceremonies meant to cast out demons. Africa is developing and we are getting more exposed to the outside world. As this happens we are continuously under pressure to perform and outdo others which could result into high stress, anxiety disorder and other addictive behaviors. Therefore, we need to provide a safe place for those suffering from mental illnesses to heal or to lead normal lives as much as possible. Governments and health officials need to be proactive in ensuring human rights are observed in psychiatric centers. We need to pour more resources into training health workers in this field and equipping the centers available. The idea of working together with religious and traditional healers should not entirely be dismissed but should be regulated and coordinated to ensure that there is no exploitation of the families or abuse of those in need of care. They should act as the bridge between the sick and professional care givers. Such a model has been tried in Kenya under the partnership of traditional healers and the African Association of Psychiatrists and Allied Professionals and they have witnessed a rise in the number of patients refereed to the psychiatric centers by traditional healers. At a personal level we need to check on our families and friends. There are those who are always laughing but are in pain untold. There are those who drop off the grid and we don’t really care enough to check on what is going on. Sometimes when it comes to illnesses like depression, anxiety and eating disorders the best cure is knowing you have a strong support system. When the darkness seems to want to swallow you whole you hold on because others believe you can. I think those who suffer from mental illnesses are the strongest people we have because they have to fight every single day to remain anchored in the present when all they want is an escape.
    1106 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • It is an illness spoken in harsh tones and whispers. It is surrounded by shame and stigma you would be forgiven to think it is contagious. Mental illness. Unlike popular belief mental illness does not mean going cuckoo and collecting rubbish on the road as Nigerian movies would have you believe. According to Mayo clinic mental illness refers to a wide range of health conditions or disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples include depression, anxiety, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. The rich and famous have not been spared either like Jim Carrey, John Hamm and Angelina Jolie who have suffered from depression, Catherine Zeta and Demi Lovato from bio polar disorder and the list goes on and on to our family members and friends. I will be the first to own up to having suffered from depression some years back after the loss of a loved one and it is a dark place to be, even darker if you have no support system in place. So why do many cases of mental illnesses pass through the cracks and go undetected? To start with very few African countries have mental health policies and mental health illness is at the bottom of most governments priorities. Mental illness is considered a silent crisis. Some could argue we have more urgent things to handle like malaria, HIV & AIDS, hunger and I agree but mental health should be on top of the list of any country seeking to ensure maximum productivity of its people. The situation across Africa is traumatizing and there is not mush data to go on, take for example South Sudan where no mental illness hospital existed up until 2012 and those thought to be mentally ill were put in jail. In some parts of Ghana and East Africa those suffering from mental disabilities are chained to trees or inside the house with little to no care. Psychiatric institutions are like a scene from a horror movie. The patients lack basic sanitation and care and sadly there is no one to follow up on their therapy and treatment routines. They have been stripped off their human dignity. Families of those suffering from mental illness or disability are considered outcasts in the community and some hide their children out of shame and in a bid to fit in. Most of the African cultures associate mental illness to curses, witchcraft, and punishment form the gods or plain bad lack. Patients are taken through healing rituals that demean them and bleed their families financially dry as they seek answers to what could be ailing their loved one. I am sure you have also seen countless religious ceremonies meant to cast out demons. Africa is developing and we are getting more exposed to the outside world. As this happens we are continuously under pressure to perform and outdo others which could result into high stress, anxiety disorder and other addictive behaviors. Therefore, we need to provide a safe place for those suffering from mental illnesses to heal or to lead normal lives as much as possible. Governments and health officials need to be proactive in ensuring human rights are observed in psychiatric centers. We need to pour more resources into training health workers in this field and equipping the centers available. The idea of working together with religious and traditional healers should not entirely be dismissed but should be regulated and coordinated to ensure that there is no exploitation of the families or abuse of those in need of care. They should act as the bridge between the sick and professional care givers. Such a model has been tried in Kenya under the partnership of traditional healers and the African Association of Psychiatrists and Allied Professionals and they have witnessed a rise in the number of patients refereed to the psychiatric centers by traditional healers. At a personal level we need to check on our families and friends. There are those who are always laughing but are in pain untold. There are those who drop off the grid and we don’t really care enough to check on what is going on. Sometimes when it comes to illnesses like depression, anxiety and eating disorders the best cure is knowing you have a strong support system. When the darkness seems to want to swallow you whole you hold on because others believe you can. I think those who suffer from mental illnesses are the strongest people we have because they have to fight every single day to remain anchored in the present when all they want is an escape.
    Jul 04, 2016 1106