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  • 13 Jun 2016
    I have enjoyed the last couple of days off from class and I am now mentally rested and ready to finish the next two modules and get a start on the summer holidays as I am sure most of you are. I am glad to report I finished my reading on a few books that have been pending and I also had time to watch the CIS Cyber Crime series. I have always known that danger lurks in the web and online privacy is more of an illusion than it is real, but watching this series drove the point home. I am sure they add some theatrics and drama to make the plot more interesting but the message cannot be ignored. We have built our lives around wireless and wired connections and very few of us give second thought to the dangers we are exposing ourselves to or our loved ones.    Cybercrimes are offences committed over the web. There are many types of cyber crimes ranging from theft, terrorism, stalking, bullying, identity theft, malicious software, child grooming and abuse and hacking among many others. One may argue that these crimes are only common in the west but it is happening in Africa as well. Cyber criminals consider Africa as an opportune place to commit their criminal activities majorly because of the high number of domains coupled with weak network and information security. The legislation to tackle cyber crime is also non-existent in most African countries which provide a safe haven for criminals within and beyond our borders.   In Africa Nigeria is the largest target and source of malicious internet activities and the trend is quickly spreading to other countries in West Africa. The rest of Africa has not been spared especially in the large economic hubs like Nairobi, Cairo, and Johannesburg where criminal activities on the web such as fraudulent financial transactions and child kidnapping are on the rise. There is proof that terrorist activities organized by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Alshabaab in Somalia and Kenya have been coordinated and planned over the web. Take for example the West gate attack in Kenya where 67 people lost their lives and cost the economy an estimated $200 million in tourism revenue. A study carried out by the International Data Group Connect estimates that annually, cybercrimes cost the South African economy $573 million, the Nigeria economy $200 million and $36 million to the Kenyan economy.   If you go through the web you will come across numerous stories of people whose lives have been changed because they were victims of cyber crimes. There are heartbreaking stories of women and men who have lost their entire fortune to cons on the internet. Homes have been broken into and assault or murder committed because someone thought it was a good idea to post their where about or home address online. Parents have been victims of their children’s photographs being stolen from social sites and posted on adult sites. Children have been bullied relentlessly on the web and some have ended their lives as a result. People have reported being watched by stalkers for months without their knowledge on their webcams. Heinous acts such as child grooming by pedophiles and human traffickers are a daily occurrence and yet most of us continue to share every moment of our lives with careless abandon.   I am not here to scare you (maybe a little) or preach against the internet and the various platforms it offers, heaven knows we continue to reap numerous benefits from the easy connectivity it gives. What I want is for all of us to be conscious of what we post and share and with whom and on what platform. We are guilty of agreeing to terms and conditions on websites so that we can start using their services without carefully reading their privacy regulations. Every time we post something online or disclose our location we are leaving a trail or footprint that can be used to harm us. I will give you an easy example; go to your Facebook or Instagram account or any other social account you may have and look at the number of “friends” you have. How many of these people do you really know and yet you give a chronicle of your life to them every single day.     Some of the most practical and easy ways suggested by INTERPOL on how you can ensure online safety are keeping your computer safe from viruses, opening attachments from only contacts you trust, being cautious about public wireless connections, keeping your spam filter switched on among many others at your disposal on their website. The internet is here to stay and our need for it will only grow but what we can do is taking it upon ourselves to ensure that our privacy and that of our loved ones is not defiled and realizing with time not every moment needs to be shared with the world.
    1222 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I have enjoyed the last couple of days off from class and I am now mentally rested and ready to finish the next two modules and get a start on the summer holidays as I am sure most of you are. I am glad to report I finished my reading on a few books that have been pending and I also had time to watch the CIS Cyber Crime series. I have always known that danger lurks in the web and online privacy is more of an illusion than it is real, but watching this series drove the point home. I am sure they add some theatrics and drama to make the plot more interesting but the message cannot be ignored. We have built our lives around wireless and wired connections and very few of us give second thought to the dangers we are exposing ourselves to or our loved ones.    Cybercrimes are offences committed over the web. There are many types of cyber crimes ranging from theft, terrorism, stalking, bullying, identity theft, malicious software, child grooming and abuse and hacking among many others. One may argue that these crimes are only common in the west but it is happening in Africa as well. Cyber criminals consider Africa as an opportune place to commit their criminal activities majorly because of the high number of domains coupled with weak network and information security. The legislation to tackle cyber crime is also non-existent in most African countries which provide a safe haven for criminals within and beyond our borders.   In Africa Nigeria is the largest target and source of malicious internet activities and the trend is quickly spreading to other countries in West Africa. The rest of Africa has not been spared especially in the large economic hubs like Nairobi, Cairo, and Johannesburg where criminal activities on the web such as fraudulent financial transactions and child kidnapping are on the rise. There is proof that terrorist activities organized by Boko Haram in Nigeria, Alshabaab in Somalia and Kenya have been coordinated and planned over the web. Take for example the West gate attack in Kenya where 67 people lost their lives and cost the economy an estimated $200 million in tourism revenue. A study carried out by the International Data Group Connect estimates that annually, cybercrimes cost the South African economy $573 million, the Nigeria economy $200 million and $36 million to the Kenyan economy.   If you go through the web you will come across numerous stories of people whose lives have been changed because they were victims of cyber crimes. There are heartbreaking stories of women and men who have lost their entire fortune to cons on the internet. Homes have been broken into and assault or murder committed because someone thought it was a good idea to post their where about or home address online. Parents have been victims of their children’s photographs being stolen from social sites and posted on adult sites. Children have been bullied relentlessly on the web and some have ended their lives as a result. People have reported being watched by stalkers for months without their knowledge on their webcams. Heinous acts such as child grooming by pedophiles and human traffickers are a daily occurrence and yet most of us continue to share every moment of our lives with careless abandon.   I am not here to scare you (maybe a little) or preach against the internet and the various platforms it offers, heaven knows we continue to reap numerous benefits from the easy connectivity it gives. What I want is for all of us to be conscious of what we post and share and with whom and on what platform. We are guilty of agreeing to terms and conditions on websites so that we can start using their services without carefully reading their privacy regulations. Every time we post something online or disclose our location we are leaving a trail or footprint that can be used to harm us. I will give you an easy example; go to your Facebook or Instagram account or any other social account you may have and look at the number of “friends” you have. How many of these people do you really know and yet you give a chronicle of your life to them every single day.     Some of the most practical and easy ways suggested by INTERPOL on how you can ensure online safety are keeping your computer safe from viruses, opening attachments from only contacts you trust, being cautious about public wireless connections, keeping your spam filter switched on among many others at your disposal on their website. The internet is here to stay and our need for it will only grow but what we can do is taking it upon ourselves to ensure that our privacy and that of our loved ones is not defiled and realizing with time not every moment needs to be shared with the world.
    Jun 13, 2016 1222
  • 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
  • 06 Jun 2016
    If I was a New York Times blogger or Washington Post (I am allowed to dream) I think my editor would have had my head by now. I have a habit of writing my blogs at the last minute because funny enough that is when inspiration seems to strike me or that is when I can no longer stew on a topic and I have to write it down. You may ask why I continue to write if the pressure to deliver is so high but writing my weekly entries has taught me how to honor commitment and frankly I enjoy penning my thoughts down but I digress. A few days ago we were enjoying a few drinks with some of our colleagues and we discussed a lot of issues and cultural food was one of them. I came to realize that Cameroon and specifically the Bamileke have very diverse dishes to choose from, be it from the meat, vegetables and the roots. To be honest I was a bit jealous because my tribe (Kikuyu) is known for many things but diversity in their cuisine is not one of them.   Our discussion got me thinking about the food crisis that continues to face our world. According to the World Food Program 795-216 million people are undernourished and do not get enough food to lead a healthy and active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to human health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The report goes on to list the main causes of hunger as conflict, natural disasters, poverty and poor agricultural practices and over exploitation of resources.  Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world at 23.3% or almost one in every four people.   In Kenya an estimated 1.6 million people are considered food insecure with global rates of acute malnutrition is between 24-37% which is beyond the 15% emergency threshold provided by the World Health Organization. I cannot count how many times Kenyan citizens have come together under the umbrella of Red Cross to mobilize funds to feed the hungry in the Northern part of the country which is majorly an arid and semi-arid zone. Sadly, this has only served as a short term relief measure and a long term solution is yet to be fully implemented. Hence, in every few years the country is caught off guard and we end up losing lives and sources of income especially for the pastoralist communities.    On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), goal number two is to end hunger which is closely tied to goal number one which is to end poverty. The target is to ensure access by all people to safe nutritious food all year round by 2030. Governments hope to achieve this by doubling the agricultural productivity, ensuring secure and equal access to land, implementing resilient agricultural practices that will increase productivity and production and maintaining genetic diversity of seeds, plants, domestic animals among others like political reforms.    I think it is a shame that with all the advancements humans have made in the 21st Century feeding themselves sufficiently remains a big challenge. What I think should be on this list as well are communities adopting new food sources that are not traditionally considered as culturally acceptable. It is sad to have people die out of hunger when food surrounds them only because the said food is not acceptable in their culture. If we are to beat world hunger and especially in Africa we will have to think outside the box. We need to start considering other sources of food even as we implement other actions. Bugs like crickets, termites, beetles, and caterpillars are sources of food in parts of Central and West Africa and we could look into investing in breeding them and supplying our markets. I do not know how many of us me included would consider frogs, snakes or bats as delicacies without gagging but the truth of the matter is there are people who have been eating them for years and they are well and breathing so we shouldn’t be any different. The vision we have for 2030 does not have to seem like an unreachable goal but we can slowly work towards achieving it through gradual lifestyle and social changes.  
    1201 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • If I was a New York Times blogger or Washington Post (I am allowed to dream) I think my editor would have had my head by now. I have a habit of writing my blogs at the last minute because funny enough that is when inspiration seems to strike me or that is when I can no longer stew on a topic and I have to write it down. You may ask why I continue to write if the pressure to deliver is so high but writing my weekly entries has taught me how to honor commitment and frankly I enjoy penning my thoughts down but I digress. A few days ago we were enjoying a few drinks with some of our colleagues and we discussed a lot of issues and cultural food was one of them. I came to realize that Cameroon and specifically the Bamileke have very diverse dishes to choose from, be it from the meat, vegetables and the roots. To be honest I was a bit jealous because my tribe (Kikuyu) is known for many things but diversity in their cuisine is not one of them.   Our discussion got me thinking about the food crisis that continues to face our world. According to the World Food Program 795-216 million people are undernourished and do not get enough food to lead a healthy and active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to human health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The report goes on to list the main causes of hunger as conflict, natural disasters, poverty and poor agricultural practices and over exploitation of resources.  Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world at 23.3% or almost one in every four people.   In Kenya an estimated 1.6 million people are considered food insecure with global rates of acute malnutrition is between 24-37% which is beyond the 15% emergency threshold provided by the World Health Organization. I cannot count how many times Kenyan citizens have come together under the umbrella of Red Cross to mobilize funds to feed the hungry in the Northern part of the country which is majorly an arid and semi-arid zone. Sadly, this has only served as a short term relief measure and a long term solution is yet to be fully implemented. Hence, in every few years the country is caught off guard and we end up losing lives and sources of income especially for the pastoralist communities.    On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), goal number two is to end hunger which is closely tied to goal number one which is to end poverty. The target is to ensure access by all people to safe nutritious food all year round by 2030. Governments hope to achieve this by doubling the agricultural productivity, ensuring secure and equal access to land, implementing resilient agricultural practices that will increase productivity and production and maintaining genetic diversity of seeds, plants, domestic animals among others like political reforms.    I think it is a shame that with all the advancements humans have made in the 21st Century feeding themselves sufficiently remains a big challenge. What I think should be on this list as well are communities adopting new food sources that are not traditionally considered as culturally acceptable. It is sad to have people die out of hunger when food surrounds them only because the said food is not acceptable in their culture. If we are to beat world hunger and especially in Africa we will have to think outside the box. We need to start considering other sources of food even as we implement other actions. Bugs like crickets, termites, beetles, and caterpillars are sources of food in parts of Central and West Africa and we could look into investing in breeding them and supplying our markets. I do not know how many of us me included would consider frogs, snakes or bats as delicacies without gagging but the truth of the matter is there are people who have been eating them for years and they are well and breathing so we shouldn’t be any different. The vision we have for 2030 does not have to seem like an unreachable goal but we can slowly work towards achieving it through gradual lifestyle and social changes.  
    Jun 06, 2016 1201
  • 21 Mar 2016
      I am a lover of history and you can say my love started some years back when I got the opportunity to study post independent African and European history in deep detail. I felt like I was getting a free tour through time and I could clearly see the chronology of events that have shaped our world to what it is today. However, regardless of how much I love history it also makes me angry and sad for mankind. This was my feeling when I took a course in African History late last year. I felt so frustrated and angry and that only bled into a feeling of helplessness and resignation.   Mama Africa, a beautiful continent rich in human, culture and natural resources yet mostly known for hunger ,civil wars, corruption and dysfunctional governments. It is like we are the joke of the world and we do not even realize it. I know that my short essay cannot do the political dynamics of Africa justice but you will agree with me that there is a common theme in all countries as far as politics are concern. We have leaders who are high on power and a people who are so busy trying to survive that they do not realize that they are being taken for a ride. I do not know when the rain started beating us but it has hit us hard.   There was so much hope after gaining independence but it now seems like that candle has burnt out. The promise of freedom and self governance was what bound us together and saw the freedom fighters through the dark days. The promise of turning that dream into reality was what made most of the leaders get elected into office. Yet those we elected to power have turned democratic positions into monarchies. Power seems like a more potent drug in Africa than anywhere else in the world. That Promised Land is still a mirage many decades after independence.   Every government has a responsibility to provide basic services to its citizens. Access to affordable health care, food, education, security and any other social service is not a privilege but a right. If you pay tax then you have the right to demand better services. Yet this is not the case in most African countries. We get surprised when services are provided and think it is normal for civil servants to steal from public funds. We defend those who steal from us in the name of ethnic and tribal lines and so we elect them back to office year in year out. We stand blindly behind those who commit crimes against humanity in the name of loyalty. We are easily bought.   I think the middle class is what ails this continent. We are so comfortable with our fancy lives that politics is no longer our thing. If the government cannot provide a service to us we go for private providers. We do not go to public hospitals anymore because they do not have the human resource or medicine; we take our children to private schools because the quality of education in public schools is so poor it is near collapse. We use private means of transport because public transport is chaotic and inefficient. I could go on and on. The icing on the cake is we do not vote because who has the time to make long queues only to vote in another dysfunctional government. So we have left the fate of our countries to the poor. I know what you are thinking, but the poor have rights too! I couldn’t agree more but they have also been turned into puppets by the political class; politics of the belly. Their votes are bought for a piece of bread or a packet of maize flour. This is what we have left our fate to; a greedy political class and a hungry population.   Many will argue that African countries are young in their democracy and I am no political analyst. However, the situation seems to have become worse than it was when we gained independence. We are the first to shout that the west should not interfere with African affairs and yet we lap on the crumbs they feed us. You think that’s crude? There is much more where that came from. We have the ability to be self sufficient; we can feed our people and educate our children. Provide basic medical care for pregnant women and infants. We can stand up against injustice and poor quality of services. The middle class should come off its high horse and help sensitize the poor on the power they hold in their votes. Just because the ruling party is from your region or tribe does not put food on your table. We need to shift from the “me mentality” and realize we are so much stronger together. That everything we need has been within our reach all along.
    1200 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  •   I am a lover of history and you can say my love started some years back when I got the opportunity to study post independent African and European history in deep detail. I felt like I was getting a free tour through time and I could clearly see the chronology of events that have shaped our world to what it is today. However, regardless of how much I love history it also makes me angry and sad for mankind. This was my feeling when I took a course in African History late last year. I felt so frustrated and angry and that only bled into a feeling of helplessness and resignation.   Mama Africa, a beautiful continent rich in human, culture and natural resources yet mostly known for hunger ,civil wars, corruption and dysfunctional governments. It is like we are the joke of the world and we do not even realize it. I know that my short essay cannot do the political dynamics of Africa justice but you will agree with me that there is a common theme in all countries as far as politics are concern. We have leaders who are high on power and a people who are so busy trying to survive that they do not realize that they are being taken for a ride. I do not know when the rain started beating us but it has hit us hard.   There was so much hope after gaining independence but it now seems like that candle has burnt out. The promise of freedom and self governance was what bound us together and saw the freedom fighters through the dark days. The promise of turning that dream into reality was what made most of the leaders get elected into office. Yet those we elected to power have turned democratic positions into monarchies. Power seems like a more potent drug in Africa than anywhere else in the world. That Promised Land is still a mirage many decades after independence.   Every government has a responsibility to provide basic services to its citizens. Access to affordable health care, food, education, security and any other social service is not a privilege but a right. If you pay tax then you have the right to demand better services. Yet this is not the case in most African countries. We get surprised when services are provided and think it is normal for civil servants to steal from public funds. We defend those who steal from us in the name of ethnic and tribal lines and so we elect them back to office year in year out. We stand blindly behind those who commit crimes against humanity in the name of loyalty. We are easily bought.   I think the middle class is what ails this continent. We are so comfortable with our fancy lives that politics is no longer our thing. If the government cannot provide a service to us we go for private providers. We do not go to public hospitals anymore because they do not have the human resource or medicine; we take our children to private schools because the quality of education in public schools is so poor it is near collapse. We use private means of transport because public transport is chaotic and inefficient. I could go on and on. The icing on the cake is we do not vote because who has the time to make long queues only to vote in another dysfunctional government. So we have left the fate of our countries to the poor. I know what you are thinking, but the poor have rights too! I couldn’t agree more but they have also been turned into puppets by the political class; politics of the belly. Their votes are bought for a piece of bread or a packet of maize flour. This is what we have left our fate to; a greedy political class and a hungry population.   Many will argue that African countries are young in their democracy and I am no political analyst. However, the situation seems to have become worse than it was when we gained independence. We are the first to shout that the west should not interfere with African affairs and yet we lap on the crumbs they feed us. You think that’s crude? There is much more where that came from. We have the ability to be self sufficient; we can feed our people and educate our children. Provide basic medical care for pregnant women and infants. We can stand up against injustice and poor quality of services. The middle class should come off its high horse and help sensitize the poor on the power they hold in their votes. Just because the ruling party is from your region or tribe does not put food on your table. We need to shift from the “me mentality” and realize we are so much stronger together. That everything we need has been within our reach all along.
    Mar 21, 2016 1200
  • 23 May 2016
    A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on endangered species and it generated quiet a discussion which I must say I greatly enjoyed and hope to stimulate with every post. The views on what should have been done to the over 100 tones of elephants and rhinos ivory Kenya chose to burn were valid and for good reason. However, I think we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and not just the single act of the ivory burn. Poaching and selling of ivory are considered as acts of wild animal trafficking which according to INTERPOL is the third largest illegal business in the world after drug and arms trafficking. It is among other activities like illegal logging, electronic waste mismanagement, fining and illegal fishing which are considered as environmental crimes.   Environmental crimes are a violation to the environmental laws put into place to protect the environment and involve all illegal acts that directly cause harm to the environment. According to the United Nations and INTERPOL, environmental crime businesses generate between $70 billion and $213 billion each year. That is a staggering amount considering that most of these crimes go unpunished and the true perpetrators are never caught. What makes this a dangerous trade is that the biggest percentages of these finances go towards financing militia, criminal and terrorist groups. Let me try and break it down for you; The ivory global trade is estimated to be worth around $1 billion every year and a kilogram of a sharks fin is worth 600 Euros. That may not seem significant but picture this, every year 100 million sharks are captured and out of these 75% are only caught for their fins and then thrown back to the ocean to a slow painful death. Forest crimes which include illegal logging are estimated to be worth over $30 billion annually.   We live in a time where security is no longer guaranteed. Terrorism has spread fear in the hearts of many and the illusion of public safety is slowly fading. What we fail to realize is that most of the terrorist activities are funded by engaging in environmental crimes. For example, the al shabaab from Somalia rely heavily on illegal exports of charcoal worth $360 million to $384 million to finance their activities. It is no secret that al shabaab has taken credit of wounding and killing hundreds of civilians in East Africa. Africa’s most unstable countries of South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic provide a safe haven for poachers, miners and illegal loggers who make part of an elaborate network that support militia groups like those of Lord Joseph Koni from Uganda.   The effects of environmental crimes are too many to count and the destruction left in its wake too huge to quantify. We have had animals pushed to the blink of extinction as the middle class in Asia seeks to acquire societal status. Women and children have been enslaved by warlords who take over villages next to national parks as they seek their next kill. Let us not forget the rangers who have been killed in the line of duty or the innocent civilians who continue to be killed the world over through acts of terrorism. It is really a sickening trade one that has been fueled by corruption in government institutions, weak environmental legislations, and unemployment and abject poverty.   It is clear that environmental crimes affect countries at the national and community level. What we need is a system overhaul if this war is to be won because believe me it is a war. The biggest obstacle to winning this war is corruption and it needs to be addressed so that there is effective implementation of environmental laws and prosecution of offenders. Communities living near environmental protected areas need to be economically empowered so that they are not easily lured into illegal activities. Involving them in managing such environmental resources and creating awareness would be one way of creating a sense of ownership and creating policing networks. Above all countries need to rise together in one voice and cooperate in ensuring that the environmental resources are sustainably used and protected even beyond their borders. We owe it to ourselves to protect the beauty of our world from the greedy few.
    1183 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on endangered species and it generated quiet a discussion which I must say I greatly enjoyed and hope to stimulate with every post. The views on what should have been done to the over 100 tones of elephants and rhinos ivory Kenya chose to burn were valid and for good reason. However, I think we need to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and not just the single act of the ivory burn. Poaching and selling of ivory are considered as acts of wild animal trafficking which according to INTERPOL is the third largest illegal business in the world after drug and arms trafficking. It is among other activities like illegal logging, electronic waste mismanagement, fining and illegal fishing which are considered as environmental crimes.   Environmental crimes are a violation to the environmental laws put into place to protect the environment and involve all illegal acts that directly cause harm to the environment. According to the United Nations and INTERPOL, environmental crime businesses generate between $70 billion and $213 billion each year. That is a staggering amount considering that most of these crimes go unpunished and the true perpetrators are never caught. What makes this a dangerous trade is that the biggest percentages of these finances go towards financing militia, criminal and terrorist groups. Let me try and break it down for you; The ivory global trade is estimated to be worth around $1 billion every year and a kilogram of a sharks fin is worth 600 Euros. That may not seem significant but picture this, every year 100 million sharks are captured and out of these 75% are only caught for their fins and then thrown back to the ocean to a slow painful death. Forest crimes which include illegal logging are estimated to be worth over $30 billion annually.   We live in a time where security is no longer guaranteed. Terrorism has spread fear in the hearts of many and the illusion of public safety is slowly fading. What we fail to realize is that most of the terrorist activities are funded by engaging in environmental crimes. For example, the al shabaab from Somalia rely heavily on illegal exports of charcoal worth $360 million to $384 million to finance their activities. It is no secret that al shabaab has taken credit of wounding and killing hundreds of civilians in East Africa. Africa’s most unstable countries of South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic provide a safe haven for poachers, miners and illegal loggers who make part of an elaborate network that support militia groups like those of Lord Joseph Koni from Uganda.   The effects of environmental crimes are too many to count and the destruction left in its wake too huge to quantify. We have had animals pushed to the blink of extinction as the middle class in Asia seeks to acquire societal status. Women and children have been enslaved by warlords who take over villages next to national parks as they seek their next kill. Let us not forget the rangers who have been killed in the line of duty or the innocent civilians who continue to be killed the world over through acts of terrorism. It is really a sickening trade one that has been fueled by corruption in government institutions, weak environmental legislations, and unemployment and abject poverty.   It is clear that environmental crimes affect countries at the national and community level. What we need is a system overhaul if this war is to be won because believe me it is a war. The biggest obstacle to winning this war is corruption and it needs to be addressed so that there is effective implementation of environmental laws and prosecution of offenders. Communities living near environmental protected areas need to be economically empowered so that they are not easily lured into illegal activities. Involving them in managing such environmental resources and creating awareness would be one way of creating a sense of ownership and creating policing networks. Above all countries need to rise together in one voice and cooperate in ensuring that the environmental resources are sustainably used and protected even beyond their borders. We owe it to ourselves to protect the beauty of our world from the greedy few.
    May 23, 2016 1183
  • 05 Sep 2016
    There are so many products in the market each claiming to be better than the next that sometimes as a consumer I get dazed just looking at them. We must acknowledge that there exists a lot of exploitation in the production chain before a product finally finds its way on the shelves. There is exploitation of cheap labor in Asia where workers work for long hours with little pay and their working conditions are inhumane. Farmers in Africa get exploited by middlemen with very little representation in trade unions. Yet they work tirelessly to provide for their families and feed the world by extension. We have children working in cocoa farms in West Africa only for you to satisfy your chocolate craving. Forest cover continues to dwindle as the demand for furniture increases. The list is endless. It is in this light that the producers have found a way to ease our guilt as consumers and make us feel better about our consumption habits. We now have labels on products showing fair trade was practiced or for some showing no exploitation took place during the production chain. Yet who really verifies these claims? The fair trade marks are globally recognized symbols that show that products bearing these marks meet the internationally agreed social, environmental and economic standards. According to FAIRTRADE International buying these products support farmers and workers as they improve their lives and communities. Kenya has launched the fair trade mark as its first ethical label on products. I have to admit that the idea is noble. After all it seeks to protect and economically empower farmers and other workers against exploitation. However, this is only in paper. I am a daughter of a farmer who grows coffee and tea among other crops and the general feeling is that of resignation and of things never getting better. A few years back my country experienced a wave of farmers uprooting their coffee and tea plantations because they had been exploited for so long it made no economic sense to continue in the trade. To date, most continue to ravish in poverty as their products grace world markets. In short such marks do not make any sense to farmers if they do not translate into better income and living standards. We can make ourselves feel better by buying the so called certified products and even pay more for them but this money does not get to its rightful owners. So do we stop eating chocolate and drinking tea or coffee among many other products? Of course not! Maybe it is not the job of the consumer to determine what was fairy put in the market or not, after all there is government systems meant for this. What we should not do as consumers is pretend that paying more for products automatically eliminates the exploitation of hard working individuals in the production chain. It is hypocritical at the very least and only fattens the pockets of a few individuals.
    1180 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • There are so many products in the market each claiming to be better than the next that sometimes as a consumer I get dazed just looking at them. We must acknowledge that there exists a lot of exploitation in the production chain before a product finally finds its way on the shelves. There is exploitation of cheap labor in Asia where workers work for long hours with little pay and their working conditions are inhumane. Farmers in Africa get exploited by middlemen with very little representation in trade unions. Yet they work tirelessly to provide for their families and feed the world by extension. We have children working in cocoa farms in West Africa only for you to satisfy your chocolate craving. Forest cover continues to dwindle as the demand for furniture increases. The list is endless. It is in this light that the producers have found a way to ease our guilt as consumers and make us feel better about our consumption habits. We now have labels on products showing fair trade was practiced or for some showing no exploitation took place during the production chain. Yet who really verifies these claims? The fair trade marks are globally recognized symbols that show that products bearing these marks meet the internationally agreed social, environmental and economic standards. According to FAIRTRADE International buying these products support farmers and workers as they improve their lives and communities. Kenya has launched the fair trade mark as its first ethical label on products. I have to admit that the idea is noble. After all it seeks to protect and economically empower farmers and other workers against exploitation. However, this is only in paper. I am a daughter of a farmer who grows coffee and tea among other crops and the general feeling is that of resignation and of things never getting better. A few years back my country experienced a wave of farmers uprooting their coffee and tea plantations because they had been exploited for so long it made no economic sense to continue in the trade. To date, most continue to ravish in poverty as their products grace world markets. In short such marks do not make any sense to farmers if they do not translate into better income and living standards. We can make ourselves feel better by buying the so called certified products and even pay more for them but this money does not get to its rightful owners. So do we stop eating chocolate and drinking tea or coffee among many other products? Of course not! Maybe it is not the job of the consumer to determine what was fairy put in the market or not, after all there is government systems meant for this. What we should not do as consumers is pretend that paying more for products automatically eliminates the exploitation of hard working individuals in the production chain. It is hypocritical at the very least and only fattens the pockets of a few individuals.
    Sep 05, 2016 1180
  • 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
  • 17 Oct 2016
      The International day of the Girl was celebrated last week and to mark it a report on child brides was released by Save the Children and the findings are grim. Weddings in any culture are a source of joy and celebration. It is a passage of life that ensures continuity of life and brings families together. However, this is not always the case. Every seven seconds a girl under 15 years of age is married off often to an older man. I will let that sink in. UNICEF estimates that the number of girls married under 18 will increase from 700 million to 950 million in 2030. It is mind boggling that such statistics even exist in our world today. Top on the rank of countries where child marriages are prevalent according to the report is Afghanistan, Yemen, India, Somali, Niger, Chad, Mali and Central African Republic. So why are families pushing their children into early marriages? Poverty, war and cultural practices are among the many reasons why young girls or in this case children are left exposed to such practices. Sadly, what this does is expose the girls to a vicious cycle of poverty, domestic violence, and sexual assault and puts them at the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The girls are deprived of the chance for a normal childhood and they become a generation of children raising children. The European Union has not been spared either in dealing with cases of child marriages. The conflict in the Middle East has had some rarely discussed consequences like an increase in child brides as families marry off their daughters as a safety or coping mechanism. It is estimated that child marriages represent 35% of all marriages of Syrian refugees in 2015. Consequently, the influx of refugees in Europe has left governments in Germany, Netherlands and Denmark grappling with how to deal with child brides. In Germany it is estimated that 1000 marriages involve one or both of the parties being under the age of 18. So do they consider it as a question of protection and allow such marriages to exist or a matter of rights where such marriages are not recognized? The debate continues in some countries with some moving fast to close any legal loop holes in a bid to protect underage children. I will be honest with you, I get overwhelmed by some of the reports and stories I read. How are we to achieve the Sustainability Development Goals or our country specific development goals if part of a generation is condemned for being female? How do we expect to see change when we continuously bury our heads in the sand as the dreams of our children are stolen? I have come to appreciate the endless opportunities I have access to because my parents chose to give me an education and I believe herein lies the solution. We need to keep our girls in school and educate their communities on the importance of them remaining there. After all if you educate a girl you educate a community. Governments have an obligation to provide an education and put in place proper policies and laws that are implemented to ensure the protection and safety of both girls and boys. We do not have any other option than to act and bring this barbaric practice to an end, one girl every seven seconds is one too many! Stories published on the Every Last Girl report 2016 One:"Tamrea," a young girl from Ethiopia, is one example. She was married, pregnant and abandoned before she hit her teens."I was given to a husband at 12," she tells Save the Children. "I wasn't happy to get married at that age, but my father said there was nobody to look after me since my mum wasn't around. I wasn't happy. I was crying. I wasn't able to get used to what marriage was... When I became pregnant my husband left me." Two: A 13-year-old Syrian refugee in Lebanon called Sahar - not her real name - who was married to a 20-year-old man. Now 14, she is two months pregnant."The wedding day, I was imagining it would be a great day but it wasn't. It was all misery. It was full of sadness," Save the Children quoted her as saying."I feel really blessed that I am having a baby. But I am a child raising a child."   One of too many dreams stolen!
    1156 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  •   The International day of the Girl was celebrated last week and to mark it a report on child brides was released by Save the Children and the findings are grim. Weddings in any culture are a source of joy and celebration. It is a passage of life that ensures continuity of life and brings families together. However, this is not always the case. Every seven seconds a girl under 15 years of age is married off often to an older man. I will let that sink in. UNICEF estimates that the number of girls married under 18 will increase from 700 million to 950 million in 2030. It is mind boggling that such statistics even exist in our world today. Top on the rank of countries where child marriages are prevalent according to the report is Afghanistan, Yemen, India, Somali, Niger, Chad, Mali and Central African Republic. So why are families pushing their children into early marriages? Poverty, war and cultural practices are among the many reasons why young girls or in this case children are left exposed to such practices. Sadly, what this does is expose the girls to a vicious cycle of poverty, domestic violence, and sexual assault and puts them at the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The girls are deprived of the chance for a normal childhood and they become a generation of children raising children. The European Union has not been spared either in dealing with cases of child marriages. The conflict in the Middle East has had some rarely discussed consequences like an increase in child brides as families marry off their daughters as a safety or coping mechanism. It is estimated that child marriages represent 35% of all marriages of Syrian refugees in 2015. Consequently, the influx of refugees in Europe has left governments in Germany, Netherlands and Denmark grappling with how to deal with child brides. In Germany it is estimated that 1000 marriages involve one or both of the parties being under the age of 18. So do they consider it as a question of protection and allow such marriages to exist or a matter of rights where such marriages are not recognized? The debate continues in some countries with some moving fast to close any legal loop holes in a bid to protect underage children. I will be honest with you, I get overwhelmed by some of the reports and stories I read. How are we to achieve the Sustainability Development Goals or our country specific development goals if part of a generation is condemned for being female? How do we expect to see change when we continuously bury our heads in the sand as the dreams of our children are stolen? I have come to appreciate the endless opportunities I have access to because my parents chose to give me an education and I believe herein lies the solution. We need to keep our girls in school and educate their communities on the importance of them remaining there. After all if you educate a girl you educate a community. Governments have an obligation to provide an education and put in place proper policies and laws that are implemented to ensure the protection and safety of both girls and boys. We do not have any other option than to act and bring this barbaric practice to an end, one girl every seven seconds is one too many! Stories published on the Every Last Girl report 2016 One:"Tamrea," a young girl from Ethiopia, is one example. She was married, pregnant and abandoned before she hit her teens."I was given to a husband at 12," she tells Save the Children. "I wasn't happy to get married at that age, but my father said there was nobody to look after me since my mum wasn't around. I wasn't happy. I was crying. I wasn't able to get used to what marriage was... When I became pregnant my husband left me." Two: A 13-year-old Syrian refugee in Lebanon called Sahar - not her real name - who was married to a 20-year-old man. Now 14, she is two months pregnant."The wedding day, I was imagining it would be a great day but it wasn't. It was all misery. It was full of sadness," Save the Children quoted her as saying."I feel really blessed that I am having a baby. But I am a child raising a child."   One of too many dreams stolen!
    Oct 17, 2016 1156
  • 29 Mar 2016
    “I am sorry for your loss” I do not think there exists a less inadequate word in the face of grief and yet there is nothing else to say. We have all lost a loved one or know someone who has. It is like our eyes get opened and we suddenly realize that our loved ones are immortal and the anxiety starts. We spend endless nights worrying if we will lose someone else, after all the clock is ticking. The disbelief that you can never call them again, hear their laughter or their voice is the tip of the iceberg. The pain is so numbing it hurts to breath, your mind constantly whirls with thoughts that make little to no sense. You operate on autopilot, it is a nightmare you tell yourself and you have to eventually wake up only you never. I remember that day as if it was just yesterday, funny how you wake up and you do not realize your life is about to be forever changed.. I would watch him sleep and feel for any sign of life, sometimes I would wake him just to make sure. I must have looked like a fool thinking that my gaze and touch could keep him breathing just a little bit longer. I thought in all my selfishness I could will him to stay in the land of the living. When he finally breathed his last I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders especially when we had to leave him behind. I remember thinking what if he wakes up and he is all alone and freezing, maybe he was alive and the doctors couldn’t tell. I still left and the guilt ate at me, guilt over leaving him and wondering if we had done enough to get him the best care. Still you have to hide the pain because you are not the only one suffering or grieving and you have to be strong they say. It is the cycle of life. The condolences begin to pour in and for a minute you just want everyone to stop treating you like you are fragile China. Every one tip toes around the loss and treat you like a nut case waiting to crack at the mention of your loved one. You do not want to look in their eyes because you will see the pity while all you crave for is for someone to act normal around you. Then that day, when dust returns to dust comes. You realize things just got real, your loved one is never coming home again, never calling or picking your calls, you are never seeing them again. They are gone. Everybody else goes home and you are expected to go on with life, pick up the pieces and man up. You want to hide from the world, sleep all day, and forget you even have a job or friends. You worry that you won’t be able to keep their memory alive. You will forget their face, voice or the sound of their laughter. If you let it, depression will set in. It is an ugly monster so you have to fight it or seek help. They say time heals all wounds but I strongly refute this. The pain never goes away; the tears never truly dry nor does life ever go back to normal. But we take comfort in the hope that they are watching over us and they would want us to be happy. We soldier on and put on a brave face because that is who we are, resilient with an unbreakable spirit and heart. We can still love them from the other side of life; we can still say their name and keep their memory alive. And in all this maybe we can learn to treasure those who are still with us.
    1138 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • “I am sorry for your loss” I do not think there exists a less inadequate word in the face of grief and yet there is nothing else to say. We have all lost a loved one or know someone who has. It is like our eyes get opened and we suddenly realize that our loved ones are immortal and the anxiety starts. We spend endless nights worrying if we will lose someone else, after all the clock is ticking. The disbelief that you can never call them again, hear their laughter or their voice is the tip of the iceberg. The pain is so numbing it hurts to breath, your mind constantly whirls with thoughts that make little to no sense. You operate on autopilot, it is a nightmare you tell yourself and you have to eventually wake up only you never. I remember that day as if it was just yesterday, funny how you wake up and you do not realize your life is about to be forever changed.. I would watch him sleep and feel for any sign of life, sometimes I would wake him just to make sure. I must have looked like a fool thinking that my gaze and touch could keep him breathing just a little bit longer. I thought in all my selfishness I could will him to stay in the land of the living. When he finally breathed his last I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders especially when we had to leave him behind. I remember thinking what if he wakes up and he is all alone and freezing, maybe he was alive and the doctors couldn’t tell. I still left and the guilt ate at me, guilt over leaving him and wondering if we had done enough to get him the best care. Still you have to hide the pain because you are not the only one suffering or grieving and you have to be strong they say. It is the cycle of life. The condolences begin to pour in and for a minute you just want everyone to stop treating you like you are fragile China. Every one tip toes around the loss and treat you like a nut case waiting to crack at the mention of your loved one. You do not want to look in their eyes because you will see the pity while all you crave for is for someone to act normal around you. Then that day, when dust returns to dust comes. You realize things just got real, your loved one is never coming home again, never calling or picking your calls, you are never seeing them again. They are gone. Everybody else goes home and you are expected to go on with life, pick up the pieces and man up. You want to hide from the world, sleep all day, and forget you even have a job or friends. You worry that you won’t be able to keep their memory alive. You will forget their face, voice or the sound of their laughter. If you let it, depression will set in. It is an ugly monster so you have to fight it or seek help. They say time heals all wounds but I strongly refute this. The pain never goes away; the tears never truly dry nor does life ever go back to normal. But we take comfort in the hope that they are watching over us and they would want us to be happy. We soldier on and put on a brave face because that is who we are, resilient with an unbreakable spirit and heart. We can still love them from the other side of life; we can still say their name and keep their memory alive. And in all this maybe we can learn to treasure those who are still with us.
    Mar 29, 2016 1138
  • 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