Wednesday, 27 January 2010

My CISA News 2009

AFRICA: Project Launched to Map Soils to Boost Crop Yields

NAIROBI, January 13, 2009 (CISA) -A new initiative has been launched to create the first-ever detailed digital soil map of Sub-Saharan Africa in an effort to improve food production in the region.

The 4-year project, called the African Soil Information Service (AfSIS), is spearheaded by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). It will cover the 42 countries of the region, CIAT announced in Nairobi on Tuesday.

AfSIS will combine the latest science and technology with remote satellite imaging and ground efforts to analyse thousands of soil samples to help provide solutions for poor farmers who suffer from chronically low-yielding crops mainly due to poor soils.

CIAT has received a grant of USD 18 million for the project from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

The organisation said efforts to improve Africa’s soils, which are among the most depleted in the world, have been hampered by lack of up-to-date knowledge about the current soil conditions.

“Soil management in Sub-Saharan Africa must be improved dramatically if we are to reduce poverty, feed growing populations and cope with the impact of climate change on the agriculture. Achieving this requires accurate, up-to date information on the state of Africa’s soils,” said Dr Nteranya Sanginga of CIAT.

AFSIS will use innovative remote sensing technology via satellite to create detailed images of large areas indicating minerals, nutrients, moisture and organic matter in the soil.

The project will also help to identify the amount of minerals and organic nutrient sources needed to increase crop yields and help farmers and agricultural experts identify the best options for improved crop production through better soil management.

All the soil information collected will be made available on internet in a user-friendly manner and training will be offered to agricultural experts and others on how to interpret and translate the information provided by the soil map for practical application.

It is estimated that Africa loses the equivalent of over USD 4 billion worth of soil nutrients each year severely limiting the continent’s ability to feed itself.

“This will benefit farm families in Africa by showing how they can reverse the trend of declining soil fertility, a major reason for slow growth in the region’s agricultural productivity during recent decades,” said Dr Namanga Ngongi, president of AGRA.

KENYA: Consolata Missionary Priest Murdered in Daytime Raid

NAIROBI, January 16, 2009 (CISA) -The Consolata Missionaries were plunged into sudden mourning on Friday when Italian Fr Giuseppe Bertaina was murdered here at around 11.00 am.

Two thugs walked into his office at the Consolata Institute of Philosophy at Lang’ata in Nairobi, tied up the 82-year-old priest, stuffed his mouth with papers and fled with an unknown sum of money. Fr Bertaina was the institute’s administrator.

He apparently died of suffocation. Fr Bertaina’s body was found on the floor shortly after. Confirming the incident to CISA, Consolata Vice-Superior Fr Hieronymus Njoya said the priest’s office was vandalised.

“We have informed the police and investigations are going on. Two watchmen are helping the police with the investigations,” Fr Njoya said. An unknown woman who was caught trying to run away from Fr Bertaina’s office was arrested.

One of the puzzles the institute and the police will be trying to unravel is how the strangers entered the institution at daytime without detection.

The Vice-Superior said that the body of the late priest was taken to Lee Funeral Home and arrangements for his funeral will be announced later.

The sudden death of Fr Bertaina was “a big shock” and left the staff and students at the Consolata Institute of Philosophy dumbfounded, a priest at the institution said.

Fr Bertaina has been working as an administrator of the institute since 2005. He was loved by all, a very humble man with a lot of working experience in institutions of learning in Embu, Murang’a and Nairobi, Fr Njoya said.

Long-serving Consolata missionary Fr Anthony Bianci described the late Bertaina as a very friendly priest who made many friends wherever he worked.

Fr Bertaina was born in 1927 in Cuneo in Italy. He took his perpetual vows in 1950 and was ordained in 1951.

KENYA: Burial Plans for Slain Catholic Missionary Finalized

NAIROBI, January 20, 2009 (CISA) -The veteran Consolata missionary Fr Giuseppe Bertaina who was killed by thugs last Friday will be buried in Nyeri in central Kenya next week.

The Consolata Missionaries Regional House in Nairobi said there will be a requiem mass at Consolata Shrine Parish Westlands in the city at 2.30 pm followed by another 6.00 pm mass and night vigil at Consolata Institute of Philosophy in Langata.

There will be a funeral mass at Sagana Parish in Murang’a on Friday starting 10.00 am and thereafter the burial at Mathari cemetery in Nyeri.

The Regional House said Fr Bertaina will be remembered as a father and educator of many young people at Nkubu Secondary School (Meru), St Paul’s High School Kevote (Embu), Siakago Secondary School (Embu), Sagana Technical Training Institute (Murang’a), Consolata Seminary and Consolata Institute of Philosophy (Nairobi).

Meanwhile, police are pursuing Fr Bertaina’s killers. “One man who was among the thugs who attacked the priest was identified by the students. He was an ex-student for six months at the Consolata Institute of Philosophy,” said Brother Miguel Reyes, administrator at the Consolata Regional House.

Bro Reyes added that the name and picture of the suspect was already with the police. A woman who was arrested when the priest’s body was found is still being held.

KENYA: Diocesan Officials Describe Grim Food Situation

MOMBASA, January 23, 2009 (CISA) -Archbishop Boniface Lele of the Catholic Archdiocese of Mombasa at the coast has urged the government to act with speed to address the worsening famine.

In the rural and slums areas of Mombasa “most people manage to have one unbalanced meal per day due to the situation, and sometimes no food at all,” the archbishop said Friday in a statement to CISA.

The crisis has led to poor health and environmental damage, he said. “Our forests are facing extinction due to excessive charcoal business, burning and selling of firewood at cheap prices for survival.”

Archbishop Lele also warned that the famine could force young people into prostitution, child labour, drug abuse and early marriage. “We urge those with an income to help their families and friends in rural areas.”

Fr Wilybard Lagho, the Vicar General of Mombasa, said that in parts of Taita, Voi, Mwatate, Kinango and Ganze very little food is available. In some places, students have been left school to hawk mangos and firewood to buy food for their families.

In Embu in central Kenya, the diocesan development coordinator Fr Vincent Ireri estimated that there was 95 per cent crop failure in the area due to prolonged drought.

Nearly half of the people in the arid Mbeere District are very vulnerable, Fr Ireri said. He added that critical water points have all dried up. “People here are now burning charcoal and harvesting sand for survival and this has greatly affected the water points.”

On Tuesday, he said, the government brought in some relief food but it was very little compared to the need. He sent out more appeals but he has not received any response yet.

Richard Atege, the diocesan development coordinator in Maralal, said the situation in the arid diocese is worsening.

“The traders prized maize very highly and people cannot afford, so they go for up to three days without meals. They have resorted to eating wild fruits. Pasture for animals is scarce, not to mention the raids that have aggravated the situation.”

Carol Kituku, the emergency relief coordinator in Machakos Diocese in eastern Kenya, said that the food situation in the area is quite bad especially in the whole of Makueni district, following crop failure.

KENYA: Police Arrest Two Suspects in Missionary’s Death

NAIROBI, January 27, 2009 (CISA) -Police in Nairobi are holding two men suspected to have been involved in the murder of veteran Consolata missionary priest Fr Giuseppe Bertaina on January 16.

Brother Kenneth Wekesa of the Consolata Institute of Philosophy where Fr Bertaina was administrator confirmed to CISA that one of the suspects was arrested on Sunday and the second one on Monday.

Police are looking for two more suspects, he said. The woman who was arrested at the Consolata institute on the day of Fr Bertaina’ death is still in police custody.

In Cuneo where the Italian missionary was born the local Catholic weekly dedicated its latest edition to the slain missionary, including a story on the testimony of his sister, Dominican nun Sister Carla Bertaina.

"When I learned of the news of the murder, it was very difficult to accept the manner in which my brother died. I can't imagine the violence of this act. Now with the help of God I am at peace because He gave him all of His help in that moment. He has thus crowned his life as a missionary, giving all of himself to his brothers and sisters," his sister said.

"Certainly Our Lady of Consolation, to whom he was especially devoted, protected him and comforted him. He wanted to be buried in the land he felt was his own: here, he said, is my family," Sister Carla explained.

Fr Bertaina was buried in Nyeri in central Kenya last Friday.

KENYA: Catholic Church Blames Famine on Bad Leaders

NAIROBI, February 3, 2009 (CISA) -The severe food crisis facing 10 million Kenyans is one example of failed national leadership, the Catholic Church has said.

“While we acknowledge the fact that there have been inadequate rains in many parts of the country, we are also conscious that had we all taken proper measures, planned in advance, curbed the vice of greed, selfishness, and have the political will to weed out the culture of corruption, no life could be endangered or lost to hunger,” said Cardinal John Njue, chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference.

“The wanton loss of lives and the high poverty levels in this country are a matter of great concern to the Catholic Church in Kenya.”

Cardinal Njue spoke in Nairobi on Tuesday when he launched a five-year national strategic plan of Kenya Episcopal Conference. The ceremony was attended by several bishops, among other dignitaries.

The strategic plan, the cardinal said, will guide an effective apostolate and enhanced service delivery to Kenyans through the dioceses.

“I wish to emphasize that this strategic plan is not just about objectives, activities, performance indicators target and deliverables. It is about an encounter between the recipient and the church that leads the recipient to feel loved, cared for, respected and dignified as a person created in the image and likeness of God and enjoying that freedom, that joy and that peace of the children of God.”

Cardinal Njue assured of the church’s commitment to social transformation in Kenya based on Gospel values. In a society that is “prone to violence, corruption, inequality, injustices of all kinds and tribalism, the Catholic Church through its Justice and Peace Commission will continue to form consciences, be on the side of truth, justice and reconciliation.”

Following last year’s post-election violence, the unity of Kenya is under threat, the cardinal said, and assured that “the Catholic Church will continuously work for the unity of our nation and of our people at all costs.”

KENYA: State and UNHCR to Expand Crowded Refugee Camp

NAIROBI, February 6, 2009 (CISA) -The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has promised to expand and improve facilities in the congested refugee camp of Dadaab in North Eastern Kenya.

Dadaab Camp can only accommodate 90,000 refugees, but UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Craig Johnstone said at a press conference in Nairobi that this January the population of the refugees has reached 244, 217.

UNHCR is planning to spend Shs 92 million to expand the camp. Some 50,000 refugees will also be transferred from Dadaab to Kakuma to create more space for those fleeing the war in Somalia.

The lack of available land to house the new arrivals has caused reduced water availability and overcrowding within the camps, combined with poor sanitation systems that are likely to lead in cholera epidemics.

Johnstone said that the increased population in the camps has forced new arrivals to stay with relatives and clan members.

Kenya’s Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang’ said the international community and the government of Kenya were concerned about the congestion at the camp. A new refugee camp to cater especially for Somalis is to be set up on some 2,000 hectares of land in Garissa, he said.

The minister also said that UNHCR had pledged $4 million to improve hospitals and schools, among other facilities, which the locals claimed were overstretched, leading to tension over pasture, water and medical care.

KENYA: Bold Religious Leaders Accuse Government of Failure

NAIROBI, February 20, 2009 (CISA) - Religious leaders, criticised for apparently abandoning the fight for good governance, moved to reclaim their prophetic voice by delivering a withering indictment of the country’s political class.

The faith leaders courageously told off President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, blaming them and the rest of the politicians for Kenya’s woes, which include mass poverty, entrenched grand corruption, tribalism, crime and famine.

The clerics, members of the Inter-Religious Forum, spoke at a national prayer day attended by the President and senior government officials on Thursday.

The President and the Prime Minister, they said, have failed to unite Kenyans, end corruption, resettle the displaced and facilitate creation of jobs.

As a result, Kenyans “are discouraged, ashamed, disillusioned and angry. Kenyans continue to decry the non-responsiveness of the Coalition Government to their needs, hopes and aspirations.”

The country’s political leaders have been the greatest threat to peace and prosperity, the clerics said. “Even those among you who are upright have not had the courage to stand against what is not right. You have refused to lead the people to the Promised Land. Instead you have led the people towards conflict. As a result Kenya has been tinkering at the brink of self-destruction,” the faith leaders said in a statement read in turns at the function.

“People made you their leaders so that you could inspire them and lead them towards a better life. You have continued to divide Kenyans along ethnic lines to win political office. You have bribed, intimidated, incited, manipulated and forced your followers into submission and servitude. You have increased your salaries and allowances and refused to pay taxes like the rest of the people, who earn much less. You have created an environment that suffocates Kenyans.

“No wonder some Kenyans are ashamed of being Kenyan. They endure to be Kenyan! You must change your ways. You must avert the anger of God and of the people. Repent and seek justice and prosperity for all people.”

But the clerics also owned up to their own failure that has left Kenyans without hope. “We have restrained ourselves from condemning evil; we have not always spoken against injustice as we should have and have at times failed to stand up for the weak, for the helpless and for the poor. Today we stand here in the presence of all the People of Kenya to repent and seek your forgiveness.”

The religious leaders also called Kenyans to prayer and repentance for their own failures which have displeased God. They applauded the media, but also called them to greater responsibility and more effort for the poor.

KENYA: Catholic University Begins 25th Anniversary Celebrations

NAIROBI, February 20, 2009 (CISA) - The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) kicked off its 25th anniversary celebrations on Thursday at a ceremony that included the opening of a new campus in the Kenyan capital.

The chairman of the Association of Member Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA) Bishop Tarcisio Ziyaye, who is also the CUEA chancellor, led the celebrations.

The new campus, situated a short distance from the university grounds, will take an additional 700 students.

“We are in fact launching thanksgiving to God who has sustained this university for twenty five years,” Bishop Ziyaye. “We thank the AMECEA patrons, bishops and all who contributed to the establishment and development of this university.”

The chancellor said the university is open to all people of God in the AMECEA region and beyond and welcomes students and staff members of all faiths.

“However, being a Catholic university it is important and necessary to keep the Catholic identity. The university must be inspired by Christian principles and must uphold the Gospel values and promote unity.”

He added that the institution aims at integral formation for integral development and that all activities must be based on Christ and the Gospel.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Mavirii said the university has lined up academic activities for the year-long jubilee and that every faculty will hold conferences that will bring people from other institutions together to reflect on university education, its expectations and how crucial it is in development.

He also said there are major plans for engaging the community around CUEA as part of thanksgiving to God. The celebrations will culminate in the opening of a learning resource centre next February.

CUEA started off with 21 students. Today, the university more than 6,000 learners.

KENYA: Survey Backs Faith Leaders on Failed Government

NAIROBI, February 24, 2009 (CISA) -Most Kenyans believe the coalition government set up a year ago is a flop, but it should be allowed to complete its term.

This is according to the results an opinion poll released Monday, only days after religious leaders issued a damning verdict on the government’s performance.

The poll, conducted by The Steadman Group between Wednesday and Friday last week, found that 70 percent of the respondents thought the government has achieved nothing apart from restoring peace after the post-election chaos.

Last week, religious leaders came out boldly to accuse President Mwai Kibaki and his coalition partner Prime Minister Raila Odinga of poor leadership that has driven Kenyans to disillusionment.

The government’s worst performance is in fighting grand corruption, according to the poll. Seventy-one percent of those polled demanded the resignation of cabinet ministers named in recent corruption scandals. They singled out Agriculture Minister William Ruto, Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, Trade Minister Amos Kimunya, Internal security George Saitoti, Prime Minister Odinga and Justice Minister Martha Karua.

Ruto survived a parliamentary motion of censure last week, with observers saying his win was due to lack of political will to fight corruption rather than his innocence in a scandal involving maize meant for starving families. Kimunya was returned to the cabinet by Kibaki after parliament voted against him following reported irregularities in the sale of a public-owned city hotel.

The Steadman poll also revealed a decline in interest in political parties, with 37 percent of the respondents saying they did not feel close to any party. Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement scored highest (38), followed by Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and its affiliates (23) and the former ruling party KANU (2).

Majority of those polled (54 percent) wanted the coalition government to complete its five-year term. And only 33 percent of the respondents thought the perpetrators of the post-election violence will ever be brought to justice.

KENYA: Catholic Church Alarmed by Security Mission in North

ISIOLO, March 6, 2009 (CISA) -The Catholic Church in northern Kenya has called on the government to stop the ongoing security operation there as it is increasing tension between already hostile communities in the region.

Catholic Justice and Peace Commission officials from the diocese of Maralal, Meru and Isiolo say security forces were confiscating animals from one community and giving them to another allegedly in compensation following a recent stock raid.

Fear reigns in the region due to the security operation.

Bishops from the three dioceses are expected to issue a statement on the situation this Sunday.

KENYA: Coalition Scoffs at Churches Call for Fresh Elections

NAIROBI, March 27, 2009 CISA) -Kenya’s beleaguered coalition government has scoffed at a call for fresh elections by a section of church leaders.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK), an umbrella organization of Protestant and some evangelical churches, called for fresh elections last week, saying the country was desperate for new leadership as “the coalition government is burdensome rather than facilitative.”

The country is in the hands of “a moribund President and an ineffective Prime Minister,” NCCK said, citing a bloated cabinet, continued corruption, slow pace of essential reforms, famine and “a parliamentary dictatorship.”

But President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have dismissed the NCCK criticism. The president, who was irregularly declared winner of the flawed 2007 elections, said on Wednesday that those who want fresh polls will have to wait until his second term expires in 2012. “We held elections recently. We will have to wait for four years.”

Prime Minister Odinga said the church leaders had no basis to call for an election, especially now that the government was yet to constitute a credible elections body after the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) which bungled the last election was disbanded.

He censured the religious leaders for propagating populist politics at the expense of critical national issues and defended the government’s track record since the inception of the coalition.

“The government has done tremendous work against very many odds and cannot stand to be blamed for hunger or bad economic times. We took over when the global economic environment was in recession and farmers were unable to plant during the post poll crisis,” he said.

KENYA: Collapsed Catholic Judiciary to be Revived

NAIROBI, April 17, 2009 (CISA) -The Catholic Judiciary is in shambles and the church is now taking measures to revamp it.

New church courts will be set up to hear many cases that have remained pending for years in dioceses, according to Fr. Dominic Kimengich, head of the newly-established Canon Law National Office at Kenya Catholic Secretariat.

Church courts concern themselves with judicial matters according to the Code of the Canon Law. They facilitate the exercise of justice within the church by protecting the rights of the faithful, thus fostering order and the rule of law.

The tribunals mostly deal with marriage issues, contentious matters about ordination, offences that can lead to dismissal of a cleric and disputes between clerics and the lay faithful as well as between various church institutions.

Church law requires establishment of a tribunal in every diocese in the world. The highest judicial authority in the Catholic Church is the Apostolic Signatura in Rome.

But church courts have largely been non-existent in Kenya due to lack of adequate funds and personnel, Fr Kimengich told CISA.

A survey conducted by the Canon Law Society of Kenya in 2007 revealed that church tribunals were largely inactive throughout the country. It was also found that there were very many cases pending in dioceses.

Fr Kimengich said instead of setting up diocesan tribunals, his office is working on regional (metropolitan/archdiocesan) courts. Kenya has four archdioceses: Mombasa, Nairobi, Nyeri and Kisumu. Each tribunal will hear cases in the dioceses of the region.

There will also be a national tribunal based in Nairobi to hear appeals. Litigants dissatisfied with its rulings may refer their cases to the Roman Rota, the church’s highest appellate court in Rome.

“The desire and the step the Kenya Episcopal Conference has taken to address [this matter] and ensure that the Church in Kenya has functional tribunals is an answer to the prayers of so many faithful who have been longing for such a way forward,” Fr. Kimengich said.

AFRICA: Catholic Youth Leaders to Learn Media and Peace

NAIROBI, April 21, 2009 (CISA) -Young Catholic community leaders from eight African nations will undertake a short course on the role of communications in promoting justice, peace and reconciliation.

The four-day seminar at Savelberg Retreat House in the Kenyan capital opens Monday, April 27. It is jointly organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in Rome and the 8-nation Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA).

“The seminar is intended to support young activists in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia in their ongoing efforts as community leaders to ensure that the new technologies of communications are harnessed effectively in order to promote justice, peace and reconciliation among peoples who are living with the reality or the legacy of war and civil strife,” AMECEA communications secretary, Fr Chrisantus Ndaga, said in a statement.

He further stated that the seminar will enable participants to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the traditional forms of communication within their cultures. They will also be invited to reflect on the established and emerging technologies of communication (radio, television, mobile telephony, satellites and internet) and their impact on patterns of communication.

Additionally, the seminar will highlight the importance of the internet in developing networks of communication, information and learning that have the potential to contribute significantly to human socialization and solidarity.

The participants will be encouraged to understand the potential of these technologies to connect them to the new digital hubs of information and co-operation and to allow them to establish local and regional networks that can promote justice, peace and reconciliation.

The seminar will highlight the importance in Africa of national and local radio in the promotion of conflict resolution and mutual understanding between peoples of different religious, political and tribal origins. The potential convergence between radio and internet and the expanded possibilities for co-operation and shared programming between local radio stations and radio operators in different parts of the world will be examined.

The objective of the seminar is capacity building and the organizers hope to impart skills and insights that will enable the participants help in the development and implementation of local strategies to promote justice, peace and reconciliation through communications.

AFRICA: New Church Study Finds Human Trafficking Growing

NAIROBI, May 8, 2009 (CISA) -Human trafficking for the purpose of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation is a growing problem in East Africa, the findings of a new study show.

The study, conducted by the Catholic agency, Koinonia Advisory Research and Development Service (KARDS), to establish the response of faith-based organizations and other actors to the vice, covered Kenya and Tanzania. The findings were published last month.

Fifty-one organizations participated in the study. In Kenya, the study was conducted in Malindi, Mobasa and Nairobi, while in Tanzania data was gathered in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

The study found that in Tanzania boys are trafficked for forced labour on farms, in mines, the fishing industry and the informal business sector. “Tanzanian girls from rural areas are trafficked to urban centres and the Island of Zanzibar for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation; some domestic workers fleeing abusive employers fall prey to forced prostitution.”

Tanzanian men are reportedly trafficked to South Africa for forced labour and girls are trafficked to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and possibly Europe, the report says.

Kenyan children are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude, street vending, agricultural labour, herding, work as bar maids, and commercial sexual exploitation. Other trafficked Kenyans end up in other African nations, the Middle East, Europe and North America.

“Employment agencies facilitate and profit from the trafficking of Kenyan nationals to Middle Eastern nations, notably Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon, as well as Germany.”

Chinese, Indian and Pakistan women reportedly transit Nairobi en route to Europe for the sexual trade. Brothels and massage parlours in Nairobi also employ foreign women. Children are trafficked into Kenya from Rwanda, DR Congo, Ehtiopia, Uganda and Somalia.

The report blames the vice on poverty, unemployment, migration, globalization, lack of birth registration, cultural and social norms and lack of appropriate laws to deal with human trafficking.

“Tanzania has enacted a law on human trafficking that is yet to be gazetted and enforced. Kenya’s efforts to develop an appropriate law have been dragging on since 2007 when NGO’s passed to the [Attorney General] a recommended bill,” the report says.

AFRICA: Scholars Ask Universities to Lead in Peace Building

NAIROBI, May 15, 2009 (CISA) -African scholars have proposed the development of university curriculums which prioritize peace studies.

The scholars, attending a conference on peace this week at the Catholic university of Eastern Africa (CUEA), also resolved to mobilize leaders and set up a think-tank on peace building.

The 3-day conference was organized by the CUEA Centre for Social Justice and Ethics, under the theme: ‘African university, educating for peace.’

In a statement issued at the close of the event on Friday, the participants recommended empowerment of the youth with skills which will enable them to create self-employment.

The family should also be empowered with knowledge on peace that will permeate through children to the neighbors and the rest of society.

Universities should expand outreach programs to communities to get firsthand information on how the communities handle issues related to peace, conflict, the participants resolved.

Attention should be paid to collaboration and networking with other groups that are involved in peace building. The participants also highlighted importance of involving elders and opinion leaders at the grassroots in peace keeping and peace building initiatives.

Universities were urged to focus on training stakeholders in behavior change. They should themselves be role models by practicing dialogue.

KENYA: Involve Women More in Peace Building, Don Urges

NAIROBI, May 15, 2009 (CISA) -Women are largely excluded from high level peace processes aimed at ending conflict, and their concerns are almost always entirely neglected, a university don said.

Dr Nyokabi Kamau of St Paul’s University Limuru proposed that it is important to establish peace building processes which include all women affected by a conflict and address their issues through wider consultation.

“The exclusion of women from high-level peace processes is a result of their frequent exclusion from positions of political decision making in general,” Dr Kamau said. She was addressing a 3-day international conference on African universities and peace at the Nairobi-based Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA)

“Peace building must, therefore, factor in all the different gendered impacts of conflict so that the ways that men and women have been affected will be taken on board during and after the conflict and peace building negotiations,” she said.

Dr Kamau emphasised that it is crucial that gender power relations are analyzed not just during conflict but also during peace building so that resources are not concentrated on one gender, usually men and the powerful women, while leaving out the most vulnerable, mostly women and children.

Gender analysis should be an automatic element in the planning and practice of any interventions in situations of conflict to ensure that those who are frequently the most vulnerable, and who often have a crucial role in the rebuilding of their societies, are not further marginalised by inappropriate interventions.

NAIROBI, May 19, 2009 (CISA) -The combined number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees in 16 countries in Central and East Africa now exceeds 11 million, up from 10.9 million in December 2008.

According to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Somalia and Sudan continue to be the countries with the largest IDP populations. Sudan has over 4 million IDPs, while DRC and Somalia have over 1.3 million IDPs each.

Chad, Kenya, Sudan and Tanzania continue to host the largest number of refugees in the region. Each country hosted over 250,000 refugees at the end of March 2009.

Statistics compiled in the Displaced Populations Report published by OCHA Regional Office for Central and East Africa show that at the end of March 2009, 10 countries reported a combined total of over 9.1 million IDPs. The countries with IDP populations are Burundi, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Kenya, Republic of Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda.

Sixteen countries in the region reported a combined total of nearly 1.9 million refugees at the end of March 2009. The refugee hosting countries are Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Djibouti, DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Among the main events that have driven up the number of displaced people are repeated attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on civilians in north-eastern DRC and renewed fighting in the eastern North Kivu province related to the joint DRC-Rwanda military operation in January and February against armed rebel groups.

Also ongoing hostilities in Somalia have resulted in an influx of refugees to north-eastern Kenya, where the three camps in Dadaab are congested with a population of some 258,000 refugees - or nearly three times their original capacity - as of March 2009.

Displacement in the Central and East Africa region is triggered mainly by intra-state conflicts and, to a lesser extent, by natural disasters such as floods and droughts creating large incountry and cross-border population movements. Lack of access to displaced people due to insecurity and targeting of humanitarian workers is an ongoing challenge to those who provide humanitarian services in countries such as CAR, Chad, DRC, Somalia, and the Darfur region of Sudan.

AFRICA: Catholic Organization Holds Workshop on Family Life

NAIROBI, May 22, 2009 (CISA) -The African Family Life Federation (AFLF), a Catholic organisation, is holding a nine-day workshop on family values, including Natural Family Planning.

The workshop opened Thursday at Tangaza College in Nairobi and is attended by participants from 10 African countries and France. The countries represented are: Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Sudan, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“The difficulties arising with the aggressive globalization must inspire us to defend vigorously the essential values of Africa Family,” AFLF president, Mrs Dany Sauvage, said in her opening speech.

“We will during this workshop give the best of ourselves to develop a common vision on what is a Family Life Programme. It is an important exercise to see where we are and where we want to go. This vision will shape our way to move forward.”

Sauvage said that the fight to promote the civilization of love, the dignity of the person, the true significance of sexuality, love and life intimately linked in marriage is a real challenge. Africa, she said, has a special message to bring to the world on families.

The workshop is organized by AFLF in collaboration with the Family Life Department of Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC).

The AFLF was founded in 2001 in Cotonou Benin to promote family life organizations. Their last meeting was held last year in Kenya and the ongoing workshop is a follow up into that meeting.

KENYA: Precious Blood Nuns Mark 100 Years of Founder’s Death

NAIROBI, May 26, 2009 (CISA) - The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood last Saturday marked the first centenary of their founder in a colorful celebration at their regional house in Riruta, Nairobi.

Celebrating the anniversary mass, Fr Philip Voorn of the Marianhill Missionaries congratulated the sisters for their achievements in missionary work.

“We are thankful for Abbot Francis and we celebrate his achievements. He was a very energetic man, always pushing himself to make sure things will happen”, Fr Voorn said. A new chapel in the new wing of the Amani School built in honour of the founder was blessed by Fr Voorn.

Abbot Pfanner was born in September 21, 1825 in Langen, Austria. After his ordination he was appointed to the parish of Haseltauden. In 1863 he joined other monks in the Trappist Monastery of Mariawald in Germany and later helped rebuild the ruins of the church and of the Monastery of Tre Fontane near Rome, Italy and founded the monastery of Mariastern (Mary the Star) in Bosnia in 1869.

He arrived in South Africa in July 1880 and established 23 missions in Africa. After being consecrated abbot in 1885, Pfanner spearheaded the evangelization of the Zulu and other neighbouring tribes and founded the Sisters of the Precious Blood in September 8, 1885.

Abbot Pfanner died on May 24, 1909 at the age of 84. He is buried in Marianhill, South Africa.

KENYA: Nuns Leave Diocese after 47 years of Service

LODWAR, June 12, 2009 (CISA) -The Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) sisters have bid farewell to Lodwar Diocese in the arid north after 47 years of service.

The nuns left the diocese officially on June 9 during a ceremony presided over by Bishop Patrick Harrington of Lodwar and Fr. Thomas Laffan, SPS at the St Teresa Pastoral Center in Lodwar.

“They are honest missionaries who have set a good example to the Turkana people,” the bishop said.

The nuns, whose charism is “The healing love of God” were involved in medical services, education, social work and empowering women through income generating projects.

The first sisters arrived in the diocese in 1962 to serve the Turkana people at a most difficult time when there was a great famine.

They started by working together with the government at the Lodwar district hospital before setting up the first school in Lorugumu in 1978.

The Medical Missionaries of Mary sisters were founded by Marie Helena Martin in 1936 in Ireland.

AFRICA: Faith Group Wants More to End Human Trade

NAIROBI, 16 June 2009 (CISA) -A counter-trafficking organization has called on governments, non-governmental and faith-based organizations to work together in combating human trafficking.

During a one day workshop in Nairobi on Tuesday, the Global Inter-faith Alliance against Human Trafficking (GIFAAHT) discussed guidelines on combating human trafficking, among them creating awareness among young people, who are most vulnerable.

The participants at the workshop also discussed ways of contacting and counseling victims and training government officials on identifying victims of the vice.

It was noted with great concern that intercepted children saved from the hands of traffickers do not have anywhere to go, therefore, faith-based organizations needed to create a viable network of shelters for them.

Kenyan nominated Member of Parliament Millie Odhiambo said that parliament needs to enact laws that focus on the protection of sex abuse victims. “I will work closely with concerned ministries to eliminate the problem,” she said.

Odhiambo said for Kenya to curb this vice, it needs assistance from the international community since it is an international problem.

Nairobi was mentioned as an international hub for human traffickers. Victims from various parts of Kenya, East and Central Africa are passed through the Kenyan capital en route to their destinations.

Italy, Germany and South Africa were revealed to be hotspots for the trafficking business. Human traffickers also kidnap people for their body parts which are then sold off.

GIFAAHT is a multi religious organization based in Kenya whose main objective is to stop human trafficking through the collaborated efforts of groups and people of diverse religious affiliations worldwide.

AFRICA: UN Urges More Attention to the African Child

NAIROBI, June 16, 2009 (CISA) -African states, civil society organizations and the private sector should urgently tackle the problems of child and maternal mortality, school dropouts, gender inequality and poor quality standards of Universal Primary Education (UPE) by the UN Millennium Campaign.

As Africa observes the Day of the African Child on June 16 its biggest and most developed countries’ scores of children die before their fifth birthdays, a press statement by the UN Millennium Campaign states.

The day draws attention to the lives of African children today and is also marked in memory of thousands of black school children who were killed in 1976 Soweto uprising, as they protested the inferior quality of their education and demanded their right to be taught in their own language.

The UN official, Thomas Deve said that programs and interventions aimed at poor households such as setting up satellite schools in remote areas, eliminating school fees and providing school meals must be designed and implemented across countries that lag behind on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets

He also mentioned constructing separate sanitation facilities, ensuring a safe school environment and promoting later marriage as some of the interventions geared towards decreasing child mortality in Africa.

“Child survival, protection and development are not only universal aspirations enshrined in the MDGs, they are also human rights issues ratified in the International Convention on the Rights of Children and the African charter on the rights and welfare of the child” Acting Deputy Director for Africa, Sylvia Mwichuli said.

Mwichuli advised that investing in the health and education of African children and their mothers is a sound economic decision and one of the surest ways for a country to secure its future.

She added that to reduce child mortality and ensure UPE, it requires strong political commitment.

According to the statement Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Angola and Mozambique, an average of more than 1 in every 4 children die before the age of five. In Liberia, Mali, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Burkina Faso, the figure is more than one in every five children.

The day of the African Child is marked on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

AFRICA: Catholic Group Urges Better Care for Refugees

NAIROBI, June 19, 2009 (CISA) -As the world marks World Refugee Day this Saturday, an international Catholic refugee organization has urged governments to create a conducive environment for reception and integration of refugees.

“Steps should be taken to grant them safety and protection, to ensure that their needs are addressed and durable solutions found,” the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) said in a statement by Fr Frido Pflueger, Director of JRS Eastern Africa.

JRS also called on citizens to welcome refugees with a spirit of solidarity and respect instead of fearing or rejecting them.

Despite the improved perception of refugees in some countries of the Eastern Africa, refugees in other countries of the region still face hostility and neglect. They are denied their fundamental human rights and experience rejection and discrimination, JRS said.

“Societies and governments tend to perceive refugees as a problem. But, we need to see that behind the large numbers are human beings like you and me. They have been uprooted from their countries by conflict, persecution or violence and JRS has seen their courage and resilience as they struggle for a better future,” Fr Pflueger said.

“How human a society is can be measured by how it treats its weaker members. We are all part of one humanity and we need to respect each others dignity. How do we treat those who have lost everything? If we don’t treat them with respect, who will?”

Fr Pflueger pointed out that women and children, who make up 80 percent of the refugee population, are particularly vulnerable and in many cases, refugees are subject to exploitation and abuse. Their situation is aggravated by the lack of networks for social support, problems with languages and unfamiliarity with the local customs.

AFRICA: Faiths to Work with States to End Arms Menace

NAIROBI, June 19, 2009 (CISA) -The African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL) has called for partnerships between governments and faith-based organizations to eradicate small arms and mines in the Horn of Africa.

During this year’s International Global Week of Action against Gun Violence, ACRL organised a conference on conventional weapons, small arms and landmines. Sheikh Shaaban Mubajje, the Co-Chair of ACRL, said that emerging issues like governance and security, gender and new technology could increase tensions between warring communities. He insisted that for disarmament efforts to bear fruits, governments and FBO need to work together.

The Horn of Africa is worst affected by the use of small arms and munitions due to the interrelated geopolitics of the region.

It was also noted that a crisis in one state often spills into neighbouring countries directly or indirectly. During the last two decades the region has experienced wars and conflicts that have led the UN to consider the region as the most fragile in the world.

The issue of armed pastoralists was also discussed and it was declared that this way of life is under threat by the increasing resource-based armed conflicts, climate change, and new technology which have affected the entire ordering of pastoral societies.

Sheikh Mubajje attributed the availability of small arms and landmines problem in Somalia to the rapid change in governance. “The council has tried to address the issue in Somalia but the changing systems of governance are posing a challenge as each successive regime has different policies.”

It was also noted that the majority of Sub-Saharan Africa is rural. Due to increasing state weakness, the most visible institutions are FBOs which provide many services. This provides the FBOs with the legitimacy and moral reasons to address these issues.

Among the proposed action plans was the creation of awareness by engaging the youth through online discussions as they are the most vulnerable group, running media campaigns on the importance of a gun-free society, and lobbying politicians and guiding the governments on issues concerning armed violence.

KENYA: Catholic Media Hold Festival on Justice and Peace

NAIROBI, July 7, 2009 (CISA) -Catholic media houses in Kenya ended their four-day festival on Sunday at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi.

The annual event whose theme was, “Catholic media at the service of truth, justice, peace and reconciliation” started on July 2.

The event offered an opportunity to deepen the responsibility of parents, teachers and students in promoting peace which was shattered by the post-2007 election chaos.

The opening ceremony was conducted by Fr Moses Kago of the Pontifical Mission Society. On Thursday, primary school students presented songs, dances, skits, drama and poems on the theme. Friday was dedicated to secondary schools and Saturday to universities and colleges.

Sunday was open to everyone including parents and there was a concluding mass presided over by Fr Martin Wanyoike, Secretary for Social Communications of the Kenya Episcopal Conference. H e called on the faithful to support Catholic Media.

Ten media houses were represented, including The Seed magazine, Radio Waumini, The National Mirror, CISA, BEAMS and Radio Akica. They showcased their products.

KENYA: Gender Forum Cites Men’s Role in Promoting Equality

NAIROBI, July 14, 2009 (CISA) -The first ever gender festival to be held in Kenya has highlighted the important role male activism can play in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment.

The 2009 Kenya Gender Festival’s theme was, "Celebrate Diversity and Promote Gender Equality." Inspired by the biennial Tanzanian Gender Festival, it brought together several women’s organizations from across the country.

The festival focused on what people and organizations fighting for women’s rights have been doing and could do better in order to achieve gender equality.

“Men have a role to play when it comes to ensuring gender equity,” said Kennedy Otina, the Regional Coordinator of Men for Gender Equality Now (MEGEN) an organisation involved in the fight for gender equality.

“It is not just a women’s affair. Gender equality does not mean women are ruling over men. It only ensures a level playing field for both men and women, removing all forms of discrimination that prevail against women,” Otina said.

According to IPS, previous efforts to reduce gender inequality have largely targeted women; something analysts say has left gaps in the fight for gender equality.

One of the questions tackled by the festival was how to transform deeply-ingrained societal attitudes. For example from early childhood, boys are socialized into gender roles fashioned to keep them in power and control, and as a result grow up believing that dominant behaviour towards girls and women is acceptable.

Otina said, “Societal attitudes that have brought about discrimination against women cannot be changed by one group alone, especially when it involves a change in all people and societies.”

“We can reverse this by promoting new values that encourage communication, cooperation and equality between boys and girls before they become men and women," Jonah Gokova, chair of the Padare/Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender, based in Zimbabwe, told IPS during the festival.

KENYA: Campaigns Intensify to Eradicate Women’s Disease

NAIROBI, July 24, 2009 (CISA) -An organization fighting obstetric fistula, a condition that affects women during prolonged childbirth, has launched new toll-free numbers and four buses to intensify campaigns against the problem.

Difficult delivery unattended by a medial professional may leave the woman unable to control urination and bowel movement. There are approximately 1,000 new cases of Fistula in Kenya every year, especially among poor rural women.

The Freedom from Fistula Foundation (FFF) launched the new hotlines, numbers 0718100000 and 0737100800, at a ceremony in Nairobi officiated by Ida Ondinga, wife of Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Thursday. The four new buses were also flagged off.

“The fistula problem is widespread and affects lives of women and many people don’t understand what it is all about. Some even think that it is a curse,” Odinga said.

She encouraged girls to go to school and discouraged cultural practices that force girls to get married early exposing them to childbirth complications.

Dr Josephine Kibaru, the headof family health at the Ministry for Public Health and Sanitation, said Fistula is a condition that affects poor women and that most people do not know there is a cure for it.

The FFF has six training sites in the country in the Coast, Machakos, Moi Referral Hospital in Eldoret, Nyanza, Nyeri and Kakamega. Treatment for obstetric fistula is now offered free of charge.

More details at:

KENYA: Charity Sisters Celebrate Golden Anniversary

NAIROBI, August 11, 2009 (CISA) -Sisters of Our Lady of Charity have marked their 50th anniversary of work in Kenya.

The celebration was held last Saturday at Eldevale Home, Doonholm, in Nairobi. The main celebrant, Auxilliary Bishop of Nairobi David Kamau, commended the commitment of the sisters in their charism of caring and sharing with love, mercy and compassion.

Sr Jane Joan one of the sister’s from the congregation told CISA that the pope’s representative in Kenya, Archbishop Alain Paul Laeubapin, had visited them at Edelvale Home ahead of the ceremony and addressed the sisters.

“The nuncio touched on the challenges the sisters are faced with in the contemporary society of lifting the dignity of women,” Sr Joan said.

During the celebration the General Superior, Sr Angela Fahy from England said education of the girl child and empowerment of human should be central to governments planning.

Sr Joyce Mulandi, the head of the mission in Kenya, said that sharing resources for the development of the girl child and promotion of women is the pillar of their mission. She called on government and other actors to intervene in helping vulnerable children and marginalized women.

Some 40 sisters from Europe were among the religious, trustees, benefactors and friends who attended the celebration at Doonholm.

Sr Joan said that one of the challenges facing the congregation is dwindling funds. “Funding has really gone down because of the global economic crisis,” she said. The sister added that they do not have the capacity to help especially physically challenged or HIV-positive pregnant girls who approach them for help.

This congregation was established in Kenya on July 11, 1959 by Sisters of Our Lady of Charity from England. Their mission involves helping disadvantaged girls. St John Eudes founded the congregation in France in 1641.

The projects run by the sisters of Our Lady of Charity include: Edelvale Primary, Waridi School, Jamaa Home and Hospital and Edelvale Technical Training Institute, St John Eudes Rehabilitation Centre and a women’s programme in Kitui.

KENYA: World’s Oldest Pupil Kimani Maruge Dies Catholic

NAIROBI, August 14, 2009 (CISA) -The man believed to be the world’s oldest pupil, Stephen Kimani Maruge, died in the Kenyan capital this morning aged 81.

Comboni missionary Fr Paulino Mondo administered on him the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick before he died at Cheshire Home for the aged.

Maruge died from cancer of aesophagus at the home in Nairobi’s Eastlands area where he has spent the last three years.

Fr Mondo said that the world’s oldest pupil died at around 1.00 pm in his room in the presence of one of his children. The priest said that it was Maruge’s wish to die at the home for the aged.

Since Maruge left Kenyatta National Hospital after his operation in February this year, he has been sickly, Fr Mondo told CISA.

He said that funeral arrangements are underway and added that the church will give Maruge a Christian funeral.

In 2003, Maruge left the world bemused when he enrolled at primary school in western Kenya after the government of President Mwai Kibaki fulfilled its election pledge to offer free and compulsory primary education.

Maruge said at the time that he was rupturing to class so he could learn to read the Bible for himself. The Guinness Book of World Records cited him as the world’s oldest pupil. At the time of his death, he was in Class Seven, remaining with a year to sit for the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE).

While at the home for the aged, Maruge was taken through the Catechism of the Catholic Church for one-and-half years before his baptism at Kariobangi Parish.

KENYA: Meru Elders Back Fight on Female Genital Mutilation

MERU, September 1, 2009 (CISA) -The campaign against female genital mutilation in Kenya has received a major push from Meru community elders who condemned the age-old and illegal practice.

The Meru Council of Elders, Njuri Ncheke, declared on Sunday they would abandon the practice at a function attended by Gender Ministers Esther Murugi. She deplored the fact that 37 communities in Kenya still practice FGM.

Murugi said about 60 per cent of women in Meru in eastern Kenya undergo the rite, while in Central Province the figure stands at about 30 per cent. She said the ‘cut’ was now being carried out secretly, even by trained medical professionals.

The declaration by the Njuri Ncheke came a day after 364 girls graduated from an alternative rite of initiation conducted by the Catholic Diocese of Meru.

An official in the project, Mary Kawira, told CISA Saturday’s graduation brought to 551 girls who have undergone the alternative rite this year. Initiates undergo secluded training in life skills for a week but are not subjected to any surgical operation.

“At the end of the week each girl is issued with a certificate of participation,” Kawira said.

“So far the fight the fight has been received positively and we are now trying to train members of the community so that in future they can run the project themselves.”

Kawira said FGM is widespread in Tharaka, Igembe, Tigania, Meru South and Meru Central.

“Mothers send their daughters to their grandmothers for the cut without the knowledge of the father. In other cases, out of peer pressure, daughters especially between the ages of 10 to 18 beg to undergo the cut,” Kawira said.

KENYA: New Faiths Report Says Failed State Caused Poll Chaos

NAIROBI, September 15, 2009 (CISA) -Nearly half-a-century after Independence, Kenya has many unresolved issues which blew up into last year’s deadly post-election violence, a new study commissioned by the country’s main faiths has established.

The country will remain unstable as long as the longstanding issues are unaddressed, such as land distribution and marginalization of certain groups from the political and economic mainstream of the Kenyan society.

The study, commissioned by the Inter-Religious Forum (IRF), also found that cutthroat winner-takes-all politics predisposes the country to violence. To secure peace, the country has to take steps to make political, economic and social inclusion possible.

The report titled, ‘Root Causes and Implications of the Post Election Violence of 2007’, found that social decay, characterized by evident loss of social and moral values exposed the country to factors that threaten its very existence.

“The rise of the consumer society and the pursuit of material gratification by all means necessary, including grand corruption, has made it possible for the country to tolerate the conduct of public affairs in a way that widen the social gap, denying social justice to millions. Social inequality is in itself a great threat to national stability and security.”

Failure to enact a new constitution and the slow pace of institutional and administrative reforms has left the country to manage very complex issues in the public arena using tools that cannot work for the Kenya of the 21st century, the report says.

On the other hand, the failure to manage ethnic diversity and the exploitation of negative ethnicity during leelctions further predisposes the country to violence.

Launching the report, IRF chairman Canon Peter Karanja said: “As religious leaders we call on Kenyans to be willing to pay the price of what it will take for each one of us to settle into a stable Kenya. Those who have wronged others must own up to their evil ways. Forgiveness works where people repent. If any leader in this country hopes to help the country to become stable, they must encourage all Kenyans from all ethnic communities to live anywhere and to work anywhere.”

KENYA: People, Animals Dying as Drought and Famine Worsen

BARSALOI, September 17, 2009 (CISA) -The drought and famine affecting millions of people in Kenya continues to worsen and is taking lives of people and livestock.

The crisis has also led to inter-ethnic violence over scarce water and pasture among some pastoralist communities. On Tuesday, at least 30 people were massacred in a confrontation between the Pokot and Samburu in the northern Diocese of Maralal. Several other people, including children, were seriously wounded and are hospitalized.

The government is buying livestock from herding communities but some of the animals are too weak to make the long journey to the Kenya Meat Commission slaughterhouses near Nairobi.

A Catholic missionary working in Maralal appealed for food aid from the government and humanitarian organizations to feed famine-stricken people in the arid area.

Yarumal Missionary Fr Vitner Vidal Marting of Barsaloi Parish told CISA that two boys had died of hunger in one of his sub-parishes.

Fr Marting said the situation is desperate and insecurity has increased because of the shortages. “As we speak, people are walking long distances begging for food and water in parishes,” he said.

Barsaloi Parish is trying to give food to pregnant women, children and the poor. “Even what we give is not enough and our food reserves are nearly empty.”

He expressed sadness that the parish is sometimes forced to send hungry people away empty-handed.People and animals are competing for the same water points.

“Migration of people to search for food, water and pasture for their animals is also causing a lot of conflicts among the Samburu, Pokot and Turkana communities,” Fr Marting said.

The people get little help from the government, which gave only 12 bags of maize three weeks ago.

The UN World Food Programme which had promised to give food every week has not done so and people are waiting.

KENYA: Two Embu priests Celebrate 30 Years of Vocation

EMBU, September 18, 2009 (CISA) -Two Catholic priests of Embu Diocese in eastern Kenya marked 30 years of priesthood in a colorful celebration on Sunday at Kianjokoma Parish.

Fr Vincent Ireri and Fr Moses Njagi began the celebrations with mass presided over by the newly ordained Bishop Paul Kairuki. Some 200 people including the religious, family, relatives and friends attended the celebration.

Bishop Kariuki congratulated the priests on their anniversary, saying priesthood is a gift from God.

The two priests expressed gratitude to God and pray for more vocations.

“Thirty years are not few, nor are they many, so your constant prayers for us will always remain a great support to us,” said Fr Ireri told the congregation. Fr Njagi said that it was difficult at the beginning and called on Christians to continue working together as a family and to pray for different vocations.

Fr Ireri is the development coordinator of Embu Diocese while Fr Njagi is the Parish Priest of Kevote and diocesan chancellor.

Both were ordained by Bishop Emeritus Silas Njiru of Meru (before creation of Embu Diocese in 1986). Fr Njagi was ordained on March 31, and Fr Ireri on September 1, 1979.

KENYA: Otunga Fund for Needy Students Raises a million Bob

NAIROBI, September 29, 2009 (CISA) - Sh. 1 million was raised to help needy students at this year's Cardinal Otunga's Memorial dinner held at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) on Friday.

The guest speaker at the was Bishop Martin Kivuva of Machakos Diocese who gave a contribution of Ksh 100,000.

In lecturer on ‘Cardinal Otunga, the Communicator,’ Bishop Kivuva said the late cardinal was a strong supporter of education and empowered both women and men. Bishop Kivuva called on people of good will to emulate Otunga and continue supporting the scholarship programme.

Maurice Cardinal Otunga, who passed on in 2003, helped found many educational institutions, including CUEA. The Archdiocese of Nairobi will soon formally launch the cause of his beatification.

KENYA: 1,706 students graduate from Catholic University

NAIROBI, October 2, 2009 (CISA) - A total of 1,706 students from the Class of 2009 at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) graduated today at a ceremony at the main campus in Nairobi.

The ceremony began with a mass at 10.00am presided over by Bishop Severine Niwemugizi of Rulenge-Ngara Diocese in Tanzania.

Bishop Niwemugizi spoke on behalf of the chancellor of the university, Bishop Tarcisio Ziyaye who is also the chairman of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA).

The key note speaker was Professor Gerald Irai the Vice-Chancellor and Rector at Liverpool Hope University in United Kingdom.

Irai said, “Universities sometimes don’t get to the people in the rural. This kind of set up must change.”

He called for the establishment of links between academics and rural communities and also commended the AMECEA regional bishops for establishing CUEA University.

The graduands were from the main campus and constituent and affiliate colleges: Tangaza, Hekima, Marist International, Don Bosco in Moshi, Christ the King Seminary in Nyeri, Institute of Catechetics and Pastoral Ministry, The Spiritan Missionary Seminary in Arusha and AMECEA Pastoral Institute (Gaba).

The 25-year-old institution has three campuses in Kenya: the main campus in Nairobi and others in Kisumu and Eldoret. It was established in September 1984 by AMECEA.

CISA FEATURE: From Slum to ‘Promised Land’, But There’re Worries

By Purity Kiogora

It is a dream come true for some 1,500 residents of Kenya’s largest slum, Kibera in Nairobi, who have relocated to modern houses built by the government.

The first phase of the relocations two weeks ago is part of a joint project by the Government of Kenya and UN Habitat to eradicate urban shanties under the Kenya Slum Upgrading Project (KENSUP) inaugurated by President Mwai Kibaki in October 2004.

The government hopes to have a slum free nation by 2015.

The first group to relocate consisted of residents of Soweto East, one Kibera’s twelve slum villages.

The residents were ecstatic about moving from their shanties to the new complex which has 600 three-bedroom units shared by three families. The units a toilet, bathroom and a kitchen to be shared.

The beneficiaries will pay a monthly rent of Kshs 500, Kshs 200 for water and Kshs 300 for electricity.

Kefa Ojuka says he is happy to bid goodbye to ghetto life, where there was no sewage system, social services and other infrastructure. Ojuka says on his first night in the new home, he overslept because of the serene environment and warmth of his new house.

“I am very happy. We slept well and woke up well in the Promised Land,” he said.

“The air here is fresh and the environment clean,” says Elisha Kasera. He occupies three rooms with his big family. He says that to avoid conflicts in shared houses, people with families should be separated from singles.

He hopes that the government would speed up the upgrading process so that everyone in the slum can move into new houses.

Daniel Keah was also happy to be among the first beneficiaries, but expressed fear of insecurity. He is also worried about the distance his children will travel to get to school. His children will walk about an hour and half to school from the new complex.

For David Rugaye who has lived in Kibera since 2000, the government is doing a good job and he is waiting for his turn to relocate. He still lives in the slum.

However, Rugaye expressed his fears that most informal traders and landlords in Kibera will loose their livelihood when their temporary structures will be brought down to pave way for more new houses.

“When people loose their business here they will become thieves”, he warned, and called on the government to consider the issue.

Lilian Muturi, a shopkeeper, said: “I am not willing to move as I will loose my means of livelihood.”

Her view is shared by 31-year-old Mustafa Athman, a businessman, who has lived in Kibera all his life. The slum is his ancestral land. “Personally, I feel the upgrade is a good start but the government should consider everyone’s needs. Most of us Nubians are landlords and have lived here all our lives, and according to the Kenyan law, if one occupies land for more than 12 years they are entitled to it.” He fears loosing his only source of income.

Juliet Mutheu does not live in Kibera but wonders whether the government will sustain the houses five years from now. “Will the structures be habitable in five years?”

However, two weeks after the residents of Kibera moved to the new houses, there has been no water and electricity. A second group is set to move in today October 2.

It cost more than KSh 500 million to build the new houses, according to the Housing Minister Soita Shitanda. He said the government is seeking more funds to roll out similar projects in other slums in the Kenyan capital and in other major towns.

Most people come to Kibera from rural areas to search for employment in Nairobi and end up settling in the dilapidated, rusted iron-sheet shanties. About 60 per cent of Nairobi’s residents live in the slums, according to some estimates.

KENYA: Catholic Diocese of Ngong to Mark 50th Anniversary

NGONG, October 9, 2009 (CISA) - The Catholic Diocese of Ngong will mark its golden jubilee since its inception and at the same time launch the Year of Priests during the Eucharistic celebration on October 29, 2009 at St. Joseph’s Pro Cathedral.

The Mass will be held at 10am and His Eminence John Cardinal Njue will be the main celebrant. Bishop Emeritus Colin Davies will also be present during the celebrations.

Fr Francis Mwangi vicar general in the diocese said, “The Diocese of Ngong has come from far and today there is a lot of development seen in all aspects of life. There are a number of dispensaries, schools, homes for the physically challenged.”

Fr Mwangi said that the Diocese is grateful to various partners and donors who have helped in one way or the other.

However, he said that there is still a lot to be done in some of the parishes like Entasekera, Lemek, Mashuru, Lenkisem, Namanga, and Magadi and others.

“These parishes are still in the pre-evangelization and need a lot of attention in terms of personnel,” he said.

Fr Mwangi said, “As we thank the Lord for the 50 years, we continue to pray for many vocations so that the work of evangelization may continue.”

Ngong Diocese was established on October 20, 1959 and entrusted to the Mill Hill Missionaries Society. Its first four missionaries were fathers Hans Van Pinxteren, James Cronin, Tony Herrnegger and Colin Davies and Brother Hilary Rizzi.

The first Prefecture Apostolic was Monsignor J. De Reeper who was appointed in January 1960 and the first parish in the diocese was opened in 1955. In 1960 other two parishes, Narok and Ngong were opened.

Monsignor Fr Colin Davies was appointed Bishop of the Diocese of Ngong on December 15, 1976 and was consecrated bishop on February 27, 1977.

The diocese comprises four deaneries namely Ngong, Loitokitok, Narok and Transmara.

There are 29 parishes served by 61 priests, 41 local clergy and 21 members of religious congregations and 19 congregations of religious women.

Bishop Davies worked tirelessly up to 2003 when he handed over to Bishop Cornelius Schilder who has been the bishop of Ngong up to August 2009 when he resigned on health grounds.

John Cardinal Njue was appointed by the Pope Benedict XVI to be the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese.

KENYA: Churches Now Want Minimum Reforms

NAIROBI, October 16, 2009 (CISA) - The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has called for enactment of minimum constitutional reforms for fear that the country would not have a new constitution by 2012 and to avoid a slide into anarchy.

Religious leaders from the protestant organization NCCK issued a statement on October 14, calling for minimum reforms that they believe would act as a buffer to ensure stability, free and fair elections.

“Today the enactment of a new constitution remains an essential peace factor that is critical in the lives of Kenyans,” the religious said in the statement signed by General Secretary Peter Karanja and Chairman Charles Kibicho.

The leaders expressed their distrust over the ability by the Committee of Experts (CoE) to enact a new constitution by 2012 and warned of a resounding rejection of the draft constitution.

They said the prospects of a new constitution were slowly diminishing and the country risks sliding back towards a repeat of the violence that took place in 2007 in which over 1000 were people killed and 360, 000 displaced.

Concerning impunity the leaders made a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute the masterminds of the post election violence and called upon the Kenyan government to pass the bill seeking to establish a local tribunal.

“These two prongs will enable Kenyans deal with impunity decisively. On our part, NCCK will support the ICC and local tribunal in their investigations whenever called upon,” they reiterated.

They urged Kenyans to push for stabilization amendments to the current constitution to ensure that key governance institutions are functional and effective and the exposure of the nation is minimized.

The NCCK calls comes barely two days after the Kenya Christian Constitutional Forum (KCCF) called for the resignation of the CoE chairman Nzamba Kitonga and the entire team for blocking the birth of a new constitution.

Kenyans have been pushing or a new constitution for more than twenty years.

AFRICA: Five Women to be honored in 5-Day Peace Event

NAIROBI, October 16, 2009 (CISA) - Five Kenyan women who have made tremendous contribution for peace will be honoured at a five-day event organised by a worldwide ecumenical movement for peace, justice and reconciliation coming to Kenya for its 29th Annual Meeting, according to All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in Kenya.

The event which is expected to attract over 500 persons, will be held in Nairobi from 19 to 23, 2009.

The International Committee of the Fellowship of the Least Coin (ICFLC), theme of this year will be: "Jesus Amongst Us: Pray and Act for Change".

In Kenya, the Committee of the ICFLC will be hosted by AACC together with its 13 member churches in Kenya.

Honourable Mrs Beth Mugo, Minister for Public Health and Sanitation will deliver the key note speech during the opening ceremony which will take place at the St Andrews PCEA Church Nairobi on the October 18, 2009, from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.

The global movement for peace, justice and reconciliation owes its humble beginning to one Indian woman, Shanti Solomon, who, incensed by the ravages of war in Asia and the economic barriers which kept women apart mobilized women for prayer for peace.

Today, the 53 year-old prayer movement is renown throughout the world for its positive role in promoting unity in over 100 countries.

During prayers for peace, women are required to put aside their ‘least coins’. The least coin ensures that all economic barriers are broken to unite women regardless of their economic status.

Using the ‘least coins’ put aside by women all over the globe, the ICFLC provides funding for diverse community and women projects.

The ICFLC has supported women and community projects in various parts of Africa. In Kenya it has supported: Women and Children in Stress- a program of the NCCK; the PCEA Shalom Girls Training centre; the Joram G. Children’s home in Matasia; the Gamba Women’s Dairy project in Nyanza and the Kiragati community water project in Nyeri, among others development projects in several parts of the country.

It is the second time that the ICFLC will be holding its annual meeting in Kenya since 1991.

AACC, a regional partner of ICFLC is the largest Pan African ecumenical organization which begun in 1963. Its constituency comprises 173 member churches, National council of Churches and other Christian organizations in 40 African countries.

KENYA: Bishop Seeks Missionaries to Work in his Diocese

ISIOLO, October 23, 2009 (CISA) - The Catholic Bishop of Isiolo, in northern Kenya has called on diocesan priests to volunteer to work as missionaries in the Vicariate that is currently experiencing an acute shortage of priests.

Speaking during the 23rd anniversary of the neighboring Embu diocese on October 18, the Bishop said that faith grows when it is shared and no diocese or parish is self-sufficient adding that every mission needs the other.

According to Fr James Gatiti, the Communications Coordinator, Embu, the Bishop also urged the catholic faithful to support the work of the missionaries both spiritually and materially.

Bishop Paul Kariuki of Embu diocese urged Christians to rejoice and give thanks to God as the diocese marks the 23rd anniversary of maturity in faith. He said the diocese will consider sending at least another priest for missionary work.

KENYA: Catholic Parish to Mark 25 years of Service

ONGATA RONGAI, October 23, 2009 (CISA) - The Catholic parish of Ongata Rongai, Nairobi will mark its silver jubilee since it’s inception in 1984 on November 22, at St. Mary’s Primary School grounds.

The Eucharistic celebration will begin at 10:00am presided over by Archbishop Emeritus of Mombasa John Njenga.

On September 11, 1960, Bishop Colin Davies by then Fr Davies celebrated Mass for the first time at Ongata Rongai attended by about 40 people.

The building of the first Church was a 10 by 6 meter corrugated – iron sheet structure and then was an outstation of Kiserian Parish, according to parish priest, Fr Francis Mwangi.

There are 11 outstations namely: Nkaimurunya, Oloorsirkon, Kandisi, Entimikomi, Kitengela, Noonkopir, Enkasiti, Olturoto, Empuyankat, Nkoroi and Olooitikoishi.

Over the last 22 years the parish has been served Comboni Missionaries who in January 2007 handed it to the diocese.

The parish has 28 Small Christian Communities (SCC) and various apostolate groups: Catholic Men Association, Catholic Women Association, Youth, Marriage Encounter, Liturgy Group and Pontifical Missionary Childhood Society.

Others are: Young Women Association, Young Christian Workers, Legion of Mary, Justice and Peace, Catholic Teachers Association, Promic and other s. We also have St. Mary’s Primary School.

“As we celebrate the silver jubilee, we pray for more vocations to priesthood and religious life,” Fr Mwangi said in his statement.

He also thanked God for the gift of Christians whom he said “without them we could not have reached where we are today.”

Other priests serving in the parish include Frs Anthony Shayo and Charles Ndemange.

KENYA: Veteran Priest Dies in Hospital at the age of 102

NGONG, November 3, 2009 (CISA) - His Eminence Cardinal John NJue, Bishops Emeritus Colin Davies and Cornelius Schilder have sent their condolences to the Fatima group and the faithful of The Catholic Diocese of Ngong who are mourning the death of a Fidei Donum Missionary from Italy.

Fr. Domenico Pozzi died at a Nairobi Hospital on Friday, October 30 following a long illness.

Fr. Francis Mwangi, Vicar General of the Diocese said, “The late priest has been sick for the last 20 years. He loved the people of Kenya and especially those learning at Ongata Rongai.”

Fr. Pozzi died at the age of 102.

He was born on July 1908 in Cortemaggiore, in the diocese of Picenza in Italy. He came to Ngong Diocese in 1977.

“Fr. Domenico and his group have done a lot of good work at Ongata Rongai parish and Lengisem,” Fr Mwangi said.

He was part of the team that founded the Fatima Maternity Hospital in Ongata Rongai and the Fatima Health Centre in Lengisem.

The requiem mass will be held at the Evangelising Sisters of Mary Convent Church at Ongata Rongai on Saturday November 7, 2009 at 10.00am.

AFRICA: Hopes Rise for First Global Malaria Vaccine

NAIROBI, November 6, 2009 (CISA) - It has been revealed that after 20 years of trials, scientists are on the threshold of discovering a malaria vaccine.

Researchers warn that Africa may not be ready to make use of the vaccine should it be approved as expected within five years.

RTS, S of GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals is the first malaria vaccine candidate to demonstrate efficacy during early development to warrant phase-III testing.

It is the leading vaccine candidate in the global effort by the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI) to develop a malaria vaccine. The vaccine is presently negotiating what will be the final hurdle before release as it enters Phase III trials in seven African countries.

RTS,S was specifically developed for use in Africa but Prof Wilfred Mbacham, a public health biotechnologist from the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon, says a failure by African governments to prepare adequately may rob millions of people access to the vaccine.

“As we pursue a breakthrough in the development of the vaccine, we need to begin speaking to African governments telling them how they should prepare to receive the vaccine. They need to prepare policy which will facilitate the inclusion of this vaccine into the Expanded Programme on Immunisation,” Mbacham says.

Regulatory systems in African countries which would be responsible for approving use of the vaccine are weak. Governments will also need to think how they will pay to inoculate populations, and master the details of where, how often, and in which groups of people malaria occurs in each country.

“African States will have to begin thinking about financing and how they will access the vaccine. While it is a possibility the Global Health Fund will provide money for this, governments need to explore other innovative financing methods,” Mbacham adds.

The RTS,S vaccine is intended primarily for infants; children under the age of five are the most vulnerable to malaria. After almost two decades of research and 10 years of trials, it is the first to reach Phase III, the final phase of testing.

“Phase II studies showed that RTSS reduced clinical episodes of malaria by 53 percent over an eight-month follow-up period. And findings from the Phase II trial in southern Mozambique on children showed RTSS was efficacious for at least 18 months in reducing clinical malaria by 35 percent and severe malaria by 49 percent.

“The vaccine has also shown a promising safety and tolerability profile when used alongside other WHO standard infant vaccines,” says Dr Joe Cohen a co-inventor of RTSS.

The Phase III trial will evaluate the vaccine's efficacy in two groups of children, one cohort aged six to 12 weeks and the other aged five to 17 months.

Sixteen thousand children will take part in the trials; five thousand have already been recruited. The trials are being conducted in seven African countries, including Kenya, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana, Malawi and Gabon.

Health experts warn the news of the impending approval of the vaccine does not mean people can discard the current malaria prevention measures including use of insecticide treated mosquito nets (ITNs) and indoor residual spraying.

“These technologies have worked so far and communities need to continue using them. Should the vaccine be approved, these measures will continue to be used. Indeed, research is ongoing on strengthening the insecticides and making the ITNs longer lasting,” says Michael MacDonald from the malaria programme of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

AFRICA: Petition to Obama to Help Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

Nairobi, November 6, 2009 (CISA) - A group of delegates have urged US president Barack Obama to show leadership in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria during the 5th Pan-Africa Malaria Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya from November 2 to 6.

The demonstrators on Wednesday November 4 wearing t-shirts saying “Yes We Can-Help the other Half,” promised to send thousands of cards and messages urging Obama to continue scaling up treatment for these three diseases by significantly expanding investments in the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

“We believe that Barack Obama will not permit Africa’s struggle to control AIDS, TB and malaria to stop halfway,” TB advocacy advisor for the ACTION Project, Lucy Chesire said.

Chesire said, “We need increased US investment and partnership to get to the finish line.”

The fight against AIDS might be derailed following funds cuts by the Global Fund. Donor government’s contributors to the Global Fund have not kept pace with the demand of high quality proposals aimed at making life-saving drugs available to everyone who needs them.

The organization is facing a major funding gap next year which must be filled if it is to continue its work to scale up and expand successful projects.

“The fight against AIDS, TB and malaria is teetering dangerously because of the global financial crisis. Countries are curtailing ARV scale-up and programs that have seen massive progress could grind to a halt,” said national co-ordinator of the National Empowerment Network of people living with HIV in Kenya, Nelson Otwoma.

Otwoma said that President Obama could lead the world in setting its moral agenda and ensuring “we collectively go beyond rescuing bankers, brokers, corporate barons and investors to guaranteeing that all people needing medicines for AIDS, TB and malaria can have access and survive.”

According to experts, Africa and low and middle-income countries in general are nearly 50 percent of the way toward reaching the goal of treating cases of HIV, TB and malaria among those who most require treatment urgently.

Since 2003 the Global Fund has supported countries in providing 2.3 million people with Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs, 5.4 million with TB treatment and delivered 74 million anti-malaria treatments worldwide.

KENYA: First Islamic Book-fair is held in Nairobi

NAIROBI, November 20, 2009 (CISA) -Kenyan Islamic faithful have been encouraged to cultivate a culture of reading in the ongoing Islamic Book-fair on Islamic topics and other religions, family, and children at Jamia Mosque Complex in Nairobi.

The four-day Islamic Book-fair is the first of its kind to be held in Kenya and it ends on Saturday November 21, 2009.

The exhibition is organised by Al Quds Company (Egypt) and Jamia Mosque Committee from Kenya.

The wide range of books on Islamic and other topics in Arabic, English, and Kiswahili are sold at highly subsidised prices.

Abdalla Athman Mohammed, Head of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Jamia Mosque told CISA, “It is the first time we are holding this pilot project to instil in our Kenyan brothers’ culture of reading.”

“The feed back is beyond our expectations and we have received good remarks from students, businessmen and even politicians.”

Mohammed said that the event will be held annually to encourage reading among Kenyans.

< Billow Kerrow, former Mandera Central MP said, “The book fair is an opportunity for Muslims and non-Muslims who would want to buy literature on Islamic topics. Sometimes it is not easy to find a bookshop which has all these books in one place, so it is a great opportunity to find them in one place.”

He called on Muslims and non-Muslims to buy literature and have libraries at home to encourage their families to read.

For more information contact: Jamia Mosque Committee P. O. Box 100786-00101 Nairobi, Tel: +254 20 2243504/5, Fax: +254 20 342147E-mail: Website:

KENYA: Diocese Threatens to Withdraw Services in North Eastern

MARALAL, November 24, (CISA) -The Catholic diocese of Maralal in the north eastern Kenya is calling on the government to beef up security in Maralal, Wamba and Archers Post roads or otherwise they will be forced to withdraw their services until they are sure their personnel and travellers are secure.

The diocese is very concerned about the recent killings and robberies along the Maralal – Wamba and Archers roads and is “demanding the government to be pro-active and bring the culprits to book while at the same time ensuring security of all people travelling on this road.”

According to the Vicar General Maralal diocese, Fr Marko Prastaro, “With the continued robberies and killings, the diocese is re-thinking of withdrawing its services which may include closing down of its facilities until such a time when the security of its personnel and that of other travellers can be assured. We cannot afford to be slaves in our own country.”

“We reiterate that this is not the first attack to the diocesan personnel; rarely does a month pass without the diocesan personnel being attacked and robbed violently at gun point. This has posed a serious challenge in terms of service delivery to the communities,” Fr Prastaro.

He said that “It is sad that with all these attacks the government has been very reluctant to take measures to end the menace instead more and more people have continued to suffer under the hands of these criminals.”

“How many more lives should be lost for the government to Act? We wish to restate that security is a basic human right guaranteed by the constitution, the robberies and killings are violating the right of the people of this area to live to their full potential. In this case the government MUST guarantee this right,” said the vicar general.

Recently on November 22, two cars belonging to the diocese of Maralal were attacked on their way to Wamba from Maralal where they had attended a church function. The First car was attacked and the people on board which included foreigners were robbed of their valuables and seriously injured.

The second car (An ambulance based in Archers Health centre) was also attacked at about 5:15 pm on the same spot. The driver was shot and was pronounced dead on arrival to Wamba Catholic Hospital, while the second victim is still admitted in the hospital, the other people on board were also robbed of their valuables.

11 people were also shot dead when a group of thugs raided an area a few metres from the 78-battalion army barrack in Isiolo.

A homeguard who survived the ordeal said a group of 300 people attacked the area stealing an unknown number of livestock.

The residents led by Catholic Bishop Anthony Ireri Mukobo petitioned the government to disarm all civilians of guns which had of late seen deaths of many innocent people especially among the pastoralist communities.

According to the Kenya Red Cross, at least 58 people have been killed in cattle rustling incidents since June.

KENYA: Campaign on AIDS Testing Kicks Off

NAIROBI, November 24, (CISA) -A HIV testing drive is on to fight Aids in which more than one million Kenyans are expected to get tested for HIV during a national campaign launched on Monday.

The drive is expected to target more than 77 per cent of adults in all types of relationships who are unaware of their partners’ HIV status. Public Health and Sanitation minister Beth Mugo urged Kenyans to visit voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) centres to be set up in most towns, residential areas and social places.

“We can not claim to protect our loved ones yet we do not want to get tested,” Mrs Mugo said, adding that couple testing was important to reduce the rate of new infections in steady relationships.

Testing at night and at workplaces, door-to-door approach, and mobile centres are some of the strategies in this year’s campaign to increase the number of people to be tested. The campaign, which will run for three weeks at health centres countrywide, will end on December 12. In a similar campaign last year, 700,000 people were tested.

The National Aids and STI Control Programme head Nicholas Muraguri cited the youth as the most vulnerable groups and called for vigorous campaigns to encourage them to get tested. Dr Muraguri pointed out that denial that the youth are at risk was one of the barriers in controlling new infections among those aged between 20 and 24 years.

“Women are four times more at risk of contracting HIV compared to their male counterparts,” Dr Muraguri said in an interview with the Daily Nation. The HIV prevalence among women stood at 11 per cent compared to 3.9 per cent among men in the same age group.

However, men were the most affected group after the age of 55, with 8.3 per cent prevalence.

Mrs Mugo urged the youth to get tested to plan wisely for their families. She further challenged the youth to involve themselves in productive ventures to avoid boredom that later exposed them to risky sexual behaviour.

“We expect to meet a target of 10 million people tested by June next year,” the minister said.

According to the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey, there was an increase in HIV awareness among those aged between 15 and 49 years although two thirds had not been tested.

The minister called on those who had tested positive to maintain healthy lifestyles through diet, seeking medication and adopting behaviour change to avoid infecting others and acquiring new strains of the virus.

According to government statistics, 45 per cent of people who got tested are in discordant relationships, thus making difficult to monitor the spread pattern of the disease if one of the partners refused to get tested.

KENYA: Participants Call for Urgent Prevention Methods against AIDS

NAIROBI, December 1, 2009 (CISA) -Urgent prevention programmes to address behaviour change are needed to fight HIV and AIDS, participants at an ongoing 5th Pan-African Youth Alive Education for Life conference have said at the Multimedia University of Kenya in Mbagathi Nairobi.

The conference whose theme is: HIV and AIDS Prevention Our Responsibility brings together the Youth Alive clubs and Education for Life in Africa to reflect on their achievements.

The participants from South Africa, Mauritius, Zambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Kenya hope to foster common goals, values, standards and policies leading to cross regional unity in the field of HIV and AIDS prevention and to also facilitate mutual sharing of best practices learning what works or does not.

The conference was officially opened by Sr. Felicia Matola, Director of Education for Life (EFL) conference on November 30 and runs through to December 5, 2009.

Matola said, “We are responsible for our own lives and the lives of those youth and adults we are privileged to serve to uphold the values that we preach to others.”

She also added that those who are already infected have a huge role responsibility to make sure that they do not infect others.

The founder of Youth Alive, Miriam Durgan said, “So often we hear people say government should do.., or the Church should do.., but the truth is that each one of us has a great responsibility.

Durgan said that medical researchers are realising that addressing the behaviours connected with the spread of the HIV virus is what is getting the results.

“Sadly HIV is still spreading at the rate of 2.0 to 3.2 million cases a year and there are still millions of people who do not have access to ARV’s,” she also said.

Durgan said that with the Global recession there are fears that there will be further cuts in funding and due to this, economies in developing nations cannot sustain millions of new cases each year who need expensive treatment.

Fr Daniel Mureithi from Commission for Pastoral and Lay Apostolate Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC) said that condoms are not a solution to HIV and AIDS but they promote the same disease and said that the 100 percent proven solution to HIV is abstinence and faithfulness.

“Many of the global players in the fight focus on solution (condom) before addressing the root cause of the disease. They shy away from addressing the two basic issues contribution to the spread of the disease –premarital sex and promiscuity,” Fr Mureithi said.

Edward Mariega of Kenya National AIDS Control Council called on adults and youth to work together in order to fight the disease and advised the youth to demand for more resources for HIV.

KENYA: 16 Days of Activism are marked as UN Pledges US $ 10.5 to Fight GBV

NAIROBI, December 1, 2009 (CISA) -Civil society organizations in Kenya marking the 16 days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV) on November 25.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence was officially launched in Naivasha by the Minister for Gender and Children affairs, Esther Murugi attended by several Gender based civil society organizations.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is an annual international campaign that began in 1991 initiated by the Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership and runs each year from the November 25 to December 10 led by a different theme annually.

The Minister in her statement said women and children are the most precious members of our society, yet they are still subjected to the most horrible crimes committed against humanity.

She emphasized that GBV must begin to be seen as a development issue, not as a woman’s issue and hope for a permanent end to violence in the home, violence in the work place and in every sector in our society.

“We want them to be taken to court. We want them to be prosecuted and to be treated just like any other criminal,” Murugi said.

She also stressed the importance of reporting incidences of violence and called on Kenyans to take the 16 days seriously.

In their efforts to fight against violence women, the UN pledged a sum of US $ 10.5 million.

The funds, which were announced while marking the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25, will assist 13 initiatives in 18 countries and territories.

The UN Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence against Women, overseen by the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), will disperse the grants.

The UN also launched the Network of Men Leaders, a coalition of public and private leaders working to stop violence against women.

Prominent members of the Network include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and Brazilian novelist and UN Messenger of Peace Paulo Coelho.

KENYA: Churches Demand Clear Anti Abortion Policy

Nairobi, December 4, 2009 (CISA)-The new constitution being worked on should ensure that human life is fully respected and protected, the National council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has recommended.

NCCK also wants the committee of experts to produce two drafts highlighting the different systems of government.

In a press statement, titled: Kenyans, Build Consensus Genuinely issued at the end of its executive meeting, held at Limuru on December 3, the body argues the hybrid system as proposed in the Harmonised Draft Constitution (HDC) is not acceptable, noting "Kenya has experimented with it in the past with disastrous results".

NCCK General-Secretary Canon Peter Karanja said: "We challenge the Committee of Experts to be bold and present to Kenyans a pure system that is workable. The proposed system (hybrid) appears more to serve political expediency than giving our nation a fresh start."

“The proposed constitution should be clear from anti life issues such as abortion”, stressed the church statement, read by the NCCK General Secretary, Rev. Canon Peter Karanja.

They stated that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. Children once conceived have a right to be born, added the NCCK.

On the controversial Kadhi (Islamic) courts, the NCCK said they (Kadhi Courts) should be removed from the constitution in total. And the NCCK said its opposition was based on the fact that it contradicts the principle of equality of religions, principles of separation of state of religion and the understanding that the state shall treat all religions equally.

The National Council of Churches in Kenya, founded in 1918, is the world's largest Council of churches and brings together all protestant churches and Christian organizations in Kenya. The Roman Catholic Church in Kenya with over 30% following of the population is not a member of NCCK though the two work together often.

Kenya: Humanitarian Agency Starts Emergency Aid in the North

NAIROBI, December 8, 2009 (CISA) -Malteser International has started relief measures in the districts of Marsabit, Samburu and Isiolo, the most severely affected north of the country with a population of 365,000 people.

In co-operation with the local Catholic dioceses Malteser International will provide six health centres, two hospitals and one hospital dispensary with drugs and medical consumables for the treatment of malaria, diarrhoea and bacterial infections. Additionally, 7,500 mosquito nets will be distributed.

Malteser International will provide further relief for 19,000 people through supplementary food consisting of oil, beans and maize – especially for vulnerable groups such as pregnant and breast-feeding women, children under five and the elderly. About 1,500 pregnant women and 2,680 children will receive milk powder and food supplements.

The emergency aid for drought victims is mainly funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and private donations.

Malteser International has been working in Kenya since 2001. The organisation runs a comprehensive health project in eight slums of Nairobi with a focus on the fight against tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.

Malteser International is the worldwide relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta for humanitarian aid.

KENYA: Photo Exhibition on National Reconciliation is launched

NAIROBI, December 8, 2009 (CISA) –A round the-clock national photo exhibition initiative on Kenya’s 2007 -2008 post-election violence has been launched in Nairobi.

The exhibition was launched on Monday December 7th by Dr Ozonnia Ojielo, UN-DP Deputy Country Director on behalf of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who brokered peace negotiations in that country.

The photo exhibition titled, Picha Mtaani by award winning photographer Boniface Mwangi aims to provide a platform for national reflection and promote peaceful co-existence among communities in Kenya’s seven most election conflict affected provinces to foster healing and reconciliation.

The photo exhibition also aims to challenge target communities to play their role in the reconciliation and reconstruction process following the 2007 post-election violence.

During the launch Dr Ojielo said, “This initiative by Picha Mtaani is one of the steps that will keep communities on the path towards improved peace and social cohesion for the future as a necessary prerequisite for Kenya’s social and economic development and integration.”

Ojielo also said that “it is critical that we look to the future, identifying the potential contributors of tomorrow and working with them today to achieve the goal of enhanced peace and security in this nation., it is for this reason that we are particularly pleased to support this youth-led initiative that has a focus on rebuilding peace within affected communities and in particular targeting youth.”

He mentioned that youth peace clubs in the country will be mentored by district peace communities and supported by national youth organizations to engage in a number of activities to promote peace within communities.

The US ambassador to Kenya Michael Renneberger applauded the new initiative and affirmed US’ commitment to ensure that Kenya attains lasting peace in the coming years.

According to Mwangi who is the director of the exhibition, The Picha Mtaani initiative will be soon rolled out to other towns in the country and youth are invited to volunteer.

The photo exhibition will be held for three days at the “Jobless Corner” outside The Hilton, Moi Avenue, Nairobi.

The UN-funded initiative focuses on reconciliation through photographic exhibitions and debate

KENYA: UK Freezes Free Primary School Funding

NAIROBI, December 15, 2009 (CISA) – The UK government has frozen funding for Free Primary Education (FPE) in Kenya until an investigation into fraud allegations has been carried out.

The Department for International Development (DFID) said no more money would be released until USD1 million (£615,000) said to have disappeared earlier this year had been accounted for.

The money was supposed to go towards building new classrooms and buying text books in impoverished parts of Kenya.

A DFID spokesman said the department "does not tolerate fraud in its programmes" and it welcomed an investigation into the allegations by Kenyan authorities.

The spokesman added, "We have not suspended our aid programme, but no new funds have been transferred to the Ministry of Education in Kenya since the matter was uncovered. We will consider what action to take once the Kenyan government has completed its investigation.

"Our support for education in Kenya has helped get one million more children into school over the past five years, and we remain committed to improving education for the country's poorest children,” he said.

According to reports, the DFID a UK government department blamed the Ministries of Finance and Education for the loss of the money.

The Kenya National Parents Association (KNAP) has also demanded an investigation to establish the extent of the loot saying Kenyan pupils will be affected.

However, the Ministry of Education dismissed the allegations immediately.

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