Kenyans feel; the effects of drought

Daily Nation

Experts warn of dire situation as dry spell ravages livelihoods

MONDAY JANUARY 23 2017
Residents of Ahero, Kisumu County, stand on the bed of River Nyando, which has shrunk from the continuous dry spell, on January 10. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Residents of Ahero, Kisumu County, stand on the bed of River Nyando, which has shrunk from the continuous dry spell, on January 10. PHOTO | TOM OTIENO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The effects of the worsening drought have begun to be felt, with tens of rivers across the country drying up.

In the North Rift and parts of western Kenya, water sources are at risk of drying up due to the persistent drought and massive forest degradation.

Environmental experts and National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) officials in the region have warned that the water volume in most lakes, dams and reservoirs face immense decline owing to the biting drought that is blamed on climate change.

“The five water towers of Cherangany, Mt Kenya, Mt Elgon, Mau Complex and the Aberdares that are a lifeline for Kenyans are experiencing declining water volumes because of the prolonged drought and destruction of water catchments by human activities,” said Mr Mathew Koech, an Eldoret-based environmental expert.

As a result, several towns in western Kenya are faced with recurrent water shortage due to what the experts attributed to low water volumes.

The towns faced with shortage of water for domestic and industrial use include Bungoma, Webuye, Kitale, Eldoret, and Kapenguria.

According to Mr Koech, Kitale receives an average of 8,000 cubic metres of water against demand of 10,000 cubic metres.

Bungoma has a supply of 2,200 cubic metres against a demand of 6,400 cubic metres, while Webuye receives 3,513 cubic metres. Kimilili gets an average of 3,600 cubic metres against demand of 10,575 cubic metres.

“The water volumes in most lakes and rivers are expected to decline further, causing human and environmental damages, unless the rains fall,” said Mr Koech.

LOSE LIVESTOCK

Several rivers in West Pokot County are on the verge of drying up as pastoralists lose their livestock. They include Kanyangareng, Iyon Kotoruk, Anuan, Kotupor, Lomut, Kaipony, Orwa, Tamugh, Kalaywa and Sarimach.

“The tributaries that supply water to most rivers in the region have dried up, posing a serious threat to human beings and livestock,” said Mr Wilfred Longronyang, the county executive for water.

A report by the NDMA indicates that the drought in North Pokot and Central Pokot sub-counties is at an alarming stage and a large population is in dire need of food.

The county drought coordinator, Mr Gabriel Mbogho, said the proportion of children at risk of malnutrition rose by 69 per cent from November, which he said falls outside the normal range.

“The drought situation is worsening and requires urgent intervention measures,” said Mr Mbogho.
The report further revealed that pastures had deteriorated and there exists no significant variation between the pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood zones.
Some pastoralists have migrated to Uganda in search of water and pasture for their livestock.

In Embu County, three permanent rivers that form the lifeline of the people of the lower Mbeere region have dried up, putting the lives of people and animals at risk.

FACING FAMINE

Rivers Thuci, Thiba and Ena, which are relied upon by residents of Evurore, Muminji, Kirie, Kiambere and Makima wards, have dried up, leaving behind a trail of dry crops and forcing residents to walk long distances to fetch the precious liquid.

The rivers are major tributaries of River Tana, whose waters have receded to alarmingly low levels, leaving thousands of people facing famine.

Residents, led by MCAs Albert Kigoro (Evurore), Ms Peninah Mutua (Makima) and Ms Loise Mbuya (nominated), said the area had not experienced rainfall since November, while people living upstream had diverted water to their farms for irrigation.

Mbeere Muguka Farmers Sacco Ltd chairman Francis Kimori, together with Mr Lenny Masters Mwaniki, said farmers were travelling for long distance to buy water for their plants.

Ms Mutua said a major row was brewing since some farmers had diverted River Thiba’s course, leaving those living downstream without access to water.

 “There are farmers upstream, in Don Bosco and Gachuriri, who are diverting water to their farms,” said Ms Mutua. “People are relying on some stagnant water on the river bed, which is very risky.”

NDMA Embu coordinator Tarsilah Birauka had in October warned that the region would experience low rainfall.

NDMA projects that major water sources in Isiolo County are likely to dry up in two months. County coordinator Lordman Lekalkuli said pastoralists who depend on rivers Ewaso Ng’iro, Bisanadi and Isiolo will be affected.

“If it doesn’t rain soon, then the rivers will dry up, affecting thousands of herders and livestock,” said Mr Lekalkuli.

Reports by Barnabas Bii, Oscar Kakai, Charles Wanyoro and Vivian Jebet

South Africa – Zuma repeats that God is on the side of the ANC

Mail and Guardian


The ANC will not only win the 2019 elections but will take it with an even greater margin than before, President Jacob Zuma said on Sunday.

“The ANC is on the side of the people and God is on the side of the ANC. We cannot lose,” said Zuma.

Speaking in Burgersfort, Limpopo on Sunday at the provincial celebrations of the party’s 105th year anniversary, Zuma said: “Some people in South Africa enjoy criticising the ANC… because they do absolutely nothing”.

Thousands of supporters dressed in ANC colours braved the scorching heat to hear Zuma speak.

He told them it should come as no surprise that the ANC had made some mistakes as it was a working organisation.

Following its lackluster performance in the 2016 municipal elections, which saw it lose three of the country’s big metros, the party admitted it made mistakes in the lead-up to the polls and took collective responsibility.

Addressing matters which have seemingly become more urgent as the ANC heads for its policy conference, Zuma shared the movement’s plans on economic inclusion and land redistribution.

He said the party needed to take more decisive steps for greater economic inclusion.

“The time has come for black people to play a visible and more meaningful role in the management of South Africa’s economy,” he said.

Zuma said the ANC government would use the Expropriation of Land Act to pursue land reform and redistribution.

“If we don’t act appropriately on this, political opportunists will use it for their own benefit. It will never benefit the people,” said Zuma.

Amidst calls for a consultative conference ahead of the party’s national elective conference Zuma warned that conferences should not be used to tear the organisation apart.

“No amount of conferences must make us want to tear ourselves apart.”

He also cautioned ANC members against making pronouncement of their preferred candidate to lead the 105-year-old movement when he steps down. He said the time to do so hadn’t arrived yet.

Speaking in isiZulu in what could be interpreted as a veiled attack on his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been one of those calling for lifestyle audits in the party, Zuma said, “They have been talking about this for a long time but haven’t done anything”.

The decision for leaders to undergo lifestyle audits was announced in 2016 but no action plan has since been announced.

Zuma also highlighted the issues of gate-keeping and vote buying, urging branches to avoid falling victim to the manipulation of internal democratic systems. – News24

Former Zimbabwe VP’s party suffers defeat in first election

Reuters

A new party founded by Zimbabwe’s former vice president Joice Mujuru suffered a crushing defeat in its first ever election contest again President Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF, showing the task she faces in her bid to challenge her ally-turned-adversary.

ZANU-PF retained the rural Bikita West parliamentary constituency in Saturday’s by-election after its candidate polled 13,156 votes against 2,453 votes for Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission said on Sunday.

Mujuru, Mugabe’s deputy for 10 years, was seen as the most likely successor to the 92-year-old leader until she was purged from the ruling party in 2014 after charges she was plotting against Africa’s oldest leader. Mujuru denies the charges.

Mugabe has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980. He turns 93 on Feb. 21 and has been confirmed as the ZANU-PF presidential candidate for the vote which is due in 2018.

Last year Mujuru formed her own political party to challenge Mugabe, raising hopes that a politician who had liberation war credentials and enjoyed the support of some military generals could successfully challenge Mugabe.

The poor showing in Bikita West, which was marked by high voter turnout, comes at a time Mujuru is negotiation with the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) on a coalition pact to take on Mugabe in next year’s election.

The MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai did not contest Saturday’s vote in keeping with its decision to boycott all elections because it argues the election environment favours the ruling party.

ZANU-PF is the dominant party in parliament where it has 221 out of 270 seats in the lower house.

Mujuru could not be reached for comment on Sunday. Her spokesman Jealousy Mawarire said he could not immediately comment.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Keith Weir)

Gambia – no immunity for Jammeh; Barrow takes power

Premium Times

Photo credit: Aljazeera

Photo credit: Aljazeera

West African leaders did not agree to grant Yahya Jammeh any immunity during negotiations that convinced Gambia’s long time ruler to flee into exile, Senegal’s foreign minister said on Sunday.

Mr. Jammeh, who is accused of serious rights violations, led his country for 22 years but refused to accept defeat in a December election. He flew out of the capital Banjul late on Saturday as a regional military force was poised to remove him.

The peaceful end to the impasse will allow opposition figure Adama Barrow, who was sworn in as president at Gambia’s embassy in neighbouring Senegal on Thursday, to take office.

Jammeh’s decision to step down has prompted speculation over the terms agreed during two days of negotiations led by Guinea’s President Alpha Conde and Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

Regional leaders had not gone as far as agreeing immunity despite Mr. Jammeh’s attempts to secure this, Senegalese Foreign Minister, Mankeur Ndiaye, told Reuters.

“President Jammeh and his team concocted a declaration to be endorsed by (regional bloc) ECOWAS, the United Nations and the African Union that gave him every guarantee, essentially impunity,” Mankeur Ndiaye said.

“This declaration was signed by no one.”

The foreign minister made his comments after the AU and the UN published a joint declaration from the three bodies “with the purpose of reaching a peaceful resolution to the political situation in The Gambia.”

In it, they pledged, among other things, to protect Mr. Jammeh’s rights “as a citizen, a party leader and a former Head of State,” to prevent the seizure of property belonging to him and his allies, and to ensure he can eventually return to Gambia.

However, Mr. Ndiaye played down the significance of the document.

“I want to be clear on the fact that no ECOWAS head of state validated this declaration,” said Mr. Ndiaye, who added that Mr. Barrow had not been made aware of the document before its publication.

TROOPS BEING DEPLOYED

Mr. Jammeh’s loss in a December 1 poll and his initial acceptance of the result were celebrated across the tiny nation by Gambians grown weary of his increasingly authoritarian rule. But he reversed his position a week later, creating a standoff with regional neighbours who demanded he step down.

Rights groups accuse him of jailing, torturing and killing his political opponents while acquiring a vast fortune – including luxury cars and an estate in the United States – as most of his people remained impoverished.

Mr. Jammeh flew to Equatorial-Guinea with a brief stopover in Guinea’s capital Conakry, the office of Guinea’s President Conde said on Sunday.

West African troops from Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Mali were deploying in Gambia on Sunday as part of efforts to secure the country and allow Barrow to take charge.

“We will look for arms caches and detect mercenaries, so that we can restore calm,” Marcel de Souza, president of the ECOWAS commission, told reporters overnight.

“Adama Barrow hopes to go back as quickly as possible.”

A Reuters witness on Sunday saw war planes flying over the capital Banjul, which remained calm despite some concern over how the army, a pillar of Mr. Jammeh’s regime, would react to his departure.

ECOWAS TROOPS IN BANJUL

Meanwhile, ECOWAS troops entered The Gambia on Sunday to secure President Adama Barrow’s arrival from neighbouring Senegal.

The full entry of the troops was caused by controversy over the assurances offered to Mr. Jammeh to guarantee his exit, Africa Review reports.

Mr. Jammeh flew out of The Gambia on Saturday, ending 22 years at the helm of the west African nation, and landed in Equatorial Guinea a few hours later where he is expected to settle with his family.

The Senegalese general leading a joint force of troops from five African nations said soldiers had nonetheless entered The Gambia to “control strategic points to ensure the safety of the population and facilitate… Barrow’s assumption of his role.”

A convoy crossed the frontier on Sunday morning, which would leave them several hours to reach Banjul.

Senegalese forces had briefly crossed into the former British colony on Thursday but pulled out shortly afterwards, with Sunday’s troop movement the first by soldiers from the joint force.

Marcel Alain de Souza, a top official with the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), which organised the deployment, said pro-Jammeh elements and mercenaries remained on the ground and had open fired as troops crossed the border.

“They were neutralised,” he said in a statement, without elaborating.

Mr. De Souza said the country “could not be left open” for long, however, and that President Barrow must be in place “as soon as possible”.

“A country must have a government, but the security conditions required the troops we have sent to secure Banjul and other towns,” he said.

Gambia – Jammeh flies out and millions found missing

BBC

More than $11m (£8.8m) is missing from The Gambia’s state coffers following the departure of long-time leader Yahya Jammeh, an adviser to President Adama Barrow has said.

Mai Ahmad Fatty said financial experts were trying to evaluate the exact loss.

Luxury cars and other items were seen being loaded on to a Chadian cargo plane on the night Mr Jammeh left the country.

Mr Jammeh flew into exile on Saturday, ending his 22 years in power.

He had refused to accept election results but finally left after mediation by regional leaders and the threat of military intervention.

Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh arrives at the airport before flying into exile from Gambia, January 21, 201REUTERS Mr Jammeh flew out of The Gambia on Saturday after long talks with regional leaders

President Barrow remains in neighbouring Senegal and it is not clear when he will return.

However, West African troops entered the Gambian capital, Banjul, on Sunday to prepare for his arrival.

Cheering crowds gathered outside the State House to watch soldiers secure the building.

The Senegalese general leading the joint force from five African nations said they were controlling “strategic points to ensure the safety of the population and facilitate… Mr Barrow’s assumption of his role”.

Mr Fatty told reporters in the Senegalese capital Dakar that The Gambia was in financial distress.

“The coffers are virtually empty,” he said. “It has been confirmed by technicians in the ministry of finance and the Central Bank of the Gambia.”

Gambia's President Adama Barrow is seen in Dakar, Senegal January 20, 2017REUTERS Adama Barrow, centre, says he intends to investigate allegations of human rights abuses during Mr Jammeh’s time in office

He said Mr Jammeh had made off with more than $11m in the past two weeks alone. The BBC is unable to independently verify the claims.

Mr Fatty said officials at The Gambia’s main airport had been told not to let any of Mr Jammeh’s belongings leave the country.

Reports said some of the former leader’s goods were in Guinea where Mr Jammeh had stopped on his journey into exile.

Mr Jammeh is reported to now be in Equatorial Guinea, although authorities there have not confirmed it.

The former leader had initially accepted Mr Barrow’s election win on 1 December, but later alleged “irregularities” and called for a fresh vote.

The move was internationally condemned and the UN-backed Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) issued an ultimatum for him to quit or be removed by force.

Gambia – Jammeh flies out and Barrow to take over, ending crisis

Al Jazeera

Newly elected President Adama Barrow to return to Gambia shortly as longtime ruler leaves country for Equatorial Guinea

The Gambia’s ex-leader Yahya Jammeh has flown out of the country he ruled for 22 years and into exile, bringing an end to a protracted political crisis following presidential elections last month.

The longtime ruler refused to step down after a December 1 vote in which opposition leader Adama Barrow was declared the winner, triggering weeks of tension as West African leaders threatened to use military force to oust him if he failed to step down.

Jammeh boarded a small, unmarked plane at an airport in the capital, Banjul, late on Saturday, alongside Guinea’s President Alpha Conde after two days of negotiations over a departure deal.

He landed in Conakry, Guinea’s capital, but set off again for Equatorial Guinea, where he will remain in exile, the president of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), Marcel Alain de Souza, told journalists

“No legislative measures” would be taken that would infringe the “dignity, security, safety and rights” of Jammeh or his family, ECOWAS said in a joint declaration with the African Union and United Nations.

Jammeh could return to The Gambia when he pleased, the statement added, and property “lawfully” belonging to him would not be seized.

“The agreement essentially says there can be no prosecution against Jammeh, his family or his entourage; there will be no seizure of his assets, no witch-hunts, and he can be back to the country at any time, ” Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque, reporting from Dakar in neighbouring Senegal, said.

“It might sound like a good deal for Jammeh, but we have to bear in mind that this is a political document, not a legally binding one, so it still brings hopes for those wanting to prosecute Jammeh or those in the security services over alleged human rights violations.”

Human rights activists have repeatedly demanded that Jammeh be held accountable for alleged abuses, including torture and detention of opponents.

‘We are free’

Scenes of jubilation broke out almost immediately on streets near Banjul, after the news filtered out that Jammeh had gone.

“We are free now. We are no longer in prison,” Fatou Cham, 28, told AFP news agency.

READ MORE: Exiled Gambians ponder return home

“We do not have to watch our back before we express our opinions.”

Al Jazeera’s Haque said Jammeh’s departure marked a “historic moment” for people in The Gambia and West Africa who believe that there can be democracy in the region.

“This was done by the votes of young Gambians who took to the street, who cast their ballot box and really got Jammeh out of power despite him not wanting to let go,” our correspondent said.

“It was a peaceful protest that was done in Gambia and also on social media, and it was just too much for Jammeh to ignore.”

‘Truth commission’

Barrow, who was sworn in as The Gambia’s new president at the country’s embassy in Senegal on Thursday, is expected to return home imminently.

Speaking to the Associated Press on Saturday, Barrow urged caution after an online petition called for Jammeh to be arrested, and not be granted asylum.

The new president, who had sought shelter in the neighbouring country, said he favours launching a “truth and reconciliation commission” to investigate possible crimes by Jammeh.

READ MORE: Adama Barrow pledges truth commission over Yahya Jammeh

ECOWAS had pledged to remove Jammeh by force if he did not step down. The group assembled a multinational military force, including tanks, that rolled into The Gambia on Thursday.

The troops moved in after Barrow’s inauguration and a unanimous vote by the UN Security Council backing the new president and calling Jammeh to cede power.

Jammeh announced his intention to leave the country on Friday. “I have decided in good conscience to relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation,” he said.

At least 46,000 people had fled The Gambia for Senegal since the start of the crisis fearing unrest, according to the UN’s refugee agency.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

Nigeria – Boko Haram attacks town bombed by Nigerian air foirce

Reuters

By Ola Lanre | RANN, NIGERIA

Around 15 Boko Haram fighters were killed when the jihadists attacked a town in northeastern Nigeria, two days after the air force accidentally killed dozens of people there, local and military officials said.

On Tuesday, the air force said it had bombed Rann in Borno state, epicentre of Boko Haram’s seven-year-long attempt to create an Islamic caliphate in the northeast.

Boko Haram fighters then attacked Rann – home to thousands of people displaced by the jihadists’ insurgency – using two jeeps on Thursday night, residents said.

“We battled them for almost 30 minutes,” Lieutenant Colonel Igwe Omoke, commander of the 3rd battalion based in Rann, told Reuters on Friday during a visit organized by the army.

“We suddenly saw residents running towards the battalion headquarters and we quickly mobilized troops,” he said.

A Reuters reporter saw six dead Boko Haram fighters lying in front of the army base in Rann where many ramshackle huts had been destroyed by the air strike. The attackers had come from nearby Cameroon, less than ten kilometres away, officers said.

The air strike killed more than 200 people, more than the up to 170 reported dead by aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Friday, a local official said.

“People have suffered enough. We buried more than 200 people,” said Babagana Malarima, head of the local government in Rann. “The military should compensate our people.”

Other residents asked by Reuters put the death toll at around 180 or fewer. The army has refused to say how many were killed.

The Boko Haram insurgency has killed more than 15,000 people since 2009 and forced some two million to flee their homes.

The Nigerian army, backed up by neighbours, have retaken most areas held by the group. But the jihadists still operate in the area of Rann, slipping over the porous Cameroon border after attacks.

The militant group has stepped up attacks and suicide bombings in the past few weeks as the end of the rainy season facilitates movement in the bush.

The group split in two last year, with one faction led by Abubakar Shekau from the Sambisa forest and the other, allied to Islamic State and led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, based in the Lake Chad region.

(Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Bolton)