Nigeria – babies used in suicide bombings

BBCMap showing Madagali and its state of Adamawa within Nigeria.

Female suicide bombers in Nigeria are now carrying babies to avoid detection in their attacks, authorities warn.

An attack in the town of Madagali on 13 January saw two women detonate their devices, killing themselves, two babies, and four others.

They had passed a vigilante checkpoint, mistaken for civilians because they were carrying infants.

Female attackers have been seen before, but officials said the use of babies could signal a “dangerous” trend.

The insurgent group Boko Haram is widely suspected of having carried out the attack.

Four women attacked Madagali located in Adamawa State, which was recaptured from Boko Haram in 2015.

Two were stopped at a security checkpoint, and detonated their devices, officials said.

The two women carrying infants, however, were not stopped, and exploded their own devices past the security point.

Boko Haram is known for using women, including young girls, as suicide bombers.

The Nigerian government has been fighting the group in a major counter-offensive, recapturing much of their former territory.

But the insurgents have ramped up their suicide bombings in response.

In early December, two female suicide attackers killed at least 45 people in the same town, after they detonated their devices in a busy market.

A similar attack killed 25 people a year earlier.

South Africa – ANC’s R50m fund for covert operations in 2016 local elections

News24

The ANC’s R50m election ‘black ops’

2017-01-24 08:00

(File, Foto24)
Susan Comrie, amaBhungane

Johannesburg – The ANC planned to spend R50 million on a covert campaign targeting opposition parties in the 2016 local government elections, according to court papers filed in the High Court in Johannesburg.

A covert team, initially known as the War Room, intended to “disempower DA and EFF campaigns” and set a pro-ANC agenda using a range of media, without revealing the ANC’s hand.

As traditional election campaigns lose their impact with voters, political parties are increasingly turning to more subtle methods, using everything from fake news to paid Twitter accounts to manipulate voter sentiment.

For the War Room this included a seemingly independent news site and chat show, using “influencers” on social media, and planning to print fake opposition party posters.

However, a scathing close-out report attached to the court application claims the initiatives were either short-lived or stillborn due to mismanagement and a lack of funding.

The case was brought against the ANC by public relations expert Sihle Bolani, who claims she is owed R2.2 million for work done as part of the campaign. Bolani was a key member of the War Room.

Bolani signed a R1 million settlement agreement with ANC general manager Ignatius Jacobs in early December, but is now demanding the full amount as she has still not been paid. The agreement, attached to the court papers, is on an ANC letterhead.

Bolani wrote and submitted the close-out report to Jacobs and Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe in November. However, the ANC denies that the War Room existed.

“Your investigation has no basis and is based on malicious falsehoods and gossip,” ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa told amaBhungane last week.


ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa’s response to amaBhungane

The campaign that ‘never existed’

Officially, there was supposed to be no link between the War Room and the ANC.

The team, later known as the “Media Advisory Team”, would be led by activist Shaka Sisulu. ANC-linked businessman Joseph Nkadimeng was to source funds from private donors. The team was to operate from separate offices.

In the close-out report, Bolani says Sisulu and Nkadimeng told team members during an inception meeting last April that “the ANC has commissioned this project as part of the 2016 Municipal Elections”.

However, Sisulu “made it very clear” to her that she should “not at any point, have direct contact with Luthuli House”.

The inception meeting was held last April at the Bryanston headquarters of advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather, which the ANC had contracted for its election campaign. Ogilvy appears not to have participated in the team’s subsequent activities.

In an interview with amaBhungane, Bolani described the campaign as effectively a “propaganda machine”.

“A lot of the work they needed us to do they didn’t want it to be branded ANC… I think the intention with this vehicle was to do all the stuff that they can’t do as the ANC. So I think the directive from Ignatius [Jacobs] was ‘go crazy just don’t link us [to it],” Bolani said.

Fake posters

According to the close-out report, this included spending R10 000 to “develop and plant EFF posters to disarm the opposition”.

Bolani told amaBhungane: “They were meant to be mistaken for EFF posters… [The service provider] was supposed to get a poster done that looks, feels exactly like the EFF campaign posters but has a picture of [EFF leader] Julius Malema on the front holding a rifle, because it was after all of those comments about taking up arms for land.”

According to the report, Bolani suggested planting callers on talk radio station 702 in order to create publicity around the posters. However, the report questions whether the posters were actually printed.

In addition to the posters, the team planned to produce 25 000 “knock and drops” – news sheets delivered door-to-door, highlighting Malema’s “we are not fighting whites” statement at a June 16th rally.

Aside from these two projects, the team appears largely to have fought its battles in the digital space.

Digital influence

This included planning to establish a network of 200 social media “influencers” – celebrities and others who would be co-ordinated to start conversations about specific topics on Twitter and Facebook. The report suggests far fewer influencers were recruited in the end.

Team minutes reproduced in the report include entries such as: “Today’s activities… Influencer mobilisation: Corruption within the organisation, EFF in parliament, problems with EFF and DA, basic needs of the poor not cared for (anti-DA) and Black Face (anti-DA).”

The team launched a news site, The New South African, which claimed to be a “platform for new voices offering a different perspective of South Africa”. It was however supplied, according to the report, with 150 stories by the team, including many advancing the ANC’s narrative.

Bolani told amaBhungane: “The New South African was about covering stories that spoke to successes that the ANC had in certain municipalities and then also just adding exclamation marks to fails for other parties.

“The SABC and ANN7 are openly known to be pro-ANC, so generally when people watch this they take it with a pinch of salt. So when there’s a completely new platform that doesn’t seem to have any alignment… then people are a little bit more open.”

Records show the site was registered by Majota Kambule, better known as broadcast personality Phat Joe.

TV shows

According to the report, Kambule’s company, KTI Media, was largely in charge of the team producing content for The New South African, as well as a television show called The Right to Vote with Pearl Thusi, where Thusi interviewed celebrities about their experiences of voting.

A number of episodes were produced and posted to YouTube and a dedicated website. The episodes were to be aired on community TV stations, but it is not clear whether this happened.

Kambule declined to comment on his involvement in the project, saying he was “under a confidentiality agreement”.

Sisulu would not confirm his involvement either, and declined to respond to detailed questions sent to him. Nkadimeng confirmed being involved, but claimed he merely provided social media services.

Denial contradicted

The ANC’s denial about the campaign is contradicted not only by the fact that Jacobs, its general manager, signed a settlement agreement with Bolani, but also by a copy of an email attached to Bolani’s court papers.

Bearing the subject line “War Room Discussions”, the email was sent from Ogilvy’s then-group business director Wendy Bergsteedt to Jacobs’s official ANC email address and to Nkadimeng.

The email reads: “There is acknowledgement that team ANC needs to set the narrative and limit the knee-jerk reactions to media and opposition activity. We are required to subdue the renegades.

“The movement does not want to be the primary contact for intelligence collection. This must be managed by the Ogilvy team. The ANC to confirm which ANC members will be seconded to the war room.”

According to the email, the War Room “will require input from the GM [ANC general manager Jacobs] and Cde Nkadimeng on a daily basis. The ANC must appoint a political champion who has access to approval, as this is one of the key objectives of the war room.”

Asked about the email, Ogilvy’s head of client services, Kajsa Claude, confirmed that “Ogilvy did engage in discussions around setting up a War Room on behalf of the ANC” but said “this never progressed beyond a discussion”.

‘Your money was spent on T-shirts’

Funds were to be raised for the War Room by donors and not routed through official ANC accounts – part, it seems, of the “wide range of other funding that went to ANC individuals and groupings for the elections”, that SACP deputy general secretary Jeremy Cronin described in an article last November.

Bolani told amaBhungane: “We were initially told they had raised R50 million for this campaign to cover campaign costs and all of our fees… [But] stories kept changing from the ANC’s perspective – ‘We’re waiting for money, we’re raising the funds, we’re speaking to different people’.”

Several sources have indicated that Nkadimeng, who is involved in the defence and finance industry, was in charge of fundraising for the War Room.

Nkadimeng denies this and initially told amaBhungane that he was owed money and was considering taking legal action against the ANC. Days later he followed this up by sending what appears to be threatening messages to an amaBhungane reporter. This was reported to the police and the ANC.

An apparently threatening text message to an amaBhungane reporter from Nkadimeng

According to the close-out report, two ANC-linked investment firms were involved in paying suppliers on the project – Zonkizizwe Investment Holdings and Impepho Investment Holdings. According to Bolani these companies were merely used to collect money from private donors and pass it on to the War Room.

“Invoicing details… were changed at least three times during the project. The invoiced companies changed from Zonkizizwe to Black Carbon c/o Impepho Investment Holdings, and then Black Carbon c/o Zonkizizwe… [The money] was going from funders, whoever those funders were, they were paying the money into Zonkizizwe,” Bolani said.

Zonkizizwe Investments, run by ANC security man Paul Langa and ANC veteran John Nkadimeng, among others, is thought to be close to the ANC. Impepho’s sole director is ANC-linked banker Alan Norman. Neither company responded to requests for comment.

According to the close-out report, as invoices went unpaid, Sisulu and Nkadimeng turned to blaming each other.

Bolani wrote that when she followed up with Sisulu on long-overdue payments, he responded: “I’ll be honest; there’s no money. Your money was spent on T-shirts…”

“When [I] would query unpaid invoices with Mr. Nkadimeng, he repeatedly reinforced that he has raised over R50 million to fund the project team’s expenses, but the funds had been misused and Mr. Sisulu used the money to pay himself and all his friends he recruited for the project.”

With the campaign in chaos, Sisulu pulled the plug at the end of July.

‘Even if we have to ask the Guptas’

Bolani says in her affidavit that she approached the ANC in October about outstanding payments.

“I couldn’t get hold of anyone so I escalated the matter to Minister Radebe. I explained the situation to him – he knew nothing about this project,” Bolani told amaBhungane. Radebe’s office did not respond to questions.

In November, a series of meetings were held at Luthuli House between Bolani, Nkadimeng and Jacobs. Bolani says at the initial meeting, Jacobs committed to paying her but asked her to draw up a report on the project – the close-out report.

Nkadimeng, she said, assured her they would find the money to pay her, “even if we have to go ask from the Guptas”.

On December 9, after several promised payments failed to materialise, Bolani entered into the R1-million settlement agreement with Jacobs. The signed agreement states: “the ANC GM [Jacobs] shall raise and pay before or on 31 December 2016.”

According to Bolani’s affidavit, she received a call from Jacobs’s assistant the evening before the deadline. He told her “that they did not have my money, but are able to arrange a payment of R100 000 to be paid urgently by one of their sponsors.”

The assistant allegedly asked her to submit a new invoice, for R100 000. The invoice, a copy of which amaBhungane has seen, was addressed to Tseke Nkadimeng, the CEO of AfricOil.

Bolani says she never performed any work for AfricOil, but understood AfricOil to be a donor to the War Room.

Bolani has shown amaBhungane a Whatsapp conversation purporting to be between her and Tseke Nkadimeng dated Friday 6 January in which she asks about payment.

“CFO promised to pay today let’s wait and see when he does the payment”, he allegedly responded.


WhatsApp conversation purportedly between Sihle Bolani and Tseke Nkadimeng

Bolani told amaBhungane she received a message from Jacobs’s assistant last week alerting her to a R100 000 payment that had just been made into her business account. AfricOil spokesman Themba Hlengani declined to comment on these alleged payments, but did confirm that his company, AH Group, had done some writing for The New South African.

On Friday, after the ANC failed to respond to a January 6 letter of demand to pay the R1m settlement, Bolani filed her court application, requesting an urgent court date.

Shortly after her papers were served at Luthuli House, Bolani told amaBhungane that she had received a call from an attorney claiming to represent the ANC. The party, she says, was offering to pay R100 000 a month, starting in March.

Bolani declined the offer.

Fake posters a breach of electoral laws

Fake elections posters, as the War Room had allegedly planned to print, are as much as a no-go as fake news.

Said Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) spokesperson Kate Bapela: “In terms of the Municipal Electoral Act it is prohibited conduct to publish false information with the intention of influencing the conduct or outcome of an election.

“The electoral code of conduct [also] precludes a party or candidate from acting or using language in a way that provokes violence during the election.”

Breaches of the code are a criminal offence – individuals can be sentenced up to 10 years in jail while political parties can be stripped of votes or deregistered.

According Sihle Bolani’s affidavit, the ANC was instrumental in setting up the covert campaign team known as the War Room. However, funding for the campaign would be provided by private donors.

Structures known as super PACs (political action committees) have become a common feature of US politics. However, there are strict rules prohibiting political parties from interfering in what are supposed to be independently-run and independently-funded campaigns.

“In South Africa the private funding of political parties and the private funding of electoral campaigns is presently not regulated,” said Bapela. “The position of the electoral commission is that it is desirable to put in a place a nationally-agreed regulatory framework for the future.”

The War Room’s campaign also featured a seemingly-independent news website, The New South African.

Although it is a contravention of the Press Code for news organisations to take funding from political parties or to push a particular party’s agenda, these rules only apply to media that voluntarily subscribe to the code. Publications that have chosen to opt out, such as The New Age, are not bound.

The ANC has denied any involvement in or knowledge of the campaign. Bolani’s case is scheduled to be heard in the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

– The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit, produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB supporter to help it do more. Sign up for its newsletter to get more.

South Sudan – businesses close as economic crisis worsens

Sudan Tribune

separation

January 23, 2017 (JUBA) – Hundreds of small businesses have closed in South Sudan over the last year due to hyper-inflation and failure by the local population to earn any meaningful income.

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Women sell food at Konyo Konyo market in South Sudan (Reuters)

Shops, restaurants, lodges and transport businesses owned by foreigners were affected, citizens say.

One Hassan, a Kenyan-Somali, who owned a shop in Gumbo, a Juba suburb, has a dozen stocks.

“I am planning to close this shop by the end of this month and go back to Kenya,” said Hassan.

“There were many shops here ran by Kenyans and other foreigners but they have gone back to their countries because there is no profit here now,” he added.

Nearly all markets goods in Juba and other South Sudanese towns are imported from neighboring countries and that requires United States dollars to purchase.

“Right now, the value of SSP [South Sudanese Pound] is not stable. It keeps changing, losing value against the U.S dollar,” said James Obari, Ugandan trader dealing in food items imports.

Obari, however, said the Ugandan Shillings had strengthened against the South Sudanese Pounds (SSP), hence frustrating any prospects of exporting from South Sudan’s southern bordering country.

“In fact, selling my food items within Uganda is now much better than crossing over to South Sudan. It is waste of time and a financial loss,” he added.

Like Kenyans, several Ugandan businessmen left the country and never returned, Obari said.

“I don’t want close my shop but I will be left with little choice if the economic situation does not import,” he added.

Since exchange rate for dollar was floated against SSP in 2015, the local currency has left 80% of its value and inflation stroke 800% in October. The government promised many items to address the crisis but little has changed.

Last week, President Salva Kiir fired the Central Bank governor and his deputy and made changes in the ministry of finance in an effort, economists said, aimed at making shake up in financial institutions.

Experts, however, called for more action, including independence of the country’s Central Bank to ensure none interference from politicians.

“South Sudan needs an institutional reform – independent, accountable and transparent central bank. Otherwise, recent changes in Central Bank can be analogistic,” economist Garang Atem wrote last week.

Atem said government should not use the Central bank as a tool for money withdrawn at will, but “as an institution charge to pursue a long term macroeconomic stability, when used in short-term political machination, a result is hyperinflation.”

(ST)

Sudan and South Sudan to deploy joint border patrols

Sunday Tribune


January 23, 2017 (JUBA) – South Sudanese government under President Salva Kiir announced on Monday it was longer hosting Sudanese rebels in its territory, disclosing that a joint force will be deployed soon.

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Sudanese military personnel inspect the belongings of South Sudanese on the Sudanese border on 18 April 2014 (Photo: Reuters/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)

Presidential advisor on security affairs told Sudan Tribune on Monday that there were no longer Sudanese rebels in the country after the two countries have agreed to improve ties

“There is no problem anymore with Sudan. The issue of security along the common border has been addressed. There will be a joint monitoring and verification team”, said Tut Kew Gatluak.

In accordance with the 2012 security arrangements agreement the parties committed themselves to deploy the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mission (JBVMM) and activate the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ).

Accordingly, the parties deployed the joint units but Juba suspended its participation in November 2011 when the South Sudanese government rejected the administrative and security map presented by the AUHIP.

The proposed map included the disputed 14 mile area in the buffer zone, the Malual Dinka of Northern Bahr el Ghazal and the then State Governor Paul Malong Awan refused the measure as they refuse even to accept Sudan’s claim on the area and its inclusion among the disputed areas.

Unconfirmed reports says Juba and Khartoum discussed the situation of 14 Miles during the joint security discussions but nothing filtered about the agreement reached on this respect.

The presidential aide said the decision of the leadership of the two countries would do the best to promote peace and encourage any group with political grievances to use dialogue.

“South Sudan will never be a launching ground for hostile activities against any nation in the region. We will never be a host to hostile group. Political differences are always resolved through dialogues rather than through the use of violence approach”, he explained.

The two countries, he said, have agreed to not provide arms and training to non-state proxy groups.

(ST)

South Africa and Nigeria likely to hold borrowing rates steady to help economies

BD Live

South African Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO
South African Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago. Picture: PUXLEY MAKGATHO

Abuja/Johannesburg — The central banks of Africa’s two largest economies will probably leave borrowing costs unchanged on Tuesday after Nigeria’s economy probably contracted in 2016 and SA looks set to have had the slowest growth since 2009.

The South African Reserve Bank, led by governor Lesetja Kganyago, may leave the benchmark repurchase rate at 7% for a fifth consecutive meeting, according to all 20 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. All 16 economists in a separate Bloomberg survey said the monetary policy committee at the Central Bank of Nigeria, headed by governor Godwin Emefiele, would leave rates at a record of 14% for a third consecutive meeting when it announced its decision.

Setting interest rates in both nations was complicated for most of 2016 by above-target inflation and poor economic performance. Low metal prices, weak global demand and a drought probably cut expansion in SA to the lowest since a 2009 recession, according to government estimates. The Nigerian economy may have shrunk by 1.5% because of low oil prices and a fall in production, according to the IMF. This would be the first full-year contraction in more than two decades as government revenue was cut by half.

“We think they will hold rates,” John Ashbourne, an economist at Capital Economics in London, said by phone on Monday. “In both cases growth is low and inflation is higher than policy makers would like. But while it’s prices of petrol and food that are driving up inflation in SA, in Nigeria, it’s a weak currency.”

SA’s inflation quickened to a 10-month high of 6.8% in December as the cost of food surged. Price growth and the uncertainty of how US President Donald Trump’s policies will affect capital flows into emerging markets will be talking points at the monetary policy committee meeting, according to Jeffrey Schultz, a senior economist at BNP Paribas Securities in Johannesburg.

Inflation expectations

“Inflation expectations have been hovering close to 6% for quite some time now and they are going to want to see these numbers moderate quite significantly back toward that 5% level over the coming quarters to warrant any change in their view,” Schultz said by phone.

After its November meeting, the monetary policy committee indicated that whereas it could be nearing the end of a tightening cycle, the inflation trajectory was uncomfortably close to the upper end of the 3%-6% target range, and that could call for reassessing monetary policy. Food costs, higher oil prices and the value of the rand were risks to the outlook, Kganyago said in a January 17 interview.

According to IMF forecasts, the economies of both SA and Nigeria may expand 0.8% this year.

The Nigerian naira lost about one third of its value against the dollar after authorities removed a currency peg in June to allow the foreign-exchange rate to be market-determined. The central bank continued to block the purchase of dollars from the inter-bank market for the imports of 41 items it deems nonessential, which forced importers to buy dollars at rates about 30% more expensive on the black market, and caused inflation to accelerate to an 11-year high of 18.6% in December.

“We expect that inflation probably has peaked,” Ashbourne said. “The naira will have to be weakened further this year, but the fall is unlikely to be as strong as the one seen in 2016.”

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo said at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos last week that the disparity between the official and parallel exchange rates was concerning, and authorities were considering further adjustment to the foreign-currency policy to close the gap. While Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun has for months called on the central bank to reduce rates in order to support growth, Emefiele has insisted monetary policy alone cannot increase economic growth without measures such as boosting industrial output.

“Since the committee feels that its own ammunition is practically exhausted, we do not see a change in the policy rate until the expected marked decline in inflation,” Lagos-based investment bank FBNQuest said in an e-mailed note by authors including Gregory Kronsten, Olubunmi Asaolu and Chinwe Egwim.

Bloomberg

Nigeria – official figures say 236 killed in IDP bombing by air force

Premium Times

236 people buried after IDP camp bombing by Nigerian jet – Official

Injured people are comforted at the site after a bombing attack of an internally displaced persons camp in Rann, Nigeria January 17, 2017. MSF/Handout via Reuters

Injured people are comforted at the site after a bombing attack of an internally displaced persons camp in Rann, Nigeria January 17, 2017. MSF/Handout via Reuters

A total of 234 people were killed and buried after a Nigerian military jet mistakenly bombed a camp occupied by persons displaced by Boko Haram, an official has said.

The Chairman of Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State, Babagana Malarima, said 234 persons were buried in Rann village, which is in the local government, after the January 17 bombing.

The Nigerian military and the federal government have described the bombing as an accident and expressed solidarity with the victims. An Air Force investigation team has since arrived Borno to investigate the attack.

The military said the jet was meant to target suspected Boko Haram members when it accidentally bombed the camp.

Mr. Malarima said two other injured persons died in the hospital after they were flown by helicopter from the camp.

He disclosed this on Friday when the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, visited Rann.

Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai
Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai

The council chairman is the first government official to give a major casualty figure after the Doctors without Borders, MSF, announced on the day of the attack that 52 persons died and 120 others injured.

The MSF later said the death toll could be as high as 174.

“We buried 234 corpses in Rann after the bombs were dropped on the IDP camp,” Mr. Malarima said. “We have two others injured persons that died while in hospital in Maiduguri.”

Several of the wounded were flown by helicopter to Maiduguri due to the bad and insecure state of roads that link the Borno Capital with Kala-Balge, where the Rann camp is located.

The council chairman said the families of the dead persons as well as the injured ones are asking for compensation from the Nigerian government.

The victims, mostly Muslims, have not stated the terms of compensation. But in Islam compensation for manslaughter is paid to the tune of 100 camels or its equivalent, which could be about N40 million person.

Should the victims insist on payment by Islamic standard, which is sometimes used in parts of Northern Nigeria, the federal could pay as much as N9.5 billion compensation.

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