Sunday, October 28, 2012

Researchers use mobile phones to show map of malaria spread

A pioneer mobile phone research to map the spread of malaria in the country has shown the disease is moving from danger zones like Lake Victoria and Coast areas to central highlands like Nairobi.
Carried out between June 2008 and June 2009 researchers from Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Wellcome Trust Research Programme, Harvard School of Public Health and six other institutions said the findings can be used to fight malaria in the country.
“The analysis provided in the journal ‘Science’ shows how we might use this information to mitigate and prepare areas subjected to the highest imported infection risk like Nairobi,” Dr Abdisalan Noor from KEMRI says.
The research mapped every call or text made by each of 14, 816, 521 Kenyan mobile phone subscribers to one of 11, 920 cell towers located in 692 different settlements and every time an individual left his or her primary settlement, the destination and duration of each journey was calculated.
This way the research didn’t factor only on information about the location of mosquitoes that carry malaria parasite but also behavior of people who can be infected through resident's probability of being infected and the daily probability that visitors travelling to particular areas would become infected.
An online press release by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) says the study enabled the researchers to build a map of parasite movements between 'source' areas like coast and lake Victoria area which mostly emit disease, and 'sink' areas like Nairobi, which mostly receive disease.
"As Kenya begins to succeed in reducing malaria transmission in some areas but not others, cell-phone mapping of human movement between high and low-risk regions becomes a valuable planning tool," Professor Bob Snow, KEMRI-University of Oxford-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme said.
"Since many infected people have no symptoms, they can unintentionally carry the parasite during their travels and infect hundreds of others," he adds.
Lead researcher Prof Caroline Buckee who is an HSPH assistant professor of epidemiology, say the pioneer research through the geographic spread of the disease will understand the spread of malaria to improve traditional approaches to malaria control, which involve focusing on reducing disease in particular areas, are not sufficient.
USAID official training locals on net use
“The information available from this research will help public health officials decide where and how to control imported cases of malaria. For instance, official could send text message warning to the phones of people travelling to high risk areas, suggesting that they use a bed net,”  Prof Buckee says.
According to Buckee, Kenya was chosen as the subject of this study because its level of malaria prevalence is very geographically varied, it has excellent data on the disease’s spread, and nearly all Kenyans have cell phones.
The same method of harnessing mobile data was copied from Haiti to map how people where moving around after earth quake.
Malaria kills about 1 million people each year and threatens 40 million globally. Of those affected, 95 per cent are children under five in sub-Saharan Africa, report said.
© Manuel Odeny,  2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Annan, Bensouda visits show West is meddling in Kenyan internal affairs

Fatou Bensouda
By Mwangi Wilson Murimi
Recent visits to Kenya by the 2008 post-poll chaos chief mediator Kofi Annan, and the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda raise eyebrows. The oddity of some of Annan and Bensouda’s remarks during their visits raise even more eyebrows!
When Annan visited the country early this month he made an outburst that Kenya risked suffering a diplomatic entanglement with the West if either Uhuru or Ruto were elected as president.
This was a statemnet ran against the political freedom of the Kenyan people from whom the legitimate authority of choosing their leaders is derived. It was in fact a flagrant infringement into sovereignty of the country.
While he was justified as the chief mediator in the 2008 post-poll chaos to visit the country and assess the progress of the coalition government, it was competently erroneous for him to flagrantly discredit the candidacy of the two.
Additionally during his visit Annan comment on judiciary, one of the most reformed arms of the coalition government. There has been a general feeling that the comments could have been an inducement for the Kenyan courts to give a verdict that suits the stand of the West on the Uhuru-Ruto candidacy.
The comment must not be taken seriously since the same judiciary has goofed in the recent past in what can be termed as judicial activism by removing the ban on Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) which has been discredited with the recent past by chaos.
There is also a general feeling in part of the country that Chief Justice Willy Mutunga sides with some political class under the reform agenda.
This same feeling, which can’t be set ignored even though it’s a long shot claims Annan on his meeting with Prime Minister Raila Odinga behind closed door meeting talked on issues of the forthcoming elections and not about the coalition government.
Now the recent meeting by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to visit 2007/08 PEV hotspots and seek cooperation on evidence in Hague cases from the government though good got muddled by her statement like Annan.
In her press statement she spoke of the politicization of the ICC, and exonerated the court from claims of persecuting Kenya or finishing certain tribes.
Bensouda also became a subject in the mouth of Kenyans after her remarks that the ICC would not adjust its calendar to allow the participation of Ruto and Uhuru in the forthcoming elections scheduled for March year didn’t augur well with some Kenyans .
The international community must respect not only the sovereignty of the Kenya but also the right of the Kenyans to exercise their political freedom in choosing leaders.
Although both Annan and Bensouda may be black they work for West backed institutions like UN and ICC who often intervene when West interest are threatened by developing countries.
Like the current escalating cold war between five permanent members of the Security Council on fundamental issues like nuclear arms race, Arab spring, green energy and the rise of China.
China’s economic reputation with bilateral trade with Africa (including Kenya) has irked the West which is sinking in economic crisis which can be used by UN and ICC to meddle with Kenyan elections to bring in West friendly nations.
This is why allegations that the ICC could be used as a tool to settle political scores between Kenya and the West by entrenching a West-Friendly government should not be ignored..
The writer studies communication and media at Maseno University

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Samburu beading story on girl child abuse aired on NTV, KTN sad

By Mwangi Wilson Murimi
Two news features aired on NTV and KTN about the young girls beading culture among the Samburu were shocking. They unearthed the distressing plight of the girl child, especially in the largely unlettered pastoralist communities.
The fact that humiliation, mistreatment and castigation of the girl child continues in the country in this century is a clear justification that marginalization of pastoral communities must cease and such communities must be given equal access to not only formal education but also national protection from harmful cultures.
It is disquieting to come to terms with the agony that the Samburu girls undergo due to the community’s adherence to the antiquated culture of morans beading young girls to later on subject them to sexual torture.
It’s very disheartening that, girls as young as 9 years old are subjected to sexual torture by Samburu Morans with the full knowledge of the rest of the community. In fact, under the Samburu culture the mother of a beaded girl build her a hut where Moran comes to have unprotected with the girl. Even more worrisome, the same girls are treated as outcasts when they conceive under the hands of the morans.
The morans are at liberty to immediately dump the pregnant girls leaving them at the mercy of fate since the community is not willing to accept any girl who becomes a mother before undergoing the horrific Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)!
 Local quacks then find an easy extortion cartel by conducting crude abortions that are not only painful but which also put the lives of the young girl at risk.
And in complete disregard of the importance of life, girls who by any chance give birth undergoing the mandatory FGM are forced to discard their babies into the bush to be feasted on by wild animals.
Ironically, the two features came on the very day when the rest of the country was celebrating the county’s heroes and heroines. It beats logic for the country to celebrate economic and political gains made through self rule after the liberation of the nation when some of our ethnic communities continue practicing harmful practices such as the beading among the Samburu, forced abortions and genital female mutilation!
The government must institute development of marginalized pastoral areas to ward off these disgusting practices that have continued to drag us behind in attaining vision 2030 and the millennium development goals.
Emphasis must be made in funding the education of members of the pastoral communities. Non governmental organizations (NGOs) and human right groups must also cease to be extortion cartels for international funds. They must be on the forefront in pushing for the development of such communities since they are also entitle to formal education and protection from harmful practices.
(The writer is a fourth year media student at Maseno University.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Libya: New evidence shows Gaddafi, Mutassim were murdered by Misrata militias

A man holds a picture of the slained former Libya strong man Muarmar Gadaffi in Tripoli soon after his death.
Human Rights Watch in new evidence has blamed Misrata based militias for war crime for murder of former Libya dictator Muammar Gaddafi, his son Mutassim and 66 other Libyans on October 20 last year.

The evident is set to put into question the Libyan government official account that the two as well as all others who perished at the scene, died during fierce crossfire.

In a 50 page report titled Death of a Dictator: Bloody Vengeance in Sirte the human rights watchdog interviewed families of victims, survivors of the Gaddafi’s convoy and officers in opposition militias who were at the scene.

The report also reviews ‘a large number of video recordings made by opposition forces on their cell phones, some of which show captured detainees at the site of the final battle.”

“Video footage shows that Muammar Gaddafi was captured alive but bleeding heavily from a head wound, believed to have been caused by shrapnel from a grenade thrown by his own guards that exploded in their midst,” HRW says in an online website statement.

The evidence discredits the Libyan government’s and militias claim that Gaddafi and his son died in a cross. It also discredits the widely circulated You Tube video of the former dictator half naked and lifeless body being loaded in ambulance.

“In the (new evidence) footage of Muammar Gaddafi (he) is severely beaten by opposition forces and stabbed with a bayonet in his buttocks, causing more injuries and bleeding,” HRW says in evidence of torture of former Libyan leader before his death.

The evidence also confirms that Mutassim Gaddafi was also captured alive at the scene of the battle and his film in Misrata as he smokes cigarettes and drinks water while engaging in argument with militias was different from his body which was alter paraded on streets with a throat wound showing sign of torture.

“Our strongest evidence for these executions comes from the footage filmed by the opposition forces, and the physical evidence at the Mahari Hotel, where the 66 bodies were found,” said Peter Bouckaert, Emergencies Director at HRW says.

HRW say that immediately after the killing they reported the matter to National Transition Council (NTC) for full investigation and accountability has been dragging its feet to start an inquiry.

“Libya’s challenge to bring armed militias like Misrata militias under control and end their abuses is by investigation the mass executions of October 20, 2011,” Bouckaert says.

HRW now calls International Criminal Court (ICC) which investigates and prosecutes war crimes committed by all sides in Libya after February 15, 2011 to come in if the Libyan authorities are not able or willing to investigate or prosecute.

© Manuel Odeny, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dubai based Jumeirah Restaurants serving South Asia cuisine enters Kenya, East Africa market

Kenyan hotel and tourism industry have got a new player after the Dubai based Jumeirah Restaurants signed a licensing agreement with Global Hotels Management Africa to bring the Noodle House brand in the market..

The deal will see seven Noodle House Restaurants opening in the country over the next five years with the first opening it’s door in Nairobi early next year followed by a location in 2013 followed by a location in Mombasa

The move is set to tap into the Kenya tourism market through the Noodle House brabd which already operated in 16 countries globally.

The entry follows an agreement signed between Phil Broad, Managing Director of Jumeirah Restaurants LLC, and Masood Hashim, CEO of Global Hotels Management Africa Ltd.

In a press statement the two companies say the agreement will be key in growing the Noodle House brand in Kenya and East Africa region and has been urged as a response to a growing demand for great quality restaurants in the market and that the noodle house sits perfectly in the casual dining segment of the territory.

Noodle House serves delicious South East Asian cuisine in an informal yet stylish environment that takes inspiration from the food and nightlife of exciting cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Bangkok and Jakarta.

"I have had the pleasure of experiencing Kenya on numerous occasions and we are excited about taking the noodle house brand to this dynamic country. The partnership with Global Hotels Management Africa Ltd is another significant step forward in the implementation of our international growth strategy,” Phil Broad said.

Broad added that the collaboration will provide the Dubai based hotel with an opportunity for its worldwide expansion plans of their home-grown brand since Global Hotels is the perfect partner to develop and operate the brand in Kenya.

Masood Hashim CEO of Global Hotels Africa LLC said that they are excited to take Noodle House brabd to East Africa through Kenya as there is achance for, “significant growth opportunities in Kenya and the noodle house fits in extremely well with our planned growth strategy.”

Hashim says they have previously worked with Jumeirah Restaurants on other projects and have been delighted with the strong support that they have provided to open and operate this wonderful brand.

The Dubai based luxury hospitality company which is owned by Dubai Holding was started in United Arabs Emirate since 2002 and now operates in eight countries globally and is set also enter Russia, Lebanon, Great Britain, and Bahrain.

© Manuel Odeny, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I only have one wife- Machage

Kuria Member of Parliament and Roads Assistant Minister Dr Wilfred Machage has said he has only one wife and hasn’t divorced her as claimed in a section of the media.

Machage who was speaking when he hosted Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka in his back yard during his two day campaign which ended on Friday termed the allegations as false and planted by his political adversaries.

“I have only one wife and I have not divorced her for anybody and the unfounded claims are set to tarnish my name by detractors,” Machage said during a rally at Kegonga area in Kuria.

During the visit by the VP, Machage’s wife was at their rural home to welcome the visitors.

Machage’s statement comes after it was written online that he had divorced his wife and is planning to marry former Royal Media Services reporter Angela Boke who now works for a local NGO in Migori County.

Machage added that Kenyans should not pay attention to the claims which are un-founded and lack credibility as he only has one wife saying his political detratcors might have instigated the rumours.

Locals say the claim has been politically instigated as Boke is the sister of Dennitah Ghati a Women Representative aspirant in Migori County on an ODM ticket and is set to tarnish her image and Machage’s reputation among electorates.