Thursday, 5 November 2009

Nomads knowledge, triangulation & survival

Elang’ta-wuas boasts of a unique East African community spirit.

Deep in the sinuses of Kajiado, this tiny trading centre seats as if at the bottom of a soup bowl, surrounded by hills on all sides.

It is here that I met a young Masaai gentleman who has covered over 1,000 kilometres on foot in both Kenya and Tanzania, in search for pasture for his cattle, says James Shikwati

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Biliqo Bulesa Community Wildlife Conservancy.

Nairobi — Pastoralist communities in northern Kenyan are set to benefit from a multi-million-shilling tourism project after the local authority finally supported the establishment of community conservancies.

For many months now, clan rivalry in Merti Division of Isiolo District had delayed the funding of Biliqo Bulesa Community Wildlife Conservancy.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Debate: Microcredit – Is microfinance helping to reduce poverty?

No, says Aneel Karnani of Michigan’s Ross Business School
Yes, says Filipe Santos of international business school Insead

Round one
Microcredit does not work

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Microfinance – The Next Horace Greeley Moment

“What’s the difference between a for-profit and a non-profit?” I ask my class at UC Berkeley every year. The first answer is almost always “Non-profits are well-intended, for-profits are not.”

False, says Sean Foote

Friday, 31 July 2009

Beyond the Romance of Microfinance

In the course of starting a business based in Africa, I was referred to a former Silicon Valley CFO who had made enough money and now devoted his life to helping the world's poor says Magatte Wade, with Michael Strong...

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Monique's day at the altar

Agostino tied the knot with Monique.

The wedding celebrations took place at a quiet residence, overlooking the Nairobi National park and near Maasai lodge.

It was a typical mix of the cultures as Europe meets Africa.
The African traditional attires adorned the scene accompanied by traditional dances to usher in the newly weds.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The cure for Cattle Rustlers

Radio frequency identification (RFID) to keep track of cattle in Kenya, according to a Microsoft blog post.Could this be the cure for cattle rustling?It doesn’t have a great name – the Livestock Identification Tracking System..

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Nomads: They know no boundaries when it comes to pasture

Monduli's district pastoralists informed their District Commissioner Jowika Kasunga at the Monduli and Longido paternalists network (MVIWAMO) annual general meeting opening session last week that the Kenyan pastoralists invasion now needed government intervention.
They said they had local cross border cooperation with their Kenyan counterparts but now their "guests" are proving more aggressive and going somewhat too far

Dilemas of the ATEKER nation

The Ateker nation is an Itung’a-speaking group, bound by ethno-linguistic ties and practising nomadic pastoralism as the main livelihood activity.
The Ateker inhabit the borderland area straddling four countries – Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

They occupy the peripheral semi-arid and arid borders of their respective nation-states and are arguably the most marginalised peoples there.
Many modern-day states have to deal with the plight of nomadic pastoralist communities.
It has taken Kenya at least 45 years to date and it has still not come up with a policy on nomadism or pastoralism

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Gibe III dam project on Ethiopia’s Omo River

It is feared that if the project proceeds, there would be a radical reduction of inflow of water into Lake Turkana, since the Omo River provides 90 per cent of the total input of the lake. Two rivers, the Turkwell and Kerio, contribute much of the remaining 10 per cent

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bar & Bakery: NGO made in Heaven

My ‘contract' is in quotes. The manner in which some of these organizations will contract help is quite dubious. For you to run such an organization you need serious smarts, a gift I find several Kenyans have been born with.I seem to have crashed against a few in my time

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Community and me: Loita

Loita Safari Trekks has finally succumbed and joined the internet Welcome aboard...

Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)meeting in NY

Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)meeting in New York will do Pastoralists a great favor by stating boldly and rightly so that...“The government has ignored the livestock sector and when we try to tell them they don’t want to listen to us. Like now a lot of livestock has died because of the drought,” said Mr Ole Ondugo.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Journey through Shompole conservancy.

The conservancy is in Magadi division and can be accessed either through Loika gate at the southern end of Lake Magadi, or via the Olkiramatian conservancy, branching off at Daraja center, next to river Ewaso Nyiro .
Shompole lodge is at the end of Ngurumani escarpment and about 5 km from Lake Natron on the Kenya/Tanzania border.
The descent from the lodge is rather steep and gives way to plain grasslands, the play ground of the big five interspersed with bush land and level with the airstrip that is at times submerged during the rainy seasons.
We were greeted by zebras, but the sight that was most welcoming and adorable was the giraffe, towering above the rest in the Shompole group ranch.
The road through the conservancy is typical of all the parks in Kenya, dusty on dry weather and unbearably muddy on rainy conditions.
The lodge is a joint venture between an investor and the local community.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

wedding and a Maaasai dance

Oloibortoto, a remote and sleepy maasai village in Ngurumani, yesterday erupted in song and dance during the wedding ceremony at mzee Olentetu's manyatta.
it was all system go as the young and old joined together in their colorful regalia's for the occasion.
The traditional dances did not disappoint either.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Kenya ranked E. Africa’s most unstable economy

Written by Washington Gikunju

An instability index map of Africa.
March 26, 2009: Kenya is Eastern Africa’s most vulnerable country to political and social upheaval that is expected to arise from a long drawn-out global recession, a new report on the possible impact of the economic meltdown on global security indicates.

London-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) says the level of risk in East Africa’s biggest economy has been heightened by rapid population growth, high levels of inequality, and widespread poverty that is expected to deepen with the global downturn.

“A stalled constitutional review process, rampant corruption in government and a general breakdown in the rule of law has deepened Kenya’s exposure to social and political tension putting at risk the stability of the coalition government,” the EIU report says.

Kenya’s business leaders endorsed the report as a realistic reflection of the danger that the country faces in wake of incessant political bickering that has dominated the national agenda in the last one year as economic welfare declined.

“Last year’s post poll chaos sent a clear signal that the level of political risk in Kenya is higher than has been indicated. We finally realised that it is possible to descend into the chaos that have over the years dogged neighbouring states with disastrous economic results,” says Dr X N Iraki, a strategic management lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

Official statistics show that in the past 14 months, economic conditions have worsened for an estimated 17.5 million Kenyans or 46 per cent of the population, raising the country’s risk profile.

Civil unrest
Civil unrest that followed the disputed December 2007 presidential vote put Kenya on the world map and a recurrence of the violence is seen as the greatest threat to the country’s stability.

“Formation of a grand coalition government stemmed the crisis, but to prevent a repeat (or worse) requires settlement of long-term grievances, including land disputes, establishment of a new constitutional dispensation and an end to the culture of impunity,” says the EIU.

More than a thousand people were killed and 350,000 displaced in ethnic and political violence that followed the disputed presidential poll.

Ms Violet Barasa, a policy analyst with Africa Policy Institute, says Kenya’s problems are compounded by the fact that formation of the coalition government “merely saved lives, but lacked concrete plans on how to tackle the economic challenges.”

Other factors such as a raging famine — which has exposed an estimated 10 million to starvation — and the unfolding global economic crisis have pushed Kenya closer to the brink of political and social upheaval.

Most vulnerable
“Even before the onset of the global economic crisis, our economy was not at its best. The 2002-2007 growth did not trickle down to the masses adding to the embers to the smouldering fires in land and inequality,” said Dr Iraki.

“So far the grand coalition government has not taken any concrete measures to tackle the looming global economic hardships,” he said.

EIU has ranked Zimbabwe as the most vulnerable to political upheaval with an index score of 8.8.

The index measures vulnerability on a scale of zero (no vulnerability) to 10 (highest vulnerability).

Kenya, with a political instability index of 7.5, is ranked the 19th most vulnerable country, way ahead of neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania who are ranked 63 and 88 respectively.

South Africa, with an instability index of seven, is the 38th most vulnerable State while Nigeria is in the 43rd position.

The ranking is based on 15 key indicators based on what the report refers to as “underlying” and “economic distress” indices.

Somalia and Western Sahara, two African countries that have no functional governments are considered failed states and are not rated in the survey.

Nairobi CBD

The publication of the Economist’s findings comes only two weeks after Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta described the swelling number of unemployed youth as a time bomb waiting to explode.

Early this month, the government launched a Sh15 billion emergency programme aimed at creating about 300,000 jobs for the youth to tackle rising national security concerns.

The Political Instability Index developed by EIU is based on 15 social, political and economic indicators.

Of the 15, 12 represent “underlying vulnerability” pointers, which rank countries according to the level of inequality in their populations, strength of the state and governance, levels of social provision, history of labour unrest, ethnic fragmentation, regime type, public trust in political institutions, neighbourhood effects and history of unrest.

The other three “economic distress” indicators measure the level of development, growth in GDP per head and unemployment.

Low risk
Of the 165 countries surveyed, 27 (including Kenya) are considered to be in the “very high risk” category, 68 are in the “high risk” group while 53 have “moderate” risk of instability.

Only 17, almost all highly developed states, are rated as low risk.

According to the survey, Norway faces the lowest risk of political and social upheavals with an instability index of 1.2 followed by Denmark (2.2), Canada (2.8), Sweden (3.2) and Finland (3.2).

It is believed that a worsening of the world economic crisis will shrink demand for goods and services in the developed world, leading to job losses worldwide and deepening poverty for the most vulnerable.

This projection has seen warnings of dire social unrest come with increasing frequency.

Mr Dennis Blair, America’s new intelligence chief, says political turmoil from the global recession has replaced terrorism as the country’s biggest security threat.

He declared in a testimony before the US Senate last month that the primary near-term security concern of the US is the global economic crisis and its geopolitical implications.

“The longer it takes for the recovery to begin, the greater the likelihood of serious damage to US strategic interests,” he said.

Record highs
The world already had a taste of what may follow prolonged economic recession early last year when a number of countries erupted into turmoil as food prices rose to record highs rendering millions unable to feed themselves.

Food riots were reported in Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal, and only abated when international oil prices eased forcing down food prices.

Signs of agitation also emerged in Kenya late last year, after the price of maize meal shot to over Sh120 per two kilogram packet.

So far, two governments (Iceland and Latvia) have fallen as a result of the global economic crisis.

Dr Iraki says Kenya should take advantage of the current crisis to institute far-reaching political and economic reforms. “Without reforms, the fundamentals that led to the events of 2008 will remain and the possibility of future implosions too,” he said.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Relief food at last

On 22.3.09 Ngurumani received their most important guest the Hon. Prof George Saitoti, who happens to be their member of parliament.
The main reason for the visit?....distribution of government food relief, that unfortunately did not include bales of hay for the emaciated livestock herds.
The very day in Ngurumani was celebrated in pomp and color, deigned with the colorful Maasai Women robes of 'RED' every where, and of course accompanied with the kiondos,mifukos and bags of all shapes and sizes to collect the precious commodity, food relief, that composed of maize, beans, the now famous 5kg maize flour bags and some cooking oil.
Although Ngurumani is blessed with two flowing rivers(Entasopia and Oloibortoto rivers),only a few farmers have taken the initiative to engage in farming activities,mostly done through gravity irrigation.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Pastoralists conserve wildlife habitats to protect rare species

Olkiramatian should take heed lest they are left behind in the trend:
This article appeared in the Business Daily Africa.

March 2, 2009: The drive to boost earnings from tourism has seen a rise in the number of wildlife conservancies in the country as ranch owners and pastoralist communities strive to take advantage of free roaming wildlife on their land.

The new trend has seen the creation of five new wildlife conservancies in the last one year alone while more are in the pipeline.

While the numbers may appear small, they point towards new areas that entrepreneurs seek to make money and utilise land hit by constant droughts. The new conservancies are Keiwa, Suswa and Mailwa in the South Rift region and Enoonkishu and Naboisho in the greater Masai Mara area.

Their creation now brings to nine the total number of conservancies created in the last four years.

The rapid increase of the conservancies has mainly been driven by growth in the tourism industry in Kenya in the last five years and the need to mitigate changing land use in wildlife dispersal areas.

Tourist arrivals have increased, with 1.8 million visitors coming into the country in 2007 up from 866,000 in 2003. About three million are expected to visit the country by 2012, according to projections by the Kenya Tourism Board.

This has given rise to the conservancy boom as ranch owners and communities move to take advantage of the growth.

Conservancies are areas explicitly set aside for professional management of wildlife in a way that helps maintain their habitat and increases their numbers and species. Most conservancies are located in areas rich with free roaming wildlife which forms 60 per cent of the total wildlife population in the country.

Kenyan indigenous groups file complaint with AfDB on Ethiopian dam

2 March 2009-(credit to BIC)

Requestors argue that the Gibe III Dam is set to deplete Lake Turkana with dramatic impacts on downstream communities in Kenya, and in the absence of public consultation.

On February 4, Friends of Lake Turkana, a Kenyan organization representing indigenous groups in northwestern Kenya whose livelihoods are linked to Lake Turkana, filed a formal request with the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Compliance Review & Mediation Unit (CRMU) - the AfDB's internal accountability mechanism - to investigate and intervene in the Bank’s plans to finance the Gilgel Gibe III hydroelectric project in Ethiopia.

Gilgel Gibe III (known as “Gibe”) is part of a continuing series of projects on the Omo River and its tributaries in southwestern Ethiopia. Construction on the third portion of the project began in 2006, but the request for funding to the AfDB was only made recently. The project has become problematic for public funders because the Ethiopian government did not follow standard procedures in awarding the main contract to an Italian firm, Salini, without any bidding procedure. The World Bank has declined to offer financing because of this flaw, as has the Italian government. The European Investment Bank also seems to be leaning against any funding, on the same grounds. The AfDB’s procurement guidelines likewise prohibit it from funding the main contract, but the loan currently under consideration uses a loophole – financing through a sub-contract – to evade the rules.

With so many potential public funders turning away from the project, and with private financiers like J.P. Morgan Chase withdrawing support because of the financial crisis, the AfDB’s contribution becomes more important – even vital - if the project is to be completed.

Unfortunately, judgments about whether procurement rules have been violated do not fall within the CRMU’s mandate. The request filed by FoLT instead focuses on the impact of the project on Lake Turkana. The Omo River supplies roughly 80 percent of the water in the lake, which is the world’s largest permanent desert lake. The contemplated impact of the dam could reduce the lake’s depth, it is estimated, by between 7 and 10 meters. Such an impact would have serious repercussions on the chemical balance of the lake, which is highly alkaline, and therefore on the biodiversity supported by the lake. Lake Turkana hosts the world’s largest group of Nile crocodiles – over 20,000 – as well as many other species of fish, bird, hippopotamus, etc.

A serious impact on the lake would also have a serious impact on the riverine forest and the lands around the lake used for flood-recession agriculture. Most of the peoples living in the area are pastoralists who supplement their diet with seasonal cultivation; a damaged lake would seriously compromise their food security and way of life.

The Ethiopian government approved its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) on the project in July 2008, nearly two years after construction began, in a blatant violation of Ethiopian law. The ESIA barely acknowledges any impact on Lake Turkana, and provides unrealistically rosy scenarios to claim that the project will actually improve conditions at the lake, such as by “reducing evaporation” – indeed, if there is less water, there is less evaporation. Little effort has been made to consult with affected peoples, and no effort whatsoever has been made on the Kenyan side of the border.

Northwestern Kenya is one of the most arid and resource-deprived parts of Kenya, and conflict among its various people has been chronic. The impact of the Gibe Dam on Lake Turkana would very likely lead to increased violent conflict.

Although Ethiopia is chronically short of power, most of the power produced by this project would, ironically, be sold to Kenya. That power would be very unlikely, however, to benefit the peoples of northwestern Kenya, but instead go to the metropolitan areas such as Nairobi, further south. The arrangements between the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments have not been transparent, and there is now jostling in Parliament and the Kenyan coalition government to ascertain what has been agreed to and whether the interests of the people around Lake Turkana have been taken into account.

Friends of Lake Turkana is careful to acknowledge that while they are fighting for the interests of the people on the Kenyan side of the border, there are hundreds of thousands in Ethiopia who stand to suffer even more disruptive impacts. The Omo River Valley is populated by a very diverse assortment of indigenous groups, also prone to conflict over scarce resources. Consultations with them have been minimal. But the Ethiopian government’s record of repression, and new laws it has recently passed to further limit the activities of civil society groups, have effectively discouraged groups in Ethiopia from organizing explicit opposition. Nonetheless, expatriate Ethiopian groups, together with NGOs with an interest in the region, plan to file a request to supplement FoLT’s in the coming weeks that will outline in more detail the potential problems in Ethiopia.

The AfDB board was originally scheduled to discuss the project on February 25, but that date was delayed shortly after FoLT’s request was filed. There is now no indication when the project will be formally considered, but efforts are being made within the Bank, both through the CRMU and through other contacts, to slow down the process and make sure that adequate consultations and studies are done before any decision is made.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Market squeeze

The market crunch pinch has finally been felt in the remote town of Magadi. The GIANT Magadi soda plant, which has enjoyed a monopoly status for such a long time, has silenced its engines and the white powdery smoke,that bellows and rises above the bright HOT Magadi sky is no more.
Workers have been sent on compulsory leave,this will have major repercussion to the economy of the area as the Magadi Soda Co. is the major employer to the all Maasai populations,either in contractual capacity or permanent basis.
Will we also be witnessing a bail out in Kenya soon?

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Best &Worst

I guess it is not too late to reflect on the decisions i made in the past two years with Lorika as a social-entrepreneur.I will be candid with the reflections as much as possible.

Worst mistakes:

1.Failed to understand market environment (especially nonprofit fundraising)
2.Did not learn from other people's failures (only successes - wish there were a book on failures in social entrepreneurship?)
3.Unable to secure critical feedback (only received positive feedback, later learned business plan unrealistic)
4.Being too "corporate-y" in the beginning -- designing frameworks, plans, etc. 5.Expecting too much from the beneficiaries without giving them proper time and training.

Best decisions:

1.networking with people smarter than and different than me.
2.Carefully and thoughtfully planning and structuring all activities and business processes.
3.Sought lots of feedback on idea
4.Communicating in simple yet compelling ways: things can actually be interesting

I hope to be kind to myself in future.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Sunshine days

The weather never changes at Ngurumani.It is ever HOT,HOT and HOT again.It can be chilly and overcast on few occasions(very few this year).From the minute of waking up to the getting onto (because it is too hot to get into) the beds, under the mosquito nets with the fans on full blast(for the lucky few), it is hot.
Rantana and Kapure complained that you started sweating the minute you stepped out of the shower,the first time they came visiting.
It's hard to describe the heat when you are new in the area.Heat that is almost tangible.
But in the moments of cold days,Caro,a friend who came visiting from Canada woke up wrapped in blankets when she returned back home and she longed for the enveloping, sensual, all-consuming heat of Ngurumani.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Ngurumani diary through the eyes Meditines Ltd

Ngurumani is part of the Olkiramatian group range and is situated 160km from Nairobi. Climatic conditions in this area are moderated by the presence of forests between the Ewaso Nyiro River and Ngurumani escarpment making the conditions within the scheme less harsh, unlike the rest of Magadi division where the temperatures are very high (quiet unbearable to most visitors). The Iloodokilani pastoral Maasai still inhabit the grassland plains.

The most serious threats to the welfare of these Pastoralists and Nomads include recurrent drought (now being experienced), famine and diseases, lack of processing and marketing facilities for livestock and animal products.

Ineffective and unequal bargaining power, due mainly to the dominant role of middle men and large scale traders and coupled with the lack of exploitation of alternative income-generating activities.

Lorika Foundation, a developmental led initiative of Oldonyo Laro Estates, by establishing a micro finance-Meditines and offering business trainings within Ngurumani, identified the need and undertook to bridge the gap emanating from lack of entrepreneurial knowledge and initial seed capital for new business start ups among the community members of the Olkiramatian group ranch.

By partnering with the non-governmental organizations, the ‘culturally defined’ institutions, and numerous self-help groups which are active in the area, Meditines makes local individual actions explicit in relation to surrounding actors; environmental conditions and society at large, it takes into account the social cultural norms and values, leadership structures, elements of conflict, educational standards and networks.

These factors, combined with the element of time, bring in a perception of choice, change, expectations and strategy.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Thoughts about "A Day On"

The ETOlutionist

President Obama’s call for a “Day On” in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. is to be commended. This year was the largest turnout ever with more than 12,000 service projects registered.

Everyone seemed to want in–understandable since this is something we can feel good about – helping others, using time off to do good. The intention is good but in the end – intentions are not what are most important in making a difference. To have the most impact –whether through volunteering time or donating money –it is critical to understand the mission, goals and strategy of an organization and how the organization will work to achieve its intended outcomes. Unfortunately, this information is not often readily available, placing the onus on individuals to request it – demand it – before committing time or money to a cause.

Here are five questions to help you obtain this information and make sure your time/money is being well spent… more rewarding than a cup of coffee.

  • What is the mission of the organization and/or its programs?
  • What indicators are used to measure its progress toward achieving its goals?
  • Does the organization have metrics, reports, or some form of evidence to demonstrate success?

  • What impact has the program had on the population that it serves?
  • What are some examples of recent adjustments to programs and/or services that have helped to improve performance?

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Will nomads ever get a fair deal?

Does this ring a bell?, got it off another blog, I thought it was worthy a good read).read on....

It’s hard to look forward to something as difficult and sad as Medicine Sans Frontieres top ten list of global humanitarian crises. I noted last year that this appears to be the season for top ten lists, and that these lists range from the positive to the extremely disconcerting. MSF’s list is certainly discomfiting, but it’s also a very helpful reminder of what stories we should be paying attention to.

Two of MSF’s top ten focus on Somalia and the ethnically Somali portion of Ethiopia. MSF reports a massive refugee crisis in Somalia, connected to ongoing instability and violence. Unfortunately, MSF is able to provide little help within Somalia - the situation is simply too dangerous for their staff. Three staff were killed by a roadside bomb in Kisamayo, and MSF pulled its international staff out of the country in early 2008 - their local staff continues to work despite a high degree of risk.

Eastern Ethiopia, a region that’s majority Somali-speaking, is facing a severe food crisis. Many of the people who live in this region are pastoralists. An ongoing conflict between the Ethiopian government and rebels have made much of the region inaccessible, which is preventing herds from reaching water and food. Here MSF is constrained from acting not so much by violence, but by an uncooperative Ethiopian government, which has put major hurdles in front of the organization and which forced an MSF project to close in the region.

(While I’ve complained in the past about how little attention is paid to Somalia, the rising threat of piracy has helped attract some attention to that country’s problems. But news from the Somali region of Ethiopia is almost nonexistent - try a search for “Jijiga”, the regional capital, on Google News, or within the New York Times, where most results are from the second World War. A paper from Dr. Abdi Aden Mohamed - whose views are clearly anti-Ethiopian and pro-independence for the region - gives a sense for how isolated this region is: “… 3. There is no electricity any where in the region and most of the people in the region have never seen a Television or Cinemas. 4. No communications like postal services, and most of the people have not seen or used up to now telephones, faxes etc., because there aren’t any in the region. 5. There are no roads in the region except dirty dusty ones and trails created by the nomads and their herds.”

The difficulty MSF is having in reaching Somalia and the Somali region aren’t just coincidental - the disconnection of these areas helps explain why they are in such dire straits. Political and military strategist Dr. Tom Barnett offers the maxim “disconnection defines danger”. Countries that are tightly integrated into global communication, financial, trade and military systems tend not to fail catastrophically in meeting the needs of their people. The idea is not unrelated to Dr. Amartya Sen’s assertion than functioning democracies don’t experience famines - they’re able to access markets and seek help from other nations to avert this sort of catastrophe. (If you’re as disconnected as North Korea, you’ll find your neighbors using food aid as a carrot to try to coax better behavior from you.) This helps explain why Burma, still recovering from Cyclone Nargis, makes MSF’s list. It’s not a surprise that MSF hasn’t been able to send international staff into Burma - the military government has refused to issue visas, leaving the task of providing critically needed medical care to local staff.

I’d always assumed that MSF’s purpose in publishing this list was to fundraise. Oddly, there’s no link to giving information on their site - if you’re in the US and want to support their important work, you can find a link on the Doctors Without Borders site. The idea of disconnection suggests another reason - MSF can’t work in many of the places on their top ten list without better security for their doctors, or international support in obtaining visas. Without more “connectivity” - in Barnett’s sense - these are largely crises they have to watch from afar and help with only indirectly. Top ten lists, whatever else they’re good for, are a way of directing attention, and attention is a necessary precursor to connection.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

South Coast Experience-Mombasa

Msambweni town is situated in Msambweni Division, Msambweni Constituency of Kwale District (recently elevated to Msambweni district). Msambweni Division is a semi-rural area approximately 60 kms south of Mombasa town. The area relies on small-scale farming, fishing and small businesses for livelihood. The community is almost 100% Muslim and most are practicing and attend the mosque. The community is mainly composed of the Digo (a sub-tribe of the Mijikenda peoples) and the population is approximately 211,814 people with 92,594 households (Census Report 1999).

The area being in the south coast, is one of Kenya’s main tourist destination locations, hence an intersection of different cultures. Msambweni town lies on the main Mombasa-Lunga Lunga highway, which connects to Tanzania, therefore a destination to many truck drivers. Msambweni Partners NGO which operates and conducts its activities in MaryAnna house in Bomani village-Msambweni (thanks to Anna Witham for her generosity), was faced with the challenge of empowering the community members through testing of new concepts-participatory methodologies and other tested alternatives through promotion of self-help groups in the area. Although the promotion of CBOs as instruments of community empowerment is a relatively new concept. Admittedly, there has always been community development initiatives promoted through self-help community groups such as women and youth groups among others. However, the tradition in the past tended to see these groups as mere conduits for channeling ‘development handouts’. It was believed (and still remains a fact) that distribution of such (otherwise meager) ‘development tokens’ through groups (rather than to individuals) is more cost-effective (Mulwa.F. 2005:137).
According to Obaidullah Khan (1980:75-76), CBOs also have the important task of acting as channels for government and non-governmental attempts at development. It is the CBOs that must link with outside organizations to enable the flow of input and must mobilize the local people, so that they can play their proper role in community development.

CBOs provide a basis for development ‘’in so far as they are building an organization and bringing the community together around mutual concerns and needs’’, if started and supported with the right motive, have the potential to become effective vehicles for community empowerment and people’s participation in decision-making on matters that affect them.
They create an opportunity for the otherwise powerless sections of the community to acquire collective bargain and solidarity necessary for lobbying for change in public policy in their favor.
Among the first to be formed was Msambweni Partners Self-Help group (MPSHG). MPSHG was formed with an initial membership of 60 members in 2000 with aim of providing self-employment to its members through the establishment of IGAs, to acquire skills for its members to initiate small-scale micro enterprises and uplift the general economic welfare of members.
The group took about three years to settle down and reach the performing stage. Many original group members left the group in the various development stages and finally after a big struggle a manageable number of 30 members remained. MPSHG was formally registered with the Ministry of Culture and Social Services in 2003 in Msambweni.
This group has since initiated and established three (3) IGAs namely, Mwarubaini Soap making, Matt weaving and Basket making, and a Tree Nursery from where various seedlings are planted and sold when ready to various individuals and groups within the division. Several capacity building training workshops have been conducted for the group by their established networks.
They have an office, good record keeping and maintain two bank accounts. The group members meet every Wednesday to receive their merry-go round contributions and review the revolving fund activities.
Every Friday afternoon the group meets in the offices, sometimes to prepare the soap but mostly at the seedling farm for watering and to review the activities......more to continue

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Nomads challenge

Here i am to rave, rant, Promote and provide knowledge management skills and expertise to improve productivity and efficiency on development matters that affect the marginalized nomadic pastoralists.
Nomads are a marginalized group in the modern World. They are not well understood, and most of their requirements not a priority, if our Kenyan context is anything to go by. But the famous winds of change are now sweeping across the Nomadic plains.
In many pastoralist areas, the irreversible process of privatization has already begun. Driven by population pressure in the humid highland areas, agricultural communities have already taken large areas of the sub-humid plains that were originally grazed by pastoralist communities, pushing the pastoralists to the drier regions.
Commercial developers are also taking advantage of the low land prices in ASAL areas to buy up huge properties for industrial and other developments.
These new settlers have been enabled to do this by the subdivision of the previously communally owned land which has created individual or group ownership of land with the option to sell.

The most serious threats to the welfare of Pastoralists and Nomads include recurrent drought, famine and diseases, lack of processing and marketing facilities for livestock and animal products.
Ineffective and unequal bargaining power, due mainly to the dominant role of middle men and large scale traders and coupled with the lack of exploitation of alternative income-generating activities.

The area of grazing land available to most Pastoralists groups has reduced greatly in the last 100 years, while the population size has increased during the same period.

Analysis of the carrying capacity of Pastoralist areas shows that, most, if not all of them can no longer support the populations that are living there.

Ways of dealing with this problem include among others, changes in the ways of life ‘Pastoralism’ and adapting to the emerging options.....more to follow