Friday, 5 November 2010

AMURT-Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team working with the community

Ananda Marga Mission is a socio-economic and spiritual organization registered in India in 1955 by Shrii Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar. In Kenya it was registered under society act in 1975 called “Ananda Marga Mission in Kenya”.
It’s socio-economic, humanitarian assistance, emergency relief and a development wing is called Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT) which was registered under NGOs act in 1993 in Kenya.

To see a liberated, happy blending, resourceful society framed with fraternity, love and mutual respect.

To help improve the quality of life for the poor and disadvantaged people of the world, and to assist the victims of natural and man-made disasters.

Through the support of USAID, AMURT undertook an HIV/AIDS program in Kenya called ‘KENYA INTEGRATED HIV/AIDS PROGRAM’ now in the 3rd Year of implementation.

Project Goal:
To prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS, and to provide sustainable services to those infected and affected by HIV.

Objectives, Targets and Approaches:
• To strengthen the capacities of partner organizations to implement the program on the ground that includes:
• To enable 3,000 OVC lead productive lives as accepted members of society, by strengthening local organizations and neighborhood committees to create sustainable support structures to oversee their development.
• To provide 1,000 PLWHAs with home based care and access to required services; and providing counseling and preventive education to their care givers and friends.
• To carry out mass education in abstinence and fidelity campaigns on 1,000,000 people, including 100,000 out-of-school youth, through public events, interactive drama and church congregations.
• To provide 1500 youth affected or infected by HIV with hope by offering peer education skills, vocational training and youth clubs.

The Key Program Activities Were:
• Identify OVCs for care within the community
• Train community resource mobilizers
• Mobilize OVC advisory council
• Help disseminate the OVC policy guidelines to the community
• Identify and train CBOs
• Strengthen existing OVC centers through our partners
• Provide vocational training for out of school OVCs
• Create a linkage through the community for adopting the OVCs
• Offer psychosocial support

Prevention and Awareness:
• Community sensitization and mobilization through peer educators prevention with positives and community leaders
• Dissemination of IEC materials on HIV/AIDS prevention information
• Strengthen community support groups for PLWHAs
• Identify and facilitate HBC activities in liaison with other stakeholders in the province
• Provide HBC logistics.
• Follow up and linkages of PLWHAs with existing health facilities and services.

Problem articulation:
The major challenges faced by the OVC and PLWHAs program after the 2nd
Year of implementation were that:
• The Care givers in all the centers had over expectation on the services that were to be provided i.e. they expected a food basket to be handed out every month, homes to be rebuilt, support for secondary schools and settlement of hospital bills. As a result some caregivers have opted to exit the program and join other organizations.
• Transport of OVCs to the Saturday Fun day program has been a major concern.
• The care counselors felt that the incentives they receive are inadequate. This has caused a huge drop out of care counselors.
• Sanitary towels supply remains a big problem for OVC girls above 12 years in all locations. We are looking forward to find a lasting solution to this by getting / approaching NGO’s providing this service in the province, Coast to assist in the coming year
• Lack of sufficient incentives for the volunteer OVC care counselors has been a persistent draw back. This has led to counselors dropping out of the program in Province.
• Vast distances exist in some centers (like Mbita) between the care providers and the PLWHAs. This has hampered service delivery especially during rainy season, given the lack of sufficient transport facilities.
• Low motivation of HBC providers. - The program has not had enough resources to adequately motivate its HBC providers, due to a tight budget. As a result, some of the providers have not provided services as expected as they have to take some time off to seek income elsewhere.
• District health facilities – Due to the geographical terrain in Nyanza, health facilities are not easily accessible to the people. Referred clients take long to reach referral sites and at most times become very expensive to the patients in need.
• Lack of enough resources by the program to cater for all needy PLWHAs in all the three centers. The program has had to lock out some needy PLWHAS due to constrained resources that can only care for 1000 PLWHAs. Some members of the community tend to feel left out.
• Shortages of ARV’s and drugs for O.I treatment in local public health facilities has left some patients in Suba and Rachuonyo going without this life saving medicines for days.
• Food insecurity has continued to be a problem in many PLWHAs households. This has been due to rampant poverty and famine in the region. Some patients ignore taking drugs on empty stomach.
To bridge this huge gap therefore certain intervention measures must be put in place by AMURT in mitigating and helping to provide lasting solutions. Further, as a phase out strategy the IGA component was envisioned and added to the program with an aim of economically empowering the beneficiaries by offering grants to start or expand sustainable business ventures. To this end, it was imperative to conduct a baseline study that would reveal critical social economic indicators of the beneficiaries` households prior to the start of the project.
The baseline study is still in progress.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

EAC Common Market Protocol: Pastoralists Paradise

For decades the livelihoods of pastoralists has been threatened with resource conflicts, environmental degradation and restricted cross border policies.
The common market would promote security along the borders of the affected countries and enhance food security thus accelerating development.

The nomads will enjoy better freedoms of movement across the borders and the protocol will enhance reconciliatory initiatives among warring communities.
The EAC Common Market Protocol would mitigate the risks associated with their frequent migration due to perennial climatic change and in search of resources for the Livestock thus reclaiming their former ‘lost paradise’ at least on paper thanks to land fragmentation mechanisms that have since taken place.

On the other hand the Governments of the EAC should consider funding economic initiatives in pastoral areas, in order to create jobs for the youths who have recently been disarmed and have exchanged their guns for peace.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Cattle rustling: A curse among the nomads

Cattle rustling are a curse that has dominance and practiced among the Nomadic tribes of East & Central Africa for ages now. The problem was exacerbated by the unstable neighboring countries constantly at war with each other or internal conflicts, thus leading to infiltration of illegal arms across the porous borders of the countries.

On various occasions the government of Kenya has attempted to disarm its own nomads but every time they re-arm once again. Joint disarmament of the nomads by Kenya & Uganda governments may bear fruits this time around.

Due to the disarmament recently undertaken by the Kenya government among the nomadic tribes of northern Kenya, majority of the youth who previously brandished the AK47 rifle as an ultimate guardian and sole source of earning their livelihoods, through hunting and cattle rustling among their fellow neighbors are now engaging in idol activities and frequent inter-village traditional dances and competitions.

Obviously this will distract them for a while but not long lasting and will also create a further catastrophic problem socially in the form of unprotected sex indulgence among the youth, leading to HIV & AIDS, thus threatening to wipe out the entire young generation if not checked though capacity building measures.

These young people need to be pre-occupied with income generating activities to help them permanently shift their focus and transition from the notorious cattle rustlers to good abiding citizens, channeling their bursting energies into productive activities in Nation building ventures though the Kazi Kwa Vijana-(KKV) programme in their respective locations.

Through KKV programme the young morans who have traded their guns with peace will instead engage in tree planting and other productive initiatives in their respective localities.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Morans want peace with their neighbours but MPs let them down.

Morans from Samburu East and Laisamis demanded to negotiate a permanent truce with Somali and Boran fighters at a separate meeting where “we would meet face to face with the men we fight and not elders residing in towns."