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KAJIADO, Kenya (PAMACC News) - The dead, the living and the unborn in Kajiado County are all crying for justice. The dead’s voices lament from the graves at the fear that any time, they can be exhumed from their final resting places. The living are crying for justice to own pieces of land they inherited from their fore-bearers. They talk in hushed voices, looking over their shoulders to know if the rich and powerful have come to evict them. They fear that when they die, they will have no place to be buried and their bodies thrown to the wild animals. The unborn don’t see a future where they can inherit a piece of land from their parents where they can construct a manyatta to call home. Their parents have been robbed of their inheritance by the politicians, the rich and public servants who are paid by their taxes. Such is the sad story of the Maasai community-the locals of Kajiado County in the Rift Valley. Kajiado measures 21,901 square kilometres and borders Nakuru, Nairobi and Kiambu to the north, Narok to the west, Makueni and Machakos to the east and Taita-Taveta and Tanzania to the south. The original inhabitants who are pastoralists have been reduced to squatters in the own land and majority of them have no land or home. Thousands of hectares of their land has been grabbed, exposing them to a life of penury, where they can’t even bury their dead. They wake up every day knowing that before the end of the day, some of them will be evicted from their land, arrested for being trespassers, hauled into security vehicles and transported to police cells. The elderly, youth, men and children are all targets of this brutality, meted out by land grabbers. Such are the realities that many families that are the original owners of Iloodo-Ariak group ranch in Kajiado, including those of Saitaga Ole Tumusi, Lioke Ole Sululu, Simon Ole Nandeya, Kilusu family and Jeremiah Shukuru. Tumusi lost his wife in 2017 and that is when he knew that the land he has for decades called his was owned by a different person, who was not a local there. “I brought the body of my wife to bury but was confronted by armed police who told me that I am a squatter and can’t bury my wife there. Community members came to my rescue by engaging the police in running battles as we laid to rest my wife,” Tumusi says. Since then, he has been evicted many times but his efforts to secure their land through petitions to court and National Land Commission (NLC) have not borne any fruit. Ole Sululu, aged 86, is a worried man as he has witnessed his community members being subjected to untold suffering on land that they inherited from their parents. “I was in the initial committee of members in 1979 when government said they wanted us to be given title deeds for ownership. But since most of us…
To the South Sudanese, sorghum is the closest to the king of crops. Its flour is used to make Kisra, flat bread made from sorghum flour and the most important meal for many communities. The flour is also used to make Asseeda – popular Sudanese porridge. Sorghum can be grown in a wide range of soils and is resistant and tolerant to salinity and poor soils where it can still produce grain.But coming closely behind sorghum is maize, a crop that has received even more prominence with the growth in urbanization. Maize used to prepare Dura, which is cooked maize and millet, and one can enjoy it with various traditional vegetables. As more Kenyans and Ugandans open businesses in the country, Ugali, a popular maize meal in Kenya has become an equally important meal in many homes in South Sudan. It can be eaten with roast meat, fish, chicken or vegetables. For years, farmers in South Sudan have grown low yielding non-hybrid maize varieties whose seeds are either distributed free of charge by humanitarian organisations or imported from neigbouring countries, sometimes without doing any trials to test their (seed) adaptability to local conditions However, this is bound to change with the release of four new hybrid varieties, which were developed by Luka Atwok Opio, a South Sudanese scientist.Since 2017, Opio has been working on identifying, selecting and carrying out trials of maize hybrid varieties to come up with the most suitable ones for different agro-ecological zones in the country. He received financial support of $500,000 from Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra) and the Netherlands. Agra is a non-governmental organization collaborating with African governments to achieve a green revolution in Africa through different programmes among them improving seed systems by training local breeders and supporting countries to develop seeds locally. A civil war that has lasted since 2013, South Sudan has remained a food deficit country. By January 2020, the World Food Programme reported that over 7.5 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance. Opio, worked with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, to identify first hybrid maize varieties. “We conducted experiments using proven scientific methods in different places including Yei Research Station, Palotaka Basic Seed Centre, Rajaf, Maridi, Lobone and Torit between 2017 and 2019, with focus on high yield and disease tolerant maize varieties,” said Opio. The sites were chosen based on their climatic conditions to produce higher yields. They later narrowed to four varieties with an average yield of between 3.96 tonnes to 4.8 tonnes per hectare, which is much higher compared to the best local non-hybrid cultivar that yields just one tonne per hectare under the same experimental conditions. The released hybrid varieties – PALOTAKA-2H, PALOTAKA-3H, NAMA-18H and PIITA-6H – are expected to improve yields and food security.“Maize hybrids have a substantial economic and yield advantage over open pollinated maize varieties,” said Dr Maurice Mogga of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in South Sudan. “With maize hybrids, farmers have the…
KAMPALA, Uganda (PAMACC News) - After a recent study discovered traces of dangerous viruses including cancer causing pathogens in shallow groundwater in Kampala slums, residents of Makerere 2 Zone C can finally breathe a sigh of relief as further studies indicate that deeper groundwater in their area could be safe for drinking.In collaboration with a community based organisation known as MAK H2O Project, scientists from IHE Delft Institute for Water Education together with their counterparts from Makerere University have been working with communities to find out the best way of managing their groundwater in a sustainable manner.“As a short term measure, we have been encouraging community members to boil the water from slum springs before drinking,” said Brian Lutaaya, the Chair – MAK H2O Project.Most of the water springs in Makerere 2 Zone C are just a few meters from pit latrines, a clear indication that the water, which appears to be sparkling clear, is likely contaminated with fecal matter. The water is fetched from an open earth surface. This makes it susceptible to all manners of waste contamination brought around by wind, rainfall runoff water and even malicious individuals.“We are fully aware of the dangers involved, but we have no alternative source of water for drinking and for domestic use,” Edith Kansiime, one of the area residents said during a field visit by UPGro delegation to the 2020 Africa Water Association (AfWA) International Congress.Taps in most parts of the slum went dry some years ago. The only available alternative is to buy mineral water from the shops, which is too costly for most of the slum dwellers.As a result, the surface water has exposed them to several disease causing pathogens, some which are life threatening.A recent study by IHE Delft Institute for Water Education in collaboration with scientists from universities in Uganda and Tanzania discovered traces of 25 different harmful viruses in surface water in the slums of Kampala and Arusha.The study, whose findings were presented at the Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna, Austria, found that most groundwater in the two slums contained traces of herpes viruses, poxviruses, and papilloma-virus. The latter could be one of the causes of different types of cancers in the region.Cancer is one of the lead killer diseases in the East African region, claiming about 100,000 lives every year.According to Lutaaya, the condition of spring water in Bwaise in Kampala, where the study was conducted is not different from the situation in lower Makerere slums.“To our knowledge, these viruses have never been found in groundwater before on such a large scale, perhaps because there has never been an in-depth analysis,” said Dr Jan Willem Foppen, one of the researchers.To support the communities, the scientists have been conducting experiments to understand the nature and safety of groundwater in these slums.In lower Makerere slum for example, the research scientists through the UKaid funded UPGro programme, in a project known as T-GroUP, the scientists have sunk two boreholes, one with a shallow depth…
YAOUNDE, Cameroon (PAMACC News) - The Cameroon government has announced plans to open up forest plantations across the ten regions of the country as a means to step up its natural forest protection and push the fight against climate change. The project that begins in 220 government says, will redress the challenges of dwindling forests and help mitigate the effects of climate change by creating tree plantations from where forest resources for official use will hence be tapped. The government and local council owned plantations will in the nearest future prevent the exploitation of existing natural forest, the government has announced. Cameroon’s Minister of forestry and wildlife Jules DoretNdongo made the announcement January 27, 2020 in Yaounde at the annual conference of ministerial department.The Minister said between 2012 and 2018, government spent over FCFA 4billion in the reforestation of degraded land. But the policy from 2020 will change with the creation of new tree plantations throughout the 360 local council areas in the country. “This tree plantation policy is in line with the new decentralization code just adopted in the National Assembly to empower local councils better fight against poverty and the fight against climate change,” Minister JuleDoretNdongo said. Working with local councils, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector, the government seeks to conserve indigenous forest by opening up new forest plantations that will be hence be used for timber exploitation and other income generating schemes. The decentralization reform in Cameroon will significantly boost development in the 360 local councils of the country and help in the sustainable development drive, he added. The new Decentralization code now see local councils getting three times the hitherto 10% of state budget for their local development one of which is the creation of tree plantations.The tree plantation creation reform is aimed at giving a new impetus to local development and the fight against illegal forest exploitation. “Apart from selling carbon stocks from such forest local councils will in the feature exploit such plantations to create jobs, reinforce resilience and of course better preserve their indigenous natural forest,” says Samuel Nguiffo, Director of the Centre for Environment, CED, in Yaounde. Environment experts says when local communities take over control of their environment, forest plantation and exploitation, they will not only improve their livelihood but curb the effects of climate change in their communities. “By creating local council tree plantations and forest, these communities are not only helping to fight poverty but also to combat global warming. They are also helping to reduce runoff water from the hills that causes floods and other climate change effects,” Nguiffo said. A decision by the government to suppress 10% of the annual forestry royalties (AFR) to local communities in 2010 robbed them of their major source of revenue, stalling development efforts, like providing benches to schools. Village authorities say the suppression of forest royalties handicapped their communities in no small way with many witnessing upsetting experience like studying in classrooms without benches amidst abundant forest resources in their…
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