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Mandera cry over roads

The Star

Mandera town taxi operators want the county government to improve the roads.

Speaking to the Star yesterday, Taxi Owners Association Equity Branch chairman Hussein Abdullahi said they are ready to obey the new by-laws on condition that the roads are car-friendly.

“We are ready to pay the new parking fee in town but led us see the money improve our roads,” he said. The Mandera county assembly increased parking fee from Sh300 to Sh500.

Hussein said they renew driving licences in Garissa, Wajir or Nairobi because there is no Kenya Revenue Authority office in Mandera. He said the cost of fuel is also high in the town.

Mandera Central and Mandera North sub-counties lead in high divorse rates

The star  “Divorce Rate Blamed for Child Neglect”


HIGH divorce rate has been blamed on cases of child neglect within two sub-counties in Mandera county. Subcounty’s children’s officer Joseph Kibuthia Mburu said Mandera Central and Mandera North sub-counties lead in high divorse rates.

“We have a high rate of divorce in these two sub-counties because once a man divorces his wife, she is left with children while the husband marries another wife,” he said. Mburu was speaking to the Star on the phone from Elwak town in Mandera county.

He said more than 57 per cent of cases received in his office are related to child neglect. Mburu said elders continue to preside over divorse cases especially where a child is affected. “Some cases that should be taken to the law courts are handled so casually under a tree by the elders. Offenders are only fined a goat or two,”he said.

“You’ve Made a Wager of Our Future”: Somali Youth Activist Pleads to U.N. Summit for Climate Action

Somali youth climate activist Marian Osman addressed the main plenary at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. “There’s a Somali proverb that goes: a mere finger can’t obscure the sun,” Osman said. “You cannot hide the truth by deception; as any one of the thousands whom are in need in Somalia and the Philippines this week could tell you, no amount of political stalling can hide the fact that a climate crisis is here.” Earlier this month, a deadly cyclone slammed the Puntland region of Somalia, wreaking havoc on an already vulnerable population.

A lesson for Mandera County to learn from Bangladesh

Story by : Mark Tran
Healthcare in Bangladesh soars despite widespread poverty, study shows

Bangladeshi women hold key to success as infant mortality plunges and life expectancy climbs to 68.3 years, says Lancet

The empowerment of women and the reach of NGOs have contributed to Bangladesh’s remarkable success in healthcare, which has included significant improvements in the survival of under-fives, immunisation coverage and tuberculosis control, according to the Lancet.
The achievements are in spite of low spending on healthcare, a weak health system and widespread poverty. Bangladesh’s health success has come despite its low gross domestic product of $101.9bn. The nation of 153 million people ranks in the lowest income group of countries, on a par with neighbours Nepal and Cambodia.
Yet, Bangladesh’s life expectancy is superior to that of other countries in the region, except Nepal. Bangladesh’s infant mortality, under-fives mortality and maternal mortality rates are also better than other countries in the region. Bangladesh is ahead of Pakistan in all education and health indicators. But there are caveats. Despite improved survival rates, nearly half of children in the country have chronic malnutrition, a problem shared with India, which also has a high prevalence of child and maternal malnutrition.
“Over the past 40 years, Bangladesh has outperformed its Asian neighbours, convincingly defying the expert view that reducing poverty and increasing health resources are the key drivers of better population health,” said the report’s co-leader, Professor Mushtaque Chowdhury, from Brac, a Bangladeshi NGO. “Since 1980 maternal mortality has dropped by 75%, while infant mortality has more than halved since 1990, and life expectancy has increased to 68.3 years – surpassing neighbouring India and Pakistan.”
Progress in infant, child and maternal mortality has been particularly striking, with an unprecedented reversal in the number of deaths among girls compared with boys. Maternal mortality was reduced from 574 deaths per 100,000 livebirths in 1991 to 194 deaths in 2010.
Tuberculosis treatment is another success. Through mass deployment of community health workers, the number of people cured rose from less than 50% to more than 90% – among the highest in the world. Another is contraceptive use. By recruiting female health workers to deliver door-to-door family planning services, Bangladesh has achieved high (62%) contraceptive prevalence and a dramatic fall in birth rates, from an average 6.3 births per woman in 1971 to 2.3 in 2010 – a rate unparalleled in other countries with similar levels of development.

Not all health indicators are positive, particularly child malnutrition. The rates of underweight in children from the poorest families fell from 59% in 2004 to 50% in 2010. Even in the wealthiest quintile, 21% of children were underweight in 2010.
The data underlines the complexity of malnutrition, where factors range from poverty and hunger, low rates of breastfeeding, inadequate care and complementary feeding, and recurrent infections. Paradoxically, there is a rising incidence of obesity, a phenomenon noted elsewhere in poorer countries, including China and India.
The Lancet attributes Bangladesh’s success to a “pluralistic” health system pulling in government and NGOs that emphasised the role of women in delivering action on family planning, immunisation, oral rehydration therapy, tuberculosis and vitamin A supplementation. The role of gender equity, including the widespread education of girls, was noted in the report.
“Perhaps the most powerful strategy for health was the country’s distinct acknowledgment and support of women to national development,” said the report. “Educational policies that favoured girls caused near-universal primary education and removed gender disparity in educational access … women were brought to the forefront of development work as leaders, implementers and receivers of services.”
The report cites the importance of NGOs such as Brac, Grameen and Bangladesh Diabetic Samity in contributing to the improved health of poor people in rural areas. “NGOs as a group have innovated to address issues of poverty, unemployment, health, education and the environment, and in many cases the government and NGOs have worked together to achieve a common goal,” it said.
Opinion is mixed on the role of foreign aid, which was about 6% of GDP between 1970 and 1990, dropping to 2% in 2005. However, the Lancet notes that external assistance was helpful in funding NGOs, which attracted up to 18% of total aid commitment in 2003.
Looking ahead, the report said that despite annual economic growth of 6%, persistent poverty would continue to limit health progress. More than 30% of the population are classified as extremely poor, and inequality has widened. Corruption and political fragmentation – with politics dominated by two irreconcilable parties – pose particular challenges.
Rapid urbanisation, with about a third of city dwellers living in slums without basic infrastructure and social services, and changes to lifestyle are increasing the risk of non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases such as diabetes and cancers. Climate change might increase the frequency, severity and effect of natural disasters, threatening the health and resilience of society.
“The Bangladesh health system has been shaped to address the first generation of poverty-linked infections, and nutritional and maternity-related diseases,” the Lancet said. “But given the epidemiological transition, the health system will have to be adjusted to grapple with chronic non-communicable diseases. For the fragile and evolving Bangladesh health system, the global attention on universal health coverage has not been translated into substantive action.”





“Mandela’s Way”: A Leader’s Genius Distilled Into Perfect Lessons

By Richard Branson Virgin group owner

Many books have changed me, but the one that stands out is “Mandela’s Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage” by Richard Stengel.

It is no secret that Madiba (Mandela’s clan name) has had a huge influence on my life, as he has on many others. In this book, the author managed to distill Madiba’s wisdom into a set of lessons that are as unique as they are simple. They helped reinforce my own belief in thinking of others before oneself and in the need for business to be a force for good. They also painted a vivid picture of one of the world’s true heroes.

I don’t usually enjoy reading biographies all that much, and find that their writers often struggle to communicate the spirit of their subject – especially those with big personalities. However, this book demonstrates the humor and humanity of Mandela, as well as his courage and conviction. One of the most striking elements of the man is his sense of humor: He’s usually laughing and joking, putting smiles upon the faces of all around him. He is consistently honest and says the same thing behind closed doors as he does to someone’s face.

The book details 15 lessons from Madiba, explaining each through personal examples and insights.

Courage is not the absence of fear.
Be measured.
Lead from the front.
Look the part.
Lead from the back.
See the good in others.
Keep your rivals close.
Have a core principle.
Know when to say no.
Know your enemy.
It’s always both.
Love makes the difference.
It’s a long game.
Quitting is leading too.
Find your own garden

I imagine Influencers will discuss books that shaped their life early on, and rightly so. However, I believe we all have the potential to learn new things and change for the better every day. I was 60 by the time I read Mandela’s Way for the first time, but it has left a profound impression on my life.

Mandela and his wonderful wife Graça Machel brought together The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights, in 2007. As Virgin Unite incubated The Elders, we have been fortunate to watch the group grow into a formidable force tackling issues such as conflict resolution and women’s empowerment. With Mandela as the Founding Elder (and now an Honorary Elder), they really do embody the values and lessons discussed in Mandela’s Way.

Richard Stengel did a wonderful job on sharing Mandela’s wisdom through his words, and I would encourage anyone in need of inspiration to read it. What book changed you?

Bridge Educational Gaps for 100 Girls in Kenya.

by Generation for change and Development



About 1 in 10 girls completing primary schools in Mandera County achieve required minimum marks to join secondary schools due to inadequate teachers and teaching resources, overcrowded classrooms, lack of facilities at home for self-study and parental illiteracy.This project aims to bridge educational gaps for 100 orphaned primary school girls in Mandera County by providing them supplementary literacy and numeracy classes, sanitary pads and solar lanterns to improve their home-study environment.

What is the issue, problem, or challenge?



Mandera County is a remote arid region 1136km from the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.9 out of 10 people in the county live below the poverty line. Although the number of girls in primary school has increased, still 6 out of 10 girls in Mandera are out of school. Orphaned girls from poor families are most affected. Girls as young as 12 years old work to contribute to family income, forcing them to drop out of school. Others take on caring roles to assist their mothers.This impacts on their performance.

How will this project solve this problem?

The project will run an after-school remedial lessons in Maths and English, provide essential personal hygiene products such as sanitary pads, uniform, solar lantern for use at home to reduce financial burden on the girls’ families and mentoring to build their confidence. The project will work closely with the schools to monitor regularly the girls’ progress at school. Together we can provide a real and meaningful change for orphaned girls. Get involved and share the joy with us.

Potential Long Term Impact

Education is the single most powerful way to lift people out of poverty. This project will improve the educational achievement and attainment of 100 orphaned girls at the end of their primary education. GENCAD will award the girls who successfully complete primary education with secondary school scholarships and we hope these girls will continue with higher education and improve their job prospects.

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Mandera KCPE exam mix-up


Confusion marred the start of KCPE examinations in Mandera North sub-county after it was realised that examination papers for two different centres had been packed together.

The situation forced the sub-county director of educational Dakane Ahmed to merge Shirshir and Guticha primary schools at the last minute.

“We have decided to relocate the Shirshir centre to Guticha so that we can save on time,” Dakane said. “The two schools are 30 kilometres apart and the current situation cannot allow us to follow the normal procedures.”

Earlier, the sub-county had complained of not having been allocated money for fuel. But the sub-county education office said it had sorted out the issue and the pupils would start their first paper on time.

In Mandera East, the sub-county director of education Ismael Barrow said the local leadership made contributions for fuel to help distribution of examination papers.

Speaking on the phone, Barrow said: “All is well, we have started on a good note after we managed to receive some contribution from the county leaders to enable us take the papers to the candidates.”

In Lafey sub-county, all the seven centres began their first paper on time. Education director Abdi Shueb said despite the little fuel they had, they did not experience any major challenges.

“We believe the little fuel will take us to the end of the examinations,” he said.

Mandera plans irrigation projects

Mandera plans irrigation projects

MANDERA leaders want to develop irrigation projects along River Daua to make the county self-sufficient in food. Mandera women’s representative Fathia Mahbub said the river, which runs for nine months cumulatively, can be used to transform the entire county into a regional food basket.

Speaking at Baobab Resort Beach Hotel in Diani, Kwale, after a two-day meeting of the county leadership on Monday 28th October, Mahbub said the county is giving more attention to agriculture to grow its economy. She said the leaders agreed employ form four leavers who studied agriculture in school as agricultural officers.

Mahbub said the programme, which is aimed at creating job opportunities, will ensure farmers are trained to improve the standards of living in the society. “We have to use form leavers and give them jobs to train our farmers because there are not enough agricultural extension officers,” she said.

Governors’ investment wish-list is fine, but their counties may not be prepared


By Ng’ang’a Mbugua

Governors have been going out of their way to court investors through high profile conferences that seek to showcase all that is rosy in their counties. Which is all very well because it promises to create jobs for young people and expand opportunities for doing business among those with capital and drive for enterprise.

That many of these conferences have been successful cannot be gainsaid since the officials often sign multi-billion shilling contracts mostly with foreign investors.

But the question that should be debated next is whether or not these initiatives will succeed in the long term especially if counties fail to create a conducive environment even for local investors to do business.

In countries like Japan, major industrial players thrive at the end of a supply chain fed largely by medium and small-scale companies, which manufacture specialised goods, be they machine parts or the food and fruits served by the national carrier.

That is why counties would do well to explore ways in which they can make it possible for fledgling businesses in the commercial, industrial and service sectors to thrive.

Although there are many people involved in primary production, say of food, much more needs to be done along the chain to enhance value addition and create opportunities for high quality processing for local consumption as well as for export.

The danger to guard against is a situation where a big multinational player enters a small regional market, but finds that there are not enough subcontractors who have the money and the manpower to play with the big boys.

And I think that is one of the problems facing Turkana County where Tullow Oil, a major player in Africa’s oil and gas sector, had to suspend operations in the face of protests sparked by demand for jobs and supply contracts among locals.


To avoid such situations, counties should give small, medium and even large businesses and industries the incentives to grow, especially in this era when the national government has pledged that 30 per cent of tenders will be reserved for youth, women and people with disabilities.

For such companies to develop the systems they need to compete favourably at the national level, they must be nurtured in their own counties.

As it is, there are too many bottlenecks standing in the way of these enterprises, including but not limited to harassment by county officials who examine their operations with a fine-tooth comb in the hope of finding something amiss so that they can get an avenue to milk them for personal gain; the need for a one-stop shop where enterprises can have their licences and other operational needs met by government agencies working under one roof; harmonisation of taxation to ensure they are not burdened by the demands of national and county governments, and that key services such as roads, water, electricity, garbage collection, drainage and sewerage services are available.

The willingness by business operators to pay for these amenities has never been in question. The problem only arises when they are taxed — sometimes a little too heavily — yet the services are never provided.

Even the big foreign investors that governors have been courting will require these amenities once they set up shop in various counties. It is not the duty of large-scale investors to pave roads or tap rivers to generate electricity or trap rain water for irrigation. These are jobs that county governments should take as their primary responsibility.

At the end of the day, counties must aspire to a higher standard of achievement benchmarked on best practices first in the Third World and then in the developing world. After getting the basics right, they can then aspire to international standards.

The important thing is to ensure that the lethargy that sometimes makes government the enemy of local entrepreneurs does not creep into counties. Counties should seek to first create jobs and systematically nurture the expansion of a middle class that can spend its disposable incomes on tertiary economic engagements such as tourism and service industries.
In the final analysis, courting foreign investors ought to go hand in glove with creating room for low and middle level local investors to thrive.