Saturday, 26 November 2016

We have the onus to developing our society through mutual participation

John Locke the world’s renowned scholar in his theory perceives man as a good creature who dwells on positive achievements.

On the other hand, his counterpart scholar, Thomas Hobbes build his contradiction on Locke’s theory hence considers man as an evil creature who live on destruction.

It goes without citing that life is what one makes. Life can either be miserable or successful depending on the skills, knowledge and determination one has to handling the situation that is before him or her. You can either choose to blend life with beautiful flowers or decide to belt it with dangerous thorns.

The scripture however denounces the lukewarm trait by citing that one should be either hot or cold-good or evil, Period.

Going down my memory lane, I can recall the narrations of educative wisdom my grand mum used to instill in me when I was a little boy, during evening around fire stories known as in African language as bed time narratives. “Be good my grandson, being good to people never cost anything.” This was the moral advice from most of her stories anyway.

To be good one need to be respective, kind, caring…-start building the muscles of the required traits that would make others around him/her see his/her clear image right from the beginning. Besides, one must show good character build on actions that can inspire other people surrounding him/her.

Self-discipline with transparency, trust and accountability…is among the key traits that make up best person who should be emulated by the rest of the members of the society.

The yield of all desirable traits is amazing in the sense that one is indeed honored. The world Nobel laureates such as Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, Wangari Maathai, the US President Barrack Obama among other icons have so far led the talk and their wonderful achievements speaks for themselves-are beyond reasonable doubt.

The society can only achieve best results when people occupying it play active role-co-exist in peace and harmony on the coordination platform. The society can be classified as amazing when there is mutual participation and involvement of all stake holders in endeavor to building it. And the result of good achievements will be felt from sides to the center and through economic growth.

For all these to be successful therefore, there must be secure environment. For instance, there must be willing businessmen to invest and thrive; infrastructure such as roads, communication facilities, schools, hospitals just to mention but few should be given a key priority.

Farmers should be given incentives; subsidized farm inputs to enable them grow and harvest quality produce thus fight hunger and poverty. The society can be called rotten or a spoiled lot when the occupants break the foundation of moral values where their destiny rest. For instance it can lose its glory when there is poor management of the environment whose better results are felt in terms of global warming today.

The society we are living in today tends to get worse and worse each passing time due to manipulations of characters of its occupants.

We have failed to unmask evils committed by the few at the expense of majority of innocents. Failure to condemn what we actually see as wrong has led to jam packing of challenges where many of which have reached maturity stage, to uproot or shove them from our footpaths it requires bulldozers.

As a matter of fact, vices such as corruption in Kenya today are at the peak because of lack of willing men and women with confidence to fight it. Current surveys show Kenya is among the leading countries that are lagging behind because of rampant corruption that are existing in various sectors of economy.

It is high time we stood firmly just like the renowned scholars such as Karl Max, Max Weber, Abraham Lincoln…and condemned what is evil with the major aim of ushering in what we believe is in the context and interest of the masses.

We must learn the importance of expanding our vision by possessing grotesque characters and images since good images and characters will always give birth to other colorful images that would be embraced by many. As a matter fact, we feel good and honored when we are associated with good characters whose images impress.

In a nut shell, people should always invest in doing what is right at all cost since good images will always make great difference not only in ones life but on other people’s lives around.

Challenges we are facing today from bad governance to domestic feuds do emerge as a result of lack clear road map that would guide us on how we should coexist and handle various matters in the society whenever they sprout.

We are overwhelmed with myopic characters that are hindering the nation from realizing her dreams. Yes, it has become hard to get ourselves out of the bandwagon of challenges and register our colorful name on the global map just like other developed worlds due to lack of political will. And this is where the rubber meets the road.

Had we had a situation where the majorities in the diverse society are guided by their inner principles and focused minds, perhaps global challenges that are killing us slowly such as poverty, hunger, diseases, and corrupt deals among others would have been strangled and thrown into oblivion.

Had we learnt the secret of condemning what is wrong and learnt the importance of praising embracing what is right, problems in our society would have been lessened significantly.

Our ultimate choice therefore should be guided by our inner voice and brave hearts whose aim is to lay a strong cornerstone in our society’s foundation for the sake of living better lives. It must start from you.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Men are Heroes Not Cowards When Involved In family Planning

Tanzanian couple receiving family planning counselling (Photo credit: Sala Lewis)
A new Pew Research Center survey released on Wednesday shows that Kenyans prioritise education and healthcare for improving the economy.
“33% say education is the most important. Two-in-ten choose health care and another 20% mention government effectiveness, such as reducing corruption. A similar percentage picks agriculture and the supply of food (19%). Just 6% say infrastructure and 2% prioritize the supply of energy,” figures from the survey conducted in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya among 3,330 respondents from March 29 to July 9, 2016 states.
According to the survey, one, health care is a higher priority for women (26%) than it is for men (15%).
Two, a broad majority of Kenyans (81%) think education will be better when today’s children grow up, including 52% who say it will be much better. Similarly, 76% believe health care will have improved when the younger generation comes of age, with 40% saying it will be much better.
The last census undertaken in Kenya (in 2006) placed the population at 36.1 million.

In 2008 the population of Kenya was estimated at 38 million by the United Nations Population Fund.
The UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs mid 2015 results noted that Kenya’s population is expected to hit 81.4 million by 2050 in comparison to the Kenya Demographics Profile 2011 that projected the population to stand at 51.3 million in 2025 and 65 million in 2050.  
The increase in population, currently 44.3 million, is attributed to a high fertility rate.
According to the UN report, a Kenyan woman gives birth to an average of four children, a number higher than the global average of 2.5.
Kenya is faced with a myriad of problems, trying to feed its people, provide employment to its youth, quality and affordable education and health care.

Consequently, it is not a national issue to Kenya alone, but a global one, that poses a challenge from a growing population and its impact on health care, food security, jobs, and poverty.

To address these global issues, it needs concerted efforts from all nations on how to think of population control. Global consensus and cooperation is needed to achieve this.  

Cristian Baeza, the former World Bank's Director for Health, Nutrition, and Population, Human Development Network said, "Failure to address high fertility with large and growing population cohorts results in unsustainable health care and schooling costs and lags in economic growth, and may increase the risk of social and political unrest. But, addressing high fertility is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition to harness the demographic dividend."
Ten years ago, the Government committed itself to ensure that Millennium Development Goal number five was realised by 2015. The goal states: Achieving good maternal health requires quality reproductive health services and well-timed interventions to ensure a woman’s safe passage to motherhood.
Currently, the government has committed itself to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)which call for countries to improve across 17 issue areas, including economic growth, accountable institutions and reduced inequality, among others.
It is not a surprise that healthcare is a priority for women. That women need access to health care for themselves and their children, in particular family planning, that is now widely accepted every day.
On June 1, 2013, the Government of Kenya took action to address this problem by initiating a policy of free maternity services in all public facilities, effective immediately.
The 2016/17 Fiscal Year, the government has set aside Sh4 billion to provide health insurance through the National Health Insurance Fund to pregnant women from low-income and under-privileged backgrounds.
Additionally, Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has initiated the “Beyond Zero Campaign” to improve maternal and child health outcomes as part of the initiatives outlined in the Strategic Framework in HIV control and promotion of maternal, newborn and child health in Kenya that was unveiled on World AIDS Day 2013.
Even this is not enough.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) 2016 report on Universal Access to Reproductive Health Progress and Challenges states that, Reproductive health is critical to advancing development.” This is in terms of  of access to rights-based family planning, is now well recognized in not only improving women’s chances of surviving pregnancy and childbirth, but also in contributing to gender equality, better child health, preventing and responding to HIV transmission, better education outcomes and poverty reduction.
A key pointer of the report is that, “Universal access to reproductive health affects and is affected by many aspects of life. It involves individuals’ most intimate relationships, including negotiation and decision-making within sexual relationships, and interactions with health providers regarding contraceptive methods and options.”
However, it should be noted that, If women are going to use contraception successfully, they must be able to make their own decisions about it.Women are willing to make partnerships to make progress.
It is a fact that family planning is central to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and it is a key factor in reducing poverty. And men, too, should be enlisted in the battle to safeguard maternal health.
Nafis Sadik, Former Executive Director of United Nations Population Fund says, “Somehow men must learn that equal power for women does not threaten their own power: that being a man does not depend on controlling a woman; that sharing power makes everyone more powerful.”
Dr. Doug Stein and Jonathan Stack, Co Founder World Vasectomy Day addressing journalists in Nairobi.

This is a reason why Kenya will be hosting the 4th year of the World Vasectomy Day (WVD) in Nairobi.
Jonathan Stack, Co Founder World Vasectomy Day 2016 says,
“In May 2012, I set an intention; convince 100 doctors in 10 countries to do 1000 vasectomies in 24 hours.  And here it is, 2016, and we are about to celebrate the 4th year of WVD right here in Kenya.  The obstacles are plenty. For one people assume that men will not step up. I believe they’d just never been told the right story; one in which we become heroes to our family, to our wives, to our country and to our future.”
Stack says  the decision for men to choose a permanent form of birth control is profoundly personal, and yet the impact of this personal decision has communal, national, and global ramifications.
He adds that Kenya, like many countries, faces challenges of cultural, religious and economic differences, but WVD promotes unity, finding shared purpose in country and across borders. Men may be resistant to getting a vasectomy, but we are united in our hopes that the lives of our children be as good or better than our own. “Indeed, women must not, and cannot do this alone.”
Vasectomy is the medical name for male sterilisation. A simple surgical procedure which closes off the small sperm carrying tubes (vas deferens) in the scrotum. This means produced cannot get into the seman and fertilise a female egg. Vasectomy does not affect one’s sexual pleasure or ability to ejaculate.
And why education as a priority; literacy for women benefits families in a number of ways. It increases her health (a literate woman can read material about health and hygiene practices) and the health of her children, it increases her family's security (if her husband dies, she can get a better job), it increases her desire to see her children receive education and it increases her political power - she can read and understand national issues and participate in them.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

The spirited fight must go on in fighting FGM

Pokot Women in Kenya in a past ceremony

This year, the African Union joined the global community to observe the “International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital”.

The day was adopted on 20 December 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to enhance campaigns to raise awareness and educate people about the dangers of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as well as to take concrete actions against Female Genital Mutilation.”

The AU has adopted legally binding instruments that promote the prohibition of traditional practices that are prejudicial to the health and welfare of young girls and women. Among others, Article 21 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child obliges States Parties to eliminate harmful social and cultural practices, such as FGM, that affect the welfare, dignity, normal growth and development of the child.

In addition, Article 5 of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ ‘Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) requires States Parties to prohibit and condemn all forms of harmful practices, such as FGM, which negatively affect the human rights of women and to take all necessary legislative and other measures to eliminate such practices.

However, all these developments reminds me when the world marked the eighth anniversary of an Africa-led campaign against female genital mutilation (traditional practice which involves the partial or total removal of female genitalia, undergone by more than 100 million girls and women worldwide), the fight against FGM is yet to ripen in areas that still practice the culture.

This was a day that rekindled the story on two young sisters who had taken refuge in a forest for three days with neither food nor water in Marakwet West District to escape forced circumcision as well as early planned marriages.

The two school girls aged 14 and 16 had fled their home after they learned that they were to be circumcised the following day. Arrangements had already been made for the material day with friends and relatives having been invited to witness their ‘graduation from childhood into womanhood’’

Their mother had reportedly prepared them for the rite and to curse them if they dared to let her down. When she learned of their plans to escape, she called up on other women to help her lock the innocent girls in a house to prevent them but, the girls managed to escape through the window.

They were found by a vegetable vendor in the middle of Kamotony forest in Marakwet West District shivering and conversing in low tones.

In a twist of events, most painful, the two girls had informed the Provincial Administration who did not take any action.

Two months had passed after over thirty school girls were rescued from undergoing FGM as well as planned marriages in Pokot County.

Despite the fact that the government has been taking stern measures in an effort to eradicate the practice, more than three hundred and fifty girls had already been circumcised in Marakwet as many  lined up to face the knife in Tot and Tunyo divisions of Marakwet East.

In spite of the 2001 Children's Act in Kenya outlawing FGM, it was performed in medical facilities across these districts. As a result only a handful of cases have reached the courts in recent years.

Subsequently, the 2010 UNDP report on Human Development Index (HDI) ranked Kenya number 87 and disclosed that, gender equity reflects women's disadvantage in three dimensions reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market indicating women are poorer because the report went beyond income earnings focusing on the ends rather than the means of development and progress.

2016, Kenya has been ranked 18 in Africa and 145 in the 2016 report of HDI. “A key message of this report is that giving more concerted attention to gender equality will be an important and long overdue stimulus to faster and more inclusive human development and economic growth for the entire continent,” according to Helen Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme.

Girls who refuse to cooperate with their parents are usually disowned and chased out of their homes. Some fathers have refused to pay school fees for their daughters who have refused to undergo circumcision.

Zero tolerance for FGM can become a reality only if all appropriate sectors of government and civil society prioritise the protection of women and girls from FGM and coordinate their efforts in a proactive, sustained and planned manner.

Much has been done but more efforts have to be done, not by the government but the communities at large. Communities that still value such practices need to look for alternative rites of passage and do away with grueling ordeals that leave the girls with permanent health problems that they live with throughout their lifetime.

On the other hand, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says in a new report that community-focused initiatives are proving effective in reducing the incidence of female genital cutting in Kenya

Efforts that address cultural and social dimensions of the practice have yielded better results than have blanket condemnations or appeals aimed at individuals, UNICEF finds.


Law enforcement must employ creative strategies such as undercover investigations of medical facilities which provide FGM and temporarily increase the concentration of police forces in high-risk areas.

Further, the government must allocate additional resources to increase transportation for law enforcement, raise awareness among girls, make ample shelter arrangements for girls fleeing FGM, use community radio and local media to warn practising communities that FGM will not be tolerated, publicise arrests and prosecutions and equip courts to handle cases efficiently.

This is an abridged version of the original story written in 2011-02-06.