Nairobi — Standing in the pop-out of a Land Rover just a few yards from Fatu and Najin, the last two northern white rhinos in the world, at Ol Pejeta in central Kenya, was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had.
The last two massive members of this subspecies live under armed guard 24 hours a day in a 700-acre enclosure here. Ol Pejeta is the largest rhino sanctuary in East Africa.
In an era when purpose-driven, transformative experiences are the ultimate travel luxury, a visit to Africa should be at the top of any traveler’s list.
Americans are often inspired by African wildlife: there was outrage two years ago when Cecil the lion was shot by a hunter in Zimbabwe; the Trump administration took heat last year when it said it would overturn a ban on the sale of elephant trophy imports from Africa; and in March, when the last male northern white rhino, Sudan, died here at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, the severity of rhino poaching got international attention.
For those who really want to help save African wildlife, I offer the same advice that Elodie Sampere, Ol Pejeta’s head of conservation marketing, gave to the group of journalists I was traveling with: “The best way to help is to visit, not donate.”
One of the most exciting parts of being here is seeing what the locals are doing to help conserve and protect the continent’s iconic species. Donating to causes from afar helps, but spending money in person shows the local communities that the animals are more valuable alive than dead. And in a selfie-driven era, visitors spread the word far more effectively about the importance of saving these delicate ecosystems.
Beyond that, experiences here can be life-changing, as mine were at Ol Pejeta. More than 85,000 visitors come here annually, taking game drives through Ol Pejeta’s plains, where I encountered elephants, lions and chimpanzees. The high amount of rainfall in this region compared with other parts of Africa means more vegetation, and Kenya’s highest density of wildlife outside of the Maasai Mara. The reserve uses advanced fencing techniques to facilitate the movement of wildlife while, as much as possible, keeping poachers out.
Visitors can either stay at a number of lodges on the conservancy or nearby, as we did, at the Fairmont Mount Kenya. Tour operators like Intrepid Travel offer trips that focus on visiting the last two northern white rhinos and donate part of their profits to protecting them.
Guests at the Fairmont Mount Kenya don’t even have to leave the property to get a taste of animal conservancy. The resort’s founder, 1950s film star William Holden, was a hunter turned conservationist who also founded the onsite Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, which raises and rehabilitates orphaned and injured wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild.
You can get far more up close and personal with cheetahs at the conservancy’s orphanage than you would in the wild. And cyclists setting off from the resort through the conservancy can see the rare white zebras, which are being bred and hopefully released back to the wild, as well as the mountain bongo, one of the most endangered animals in the world.
By Johanna Jainchill
Hundreds of African migrants employed in Qatar as domestic workers, cleaners, drivers and chefs can now come back home freely after the Middle East nation abolished its controversial exit visa system, which requires foreigners to obtain their bosses’ permission to exit the country.
Qatar authorities said on Sunday the “Law No 13 of 2018… regulating the entry, exit and residency of expatriates would be implemented effective this week.
Kenya on Monday welcomed the move saying it raises hope of an end to mistreatment of locals seeking bread and butter in Qatar. It asked other middle east nations to follow suit.
“It is a welcome development of putting to an end a heinous and outmoded system that has sinister echoes of a dark and oppressive time of shackled labour and slavery,” Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said in an interview yesterday.
“We welcome the development and hope that Qatar’s enlightened leadership will resonate across the Arab Middle East, where similar systems of denial of free passage of peoples and labour continues to cause great difficulties and suffering among migrant workers and even some professionals,” Mr Kamau said.
Kenya has over the years called for abolition of the exit visa system as it had long been abused by employers who would confiscate passports of workers.
Most Kenyan migrants are employed as domestic workers and are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, violence, rape and sometimes murder.
Many of them who have returned home from Qatar and other Middle East nations have come back with harrowing tales of mistreatment, torture and abuse by their employers, with many blaming the exit visa system for their predicaments.
But under the new law, all but five per cent of a company’s workforce-reportedly those in the most senior positions-can leave without prior permission from employers.
Those not allowed to exit Qatar “for any reason” can file a complaint to the Expatriate Exit Grievance Committee that will “take a decision within three working days”, the Qatar ministry was quoted as saying.
Employment contracts involving migrant workers in the Middle East are based on the ancient Bedouin principle of kafala, which many liken to modern-day slavery.
What was once essentially a code of hospitality – that encouraged families to host travelling strangers and treat them as one of their own – has evolved into the sponsorship of migrant workers, which gives employers enormous control over their employees. Common practices include the withholding of wages, confiscation of passports and long working hours in substandard or inhuman conditions.
Domestic workers, who are obliged to live in their employer’s homes, are particularly vulnerable to physical abuse, sexual violence and various forms of mental cruelty, while the almost total lack of labour laws for migrants provides little scope for redress.
Kenya in September 2014 announced a ban on export of labour to Middle East countries but later lifted it last year after instituting reforms that included vetting of recruitment agencies.
In 2013, the Kenyan embassy in Riyadh rescued more than 800 Kenyans languishing in Saudi jails.
Source – Daily Nation
Burundi’s public security ministry has accused a prominent opposition MP of planning the assassination of President Pierre Nkurunziza and other top officials, in an address on state television.
The authorities announced the arrest of a “commando unit” over the alleged plot to murder the president, his two deputies and the parliament speaker, in the televised statement late Thursday.
The spokesman for the public security ministry, Pierre Nkurikiye, accused Pierre-Celestin Ndikumana, of the Amizero y’Abarundi (Burundians’ Hope) coalition, of being behind the plan.
Three alleged members of the commando unit were paraded on television during the address, including a man who was a domestic worker at Ndukimana’s home for a few months in 2015.
“The details (of the plot) are on this piece of paper written by the criminal you have just seen (the domestic worker) while he was in the car of honorable Pierre-Celestin Ndikumana, who dictated it to him,” said the spokesperson.
Nkurikiye said the former domestic worker had confessed to being recruited by Ndikumana to carry out the assassinations, and also confessed to trying to kill a married couple of ruling party lawmakers at the beginning of October.
Parliamentary sources said that a procedure to lift Ndikumana’s immunity would be launched soon, while Nkurikiye said a probe would seek to find others involved in the alleged plot.
Ndikumana told AFP the accusations were a “crude setup aimed at intimidating me and keeping me quiet”.
Burundi has been locked in crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza in April 2015 announced he would seek a controversial third term in office, sparking civil unrest that has left 1 200 dead and over 400 000 displaced.
Amizero y’Abarundi, led by former Hutu rebel Agathon Rwasa, is considered the main rival to Nkurunziza’s ruling CnDD-FDD, and local NGOs as well as the United Nations have condemned a crackdown on their supporters.
Source – News 24
By AGGREY OMBOKI
Uhuru to pilot universal healthcare in 4 counties
More than 3 million Kenyans in four counties are set to start enjoying universal health coverage after President Uhuru Kenyatta launches a pilot programme on December 1.
President Kenyatta announced that the programme will be launched in Isiolo, Kisumu, Nyeri and Machakos counties.
The launch will coincide with the World Aids Day, whose theme for this year is “Know Yourself”.
The pilot phase is expected to last for a year before it is scaled up to cover the rest of the country.
After registration, patients will be treated free of charge, including referrals.
President Kenyatta formally made the decision on Tuesday after meeting the UHC Inter-Governmental Committee that also comprises governors at State House, Nairobi.
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, who co-chairs the committee with Isiolo Governor Mohammed Kuti, briefed the President on the preparations ahead of the pilot launch.
Ms Kariuki said the pilot programme will cost the government around Sh3.17 billion.
The national government will allocate Sh800 million for each of the participating counties, with an additional 800 million for referral cases.
Governors will also contribute a similar amount towards the programme.
The success of the pilot programme in the four counties will clear the way for the national rollout, which will mark the beginning of a new era in public health service provision.
Governors Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Prof Anyang Nyong’o (Kisumu) and Dr Alfred Mutua (Machakos) represented the counties taking part in the pilot.
President Kenyatta gave the committee his approval to finalise the launch plans and also draft the respective Memoranda of Understanding between the Ministry of Health and the four counties.
The Head of State encouraged the governors to actively sensitisate their people before the pilot project is launched.
The new UHC package will benefit at least 3.2 million Kenyans in the four pilot counties and is expected to contain a new bouquet of services accessible in public health facilities.
According to the government, the decision to pilot the programme in the four counties was based on existing evidence on their disease burdens.
Kisumu was identified because it leads in the infectious diseases category, especially for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, while Machakos records the highest number of injuries mostly from accidents occurring along the busy Mombasa-Nairobi highway.
Nyeri was selected because it leads in non-communicable diseases, especially diabetes, while in Isiolo, the government will seek to establish how the package is well suited for nomadic and migratory populations.
Isiolo Governor and Council of Governors’ Health Commitee chair Mohammed Kuti said the pilot will be done for a year, and its progress reviewed after six months.
Prof Nyong’o said community health volunteers will be paid a monthly stipend of Sh2,500 plus National Hospital Insurance Fund membership as part of efforts to recognise their work.
“Community Health Volunteers were previously known as volunteers, but now we will eliminate that word from the health sector’s vocabularies. We will be paying them Sh2,500 a month in addition to securing their NHIF membership. This is not a salary since the work they do is much more valuable than that, but a stipend to initiate our efforts to bring them into the ranks of the remunerated,” said Prof Nyongo.
Dr Mutua said expenditure on health is a major contributor to poverty. “Many families are falling into poverty because they are spending their savings on health-care services. But under the new scheme, our people will not be paying for health services,” said the governor.
He said if the funds lost to corruption were used for health service delivery, every Kenyan would be comfortably covered in the UHC scheme.
“Piloting the package in a controlled population ensures less chances of failure and we can minimise the risks when the programme is later scaled up to cover the entire country,” said CS Kariuki in an earlier statement.
Ms Kariuki said the programme would also encompass public health education in order to scale up preventive measures and reduce the prevalence of non-communicable or lifestyle diseases. “We have reorganised the community health workers’ service delivery systems to address issues of water, sanitation and health, nutrition, screening for diseases, physical health education and dietary discipliner so that our people can be empowered to make the right lifestyle decisions and avoid falling sick unnecessarily,” she said.
Source – Daily Nation