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Showing posts from July, 2016

Huffington Post: Time for Tough Action to Stop Sexual Exploitation by UN Peacekeepers

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“Gentlemen, there are no bad soldiers, only bad officers”, said Napoleon Bonaparte to his military staff after they complained that the poor quality of soldiers was inhibiting success on the battlefield. We as former Army officers, totally believe in the sage words of Napoleon. In the face of some vile and sickening allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation among United Nations (UN) peacekeepers, questions the moral integrity of the people who are commissioned to be protectors, but who end up abusing the trust bestowed on them. Thus tarnishing the reputation of the entire UN. UN peacekeeping missions perform a crucial service in resolving conflicts, saving lives, building peace, restoring and rebuilding broken states. Their humanitarian services have been meritorious on all counts.

However, incidents where troops seconded to the UN by member states under its command become sexual predators to the helpless civilians under their care have continued to present a cyclical challenge to …

Reuters: Breaking the silence on Gender Based Violence

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The Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is establishing and strengthening sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) recovery centres in the country. One such center was launched at the Kilifi County Hospital on 01 July 2016 in collaboration with the Kilifi County Government. It must rank as among the most confounding realities that SGBV, though acknowledged globally as one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world, is also one of the least prosecuted crimes. It is a crime that cuts across all races, income-levels and religions and it continues to be largely visited upon one half of humanity. When four in every ten women in Kenya have suffered one form of violence or another from a close partner, it must be clear that the silence on violence against women and children must end now.  It is the time to stop seeing SGBV as an issue for gender activists, but as a prerequisite for sustainable …

Reuters: Let 5-year-old Sherry tell you how handwashing with soap saves lives

For twenty-six year old Eunice from Migori County,Kenya, celebrating her daughter Sherry’s fifth birthday is a milestone that few of her friends have enjoyed. As with many areas of Africa, a child born in Migori is seven times more likely to die before the age of five, compared to a child in Europe. Despite recent gains in improving maternal and child survival rates in Africa, the continent still rates the lowest in the world.  In Kenya, child mortality stands at 52 per 1000 live births and more than 6000 mothers die every year giving birth For many mothers like Eunice, the survival of a baby is  often a hit or miss ,  four in ten newborn babies die within the first 28 days of life. These first days are when newborns are highly susceptible to infections such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and septicaemia, which require hospital treatment or intensive care in severe cases. With almost one third of women in Kenya giving birth away from health facilities, it is easy to see how the odds of surv…

Reuters: Political contests must not push Kenya over the precipice again

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Kenyans, and friends of Kenya, are once again hoping that the five-yearly ritual of elections will not take the form of widespread ethnic violence and destruction of property.  However, recent intransigent positions over the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) are a cause for apprehension and concern. The social and economic effects of the 2007 election dispute are still being felt, and key sectors of the economy, including tourism, are still struggling.  The violence had also left its scar on the survivors in the form of anxiety and post-traumatic stress.  Statistics on sexual and gender-based violence show that whenever election-related violent conflict occurs, it is the innocent women and children who suffer most. As a development partner of Kenya, and guided by the core values of respect for human rights, diversity, equality and inclusion, the United Nations (UN) family is determined to do all it can to help prevent a recurrence of violence and conflict.  I joi…

Huffington Post: Stepping up the fight to end cholera and chikungunya outbreaks in Mandera County, Kenya

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Mandera’s double whammy, the concurrent outbreaks of cholera and chikungunya, is bringing to the fore the need for accelerated epidemic preparedness and prevention systems.

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated.

Chikungunya virus is most often spread to people by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. These are the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue ,yellow fever and zika virus. Its symptoms include high fever, joint pain, rash and headache. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection. The twin epidemics have hit the expansive north-eastern county in Kenya, with half the population coming down with chikungunya virus infection. Since April, almost 1,103 cases of cholera has been reported in Mandera including 16 deaths, 3 being children. My take: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/siddharth-chatterjee/stepping-up-the-fight-to_b_10319574.html

Huffington Post: County Governments in Kenya Must Take Lead in Fight for Gender Equality

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The 3rd Devolution Conference that took place in Meru, Kenya between 19 and 21st April was an opportunity to discuss how the post-2015 development agenda will be localized and how county governments will deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). President Uhuru Kenyatta has said that devolution is vital in helping the country achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And this is beautifully aligned to Kenya’s own Vision 2030, which is to create a globally competitive and prosperous Kenya with a high quality of life by 2030. Devolution is all about inclusion and participation. Devolution is therefore also an opportunity to champion gender equality. My opinion piece with Ambassador Tarja Fernandez, of the Finalnd Embassy in Kenya: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/siddharth-chatterjee/county-governments-in-ken_b_10166608.html

Reuters: Religious Leaders Can End Harmful Cultural Practices & Advance Women’s Empowerment

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When Pope Francis recently endorsed the use of individual conscience in deciding whether to use contraceptives in view of the spread of the Zika virus, it was not just a landmark moment but it underscored the need for faith leaders to get involved more closely in contemporary health challenges. In Northern Nigeria, a former global epicenter of polio transmission, Islamic clerics, who were once opposed to immunization, turned into advocates for vaccination. As a result Nigeria, one of the three remaining countries where polio is still considered endemic, has for the first time been polio-free for 18 months, a development that brings us significantly closer to eradicating this terrible disease. A profound realization has lately emerged among health professionals about how well-equipped health systems alone cannot solve today’s public health challenges.  Stemming from various highly complex causes, these problems can never be solved by a single approach, but by an array of stakeholders …