Posts

Showing posts from February, 2017

Huffington Post: Female genital mutilation ranks as one of the worst manifestations of gender inequality.

Image
On Feb. 6, 2017, the world observed the 14th International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).    Consider this: Approximately 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone some form of FGM, globally.  One cannot but despair at the indolent pace towards elimination of one of the most brutal cultural norms, a practice that continues to hold women and a nation’s development back.    While Kenya must be applauded for having brought down the national FGM prevalence from 32 percent to 21 percent in the last 12 years, there are still some communities where about nine in 10 girls are needlessly mutilated, often forced to leave school and into early marriage.  An often-unnoticed reality is that the effects of FGM go far beyond the negative physical and psychosocial consequences. The social and economic damage done to entire countries has only started to be realized.  In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recognized the close connection between FGM,…

Huffington Post: Kenya must create a million new jobs annually

Image
It is estimated that 3000 Kenyans are born every day, a million a year. With a median age of 18 years, Kenya is witnessing a massive youth bulge, which could either be a demographic dividend, or a disaster.  Consider this. In 1956, Kenya’s population stood at about 7 million, twice that of Norway. Today, Norway has a population of 5.2 million while that of Kenya stands at about 45 million. It is projected that by 2030, the population of Norway will be 6 million while Kenya’s population will reach 65 million, and 85 million by 2050.  Africa’s youth bulge, and Kenya’s in particular, should largely be the basis for optimism offering great opportunity for socio-economic take-off. Six of the countries with the highest economic growth rates are in Africa.  Yet, for most countries, Kenya included, economic growth lacks the desired social transformation. Despite Kenya’s impressive economic growth, four out of ten people live in extreme poverty; and the poorest 10 per cent of the population r…

Huffington Post: Kenya can lead the way to universal health care in Africa

Image
Consider this: every year, nearly 1 million Kenyans are pushed below the poverty line as a result of unaffordable health care expenses. For many Kenyan families, the cost of health care is as distressing as the onset of illness and access to treatment. A majority of the population at risk can hardly afford the costs associated with basic health care and when faced with life threatening conditions, it is a double tragedy-inability to access health care and lack of resources to pay for the services. According to the World Health Organisation, a large percentage of poor households in Kenya cannot afford health care without serious financial constraints as most are dependent on out of pocket payments to pay for services. Nearly four out of every five Kenyans have no access to medical insurance, thus a large part of the population is excluded from quality health care services. In 2015, UN Member States endorsed the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), expected to guide the development…

Reuters: Elections: The Private Sector and the UN commit to support Kenya's democratic process.

Image
Election related conflicts along ethnic lines is the greatest threat to Africa's stability and consolidation of democratic institutions and culture.  It is with this in mind that on Wednesday, 14th December 2016, an important gathering organized by the UN and Africa Policy Institute, known as Maendeleo Policy Forum took place in Nairobi.(YouTube: Prof Peter Kagwanja CEO, Africa Policy Institute). And here is a snap shot of the conversations at the forum. Few factors impact business growth more than the security and stability of the country in which it operates.  The 2007 post-election violence brought this painfully reality to the bank accounts of many corporates in Kenya, with the country’s GDP growth rate which stood at 7% in 2007 tanking to 1.7% the following year.  President Uhuru Kenyatta and Honorable Mr Raila Odniga at the 38th anniversary of the late founding President Mr Jomo Kenyatta told all Kenyans that they must unite and not let political differences divide them.  T…

Reuters: Democracy in Africa, an important dialogue for all citizens

Post-election violent conflict along ethnic lines is the greatest threat to Africa's stability and consolidation of democratic institutions and culture.  It is with this in mind that on Wednesday, 14th December 2016, an important gathering – known as Maendeleo Policy Forum will take place in Nairobi. A brainchild of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Maendeleo Policy Forum was launched in 2015 to provide space for African leaders, international mediators and negotiators, researchers, policy makers, development practitioners and writers on African issues, to debate on critical issues of development in Africa. This particular edition being launched by UNDP in partnership with the Africa Policy Institute is designed to collate lessons and good practices in election management from past polls in Africa to inform democratic consolidation in countries like Kenya.   My take:

http://news.trust.org/item/20161210061144-ygz06/

Reuters: Why achieving SDG Goal 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth is critical for Kenya

Image
In Kenya the Gini coefficient of inequality is at around 0.45%. Therefore, the economic growth statistics present an unequivocal picture of a highly unequal society, whose development strategy is largely leading to accumulation of wealth by a few and worsening the poverty of the majority. Consider just two statistics behind the picture: according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, individuals in capital city Nairobi have about 15 times more access to secondary education than those living in Turkana, one of the poorest counties. Also, a household in Nairobi is 36 times more likely to have electricity for lighting compared with those in Tana River. Without doubt, Kenya’s race towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an agenda whose most notable tang of inclusivity is underscored by the now well-known phrase of ‘leaving no one behind’, is going to need the resilience of its world-beating athletes. The global SDGs agenda is a platform that aims to meet the greatest chal…

Reuters: The United Nations Volunteer: From Global To Local.

Image
Today 05 December is International Volunteer Day, and every year we recognize the invaluable contributions of volunteers to peace and development. Consider this. George Gachie has been serving as a national United Nations Volunteer (UNV) with UN-Habitat for over three years. He grew up in the Kibera Slums - a challenging environment, where young people have very few opportunities and early pregnancy, school dropout, organized gangs, crime, diseases and drug abuse are common. In order to make it out of this situation one had to be smart. But as George himself put it during a recent UNV Blue-Room Talks event in Nairobi, ‘I am happy because it is volunteerism that got me out of the situation’. In an acknowledgement of the expected role of the youth in delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, volunteerism has now been recognized as a key driver in the development space. For Kenya, this is particularly apt given the large number of youth graduating every year but who find only lim…

Huffington Post: Let’s Unite to End Violence Against Women in Kenya

Image
Consider this. According to the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey of Kenya, 4 out of every 10 Kenyan women undergo some form of violence, whether physical or sexual. This figure is staggering and should compel us to pause and reflect. November 25, was the International day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, let us join together to say: enough is enough! Gender Based Violence, including domestic and sexual violence, human trafficking and harmful practices, such as forced child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still endemic in Kenya, despite the existence of legislation, administrative directives, judicial sanctions, and awareness-raising efforts by a variety of agencies and the government. It is time for every man to start doing something to end the scourge of violence against women and girls in their homes and communities. A call to action was made by the President of Kenya, HE Mr Uhuru Kenyatta when he urged every citizen to join the government’s ef…

Huffington Post: Kenya’s Youth Unemployment Challenge Presents Opportunities

Image
Consider this paradox. Every year 1 million young people join the job market in Kenya, yet Kenya has the largest number of jobless youth in East Africa. As the government puts in place measures for addressing the issue of high youth unemployment and poverty, The private sector needs to join forces to sustainably grow its business and markets. Businesses and the societies that they operate in are symbiotic and it is now an established maxim that business cannot succeed in societies that fail. Tackling poverty is the main mission of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda signed last year by 193 global leaders. The agenda obliges nations to tackle the causes of poverty by meeting the people’s health, education and social needs, to reduce inequality and exclusion and at the same time avoid wrecking the ecosystems on which life depends. The target population for the SDGs – includes those who live below the poverty line and who make up nearly half of the population. Innovative …

Huffington Post: Why the Kenyan President’s personal engagement with the UN is a big deal

Image
President Uhuru Kenyatta warmly welcomed dozens of U.N Agencies, development partners and senior Government officials to the State House on 02 November 2016 to discuss the joint development plan from 2014 – 2018.  He is perhaps the only head of state in Africa to take on this responsibility personally and believes in the transformational power of the Government-UN partnership to address national priorities for sustainable development. (Speech/audio). The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) is a critical document that guides government and U.N, partnership, ensuring the UN system is fit for purpose and contributes effectively to national development priorities.  The framework is nurturing a partnership grounded in dialogue and learning, leading to concrete action and progress.  Important progress has been made in areas like HIV/AIDS, clean water, energy, food security, and the environment during the past 2 years of this UNDAF(PDF document). “I am impressed by the p…

Huffington Post: UN in Kenya Condemns Mandera Terror Attack

Image
On behalf of the United Nations(UN) family in Kenya, I wish to express our horror and sadness at the reports of a terror attack that took place on Thursday 06 October 2016 in Bulla, Mandera County. We strongly denounce the heinous act that has once again taken the lives of innocent men and women. The attack brought to a brutal end the aspirations of men and women who were part of our collective human family, and we are therefore equally hurt by the heartless action of the attackers. The attack comes at a time when the region and Kenya in general have been experiencing relative calm and we commend the government and security apparatus for the progress made so far in preventing such attacks. It is due to their swift response and readiness to serve that the security forces were able to save the lives of many other Kenyans in this latest attack. 
My take.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/un-in-kenya-condemns-mandera-terror-attack_us_57f91bdae4b0d786aa52b3c1?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004

Huffington Post: Jobs Are Crucial For Peace And Stem Radicalization And Violent Extremism In Kenya

Image
Kenya has the largest number of jobless youth in East Africa, putting a strain on the economy’s growth and also threatening peace and security when hopeless youth gravitate towards violent extremist groups.

Today, youth form two-thirds of Kenya’s population, many of them unemployed, with the ratio of youth unemployment to overall adult unemployment standing at 46 percent, according to the 2009 Kenya Population and Housing Census. At the same time, there are eight dependents for every ten working Kenyans, meaning that the average worker will very often have little left to save or invest for growth.

While this youth bulge may seem like a disaster in the making, investing in the sectors with highest potential can turn it into a gateway to rapid economic growth and development as we have seen among Asian Tigers like Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia. By all projections, agriculture presents this opportunity.  My take with Kenya's Foreign Minister:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amba…

Huffington Post: The Public Benefit Organisations Act will help Kenya’s march towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Image
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Kenya was launched on 14 September 2016, Representing President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Devolution and planning Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri, said Kenya was way ahead of implementing the SDGs through its Vision 2030, and the devolved system of Governance Kenya now needs strategic and creative partnerships with civil society networks to raise public awareness and sustain momentum for the Goals’ diverse set of targets. My take.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-public-benefit-organisations-act-will-help-kenyas_us_57df9a75e4b04fa361d99f0f?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004