Greenpeace Africa Demands A Strong Global Plastic Treaty

The iconic Hilton hotel was all lit up with a 3D projection with an End the age of plastic message in support of the upcoming second Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee session (INC2) that is happening in Paris, France, from 29 May to 2 June.

INC2 is the second in a series of five negotiating meetings happening over the next two years in an effort to secure a strong, legally binding global agreement to curb the plastic pollution crisis.

‘Ahead of the negotiations for the treaty we decided to put up this important message to remind our leaders and other stakeholders not to waste this once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to finally turn off the tap and end the age of plastic,’ said Greenpeace Africa’s Communication and Story Manager, Hellen Kahaso Dena. ‘We hope the treaty will safeguard the climate and ensure a fair and equitable transition for workers and the health of all the affected communities.’

Despite increasing evidence on the impact of plastic pollution on people’s health as well as the environment, plastic production has continued to increase year on year. With 99% of plastics being made from fossil fuels, plastic production is a major driver of the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. Plastic production harms communities and workers living near production sites and landfills.

‘This year alone, we have seen the devastating impacts of the climate crisis; from droughts in Kenya to deadly cyclones and floods in Malawi and in the DRC. This treaty is an opportunity for our leaders to stop big polluters with their relentless plastic production and to protect our climate and affected communities from these climate impacts,’ said Dena.

‘We are confident that Africa’s governments will adopt and champion a strong global treaty that will end plastic pollution through a phase out of plastic production to protect the environment and human rights of Africans,’ continued Dena.

Plastic is polluting throughout its entire lifecycle from the moment it is extracted to its disposal. Plastic proponents and corporations need to stop relying on big oil and instead invest in reuse and refill models.

Dena said that countries such as Rwanda and Kenya need to show leadership on this issue and match the urgency of the crisis by championing an ambitious plastics treaty.

‘We urge Africa’s governments to ensure that there is fair and equitable representation throughout the negotiation and implementation process from communities disproportionately affected by the plastic pollution crisis. African leaders can adopt a progressive plan that supports ambitious goals for a new plastic agreement to solve the plastic pollution crisis,’ concluded Dena.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Migori County To Celebrate Anti-Tobacco Day

This year’s World No Tobacco Day will be celebrated at Sibuoche market in Migori County on Wednesday 31, May at an event expected to be graced by senior national and county government’s officials.

The World No Tobacco Day is aimed at highlighting all the dangers that smoking cigarettes or growing and handling green tobacco leafs portends to the health of human beings.

Health experts warn of a myriad of diseases that face the human body when people smoke cigarettes or grow tobacco as their economic mainstay. Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable diseases, disability and death in Kenya and elsewhere, they stress.

‘Smoking can cause many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other lung ailments, and diabetes,’ said Dr. Dennis Obuon of Migori County referral hospital.

He says quitting smoking can help you in your physical fitness goals, adding that it can also help one be ready and determined for ‘your family, friends and country.’

However, despite all these expertise warnings, some of the Migori residents who for many years have been involved seriously in producing green tobacco as their sole industrial crop are against the campaigns to totally ‘kill’ the growth of the crop in Migori and elsewhere in the world.

‘Even if they will be making harsh words against tobacco and smoking on that day, let them know that their act will not make me quit growing this crop that has helped me grow in the hands of my parents, grandparents and great grandparents to my adulthood,’ remarked 56 year-old John Okello, a re-known tobacco farmer from Ayego village in central Kanyamkago location, Uriri Sub-county.

The father of five says that in all his life, he has depended on income from tobacco produce to fend for his family. ‘Until the anti-campaigns against tobacco growing started seriously in Migori around 2015 that saw the crop production reduce to about 30 percent within the region, farmers used to earn good income from the sale of the crop allowing them to live a better life with their families.

Mr. Alfonse Mwita, a farmer from Chenato areas in Kuria East points out that the business of producing the crop has plummeted to almost a quarter with the migration of multinational tobacco buying companies like Aliance One (Kenya) to other African counties due to bad trade.

Other companies such as British American tobacco (BAT), StanCom and Mastermind have reduced their business with the crop in the region, remaining with only a handful of farmers to assist grow and buy their produce.

In early 70s up to the late 90s, Migori was the biggest tobacco producer in Kenya, accounting to more than 70 percent of the yields produced in the country. The county then plunged into serious activities of fighting the production of the crop led by the county government leadership that hyped on introducing alternative crops like avocado, sugarcane, maize and sunflower among others praising their safety to human life.

While some farmers – more than 10,000 tobacco growers in the region – have already switched to embracing alternative cash crops which can fetch them quick money, although the dream is also not showing good signs, a good number of hardcore tobacco farmers like Mwita have vowed never to be pushed out of tobacco production.

‘Despite the ravaging poverty and diseases caused by tobacco in regions where the crop once dominated, stretching from Kuria West to Kuria East, Suna West, Uriri and Rongo, some hardcore farmers are still stuck to this crop giving us a big problem,’ said Migori County Executive ( CEC) member in charge of agriculture, Mr. Lucas Mosenda.

He regretted that it has become a herculean task to convince characters like Mwita adopt the practice of growing other crops even though they are much aware of the health dangers associated with the crop.

‘The resistance among some farmers to drop tobacco farming has been so severe but we are out to try to convince them to slowly see the sense and finally leave the crop altogether in the near future,’ assured Mosenda at recent interview.

He called on the local people to purpose to attend the Wednesday World No Tobacco Day in order to learn more on health issues related to the crop.

Source: Kenya News Agency

NGO Wants Tax On Sanitary Materials Abolished

A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) is calling on the government to abolish any tax on sanitary materials in order to make them affordable especially to girls in secondary schools.

Speaking on Saturday during the celebrations of World’s Menstrual Hygiene Day at Kithangari girls’ high school in Meru County, Ms Santa Sabastian the Director of Youth and Women Advocacy Network which is under the umbrella of Echo Network Africa said the move will ensure that the girls’ learning times in schools were not interrupted as they go out to look for the important materials.

‘We have realized that girls also do not feel comfortable when they are undergoing the menstrual cycle and especially when they lack sanitary towels. This affects their performance and our rallying call to the government therefore is to abolish any tax on these materials if not providing them for free,’ said Ms Sabastain.

She added: ‘We also came here to support and encourage the young girls that there is no shame in having periods and that they should be confident and serious in their studies even when they are experiencing the cycles.’

Deputy Director Mr Ahmad Yusuf called on all education stakeholders and partners to work together in ensuring that every girl in schools in Meru County have access to adequate sanitary towels to ensure they have uninterrupted access to quality education.

According to stakeholders in education a lot of girls don’t give out their best in life because of the stigma surrounding them, especially concerning the menstrual cycle.

Global health organisations are trying to build a world where no one is held back because of the normal menstrual cycle by the year 2030.

Caroline Kathambi, a girl from the school thanked the group for supporting them and promised to reward them by excelling in their academic work.

‘We are glad we have been mentored and supported well and we promise to work hard as a pay for this support,’ said Kathambi.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Seychelles’ government assessing buildings for solar power panel installation

The Seychelles’ Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) and the Department of Energy are currently assessing prospective government buildings to install photovoltaic panels, said a top official.

These are the latest steps Seychelles is taking towards achieving 15 percent renewable penetration by 2030 and the greater vision of hitting net-zero emissions by 2050.

“We are assessing whether the earmarked institutions’ roofs can sustain having the panels,” the Principal Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, Tony Imaduwa, told SNA.

Among the buildings being assessed are health centres, police stations and other government offices to see if their roofs can hold the PV systems first of all. The assessment is on energy consumption and whether the grid can integrate them as well as if there are plans to carry out renovation work on the buildings.

“It will not make sense to install the panel on a building such as a police station that will be undergoing renovations soon,” explained Imaduwa.

Seychelles has received funding from an Indian government grant to support a programme to install PV systems on government buildings. Additional funding has been added to next year’s budget to ensure the completion of the second phase.

The first phase of the installation of PV panels on certain government buildings is completed and the Department of Energy has started work for the second phase.

The Barbarbarons emergency housing estate in the west of Mahe, the main island, and the National Assembly building at Ile du Port are some of the buildings included in the first phase.

“We started this programme some years back under the PV democratisation project. Through the ongoing project, more government buildings will be identified,” said Imaduwa.

Meanwhile, to complement this program, the Department is also running one for schools under the Solar School Project partly funded by the Chinese government.

“So far we have covered schools on La Digue and Praslin and some on Mahe,” explained Imaduwa.

Currently, the largest PV panel is on the roof of the Central Bank building in Victoria.

Seychelles — a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean — relies heavily on imported fossil fuel for power generation and transportation. Currently, only 2.5 percent of the island nation’s electrical energy is from renewable sources.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ President congratulates re-elected President of Turkey

The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, has sent a congratulatory message to his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, on his successful re-election, State House said on Monday.

“The people of Turkey have yet again given you a strong mandate as a reaffirmation of their confidence in your leadership,” said Ramkalawan in his message.

In acknowledging the long history of cooperation and excellent diplomatic relations between the two countries, Ramkalwan expressed his hope for further collaboration between Seychelles and Turkey for the benefit of both countries.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, established diplomatic relations with Turkey in 1995.

Ramkalwan wished President Erdogan continued good health as well as every success in his task ahead.

According to CNN, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey’s presidential election, defeating opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in Sunday’s runoff vote and stretching his rule into a third decade.

Erdogan won 52.14 percent of the votes in the 99.43 percent of the votes counted.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

Kakamega Budget Hits Sh17.37 Billion

Kakamega County is set to spend Sh. 17.37 Billion in the 2023/2024 financial year representing an increase of 5.47 per cent from the 2022/2023 approved budget.

County Executive Committee (CEC) Member for Finance and Economic Planning Livingstone Imbayi says the budget appropriations have taken into account the county priority programmes outlined in the County Integrated Development Plan 2023-2027 and the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework period 2023/2026.

‘We shall focus on infrastructure development, employment creation and improving service delivery,’ he said.

During public participation on county budget estimates for the 2023/2024 financial year organized by the County Assembly, the CEC however, said tough economic challenges have resulted in unmet revenue targets at both county and national governments.

He said the 2023/24-2025/26 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) budget has prioritized expenditure on completion of county flagship projects spread across the various sectors to ensure that citizens benefit from those projects.

During the meeting chaired by the Principal Fiscal Analyst Mrs. Beatrice Songole, MCA’s and two representatives from each of the 60 wards, the budget draft estimates show, the health sector has gained most by getting 26.75 per cent of the total budget with the County Public Service Board getting the lowest allocation of 0.46 per cent.

Members of the public cited the imbalance in appropriation of funds to various ministries that have a direct link to the source of livelihood of the ordinary person.

The representatives called for the need to come up with an agricultural rural team to follow up on the distribution of subsidized fertilizers and seeds to farmers.

They however hailed the increase in the ward bursary fund which is a major boost for the needy students in the Education sector.

The bursary fund was doubled from Sh.120 million in the last budget to Sh.240 million.

Education stakeholders, however, suggested that a school feeding programme ought to be established for the benefit of learners.

The public also expressed the need to digitalize the education sector by equipping ICT departments with internet and the ECDE centres be provided with more teachers to facilitate better learning conditions.

As part of the review, the public further suggested that the county should internally source manpower and contractors for the proposed projects.

The Ministry of social services youth and sports was advised to put more emphasis on establishing a sports academy to promote and nurture young talents from across all the wards.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Online Bank Harnessing Artificial Intelligence To Reduce Credit Risk

Branch International, the pioneer exclusively online bank (Neobank) in Kenya, says it leverages Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to minimize credit risk.

The announcement was made during a workshop that was held at the Sarova Stanley Hotel on Monday.

Branch International Founder and CEO Mr. Matt Flannery said that the Neobank’s utilization of AI algorithms has propelled it to the forefront of credit risk management, ensuring reliable and responsible lending practices.

‘Our banks utilization of AI algorithms has pushed it to the forefront of credit risk management. This has ensured reliable and responsible lending practices to our clients,’ Flannery reiterated.

Mr. Flannery also noted that by harnessing the power of AI, Branch International is able to offer personalized loan products and minimize risk exposure. This, in turn, results to enhanced financial inclusion and economic growth.

East Africa Branch International Managing Director Ms. Rose Muturi, said that being the first Neobank in Kenya, they continue to transform the banking landscape through their innovative use of AI technology. This has helped to implement a risk-based lending model that allows the technology to effectively meet the credit needs of all its customers.

‘By reducing credit risk with AI algorithms, Branch International ensures responsible lending practices that benefit both individuals and the broader economy,’ said Ms. Muturi.

In addition to Branch’s core lending services, it has unveiled two new features aimed at empowering customers further. Their current Flexi and Target savings products allow customers to enjoy competitive rates. Clients get 9% Per Annum (PA) for Flexi and 15% PA for Target, on their deposits.

Ms. Muturi noted that the Neobank recognizes the importance of savings as a vital component of financial stability. As a result, they came up with the versatile savings solution that allows customers to set aside funds at their own pace.

With the competitive interest rates, the above mentioned customers can enjoy the benefits of saving while simultaneously accessing funds whenever necessary, providing them with the financial flexibility they require to open a Flexi savings account.

‘All you need to do is fund your account from your Branch wallet. Once your Branch wallet is funded, tap the ‘Savings’ option, select Flexi savings and enter the amount you want to save, complete your savings, and start enjoying an interest of 9% PA for Flexi and 15% PA for Target,’ Ms. Muturi explained.

Further revealing that Branch has introduced a new payment option, Pay to Till, within their app. This feature enables customers to make seamless payments to merchants by scanning QR codes at their respective tills. This allows users the convenience of making payments directly from their Branch International app, eliminating the need for physical cash transactions. To keep enjoying the benefits of the app, Muturi stated, it’s important to always upgrade to the latest version.

Branch is a for profit socially conscious company that uses the power of data science to reduce the cost of delivering financial services in emerging markets.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Migori Police Officers Benefit From Mental Clinic Programme

A recent report by a task force on Mental Health in Kenya found that one in every ten police officers in the country is mentally challenged.

The study which was conducted in 2020 by the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) revealed that about 12,000 police officers suffer from mental health, thus the report recommended that mental illness be declared a national emergency.

The NPSC analysis and initial studies indicate that the reasons for which police officers plunge into dire stress levels revolve around human resource issues, including promotion, deployments, transfers, training and financial management.

The report further states that police from hot spot regions suffer more from mental illness due to domestic matters.

In this regard, Migori County was listed among other 36 hot spot counties with several officers suffering from mental breakdown leading to some of them committing some bizarre fatal human incidents

For instance, the aftermath of this disease dogging police men and women was witnessed last year in Migori when an officer shot his partner several times before turning the gun on himself.

In a move to create mental health awareness among the inflicted officers in the area, a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) by the name, Rehab Wheels, has come up with a program called ‘Askari ni binadamu wanahitaji upendo’ to improve mental health of officers.

During the clinic that ran for five days within the County, a number of police officers were brought on board.

The programme was organized and presided over by Dr. Irene Danchumburi of Rehab Wheels in collaboration with the Catholic Medical Mission Board and the Kenya Red Cross Society.

The Main purpose of the event which was held in Migori town was to enhance the mental well-being of the police officers drawn from the eight Sub-Counties of Migori County.

Dr. Danchumburi, the Chief Executive Officer for Rehab Wheels, shared that her personal experience with depression made her realize the importance of mental health counselling programs.

She said, ‘I lost my job and fell to depression. Overcoming my trauma inspired me to voluntarily offer my services to the police. I want to be the person they can turn to when they are at their lowest ebb.’

She decided to come up with the program ‘Askari ni Binadamu Wanahitaji Upendo’ after observing the mental challenges which are affecting the police officers within the county.

Since she started the program, she has been able to reach a large number of the police officers and a big number of them are turning out for counselling where they open up on the problems facing them economically, socially and health wise

Dr Danchumburi called on the police officers to be more open to one another and to share their problems with their colleagues noting that a problem shared is a problem a half solved.

The phycologist at the same time appealed to the general public to accept the police officers in their midist since they are human beings and they are prone to error.

‘The general public must accept the police officers as human beings that they are also prome to making mistakes in their lives,’ she stressed.

Police commander incharge of Suna East sub county Mr. Esau Ochorokodi, described the program as being highly beneficial to the police officers.

He explained that the clinic is specifically targeted to officers whose performance had significantly declined.

According to Ochorokodi, many of their officers are working in the environment which are causing mental challenges to them and unless they are trained on how to handle mental problems especially stress, they stare the risk of losing many of them.

‘This program has greatly helped police officers in terms of mental wellness. The officers often work in challenging environments and often have no one to confide in. Through this program, they have learned how to take care of their mental well-being,’ he stated.

The commander further outlined that the officers were selected based on their work output. Those who have struggled to maintain high work standards were chosen for the program.

However, he stressed that to prevent any feelings of isolation they also included hardworking officers to further elevate their well-being

Benson Onyango, the representative of the Catholic Medical Mission Board, expressed his satisfaction in the program’s execution. He explained that the CMMB is dedicated to upholding human rights and gender equality, as neglecting these issues often leads to mental health problems.

‘Our primary goal is to educate the public, including the police, on human rights, gender issues, HIV/AIDS, and mental health in Migori County. CMMB is committed to achieving 100 percent tolerance within society,’ he said.

Onyango further emphasized that their focus on the police stemmed from the fact that the mental well-being of officers had been overlooked, saying that the increased stigmatization within the police department regarding issues of AIDS and gender-based violence was worrying.

The officers who benefited from the program described it as a unique opportunity. Jemimah Amoit, a police officer, stressed the need for regular mental assessments within the police force.

She also emphasized the importance of establishing counselling programs throughout the department, urging the state to take action.

‘Burnout within the police force has become a significant problem. Without someone to talk to, it can lead to mental imbalance. I am grateful to the organizers for their dedication to the mental well-being of the service personnel.’

Amoit also revealed that the Migori County Police headquarters was the only place in the county where a volunteer mental health specialist was available.

The officers now hope that the Police Service will listen to their pleas and establish counselling services in police stations nationwide.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Seychelles’ Rovers football team to represent country at Madewis Cup Super Final in France

The Rovers Football Club under 10 selection will represent Seychelles at the Madewis Cup Super Final football competition in Bastia, France, the club said on Saturday.

The Seychelles’ side, which left on Monday, is made up of talented young Seychellois players chosen from schools all throughout the nation based on their technical football skills.

The team is led by head coach Rupert Pool and academy director Lucas Panayi, and has trained three to four times a week prior to their departure.

The Madewis Cup Super Final, a prominent football competition in France, attracts more than 12,000 amateur children ages 6 to 13.

The head coach said, “We are thrilled to be competing in an international tournament of such prestige with some of the best teams in Europe.”

He added that this “will be a huge challenge but one the players have been working hard to prepare for. We are excited to see how they will perform but most importantly we are excited to provide them with this opportunity and valuable experience for their continued football development.”

At last year’s tournament, Seychelles fielded two teams, competing in the under 10 and under 12 categories.

According to the Rovers management, the Seychelles Football Federation (SFF) did not have the budget to send teams to the tournament, so the team sought funding from their local sponsors.

The Rovers left Seychelles on Monday heading to Marseille for a training camp, before playing at the tournament from June 1-4 at the Stade Armand Cesari.

The Seychelles’ side has been drawn in Pool A, together with Olympique Lyonnais, AC Ajaccio, ES Trinite Lyon, Marignane Gignac, and Rosieres OS.

Pool B comrpises of Marseille, Bastia, Metz, US Creteil Lusitanos, Merignac Arlac and Boulogne Billancourt.

The young players are expected to play short 12-minute matches on half of the regular pitch, with each team fielding eight players.

Some of the professional players involved in the Madewis Cup in the past include Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte.

After the tournament, the team will spend a day in the famous academy of Zinedine Zidane, where they will train and play together with their French counterparts before returning to Seychelles on June 8.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

National Road Safety Plan 2022-2027 gets green light

Angola’s Cabinet Council approved Monday the National Plan for Road Safety and Prevention 2023-2027, a document that contains the strategic and operational objective aimed to reduce the number of road accidents in the country.

The Plan, according to the final communiqué of the meeting, chaired by the President of the Republic, João Lourenço, also contains the actions to be implemented in view of the factors identified which contribute to road accidents in the country.

The Executive intends to improve the training process for vehicle drivers, develop a culture of road education, guarantee efficient management and increase the levels of safety of infrastructures, vehicles and road users.

The project also aims to improve and expand rescue and assistance to the victims of accident, thus reducing the death toll resulting from road accidents.

Water Sector

The session also approved the Regulations for Commercial Relations of Supply and Wastewater Sanitation Services as well as the Regulatory Information Regulation of the Water and Wastewater Sanitation Subsector.

The measure aims to boost the legal framework applicable to the Water and Sanitation Subsector, with regard to the duty of information of the Management Entities to the Regulatory Entity, thus allowing the creation of an ecosystem of concise, credible and easy to interpret information.

The session also approved the Regulation on the Quality of Service Provided in the Public Water Supply and Wastewater Sanitation Subsector, a document that also establishes, within the scope of reinforcing the powers of the IRSEA, the minimum levels of quality that must comply with the services provided in the said subsector, as well as the due compensation in the event of non-compliance.

The session approved the Sanctioning Regulation of the Water and Wastewater Sanitation Subsector, a diploma that establishes the sanctioning regime applicable to transgressions, infractions or non-compliance with the rules on the exercise of public water supply and sanitation of wastewater.

The determinations and recommendations of the Regulatory Entity of the Water and Wastewater Sanitation Subsector were also endorsed, also stipulating the norms that conduct the contravention process and the general rules on deadlines, notifications and decision.

Energy Sector

In this regard, the Cabinet Council took note of the General Guidelines for the Preparation of the National Plan for Rural Electrification.

The said planning instrument’s main objective is to bring electricity to remote areas of the country, in order to improve the quality of life of the population and promote the economic and social development of these regions.

Health area

As for the Health Sector, the Cabinet approved the National Contingency and Emergency Plan for the Prevention of Influenza A (H1N1), an instrument that establishes a set of guidelines and procedures that, within a certain framework, aim at an effective response in the face of the threat of a pandemic by Influenza A.

To this purpose, the Executive intends to secure the continuity of essential services to the population, safeguarding people and the country’s economic and social situation.

The plan foresees, among other strategic actions, the establishment of a multi-sector and multi-disciplinary coordination mechanism at national, provincial and local level; analysis of the risk of introducing and transmitting the disease in the country.

It also plans, promotes and monitors the implementation of the measures contemplated in each phase of the Contingency and Emergency Plan; the reinforcement of the National Public Health Epidemiological Surveillance System in relation to possible suspected cases in risk groups.

The same programme foresees the notification of flu cases; reinforce the institutional capacity of laboratories and establish mechanisms for detection and screening of the H1N1 virus in suspected human and animal cases; and implement preventive measures from an agricultural point of view and community awareness and mobilisation.

Reform of Business sector

As part of the implementation of the Roadmap for the Reform of the Public Business Sector, the session approved the transformation of Road Cargo Transport companies (Unicargas, U.E.E.) and Public Urban Transport of Luanda (TCUL, U.E.E.), into joint-stock companies.

However, reads the statement from the Cabinet Council, both institutions become companies in the public domain.

Thus, the said companies, henceforth, are renamed “Unicargas – Empresa de Transporte Rodoviário de Cargas, S.A.” or abbreviated “Unicargas, SA.” or even “Unicargas” and TCUL – Empresa de Transporte Colectivo Urbano de Luanda, S.A. or abbreviated “TCUL, S.A.” or even “TCUL”.

The Executive intends, with this transformation, to give a new dynamic to the structure and operation of these companies, through a business management model that ensures the achievement of greater efficiency and openness in the segments of freight transport, logistics operation and people and goods.

Source: Angola Press News Agency (APNA)