Home Visitation By Visually Impaired Community Health Volunteer

The Soweto area in Kibra is densely populated. The spread of contagious diseases could easily confine the infected to their sickbed. Angela Nzilani, knows this well. She understands that prevention is better than cure. She’s a community health volunteer (CHV). At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic series of vaccination, Nzilani, despite her visual impairment, immersed herself in her work by engaging in home visitation. She would regularly work with a team of health officers under the then Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS). https://youtu.be/zJO-osZBwh0 ‘I have 100 households that I care for,’ she says. ‘Besides, I visit people living with disabilities elsewhere since community health work has no boundaries.’ Even though much attention on the Covid-19 pandemic has dropped, CHVs played a pivotal role in one of the strategies employed to accelerate the uptake of the vaccines. At one time, there was some vaccine apathy in several parts of Nairobi, including informal settlements. Nzilani’s passionate goal was to persuade householders to be vaccinated against the communicable disease. Due to some myths and misconceptions regarding the various vaccines, Nzilani would encounter a number of dissenting views, including outright refusal. ‘Why are you declining yet you have such little children that you could easily infect?’ She would ask. Her householder would maintain adamancy, ‘I won’t accept to be vaccinated!’ Alternatives were sometimes sought. A few people would suggest to her, ‘We’ve had too many injections. There should be tablets and syrups instead of injections.’ Nzilani and her team recognized that they couldn’t compel residents to accept the vaccine. Nzilani didn’t allow negative views to put her down. She would relate her personal experience. ‘I’m a role model,’ she would say. ‘I received the recommended two jabs and the boosters as well. I never suffered any adverse effects.’ Nzilani isn’t sure of the exact number of persons that she urged to accept the vaccination. What counts for her is that some progress was achieved in her quest. The Deputy Director who was in charge of promotive and preventive health under NMS, Dr Carol Ngunu said, ‘We have over 1500 healthcare workers and community health volunteers who have been trained. They are able to administer the vaccine and give proper messaging to the public on the importance of the Covid-19 vaccine.’ The NMS was aiming at promoting equitable access to the vaccines. Nzilani was on the lookout for the visually impaired, lest they be left out. She reached out to Michael Wamae to go to the AMREF health facility within the settlement, for his first booster shot. Wamae heeded the plea. A nurse at the facility, Modestar Yambasa, said, ‘Michael got his first and second doses of the Moderna vaccine. I’m going to administer Pfizer.’ About 180 facilities in Nairobi were at hand to jab the primary vaccinations and the booster. Recounting how Wamae lost his sight, he said, ‘I suffered a meningitis attack in 2004 and as a result, I couldn’t differentiate day from night.’ Nzilani enlightened him on the importance of the boosters. ‘A blind person has to walk about with a personal assistant,’ she said. ‘Maintaining social distancing was not practical.’ Nzilani’s determination compelled her to wind through the narrow alleys of Soweto whenever a health issue needed to be brought to the attention of her households. Many a time, she delicately balanced herself on thin portions of earth sandwiched between a wall and a waste-drainage trench. Dr. Ngunu admitted that, ‘There was a lot of infondemic going on within social media in different areas.’ She recommended that credible information could be obtained from the Ministry of Health website or from healthcare workers at the nearest facility. Unlike Wamae whom Nzilani convinced fast to accept a booster, Esther Nduku, also totally blind, was difficult to convince. Misinformation abounded. She had the primary shots of the vaccine. But she had rejected the booster. ‘I heard it said that if I accept the booster, I could die,’ Nduku disclosed. ‘When I heard that, I decided not to accept the booster.’ Such a situation would demand some reasoning. The healthcare workers accompanying Nzilani would chip in by explaining why the vaccination was necessary. ‘How many boosters do we need?’ like Nduku, some residents would inquire. Nzilani would answer, ‘The government, through the Ministry of Health will tell us.’ When such people would accede to the vaccination call, it would be triumph for Nzilani. As their details would be keyed into the Ministry of Health’s Chanjo system portal, Nzilani wouldn’t see but would sense it. The goal of having at least three million inhabitants of Nairobi vaccinated by the end of that campaign was within reach. Nzilani knows that her volunteer spirit was not an exercise in futility.

Source: Kenya News Agency

700 Laikipia Students Get Bursaries From Carbon Credits

Over 700 students in various secondary schools and colleges in Laikipia County have benefited from a Sh. 4 million bursary, courtesy of Carbon Credits money earned by local conservation groups in their bid to conserve the environment. The bursary, issued by Upper Naibung’a Conservancy in Laikipia North Sub-County, will benefit 642 secondary school students, who will get Sh. 5,000 each per term, while 72 others in various colleges and universities will get Sh. 6,500 per semester. The bursaries will be paid directly to 72 local secondary schools, 22 tertiary colleges, and 18 universities, where local students learn. Upper Naibung’a Conservancy Chairman Peter Kilesi said that out of the Sh. 12 million received by the Conservancy from the Carbon Credit project, 60 per cent was set aside for improving community livelihoods, such as offering bursaries and providing water for domestic use. ‘The remaining 40 per cent of the funds will be ploughed back to the Conservancy for rangeland management and effective environmental conservation, such as tree and pasture planting,’ Kilesi said Tuesday. He added that the Carbon Credits cash had motivated the local community to be conservation champions, who were ready to conserve their surrounding environment at all costs. The Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT), an umbrella organisation that manages 43 community conservancies in northern Kenya and the coastal region, said through its Mountain Regional Manager, Aloyce Lekuton, that the conservation efforts by the local communities were bearing fruit, as evidenced by the bursaries and numerous other benefits to improved livelihoods. Lekuton lauded the management of the beneficiary conservancies for their accountability of the funds, noting that it would give confidence to the local communities. Other conservancies that have benefited from the carbon credit money are IlNg’wesi, Lekuruki, Central, and Lower Naibung’a. ‘We have never received any audit queries from the conservancies under NRT from the Carbon Credit funds. Their accountability levels are commendable,’ Lekuton said. Rosemary Nenini observed that the bursaries would go a long way in cushioning residents in school fee payments since the majority had lost their livestock due to drought. ‘Most of the people here are pastoralists and heavily rely on livestock, but due to drought, the majority have lost thousands of animals for the last two years and were unable to send their children to school. We are happy that our children will be back in class,’ Nenini said. A Carbon Credit is a kind of permit that represents 1 tonne of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere. They can be purchased by an individual or, more commonly, a company to make up for carbon dioxide emissions that come from industrial production or emissions from automobiles. Carbon Credits are generated from projects around the world that pull greenhouse gases (GHGs) out of the atmosphere or keep emissions from being released. Each time a project verifies they have reduced, avoided, or destroyed one metric tonne of GHG, one Carbon Credit is created. One Carbon Credit has a monetary value on the compliance and voluntary carbon markets of 40 to 80 dollars, on average. However, this can be expected to fluctuate with supply and demand.

Source: Kenya News Agency

One Dead, Five Injured As Heavy Rains Wreak Havoc In Teso

A heavy downpour on Tuesday evening has left one person dead and at least five others injured in Teso North Sub County. The rain also rendered over 35 families in the Osia and Papai areas destitute after their houses were brought down. Electricity transmission lines were also destroyed by the storm, an occurrence that left parts of Ang’urai North Ward in a blackout. Destroyed houses and trees in Teso North sub county following the ongoing heavy downpour in the area. Photo by Absalom Namwalo Kakurikit Senior Chief Julius Ekirapa, confirming the incident, said 72-year-old Pelesta Akumu succumbed after her house collapsed on her in the downpour. The same sentiments were echoed by DCC Teso North Stephen Wambura as he called for urgent interventions from the national disaster department and humanitarian organizations. ‘For now, I can confirm one person died. There are five others who have been hospitalised, and the destruction on people’s farms is abnormal,’ said Wambura. Those hospitalised at the Ang’urai Health Centre are a woman and her two children. Two others are at Kocholia Referral Hospital. The Osia-Kakurikit-Katotoi road was partially blocked as heavy winds brought down trees that blocked the road that links Kenya to Uganda via an undesignated border point. Farmers and businessmen are counting massive losses after several shops and farm produce that were planted were completely destroyed. ‘We are counting losses as crops, mostly bananas, tobacco, avocado trees, and some livestock, were destroyed in Katotoi, Kakurikit, Osia, Kaejo, and Kasinge areas,’ said Stephen Karani, one of the affected residents from Osia. Residents are now appealing to the national and county governments to come to their rescue, particularly those whose houses were destroyed completely and who have no alternative place to live at the moment. Angurai North MCA Issac Wamalwa noted that this is the first time Angurai ward has experienced rainfall with that kind of magnitude of destruction that has left residents counting losses of property and life. The incident comes barely one day after a windstorm destroyed six classrooms at Dadira primary school in Butula sub-county. Early this month, over 40 houses were destroyed in Nambale and five houses in Funyula, bringing the total number of houses destroyed in Busia County to 85 houses within one month. Tuesday’s occurrence came two days after President William Ruto said the country will not experience El Nino rains as earlier predicted by the Kenya Meteorological Department. The Met Department had warned that El Nino would hit the country from mid-October to December. Teso North Constituency Manager Richard Opangala has warned the government not to underestimate the impact of the ongoing rainfall in Busia County, adding that several families have already been affected yet there has been little intervention from the disaster committee. He has, however, clarified that the rains will be significant and precautions must be taken in Busia County.

Source: Kenya News Agency

State To Digitise All Services To Enhance Service Delivery

The Ministry of Information, Communications, and The Digital Economy is making major strides to ensure that Kenya continues to harness the potential of technology for better livelihoods and standards of living. Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and the Digital Economy Eliud Owalo (Center seated) poses for a group photo with a section of delegates during the opening ceremony of the 14th Annual ICT Management and Leadership Conference of the Computer Society of Kenya, Mombasa. Photo by Andrew Hinga Speaking during the opening ceremony of the 14th Annual ICT Management and Leadership Conference of the Computer Society of Kenya, Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo said that the government has started to provide physical technological infrastructure and meaningful inclusive connectivity. Owalo said the government has also come up with feasible and sustainable interventions in the market to ensure that Kenya becomes a perpetual net consumer of ICT equipment and software. He said the ministry has partnered with technological companies and the private sector to embark on local smart-enabled telephones, which, based on feasibility studies that the ministry undertook, show that the phones will hit the market at a unit cost of about Sh6,000. ‘We are rolling out cheap smart-enabled smartphones, and we believe that within our Konza Techno policy, in partnership with the private sector, we should be able to embark on the local manufacture of ICT equipment for a beginning, and eventually we should be able to go the full way in manufacturing ICT infrastructure,’ he said. Owalo added that the ministry is currently rolling out 100,000 kilometres of fibre-optic backbone infrastructure that is targeting health facilities, schools, and the judiciary, among other public institutions. He disclosed that alongside this is the ongoing rolling out of 25,000 public WiFi hotspots that are targeting markets, bus parks, and other public spaces. ‘Focus is also on providing 1450 village digital hubs geared towards spurring e-commerce, creativity, and the digital economy. We are also training youth in digital technology and finding them well-paying digitally enabled jobs from around the world,’ he said. The CS said the effort is embedded in the objective of making the government of Kenya paperless, climate-friendly, and saving people time and money in search of government services. He said people should be able to get as many of the services as they desire, particularly from the government, from the comforts of their homes or places of work. He added that other emerging developments in digital technology include such innovations as big data analytics, the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and block chain, among others. He said the emergence of these technologies are making it easy for quick and efficient decision-making, providing opportunities for real-time situations and process monitoring and analyses that optimise resource use, enhance disaster preparedness, and track progress towards advancing in pursuit of the UN’s global Sustainable Development Goals. ‘As a government, we are focused on making the gains from these technologies part of our day-to-day benefits,’ he added. The CS noted that the ICT landscape in Kenya is evolving apace, adding that technology now promises to play an indispensable role in the progress of the country. ‘We are witnessing tremendous growth and impact in internet penetration into society, digital literacy, and adoption of new technologies in various sectors-from banking to education and healthcare, and on to agriculture and governance, among other spheres,’ he said. He said that as the digital landscape continues to expand, Kenya must remain at the forefront of innovation because technology is permeating all aspects of life, work, and even play. He added that the country’s promising internet-driven ecosystem is a testament to the innovative spirit of Kenyan entrepreneurs, while established tech companies continue to make their mark on the global stage. He said there will be no longer a need to have manual processors in the country since, by the end of the year, all government services will have been boarded on the e-citizen platform. He said there should be a mechanism for authenticating people’s identities for ease of accessing government services from the comfort of their homes.

Source: Kenya News Agency

50,000 Candidates To Write National Exams In Nyeri

A total of 52,453 candidates, drawn from the eight sub-counties in Nyeri, will be sitting for this year’s national exams. A Summary Report from the County Director of Education also shows that out of this figure, 15,857 candidates will be sitting for the Kenya Primary School Education Assessment (KPSEA), and another 16,740 will be writing the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). The latter will comprise the last batch of candidates to sit for the KCPE under the 8-4-4 education system, which is being replaced by the 2-6-3-3-3 model. On the other hand, a total of 19,856 form four candidates, will start writing their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examination (KCSE) theory papers on November 6th. Nyeri County Director of Education, Jane Njogu, told KNA that all necessary preparations have already been finalised in readiness for the kick-off of the three papers. She said the Ministry of Education has partnered with National Government Administrative Officers (NGAO), National Police Service personnel, and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to facilitate the smooth administration of the exams. She also stated that both KCPE candidates and their KPSEA counterparts will have their rehearsals on Friday ahead of their papers beginning on Monday next week. ‘Officers were sent from Nairobi to come and brief the people on the ground, which included principles, supervisors, and invigilators. So, every supervisor has been briefed, and all the people that needed to be briefed have been briefed. We have had security meetings, even with the County Commissioner (Pius Murugu), and we have agreed on how we will be handling the exams when they start,’ she said. Notably about this year’s exams is that, while all the 771 KCPE and KCSE examination centres will each be monitored by contractual supervisors and invigilators, those sitting for KPSEA will be supervised by their respective subject teachers. Ms. Njogu similarly said that each of the eight sub-counties has been supplied with a container as a distribution point, which is being manned by the respective Sub-county Director of Education and Deputy County Commissioners. There will also be another batch of 868 candidates who will be sitting for KCPE and KCSE papers as private candidates in 254 examination centres. ‘The difference between KCPE and KPSEA is that the invigilator in the latter is the subject teacher, while KCPE candidates will have contractual invigilators and supervisors. We have eight sub counties and every sub county has an examination distribution centre that we refer to as a container, managed by a Deputy County Commissioner and Sub-County Director of Education. There is a change this time because we have been opening distribution centres for KCSE at 6 a.m., but this time around we shall be opening at 7 a.m., while the one for KCPE will be opened at 6 a.m.,’ she pointed out. On whether the county has received reports of any pregnant candidates, the education official said they were yet to receive such a report. She nevertheless clarified that in the event such a situation arises, the Ministry is working in collaboration with the County Government Health Department to ensure such an eventuality is taken care of. ‘So far, I have not heard of any, and I have realised that this is not a major problem in Nyeri as such. But should it (pregnancy) come, we are working with the county government, and I think we shall be able to handle that,’ she has explained. The government has already secured the help of 1,700 officers, including security officers, to oversee the month-long exercise.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Huduma Mashinani Outreach Benefits 600 Narok Residents

Over 600 people at the Ololulunga Trading Centre in Narok South Sub-county received critical government services after the Narok Huduma Centre staff took services to the grassroots. The initiative dubbed ‘Huduma Mashinani’ saw residents benefit from services from various departments, among them: national registration, civil registration, the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA), reporting of lost documents and obtaining police abstracts, and free health consultations, among others. The officers were led by Narok Huduma Centre Manager, Ms. Naserian Katampoi, who said the aim of the initiative was to reach out to more people who could not afford to travel to Narok town, where their offices are based. ‘We are happy that the turnout was so overwhelming. The exercise began at 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with the majority of those served being people seeking birth certificates and National Identification cards,’ she said, adding that the community had requested an extension of the human machining. Narok South Deputy County Commissioner, Felix Kisalu, who launched the programme, said it aims at taking government services close to the people. Kisalu encouraged residents to take advantage of such forums to benefit from government services, saying the services were done free of charge. ‘You do not have to bribe the officers in order to be served. They are here to serve you free of charge. If you are asked to pay for any services, then you should be provided with an official receipt,’ he said. The beneficiary of the programme commended the government for taking services close to them, calling on the government to do such exercises on a regular basis. Antony Mintilla, a resident of the Melelo area, which is a few kilometres from Ololulunga Trading Centre, said the officers were very friendly and carried out their duties in a professional manner. ‘The residents feel honoured to receive such services close to them. Most of them could not afford to travel all the way to Narok town. We thank the government for such an initiative,’ he said.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Parents Urged To Monitor Children During Holiday

The call on parents to take full responsibility for their children during this long holiday has continued to dominate many school-closing speeches in Narok County. Education stakeholders, among them academicians, teachers, and religious leaders, have called on parents to focus on mentoring their children, warning them against leaving them under the care of their relatives. Grace Wachira, a Kenyatta University lecturer, challenged parents to help nurture their children’s talents, saying the Competence-Based Curriculum (CBC) is skill-based and not knowledge-based. ‘The advantage of the new system is that it focuses on skills and not knowledge. This will enable the learners to get jobs easily after school, as they will venture where their talent is,’ she said. She called on parents to be good stewards of their children and usher them into a bright future by building their skills. ‘An educated person is not the same as someone who has not gone to school. Every person requires education so that they can manage their future,’ she said. She was speaking at Blessed Narok Schools during a school closing ceremony, where she asked parents to nurture their children in a godly manner so that they can be of good character and excel in everything they do. ‘A person who excels in what they do will stand before kings. We charge you that if there is anything challenging for your children, ask God to help you so that you can make their dreams come true,’ she continued. Blessed Narok School Director Jane Sankok asked parents to spend quality time with their children, love them, and listen to them so that they can make them better people in society. ‘Give those children your time; do not take them to their grandmothers or send them to the village to stay with their relatives. It is important to stay with them in order to understand them,’ she urged. The 2023 school calendar is coming to an end this week as candidates in grades six, class eight, and four prepare to sit for their National Examination. The schools will reopen in January 2024.

Source: Kenya News Agency

ECDE Pupils In Kerugoya To Benefit From School Feeding Programme

The school feeding programme in all ECDE centres in Kerugoya has taken off as the Departmental Committee on Education evaluates its annual work plan. The County Executive Committee Member (CEC) for Education, James Mutugi, has announced plans by the County Government of Kirinyaga in partnership with the donor community to enforce a school feeding programme in all ECDE centres across the County. This, he said, will benefit a total of 15,000 pupils who are domiciled in pre-primary schools across the 20 wards in Kirinyaga. Mutugi further said that plans are at an advanced stage to construct 15 state-of-the art ECDE classrooms by the end of the 2023-24 financial year. He also pointed out that the department, in the spirit of implementing the competency-based curriculum (CBC), has set aside a total of Sh5 million for the implementation of digital learning in various pilot centers. The committee on education, chaired by Murinduko Ward MCA Charles Nyamu, was also briefed that a total of 34,799 students benefited from the Sh108 million bursary kitty, with 3017 university students, 4209 tertiary institution students, and 27,573 secondary school students retained in school courtesy of the bursary intervention. Nyamu urged the CECM to be steadfast in disbursing bursary funds on time in order to cushion students and parents from inconveniences such as missing classes. Beatrice Mitaru, a Nominated Member representing persons with disabilities, questioned the delays in establishing a vocational centre of excellence for people living with disabilities at Kamaigua Vocational Centre. In his response, the CEC said that plans for the said interventions are currently being handled by the Department of Gender and that a modern dormitory has been built to that effect. Meanwhile, CEC urged members of the education committee to allocate the department more resources, as that would help in implementing key programmes that have been earmarked in the work plan.

Source: Kenya News Agency

New Chief Officers Assume Offices In Nyeri County

Nyeri Deputy Governor David Kinaniri today welcomed two new chief officers to work in the county government. The two will serve as accounting officers in the departments of Lands, Housing, Physical Planning and Urban Development and Department of Transport Public Works and Infrastructure and Energy respectively. While welcoming the two, Kinaniri noted that the officers have undergone all processes, including vetting by the County Assembly, and will commence work immediately. Fredrick Macharia takes over from Beatrice Koech, a physical planner by profession, while Ann Magdaline takes over from Julius Ringera, who is retiring after serving the people of Nyeri diligently for the last decade. Kinaniri encouraged them to be hard-working, transparent, and accountable in their work. He also told them to ensure good service delivery and cautioned them against corrupt dealings, reminding them that vice is not allowed in the county government of Nyeri.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Owalo To Counties: Embrace Technology To Enhance Efficiency

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy Eliud Owalo has challenged counties to incorporate technology and digitization in their programmes to improve service delivery to the public as the world evolves in the digital space. Speaking during the County Public Service Board annual convention in Mombasa, Owalo said that devolved units and their functional mandates are anchored and aligned to the overall government policy framework in the digital sphere, hence the need to acclimatise to technology since performance will be evaluated on the basis of customer and stakeholder satisfaction index. Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and the Digital Economy Eliud Owalo (R) arrives for the opening of the County Public Service Boards’ annual convention at Pride lnn Hotel, Mombasa. Photo by Andrew Hinga He added that the risk of going into obsolescence is more pronounced at the county level if the value proposition does not meet the needs of the new global digital systems. ‘Technology is by far the most powerful tool to enhance service delivery. The world has shifted to advanced modules that are more efficient, including digital payment platforms, enhanced customer relations management systems, and integrated e-commerce mechanisms,’ Owalo said. The CS also noted that automation and digitization will effectively streamline performance management frameworks in the counties, which are currently loophole-ridden, consequently dragging proper functionality. He added that technology will transform the evaluation of public servants in the devolved units on the basis of outputs and outcomes, as opposed to processes, while leveraging technology and digitization. ‘Automating performance management systems will be able to discern performance levels and correspondingly incorporate monitoring, evaluation, and reporting frameworks and flag discrepancies that might lag performance,’ he said. With cutting-edge technology morphing the world into a global village, the concept of employability has significantly changed. Organisations across the world have trimmed their physical personnel and work spaces and replaced them with sophisticated working tools that have doubled efficiency. Owalo said this is the trajectory that not only devolved units but the country in general should take so as to be on par with global standards. He said evaluation of organisations is no longer based on the number of staff they employ but rather on the impact on the people informed by their functional mandates. ‘The net effect of embracing technology is that going forward we will have fewer people-smart people-doing the same jobs with better pay and improved efficiency,’ he said. He added that if the synergy between the national government and devolved units is seamless, the country will be able to position itself as a technological hub not only in Africa but also on the international stage.

Source: Kenya News Agency