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Why Kenya’s Rift Valley lakes are going through a crisis | News

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Rift Valley, Kenya – It was seven years ago when Job Chebon, owner of a tourist lodge on the edge of Lake Baringo, first noticed the waters near his property rise dangerously.

“The water would come and then recede. For years, it would come a little bit further to dry land, to our homes, then go back,” he said earlier in August, standing on a sandbag leading to the flooded reception lobby of his Soi Safari Lodge – at least, what remains of it.

“In 2020, it has come with a vengeance.”

The rising waters of Lake Baringo in the Great Rift Valley have dealt a heavy blow to tourism, a key sector in this part of Kenya.

Chebon said he had lost thousands of dollars in accommodation fees and damage to his property, while several other hotels in the region have also been either totally or partially submerged.

The tourism sector of the region has taken a huge hit [Daniel Munene/Al Jazeera]

Elizabeth Meyerhoff, an anthropologist, who along her husband Murray Roberts, has been studying the lake since 2013, said the water level has been rising at about 2.5cm (0.98 inches) a day.

“In the last seven years, [it] has raised to about 9-12 metres (30-39 feet).”

The couple, who live next door to Chebon’s lodge, have also been running a programme aimed at rehabilitating semi-arid environments by producing dry land seed which they have already distributed to more than 900 farmers.

Almost all the land where the grass, mostly meant for grazing was planted, is underwater. The couple’s stores, offices and a dispensary have had a similar fate.

“The water comes from the rivers, but because of deforestation it’s bringing down huge amount of flash flooding with sediments which fill the bottom of the lake,” said Meyerhoff, after a tour on a boat – a mode of transport that is the new norm in these parts of Baringo.

Climate change and unusually heavy rains this year have also contributed to the problem.

The rising waters have displaced more than 5,000 people in 2020, according to government officials, submerging homes, schools, roads, hospitals, farmland – and even entire islands.

aerial pics of Lake Baringo

The rising waters of Lake Baringo have displaced thousands of people, submerging homes, roads and farmland among others [Daniel Munene/Al Jazeera] 

“This island was whole, we could move around,” said Nongaseuria Lenaisiaku, an elderly lady who has had to relocate to higher ground twice after Kokwa Island was split into three parts.

“Now the water has separated us from our relatives. I don’t even have a boat take me to other parts of the village.”

Nearby, in Rugus, another fishing village of mud-thatched huts, Singh Lenapunya was seated on his raft – scaling fish he had just caught. He acknowledged that the rising waters have brought along plenty of fish – but also crocodile and hippos. A herdsman was recently killed by a crocodile.

Lake Bogoria rising

However, it is not just Lake Baringo and its dependents that are in trouble.

Further to the south, Lake Bogoria – a World Heritage site which at times hosts up to 1.2 million flamingoes – has also been rising. Just a few years ago, Baringo and Bogoria – freshwater and alkaline lakes, respectively – were 20km (12 miles) apart, but local officials say that distance has now been cut to 13km (eight miles).

Located on an eponymous national reserve, Lake Bogoria is a significant tourist attraction, whose hundreds of bird species and beautiful landscape, as well as geysers and hot springs, draw visitors from many parts of the world.

aerial pics of Lake Baringo

Lake Bogoria is a major tourist attraction [Chaterine Wambua-Soi/Al Jazeera]

According to James Kimaru, the game reserve’s senior warden, the lake has expanded from 34 square kilometres in 2017 to 43 square kilometres in 2020.

“Almost 80 percent of the hot springs are under water, especially the main ones which were shooting almost three metres up,” said Kimaru. “They used to be our main tourist attraction but now the number of visitors has reduced. The main road, the gate to our reserve and our offices are under water – we have to move for a second time. The hospital, hotels and homes adjacent to the reserve are also submerged.”

Meanwhile, there are growing concerns about the swamps between the lakes. Both Meyerhoff and Kimaru said if the alkaline water from Bogoria reached the swamps which link to Baringo’s freshwater – it would be an ecological disaster.

With both lakes having no known channels that allow the flow of excess water, some scientists have suggested building a barrier between them. Others have recommended constructing a canal for water to flow out of Lake Baringo, which is rising faster. They say the water can be channelled through a natural course outlet further north.

It is still unclear, however, what the effect of such a move would be on Kenyan farmers and pastoralists downstream, as well as the lake itself.

Government officials told Al Jazeera they are examining these suggestions, while also carrying out a study to find out whether there are other reasons why the lakes are rising so fast to determine safe solutions to protect them and the millions of people whose lives are at stake.

Back in Soi Safari Lodge, Chebon said he is afraid that it is only a matter of time before his entire property – and with it, his entire livelihood – is swept away by the rising waters.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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‘Kuwait is unsafe for women’: Outrage over brutal murder of woman | Women’s Rights News

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The Murder of a woman in Kuwait sparks calls for stricter punishment for perpetrators after she was killed by a man released on bail.

The horrific murder of a woman in Kuwait this week has sparked outrage on social media with calls for stricter punishment for perpetrators of violent crime against women in the country.

On Tuesday, Farah Hamza Akbar was killed by a man against whom she had previously filed two cases for harassment which followed her family’s alleged refusal to his marriage proposal.

The perpetrator, arrested and later released on bail, kidnapped the woman and stabbed her to death. Her body was left outside a hospital south of Kuwait City, according to the interior ministry.

Within hours of the murder, to which the man later confessed, the police arrested him, the ministry said in a statement.

A video circulating on social media showed the victim’s sister crying and screaming that she had notified authorities of the threat he posed, but said her pleas were ignored.

“That is what we got, exactly what we said, that he is going to kill her, and he killed my sister. Where is the government? We told the judge. I told you many times he would kill her, and now she’s dead,” she said in the footage.

Outrage

Within hours, the victim’s name was trending on Twitter in Kuwait as hundreds expressed outrage over the crime.

Kuwaiti fashion blogger Ascia al-Faraj shared the video of the distraught sister, saying that Kuwait was “not safe for women”.

Several social media users held authorities responsible, saying that they should not have released the perpetrator after he had threatened to kill the woman multiple times.

The murder comes two months after Kuwaiti activists launched a nationwide campaign to end sexual harassment and violence against women.

The campaign brought forward dozens of testimonies from women in Kuwait about being stalked, harassed or assaulted, mainly from the Instagram account “Lan Asket”, Arabic for “I will not be silent”.

Al-Faraj, the blogger, released an explosive video at the time of the campaign, saying there was a “problem” in the country.

“Every time I go out, there is someone who harasses me or harasses another woman in the street,” she said in a video after a vehicle sped up to “scare” her while she was walking to her car.

“We have a problem of harassment in this country, and I have had enough.”





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Gov’t Promises to Mend Relationship with NGOs

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The Minister for Internal Affairs General Jeje Odongo has dismissed claims that Government is currently not at the best of terms with Non-Governmental Organizations and embarked on policies aimed at suppressing them.

Speaking at the launch of a book titled ‘Uganda’s Civil Society’ in Kampala, Odongo noted that while some things might not have moved on well between Government and some NGOs, the former is willing to address these issues so that the two parties can continue operating hand in hand.

“I would like to assure you that Government in the process of regulating this field through the NGO bureau. Government doesn’t have any sinister motives but is focused on improving the sector.”

As the line minister, Odongo vowed to ensure that the relationship between Government and these Organizations is improved to the extent that where there is a need, government will be ready to come in and support them.

The new book, which contains crucial information about these bodies, Odongo said, will be of great importance to various stake holders.

Stephen Okello the head of the NGO Bureau applauded the author and financer of this publication, saying it had come at a time when the country lacks a one stop center as far as operations of NGOs in the country is concerned.

“This book is very important because it’s going to spark off discussions on issues affecting CSOs; therefore, I ask everyone to spare time and read it.”

Joel Senyonyi the spokesperson for National Unity Platform (NUP) asked Government to stop referring to its critiques as enemies of the state or Agents of Europeans because they do all this as a result of love for their nation.

Sarah Bireete the Executive Director for Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG) noted that the Government is more comfortable with them sensitizing people on Sanitation matters than issue of Governance issues.

The post Gov’t Promises to Mend Relationship with NGOs first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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Taking a knee, lifting fist to be punished at Tokyo 2020 Olympics | Black Lives Matter News

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Against the backdrop of the BLM movement protesting racial injustice, calls increased for change to IOC rule.

Taking a knee during the Tokyo Olympics or lifting a fist in support of racial equality will be punished as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) maintained its ban on athletes’ protests inside stadiums, at ceremonies and on podiums.

The IOC’s Rule 50 forbids any kind of “demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda” in venues and any other Olympic area and the Games body concluded the rule should be maintained following an athlete consultation.

Against the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement against racial injustice, calls have increased in recent months for a change to that rule that would allow athletes to protest.

Some international federation chiefs, including World Athletics’ President Sebastian Coe, have said athletes should have the right to make gestures of political protest during the Games.

The IOC’s Athletes’ Commission chief Kirsty Coventry, who led a review of the rule, said 70 percent of the athletes consulted were against any protests within the fields of play or the podiums.

“I would not want something to distract from my competition and take away from that. That is how I still feel today,” Coventry, a former Olympic swimming champion for Zimbabwe, said in an online presentation of the Rule 50 consultation results.

Coventry said there were a series of recommendations approved by the IOC’s Executive Board on Wednesday, including providing clarity on sanctions, more information about Rule 50, a change of wording of the Olympic Oath with messages on inclusion, and producing athlete apparel with inclusive messaging.

The IOC’s recommendations are the result of a consultation process that started in June 2020 and involved more than 3,500 athletes.

The Tokyo Olympics, delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, kicks off on July 23.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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