Category Archives: Business

`Wonder root’ set to turn around county’s economy


KAKAMEGA

AUGUST  7nth, 2012

By Chris Mahandara.

MondiaWhytei, also known as Mkombela in Luhya language is an indigenous vine that grows wild in tropical forests of Western, Central and Eastern African countries.

For many years in Kenya, communities living adjacent to Kakamega tropical rain forest have chewed the raw root back of MondiaWhytei with some believing it is an aphrodisiac.

Others have been drying and grinding the roots into powder which they mix in porridge to induce appetite.

To add value to this indigenous knowledge, intense research by Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and other partners has produced a new product from MondiaWhytei (Mkombela) that has rich nutritional and pharmacological value.

Mondia tonic which has been approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) will be sold in supermarkets and other commercial outlets in the country and abroad at Ksh.50 for the 12g and Ksh.300 for the 50g tin.

ICIPE Senior Research Assistant Mr. Lambert Moreka, said research has confirmed that Mkombela increases appetite, reduces stress, clears hangovers, soothes the mind and also increases milk production for lactating mothers.

The plant contains vitamins A, D, K and E, and the minerals, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium and protein.

However, the aphrodisiac effect which has been widely associated with the crop was not found, according to the ICIPE research.

Mr. Moreka said the green leaf of the crop can be used to feed livestock and has been proved to increase milk production.

In the year 2000, ICIPE mobilized local communities in Kakamega and trained them on domestication and commercial cultivation of the traditional medicinal plant.

Mr. Moreka said since the inception of the programme, 60,000 MondiaWhyteitrees have been planted on individual homes in Kakamega County.

This is the first time in the history of MondiaWhyteito be domesticated in the world as a commercial high value crop.

A small factory has been established in Kakamega town to manufacture Mondia tonic and other products.

The root bark of the plant is being processed by Kakamega Environment Education Programme (KEEP) at their factory located at Kakamega Industrial Estates (KIE).

Mr. Moreka said considering the local consumer’s untapped market, ICIPE decided to launch the Mondia tonic 12Kg pack that is affordable while maintaining high quality health for all to use.

The products, he said are on sale in supermarkets across Kenya including Kakamega.

The plant is unique since it is the first eco-friendly industry that involves indigenous medicinal plant that is processed into the medicinal products.

The Mkombela factory is the first small scale industry in Kakamega town that has only a bakery for making bread.

After testing the new product and news that the Kakamega plant will require large quantities of Mkombela to process, many people have bought seedlings of the plant to grow in their homes.

Mr. Moreka said the commercialization of the plant to produce Mondia tonic will generate income for the local people.

He said for every kilogram of raw Mkombela that will be delivered, KEEP will pay the farmer Ksh.210.

He said ICIPE decided to domesticate the crop and work with communities in the area to reduce pressure on Kakamega forest.

“We realized that the plant was almost depleted following years of excessive harvest,” he said.

Area residents, he said were not aware that the plant had seeds which are dispersed by wind.

As a result, ICIPE introduced the seeds and trained farmers on how to propagate them at home to help conserve Kakamega forest which is the only remaining tropical rain forest in Kenya.

The plant, he said takes two and a half to three years to mature after which farmers can harvest for up to 15 years.

With the increased demand for Mondia tonic, the acreage under the crop in the area is bound to increase to ensure steady supply of the roots to the factory for processing.

KEEP has been mandated with the task of expanding the growth of the crop which is fast replacing other cash crops in the area.

KEEP Chairman Mr. Benjamin Okalo said MondiaWhytei is going to help increase forest cover in the area at the same time improve the natural biodiversity, scenery and ecosystem.

KEEP, he said has a total of 15, 000 farmers with at least 30 stems each adding that once the capacity of the factory is enhanced more farmers shall be brought on board to meet the demand.

The project, he said was the only one of its kind since it has managed to remove MondiaWhytei sellers from Kakamega forest at the same time encouraged reforestation.

“All farmers under our organization have planted MondiaWhytei alongside support trees hence boosting the region’s forest cover,” he said.

Apart from selling the roots, the farmers he said will make a lot of money from selling seeds and in future the viper as a herbal toothbrush.

A spoon of MondiaWhytei seeds which weighs less that 7g for example goes at Sh. 100 making it the most profitable crop in the region.

ACT Kenya, which is the sponsor of the project, has a commitment with the group until 2017.

ACT Kenya Programme Manager Mrs. Elizabeth Matioli said the organization decided to fund KEEP as part of their aim of assisting communities meet their needs and generate income through conserving the environment.

ACT Kenya provided the seed fund which was used to commercialize domestic farming of MondiaWhytei.

She added that the organization which has Sh. 1.5 billion to be spread to other environmental conservation projects across Kenya for the next five years will continue working with KEEP until a vibrant industry that can sustain itself is in place.

Mrs. Matioli added that more funds shall be availed to enable ICIPE develop other products from MondiaWhytei among them tablets.

“Our goal is to take this MondiaWhytei far by coming up with new products at the same time popularize it as a beverage,” she said.

Mr. Mokera disclosed that plans were underway to launch Mondia tablets. This, however he said was being hampered by the high cost of equipment required.

Lab equipment cost over $ 1 million while a grinder costs Sh. 2 million shillings making it difficult to embark on immediate mass production of the product.

The locals appealed to the government to help KEEP patent the product which is the first of its kind in the world to prevent other multilateral companies from hijacking it. Already a Chinese Company has shown interest in the product.

“We should not lose this one the way we lost Kiondo,” said Hannah Lugonzo, a MondiaWhytei farmer.

Mr. Mokera said the process of having the product patented was on course but due to the procedures involved it was likely to take time.

Whereas it is possible to produce synthetic Mondia Tonic, Mr. Mokera said it was not possible for any company in the world to produce a product with the same taste as the Kakamega one.

“The Mondia Tonic from Kakamega has a unique taste due to the high rains and the tropical rain forest which highly favour the crop,” he said.

In Africa MondiaWhytei is also found in West Africa and South Africa where it grows wild in tropical forests. But Kenya’s Mondia is considered the best in the world.

 

 

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Conservation group eyes snake venom for export


KAKAMEGA

Tuesday,August 7th, 2012      By Chris Mahandara.

An environmental conservation group that keeps some of the world’s
most poisonous snakes is eyeing extraction of venom from the deadly
reptiles for export.
Kakamega Environmental Education Programme (KEEP) Chairman Mr.
Benjamin Okalo said the move by the organization which runs a snake park in
kakamega forest is occasioned by the huge demand for
venom on the international market to manufacture medicine for snake
bites.
“We are aware that a gramme of venom is more valuable than a gramme of
gold and this is an opportunity we cannot afford to miss,” he said.
KEEP, which has embarked on breeding of snakes to boost their stock,
he said, will team up with international snake handlers to extract
venom from the snakes for export.
He said, the group has stocked the two year old park with six
different snake species adding that plans were underway to stock an
additional 14 species.
Among the world’s most poisonous snakes at the park include Black
mamba, Gabon Viper and Puff Adder.
Gabon Viper is said to have migrated to kakamega forest from Gabon
when the tropical rain forest which used to stretch from West to East
Africa was still intact.
He said although snakes bite people, they are friendly and only do so
in self defense when provoked or feel they are in danger.
He disclosed that snakes play a big role in reducing rodents that eat
grains in the farm and granaries adding that they should not be
killed.
“We are going to keep some harmless snakes such as Sand bow for people
to touch while learning about snakes when they visit our park,” he
said.
Apart from snakes, the park has crocodiles, tortoise, chameleon and
ostrich birds to increase its animal biodiversity.
“I sometimes wonder why people pick sticks and kill harmless creatures
like chameleons,” he said while holding a chameleon in his hands to
show that it is harmless.
KEEP is also involved in raising indigenous tree seedlings and making
special charcoal from dry leaves and waste papers to reduce dependence
on wood fuel so as to conserve kakamega forest.
The group started the park at the forest two years ago to enable
visitors see the snakes easily as most of them were evasive and hide
when they hear strange movement and sound in the forest.
Mr. Okalo said apart from promoting tourism in the western circuit,
they were also providing researchers and schools with a centre to
learn about snakes.
Communities living around the forest have responded well to the
initiative and supply frogs, rats and chicks to feed the snakes at a
fee. KEEP pays Sh. 100 for every mature frog delivered. The business
is booming and has provided employment to hundreds of youth in the
area.
“As we increase the snakes the demand will triple and no doubt more
and more people from this area will put food on their table by
supplying snake food,” he said.

Sh. 1.2 billion powder and UHT milk lying at New KCC stores


LUGARI

Thursday, December 08, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

The Ministry of Livestock has requested treasury to support the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) with Sh. 600 million to enhance the firm’s capacity to buy milk from farmers.

Director of Livestock Production Dr. Julius Kiptarus said the money would be used to purchase part of powder and ultra heated (UHT) milk lying at the New KCC stores in Kitale, Eldoret and Kiganjo to give the firm cash flow to buy more milk from farmers.

New KCC, he said was finding it difficult to purchase milk from farmers since it has 120, 000 tonnes of powdered and UHT milk valued at Sh. 1.2 billion lying at their stores.

“We want the government to purchase these products and take them to strategic food reserves to enable New KCC to purchase more milk for processing,” he said.

Dr. Kiptarus urged the treasury to urgently avail the funds to ensure that farmers don’t lose market for their milk. He disclosed that milk production in the country had increased from 4.2 billion litres in 2008 to over 5.7 billion litres this year.

As a result, other processors were also finding it difficult to purchase all the milk at the same time sell what they have already processed. He attributed the increase to the ongoing rains that have ensured availability of pasture urging farmers to venture into value addition and produce yoghurt, ghee and cheese to make more money.

Speaking yesterday at Likuyani in Lugari during a tour of projects under the small holder dairy commercialization (SDCP) project, Dr. Kiptarus said the programme which aims at boosting milk production has been a success.

The IFAD funded programme which was to end next year, he said has been extended to 2015 adding that the government was looking for ways of extending it to 33 other districts that have potential for livestock production.

Currently the programme is being implemented in nine districts which include, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Kisii, Bomet, Nandi North, Uasin Gishu, Nyamira, Nakuru and Lugari.

Processing and packaging of ‘wonder’ root set to boost county’s economy


KAKAMEGA

Monday, 7th November 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

Mondia Whytei, also known as Mkombela in Luhya language is an indigenous vine that grows wild in tropical forests of Western, Central and Eastern African countries.

For many years in Kenya, communities living adjacent to Kakamega tropical rain forest have chewed the raw root back of Mondia Whytei with some believing it is an aphrodisiac.

Others have been drying and grinding the roots into powder which they mix in porridge to induce appetite.

To add value to this indigenous knowledge, intense research by Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and other partners has produced a new product from Mondia Whytei (Mkombela) that has rich nutritional and pharmacological value.

The product known as Mondia Tonic was officially launched in Kakamega town recently where residents tested it and found it to be refreshing and energizing.

Mondia tonic which has been approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) will be sold in supermarkets and other commercial outlets in the country and abroad at Ksh.50 for the 12g and Ksh.300 for the 50g tin.

ICIPE Senior Research Assistant Mr. Lambert Moreka, said research has confirmed that Mkombela increases appetite, reduces stress, clears hangovers, soothes the mind and also increases milk production for lactating mothers.

The plant contains vitamins A, D, K and E, and the minerals, magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium and protein.

However, the aphrodisiac effect which has been widely associated with the crop was not found, according to the ICIPE research.

Mr. Moreka said the green leaf of the crop can be used to feed livestock and has been proved to increase milk production.

In the year 2000, ICIPE mobilized local communities in Kakamega and trained them on domestication and commercial cultivation of the traditional medicinal plant.

Mr. Moreka said since the inception of the programme, 60,000 Mondia Whytei plants have been planted on individual homes in Kakamega County.

This is the first time in the history of Mondia Whytei (Mkombela) to be domesticated in the world as a commercial high value crop.

A small factory has been established in Kakamega town to manufacture Mondia tonic and other products.

The root bark of the plant is being processed by Kakamega Environment Education Programme (KEEP) at their factory located at Kakamega Industrial Estates (KIE)..

Mr. Moreka said considering the local consumer’s untapped market, ICIPE decided to launch the Mondia tonic 12Kg pack that is affordable while maintaining high quality health for all to use.

The products, he said are on sale in supermarkets across Kenya including Kakamega.

The plant is unique since it is the first eco-friendly industry that involves indigenous medicinal plant that is processed into the medicinal products.

The Mkombela factory is the first small scale industry in Kakamega town that has only a bakery for making bread.

After testing the new product and news that the Kakamega plant will require large quantities of Mkombela to process, many people have bought seedlings of the plant to grow in their homes.

Mr. Moreka said the commercialization of the plant to produce Mondia tonic will generate income for the local people.

He said for every kilogram of raw Mkombela that will be delivered, KEEP will pay the farmer Ksh.210.

He said ICIPE decided to domesticate the crop and work with communities in the area to reduce pressure on Kakamega forest.

“We realized that the plant was almost depleted following years of excessive harvest,” he said.

Area residents, he said were not aware that the plant had seeds which are dispersed by wind.

As a result, ICIPE introduced the seeds and trained farmers on how to propagate them at home to help conserve Kakamega forest which is the only remaining tropical rain forest in Kenya.

The plant, he said takes two and a half to three years to mature after which farmers can harvest for up to 15 years.

With the increased demand for Mondia tonic, the acreage under the crop in the area is bound to increase to ensure steady supply of the roots to the factory for processing.

KEEP has been mandated with the task of expanding the growth of the crop which is fast replacing other cash crops in the area.

KEEP Chairman Mr. Benjamin Okalo said Mondia Whytei is going to help increase forest cover in the area at the same time improve the natural biodiversity, scenery and ecosystem.

KEEP, he said has a total of 15, 000 farmers with at least 30 stems each adding that once the capacity of the factory is enhanced more farmers shall be brought on board to meet the demand.

The project, he said was the only one of its kind since it has managed to remove Mondia Whytei sellers from Kakamega forest at the same time encouraged reforestation.

“All farmers under our organization have planted Mondia Whytei alongside support trees hence boosting the region’s forest cover,” he said.

Apart from selling the roots, the farmers he said will make a lot of money from selling seeds and in future the viper as a herbal toothbrush.

A spoon of Mondia Whytei seeds which weighs less that 7g for example goes at Sh. 100 making it the most profitable crop in the region.

ACT Kenya, which is the sponsor of the project, has a commitment with the group until 2017.

ACT Kenya Programme Manager Mrs. Elizabeth Matioli said the organization decided to fund KEEP as part of their aim of assisting communities meet their needs and generate income through conserving the environment.

ACT Kenya provided the seed fund which was used to commercialize domestic farming of Mondia Whytei.

She added that the organization which has Sh. 1.5 billion to be spread to other environmental conservation projects across Kenya for the next five years will continue working with KEEP until a vibrant industry that can sustain itself is in place.

Mrs. Matioli added that more funds shall be availed to enable ICIPE develop other products from Mondia Whytei among them tablets.

“Our goal is to take this Mondia Whytei far by coming up with new products at the same time popularize it as a beverage,” she said.

Mr. Mokera disclosed that plans were underway to launch Mondia tablets. This, however he said was being hampered by the high cost of equipment required.

Lab equipment cost over $ 1 million while a grinder costs Sh. 2 million shillings making it difficult to embark on immediate mass production of the product.

The locals appealed to the government to help KEEP patent the product which is the first of its kind in the world to prevent other multilateral companies from hijacking it. Already a Chinese Company has shown interest in the product.

“We should not lose this one the way we lost Kiondo,” said Hannah Lugonzo, a Mondia Whytei farmer.

Mr. Mokera said the process of having the product patented was on course but due to the procedures involved it was likely to take time.

Whereas it is possible to produce synthetic Mondia Tonic, Mr. Mokera said it was not possible for any company in the world to produce a product with the same taste as the Kakamega one.

“The Mondia Tonic from Kakamega has a unique taste due to the high rains and the tropical rain forest which highly favour the crop,” he said.

In Africa Mondia Whytei is also found in West Africa and South Africa where it grows wild in tropical forests. But Kenya’s Mondia is considered the best in the world.

Poverty index and population size key in allocating resources to counties


KAKAMEGA Thursday, November 04, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

The Commission on Revenue Allocation (CRA) is in the process of working out the criteria for allocating the 15% of revenue among the County Governments once they come into existence after next year’s general elections.

The Commission will also come up with appropriate recommendations on the Equalization Fund into which 0.5 per cent of revenue collected by the National Government shall be paid.

CRA Commissioner Mrs. Rose Osoro said the commission is expected to present its recommendations by the end of next month.

Population size, poverty index, infrastructure and the number of constituencies, she said are some of the issues that will be considered while allocating resources to the counties.

Speaking today during a stakeholder’s consultative forum in Kakamega town, Mrs. Osoro added that the commission was in talks with the government to have borrowing of donor funds by both the central and county governments regulated to maintain a stable macroeconomic framework.

The commission, she said has proposed to the government to set up a loans and grants oversight council to monitor and evaluate how the donor funds are used.

The new constitution allows county governments to source for funds from donor partners to fund development projects.

Mrs. Osoro said the loans and grants oversight council was therefore necessary to vet and approve all proposals for donor funding.

The process, she said must be done in a systematic manner to ensure that all the counties benefit.

“The commission is yet to agree with the Ministry of Finance on this issue but we are proposing allowing one county at a time so that others are not disadvantaged,” she said.

Participate in budget making, wananchi told


KAKAMEGA       Thursday, November 04, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

The government has embarked on stakeholder consultative forums across the country to enable the public participate in the 2012-2013 financial year budget making process.

Stakeholders from all the 47 counties are expected to develop reports highlighting key priority areas for funding to aide in the allocation of resources in the budget when the devolved system of government is operationalised after next year’s elections.

Speaking during the Kakamega county stakeholder consultative forum held in Kakamega town today, Public Health and Sanitation Permanent secretary Mr. Mark Borr said the reports must identify sectoral priorities, key challenges, opportunities and potential sources of funding.

The PS said the stakeholders drawn from the public and private sector must also identify and prioritise intervention measures within and across all sectors to address the challenges.

The government, he said embarked on the stakeholder consultation approach in budget making in September this year to create ownership and  increase acceptance and legitimacy of government policies.

“Participation of the people, good governance, integrity, transparency, accountability and sustainable development are some of the key national values and principles of governance recognized in the constitution,” said the PS.

He urged the stakeholders to ensure that the prioritized areas improve the livelihood of the people.

The PS told the stakeholders to invest in programmes that are aimed at increasing the growth of the economy at the same time cushion the poor and vulnerable.

The Constitution assigns, at least 15% of the national revenues to the County Governments.

The PS said the 85% earmarked for the central government shall be used to give services to residents of all the 47 counties urging the stakeholders to be careful while selecting the priorities to ensure equitable distribution of the resources.

 

Gold miners seek state help


KAKAMEGA Saturday, August 27, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work, Collin Powel an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army once said. This citation aptly captures the quest by gold miners at Rosterman village and Ikolomani in Kakamega County. They work 24 hours in search for the elusive gold with hopes that one day they will strike the money making gem and make millions. Hardened by biting poverty and unemployment, tthese groups of young men go down the tunnels, 50ft deep and dig over 300 meters across in search for gold every day and night without any protective gear. Gold mining in Western Kenya dates back to 1892 when deposits of the precious metal were discovered at Lolgorian, along the Nyanza-Rift Valley border. As more gold deposits were discovered in the region, foreign companies started making inroads and are believed to have minted billions of shillings from the mines. However, actual gold mining in the larger Kakamega District was started by a British company, Rosterman Gold Mines. The company was incorporated and licensed in January 1935 to prospect and mine gold ores. With a capital of Sh. 400,000, the company pitched camp three kilometers East of Kakamega town at a quiet village which now bears the company’s name, Rosterman. Rosterman which closed down operations in June 1952 is believed to have milled about 655,000 tones of ore and produced over 259,000 ounces of gold, with a market value estimated to be about Sh. 4 billion. Since the exit of the British company, the interest in exploring gold deposits has been left to area residents and other small-scale miners. Experts believe that huge gold deposits and other minerals still remain embedded underneath the rocks in the province. This has renewed enthusiasm, and the once peaceful and sleepy village is now on a gold rush. The renewed gusto in the trade has also reopened doors for companies who are now making camouflaged inroads into the gold project. Most of them have now underpinned all their hopes for better living on the elusive money-making gem. As a result most people have been buried alive in the mines, while others have died after inhaling dangerous gases in the tunnels. Nevertheless, the surviving ones continue to explore the precious metal. Last month’s death of three miners in the area put Rosterman back in the news with miners crying foul over lack of the governments support. Elly Omondi 43, Cosmus Muteshi 28 and Maxwell Wanyonyi 23 met their death at on the evening of Wednesday, 13 April 2011 while draining water from a gold mine tunnel. Three others, George Simwa 33, Andrew Shilongo 43 and Joel Lukalia 24 were rescued by members of the public and rushed to Kakamega Provincial General Hospital where they were treated and discharged. Andrew Shilongo who survived the incident said the miners had spotted a Gold bearing rock deep in the tunnel and were using a generator to pump water out of the tunnel in order to remove it. The generator which was inside the tunnel, he said suddenly went off and the site manager Elly Omondi went down to fix it. He was however engulfed in carbon monoxide emitted by the generator and fell unconscious. It is here that Cosmus Muteshi and Maxwell Wanyonyi went down the tunnel to rescue him but also got suffocated. The tragedy put the entire gold mining process in the area on the spot with some leaders asking the government to ban the exercise. However the young men are undeterred because they believe their success lies in the tunnels. The entire mining process is impoverished. From the pulley system that drops the young men descending into the mines and bringing up the gold bearing rocks to the sorting of the rocks and grinding. The miners employ guesswork to locate gold deposits. “We do not have do not have machines for testing where the gold is,” said one of the miners. Once the decide to prospect gold at a certain place, they dig tunnels 50ft deep where they place wooden supports on the walls to prevent it from caving in. More tunnels are dug to connect to the mining base to avoid suffocation. And when it rains they drain the mines manually or use a generator and candles to light their way in the underground tunnels. Quite dangerous! “All the work is done manually, once we bring the tones out of the tunnels the stones we beat them down into manageable pieces using harder stones,” says Protus Jamhuri a gold miner at Rosterman. The pieces are them put between two harder rocks and ground into powder. The powder is then put in water to wash off light rocks until a small residue of gold is left at the bottom of the metal basin. The gold is then heated at temperatures ranging between 10-90 degrees Celsius to turn it into metal. “We put the gold on a metallic basin and depending on the available resources, we heat using gas or a stove,” adds Protus. The weighing is done by two flattened bottle tops balancing on a pencil and small weights in grams and fractions. According to Protus, on average the miners at Rosterman collect up to 10 grams of gold everyday which if sold in Nairobi fetches them Sh. 24, 000 which they share amongst themselves. However, he contends to raise the 10 grams is no joke. It takes time, dedication, commitment and team work. “We don’t have time to rest so we have divided ourselves into two groups, one mining during the day and the other at night,” he says. At the mining sites, cooking utensils, fireplaces and spare clothes give a clear testimony that work here is non-stop. With this entire money one would imagine that the miners here live on the first lane but no. Ironically most of them live in mud huts. Exploitation by middlemen and cartels means that the benefits rest buried in pockets foreign to them. It is estimated that about 3,000 young people in the province labour in gold mines but the earnings from their sales on the black market are not rewarding at all. Western Provincial Mines and Geology Officer Mr. Evans Masachi says the government has established an elaborate programme to monitor mining activities in the province to ensure that all licensed miners operate within the set guidelines. He says due to renewed enthusiasm in mining gold in the area small companies that are not licensed have started making inroads into the area. However, he says it is not easy to determine the amount of gold mined in the area by the companies and individual miners since some do the mining in their own farms and are very secretive about their dealings. Mr. Masachi adds that the government has embarked on training the miners on safety mining methods to reduce accidents and deaths since it is not possible to stop the exercise. Some of the measures being enforced by the government include fencing off mining areas, covering tunnels, timbering of tunnels to avoid caving in, digging of breathers for pumping air into the mines to avoid suffocation and use of strong and fastened hand pulleys. In addition the miners have been directed to mine during daytime, anchor generators and draining pipes on the ground surface to avoid accumulation of fumes in the holes, use protective clothing, avoid working under the influence of alcohol and ensure they have a well equipped first aid kit on site. To safeguard the environment, Mr. Masachi says the miners have been directed to fill all holes which are not in use and stop dumping mercury into the ground so as not to get into the rivers. The miners have also been urged to use masks to avoid inhaling dust and mercury fumes and use plastic gloves when handling mercury. However the biggest challenge is how to monitor and ensure that the measures are being implemented. John, Muteshi, a gold miner in Ikolomani says acquiring the equipment and protective gear is not easy since they are expensive. He says the descend in the tunnels without masks or any protective gear thus exposing themselves to mercury fumes. He says, since gold is their only source of livelihood, the government must step in and provide the equipment.

West Kenya to relocate factory to Busia


Friday, August 26, 2011

By Chris Mahandara.

West Kenya Sugar Company has expressed interest in relocating its mill in Kakamega North district to Busia to tap into the vast sugar market. In a letter to the Kenya Sugar Board, West Kenya Managing Director Mr. Tejveer Rai said the move was a response to the plight of the people who have been yearning for a factory in the area. Mr. Rai said the company was interested in putting up a factory on public land at Nasewa which has been a bone of contention between the farmers and Mumias Sugar Company. The farmers who recently demonstrated to protest over the sell of the land by Mumias Sugar Company welcomed the idea saying it would assist them find ready market for their sugar. Busia Out growers Company Director Mr. Steven Omuse said it was illegal for Mumias to sell the land at a time when farmers were in dire need of a factory. Omuse said the alleged Sh. 119 million debt Mumias demands from the farmer has already been recovered since the factory has managed the land for many years. Farmers in the area, he said have resolved to cut links with Mumias and appealed to the government to allow a private investor to set up a factory on the land to serve Busia and Ugenya. Apart from West Kenya, four other companies have expressed interest in setting up a factory in the area.

Landlords and small scale businessmen cash in on students


KAKAMEGA August 15, 2011

By Johnson Keti

Landlords and small scale traders within Kakamega municipality are now running lucrative businesses after first year students reported at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) last week.

The high demand for accommodation created by Self Sponsored students has seen landlords increase the rent for hostels and houses to cash in on the high demand.

Mr. Charles Chivanga, a landlord near Lurambi said that students started booking single rooms in his complex in July when they were still under construction. He said that he did not expect that all his rooms will be occupied that fast.

He pointed out that being close to the university has earned him an advantage over his competitors situated kilometers away.

Mr. Chivanga said that demand for accommodation was very high in areas such as Koromatangi, Sichirai and Embakasi due to their proximity to the university.

The rent of a single self contained room  is Sh. 5, 000 but students are forced to pay Sh. 20, 000 per semester.

“We ask them to clear with us because some of them refuse to pay once they have secured the house,” he said.

Masinde Muliro, Kenya’s youngest public university is experiencing acute shortage of accommodation following an increase in enrollment.

Last week Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Sibilikhe Makhanu said the university has a shortfall of 7, 000 accommodation spaces.

The situation, he said is likely to get out of hand given the double intake and the university was expanding by over 1, 000 students per year.

He called upon investors to take advantage of the situation and build hostels to accommodate the students.

He said the university was now considering entering into Public private partnership to allow private developers to construct and run hostels on university land for a stipulated period.

Besides landlords, small scale traders are also making good business due to the high demand of food stuffs in the evening that has led to a slight increase in the price of tomatoes, Irish potatoes and maize.

Three tomatoes that are sold at Sh.10 in town are sold at Sh. 20 in the evening with traders forced to sell up to late in the night.

The intake has also led to opening of cafés that were closed earlier in May when the university closed for a holiday.

Bodaboda cyclists have not been left out. They are making a lot of money ferrying students to and from campus.

World Bank’s Sh. 87 million to enhance access to clean water in Hamisi


HAMISI     Thursday, August 18, 2011            By Chris Mahandara.

The World Bank has donated Sh. 87 million to Lake Victoria North Water Services Board to supply clean piped water to upcoming shopping centers in Hamisi constituency.

A representative of Lake Victoria North Water Services Board Mr. Francis Kwendo said the funds would be used to desilt and upgrade Kaimosi dam, the main source of water in the area.

A 250, 000 litres elevated steel storage tank would be put up at the dam to distribute water to all upcoming shopping centers in the area.

Mr. Kwendo added that the funds would also be used to rehabilitate Bumbo water project at Shaviringa. Another 50, 000 litres steel storage tank would be put up in the area.

Construction of treatment works and improvement of pumping facilities is currently underway.

Under the programme, all springs in Hamisi which are the main source of water in the area would be rehabilitated.

An independent line from Kaimosi dam would also be constructed to supply water to Mago, Losengeli and Chamakanga markets in Sabatia district.

Mr. Kwendo said that once completed over 70, 000 area residents who are currently facing an acute shortage of water following the silting of the dam would be reached. Currently only 20, 000 residents have access to clean water.

The construction work which began in January this year is expected to be completed by December this year.

Mr. Kwendo pointed out soil erosion as a major impediment to the project since area residents cultivate on slopes and the soil is washed down leading to the siltation of the Kaimosi dam.

He urged them to desist from the practice and conserve the environment to sustain the dam and ensure all year round supply of clean water.

Frequent power interruptions, he added was also a challenge since the system depends entirely on power to pump the water. Chemicals for treating the water, he said were also a challenge since they are expensive.