It was a year where young talents finally raised their hands at both national team and club level.
The exciting talents delivered an entertaining Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) national league play-off early December at Kasarani unlike the last two editions which were held at Makande Hall in Mombasa.
For the first time in five years, the play-offs had a title sponsor in Kenya Commercial Bank who pumped in Sh1 million to the event. It was a sign of good things to come from the new KVF office that was elected in April.
Charles Nyaberi and Moses Mbuthia returned to the national executive committee after a four-year absence while perennial holders Martin Makokha and Kipkemei Sirma were ousted.
Nyaberi replaced Makokha as the first vice president while David Kilundo took up Sirma’s post of second vice president.
Waithaka Kioni (president), Ben Juma (secretary general), Kenneth Tonui (treasurer) retained their seats. The elections ushered in new faces in Mududa Waweru (vice chairman-gender), Mbuthia (deputy treasurer) and John Oronje (deputy sports organizing secretary).
In a vote of confidence to the new administration, National Oil Corporation renewed their sponsorship with the Malkia Strikers for another three years to the tune of Sh42 million.
Back to the courts, after eight years in the cold Malkia Strikers returned to the FIVB World Championships in October determined to qualify for the second round. After beating Kazakhstan in their Pool “D” opener there was a wave of optimism about their chances of making it past the preliminaries given that the top four teams in each pool would proceed to the second round.
However, losses to Serbia, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Brazil confirmed their exit at the first hurdle with coach Japheth Munala failing to write history at the tournament held in Japan.
For all their poor preparations that saw them play friendlies against local club sides, it was over-ambitious for Kenya to even think of winning a match at the global event.
Apart from the straight-sets win against Kazakhstan, there were a few positives to take home key among them the emergence of young talent in the team. The trio of Emmaculate Chemtai, Sharon Chepchumba and Lorine Chebet stood out for Prisons Kenya in the CAVB Africa Club Championships in Cairo in March and went ahead to impress Munala at the national team’s residential training to book a ticket to Japan.
While Chemtai and Chepchumba were imperious in attack, Chebet proved a key inclusion as her killer blocks complemented the established duo of Edith Wisa and Trizah Atuka.
Elizabeth Wanyama’s recall to the national team set up after two-year absence was the only surpise in the run up to the world championships. Aggrippina Kundu looked to have secured the libero jersey in her absence.
Chemtai, Chepchumba and Chebet further guided Prisons to the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) National League title with an unbeaten record in the play-offs.
The win ended a four-year dominance by Kenya Pipeline who finished a disappointing third behind Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) as newcomers Bungoma County were fourth.
Once again, coach Josp Barasa kept faith in the young players with only skipper Mercy Moim and Wanyama being the experienced players.
The rest – Chebet, Chepchumba, Wisa, Chemtai and Joy Lusenaka – had never won the title before. Yet they played a key role with Lusenaka specifically impressive restricting award-winning setter Jane Wacu to bit-part role.
The wardresses only dropped a set against nemesis Pipeline as they picked nine points to finish first. They had beaten KCB and Bungoma County in straight sets in their first two matches. The title aside, the composure and maturity of Lusenaka stood out as she was named the best setter of the tournament. With Janet Wanja approaching the sunset of her career, Lusenaka looks like she has finally come of age and can be a good replacement for the long-serving setter at the national team.
GSU’s record title
While Prisons’ women’s team were flawless in the play-offs, their men’s team was no match for General Service Unit (GSU) who clinched a record 13th title blanking their rivals 3-0.
Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) picked a set from the champions despite losing 3-1.
But it was against Prisons that GSU turned up. Coach Gideon Tarus struggled to find a winning team in the first two matches (against KDF and KPA) but when he finally got it right, they were unstoppable. The introduction of Bonventure Wekesa to his first six stabilized his reception and once again it was the youngsters who shone.
Simon Kipkorir was a constant menace with his quick attacks down the middle, Abiud Chirchir delivered consistently through his back-row attacks and Brian Meli coordinated the show with accurate setting.
Despite losing the best libero award to KPA’s Sam Juma, Noah Bett showed remarkable improvement especially in floor defence and reception. So good was his overall performance that Alex Kariuki barely touched a ball in the entire tournament.
With GSU having finished fifth in the CAVB Africa Club Championships earlier in the year, there is all reason to believe that the young blood in the team can go a notch higher next year.
It is the same philosophy of recruiting young players that has made KDF a stubborn side this year as the soldiers staged a major upset in the play-offs opener stunning Prisons 3-2. Another budding player, opposite Kevin Omuse was the top scorer for KDF in his first appearance at the play-offs.
The future of the men’s national team looks bright with the likes of Meli, Bett, Kipkorir, Chirchir and Omuse in the picture. Experienced players like James Ontere, David Thuita and Wekesa showed they still have something to offer and if well blended with the youngsters then the men’s team can perform well at the continental level next year.
Even as Prisons women and GSU won the play-offs, it is an open secret that there is room for a third force in both categories. KCB, who finished second, have already made a statement signing Munala from Pipeline as well as key players like Noel Murambi, Violet Makuto and Leonida Kasaya. It was a big sign that they want to restore the glory days at the club where Dorcas Ndasaba starred during her peak.
The arrival of Munala and the galaxy of stars now means KCB not only have a rich technical bench but also quality in their playing unit
Metrine Nabwire was named the best attacker in the play-offs and the arrival of Murambi and Kasaya will add strength to that department. Munala will work with former Kenyan internationals David Muthui and Jacktone Omukani on the bench.
Atuka and Christine Siwa have also been linked with the bankers meaning Pipeline could further be weakened and pave way for KCB to share the limelight with Prisons at least for the next half a decade.
In the men’s category, KDF and KPA both gave a good account of themselves in the play-offs. They claimed only one win in the tournament but it was KPA’s resilience against GSU and Prisons that shocked the volleyball fraternity.
Against GSU they won the first set before losing the remaining three. Again, they won a set against Prisons in a fiercely contested encounter where they could have actually snatched a point. Their only win came against KDF (3-2) but for a team that only assembles a few days to match day and hardly trains together it was a very good display.
Their sponsors have invested heavily in basketball where KPA has dominated the men’s and women’s Premier League over the years. If a similar investment is pumped into the volleyball team then KPA will be a force to reckon with in the near future.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
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Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
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Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
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Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.