Leaders from pastoralist counties have hailed the government’s plan to reintroduce a digital animal identification system to recover stolen livestock.
The electronic livestock identification and traceability system was initiated by the Directorate of Veterinary Services in 2011 and was expected to tame cattle rustling.
The State Department of Livestock, in the proposed regulations currently in the public participation stage, seeks to replace the old way of using hot iron to brand animals.
In the new method, electronic chips will be fitted on each animal’s left ear for identification, registration and tracking purposes.
The devices will have electronic readers and gadgets for transmission of information to a central database covering the entire country.
Among the information livestock owners will be required to provide is the animal’s date of birth and the location address, sex, breed or colour of coat, whether it has been imported and its health and movement records.
Led by Isiolo Woman Representative Rehema Jaldesa and Deputy Governor Issa Abdi, the leaders said the system will be a game changer for pastoral counties in curbing rampant cases of cattle rustling.
TAME UNSCRUPULOUS DEALERS
The leaders said the system will also address lack of an effective identification method for animals, which makes it easier for herders to frame their buyers and collude with police to recover the animals after they sell them.
“The regulations will help in curbing cattle rustling and dealing with cartels involved in the business including some members of the security team,” said Ms Jaldesa.
While supporting the schedule restricting animal movement from one establishment, holding or premises to another without a movement permit, the deputy governor said the system will aid the government in disease surveillance.
“It will be easy for the government to trace the origin of sick animals and take necessary action including quarantining the affected areas,” said Mr Issa.
Mandera West MP Adan Haji Yussuf, who is also chairman of Pastoralist Parliamentary Group (PPG) livestock sub-committee, said the new system will enhance tracing of the animals and its products from producer to consumer.
“The hot iron way has been damaging the hides and with the new system, we will now be able to sell high quality products and even trace them to their origin,” said Mr Yussuf while vowing to lobby Parliament to pass the Bill.
Under the regulations, no animal will be moved from its place of birth before the application of an identification device which should be done within the first month of birth.
Any person with an animal older than a month with no identification device faces a fine of Sh20,000 or six months in jail.
Should one lose the identification device, they must report to the police within 15 days for issuance of an abstract to be presented at the county director of veterinary services for replacement.
It will also be an offence for any herder to deface the identification device through either mutilation or cutting off the ears.
The leaders also backed a schedule requiring that owners of animals to notify the Director of Veterinary Services of the acquisition within 15 days after purchase of animals which must bear the original identification devices and codes.
They will be required to share information on where the animal is kept for update of records in the county register and the central database.
The system is also expected to boost livestock business as producers, processors and manufacturers of animal products will be required to ensure that the products are clearly labelled, incorporating corresponding animal identification numbers for product traceability.
Speaking during a public participation meeting in Isiolo town covering 19 counties, the Chairman of Kenya Veterinary Association Samuel Kahariri said it will be completely impossible for livestock owners to access government facilities such as abattoirs if their animals are not fitted with the gadgets.
“We want to get rid of cases of people feeding on meat, among other products, that could be unsafe. The gadget will help meat inspectors know the animal’s health history and decide on whether it should be slaughtered or not,” said Dr Kahariri.
With the central database linked to government and financial institutions, livestock owners will also access loan facilities and start income generating projects.
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.