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Kenyan foods showcased at global event

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By RACHEL KIBUI
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As the debate on the effects of climate change continue, calls have been made for countries to promote the use of indigenous foods.

The calls were made recently during the Terre Madre, Salone Del Gusto, (Mother Earth, Exhibition of Taste) conference in Turin, Italy that brought together indigenous women.

The indigenous women’s conference on ‘Indigenous People’s Food Systems and Climate Change’ was among the many that were held during the ongoing Terre Madre conference.

The meeting was attended mainly by women from Kenya, Latin America, Tanzania, North America and India among others.

Participants expressed their commitment to combat the effects of climate change as a way of creating a better world for future generations.

A participant at the Terre Madre, Salone Del

A participant at the Terre Madre, Salone Del Gusto, (Mother Earth, Exhibition of Taste) conference in Turin, Italy samples Kenyan food. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The conference brought together thousands of people from 160 countries across the world, with discussions revolving around safe food access.

The event is the brainchild of Slow Food International, a non-governmental organisation that promotes food that is good, clean and fair.

Kenya was represented by stakeholders from different organisations led by Nakuru-based Slow Food Kenya.

The Kenyan delegation got an opportunity to showcase some products especially from small scale farms.

The products included indigenous foods such as yams, cassavas and honey.

Other Kenyan products that were exhibited and sold included dried mangoes, stinging nettle and dried pumpkin powder among others.

But it was not only about the food expo. Kenyans had a chance to cook local cuisine and sell to the visitors while some of it was given freely for tasting.

Under the ‘Ark of Taste’ forum, Kenyans cooked chapatti, mukimo, beef stew and kachumbari as a way of putting the local cuisines on the international platform.

Besides, the Kenyan team took time to learn from other countries on issues pertaining to food and agriculture.

These issues included value addition so that food fetches better prices, food preservation and the need to eat better and healthier foods.

During a press conference, Slow Food leaders called for youth involvement in agriculture as a way of ensuring food security all over the world and combating the effects of climate change.

“We need to teach all children the value of farming globally and use schools as avenues to combat the effects of climate change,” said Alice Waters, the vice president of Slow Food International.

The organisation’s president, Carlo Petrini called for regulation in food consumption, especially meat, as a way of ensuring food security for all.

Margaret Tunda

Margaret Tunda speaking at the indigenous women’s conference in Turin, Italy. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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During the conference, women from indigenous groups were urged to come together and fight against their common challenges globally.

This is especially so in the wake of the massive effects of climate change, which has posed challenges especially to people who for many years have lived in or close to forests.

During thea conference, the women called for access to justice and proper links between them and their respective governments.

Kenya’s Margaret Tunda, who moderated the session, said women from minority groups are currently undergoing a lot of suffering owing to the effects of climate change.

While there are some effort by governments and other stakeholders to combat the effects of climate change, Ms Tunda noted, some of the actions are more harmful than useful.

She told the gathering that in Maasailand for example, there have been efforts to cross breed the native Red Maasai sheep with the Dorper sheep from South Africa.

However, the challenge with the Dorper is that it has to feed more and requires more water too.

“The Red Maasai sheep is very tolerant to drought unlike the Dorper, but our people have been convinced to cross breed it with the South African breed for reasons I do not understand,” she told the gathering.

Kenyan chef Ezekiel Mwathi

Kenyan chef Ezekiel Mwathi (right) who spearheaded the preparation of Kenyan cuisines in Turin, Italy. PHOTO | RACHEL KIBUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

She was speaking during the 2018 Terre Madre conference, an event that is marked every two years to celebrate food, people and create awareness on access to good and safe food.

Other challenges addressed included access to traditional seeds that are resistant to pests and diseases. These seeds are also important in the sovereignty of any country.

“But the entry of multinational companies into the seeds market is slowly causing us to lose the seeds that our forefathers used to grow,” said Abby Fammartino, a panellist from Organ, USA.

In another forum, Daniel Wanjama, the founder of a Gilgil-based non-governmental organisation, emphasised on the need for small scale farmers to conserve seeds.

“Our seeds are our future and we must do all we can to ensure that we do not lose our sovereignty to multinational companies that aim at making huge profits,” he said.

At the indigenous women’s meeting, the issue of access to land featured prominently.

As it turned out, the issue of access to land for women is not just an African problem but also a global one, especially among indigenous societies.

The women said they have preserved some traditional knowledge regarding agriculture and other issues, but these have been ignored in the wake of increased modern technology.

“The forestry departments, for example, will not consult indigenous people when there is a fire outbreak, yet we are rich in knowledge pertaining to how our forefathers fought massive fires,” said Tupak Nguabugo of Ecuador.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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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.

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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.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
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.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
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.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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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.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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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.

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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.

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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.

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