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Life and times of two pastoralists in the city, where meat always sells like hotcake

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By WINNIE LELEI
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Ibrahim Abdi’s flock of sheep and goats manoeuvre their way up down the concrete hills at Patel Concrete in Donholm, Nairobi, expertly picking and nipping at the lone plants that have sprouted randomly in the vast site for construction materials.

The sound of the sheep and goats bleating leaves one with the feeling of being on a farm.

But Abdi’s animals are used to life in the city, where they live and thrive amid the concrete jungle and tarmacked roads, as they are driven to various undeveloped land within the estate before retreating to Njenga slum where they are housed.

The flock of about 200 goats and sheep is the major source of income for Abdi and his brother, Robou Aden, who hail from Isiolo, a region well-known for pastoralism.

Goat and sheep meat is in high demand especially in the urban areas like Nairobi. “Most orders for our goats are made by hotels and clubs where patrons go to unwind with beer and nyama choma,” Abdi says.

Raising animals in the city

He explains that when a buyer approaches them, a price is negotiated depending on the size of the animal and the money exchanged in the fields. A sizeable goat or sheep normally costs between Sh3,500 and Sh4,500, but rises with demand.

From the proceeds, the two brothers have been able to pay school fees for their children, pay bills while still meet the cost of rearing the animals.

“These animals require frequent supply of medicine and veterinary services, all of which cost money,” Abdi says.

So what does it take to rear a flock in the city? “Keeping goats and sheep is not new to me and my brother, but raising them in the city was quite a challenge in the beginning,” Abdi admits.

The two started the venture five years ago. The duo take turns to herd, as one visits the market to collect vegetable remains to feed the younger ones of the flock.

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The task is not easy. “Herding can take a whole day depending on the availability of food, but whether it is raining or the sun is shinning, the weather is always harsh,” Abdi says.

Herding involves watching the flock so that they don’t stray to forbidden territories or into danger areas.

At Patel Concrete, for instance, there are heavy machines that may harm the animals.

While driving the flock from their sheds to grazing areas, Abdi says they have lost a number of them to speeding motorists.

“Several times when this happens, some motorists just speed off leaving us with the loss. Some, however, are kind enough to pay when they hit a goat or sheep.”

Abdi laughs remembering a motorist who wanted to be paid instead, because he believed that livestock should not be in the city in the first place.

Another challenge they face in keeping livestock in the city is theft.

The shack where they keep their animals hardly protects them from break-ins. This also happens when a goat or sheep strays and it is taken by thieves and sold to unsuspecting buyers.

A greater challenge perhaps is the issue of grazing land. For Abdi and Aden, theirs is a case of pure grace and the goodwill on the part of those who allow them to graze their animals on their land.

Apart from the Patel Concrete site, the two have made agreements with two other developers within Donholm estate, often with the condition that the flock does not destroy property nor interfere with operations. In return, they provide ‘watch’ over the property.

Urban livestock rearing is controlled by the county government. According to Nicholas Rono, an agricultural expert, herding livestock along the highway endangers not only the animals but also motorists’ lives. “It is in this breadth that the county has designated special areas such as along Kangundo Road and the Nairobi Animal Park for urban farmers to graze their livestock,” he says.



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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.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

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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