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Meet West Africa’s Wangari Maathai ‘who stopped the desert’ – Lifestyle – Pulselive.co.ke

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  • On 25th September 2018, Kenyans and conservationists across the world marked
    Laureate Wangari Maathai’s 7th memorial anniversary.
  • Prof.
    Wangari Maathai is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for
    democracy, human rights and environmental conservation.
  • Millions
    of miles away from Kenya’s capital in a dusty village is however, another
    environmental champion who has quite a lot of similarities with the late Nobel
    Laureate and with her absence he is the one carrying the mantle.

On 25th September 2018, Kenyans and conservationists across the world took a minute off from their busy schedule to remember and appreciate the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Professor Wangari Maathai.

Led by
the Green Belt Movement (GBM), a grass-roots movement aimed at countering the
deforestation she founded in 1977, in collaboration with her family,
participants converge at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi to mark Maathai’s
7th memorial anniversary

After the
service, the participants marched through Kenyatta Avenue towards Uhuru Park,
Freedom corner.


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Freedom Corner at Uhuru Park (Mediamax)

 

At the
Freedom Corner, Rev. Dr. Timothy Njoya among other dignitaries were present and
addressed the participants on matters of environment, good governance, and
promotion of cultures of peace as cornerstones for sustainable development.

Prof.
Wangari Maathai is internationally recognized for her persistent struggle for
democracy, human rights and environmental conservation. In her lifetime she
addressed the UN on several occasions and spoke on behalf of women at special
sessions of the General Assembly for the five-year review of the earth summit.

She
served on the commission for Global Governance and Commission on the Future.
She and the Green Belt Movement have received numerous awards, most notably The
2004 Nobel Peace Prize.


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Wangari Maathai of Kenya holding her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Dec. 10, 2004. (Twitter)

 

Millions
of miles away from Kenya’s capital in a dusty village is however, another
environmental champion who has quite a lot of similarities with the late Nobel
Laureate and with her absence he is the one carrying the mantle.

Yacouba
Sawadogo is a farmer from the Sahel Region and is best known as “the man who
stopped the desert”.

Starting
around 1980 during a phase of severe drought, Sawadogo embarked on a back
breaking feat many thought was in vain to try and stop the creeping Sahara
Desert dead on its track by creating ‘a green wall barrier’ and boy did he do a
beautiful job.

Also read: Here are the eight largest forests in Africa that hold the continent’s future


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Yacouba Sawadogo is a farmer from the Sahel Region and is best known as “the man who stopped the desert”. (Facebook)

 

Despite
facing numerous resistance from locals in the beginning, just like Wangari did
and was even called a ‘madman’ and saw his forest set on fire,  Sawadogo
was determined to see his dream for a green Africa come to light and never
considered giving up. Over time, people came to admire his work.

He
successfully created an almost 40-hectare forest on formerly barren and
abandoned land which today, proudly stands and has more than 60 species of
trees and bushes.

It is
arguably one of the most diverse forests planted and managed by a farmer in the
Sahel.


play

yacouba sawadogo (observers.france24.)

Sawadogo’s
remarkable success is deeply rooted on a traditional practice of planting pits
for soil, water and biomass retention (“zaï” in local language).

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Zaï or
Tassa is a farming technique to dig pits in the soil during the preseason to
catch water and concentrate compost.

Trees
planted together with the crops serve to enrich the soil, produce fodder for
livestock and create business opportunities like bee keeping. This helps
farmers adapt to climate change, reduce rural poverty and prevent local
resource and water related conflicts.


play

Starting around 1980 during a phase of severe drought, Sawadogo embarked on a back breaking feat many thought was in vain to try and stop the creeping Sahara Desert dead on its track by creating ‘a green wall barrier’ and boy did he do a beautiful job. (AfriZap)

 

Sawadogo has continued innovating the
technique over the years, increasing crop yields and successfully planting
trees.

Ever
eager to share his knowledge and pass it to the next generation he organizes
trainings to empower farmers to regenerate their land and daily receives thousands
of visitors from the region and beyond.

Those who
adopt Sawadogo’s techniques often become food secure, as zaï help to conserve
rainwater and improve soil fertility. As a result, tens of thousands of
hectares of severely degraded land have been restored to productivity in
Burkina Faso and Niger.


play

Zaï or Tassa is a farming technique to dig pits in the soil during the preseason to catch water and concentrate compost. (Mindship)

 

This has
seen farmers able to produce crops even in years of drought.

Together
with other farmer-managed natural regeneration techniques, Zaï could become an
important tool to counter forced migration and build peace in this volatile
region and for that I believe Yacouba Sawadogo should be considered for the
recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize just like Maathai.


play

Yacouba Sawadogo, ‘the man who stopped the desert’ (Gunther Willinger)



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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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