Kenya’s Olympic officials have moved to end the misery of retired internationals by offering Sh500,000 in seed money for their upkeep.
The officials from the National Olympic Committee Kenya (NOC-K), Kenya National Sports Council (KNSC) and Kenya National Paralympic Committee (KNPC) say the initial amount is meant to fend off effects of the coronavirus pandemic from the veterans.
NOC-K acting secretary general, Francis Mutuku, told journalists at the programme’s launch Wednesday that the initiative will first target “Team Kenya” athletes who competed at the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and African Games.
They must have retired by 2004. These are the athletes identified as the most vulnerable.
However, the support will extend to others, subject to raising of requisite resources.
“We first of all want to appreciate the support that the government, and the Ministry of Sports in particular, have given to our active athletes,” Mutuku said.
“We know the pandemic has affected our athletes greatly and most of them have been inactive for three months.
“The government support has, therefore, greatly eased the burden being experienced by the active athletes.
“We encourage our sports people to use these funds very wisely.
“It is instrumental to note that NOC-K carried out a webinar on management of finances and trust that the lessons derived will be useful”, Mutuku added.
The initiative by the umbrella bodies is, therefore, meant to go beyond what the government has done.
“Food support has been identified as a critical and priority need area of focus for the next three months.
“We want to give food support to the retired athletes. After consultation, we felt food aid will be of greater assistance as we continue looking for other partners in this initiative,” remarked Mutuku.
A pay bill number will be launched on Monday next week to enable the public to contribute to cushioning the needy athletes during this tough period.
“We are very grateful to the national federations who have started working on some form of support for sports persons.’’
“NOC-K has committed Sh500,000 to kick start the programme. This amount will only cater for food because this is a key area.
“According to an athletes’ survey conducted by NOC-K, they cited finance, food, wellness and fitness as their areas of concern and even as we appeal for more support, it’s all systems go.
“The government has already dealt with the financial bit and we hope to continue this initiative as long as possible,” Mutuku added.
KNSC treasurer, Charles Nyaberi lauded NOC-K for setting the ball rolling with the latest initiative as they seek to cushion sports people of all cadres from the effects of coronavirus.
“We thank the Ministry of Sports for taking care of first and second tier athletes.
“We implore federations to also try and come up with a support system for their sports people. We have requested NOC-K to start a pay bill to rally the public behind this noble initiative,” said Nyaberi.
“The government will continue for the next two months to support our active athletes with most of them having already received Sh10,000 each as ordered by the Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed.
“We will support the umbrella bodies going forward to ensure the program for our sports people who have represented us since independence is a success,” said Sports Commissioner, Japson Gitonga.
NOC-K is in the process of creating a database of all national level athletes, which will be extended later to include retired athletes.
According to Mutuku, such information is key because they will be able to profile and effectively find ways of addressing
Ethiopia blames Egypt over unrest, vows to fill mega dam
Ethiopia’s Water, Irrigation and Energy Minister Seleshi Bekele has pointed an accusing finger at Egypt over recent unrest that followed the death of popular musician Hachalu Hundessa.
The government says the neighbouring country’s motive was to stop Ethiopia from continuing with the Grand Renaissance Dam project, set to be Africa’s largest.
Construction of the mega dam has sparked tensions with neighbouring countries that are downstream on the Blue Nile. Egypt and Sudan reckon that the billion dollar project threatens the livelihoods of its citizens.
The Ethiopian government has also pointed out that the unrest took place while United Nations-backed talks between the three countries were ongoing, and has hinted at the use of mercenaries to incite violence but did not offer proof of this.
DAM PROJECT WILL CONTINUE
However, officials now say that the project remains on course as the government vowed to fill the dam despite the outcome of ongoing talks.
Mr Bekele said the dam is ready for the first round of filling and turbines already installed, adding that it is 74.5 percent complete.
Dam talks have resumed between the three states, with Kenya providing technical and legal support in efforts to reach a final agreement.
Initially, the deal was to have an agreement within two weeks but negotiations were suspended after Hundessa’s killing.
With a projected capacity of 6,000 megawatts of electricity upon completion, the dam is an essential component of the country’s development blueprint.
On the other hand, Egypt completely relies on the Nile’s waters and sees the dam as a major threat to its economy if water shortages occur in future.
The government says 1,200 protestors have been arrested following last week’s violence while at least 160 people were killed, including police officers.
However, opposition sources say this is a conservative figure and places their own estimate at about 200 people.
The deaths occurred in the Oromia region and the capital, Addis Ababa.
Among those arrested are opposition politicians, protestors and journalists.
Four television channels were also shut over claims of fanning tension and violence.
Vardy secures vital point for Leicester at 10-man Arsenal
LONDON, United Kingdom, July 8 – Jamie Vardy salvaged a much-needed point for Leicester in their quest to claim a place in next season’s Champions League in a 1-1 draw at Arsenal on Tuesday dominated by VAR reviews.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s strike gave the Gunners a well-deserved first half lead, but Arsenal were reduced to 10 men for the final 15 minutes when substitute Eddie Nketiah was shown a straight red card after a lengthy VAR review.
Leicester made the most of the man advantage as Vardy slotted home from Demarai Gray’s cross, but also had a nervous wait before the goal was awarded as VAR checked for offside.
Despite the late rally, Leicester have now won just once in six games since the restart to the season and drop to fourth after Chelsea won 3-2 at Crystal Palace earlier on Tuesday.
Manchester United can close to within one point of the Foxes if their scintillating form continues at Aston Villa on Thursday.
Arsenal’s own chances of a top-four finish appear gone as they remain nine points adrift in seventh.
But after a poor start to English football’s restart with back-to-back defeats at Manchester City and Brighton, there were more promising signs from Mikel Arteta’s men as his reign at the Emirates begins to take shape.
Bukayo Saka has flourished since Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December and the 18-year-old was again at the heart of an excellent first 45 minutes from Arsenal.
Saka created the opening goal as he latched onto a defence-splitting pass from the outstanding Dani Ceballos and teased Jonny Evans into falling over his own feet before laying Aubameyang’s 20th Premier League goal of the season on a plate.
But for Kasper Schmeichel in the Leicester goal, the hosts would have been out of sight before half-time as the Danish number one produced an incredible low save to deny Alexandre Lacazette in between further smart stops from the French striker and Saka.
After weathering the Arsenal storm, Leicester felt aggrieved not to go in level at half-time when Kelechi Iheanacho was penalised for a soft foul before he tapped in Vardy’s cross and this time VAR offered no assistance to the visitors.
Iheanacho was denied by Emiliano Martinez, who produced another impressive performance in the Arsenal goal since stepping in for the injured Bernd Leno, before Vardy failed to connect properly with a great chance.
Arsenal were far less potent as an attacking force after the break, but Lacazette’s frustrating night in front of goal was rounded off when he did turn in from David Luiz’s flick-on only to be flagged offside.
Seconds after Lacazette was replaced by Eddie Nketiah, the Gunners were down to 10 when the young striker’s late lunge on James Justin was deemed worthy of a red card by referee Chris Kavanagh after he came to the side of the pitch to review the incident.
Rodgers immediately threw on an extra attacking option in Gray and his cross was the service Vardy had been seeking all night as turned home to regain his two-goal advantage over Aubameyang in the race for the Golden Boot.
Sh3bn emergency allowance for frontline health teams released
The Ministry of Health has finally released Sh3.4 billion for allowances and benefits for frontline healthcare workers dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health Principal Secretary Susan Mochache said the funds were voted under the ministry as current grants to State agencies and other levels of government.
County governments will receive Sh2.3 billion for the health workers.
They will also get an additional Sh20 million for psychological support to the health care workers.
State corporations that will also receive part of the money include Kenyatta National Hospital (Sh157 million), Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (Sh107 million), Kenyatta Teaching Research and Referral Hospital (Sh12 million) and Kenya Medical Research Institute (Sh8 million).
The ministry has also allocated Sh500 million for medical cover for 22 county governments that are not covered in any medical scheme.
“We would really wish to see that our soldiers, who are in the frontline and helping us with the fight against this disease, are working in peace and their welfare is well taken care of. We are also going to take care of their psychological needs,” Ms Mochache said.
Earlier, 17 cadres of health professionals had demanded the release of their three-month risk allowance that President Kenyatta awarded them in May.
The professionals have also demanded that the risk allowance be harmonised considering that some are more prone to infections than others.
“This was long overdue and we welcome it. However, we still want the ministries of Labour and Health to come together and harmonise the allowances,” said Mr George Gibore, the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers secretary-general.
He said some 230 health workers have been infected with the virus — clinical officers at 49 per cent, followed by nurses at 33 per cent, laboratory technicians at 17 per cent and others including doctors at one per cent.
According to an approval by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), doctors, dentists and pharmacists were to get Sh20,000 each, while nurses, clinical officers and laboratory technicians and technologists were allocated Sh15,000 each.
Public health officers, community health officers, radiographers, nutritionists among others were getting Sh10,000. The support staff deployed in hospitals were to get Sh5,000.
Assess and award
Mr Gibore said the salaries commission should assess and award the allowances depending on the most affected workers trickling down to the less affected.
“How do you award doctors more allowances yet they are not at risk while the ones at high risk are awarded less?” Mr Gibore posed.
He said the country is moving towards a very dire situation and workers in lower level facilities, including health centres, will be at higher risk of infections.
“We will not rest until the allowances are harmonised. They should consider sharing the criteria they used in allocating the allowances,” he said.
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