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Political power play disrupted as teams formed to lead pandemic war

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JOHN KAMAU

By JOHN KAMAU
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As the coronavirus crisis deepens, President Uhuru Kenyatta appears to have used the opportunity to solidify the workings of the administrative state — having liquefied the political state for the last one year.
A look at who is who in the newly-formed National Co-ordination Committee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is an indicator of the people that the President hopes to rely on as the country goes through one of the worst health crisis in recent history.

Tracking coronavirus
With most of the politicians cut from the war against coronavirus, it is the government administration structure that has taken over, with regional commissioners being in charge at the county levels.
Internal documents indicate that President Kenyatta has given Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i powers to appoint several ad-hoc committees, which are working behind the scenes to contain the crisis.
Before the coronavirus gust disrupted the political stage and threw the politicos off-balance, Dr Matiang’i had become the dominant face of the administrative state — thanks to his position as the Interior CS and as the chairperson of the National Development Implementation and Communication Committee, whose mandate is to supervise the execution of government programmes.
Dr Matiang’i now has the mandate to chair the co-ordination committee on coronavirus. Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Treasury’s Ukur Yatani, Monica Juma (Defence), Peter Munya (Agriculture) and Joseph Mucheru (ICT and Youth Affairs) sit on the committee.
Others in this committee include Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki, Chief of Defence Forces Gen Samson Mwathethe and National Intelligence Service Director General Major-General Philip Kameru.
Also sitting in the committee is Council of Governor Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho.
On Monday while making the decision by the National Security Council on strict movement into and within Nairobi, Kilifi, Kwale and Mombasa, it was apparent that Deputy President William Ruto, who ought to be a member of the council, was missing in action. He has not been included in any of the committees.
Again, the media briefings have been left to Mr Mutahi Kagwe, who is less confrontational with reporters and displays better command and control of the meetings.
At times, Mr Kagwe has been delegating the duty to the Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi with technical support from Dr Patrick Amoth, the director-general of Health.
Previously, the President had appointed a National Emergency Response Committee chaired by Mr Kagwe. It has now been expanded and in the new arrangement, Education CS George Magoha, a medical doctor, will now be sitting in this committee together with principal secretaries Belio Kipsang and Simon Wabukwesi.
Also brought in is Lt Gen Robert Kibochi, the vice-chief of the Defence Forces and Kang’ethe Thuku, the Principal Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Interior.
The inclusion of the military in the arrangement means that the coronavirus pandemic is turning to be a national emergency.
Also established is the National Economic and Business Response working group, which is mobilising resources and conducting household impact assessment. Already, chiefs have been mobilised in various counties to list down the vulnerable members, with fear that the pandemic will take its toll on the poor and the elderly.
The economic team is chaired by National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani and has among its members Industrialisation CS Betty Maina, Adan Mohammed East African Community), Najib Balala (Tourism) and Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge.
The President seemed to indicate that the war on corruption would go hand in hand with the fight against the coronavirus by instructing Treasury to allocate the Sh2 billion recovered by the Asset Recovery to the vulnerable within the community.
“Our fight in this area continues,” said the President.
Besides disrupting the political power play, the pandemic will also leave a major gap in the coffers and might mean that President Kenyatta’s Big Four legacy will be in trouble.

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Here’s how Davido is reclaiming his life – Nairobi News

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Nigerian singer, Davido has announced that he will be going on a personal sabbatical to help him keep away from social media and a section of people in his life.

Davido said on Instagram that, all his life, he has been putting other people’s needs first. That is now changing.

The musician said he had also changed his mobile phone number and requested the people who cannot reach not to try doing so.

“If you can’t reach me don’t reach me! I’ll contact you!! All my life I’ve put people before me….. I think it is time to actually live my life and take care of myself. I’ve changed my number!! I needed some cleansing to do LOVE Y’ALL,” wrote Davido.

Many of his fans including other celebrities appeared to support his decision telling him that self-care was important.

American rapper Ludacris replied, “Preach.”

Babeanimalatl wrote, “I just changed my number & Cut off a whole decade of people. I feel every f’ng word in this post. Self-love & self-care is hard for people with big selfless hearts. Took me too long to figure this out! I wish you & your family infinite peace, excellent health, love, protection & light.”

Kaylahoniwa said, “You deserve it pls rest,”

Twyse_16 commented, “It’s necessary sometimes.”

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Irenejob stated, “We need you to be in the best state of mind and health to fulfil your purpose. You have done amazing OBO, even God wants you to be happy and healthy. I totally support this decision our Most Valuable Nigerian Youth.”

Odesope.olajide said, “Enjoy your peace king …. Thoroughly deserved.

Boujee.beni remarked, “Rest and take good care of yourself wish you a safe recovery love you.”

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Kenya: The Making of an Award Winning Hand Washing Project

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Eric Munene, James Maina, Patricia Mativo and Philip Mwasela are student entrepreneurs from Multimedia University of Kenya.

The quartet has developed a no-contact hand washing station that can hold large quantities of water, soap, and sanitiser and also have sensors that limit hand contact with the containers to guarantee users of high hygiene standards.

They entered their project in the Ford College Community Challenge, and were awarded a grant worth Sh100,000 by the Ford Motor Company.

With the funds, the four innovators plan to set up hand washing stations in Nairobi to help in the battle against Covid-19. So far, they have put up three stations in Komarock, Kayole and Buru Buru estates.

The first hand washing station cost them Sh15,000, while the other two stations cost Sh10,000 each. Are you a young person or part of a youth group whose activities aim to bring positive change to the community? This vivacious quartet will show you what it takes to put together an award-winning invention and inspire you to continue working hard.

Eric Munene, 23, Student, BSc. Software Engineering (Project Leader)

I am a member of the Enactus Multimedia Club at my school. In our association, students are encouraged to use entrepreneurial action to positively impact their communities. My colleague Philip and I realised that waste management was a big challenge not only in the area surrounding our school, but in the wider Nairobi County. We also noted that there were so many unemployed youth in the country, so we decided to come up with a way of solving these two problems at the same time.

We started brainstorming on this issue and in 2019, Patricia and James Maina, who was then in his final year, joined our fold. We built a Smart Bin that could reward anyone who used it with points depending on the type of waste they disposed of.

Patricia had experience in waste management since she was a member of the Health and Environment Club. She also handled our social media accounts and devised public relations strategy.

With the Smart Bin, we collect recyclable waste and give those who use it with Kijani Coins (green coins) as a reward. The kijani coins can be collected using either a card or a mobile phone, and can be redeemed on our Greensmart mobile phone app for discounts on selected products, or even cash! The app is available in the Google play store. To actualise this project, we received financial support from Ford Motor Company, through the Enactus club. We had planned to launch the Smart Bin in April after our end of semester examinations, but we had to shelve that plan because our university was closed shortly before that due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

But my team and I were eager to execute our plans even amid the pandemic. Also, at around that time, the Ministry of Health was urging young people to do their part in fighting Covid-19, and that is how the idea of developing a no-contact hand washing station came to mind. With the backing of my talented team, we developed the first prototype, and it took only one week to source for the right materials and find a suitable metal workshop to work in. The first prototype was costly because we were buying the materials at retail prices from different vendors. However, after creating a good rapport with those working in the workshop, we acquired the materials and labour for the next two stations at a much lower cost.

We assembled a step-on station where one steps on a lever that dispenses soap, sanitiser, and water, and a fully automated station that uses sensors to dole out both water and soap, and is powered by solar.

Out of 152 global submissions to the Ford Covid-19 College Challenge, we were among the 14 teams that received funding. So far, we have built four fully functioning stations which will be distributed in densely populated areas. The stations serve more than 600 users daily. We hope to set up other stations in as many locations as we can to help reduce the spread of the virus.

What motivated us to take part in the Ford Covid-19 Challenge was the need to come up with a product that could help reduce the spread of the virus. Winning the grant put us in a better place to scale up the project and donate more hand washing stations.

We are interested in putting the skills we learn to good use, and are driven by the need to use our entrepreneurial skills to bring positive change within our community. I advise other young people to have clear long and short term goals, and pout every effort into accomplishing them.

From my experiences, I’ve learned that keeping young people focused on a project from the beginning to the end is not easy. As the project manager, my roles include recruiting the right talent for our initiatives, coordinating our team’s efforts, and developing our execution strategy. It can be challenging to bring different people from different backgrounds to work together. Also, finding a suitable time when all members are available to meet is often hard because we are all in different faculties and departments.

Now that the Covid-19 virus is upon us, we are struggling to find ways of undertaking our roles even with the restrictions on movement. We have resulted to conducting meetings virtually, and meeting our beneficiaries only when it is absolutely necessary.

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I believe our government acted fast in coming up with rules and guidelines, thereby reducing the impact of Covid-19. I believe that going forward, they should embrace technological solutions to further contain the virus.

Patricia Mativo, 23, Third year student, B.Sc. in Analytical Chemistry (PR Manager for the project)

I joined the team while they were involved in the Smart Bin project. Being a member of the health and environment club, I desired to see my fellow club playing a role in the fight against plastic pollution by collecting plastic bottles. Coincidentally, the Smart Bin project was running a 10,000 bottle collection challenge so I encouraged my fellow club members to participate in the initiative.

My role in the hand washing project is to market our products through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I believe what made our submission win the Ford grant, given that there were over 150 global submissions, is that our innovation was unique and tied to the pandemic the globe is currently battling. It was timely and relevant.

The most challenging part of my role is on expanding our audience. Our social media platforms do not have as many followers as we’d like, so I usually share our posts to all the social media groups I am part of and also request the members to share our activities within their networks. That way, we reach a bigger audience even with the limited resources we have.

I think the government should do more to empower young people who have come up with innovative solutions to our day to day problems, especially those with disabilities. I am physically challenged. I was involved in a road accident a while back that led to partial paralysis of my limbs, and my predicament comes with its own challenges. But it does not mean I cannot contribute to innovative efforts. I just need more support. Many youths are creative but they lack the necessary support to bring their ideas to life.

James Maina, 24, Electrical and Telecommunication Engineer (Project Engineer)

Being the project’s engineer, my role has been to design, implement and test the electronic system employed in the zero contact hand washing station. This involved coming up with the circuit and computer aided software that would make the hand washing stations work effectively.