At least 44 killed as dam bursts in Kenya, officials say

AP – May 10, 2018

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Villagers said it started with a loud rumble, then houses collapsed one by one under an approaching wall of water.

“We took our children and rushed to higher ground,” farmer Joseph Maina told The Associated Press. Their home was submerged and their crops were washed away but unlike dozens of others, they survived.

At least 44 were dead and another 40 were missing Thursday after a dam swollen by weeks of seasonal rains burst in Kenya’s Rift Valley, sweeping away hundreds of homes and sending people fleeing, officials said.

At least 20 of the dead were children.

“Many people are missing. It is a disaster,” said Rongai town police chief Joseph Kioko.

Rwanda closes hundreds of churches and arrests pastors

– March 7, 2018

NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) — A move by Rwanda to shut down more than 700 churches in its capital city, allegedly for building safety, hygiene and noise violations, is prompting accusations that the government of President Paul Kagame is trampling on religious freedom.

On Tuesday (March 6), police detained six pastors, accusing them of conspiring to rally other clergy in defiance of the government’s shutdown orders.

Anastase Shyaka, the chief executive of the Rwanda Governance Board, which ordered the closures, said the action was about “honoring God.”

“It means that if we are Christians, where we worship must meet standards showing respect for God,” Shyaka told The New Times, a Rwandan English-language daily.

Ebola-like Marburg virus disease presence declared in Uganda

– October 20, 2017

On October 19, 2017, Uganda’s Minister of Health has officially declared the presence of Marburg virus disease, one of the most deadly known pathogens, in the eastern part of the country.

The statement comes after one confirmed case was detected and died in Kapchorwa hospital in Kween district, bordering Kenya. While another case was suspected yesterday, latest news confirms two deaths. According to the AFP, one individual was a male hunter who died on September 25 and the second his 50-year-old sister who died on October 11.

“The second victim had taken care of her brother during his sickness and burial preparation rituals when we suspect she contracted the disease,” Health Minister Ruth Achieng said.

The two are the first recorded cases of Marburg in Kween district.

“At the moment we don’t know if there are other people apart from the dead who have contracted the disease because the health experts are still investigating in addition to sensitizing the population about the dangers of Marburg and we call for public vigilance,” Uganda’s health ministry permanent secretary, Dr. Diana Atwine said.

Kenya announces outbreak of dengue fever in coast region

Nigerian Tribune – May 8, 2017

Kenya’s health authorities on Sunday announced the outbreak of dengue fever in the coastal region.

Mombasa County Director of Health, Khadija Shikelly, said 119 cases had been confirmed in all six sub counties following rapid diagnostic test kits conducted at the hospitals in Mombasa.

Shikelly said that Kisauni had the highest number of case, 37, followed by Mvita, 25, Changamwe 21 and Likoni 21.

She said there was no record of any death from the fever this year. Last year, three people died of the fever.

“This is to notify you that there is dengue fever outbreak in Mombasa County and we, therefore, need to respond effectively and in a coordinated approach to contain the outbreak,” Shikelly.

Intensify efforts to tackle invasion by armyworms

Business Daily – April 9, 2017

Reports of an armyworm invasion in parts of the country is yet another  hurdle in the unending food insecurity facing Kenyans.

Kenya is already grappling with drought and famine, which have left nearly three million people facing starvation.

The Ministry of Agriculture says that it has already deployed a team of scientists and other experts to inspect maize fields in Trans Nzoia that have been invaded by the worms.

This is commendable as the country cannot afford another serious dent to its food production sector.

That the worm invasion has been reported in a section of the country’s maize belt is extremely worrying, especially as the government continues to muster a response to the famine and drought woes.

Red flag raised as 300,000 Kilifi residents face starvation


Starving child with mother

Joseph Masha – July 23, 2016

Mzee Shethi Kombe, 75, sits on a log outside his home. At a distance a group of children are scrambling for wild seeds plucked from a local tree known as mworya. It is the only meal of the day. Mzee Kombe tries to calm the children, but in vain.

Cracks on the dry surface in his compound at Ngamani village in Sokoke Location, Ganze Constituency is proof of ravaging famine. It is hot and dry in most parts of Kilifi County, and the story on crop failure is the same. The County Government says that more than 300,000 people are facing starvation due to lack of food. Children are worst hit, it says.