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It’s 19 children and counting… for Baringo man



Kukat Kamartum walks confidently as he approaches his vast homestead at Riong’o Village, Tiaty sub-county in Baringo.

The homestead is located about 300 kilometres west of Kabarnet Town.

Kamartum points to his wealth—over 100 sheep and goats. But his most priced possession is his 19 children, who he considers his pride and joy.

“It is God’s plan and commandment that we fill the earth. It is still God who knows what they will eat,” Kamartum said as he adjusts his shuka over the shoulder.

According to the 33-year-old man, child spacing is a foreign concept. He believes in the mantra ‘the more children you have, the wealthier and safe you are’.

“I want as many children as I can get. For those who would want to pursue education, we will ask God to guide us,” he said, noting that the rest can look after livestock and provide security during armed raids. He said girls will be married off to acquire wealth.

The search for pasture and water brings renewed conflict with their neighbouring communities.

As the world marks World Contraceptive Day tomorrow, his eldest wife, Chepkerer, says having many children is their way of life. The community has little information about basic contraceptives, such as condoms, leave alone the modern ones like implants.

“We do not know about family planning. We have never heard about it. And because our men are about to move far away from home for a while, we have no option but to conceive,” she said.

Kamartum and his peers are about to go hundreds of kilometres with their animals’ -as the drought situation in Baringo and neighbouring counties sets in, in serach of water and pasture. It takes more than six months for them to come back home.

This explains why child spacing for this community is an uphill task. Like locusts in hibernation, most of the time when the men are at home, their main activity is to impregnate their wives.

“Another child comes the moment my wife heals after delivering,” he said emphasising that family planning is a foreign concept that does not support their culture and “has no meaning at all.”

She also said having many children comes with lots of merits, so that some can go to school, while others look after the animals.

Data from the County Health Department shows that one family in Baringo villages can have an average of six to 10 children. The disdain residents have for contraceptive is clear when you visit the local clinics where the commodities are gathering dust on the shelves.

Poor uptake “We have all the required commodities here. From condoms to emergency contraceptives to long-term modern family planning products, but as you can see, some of them have expired because of poor uptake,” Josphat Yatich, a volunteer nurse at Riong’o Health Centre said.

He displayed some of the the commodities that range from the three months injection and three to five years implants such as the Intrauterine devices they have stocked for more than three years.

“We have challenges talking to the community about family planning because elders must give a green light, which they are not ready for,” he added.

At the Akwichatis, Koko and Top Lane health centres, facilities located almost 200 kilometres away the story is the same.

Grace Lekoroch, said, for instance, in Silale Ward, where she is married, there are myriad of challenges because mothers know little about child spacing due to lack of awareness.

“We are appealing to the government to raise awareness among mothers through health centres,” the mother of four, who is also expecting a fifth child, said. Paul Lotudo, a village elder, said it is important for the pastoralist community change with time. “We feel ashamed to see so much investments going to waste. We have an abundance of contraceptives in our dispensaries, but the uptake is poor. This is wastage, and we need a lot of education to help the situation. The government must look for a way of talking to people on the importance of family planning even if it is a taboo topic here,” he said.

At the Maron Dispensary, Thomas Sirikwa, the chief nurse, said he is currently building a pool of local Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) taking education about family planning to the doorsteps of homesteads, despite the threat from elders.

“We have seen uptake of contraceptives now improving,” he said.

Baringo Health Chief Officer in-charge of medical services, Dr Gideon Toromo said the county is in the process of identifying community male champions who will raise awareness among people.

“All health facilities are equipped with the required commodities, however, the attitude issue among community members has had an impact on uptake. Politicians are also to blame because they have advised against family planning as they want numbers for election purposes,” he said, emphasising that the county now has a number of strategies to improve uptake of family planning services, including seminars and innovative ways of encouraging girls to go to school.

“Education is one of the most effective strategy to discourage early pregnancies, and we are doing this through community mobilisation. We also use this strategy to explain to people why we need to achieve the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020 )goals,” he said.

Unplanned families Unfortunately, specific budgeting for FP commodities in the county has not corresponded with the monumental challenge of unplanned families. According to Toromo, in the last Financial Year, the county set aside Sh1 million for FP commodities procurement and other services, the highest so far.

Kenya’s FP 2020 goal states that every person has the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including Reproductive Health care.

“We have long known that there is a direct correlation between family planning and better health and birth outcomes. Families that plan tend to have fewer health complications—children are more often born at normal weights, mothers recover more quickly from childbirth,” he said.

Daisy Yego, 22-year-old from Kampi Turkana Unit in Marigat Town is among numerous girls who dropped out of school due to early pregnancy.

“I was 16 years when I dropped out of school. I was chased away from home. I didn’t know about family planning. I’m now wiser,” she said. She is one of the women on long-term methods of family planning.


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Mwalimu Rachel speaks after Sailors Gang drag her into yet another money scandal



Radio presenter Mwalimu has not been having an easy time with the Sailors Gang gang especially now that there is beef. This comes as a big surprise considering the fact that she discovered the boys; back when Gengetone had just become a thing in the entertainment industry.

A few months later, the presenter and Sailors Gang gang apparently can’t see eye to eye due to a few reasons here and there. The whole drama however started after Mwalimu Rachel was accused of squeezing one of Sailors gang friend’s balls.

Sailors Gang preforming

Yes, this was more than drama but a real case that saw the presenter present her self in court for the hearing. Since then, nothing has been the same between the former manager and the Gengetone artists.

Accused of refusing with their YouTube logins

Well, this past weekend rumor spread around claiming that Mwalimu Rachel had refused to hand over Sailors Gang Gang Youtube channel. According to reports, the presenter asked for Ksh1.5 million in order for her to grant them access; now that they are under the Blackmarket record.

She tweeted;

Smart ladies run businesses. Not their mouths. Nawapemda wote! I shall address the nation later my loves. Mimi sikimbilii maneno. Kwa sasa tuchape kazi.

The presenter went on to add;

Put emotions to the side when running business.

Mwalimu Rachel speaks

Of course, this makes the NRG presenter look selfish and greedy; but after coming across her latest Tweets, we also understand that this was more of a business for her.

Having the boys walk out on her with no agreement – might be the reason why they now feel that she is taking advantage of the situation. However, truth is one way or another both parties will have to benefit if they decide to head to court.


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VIDEO: Police clash with rival groups over running of public toilets in CBD



Police officers were on Monday forced to use tear gas to quell chaos that rocked the Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) after rival groups clashed over the management of public toilets.

Members of the public were caught in the melee and were unable to access some public toilets in the CBD after armed officers were deployed to prevent rowdy youth from accessing the facilities.

A group from Starehe Constituency claimed they were being arm-twisted to surrender toilets by two groups from Eastleigh and Dandora with the help of close allies of the Nairobi governor.

“I build this toilet, and when the Sonko regime came into power. Unknown people were going round trying to take over the toilets,” said Wangeci ‘Simba’, a public toilet owner in the CBD.

Other owners described how some groups were using police officers to forcefully evict them.

“These groups from Eastleigh and Dandora have been threatening us and using police to fake charges against us yet we have all documents to show that we are the rightful managers of this toilet,” they said.

At some point the police were forced to lob teargas canisters to disperse the irate crowds spoiling for a fight.

Calm was later restored after the arrival of Central Police OCS who engaged the warring faction.

Since 2018, there has been a back and forth in the city over the running of the toilets since governor Mike Sonko threatened to take and hand them over to City Hall if the private entities failed to end their constant infighting.

The Starehe Constituency group has now called on Nairobi Metropolitan Services boss Major General Mohammed Badi to pick out the legitimate group that will run and operate the toilets.

“We are tired of these fights, let Badi solve this stalemate once and for all because we pay taxes and we have court documents protecting our group from victimisation,” they added.

The public toilet industry in Nairobi rakes in more than a billion shillings every year and is controlled by a few groups and individuals that operate like cartels.

Fights for their control are common and vicious as the groups jostle for a share of the money.

Nairobi County government said there are 68 public toilets in the city with 17 located within the CBD.

They are operated under the public-private partnership that came into effect in 1999 when the defunct Nairobi City Council engaged the business community to find a solution to the deplorable conditions of the facilities.

Many others were privatised during the regime of Nairobi’s first governor Evans Kidero.

Dr Kidero said the toilets were privatised because City Hall had no capacity to run them.

The operators were to charge a small fee for maintenance of the 517 private toilets spread across the county, mainly in the city centre, estates and markets.

A single toilet in the CBD and markets that charges Sh10 per visit can collect as much as Sh30,000 in a day while those in the estates realise between Sh1,000 and Sh3,000.

From 63 public toilets, it is estimated that more than Sh1.9 million is collected every day translating to Sh56.7 million in a month and more than Sh680 million in a year.

The 517 private ones, with an average daily collection of Sh2,000, bring in Sh1 million every day, over Sh31 million every month and Sh372 million in a year.

This money explains why the public toilet sector is fiercely guarded with even politicians once in a while being roped in to protect the operators.

The toilets are managed by individuals, youth groups, women groups and the Central Business Hawkers Association and some are run by supporters of influential city politicians, who claims to have constructed several toilets years back.


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Murang’a farmer finds fortune in rare sweet potato varieties



It is harvest time at Wambui Kiragu sweet potato farm when we visit. Wambui, popularly known as Sara Murimi, grows premium orange and purplefleshed sweet potatoes in a two-acre family farm in Mugumo-ini, Kirimiri sublocation of Maragua, Murang’a county.

Her farming journey started right after she completed her university studies in 2014, when she began growing onions and capsicum, then ventured into paw paw and water melon business.

However, the learning curve was steep as she had underrated some factors, such as consistent availability of water, the cost and quality of labour and security. As a result, she lost a whole crop of onions when her water pump broke down and her water melon field was cleared by thieves a night before harvesting.

As a ‘telephone-farmer’ (farmers who remotely run the farm via the telephone), her farm manager would also connive with agrovet shops to inflate prices and volume of inputs. Tired of all these challenges, she decided to take a break to reflect. “When I ventured into farming I had big dreams.

But I wish I knew better. I wouldn’t have started with the so-called high value crops. I would have chosen a crop, such as sweet potatoes, which allows one to learn at a fair pace before upgrading,” recounts Wambui.

She tried her luck in the farm again two years later, but this time round, she settled on sweet potatoes, which are not labour intensive and don’t require a lot of farm inputs and water, have distinct harvesting time and good market value. She went for the orange-fleshed variety know for its nutrious value.

This variety is packed with betacarotene, an important vitamin good for eyesight and the purplefleshed variety that has anti-cancer nutrient called anthocyanin.

Rare varieties

“I did extensive research on these two varieties and I could clearly see their untapped potential.

I also realised that the two varieties were not widely available thus making them more expensive compared with other varieties,” she recounts.

Her next step was to visit the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) for her seedlings as well as advise on the agronomy of growing sweet potatoes. KEPHIS runs a tissue culture lab of sweet potatoes to ensure that farmers get clean and disease-free planting materials. And the plant didn’t disappoint. Three and half months later, it was ready for harvesting. At first she had challenges marketing the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes because her customers, mainly her neighbours would over-cook them and then report that they were soggy, impacting her sales. She had to introduce cooking lessons to them and since then the business is growing, leading to another challenge!

The capacity to meet the quality and quantity requirements. “On quantity, I am still unable to provide consistent volumes to meet the demands of my regular clients, but am working hard to expand the farm since the demand is there,” she says. And to ensure she minimises on postharvest losses, she says that she harvests her produce once the leaves and end of the vines start turning yellow because if sweet potatoes overstay in the soil, they can be attacked by weevils, which make grooves on the tubers thus lowering their market quality.

Apart from that, if the tuber overstays in the soil, they also become too big, which is not desirable by the market.

Online marketting

Wambui says that her biggest clientele are her neighbours in Nairobi, whe she lives and works as aresearcher in urban food systems. She markets the potatos through their neighborhood resident association’s WhatsApp group and also sells through social media platforms, the likes of Digital Farmers Kenya.

She has also linked up with a trader who arranges home grocery deliveries and picks 100kgs every week. She is currently trying to link up with restaurants as they slowly start picking up from the impacts of Covid-19. Wambui, who graduated with an environmental studies degree and has a broad experience in sustainable agriculture, says that her plan is to go into processing and provide a market for farmers. And to ensure this is a success, especially when it comes to quantity, she has started distributing vines to her neighbours in Kirimiri SubLocation for free.

She also sells the vines at a nominal fee and so far, she has a network of farmers in

over 25 counties who have bought and are planting the purple-fleshed variety. “With the new craze of no-wheat diet, I want to make a difference in people’s diet as they try to cut on wheat consumption and go back to traditional foods. I wish that every farming household grows these nutritious varieties of sweet potatoes.

In providing a market, I will be able to make a difference in women farmers lives.” To her orange-fleshed sweet potatoes fetches a better market because it can be used in different recipes.

Apart from the normal way of boiling and eating, it can also be used to make chapati, mandazi, doughnuts, chips, crisps among other meals. For the purplefleshed variety, the brillant colour and health benefits command a higher price, opening a potentially profitable niche market.

Her advise to anyone wishing to venture into farming is that they should carefully choose their learning curve.

“Do not start with the so-called high value crops because chances of starting with failure are high. Sweet potatoes allow you to learn more than the actual agronomy of a crop, for instance, labor management, marketing and so on,” she offers

• Wambui comes from a family with a farming background. She owes her success in farming to her supportive parents.

• Her father is an agricultural economist and guides her to think more about gross margins than hobby farming.

• Wambui is a telephone farmer and works on part-time basis as a researcher in urban food systems.

• She is an environmental studies graduate.
• She sells the sweet potatoes at Sh100 per kg and the vines at Sh10 per vine.


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