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SUN CITY (SOUTH AFRICA),  (Xinhua) -- The first prize winner Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters ©, the first runner-up Ade van Heerden (L) and the second runner-up Boipelo Mabe pose for photos during the Miss South Africa 2017 Pageant and Celebration in Sun City, North West Province, South Africa, on March 26, 2017. The Miss South Africa 2017 Pageant and Celebration was held here Sunday. Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters from Sedgefield in the Western Cape Province, a 21-year-old part-time model, was crowned Miss South Africa 2017 with a prize of one million rand (about 80,000 US dollars), and the runners-up are Ade van Heerden (1st Princess) from the Western Cape Province and Boipelo Mabe (2nd Princess) from Gauteng Province. XINHUA PHOTO: ZHAI JIANLAN

East Africa mulls trust fund for reconstruction of Somalia 

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- A regional summit on refugee situation in Somalia on Saturday proposed the establishment of a trust fund to help the reconstruction of the Horn of Africa nation.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta who hosted the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Special Summit on Somalia said mobilization of financial resources is a crucial component in the re-building of social and economic infrastructure in Somalia.

“In this regard, I propose the establishment of a Trust Fund for the reconstruction of Somalia under the auspices of IGAD,” Kenyatta told leaders from Uganda, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

He told international humanitarian agencies to relocate back to Somalia as the Horn of Africa nation embarks on reconstruction path.

Kenyatta said the trust fund would mobilize resources for the provision of adequate housing, education facilities, healthcare centres and livelihood activities among others.

“I urge international community to join us in this initiative. Now that Somalia is stabilizing we must, all, stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters,” he said.

Kenya hosted IGAD summit that brought together Eastern African heads of state to discuss the situation of Somali refugees in the region, as the threat of pervasive drought and food insecurity in Somalia looms.

The East African nation’s role as host is marred by its continued insistence on closing Dadaab refugee camp, host to over 300,000 Somali refugees, by May.

Kenyatta said the remittances from Somalia’s Diaspora can be tapped as part of a framework for rebuilding.

“We are informed by the World Bank that in 2015, Somalia received 1.4 billion U.S. dollars in remittances, which is almost a quarter of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” he said.

The Kenyan leader told the summit that there is also an available solution in the utilization of accelerated resettlement to third countries, as stipulated in the 1951 Refugee Convention.

“It is my hope that partner countries will open their doors to increase their resettlement quarter for Somali refugees,” he said. 


Somalia urges relief agencies to return

By David Musyoka NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Saturday called on humanitarian and development actors working on Somalia to return to help in the reconstruction of the Horn of Africa nation.

Speaking at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Special Summit of Regional Heads of State on durable solutions for the protracted Somali refugee situation in Nairobi, Mohamed said several parts of Somalia are largely peaceful despite attacks from the militants.

“We understand that there are serious security limitations in certain areas, but the vast majority of our country is relatively peaceful. And experience shows us that, when partners operate within Somalia, their impact is qualitatively better than those operating remotely,” Mohamed said.

He pledged to increase security for all relief agencies in the Horn of Africa nation and promised to fix humanitarian challenges to enable agencies to work from inside Somalia.

The Horn of Africa nation has been mired in conflict since civil war broke out in 1991 and is one of the most difficult countries for relief agencies to operate in.

The UN says over 100 violent incidents resulted in the death of nine, injury of 11, arrest and detention of 16, abduction of three and physical assault of five humanitarian personnel also took place by September 2016.

The Islamist group Al-Shabaab which is fighting to topple the Western-backed government has been targeting humanitarian workers for political gain, sometimes demanding ransom in order to free the hostages.

Mohamed said his government will implement various projects and programs in partnership with the agencies.

“My administration will empower relevant line ministries to cooperate with all of you. And we will hold each other accountable to achieving declared objectives,” he said.

He said the problem of Somali refugees in the region has been going on for far too long and urged international community to move swiftly to find a lasting solution to the menace.

“I’m confident that you will continue to honor the institution of asylum as enshrined in the international humanitarian conventions and maintain our people in safety and dignity in the best tradition of African hospitality,” Mohamed told the summit.

“From our side, we will increase our effort to jointly achieve the objective of this conference on the voluntary return of our people in a safe and dignified manner, and to provide durable solutions so that they can participate in the rebuilding of a prosperous and peaceful Somalia at peace and harmony with itself and its neighbors,” he added. 


UNHCR urges strong support to stabilize Somalia, countries hosting refugees

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The UN refugee agency on Saturday appealed for support for efforts aimed at bringing greater stability inside Somalia, and to the countries hosting Somali refugees.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo lauded Somalia’s neighbors for their generosity in providing protection to refugees in spite of their own socio-economic, national security and environmental challenges.

He said countries hosting Somali refugees have to find alternative solutions for them locally, focusing on the socio-economic inclusion of refugees side by side with resilience support for host communities.

“We invite the countries to also consider local integration, especially for refugees who have integrated, for example, those married to nationals,” Okoth-Obbo told the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Special Summit of Regional Heads of State on durable solutions for the protracted Somali refugee situation in Nairobi.

He said the UN refugee agency is delighted by this unprecedented regional effort that commits to providing collective protection and assistance to Somali refugees.

UNHCR called for global responsibility sharing with the region, where communities have been hosting and sharing limited resources with Somali refugees for years.

Okoth-Obbo also appealed for the need to preserve asylum space for Somali refugees unable to return home.

Over 2 million Somalis have been displaced in one of the world’s most protracted displacement crises.

There are an estimated 1 million internally displaced persons within Somalia and 900,000 Somali refugees - many now third generation - in Kenya (324,000), Ethiopia (241,000), Yemen (255,000), Uganda (39,500) and Djibouti (13,000).

Though voluntary returns continue, security, access and absorption limitations restrict the scale of returns to Somalia at the present moment.

“Thus, UNHCR highlighted the importance of creating predictable peace, security, social and community conditions, for Somalis in the country and refugees whose decision to return, can thus be more sustainable,” Okoth-Obbo said.

The summit highlighted that voluntary return is not the exclusive option and has urged heightened international solidarity and responsibility sharing through continued resettlement of Somali refugees and provision of complementary pathways for third country admissions - such as medical evacuation and humanitarian admission programmes, family reunification and opportunities for skilled migration, labour mobility and education.

Okoth-Obbo also said the drought which has affected some 6.2 million people, half of Somalia’s population, is a serious issue and finding solutions must be accelerated.

“We need to recognize that the region faces new challenges, such as the current drought and food insecurity, gripping the region, threatening starvation and death,” he said.

Severe drought conditions across the region have led to food crises in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Yemen. Countries are facing the worst drought in 60 years.

UNHCR is urging the need for an immediate scale up of the response to the drought to mitigate and avert famine to reduce its adverse humanitarian impact.

“Time is of the essence and resolute action by humanitarian actors, strongly supported by the international community, is required,” Okoth-Obbo stressed. 


Refugee situation in East Africa alarming: UNHCR

DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) -- The United Nations said on Sunday the refugee situation in East Africa and the Horn of Africa was alarming.

“This pathetic situation of refugees in the region is caused by grave food shortage and armed conflicts,” said Victoria Akyeampong, the Head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for East, Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region.

She said the situation was equally worrying in the Great Lakes region, another flash point of political violence in the continent pitting militia groups and the government forces.

“The situation is too alarming. We have to develop a mechanism on how to address the crisis,” said Akyeampong on a visit to the East African Community (EAC) headquarters in Tanzania’s northern tourist town of Arusha.

The UNHCR regional boss and the EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko agreed to form a task force to develop and implement the regional mechanism on management of refugees.

“I am happy today that we have agreed to work together. Our region has for a long time suffered a lot in the context of refugees and that explains why we in the EAC look at the refugee issue as one of the critical areas of regional integration,” said Mfumukeko.

EAC and UNHCR have a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both parties in March 2010 which established a framework for cooperation in areas of conflict prevention, peace building, early warning and response and movement of persons, among others.


6 killed, 12 injured in church building collapse
in Burundi’s Bubanza province: official

BUJUMBURA, (Xinhua) -- At least six people died and 12 others were injured when a church building under construction collapsed on Saturday at Muramba in Bubanza province, 35km west of the Burundian capital Bujumbura, local administration authorities said.

“The church building under construction collapsed around noon when agents were at work. Six people died on the spot when one of the walls fell on them. Twelve others were injured, five of them seriously,” Bubanza Governor Tharcisse Niyongabo said.

According to him, injured victims were rushed to Bubanza Hospital for urgent treatment.

Niyongabo indicated that the Burundi Red Cross helped during the operation to rescue the victims.

He added that the six killed victims include three men, two women and a child.


News Analysis: Opening new humanitarian corridor adds
momentum to int’l efforts to ease famine in South Sudan

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- At a time when international efforts are growing to ease the impact of famine in South Sudan, Khartoum’s agreement to open a new humanitarian corridor adds momentum to the ongoing relief activities and saves plenty of time and effort.

On Sunday, the Sudanese government said it agreed on opening a new corridor via El Obied, Heglig, Rubkona and Bentiu for delivery of humanitarian aid to the population affected by famine in South Sudan’s Unity and Greater Bahr el Ghazal States.

Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Ahmed Mohamed Adam said Khartoum’s agreement came because of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, adding that delivery of the humanitarian aid through the new corridor would begin this week.

Khartoum has also agreed to re-open the river corridor linking Kosti town in central Sudan and South Sudan’s river ports, on condition that Juba returns 11 river boats seized earlier.

The newly-opened humanitarian corridor would help deliver food aid on time and reduce the reliance on airlift, which costs six to seven times as much as by river and road.

Marta Ruedas, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, welcomed on Sunday Sudan’s decision to open a new humanitarian corridor to South Sudan, where 100,000 people are suffering famine amid a deepening humanitarian crisis across the country.

“By opening this cross-border corridor, the government of Sudan is showing its commitment to the people of South Sudan and further strengthening cooperation with the international community to pull South Sudan back from a widening famine that could affect another one million people,” said Ruedas in a press release.

“This decision also comes at a critical time just before South Sudan’s rainy season, which starts in May and usually renders these roads impassable,” she added.

This week, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) will deliver 11,000 tons of sorghum, which is enough to feed 300,000 people for three months, to famine-afflicted areas in South Sudan, according to the release.

At least 7.5 million people across South Sudan, almost two thirds of the population, need humanitarian assistance, WFP said.

South Sudan said earlier that about five million people are at risk of famine, which has hit two areas in Unity State and is spreading to Northern Bahr el Ghazal State.

The famine in South Sudan was attributed to many reasons including the civil war and collapse of the economy in the new-born state. 


Sudan, Chad, France work together to rescue kidnapped French national

KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) -- Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that Sudan, French intelligence and Chad are working together to locate a French national who was kidnapped in Chad and carried inside Sudan.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Intelligence and Security Service and the Armed Forces have been notified about the French hostage,” Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told reporters.

“Khartoum is coordinating with the concerned authorities in France, including the French intelligence, and the Chadian government via the Sudanese-Chadian Forces to bring back the French hostage,” he added.

Chadian Chief of Security Ahmed Mohammed Bashir said earlier that a French national working for a mining company in Chad was abducted some 200 km south of the Chadian city of Abeche on Thursday and moved to Sudan later.


Uganda president leaves for regional summit on Somali refugee crisis

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Friday left for neighboring Kenya where he will meet his counterparts to discuss solutions to the Somali refugee crisis.

The meeting scheduled for Saturday will bring together heads of state of member countries of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, the international community and other stakeholders.

The summit aims to marshal a comprehensive regional approach to deliver durable solutions for Somali refugees whilst promoting sustainable re- integration of returnees in Somalia.

UN figures show more than two million Somalis have been displaced in one of the world’s most protracted humanitarian crises that has now entered its third decade.

An estimated 1.1 million Somalis are internally displaced inside the Horn of Africa nation and some 900,000 are refugees in neighboring countries, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda. 


Egypt jails 56 people over migrant shipwreck killing 203

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian court sentenced 56 people to 2 to 13 years in prison over a migrant shipwreck that killed 203 people last year, state-run MENA news agency reported.

The defendants were accused of involuntary manslaughter, fraud and illegal employment of workers, according to MENA.

In September last year, a migrant boat bound for Italy drowned near the coast of Egypt’s northern Beheira province with some 600 people onboard.

The European Union’s border agency Frontex warned that growing numbers of migrants bound for Europe were turning to Egypt as a departure point for the sea voyage.

Illegal migration via Egyptian Mediterranean Sea shores rose over the past few years in attempts to reach Europe and flee difficult economic conditions in the most populous Arab country.

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- Egyptian rescuers search for survivors at the site of a collapsed building in Cairo’s Boulaq district, Egypt on March 26, 2017. Two buildings collapsed in Cairo’s Boulaq district leaving at least one dead and seven injured. Another building collapsed last Friday in Cairo’s Garden City district. XINHUA PHOTO

Egypt jails ex-chief of journalists union over cover-up charge

CAIRO, (Xinhua) -- An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced the former head of the Journalists Union and two board members a year in jail on charges of harboring colleagues wanted by the law, official news agency MENA reported.

The sentence in November for the three journalists Yehia Qalah, Khalid al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim was two years in jail, MENA said.

But Saturday’s sentence was handed without labor, so according to Egyptian laws, the three journalists won’t be imprisoned but banned from travel for three years, in case they are charged in any other cases.

The case dates back to May 2, 2016, when the police raided the Egyptian syndicate to arrest two opposition journalists, Mahmoud al-Sakka and Amr Badr, who took shelter inside the premise.

Union officials condemned the raid, saying it’s the first time the syndicate has been stormed in its history, but the interior ministry said Sakka and Badr were arrested on criminal charges.


Uganda sets up task force to combat army worm outbreak

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- Uganda has set up national task force to combat the outbreak of army-worms in the east African country.

Vincent Ssempijja, minister of agriculture in a statement issued on Friday said the task force will develop action plans for effective management of the army-worm both in the short and long term periods.

He said the ministry of agriculture as an emergency measure is going to buy pesticides known to have worked successfully elsewhere in the control of army worms.

He said government will also procure motorized pumps and all other related items.

He urged farmers and the general public to promptly report any outbreaks for guidance on the interim measures of managing the pest.

Government has set aside one billion shillings (over 285,700 U.S. dollars) to control the pest.

Ssempijja said the presence of the army-worms poses an export risk for the country which would have a negative effect on foreign exchange earnings.

The outbreak was first reported in Uganda in 2016 in three districts. It has now spread to over 20 districts.

“Ministry of agriculture has so far confirmed damages on maize and sugarcane crops,” the statement said.

Ssempijja said government is yet to establish the impact of the pest in Uganda but based on their effects elsewhere, the impact may be huge.

“Based on the estimated yield loss of 15 percent -75 percent elsewhere, the presence of the army-worm in Uganda could translate to an annual loss of at least 450,000 metric tonnes of maize that is equivalent to almost 200 million dollars.

The figures, according to ministry of agriculture, are only reflective of maize however the pest affects more crops heightening the potential loss to the economy. 


Feature: From Germany to Egypt, lady Didi teaches
village children from alphabet to life skills

By Mahmoud Fouly GIZA, Egypt, (Xinhua) -- Behind a colorful hand-made wooden gate painted with drawings of a river with running boats surrounded by flowers and flying birds, there opens the way to achieve the dreams of the children of a small Egyptian village for learning their ABCs as well as the value of life.

Diana Sandor, known as Didi, an old Hungarian-born German-raised woman, covered the long distance from West to East six years ago to open her Nile River School as a charitable kindergarten and educational center at the heart of remote, impoverished Baharwa village of Ayyat district on the outskirts of Giza Province, about 100 km south of the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Didi said she started building the center “brick by brick,” through little donations from friends and volunteers around the world and that she is concerned with “teaching children life,” not just languages and skills.

She explained that a British female friend who lived in Egypt helped her find this place in the village.

“In the village, we just wanted to find out what the problems and the needs of the people are. They said they need a school and they don’t have one. Because I am into the education world, I thought of starting a school here like I did in other places around the world,” the woman told Xinhua with a peaceful smile on her face.

Surrounded by greenery and flowers and overlooking the Nile River bank at a village with high illiteracy and limited services and educational opportunities, Didi’s center has indoor and outdoor spaces for activities like learning Arabic and English alphabets, painting, singing, playing the piano, doing clay formation, knitting, cooking and carpentry.

“I learned here English and I knew how to perform some songs in English. All I learned here helped me at my regular school. A lot of parents come here to thank Didi for teaching their children and for coloring the fronts of their homes,” said 12-year-old girl Menna Mahmoud.

Another girl, Farha Moussa, 11, was shaping the clay in her hands into a bird. She said she learned at Didi’s how to draw, sing and make paper roses besides reading and writing in both Arabic and English.

Coming to this small village in Egypt is not a whim of Didi, who left her normal social life in Germany when she was 22 to travel to India and learn meditation and yoga. She also spent 16 years living in Asian countries providing similar charitable services. Didi said Egypt for her was “a new culture and a new challenge.”

“I wanted to find myself, to realize myself. I questioned my purpose and mission in life. Through that, I devoted my whole life to development. I have lived in different countries in the world, so I feel everywhere at home. I consider the whole world my family,” she said.

Opened a year after Didi’s arrival in Egypt in 2011, the center attracts from 60 to 120 children every year. Some of the kids at the school have grown up to become teachers for younger children and assist Didi with her educational activities and caretaking of the place.

“I studied with Didi here for four years and I am now a senior student at a regular preparatory school. I feel it is my duty to come here and assist Didi as she helped me with education,” said 16-year-old girl Ahlam Ghanem, a resident of Baharwa village.

Didi’s assistant teachers do not have to be teens or grownups. They still can be children who teach fellow children, as long as they are smart, diligent and hardworking, like this little boy who teaches his peers the Arabic alphabet.

“I teach the children the Arabic alphabet to be good and nice. I also know how to sing and many other things,” shy eight-year-old boy Zeyad Mohamed said. 

In the beginning, Didi considered carrying out her charitable project in Cairo. But when she saw the peaceful scenery of Baharwa village she thought it would be more attractive for volunteers and young students.

Yasmine Refaat, a volunteer from Cairo in her late 20s, has been spending the past two days reading for the children from storybooks and helping them with the rehearsal of a kids’ play they are supposed to perform once they are ready.

“I believe volunteers make a difference for the children who are so curious when they see a new visitor. It’s important for them to see some new people who come from outside their village to help and teach them,” the young woman said.   

GIZA (EGYPT),  (Xinhua) -- Lady Didi (L) teaches children how to shape clay at her Nile River School in Ayyat district on the outskirts of Giza Province, about 100 km south of Cairo, capital of Egypt, on March 26, 2017. Diana Sandor, known as Didi, an old Hungarian-born German-raised woman, covered the long distance from West to East six years ago to open her Nile River School as a charitable kindergarten and educational center at the heart of remote, impoverished Baharwa village of Ayyat district on the outskirts of Giza Province, about 100 km south of the Egyptian capital Cairo. Didi said she started building the center “brick by brick,” through little donations from friends and volunteers around the world and that she is concerned with “teaching children life,” not just languages and skills. XINHUA PHOTO: ZHAO DINGZHE

 S. Africa saves 420MW during Earth Hour

JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s power utility, Eskom said Sunday the country saved 420 MW during the Earth Hour on Saturday night.

This comes after they had encouraged citizens to join the global community by switching off lights, non-essential electrical gadgets and make noise for climate change action on Saturday night between 20:30 to 21:30 p.m.

Eskom then compared the consumption on Saturday during the Earth Hour against typical consumption for this time on an average Saturday evening. 

In a statement issued on Sunday Eskom said, “South Africans took action against climate change on Saturday evening when they switched off their lights for Earth Hour from 20:30 to 21:30, saving an average of 420 MW during the hour. This is enough to power a city the size of Polokwane or Port Elizabeth (medium South Africa cities) for an hour.”

Eskom said they are using Earth Hour by using its power to showcase the contribution to South Africa’s journey in meeting sustainable development goals.

The power utility encouraged South Africans to make energy efficiency and environmental conservation part of their daily lifestyles.

Eskom also encouraged people to reduce their energy consumption every day by using electricity efficiently, switching off all non-essential lights and appliances.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, and it is organized by the World Wide Fund to raise awareness about climate change. Over 162 countries and territories worldwide are part of this initiative.


Tanzanian parliament to review mining contracts
to control exports of copper concentrates

DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian parliament said on Sunday it will review the east African country’s mining contracts with foreign firms aimed at improving proper documentation of exported copper concentrates for the benefit of the country.

The parliamentary action came just a day after the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) in collaboration with security agents impounded over 260 export-bound shipping containers with copper concentrates from Buzwagi Gold Mine (BZGM) stored in Dar es Salaam.

Last week, Tanzanian President John Magufuli visited the Dar es Salaam port and ordered the seizure of 20 containers ferrying copper concentrates from the same mining firm.

On Sunday, President Magufuli sacked the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Justin Ntalikwa, apparently in connection with the copper concentrates exports.

Job Ndugai, Speaker of the National Assembly, accompanied by a team of Members of Parliament, inspected the seized containers with copper concentrates at the Dar es Salaam port and said the parliamentary review team will analyse the process of transporting the copper concentrates and how they were exported abroad for smelting.

“There has been a feeling that we are being cheated as a nation on this issue, therefore as parliament we have decided to play our role of advising the government on the issue,” said the House Speaker.

Ndugai added: “We want to get details of how the copper concentrates are analyzed, packed and exported from the source. This task will also involve reviewing mining contracts.”

Deusdedit Kakoko, TPA Director General, said more than 50,000 containers with copper concentrates move out of the country every year.

Kakoko said since the country passed laws to allow the exportation of copper concentrates in 1998, over one million containers with copper concentrates have left the country.

He said newly installed scanners at the port have helped to a large extent to seize containers ferrying copper concentrates, adding that there has been a good collaboration from various governments’ agencies in seizing the containers.

“We are sure that the copper concentrates in these containers have 90-percent mineral content, therefore we need a special team that will carry out a second analysis of the concentrates so that we find out what the content is,” said Kakoko. 


Campaigners warn of plastic litter in Kenya’s freshwater bodies

By Christine Lagat NAIVASHA, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Bold measures are imperative to reverse the growing menace of plastic litter in Kenya’s fresh water bodies, campaigners have said.

Speaking at a cleanup activity on the shores of Lake Naivasha on Saturday, a world heritage site, the campaigners warned that survival of large fresh water bodies in Kenya is at stake due to plastic waste.

Betterman Simidi,  CEO of conservation lobby Clean Up Kenya, said that robust public private partnerships and community engagement were key to revitalize action on plastic waste in fresh water ecosystems.

“Majority of our country’s fresh water bodies are choking with plastic litter hence the need for punitive legislation and involvement of local communities to eradicate this menace before it spin out of control,” Simidi said.

His organization partnered with UN agencies to undertake clean-up activities on Lake Naivasha shores as a build-up to World Water Day that was celebrated on March 22.

Simidi noted that Lake Naivasha is grappling with high pollution levels linked to solid waste, agricultural chemicals, over-fishing and climate change

“The water level in Lake Naivasha has been shrinking lately due to siltation. Invasive weeds, plastic waste and intensive chemicals use by horticulture farms in the riparian have worsened the Lake’s pollution,” said Simidi.

Lake Naivasha that is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO also supports agriculture, fishing and tourism sectors in Nakuru County and beyond.

Timothy Kiogora, Nakuru County Director of Environment and Natural Resources, said  rapid urbanization and industrial growth have worsened dumping of solid waste into the lake.

“Unregulated discharge of waste water and non-biodegradable material into Lake Naivasha has threatened its survival despite its huge contribution to tourism and agricultural sectors in the country,” said Kiogora.

He revealed the national and county governments are implementing joint programs to halt solid waste pollution in Lake Naivasha.

Lis Mullin Bernhardt, Program Officer at UNEP’s Fresh Water Unit, said that deterrent measures like plastic ban that was announced by Kenya’s ministry of environment on March 14 could re-energize action on solid waste pollution in the country’s fresh water bodies.

“Lake Naivasha is a microcosm of solid waste pollution facing many fresh water ecosystems in Kenya. Enforcement of regulations alongside involvement of the local government, private sector and communities is key to reduce plastic litter in the Lake,” said Bernhardt. 


Kenya’s farm workers arrested for killing seven zebras

NAIVASHA, Kenya, (Xinhua) -- Kenyan wildlife rangers on Sunday arrested eight farm workers suspected of hacking to death seven zebras near Rift Valley town of Naivasha located northwest of the capital, Nairobi.

The laborers are alleged to have killed the Zebras for invading a private farm along Nairobi-Nakuru highway.

Officials from the Kenyan wildlife agency said the suspects will be arraigned in court to answer charges of terminating life of a protected herbivore.

Hapicha Ellema, the Officer in Charge of Hells Gate National Park said farm managers and workers will be prosecuted for their involvement in the death of seven zebras.

“The farm management is alleged to have mobilized workers to kill the zebras and other smaller herbivores that escaped with injuries. They are liable for punishment under the wildlife act,” Ellema told reporters.

She added that the farm workers attacked zebras, impalas and gazelles using crude weapons.

“Any grievous bodily harm to a wild animal is considered a heinous crime by the newly enacted wildlife bill. So the farm workers who killed zebras must face the law,” said Ellema.

She revealed that wildlife rangers have intensified the hunt for criminals involved in illegal trade in game meat that is rampant in Rift Valley towns and Nairobi.


Chinese business community launches trade lobby in Kenya

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- The Kenya Chinese Chamber of Commerce (KCCC), a trade lobby bringing together the Chinese business community operating in the East African nation, was launched on Saturday.

Chairman of the East Africa Chinese Chamber of Commerce Han Jun said the new body is expected to unite and empower members to form a cohesive force among domestic and overseas Chinese.

Han observed that Kenya has become a trading spot of the China-Africa cooperation.

“Kenya has become an important direction and foothold in East Africa for China’s belt and road initiative and national strategy of going abroad,” he noted.

With many Chinese projects including the ongoing construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway, the launch of the direct flight of China Southern to Kenya and the completion of the Thika Highway, a number of Chinese firms have been attracted to Kenya.

“The chamber is expected to forge a new chapter between the Chinese people working in Kenya and further the modernization process,” KCCC Chairman Zhuo Wu said.

Zhuo said the new chamber will help create additional jobs for the local Kenyan people and contribute to Kenya’s economic development programs.

“We are going to continue strengthening the relationship between China and Kenya and also make contributions towards the economic and cultural development of the two countries,” said Zhuo. 


Kenya’s afro-pop music group set to tour China

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- A leading Kenyan afro-pop band Sauti Sol, is set to make its first tour of China in May this year.

The four-man band, that originally started as a cappella group, are set to sing in Swahili and Chinese.

“We intend to promote Kenyan music in China and also invite Chinese musicians to come to Kenya and perform,” the band’s leader Bien-Aime Baraza told Xinhua in an interview in Nairobi on Saturday.

Baraza revealed that  during the ten-day tour, the band will perform in Chinese cities including Beijing, Shangai, and Chengdu.

“We plan to meet and perform alongside the Chinese musicians and plan on the promotion of cultural exchange since Kenyans know very little about Chinese culture besides business and foods,” he added.

He observed that the trip will create an open understanding between the two countries and encourage diplomacy at a different level by tapping music knowledge from the Asian population.

Sauti Sol was crowned Best Group in Africa at the 2016 MTV Africa Music awards, Soundcity MTV Awards, AFRIMA Awards and UK’s BEFFTA Awards.

The band has previously toured Europe, United States of America and several African countries.

The band that is composed of Baraza, Willis Austin Chimano, Polycarp Otieno and Savara Mudigi are currently looking for sponsors to enable them perform in the Chinese cities.


Kenyan President calls for recruitment of more golf junior players

2017-03-26 21:09:10   

NAIROBI, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday challenged Kenyan golf clubs to open up their courses to more youth.

Kenyatta said attracting the youth to play golf will secure the future of the game and the next Kenya Open could be won by a Kenyan youth.

He said playing golf will also have the benefit of teaching the youth vital lessons about honour, good manners, and about patience.

“It is a game that teaches discipline, honour and it is a game that we will like to see more and more of our youth participating in,” said the President when he presided over the closing ceremony of the 49th Kenya Open in Nairobi.

He said Kenyan schools should also include golf as part of their sporting activities to encourage more youth to take up the game.

Kenyatta said the prize money will be raised starting with the next tournament as part of efforts to promote the game and attract more players to take part in the Kenya Open.

“We will work together to raise the prize money to 1 million U.S. dollars to attract more players,” said the President. He said this will promote Kenya as a sporting destination thereby bringing in more tourists who love the game.

He asked golf clubs to use whichever approach convenient for them to have more junior players on their courses such as reaching out to schools in their neighbourhoods.

“The fact remains, Ladies and Gentlemen, that we need to do more to open up this wonderful game to our young people,” said the President.

The President also encouraged the Kenyan youth to take up golf the same way they have dominated other games. The tournament was won by Aaron Rai, a UK citizen of Kenyan descent. 


Kenya’s Titus Tuwei wins Zhengkai Marathon title

ZHENGZHOU, (Xinhua) -- Titus Tuwei from Kenya won the men’s title at the Zhengkai Marathon Sunday in two hours 10 minutes and 14 seconds.

“It’s my best record and I’m very satisfied with the result. Clear weather and flat road help me to win,” said Tuwei, who pocketed 20,000 US dollars in prize money.

Samson Kiptoo Bungei, also from Kenya, was 13 seconds behind in second place. Willy Kiplangat clocked 2:10:50 to round out the podium finish for Kenya. 

Gebeyahu Tigist Memuye from Ethiopia won the women’s title in 2:27:39.

Zhengkai Marathon was inaugurated in 2006, the only marathon race in China that connects two ancient capitals - Zhengzhou and Kaifeng. 

KAIFENG, (Xinhua) -- Titus Tuwei from Kenya sprints to the finish line during the Zhengkai International Marathon in Kaifeng, city of central China’s Henan Province on March 26, 2017. Titus Tuwei claimed the men’s title with 2:10.14. XINHUA PHOTO: LI BO


China’s seven athletes arrive in Uganda for cross country worlds

KAMPALA, (Xinhua) -- Seven athletes who will represent China at the 2017 World Cross Country Championship on Friday arrived in Uganda where the event will be held over the weekend.

Pu Zhiqiang, team manager said they are in Uganda to put up a good show and also learn from African runners.

“We are here also to learn a lot from the African runners who have showed over time that they are good in Cross Country and marathon,” Pu said.

Besides the athletes, the team also has four officials.

Fifty nine countries and regions entered to participate in the event which will have 553 athletes taking part in.

Ethiopia and Kenya are rated title favorites.

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