Items filtered by date: September 2016
Judge dismisses ‘unnecessary’ law suit by environmental activists

KAMPALA, Uganda, September 27, 2016/ -- The High Court of Uganda has cleared Bidco (http://www.BidcoAfrica.com) against claims of deforestation in the Vegetable Oil Development Program in Kalangala district.

The public interest case filed by three environmental groups alleged that Bidco coerced the Government through the National Forestry Authority to de-gazette forest reserves on Bugala Island for the growing of oil palm. 

The court rejected this claim.

“The defendants have never asked the Government of Uganda to de-gazette any forest reserve as claimed in the plaint, no forest reserve has been de-gazetted as a result. The land was provided on Lease to Bidco by the government for the project was not a de-gazetted forest, therefore, the issue of de-gazzetation should not have arisen,” Judge J. W Kwesiga said in his ruling.

The court also rejected the claim of deforestation.

“None of the defendants (Bidco) have entered or cleared any forest reserve and claims to the contrary are false,” the judgment continues.

In the ruling the court said it could not find any evidence that the company’s activities violated the right to a clean healthy environment.

“The plaintiff should have further produced evidence to establish that growing of palm trees would be harmful to clean and healthy environment rather than being accredit to a clean and healthy environment by growth of palm trees.”

The court said the lawsuit was unnecessary and the environmental groups could have acquired the truth by simply contacting the company.

Martin Lugambwa Chairman of the Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Association welcomed the ruling.

“This is great news. Let them leave us to enjoy the fruits of Oil Palm with our families. Our lives have changed, our children are going to good schools and we are happy. Let them leave us alone.”

Nelson Basalidde the General Manager of the Palm Growers Trust echoed the sentiment.

“The court has validated what we have always said and known. The forest reserves on the island are intact. There have been four separate environmental impact assessments. I think we need to focus on the remarkable transformation that is happening in the lives of small holder farmers and the economic impact on the Island.

Bidco Uganda Managing Director Kodey Rao who testified during the trial also lauded the ruling. 

“This project has gone out of its way to maintain the environment and transform the community. The small holder farmers are happy and the community is happy. Kalangala has become a beacon for progress. We thank the court for making the truth known.”

About Bidco

Bidco Africa Ltd (http://www.BidcoAfrica.com) is Kenya and East Africa’s leading manufacturer of edible oils, fats and hygiene care products. Established in 1985 the company has manufacturing units in Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar and a footprint in 16 African countries.

Bidco Uganda is a separate legal entity with different shareholding and management.

About the Palm Oil Project

The Vegetable Oil Development Project benefits 1800 farmers in Kalangala district, Bugala Uganda and is a partnership of Bidco Uganda, the Government of Uganda and the International Fund for Agriculture IFAD.

The farmers get loans over a period of four years to plant and nurture oil palm until they begin harvesting. When they do they are guaranteed a market for their fruits at a pre-determined price formulated by the World Bank. Oil Palm fruits for 20 plus years. 

SOURCE: Bidco Africa

Njeri will be leading Greenpeace Africa into a new wave of environmental justice for Africans by Africans
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 25, 2016/ -- Kenyan born Njeri Kabeberi, has been named as Executive Director for Greenpeace Africa (www.GreenpeaceAfrica.org) after an extensive search for a combination of skills required to drive the organisation towards a people –powered movement.

According to the Greenpeace Africa Board, Africans are hungry for a new story, one with a better take on nature, on humanity, their livelihoods, their future and their connection to the earth. “It was critical to find someone who embodies passion, activism and understands the context of environmental justice in Africa and we are confident that Njeri represents that” said Greenpeace Africa Board Chair Brian Kagoro.

Greenpeace currently runs campaigns on four key issues on the continent, to protect the Congo Basin from large scale deforestation, stop overfishing in West Africa, promote ecological farming in the horn of Africa as well as demand a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in South Africa in order to reverse the impacts of climate change.

With a long history in human rights activism, Njeri will be leading Greenpeace Africa into a new wave of environmental justice for Africans by Africans.

“We will continue to work on our flagship campaigns but more so, we shall be working closely with communities to ensure that our campaigns speak to the local realities on the continent and can effect change in the day to day life of our people” said newly appointed Greenpeace Africa Executive Director Njeri Kabeberi.

“Africa has a major role to play in the global efforts to reverse climate change, protecting its vast natural forest and safeguarding its rich ocean resources is centre to the continent’s contribution in averting the catastrophic effects of climate change. It is important that the continent works together to push for an end to illegal logging, unsustainable fishing and a shift from industrial agriculture to ecological farming to ensure that our biodiversity is protected” added Njeri.

Njeri joins Greenpeace after serving as CEO of the Civil Society Reference Group and as the immediate former Executive Director of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy.  She is also a member of the board of advisors of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and chairs the board of the International Centre for Policy and Conflict.  

Njeri is passionate about social justice and women’s rights, and in 2010, amongst others, received the ILO Wedge Award.  She also has extensive INGO leadership and management experience and was on the Board of the Kenya Human Rights Commission for many years.  

 Source: Greenpeace

“Kuishi kwingi, ni kuona mengi” a famous saying in Kenya that warns young people to wait their turn for wisdom to be bestowed on them accompanied with grey hair and wrinkled skin. The lady seated next to Amani in a matatu could not agree with this statement, she fumbled with the little English words she knew, to communicate with her five year old granddaughter. From the look of things, she had been visiting her daughter in the big city of Nairobi from a humble rural home, and was shocked to be dealing with a child her greying hair could not save her from.

Amani finally got to Mbale the unknown destination at the end of the long nine hours of gathered tales and endless eating. Amani who was in the company of three other friends could not help but nib on popcorn, fried peas and biscuits that her friends provided, with her eyes still stuck on her novel. Among her friends was one guy with a demeanour of a bad boy who spent all his time picking on every passenger in the matatu which was mostly followed by a series of thunderous laughter.

She regretted having taken a friend’s advice of taking at least three litres of water every day to heal her cracked skin. The skin sure is supple but she had to make-do with filthy and used toilets at random stopovers.

During breaks, she was glad to stretch her legs and study the culture of the people she would meet in Mbale. Luckily a matatu that belonged to the same Sacco as the one she had boarded pulled into the parking. The passengers were mostly “big boned”, with butts and bellies extending on either sides of the body. Women were pleased to have conformed to the standards of their new destination, Nairobi. They wore wigs that seemed misplaced on their heads and high heeled shoes they could hardly walk in and for this they rewarded themselves with a soda as they surveyed the level of attention they had brought upon themselves.

She buried her head into her novel as soon as they left and only lifted it when they got to an unfamiliar place. The break from her novel was not disappointing. She was glad to encounter the confusion wrapped in the crops that were either cane or napier grass, millet or sorghum, sisal or the ornamental cousin. She sank into her seat to have a better view of the pairs of rollers, sparrows, sterling and weavers perched on the electricity lines with occasional dives at flies and crops for their feed.

In less than one kilometre, she had crossed three bridges, each with different activities. The first one harboured throngs of naked kids who intently covered their groins with one hand as they washed with the other free hand. The soapy kids took alternating dives in the river and went straight to hang on guava trees with bare butts. The second bridge is where the driver amid crunching sounds of gravel, almost exchanged jabs with a careless driver who wanted to overtake them yet the laws of traffic in Kenya forbids overtaking on a bridge. The third bridge was under construction, and so they were forced to take a diversion.

The three bridges may belong to a meandering river, because the scattered shrubs and the euphorbia species that stood untamed gave the town away to semi-arid, that three whole rivers cannot allow. She had for a long time thought, the condition was only prevalent in the east, north and coastal parts of Kenya, she was seeing the threats of famine and drought, if water land and food were not utilized carefully.

“Whine your waist” played in the background leading Amani to a siesta that put an end to the story recording.

Amani together with her three friends were received and taken to their home for the next three adventurous days. Day one saw the four friends interact with jolly women who required that they speak the local language. The scene of the granny in the matatu came rushing to Amani’s confused mind. She could not use the languages she was accustomed to, because the eager women did not make a word of it. It was their turn to mumble foreign words that left the bad boy bemused as he in turn threw a few Luo words to the ladies. His muscular body fit closely to his casual shirt which made him even more popular with the old women.

Later on, Amani and her friends visited the next village and were surprised to see scores of children pounding rocks. Western Kenya is well known for its gigantic rocks including one that produces water earning it the name “crying stone”. The tale of the “crying stone” somewhat resembles that of Moses in the Bible. It is said, the locals were suffering from a long drought, and it took a very powerful prayer to get the water to ooze out of the rock to quench the thirst of the villagers. Another tale was that of Luanda Magere, the Luo legend who turned into a rock when his enemy pieced his shadow. The Western part of Kenya is therefore well endowed with rocks, the rocks that are giving the road construction contractors the hardest time.

Although the rocks that stand erect even in shambas give the area unique scenery, they pose a major challenge to the locals. The rocks however earn revenue for the locals who break them into small pieces that are used to construct houses. In return some space is freed for mrere, managu and saga which are the famous traditional vegetables consumed in this region. The people of western are mostly farmers, who farm maize, potatoes, beans and even tea leaves. This is the area stereotypically known for its love of Ugali, chicken and tea. Visitors look forward to the well prepared ugali, and chicken that is keenly dissected to fit every aspiring eater. Tea is served after every meal; they currently have a tea factory to support their lifestyle.

Matatu and motorcycle rides are filled with drama, Amani discovered. Matatus exceed passenger limits but the unwilling seated passengers harden the wrinkles on their foreheads to let the unsuspecting Amani know that she was not welcome to squeeze. However this was not applicable to the bad boy, who insisted on sitting wherever he could, noting wryly that “the conductor was not stupid to stop for us.” He went on to push and pull and create space for Amani together with the other friends. He seemed to truly believe in the matatu adage that ‘there is always space for one more.’ This motto also applied to the boda bodas (public motorbikes), which bundled three happy riders at the back and roared on at breath neck speed.

Amani was glad to be in the company of her friends when night won the battle against sunshine. Her butterfly filled stomach, could not stop rumbling when, a night runner was reported to be taking rounds in the compound. She fell asleep immediately after the night runner was literally turned into the hunted. The unknown person was left with no option but to allow Amani and her hosts to have a goodnight rest when bad boy came of the house with a machete and pretended to sharpen it in order to use of the culprit. She was ready to leave for her home early the next morning to avoid a repeat of the night runner incident.

The tranquillity the rural area awed Amani. Despite the presence of a few polythene bags whirling on her feet, plant and animal waste were out of sight. Not even the overflowing sewers made an attempt to appear with a foul stench in the middle of the decent environment. Amani regretted that her visit had come to an end and that Nairobi full of blocked drainage systems awaited her. The robin chats in the bush that had confidence in their wings and hardly flew away on the sight of intruders would be replaced with marabou stocks and crows in Nairobi. The situation made her wonder if she preferred the green pastures in the city or the actual vegetation in the rural areas she visited.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law the Fisheries Management and Development Bill.

The Fisheries Management and Development Act 2016 provides for the conservation, management and development of fisheries and other aquatic resources to enhance the livelihood of communities that depend on fishing.

The new law also gives guidance on the import and export trade of fish and fish products, fish quality and safety among other provisions.

It also establishes the Kenya Fisheries Services and the Kenya Fisheries Advisory Council.

Functions of the Kenya Fisheries Services include ensuring the appropriate conservation, development of standards on management, sustainable use and protection of the country’s fisheries resources.

Speaking when he signed the Bill before commissioning the Ksh 30 billion first phase of the second container terminal at Mombasa Port, President Kenyatta said the new law will ensure that the country’s marine resources are used for the benefit of Kenyans – especially Coast residents.

“With this law in place, we are able to protect our marine resources from exploitation by other nationals at the expense of our people,” President Kenyatta said.

He said the new law will also help the country to utilise the blue economy to create jobs for Kenyan youth.

President Kenyatta also announced the formation of a committee that will be headed by Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Samson Mwathethe, to fine tune ways that will guard marine resources against external exploitation.

The committee, which has been given one month to present its report, will also look into ways of building fishing vessels and industries that will create jobs.

On regional integration, President Kenyatta affirmed that the East African member states are working in harmony to promote the welfare of the citizens of the region.

He said there is no bad blood between Kenya and Tanzania, saying the two neighbours have always enjoyed warm relations.

“East Africa is not in competition with itself but with the rest of the world,” President Kenyatta said.

Deputy President William Ruto underscored the need for Mombasa County government to work with the national Government that has initiated several projects, including the allocation of Ksh 750 million for specialised medical equipment for Coast General Hospital and Ksh 400 million for Likoni hospital,that will improve the lives of residents.

He told Governor Hassan Joho to be honest, put aside partisan politics and work together with the national Government for the benefit of the people.

Governor Joho has expressed the need for both levels of governments to work together, to which the Deputy President said: “The quest for the national and county government should go beyond the talk into concrete action.”

He said the Jubilee Government is ready to work with all leaders who are focused on serving Kenyans but not those who are only out to propagate their selfish political agenda.