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Kenya police raid al-Shabab training centre in coastal region

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Tom Odero, Kwale Police Commander, said that the militants numbering six escaped after a fierce gun battle.

Odero said the militants had sneaked into the country through porous Boni Forest from Somalia before setting up the training ground in the area.

“This must have been a training ground for terror-related activities for some time.

“We are currently pursuing them and we are sure we will get hold of them soon,” Odero said.

According to Odero, the police recovered assorted items including bomb making materials during the dawn raid conducted by anti-terror police.

He said a thorough operation had been launched in the area to hunt the militants.

Other items recovered include military clothes, machetes, knives, cables, fertiliser, matchboxes and black flags.

Odero said the police also recovered stationary including books and notes with religious writings.

Kenya is currently engaged in the fight against the militia group in southern Somalia where its soldiers under the

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Roundup: Kenyans ready for partial lifting of COVID-19 restrictions

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A cloud of expectation hangs over Kenya as citizens are ready for the easing of some restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19.

Private businesses, places of worship and government offices are among entities that are gearing up for the resumption of operations after June 6, the day when current restrictions end and President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to review the measures.

Kenyatta hinted that the government will loosen some of the restrictions, noting that lockdowns and curfews are unsustainable in the long term.

He noted that once the restrictions are partially lifted, citizens will be expected to remain responsible by wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distancing to curb the spread of the disease.

Kenya imposed a partial lockdown in the capital Nairobi and four other counties some 70 days ago and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew across the country, which are the restrictions lauded for slowing down infections.

But they have affected business for schools, gyms, bars and hotels, among others, with up to 1.2 million people losing jobs, according to the Labor Ministry of Kenya.

It is these businesses that are ready to reopen by installing handwashing and sanitation points and measures to enforce social distancing.

At a hotel along Moi Avenue in the central business district in Nairobi on Thursday, a worker was busy fumigating the facility.

In a separate section, another was remodeling chairs and tables to comply with measures to curb the spread of the disease in anticipation of the partial reopening of the country.

And at the entrance, a handwashing point was prominently installed as well as sanitizers at various points.

Like many other such facilities, all its workers would be expected to take COVID-19 tests and get certificates to show they are free of the disease.

“We were not offering to take away services or did not open earlier because it did not make sense to reopen when workers are still at home. But we believe this is the right time when the government is expected to loosen some restrictions,” said a worker introduced as Martin Kinuthia.

Places of worship are also instituting measures to allow the resumption of services.

Among the new protocols, they are taking the use of thermo guns, having shorter services, ensuring all worshippers sanitize by washing hands and installation of sanitation booths and everyone must wear face masks.

“As we wait for the presidential directive, it has been agreed upon by the government and religious leaders that the following measures must be taken. There shall be a sitting plan with markings on the floor where chairs will be placed observing the 1.5 meter rule in all directions,” said John Kitula, the administrative secretary of the African Inland Church.

Other places of worship, including mosques, will follow the same protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Karanja Kibicho, Interior Principal Secretary of Kenya, said on Wednesday that the government has found itself in a tight spot since the outbreak of the disease, whose cases have taken an upward trajectory, clocking 2,340 on Thursday.

“We cannot stay in a lockdown forever, as a government we make money from taxes but most people are currently not working. We must reopen the economy but under strict guidelines,” said Kibicho.

But as the cloud of optimism hangs over Kenya amid the rise in infections, health experts have warned that most citizens are throwing caution to the wind by resuming old behavior that does not help to curb the spread of the virus.

Health Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Thursday acknowledged that the government would ease some of the restrictions as it moves to adopt a home-care approach, but COVID-19 remains a huge threat to the east African nation.

(XINHUA)

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Retired Kenyan athletes to benefit from COVID-19 food relief

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Retired Kenyan athletes who have been financially effected by the COVID-19 pandemic are set to benefit from a food relief program launched by the local Olympics committee on Wednesday.

The initiative, that was started with seed capital of over 500,000 shillings (4,700 United States dollars) by the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK), will initially target athletes who retired by 2004 and have competed for Kenya in the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and African Championships.

This is after the group was identified according to NOCK to be the “most vulnerable” by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic since Kenya declared its first case in mid-March.

“Food support has been identified as a critical priority need area of focus for the next three months. We want to give food support to retired athletes.

“After consultation, we felt food aid will be of greater assistance as we continue looking for other partners in this initiative,” the acting general secretary of NOCK, Francis Mutuku, said.

He added that a mobile phone contribution service number will be launched on Monday next week to enable the public to contribute towards cushioning needy athletes through the COVID-19 crisis.

The program is the latest relief effort targeted towards athletes in Kenya with active athletes starting to receive 95 dollars each from the Ministry of Sports kitty that rolled out last week as part of a state-run effort to alleviate the suffering brought by loss of income due to COVID-19.

The Olympic champion and world marathon record holder, Eliud Kipchoge, has been distributing relief food to athletes in the vast and talent-rich Rift Valley for three weeks now.

“Many people have lost their relatives due to the virus and I want to ask them to take heart at this trying moment. Countries have lost many people and we are experiencing worse situations but it will come to pass,” said Kipchoge, the first man to run the 42.195km marathon distance in under two hours.

The food rations donated by Kipchoge, in addition to the government stimulant fund, have benefitted the likes of Beijing 2008 Paralympics star, Abraham Tarbei, who won gold medals in the 1,500 meters T46 and 5,000 meters T46 as he continues to train in isolation in Kaptagat, western Kenya.

(XINHUA)

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Kenya confirms 123 new COVID-19 cases as tally hits 2,216

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Kenya’s Ministry of Health on Wednesday confirmed 123 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections to 2,216.

Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health said the latest figures are from 2,112 samples that were tested in the last 24 hours.

Aman told journalists during the daily briefing that 54 people have recovered from the deadly respiratory disease, the highest number since Kenya reported its first recovery on April 1, bringing the total number of recoveries to 553.

“This is the highest number of recoveries we have so far recorded since we announced the first discharge case on April 1,” Aman added.

He said that with good management, the disease, when clinically manifested, is curable and hence not a death sentence.

The official also revealed that three patients succumbed to the disease while undergoing treatment in various hospitals, raising the total number of fatalities to 74.

Aman noted that 85,058 samples have so far been tested since the outbreak of the disease in the country and urged Kenyans to adhere to the containment measures to avoid being infected or infecting others.

He said the ministry has enforced protocols for cross-border truck drivers, requiring them to take COVID-19 test 48 hours prior to commencement of the journey and not at the border of crossing.

(XINHUA)

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Kenyans adopt new greeting habits amid coronavirus pandemic

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As COVID-19 cases take an upward trend in Kenya, reaching 2,093 on Tuesday, citizens are adopting new greeting habits, such as elbow bumps, which are helping people socialise as they maintain hygiene and keep social distance to curb the spread of the disease.

With handshakes, hugs, cheek kisses, and shoulder bumps among other forms of salutations dead, thanks to the new coronavirus pandemic, new forms of greetings considered safer are taking root in Kenya, both in official and informal circles.

One such a greeting that is taking the east African nation by storm is elbow bump as citizens consider it much safer.

From the old to the young, men and women, elbow bumps have now become the official greetings of Kenyans both in formal and informal settings like homes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto cemented the greeting in Kenya’s formal circles on Monday when they used it during independence celebrations in Nairobi, the capital.

Wearing masks, clenching their fists and smiling, Kenyatta and Ruto bumped their elbows to greet each other.

Their greeting did not only acknowledge the popularity of the salutation amid the pandemic, but it also confirmed to citizens that they can use it.

Several dignitaries at the event that was attended by few government officials and opposition leaders also used the elbow bump to greet each other.

“I have been using the elbow bump since last month.

“Some people have been comfortable with it, others are not, avoiding contact but when I saw the president use it on Monday, I felt happy, that this is the greeting for those of us who are used to handshakes,” said Gilbert Wandera, a businessman in Nairobi.

Wandera, who sells computers, had shunned any form of contact greeting when the disease broke out to maintain hygiene.

But I changed my mind as people embraced face masks and other sanitation measures.

“Besides, elbow bumps are a little safer because chances that you will touch your face with the elbow are nil,” he said.

The greeting has also been embraced in households, corporate offices, operators of public transport vehicles commonly known as matatus, commuters, motorbike taxi riders and traders among others as it quenches citizens’ thirst to shake hands.

Besides elbow bumps, other forms of greetings that Kenyans are using include foot taps and hand on my heart – what the World Health Organisation recommends.

But these are not as popular as elbow bumps.

Another culture that has taken root in the east African nation, thanks to the pandemic is the wearing of face masks.

Initially, wearing of masks was seen as a mark of style mainly done by the sophisticated or wealthy, but it has now been embraced by all citizens, with thousands hardly venturing out of their houses without the gadget.

“I am also finding myself maintaining the 1.5m social distance in public places naturally.

“No one is reminding me to keep distance in supermarkets, at ATMs, in public transport vehicles or in the office.

“And this is what many other people are doing.

“It is now a culture that is helping curb the disease,” said Victoria Selima, a government auditor.

Initially, funerals in the east African nation would attract hundreds of people, some who would stay at the affected families’ homes for days mourning.

But with COVID-19, citizens have learnt to keep away from the events without being forced by government officials, noted Victor Mulanda, who traveled to western Kenya on Monday from the capital for a funeral.

Rashid Aman, Kenya’s health chief administrative secretary, noted Tuesday that citizens must be responsible and embrace new norms to beat the disease that is currently deeply entrenched in community across the east African nation.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Roundup: Kenyans adopt new greeting habits amid COVID-19 pandemic

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As COVID-19 cases take an upward trend in Kenya, reaching 2,093 on Tuesday, citizens are adopting new greeting habits, such as elbow bumps, which are helping people socialize as they maintain hygiene and keep social distance to curb the spread of the disease.

With handshakes, hugs, cheek kisses and shoulder bumps among other forms of salutations dead, thanks to the new coronavirus disease pandemic, new forms of greetings considered safer are taking root in Kenya, both in official and informal circles.

One such a greeting that is taking the east African nation by storm is elbow bump as citizens consider it much safer.

From the old to the young, men and women, elbow bumps have now become the official greetings of Kenyans both in formal and informal settings like homes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto cemented the greeting in Kenya’s formal circles on Monday when they used it during independence celebrations in Nairobi, the capital.

Wearing masks, clenching their fists and smiling, Kenyatta and Ruto bumped their elbows to greet each other.

Their greeting did not only acknowledge the popularity of the salutation amid the pandemic, but it also confirmed to citizens that they can use it.

Several dignitaries at the event that was attended by few government officials and opposition leaders also used the elbow bump to greet each other.

“I have been using the elbow bump since last month, some people have been comfortable with it, others are not, avoiding contact but when I saw the president use it on Monday, I felt happy, that this is the greeting for those of us who are used to handshakes,” said Gilbert Wandera, a businessman in Nairobi.

Wandera, who sells computers, had shunned any form of contact greeting when the disease broke out to maintain hygiene.

But I changed my mind as people embraced face masks and other sanitation measures. Besides, elbow bumps are a little safer because chances that you will touch your face with the elbow are nil,” he said.

The greeting has also been embraced in households, corporate offices, operators of public transport vehicles commonly known as matatus, commuters, motorbike taxi riders and traders among others as it quenches citizens’ thirst to shake hands.

Besides elbow bumps, other forms of greetings that Kenyans are using include foot taps and hand on my heart, what the World Health Organization recommends. But these are not as popular as elbow bumps.

Another culture that has taken root in the east African nation, thanks to the pandemic is the wearing of face masks. Initially, wearing of masks was seen as a mark of style mainly done by the sophisticated or wealthy, but it has now been embraced by all citizens, with thousands hardly venturing out of their houses without the gadget.

“I am also finding myself maintaining the 1.5m social distance in public places naturally. No one is reminding me to keep distance in supermarkets, at ATMs, in public transport vehicles or in the office. And this is what many other people are doing. It is now a culture that is helping curb the disease,” said Victoria Selima, a government auditor.

Initially, funerals in the east African nation would attract hundreds of people, some who would stay at the affected families’ homes for days mourning.

But with COVID-19, citizens have learnt to keep away from the events without being forced by government officials, noted Victor Mulanda, who traveled to western Kenya on Monday from the capital for a funeral.

Rashid Aman, Kenya‘s health chief administrative secretary, noted Tuesday that citizens must be responsible and embrace new norms to beat the disease that is currently deeply entrenched in community across the east African nation.

(XINHUA)

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Kenya confirms 72 new COVID-19 cases, tally rises to 2,093

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Kenya’s Ministry of Health said Tuesday 72 more people tested positive to COVID-19, increasing the national tally to 2,093.

Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary in the Ministry of Health, said the latest cases were detected after testing 2,892 samples in the last 24 hours.

Aman noted that during the period, 17 patients recovered after being treated in various health facilities in the country, bringing the total number of recoveries to 499.

He however announced that two patients, unfortunately, died while undergoing treatment, bringing the total number of fatalities related to the disease to 71 since the outbreak was reported in the country.

COVID-19 disease remains a serious threat to the well-being of our people, and the country at large. Our fight against it has achieved results, but we are still not out of the woods yet,” Aman told journalists in Nairobi.

The east African nation has so far tested 82,946 samples since the disease was detected in the country in mid-March.

Kenya has so far enforced dusk to dawn curfew and banned traveling to and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Mandera counties to contain the spread of the disease.

The government has also increased testing at the border towns as well as intensified mass testing in high-risk areas within Nairobi and Mombasa as part of efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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Kenya launches virtual safari campaign to showcase wildlife globally

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NAIROBI, June 2 (Xinhua)–Kenya on Tuesday launched a virtual safari live stream campaign to showcase the country’s wildlife to global audiences.

Najib Balala, cabinet secretary of Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, said in a statement that the six-week expedition across the country is aimed at ensuring that the world and travelers remain connected to destination Kenya even during the current COVID-19 lockdown period when there is restricted movement.

“Our international tourism business is completely cut off and we have to still share destination memories with travelers and that is why we are unveiling a virtual tour safari to connect visitors with the destination,” Balala said.

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught players in different sectors to be more innovative to keep their businesses afloat during these difficult moments.

He noted that the online tour in some of the parks and reserves across the country is aimed to ensure that Kenya remains top of mind among visitors and investors alike.

“This venture which begins here at the Nairobi National Park will allow us to document our diverse wildlife in the national parks and game reserves, thrilling adventures, beautiful lodges and unique cultures and conservation projects that Kenya has become world-famous for.”

“We shall be live streaming and sharing this content every week to bring Kenya to Kenyans and to the world at large,” Balala said.

(XINHUA)

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Kenyan farmers mark global milk day amid calls for adoption of climate-smart animals

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Kenyan dairy farmers on Monday joined their counterparts from across the globe to mark the World Milk Day as experts rooted for adoption of more hardy animals to enhance production amid challenges of climate change.

The day was founded some 20 years ago by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to distinguish the importance of milk as a food and to celebrate the dairy sector.

This year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, FAO discouraged the holding of in-person events, calling for social media celebrations.

After milking their animals on Monday, some of the dairy farmers in the east African nation toasted their produce in celebration of resilience and hope for more production amid rising challenges.

East African nation milk producers are currently facing a myriad of challenges among them shrinking land sizes, erratic weather conditions due to climate change and restrictions to curb the spread of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that have shrunk the market.

Climate change effects have led to erratic pasture production and increased disease and pest incidences.

But still, the farmers have been resilient, producing up to 60 million liters of milk a month or 720 million liters annually, according to the Kenya Dairy Board.

Rachel Kinyua, a farmer from Meru County in central Kenya, is among those earning a living from milk that her six cows, out of the 15 she keeps, produce.

She gets 160 litres of milk every day and delivers to the Meru Union Dairy Cooperative Society, which buys at 35 shillings (about 0.35 United States dollars) per liter.

“I am happy with the yield but I want to increase the number of milkers to 10, though challenges like severe drought affect production,” Kinyua, who keeps Friesian animals, which are very high feeders, said.

But as dairy production goes on, experts are calling for adoption of climate-smart animals that are not only hardy but also offer more on less feeds.

These include dairy goats, crossbreed cows, camels and sheep. For the goats, crossbreeds of Alpines and Toggenburgs — European breeds — have emerged as the most popular among Kenyan farmers seeking to produce more milk.

Similarly, crossbreeds of Sahiwals, Fleckvieh and local breed Zebu cattle have also been embraced by dairy farmers in the east African nation.

For sheep, farmers are embracing crossbreeds of traditional Red Maasai, Boer and Dorper, the last two which are resilient and imported from South Africa.

Camels, on the other hand, are being adopted by farmers in arid and semi-arid areas due to their hardy nature.

Initially, the animals were mainly kept in northern Kenya but more farmers in the south, Coast and eastern parts of the country are embracing camels as their milk products like yogurt, fresh milk and meat become mainstreamed in the east African nation’s market.

There are at least three million camels in Kenya, mostly kept by pastoralists in the north, with the number growing steadily over recent years.

George Gitao, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Nairobi, noted camels are more important now than ever because they are tough, survive in drought and pollute less.

“Camels produce one of the most nutritious milks and the world‘s best wools, good leather and extremely healthy meat,” he said.

Bernard Faye, a veterinarian and chair of the International Society of Camelid Research and Development, observed that the global camel market is projected to grow at more than 10 percent for the next decade, thus, farmers must produce more of its milk and meat in the future to reap from the animals.

Besides the resilient livestock, experts are advising for adoption of hardy but nutritious fodder that helps in production of more milk from the animals.

These fodder include panicum, cobra and cayman grasses that are not only nutritious to animals but also regrow faster after cutting, thus, allowing farmers to have plenty of fodder even with little rains, according to Fredrick Muthomi, an agronomist.

(XINHUA)

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Kenya mulls consultations on resumption of learning

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday directed education stakeholders to hasten consultations on resumption of learning after a temporary closure due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

In a televised speech during celebrations to mark 57 years since attained self-rule (Madaraka Day), Kenyatta told education stakeholders to provide an appropriate calendar for gradual resumption of education in the country.

He said that the guidelines should also include protocols to be followed by all learning institutions to guarantee the safety of the children.

“I appreciate the anxiety weighing heavy on the minds of parents and children — particularly those preparing for the national examinations,” Kenyatta said.

He also directed the relevant ministries to hasten their engagement with religious leaders; with the objective of developing protocols that will be adopted to guide a more participatory way of worship while guaranteeing the safety of worshipers.

The president said the containment measures and protocols issued by the government to help contain the spread of COVID-19 have constrained people’s way of life.

Kenyatta urged Kenyans to participate in ensuring that the disease is contained to regain the ground that has been lost.

“I want us to re-imagine Kenyan. More so, because, COVID-19 has forced us into a situation where we have to re-set our national systems,” he added.

To cushion all Kenyan households against the economic shocks triggered by the coronavirus disease pandemic, the government will continue to progressively roll-out targeted measures to sustain livelihoods.

(XINHUA)

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