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Kenyan family files lawsuit against Boeing over Ethiopian Airlines crash

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Kenyan family files lawsuit against Boeing over Ethiopian Airlines crash

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Siblings of 29-year-old engineer George Kabau said they wanted to force the company to release documents and emails relating to its 737 MAX 8 model.

737 MAX 8 model was grounded worldwide after two major planes crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

A preliminary report released earlier this month indicated Ethiopian Airlines pilots wrestled with a computer system that repeatedly ordered the nose down because of faulty sensor data.

The same system was a focus of the preliminary report into the October Lion Air crash in Indonesia, which killed 189 people.

Dozens of families are already suing Boeing over the Lion Air crash, and three lawsuits have already been lodged over the Ethiopian Airlines crash, by the families of two Americans, including consumer activist Ralph Nader’s great niece, and a Rwandan.

Lion Air’s co-founder on Monday lashed out at Boeing’s handling of the accidents.

Kabua’s sister, Esther Kabau-Wanyoike, choked up as she told a news conference that she wanted to use her brother’s death to improve aviation safety.

“He didn’t leave a child. My mum is devastated,” she said. “We can use his demise to ensure safer travel for all.”

U.S. lawyer Nomi Husain, who is also representing one of the American families, said the lawsuit was filed in Chicago late on Monday.

The family was seeking to hold Boeing accountable, he said.

“We want to let the litigation process play out. When you put profits over safety, you will be held accountable and you will pay a price,’’he said.

Boeing said it would not comment on the lawsuit directly.

“As the investigation continues, Boeing is cooperating fully with the investigating authorities,” the company said in a statement.

Kenya had the largest number of citizens on the flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.

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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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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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Anti-COVID-19 restrictions among East Africa countries boon for Kenyan farmers

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Restriction of movement between east African countries to curb spread of COVID-19 has come as a boon for Kenyan farmers, whose produce is currently selling at a better price as food demand surges.

The restrictions have seen a decline in food imports, allowing Kenyan farmers’ produce to dominate the market.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have each limited movement of goods and people into and out of their borders.

While travel of people between the countries has been banned, movement of goods and cargo is allowed.

However, the transporters have to test for COVID-19 and get certificates to show they don’t have the disease.

The testing has occasioned delays, curtailing free movement of goods, thus creating a boon to Kenyan food producers.

Kenya imports a bulk of food produce from its neighbors Uganda and Tanzania. From Uganda, the country imports cereals, legumes, sugar and eggs mainly.

And from Tanzania comes fruits like oranges, lemons, pineapples and mangoes, onions, potatoes and tomatoes.

“It is a good time to be a farmer in Kenya because prices of commodities are now high due to COVID-19 restrictions. I produce eggs, at least 100 crates a day and for the first time, buyers are scrambling for them,” said Cornelius Mutuku, a farmer in Kitengela on the south of Nairobi.

Farmers growing onions and tomatoes are also enjoying the boom as imports from Tanzania remain restricted.

At Wakulima food market in the capital Nairobi, where most produce from Tanzania is usually offloaded for supply to other parts of the city, very few trucks from the country now deliver food at the market.

From about 40 trucks in a day to now less than 10 arrive daily due to the restricted movement, a trader said.

Beatrice Macharia, an agronomist with Growth Point, an agro-consultancy, observed that Kenyan farmers have been able to sustain the market amid limited imports due to good rains in the March to May season.

“The rains offered a boost in the production but in the long-term we still need the imports,” she said, adding good prices have cushioned farmer from high cost of inputs.

Kenya’s agriculture secretary Peter Munya on May 20 asked local farmers to use the window brought about constrained supply chains to reap from their ventures by supplying the market.

Kenya food imports topped 1 billion dollars in 2019, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, with the high imports blamed on erratic weather during the period.

(XINHUA)

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Kenyan farmers grapple with oscillating temperatures as climate varies

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After floods, due to heavy rains, killed at least 285 people and destroyed hundreds of acres of crops between April and May in Kenya, farmers have started to feel another pinch of climate variability.

Night and day-time temperatures in different parts of the east African nation are oscillating between too high and too low, affecting crop production.

Areas that are worst-hit include those around the capital Nairobi and in the neighbouring central and eastern regions, where most food consumed in the city is grown.

Data from the meteorological department shows that temperatures in Nairobi and surrounding areas are currently rising to a high of 27 degrees Celsius during the day and falling at night to 14 degrees Celsius, from day temperature average of 24 degrees Celsius and night 20 degrees Celsius in the past.

The fluctuation in temperatures is hurting crops, with horticultural and coffee farmers feeling much of the heat.

For tomato farmers, especially those growing the crop in the field, the cold temperatures at night have given rise to an increase in blight disease, which is destroying plants and fruits.

The increase in disease means that farmers have to spend more money on chemicals and spraying the crops pushing up the cost of production.

“Blight has become a major problem currently, especially among farmers growing tomatoes, strawberries, capsicum, chilli, potatoes and cucumbers.

The cold weather disease is attacking crops and farmers have been forced to dig deeper into their pockets to take curative measures,’’ said Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro-consultancy in Kajiado County, south of Nairobi.

The county is one of the biggest sources of food for the capital Nairobi, with most of the farmers growing crops under irrigation.

“Blight attacks leaves forming circular brown lesions and they then turn yellow and fall off.

For tomatoes, the fruits have brown marks and the inside becomes watery as they shrink,’’ she said, noting that most of the inquiries she is currently receiving are virtually about the disease.

Macharia observed that one has to spray crops like potatoes, coffee, tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum with chemicals at least twice every week when the temperatures are too low lest they die due to bacterial blight.

In the past, a cold weather would set in the east African nation in July and end in August, but for the last two years, climate variability has seen the chilly spell start in May and last over two months, giving farmers a hard time.

Chicken, goats and cattle farmers also have to contend with the cold spell that leads to rise in coccidiosis and pneumonia, which affects livestock.

Cold weather normally leads to increased cost of production because a farmer has to rely on supplemental heat, which can be from electricity or charcoal to keep the birds warmer.

Macharia noted that the variation of climate is making farming a little harder as animals and crops struggle to adjust to the infrequent weather patterns that oscillate from heavy rains, dry spell and a colder period in just a few months.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Roundup: Kenyan businesses pick up as normalcy returning amid anti-COVID-19 measures

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Small and medium-sized businesses in Kenya are registering a steady surge in activities as business picks up in the east African nation amid observation of COVID-19 containment measures.

Business is resuming as some companies that had sent their workers on leave following the outbreak of the disease in March allow them back.

Similarly, a number of people who had chosen to stay at home to enforce social distancing are resuming work as they observe measures to curb the spread of the disease.

Some of the businesses, particularly in the Nairobi city center that are registering uptick of activities, include commuter vehicles known as matatus, salons and barber shops, chemists, clothes and shoes shops, and hotels and eateries.

Banks and supermarkets, which though did not close down but had witnessed reduced activities in the last two months as people stayed away, are also registering a surge in the number of customers.

The steady resurgence in business portends bright prospects for the small and medium-sized enterprises as the east African nation battles the disease.

“We are happy that at least business is picking up,” said Andrew Mutie, who sells women shoes and clothes in central business in Nairobi.

“Most of my customers started to return to work a week ago and I am now getting orders for clothes, shoes and bags, not as it was the case for the last two months,” he added.

The return of workers in the city center has also come as a boon for hundreds of matatu operators who had been greatly affected by the stay at home measure.

Some of the matatu operators had grounded their vehicles due to low number of commuters moving from the residential areas to the city center and vice versa.

The government in March directed the commuter buses to carry half the capacity of the vehicles for passengers to maintain social distancing.

While the matatus tried to compensate the loss of income by raising the fare, low number of commuters worsened the situation.

“More people are coming to the city center which assures us business both in the morning, during the day and the evening. Though the curfew time is affecting business, things are improving,” said Geoffrey Muriuki, a conductor with Rembo Shuttle on the Kitengela-Nairobi route.

A survey in the capital Nairobi on Thursday indicated that the number of people visiting various businesses is on the rise, with hotels and eateries, banks and supermarkets being among the top beneficiaries of the resurgence.

At an eatery on Kimathi Street in the central business district of Nairobi, several customers sat at different tables observing social distancing as they ate their food.

The facility, like some others in Nairobi, started in-service over a week ago after testing all its workers for COVID-19 as directed by the government.

“People are coming back, especially this week, there has been good traffic but we have to maintain social distance,” said Jane, a waiter at the outlet.

Ernest Manuyo, a lecturer at Pioneer Institute in Nairobi, noted that people are resuming activities as they observe containment measures as reality dawns that they must learn to live with the virus around.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has hinted at reopening the economy from next month when the period of the current dusk to dawn curfew ends.

Central Bank of Kenya governor Patrick Njoroge observed that he expects resumption of normalcy in various sectors from June.

“Cessations of some restrictions especially in sectors like hospitality have helped boost business and we expect next month business to surge further. Small businesses are the backbone of the economy, so it is a good thing if activities resume,” he said.

(XINHUA)

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Kenyan farmers grapple with oscillating temperatures as climate varies

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After floods due to heavy rains killed at least 285 people and destroyed hundreds of acres of crops between April and May in Kenya, farmers have started to feel another pinch of climate variability.

Night and day-time temperatures in different parts of the east African nation are oscillating between too high and too low, affecting crop production.

Areas that are worst-hit include those around the capital Nairobi and in the neighboring central and eastern regions, where most food consumed in the city is grown.

Data from the meteorological department shows that temperatures in Nairobi and surrounding areas are currently rising to a high of 27 degrees Celsius during the day and falling at night to 14 degrees Celsius, from day temperature average of 24 degrees Celsius and night 20 degrees Celsius in the past.

The fluctuation in temperatures is hurting crops, with horticultural and coffee farmers feeling much of the heat.

For tomato farmers, especially those growing the crop in the field, the cold temperatures at night have given rise to an increase in blight disease, which is destroying the plant and the fruits.

The increase in disease means that farmers have to spend more money on chemicals and spraying the crops pushing up the cost of production.

“Blight has become a major problem currently especially among farmers growing tomatoes, strawberries, capsicum, chilli, potatoes and cucumbers. The cold weather disease is attacking crops and farmers have been forced to dig deeper into their pockets to take curative measures,” said Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro-consultancy in Kajiado County, south of Nairobi.

The county is one of the biggest sources of food for the capital Nairobi, with most of the farmers growing crops under irrigation.

“Blight attacks leaves forming circular brown lesions and they then turn yellow and fall off. For tomatoes, the fruits have brown marks and the inside becomes watery as they shrink,” she said, noting that most of the inquiries she is currently receiving virtually are about the disease.

Macharia observed that one has to spray crops like potatoes, coffee, tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum with chemicals at least twice every week when the temperatures are too low lest they die due to bacterial blight.

In the past, a cold weather would set in the east African nation in July and end in August, but for the last two years, climate variability has seen the chilly spell start in May and last over two months, giving farmers a hard time.

Chicken, goats and cattle farmers also have to contend with the cold spell that leads to rise in coccidiosis and pneumonia, which affects livestock.

Cold weather normally leads to increased cost of production because a farmer has to rely on supplemental heat which can be from electricity or charcoal to keep the birds warmer.

Macharia noted that the variation of climate is making farming a little harder as animals and crops struggle to adjust to the infrequent weather patterns that oscillate from heavy rains, dry spell and a colder period in just a few months.

(XINHUA)

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Feature: Kenyan young learner stitching face masks to boost fight against COVID-19

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Joseph Mwalo, a 13-year-old middle school pupil from Western Kenya has earned rock star status thanks to his prowess in sewing face masks that are on high demand as the fight against COVID-19 gains steam.

Since the government ordered the closure of schools to help contain the spread of the disease, Mwalo has kept himself busy with the stitching work to help fellow citizens access the vital protective gear.

Though Mwalo has never attended a fashion and design class, he has been copying the skills from his father Daniel Ondito and has since churned out hundreds of face coverings.

According to Mwalo, when the government announced that the virus had been detected in the country and that Kenyans should embrace health regulations, he approached his father and sold the idea of making face masks.

“I had brought my father an item he had sent me when a customer who wanted his clothes repaired arrived wearing the mask. I keenly looked at the mask and later I asked my father to allow me try to make similar one for myself,” Mwalo said.

It took him three days to come with the final product to the admiration of his father.

After I made the first mask, my father was excited and he asked to make more for the family,” said Mwalo.

At one time, two neighbors who were impressed by the boy’s tailoring skill placed orders for masks for their respective families.

He informed his father about the orders before his farther supported him to secure raw materials to make the masks. Unlike repairing or making new clothes, Mwalo says, stitching a mask is a laborious task.

“Materials are expensive and one has to employ enough skills to cut them into the sizes required because you do not take measurement of customers before you make the masks,” said Mwalo

He said that before sewing the masks, he washes his hands and disinfect the work station to ensure the product is not contaminated by the virus.

A few displays he had made attracted many customers to buy his products and this has improved his father’s income.

Mwalo’s lifelong dream is to become a civil engineer but his latest decision to venture into the art of sewing face masks was motivated by a desire to save his compatriots from a global pandemic.

(XINHUA)

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Kenyan county steps up measures to contain cholera

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Health authorities in Kenya’s Turkana County said they had stepped up preventive measures to contain an outbreak of cholera, which had so far left one dead and 17 others hospitalized.

Kenya’s health authorities had so far reported 13 deaths due to cholera outbreak – 12 in Marsabit and one in Turkana counties.

Turkana County government and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had rolled out a partnership to contain the disease in the area.

Turkana County governor Josphant Nanok said that 12 people were discharged on Wednesday while five others are still in hospital.

He said that since the two first cases were reported on May 6, health partners including UNHCR have been collaborating with county government to control the situation.

“To contain the situation, we have intensified hygiene education, deployed public health officers to ensure residents maintain hygiene, and boosted access to clean water,” Nanok said.

(XINHUA)

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Kenyan experts say COVID-19 restrictions hurting camel herders

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The stringent measures Kenya has rolled out to contain the spread of COVID-19 is hurting camel herders in the northern parts of the country even as the herbivorous mammal becomes a key source of milk and meat, experts said ahead of World Milk Day to be marked on June 1.

According to experts, restricted movements in the arid and semi-arid regions occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic have adversely impacted the livelihoods of pastoralists who depend on camel milk as a source of nutrition and income.

“There are three million camels and five million pastoralists in Kenya who rely on camels for their livelihoods and food, but they cannot make a living with these COVID-19 restrictions,” said George Chege Gitao, a Professor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Nairobi.

Gitao said that camel milk in particular remained the main source of nutrition for nomadic communities in northern Kenya where climatic shocks have worsened food insecurity.

Gitao said that disruptions in camel milk supply in the wake of COVID-19 containment measures could expose refugees and other vulnerable groups to malnutrition.

A coalition of camel milk producers, consumers and experts in Kenya and across the globe will on June 1 raise a virtual glass of camel milk to illustrate its vital role in promoting food security and human health amid COVID-19 risks.

Kenya is among Horn of African nations where camels have become the second most reared herbivorous mammal after cattle thanks to their ability to withstand climatic stresses while providing livelihood to pastoralists.

James Chomba Njanja, vice-chairman of Kenya Camel Association, said the camel milk industry alone could rival other foreign exchange earners in the country subject to conducive policies.

(XINHUA)

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