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Neighborhood Danger, Parental Monitoring, Harsh Parenting, and Child Aggression in Nine Countries

January 23, 2014 Comments off

Neighborhood Danger, Parental Monitoring, Harsh Parenting, and Child Aggression in Nine Countries (PDF)
Source: Societies

Exposure to neighborhood danger during childhood has negative effects that permeate multiple dimensions of childhood. The current study examined whether mothers’, fathers’, and children’s perceptions of neighborhood danger are related to child aggression, whether parental monitoring moderates this relation, and whether harsh parenting mediates this relation. Interviews were conducted with a sample of 1293 children (age M = 10.68, SD = 0.66; 51% girls) and their mothers (n = 1282) and fathers (n = 1075) in nine countries (China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, the Philippines, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States). Perceptions of greater neighborhood danger were associated with more child aggression in all nine countries according to mothers’ and fathers’ reports and in five of the nine countries according to children’s reports. Parental monitoring did not moderate the relation between perception of neighborhood danger and child aggression. The mediating role of harsh parenting was inconsistent across countries and reporters. Implications for further research are discussed, and include examination of more specific aspects of parental monitoring as well as more objective measures of neighborhood danger.

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Pathways to Productivity: The Role of GMOs for Food Security in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda

October 30, 2013 Comments off

Pathways to Productivity: The Role of GMOs for Food Security in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda
Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

This report provides an overview of the debate in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda over genetically modified (GM) crops and their potential role in improving food security among smallholder farmers. Specifically, in each country, it examines regulatory structures, science and research capacity, communication and public opinion, the views of smallholder farmers, and the forecast for adoption of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Additionally, it examines regional regulatory efforts and potential trade impacts. Finally, the report provides a set of policy recommendations targeted toward the U.S. government, focus country governments, the donor community, and nongovernmental organizations.

International Journal of Global Warming — Special Issue on Loss and Damage from Climate Change

October 25, 2013 Comments off

Special Issue on Loss and Damage from Climate Change
Source: International Journal of Global Warming
From press release (EurekAlert!):

An open access special issue of the International Journal of Global Warming brings together, for the first time, empirical evidence of loss and damage from the perspective of affected people in nine vulnerable countries. The articles in this special issue show how climatic stressors affect communities, what measures households take to prevent loss and damage, and what the consequences are when they are unable to adjust sufficiently. The guest-editors, Kees van der Geest and Koko Warner of the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS) in Bonn, Germany, introduce the special issue with an overview of key findings from the nine research papers, all of which are available online free of charge.

‘Loss and damage’ refers to adverse effects of climate variability and climate change that occur despite mitigation and adaptation efforts. Warner and van der Geest discuss the loss and damage incurred by people at the local-level based on evidence from research teams working in nine vulnerable countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Kenya, Micronesia, Mozambique and Nepal. The research papers pool data from 3269 household surveys and more than 200 focus groups and expert interviews.

The research reveals four loss and damage pathways. Residual impacts of climate stressors occur when:

  • existing coping/adaptation to biophysical impact is not enough;
  • measures have costs (including non-economic) that cannot be regained;
  • despite short-term merits, measures have negative effects in the longer term; or
  • no measures are adopted – or possible – at all.

The articles in this special issue provide evidence that loss and damage happens simultaneously with efforts by people to adjust to climatic stressors. The evidence illustrates loss and damage around barriers and limits to adaptation: growing food and livelihood insecurity, unreliable water supplies, deteriorating human welfare and increasing manifestation of erosive coping measures (e.g. eating less, distress sale of productive assets to buy food, reducing the years of schooling for children, etc.). These negative impacts touch upon people’s welfare and health, social cohesion, culture and identity – values that contribute to the functioning of society but which elude monetary valuation.

CRS — In Brief: The September 2013 Terrorist Attack in Kenya

October 1, 2013 Comments off

In Brief: The September 2013 Terrorist Attack in Kenya (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

On September 21, 2013, masked gunmen attacked the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, taking hostages and killing more than 60 people.

Almost 200 people, including at least 5 U.S. citizens, were wounded in the siege, which lasted four days. The attack is the most deadly terrorist incident in Kenya since the 1998 Al Qaeda bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi.

A Somali Islamist insurgent group, Al Shabaab, which has ties to Al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the Westgate attack.

Al Qaeda and affiliated groups like Al Shabaab have had a presence in East Africa for almost 20 years, although the extent of their operations there has varied over time. The region’s porous borders, proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, weak law enforcement and judicial institutions, and pervasive corruption, combined with almost 20 years of state collapse in neighboring Somalia, have provided an enabling environment for violent extremist groups.

The Westgate mall attack comes almost two years after Kenya launched a military offensive across its northeastern border with Somalia, with the stated aim of defending itself against terrorist threats and incursions by Al Shabaab. Kenya subsequently joined the U.N.-mandated African Union stabilization mission, AMISOM, which is tasked with countering the threat posed by Al Shabaab in Somalia. Al Shabaab’s attack on the mall comes three years after an Al Shabaab cell conducted the group’s first successful attack outside Somalia with deadly bombings in Kampala, Uganda, in retaliation for Uganda’s role as a leading AMISOM troop contributor.

Al Shabaab has repeatedly threatened countries contributing to the regional operation, and spokesmen for the group have cited Kenya’s ongoing military role in Somalia as justification for the Westgate attack.

While Kenyan officials thus far have maintained commitment to AMISOM in the siege’s aftermath, the attack may deter other countries from contributing troops in response to a call from the U.N. envoy for Somalia for more military support to counter Al Shabaab. In the 15 years since the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Congress has appropriated increasing counterterrorism funding for Africa, and has focused hearings and investigations on reported support provided by U.S. citizens to Al Shabaab. The United States is a major contributor of financial and in-kind support to AMISOM, and has provided its troop contributors and other countries in the region with substantial support to counter terrorist threats. “We are in this fight together,” the U.S. ambassador to Kenya commented as Federal Bureau of Investigation forensic teams deployed after the Westgate attack. President Obama has pledged U.S. support to bring those responsible for the attack to justice.

Political instability and terrorist activities in and emanating from Somalia are subject to ongoing interest by policymakers, who remain concerned about Al Shabaab’s ties to Al Qaeda and affiliated groups and its use of Somalia as a staging ground for attacks in the region and a training ground for foreign fighters. The following sections address possible questions about the attack and related issues for Congress.

CRS — Kenya: Current Issues and U.S. Policy

October 1, 2013 Comments off

Kenya: Current Issues and U.S. Policy (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The U.S. government views Kenya as a strategic partner and anchor state in East Africa, and as critical to counterterrorism efforts in the region. Kenya has repeatedly been a target of terrorist attacks, and, as the September 2013 attack on an upscale Nairobi shopping mall underscores, terrorist threats against international and domestic targets in Kenya remain a serious concern.

Kenya’s military plays a key role in regional operations against Al Shabaab in Somalia. The Al Qaeda-affiliated Somali insurgent group has claimed responsibility for the Westgate Mall attack ostensibly in response to Kenya’s military offensive against the group across the Somali border. The incident is the deadliest terrorist attack in Kenya since the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing and the group’s first successful large-scale operation in the Kenyan capital.

Kenya ranks among the top U.S. foreign aid recipients in the world, receiving significant development, humanitarian, and security assistance in recent years. The country, which is a top recipient of police and military counterterrorism assistance on the continent, hosts the largest U.S. diplomatic mission in Africa. Nairobi is home to one of four major United Nations offices worldwide.

The election in March 2013 of President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice President William Ruto complicates the historically strong relationship between Kenya and the United States. Kenyatta, whose victory against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga was deemed credible by most observers, and Ruto face charges before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their alleged role in crimes against humanity during violence that followed Kenya’s last elections in December 2007.

Ruto’s ICC trial commenced in September 2013; Kenyatta’s begins in November. Their supporters have portrayed the cases as part of an international conspiracy against Kenya, and as emblematic of racial bias on the part of a court that has, to date, exclusively targeted Africans for prosecution. This was a campaign message during the 2013 elections, in which voting largely followed ethnic lines. The September vote by Kenya’s parliament to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the ICC does not affect the current trials and is, for now, largely symbolic.

Kenya’s key aid donors and senior Obama Administration officials have been supportive of the ICC process for the country, viewing impunity for state corruption and political violence as a major challenge that continues to threaten Kenya’s long-term stability. Implications for U.S. relations, assistance, and future cooperation remain unclear, given that the United States is not a state party to the ICC. This may be a key issue for Congress in the coming months, as it weighs various governance, human rights, and security priorities in the country.

The 2007-2008 post-election violence tarnished Kenya’s generally peaceful reputation and had a significant impact on its economy, which is East Africa’s largest and most diverse. More recent developments, including the September 2013 terrorist attack and a fire in August that did extensive damage to Nairobi’s airport, the region’s busiest, may again slow economic growth.

The March elections were the first held under a new constitution, under which major political reforms are proscribed. The Kenyatta government faces high expectations by the electorate to improve the economy and deliver on pledged political and social reforms.

Organizational and institutional issues in climate change adaptation and risk management

August 28, 2013 Comments off

Organizational and institutional issues in climate change adaptation and risk management
Source: International Food Policy Research Institute

This report provides some reflections and insights on the level of awareness, practices, and organizational and institutional issues being faced by countries as they adapt to climate change, based on interviews with 87 practitioners working in government agencies, local organizations, international organizations, and think thanks reporting involvement in climate change adaptation. Data were collected in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Mali using both an e-survey platform and face-to-face interviews.

Responses reveal active work within these organizations on climate change adaptation and emphasize their important role in the countries’ efforts to address and adapt to climate change. Responses also reveal strong awareness among these organizations of different aspects of climate change adaptation along the different stages in a climate change adaptation project cycle, which may be a reflection of the active discussions and awareness campaigns during NAPA development in these countries. However, despite the awareness and presence of national strategies and action plans, there seem to be no explicit and clearly defined policy and strategy within these organizations outlining their role in and contribution to the national and collective efforts and, more importantly, no explicit and measurable targets and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system to track progress and outcomes over time. Reported capacity gaps can be grouped into two categories: training needs and institutional challenges.

Emerging East Africa Energy

May 24, 2013 Comments off

Emerging East Africa Energy
Source: Energy Information Administration

Although oil and natural gas exploration has been going on for decades in various East African countries, there has been limited success until recently. In the past there were doubts about the amount of recoverable resources in the region, along with regional and civil conflicts that presented challenges and risks to foreign companies. Consequently, exploration activities in East Africa have evolved at a much slower pace relative to other African regions. However, the pace of exploration activity has recently picked up after foreign oil and gas companies made a series of sizable discoveries in several East African countries.

This new regional analysis covers emerging developments in the oil and gas sectors in five East African countries: Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, and Madagascar. The larger area that EIA considers as East Africa (see Africa by region map) includes 21 countries. In this region, by far the largest oil and gas producers are Sudan and South Sudan, which are not covered in this report because they are mature oil producers.

Among the countries with emerging oil and gas developments, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, and Madagascar have shown the most progress toward commercial development of newly discovered resources in recent years. Uganda and Madagascar will most likely be the next new oil producers on the continent. Mozambique will probably be the first country in East Africa to develop the capability to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), possibly followed by Tanzania.

Although progress toward commercial development of hydrocarbon resources in Kenya has been modest, the country plays a vital role in the region as an oil transit hub, particularly for oil products coming into the region. Kenya is planning to expand its role by embarking on a multi-million dollar investment to increase its midstream and downstream capacity.

New From the GAO

February 7, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

Cuba Democracy Assistance
USAID’s Program Is Improved, but State Could Better Monitor Its Implementing Partners
GAO-13-285, Jan 25, 2013

Space
Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide
GAO-13-317R, Feb 7, 2013

Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act
Jurisdictions Face Challenges to Implementing the Act, and Stakeholders Report Positive and Negative Effects
GAO-13-211, Feb 7, 2013

Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act
Survey of States and Territories on Implementation of the Act (GAO-13-234SP, February 2013), an E-supplement to GAO-13-211
GAO-13-234SP, Feb 7, 2013

Sub-Saharan Africa
Case Studies of U.S and Chinese Economic Engagement in Angola, Ghana, and Kenya; a Supplement to GAO-13-199
GAO-13-280SP, Feb 7, 2013

Sub-Saharan Africa
Trends in U.S. and Chinese Economic Engagement
GAO-13-199, Feb 7, 2013

CRS — Horn of Africa Region: The Humanitarian Crisis and International Response

January 31, 2012 Comments off

Horn of Africa Region: The Humanitarian Crisis and International Response (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

As a result of the worst drought in 60 years, regional conflicts, and conflict within states, a humanitarian emergency of massive proportion has unfolded over the past year in the Horn of Africa region. Current estimates suggest that more than 13.3 million people are currently affected, 250,000 of whom need food assistance in the near term to avoid death. Somalia has been hardest hit so far, creating population displacement within its borders and a refugee crisis of nearly 1 million people in the region, primarily in Kenya and Ethiopia.

The international community continues to respond with a massive humanitarian operation that reached full strength in mid 2011. Although food security has begun to improve, the situation remains very fragile, particularly in southern Somalia, where conditions are considered among the worst in the world. Humanitarian needs are expected to demand sustained attention well into 2012. While life-saving assistance is the current priority, long-term responses may be needed to break the disaster cycle in the Horn. Though triggered by drought, the humanitarian emergency is complicated by political and security pressures within, between, and among the various countries in the region. The recent deterioration of security conditions along the Kenya-Somali border, security incidents within the Dadaab refugee camp complex in northeast Kenya, and increasing restrictions by Al Shabaab, an Islamist insurgency led by an Al Qaeda affiliate, on humanitarian access in Somalia all have had an impact on the relief effort.

This report provides an overview of the current status of the crisis, summary background on the region, a framework for the international and humanitarian response, and an analysis of some of the operational challenges.

The role of the 112th Congress, which has so far focused on the crisis in hearings, legislation, and congressional correspondence with the Administration, is also examined, particularly with regard to funding questions, including:

  • budget priorities on global humanitarian accounts and food aid;
  • diversion of food aid;
  • donor restrictions on aid; and
  • burdensharing and donor fatigue.

It is anticipated Congress will continue to follow and respond to events as they unfold in the Horn.

U.S. Response to Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa

August 12, 2011 Comments off

U.S. Response to Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa
Source: U.S. Department of State

More than 12.4 million people—primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia—are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa. The United States is deeply concerned by the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa, the famine that is underway in parts of Somalia, and the escalating refugee crisis across the region. A large-scale international response is underway to prevent the further decline of an already dire situation, but there will be no quick fix. The U.S. is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the region. This week’s White House announcement of approximately $105 million in additional life-saving humanitarian assistance for the region brings the U.S. Government total this fiscal year to about $565 million to help those in need. This funding supports humanitarian assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other drought affected populations. Because emergency assistance will not solve the underlying long-term problems in the region, the U.S. Government is also working on comprehensive responses, such as through the President’s Feed the Future initiative.

Fact Sheet: US Response to Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa

August 7, 2011 Comments off

US Response to Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa
Source: U.S. Department of State

More than 11.5 million people—primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia—are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa. The United States is concerned about the high malnutrition rates in the region—particularly in southern and central Somalia and the attendant Somali refugee population. A large-scale multi-donor intervention is underway to prevent the further decline of an already dire situation, but there will be no quick fix. The U.S. is one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to the region, providing approximately $459 million this fiscal year to help those in need. This funding supports humanitarian assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other drought affected populations, and builds near and longer term food security. Because emergency assistance will not solve the underlying long-term problems in the region, the U.S. Government is also working on comprehensive responses, such as through the President’s Feed the Future initiative.

High Rates of Contraceptive Discontinuation Highlight Need for Stronger Family Planning Services in Developing World

June 29, 2011 Comments off

High Rates of Contraceptive Discontinuation Highlight Need for Stronger Family Planning Services in Developing World
Source: Guttmacher Institute

In six diverse developing countries, more than four in 10 women discontinue use of their method within one year, according to a study by Sian Curtis of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, et al., published in the June issue of International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Data from 1999–2003 Demographic and Health Surveys from Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan, Kenya, the Philippines and Zimbabwe indicate that contraceptive discontinuation rates ranged from 20% in Zimbabwe to 48% in Bangladesh and the Dominican Republic. In every country, with the exception of Kazakhstan, the top three reasons for discontinuation were the desire to get pregnant, contraceptive failure and side effects.

To explore how fertility desires contribute to stopping contraceptive use, the researchers examined women’s attitudes toward pregnancies following discontinuation for reasons other than a desire to have a child. The proportion of births reported as intended following contraceptive failure ranged from 16% in Bangladesh to 54% in Kazakhstan, while the proportion of such births following discontinuation because of side effects ranged from 37% in Kenya to 51% in Kazakhstan.

Because relatively high proportions of births were reported as intended following contraceptive failure or discontinuation for reasons other than wanting to get pregnant (for example, side effects), Curtis et al. suggest that ambivalent fertility desires are an important factor in contraceptive discontinuation. In addition, older age, having fewer than five living children, and longer durations between contraceptive discontinuation and pregnancy were associated with reporting births as intended.

In all countries except Kazakhstan, 71–84% of women who became pregnant while using a contraceptive method and 56–63% of women who gave birth after discontinuing use because of side effects reported the birth as unintended. According to the researchers, increasing the proportion of couples adopting a contraceptive method who continue to use it successfully or switch to another method is a critical element in preventing unwanted births and reducing the need for induced abortions. Curtis et al. conclude that reducing unintended pregnancy will require identifying women who strongly want to avoid a pregnancy and finding ways to help them maintain contraceptive use.

+ Full Paper (PDF)

CRS — Kenya: Current Conditions and the Challenges Ahead

May 3, 2011 Comments off

Kenya: Current Conditions and the Challenges Ahead (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Kenya, a nation of about 36.9 million people, has been an important ally of the United States for decades. Kenya moved from a one-party state to a multi-party democracy in 1992. Kenyans voted in record numbers in the country’s first multi-party election in almost 26 years. President Daniel arap Moi defeated opposition candidates by a small margin. In 1997, Kenya held its second multi- party elections, at the height of tensions between the opposition and the ruling party. President Moi was re-elected with 40% of the votes cast, while his nearest rival, Mwai Kibaki, won 31%. In the 2002 presidential and parliamentary elections, the opposition National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) defeated the ruling Kenya African National Union (KANU). In the presidential election, NARC leader Kibaki defeated Uhuru Kenyatta, the leader of KANU.

On December 27, 2007, millions of Kenyans went to the polls in Kenya’s fourth multi-party elections, with the hope of strengthening the institutions of democracy and, most importantly in the view of many observers, of bringing change. An estimated 14.2 million (82% of the total eligible voters) Kenyans were registered to vote, while 2,547 parliamentary candidates were qualified to run in 210 constituencies, according to the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK). Nine candidates competed in the presidential election. The opposition reportedly made significant gains in the parliamentary elections. The ECK, however, hastily declared President Kibaki as the winner of the elections. Kibaki was quickly sworn in as president, while international and domestic election observers declared the elections as rigged and deeply flawed.

Following the announcement of the election results, violence erupted in many parts of Kenya. More than 1,000 people have been killed and an estimated 350,000 reportedly displaced. In August 2008, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) released a report on the post-election violence. In early February, the opposition and the government began negotiations under the leadership of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. The two parties agreed to work together to end the violence, improve humanitarian conditions, and write a new constitution within a year. In late February, the government and the opposition reached a power- sharing arrangement. On March 18, 2008, the Kenya parliament unanimously approved the agreement. On April 3, 2008, the parties agreed on a 40-member cabinet. But important reforms agreed to by the parties have yet to be implemented. The initial United States government reaction to the December elections was considered by some international observers as contradictory and seen by some Kenyans as being one-sided in favor of President Kibaki. On December 30, the United States government reportedly congratulated President Kibaki. Senior Bush Administration officials visited Kenya in an effort to resolve the crisis and provided support to Kofi Annan’s mediation efforts. The Obama Administration has repeatedly pressed the government of Kenya to implement reforms agreed to by the parties in 2008. In September 2009, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson sent a letter to 15 Kenyan officials warning them that reforms must be implemented. In April 2010, the Kenyan parliament passed a new draft constitution, and on August 4, 2010, Kenyans approved the new constitution. The next general elections are scheduled for 2012.

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