Some Notes from Kenya (updated)

As Kenyans and Kenya watchers in the U.S. are recognizing the increasing number of challenges in the political system in preparing for next year’s critical transition election, another key driver of frustration and instability among the wananchi has been high inflation at a time of slower growth.  There is some positive news in that inflation has continued to arc downward after peaking at over 20% last November.  From The Standard, “Cost of living eases as inflation falls to 5.3%”:

But even as the economy continues to paint a grim outlook, the cost of living dropped with the overall month-on-month inflation falling   to 5.32 per cent in September from 6.09 per cent in August.

According to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the economy expanded by 3.3 per cent compared to a growth of 3.5 per cent in a similar period last year.

Agriculture and forestry slowed substantially growing by 1.6 per cent compared to a growth of 4.2 per cent in the second quarter of last year.

The decline in performance of agriculture was mainly an outcome of a decrease in exports of cut flowers, fruits, vegetables and tea.

Although job prospects for young Kenyans will remain extremely problematic, some relief from the escalation of staple food prices in particular, if it continues, will help reduce pressure on the poor.

Meanwhile, Members of Parliament took care of themselves by amending the Elections Act to allow “party hopping” as reported by The Star:

The MPs approved the  Election (Amendment) (No 2) Bill and effectively changed Section 34(8) of the Elections Act which required that a member should be in the party list on which to contest the election three months before the list is submitted to the Registrar of Political Parties.

Now the parties are required to submit their lists not later than January 4. Only those on these lists will be allowed to vie or be nominated to the National Assembly or Senate. Those vying as independent candidates however are guided by a different regulation.

The original Act required that members belong to the party through which they will vie for seats by yesterday, which was three months to January 4.

The changes made yesterday mean that the over 100 MPs who want to leave parties which sponsored them to Parliament will serve their full term without any legal challenge.

According to this story from IRIN, the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture reports that 90% of the food consumed in Kenya comes from smallholder farms. The number of smallholders practicing irrigation has increased from 400,000 to an estimated 700,000 over the past two years, according to the Ministry. Stil just 1.7 percent of the country’s arable land is irrigated, while the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates it has 300,000 hectares with irrigation potential.

On the healthcare front, doctors in Kenya’s public hospitals agreed to end their strike in it’s third week as reported by Capital FM from allafrica.com:

Nairobi — The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) on Thursday called off its three-week strike after the government pledged to address all the grievances that had been raised by the medics.

After talks with the union officials, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o announced that he had revoked all disciplinary measures that the government had taken on the medics for taking part in the strike.

At a joint press conference with union officials at Afya House on Thursday evening, Nyong’o said the government would also release the salaries that had been withheld from the striking doctors.

The meeting agreed to set up a committee that would address the doctors’ grievances, which included demands for fastracking of a return-to-work formula that had been signed to end a similar strike late last year. . . .

While Parliament had continued to fail to prepare to implement the legislative “gender sharing” requirements of the new constitution for the next Parliament, the National Council of Churches of Kenya has selected its first female chairman:

Canon Rosemary Mbogo, the Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church of Kenya has been elected the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) Chair.

The position is significant as the Rev. Rosemary is the first woman chair person elected in that capacity since the history of NCCK. Rev. Rosemary will serve in the post for three years. Archbishop TImothy Ndambuki of Africa Brotherhood Church was elected as the Vice Chair. The elections took place during the 61st General Assembly at the Jumuia Conference and Beach Resort, Kanamai in Mombasa. Hundred of delegates from all over the country represented their respective member churches. Currently, NCCK has 26 member churches, among them Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church of East Africa, Africa Brotherhood Church, Episcopal Church of Africa and Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya.

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