Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hudson Shiraku: Farming in the Wake of Water Scarcity in Kenya | Farming First

Hudson Shiraku: Farming in the Wake of Water Scarcity in Kenya | Farming First:

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Njeri Kareithi: Are You Man Enough? by Kelvin Kaesa

Njeri Kareithi: Are You Man Enough? by Kelvin Kaesa: Who is a man? Mwanaume ni? Mwanaume ni wallet? Mwanaume ni effort? Men are all that And double-caps bold highlighted headlines on ...

Thursday, July 9, 2015

My icebreaker at the Downtown toastmasters

Maya Angelou once said; “You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.”  these words resonate well with me. Like all of you, I am the sum total of my experiences and I would like to share some of those with you today.

videoI was born in the Lang’ata women prison. At the time of my birth, my mum was a guest of the state and so I detest being confined. I hate all sorts of confinements. My upbringing was therefore marked by a lot of freedom, the freedom to stay where I want and attend the school I want – as long as mother could afford. I spent my childhood in the rurals of Kakamega, the slums of Kawangware, Gachie and occasionally travelled out of the country. Each of these places I stayed and visited has instilled in me unique qualities special to them. Mum had only me, this shaped me too. 

During my stay in Kakamega, life was simple and fun; I went to school in tattered pants and I did not care; we swam in small muddy rivers with frogs and catfish; we enjoyed playing in the rains naked regardless of the many beatings I received and threats of getting malaria. Like many other rural boys, I also looked after cattle. Life was great.  However, this very life that I so much enjoyed and remember with nostalgia is now what many use as an example when describing poverty.

I went to Kawangware primary school. Unlike my rural school where teachers had a steady supply of canes, they were scarce here. Pipes and belts were used instead. However, we could report teachers for beating us up without facing any retaliation.Such reportings could have attracted more retaliatory beatings in my rural schools and so I really liked this kind of freedom. It is also here that I was introduced to watching movies. These were Chinese and American movies in which actors spoke Kikuyu. I marveled at how characters like Bruce Lee and Rambo could speak kikuyu – I recently learnt DJ Afro was behind this. 

In Gachie, we enjoyed playing in the coffee plantations in whose place now stands the leafy suburbs of Nyari. We hunted for birds and swam in the dam without drowning or getting sick. This dam has been however transformed into a favorite spot for thugs and a place for committing suicide - denying kids a chance to be kids and swim. It is here in Gachie that I got to rub shoulders with the likes of Matheri, Kamangu and many others who died before becoming famous.

In total, I attended a total of six primary schools before graduating to high school and thereafter joining Kenyatta University. At the university, I studied five different courses (French, Economics, Business Studies, Literature and Biotechnology) before settling to the one I graduated with, Environmental Science. In me, I have traces of things I have either picked from my experiences or was inspired to change due to these very experiences.

Hudson Wereh delivering his icebreaker

As I conclusion, “Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” These are not my words but again, Maya Angelou’s. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

New UN report calls for transformation in agriculture | Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

New UN report calls for transformation in agriculture | Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy:

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Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now‏

One of the big drivers of global affairs in the 21st century may be a single sentence: “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is His messenger.”
For over a billion Muslims worldwide – including the many peaceful Muslims you and I know – this is the Muslim profession of faith known as the Shahada. But the Shahada is more than a personal credo. For an unknown percentage of Muslims, it is also a political rallying cry and mission statement achievable only through violent jihad.
This intra-Islamic struggle for the soul of the Shahada is far more significant than the so-called clash between Islam and the West. It’s a struggle rooted in the dramatically different ways Muhammad recruited followers at Mecca (peacefully) and at Medina (violently). Which side wins will determine if Islam is primarily an invitation to piety or a compulsory political movement.
We in the West have an enormous stake in how this struggle plays out. We cannot remain on the sidelines.
That’s why I’m speaking out. In my New York Times bestselling book, “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,” I identify five precepts central to Islam that have made it resistant to historical change and adaptation. Only when the harmfulness of these ideas is recognized and repudiated will a true Muslim Reformation be achieved. If not, hope for a Muslim Reformation dies, and the rest of the world will pay a high price in blood spilled and freedom lost.
Ayaan Hirsi discusses her new book, Heretic
Confronting political Islam on its own terms is not easy. It means disabusing ourselves of clichés about the “religion of peace.” It means facing up to those teachings of Muhammad that, if applied literally, simply cannot be reconciled with a free society. And it means open debate about reforming this proud religious tradition.
Such debate is a bedrock of academic freedom. So is drawing conclusions – even controversial ones – consistent with findings. I’m fortunate to enjoy this freedom. Many of my fellow dissidents do not.
I’m raising my voice on their behalf because Islam is at a crossroads. Muslims need to make a conscious decision to confront, debate, and ultimately reject the violent elements within their religion.
I invite you to read my book. And I welcome your comments, criticisms, and questions.
Learn More

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Fellow, The Future of Diplomacy Project
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Harvard Kennedy School

Sunday, April 12, 2015

RUN. HIDE. FIGHT.With the Current Wave of Terror Attacks, this May be Useful...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

15 Sites to improve your french, even for adults…

Voici une sélection de sites permettant aux adultes d’améliorer leur français gratuitement et sans s’ennuyer. Grâce à ces sites, le français devient un jeu, chacun peut avancer à son rythme, de chez soi et sans complexes…
Pour les personnes dont le français n‘est pas la langue maternelle, il est préférable de commencer par les sites spécialisés dans le FLE (français langue étrangère), ils sont conçus pour apporter les bases nécessaires (voir dans la liste).
A noter que certains sites ont une connotation très « scolaire » (classement du contenu par niveau scolaire), ce qui peut freiner les adultes souhaitant s’exercer. Le meilleur des conseils qu’on puisse donner est de ne pas se laisser complexer par ces « niveaux », l’important est de s’entrainer pour surpasser ses propres difficultés et de revenir sur ce que justement on n’a pas retenu, pas appris ou pas compris à l’école…

Cours et exercices de français Tv5monde Bonnes révisions à tous et surtout amusez-vous !
Un site très complet, pas du tout scolaire et permettant de passer de bons moments en s’exerçant. En passant la souris sur l’onglet « langue française », on accède à un grand nombre de jeux, quizz, vidéos et autres exercices (vocabulaire, orthographe, grammaire, expressions etc.). Les 4 niveaux de difficultés permettent d’avancer pas à pas quel que soit son niveau (également pour le FLE). Autre plus : lien direct vers les dictées de Bernard Pivot et le lien vers les vidéos d’un merveilleux professeur qui nous décrypte quelques bizarreries de la langue française: merci professeur. Des dictées, des exercices et des cours en vidéo pour tout âge et tout niveau ainsi qu’une partie « règles et astuces ».
Aller sur Inscription gratuite. Dictées pour adultes, dictées complexes et dictées issues des annales du brevet des collèges.
Le site propose des cours et exercices pour éviter les fautes dans les écrits professionnels et des dictées ludiques. 
Aller sur ccdmd.qc.caUne multitude d’exercices interactifs ambiance casino (très ludique), des liens vers des cours et une multitude de ressources pour apprendre.
Aller sur Des exercices sous forme de jeux (grammaire, conjugaison, orthographe, vocabulaire, lecture, poèmes). Le site propose d’autres matières
Aller sur Babelnet Des exercices interactifs sur les fameux homophones (mots ayant le même son mais orthographe différente).
Aller sur Des exercices et leurs corrigés en français, grammaire, communication écrite pour tous les niveaux.Permet de réviser aussi de nombreuses autres matières, avec un conjugueur automatique et un forum (beaucoup de pubs)
Aller sur Surtout pour la rubrique de jeux par niveau de difficulté, à noter un moteur de recherche (vocabulaire, orthographe) et la possibilité de poser des questions.
Il est possible de demander la correction d’un texte, c’est gratuit mais sous conditions
Aller sur blog01eso Un blog très complet pour les personnes dont le français n’est pas la langue maternelle (FLE).Peut également être utile aux personnes ayant des problèmes de lecture, prononciation (entrainement phonétique)
Aller sur « Cyber-magazine » spécialisé FLE et contenant des exercices, tests, jeux pour apprendre le français en s’amusant.
Aller sur Enfin de la phonétique pas ennuyeuse… Exercices sur les syllabes et les sons, recommandé pour le FLE et les personnes ayant des problèmes de lecture, d’écriture des syllabes.
Aller sur Cours en vidéo gratuits (payant si on veut éviter la pub et télécharger) avec quelques tests.
Aller sur Cours, exercices et rubrique communautaire de questions/réponses.
Aller sur le Conjugateur Conjugue instantanément n’importe quel verbe de la langue française, même les néologismes : pratique et rapide. Le Figaro propose également ce service sur
Aller sur Pour ceux qui veulent améliorer globalement leur expression écrite et leurs connaissances en littérature.
N’hésitez pas à compléter la liste et ajouter vos commentaires.

Monday, August 18, 2014

GfGD Blog Competition: Successes Of Geoscience In Development

A runner-up in the GfGD Blog Competition, Hudson Wereh Shiraku gives an interesting overview of the many ways in which geoscience can, and has, made a positive contribution to the lives of communities around the world. Hudson is based in the Environmental Sciences Department at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya.

As a prefix, geo is derived from a Greek word which loosely translates to “earth” usually in the sense of ground or land. Geosciences would therefore include all sciences that deal with the earth and to this end, the list is long – geology, mineralogy, paleontology, stratigraphy etc.

Talking of how geosciences, used in the context of development has brought about positive and sustainable change, the earth is the foundation upon which development depends. Development is either driven by resources from the earth or by land as a resource like in the case of agriculture. Success of a development process and sustainability of the same requires meticulous intervention of a geoscientist to define the balance between society’s demand for these resources, their sustainable use and need to sustain healthy ecosystems.

Success stories of how geosciences have played a fundamental role in development dates back to many years ago. In the early 1930s, a small village in western Kenya was the scene of a gold rush fueled partly by the reports of the geologist Albert Ernest Kitson. In its place now, we have a beautiful town called Kakamega which is the economic hub of the region. Elsewhere, gold has transformed South Africa and its commercial hub Egoli – the city of gold to a heaven for gold diggers and investors to its undisputed status as the continental economic heavy weight – thanks to geoscientists.

Water has brought happiness to these women (Hudson Wereh Shiraku)
If there is no water due to drought, children will miss school because they must help their mothers to fetch water. One can only imagine what implication this has to development but thanks to hydrologists, children from a village in Maralal in Northern Kenya won’t miss school again for this reason. Under the auspices of an international non-government organization (NGO), this class of geoscientists has worked tirelessly to indentify underground water sources and avail water to local communities.

Courtesy of geoscientists, Kenya is tapping into geothermal energy and generating electricity. With the potential of 2000 MW, there is a total of 127 MW installed capacity and the plant meets 11% of the total national electricity supply (MoE, 2008). As a result, geothermal use in Kenya has led to significant socio-economic benefits for the country; a workforce of 493 persons is deployed at the Olkaria power stations considerably contributing to poverty reduction. In Naivasha, a geothermal heat resource is being used in a horticultural farm to control night-time humidity levels in order to reduce the incidence of fungal diseases – a successful instance where Geoscience has drawn from other fields to create a positive change.

Away from home, geothermal power has also been successfully exploited in northern African countries, using geothermal fluid for irrigation of oases as well as heating and irrigation of greenhouses. 

In Israel, the fact that agricultural production continues to grow despite severe water and land limitations is no accident. It is due to a close and ongoing cooperation between researchers, extension workers, farmers and agriculture-related services and industries. Geoscience has been tapped into by agriculture to ensure availability of water and suitable soils for farming.  

Finally, in Kenya we have what has been humorously referred to as “Oil Mania”. Kenyans have run a mock with oil exploration all over the country since oil was recently discovered in the north western town of Turkana. Though we have to wait for some studies to determine its economic feasibility, prospects are high and surely geoscience is an important ingredient of development.

In view of all these success stories, what would my neighbor who threatened to disown his son for wanting to pursue a course in geology against his wish for an educational course do? I suppose he would cover his face in shame.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nourish Our People – Nurture Our Planet!

Given the recent concerns about the global agricultural production systems and dwindling food supplies, there are renewed calls for developing productive as well as environmentally sustainable agroecosystems. In this regard, a High Level Roundtable on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture was held in New York from 15th to 16th March 2012 with the purpose of deriving effective actions towards the implementation of ecologically, socially and economically sustainable agricultural and Food Systems....................................

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Friday, April 20, 2012

An increase in mobile use can raise the annual GDP rate in developing countries???

Growing up in in my rural village, I remember owning a phone was reserved for a few individuals - the village elite who could maintain it 'buy airtime'. I remember my uncle warning me against buying a phone from the savings I accrued from burning and selling charcoal (Before I realized the need for conserving tree). "A mobile phone will eat all your money" he told me. To drive the point home, he told me that unlike human beings who runs on ugali served with vegetables, phones will always need money in them in form of airtime and that they devours it faster than one earns. He then advised me to wait until am "rich" before I could afford to buy and maintain one.

"An increase in mobile penetration can raise the annual GDP rate in developing countries" Was a headline in one daily. Without looking at the content, my mind went back to what my late uncle told me and what am going through as a phone owner. In the context of my late uncle, this headline does not hold true but its no basis for dismissing. So the question is, what are the necessary conditions for this headline to be true? Leave your comments please

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Google+ Hangout with the UN Secretary-General