Posts Tagged ‘Kenya election violence’

Clean Camps Improve Health in Kenya

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

CRS continues to respond to the post-election crisis in Kenya. Recently, staff from CRS and the Catholic Diocese of Eldoret trained 18 volunteers to serve as hygiene promoters in camps in the Eldoret area of western Kenya. One volunteer, Milka Nyambura Kariuki, lives with 2,000 other displaced people in the Burnt Forest camp. Here she shares how she is working with other volunteers to teach residents about improving camp sanitation and personal hygiene:

Volunteer hygiene promoter Milka Nyambura Kariuki is helping her fellow residents improve sanitation in the camp they are living in after being displaced by the post-election violence in Kenya. Photo by Gilbert Namwonja/CRS

Here I educate community members on hygiene and how to keep our neighborhood clean. Eighteen of us were trained, and later on we divided ourselves into different hygiene promotion groups. I was placed in the hygiene education group. In our group, the activities that we carry out include educating people on how to keep their water containers clean, how to boil water and how to use latrines well.

We also trained people on how to wrap food well because of contamination by house flies. We were taught that house flies can cause diseases like diarrhea, vomiting and even headaches.

As a result of our activities, we have witnessed change in the camp. Our IDP camp has become very clean. For example, the other day we carried out house-to-house visits and saw that people’s water containers were clean, food was well wrapped, and they are keeping their surroundings clean all over. Even if you visit the water points, you will find that containers are very clean. Before our activities, people also used latrines poorly, but now they use them well.

I would like to praise Catholic Relief Services very much because I did not expect to receive such training. Now I have changed as a person, and I have become a good example to others, because we were trained to be models for them. Now they practice hygiene as required.

Although peace is now holding, 150,000 people displaced by earlier violence are still living in camps. An additional 130,000 are estimated to be living with friends or relatives, too scared to return home.

Violence in Kenya Must Stop Now

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

Peter Kimeu, CRS’ regional technical advisor for partnership, global solidarity and justice, shares his condolences for the loss of Father Michael Kamau and his plea for peace.

This past Saturday, Father Michael Kamau of the Nakuru diocese lost his life to the downward spiraling violence in Kenya. A man of faith, kindness and inspiration, Father Michael will be deeply missed.

His death is the terrible result of terrifying ethnic divisions that are splitting Kenya in two. Father Michael was returning from the seminary where he taught, in Kakamega, to his home diocese. Like thousands of other Kenyans, he was stopped at a roadblock by a gang of vengeful youth. He was asked to show his ID, and when his name revealed that he was of the opposing Kikuyu ethnic group, the gang brutally killed him on the roadside. (more…)

Dispatch From Kenya: More News from Eldoret

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Debbie DeVoe, CRS’ regional information officer for East Africa, provides an update from her recent visit to Eldoret, one of the regions in Kenya most affected by the post-election violence.


Life for displaced families isn’t easy, as they now must rely on others for food, shelter, water, bedding and more. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

Yesterday, rivals President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga met for the first time since the disputed election in Kenya held on Dec. 27. The meeting and the mediation efforts of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan are giving Kenyans hope that the crisis that has killed more than 650 and displaced more than 220,000 may soon end. (more…)

Open Dialogue Helps Open Hearts During Conflict in Kenya

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Conflict continues in Kenya over the contested win by President Mwai Kibaki over rival contender Raila Odinga. The crisis in Kenya is affecting people across the country, whether or not they have been directly touched by the violence.

In Nairobi, most businesses have reopened. For CRS staff, however, it’s far from business as usual. Debbie DeVoe, regional information officer for East Africa, sat down with John Katunga, regional technical advisor for peacebuilding and justice, and Peter Kimeu, regional technical advisor for peacebuilding, global solidarity and justice, to learn more about the reflection sessions they have been holding for staff.

Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

The conference room was packed with staff who value the opportunity to come together to address and reduce any tension. Photo by Debbie DeVoe/CRS

Kimeu: Kenyan hearts are bleeding, and CRS staff hearts are bleeding too. We need to reconcile as members of the CRS family so we can provide the emergency response required. By bringing the staff together, they can share their feelings with each other and listen to one another.

Katunga: What has happened in the country can’t be isolated. CRS employees in Kenya are a microcosm of society, and as Kenyan society is divided by the crisis, it affects our staff.

These meetings provide a framework for staff to vent their frustrations and their feelings. By coming together, people realize how what they are saying and how they are acting are affecting others. People need to be able to say “I’m not happy about what’s happening” without saying “I hate Kibaki” or “I hate Raila.” We need to learn ways to express ourselves without antagonizing others.

Kimeu: We asked staff to write on cards how the conflict has changed their working relationships. Many of the cards have the same message: “I’m hurt. I’m scared. I don’t know how to approach my brothers or sisters anymore.” By bringing these issues to the table, we can help people listen to one another.

Katunga: These days every word can be interpreted differently. Take the word “justice.” It no longer means the same thing for everyone. Through these reflections, we are giving staff the opportunity to examine how their emotions and beliefs have been affected by the situation to improve their working relationships.

Dispatch From Kenya: Restoring Peace in Eldoret

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Ken MacLean, CRS’ country representative for Kenya, sends this update on the situation in Eldoret, where election violence has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

Jendayi E. Frazer meets with Bishop Cornelius Korir

U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer meets with Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret. Photo by Jeannine Cinco/CRS

Today I traveled to Eldoret, where tens of thousands of Kenyans are now displaced as a result of election violence. Accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Michael E. Ranneberger and U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Jendayi E. Frazer, our aim was to meet with Bishop Cornelius Korir, as well as with members of the clergy, civil society and displaced families.

The bishop welcomed us at Eldoret’s Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral. Here, 7,500 people are camped out on the church grounds. Thousands more are finding refuge in other local churches, schools and public facilities.

Since the December 27 general elections, up to 500 people have been reported killed, and the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 250,000 have been displaced. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has committed $150,000 to help people affected by this crisis. Staff on the ground in Eldoret and Bungoma are currently assessing needs and coordinating distribution of critical mosquito nets, blankets and plastic sheeting for shelters.

In our meeting, Bishop Korir noted that tensions rise annually around election time. This year, however, when local favorite Raila Odinga failed to win the contested presidential election, violence erupted on a much larger and tragic scale. Last week, dozens of people were burned in a nearby church where they were seeking refuge. Thousands of others escaped death, but are now displaced from their homes and in need of food, clothes, blankets and proper shelter.

Women Preparing Maize

Two women displaced by the post-election violence in Eldoret prepare maize on cathedral grounds. Photo by Jeannine Cinco/CRS

Community members at the cathedral shared their stories of terror with us. In tale after tale, families typically were approached by gangs of young men and told to leave within minutes or they would be killed. Mothers, fathers and children fled with little-to-no belongings, leaving all of their possessions behind to be torched or looted. These people are thankful to have found safety on church grounds, but they are in need of additional assistance.

Ambassador Ranneberger shared his confidence that Kenya would pull through this time of trouble and pledged $5 million for emergency response efforts. CRS is already working closely with the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance to provide critical support to affected communities across Kenya and is coordinating relief efforts with Caritas Kenya, CAFOD and Trocaire. In addition to procuring essential supplies for distribution, CRS pledged private funds to enable the Eldoret diocese to purchase 42 metric tons of food locally on credit for immediate distribution to people in need.

CRS and the Kenya Episcopal Conference urge all Kenyans to refrain from violence. The Conference last week also encouraged an investigation into claims of electoral irregularities and appealed to political leaders to engage in dialogue. As the country seeks to solve this crisis, CRS will continue to serve those in need and take action to help restore peace.

Dispatch From Kenya: Eyewitness to Unrest

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was quick responding to violence that erupted in Kenya following the December 27 elections, but our Nairobi-based staff has also been affected by the unrest. Here are the stories of two members of our CRS family.

Kinyanjui Kaniaru

Kinyanjui Kaniaru is an engineer focused on water and sanitation. He has worked for CRS for more than 13 years and has been a mentor to many agency employees. He worked with CRS’ East Africa region to help pull together a strategy for water and sanitation programs, and has helped CRS Kenya with projects across the country.

Like many Kenyans, Kinyanjui Kaniaru, known as KK to colleagues, closely followed the campaign pitting President Mwai Kibaki against challenger Raila Odinga, and participated in what seemed to be a relatively orderly vote on Dec. 27. And like many Kenyans, KK’s life has been overturned by the disorder that broke out in following days.

Much of the violence across Kenya has occurred along tribal lines – Kibaki is ethnically Kikuyu while Odinga is a Luo, and some of the fighting has followed that division. But scores of groups have engaged in violence and no tribe has been spared. KK serves as a spokesman for many Kenyans when he states directly: “I am first a Kenyan, nothing more, nothing less.”