Kenya + 1 more

Horn of Africa Monthly Review Jan 1998

News and Press Release
Originally published
Kampala summit for development prioritisation: Thirteen African leaders including heads of states held a summit meeting in Kampala, Uganda, on 22/23 January. The summit, called "leaders forum", was the first in a planned series and was also attended by World Bank President James Wolfensohn. Leaders made a commitment to reverse the constraints to development through better prioritisation and meaningful partnership among the countries and the donor community. The priority development areas identified in a joint communiqué are human resources, capacity building, rural transformation, private sector development, infrastructure development, regional integration, conflict prevention, management and resolution and post conflict reconstruction, public sector reform and good governance. The participating countries were: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Eritrea and Ethiopia. (UN OCHA IRIN, January 23; The Monitor, February 5 and 7-8)

Health concerns across borders: Concerns have been raised over the possibility of an epidemic of Rift Valley Fever (RVF), a haemorrhagic disease spread by mosquitoes and direct contact with infected animals, spreading into the pastoral lowlands of southern and south-eastern Ethiopia. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Health Minister declared on 11 February in a joint statement with WHO Ethiopia, that in Ethiopia "there is not a single case that indicates the occurrence of the Rift Valley Fever that has hit neighbouring countries". The Minister added that the epidemic surfaced in areas of Somali Region was malaria. Other human health hazards identified in areas affected by floods after the untimely October/November rains included tuberculosis, measles, dysentery and malnutrition. (The Ethiopian Herald, February 12)

A RVF outbreak in Kenya's north-eastern Province has been confirmed and there are reports of many animal and some human deaths in Southern Somalia, although these reports are not necessarily consistent with RVF. Examination of remote sensing data by FAO has indicated that suitable conditions for the explosive multiplication of mosquito vectors persist over extensive areas of Kenya, southern Somalia, south-eastern and southern Ethiopia. The disease pattern in sheep, cattle and camels examined in north-east Kenya has been typical of RVF with fever, abortion, early neonatal death, jaundice and death, and a fall in milk production in dairy cattle. Humans have generally suffered influenza-like symptoms with few complications. An expert from FAO has recently visited the Ethiopian Somali region to consult with regional officials and advise on the possibility of an outbreak of RVF. Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports have been received indicating that Saudi Arabia may be considering a ban on the import of all livestock from the Horn of Africa due to health concerns arising from the RVF outbreak. If so, this could have serious implications for the economies of south-eastern Ethiopia and neighbouring "Somaliland". Initial suspicions of anthrax in north-eastern Kenya have not been borne out by subsequent investigations. However, the disease could still be a component of the animal mortality reported in the flood-affected areas of both Kenya and southern Somalia and, according to FAO, further investigation is merited, especially as the dryer conditions again prevail. (Monthly Situation Report for Ethiopia, UNDP-EUE, January 1998)

Cholera continued to give reasons for concern in some Horn of Africa countries throughout January. In Djibouti, the epidemic has spread to southern areas of the country while it has been contained in the capital where previously a total of 45 people had died of cholera. In Uganda at least 400 people had died of cholera by late January, according to Radio Uganda. In Somalia, the number of cholera cases by the end of January as reported by WHO was 3,606 with 173 deaths. Also Kenya continued to be threatened by fresh cholera outbreaks in different areas. (AFP, January 9; UN OCHA IRIN, January 23, February 4 and 6)

In a related development, the European Union (EU) has banned the import of fish from four eastern African countries because of the cholera epidemic. The affected countries, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique, earned a cumulative total of $ 10 million in 1996 in fish exports to the EU. (The Monitor, January 13)

More donor money needed for flood victims: The World Food Programme warned on 27 January it would halt emergency food airlifts and other vital supplies to 1,1 million people cut off by floods in Kenya and Somalia unless donors provided additional funds urgently. Estimating that it will cost $12 million to deliver by air an additional 16,000 tons of material aid between end of January and end of March, WFP called on donors to pledge money immediately so as to avert the possible suspension of operations. Whereas donors had been quick to respond to earlier appeals of aid, more help was needed urgently because the rains continued until mid-January in Kenya and Somalia. Initial help came from the European Community Humanitarian Office, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Switzerland, Australia and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, WFP launched a formal appeal on 10 February sought $17 million to help 657,500 Somalis through 31 July and 390,700 Kenyans until the end of February. In a separate appeal issued earlier, WFP seeks $2,254,608 for its deliveries of food by airbridge to 125,000 refugees in the camps at Dadaab in North East Kenya. By 10 February , however, it had received only $514,688. (Panafrican News Agency, January 27; WFP February 11)

IGAD meetings with recommendations: A three day IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) sub-regional workshop on Food Security held in Addis Ababa ended in mid-January with amendments and recommendations on the disaster preparedness strategy and food aid code of conduct. The proposals are to be submitted to IGAD member countries for approval. In a related development, an Ethiopian delegation led by Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin went to Rome for a ministerial meeting of IGAD member states. The agenda included deliberations on the development of infrastructure, food self-sufficiency and conflict resolution in the Horn of Africa region. The meeting which discussed also the Somalia peace process, was attended, besides Italy as host, by six IGAD member countries, and donor countries like the USA, Canada, France, Britain, Norway, Switzerland and the European Union. One of the agreements reached was to establish a committee to oversee the implementation of projects to be carried-out by IGAD. (Ethiopian Herald, January17 and 22 ; AFP January 19)

Regional efforts to combat pests: In Kenya there have been various media reports of locusts along the Kenya/Ethiopia border. An Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture team that recently visited South Omo (Southwest Ethiopia) identified the outbreak to be African Tree Locust and grass hoppers and not the more dangerous and damaging Desert Locusts. The danger of the infestation spreading is limited as well as the threat to crops in this predominately pastoral area. Due to the very unusual rains last year, however, conditions in the traditional Desert Locust breeding areas along the Red Sea coast are exceptionally favourable at present. Following the identification of a number of large hopper bands in January, aerial spraying operations are presently underway along the coast of Sudan and Eritrea. Both FAO and the Desert Locust Control Organisation (DLCO) are monitoring the situation closely. There have also been reports of some armyworm moths in Ethiopia. Although this is early in the year for armyworms, the unusual rains late last year have also created favourable conditions for breeding and the situation will have to be monitored carefully. Although historically armyworm moths have invaded Ethiopia from breeding sites along the Tanzanian and Kenyan coasts, some experts now believe endemic populations may have become established in parts of Southern Ethiopia where they have formed a reservoir with the potential to spread quickly to other locations in the country when conditions are favourable. Although high profile migratory pests such as locusts and armyworms often receive more publicity and attention, in Ethiopia local pests such as Welo Bush Cricket, Stalk Borer, rats and baboons usually cause much more damage. The extremely damp conditions during the last quarter of 1997 are expected to favour the spread of insect and other such pests and lead to a significant increase in pre- and post-harvest losses. (Monthly Situation Report for Ethiopia, UNDP-EUE, January 1998)

Addis Economic Forum: An international meeting named "The Addis Forum" is scheduled to be held in the new Addis Ababa Sheraton Hotel on 8/9 March, the official Ethiopian News Agency ENA reported in late January. Eight African leaders, including Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi, are expected to attend the forum which is meant to open a policy dialogue between African leaders and foreign investors. (Seven Days Update quoting ENA, January 26: The Ethiopian Herald, January 27)


Social unrest and killings in the Rift Valley: As violent clashes continued to claim lives in the Rift Valley province, diplomatic missions in Nairobi called on the government to take "prompt, effective action" to end the unrest. In a press release issued on 28 January, 21 missions expressed deep concern over ethnic clashes in the province which have caused since 11 January at least 70 deaths (while the unofficial figure was more than 100 at the end of January). The violence invoked memories of the "politically motivated ethnic clashes of the early 1990s and more recent attacks at the Coast", the release said. Kenya needed stability to meet the challenges "in revitalising an economy suffering from a variety of natural and manmade problems". Meanwhile, President Daniel arap Moi called for an end to the hostilities and accused the opposition of making "inflammatory remarks" which fuelled the conflict. Inter-tribal cattle-rustling has long been a source of tension in the area, but the conflict has escalated in recent months, creating a situation which forced thousands of people to flee their homes. The Kenya Red Cross Society, with support of the ICRC, started relief operations by the end of January distributing some 90 tons of food to 1,300 displaced persons in Pokot and 900 in Marakwet. (UN OCHA IRIN, January 29; Press Digest, February 12)

Declining crop production because of floods: The Ministry of Agriculture expects Kenya's sugar and coffee production to fall this year due to poor weather and a collapsing infrastructure. Sugar production is estimated at 350,000 tons, down from 390,000 tons last year due mainly to the fact cane had not been collected owing to the poor state of roads. National annual consumption is estimated at 560,000 tons. The 1996/97 coffee production fell sharply to 68,000 tons against a prior Coffee Board of Kenya projection of 82,902 tons and against the 97,575 tons produced in 1995/96. Adverse weather conditions could lead also to massive losses in food crop production. Shortfalls of maize are estimated at 630,000 tons, of beans at 297,000 tons and of wheat at 90,000 tons. Over 300,000 families countrywide had been affected by floods which washed away homes and destroyed crops. Agriculture Minister Musalia Mudavadi added there had been an abnormally high incidence of livestock diseases as a result of the weather. The European Union has provided more than 3.5 million dollars to assist victims of flooding and disease. (The Ethiopian Herald January, 21 and 24; UN OCHA IRIN, January 29)

Economic growth rate slowing down: Kenya's economy grew 3.2 per cent in 1997, considerably slower than the 4.6 per cent recorded in 1996, according to data released by the Central Bank of Kenya. The bank blamed the slower growth on political uncertainty in an election year and unfavourable weather conditions affecting agriculture. Among other factors, also bad publicity abroad leading to a decline in tourism earnings was mentioned. (The Monitor, January 15)

Nairobi-Mombassa road washed away: The main Nairobi-Mombasa road, a lifeline for regional transport, was temporarily impassable in mid-January as rains washed away a crucial bridge. According to Kenyan press reports, a 30 kilometre traffic jam built up on both sides of the bridge and hundreds of trucks bringing goods to and from Zambia, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda were bogged down in mud. Two days later, the highway was partially reopened after engineers repaired a section of the affected area. On 31 January the highway had to be closed again after another bridge , near Kibwezi, collapsed due to heavy floods. (UN OCHA IRIN, January 23; Press Digest quoting BBC News, February 1)

New cabinet sworn in: Kenya's 22-member cabinet was sworn in on 14 January in Nairobi following President Daniel arap Moi's election victory of late December. The cabinet has only one woman, Mwalele Mwachai, an assistant minister of the newly created ministry of women and youths affairs. The swearing-in ceremony took place amid mounting suspense following the surprise omission by Moi to re-appoint George Saitoti as his vice-president. However, Saitoti was appointed minister of planning and national development. Bonaya Godana, the new man is at the helm of Kenya's Foreign Ministry, is the first minister to originate from Moyale, a district on the border with Ethiopia. (AFP, January 9; Panafrican News Agency, January 14)


Army top brass changes: President Yoweri Museveni changed the top leadership of the Ugandan army in a move to modernise the armed forces, cut military spending and focus operations on fighting rebel insurgencies in the north and the west of the country. Museveni reportedly also appointed his brother, Major Salim Saleh, as the country's acting defence minister. Saleh was previously Museveni's adviser on military affairs in the north. He replaced Amama Mbabazi who was transferred to the president's office. Later on, Museveni played down his brothers political role stating that he was "an assistant, not a minister" in the Ministry of Defence. The Ugandan constitution does not allow for a minister or acting minister to be appointed without parliament's consent. (The Monitor, January 8; UN OCHA IRIN, January 9)

Twelve year jubilee: South African President Nelson Mandela called in Kampala on 26 January for political and economic freedoms for all Africans, saying millions were effectively disenfranchised. He was speaking at a parade marking the 12th anniversary of the storming of the Ugandan capital by the guerrilla army of the National Resistance Movement of President Yoweri Museveni. His army captured Kampala in a few hours from the forces of then president Tito Okello on 26 January 1986 after a five-year bush war. Museveni began as a Marxist, but became a devout free-marketer, and his country is considered one of the economic success stories of Africa. Speaking at a ceremony to mark his twelve years in power, Museveni defended his non-party system of government, pointing out the danger of multi-partyism being "hijacked by tribalism". (AFP, January 26; UN OCHA IRIN, January 27)

Rebel activities continue: There has been a flare up of rebel activity in northern Uganda since 4 January when rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) crossed into Kitgum district from their bases in southern Sudan. A LRA attack on the Acholi refugee camp in the northern Kitgum district reportedly took place in mid-January, occurring after two groups of rebels entered the area and began looting shops and abducted 30 people. The increased rebel activity in the Kitgum district is seriously hampering humanitarian activities. UNHCR confirmed the attack on the camp which houses some 18,000 Sudanese refugees and described the incident, during which three people were wounded, as "unacceptable". In a related development, the state owned "New Vision" reported on 26 January that a group of LRA rebels had crossed into Gulu from bases in Sudan. According to the newspaper, the incursion followed reports that LRA leader Joseph Kony had ordered the fresh abduction of youths from the Acholi and Lang'o areas of the district. The LRA has been fighting for over a decade in an attempt to overthrow the government of President Yoweri Museveni and put in its place a system of rule based on the biblical Ten Commandments. The main method of recruitment used by the LRA is the abduction of young people and children who are used as soldiers and concubines. (UN OCHA IRIN, January 23 and 27; AFP January 29)

Refugee influx from Congo: UNHCR reported an influx of refugees from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo into Uganda via Kisoro. It said a group of 314 mostly Tutsi Congolese had arrived during late December and early January and had been transferred to the Nakivale camp. Another group of 200 was about to be transferred. The refugees said they were fleeing insecurity in North Kivu. UNHCR said there were a total of 27,600 registered Rwandan and Congolese refugees in the area, plus a further 3,000 "unofficial" refugees whom it was assisting on a humanitarian basis. (UN OCHA IRIN, January7 and 23)


The designations employed and the presentation of material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the UN concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


Information in this update has been obtained from UN, NGO and media reports; reference is made to sources as appropriate. No claims are made by the UNDP-EUE as to the accuracy of these reports.

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