Sunday, 24 February 2013


Mpole, the production manager, is perfectionist by nature. He is considered one of the most serious members of staff.
He likes to think things over and tends to ask a lot of questions before coming to a decision.
His keen attention to detail often drive the staff under him mad because he always finds fault with their work and makes sarcastic, negative comments about them.
He finds himself assigning a lot of work to Kidole, one of his most reliable officers.
He prefers Kidole because she is known to work tirelessly for hours in order to get an assignment done, and has little time for socialisation.
Those who have worked with her know her to be committed, efficient and conscientious in her work. She is also known for her hot temper. She complains a lot, but still completes her assignments.
The one person Mpole avoids giving assignments to unless it is absolutely necessary is Jacinta.
She is the office chatterbox who is always getting into trouble because of the controversial and often exaggerated statements she makes about her colleagues.
Jacinta craves attention and is fond of gossip about others. She often gets emotional and upset whenever challenged to substantiate some of the stories she has peddled around the office about others.
One of the few people who can tolerate Jacinta’s gossip is Susan. The latter is a good listener and is very patient with Jacinta and finds her many stories entertaining.
Susan is also loyal to Jacinta and avoids confrontations. It is her need for security that first drew her to Jacinta.
As a worker, Susan prefers assignments that do not require her to make decisions or take risks. She does not like conflicts and is often indecisive.
According to David Merrill and Roger Reid in their book, Personal Styles and Effective Performance, everyone has a social style based on their degree of assertiveness and responsiveness.
There are four categories of social styles, namely, analytical, amiable, driver and expressive.
Drivers like Kidole are action-oriented individuals who tend to focus on the present, seek power and want autonomy in making decisions.
They prefer to base their decisions on facts and have little time for individuals with the expressive social style.
An example of an expressive is Jacinta. Expressive workers tend to make decisions based on personal opinions. They are communicative and tend to be impulsive.
They make good followers and supporters but they are often undisciplined. Even though, they may have a vivid imagination and can be creative.
Susan has an amiable social style. Such people tend to place a lot of importance on good relationships and interpret the workplace from a personal point of view.
Because of this, they prefer to forge relationships than use force to achieve objectives. As a result, they may put off action because of fear of confrontation with colleagues and tend not to take risks.
Because of their need for security, they approach new situations with caution.
Merrill and Reid refer to analytical workers as those who are driven by the need to be logical and factual in their undertakings.
They focus on detail and need time to ponder on issues. For this reason they are slow in making decisions and cautious in forming friendships. They do not rush things.
If you are dealing with a driver, stick to the point and do your homework. When dealing with an expressive, don’t put down their enthusiasm and excitement. Avoid being too detailed.
Amiable workers, on the other hand, prefer that you are flexible and emphasise a team approach.
Don’t press too hard to change things and do not ask them for too much detail. Allow time for bonding. Analytics will appreciate your logical and well organised presentation. They will not want you to rush things. Just don’t be too personal with them. 
Dr Kithinji is a trainer, researcher and consultant at the Kenya School of Government

Saturday, 23 February 2013


Diarrhoea, respiratory infections and malaria account for 60 per cent
of known environmental health impacts in Africa. Photo: UNEP

Unless Africa’s leaders prioritize environmental and health issues, and prevent the degradation of health-promoting food and medicinal plants, people’s health and productivity will continue to suffer, warns a new report released today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
“Africa’s population is growing at the fastest rate in the world and its economy is expanding at a commensurate rate, yet not enough focus has been placed on the role environmental concerns play in ensuring the well-being of this expanding, dynamic continent’s citizens,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
Environmental risks contribute to 28 per cent of Africa’s diseases, according to the African Environment Outlook-3 (AEO-3). Diarrhoea, respiratory infections and malaria account for 60 per cent of known environmental health impacts in Africa.
Commissioned by the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), a permanent forum that meets every two years, the report highlights emerging issues and trends related to the environment, and proposes policy changes at the national, regional and global levels.
Among its finding, the air pollutant ‘particulate matter’ is a threat in poor rural areas, where little access to cleaner stoves and fuels causes significant health impacts through indoor pollution. Air pollution throughout the continent can be up to 30 times higher than World Health Organization (WHO) limits.
Health-related risks in Africa come from agrochemicals, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), chemical stockpiles, e-waste and petroleum waste, according to the report.
In Côte d’Ivoire, for example, the National Centre for Agronomical Research in Abidjan estimates that 65 per cent of the illnesses suffered by market gardeners, cotton growers, mango producers and consumers are due to pesticides.
The report also spotlights a lack of capacity to deal with the growing effects of climate change; inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene – in 2010, only 60 per cent of the sub-Saharan Africa population had access to safe water; and poor waste disposal practices.
Other issues highlighted include the negative impact of degradation of health-promoting goods and services such as food and medicinal plants made possible by land and marine biodiversity. For example, 80 per cent of Africa’s rural population depends on traditional medicines harvested from nature.
Climate change and variability impact human health because of Africa’s underdeveloped capacity to cope with the negative impacts. The report issued today provides policy changes that include incorporating climate-related scientific findings into decision making; building adaptive capacity; and strengthening early warning systems, preparedness and response.
The report “gives policy-makers a clear pathway to a sustainable and healthy future,” Mr. Steiner said.
“Africa is moving into a new phase that could see the continent become a major player in the transition to a global inclusive Green Economy, but to do that it needs a healthy population with guaranteed access to well-managed natural resources,” he added.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recently signed an agreement with the East African Development Bank to increase participation in clean development projects. The agreement establishes a regional collaboration centre in Kampala, Uganda, that will support the identification of projects under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), provide assistance for their design, and offer opportunities to reduce transaction costs.
According to UNFCCC, there are more than 6,000 projects already registered in 83 developing countries.
However, today’s report cautions that in addition to new projects, there are already many good policies to address environmental change on the books; the challenge lies in their implementation.
“These policies must be strongly implemented to have an impact, and enforcement mechanisms should be put in place and strengthened to reduce the negative consequences,” said Terezya Huvisa, Minister of State - Environment of Tanzania and President of AMCEN.
“If the recommendations in AEO-3 are followed, our citizens can look forward to healthier, and ultimately more productive, lives.”

Friday, 22 February 2013


Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. Photo by: CSIS / CC BY-NC-SA

A leading global AIDS program lacks a clear long-term strategy to help countries build the capacity to tackle the epidemic themselves, an independent report prepared for U.S. Congress suggests.

The report by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine enumerates a number of factors that have hampered the progress of programs supported by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which has been widely praised for helping transform AIDS from a death sentence to a manageable chronic disease for millions.

This year, PEPFAR celebrates its 10th anniversary. And throughout the years, it has poured in billions of dollars into AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs.

“The over-reliance on external donor funding in partner countries creates funding fragility and the possibility that the HIV response would be critically disrupted if funding were to be discontinued or severely reduced,” the report says.

Stumbling blocks

There were instances, according to the report, when multiple partners were doing the same service — antiretroviral treatment and capacity building — because they were funded to do so. In some partner countries, for instance, there are more than 100 prime partners and at least the same number of subpartners.

Projects take a long while to finish, according to the report, and between 2004 and 2011, at least $1.46 billion was unspent. Releasing money in steady and timely manner was also found to be difficult at times, leading to gaps between partner contracts in countries.

Differing priorities between partner country governments and PEPFAR were also noted in the report.

“PEPFAR mission teams described struggling to collaborate with partner country governments with competing priorities or those that did not view the HIV and AIDS response as a priority,” the report notes.

Sometimes, PEPFAR has also funded relatively richer countries with fairly low rates of HIV prevalence. For instance, the Dominican Republic, a lower-middle-income country with low HIV prevalence, received $173 million, according to the report.

Another stumbling block is poor data recording.

“The lack of accessible data on actual annual expenditures, regardless of the year in which the money was appropriated or obligated, represents a significant data gap for PEPFAR,” the report note.

The report discloses that Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator has been unable to track and assess how funds have moved from Congress to OGAC to implementing agencies to prime partners to subcontractors, “since implementing agencies were not required to report on expenditures at all levels of the program.”

Responding to the report’s findings, Ambassador Eric Goosby has attributed the problems to inefficient bureaucracies, delays due to extended negotiations on realigning programs with recipient country priorities, and a slowdown in few countries because the AIDS problem was much smaller than originally estimated.

What’s next?

To better support partner countries, PEPFAR — which in late 2012 released its blueprint for an AIDS-free generation — needs to invest in strengthening academic institutions, degree programs and training courses. This is one way to improve local capacity, which is key to retaining clinical, nonclinical and management professionals, the report argues.

Apart from improved data reporting to document progress and effectiveness, PEPFAR should create a knowledge management framework that would assess PEPFAR’s models of implementation and contribution to sustainable management of the HIV response in partner countries.

“PEPFAR would benefit from the collection and reporting of financial data that serve not just an accounting purpose but are also more closely aligned with programmatic data and program implementation,” the report says.