Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Editorial: Formalise engagement, hiring of house helps

 

Working class households and those that engage in business for their livelihoods often enlist the services of house helps in taking care of domestic chores. House helps play a crucial role in looking after young children, taking care of general cleanliness of the house, preparing meals, washing and even escorting children to school.

These tasks are time consuming and it is virtually impossible for working parents to undertake them efficiently. That is why house helps have been part and parcel of most families, especially in urban settings, with most of them being sourced from rural areas.

In recent years, several firms have been established to recruit house helps, who are trained and later hired out. However, the main method that families use to obtain house helps is through word of mouth—someone who knows someone asking for a house help from upcountry.

A lot has also been written about the relationship between house helps and their employers. There have been reported cases of abuse—physical and sexual— and denial of payment. But some house helps have also been reported to abuse their positions by mistreating their employers’ toddlers and young children.

The most recent incident was in Mwanza Region where a house help was accused of stealing an eight-month-old baby. It was not yet clear why the baby was stolen.

Incidents like these further complicate relationships between house helps and their employers. They erode the element of trust between the two parties.

It is important therefore for families wishing to hire house helps to establish the backgrounds of potential candidates before taking them in. Conversely, house helps also need to have accurate information about potential employees before agreeing to take up jobs in their homes.

The government needs to put in place clear guidelines on the matter so that the rights of both parties are safeguarded. It is time the employer-house help relationship was formalised for the betterment of society’s welfare.

Try this to end land rows

Reports of recurrent conflicts over land between cattle herders and peasants are unsettling. The issue is a complex one, and this explains why solutions proposed over the years have at best been temporary.

The problem largely has its roots in the insistence by pastoralists to keep big herds, which become difficult to maintain and sustain when pastures become scarce in the dry season.

The result is that the herders and their animals move from one place to another in search of grazing land, sometimes encroaching on cultivated land owned by smallholders. This often results in violent confrontation, sometimes with deadly consequences, between the two groups.

The solution to this problem lies in educating pastoralists on the need to keep manageable herds that would not make it necessary for the herders and their cattle to travel far and wide in search of pastures in the dry season.

Most livestock-keepers take pride in keeping huge herds which become a crippling burden to them when grazing land becomes scarce due to prolonged drought. This is an issue that agricultural extension officers need to prioritise if a permanent solution is to be found to bloody conflicts over land.

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