Inter Press ServicePoverty & SDGs – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 19 Dec 2018 06:36:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.8 Investors Turn Kenya’s Troublesome Invasive Water Hyacinth into Cheap Fuelhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/investors-turn-troublesome-invasive-water-hyacinth-cheap-fuel/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=investors-turn-troublesome-invasive-water-hyacinth-cheap-fuel http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/investors-turn-troublesome-invasive-water-hyacinth-cheap-fuel/#respond Wed, 19 Dec 2018 06:34:12 +0000 Benson Rioba http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159315 Currently 30 square kilometres of Lake Victoria, which stretches to approximately 375 kilometres and links Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, is covered with the evasive water hyacinth that has paralysed transport in the area. But scientists are harvesting and fermenting the weed, and one intrepid chemistry teacher has built a business out of it. The presence […]

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Water hyacinth is a weed and if not controlled on Lake Victoria, experts are concerned that the lake’s water levels might drop by 60 percent. Courtesy: CC by 2.0/Madeira Botanic Garden

By Benson Rioba
KISUMU, Kenya, Dec 19 2018 (IPS)

Currently 30 square kilometres of Lake Victoria, which stretches to approximately 375 kilometres and links Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, is covered with the evasive water hyacinth that has paralysed transport in the area.

But scientists are harvesting and fermenting the weed, and one intrepid chemistry teacher has built a business out of it.

The presence of water hyacinth on the lake is concerning. Late last year, Margaret Kidany, one of the people involved in conserving Lake Victoria’s beaches, said the lake’s water levels might drop by 60 percent if the weed is not controlled. If it is not eliminated, it will kill the livelihoods of thousands of households that rely on the lake for an income.

However, the Centre for Innovation Science and Technology in Africa, founded by former chemistry teacher Richard Arwa, is making the best out of the invasive water hyacinth.

Funded in its start-up stages by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the innovation company, which employs six people and serves 560 households, manufactures ethanol from the weed. This is proving a cheaper source of clean fuel for many of the locals while at the same time preserving the lake.

The process they use is a simple one.

The centre hires locals to harvest the hyacinth from Lake Victoria before transporting it to their workshop for processing. Once at the workshop, the hyacinth is pretreated to remove microorganisms that might compete with the enzymes during processing.

The hyacinth is then dried and chopped into smaller pieces to reduce the surface area for efficient processing. The dried hyacinth is then mixed with water, acids and enzymes in tight closed tanks for fermentation.

After fermentation the mixture is subjected to high temperatures (80 degrees Celsius), producing ethanol and carbon dioxide and methane as final products.

“This was part of a science congress project for secondary schools and it won accolades throughout the country and we, together with my students, decided to actualise the project,” says Arwa.

Arwa is still a chemistry teacher even though he started the institution in 2016.

He adds that they initially tried to produce beverage alcohol from the hyacinth but the project was not viable. According to Arwa, alcohol requires numerous purification processes to make it consumable. In addition the taxes on the product are high.

So it is less costly to make ethanol. Arwa says the company produces 100 litres daily.

The amount is considerable for their factory, and it is sold to 560 households in Yala in Kisumu city. Arwa tells IPS that they always run out of stock.

Lyne Ondula, a mother from Yala, in Kisumu county, is a happy customer.

“Hyacinth fuel burns slower than the usual kerosene I use and doesn’t produce smoke and soot while cooking like firewood or kerosene. To me it’s much cheaper and cleaner to use, no more coughing in my kitchen when preparing food,” she tells IPS.

Ondula says a litre of ethanol retails at 70 Kenyan shillings and lasts four days. That is in marked contrast to the higher cost of kerosene, which currently retails at a national average of 100 Kenyan shillings, and lasts only two days. She says she also used to buy charcoal which was quite expensive, retailing at 100 Kenyan shilling per a 15-kilogram tin, which only lasted hours. So now she only uses ethanol, which she pre-orders.

It is a cleaner option for this East African nation that is still heavily reliant on charcoal, kerosene and firewood as a source of energy. According to a market and policy analysis by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, while “LPG has penetrated Nairobi and higher-income households; bio-ethanol can be an attractive clean fuel for lower income households.”

Ondula’s sentiments were echoed by Sylvester Oduor, another resident from Yala in Kisumu County. He adds that ethanol fuel also produces more heat compared to charcoal when cooking.

Philip Odhiambo, energy and climate change coordinator at the WWF, says such innovations are key in harnessing the untapped opportunities of water bodies.

“There is a need to turn environmental challenges to create wealth and opportunities especially in creating jobs for our many unemployed youth,” says Odhiambo. He adds that the ethanol processing project is a viable way of managing green waste that has been a challenge in the country for a long time.

Odhiambo adds that the world is shifting towards clean, cheap energy and says there is a need to embrace creativity and tap into the energy potential of water bodies, besides the traditional sources of energy.

In addition, unlike other clean fuels, bio-ethanol can be produced domestically over time and could spur industrial growth in the sector “while delivering positive social and economic benefits,” says the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety report.

However, Arwa says accessing the initial capital of 50,000 dollars was a challenge as many financial institutions turned him away for lack of collateral. In the end he had to rely on donors like WWF to finance the project. The chemistry teacher adds that financial institutions did not have faith in the venture and were not ready to invest in the idea.

The immediate goal for the company is to expand production to 600 litres per day.

But Arwa has a five-year expansion plan that includes moving the small factory, which is about 40 kilometres away from Lake Victoria, closer to the lake to reduce costs. He hopes that once relocated, and with the support of partners, they will eventually be able to produce 10,000- 25,000 litres per day.

Arwa adds that he is looking for strategic investment partners to help in scaling up the ethanol project, reiterating that there is a huge untapped market for the product. “I usually feel bad when customers come to purchase ethanol but we turn them away. At the moment we cannot satisfy the demand,” he says.

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The Arduous Search for Dignity Through Integration and a Pay Checkhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/arduous-search-dignity-integration-pay-check/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=arduous-search-dignity-integration-pay-check http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/arduous-search-dignity-integration-pay-check/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 21:20:19 +0000 Sejjari Mehdi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159326 One of the most common words used by speakers during the Global Compact on Migration was “dignity”—granting migrants the dignity they deserve. As with any advocacy, there is a danger a word can lose meaning through overuse. But on the streets of Morocco the same word means a lot to migrants looking for work. And […]

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Migrants on a street in Casablanca, Morocco. Courtesy: Alié Dior Ndour

By Sejjari Mehdi
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

One of the most common words used by speakers during the Global Compact on Migration was “dignity”—granting migrants the dignity they deserve. As with any advocacy, there is a danger a word can lose meaning through overuse. But on the streets of Morocco the same word means a lot to migrants looking for work. And when they find it—both work and dignity—it can alter the entire migration equation. 

“Despite the difficulties I encountered at first, being in an irregular situation, I am working today in a private communications company after an operation launched by the Moroccan authorities to give residency permits to tens of thousands of immigrants living in the country illegally,” says Ahmadou, a Nigerian migrant, who has been living in Morocco for five years.

At first, he was all set on reaching that supposed El Dorado for so many migrants: Europe. But now the situation is different. Ahmadou says professional integration is the key. If you have no job, he says, then the ambition to reach Europe will never disappear.

“I am able to provide the necessities of life, especially housing,” Ahmadou says. “Of course, there are immigrants who suffer because they have inappropriate skills, or because of the fact some companies give priority to local citizens.”

Amid increasing international bickering—with a lengthening list of countries abstaining from the Compact—eventually 164 countries signed the non-binding Compact for “safe, orderly and regular migration.”

The Compact seeks to ensure migrants enjoy rights within a global vision based on joint management of migration between countries of origin, transit and hosting. Maintaining dignity underpins this effort—both for migrants and countries at large—by establishing a set of principles fostering integration of migrants within societies, while giving states full sovereignty in the enactment of national migration policies.

Indeed, the Compact is not binding, rather it invites countries to “develop national short, medium and long-term policy goals regarding the inclusion of migrants in societies, including on labor market integration, family reunification, education, non-discrimination and health, including by fostering partnerships with relevant stakeholders.”

The process of integration lately has proved arduous in many countries—Germany becoming a poster child for such frictions after welcoming hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees from strife-torn countries—especially when it comes to employment for migrants, resulting in high unemployment levels.

Even if jobs are found, migrants in European countries are more likely to work on temporary contracts. Over time, though, the employment gap between migrants and native born does narrow in most countries, and even vanishes in a third, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OCED).

Morocco is in a similar position to European countries having shifted from being a country of origins and transit to also one of destination for migrants.

Hence Morocco’s authorities have launched a program through its Agence nationale de promotion de l’emploi et des compétences (ANAPEC)—which translates as the national agency for employment and skills—to facilitate access to job search assistance, provide employment assistance and promote work equity within companies.

Its ultimate objective is to is to guarantee an honourable and dignified life for regularised migrants by ensuring equitable access to the labor market.

But despite such measures, the number of migrants and refugees inserted into Morocco’s labor market remains limited. On any given day, young men from various countries in West Africa endlessly pace the streets around Marrakech’s iconic Jemaa el-Fnaa square and market place in the Medina quarter, amiably trying to hawk the likes of iPhones, watches, sunglasses and bright decorative shirts to passers-by.

Hence calls to increase the ANAPEC services and benefits available to migrants, to mobilise and stimulate micro-credit institutions to finance income-generating activities and enterprises by migrants, and to improve communications to incentivise the private sector about the importance of recruiting migrants.

“Parlais vous Francais?” one migrant, sits by his trinkets laid out on the street, says hopefully to a potential foreign customer walking by, asking if he speaks English. But a shake of the head and a school-boy French apology are all that follow.

The migrant smiles and keeps waiting for another potential customer.

“Continuing to improve the conditions of migrants’ access to public services and rights, including the right to decent work, will push lots of migrants to realise their dreams here without the need to ride the waves of death across the Mediterranean,” Ahmadou says.

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Global Anti-Human Trafficking Coalitionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/global-anti-human-trafficking-coalition/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 18:27:12 +0000 Vladimir Bozovic http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159316 Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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Child labourers rescued in Delhi waiting to be sent back to their villages. Credit: Bachpan Bachao Andolan.

By Vladimir Bozovic
BELGRADE, Serbia, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

Entire human history is one great struggle for freedom. To many, slavery is a synonym for something in the past, for transatlantic slave trade, but, unfortunately, slavery still exists in many different forms.

Records show that over twenty seven million men, women and children still live today in conditions that characterized social form of the slave ownership. They are trapped in forced labor and debt bondage, in domicile work and forced marriages, or they are being exploited by the human traffickers. We can easily speak of slavery as of great tragedy, and the fact that in this day and age still exists, is a downfall of human kind.

Modern slavery is a challenge for every democratic country. Suffering is the same as in the past, but methods are more sophisticated and perfidious, and most of those who suffer are the ones that should be protected the most – poor and socially excluded groups, who often live on the margins of our society, and young women and children. This is not an imaginary problem, it does not happen only to someone else and somewhere else; rather, it is a real threat and anyone can fall victim to.

The very first challenge in fight against slavery must be a cognizance: we must confess a bitter truth that slavery has been weakened, but still exists. Human trafficking is one of the growing forms of transnational crime, characterized by high profit and low risk, and it is followed by a grave statistics. It is crime of economic nature, and most efficiently organized, and we are currently fighting it on inconsistent and fragmented way. That is the dark side of globalization.

The issue of modern slavery is globally recognized by the UN in its millennium goals. Goal 8 is dedicated to increasing labor productivity, reducing the unemployment rate, especially for young people, improving access to financial services and benefits, fight against modern slavery and child labor. So many activities around this particular global goal prove that we don’t live anymore in a selfish world where we don’t consider other nations and their problems. No, the world of todays opens up to the misery of others, and everybody everywhere has to be good, for us to feel good. Employed, productive populations, sustainable economic growth, decent jobs with equal opportunities for fair salaries, safe working environments, social protection, these are all values that will ensure the progress of the entire world, and the whole world will benefit from the creativity, business and innovation of the free people.

Plenty has been done in delivering the Goal 8. UN reports that the average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita worldwide increased, the number of children from 5 to 17 years of age who are working has declined, access to financial services through automated teller machines increased… Plenty has been done, but also plenty has to be done. Child labor remains a serious concern with more than half of child laborers participate in dangerous work and 59% of them work in the agricultural sector; labor productivity has slowed down, the global unemployment rate hasn’t changed from 2016, with women more likely to be unemployed than men across all age groups. Youth were almost three times as likely as adults to be unemployed… It is clear that efforts provide results, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

There was a time we thought that the slavery is forever beaten, only to come back to us in new forms and shapes. That is why the solution must be fresh and brave. The only final answer to this problem is for every country, every government, every agency to work together, to unite and create an Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition that will engage entire society in fight against this crime, and combine all our efforts in protecting our citizens. It should be understood that eradicating the human trafficking is not solely a mission for the police or law enforcement agencies, this is a fight at all levels of society. We should campaign through media with the message that will define the problem, and develop the clear strategy that will unite countries and governments, churches and religious organizations, NGOs, youth, academic communities, media and all other important representatives of the society in one efficient and effective action with clear mechanisms of measuring the results. Everything should be designed in the way that those results are realistic and visible to the present victims, and to provide prevention and protection for potential victims. Time has clearly shown us, that this is one thing we can’t beat alone, nationally, rather, it’s a nick of time to do it globally.

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Excerpt:

Vladimir Bozovic is Advisor of Government of the Republic of Serbia

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United Towards Achieving Health For All in Kenyahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/united-towards-achieving-health-kenya/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=united-towards-achieving-health-kenya http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/united-towards-achieving-health-kenya/#respond Tue, 18 Dec 2018 08:45:34 +0000 Sicily Kariuki3 and Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159303 Sicily Kariuki is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health in Kenya. Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the Universal Health Coverage charter during the launch of the UHC pilot programme in Kisumu on 13 December 2018. Photo courtesy: PSCU

By Sicily Kariuki and Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 18 2018 (IPS)

According to Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, the implementation of UHC is “more a political than an economic challenge”.

Of all the Sustainable Development Goals, few would rival good health as the definition of a country that has a sustainable, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous future, and the launch this week of the pilot phase of Kenya’s journey towards Universal Health Coverage heralds a major step towards that future.

It was a fitting statement of national intent and unity to make UHC a success in Kenya to see President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto preside over the launch of the pilot programme in Kisumu county. They were joined by erstwhile political contenders, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, united by a shared vision to improve health coverage in Kenya.

Ensuring that the pursuit of good health leaves no one in financial dire straits is a task that requires much more than good intentions. WHO estimates that to achieve SDG target 3.8 requires one billion more people to have universal health coverage by 2023.

In Kenya, health-related expenses are driving about one million into poverty every year, and health care is second only to food in family budgets. These are families that wake up every day to the reality that they could be within just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy and penury.

In demonstration of his commitment to keep health front and centre of the development agenda, President Kenyatta has identified health as one of the key pillars of his legacy.

The promise of UHC is based on real-life experiences of countries with whom we have much in common. The transformation of countries now known as Asian Tigers was largely driven by investments in the health of the citizens, with special focus on sexual and reproductive health.

When the health of the mother is provided for, the cyclical benefits in terms of physical and cognitive development of the subsequent generations is assured.

The Ministry of Health has been working with the United Nations (UN) in Kenya & various stakeholders to identify what interventions represent the most effective pathways for attaining UHC in Kenya. These partners include civil society and the private sector.

Our vision is for approaches that are not just affordable, but those that promote equity and effectiveness, ensuring that the rights of the most vulnerable are not forgotten, as the central tenet of universality.

Kenya also announced that UHC will involve scaling up immunization, prevention of water borne, vector borne, TB, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, improving maternal and child health as well as nutrition of women who conceive. Kenya will also focus on prevention of non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension.

Our mission is to deliver a robust system that will reach out to those who have been left behind. Through community health workers and volunteers, we know that a few more vaccines will be delivered to children in a remote village; there might be new case of an infectious outbreak detected, reported and averted.

It is because of the primacy of these community volunteers as frontline workers and their role in the achievement of UHC that the Government has established a fund to provide a stipend as an incentive for the workers.

The partnership between the Ministry and the UN system in Kenya is steadily building the foundations for a responsive health system for communities, for whom health was inaccessible, unaffordable or altogether unavailable.

In the frontier counties of North-eastern Kenya, flagship programmes such as the Area-based joint programme with the county of Turkana are steadily delivering results. We are targeting not just dramatic, overnight success, but the incremental changes that for instance involve building the capacity of community health workers to deliver primary health care.

Investing in making progress towards universal health coverage, they lay the foundation for making progress towards all the other health targets and other goals – like ending poverty, improving gender equality, decent work and economic growth, and more.

With Kenya’s Vision 2030 ambition of providing a high quality of life to all its citizens, the most urgent need is to ensure that everyone stays healthy to participate in economic development.

The Government of Kenya and UN partnership is committed to make Kenya the blueprint for the rest of Africa on how Universal Health Coverage can be attained.

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Excerpt:

Sicily Kariuki is the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Health in Kenya. Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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From Irregular Migrant to Graduate Lawyer: One Woman’s Journey to Successhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/irregular-migrant-graduate-lawyer-one-womans-journey-success/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=irregular-migrant-graduate-lawyer-one-womans-journey-success http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/irregular-migrant-graduate-lawyer-one-womans-journey-success/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 15:11:16 +0000 Mikaila Issa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159272 Masters of Laws student Khoudia Ndiaye will graduate from Senegal’s University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) next year. The 24-year-old, who specialised in notarial law and dreams of becoming a notary, wants to bring justice closer to local communities like those in her local district of Hann Bel-Air, in Senegal’s capital Dakar, where she rarely sees […]

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Masters of Laws student Khoudia Ndiaye is expected to qualify from Senegal’s University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) in 2019. Ndiaye is a returnee migrant. Credit: Samuelle Paul Banga/IPS

By Mikaila Issa
DAKAR, Dec 17 2018 (IPS)

Masters of Laws student Khoudia Ndiaye will graduate from Senegal’s University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD) next year. The 24-year-old, who specialised in notarial law and dreams of becoming a notary, wants to bring justice closer to local communities like those in her local district of Hann Bel-Air, in Senegal’s capital Dakar, where she rarely sees female lawyers.

While the young, intelligent and dedicated Ndiaye has a bright future ahead of her and speaks with enthusiasm about it, there was a time not too long ago that she never dreamt of becoming so successful. Instead she was living—in fear and subject to racism—in a foreign country.

Ndiaye is a returnee migrant. In 2012, while only 18, and after being enrolled at UCAD’s Faculty of Law for just four months, she was overwhelmed.

Now when she speaks about her reasons for wanting to leave Senegal, she lowers her head and laughs.
“In the first year of law at the university, we were 4,000 students and I underestimated myself because I did not think I had a chance to succeed in this world,” she tells IPS.

A journey into disillusionment 

She began to look for something else to do with her life. She always wanted to work at a call centre and had been told by her cousin Pape, who was living in Morocco, “that call centre employees are very well paid and well connected.”

Daro Thiam (left), a returnee migrant from Mauritania is being interviewed by Khoudia Ndiaye (centre) and and Ndeye Fatou Sall (right) in Hann Bel-Air, a neighbourhood in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Courtesy: International Organization for Migration (IOM)/Julia Burpee

Leaving one’s family and daring to go on an adventure without warning is a brave decision—surrealistic even—for a young girl in a deeply-religious society like Senegal. “It was not easy to make such a decision. I did not tell my parents because if they knew about my idea, they would not allow me to leave,” Ndiaye remembers.

Pape put her in contact with the people who would help her migrate without regular papers.
“I financed my trip with my scholarship up to 200.000FCFA which is the equivalent of 348 dollars.”
But on the day of the trip to the “promised land” she realised that she was deceived because she had believed she would fly to Morocco, but instead “ended up taking a bus by force”.

After journeying 3,000 kilometres in a minibus, Ndiaye, and the other young Africans who were her travelling companions, arrived in Marrakech, Morocco.

Very quickly, her dream of working in a call centre turned into disillusionment.
What she hadn’t been told, and perhaps what her cousin didn’t know, was that call agents in Morocco were required to have two years of university credits.

For a time she lived with her cousin and his wife and while she was well treated, things were not necessarily easy.
She was witness to her cousin’s mugging and attack in a public street and feared the same would happen to her one day. “Moroccans on a scooter tried to steal his phone. He wanted to defend himself, but young Moroccans stabbed him. I saw the blood flowed and this image traumatised me,” she says with trembling voice.

Home to try again

She decided to return home and her parents, who by then knew of her presence in Morocco, paid for her return flight. Once home, with the advice and support of her family and relatives, Ndiaye pursued her studies once again.
She re-enrolled in university, and it was her second attempt to obtain her Bachelor of Laws.

“At the university, it was a bit like home, I was ashamed of the eyes of people and my classmates because they were all aware that I had stopped my studies to go to Morocco,” Ndiaye regrets.

A new beginning
But on a cold winter’s morning in November, and in the midst of a crowd of young students jostling to register at the university, we manage to force our way through the crowd to reach the main entrance of the Faculty of Law. It is here that Ndiaye’s professors and other UCAD staff gave her a chance. It is here that Ndiaye tried again to obtain her degree, this time succeeding.

“I received support from my teachers, especially one of my teachers who cheered me up whenever I needed it. She now sits at the Dakar court,” Ndiaye says excitedly.

Migrants as Messengers

As Ndiaye thrived with her studies, she was contacted by a friend, also a returnee migrant, who gave her the phone number of Mohamadou Ba, who is in charge of managing a community of returnee migrant volunteers in Dakar.

Ba is part of the Migrants as Messengers (MaM) awareness-raising campaign, which was developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The peer-to-peer messaging campaign trains returnee migrants how to interview, film and document the stories of their fellow returnees. They share their experiences through Facebook and on other social media sites, providing a platform for others to do the same.

When Ndiaye heard about it, she joined. She met with other returnee migrants and heard of their experiences and stories, as she shared her own. Because MaM is structured as a peer-to-peer campaign, it allowed Ndiaye and other returning migrants to structure a message for young people that was based on their own first-hand experiences “… the best thing is to stay at home or if you decide to travel, do it by a normal way.”

Support that goes beyond financial aid

Ndiaye is also glad for the support she received from the network. “We have gained confidence and hope. And this is much more important than financial aid,” Ndiaye says.

It is not just Ndiaye who has benefited from the training.

Yaya Mballo and Ndèye Fatou Sall are also returnee migrants in Senegal. Thanks to the IOM training they have been able to re-integrate into society and even launched their own business—where they offer public speaking and videography services.

Julia Burpee, Media Development Specialist and trainer at MaM tells IPS how the project has helped its participants transform.
“When we started the videography and storytelling trainings, many of the migrants who returned home from Libya and other countries, were too timid and ashamed to share their stories of migration.
“The more they stood in front of—and behind—the camera and saw the benefits of using video as a tool for healing and advocacy, the more they started to speak up. They now all speak confidently and with conviction about their migration experiences, eager to help inform other West Africans about the risks they faced, and ultimately, save lives,” Burpee says.

Tomorrow, Dec. 18, marks International Migrants Day and many of the returnee migrants will be celebrating it through events held around Dakar.

But today, Ndiaye is keenly interested in gender rights. In fact her Master’s dissertation was on the gender balance in Muslim succession law here in this West African nation.

“Inheritance law fascinates me the most because it is the regulation of everyday life and also it is a fact of society that is heard constantly,” she tells IPS.

“Yes women can,” Ndiaye concludes.

  • Additional reporting by Samuelle Paul Banga in Dakar.

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Pakistan: Food Security and Reducing the Price of Wheathttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/pakistan-food-security-reducing-price-wheat/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=pakistan-food-security-reducing-price-wheat http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/pakistan-food-security-reducing-price-wheat/#respond Mon, 17 Dec 2018 09:05:26 +0000 Ahmed Raza and Daud Khan http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159265 Robert W. Fogel, the 1993 Nobel Prize Laureate for Economics, through his work on “efficiency wages”, pointed out that hungry and undernourished workers are not as productive as well fed and healthy workers.   At the level of an individual firm, it would thus make sense for an employer to pay wages that are high […]

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The staple food of Pakistan is wheat with an annual per capita consumption of 124 kgs/head/year. The world price of wheat currently hovers around US$ 234 per tonne (as of 01 November 2018). In Pakistan, the Government, during the last wheat harvest in May/June 2018, paid farmers Rupees 1,300 per 40 kilograms.

Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS

By Ahmed Raza and Daud Khan
ROME, Dec 17 2018 (IPS)

Robert W. Fogel, the 1993 Nobel Prize Laureate for Economics, through his work on “efficiency wages”, pointed out that hungry and undernourished workers are not as productive as well fed and healthy workers.   At the level of an individual firm, it would thus make sense for an employer to pay wages that are high enough to allow workers access to food and other necessities – even if such wages are higher than the going market rate.

Some iconic and highly successful firms have in fact done this. Henry Ford, in 1914, caused quite a stir when he decided to offer his workers five dollars a day – double the going market pay at the time. This allowed him to not only have a healthy and satisfied work force but also to pick and choose his employees; to ensure that they stayed with the company; did not spend time looking for other opportunities as their experience and skill levels improved; and felt a stake in the success of the firm.

Other companies such as Guiness, Cadbury’s and Tata’s followed the same route providing not only good salaries but also housing, medical services and schools, as well as scholarship for the brightest children of their employees.

A food-secure, well-nourished, well-housed and educated labor force can enable countries to spur and sustain economic growth and foster shared prosperity.

In Karachi, a friend runs one of the most successful engineering companies in the country. He tells of how two fresh graduate engineers came looking for a job and asking for a salary of Rupees 10,000/month (about US$75 at today’s exchange rate).

My friend told them that this was “a ridiculous demand” and that as qualified engineers from a reputable university he was not prepared to pay a penny less than Rupees 20,000. This was 20 years back and much of the success of the firm was the result of the dedication and hard work on these two “overpaid” engineers.

For countries, the same principles and practices hold. A food-secure, well-nourished, well-housed and educated labor force can enable countries to spur and sustain economic growth and foster shared prosperity.

This was one of the key principles underlying the creation of the welfare state. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, the rates of food insecurity and malnutrition are extremely high with approximately 60 percent of the population vulnerable to food insecurity.  Moreover, nearly half of children under the age of five suffering from stunted growth, which implies that their will most likely not reach their full physical and mental potential.

Prime Minister Imran Khan highlighted this issue in his inaugural speech and committed his Government to addressing the country’s nutrition emergency.  However, given the Government’s generally weak implementation capacity and tight fiscal situation there is a need to find suitable low cost means to achieve this goal. On such means is by reducing the price of food.

The staple food of Pakistan is wheat with an annual per capita consumption of 124 kgs/head/year.  The world price of wheat currently hovers around US$ 234 per tonne (as of 01 November 2018). In Pakistan, the Government, during the last wheat harvest in May/June 2018, paid farmers Rupees 1,300 per 40 kilograms.

This was a price approaching US$ 300/tonne (US Dollar to Pakistan Rupee exchange rate of Rupees 110 which was the rate prevailing at the time of the last wheat harvest) paid at farm-gate.  This is a price well above what farmers in most countries get.

To keep the price of wheat at Rupees 1,300 per 40 kilograms, the Government imposes import tariffs which currently stand at 60%. In addition huge outlays are incurred to buy, store and then dispose of this wheat. As wheat production has increased beyond domestic need and there is a subsidy given to exporters.

The impact of high wheat prices on consumers, particularly the poor, is very significant. Often it is argued that high prices for wheat and other food items help reduce poverty in rural areas.   This is simply not correct as the bulk of Pakistan’s poor rural population comprises of small scale farmers and landless who are net buyers of food.

High prices favor large farmers who have surpluses to sell; the big flour millers who get subsidized wheat from the Government; the large bureaucracy that has been created to run the wheat procurement system; and the banks, who lend to the Government for the purchase of wheat.  Direct budgetary costs of administering the system, according to the Government’s own estimates, amount to Rupees 200 billion (US$1.5 billion)/annum.

If the import restrictions on wheat are removed, domestic prices could fall considerably. In big centers such as Lahore and Karachi, where prices are 11% to 21% higher compared to international prices, a family of six people, consuming about 744 kilograms of wheat per year would save around Rupees 5,000 (almost US$40) per year.

In addition, the Government would save the costs incurred in running the system would amount to another Rupees 6,000 (over US$45) per family. This money could be used to fund targeted food assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable.

It would take some political courage to take on the lobbies of those who benefit from the current system of wheat procurement.  But if this can be done it would make a huge dent in addressing a fundamental problem without any extra outlay of public funds.

Ahmed Raza Gorsi works in international development specializing in food, agriculture and nutrition. Views expressed here are his own.

Daud Khan has more than 30 years of experience on global food security and rural development issues. Until recently, he was a staff member at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He has degrees in economics from the LSE and Oxford – where he was a Rhodes Scholar; and a degree in Environmental Management from the Imperial College of Science and Technology.  

 

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Costa Rica: First Country to Protect Sustainable Fisheries of Large Pelagics Specieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/costa-rica-first-country-protect-sustainable-fisheries-large-pelagics-species/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=costa-rica-first-country-protect-sustainable-fisheries-large-pelagics-species http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/costa-rica-first-country-protect-sustainable-fisheries-large-pelagics-species/#respond Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:31:47 +0000 Kifah Sasa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159227 Kifah Sasa is Sustainable Development Officer at UNDP Costa Rica

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Credit: UNDP

By Kifah Sasa
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Dec 13 2018 (IPS)

Twelve years ago, in a restaurant in Puntarenas on the pacific coast of Costa Rica, a group of long line fishermen met with three UNDP conservation specialists.

The conservationists wanted to understand how best to avoid illegal fishing inside Cocos Island Marine Protected Area, located off the shore of Costa Rica and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As part of their stakeholder engagement strategy, they decided to meet longline fishermen for dinner. It didn’t turn out quite as they had hoped – not many hands were shaken after dessert.

There was one table but two very different perspectives. The UNDP personnel were working on a project which saw illegal fishing on Cocos Island as a conservation issue.

On the other hand, the group of local entrepreneurs from Puntarenas were challenged by depleted resources and closed markets. Though some of them were indeed responsible for illegal fishing, none were big businessmen with major ambitions, but rather owners of a couple of long line vessels trying to make a living — with little access to credit and paying the highest social security costs in the region for every member of their expeditions.

The prospect of UNDP supporting the government to further restrictions on their livelihoods, was not taken lightly. A lot of mistrust turned the food, and the mood, sour.

According to data estimated by the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA), the country’s fishing sector is made up of around 400 boats with each boat carrying between five and eight people, forming a working population of around 2,000 to 3,200 directly linked to the sector.

Together with the families that depend on this activity, the affected population reaches between 10 to 16 million people and this is without including those indirectly linked through the thousands of other indirect jobs which ensure fishing activity such as transportation, fishing supplies, food, mechanics, and others.

Credit: UNDP

Fast forward to the present day and twelve years later, the perspectives of both the conservationists and the fishermen have changed. Last November, not far from that restaurant in Puntarenas, Costa Rica was the first country in the world to launch a National Action Plan for sustainable fisheries of large pelagic species, using UNDP’s methodology.

Through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE), the Costa Rican Institute of Fisheries and Aquaculture (INCOPESCA) and the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the country officially presented a plan with three main areas of work: improving the fisheries of large pelagic species in Costa Rica such as tuna, swordfish and mahi mahi; increasing the supply of seafood from sustainable sources and ensuring the social welfare of the people linked to the fishing activity.

During the presentation of the plan, one of those same sector leaders from the restaurant took the opportunity to approach the same UNDP staff member he met all those years ago and said to him, “I wanted to thank UNDP for the trust it has given us and for helping us build a formal plan with institutions”.

A clear victory for UNDP’s firm confidence and strong commitment to multi-stakeholder dialogue as the key element to achieve systemic change for sustainable commodity production.

The National Action Plan for Large Pelagic Fisheries will run for ten years and will directly contribute to the fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Costa Rica.

Credit: UNDP

A model case study of successful convening and collaboration between different stakeholders, it is the result of a process of dialogue lasting twelve months and involving more than one hundred representatives of government, academia, civil society, international cooperation, fishermen, exporters, restaurants and supermarkets.

A group of people who were not likely to be happy in same room a few years ago but are now committed to working together towards a more sustainable, inclusive and promising future for Costa Rican fisheries.

Through 2019, we celebrate ten years of UNDP supporting multi-stakeholder approaches to the sustainability challenges of highly-traded commodities around the world.

Through the Green Commodities Programme, UNDP’s approach has been to build trust among stakeholders by facilitating neutral spaces where they can collaborate on a shared vision and agenda for action, coming to a collective agreement on the root of the sustainability problems of key commodities and on how they will work together to resolve them.

Through its multi-stakeholder National Commodity Platforms, the programme is currently working on palm oil, cocoa, coffee, beef, soy, pineapple and fisheries in Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

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Excerpt:

Kifah Sasa is Sustainable Development Officer at UNDP Costa Rica

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Why Did You Come to Marrakech?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/why-did-you-come-to-marrakech/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=why-did-you-come-to-marrakech http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/why-did-you-come-to-marrakech/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 21:57:39 +0000 Zainab Aboulfaraj http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159338 The whole world met at Marrakech, Morocco, during the two days of the Global Compact for Migration. IPS met six people to ask what led them to come to this international event.

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By Zainab Aboulfaraj
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

The whole world met at Marrakech, Morocco, during the two days of the Global Compact for Migration. IPS met six people to ask what led them to come to this international event.

Kostas Stamoulis, assistant director-general at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO).
“This is a big event, this is a Compact that is signed by a big number of countries. It looks at migration as a potential force for development, so migration cannot be resolved by one country alone because it involves many countries. The only way that we have a clear way forward on migration will be through an intergovernmental agreement. This is it. It was produced mainly by governments and other stakeholders, such as civil society, the UN, etc. It’s an intergovernmental document. The governments plan to make migration a choice rather than a necessity, that’s the idea.”

Claudine Mahoro, Rwandese journalist:
“Rwanda also has migrants, because migrants are not only coming from Africa to Europe, but there’s also migrants that come to our country from places like Congo. People need to know what’s going on and what the pact is about. How is it going to give them rights?”

Lawrence Egulu, working at the Ugandese Ministry of Labor and Social Development
“In Uganda, we believe in multilateralism, we need to do this together. This Global Compact is part of a globalization project. Migration is a big component of globalization. If it’s about moving from one country to another, then we have to handle it as members of a United Nations country, as part of a global village—we want to be part of the Global Compact.”

Cilene Victore, Brazilian reporter at TV Cultura and professor of journalism at a college from Sao Paulo.
“I’m here as a journalist of course, but as a professor too. It’s important to put the humanity before the discussion about policy makers. You can give more voice to the people who suffered. It’s important to come because there’s a discussion, people are talking about the New York Declaration. We are living the worst humanitarian crisis since the end of the second war, and why?”

Wael Maaninou, Moroccan student in politics and journalist for Radio Migration.
“I’m here in Marrakech to cover the events on migration for almost 10 days. We had a lot of programs to do with migrants’ rights and we have done a lot of interviews, and took a lot of declarations. I’m here also because I need this as a future journalist, or whatever I’ll be in the future, to see how the wold works, the diplomacy, how the UN works. As a student, it may give me some opportunities to do further training, if I stay in touch with some people. I met with a lot of journalists from all around the world. “

Houda Hasswane, Moroccan freelance journalist based in Istanbul.
“I came to this pact because I’m a freelance journalist. I worked a lot on subjects about migration and migrants, here and in other countries. The journalist must be informed, be aware of everything going on. We have to study this pact. We have to know which countries adopted or didn’t adopt this Global Compact in order to follow up after the end of this international UN event, to see the impact.”

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Reactions on the Ground to the Global Compact for Migrationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/reactions-ground-global-compact-migration/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=reactions-ground-global-compact-migration http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/reactions-ground-global-compact-migration/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 21:26:56 +0000 Salaheddine Lemaiz http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159327 This week the famous and beautiful Moroccan city of Marrakech is hosting the intergovernmental conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), accompanied by a multitude of civil society events among the city’s palm-tree-lined streets. IPS spoke with a number of participants from different backgrounds about the adoption of the GCM […]

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This week the famous and beautiful Moroccan city of Marrakech is hosting the intergovernmental conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), accompanied by a multitude of civil society events among the city’s palm-tree-lined streets. IPS spoke with a number of participants from different backgrounds about the adoption of the GCM and what it means for the future of migration and migrants.

By Salaheddine Lemaiz
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

This week the famous and beautiful Moroccan city of Marrakech is hosting the intergovernmental conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), accompanied by a multitude of civil society events among the city’s palm-tree-lined streets. IPS spoke with a number of participants from different backgrounds about the adoption of the GCM and what it means for the future of migration and migrants.

This week the famous and beautiful Moroccan city of Marrakech is hosting the intergovernmental conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), accompanied by a multitude of civil society events among the city’s palm-tree-lined streets. IPS spoke with a number of participants from different backgrounds about the adoption of the GCM and what it means for the future of migration and migrants.

 

The GCM brings together 164 countries—who have adopted the Compact—various ministers and heads of states, along with 700 organizations from civil society, the United Nations, the private sector and academia.

A multitude of side events preceded the commencement of the GCA. The purpose of the People Global Action (PGA) event held on December 8 and 9 was to agree on a program of actions to put pressure on governments to maintain mobilization on migration issues.

Members of the African Network of Women Journalists have been very vocal about migrant women during the conference. “We are for a just migration policy that is respectful of human rights,” says Afolasade, a presenter on Radio Nigeria.

Monami Maulik, from Global Coalition on Migration, has confidence in the future of the compact: “We participated in the negotiations for 18 months, we are happy that the Compact has been adopted.”

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel made a remarkable trip to Marrakech. The adoption of the Compact by his country created a political crisis in the Belgian government: “We are on the right side of history,” Michel says. “I appear before you with a parliamentary majority which no longer supports my government, standing upright and proud of the convictions of Belgium, and which I am expressing this morning at this rostrum.”

“The Compact forms a frame of reference for our advocacy,” says Younous Arbaoui from Morocco’s Platform Nationale Protection Migrants. “It is true that this pact is not binding, but Morocco and other countries have a moral obligation to respect its commitments. Already we are integrating aspects of the Compact to demand access to services for migrants in Morocco.”

These members of the Nigerian delegation display their measured satisfaction with the adoption of the Compact: “It is a good step forward for the future of the Nations.”

 

“The GCM is a huge mobilization of states to manage migration,” says Cheryl Perera, a prominent representative of migrant communities, and founder of OneChild, a non-governmental organization which seeks to eliminate the commercial sexual exploitation of children abroad. “We wait now for actions.”

“With other organizations from many countries, we are expressing our concerns about some of the goals of the GCM,” says Hassan Ammari from Alarm Phone, an organization running a hotline offering support for people crossing the Mediterranean Sea to the EU, who participated in a protest against the Compact in the center of Marrakech. “Security issues have become the main issue and the Compact’s text makes that a priority. This opens the doors for more migrant detention centres.”

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Political Commitment Key to Health for Allhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/political-commitment-key-health/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=political-commitment-key-health http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/political-commitment-key-health/#respond Wed, 12 Dec 2018 13:46:45 +0000 Ban Ki-moon http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159198 One of my proudest accomplishments as the former UN secretary-general was playing a part in the ambitious global agenda for sustainable development (SDGs), including the goal of universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030. Kenya’s leadership was key. To give momentum to the SDGs an Open Working Group was established in 2013. One of the co-chairs […]

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Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations Offices in Nairobi, October 30, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

By Ban Ki-moon
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 2018 (IPS)

One of my proudest accomplishments as the former UN secretary-general was playing a part in the ambitious global agenda for sustainable development (SDGs), including the goal of universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030.

Kenya’s leadership was key. To give momentum to the SDGs an Open Working Group was established in 2013. One of the co-chairs of the working group was Ambassador Macharia Kamau, who was the Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN.

As the world celebrates UHC Day on 12 December 2018, more and more countries across Africa, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal, are taking up the mantle of health for all and providing strong leadership to make the vision a reality.

Health is a fundamental human right. Good health helps people escape poverty, and provides the basis for long-term economic development.

The UN Secretary General Mr Antonio Guterres has said, “When we invest in health – particularly of women and adolescents – we build more inclusive and resilient societies.”

With 11 million Africans being pushed into extreme poverty each year because of high out-of-pocket expenses on health, there is an urgent need to explore innovative models that provide adequate care alongside financial protection.

One country which could provide a blueprint for others to follow is Kenya, where the president is personally invested in delivering UHC.

I forged a strong connection with President Uhuru Kenyatta over our shared commitment to maternal and child health. In 2015, at the UN General Assembly in our presence, a public-private partnership to improve the health of over 3.5 million women, newborns and children in Kenya was announced. Led by the Government of Kenya, it brought together the UN, the private sector and civil society to leapfrog improvements in maternal and child health.

We found a strong advocate in First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, whose Beyond Zero Campaign ensured the scale-up of proven interventions to improve maternal and child health. The government also moved to eliminate payments for primary and maternal health services in public facilities.

These were important first steps.

Now I am heartened by Kenya’s remarkable political commitment to expand UHC to include every man, women and child. Affordable health care is one of the top priorities of President Kenyatta’s “Big Four” development agenda for his second term in office.

To achieve progress at such a rapid pace, Kenya plans to increase health spending by nearly 20% between 2018 and 2021 and strengthen primary health care. The country has set out to design a model that provides quality health care while ensuring it remains affordable.

Approaches are being tested over one year in four counties – each with its particular health challenges. These pilots aim to identify gaps in delivering UHC before nationwide rollout so that lessons can be learned. The acid test will be how quickly the country can go to scale and ensure no one is left behind.

Big data, technology and innovation will be critical to achieve progress at scale. Eight countries in Africa, including Kenya, have committed to use data to identify priority areas for health systems improvement, track and trend progress over time, and enhance accountability by using a new Primary Health Care Performance Initiative tool.

According to a forthcoming analysis by McKinsey, Kenya will need an investment of US$6 billion over and above government resources and individual subscriptions in the next decade to reach government targets for primary health care.

The Government of Kenya and the UN family in Kenya have come together to form the Kenya Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Partnership Platform, which is bringing together civil society and the private sector to catalyze new models for quality, affordable health care delivery. They are seeking new ways to unlock health care financing, which has been identified by the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation as a best practice.

The reforms Kenya is pursuing will have a major impact on people’s lives and livelihoods and help stem poverty. Nearly 1 million Kenyans are being pushed below the poverty line every year as a result of catastrophic out-of-pocket expenses.

With such high-level political commitment, I am confident that Kenya will forge its own way with courage and resolve by ensuring the health and well-being of all its citizens.

Ban Ki-moon is a former UN Secretary General, and former South Korean Foreign Minister. He is the co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens. The Centre was founded in 2017 and is co-chaired by Ban Ki-moon and by Heinz Fischer, President of the Republic of Austria from 2004 – 2016.

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“No to the pact of Marrakech!”http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/no-pact-marrakech/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=no-pact-marrakech http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/no-pact-marrakech/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 15:50:56 +0000 Houda Hasswane http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159173 At the same time more than 160 countries adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), on the streets of Marrakech pro-migration groups and activists gathered in the city centre to chant: “No to the pact of Marrakech!” The historic Compact has found itself caught between a rock and a hard place: […]

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By Houda Hasswane
MARRAKECH, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

At the same time more than 160 countries adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), on the streets of Marrakech pro-migration groups and activists gathered in the city centre to chant: “No to the pact of Marrakech!”

The historic Compact has found itself caught between a rock and a hard place: It has been criticised by nationalists and those arguing for stronger borders on one side, and by human rights and migrant activists on the other.

The protest in Marrakech brought together people from the National Federation of the Agricultural Sector, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, the Maghreb Coordination of Human Rights Organisations and the Platform of Associations and sub-Saharan communities in Morocco among other movements and communities.

 

 

The Compact, protestors say, does not represent a change in anti-migration policies, or in the current offensive against migrants and refugees by many countries in the northern hemisphere.

“The pact is a setback in terms of human rights, protection of migrants and their families as provided for in international conventions already approved by the United Nations and other institutions,” says Camara Alpha, general secretary of Platform of Associations and Sub-Saharan Communities in Morocco.

Protestors say they want to see a new global pact of solidarity for the rights of migrants, one which will guarantee the inalienable right to free movement of all people, by promoting regional and international cooperation, and public policies protecting migrants.

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A Migrant Turned Saviour of Othershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrant-turned-saviour-others/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrant-turned-saviour-others http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrant-turned-saviour-others/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 14:23:04 +0000 El Mahdi Hannane http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159171 Seven years ago, when Cameroon began experiencing inter-regional conflict, Armand Loughy, a 55-year old Cameroonian psychiatrist, strapped her youngest child on her back and with her five other children embarked on the dangerous Journey from Cameroon towards Rabat, Morocco’s capital. They fled the deteriorating security situation in Cameroon, looking for a better life. Loughy, who […]

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Armand Loughy is a migrant from Cameroon. Her own experiences pushed her to campaign on migration issues, shifting from being a refugee herself to becoming an activist. Credit: El Mahdi Hannane/IPS

By El Mahdi Hannane
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Seven years ago, when Cameroon began experiencing inter-regional conflict, Armand Loughy, a 55-year old Cameroonian psychiatrist, strapped her youngest child on her back and with her five other children embarked on the dangerous Journey from Cameroon towards Rabat, Morocco’s capital.
They fled the deteriorating security situation in Cameroon, looking for a better life.
Loughy, who is now also a migrant activist based in Morocco, listened attentively to the on-going discussions during the opening ceremony of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in Marrakech.

Her own experiences pushed her to campaign on migration issues, shifting from being a refugee herself to becoming an activist—one of the most vocal personalities in the Moroccan civil society space.

“We went through the desert and where the fear consumed us. Many of my fellow migrants got hurt by bandits and died—in the most horrible way with their bodies dumped in the desert,” Loughy recalls.

After arriving in Morocco, she faced many difficulties in finding a job before finally securing work at a psychiatric clinic in Rabat.
With a well-paying job, Loughy could easily have forgotten her traumatic journey and suffering and moved on. But she chose not to—her decision to start helping migrants came at the right time as Morocco was also establishing favourable policies on how to handle migrants.

This policy shift, according to Loughy, enabled her to become “a candle that would light up the darkness of migrants.”

In 2014, she founded the Association of Women Migrants in Morocco, working to attract other migrants. Gradually, her association gained respect in the civil society space.

“In the beginning, the children of the poor neighbourhood where I was active threw stones at me,” Loughy says. “But after many months of continuous work, I became familiar and respected by locals and migrants.”

Her organisation is active in the Sidi Musa district of Salé—about 330 km north of Marrakech—where hundreds of migrants occupy small rooms, either working or begging on the streets, and then returning to the ghetto in the evening.

The children of these migrants, some of whom were born in Morocco, until recently had nothing to do. Some accompanied mothers to beg, others played in the neighbourhood all day without any clear future—a painful reality that Loughy and her organisation acted upon.

She presented a proposal to Salé’s Regional Directorate of Education and Training, and her ideas were welcomed. Classrooms were allocated within the public educational institutions for migrants’ children.

These have now become independent departments with their own teaching staff, and now even teach local Moroccan students.

“We are trying to use education as a tool for integration,” Loughy says, adding the association is making a big drive to inform migrants about the importance of education to ensure as many children as possible are enrolled into school.

Many migrants, especially those who do not have residence documents, remain sceptical of these types of initiatives, Loughy says. But the hope is that better educated children of migrants can inspire change at home and between communities.

Loughy dreams of a united African continent and believes that the best way to achieve coexistence among the continent’s peoples is through education and knowledge. After listening to discussions at the GCM about the tools and partnerships needed to give that dream a chance, she will leave Marrakech to return to spreading education among the children of Morocco’s migrants

“We have learnt that when students start living together, then parents can also learn how to coexist,” Loughy says.

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Migration and the Economy—an Inseparable Pairinghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migration-economy-inseparable-pairing/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migration-economy-inseparable-pairing http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migration-economy-inseparable-pairing/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:35:07 +0000 Alie Dior Ndour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159165 On the streets of Casablanca there is only one thought on the mind of Ibrahima, a young Senegalese migrant. “I want to go to Europe to give meaning to my life and to help my family back in my home country live a better life,” Ibrahima says. This is the most familiar answer that most […]

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Migrants on a street in Casablanca, Morocco. Courtesy: Alié Dior Ndour

By Alie Dior Ndour
MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

On the streets of Casablanca there is only one thought on the mind of Ibrahima, a young Senegalese migrant.

“I want to go to Europe to give meaning to my life and to help my family back in my home country live a better life,” Ibrahima says.

This is the most familiar answer that most young and energetic migrants give when asked about the reasons for leaving their countries, as they often are part of a constant flow northward from the Global South (although migration between countries of the South actually far outweighs this South to North flow).

While many migrants flee wars and political persecutions, economic causes are often a major influence too. In poor countries where unemployment is sky high, all too often people, especially the poorest, have no choice but to go elsewhere in search of economic opportunities.

To achieve this they are ready to risk lives by getting on shaky and unreliable boats run by unscrupulous operators making a living out of ferrying people across dangerous waters to the fabled other side where, it is believed, a better life awaits.

It is this relentless trend that propelled global leaders to come up with the first ever intergovernmental Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM). During the Dec. 10 to 11 gathering of leaders and representatives from more than 160 countries in Marrakesh—about 250 kilometres south of Casablanca—to adopt the Compact, the economic factors triggering migration dominated the discourse.

Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations discussed how migrant remittances reached 650 billion dollars in 2017, representing three times the official development aid that developing countries receive from the developed community.

Guterres pointed out that this amount, as important as it is, represents only 15 percent of migrants’ revenues. Hence 75 percent of their money stays in the countries in which they work through taxes and consumption—a sizeable contribution to the prosperity of their host country.

“The countries of the North need migrants,” Guterres said.  “They occupy jobs abandoned by nationals and help offset the demographic decline observed in most Western countries.”

This point was echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stressed that “migration for work creates prosperity for all,” adding how Europe “needs a lot of manpower.”

Erol Kiresepi, CEO of Santa Farma Pharmaceuticals and a representative of the private sector at the GCM, said companies around the world are facing a lack of talent, hence they are paying particular attention to migrants with the skills to meet the surfeit in skilled labour.

Against the narrative of Africans racing to escape the continent, people point out how, as with everywhere in the world, people prefer to live and work in their home environment if conditions permit.

“We want partnership, exchange and investment and not aid,” said Julius Maada Bio, president of Sierra Leone, while emphasising the importance of partnerships and investments in the Global South.

But when preoccupied with economic survival, the likes of Ibrahima, the young Senegalese, often do not know or care that the leaders of the world appear to be on their side in Marrakech.

Those global representatives have, in theory, adopted what could provide an economic lifeline to Ibrahima and millions of other young Africans trekking the dangerous journey across deserts and oceans in search of economic success.

For now, though, until the economic factors pushing people away from their countries are tangibly addressed—read changed—migration and economics will remain an inseparable pair.

“We do not have the choice,” Ibrahima says. “Either we stay in the country to do nothing because politicians think only of themselves, or we take the risk of leaving.”

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Big Business Capturing UN SDG Agenda?http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/big-business-capturing-un-sdg-agenda/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=big-business-capturing-un-sdg-agenda http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/big-business-capturing-un-sdg-agenda/#respond Tue, 11 Dec 2018 09:41:23 +0000 Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159154 Over the last two decades since the Global Compact, the United Nations has increasingly embraced the corporate sector, most recently to raise finance needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), i.e., for Agenda 2030. But growing big business influence has also compromised analyses, recommendations, policies and programme implementation, undermining the SDGs. Changing financing arrangements […]

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By Jomo Kwame Sundaram and Anis Chowdhury
KUALA LUMPUR & SYDNEY, Dec 11 2018 (IPS)

Over the last two decades since the Global Compact, the United Nations has increasingly embraced the corporate sector, most recently to raise finance needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), i.e., for Agenda 2030. But growing big business influence has also compromised analyses, recommendations, policies and programme implementation, undermining the SDGs.

Changing financing arrangements
Inadequate funding of the UN and its mandates by member States has required this search for additional finance, initially with philanthropy and ‘corporate social responsibility’ efforts by private business, but increasingly, by viewing profit-seeking investments as somehow contributing to achieve the SDGs.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram

While the global economy grew 47 fold from $1.35 trillion in 1960 to $63 trillion in 2010, the UN organization’s regular core budget fell to 0.0037 per cent of global income. Meanwhile, ‘core’ un-earmarked resources fell from nearly half of all UN financial resources in 1997 to less than a quarter today. A recent UN Secretary-General’s report estimated that over 90 per cent of all UN development system activities in 2015 were funded with non-core, earmarked project resources.

An earlier report found total non-core resources for UN-related activities increased 182 per cent in real terms between 1999 and 2014, mostly going through a growing number of UN ‘vertical’ trust funds, beyond Member States’ control, while core resources increased only 14 per cent.

Such ‘siloed’ trust funds – with funding rising three-fold over the last decade – enable both donor governments and corporate interests to determine UN funding, bypassing established decision-making processes. Thus, UN development financing increasingly serves donor priorities.

New development finance discourse
Influential quarters claim that in order to achieve Agenda 2030, financing needs have to rise “from billions to trillions” of US dollars, and that this can only be done by engaging the corporate sector.

According to a 2015 World Bank report, while the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) needed billions in official development assistance, the SDGs require trillions in investments.

Anis Chowdhury

Although most development spending involves national public resources, most Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) governments opposed international tax cooperation at the 2015 Addis Ababa third UN Financing for Development conference.

Thus, instead of helping boost national revenue enhancing capacities and capabilities, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) claimed that private capital had “the potential for scaling up to achieve the demands of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Corporate funding for sustainable development?
The three major multilateral agreements of 2015 – the AAAA, the Agenda 2030 for SDGs and the Paris climate agreement – were all premised on private financing while the Agenda 2030 Reflection Group stressed the need to mobilize funding from private business, finance and investment.

Multi-stakeholder partnerships have long been advocated by many OECD governments, UN agencies and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This envisaged big business working with governments in public-private partnerships (PPPs), blended finance and various other novel financing arrangements.

A 2015 UN Environment Programme (UNEP) report emphasized the need to “access private capital at scale, with banking alone managing financial assets of almost US$140 trillion and institutional investors, notably pension funds, managing over US$100 trillion, and capital markets, including bond and equities, exceeding US$100 trillion and US$73 trillion respectively.”

Public-private partnerships
The AAAA promoted PPPs and blended finance arrangements, while the Global Infrastructure Forum was set up at Addis to close the ‘infrastructure gap’ in developing countries, estimated by the outcome document at between “$1 trillion to $1.5 trillion” annually.

Thus far, PPPs have been more significant in developed and upper middle-income countries, as low-income countries are rarely able to attract large private investors. Warnings that PPPs and other such modalities, already problematic in OECD member countries, are even less likely to succeed in developing countries, where cost recovery is more difficult, have been largely ignored.

Instead, PPPs have often worsened national budgetary positions in the long-run due to the contingent liabilities governments are required to take on. Consequently, in most cases, governments bear the most risk, subsidize ventures and guarantee revenues to the private partner.

While PPPs have clearly contributed to national financial difficulties, such problems were largely ignored until recently. With changing international relations, they are now being highlighted as leading to national ‘debt bondage’ to China and other non-traditional sources of finance.

Meanwhile, the US and other developed countries have announced major new infrastructure financing initiatives of their own, to draw developing countries from financial reliance on China. This unexpected political rivalry will have mixed consequences for borrowing developing countries.

PPPs involve many unpredictable risks, primarily borne by governments, as well as side and spill-over effects, with the private partners typically setting most terms. Moreover, PPPs in social sectors, such as health and water, are less inclusive, disadvantaging the poor and the less accessible.

Meanwhile concerns have been raised, even by The Economist, about enthusiasm for blended finance as ‘aid’, which typically favours private partners from the donor country. Such aid diversion — from budgetary support, social programmes and essential services — prioritizes private profits, rather than the public interest.

Checks and balances?
The UN Global Compact’s 10 principles from the turn of the century remain the main intergovernmental framework governing non-state partnerships, but remains ill-equipped for meaningful accountability, especially as it pre-dates the SDGs, and hence, are inadequate now.

Promoted and often required by OECD governments, PPPs and blended finance have not received enough critical scrutiny in terms of compatibility with UN mandates, while their extra-budgetary funding status has exempted them from rigorous audit, review and impact assessment.

With financing gap concerns accepted as the rationale for multi-stakeholder partnerships, the private sector is increasingly calling the shots, with occasional lip service to civil society engagement merely providing legitimacy, rather than adequate checks and balances.

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Migrant’s Compact Mischaracterized for Political Reasonshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrants-compact-mischaracterized-political-reasons/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrants-compact-mischaracterized-political-reasons http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/migrants-compact-mischaracterized-political-reasons/#respond Mon, 10 Dec 2018 14:51:27 +0000 Alice Thomas http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159130 Alice Thomas is Refugees International’s Climate Displacement Program Manager.

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By Alice Thomas
MARRAKESH, Morocco, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

The fact that a handful of countries have indicated their intention not to come to Marrakesh to endorse the compact signifies how the issue of migration has been politicized and become a political flashpoint.

Unfortunately, certain right-wing, political parties in some of these countries have been successful in misleading the public regarding what the compact is, and what it seeks to achieve which is to promote cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination to ensure that migration is safe, regular and orderly.

Moreover, with respect to countries like Switzerland – which was a co-chair of the process to develop the compact — there is nothing in the compact that is contrary to its current policies and practices. This demonstrates how the compact has been mischaracterized for political purposes.

Ultimately, however, that a handful of countries may not come to Marrakesh should not detract from the fact that over 180 nations will, meaning the compact has received overwhelming global support.

What is unique about this is that countries that are withdrawing are doing so despite the fact that (a) the compact is non-legally binding, and (b) all of these countries (other than the U.S.) participated – presumably in good faith – in the 18-month process to negotiate its terms, yet are now not supporting it.

How effective is the compact if its implementation is only voluntary?

The compact will only be effective if countries move forward with its implementation. However, what is important is that the compact’s 23 objectives embody a comprehensive set of best practices for managing migration in a safe, orderly manner which requires the cooperation of countries of origin, transit and destination.

In other words, implicit in the compact is the understanding that not implementing these practices results in unsafe, irregular, and disorderly human movement, in loss of life, in human trafficking, in exploitation and abuse of migrants in situations of vulnerability including children, etc..

It results in a failure to address the factors in countries of origin that are driving more and more people to migrate out of necessity and desperation, not choice.

It also seeks to protect persons in situations of vulnerability who are not squarely included in the Refugee Convention, including those compelled leave their countries due to disasters and the adverse effects of climate change.

All countries need to address these drivers, to promote practices that ensure that people are moving safely and regularly. At the same time, the compact recognizes the sovereign right of every nation to manage its borders. As such, that a country does not want to implement these best practices is contrary to its own self-interests.

Political parties will come and go, but ultimately, over the longer-term, the compact should prove effective in improving migration governance and in addressing the current challenges of migration in a smarter, more effective way that is everyone nation’s interests.

Has the concept of refugees undergone a dramatic change?

The concept of refugees has evolved. There are over 258 million migrants today (that is 1 in 30 people) most of whom migrate for economic reasons, to gain skills, to fill labor needs in countries of destination, and to support their families and communities back home through remittances.

In fact, unlocking the full economic potential of migration to contribute to GDP and sustainable development in origin and host countries is much of what the compact is about.

What has changed is the fact that increasingly, more and more people are migrating not out of choice – not as “economic migrants” – but because of other drivers like generalized violence, corruption, and the impacts of climate change in their home countries.

These persons are not included in the definition of refugee under the 1951 Refugee Convention, despite the fact that they are in “refugee-like” situations meaning they are in need of some level of international protection.

One of the goals of the compact is to ensure that those migrating out of desperation- and who are not protected under refugee law – are not exploited or abused, and that their human rights are upheld.

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Excerpt:

Alice Thomas is Refugees International’s Climate Displacement Program Manager.

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US Blasts Migrant’s Compact – Even as 180+ Countries Embrace ithttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/us-blasts-migrants-compact-even-180-countries-embrace/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=us-blasts-migrants-compact-even-180-countries-embrace http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/us-blasts-migrants-compact-even-180-countries-embrace/#respond Mon, 10 Dec 2018 12:11:34 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159123 As UN delegates met in Morocco to adopt a global compact to protect the rights and safety of refugees and migrants (GCM), the Trump administration launched a blistering attack condemning it as a violation of national sovereignty. “The United States proclaims and reaffirms its belief that decisions about how to secure its borders, and whom […]

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Credit: IOM

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 10 2018 (IPS)

As UN delegates met in Morocco to adopt a global compact to protect the rights and safety of refugees and migrants (GCM), the Trump administration launched a blistering attack condemning it as a violation of national sovereignty.

“The United States proclaims and reaffirms its belief that decisions about how to secure its borders, and whom to admit for legal residency or to grant citizenship, are among the most important sovereign decisions a State can make, and are not subject to negotiation, or review, in international instruments, or fora”.

The Trump administration, which pulled out of the negotiations last December, “maintains the sovereign right to facilitate or restrict access to our territory, in accordance with our national laws and policies, subject to our existing international obligations.”

“We believe the Compact and the process that led to its adoption, including the New York Declaration, represent an effort by the United Nations to advance global governance at the expense of the sovereign right of States to manage their immigration systems in accordance with their national laws, policies, and interests,” the US said in a “national statement” released on the eve of the conference¸which began in Marrakesh December 10 and concludes December 14.

But despite strong US opposition, more than 180 of the UN’s 193 member states, along with human rights organizations, international relief agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) , either expressed support for it or are participating in the conference.

In an interview with IPS, Sarnata Reynolds, Oxfam International’s Policy Advisor for Global Displacement & Migration, said the contents of the GCM represent the culmination of two years of hard work, debate, and good faith negotiations among 192 UN member states, civil society and UN agencies, to bring together a blueprint for cooperation on migration that both respects the rights of the women, men and children leaving home, and the ability of states to respond to their economic and political challenges, among others.

Excerpts from the interview:

REYNOLDS: As we move into these last few days before adoption of the GCM, some world leaders and political actors are avoiding domestic grievances by shifting attention to the GCM, and asserting it will undermine sovereignty or worker’s rights, which is just not true.

Regardless of justifications provided so far, governments withdrawing from the GCM have not done so based on the contents of the GCM, which create no new rights and are not legally binding, they have done so based on current domestic politics.

Given this moment of heightened and heated rhetoric, positions of governments now may not remain the same as new administrations take office, and indeed they may temporarily get worse. But they could also get better.

Currently it looks as if 183 out of 193 UN members will adopt the GCM on Monday and Tuesday. A few countries have dropped out, and while that is of course unfortunate, the GCM does not require all UN member states to be functional and effective.

Ultimately, the GCM’s success will be measured by how well states work together to ensure that labor, demographic, family, education and other needs are addressed in a mutually beneficial way that bolsters human rights. It’s not particularly unusual in terms of international agreements, that 10 states will not adopt the GCM at the outset.

For example, the Rome Statute, which brought the International Criminal Court into effect, was adopted without the support of the US, has 139 signatories now, and has had a profound impact on international jurisprudence since it entered into force in 2002, whether states are parties to it or not.

There are 145 parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol. No one would question that it has been highly influential and a lifeline to millions of people.

IPS: How effective is the compact if its implementation is only voluntary — particularly in the context of the Refugee Convention (signed and ratified by all UN member states) which is being violated by countries such as the US, Hungary and Poland?

REYNOLDS: It was never the intent for the GCM does to create any new rights or obligations. Indeed, the GCM arose out of commitments made in the New York Declaration (July 2016), https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/declaration. Neither the NY Declaration nor the GCM are legally binding, and this is specifically stated in both documents.

The entire impetus for this process arose because states around the world were struggling with the mobility of so many migrants and refugees, and there was a shared recognition that global coordination and a common governance was necessary.

The GCM is a carefully crafted understanding of what is needed and what can be claimed by right. If applied as written, it would mean that nations are finally tackling the newer migration occurring because of climate change, environmental degradation and increasing disasters.

It would mean that more visas are made available for students, workers and those in need of respite abroad in a way that is mutually beneficial. Going forward, we will be monitoring and participating in national plans of action consistent with the GCM monitoring alongside hundreds of other civil society organizations that have engaged in this process.

No doubt countries are violating the Refugee Convention, but governments do take their obligations to refugees into account when developing migration and protection policies. They are sensitive to the criticism they receive from civil society, and many make efforts to address them, even if partially.

And over and over again, through conflicts and across decades, ordinary people, mayors, families and organizations have taken on the responsibility to welcome and protect refugees.

Almost 70 years after the passage of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, governments generally accept that people fleeing conflict and persecution have the right to seek protection in another country, and countries neighboring those in conflict have protected tens of millions of refugees for protracted periods of time.

Over the past 40 years, millions of women, men, and children from dozens of countries have been resettled elsewhere, and States have contributed billions of dollars in support to refugees and their host countries. So there is hope in the GCM (and GCR) and there is also the reality that states will likely always need to be pushed to live up to their obligations.

IPS: Has the concept of refugees undergone a dramatic change — from political refugees of the cold war era to economic refugees of today?

REYNOLDS: The general concept of refugees has not undergone a dramatic change. The Refugee Convention was drafted in the aftermath of World War II and reflects both the circumstances, social norms, and populations displaced during that period. It had limitations as a result, including that rape and sexual slavery (common weapons of war) were not even considered forms of persecution until the 1990s. It has always been a living document.

Just as in the 1950s, in this decade there are people fleeing home and moving home for a variety of reasons – some for work, others for education, and still others to marry or reunite with family members. This is a constant throughout human history. Another constant is the migration taking place. In the 1970s, about 3% of the world’s populations were migrants.

Since then, in every decade, the number of migrants has remained at 3%, even until today. There is much myth-making around migration, which is positive and negative, ebbs and flows with economies and politics. Currently we’re in negative space.

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Water, an Environmental Product of Agriculture in Brazilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/water-environmental-product-agriculture-brazil/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=water-environmental-product-agriculture-brazil http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/water-environmental-product-agriculture-brazil/#respond Sat, 08 Dec 2018 00:19:26 +0000 Mario Osava http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159092 For the first time in her life, retired physical education teacher Elizabeth Ribeiro planted a tree, thorny papaya, native to Brazil’s central savanna. The opportunity arose on Nov. 28, when the Pipiripau Water Producer Project, which is being carried out 50 km from Brasilia, promoted the planting of 430 seedlings donated by participants in the […]

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A UN Conference Undermined by 11th Hour Withdrawalshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/un-conference-undermined-11th-hour-withdrawals/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=un-conference-undermined-11th-hour-withdrawals http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/un-conference-undermined-11th-hour-withdrawals/#comments Fri, 07 Dec 2018 17:10:34 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159088 When the long-awaited UN conference focusing on the rights and safety of migrants and refugees takes off in Morocco, it will be a rare, if not an unprecedented meeting, for one reason: the withdrawal of at least seven member states almost at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour. As the international community struggles to […]

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Refugees from South Sudan. Credit: UNHCR/Will Swanson

By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 7 2018 (IPS)

When the long-awaited UN conference focusing on the rights and safety of migrants and refugees takes off in Morocco, it will be a rare, if not an unprecedented meeting, for one reason: the withdrawal of at least seven member states almost at the 59th minute of the eleventh hour.

As the international community struggles to resolve a spreading global humanitarian crisis, and restrict the intake of refugees and migrants, the approval of a “Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” is turning out to be a politically sensitive issue.

The United States, which withdrew from the long-drawn-out negotiations back in December last year, will be a notable absentee, along with Austria, Hungary, Poland, Israel, Switzerland and Australia—all of whom have problems relating either to refugees or migrants.

Other non-starters may include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, according to published reports.

Not surprisingly, these countries don’t want to be a party to a compact, which is expected to be adopted at the meeting in Marrakesh December 10-14.

This despite the fact that 192 member states, minus the US, finalized the Global Compact last July, after years of negotiations.

The reluctance is all the more surprising because the implementation of the compact is voluntary – unlike the mandatory 1951 Refugee Convention which has been signed and ratified by virtually all of the 193 UN member states, but not necessarily implemented.

Asked about the non-participants, UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters November 30: “ I think what is regrettable, as we’ve seen, is a number of countries walking away from what was agreed already here in New York when the pact was adopted. I think it bears reminding again and again, that this is not a binding legal instrument. This is non-binding. This is guidance for countries on how to manage migration.”

As the Marrakesh conference is about to get off the ground, Denmark has announced plans to move “unwanted” immigrants to Lindholm Island, two miles out to sea, and once used for studying sick animals, according to Cable News Network (CNN).

“Rising far-right and anti-immigration sentiments that have swept Europe have now reached the highest levels of government in Denmark. Some of the country’s legislators have made it clear they have no qualms about testing the boundaries of human rights conventions to preserve what they call the Danish way of life. The controversial deal still must be passed by the parliament”, CNN said.

So, it seems very likely that Denmark may also join the rest of the team of absentees at the conference.

Joseph Chamie, a former director of the United Nations Population Division and an independent consulting demographer, told IPS the migration conference, despite its shortcomings, “is certainly an achievement.”

However, about a dozen countries are not participating and some additional countries are having strong objections raised by opposition parties to signing the Global Migration Compact (GMC), he added.

This will certainly have serious negative consequences on the Compact, especially as the United States — the largest immigrant receiving country — is having no part of the Global Compact.

“It will also be problematic for the European Union (EU) as these countries are divided on the Compact and some are not participating in the conference,” he noted.

Asked if this was unprecedented, Chamie said: “Yes, it is unusual for so many countries to bow out of a UN conference and this will weaken the effectiveness of the Global Compact.“

In an interview with the Associated Press (AP), Louise Arbour, the UN Special Envoy on International Migration, said she was “very disappointed” that some countries are reneging on their support — and in some instances for “bizarre” reasons.

She rightly pointed out that the global compact was “not legally binding” and “there is not a single country that is obligated to do anything that it doesn’t want to.”

Arbour was quoted as saying: “Some have said, for instance, we will not sign which is rather strange because there’s nothing to sign. It’s not a treaty. Others have said we will not come. Others have said we don’t endorse the compact.”

Meanwhile, one in every 70 people around the world is caught up in a crisis, including the refugee crisis, with more than 130 million people expected to need humanitarian aid next year.

The United Nations and its partners will aim to help more than 93 million of the most vulnerable people, according to the 2019 Global Humanitarian Overview presented by Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock in Geneva last week.

In a statement released December 5, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said migration has always been a polarizing topic.

But in recent years it has become even more divisive, to the point of dominating elections in many countries.

Concerns about the impacts of migration on receiving states have led some governments to adopt strategies specifically designed to reduce and deter migration, extending even so far as restricting access to essential and lifesaving services including basic health care, shelter, food and legal assistance.

The IFRC said governments have the right to set migration policies. However, contrary to conventional wisdom, all migrants, even those with no claim to asylum, have rights under international law. These rights include access to health, safety and protection.

Chamie told IPS that while the implementation of the Compact is voluntary, it is establishing global norms concerning international migration, which is a goal in itself.

“Of course, countries may not follow conventions and international compacts and there are certainly many instances of violations in the recent past.”

Countries are sovereign — something that has universal agreement– and they will promote their national interests even when it violates agreements they’ve signed, he added.

Asked about Denmark’s plans, he said confining “unwanted” immigrants to a remote island as Denmark proposes is likely to be problematic in many respects.

Aside from the important issue of human rights, it will be difficult logistically and will become increasingly problematic, especially with respect to children and those needing medical care. Moreover, over time as the numbers increase, the difficulties will be compounded, he added.

Chamie also pointed out the simple fact : the supply of potential immigrants is FAR, FAR greater than the demand.

In addition, the receiving countries are selecting immigrants and many of those who wish to migrate will not be selected.

“As a result, many of those migrating without legal status are claiming asylum and seeking refugee status when in fact they are actually seeking employment opportunities and improved living conditions for themselves and families,” he added.

And as a consequence, Chamie pointed out, people are migrating illegally and upon arrival at their desired destination will attempt to remain in the country by all means possible, including seeking refugee status.

Again, one has to face the demographic facts, something most politicians typically avoid. Many of the populations of migrant sending countries are growing rapidly and most developed receiving countries are growing slowly.

The considerable pressures and strong forces for illegal immigration will certainly continue and the receiving countries are still lacking effective policies to address this demographic phenomenon, declared Chamie.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@ips.org

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The Revolution of Renewable Energy Needs Political Leadershiphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/revolution-renewable-energy-needs-political-leadership/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=revolution-renewable-energy-needs-political-leadership http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/revolution-renewable-energy-needs-political-leadership/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 11:29:51 +0000 Rachel Kyte http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159073 *Interview with Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was also the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for the Paris Agreement.

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*Interview with Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was also the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for the Paris Agreement.

By Rachel Kyte
UNITED NATIONS, Dec 6 2018 (IPS)

The cost of renewable energy is low, and at times, less than fossil fuels. What are the barriers to switching to renewables?

Where current energy systems exist, they will need to be upgraded to be able to draw power from modern renewables and to exploit storage solutions that they require.

Rachel Kyte

The institutions and mindsets of current systems are still comfortable with the systems of the past, those that prioritized fossil fuels in centralized grid systems.

The revolution of renewable energy is not just that it’s clean, but that it can be delivered both through the grid as well as decentralized solutions, allowing it to reach those who have never enjoyed access to reliable and affordable energy before.

Yet this change requires political leadership and policy certainty for the levels of investment needed, and we need that renewable investment now.

Q: The recent Cooling for All report highlighted an issue many people didn’t speak of until recently. How does it relate to climate?

A: As the world warms and populations rapidly grow, particularly in the cities of the developing world, we risk creating ‘heat islands’ that could substantially increase energy demands as people seek cooling access for their own health and safety, as well as the safety of medical supplies, fresh food and safe work environments.

At the same time, if we rely on today’s cooling technologies that use high hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioning, we will exasperate climate impacts from a growing use of short-lived climate pollutants.

In policy terms, providing everyone with access to the sustainable cooling they need, is the opportunity at the intersections of the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement and the Kigali Amendment.

In human terms, finding a way to provide hyper efficient pollutant free cooling for people, their vaccines and food is about making sure we leave no one behind. While the Paris Agreement reached almost universal ratification in record time, we now need member states to move with the same swiftness and determination to ratify the Montreal Protocol’s Kigali Amendment.

Q: Can governments, businesses and communities that embrace clean energy solutions survive economically, and where do you see the greatest impact of green energy solutions?

A: The scientific evidence presented in the IPCC report means that all governments, through meeting their fundamental responsibilities in providing a duty of care to their citizens, need to ensure that aggressive and comprehensive policies are in place to speed energy transitions towards clean, affordable and reliable energy for all.

For business, being able to be on the leading edge of this transition means being positioned for profitability, success in attracting and retaining talent, and ensuring that inevitable regulation – and in some cases litigation – is a risk that is understood and well managed.

All businesses must regard carbon as a toxin which needs to be avoided, mitigated and managed to not only support climate action, but help ensure their business is resilient to the ever-growing impacts of climate change.

Q: Can we realistically meet the needs of the just under 1 billion people who don’t have regular access to electricity through renewable energy?

A: Yes. As an immediate step, we all have to be much more efficient in our use of energy. We can provide for many more needs with much less energy through technological innovation and business models. Renewable energy gives us a cost-effective way to meet the needs of those who have never had energy before to help them become economically productive.

By putting the needs of the last mile first, we can build decentralized, digitalized and decarbonized energy systems that meet everyone’s needs. This is not beyond human ingenuity – the cost is estimated at just over US$50 billion a year.

Yet it requires political will and determination. When we consider that US$50 billion leaves the African continent through illegal financial flows, money laundering and tax evasion each year, we must work harder to ensure that the energy needs of these vulnerable populations – women, children, remote rural populations – can be met.

Q: How can we support low-income countries when it comes to innovation and strengthening infrastructure that allow for modern technology approaches?

A: First, we need to support countries put in place robust policy frameworks and investment climates that will spur both domestic investment as well as attract international investment. Secondly, development finance, in partnership with these countries, has to be directed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

Our recent Energizing Finance report clearly shows that finance is still not reaching the top 20 countries with the largest electricity and clean cooking access gaps – dramatically slowing down progress to meet global energy goals and our promise to these populations.

Thirdly, we need specific initiatives that provide energy to the growing number of displaced people around the world.

Finally, the 3 billion that don’t have access to clean cooking deserve an urgent response from the international community at scale that connects industries around different fuel sources with new financial innovation that means the billions of women living on low incomes have a range of clean fuel choices, as opposed to the dangerous choice to cook a family meal while putting their health and the health of their children at risk.

*The interview is part of an editorial package from the SDG Media Compact and released by the UN’s Department of Public Information.

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Excerpt:

*Interview with Rachel Kyte, Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All, and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. She was also the World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for the Paris Agreement.

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Thermal Houses Keep People Warm in Peru’s Highlandshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/thermal-houses-keep-people-warm-perus-highlands/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=thermal-houses-keep-people-warm-perus-highlands http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/12/thermal-houses-keep-people-warm-perus-highlands/#respond Thu, 06 Dec 2018 03:14:36 +0000 Mariela Jara http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=159061 Thirty families from a rural community more than 4,300 meters above sea level will have warm houses that will protect them from the freezing temperatures that each year cause deaths and diseases among children and older adults in this region of the southeastern Peruvian Andes. José Tito, 46, and Celia Chumarca, one year younger, peasant […]

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