Inter Press ServiceAfrica – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Sat, 20 Jan 2018 07:09:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.5 Chance for Kenya to Make Amends for Post-Election Sexual Violencehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/chance-kenya-make-amends-post-election-sexual-violence/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=chance-kenya-make-amends-post-election-sexual-violence http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/chance-kenya-make-amends-post-election-sexual-violence/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 10:24:16 +0000 AgnesOdhiambo http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153889 Agnes Odhiambo is a senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, based in Nairobi.

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Chance for Kenya to Make Amends for Post-Election Sexual Violence - Frida Njeri (not her real name), 27, was raped by a man she said wore “combat trousers” in the presence of her 12-year-old son. Like many women Human Rights Watch interviewed, she did not report the sexual assault to the police because she did not know the attackers and feared retaliation. Credit: Bonnie Katei for Human Rights Watch

Frida Njeri (not her real name), 27, was raped by a man she said wore “combat trousers” in the presence of her 12-year-old son. Like many women Human Rights Watch interviewed, she did not report the sexual assault to the police because she did not know the attackers and feared retaliation. Credit: Bonnie Katei for Human Rights Watch

By Agnes Odhiambo
NAIROBI, Jan 17 2018 (IPS)

I had already heard many disturbing stories of violence by the time I interviewed Mercy Maina, whose name I have changed to protect her privacy.  Even so, what Mercy told me was truly disturbing. She said she was raped during the post-election violence in August alongside her sister by two men wearing uniforms and helmets, and carrying guns and walkie-talkies.

But, Mercy told me, this was not the first time she had been a victim of post-election sexual violence. She was also raped by two police officers during the 2007-2008 post-election violence, that time with a friend who later committed suicide. Mercy became pregnant from that rape and has a 9-year-old daughter. She said she still suffers from stomach ulcers as a result of the stress of that rape.

Mercy is one of 71 women, girls, and men I interviewed about rape and other sexual violence during Kenya’s 2017 elections. They described brutal cases of vaginal and anal rape, gang rapes involving two or more attackers, mass rape of a group of women, attempted rape, rape with an object, putting dirt into a woman’s private parts, unwanted sexual touching, forced nudity, and beatings on genitals.

Some women were raped in the presence of family members, including children. In at least one case, a girl died after being raped. Most of the attackers, survivors and witnesses told me, were policemen or men in uniform, many of whom  carried guns, batons, teargas canisters, and whips, or wore helmets and other anti-riot gear, and by militia groups.

 

Chance for Kenya to Make Amends for Post-Election Sexual Violence

Credit: Bonnie Katei for Human Rights Watch

 

Many said they experienced profound mental trauma and anguish, they felt hopeless, fearful and anxious, had nightmares about the assault, or suicidal thoughts. Mercy, like many survivors, did not get immediate or comprehensive post-rape medical care or any mental health services. She and her sister didn’t go to a medical facility until two weeks after the rapes because they were afraid to go out in case their attackers came back and because they did not want to tell health workers what had happened. “You cannot trust people,” she told me.

Mercy never reported the sexual assault to the authorities. The reason she gave me captures the lack of trust in the police expressed by many survivors: “I did not go to the police because even in 2007 we were abused by the police and we were told by police you cannot report the government to the government.”

Some of the women we interviewed did try to report sexual violence, but the police sometimes sent them away without taking statements, ridiculed or verbally abused them, or failed to follow up on complaints. Such unprofessional police response also undermines survivors’ ability to seek help from health facilities, and weakens justice efforts.

Some of the women we interviewed did try to report sexual violence, but the police sometimes sent them away without taking statements, ridiculed or verbally abused them, or failed to follow up on complaints. Such unprofessional police response also undermines survivors’ ability to seek help from health facilities, and weakens justice efforts.

Members of the Kenyan police and security forces have a long history of committing abuses, including sexual violence, during election periods, but the authorities have largely ignored election-related sexual crimes and the victims’ suffering. Thousands of women and girls are estimated to have been raped during the 2007-2008 political violence, including by state security agents.

Based on our extensive research, the authorities rarely  provided any medical treatment or post-rape counselling, or offered victims any financial support. Almost a decade later, very few cases have been properly investigated or attackers held accountable.

The Kenyan government continues to underestimate and has even denied the abuses committed during the 2017 elections. In December, President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated the police, for “being professional” and “firm” during the election period, a move that shocked many Kenyans and was quickly criticized by civil society groups and others.

The Kenyan government and other state authorities have an obligation to protect women and girls, men and boys against sexual violence, to punish offenders, and provide reparations to victims. All sexual assault victims should get timely, quality, and confidential post-rape treatment, including psychosocial, or mental health, care for themselves and their families, and communities need to know where victims can get post-rape care, including free treatment.

It is critical for the government to also ensure that credible criminal investigations are conducted into all allegations of election-related sexual violence. It should consider establishing an independent judicial commission of inquiry to examine any unlawful activities of the police, including allegations of sexual violence, with a view to ending impunity and ensuring accountability.

The Inspector General of Police has committed to put in place a taskforce to investigate the involvement of its officers or other men in uniform in sexual violence during the 2017 elections period. If the  task force is to be successful, it will need clear terms of reference and bring together officials from relevant government bodies, health care providers, representatives of women’s and children’s groups and other civil society organizations and experts working on sexual violence.

It should set clear goals of the investigations, ways of reaching out to all victims, effective measures to secure accountability for these crimes, and mechanisms for the protection, treatment, and care of victims.

Sexual violence survivors should not be left suffering and ashamed. It is the Kenyan authorities who should be ashamed at failing to meet their needs or to prosecute their attackers.

 

 

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The Data Revolution Should Not Leave Women and Girls Behindhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/data-revolution-not-leave-women-girls-behind/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=data-revolution-not-leave-women-girls-behind http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/data-revolution-not-leave-women-girls-behind/#respond Tue, 09 Jan 2018 16:20:56 +0000 Jemimah Njuki http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153800 Jemimah Njuki is an expert on agriculture, food security, and women’s empowerment and works as a senior program specialist with IDRC. She is an Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.

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Most African farmers are women. Credit: IPS

By Jemimah Njuki
OTTAWA, Canada, Jan 9 2018 (IPS)

If there is one political principle that has been constant throughout the history of human civilization it is the fact that land is power. This is something that is particularly true, and often painfully so, for women who farm in Africa.

Though women in Africa are far more likely to farm than men, they are also much less likely to have secure rights to the land where they cultivate crops and they typically hold smaller plots of inferior quality.

As a researcher who studies the role of gender in agriculture, I want to do my part to address this injustice, because when women have stronger rights to land, their crop yields increase and they have higher incomes and more bargaining power within the household. Research has shown that stronger land rights leads to other benefits such as better child nutrition and improved educational attainment for girls.

But as I delve deeper in to the issue, I frequently encounter another political constant, which is the fact that information is power. And one manifestation of the chronic neglect of women in agriculture is the lack of data that would help illuminate and address their plight.

For example, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has launched the Goal Keepers Initiative, which is making a concerted effort to track progress toward achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Examining the first ever report on the program launched just a few weeks ago, the first thing I did was scroll down to the section on Goal 5, “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls.” When examining the indicators related to gender, which include tracking the percentage of women who have secure land rights, I kept encountering the phrase, “Insufficient data” in big, bold red capital letters!

Without data, it is impossible to track progress or identify policies and interventions that are achieving gender equality. In order to develop solutions—whether around land rights or the many other challenges women and girls face–we need data that highlights current problems and assesses their impact.

A good example of how sex-specific data fosters progress is in financial inclusion. Sex-specific data gives us information about who is accessing which kind of products, which channels they use and what the gaps are. Being aware of these gaps is essential to overcome them, and this is impossible without data sets for both men and women. In Rwanda, use of sex-specific data has led to the targeting of groups who are excluded from the financial system, raising the financial inclusion index rise from 20 percent in 2008 to 42 percent in 2012.

A report by Data2X, an initiative of the United Nations Foundation, indicates that although close to 80 percent of countries globally regularly produce sex-specific statistics on mortality, labor force participation, and education and training, less than one-third of countries separate statistics by sex on informal employment, entrepreneurship (ownership and management of a firm or business) and unpaid work, or collect data about violence against women. This leads to an incomplete picture of women’s and men’s lives and the gaps that persist between them, which constrains the development of policies and programs to address these gaps.

A key challenge to collecting these data sets is investment. We need financial investments to collect data on the situation of women and girls at different levels –local, national and international. A study carried out by the UN Statistics Division in collaboration with the UN regional commissions in 2012, showed that out of 126 responding countries only 13 percent had a separate budget allocated to specific gender statistics, 47 percent relied on ad-hoc or project funds and the remaining 39 percent had no funds at all.

In 2016, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation invested US $80M to improve the collection of sex specific data. In Uganda, the World Bank Living Standards Measurement Study is collaborating with the United Nations Evidence and Data for Gender Equality initiative and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics to collect and analyze asset ownership by different members of households.

It would help to know for example what assets women own so as to develop programs and policies that benefit both men and women and that close persistent gender gaps. At Canada’s International Development Research Centre, we are supporting sex-specific reporting and registration of vital and civil events—including births and deaths to help track progress on such indicators as women’s reproductive health and child mortality.

Globally, there is still no available data on how many women own customary land. One challenge is that the rules, norms, and customs which determine the distribution of land and resources are embedded in various institutions in society—family, kinship, community, markets, and states. For example, when I was visiting Mali in 2012, I attended a village’s community meeting where I witnessed the village chief grant a local women’s group a local deed so they could farm together and raise their incomes. But there was no formal document or record.

Without this data, when land is privatized or formalized, women often lose control of customary land. For example in post-independence Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, during the land registration and formalization experience, lack of data and consideration of women in customary land rights led to the documentation of land in the name of the head of the household only, often a man. This gave the man authority to use, sell, and control the land, with women losing the customary access and rights that they had previously enjoyed.

International agencies and governments must commit to investing in collecting more data on women and girls. Closing this gender data gap is not only useful for tracking progress of where we are with the SDGs, but it can also point to what interventions are working, and what needs to be done to accelerate progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

What gets measured matters, and what matters gets measured. Women and girls matter.

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Policy Support Gap for “Climate-Smart” Agriculturehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/policy-support-gap-climate-smart-agriculture/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=policy-support-gap-climate-smart-agriculture http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/policy-support-gap-climate-smart-agriculture/#respond Tue, 09 Jan 2018 01:11:26 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153791 Conditioned that ploughing is the sure way to produce crops, Zimbabwean farmer Handrixious Zvomarima surprised himself by trying a different method. He planted cowpea seeds directly without tilling the land. It worked. The new method tripled Zvomarima’s cowpea yield when many farmers did not harvest a crop following the El Nino-induced drought which affected more […]

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Zimbabwean farmer Handrixious Zvomarima (centre) and family members admiring their cowpea crop in Shamva District, planted using conservation agriculture techniques. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

Zimbabwean farmer Handrixious Zvomarima (centre) and family members admiring their cowpea crop in Shamva District, planted using conservation agriculture techniques. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Busani Bafana
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 9 2018 (IPS)

Conditioned that ploughing is the sure way to produce crops, Zimbabwean farmer Handrixious Zvomarima surprised himself by trying a different method. He planted cowpea seeds directly without tilling the land. It worked.

The new method tripled Zvomarima’s cowpea yield when many farmers did not harvest a crop following the El Nino-induced drought which affected more than 40 million people in Southern Africa.Some of the technologies that more farmers need include access to resilient seeds and livestock breeds, timely weather information and weather index insurance.

Zvomarima from Shamva District, 120 km northwest of Harare, adopted the water-saving method known as ‘no till farming’. This is part of the Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices and approaches developed and promoted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This model of climate-smart agriculture seeks to sustainably increase productivity and incomes while helping farmers adapt to and become more resilient to the effects of climate change. CSA practices also aim to reduce and remove agriculture’s greenhouse gases emissions, where possible.

With policies, CSA practices pay

“Policymakers have a role to play in climate-smart agro-technological innovation; the researchers suggest traditional supply-side measures and equivalent demand-side measures (such as tax breaks) could reduce cost and increase return on investment for users,” said Dr. Federica Matteoli, project Manager at FAO Climate Change and Environment Division in Rome.

She shared a case study of Italy’s embrace of CSA at the 4th Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture in Johannesburg, South Africa in November 2017. Matteoli said policies need to be compatible with CSA objectives and their ability to boost the development and adoption of CSA technological innovation.

Italy was currently at the forefront of promoting research and developing scientifically supported policies related to climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, Matteoli said. At the same time the country was promoting the application of the principles of CSA to locally building resilience throughout the food system.

Matteoli said cooperation and knowledge sharing can promote an enabling policy environment at national and local level in promoting CSA. Italy has promoted conservation agriculture, no tillage practices, climate-smart production systems and knowledge transfer which have collectively been called the Italian Blue Agriculture.

For an enabling environment to promote CSA, potential users must be engaged with earlier in the innovation process, ensuring sharing of information and linkage with universities, technical bodies and national institutions. In addition, there is need for appropriate education programmes and awareness campaigns and the identification of knowledge needs for CSA and priority areas for intervention using consultative and participatory approaches, Matteoli said.

CSA adoption down, time to scale up

Researchers say CSA techniques are effective but there is urgency to quickly spread out the practices, innovations and technologies as climate change threaten agriculture productivity. Some of the technologies that more farmers need include access to resilient seeds and livestock breeds, timely weather information and weather index insurance.

Scaling up CSA needs bold and inclusive policies which are still lacking several decades after CSA approaches were introduced. Researchers and development actors argue that alternative farming methods have been proven to help farmers cope with weather variability and still harvest crops even in poor rainfall.

Another Zimbabwean farmer, Fungisai Masanga (44) saved 150 dollars in labour in the last season after adopting conservation agriculture, another approach of climate smart agriculture. She intercropped maize with nitrogen fixing cowpeas, pigeon pea and lablab.

“This system has allowed us to have more crops in the same field,” says Masanga, a mother of five children. “We have harvested some of the cowpeas which my family has enjoyed and we are soon to harvest maize too, all from the small field where we did not have to plough.”

Zimbabwe has a national investment framework which has recognized CA as a sustainable agriculture intervention and as a tool in climate change adaptation. Promoters of conservation agriculture laud it for saving soil moisture, enabling farmers to plant crops earlier and produce more yield and income in 2-5 cropping seasons.

However, mass adoption of these production changing innovations is not happening across Southern Africa, much to the chagrin of scientists. One reason being the promotion of manual CA systems to farmers, competition for crop residues with livestock, lack of access to appropriate machinery, and increased need for weed control in the first cropping seasons after conversion.

Many innovative climate-smart agriculture practices have been developed in Africa with the capacity to increase productivity and build resilience. These are largely unknown and therefore not adopted, the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) found in a 2015 study.

Dr. Christian Thierfelder from CIMMYT explains the multiple benefits of ‘climate-smart agriculture’, in conservation agriculture plots with a maize-cowpea intercropping system outside Harare, Zimbabwe. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

Dr. Christian Thierfelder from CIMMYT explains the multiple benefits of ‘climate-smart agriculture’, in conservation agriculture plots with a maize-cowpea intercropping system outside Harare, Zimbabwe. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

Agriculture on the global agenda

Several countries who signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 have included agriculture as both an adaptation and mitigation strategy on climate change in their national development plans and climate-related strategies including the Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs).

The United Nations recently agreed to discuss issues related to agriculture, paving the way for the promotion of CSA approaches such as heat adapted crops and weather index insurance for crops and inputs.

This actually means that if one has policy that supports climate smart technologies then one needs to tackle a wide range of policy issues, says Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

Campbell cites improving the regulatory framework for index-based insurance, enhancing the ICT regulations so they can foster the spread of mobile phones and connectivity and enhancing the business operating framework so that private sector can function easily.

“Scaling up is crucially dependent on government, providing an enabling policy environment for farmers and business,” Campbell told IPS. “Research also needs to be changed, to be much more connected to the end-users of stakeholders – research must be directed to the issues that stakeholders see as priorities.”

Show us the money

Food security is an urgent priority but agriculture has been the poor cousin when it comes to investment both in research and innovations compared to other sectors. Campbell predicts a slow process in agriculture investment.

“Agriculture is also to blame – the sector lags behind in terms of its excitement around innovation – when one thinks of climate smart solutions, the public think of electric cars, wind energy,” he said, adding that, “Agriculture needs to up its game on innovation and communicating about the exciting things that are indeed happening in agricultural innovation.”

Upping agriculture’s game needs money, which the sector does not have.  Global costs of adaptation in the agricultural sector have been estimated at 7 billion dollars per year to 12.6 billion per year but only. 2.5 percent of public climate finance goes to agriculture. The majority of the needs for finance will have to be derived from private sources, making it imperative to get markets in agriculture working in Africa, currently a net food importer spending more than 50 billion dollars annually.

“Without a conducive policy environment, we cannot achieve much,” argues Oluyede Ajayi, Senior Programme Coordinator of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), an ACP-EU institution based in The Netherlands, which has just launched a 1.5 million Euro regional project to help more than 150,000 smallholder farmers in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe address the impacts of climate change.

Stable and clear CSA policies matter in attracting public investment in public goods such as weather stations, data quality and training, Ajayi says while highlighting the need by researchers and development workers to effectively engage in CSA policies by understanding the political process, and identify policy champions and shapers that could help in policy engagement.

“We need to create an enabling policy environment with government and private sectors cooperating in order to upscale CSA,” said Ajayi. “We have to make sure that within policies, we emphasize empowering women and youths.”

The challenge to science and policy makers is how to bring the science/policy nexus and to directly bear on accelerating and expanding the evolution, adaptation and uptake of climate smart farming practices, Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), who gave a keynote address at the 4th Global Science Conference on Climate Smart Agriculture in South Africa last November.

According to the Malabo Montpellier Panel – a group of international agriculture experts guiding policy choices on food and nutritional security in Africa – examples and innovations in climate smart agriculture have multiple benefits. For example, agroforestry helps to diversify the produce of farms, improves soil quality and enhances resilience. Solar irrigation enables smallholder farmers to increase their yields without contributing to emissions while the use of stress tolerant seed varieties counter climate change, are more nutritious and are often more pest and disease resistant.

Climate Smart Agriculture not smart?

The concept of ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ was originally developed by the FAO and the World Bank, claiming that “triple wins” in agriculture could be achieved in mitigation (reducing greenhouse gas emissions), adaptation (supporting crops to grow in changing climate conditions), and increasing crop yields. The FAO views CSA as an approach for developing agricultural strategies for food security under climate change.

But the global civil society organization, ActionAid, says there is confusion on the meaning and benefits of climate smart agriculture.

A number of industrialised countries (the US in particular), along with a number of agribusiness corporations, are now the most enthusiastic promoters of the concept, ActionAid says.

“But increasingly civil society and farmer organisations express concerns that the term can be used to green-wash industrial agricultural practices that will harm future food production, said ActionAid in briefing.

ActionAid contends that some governments and NGOs also worry that pressure to adopt Climate Smart Agriculture will translate into obligations for developing countries’ food systems to take on an unfair mitigation burden. They point out that their agricultural systems have contributed the least to the problem, but that mitigation obligations could limit their ability to effectively adapt to the climate challenges ahead.

“Ultimately, there are no means to ensure that ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ is actually smart for the climate, for agriculture, or for farmers,” says ActionAid.

While there is debate on the benefits and constraints of climate smart agriculture technologies, its techniques such as conservation agriculture have improved the productivity for farmers like Zvomarima.

“CA has produced good results for me and as I apply its methods more, I am convinced my crop yields can only get better.”

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Ethiopia’s New Addiction – And What It Says About Media Freedomhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/ethiopias-new-addiction-says-media-freedom/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ethiopias-new-addiction-says-media-freedom http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/ethiopias-new-addiction-says-media-freedom/#respond Thu, 21 Dec 2017 00:01:10 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153649 On a Saturday afternoon in one of Addis Ababa’s khat houses, a group of men and women chew the mildly narcotic plant while gazing mesmerized toward a television featuring a South Korean soldier stripped to his waist and holding a young lady’s hand while proclaiming his undying love—somewhat incongruously—in Amharic. Broadcast exclusively in the lingua […]

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One of KANA TV’s dubbing team in a specially equipped sound-proof studio reading from his Amharic script to dub over a Turkish actor. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

One of KANA TV’s dubbing team in a specially equipped sound-proof studio reading from his Amharic script to dub over a Turkish actor. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By James Jeffrey
ADDIS ABABA, Dec 21 2017 (IPS)

On a Saturday afternoon in one of Addis Ababa’s khat houses, a group of men and women chew the mildly narcotic plant while gazing mesmerized toward a television featuring a South Korean soldier stripped to his waist and holding a young lady’s hand while proclaiming his undying love—somewhat incongruously—in Amharic.

Broadcast exclusively in the lingua franca of Ethiopia—a necessity with 80 dialects across the country—and after decades of drab Ethiopian state-owned television, KANA TV marks a breakthrough in Ethiopian televised entertainment. It may also signal a shift in Ethiopia’s much criticised media environment.The government appears to finally realise that squeezing private media is a mistake and self-defeating, leaving the field open to the likes of social-media activists with their own agendas.

“Kana” translates as something between taste and flavour, and Ethiopia’s estimated 4 million television households have found that this new private satellite TV channel carrying international standard programming very much to their taste. When it first aired, KANA seized a 40-50 percent share of the prime time market.

“It’s a crazy operation,” says co-founder Elias Schulze, the only non-Ethiopian amid the 180 staff. “At the beginning it took up to 50 man hours to dub one hour and we had to produce 200 man hours of content every day.”

So far KANA has dubbed 2,300 hours of foreign content, requiring a highly coordinated operation: research and analysis to select which shows to secure, then negotiations and purchase, followed by translation, casting, acting, syncing, audio editing, video editing, quality control and then scheduling. Finally, everything is uplinked to satellite.

“TV here used to be so boring, all the channels showed mainly news,” says an Addis Ababa resident and television viewer in her early twenties. “But KANA is pure entertainment, and people really like it.”

Ethiopia’s Amhara, the native speakers of Amharic, only constitute about a quarter of Ethiopia’s 100-million population. But before its launch, KANA conducted research that showed 70 percent of the country’s television viewers understood the language to a reasonable level.

That was an improvement on the 50 percent who couldn’t understand the Arabic-language satellite channels that had come to dominate Ethiopian viewing.

“People watched them because they enjoyed the quality and good storylines,” says Hailu Teklehaimanot, a producer and head of communications at KANA, and a former newspaper editor. “So we thought why not make that quality understandable through dubbing, while at the same time, our staff got on-the-job training we could eventually use for original productions.”

About 90 percent of KANA’s current output is dubbed foreign shows. The eventual goal is for half of output to be home-grown productions like KANA’s new Masters at Work series, which showcases the works of Ethiopian singers, poets, fashion designers, photographers and the like.

“There’s a narrative in mainstream media—both local and international—focusing on development or lack of development at the macro level,” Teklehaimanot says. “But there is a different narrative at the micro level in which inspired young people are doing new things.”

One example of this on Masters at Work is photographer Girma Berta, who specialises in taking photos on his mobile phone of simple images such as street kids and street vendors going about daily life.

“The message I want to send out to young people with interests in photography is not to be scared to try new things,” Berta says during his Masters at Work appearance. “Also, I would advise them to use social media properly to share their pictures, because they can show their pictures to the rest of the world easily; I think until we can find the style of photography that defines us, we must search for it ourselves.”

Staff working at KANA TV, and filming of original productions. Photo courtesy KANA TV. 

Staff working at KANA TV. Photo courtesy KANA TV.

Despite such offerings of inspiration, the majority of KANA’s audience watch its shows like viewers anywhere—for entertainment or as escapism from the daily grind.

Others, meanwhile, would rather not watch it at all.

“I don’t let me family watch KANA TV otherwise we’ll never talk to each other when I return from work,” says one taxi driver in Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, conservative commentators have decried KANA’s foreign soap operas for corrupting Ethiopian culture, while others have similar concerns.

“I believe [the Ethiopian Broadcasting Service] has been doing a far better job than KANA in representing Ethiopia’s indigenous and diaspora [populations],” Addis Ababa-based Mahder Sereke says on Twitter. “Also KANA’s soaps are debasing, not to Ethiopia’s culture but to Ethiopia’s women [through] their false—negatively—gendered depiction.”

EBS is a privately held media company based in the U.S. that targets the global Ethiopian market resulting from successive waves of emigration during decades of tumult in Ethiopia forming a significant Ethiopian diaspora of around two million people. The largest communities are in the U.S., with estimates varying from 250,000 people to about one million.

KANA has also been criticised for undercutting local production and poaching viewers from other TV outlets, thereby actually reducing opportunities for local artists and creative types to illustrate their works.

Meanwhile, some viewer fatigue has seen KANA losing some of its grip on the prime time market. But KANA’s emergence appears to indicate Ethiopian television could be finally changing for the better—albeit not as fast as many would wish.

In the past, Ethiopian government spokespersons haven’t been shy of explaining that media reform shouldn’t be rushed due to Ethiopia’s developmental state.

But now the government appears to finally realise that squeezing private media is a mistake and self-defeating, leaving the field open to the likes of social-media activists with their own agendas.

“The problem is a lot of things people view as gossip if heard by mouth, when they read about it on social media they take as fact,” Lidetu Ayele, founder of the opposition Ethiopia Democratic Party, says of social media’s influence during protests in Ethiopia.

And so, whether out of acknowledgment of the rights of Ethiopians not to be spoon fed state-sponsored propaganda or out of its own self-interest, the Ethiopian government is letting some winds of change finally blow through Ethiopian media.

“We don’t agree with the characterization that Ethiopia’s media landscape is repressed,” says Nazrawi Ghebreselasie, KANA’s managing director and co-founder. “It’s true that the industry in general is in its infancy; however, due to conducive policy environment, we are seeing massive investment going into media.”

Others, however, note that a new entertainment channel like KANA doesn’t connote Ethiopia’s media being unshackled—a fact emphasised by Ethiopian journalists and bloggers arrested for their journalism, often on the basis of terror charges, as highlighted by the international Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Media freedom depends on which yardstick you use,” says Daniel Berhane, a prominent Addis Ababa-based blogger. “The government appears to be relaxing about online and television media, but there are still no opposition newspapers.”

Ethiopia ranked 150th out of 180 countries in the 2017 press freedom index rankings by Reporters Without Borders. The international non-profit organization that promotes and defends freedom of information and the press states that the Ethiopian regime systematically uses the country’s anti-terror law against journalists.

Contrary voices, as a result, often have to come from the likes of ESAT, a popular Ethiopian satellite channel also broadcast from America. It is highly critical of the Ethiopian government and advertises itself as speaking for those who can’t speak in Ethiopia.

But part of KANA’s expanding original production base includes plans for a new news show, hence a whiteboard in the company’s offices covered in green marker pen hashing out its development.

Whether this news platform can be as insightful and demonstrate as much editorial freedom as news channels coming from outside Ethiopia will have to be seen.

But, at the same time, there appears reason for some optimism.

“The [negative] international view of media in Ethiopia is a bit exaggerated,” said Zekarias Sintayehu, editor in chief of Addis Ababa’s Reporter newspaper. “It is not a cakewalk to be journalist in Ethiopia but nobody can deny the prospects of a better media environment in the future.”

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Production Diversity, Diet Diversity and Nutrition in Sub -Saharan Africahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/production-diversity-diet-diversity-nutrition-sub-saharan-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=production-diversity-diet-diversity-nutrition-sub-saharan-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/production-diversity-diet-diversity-nutrition-sub-saharan-africa/#respond Tue, 19 Dec 2017 14:13:20 +0000 Raghav Gaiha and Shantanu Mathur http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153622 Raghav Gaiha is (Honorary) Professorial Research Fellow, Global Development Insitute, University of Manchester, England; & Shantanu Mathur is Lead Advisor, Programme Management Department, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Rome, Italy. The views are personal.

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Raghav Gaiha is (Honorary) Professorial Research Fellow, Global Development Insitute, University of Manchester, England; & Shantanu Mathur is Lead Advisor, Programme Management Department, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Rome, Italy. The views are personal.

By Raghav Gaiha and Shantanu Mathur
NEW DELHI, Dec 19 2017 (IPS)

Lack of diet diversity is viewed as the major cause of micronutrient malnutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa. Imbalanced diets resulting from consumption of mainly high carbohydrate based-diets also contribute to productivity losses and reduced educational attainment and income. Consequently, micronutrient malnutrition is currently the most critical for food and nutritional security problem as most diets are often deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. In Tanzania, for example, most rural and urban households consume mainly staples as their main food, which are high in carbohydrates, but low in micronutrients and vitamins. Staple food items increase energy availability but do not improve nutritional outcomes if not consumed together with micro-nutrient rich foods.

Raghav Gaiha

A positive relationship between farm production diversity and diet diversity is plausible, because much of what smallholder farmers produce is consumed at home. However, this is more plausible for a subsistence economy than one in which market transactions are prominent. Instead of producing everything at home, households can buy food diversity in the market when they earn sufficient income. Farm diversification may contribute to income growth and stability. Besides, as the majority of smallholder households in developing countries also have off-farm income sources, the link between production diversity and diet diversity is further undermined. Finally, when relying on markets, nutrition effects in farm households will also depend on how well the markets function and who decides how farm and off-farm incomes will be allocated to food. It is well-known that income in the hands of women frequently results in more nourishing food-especially for children.

A recent study analyzed the relationship between production and consumption diversity in smallholder farm households in four developing countries: Indonesia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Malawi (Sibhatu et al. 2014). These four countries were selected mainly because of availability of recent household data. The results are classified under (i) association between production and diet diversity, (ii) role of market access, and (iii) role of selling and buying food. Farm production diversity is positively associated with diet diversity, but the effect is relatively small. In the pooled sample (of all four countries), producing one additional crop or livestock species leads to a 0.9% increase in the number of food groups consumed This effect, however, varies across the countries in question. In Kenya and Ethiopia, the estimates are very small and not (statistically) significant. In these two countries, average production diversity is quite high; further increasing farm diversity would hardly contribute to higher diet diversity. One indicator of market access is the geographic distance from the farm household to the closest market where food can be sold or bought. The estimated effects are negative, implying that households in remoter regions have lower dietary diversity. Better market access through reduced distances could therefore contribute to higher diet diversity. Reducing market distance by 10 km has the same effect on diet diversity as increasing farm production diversity by one additional crop or livestock species.

Shantanu Mathur

A more pertinent question is whether this also leads to more healthy diets. Depending on the type of food outlets available in a particular context, buying food may be associated with rather unhealthy diet diversification, for instance, through increased consumption of fats, sweets, or sugary beverages. This is examined by using alternative diet diversity scores, including only more healthy food groups. The finding that better market access tends to increase diet diversity also holds with this alternative measure. However, it is not self-evident that this measure is appropriate for two reasons: (i) one is the failure to distinguish between processed and unprocessed, say, vegetables (eg French fries and boiled potato) with vastly different nutritional implications; and (ii) at best, diet diversity (restricted or unrestricted) is an approximation to nutrients’ intake as there are substitutions both within and between food groups in response to income and price changes (a case in point is different grades of rice).

Another approach is to take into account what households sell and buy. This information is only available for Ethiopia and Malawi. If a household sells at least parts of its farm produce, it has a positive and significant effect on diet diversity. It is also much larger than the effect of production diversity. This comparison suggests that facilitating the commercialization of smallholder farms may be a better strategy to improve nutrition than promoting more diversified subsistence production. Furthermore, the negative and significant interaction effect confirms that market participation reduces the role of production diversity in dietary quality.

Better market access in terms of shorter distance and more off-farm income opportunities increase the level of purchased food diversity. If off-farm income opportunities are greater in rural areas with short distances to market, the market access effect can’t be disentangled from the income effect. The interaction between level of farm income and participation in off-farm activities is often complex as small farmers tend to work as labourers in the latter while relatively affluent dominate as owners in more remunerative enterprises. The two important inferences are: (i) increasing on-farm diversity among smallholders is not always the most effective way to improve diet diversity and should not be considered a goal in itself; and (ii) in many situations, facilitating market access through improved infrastructure and other policies to reduce transaction costs and price distortions seems to be more promising than promoting further production diversification. One major caveat, however, remains. Even the alternative measure of diet diversity/quality is merely a crude approximation to nutrition (Gaiha et al. 2014).

In brief, market access through buying/selling food is more closely associated with diet diversity than production diversity. Diet diversity, however, is a weak proxy for nutrition. Indeed, there is no shortcut to empirical validation of the link between diet diversity and nutritional outcomes-especially consumption of micronutrients.

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Long Maligned for Deforestation, Charcoal Emerges from the Shadowshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/long-maligned-deforestation-charcoal-emerges-shadows/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=long-maligned-deforestation-charcoal-emerges-shadows http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/long-maligned-deforestation-charcoal-emerges-shadows/#respond Mon, 18 Dec 2017 22:42:33 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153608 “We have various financial obligations that push us to charcoal making. Top on the list is farming inputs and school fees,” explains Arclay Moonga, a charcoal producer and chairperson of the recently formed Choma District Charcoal Association in Southern Zambia. His statement validates a popular belief among the locals here that charcoal is their own […]

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Tree seedlings at a nursery in Zambia, where charcoal production is worsening deforestation. Credit: Friday Phiri/IPS

Tree seedlings at a nursery in Zambia, where charcoal production is worsening deforestation. Credit: Friday Phiri/IPS

By Friday Phiri
CHOMA, Zambia, Dec 18 2017 (IPS)

“We have various financial obligations that push us to charcoal making. Top on the list is farming inputs and school fees,” explains Arclay Moonga, a charcoal producer and chairperson of the recently formed Choma District Charcoal Association in Southern Zambia.

His statement validates a popular belief among the locals here that charcoal is their own version of Automated Teller Machines, or ATMs.In a society where charcoal production and the associated trade are mostly illegal, organising producer and trader groups has proven challenging.

Due to high demand, charcoal offers guaranteed cash income, adds 47-year-old Moonga. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Forestry and Farm Facility (FFF) programme, this belief captures one of the main challenges to forests in Zambia, where small-scale farmers and charcoal producers have long been seen as the main reasons behind the country’s increasing deforestation and forest degradation problems.

In a country where forest land accounts for 59 percent of the total area, boasting at least 220 tree species, containing 3,178 million square meters as growing stock, 2.74 billion tons of biomass, and 1.34 billion tons of carbon, the deforestation rate is alarmingly high, currently at 276,021 hectares per year.

Based on the results from the Integrated Land Use Assessment (ILLUA II), Southern province is ranked the third least forested and regenerated area after the Copperbelt and Lusaka. The resultant effects of forest loss have impacted negatively on livelihoods.

“You may agree with me that some experiences like having some rivers that flowed throughout the year becoming seasonal, depletion of firewood sources in nearby places and water shortages are a common challenge causing some women to travel long distances to fetch these basic requirements for domestic use,” observed Daglous Ngimbu, Deputy Permanent Secretary for Southern Province.

Ngimbu told IPS that government is concerned that a province known for its contribution to agriculture is witnessing increased charcoal production, with a worrying trend where even food tree species such as Uapaka Kirkiana, locally known as Masuku, are not being spared by charcoal producers.

These are some of the key challenges that the FFF programme is addressing. A partnership launched in September 2012 between FAO, IIED and IUCN, and AgriCord, its Steering Committee is formed by members affiliated with forest producers, community forestry, indigenous peoples’ organizations, the international research community, business development service provider organizations, private sector, government, and donors.

In addressing the challenges, the FFF is using a unique approach—encouraging sustainable production of charcoal through increased support for collaboration between the Forest Department and the agricultural sector to improve smallholder producer organisations’ technical capacity, and strengthening of enterprise development.

But in a society where charcoal production and the associated trade are mostly illegal, organising producer and trader groups has proven challenging.

“I am reliably informed that it was not easy to bring charcoal producers together and start working with the forest department on various initiatives,” said FAO Country Representative, George Okech during a signing ceremony of a 15,000-dollar grant with the first ever Charcoal Association in Zambia—Choma Charcoal Association, comprising producers, transporters and traders among other stakeholders.

“The Forest and Farm Facility programme believes that organising the producers into groups is the first step to build capacity for sustainable utilisation of forest resources and improve business opportunities for the rural poor people who depend on these forests resources for their lives,” Okech said.

The grant is meant to support the Association in mobilisation of charcoal producers and institutional growth, demonstration of low cost and efficient technologies to produce charcoal that reduce waste of forest materials and to increase participation of members in sustainable forest management activities.

As a platform for capacity building and policy dialogue, Okech said the Charcoal Association is receiving additional support through the Forest Department, which has been given 52,960 dollars for tree nursery growers and other women’s groups related to basket-making activities.

For long-term policy support, “FAO through this facility has also supported the Forest department to develop a new charcoal regulation which is in draft, that will require charcoal producers to form Associations before licenses are provided,” he told IPS.

Interestingly, this bottom-up approach has brought on board and improved key stakeholders’ participation at the local level—the local councils and traditional leadership. The formation of the Charcoal Association was debated and voted for in the full council meeting, giving a voice to the otherwise voiceless charcoal business players.

With this development, their views will now be carried along all the way through to the highest national development decision-making level and mainstreamed into policies and implementation strategies.

“While the people of Choma largely depend on agriculture for livelihoods, the council is aware of climate change which is having a negative impact on agriculture, and we are alive to the fact that forests play a key role in the whole ecosystem,” noted Javen Simoloka, Mayor of Choma municipality.

“That’s why the full council voted for the formation of the Charcoal Association to strengthen community participation and ensure that their views are carried along in the management of forest resources.”

When His Royal Highness Chief Cooma heard this idea for the first time, his initial reaction was skepticism.

“I have a strict policy on conservation of forests in my chiefdom, regulating tree-cutting activities. Therefore, I was worried to hear that higher authorities had allowed for the formation of such a charcoal Association, which to me, was like giving a license for destruction of trees,” he said.

“But I am grateful that Charcoal Associations are not about indiscriminate cutting of trees,” he added with a sigh of relief, as he showcased portions of an indigenous regenerated and exotic forest reserve surrounding his palace.

It is also a relief for Moonga. “Even when we dully paid for licenses, we usually stayed away from government activities out of fear. Most of our members would move their products in the night just because of the perception that all charcoal trading was illegal,” lamented Moonga.

“But now I know that we have been empowered. Personally, as a producer for over 20 years, no one can intimidate me on prices anymore, I am free to bargain with traders and sell publicly as opposed to the past when I would sometimes be forced to sale at give-away prices for fear of being caught by authorities.”

For a country where over 70 percent of the population depends on biomass energy – charcoal and wood fuel – adopting such a community-friendly approach to forest management, formalizing what has over the years been considered illegal, could prove to be the difference between environmental degradation and sustainability.

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South Sudan: a Nation Tormented by a Crisishttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/south-sudan-nation-tormented-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=south-sudan-nation-tormented-crisis http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/south-sudan-nation-tormented-crisis/#respond Thu, 14 Dec 2017 11:05:56 +0000 Kujiek Ruot http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153553 I come from Panyijar County, South Sudan, just south of where famine was declared in February this year and one of thousands of places badly hit by the conflict which enters its fifth year today. With each year the fighting continues, the hopes that I and my fellow South Sudanese had when voting for independence […]

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Oxfam in South Sudan

By Kujiek Ruot, Oxfam, South Sudan
PANYIJAR COUNTY, South Sudan, Dec 14 2017 (IPS)

I come from Panyijar County, South Sudan, just south of where famine was declared in February this year and one of thousands of places badly hit by the conflict which enters its fifth year today. With each year the fighting continues, the hopes that I and my fellow South Sudanese had when voting for independence in 2011 are dimmed.

Home has become a place where our worst memories are made in recent times. Another year passes and I wonder if I should start to ignore it, to move on and avoid more hurt. But how can you forget home? This is my home. My South Sudan.

Let me tell you a bit about my home.

If I ask you to imagine what my old home looked like, most people would picture the bad bits. You might think of the fighting that has forced people to flee for their lives, of barren lands, and of the suffering that thousands of people are currently going through.

But for me, Panyijar was always somewhere completely different; a beautiful and natural place with some of the kindest people around. It’s because of these memories that I cry when I see what is happening there today.

Panyijar County sits in the heart of huge swamps, some of the largest in the world. The waters are dotted by dozens of small islands, with lilies and natural vegetation floating in between. Rare eagles compete with the roosters to wake you in the morning. Not much plastic has reached here yet, so the waters are clear of rubbish.

The people of Panyijar have maintained the natural state of this palm tree-laden land. Were South Sudan a peaceful and developed nation, tourism would be a big earner here! And then there are the people.

Panyijar is famous for its culture of giving and sharing. Caring for others is encouraged from childhood. People tell folk tales of the perils of greed to discourage selfishness. It has even been known for families to trace the lineage of potential spouses for meanness, before getting married.

I remember you could move from one corner of the county to the next, meeting friendly faces all the way. You worried little about where to find food or a place to spend the night: someone would always welcome you. Because people had more, they had more to share when others were in need.

I cannot say there were no challenges before the conflict, but Panyijar was peaceful at least. Today, it’s a different story; a story of crisis. When the guns started blazing, thousands of people fled to the islands where they found some kind of safety but little to survive on except boiled water lily bulbs. With few latrines and clean water difficult to find, deadly diseases and suffering have followed.

The talk of the towns was once of cattle arriving from towns nearby. Now you hear of desperate people arriving, forced to flee from their homes. Diseases seem to be killing more than ever.

When, as a child, I felt unwell in the morning, my mother would give me some herbs and by late afternoon I would be back in the field playing with friends. The difference? Back then I ate nutritious food until I was full to the brim, but now the children are almost always hungry.

Food production has declined. There are few places safe enough to farm and fewer young people to do the work as many of them have been sucked into the conflict. We all keep giving and sharing whatever we may have, but with less to go around, our efforts are stretched thin.

It’s heart-breaking to see the state of a place with such huge potential. On my recent return I saw some signs that there can be better days. Community gardens set up with Oxfam’s help were flourishing, supplying some of the only vegetables in the markets.

It can’t be enough to feed the ever-growing population of the islands, but hopefully in better times more people will adopt them. I want nothing more than this place of natural beauty and wonderful people to grow and flourish.

For now, we must avert disaster. Aid agencies like Oxfam are doing all they can to stop things getting even worse and we must all keep working together to bring back my home’s lost glory and better times for South Sudan.

Peace is where it all begins.

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Libya: Up to One Million Enslaved Migrants, Victims of ‘Europe’s Complicity’http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/libya-one-million-enslaved-migrants-victims-europes-complicity/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=libya-one-million-enslaved-migrants-victims-europes-complicity http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/libya-one-million-enslaved-migrants-victims-europes-complicity/#comments Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:37:53 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153523 “European governments are knowingly complicit in the torture and abuse of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants detained by Libyan immigration authorities in appalling conditions in Libya,” Amnesty International charged in the wake of global outrage over the sale of migrants in Libya. In its new report, ‘Libya’s dark web of collusion’, Amnesty International […]

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In Libya, dozens of migrants sleep alongside one another in a cramped cell in Tripoli's Tariq al-Sikka detention facility. Credit: UNHCR/Iason Foounten

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Dec 13 2017 (IPS)

“European governments are knowingly complicit in the torture and abuse of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants detained by Libyan immigration authorities in appalling conditions in Libya,” Amnesty International charged in the wake of global outrage over the sale of migrants in Libya.

In its new report, ‘Libya’s dark web of collusion’, Amnesty International (AI) details how European governments are actively supporting a sophisticated system of abuse and exploitation of refugees and migrants by the Libyan Coast Guard, detention authorities and smugglers in order to prevent people from crossing the Mediterranean.

The Geneva-based UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates that the number of migrants trapped in Libya could amount to up to one million, and it is now rushing to rescue the first 15,000 victims through a massive repatriation emergency plan. A major airlift is underway as IOM starts flying 15,000 more migrants from Libya before year end.“European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses... they are complicit in them” -- John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International

“Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in Libya are at the mercy of Libyan authorities, militias, armed groups and smugglers often working seamlessly together for financial gain. Tens of thousands are kept indefinitely in overcrowded detention centres where they are subjected to systematic abuse,” said John Dalhuisen, AI’s Europe Director, on Dec 12.

“European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses; by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, they are complicit in these abuses,” Dalhuisen affirmed.

“By supporting Libyan authorities in trapping people in Libya, without requiring the Libyan authorities to tackle the endemic abuse of refugees and migrants or to even recognise that refugees exist, said Dalhuisen, European governments have shown where their true priorities lie: namely the closure of the central Mediterranean route, with scant regard to the suffering caused.

Another EU ‘Shame’ Pact

AI’s revelation of such collusion between the European Union and Libya comes amidst a worldwide wave of denunciations against the measure adopted in 2016 by the EU member states –particularly Italy—aiming at closing off the migratory route through Libya and across the central Mediterranean.

These measures have been implemented with little care for the consequences for those trapped within Libya’s lawless borders, AI said, adding that Europe’s cooperation with Libyan actors has taken the following three-pronged approach:

Firstly, they have committed to providing technical support and assistance to the Libyan Department for Combatting Illegal Migration, which runs the detention centres where refugees and migrants are arbitrarily and indefinitely held and routinely exposed to serious human rights violations including torture.

Secondly, they have enabled the Libyan Coast Guard to intercept people at sea, by providing them with training, equipment, including boats, and technical and other assistance.

Thirdly, they have struck deals with Libyan local authorities and the leaders of tribes and armed groups – to encourage them to stop the smuggling of people and to increase border controls in the south of the country.

UNHCR teams in Libya have been responding to the urgent humanitarian needs in and around Sabratha, a city located some 80 kilometres west of the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Credit: UNHCR

“Auctioned as Merchandise”

Meanwhile, after shocking images showing an auction of people were captured on video, UN human rights experts have urged the government of Libya to take immediate action to end the country’s trade in enslaved people.

“We were extremely disturbed to see the images which show migrants being auctioned as merchandise, and the evidence of markets in enslaved Africans which has since been gathered,” the UN human rights experts said in a joint statement.

It is now clear that slavery is an “outrageous reality” in Libya, they affirmed, adding that the auctions are reminiscent of “one of the darkest chapters in human history, when millions of Africans were uprooted, enslaved, trafficked and auctioned to the highest bidder.”

Slavery, Trafficking, Extortion, Rape, Torture…

The UN human rights experts also warned that migrants in Libya are “at high risk of multiple grave violations of their human rights, such as slavery, forced labour, trafficking, arbitrary and indefinite detention, exploitation and extortion, rape, torture and even being killed.”

“The enslavement of migrants derives from the situation of extreme vulnerability in which they find themselves. It is paramount that the government of Libya acts now to stop the human rights situation deteriorating further, and to bring about urgent improvements in the protection of migrants.”

The UN member states must “stop ignoring the unimaginable horrors endured by migrants in Libya, must urge countries to suspend any measures,” they urged.

AI, a global movement of more than 7 million people in over 150 countries campaigning to end human rights abuses, has also warned that the criminalisation of irregular entry under Libyan law, coupled with the absence of any legislation or practical infrastructure for the protection of asylum seekers and victims of trafficking, has resulted in “mass, arbitrary and indefinite detention becoming the primary migration management system in the country.”

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) provides lifesaving equipment to Libyan authorities as part of a wider intervention to strengthen the Government’s humanitarian capacity. Credit: UN Migration Agency

“Horrific Treatment”

Refugees and migrants intercepted by the Libyan Coast Guard are sent to detention centres where they endure “horrific treatment,” AI warned.

Up to 20,000 people currently remain contained in these overcrowded, unsanitary detention centres. Migrants and refugees interviewed by Amnesty International described abuse they had been subjected to or they had witnessed, including arbitrary detention, torture, forced labour, extortion, and unlawful killings, at the hands of the authorities, traffickers, armed groups and militias alike.

Dozens of migrants and refugees interviewed described the “soul-destroying cycle of exploitation” to which collusion between guards, smugglers and the Libyan Coast Guard consigns them. Guards at the detention centres torture them to extort money, AI informs.

“If they are able to pay they are released. They can also be passed onto smugglers who can secure their departure from Libya in cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard. Agreements between the Libyan Coast Guard and smugglers are signalled by markings on boats that allow the boats to pass through Libyan waters without interception, and the Coast Guard has also been known to escort boats out to international waters.”

Libyan Coast Guard officials are known to operate in collusion with smuggling networks and have used threats and violence against refugees and migrants on board boats in distress, AI has denounced.

IOM Moves to Relieve Plight of Migrants

Backing an African Union-European Union plan, adopted in the two blocs’ summit (29-30 November 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire), IOM’s director general William Lacy Swing committed his organisation to fully support this initiative to alleviate the plight of thousands of migrants trapped in Libya.

In the wake of “shocking reports about rampant migrant abuse and squalid and overcrowded conditions across multiple detention centers” in Libya, talks at the AU-EU Summit led to a major stepping up of measures to tackle smuggling and mistreatment of migrants on the central Mediterranean migration route, which claimed 2,803 migrant lives to drowning this year alone, IOM on 1 December informed.

IOM is now rapidly scaling up its voluntary humanitarian return programme, which has brought more than 14,007 migrants back to their home countries so far in 2017.

A large-scale airlift is already underway in which IOM expects to take a further 15,000 migrants home from detention in Libya by end of the year. The establishment of a planned joint task force with all concerned parties is aimed at ensuring that the migration crisis in Libya is dealt with in a coordinated way.

“Scaling up our return programme may not serve to fully address the plight of migrants in Libya, but it is our duty to take migrants out of detention centers as a matter of absolute priority,” IOM director general Swing said.

He added that IOM intends to work with all UN partners and ensure proper coordination and prompt referral of any persons for whom return may not be suitable. These initiatives come following the IOM director general’s discussions with African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, as well as with EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini and UN Secretary General.


Addressing the UN Security Council, Secretary-General António Guterres highlights the need for global solidarity to tackle the security challenges in the Mediterranean.

Up to One Million Migrants Trapped in Libya

To date IOM has registered more than 400,000 migrants in Libya, and it estimates their number to be more than 700,000 to 1 million. The scaling up of the assistance will also include migrants wishing to go back home but who are not in detention centers.

“Large numbers of migrants are held in overcrowded detention centers, in conditions that fall far short of basic and humane standards. A large number of those migrants have expressed a wish to return to their countries of origin and IOM is now scaling up its air operations out of Libya to assist those men, women and children who may wish to return home.”

IOM’s initial effort will focus on 15,000 migrants, which it aims to help return and reintegrate in countries of origin before the end of the year. “This is a choice people make voluntarily, hoping for a new start at home,” said Othman Belbeisi, IOM’s chief of Mission in Libya.

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For Freedom from Poverty, Universal Health Coverage Is a Musthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/freedom-poverty-universal-health-coverage-must/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=freedom-poverty-universal-health-coverage-must http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/freedom-poverty-universal-health-coverage-must/#respond Tue, 12 Dec 2017 07:29:14 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee and Githinji Gitahi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153471 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Kenya. Dr Githinji Gitahi is the Global CEO of Amref Health Africa.

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Nearly one million Kenyans are pushed below the poverty line and remain poor as a result of healthcare expenses. Credit: Paul Nevin

By Siddharth Chatterjee and Dr Githinji Gitahi
NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 2017 (IPS)

Today is 12 December 2017 is an auspicious day, as it marks Kenya’s independence from colonial rule in 1963. Today is also Universal Health Coverage Day. It is the anniversary of the first unanimous United Nations resolution calling for countries to provide affordable, quality health care to every person, everywhere.

In Kenya illness can mean financial ruin.

Every day families are forced to sell their assets, rely on community support or see their modest life savings wiped out by medical bills.

Ill-health is a substantial burden not only on Kenyan families, but also on the country’s economic growth. Every year, nearly one million Kenyans are pushed below the poverty line and remain poor as a result of healthcare expenses.

Out-of-pocket expenses at point of treatment in Kenya make up a third of the country’s total health expenditure, far above the World Health Organization’s suggested 15 or 20%.

Universal health coverage should be [viewed] as a rights issue,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO). “Many families are getting into poverty because they are spending their savings for health care services.”

Across the globe there is a strong correlation between high rates of out-of-pocket expenses and catastrophic and impoverishing health expenditure. It is a powerful factor in inequality of access to healthcare, often forcing the poor to forgo medical treatment. It also increases costs, because when poor people finally seek treatment it’s either too late or else complications caused by delay have worsened their condition.

Approximately four out of every five Kenyans have no access to medical insurance, so the cruel reality is that most are just an accident or illness away from destitution. Among the poorest quintile a mere 3% have health insurance, this provided by the government’s National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). This rises to 42% of the wealthiest fifth where private cover is also more common. Additionally, there are stark disparities between rural and urban populations, where rates of coverage are an average of 12% and 27% respectively.

“Over the next 5 years, my Administration will target 100% Universal Healthcare coverage for all households”. Credit: State House

To its credit, the Kenyan government is taking steps towards reducing these inequalities. Payments for primary and maternal health services in public facilities have been abolished, resulting in increased utilization and improved outcomes, particularly among the poorest. President Uhuru Kenyatta at his inaugural speech emphasized, “Over the next 5 years, my Administration will target 100% Universal Healthcare coverage for all households”.

Devolution of health care provision to county governments should also ensure more efficient resource distribution, accountable health services and improvements in equity that will eventually help decongest the overstretched Referral Hospitals.

Recent initiatives by the NHIF–such as inclusion of outpatient care and introduction of health insurance subsidies for the poor–are helping to expand coverage beyond those in formal employment. As a result, roughly 88.4% of households with health insurance are covered through the NHIF.

But as long as 33.6% of Kenyans survive on less than US$1.90 per day, there are still millions who cannot access quality healthcare.

Affordability is not the only barrier. Lack of public awareness, high loss ratios due to fraud, and reluctance among insurers to underwrite cover for the poor are also important.

Health insurance contributes only about 13% to national health expenditure, with the balance made up of out-of-pocket expenses at point of treatment, government and tax revenues, and donor funding. Such statistics undermine Kenya’s ability to achieve universal health coverage, enshrined in Kenya’s Vision 2030 and Sustainable Development Goal 3.

There is a clear need to develop low-cost, innovative solutions for expanding insurance coverage and technology must form part of such solutions. Technology-backed automation can improve efficiency and enhance transparency, both key requirements.

Mobile money can perform faster, more transparent and targeted health payments through health e-vouchers. Technology can process claims and enable healthcare consumers and providers to interact more efficiently, while offering more customized products to people of all incomes.

Efficient storage and sharing of patient data could reduce the cost of care by, for instance, tracing false claims, preventing repeat tests, or avoiding misdiagnosis.

Technology can also offer substantial savings in administration costs, which currently swallow a staggering 40% of the NHIF’s revenue, far in excess of the industry norm of 3-4%. Effective IT systems would help to reduce this astonishing disparity, as would improved governance and transparency. A lack of analytical capacity hobbles the NHIF’s ability to forecast and respond to increasing costs, hindering strategic planning and development. Better technology can address this.

However, such innovation must be accompanied by increased efficiency in health spending, through partnerships with institutions working to improving access to healthcare for the poor, and through policy dialogue between government and other stakeholders.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta holds a new born baby when she visited Makueni County Referral Hospital during the handing over of the 30th Beyond Zero mobile clinic. Credit: State House

Ultimately, sustainability demands increased investment in preventive care and primary health. Diverting cash away from the 60% of the health budget that currently goes to curative care will pay dividends. Better primary care reduces ill-health and catches disease at an earlier stage, when treatment is cheaper and more effective. It also frees up resources to expand insurance coverage for the poor.

Launching the country’s SDG Platform with the United Nations in New York during the UN General Assembly in 2017, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Dr. Amina Mohamed remarked, “As a government we have clearly prioritized the Universal Health Coverage agenda because it is one of the ways to protect our people from the consequences of out-of-pocket health expenditure which in Kenya forms about a fifth of family spending”.

This Independence Day, let us join hands to free every Kenyan from the tyranny of poverty by achieving universal health coverage. It is the foundation for economic development and prosperity.

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South-South Cooperation Key to a New Multilateralismhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/south-south-cooperation-key-new-multilateralism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=south-south-cooperation-key-new-multilateralism http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/12/south-south-cooperation-key-new-multilateralism/#respond Mon, 04 Dec 2017 14:36:16 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153298 “There are new challenges to all states: among them, the real threat to multilateralism… South-South and triangular cooperation can contribute to a new multilateralism and drive the revitalisation of the global partnership for sustainable development.” This is how Liu Zhenmin, the UN under-secretary general for Economic and Social Affairs, underscored the importance of South-South Cooperation […]

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Mongolian farmers harvest carrots as part of an FAO South-South Cooperation Programme between China and Mongolia. Credit: FAO

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Dec 4 2017 (IPS)

“There are new challenges to all states: among them, the real threat to multilateralism… South-South and triangular cooperation can contribute to a new multilateralism and drive the revitalisation of the global partnership for sustainable development.”

This is how Liu Zhenmin, the UN under-secretary general for Economic and Social Affairs, underscored the importance of South-South Cooperation at an event marking the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation on 12 September, just few weeks ahead of the Global South-South Development Expo 2017 in Antalya, Turkey (27 to 30 November).

The statement came a few weeks ahead of US President Donald Trump’s announcement that his country was revoking its commitment to the September 2016 UN-promoted global pact that aims at guaranteeing the human rights of migrants and refugees worldwide, in what is widely considered as his third blow to multilateralism in less than one year since he took office after US withdrawal from both the Paris Climate Agreement and UNESCO.

Solutions and strategies created in the South are delivering lasting results around the world, said Amina Mohammed, the UN deputy secretary-general, on the occasion of the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation.

“Nearly every country in the global South is engaged in South-South cooperation,” she added, citing China’s Belt and Road Initiative, India’s concessional line of credit to Africa, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and the Strategic Association Agreement by Mexico and Chile as few examples.

The deputy UN chief, however, also cautioned that progress has been uneven and extreme poverty, deep inequality, unemployment, malnutrition and vulnerability to climate and weather-related shocks persist, and underscored the potential of South-South cooperation to tackle these challenges.

Not a Substitute for North-South Cooperation

Significantly, Amina Mohammed highlighted that the support of the North is crucial to advance sustainable development.

“South-South cooperation should not be seen as a substitute for North-South cooperation but as complementary, and we invite all countries and organizations to engage in supporting triangular cooperation initiatives,” she said, urging all developed nations to fulfil their Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments.

A Kenya delegation discuss with Indonesia goverment official about food security in their country. Credit: FAO

She also urged strengthened collaboration to support the increasing momentum of South-South cooperation as the world implements the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Further, noting the importance of the upcoming high-level UN Conference on South-South Cooperation to be hosted by Argentina on 20-22 March 2019, she said, “It will enable us to coordinate our South-South efforts, build bridges, cement partnerships, and establish sustainable strategies for scaling up impact together.”

The UN General Assembly decided to observe this Day on 12 September annually, commemorating the adoption in 1978 of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries.

Key to Overcoming Inequalities

At the opening of the Global South-South Development Expo 2017 in Antalya, Turkey, Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu, the UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), on 27 November said that as the most vulnerable countries continue to face serious development challenges, South-South cooperation offers “enormous opportunities and potential” to effectively support them in accelerating progress on implementing globally agreed goals.

“These are all countries faced with complex and unique development challenges which lend themselves to exploring how and where we can maximize South-South cooperation and leverage global partnerships to support countries’ efforts toward sustainable and inclusive futures,” said Utoikamanu.

The 2017 Global Expo gathered 800 participants from 120 countries, senior UN officials, government ministers, national development agency directors, and civil society representatives, to share innovative local solutions and push for scaling up concrete initiatives from the global South to achieve the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The central promise of the 2030 Agenda is to ‘leave no-one behind,’ and thus is about addressing poverty, reducing inequality and building a sustainable future of shared prosperity,” she explained. “But it is already clear that these noble Goals will be elusive if the 91 countries my Office is a voice for remain at the bottom of the development ladder.”

As such, she added, South-South collaboration has led to increasing trade between and with emerging economies, investors, providers of development cooperation and sources of technological innovations and know-how. “This trend is confirmed by trade preferences for [least developed country products], enhanced trade finance opportunities, but also innovative infrastructure finance emerging.”

“The complex and pressing challenges the vulnerable countries experience demand that we further strengthen and leverage South-South cooperation,” said Utoikamanu, adding that South-South cooperation is “not an ‘either-or’ – it is a strategic and complementary means of action for the transfer and dissemination of technologies and innovations. It complements North-South cooperation.”

Science, Technology, Innovation

The Antalya week-long Global South-South Development Expo 2017 focused on a number of key issues, including how to transfer science, technology and innovation among developing countries and, in general, on solutions ‘for the South, by the South.’

The future will be determined by the abilities to leverage science, technology and innovation for sustainable growth, structural transformation and inclusive human and social development, said Utoikamanu. “It is proven that innovative technologies developed in the South often respond in more sustainable ways to the contextual needs of developing countries. Last, but not least, this is a question of cost.”

In all this, the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries has a major role to play in boosting science, technology and innovation capacity. “It must facilitate technology transfer and promote the integration of [least developed countries] into the global knowledge-based economy.”

Hosted by the Government of Turkey and coordinated by the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the Antalya Global South-South Development Expo 2017’ was wrapped up on 30 November under the theme “South-South Cooperation in the Era of Economic, Social and Environmental Transformation: The Road to the 40th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action.”

Jorge Chediek, the Director of UNOSSC, said: “Many of the achievements of the expo are not reflected in these very impressive numbers themselves, they are reflected in the partnerships that are being established, in institutional friendships and agreements that are been developed and that will certainly generate results.”


UN Day for South South Cooperation. Credit: United Nations

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Migrant Promoters and Musicians Spread Message of “One Africa”http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/migrant-promoters-musicians-spread-message-one-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=migrant-promoters-musicians-spread-message-one-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/migrant-promoters-musicians-spread-message-one-africa/#respond Tue, 28 Nov 2017 01:15:18 +0000 Mxolisi Ncube http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153216 The crowd in the park gave out roars of approval as the next act was announced:  Mothusi Bashimane Ndlovu, one of Zimbabwe’s most popular singers and actors, who took to the stage with a small axe in hand. It’s the trademark prop of his most famous role, Madlela Skhobokhobo: a Zimbabwean migrant struggling to make […]

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South African President Jacob Zuma with Maskandi artist Khuzani during the 6th Annual Matomela celebrations, 8 Oct 2016. Credit: GCIS/cc by 2.0

South African President Jacob Zuma with Maskandi artist Khuzani during the 6th Annual Matomela celebrations, 8 Oct 2016. Credit: GCIS/cc by 2.0

By Mxolisi Ncube
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Nov 28 2017 (IPS)

The crowd in the park gave out roars of approval as the next act was announced:  Mothusi Bashimane Ndlovu, one of Zimbabwe’s most popular singers and actors, who took to the stage with a small axe in hand.

It’s the trademark prop of his most famous role, Madlela Skhobokhobo: a Zimbabwean migrant struggling to make it in South Africa. The hearty artist, who now lives in Johannesburg, sent the crowd at Alec Gorschel Park in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, into a frenzy as he belted out one of his comical hits, “Bheyapeya.”"During our shows, attended by both locals and migrants, we preach messages of tolerance. The idea is to build one Africa based on love and unity." --Mcasiseli Gwaza-Gwaza of Bayethe Music

Bashimane was one of many migrant performers spicing up Johannesburg’s Heritage Day celebrations in September, organized each year by Inqama, a wholly Zimbabwean youth cultural group headquartered in Johannesburg.

It was a social cohesion event, of sorts: nine years after South Africa experienced what was arguably its worst xenophobic violence, in which at least 62 people died, thousands were displaced and property worth millions of rands was either looted or destroyed during the attacks in May 2008. Attacks have taken place in several flare-ups since.

But the feel of events like the Heritage Day celebration reflects the attempts by average people on the ground to try and tame the scourge of xenophobia and foster social cohesion between locals and migrants.

While it has largely been seen as the duty of government officials and non-governmental organisations to bring migrants and locals together in peace-building initiatives, these promoters and musicians have seized the initiative. Operating on a low or zero budget, they have held musical shows, built inter-country fan bases for musicians, held inter-country tours, initiated collaborations and brought together some traditional, political and community leaders from the two countries.

There are 2.1 million migrants in South Africa, according to the 2011 census — about 4 percent of the “Rainbow Nation’s” population.

During a regional integration and migration trends briefings in 2015, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said these were a result of push factors that facilitated migration included lax border control, the long and porous borders, internal conflict and dysfunctional governments. Factors that exacerbated regional migration included trafficking in persons, smuggling drugs, arms and money laundering. Poverty was identified as a major push factor.

The largest percentage of migrants in South Africa are said to be Zimbabweans, many of whom are fleeing economic crisis and political repression.

It therefore comes as no surprise that Zimbabwean musicians and music promoters are always at the forefront of organising shows of this nature.

“We have seen it as imperative for locals and migrants to come together in celebratory events, which will build familiarity among different nationals and bring them closer to one another,” said Mcasiseli Gwaza-Gwaza of Bayethe Music, a fledgling music promotions company.

“Usually, xenophobia flares because of problems that affect ordinary South Africans, who then vent their anger on foreigners because they somehow believe migrants are the principal cause of their suffering. During our shows, attended by both locals and migrants, we preach messages of tolerance. The idea is to build one Africa based on love and unity. We therefore, believe it is our duty as promoters to use music to achieve that goal.”

Bayethe Music is just one of the many migrant-owned companies whose activities have brought together Zimbabwean and South African musicians in collaborative work. As a result, more than 20 collaboration songs and a number of festivals have been held by musicians from the two countries.

“Our main aim is to foster grassroots co-operation as a way to achieve social cohesion,” adds Gwaza-Gwaza. “Our events, which pull huge crowds comprising both locals and migrants. We also invite community leaders, politicians and traditional leaders from all over Africa to come and give messages themed around the spirit of Ubuntu (humanity).”

Their efforts are bearing fruit. A number of migrant Zimbabwean musicians are now being recognised by South African promoters, with Zimbabwean maskandi (Zulu traditional music) singers like Zinjaziyamluma, Amabhukudwana, Amachwane Amahle and Insukamini among those that have been a permanent fixture at musical shows previously reserved for South Africans.

As fans continue to warm up to inter-country relations, popular South African maskandi musicians like Igcokama Elisha and Khuzani Mpungose now have Zimbabwean chapters of fans dedicated to them.

“I have enjoyed friendship with many Zimbabwean maskandi singers based in South Africa and received a lot of support from music fans from that country,” said Manqele recently.

“This kind of co-operation has helped us bridge the divide between South Africans and migrants and most music fans are now as united as we wished when we first started this journey,” said Zinjaziyamluma’s manager, Mlungisi Tshabalala. “Both sets of musicians have been able to preach peace to their fans across nationalities.”

Zinjaziyamluma has collaborated with an array of South African acts that include Bonakele Myeza, Mlethwa Majola, Sebedlile Ntshangase, Kaptein, Khandalenja, Zanefa Ngidi, Mshovo and Gearbox Mtshali. Most of the songs preach the need for Africans to unite.

“We have also made great progress as Zinjaziyamluma, having had four branches of our South African fans established in Mnambithi, KwaNongoma, Ethekwini and Mhlathuze, in the KwaZulu-Natal province. We have also taken some of the South African musicians we work with to Zimbabwe every December and this has helped a great deal in fostering co-operation.”

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Uncertain Future for “Diabolic” Free Trade Pacts Between EU and Africahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/uncertain-future-diabolic-free-trade-pacts-eu-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uncertain-future-diabolic-free-trade-pacts-eu-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/uncertain-future-diabolic-free-trade-pacts-eu-africa/#respond Mon, 27 Nov 2017 00:00:55 +0000 Daan Bauwens http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153207 In the run-up to the fifth EU-Africa summit in Côte d’Ivoire, the future of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between Europe and its former colonies looks bleaker than ever. While most of Europe’s trade partners around the world keep refusing to sign the deals, the African Union’s Commissioner for Trade will most likely announce a […]

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Adolf Ozor, a tomato farmer in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, is struggling to make ends meet after import surges. Credit: Daan Bauwens/IPS

Adolf Ozor, a tomato farmer in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana, is struggling to make ends meet after import surges. Credit: Daan Bauwens/IPS

By Daan Bauwens
BRUSSELS, Nov 27 2017 (IPS)

In the run-up to the fifth EU-Africa summit in Côte d’Ivoire, the future of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between Europe and its former colonies looks bleaker than ever. While most of Europe’s trade partners around the world keep refusing to sign the deals, the African Union’s Commissioner for Trade will most likely announce a moratorium on all EPAs.

Ever since independence, Europe’s former colonies have enjoyed preferential (duty-free) access to the European market. In turn they didn’t need to open their own markets. When in 2000 the World Trade Organization deemed this one-sided market opening unlawful, Europe and 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) started negotiating reciprocal trade deals."Trade between neighbors is now more difficult than trade with the EU. We are creating borders within Africa." --Gunther Nooke

The resulting deals, coined Economic Partnership Agreements or EPAs, are not pure free trade deals. Under the agreements, ACP countries are allowed to keep protecting 20 percent of their products – mostly agricultural products – with import tariffs. The other 80 percent will be liberalized gradually over the course of 20 years after the signing and ratification of the deal. The deals were negotiated between the European Commission and seven regions of several countries engaged in economic integration processes.

Stalling the implementation

Seventeen years later only two of the seven negotiated deals have been signed, ratified and implemented, one with the South African Development Community (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) and one with the Caribbean. The EPA with West Africa is currently blocked by Nigeria, Gambia and Mauritania who refuse to sign, while in the East African region, last year Tanzania sued Kenya for signing while Uganda wants to address more concerns – President Museveni travelled to Brussels on a three-day work visit at the end of September for talks.

Almost all ACP countries fear the possible negative impact of the EPAs on their economies and therefore stall its implementation. “They already had the right to export to Europe duty-free,” said Joyce Naar, a lawyer and activist with the ACP Civil Society Forum. “Now they are expected to open up their markets to Europe without getting anything back.”

Especially in Africa, governments and analysts fear an encore of the tomato and chicken scenario. In Ghana, for instance, after IMF and World Bank-enforced tariff reductions, import surges caused the market share for domestic chicken to fall from 100 percent to a mere three percent today in less than three decades. The chicken industry, once the second largest employer in the country, has now been taken over by competing imports from Canada, Brazil, Europe and China.

As for tomatoes, after lowering tariffs Ghana became the second largest importer of tomatoes in the world and according to FAO data, market share for domestic produce dwindled from 92 to 57 percent in only five years.

Industrialization at risk

Aside from agricultural produce, NGOs also fear that entire industrialization of the continent is at risk. At a recent international trade union conference on the issue of EPAs in Togo, this point was repeatedly made. “To industrialize, we need to protect and develop the internal market until we’re ready for international competition, as has been demonstrated by China,” says Georgios Altintzis of he International Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

At the conference, Mariama Williams, senior program officer at the South Center in Geneva, also stressed that increased competition would lead to increasing feminization of work.

“Women do the worst jobs in the worst conditions,” she stated at the conference. According to Williams, EPAs will have the greatest impact on labour-intensive industries where women are disproportionately employed. An increase of competition would raise the pressure on these sectors while the internal standards and labour conditions remain unchanged.

“Diabolic” agreements or success story?

“There has always been a diabolic whiff about EPAs,” former EPA chief negotiator Sandra Gallina said a few weeks ago at a meeting of trade ministers from all ACP countries in Brussels. “There is nothing diabolic about them, they were just extremely badly communicated. For the last five years I have been fighting a misinformation campaign.”

On the first day of the Brussels meeting, the European Commission published numbers on its website meant to illustrate the benefits of EPAs. In 2012 an agreement entered into force between Madagascar and the EU. By 2016, exports to the EU had risen by 65 percent. The same for South Africa, which signed an agreement one year ago. The last year, exports of processed fish increased by 16 percent and flowers by 20 percent.

According to Marc Maes, trade policy officer at the Flemish North South Movement 11.11.11, the figures should be taken with a grain of salt. “Madagascar is recovering from a period of total chaos,” he said. “Do these numbers show the influence of the EPA or mere economic recovery? In the case of South Africa, the mentioned period consists of just one year. It’s a bit premature to talk about a steady, reliable impact.”

Migration crisis

The criticism isn’t limited to the content of the agreements. The way in which the European Commission concludes them is also widely condemned. As agreements with entire regions are stalled, the Commission now makes agreements with individual states. Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire signed and ratified such interim EPAs a year ago, fearing they would lose preferential access to the European market.

“That’s crazy,” says Gunther Nooke, personal representative in Africa of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and one of the staunchest critics of the EPAs. “Trade between neighbors is now more difficult than trade with the EU. We are creating borders within Africa. ”

According to Nooke, in the midst of a migration crisis the only things that benefits Europe and Africa is more employment in Africa. “This can only be done by protecting the entire African market with the creation of an African Customs Union led by the African Union. African products can be made here and be freely traded across the continent without having to compete with European goods. But now, because of differences in opinion about EPAs, African countries aren’t making any progress in forming a customs union.”

Moratorium

According to Merkel’s envoy, the African Union Commissioner for Trade has already announced that he will call for a moratorium on all EPAs. “And we must respect that,” says the advisor.

Germany is in the perfect position to make its opinion be heard. The country delivers the greatest contribution to the European Development Budget: just over 6.2 billion euros in the period 2014-2020, accounting for 20.6 percent of the total. It is doubtful whether Berlin and Brussels will be able to voice their opinions in unison at the Nov. 28-29 EU-Africa Summit in Abidjan.

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Goodbye Mugabe, Hello New Zimbabwe?http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/goodbye-mugabe-hello-new-zimbabwe/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=goodbye-mugabe-hello-new-zimbabwe http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/goodbye-mugabe-hello-new-zimbabwe/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 22:49:00 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153139 Robert Mugabe – the world’s oldest head of state – is dead, politically at least. After 37 years in power, Mugabe, 93, had become almost synonymous with the country he led. Nothing was said about Zimbabwe without a mention of Mugabe: his rule, his candor and his unforgettable one-liners. It was his wit combined with […]

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Former teacher turned revolutionary leader and Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe. Credit: Al Jazeera/cc by 2.0

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Nov 21 2017 (IPS)

Robert Mugabe – the world’s oldest head of state – is dead, politically at least.

After 37 years in power, Mugabe, 93, had become almost synonymous with the country he led. Nothing was said about Zimbabwe without a mention of Mugabe: his rule, his candor and his unforgettable one-liners.Events of the last fortnight culminated in the removal of one of Africa’s political godfathers and a grandmaster of guile.

It was his wit combined with his political astuteness that made Mugabe more feared than he was adored. Mugabe has missed an opportunity to die in office, a wish he personified by holding on to power for so long.

Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has known since independence from the British in 1980, resigned today after facing impeachment by his own party – which a few months back had endorsed him as their sole presidential candidate for the national elections due in 2018. If he had won, Mugabe would have been in office until the age of 98 – another world record.

But at the party Central Committee meeting last week, Minster Obert Mpofu said it was with “a heavy heart” that the Central Committee was removing Mugabe, who had contributed “many memorable achievements.”

The ruling Zanu PF party made a record of its own. It dramatically fired Mugabe as its leader and endorsed a decision to impeach him after Mugabe ignored a Nov. 20 deadline to voluntarily step down.

A diehard dictator forced out

But events of the last fortnight culminated in the removal of one of Africa’s political godfathers and a grandmaster of guile. The sacking of Emmerson Mnangagwa as the country’s Vice-President from the government and ruling party Zanu PF because he was disloyal and accused of plotting to dethrone Mugabe set in motion events that saw Mugabe fighting for his political life.

Mugabe appears to have given in to his wife Grace’s penchant for power. He purged the party’s senior leadership, seen as an obstacle to Grace’s goal of a Mugabe dynasty. It was too much to take for the army, Zanu PF and the people. Enough was enough and Mugabe had to go. Grace – 41 years Mugabe’s junior – had to be stopped.

A joke is told that Mugabe was once asked when he will say goodbye to the people of Zimbabwe, only to retort: “Where are they going for me to say goodbye to them?”

Now Mugabe himself has been forced to say goodbye.

“I have resigned to allow smooth transfer of power,” he wrote in his resignation letter, which was read aloud to applause at a joint session of the Zimbabwean Parliament. “Kindly give public notice of my decision as soon as possible.”

Mugabe ‘s avowed principle that ‘politics shall always lead the gun and not the gun politics’ was reversed when army tanks rolled into the streets of the capital Harare last week, held Mugabe and his family under house arrest and took over the state broadcaster. Their action, justified as a means to rid the country of criminals who had misled the President, was never referred to as a coup. The gun took over the politics, putting Zimbabwe on a new unknown path to change. Yet Mugabe initially brazenly brushed off the events of the past week as no threat to his leadership.

After the last week’s massive public clamour for Mugabe to step down, a frail and feeble Mugabe appeared to give the Zimbabwean populace a middle figure in a rambling speech last Sunday that he would preside over the forthcoming congress of the Zanu PF which has fired him as its leader and head of State.

Lost legacy

A former teacher turned revolutionary leader, Mugabe espoused the reverent statesman, reconciler and nation builder. His pro-development policies are credited with creating educated, savvy citizens, many of whom have made a mark on the global stage. But an educated people quickly understood the suppression of their rights as Mugabe consolidated power. He changed the law to become executive President in 1987, the same year he forged a Unity Agreement between Zanu PF and rival political party, PF Zapu led by his erstwhile opponent, Joshua Nkomo.

“Mugabe is history already. Unfortunately, he has destroyed whatever legacy he had 20 years ago,” says economist and parliamentarian, Eddie Cross. “He will now be remembered as the man who destroyed our agricultural industry, brought hunger to the majority of people’s homes and allowed Africa’s most diversified economy to collapse.”

Cross says under Mugabe’s watch, incomes have declined by two-thirds, agricultural production by two-thirds or more, industry by over 80 per cent and employment is down to less than 10 per cent of the adult population. Mugabe, Cross believes, has driven over 5 million Zimbabweans into the Diaspora, the majority skilled, well-educated people with capacity.

“We are immediately faced with a cash crisis, a fiscal crisis and a complete lack of confidence in the State, the Banking sector and in government policy,” Cross told IPS. “All these issues have to be dealt with simultaneously. The economic wish list is a mile long – very difficult to prioritize but clearly we have to curb recurrent expenditure by the State, we have to increase revenue, we have to balance our budget and we have to restore confidence in our monetary policies and banking industry.”

The new government – when it is in place – will need to form a national government which has both popular support and international credibility if it can address the many problems facing Zimbabwe, economic recovery being one.

Cross is convinced the international community will demand a return to democracy as soon as possible and the full implementation of the Constitution as well as the restoration of the rule of law and adherence to human rights.

“They are going to demand respect for property rights and for strict compliance with an IMF programme,” says Cross, a founding member of the MDC and currently its Policy Coordinator General. “This tough wish list needs a strong government, it needs time and it needs credible and competent and incorruptible leadership.”

Mnangagwa, 75 – an ally and comrade in arms of Mugabe – has been mentioned as the new leader for Zanu PF, with his expulsion reversed this week. Described as a subdued contriver, Mnangagwa served in various portfolios of security, intelligence and justice. He has been seen as Mugabe’s go-to man with an uncanny ruthlessness in dealing with opponents.

In a widely circulated statement attributed to Mnangagwa, the former vice president who fled the country after being fired had urged Mugabe to step down and take heed of public calls.

“Mugabe can be tried domestically, but not by the ICC [International Criminal Court],” says Dave Coltart, a human rights lawyer and former cabinet minister. “Impeachment would be a legal way of terminating his presidency. Mnangagwa needs to comply with the Constitution.”

New faces, old ideologies

Touted as heroes, Zimbabwe’s army has pulled off epic public relations campaign to restore the country’s political and economic fortunes through a new government. But will there be a new order in Zimbabwe? As Zimbabwe remains on edge about what is to come, Coltart warns against celebrating the unclear promises of the military men.

“In all of our euphoria we must never become so intoxicated as to forget that it was the same generals who allowed Mugabe to come to power in 2008 and 2013,” said an opinion piece this week, urging that Zimbabweans should not forget how the military and war veterans spearheaded the violence which followed the March 2008 elections to ensure that Mugabe got back into power.

“So our message to the military must now be ‘thank you for cleaning up the mess you created but you must now return to your barracks as soon as possible and never again get involved in the electoral process,” Coltart said. “The real danger of the current situation is that having got their new preferred candidate into State House, the military will want to keep him or her there, no matter what the electorate wills….We, and the international community, must make it loud and clear to the military that they have no role to play in that election, other than assisting the police to keep the peace.”

A fraught future?

For many decades fear has been a powerful instrument in the hands of Mugabe and his supporters. Fear was used to cajole, silence and eliminate dissent. It worked to keep Mugabe in power, kept his supporters in line and opponents in check.

Jennie Williams, a human rights activist and founder of the movement, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), bears emotional and physical scars of crossing swords with the Mugabe régime in calling for change.

“I will be vindicated to hear Mugabe himself saying I resign,” says Williams, who was arrested more than 65 times for criticizing the Mugabe regime. “I am saddened that today the Zanu PF members have realized what we have been saying and calling for all this time but they did not have the courage to tell Mugabe to go.”

Williams, 55, is conflicted on what should be delivered in the post-Mugabe era.

“I am desperate for justice,” she told IPS by telephone. “I wanted justice for this country, for the people, for my family. Many people suffered under Mugabe’s rule and today have no jobs, cannot pay their bills, families have been torn apart but I am happy people have shaken away fear.”

The wish list is long. Zimbabweans seeks a restoration of economic stability, a return to the international fold, the revival of industry and the promise of jobs, peace and security to get on with their lives. Maybe Mugabe had an easy solution:

“We must learn to forgive and resolve contradictions real or perceived in a comradely Zimbabwean spirit,” Mugabe earlier told a stunned nation that was eagerly waiting for his resignation.

It finally came today as his own party introduced a motion to impeach him. According to news reports, after the letter was read by Speaker Jacob Mudenda, once-bitter rivals from ZANU-PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change shook hands and hugged.

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For Africa to Root out Modern Day Slave Trade, Youth Empowerment Is Crucialhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/africa-root-modern-day-slave-trade-youth-empowerment-crucial/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africa-root-modern-day-slave-trade-youth-empowerment-crucial http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/africa-root-modern-day-slave-trade-youth-empowerment-crucial/#respond Tue, 21 Nov 2017 15:05:45 +0000 Ambassador Amina Mohamed http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153127 Amb (Dr.) Amina Mohamed, EGH, CAV is Kenya’s Foreign Minister. Follow her on twitter.

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Credit: Italian Coast Guard

By Ambassador Amina Mohamed
NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 21 2017 (IPS)

If the thought of a man armed with a rifle and driving with whips a group of African men, women, and children to sell them at a slave market makes you marvel at what kind of greed motivated such revolting barbarity centuries ago, the shocking truth is that we are witnessing a 21st century repeat of that abhorrent practice on African soil.

Kudos to the team from CNN led by International Correspondent, Nima Elbagir, who uncovered a human trafficking ring in Libya which specializes in selling human beings as slaves and sex workers.

Now we know.

For those of us who were at the Durban World Conference Against Racism 16 years ago when slavery and slave trade were declared crimes against humanity, our horror and sadness at reports that sub-Saharan migrants are being sold at slave markets in Libya is immeasurable. That the world would be silent as this heinous crime were reported is something we cannot comprehend and tolerate.

That a people and country that claim African citizenry can practice this repulsion in a continent that bears so many scars is scary at so many levels. For several years now, Libya has continued to serve as the primary departure point for migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa, with more than 90 percent of those crossing the Mediterranean Sea departing from Libya.

Often, migrants to forced labour and forced prostitution through fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or non-payment of wages, and debt bondage.

Reports of auctioneers advertising a group of West African migrants as ‘big strong boys for farm work’, and references to the migrants as ‘merchandise’ indicates a new low, and human rapacity that is difficult to comprehend in the modern age.

It defies at a horrid level international statutes such as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude as well as the more recent UN Palermo Protocol that made the abolition of modern-day slavery a part of international law.

The conscience of the Libyan nation must be roused; its propriety must be startled. All Libyans must vehemently reject the inhumane practice of slave auctions that will forever blight their history and shred to pieces their relationship with the rest of humanity. I know that the frightened faces of human beings turned into merchandise and put in cages that haunts our collective psyche also affects Libyans of goodwill.

Young Africans being held to be sold as slaves in Libya. Credit: SAHARA REPORTERS

The African Union Commission has condemned this trade as an ‘egregious abuse of human rights’ and demanded that the culprits be brought to justice and this violation of fundamental human rights be immediately ended. As Africans we will discuss the slave auctions in Libya at all fora, African and otherwise until we finally and conclusively deal with it.

Horrifying as the situation in Libya is, migration elsewhere in the world continues to be an avenue through which many men, women, and children continue to live in modern-day slavery through the scourge of human trafficking.

Unlike the ages gone by, today’s victims may not be in iron fetters, but most are poverty-stricken and forced to migrate for work, believing it presents an opportunity to change their lives and support their families. It is a desperation that comes with extreme costs in the form of modern slavery.

While everyone must denounce everything that serves to perpetuate slavery, African countries must now begin confronting the factors that force thousands of people to risk their lives seeking a fighting chance for survival abroad through illegal migration.

A report from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees has shown that seven in ten of those heading for Europe are not refugees fleeing war or persecution, but economic migrants in search of better lives.

Africa must give special priority to those SDGs that will give the continent a competitive edge through its youth. These include ending poverty, ensuring healthy lives and ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, all which have particular resonance with the challenge of empowering youth and making them effective economic citizens.

With between 10 and 12 million Africans joining the African labour force each year and a continent that creates only 3.7 million jobs annually, there is hard work to be done if we are to extirpate the shame of modern slavery.

The UN Secretary General Mr Antonio Guterres remarked, “Slavery has no place in our world and these actions are among the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity”

Like our forefathers who fought against the obdurate slave-drivers of yesteryears, we too must be determined that development priorities are geared towards nipping all circumstances that abet the horrid human trafficking trade.

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Ethnic Violence in Ethiopia Amid Shadowy Politicshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/ethnic-violence-ethiopia-amid-shadowy-politics/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ethnic-violence-ethiopia-amid-shadowy-politics http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/ethnic-violence-ethiopia-amid-shadowy-politics/#comments Tue, 21 Nov 2017 00:01:38 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153113 Ethnic animosity unleashed in Ethiopia has displaced hundreds of thousands as well as rendering all manner of usually sacrosanct loyalties obsolete. “I was making my husband dinner in the evening but an hour after he returned from work he kicked me out of our home,” says Zahala Shekabde, a Somali married to an Oromo. “I […]

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Displaced Somali at a camp on the outskirts of the city of Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Displaced Somali at a camp on the outskirts of the city of Dire Dawa in eastern Ethiopia. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By James Jeffrey
NEAR THE OROMIA-SOMALI REGIONAL BORDER, Ethiopia, Nov 21 2017 (IPS)

Ethnic animosity unleashed in Ethiopia has displaced hundreds of thousands as well as rendering all manner of usually sacrosanct loyalties obsolete.

“I was making my husband dinner in the evening but an hour after he returned from work he kicked me out of our home,” says Zahala Shekabde, a Somali married to an Oromo. “I pleaded with him, told him I loved him and that I have nothing else, but he said he didn’t want to listen and I must go otherwise he would hurt me.”Both regional governments deny their special police were involved while accusing the other of Machiavellian plots.

She left with nothing other than three children from a former marriage—her husband wouldn’t let her take her youngest child from their marriage.

Other displaced ethnic Somali with Zahala from all over Ethiopia’s Oromia region say there was no warning and explanation given for their evictions, other than the local Oromo where they lived, including local officials, telling them it was revenge for what had happened to Oromo in Jijiga, the capital of the Somali region.

Upwards of 50,000 ethnic Oromo had to leave the Somali region and beyond (officials from the opposing Oromia and Somali regions dispute whether the sum applies just to the Somali region or to the Horn of Africa—Oromo have also left Djibouti and Somaliland, where two Ethiopians were reportedly killed in the capital, Hargeisa).

This sequence of tit-for-tat ethnic-based violence and evictions was sparked after Oromo protests on Sept. 12 in the town of Aweday, between  the cities of Harar and Dire Dawa near the border between the two regions, led to rioting that left 18 dead, according to official figures, the majority being Somali traders of khat, the plant that when chewed acts as a mild stimulant. Somali who fled Aweday say it was closer to 40 killed.

Following Aweday, the Somali regional government began evicting Oromo from Jijiga and the region. Officials say this was for the Oromo’s own safety, and that not one Oromo died from ethnic violence in the region—a fact disputed by displaced Oromo.

“My husband was sick at home when I left for work on Sept. 20,” says Fateer Shafee from a village near Jijiga. “Later I got a call from him saying to come and collect the children as there was conflict nearby. When I got back I found the children but our home was burnt with my husband still inside. Everyone was running and hadn’t been able to get him out.”

Displaced Oromo sheltering on an industrial park on the outskirts of the city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Displaced Oromo sheltering on an industrial park on the outskirts of the city of Harar in eastern Ethiopia. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

In the numerous camps that have popped up and public buildings commandeered to absorb the displaced, Oromo and Somali tell equally convincing stories of ethnic violence, primarily carried out, they claim, by each region’s special police, while exhibiting even more convincing physical wounds of that violence.

Meanwhile, both regional governments deny their special police were involved while accusing the other of Machiavellian plots. At the federal level, the government faces accusations ranging from not doing enough to turning a blind eye to even abetting violence for political ends. Another option is it may simply not have the capacity to do enough, so widespread is the violence.

“It’s very difficult to tell if there have been acts of omission or commission at all levels,” says the head of one international humanitarian organization in Ethiopia, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The scale of what’s happened becomes clearer 80km east of Dire Dawa, just over the regional border in the Somali Region, where two giant camps for displaced Somalis are co-located in the lee of the Kolechi Mountains.

In the older camp are 5,300 Somali households—household size varies from 6 to 10 people—displaced by a mixture of drought and ethnic violence since 2015. In the newer camp are 3,850 households displaced by the recent violence.

“It’s uniformed police carrying out the bloodshed,” says one Somali man at the camps.

Another man had to flee Oromia’s Bale zone, hundreds of kilometers to the southwest, though he says that 500 Somali households remain there under constant harassment.

“They are rich farmers and are attacked each day,” he says. “The local Oromo tell the Ethiopian soldiers there one thing and then do another—it’s the worst example of conflict as the farmers are totally isolated and surrounded, and have no way of getting away.”

Displaced Somali at giant camps surrounded by the Kolenchi hills in Ethiopia’s most eastern Somali region. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Displaced Somali at giant camps surrounded by the Kolenchi hills in Ethiopia’s most eastern Somali region. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Inhabitants in both camps pull back clothing to reveal old bullet wounds, scars and lesions from burns, broken bones that never healed, and more.

A number of displaced Somali say they survived thanks to the intervention of soldiers from the national Ethiopian Defense Force. But it wasn’t enough to allow them to remain, or to return.

“If the federal government sends forces to keep the peace they stay for a week or a month and then after they leave it happens again,” says one Somali man. “We can’t risk staying.”

Oromia and Somali are the two largest regions in the country by area size, sharing a border of more than 1,400 km (870 miles). The Oromo constitute the largest proportion of Ethiopia’s population, numbering about 35 million, a factor Ethiopia’s other ethnic groups remain deeply conscious of—especially its 6.5 million Somalis.

Ethnic conflict along the border between the two regions and in the regional rural hinterlands has long occurred, and can be traced to grievances and still standing tensions from the Ethio-Somali war of the 1970s and further back to historical tensions over Oromo migration due to their significant numbers.

But ethnic violence in urban areas well removed from the border is particularly rare. Many say the violence is all the more shocking within communities that integrated peacefully for centuries, and within which intermarriage between Oromo and Somali was the norm.

In 2004, a referendum to decide the fate of more than 420 kebeles around the border—Ethiopia’s smallest administrative unit—gave 80 percent of them to the Oromia Region. This led to thousands of Somalis leaving areas for fear of repercussions.

The referendum still hasn’t been fully resolved, which some say could be one factor behind the current conflict, as may be the on-going drought putting further pressure on pasture and resources—but only to a degree.

“There’s been drought before and no violence happened,” says the vice administrator of one of the Somali regional zones badly hit by the drought. “The main reason is politics and is hidden—this is all man-made.”

Ethiopia’s ethnic federalist system devolves power to regional states. Some observers note how this leaves the government in a quandary of respecting that devolution while also protecting the constitutional rights of Ethiopians, especially minorities, as regions increasingly flex their devolved muscles.

Recent trouble primarily occurred where notable minorities existed: Somali in Aweday, for example, and Oromo in Jijiga. More diverse cities such as Dire Dawa, with a less clear majority, have escaped violence for now.

Meanwhile, accusations go beyond political machinations by regional powerbrokers and the federal government to include the Ethiopian diaspora opposition and social media.

“The Oromo are being directed from Minnesota in America,” says one Somali official. “The Oromo in government don’t have enough respect or influence to coordinate this.”

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Who Are Kenya’s Financially Excluded?http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/kenyas-financially-excluded/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kenyas-financially-excluded http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/kenyas-financially-excluded/#respond Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:17:23 +0000 William Cook http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153103 William Cook, Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), World Bank

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Credit: Francis Minien, 2013 CGAP Photo Contest

By William Cook
WASHINGTON DC, Nov 20 2017 (IPS)

The recent 2017 Finscope Tanzania report shows that while mobile money use in Tanzania continues to grow, the percentage of financially excluded adults has risen in parallel — from 27 percent in 2013 to 28 percent in 2017.

After a decade of significant declines in financial exclusion, these new numbers raise the question of whether the strongest mobile money markets, such as those in East Africa, might be reaching a plateau in financial access.

Perhaps the best bellwether is Kenya, where over 70 percent of adults have mobile money accounts. With a majority of people connected to mobile money, Kenya’s financial services and development organizations have increasingly refocused their efforts away from financial access and toward improving account use.

This move is perhaps not without good reason. As more people gain access to mobile money, the question of how it can be used to improve the lives of the poor becomes more critical.

The development of products like digital investment, credit and savings are essential for moving low-income customers from basic transaction accounts to services that meet financial inclusion’s broader promise of lifting people out of poverty.

But what about those people who are still outside the bounds of financial services today?

Based on the 2016 FinAccess survey, 17 percent of Kenyan adults remain fully excluded — meaning they do not have a bank account, use another formal product like mobile money, or even use an informal mechanism like a savings collective.

In a country where over 90 percent of the financially excluded population is aware of mobile money, where 67 percent live within walking distance of an access point, and where trust, financial literacy and comfort with technology do not rate as barriers to obtaining an account, why do these people remain outside the financial system?

FinAccess data provide some basic demographic answers to this question. Compared to the included population, Kenya’s financially excluded are more likely to be:

• Rural (80 percent)
• Older (38 percent are over the age of 45)
• Female (55 percent)
• Poor (42 percent are in the lowest wealth quintile)
• Informally employed or dependent (81 percent)
• Lacking formal education (37 percent have no formal education at all)
• Living in a female-headed household (twice as likely as financially included people)

Already with these data points, a picture begins to form of a population segment that may not have enough money to make financial services worthwhile. Other parts of the survey bolster this hypothesis.

Ninety-four percent of financially excluded FinAccess survey respondents cite lack of funds as a primary reason for not having an account, and 67 percent say they live easily without formal services. A Kenyan in the bottom wealth quintile is seven times more likely to be excluded than a top earner. Ultimately, wealth is a better predictor of financial exclusion than location, gender, marital status or age.

And yet there is one characteristic that easily beats out wealth: education.

A Kenyan with no formal education is 26 times more likely to be financially excluded than someone at the top of the education ladder. Education in this sense does not refer to technological know-how or financial training, but formal primary, secondary and university education.

It may seem surprising that education would weigh more heavily than any other factor in determining the use of financial services, but perhaps it should not. Education often defines livelihood, livelihood defines wealth and wealth, in many cases, defines the need for today’s digital financial services.

These findings imply that expanding access to the last remaining excluded users in countries like Kenya and Tanzania will not be as easy as erecting more cell towers or designing a smoother user experience.

Today’s exclusion might not be easily fixed by companies scaling their current financial products in response to customer demand. As best as we can tell, if you aren’t using mobile money in Kenya today, there is a good chance it is because you have little money to manage and believe the product does not dramatically improve your life.

So when it comes to expanding financial access, what can the financial inclusion community do right now alongside long-term efforts to improve access to quality education and boost incomes? The excluded population represents millions of people in these markets, and it is difficult to generalize about their financial needs. But given the insights above, a few more nuanced questions can be asked to better focus our efforts:

• Are there excluded people near a tipping point, who need only slightly better incentives to start using today’s financial services? How can we make today’s products more attractive for them? CGAP research on topics like merchant payments is attempting to answer this question.

• What portion of the excluded population might be covered by government-to-person (G2P) programs, and will these programs provide access to comprehensive financial services? G2P programs may offer a way to connect people who do not have the means to make more traditional services worthwhile to the financial system. However, the channels governments use to deliver many of today’s support payments are viewed by recipients as cash disbursement mechanisms more than financial products. Graduating the products offered through these channels to more comprehensive financial services solutions should also be a part of the conversation.

• For people who neither receive government payments nor have the resources to make today’s financial services worthwhile, what services are necessary to make financial inclusion more appealing? This is the group that David Ferrand of FSD Kenya refers to as the “missing middle” for financial access. How can markets innovate to not just bring existing products closer to the excluded, but adapt those products to make them more relevant for the excluded?

Mobile money has provided an essential on-ramp to financial services for portions of the developing world, especially those in East Africa. We must continue building on these platforms to help lift people out of poverty.

But as we do this, it is important to realize that today’s products will not work for everyone. Achieving financial inclusion in the years ahead will require not only applying and building on existing products, but also continuing to innovate to better meet the needs of the excluded.

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Are Prospects of Rural Youth Employment in Africa a Mirage?http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/prospects-rural-youth-employment-africa-mirage/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=prospects-rural-youth-employment-africa-mirage http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/prospects-rural-youth-employment-africa-mirage/#comments Mon, 13 Nov 2017 17:59:35 +0000 Raghav Gaiha and Vani Kulkarni http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=153004 (Raghav Gaiha is (Hon.) Professorial Research Fellow, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, England; and Vani S. Kulkarni is Lecturer in Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, USA).

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(Raghav Gaiha is (Hon.) Professorial Research Fellow, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, England; and Vani S. Kulkarni is Lecturer in Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, USA).

By Raghav Gaiha and Vani S. Kulkarni
NEW DELHI, Nov 13 2017 (IPS)

Many recent accounts tend to dismiss productive employment of youth in rural areas in Africa as a mirage largely because they exhibit strong resistance to eking out a bare subsistence in dismal working and living conditions. We argue below on recent evidence of agricultural transformation that this view is overly pessimistic, if not largely mistaken.

Raghav Gaiha

The 15–24-year-old age group represents 20% of SSA’s population today and, unlike in other regions, this youth share will remain high and stable (19% in 2050). In absolute terms, SSA’s youth will grow from nearly 200 million in 2015 to nearly 400 million in 2050, and its share in the labour force will remain the highest in the world, even if following a declining trend. Representing 37% today – in comparison with 30% in India, 25% in China and 20% in Europe – it should still account for 30% in 2050 (ILO, 2016).

Agriculture has a substantial role in meeting the youth employment challenge facing Africa. Even in a most optimistic scenario, non-farm and urban sectors are not likely to absorb more than two-thirds of young labour market entrants over the next decade. But there will be vast opportunities for the innovative young people in agricultural systems as they adapt to a range of challenges in the near future. These challenges relate to raising productivity in a sustainable way, integration into emerging high value chains, and healthy diets.

While the challenges are daunting, the potential benefits of addressing them are enormous. Higher prices, more integrated value chains, widening connectivity to markets in some areas, and greater private and public engagement in the sector are creating new opportunities. A major barrier is, however, strong negative preferences/attitudes of the youth towards agriculture.

A survey of rural in- and out-of school young people towards agriculture, based on field-work in two regions in Ethiopia, is remarkably rich and insightful (IDS Bulletin Volume 43 Number 6, 2012). Life as a farmer was tied to life in a village which most respondents saw as hard and demanding. Yet there was considerable heterogeneity in the views of the young. Participants in both regions concurred that agriculture has changed significantly over the last decade. The introduction and adoption of agricultural inputs such as improved seeds, fertilisers and better farming methods (such as slash ploughing, sowing seeds in rows, water pumps, modern beehives) have produced significant increases in productivity and earnings.

There were competing narratives on whether agriculture was becoming more desirable to young people as a result. Participants felt that these developments were making agriculture more and more profitable and therefore more appealing. But they felt that there was a huge obstacle in engaging in it – scarcity of land. Although the dominant view was that young people are disinterested in agriculture, some participants pointed out that this was not always the case.

A slightly more positive attitude towards agriculture was evident among young people who had left school, either failing to complete high school for various reasons or to qualify for higher level education. Although this group of respondents were equally aware of the grimness of traditional agriculture and the life of the common farmer, many were not dismissive of agriculture as a possible future livelihood, while a few even saw it as a preferred livelihood option, under improved conditions.

Recognizing agriculture as a viable employment option is even more challenging when economic and social restrictions related to access to productive resources (eg land, credit and improved seeds) are taken into account. All these limitations are exacerbated for young women who, in general, have no prospect of land access due to rules of inheritance, and who know that they will mainly have to work for their husbands (ILO, 2016).

Although the government considers rural educated youth as instrumental in bringing about a transformation in agricultural skills, knowledge and productivity, it has not effectively addressed either the attitude of many young people towards agriculture or the obstacles preventing their entry into the sector.

To create opportunities commensurate with the number of young people who will need employment, constraints on the acquisition of capital, land, and skills must be removed or relaxed.

A few selected initiatives are delineated below.

Allowing alternative forms of collateral, such as chattel mortgages, warehouse receipts, and the future harvest, can ease the credit constraints-especially for young farmers. The OHADA7 Uniform Act on Secured Transactions, in effect in 17 Sub-Saharan African countries, was amended at the end of 2010 to allow borrowers to use a wide range of assets as collateral, including warehouse receipts and movable property such as machinery, equipment, and receivables that remain in the hands of the debtor. Leasing also offers young farmers some relief, as it requires either no or less collateral than typically required by loans. A case in point is DFCU Leasing in Uganda, which gave more than US$4 million in farm equipment leases in 2002 for items such as rice hullers, dairy processing equipment, and maize milling equipment. Some outgrower arrangements prefinance inputs and assure marketing channels. In Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia, Rabo Development (a subsidiary of Rabobank) offers management services and technical assistance to financial institutions, which, in turn, finance supply chains with a range of agricultural clients.

The two aspects of land administration that matter most to young entrants to the labour force are the need to improve security of tenure and the need to relax controls on rental. Land redistribution will also enhance young people’s access to land. In general, policies and measures that help the poor to gain access to land will also help young people.

The growing food demand in Africa is a major avenue for agro-processing, which can easily be developed using small and medium-sized entities (SMEs). This option requires less capital, is more labour intensive and facilitates the proliferation of units in rural boroughs and small towns, offering employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, local value added and new incomes. Agro-processing SMEs can also facilitate the resolution of post-harvest problems, which are a significant issue in SSA resulting in a loss of revenue for farmers.

In the Niger Delta, for instance, the IFAD-supported Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme is promoting a new category of entrepreneur-cum-mentor called the ‘N-Agripreneur’. These N-Agripreneurs own and run medium-scale enterprises at different stages of food value chains. They deliver business development services to producers, especially young people, who are interested in agro-based activities, such as farming as a business, small-scale processing, input supply and marketing.

In order to enable young people to respond to the environmental, economic and nutrition challenges of the future, they must develop suitable capacities. A case in point is ICTs which can develop young people’s capacities, while improving communication and easing access to information and decision-making processes. Investing in extending these technologies to rural areas, in particular targeting young people – who are generally more adaptable to their use – has allowed them to keep themselves up-to-date with market information and new opportunities.

In sum, there is an abundance of remunerative employment opportunities for the youth in rural areas that could dispel the mirage through imaginative government policies.

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Aid Groups Sound Alarm on DRC Crisishttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/aid-groups-sound-alarm-drc-crisis/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=aid-groups-sound-alarm-drc-crisis http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/aid-groups-sound-alarm-drc-crisis/#respond Mon, 13 Nov 2017 09:25:23 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152989 The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis and the international community must step in before it worsens, humanitarian agencies warn. The escalation of ethnic clashes in southeastern DRC in recent months has left millions displaced and on the verge of starvation. In the past year alone, the […]

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By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 13 2017 (IPS)

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis and the international community must step in before it worsens, humanitarian agencies warn.

The escalation of ethnic clashes in southeastern DRC in recent months has left millions displaced and on the verge of starvation.

In the past year alone, the conflict has displaced nearly 2 million, 850,000 of whom are children and some of whom have fled to the neighboring nations of Angola and Zambia. DRC already had the highest number of new displacements in the world in 2016.

Last month, the UN declared the DRC a level three humanitarian emergency—the highest possible classification on par with Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

“The alarm bells are ringing loud and clear,” said Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) DRC Country Director Ulrika Blom.

“The UN system-wide L3 response is only activated for the world’s most complex and challenging emergencies, when the entire aid system needs to scale up and respond to colossal needs.”

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), over 3 million people in the Kasai region are severely food-insecure, exacerbating hunger and malnutrition.

“As many as 250,000 children could starve in Kasai in the next few months unless enough nutritious food reaches them quickly,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley after a four-day mission to the central African country.

NRC said that over 80 percent of people in displacement camps in Tanganyika province did not have access to clean drinking water, heightening the risk of cholera outbreaks.

Though WFP and NRC are both scaling up assistance, aid agencies are constrained by challenges in funds and access.

The UN’s humanitarian response appeal for DRC is only 33 percent funded, the lowest level of funding for the country in more than 10 years, while WFP has received only one percent of the 135 million dollars needed for the next eight months.

Multiple active militias, poor road networks, and the upcoming rainy season further impede humanitarian access.

Swift intervention is needed now to stop the conflict and address humanitarian needs in order to prevent “long-term chaos,” Beasley said.

Though some families have been able to return to their villages in Kasai, Beasley noted that many could not work on their fields for fear of being attacked again.

“I have met too many women and children whose lives have been reduced to a desperate struggle for survival…that’s heartbreaking, and it’s unacceptable,” he said.

Blom expressed hope that a level three emergency classification will bring in more funds, and highlighted the importance of having such resources be flexible.

For instance, North Kivu, which hosts the largest number of displaced people in the country, is not included within the UN’s emergency classification. Blom said that though North Kivu is not experiencing the same level of violence as seen in Kasai, the conflict’s unpredictable nature could change this.

“Resources coming into the country must be flexible so we can put them to use where needs and gaps arise. Lives depend on it,” she warned.

DRC’s long-standing conflict has left over 8 million people in need of assistance and protection. The most recent iteration of the crisis has partly been fueled by the refusal of President Joseph Kabila to step down after his mandate expired in December 2016

Beasley said he saw the horror in survivor’s eyes as they told stories of beheadings and sexual violence.

“The Kasai region, it was rather appalling in ways that are truly hard to explain, in ways you actually don’t want to explain.”

According to a mission report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), security forces and militias “actively fomented, fueled, and occasionally led, attacks on the basis of ethnicity.”

Witnesses told OCHR that two pregnant women’s foetus’ were removed and allegedly chopped into pieces, while another two women were accused of being witches and were beheaded.

Among the survivors was a woman who was raped with a rifle barrel four hours after giving birth. “I did not end up like the others because I lied on the ground pretend to be dead…and I hid my baby under my body,” she told OHCHR. Her newborn baby was reportedly shot twice in the head.

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Conservation Agriculture: Zambia’s Double-edged Sword against Climate Change and Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/conservation-agriculture-zambias-double-edged-sword-climate-change-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=conservation-agriculture-zambias-double-edged-sword-climate-change-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/conservation-agriculture-zambias-double-edged-sword-climate-change-hunger/#comments Tue, 07 Nov 2017 15:41:58 +0000 Friday Phiri http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152923 As governments gather in Bonn, Germany for the next two weeks to hammer out a blueprint for implementation of the global climate change treaty signed in Paris in 2015, a major focus will be on emissions reductions to keep the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C by 2020. While achieving this goal requires […]

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Minimum tillage (ripping) in Kasiya Camp, Zambia. Credit: Crissy Mupuchi/DAPP

Minimum tillage (ripping) in Kasiya Camp, Zambia. Credit: Crissy Mupuchi/DAPP

By Friday Phiri
PEMBA, Zambia, Nov 7 2017 (IPS)

As governments gather in Bonn, Germany for the next two weeks to hammer out a blueprint for implementation of the global climate change treaty signed in Paris in 2015, a major focus will be on emissions reductions to keep the global average temperature increase to well below 2°C by 2020.

While achieving this goal requires serious mitigation ambitions, developing country parties such as Zambia have also been emphasising adaptation as enshrined in Article 2 (b) of the Paris Agreement: Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production.“My skepticism turned into real optimism when the two hectares I cultivated under conservation farming redeemed me from a near disaster when the five hectares under conventional farming completely failed." --farmer Damiano Malambo

The emphasis by developing country parties on this aspect stems from the fact that negative effects of climate change are already taking a toll on people’s livelihoods. Prolonged droughts and flash floods have become common place, affecting Agricultural production and productivity among other ecosystem based livelihoods, putting millions of people’s source of food and nutrition in jeopardy.

It is worth noting that Zambia’s NDC focuses on adaptation. According to Winnie Musonda of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), “There are three mitigation components—renewable energy development, conservation farming and forest management, while adaptation, which has a huge chunk of the support programme, has sixteen components all of which require implementation.”

This therefore calls for the tireless efforts of all stakeholders, especially mobilisation and leveraging of resources, and community participation anchored on the community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) approach.

Considering the country’s ambitious emission cuts, conservation agriculture offers a good starting point for climate resilience in agriculture because it has legs in both mitigation and adaptation, as agriculture is seen as both a contributor as well as a solution to carbon emissions.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Conservation Agriculture (CA) is an approach to managing agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity, increased profits and food security, while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment. Minimum tillage, increased organic crop cover and crop rotation are some of the key principles of Conservation Agriculture.

As a key stakeholder in agriculture development, FAO is doing its part by supporting the Ministry of Agriculture in the implementation of the Conservation Agriculture Scaling Up (CASU) project. Targeting to benefit a total of 21,000 lead farmers and an additional 315,000 follower farmers, the project’s overall goal is to contribute to reduced hunger, improved food security, nutrition and income while promoting sustainable use of natural resources in Zambia.

So what is emerging after implementation of the 11 million Euro project? “The acid test was real in 2015 when the rainfall pattern was very bad,” says Damiano Malambo, a CA farmer of Pemba district in Southern Zambia. “My skepticism turned into real optimism when the two hectares I cultivated under conservation farming redeemed me from a near disaster when the five hectares under conventional farming completely failed.”

The bad season that farmer Malambo refers to was characterized by El Nino, which affected agricultural production for most African countries, especially in the Southern African region, leaving millions of people without food. But as the case was with farmer Malambo, CA farmers thrived amidst these tough conditions as the CASU project discovered in its snap assessment.

“CA has proved to be more profitable than conventional agriculture”, says Precious Nkandu Chitembwe, FAO Country Communications Officer. “In seasons when other farmers have struggled, we have seen our CA farmers emerging with excellent results”, she adds, pointing out that the promotion of legumes and a ready market has improved household nutrition and income security for the farmers involved in CA.

And farmer Malambo is a living testimony. “In the last two seasons, I have doubled my cattle herd from 30 to 60, I have bought two vehicles and my overall annual production has increased from about 150 to 350 by 50kg bags.

“I am particularly happy with the introduction of easy to grow cash crops such as cowpeas and soybeans which are not only money spinners but also nutritious for my family—see how healthy this boy is from soya-porridge,” says Malambo pointing at his eight-year-old grandchild.

While Zambia boasts a stable food security position since the introduction of government farmer input subsidies in early 2000s, the country’s record on nutrition leaves much to be desired. Hence, the recent ranking of the country in the top ten hungriest countries in the world on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) may not come as a surprise, as the most recent Zambia Demographic and Health survey shows that 40 per cent of children are stunted.

The GHI, now in its 12th year, ranks countries based on four key indicators—undernourishment, child mortality, child wasting and child stunting. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, of the countries for which scores could be calculated, the top 10 countries with the highest level of hunger are Central African Republic, Chad, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, Zambia, Yemen, Sudan, Liberia, Niger and Timor-Leste.

“The results of this year’s Global Hunger Index show that we cannot waiver in our resolve to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030,” says Shenggen Fan, director general of IFPRI, adding that progress made since 2000 is threatened, emphasising the need to establish resilience for communities at risk of disruption to their food systems from weather shocks or conflict.

It is worth noting that Zambia has recognized the challenges of nutrition and has put in place several multi-sectoral measures such as the First 1000 Most Critical Days campaign—an integrated approach to address stunting by tackling both direct and indirect causes of under-nutrition. Unlike the standalone strategies of the past, the 1000 Most Critical Days campaign brings together all key Ministries and stakeholders of which the Ministry of Agriculture is a key stakeholder and entry point.

And the implementation of CA, of which crop diversification is a key principle, is one of the Ministry’s contributions to the overall objective of fighting under-nutrition. As alluded to by farmer Malambo, promotion of crops such as soy beans and cowpeas among other food legumes is critical to achieving household nutrition security.

“With a known high demand for good nutrition in the country, especially for rural populations, soybean and other food legumes offer an opportunity to meet this demand—from soybean comes soy milk which is as competitive as animal milk in terms of nutrition, use in the confectionary industry and other numerous value addition options at household level for nutritional diversity,” explains Turnbull Chama, Technical Assistant, Climate Change component at the FAO Country Office.

While CA is a proven approach to climate resilience in agricultural production for food and nutrition security, its adoption has not been without hitches. According to a study conducted by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI), adoption rates for Conservation Agriculture in Zambia are still very low.

The study, which used data from the 2015 national representative rural household survey, found that only 8.8% of smallholder households adopted CA in the 2013/14 season. The report notes, however, that social factors, such as belief in witchcraft and prayer as enhancement of yields, were found to influence decision-making considerably.

But for the Southern Province Principal Agricultural Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Paul Nyambe, CA adoption should not be measured in a generic manner.

“The package for conservation agriculture is huge, if you measure all components as a package, adoption is low but if you looked at the issues of tillage or land preparation, you will find that the adoption rates are very high,” he says. “So, that’s why sometimes you hear of stories of poor adoption because there are several factors that determine the adoption of various principles within the package of conservation agriculture.”

Agreeing with these sentiments, Douty Chibamba, a lecturer at the University of Zambia Department of Geography and Environmental studies, offers this advice.

“It would be thus important for future policies and donor projects to allow flexibility in CA packaging because farmers make decisions to adopt or not based on individual components of CA and not CA as a package,” says Chibamba, who is also chairperson of the Advisory and Approvals committee of the Zambia Civil Society Environment Fund phase two, funded by the Finnish Embassy and managed by Panos Institute Southern Africa under its (CBNRM) forum.

This year’s World Food Day was themed around investing in food security and rural development to change the future of migration—which has over the years been proved to be as a result of the former. And FAO Country Representative George Okechi stresses that his organization is committed to supporting Zambia in rural development and food security to reduce rural-urban drift.

“With our expertise and experience, working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, we continue providing policy support to ensure that farmers get desired services for rural development,” says Okechi.

“We are also keen to help farmers cope with effects of climate change which make people make a move from rural areas to urban cities in search of opportunities,” he added, in apparent reference to Climate Smart Agriculture initiatives that FAO is implementing in Zambia, among which is CASU.

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Climate Change Summit a Step Further, Yes… But Where To?http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/climate-change-summit-step-yes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-change-summit-step-yes http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/11/climate-change-summit-step-yes/#respond Mon, 06 Nov 2017 14:12:41 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=152903 The UN Climate Change Summit in Bonn is a step further, most experts say. Fine, but towards what? On the one hand, the organisers – the UN, Fiji and Germany – express strong hopes that it will speed up the implementation of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. On the other, a giant contributor to […]

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Scene from Codrington town in Barbuda during the Secretary-General’s visit to survey the damage caused by recent hurricanes. Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Nov 6 2017 (IPS)

The UN Climate Change Summit in Bonn is a step further, most experts say. Fine, but towards what?

On the one hand, the organisers – the UN, Fiji and Germany – express strong hopes that it will speed up the implementation of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

On the other, a giant contributor to global warming – the United States – decided to desert that milestone Agreement. Meanwhile, major European powers have been, again, prodigious in unmet promises.

The UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn is the next step for governments to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement and accelerate the transformation to sustainable, resilient and climate-safe development, said Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on this major event, in the former German capital, on 6-17 November 2017.

As such Convention, the Bonn-based UNFCCC is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent “dangerous human interference|” with the climate system.

The Paris Climate Change Agreement entered into force on November 2017 and the era of implementation has begun, reminds Espinosa, emphasising that the Bonn conference will further clarify the enabling frameworks that will make the agreement fully operational and the support needed for all nations to achieve their climate change goals.

“It is also an excellent example of the cooperation and collaboration between nations that will truly meet the global climate change challenge… This meeting is incredibly important.”

The conference –known as the signatory countries or Contracting Parties 23 session (COP 23)– is presided over by the government of Fiji with support by Germany. Prior to its opening, Espinosa encouraged governments, the private sector, and civil society organisations to be ready to work together to “accelerate implementation and take the crucial next steps towards transformative change.”

“We all have a role to play, and COP 23 will shine a light on both action underway and the many possible actions every individual and institution can take moving forward.”

Although small island states contribute the least to climate change, they bear the brunt of its effects. Credit: FAO/Sue Price


The Polluters Do (Not) Pay Principle

This is on the one hand. On the other, the US administration announced that it would promote coal, natural gas, fossil oil and nuclear energy as an answer to the climate change challenge. And the US President Donald Trump spelled out in September this year his decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

In spite of this negative development, the UNFCCC executive secretary expressed optimism ahead of the last Group of the seven more industrialised powers (G 7)–The Web of Paris Cannot Be Broken by One Missing Link, she said on July 7.

The point is that is it is not about the US only. In fact, other major contributors to global warming and gas emissions, such as many European highly industrialised countries, have been heralding day after day their formal commitment to reduce gas emissions, expand the use of alternative sources of energy, and a long etcetera.

So far, major car-makers have been very active promoting the sale of vehicles moved by electric and, hybrid engines.

For now, China as a key source of pollution seems to be addressing the need to slow down the fast process of climate change in a serious manner.

The Visible Dangers

Meantime, the grave impacts of climate change are visible on almost all fronts. See: Floods, Hurricanes, Droughts… When Climate Sets the Agenda

At the same time, the leaders of two top UN specialised organisations, have been warning that Climate change migration is reaching crisis proportions. See: Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050

Another major UN organisation has recently explained the reasons of the massive displacement of people. See: The Roots of Exodus: Why Are People Compelled to Leave their Homes?

In Barbuda, Secretary-General António Guterres walks through Codrington town and meets with returnees. Credit:UN Photo/Rick Bajornas


One key cause of the growing, dangerous impact of climate change is the prevailing economic model consisting of voracious depletion of natural resources in both production and consumption patterns has proved to be one of the world’s main killers due to the huge pollution it causes for air, land and soil, marine and freshwater. See: Pollution or How the ‘Take-Make-Dispose’ Economic Model Does Kill

And the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has warned that pressures on global land resources are now greater than ever, as a rapidly increasing population coupled with rising levels of consumption is placing ever-larger demands on the world’s land-based natural capita. See: Alert: Nature, on the Verge of Bankruptcy.

On top of this and that, the United Nations weather agency announced on 30 October 2017 that the levels of carbon dioxide (C02) surged at “record-breaking speed” to new highs in 2016.

Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) issued this warning in Geneva, at the launch of the organisation’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.

The report indicates that carbon dioxide concentrations reached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400 ppm in 2015. “We have never seen such big growth in one year as we have been seeing last year in carbon dioxide concentration,” said Taalas.

The WMO chief said “We are not moving in the right direction at all… In fact we are actually moving in the wrong direction when we think about the implementation of the Paris Agreement …”

A Common Cause, Really?

The UNFCCC explains that the Paris Agreement builds upon this Convention and – for the first time – brings all nations into a common cause to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing countries to do so. As such, it charts a new course in the global climate effort.

The Paris Agreement’s central aim –it reminds– is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The central aim should definitely be to prevent the growing everyday human dramas such as the loss of food security and means of survival, the forced need to abandon their homes and families to face death and brutality at the hands of smugglers and human traffickers, to be exploited as “modern” slaves, and to prevent the world’s seas and oceans from being home to more plastic than fish.

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