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Archive for July 12th, 2012

Norway allocates NOK 1.2 billion, doubling its support for family planning commodities

Posted by African Press International on July 12, 2012

www.africanpress.me/ Norwegian government minister Heikki Holmås and Urweda Abassane in Niger

“Family planning is about the right of girls and women to control their own bodies,” said Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås (photo). “Women in the poorest countries should be able to plan how many children they want to have. Norway therefore intends to double its annual support for family planning between now and 2020.”

“Norway will provide an additional NOK 150 million for family planning in 2013, and intends to maintain this at the same level each year until 2020. Norway has been ranked the world’s best country for mothers for the third year in a row. In turn we must show solidarity and help mothers and children in low ranking countries,” said Mr Holmås.At a summit in London on 11 Julyhttp://www.londonfamilyplanningsummit.co.uk/>, Mr Holmås announced that Norway intends, together with other countries and organisations, to scale up global efforts to promote family planning.

“The day she gives birth is supposed to be the happiest day in a woman’s life. But for many mothers and children it is the most dangerous. I recently visited Niger<http://www.flickr.com/photos/utenriksdept/sets/72157629874127400/>, where half of the girls marry and have their first child before their 15th birthday. Women have an average of seven children. It is vital that these girls are given the right to choose when to have children and how many,” said Mr Holmås.

An estimated 287 000 children die each year from complications related to pregnancy and child birth. Many more sustain life-threatening complications. When the mother dies, there is a great likelihood that the child will also die. Almost all the women who die in childbirth live in poor countries. More than half live in Africa.

“Many poor women are unable to plan when to have children. Some 215 million women in poor countries have no access to information, contraceptives, prenatal care, skilled health personnel or safe abortion.

One third of all maternal deaths and one fifth of infant deaths could have been prevented by family planning.

“It is relatively easy to prevent these deaths and complications. In recent years much progress has been made in promoting women’s rights and gender equality, including maternal and child health. Maternal mortality has been halved between 1990 and 2010. But there is still a long way to go. It is now more important than ever that Norway acts in collaboration with others. Supporting family planning while at the same time giving girls access to basic education is probably the most important means of promoting gender equality today,” said Mr Holmås.

In many parts of the world women’s right to control their own bodies and health is still controversial. This is despite the fact that all experience confirms that a country’s development is dependent on women’s resources and expertise being fully utilised.

source mfa.norway

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OPINION: The way forward for South Sudan

Posted by African Press International on July 12, 2012

Happy first anniversary! One of the hardest questions I have had to endure while writing this piece is that of “what do you think needs to happen so that South Sudan can prosper as a nation?”
First thing first, like a one year old baby trying to prove that it is independent and can try to walk, that is what the youngest potential state in Africa is trying to do.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the rest of African nations and the world too as a whole corporates are these close friends to the already birthed mother-Kenya .
Kenya, here is like the closest thing to a mother to South Sudan, since Kenya played a critical role in peace negotiations that led to the signing of the CPA (
Comprehensive Peace Agreement ) in 2005. This effectively put an end to the
civil war between the two “Siamese twins”- the north Sudan
and the South Sudan .

The most important asset to a country is the citizens. The plea and cry have gone out loud and clear from South Sudanese people and the government. An appeal to fellow compatriots in the Diaspora to go back home and help rebuild their country. But even with this call, the South Sudanese government will need to provide a convincing open book on how serious it is in implementing reforms, fight corruption and reverse the legacy of political and social exclusion perpetuated earlier by Khartoum .

Trade and economic development needs to be championed. Trade cannot be divorced from peace, so to maintain internal peace, there is even more need to resolve the demarcation of borders between the half-brother republic  of Sudan . Enjoying border shares with Northern Sudan, Ethiopia , Kenya , Uganda , DRC and Central African Republic , cross border trade should be a channel of exploration.

With an oil crisis being experienced now, and the long-term measure of linking the Lamu port in Kenya to South Sudan via pipeline not in place, the short-term option remains in re-negotiating a new equitable, functional and just oil wealth sharing agreement with the North. This is one space the larger international community is monitoring. The issues largely being commercial investment and energy cum trade investment.

With security termed as the determinant for canvassing foreign investment, there is still one thing going for Juba . The south is blessed with arable land, water and natural resources that the north can only dream of. All these are awaiting exploitation.

Despite the challenges, there is still hope in this long journey. Nation building requires strong institutions, and even though many may criticize South Sudan as a ‘failed state’, I believe just like a baby who marks any birthday anniversary, it is a hope for growth and development. So this one year anniversary is that same bright hope for Southern Sudan .

End

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Resistance to relocation – Population pressure: Learning lessons from lethal landslides

Posted by African Press International on July 12, 2012

Rescue teams search for survivors on 25 June 2012

KAMPALA,  – Following a third landslide in as many years that left at least 18 dead and over 100 missing in eastern Uganda’s mountainous district of Bududa, experts are warning that unless long-term measures are put in place, similar disasters are inevitable.

The landslide, which ripped through four villages on the slopes of Mt Elgon amid a heavy downpour on the afternoon of 25 June, also displaced about 300 people. The minister for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees, Stephen Mallinga, announced on 26 June that the government had called off rescue operations and would focus on the recovery of bodies, an assessment of the needs of the displaced and the provision of humanitarian assistance.

More than 300 people were killed and 8,000 forced to abandon their homes when landslides struck Bududa District in March 2010, while hundreds in the area were left homeless following more landslides in August 2011. The danger of rainfall-induced landslides tends to be much greater in mountainous regions, where the steep terrain and heavy rains put dense populations at risk.

Population pressure

“We are going to see frequent occurrence of these disasters and loss of lives if population pressure and continuous abuse of environment [environmental degradation] at steep slopes, which are vulnerable areas is not addressed,” Mary Gorretti Kitutu Kimono, environment information systems specialist at Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), told IRIN. “People are looking for more land to grow food and settlement so they clear the vegetation and don’t practice good farming practices… making the soil weaker and vulnerable to be washed down whenever there is rain.”

Uganda has one of the highest population growth rates in the world. As more people settle on the mountain, more trees are felled to make way for homes and agriculture – making mudslides and flooding more common.

“As the rains continue, they will trigger more landslides on steep slopes of the mountain. What is needed now is to remove people from these hazardous areas and have the areas restored through tree-planting,” said Kimono.

A government official who preferred anonymity told IRIN: “There is need to work with farmers to ensure their farming is more sustainable and avoids environmental degradation. Agro-forestry should be reinforced by planting a lot of trees on steep slopes.”

Minister Mallinga warned that much of the area on the slopes of Mt Elgon, about 275km northeast of the capital Kampala, is too dangerous to live in. The Mt Rwenzori districts of Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Kasese, Kyenjojo in the west and the hilly areas of Kisoro, Kabale, Kanungu, Ntungamo and Rukungiri in the southwest are also at risk.

Resistance to relocation

The government has announced a plan to relocate more than 400,000 people from the country’s mountainous areas to more suitable land, and is urging communities in high-risk areas to move off the landslide-prone slopes. “Government advises all residents within the proximity to relocate to much safer areas,” said government spokesman Fred Opolot, in a statement.

“We are going to pass a law to have these people relocated and resettled elsewhere,” Mallinga said, adding that the government had drafted a national disaster preparedness policy and risk reduction strategy.

However, there has been fierce resistance to government efforts to relocate the most vulnerable people following the 2010 and 2011 landslides in Bududa and Bulambuli districts. Following the March 2010 landslide, the government relocated over 3,000 residents to the western district of Kiryandongo and gave each family 2.5 acres. However, some returned to the hills, citing ancestral links and more fertile soil.

“My appeal is for our people to be cooperative and leave these highly risky hills… Our people from time immoral have exhibited little cooperation and unwillingness to leave. Even those who were relocated sometime back have returned,” John Nambeshe, the Bududa district chairperson, told IRIN.

“People should be given alternative skills instead of looking at land alone. There is also need to check on high population pressure,” said Adonia Bintorwa, Mt Elgon area conservation manager. “The government should take a firm stand on resettlement and getting out these people from these risky and vulnerable areas. Enough is enough. Firm action and force should be applied to evacuate and relocate the people.”

Aid workers say the government must intensify its efforts to move vulnerable populations away from dangerous areas. “The permanent solution to these disasters is relocating people from the risky to safer areas. The government needs to put more resources on it,” Michael Nataka, secretary-general of the Uganda Red Cross Society, told IRIN.

Weather stations

Uganda also lacks the equipment and resources to monitor landslide-producing conditions. Michael Nkalubo, the commissioner for meteorology, told IRIN that the government would deploy automatic weather stations in different parts of country to improve weather forecasting. The United Nations World Food Programme recently gave the ministry of water and environment 14 automatic weather stations.
 
“The increased flow of weather data from such districts will enhance the generation of climate information products, which are needed to boost early warning services, disaster preparedness and ensure food security,” he said.

Experts have warned that global climate change has been changing the rainfall pattern [ http://reliefweb.int/node/353469 ] in Uganda from regular and moderate to more unexpected and extreme, raising risks of natural disasters like floods, landslides and prolonged drought. Among the expected disasters are: floods, landslides, earthquakes, disease outbreaks, construction accidents, wars, prolonged drought, pests and animal diseases.

so/kr/cb
source www.irinnews.org

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Activists say the number of maternal deaths is unacceptably high

Posted by African Press International on July 12, 2012

Activists say the number of maternal deaths is unacceptably high (file photo)

KAMPALA,  – A petition backed by over 50 NGOs and charging Uganda’s government with failing to prevent the deaths of expectant mothers was thrown out by the constitutional court on 5 June, but the petition’s supporters plan to appeal.

The constitutional court argued that upholding the petition, which urges the government to boost health services, would have forced judges to wade into a political issue that was outside their jurisdiction.

However, the petitioners said the court relied on outdated international law in making its decision and overlooked its constitutional obligation to protect Uganda’s mothers.

Principal State Attorney Patricia Mutesi, who argued the case for the government, said the petition “was asking the court to do the work of the parliament in reviewing the efficiency of the health sector”.

The petition, which centred around the deaths of two mothers (Sylvia Nalubowa in central Uganda and Jennifer Anguko in the north), got nationwide media coverage when it was filed in March 2011. It said the women’s deaths could have been prevented if the health centres where they died had had “basic indispensable health maternal commodities” and if health workers at the facilities had not neglected the two women.

In throwing out the case, the justices suggested the petitioners seek an order from the high court compelling a public officer, such as a government health worker, to carry out his or her duties, or to request compensation for individual deaths from the government.

On 14 June the petitioners filed a notice informing the Supreme Court and the Attorney General’s office of their plan to appeal against the constitutional court decision; they have 50 days to finalize and file the appeal.

Rights denied?

Moses Mulumba is the executive director of the Centre for Health, Human Rights & Development (CEHURD) – the group that originally pushed the petition forward. He said the court’s decision not to wade into a “political question” was based on antiquated law and failed to address the fact that women were being denied rights guaranteed under Uganda’s constitution.

“I think it was very wrong for the judiciary to rely on very old United States jurisprudence to inform their decisions on clear violations of human rights,” he said. The courts should focus on upholding the constitution, he said, instead of “hid[ing] under old political doctrines.”

In a country where statistics show that 16 women die every day from childbirth complications, the activists generally charged the government with perpetuating a maternal death rate that is “unacceptably high”. Ultimately, they are looking for the government to invest more in the country’s health system, to improve care and make sure critical resources are always available.

Valente Inziku, Anguko’s husband and one of the petitioners, said he watched his wife bleed to death as he tried to get nurses at the hospital to attend to her. “When she started bleeding seriously, the only the thing [the staff] did was they came and they told me… to clean the blood,” he said.

“People are disappointed, but we are not stopping there,” said Sylveria Alwoch, of the Uganda National Health Consumers Organization, one of the groups that supported the petition. “We are encouraging people to always report those cases. They shouldn’t be demotivated… They should still have that courage, that vigilance to speak out and bring out those issues.”

Win or lose, CEHURD’s Mulumba said the petition had raised awareness of the country’s ongoing maternal deaths and helped rally people around the cause.

ag/kr/cb source www.irinnews.org

 

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Still a struggle for small fishing communities

Posted by African Press International on July 12, 2012

Still a struggle for small fishing communities

JOHANNESBURG,- Illegal and unregulated fishing is rampant worldwide, particularly off the coasts of West Africa and the Horn of Africa, and accounts for between US$10 billion and $23 billion of direct losses globally every year, say the authors of the latest report on fisheries and aquaculture by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“Illegal fishing has negative impacts which are biological, environmental, economic and social,” Michele Kuruc, a fisheries expert at FAO, told IRIN via email.

“Much of the world’s fish are harvested from developing countries. In many cases fisheries management regimes – monitoring, control and surveillance systems, enforcement and compliance – are not sufficient in these places, making the fish stocks and communities which depend on them vulnerable.”

Illegal fishing and competition over dwindling resources from large-scale fishing vessels, including those operated by foreign companies without authorization, is one of the major problems facing small-scale fisheries in developing countries.

Small-scale fisheries directly affect the lives of about 357 million people. More than 90 percent of the world’s fishermen play a huge role in improving food security and alleviating poverty, particularly in developing countries, says The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012 (SOFIA) the flagship FAO report on the industry.

A joint study by FAO, WorldFish Centre and World Bank, released in 2012, found that more than half (54 percent) of capture fisheries production in marine and inland waters (excluding aquaculture) was contributed by small-scale fisheries.

Overexploitation

Overfishing – also an effect of illegal fishing – in their home waters has affected a large number of small fishing communities.

Top 5 African producers of bred fish in 2010
Egypt
Nigeria
Uganda
Kenya
Zambia

Many of the marine fish stocks monitored by FAO are under great pressure and the latest statistics available indicate that almost 30 percent are overexploited – a slight decrease from the previous two years. About 57 percent are fully exploited (i.e. at or very close to their maximum sustainable production) and only about 13 percent are non-fully exploited.

“Overexploitation not only causes negative ecological consequences, but it also reduces fish production, which leads to negative social and economic consequences,” the report notes. “To increase the contribution of marine fisheries to the food security, economies and the well-being of coastal communities, effective management plans must be put in place to rebuild overexploited stocks,” the authors suggest.

Countries have taken various steps to reduce overfishing, including limiting fleet sizes, reducing the number of fishing days, discouraging or prohibiting damaging fishing practices, introducing harvesting quota systems, and reserving inshore areas for exclusive use by small-scale fishing craft and gear.

Top 5 Asian producers of bred fish in 2010
China
India
Vietnam
Indonesia
Bangladesh

“The prevention, deterrence and elimination of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing (IUU fishing) remains a significant challenge for many countries, especially developing countries, and is often a precondition for departments of fisheries to pursue sustainable small-scale fisheries policies because of the intrusion of large-scale vessels into coastal fishing grounds,” Rolf Willmann, a senior fisheries expert at FAO, told IRIN via email.

“Considerable success has been possible in countries like the Philippines, where municipal waters are reserved for small-scale fisheries and government is promoting co-management arrangements between local government entities, civil society organizations and fishing communities. In small island states in the Pacific, many successful examples can be found of local level management of small-scale fisheries drawing on customary rights and traditions.”

Secure fishing rights

The report’s authors also suggest that more secure access and tenure rights for poor communities over their fishing grounds, in line with the recently adopted Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security, would help alleviate some of the problems.

“More secure fishing rights will motivate the communities to exert greater stewardship over the health of the fishery resources and promote co-management,” said Tina Farmer of the FAO via email. “The communities need further support to ensure that fish harvested is not wasted due to spoilage, or the inability to deliver fish in time to the market,” she wrote.

“Guiding principles and good practices for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries will be contained in a set of international guidelines that FAO is currently developing through a wide-ranging multi-stakeholder consultation process with governments, civil society organizations, fish-workers’ organizations and academia,” she said.

The SOFIA 2012 report reveals that a record 128 million tons of fish for human consumption was produced in 2010 – an average of 18.4kg per person – providing more than 4.3 billion people with about 15 percent of their animal protein intake.

While Asia accounted for two-thirds of the total consumption (85.4 million tons, 20.7kg per capita), people in Africa consumed the least amount of fish (9.1 million tons, 9.1 kg per capita). In some important fish producing countries like South Africa, Congo, Gabon and Malawi, fish consumption has remained static or declined.

The main reason for the decline in per capita fish consumption in some sub-Saharan countries is because production has not kept pace with population growth, said Stefania Vannuccini, an expert at FAO.

The economic slowdown in 2009 has also affected African imports of fish and fishery products, but the global fish trade is showing signs of a rebound. But fish prices have been climbing since the beginning of 2012, and the rising costs of energy and fish feed will keep them high. 

jk/he
source www.irinnews.org

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