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Archive for October 15th, 2012

Norway’s trade policy in the WTO

Posted by African Press International on October 15, 2012

The World Trade Organization (WTO) carries out regular reviews of member countries’ trade policies. This week the focus is on Norway. Norway has received close to 300 written comments and specific questions from other WTO member countries.

“Transparency is essential for ensuring greater predictability for all those involved in trade and economic activity across national borders. Norway actively supports the review system. We wish to set an example by being as open and clear about our own trade policy as possible,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

The Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) allows other WTO member countries to ask questions of the country under review. Norway has received close to 300 written comments and specific questions from other WTO countries.

Certain topics have generated particularly strong interest. These include issues such as state ownership in the Norwegian business sector, agricultural policy, the EEA Agreement as well as the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP scheme) and market access to Norway for developing countries.

The same applies to Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global and its role, as well as to regulations governing work permits and the approval of qualifications and education.

“We look forward to discussing these issues with other WTO member countries,” said Mr Eide.

The WTO conducts regular reviews of member countries’ trade policies. Norway’s trade policy is examined every four years on the basis of a report prepared by the WTO Secretariat on developments in all policy areas of relevance to trade and investment flows. Almost all the Norwegian ministries have provided input to the report. The Norwegian authorities have also prepared a shorter report on selected topics related to trade policy.


source mfa.norway

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Worst floods in Nigeria

Posted by African Press International on October 15, 2012

Women in front of their flooded homes in Sagbama, Bayelsa state

WARRI/LAGOS, – Some 1.3 million Nigerians have been displaced and 431 have died in what the authorities say is the worst flooding in over 40 years, with 30 of the country’s 36 states affected since July, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

Heavy rain has submerged much of Delta and Bayelsa states in the southwest, affecting some 350 communities and making 120,000 people homeless, according to the state authorities and the Nigerian Red Cross (NRC).

Flooding started in Plateau State in central Nigeria in July, spread through Borno, Cross River, Ebonyi, Nassarawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Katsina and Kebbi states in August, hit Taraba Benue, Niger, Kaduna and Kano in September, before affecting Delta and Bayelsa states in September and October.

Thousands of people who had sheltered in dozens of temporary displacement sites in Delta and Bayelsa states have had to flee once again as they have been flooded, forcing agencies to build new ones on higher ground.

In Bayelsa’s capital, Yenagoa, 3,000 people are sleeping in the Ovom State Sports Complex.

Thousands of houses, some 20 health clinics and five hospitals, as well as dozens of schools, churches and government buildings have been destroyed or damaged in Delta State. Six of Bayelsa’s eight districts were flooded, according to Emenike Umesi, NEMA’s zonal coordinator in Port Harcourt.

Most of the schools in the affected area are closed or currently occupied by internally displaced persons (IDPs).

It is not yet known how many hectares of crops have been destroyed but many farmers told IRIN they had lost everything – including this year’s yam, cassava and cocoa yam crop – while most of the fisheries were also flooded. “All my sources of livelihood are destroyed… I am pleading with the federal government to compensate us and find a lasting solution to the flood menace,” said Philip Ofodemu, a farmer from the Kwele community in Delta State.


Aid agencies have been “overwhelmed” by the extent of the damage and the response needs stronger coordination, said Abdul Mariga, an NRC disaster management coordinator.

The agency has prioritized evacuating stranded communities and providing as many tents, healthcare services and basics (such as cooking utensils) as it can from its warehouse in Lagos.

Most IDPs IRIN spoke to were in desperate need of food aid. “We have not been given food since we arrived,” said Evelyn Oyatu, who fled with her four children from Ebedebiri to Yenagoa, which itself faced severe flooding. “I’m weak. The state government should come to our aid,” she told IRIN.

Another flood survivor in Yenagoa, Gloria Ozuo, told IRIN, crying, that she and her children had been given a small loaf of bread the day before. “We die for hungry here,” she told IRIN.

Photo: Emmanuel Gbemudu/IRIN
Toru Orua primary school in Sagbama is flooded alongside dozens of others in the region

NEMA’s Umesi promised food aid would arrive soon.

On 9 October President Goodluck Jonathan allocated 17.6 billion naira (US$111 million) to states and agencies to respond to flood damage and set up a committee to lead flood relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Several international NGOs, including Oxfam, have launched responses, while NRC, responding in 10 states, is appealing for US$850,000 to boost its efforts.


Many displaced residents are also angry the government has not done more to prevent flooding which occurs every year during the August to October rainy season in these low-lying, flat states intersected by swamps, creeks and rivers.
Bayelsa and Delta States have the country’s largest supplies of crude oil, yet residents have complained bitterly for decades that oil wealth has not gone into improved development in the area.

In August the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) predicted heavy rains this year, warning local authorities and residents to keep drainage ditches clear, but as usual, warnings were either ignored or not taken seriously, said NIMET director Anthony Anuforo.

Seriake Dickson, governor of Yenagoa, pushed the authorities to unblock drainage channels there, significantly lowering the impact of flooding this year, he said. But few other towns did the same.

In Bayelsa, many residents are angry that the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), set up in 2000 to boost development and ecological health in Delta State, has not worked on dredging and sand-filling flood-prone areas.

“Until we use funds accruing from the crude oil to address this kind of environmental challenge for the common good, the government will not be seen as responsive and citizens cannot remain loyal or patriotic,” Alagoa Morris, project officer with the Environmental Rights Action group, told IRIN.

NDDC’s director could not be reached as he had been displaced. Meanwhile with more rains predicted, more flooding is expected.



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Kenya: Managing Diabetes using virtual information sharing

Posted by African Press International on October 15, 2012

By Thomas Ochieng, reporting from Kenya Ochieng Thomas reporting from Kenya Ochieng Thomas reporting from Kenya

The World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) in collaboration with the International Media Support (IMS) working with the government of Kenya has embarked on a pilot project to run from 27th September to December 2012 using virtual technology aimed at improving public access to information on diabetes in Kenya.

In Kenya today and indeed many developing countries in Africa have very minimal access to the mainstream media hence they are often unaware of general information on Non-Communicable diseases such as diabetes, the consequences, the prevention and management information of the condition, which according to health experts is a lifelong condition. This is the main objective of the project dubbed ‘Tuangamize Kisukari’, which has brought together Diabetes stakeholders together with media practitioners for the realization of this virtual information dissemination.

The website of the project will comprise information, links and documents that are of importance to diabetes patients and the general public. By visiting the Tuangamize Kisukari web page one will be able to know about the latest research and findings in a user-friendly format that is understandable written in layman’s language. The site also has information of the support groups in ones locality, clinics and hospital services.

The virtual tool also comprises of an SMS platform supported by the Frontline SMS,is equipped  with features such as SMS alerts, reminders for clinic, drug dispensation, diet plans and exercise routine. The platform will also periodically conduct polls and surveys on pertinent issue like levels of treatment, the drug being dispensed and levels of interaction between the health workers and diabetes patients.


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Armed conflict has a far less drastic effect on children’s education than generally believed

Posted by African Press International on October 15, 2012

Education often improves during conflict – report

NAIROBI,  – Armed conflict has a far less drastic effect on children’s education than generally believed, according to the 2012 edition of the Human Security Report, which noted that peacetime improvements in education tend to continue during times of war.

In fact, educational outcomes – on average – improve in wartime, something “rarely even mentioned in the major reports on education in the developing world that are produced by international agencies like UNESCO and UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund], by advocacy groups, and many researchers,” said the report, published by the Human Security Report Project (HSRP), an independent research centre affiliated with Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver.

“[One] possible explanation is that war does have the expected negative impact, but that this is more than counterbalanced by other factors. In Afghanistan, for example, a dramatic improvement in school enrolments followed a massive infusion of international assistance to the educational sector after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, despite the ongoing insurgency,” it said.

The findings were based on data from several studies, including a 2011 survey of 25 countries by UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, an analysis by US-based Education Policy and Data Center, and a study by the Peace Research Institute Oslo for the 2011 World Development Report.

Examples of the negative impact cited include the death, injury and displacement of students and teachers, as well as destruction of educational infrastructure. But these tend to take undeserved prominence in most mainstream reports, the report said.

“If policy-makers are concerned with low educational outcomes in wartime, then policy needs to address their root causes—i.e., those that predate the fighting,” it concluded.




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Kenya: 14 in primary schools in Suba District are targeted to be dewormed

Posted by African Press International on October 15, 2012

By Maurice Alal reporting from Kisumu Maurice Alal reporting from Kisumu.Kenya Maurice Alal reporting from Kisumu.Kenya

A total over 60,000 children between the ages of two and 14 in primary schools in Suba District are targeted to be dewormed by October 31 this year, area District Education Officer (DEO), Joseph Olepardia has said.

The Education officer said the program is funded by the World Health Organization (WHO) among other donors. Olepardia said the exercise will be implemented by the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, and that of Education across the country.

It is reported that the deworming program targets at least 5 million children across the country to reduce parasitic infection to pupils.

However, Olepardia further revealed that Suba district has 107 public and 103 private primary schools which the deworming exercise will be undertaken with the help of the trained teachers to administer the drug.

According to Parasitological survey carried out in Nyanza, Rift Valley and parts of Western regions indicates that parasitic load is high among the children of school going hence requires a mass drug administration as per WHO recommendation.

“The worms suck either blood or nutrients that are needed for development of the brain cells,” reports showed. To undertake the program effectively, the two ministries have rolled out a training exercise for teachers countrywide ahead of the national deworming day to be held on October 31,2012.

The two trained teachers per schools will in turn train other teachers to help in undertaking the administration of the drug to the pupils.
However health experts said that worm related ailments contributed at least 25% of the absenteeism among school going children.

They further said that at least 13 % of the children in Kenya were likely to be literate due to worms. This can be linked to the low literacy level in areas where the spread of these worms is rampant.

The DEO called upon parents and children to embrace the anticipated deworming exercise to curb the spread of worms in the region.



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Kenya: Fire department in Naivasha raises a red flag

Posted by African Press International on October 15, 2012

By Jackson Marwa in Naivasha Kenya Jackson Marwa reporting from Kenya Jackson Marwa reporting from Kenya

The fire department at Naivasha Municipal Council has raised a red flag of being denied access to some buildings as they goes up on fire.

According to the department, the owners were calling them during the inferno to respond to the disasters later informing them that they could cope with the fire.

The latest incident was at a three star hotel located in the CBD went on flames and access denied after the fire department was called by the owner.

The department sentiments were echoed by Lake View councilor Simon Wanango who criticizes the type of the behavior.

“They only call the council during the fire incidents yet they don’t allow our staff to access their premises”

He said that the council was not charging them any single coins yet they on calling us to assist them.



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