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Archive for March 15th, 2013

Mother’s are Special at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Cairo Heliopolis

Posted by African Press International on March 15, 2013

Cairo – Radisson Blu Hotel, CairoHeliopolis

When Nasser Ewais the Director of Kitchen expresses his feelings about mothers, you can be sure they are guaranteed special treatment at Radisson Blu Hotel, Cairo Heliopolis this Mother’s Day. Mother's day Cake Mother’s day Cake

“We produce everything fresh at Radisson Blu Heliopolis, everything. We visit our suppliers to check the quality. We create our own sauces, stocks, soups, squeeze our own juice. Everything is fresh – if I don’t see it created I am not happy or secure in what we offer our guests.” said Nasser Ewais

Families that pre-book their dinner will be presented with a personalized Mother’s Day chocolate cake in Filini or Mix; the buffet in Mix will have splendid displays of homemade oriental delicacies and sweets. Table settings will add style to the atmosphere. “We will create a special occasion for the mums,” added Nasser.

As Director of Kitchen for Radisson Blu Heliopolis, he creates the frameworks for his staff. “We ensure consistent standards of quality and hygiene (the Radisson Blu Hotel, Cairo Heliopolis has twice achieved the coveted Gold Certificate from Hospitality Industry Integrated Services) and ensure staff understand what is being asked of them.

“Mothers manage the hard things in life, but a good mother ensures there will be good children and a good family. They have time to teach and watch, and a big heart to love and forgive.”  So it’s time for them to be special at Radisson Blu Heliopolis on this particular occasion” He continued.

Radisson Blu, operated by The Rezidor Hotel Group and Europe’s largest upper upscale brand, offers first class service, providing guests with a contemporary hospitality experience. Radisson Blu has received numerous awards as Best Hotel Chain and is renowned for its “Yes I Can!” spirit of service and the “100% Guest Satisfaction Guarantee”. September 2005 saw the roll out of a free broadband service across the portfolio – the first international hotel chain to offer this service. Radisson Blu currently includes more than 260 hotels in operation or under development in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Nevine Nader, is the Director of Public Relations & Communication


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In rural areas, people trek long distances to find water

Posted by African Press International on March 15, 2013

By Kenneth Odiwuor

Photo: Siegfried Modola/Irin
NAIROBI,  – Collusion among government officials, unscrupulous water vendors and large farm owners results in diverted water supply lines, misappropriated funds, and failure to implement laws on protecting water sources from encroachment and pollution. These are just some of the ways corruption is denying millions of poor people in Africa access to safe and clean drinking water, experts say.

“The impact of corruption on the water sector is manifested by lack of sustainable delivery, inequitable investment and targeting of resources, and limited participation of affected communities in developmental processes,” Bethlehem Mengistu, regional advocacy manager at the NGO Water Aid, told IRIN.

In a 2010 report, the UN World Health Organization (WHO), estimated that around 780 million people around the world, including 343 million in Africa, did not have access to an “improved drinking water supply”, meaning a running water network, public drinking fountains, protected wells or springs, or rainwater tanks.

Globally, an estimated 3 million deaths result from water-borne diseases annually, according to WHO.

According to the World Bank, 20 to 40 percent of public finances worldwide meant for the water sector are lost due to corruption and dishonest practices.

Denied water

In Africa, climate change and burgeoning populations have caused competition over scarce water resources, at times leading to communal conflicts. Experts say corruption exacerbates Africa’s water problems.

“More specific examples of how corruption denies poor people access to water include situations where wealthy or politically connected people use their position to unduly influence the location of a water source at the cost of the poor,” Maria Jacobson, programme officer at the UN Development Programme’s Water Governance Facility (WGF), at the Stockholm International Water Institute, told IRIN.

According to Jacobson, the poor “don’t have the resources to participate in a corrupt system that relies on bribes”, and therefore “lose out in terms of poor water services”.

“Poor people also have few, if any, means to enter alternative markets when corrupt public systems fail to deliver,” she added.

A 2008 report by Transparency International (TI), a global corruption watchdog, estimated that corruption denied more than a billion people access to safe drinking water and kept 2.8 billion from accessing sanitation services.

In Tanzania, a 2012 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Water Alternatives revealed that a large-scale agricultural and livestock farming project – on a 14 hectare plot of land in the Iringa area leased out by the government to a private company, allegedly without following the legal process – led to contamination of nearby water sources serving some 45,000 people.

The study, conducted by the Italian NGO ACRA (Cooperazione Rurale in Africa e America Latina), said fertilizers, pesticides and animal waste from the farm washed downstream to the water points.

“While there are mechanisms within Tanzanian law to limit potentially polluting activities, establish protected zones around water sources, and empower water-user organizations to exercise control over activities that damage the quality of water, in practice, in the Iringa region, these were not effective as many procedures were not followed,” the authors said.

In developing countries, corruption is estimated to, according to the TI report, “raise the price for connecting a household to a water network by as much as 30 per cent,” which leads to an inflation of the “overall costs for achieving the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation, cornerstones for remedying the global water crisis, by more than US$48 billion.”

In Kenya, for instance, poor people in the capital, Nairobi, pay 10 times more for water than their wealthier counterparts, according to TI.


The incompetence of national and local authorities, too, is to blame.

“Because the revenue that is collected from the water sector is not ring-fenced, it is not ploughed back in to improve services. It is not uncommon to see leaking and broken pipes and water pumps in many parts of urban and rural regions of Africa countries,” Barrack Luseno, a Kenyan water sector analyst, told IRIN.

In Malawi, according to the TI report, water collection points constructed between 1988 and 2002 were mostly placed in areas where such facilities already existed, largely due to “political patronage.”

“The key drivers [of corruption] are limitations of participation, transparency and accountability. It is usually the case that the details of sector resourcing is confined, there is limited participation of right holders in critical issues of development, and the checks and balances to key decision-making roles are weak,” Water Aid’s Mengistu added.

Water Aid recommended in a 2012 report that governments invest more but also put measures in place to fight the runaway graft in the water sector.

“Governments and donors must ensure that rigorous checks and balances are in place to tackle corruption and minimize waste,” said the report.

“Poor people also have few, if any, means to enter alternative markets when corrupt public systems fail to deliver”

It gave the example of the Ugandan government and donors moving quickly to tackle the misappropriation of funds that occurred in the country’s water sector at the end of 2012.

“There is a continuing need to enhance the accountability of governments in delivering services and fulfilling their obligations as duty bearers. Community service organisations have an important role to play as watchdogs to ensure rights holders receive their entitlements,” it added.

Involving communities in decision making and putting more investment into the sector are some of the ways to ensure access for more people.

“We must ensure integrity by ensuring more openness in dealing with issues of land and water. Remember, for rural communities, access to land is commensurate with access to water. This explains the conflict between pastoralist and farming communities,” Luseno added.


Some have advocated for the privatization of water services. In Africa, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire are cited as privatization success stories. But critics, fearing increased prices, say that putting life-sustaining resource in the hands of for-profit companies would be dangerous.

Karen Bakers says in her 2010 book Privatizing Water: Governance failure and the world’s urban water crisis, “an increasing consensus has developed that private sector participation in water supply will not be able, as some proponents has hoped, to succeed where governments have failed to provide water for all.”

According to the WGF, the ideological debates over the privatization of water services “do not benefit those lacking sustainable drinking water supply and sanitation.”

The World Bank estimates by 2007, some 160 million people were being served by private water operators globally. About 50 million of these people are served by public-private partnerships that can be considered successful.

But privatization has produced different results for different countries.

In Mozambique, a World Bank study revealed that access to water in the capital, Maputo, had improved since the delegation of water management to private companies.

In Uganda, water sector reforms included more funding from the government and better management of the National Water and Sewerage Corporation – a privately managed but publicly owned water company responsible for the 15 largest cities in the country. According to Water Aid, in just five years after the reforms, it had transformed from being a highly inefficient, underperforming and loss-making body to a healthy and financially sustainable public corporation. Service coverage grew from 48 to 74 percent between 1998 and 2010. The same period witnessed household connections increase from 53,000 to 246,259.

Still, corruption has been a challenge.

“In a study of corruption in Uganda’s water sector, private contractors estimated the average bribe related to a contract award to be 10 percent [of the total cost]. The same study showed that 46 per cent of all urban water consumers had paid extra money for connections,” said WGF’s Jacobson.

Kenya, on the other hand, abandoned plans to open up Nairobi’s water supply to private companies, fearing it would inflate water prices.

In 2008, Mali experienced anti-privatization protests that left one person dead and five others injured in the capital, Bamako.

In Ghana, water tariffs increased by 80 percent after privatization, and a third of the country’s population still has no access to safe and clean water.

“Experience suggests that to make private sector engagement work, effective government regulatory powers are required,” says WGF.

Ending corruption in the sector, experts like WGF’s Jacobson say, would require diagnosing the effectiveness of anticorruption interventions, creating legal and financial reforms, and building public sector capacity.



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Grim food security outlook

Posted by African Press International on March 15, 2013

One in five people in rural Zimbabwe need food assistance, according to WFP

HARARE,  – Laina Tavengwa, 34, from Wedza District in Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East Province, no longer sees a point in farming her family’s four-hectare plot.

When the first rains of the season fell in mid-November last year, she reluctantly heeded her husband’s advice to start planting, but she put only a hectare under maize and allocated an acre to groundnuts.

The crop suffered under a dry spell in December, and when heavy rains set in, Tavengwa was unable to tend the plot or apply fertilizer – which she did not have anyway.

“When the heavy rains stopped, my maize, just like that of my neighbours, was yellowing and looked too sick, and I vowed to my husband that I would never again think of planting maize in my lifetime.

“There is no reason to be going back to the fields every year when you know that you are never going to get anything out of them,” she told IRIN.

Most of the maize crop in Goto Village, where Tavengwa resides, is of uneven height, looks sickly and bears small cobs.

“There is no hope of a good harvest this year again. For the fourth year, we will have to beg for food from well-wishers. I have travelled across Wedza and it seems the majority of the people will not have much to put in their granaries,” Simon Maveza, a village elder, told IRIN.

Though rains have recently returned, Maveza said it was too late for their crops, mostly maize, to recover.

Critical condition

Denford Chimbwanda, former president of the Grain and Cereal Producers Association of Zimbabwe (GPCA), told IRIN that although crops were doing well in regions such as Mashonaland Central and West and parts of Mashonaland East, many areas of the country would suffer poor harvests this year.

“There are pockets of good harvests in some traditionally arid regions like Masvingo, but the crop situation is bad in Matabeleland and parts of the Midlands and Manicaland. I would say about a third of the land that was planted is going to be severely affected, meaning that there will be a cereal shortage this year again,” Chimbwanda told IRIN.

“There is no hope of a good harvest this year again. For the fourth year, we will have to beg for food from well-wishers”

In February, the Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union (ZFU) indicated in its crop and livestock update that most crops were showing signs of stress due to erratic rains, and that maize crops in many areas were in a critical condition.

Joseph Made, the agriculture minister, whose department is coordinating its annual crop and livestock assessment in conjunction with humanitarian agencies, revealed recently that the area planted for major food crops had declined from about 1.9 million hectares in 2012 to around 1.5 million hectares this year.

“The area planted for major food crops, namely maize, sorghum and millet has temporarily declined… due to inadequate financial support and late rains,” he reportedly said during an address at a military training college.

Food security poor

Looming bad harvests will add to an already poor food security situation characterized by severe shortages.

Tavengwa said last year’s harvests were the worst she had seen in a long time. Her family managed to salvage only 10kg of maize, which lasted them less than two weeks.

“I struggle every day to feed the family. My mind is always preoccupied with what I must do to ensure that we don’t die of hunger,” said Tavengwa, a mother of three sets of twins. Her husband has been bedridden since he had a stroke two years ago.

She frequently travels to Harare to sell dried green vegetables that she buys from vendors at the nearby Wedza business centre. The money she earns is enough to ensure that the family gets one main meal a day, but she has not paid school fees for her children since the term began in January.

According to Felix Bamezon, UN World Food Programme (WFP) country director, Zimbabwe’s current food insecurity levels are the worst in three years. “During the peak hunger period of January to March 2013, approximately 19 percent of Zimbabwe’s rural population – the equivalent of one in five people – are estimated to be in need of food assistance,” he told IRIN.

Of the country’s 13 million people, WFP and the government are providing food aid to 1.58 million in 37 districts across the country.

The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee report of 2012 indicated that the worst-affected areas are Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South, and parts of Mashonaland, Midlands and Manicaland provinces.

Bamezon explained that WFP was mainly providing assistance to subsistence farmers and other food insecure people who were badly hit by last year’s drought. “In many parts of the country, particularly in the south, the maize they harvested barely lasted a few months, bringing an early start to the ‘hunger season’, which will end with the next harvest expected in April,” he told IRIN.

Under the programme, in which the government for the first time provided 35,000 metric tons of maize from the strategic grain reserve, beneficiaries are receiving maize meal, cooking oil and pulses. In selected areas, 250,000 people are receiving cash to buy food.

fm/ks/rz source

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