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Archive for May 19th, 2013

Kenya: MPs urged not focus on salary increment at the expense of service delivery

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2013

President Uhuru Kenyatta has appealed to Members of Parliament not push for salary increment at the expense of serving Kenyans.

President Kenyatta said once the Members of Parliament deliver their pledges and the economy grows by double digits, Kenyans will have no problem paying them the salaries they want.

“We all made pledges to the people of Kenya and we should work together irrespective of party affiliation to deliver on those promises including growing our economy by double digits,” the President said.

The Head of State was speaking today when he presided over this year’s Chairman’s Prize Tournament at the Nyeri Golf Club in Nyeri town.

On sports, President Kenyatta reassured of this Government’s commitment to develop sports facilities across the country as a way of promoting sports.

Noting that sports are a major source of income and are employing thousands of people worldwide, President Kenyatta said his Government
intends to build a vibrant sports industry in which the country’s young people can earn a decent living.

“Indeed, players who excel in various sports are some of the best paid professionals whom you will find anywhere in the world,” President
Kenyatta said.

The President added: “As we seek to promote sports in the country, we must bear in mind that golf, and indeed other sports disciplines, are no longer
mere social events for recreation and entertainment.”

President Kenyatta called on Kenyans, particularly the youth, to embrace sports including golf both as a means of maintaining fitness and good
health as well as a source of income.

Saying one of Jubilee Coalition’s pledges was development of five modern medium-size stadia in selected regional headquarters in the country, the
President reiterated that his Government is fully committed to fulfilling that and other pledges made to Kenyans.

Towards this end, President Kenyatta said his Government is already in the process of finding ways and means of improving the general sports
infrastructure in the country.

“We will do this in the full realization that excellence in sports cannot be achieved without proper infrastructure and equipment,” President
Kenyatta said.

He, therefore, said his Government will be seeking resources and engaging all stakeholders with a view to ensuring that the country’s aspirations as
a sporting nation are realized.

On the proposal to develop a public golf course in which members of the public who cannot afford the membership of golf clubs can play, the
President said that relevant plans and arrangements toward the development of the facility within Kasarani International Sports Centre have been
on-going.

He assured Kenyans that his Government will expedite the necessary measures to ensure the public golf course becomes a reality.

In this connection, President Kenyatta fully supported the reclaiming of land that may have been grabbed and that was originally intended for
development of sports facilities.

Noting that the Government cannot single-handedly raise the resources needed to put in place the requisite sports infrastructure, the President called on corporate organizations to join the Government in the development of sports facilities in the country.

President Kenyatta, at the same time, challenged sports managers in the country to ensure the country’s reputation in athletics is replicated in
other sporting disciplines.

In particular, the President said there was urgent need to streamline the management of football which is the most popular sport in the country.

“We must improve the standards of soccer in the country so that our football teams can excel in the region, in the continent and beyond,” the
President said.

The Head of State added that there was also need to get people to enjoy football made in Kenya rather than just watching the English league.

Similarly, the President said the standards of other sports also need to be raised including reclaiming the country’s lost glory in boxing, saying
additional support should be provided to the national rugby team that is making good gains internationally.

Said the President: “As we do this, we must not lose sight of the need to encourage and motivate our athletes in order to sustain our reputation as
the home of the world’s best athletes.”

Appreciating that the Chairman’s Prize tournament has been running annually since 1929, the President observed that the tournament is one of
the longest running sports championships in the country.

He pledged to continue supporting Nyeri Golf Club and thanked its members for supporting him to become the Head of State.

The President also took the opportunity to congratulate all elected leaders and urged them to deliver the pledges they made to the people of
Kenya.

Sports, Culture and Arts Cabinet Secretary Mr. Hassan Wario called upon sports federations in the country to put structures in place that will
ensure sporting talent is tapped and nurtured appropriately.

On his part, Nyeri County Governor Nderitu Gachagwa commended President Kenyatta for appointing to Cabinet technocrats with impressive track
records of performance, saying there was no doubt they will succeed in driving the economy to double digits growth rate over the next five years.

 

End

Source. statehouse

 

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Justine Sija has boosted her business as a fish vendor through access to microcredit

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2013

Justine Sija has boosted her business as a fish vendor through access to microcredit

TOLIARA,  – Justine Sija, 60, begins her day at 4am, when she buys catch from local fishermen to hawk on the streets of St Augustin Village, in Madagascar’s southern Atsimo-Andrefana Region. The work is hard, but in the last year, access to microcredit has boosted both her business and her hope for the future.

“Before, I used to make 10,000 to 20,000 ariary (US$4.50 to $9) a day. Now, with the credit, I can make double that amount,” she told IRIN. “I can put my four [grand]children in school, buy some livestock and save the rest of the money. Eventually, I plan to sell other goods also, like rice and other local products,” Sija said.

Madagascar’s microfinance sector was established in 1990, but it began to experience rapid growth only in the last 10 years; it was worth about 22.7 billion ariary ($10 million) in 2002, and by 2011, it was valued at about 244.4 billion ariary ($112 million).

Microfinance is seen as a vehicle to help Madagascar attain some of its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly the goal on eradicating extreme poverty. The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) says about 85 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.

The poor often lack access to formal banking and credit services; according to some estimates, only 2 percent of low-income households have access to credit. Instead, they rely on informal money lenders, who charge annual interest rates for unsecured loans of between 120 to 400 percent – compared with microfinance institutions’ (MFI) average rate of 36 percent for the same period, or between 2 and 4 percent a month. (The country’s annual inflation rate was pegged at 5.4 percent in March 2013.)

Madagascar’s microfinance sector has about 31 players, which include state, foreign investor and donor-supported initiatives, operating under a legal framework and regulated by Madagascar’s Central Bank.

Since 2011, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UNCDF have jointly managed the $350,000 Support Programme for Inclusive Finance for Madagascar (PAFIM), which operates through three MFIs and charges a zero interest rate on loans.

“Through this mechanism we have good hope that the cycle of poverty caused by poor farmers’ debts will be broken,” Fatma Samoura, UNDP’s country representative, told IRIN.

Education needed

“People in Madagascar need to work together and the poor here need a direct approach to development. The products are there, but people also need the right education to be able to access them,” said Harinavalona Rajaonah, who works at Ombona Tahiry Ifampisamborana Vola (OTIV), one of the UNDP-partnered microfinance organizations.

“We have tried to put a culture of credit access into place here. The hardest part is to change the mentality of the people,” Jean Olivier Razafimanantsoa, regional director of the Central Bank-registered credit cooperative Caisses d’Epargne et de Crédit Agricole Mutuelles (CECAM), told IRIN.

“We work together with other organizations in the city, as some people are a member [of other MFIs] everywhere, and so they take out too many loans. Also, the farmers tend to overestimate how much they need. They want us to finance their rice crop, which is worth 700,000 ariary ($321), but they’ll come and ask for two million ($917). When you ask them how they got to this amount, they don’t know,” he said.

All microloan borrowers receive business advice, but with technical assistance and funding from UNDP, microfinance players have also established microcredit education programmes aimed at vulnerable groups.

One such programme, run by CECAM, mainly targets poor female street vendors. Razafimanantsoa says the programme has 1,303 clients, including Sija and other women from St Augustin Village. The women must save between 200 and 400 ariary ($0.09 to $0.18) a week, as part of the initial loan agreement.

They are then enrolled in lending system that goes through nine cycles, the first entitling the recipient to an 80,000 ariary ($36) loan. Each time the clients repay a loan, they are eligible for another, with progressively higher loan ceilings up to 300,000 ariary ($137). Repayment schedules range from a few months to a year. The programme also offers education on basic money management, family planning and health issues.

After completing all the cycles, the women become eligible for CECAM’s normal commercial microcredit system.

“Right now, our goal is for these women to eat three times a day and feed their children, but eventually, they should be able to build up a guarantee to get a commercial business going and enter into the regular CECAM system,” Razafimanantsoa said.

Cyclone

The weekly obligatory savings plan acts as a buffer against hard times, which is especially important in this cyclone-prone country.

After Cyclone Haruna struck Madagascar in February, many of CECAM’s clients in Toliara, the regional capital of Atsimo-Andrefana Region, were left penniless.

“The first weeks, we didn’t give out any more loans, as we were afraid people would just use the money to eat. We are now helping some of the women who have lost their homes to reschedule their loans,” Razafimanantsoa said.

“After I got the microcredit, I went from selling 100 eggs a day to selling up to 300. I could send my children to a private school”

Prisca, 33, who did not provide her family name, from Belem, a district of Toliara, had entered her second credit cycle, and was using the capital to buy eggs from producers to sell at the market. “After I got the microcredit, I went from selling 100 eggs a day to selling up to 300. I could send the children to a private school and was able to buy some chickens,” she told IRIN.

But she was left homeless in the wake of the cyclone, and now lives in a displacement camp, sharing a tent with 10 others. “We left with only the clothes on our back. The first week we stayed in a school. Then the BNGRC [National Disaster Risk Reduction Office] came to give us these tents,” she said.

Prisca owes a 44,000 ariary ($20) debt to CECAM, and in the interim has enrolled in a cash-for-work project. “We’re working to rehabilitate the roads, earning 24,000 ariary ($11) a week. I want to pay the CECAM [debt] first, as that will enable me to take out a new loan. Then, I can earn money again and rebuild the house little by little. This credit is what takes care of our daily needs,” she said.

In the wake of the disaster, Sija, the fishmonger, was grateful for the loan’s savings requirement. “We pay back our loans from our savings,” she said. “After the cyclone in February, we had some problems paying, as there were no more goods to sell, so it was good I had saved up some money.”

Growing businesses

The programmes are working.

Hanisoa Ravalison, 43, operates a small roadside restaurant selling sausages and simple meals in the village of Ambanitsena, about 26km east of Antananarivo, the capital. Following a visit by an OTIV agent, who recruits prospective clients, Ravalison decided to expand her business.

“At first, I borrowed money to renovate and enlarge the snack bar and to buy a fridge,” she told IRIN. “Now, I use money to buy more goods, so I can make more profit.”

Ravalison is in the tenth borrowing cycle of OTIV’s 12 cycles – which have an initial loan of 60,000 ariary ($27.50) and reach a loan ceiling of 440,000 ariary ($201).

“Before I received training, I just used the money I made to buy whatever was needed. Now, I separate personal expenses and money for the business. I also know the difference between sales and profits and know that I need to use part of the profits to make the company run.”

On a good day, her restaurant takes in 85,000 ariary ($39). “During holidays and festivals, we sell as many as 100kg of sausages,” she said.

Her husband has set up a second restaurant, and two of their five children work in the family businesses. Ravalison said her next business plan was to open a wholesale food business.

Liva Harininana Ramanatenasoa began a small business selling charcoal in Ambanitsena. “One day, an agent from OTIV came along and explained that, with microcredit, I could do better,” she told IRIN.

With the first loan, Ramanatenasoa bought more charcoal. “Without credit, I would be able to buy 10 bags maximum, but with credit, I could afford as many as 22, so I made a lot more profit,” she said.

Two years after first enrolling in the microcredit scheme, Ramanatenasoa used the profits from her charcoal business to buy the rights to a stone quarry for 200,000 ariary ($90). She now employs a staff of 14. Profits from the business have enabled her to build a house and put her children in school.

“If it wasn’t for the credit, I would have still been selling coal,” she said.

ar/go/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

 

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Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is endemic

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2013

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is endemic

LAHORE/DUBAI, – Hamza Mazhar, a 35-year-old teacher from Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore, says he never wants to see the inside of a government hospital again.

“My mother was taken to the hospital with an upper respiratory tract infection in February this year and doctors said she needed care in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU),” he told IRIN.

But the doctors in charge wanted the family to pay a bribe to get into the ICU, which had plenty of spare beds. They could not afford to pay. His mother was unable to get the treatment she needed and in March she died.

Health care in Pakistan is identified as one of the country’s most corrupt sectors, according to surveys by Transparency International; general surveys suggest the majority of Pakistanis are unhappy with the health services they are offered.

This is just one of the many challenges facing Pakistan’s health system, as identified in the first ever comprehensive assessment of the sector, published in the medical journal The Lancet and launched today in Islamabad.

Entitled Health Transitions in Pakistan, the series of articles says Pakistan’s health sector lags behind 12 countries in the region with cultural, economic and geographic similarities.

Pakistan has no national health insurance system and 78 percent of the population pay health care expenses themselves. It is the only country in the world without a National Health Ministry.

The report authors say the recently elected government has a unique opportunity to push through reforms and take advantage of recent constitutional changes that devolve health care to the provinces.

The findings are not entirely negative. Progress has been made on all health indicators in the past 20 years. The rates of child deaths and maternal mortality have fallen, and the community-based Lady Health Workers programme is singled out for praise.

But improvements have been much slower coming than in other similar countries. IRIN picked out four major challenges from the health assessment.

1. Avoidably high child and maternal mortality

The assessment’s authors describe Pakistan’s progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals for reducing child and material mortality (4&5) as “unsatisfactory”.

Pakistan, with its population of 180 million, has more child, foetal and maternal deaths than all but two of the world’s nations.

The report calls child survival “the most devastating and large-scale public health and humanitarian crisis Pakistan faces”.

An estimated 423,000 children under-five die each year, almost half of them new-born babies. Family planning options are also limited and nearly a million women attempt unsafe abortions each year.

Simple measures like training more nurses and midwives (currently outnumbered by doctors 2:1) could save more than 200,000 women and child lives in 2015, the report’s authors say.

2. Nutrition

A lack of adequate nutrition for children contributes to the high number of child and maternal deaths. Nearly 40 percent of children under-five areunderweight and more than half are affected by stunting.

Poor nutrition weakens the body’s natural defence mechanisms.

But the report also says that malnutrition affects the Pakistani economy, with estimates that it costs the country 3 percent of GDP every year, particularly through reduced productivity in young adults.

3. “Lifestyle diseases

In Pakistan, as more widely throughout south Asia, non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart problems have replaced communicable diseases like malaria and diarrhoea in the past two decades as the leading causes of death and morbidity.

This general trend has not been matched by an adaptation in the Pakistani health system or government policy. Poor road safety, cheap cigarettes and high-levels of obesity (one in four adults) all lead to preventable deaths.

So-called “lifestyle diseases” could cost the country nearly US$300 million in 2025, according to the report’s authors.

They say the right government action, including higher excise taxes on cigarettes, new legislation, and information campaigns could cut the premature mortality rate from cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and respiratory diseases by 20 percent by 2025.

4. Low public spending

Humanitarian crises provoked by earthquakes, flooding and conflict over the past decade have mobilized large sums of money both internationally and within the country.

But corresponding sums have not been spent on underlying health services, which have the potential to save many more lives.

Public health spending has declined from 1.5 percent of GDP in the late 1980s to less than 1 percent, according to the report – equivalent to less than 4 percent of the government budget.

That has left Pakistanis with little support for medical costs, which are responsible for more than two-thirds of major economic shocks for poor families, according to the Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education.

Rapid population growth only makes what resources are spent on health care produce ever smaller results.

kh/jj/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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“One on one” with Tone Winje, The Director of The Arts Festival of North Norway

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2013

www.africanpress.me/ - Tone Winje, The Director of The Arts Festival of North Norway

http://www.africanpress.me/ – Tone Winje, The Director of The Arts Festival of North Norway

The Arts Festival of North Norway is an annual cultural event in Harstad lasting well over a week around Midsummer organized by a foundation of the same name. Director Tone Winje, took over leadership from Birger Carlsen in 2011.

Winje tells African Press International that this year’s festival has many ingredients and she encourages Festival lovers to turn up in large numbers and enjoy the week-long event from 22nd of June ending on the 29th. The Midsummer days is also something to experience, the time when the sun never sets down in the North.

The festival was first held in 1965 with the opening day, the 5th June. The idea for the festival came from Jan Cr. Nilsen (“Nilas”), a journalist in Harstad Tidende. On the 8th of April 1964 a number of representatives of singers and musicians in Harstad met and the idea was turned into action. The meeting took place at the Grand Hotel and an interim board was appointed. The following members of the board, besides inventors, had already important roles in many years: Leif Arne HeløeErling Hall Hofsø and Svein Hauan on 22, June 1964 reportedly held a constituent meeting where the foundation that guides the festival and stands to-date  was agreed on.

The first festival was almost like a big northern Norwegian song and music competition on a voluntary basis. Jazz (jazz club) was a key ingredient. After a few years, a new important element in the Historical plays at Laugen on Trondenes was included.

For a number of years it was in connection with a North Norwegian Festival Symphony Orchestra, occasionally with world-renowned soloists and pianist Stephen Ash Nase. The orchestra was led by Ernst Glaser.

After a while many different elements into the event. Now the festival consists of; Concerts, Exhibitions (pictures and sculptures), Theatre, including the Historical plays (outdoor), film, Children’s Festival (1967), Festival Artists (composers, performers and (main) Exhibitors) (1985), City Festival, Seminars, Marking Districts, a program introduced in 1974 that gave a Norwegian municipality – one at a time, in the North to demonstrate their cultural qualities during the festival yearly was a success, but this has not been done since 2001 owing to new factors in the region.

The festival also organised Tours, and North Norwegian Youth Culture NUK + + has been held for a number of years now.

African music is on the chart as well perform:

Rokia Traoré is 2013 attraction from Africa at this year’s Festival.

Rokia Traoré – Kouma – Later… with Jools Holland – BBC Two

Rokia Traoré (born January 26, 1974) is a Victoires de la Musique award-winning Malian singer, songwriter and guitarist. Born in Mali as a member of the Bambara ethnic group, her father was a diplomat and she travelled widely in her youth due to her father’s engagements. She visited such countries as AlgeriaSaudi ArabiaFrance and Belgium and was exposed to a wide variety of influences. Her hometown of Kolokani is in the northwestern part of Mali’s Koulikoro region.

Rokia Traoré singing.jpg<Rokia Traoré at INmusic festival in 2009.

While the Bamana have a tradition of griot performing at weddings, members of the nobility, such as Rokia, are discouraged from performing as musicians. Rokia attended lycée in Mali while her father was stationed in Brussels and started performing publicly as a university student in Bamako.

Unusual for a female musician in Africa, Rokia plays acoustic guitar as well as singing, and she uses vocal harmonies in her arrangements which are rare in Malian music. In 1997, she linked up with Mali musician Ali Farka Touré which raised her profile.

She won an Radio France Internationale prize as “African Discovery” of 1997, an honor previously won by Mali’s Habib Koité in 1993. As well as playing guitar she also plays ngoni (lute) and balafon.

Her first album Mouneïssa (Label Bleu), released in late 1997 in Mali and September 1, 1998 in Europe, was praised for its freshness and excellent combination of several Malian music traditions causing its sales to hit over 40,000 copies in Europe alone.

On July 11, 2000, her second album Wanita was released. Traoré wrote and arranged the entire album. The album was widely welcomed, and The New York Times nominated it as one of its notable albums of the year.

Her 2003 album Bowmboï has two tracks recorded with the Kronos Quartet but still sung in the Bamana language, and was awarded the prestigious BBC Radio 3 World Music Award. As of 2005, she has been nominated three times for this award. She played at WOMAD in 2004 and completed her first tour of North America in the same year.

<Rokia Traoré singing at TED in 2007.

In 2005 she performed at the “Africa Live” festival, held in Dakar (Senegal) on 12 and 13 March 2005, where, several great names of African music were present, including: Malians Ali Farka TouréSalif KeïtaOumou SangaréTinariwenTiken Jah Fakoly of Côte d’Ivoire, Cameronian Manu Dibango, Algerian Khaled, Senegalese Didier AwadiBaaba Maal and Youssou N’Dour, and the French rapper Joey Starr. These concerts were dedicated to the fight against malaria in Africa.

In 2005 she also performed at the Youssou N’dour and Friends concert in Geneva, which was a supporting gala against malaria, with Peter GabrielAmadou and MariamGilberto Gil, Tiken Jah Fakoly and Neneh Cherry.

In December 2006 Peter Sellars‘ New Crowned Hope festival, which is part of the City of Vienna‘s celebrations commemorating Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart‘s birthday 250 years ago, saw the world premiere of Wati, a performance by Rokia Traoré and the Klangforum Wien.

On May 6, 2008, her latest album, “Tchamantché”, was released. Rokia was the winner of the Best Artist category in the inaugural Songlines Music Awards (2009) – announced May 1, 2009 – the new ‘world music’ awards organised by the UK-based magazine, Songlines.

She wrote the music for the 2011 Toni Morrison play, Desdemona. In September 2012, she featured in a campaign called “30 Songs / 30 Days” to support Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book.

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Makoombe, an African group from Zimbabwe will also perform in this year’s festival.

Mokoomba-Njoka – Live in Polé Polé festival (Gent-Belgium) – July 2012

“Njoka” is the first single of Mokoomba’s new album “Rising Tide” produced by Manou Gallo and released on the 30th of April. This group of young Zimbabweans is full of energy, thrilling, and is expected to fill the music venue with musical magnetic waves.

The festival Director Winje calls upon the masses to turn up in large numbers and experience cultural diversity at its best.

End

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