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Archive for May 23rd, 2013

Kenya: AGOA’S unexploited opportunities

Posted by African Press International on May 23, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

Consumption of Nile Perch fish species was synonymous with residents of Lake Victoria region although it is now eaten nationally. Filleted Nile perch is exported but the skin goes to waste. Consumers of the delicacy don’t know that a shoe made from it fetches up to Kshs.50, 000.

www.africanpress.me/ A facilitator addressing the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum in Kisumu this morning. (photo by Alal)

http://www.africanpress.me/ A facilitator addressing the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) forum in Kisumu this morning. (photo by Alal)

This is the irony of people laying emphasis on value addition as the sure way to lift the business fraternity in Kenya and African continent out of the poverty cycle, which despite many interventions has eluded many nations.

Kisumu County Director of Trade, Vincent Asikoye said in an interview that the Nile Perch skin can be turned into leather to make shoes that fetch a fortune but most of our people have not understood this concept for which we are committed for economic take-off.

Asikoye further singled out the use of Nile perch and other fish bones to make products like ornaments as a good example of value addition, which if well embraced by Kenya’s business fraternity could transform not only our perception but also scale of business transactions.

“It’s in this light that Kenya Government has taken a bold step to revive collapsed textile mills in Western Kenya region and other parts of the country as a policy aimed at unlocking and fast tracking abundant business potentials existing locally and globally”, he stated.

He said the Ministry of Agriculture has been funded to revive the cotton growing, even though following the collapse of the industry; most of the cotton ginneries were left in the hands of the private sector.

“It was the start of several industries going under; including the sugar sector and the fishing industry. We are now working with the private sector to achieve this common goal of ensuring all the over 6, 400 products on offer get a quality touch”, he said.

www.africanpress.me/ Kisumu County Director of Industrialization, Vincent Asikoye being interviewed in Kisumu this morning, while ACTIF Executive Director, Rajeev Arora looks on. (phto by Alal)

http://www.africanpress.me/ Kisumu County Director of Industrialization, Vincent Asikoye being interviewed in Kisumu this morning, while ACTIF Executive Director, Rajeev Arora looks on. (phto by Alal)

The Director states that Kenya’s indigenous vegetables (Osuga, Saga, Akeyo, Apoth and Dek among the luo), embroidery, jewelry among others could fetch lots of money as they are quite popular across the globe with Tourists as the vegetables have high nutritional value.

He the Government through Industrialization Ministry has already constructed a plant to process Soya Beans as the first step towards building many others where they are needed most in areas where the raw products are grown.

Asikoye commended Kisumu residents for having demonstrated a good image through action in March, 2013 by upholding peace which greatly helped restore investor confidence as a business destination thus warded off the hostility tag associated with it.

“We will tackle issues that don’t enable traders, farmers and investors have a conducive environment by making sure that even as we industrialize, each one of the categories get fairness in terms of pricing alongside cost of inputs for production”, he reiterated.

Quite outstanding was the presentation by the African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF), Executive Director, Rajeev Arora who was explicit that African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) window ends in 2015 but the potential has not been fully exploited.

www.africanpress.me/ ACTIF Executive Director, Rajeev Arora being interviewed in Kisumu.(Photo by Alal)

http://www.africanpress.me/ ACTIF Executive Director, Rajeev Arora being interviewed in Kisumu.(Photo by Alal)

Arora stated that the World Trade Organization (WTO) granted waiver to the United States of America (USA) to have a non-reciprocal preferential trade regime until September 30, 2015. However, stakeholders in the sector expressed optimism that it will be extended further.

AGOA covers 23 counties in Africa and is keen to facilitate the development of cotton value chain for textile and apparels, while at the same time act as the important link to regional and international markets.

“We hope to bring investments in the textile sector similar to the mid 1970s and 1980s when Kenya had excellent cotton market globally”, he explained.

Arora said AGOA started in 2000 introduced duty-free and quota free markets for 6, 400 products with Kenya being the highest exporter from Africa to the USA standing at Kshs.221.9billion (US$250million).

www.africanpress.me/ The African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF), Executive Director, Rajeev Arora sharing a word with Industrialization Ministry, Public Relations Officer (PRO), Richard Abura in Kisumu today while Kisumu County Director of Industrialization, Vincent Asikoye (partly hidden) looks on. (photo by Alal)

http://www.africanpress.me/ The African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF), Executive Director, Rajeev Arora sharing a word with Industrialization Ministry, Public Relations Officer (PRO), Richard Abura in Kisumu today while Kisumu County Director of Industrialization, Vincent Asikoye (partly hidden) looks on. (photo by Alal)

He disclosed that Kenya has developed a strategy to fully exploit AGOA market value through elaborate outreach targeted at the local business fraternity to sensitize the small-scale traders and manufacturers on the high potential market and how best to exploit it fully.

“Kenyan small scale investors have been challenged to focus more on producing for the AGOA market so as to gain more from the AMERICAN open market from African products”, he explained.
Arora said the market has not been fully exploited, since Kenya exports less than 30 products whereas there is an open market for over 6,400 products from Africa.
“As an approach to promote value addition and exportation into the AGOA market, African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation’s (ACTIF) in partnership with the Ministry of Trade has launched a countrywide outreach program to enable Kenyans take full advantage of AGOA before the window of opportunity expire in 2015”, he pointed out.

The Executive Director said high level efforts led by ACTIF and others are underway to persuade the US Administration to extend AGOA or make it a permanent trade arrangement between Africa and the United States.

Arora disclosed challenges facing entrepreneurs who seek to export under AGOA as; high cost of transportation, erratic and costly electricity supply as well as burdensome customs and trade regulations.

However, Kenya is one of the main beneficiaries of AGOA having realised $3.94 billion,$4.67 billion and $5.83 billion worth of exports in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively. The key sectors that have benefited include tea (20%), horticulture (16%), textile and apparels (4.35%), coffee (3.8%), tobacco products at 1.6%, among others in 2011.

The top ten exports to the USA in 2011 were tea, horticulture, textile and apparels, coffee, tobacco products, animal and vegetable oils, essential oils, soda ash, articles of plastics and cement in that order.

AGOA is a trade provision by the US Government that offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and create free markets.

www.africanpress.me/ A section of participants at the AGOA forum in Kisumu today listen as they take notes.(photo by Alal)

http://www.africanpress.me/ A section of participants at the AGOA forum in Kisumu today listen as they take notes.(photo by Alal)

This is a unique market access provision considering that it is a non-reciprocal concession under which developed countries allow duty-free or low-duty entry of imports from selected developing countries up to a certain limit or quota, covering 6,400 products.

Exports from AGOA-eligible countries have grown over 300%, from $21.5 billion in 2000 to $86.1 billion in 2008. It has also created over 300,000 jobs many of which are in the apparel sector which provides employment opportunities for women.

ACTIF, he said, with the support of BAF-DANIDA and Trade Mark East Africa successfully advocated for the extension of 3rd Country fabric provision under AGOA to the expiry of AGOA in 2015.

This enabled thousands of jobs to be salvaged and also protected foreign earnings for AGOA countries including Kenya.

The outreach program, an initiative of ACTIF is designed to engage with the private sector on policy changes and interventions needed to strengthen the capacity of Kenyan entrepreneurs and develop a private sector position ahead of the annual AGOA forum to be held in Ethiopia between June 27 and July 2, 2013.
The AGOA forum brings together key US Government officials, private sector and civil society members, African Ministers of Trade among other industry stakeholders.

 

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Kenya: Nurses and midwives trained on safe abortion methods to curb high mortality rate

Posted by African Press International on May 23, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

Kisumu Medical and Education Trust (KMET) has embark on the training of nurses and midwives on various ways to curb unsafe abortion which has led to high rate of mortality across the country.

According to Monica Ogutu the Executive Director of KMET the training is to enhance the capacity of health providers to offer quality abortion related services within the confines of the law in Kenya.

Monica said health providers need to understand provision of Comprehensive Abortion Care services such as the use of Manual Vacuum Aspiration, Medical Abortion and Post Abortion Care.

In Kenya, health statistics shows that 300,000 unsafe abortions occur annually with 30% of maternal deaths due to unsafe abortion with majority done by quacks. This means that 819 cases of unsafe abortion occur daily.

The reports further indicate that over 20,000 women are admitted to public hospitals with abortion complications with millions of shillings spent annually to treat these complications.

KMET Program Coordinator on Abortion Carolyne Nyandat said most women live with long-term consequences due to stigma in the society making them hide. This, she said force women to seek the services from unskilled people.

However, Deputy Director of Medical Services Dr Paul Mitei expressed fear that Kenya might not achieve the target of 75% to reduce mortality rate by 2015 as per the Millennium Development Goals.

Dr Mitei said this is jeopardized by rampant unsafe abortion carried by quacks behind doors. The mortality rate from abortion currently stands at 30%.

He warned the residents from seeking abortion services from untrained people and urged them to come out stigmatization. “Most people are still stigmatized because of the abortion law in our society,” he said warning that unsafe abortion is criminal activity with severe punishment.

“The cost of abortion varies as low as Kshs.500 depending with where the service is provided. In government institutions the service is offered at Kshs.1000” Says Dr Mitei.

The medics revealed that most people misuse abortion in the region leading to high rate of mortality from abortion. He said the trend is now worrying and call stakeholders to partner reduce the deaths.

“Although abortion is a family planning method, people should embrace appropriate standards,” Dr Mitei said.

In curbing the vice, the medic called upon women to seek abortion services at the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy from well-trained health providers and at right standards facilities.

He further urged residents to offer their babies to adoption society instead of rushing for unsafe services saying that children have a right to live.

END

 

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Kenya: Desist from Drug Abuse Kisumu County Youths told

Posted by African Press International on May 23, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

Youths in Kisumu County have been told to desist from drug abuse and engage in productive activities that will change their lives.

National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug (NACADA) Nyanza Regional Manager Esther Salim Okenye said there is high rate of drug abuse in the six counties.

www.africanpress.me/ - National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug (NACADA) Nyanza Regional Manager Esther Salim Okenye

http://www.africanpress.me/ – National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug (NACADA) Nyanza Regional Manager Esther Salim Okenye

Okenye urged youths to go for loans to start-up small business saying the government is set to allocate funds to empower them in a bid to curb the rampant vice of dependency in the societies.

The National statistics of drug and alcohol abuse stands at 13 % meaning in every 100 people 13 are involved in drugs abuse. “This is high rate that call for immediate address by all stakeholders,” Okenye said.

She stated there is need for more sensitization of youths on drug and alcohol abuse adding that people between the age of 15- 65 are involved in drugs.

Okenye adds that in Nyanza, alcohol and bhang is the mostly abused by people especially youths. “We are second in bhang abuse after Western region,” she revealed.

In curbing the misuse of drugs NACADA has now embark on awareness creation through competition such as choir, music and ball games to bring youths together in all the 47 counties.

Okenye said the authority is currently undertaking various competition targeting youths in Siaya, Kisumu, Nyamira, Migori, Kisii and Nyamira Counties with winners proceeding to perform at national level.

She made remarks during Kisumu County Choir Competition on Alcohol and Drug Abuse held at Social hold where over 200 youths attended.

During the competition Ngege Youth Group Choir emerged the winner with Kobala Youth Group from Homabay County in second position.

The two groups will represent their counties at regional level before proceeding to national level.

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Camps versus cities

Posted by African Press International on May 23, 2013

LONDON,  – Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are forced from their homes by violence or natural disasters. But the face of displacement is changing: While the popular view of displacement is one of sprawling rural camps, displaced people are now just as likely to be living in urban areas, often hidden from view. 

The Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG), based at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), has explored this phenomenon in a series of studies called “Sanctuary in the City?”, which examines displacement conditions and policies in eight urban centres around the world.

HPG’s Simone Haysom told IRIN, “Urban displacement is the future of what displacement is going to look like. Many of the displaced come from cities and are not going to put up with camp conditions. Already more than half are in urban areas, and that percentage is only going to grow, except where governments enforce strict encampment policies. And humanitarians are not equipped with the right tools and resources to deal with urban displacement.”

Camps versus cities

Keeping displaced populations in refugee camps or internally displaced persons (IDP) camps simplifies administration for relief agencies. “Humanitarian operations in urban areas can be more costly and time-consuming,” according to the UN Refugee Agency’s 2012 State of the World’s Refugees report.

“In contrast to refugee camps, humanitarian actors in towns and cities often know little about the food security and nutritional status of urban refugees and IDPs,” the report states.

But as the world grows increasingly urbanized, displaced populations are increasingly gravitating to cities. “Unlike a closed camp, cities present obvious opportunities to stay anonymous, make money, and build a better future,” says UNHCR’s website.

Still, encampment policies are attractive to governments struggling to keep up with the service demands in urban areas, where the added presence of displaced populations could overextend resources and cause resentment among local residents.

Katy Long of the London School of Economics, who works on issues arising from protracted displacements, said, “Eighty percent of displaced people are hosted in developing countries, and they compete for resources. The politics of nationalism play into it too, and the encampment process and the aid which goes with it provide opportunities to pass the costs on [to aid agencies]. Camps may not address the root problems and may leave refugees and IDPs extremely vulnerable, but they make sense in terms of political economy.”

In denial

HPG’s research found that government officials often assert, against all evidence, that displacement is temporary problem.

This was the case in Syria, where the government seemed to be in denial about farmers and herders who had been driven into Damascus by drought and land loss. The HPG study (conducted in 2011, before current conflict reached the capital) found that the government consistently stressed the temporary nature of this displacement, and tried to limit assistance to the squalid displacement camps on the edge of Damascus “to avoid creating a culture of dependency.”

“But rather than pulling out displacement and putting it in a separate box, a lot of solutions work best if they are community-based, not least because then we are not privileging one group over another and building resentment against the displaced”

The study’s authors wrote, “Even if the government and the international community appear to portray the displacement… as temporary… the scale of losses in northeast Syria is huge, and return does not seem to be possible without… a long-term strategy aimed at restoring the viability of rural livelihood systems in these areas.”

Similarly, authorities in Afghanistan are reluctant to accept that new arrivals flocking into the capital, Kabul, are there to stay. The HPG Kabul study observed that, “The de facto policy of the government at all levels is that displacement is a temporary phenomenon, and that in time people will return to their rural areas of origin.”

Such assumptions can limit assistance. According to the study, “One senior… official… explained why he had refused an international agency… permission to build temporary toilets and wells in one settlement, on the grounds that ‘IDPs are here for a short time and they don’t need a bathroom and a well in this situation… When we provide them with these services they will never move back to their areas.’”

Long told IRIN that in reality more than two-thirds of the world’s IDPs have been displaced for more than five years, but authorities are often unwilling to face this fact, partly because it reflects badly on them.

“In Afghanistan, for instance, if they admit that they still have a displacement problem, they are admitting that the peace is still fragile and imperfect. But rather than only looking for permanent solutions, we have to learn to live with people being displaced at this moment and focus on making their displacement better, because policies often make displacement a far worse experience than it needs to be,” Long said.

Opportunities for settlement

The HPG researchers in Kabul found that an overwhelming majority of the displaced said they intended to settle permanently in the city. Evidence from elsewhere suggests that, if allowed to do so, they could eventually integrate and make new lives for themselves.

Even 60 years after their arrival, the Palestinians in Damascus are still officially considered refugees, but many have moved out of areas designated as refugee camps and into better housing. The “camps” are now home to a mixed population including migrant workers, IDPs and poor Syrians.

Integration may be easier now because many developing-world conurbations are cities of newcomers. One HPG study showed that virtually everyone living in Yei, a town in South Sudan, had come from somewhere else. New arrivals are also prevalent in more established urban areas like Nairobi, Kenya; one study estimates only 20 percent of those under 35 were born in the city.

In Yei, Nairobi and Kabul, HPG found that the displaced were in circumstances similar to other newcomers: they were relegated to informal settlements with few or no facilities, struggling to find decent housing and earn a living. Long, of the London School of Economics, says experts now wonder whether these situations should be tackled as a general development challenge, rather than differentiating between IDPs and other urban poor.

“There are some places where we need to focus,” she told IRIN, “such as the legal status of refugees, who often don’t have the correct paperwork to be in the city. But rather than pulling out displacement and putting it in a separate box, a lot of solutions work best if they are community-based, not least because then we are not privileging one group over another and building resentment against the displaced.”

eb/rz  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Radical reforms needed to reduce inequality

Posted by African Press International on May 23, 2013

NAIROBI,  – The hunger afflicting millions of people in the world’s poorest regions will not end unless there is radical shift in governance and developm ent work toward narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, says a new report by the aid agency Oxfam

According to the report, No Accident: Resilience and inequality of risk, the current focus on building resilience among the poorest women and men is promising, but more could be achieved if “risk is more equally shared globally and across societies”.

“This will require a major shift in development work, which for too long has avoided dealing with risk,” the report says. “More fundamentally, it will require challenging the inequality that exposes poor people to far more risk than the rich.”

“Real resilience”

The report calls for efforts to not only help the poor and vulnerable survive shocks, but to “help them thrive despite shocks, stresses, and uncertainty.” It calls this goal “real resilience”.

“Building skills and capacity must go alongside tackling the inequality and injustice that make poor women and men more vulnerable in the first place. This means challenging the social, economic and political institutions that lock in security for some, but vulnerability for many, by redistributing power and wealth (and with them, risk) to build models of shared societal risk,” the report says.

Coupled with conflict, climate change and related disasters have compounded the world’s humanitarian challenges, putting millions of people at risk of both poverty and food insecurity. This has led to calls for humanitarian approaches that help people cope in the face of these disasters. Resilience has gained prominence as a humanitarian and developmental approach to these disasters.

For instance, in the Sahel, where up to 10.3 million people are at risk of going hungry, building resilience is at the core of aid agencies’ 2013 Common Humanitarian Action Plan.

Debbie Hillier, Oxfam humanitarian policy advisor and author of the report, said in a blog post that “the newly fashionable focus on resilience can help communities not only to cope but to thrive despite the shocks and stresses, but only if the current resilience dialogue and practice is broadened out to tackle inequality, redistribute risk and stop risk dumping”.

She noted, “States have the legal and political responsibility to reduce the risks faced by poor people and ensure that they are borne more evenly across society.”

The report’s authors recommend national governments provide leadership on building resilience and reducing inequality. “Identifying, analyzing and managing risk must be a fundamental aspect of development,” they say.

In a recent policy brief, the Institute for Sustainable Development, ISD, said that resilient thinking does not always “ensure that the most marginal are systematically benefiting from resilience interventions.”

ko/rz  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Indigenous Peoples Protest Destructive Sarawak Dams, Coruption at Industry Conference in Malaysia

Posted by African Press International on May 23, 2013

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia

More than three hundred indigenous people of the Penan, the Kenyah, the Kayan, and Iban ethnic groups protested this morning against the recently finished Bakun Dam, the Murum Dam currently under construction, and a series of controversial dams on the island of Borneo, at the opening of the International Hydropower Association‘s (IHA) biennial conference.

Cumulatively, the dams would affect tens of thousands of indigenous people and flood over 2000 square kilometers of rainforest. Dam builder Sarawak Energy has not published the environmental impact assessments of any of the dams, despite persistent calls to do so from affected communities. China Three Gorges Corporation began construction on the 944 MW Murum Dam in 2012 before its environmental impact assessment had even commenced, leaving affected communities with no option to negotiate resettlement outcomes.

“We call on the Sarawak government to stop building these dams as long as it continues to disrespect our rights,” said Peter Kallang, chairman of SAVE Rivers, a network representing affected indigenous peoples.

SAVE Rivers demanded that Sarawak Energy and the Sarawak Government respect indigenous peoples’ native, customary rights, as protected in Malaysian law in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The communities have demanded the government resolve outstanding impacts left from Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum dams, and for the IHA to suspend Sarawak Energy’s association membership, as well as remove CEO Torstein Dale Sjotveit from the interest group’s board until the Sarawak state government and Sarawak Energy attend to the grievances.

In a show of distrust and poor relations with affected communities earlier this week, Sarawak Energy barred Mr. Kallang from participating in a workshop organized by the IHA and the International Finance Corporation to discuss regional stakeholder cooperation. Mr. Kallang had paid to attend, and filed a police report upon being prevented entry. In a statement, SAVE Rivers decried the tactics as an example of civil society repression.

The Sarawak state government has been marred by allegations of corruption, as a recent undercover video filmed by Global Witness illustrated contract hand outs to family members of Chief Minister of Sarawak Abdul Taib Mahmud, who was returned to power in a tense election in early May. Transparency International dubbed the recently completed Bakun Dam a “monument of corruption,” and has criticized the IHA’s choice to engage with Sarawak Energy.

The congress is the world’s largest gathering of dam builders and financiers who convene every two years to discuss industry topics. In 2011, the IHA launched a voluntary auditing tool for dam builders to assess their social and environmental performance, called the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP).

“While the HSAP may be useful to guide dam builders and governments internally, there is a risk that dam builders could use it to greenwash the worst dams, especially given such a context of heavy-handed repression and corruption,” said Zachary Hurwitz, Policy Program Coordinator at International Rivers.

The controversial dams would form the energy backbone of the Sarawak government’s SCORE Initiative, a plan to rapidly industrialize the state primarily through the expansion of aluminum smelting facilities, palm oil plantations, and other commodity sectors.

 

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