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Archive for June 3rd, 2013

Kenya: Kisumu County Assembly approves Executive Nominees for appointment

Posted by African Press International on June 3, 2013

Members of Kisumu County Assembly have approved 10 executive cabinet nominees for the appointment by the Governor Jack Ranguma.

The members adopted the vetting report table before the assembly by the Leader of Majority Samuel Ong’ou after the Speaker Mrs. Anne Adul revoked Standing Order No. 60 following a stand-off among the members. - Kisumu County Assembly in Kenya – Kisumu County Assembly in Kenya

This was after members could not come to the agreement over the standing order for adopting the report tabled.

The cabinet nominees who underwent vetting by the county vetting committee chaired by the speaker of the County Assembly had earlier found two nominees unsuitable to hold the dockets.

Mohammed Hannif Rana and George Okoth who were nominated for industrialization, Enterprise and Transport and Information, Communication and Planning Development were found unsuitable by the vetting panel over their capability.

However the two have the members of the assembly to thank for after they went for voting through division method.

Despite section of the members raised concern over regional balance and exclusion of people living with disability the nominees report was overwhelming passed 100 percent. The County Assembly has 35 ward representatives exclusion of 9 nominated members whose fate still lies in the court.

According to report tabled before the house gender balance was not well observed as per the vetting committee.

The cabinet nominees approved for appointment in various dockets include Joseph Okal (Treasury), Dr. Barack Abonyo (Water, Energy and Natural Resources) Dr. Rose Omondi Kisia (Commerce, Tourism and Heritage, Roda Aonobadha (Environment Management), Elizabeth Ogaja (Health Services) Dr Stephene Orot ( Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries).

Other nominees are Jenifer Okere (Education, Youth, Culture and Social Services), Eng Vincet Kodera physical planning roads and public works, George Okoth Communication Planning and Development), and Hanif Rana ( Industrialization, Enterprise and Transport Development).

Margrate Mbuya was also approved to be appointed to County Assembly Service Board.

However, the speaker directed the vetting panel to submit the adoption report of nominees to the Governor appropriately and immediately for appointment.



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Women Deliver 2013 Concludes with a United Call to Invest in Girls and Women

Posted by African Press International on June 3, 2013

  • By Dickens Wasonga.


World leaders and advocates demand girls and women are prioritized in lead-up to 2015 Millennium Development Goal deadline and beyond - Women deliver – Women deliver

Jill Sheffield and Melinda Gates present first-ever Women Deliver Rising Star Awards to young leaders fighting for progress for girls and women.
Women Deliver 2013 concluded yesterday  with a call for continued investments in girls and women.
The conference was the largest of the decade focused on girls’ and women’s health and rights, bringing together more than 4,500 leaders and advocates representing over 2,200 organizations and 149 countries.
The final day of Women Deliver 2013 focused on the critical need to prioritize girls and women in the lead-up to the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline and beyond.
The morning plenary speakers—including United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Administrator Helen Clark, Former President of Finland Tarja Halonen, African Women’s Development Fund CEO Theo Sawa and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark—addressed the importance of placing girls and women at the center of the next development agenda, and discussed advocacy strategies to keep girls’ and women’s needs in focus.
The appeal for action came one day before the United Nations’ High-Level Panel is expected to announce its recommendations for the post-2015 development framework. With progress lagging on the MDGs relating to women, policymakers and activists provided insights about how the next set of development goals can adequately and effectively address women’s health and empowerment.
In her remarks, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark called for a global development agenda “which gives priority to gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women to make their own decisions about the lives they lead.”
In the conference’s closing plenary, Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Co-Chair Melinda Gates recognized the next generation of leaders for girls and women and presented the first-ever Women Deliver Rising Star Awards to three emerging voices in the field of women’s health and rights:
·         Senator Pia S. Cayetano is the youngest woman elected in the history of the Philippine Senate, a champion of the rights of women and children and a staunch advocate for health. Armed with the training of a lawyer, discipline of an athlete and heart of a mother, Senator Pia excelled in her first term as legislator and was reelected to a second term in 2010.
·         Imane Khachani, MD, MSc. is a Resident in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Maternity Hospital Les Orangers, in Rabat, Morocco. She has extensive experience in sexual and reproductive health research and advocacy, particularly for adolescent and young women; and has collaborated with several UN agencies, including UNFPA, WHO and UNAIDS. She currently sits on the Women Deliver and the Guttmacher Institute Boards of Directors.
·         Remmy Shawa works at Sonke Gender Justice in Cape Town, South Africa, and coordinates a project to strengthen work with men and boys in the promotion of gender equality and in ending violence against women in Africa.
Jill Sheffield and Melinda Gates also recognized the Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders, an international group of activists under 30 who received scholarships to attend the conference because of their work on behalf of women and girls.
The need to engage and include youth in the next development framework was a key theme throughout Women Deliver 2013, and young people’s voices and perspectives were highlighted throughout the meeting.
“This week at Women Deliver 2013, we have changed history for girls and women everywhere. We renewed our commitments, shared lessons learned, and listened to those leading the way on women’s health and rights, including young people who will carry this important work forward for years to come,” said Women Deliver President Jill Sheffield. “Most importantly, we have joined together to raise our voices in a single call to action—girls’ and women’s health and rights must be prioritized today, tomorrow, and every day until our work is done. Because we know, when girls and women survive, all of us thrive.”


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Some more vulnerable than others

Posted by African Press International on June 3, 2013

By Jaspreet Kindra 

Some more vulnerable than others

JOHANNESBURG,  – As aid officials haggle over ways to reduce developing countries’ disasters risks, they are increasingly looking to target the inequalities that make some communities more vulnerable than others.

These inequalities fell under the spotlight at the recently concluded Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva, a meeting that considered asuccessor to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), the global plan to make the world safer from natural hazards, which concludes in 2015. The new action plan, the Hyogo Framework for Action 2 (HFA2), is still under negotiation, and a key part of these talks has explored how to address inequality and discrimination.

There is “growing consensus” among NGO and UN agencies that tackling “common root causes – discrimination (social exclusion) on all sorts of bases (religion, caste, ethnicity, national origin, gender, age, etc.) – and unequal access to many kinds of resources, especially land grabs” has to be the core issue addressed by the post-2015 development agenda, noted disaster expert Ben Wisner told IRIN via email.

But Tom Mitchell, head of the climate change programme at the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI), says addressing inequalities is not new; it was on the agenda when the HFA was being discussed in 2004. He says the fact that the issue is still alive reflects the failure of development strategies, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to eradicate these inequalities.

“Back on the agenda”

NGOs like Oxfam and ActionAid, which have advocated for these issues to take centre stage, have raised the topic again at the Global Platform.

“Countries with higher income inequality have populations that are more vulnerable to climate change, natural hazards and conflict,” Debbie Hillier, Oxfam’s humanitarian aid advisor, told IRIN. The poorest communities often live in fragile environments like river banks, and in housing constructed with cheap building materials. They lack insurance to cover losses.

The Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction (GNDR), in its “Views from the Frontline 2013” monitoring programme, said that 57 percent of all the people it interviewed indicated their disaster losses are increasing. Among the poorest groups, 68 percent of people reported higher losses.

“There is real growing momentum on the inequality issue,” said Hillier. Besides eradicating poverty, she says, aid officials also want to “address the excessive wealth… [which] entrenches the systems, power dynamics and institutions which keep people poor.”

The focus on inequality “is starting to drive our thinking in every field – resilience, social protection, climate change,” she added. “This is starting to drip into the HFA2 discussion.”

“We need to go back to basics and create conditions, particularly for [the] poor and excluded, to demand and enjoy human rights”

Harjeet Singh, ActionAid’s international coordinator for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CAA), said,” There is a growing recognition across all UN agencies that merely tweaking the system and policies won’t help anymore. We need to go back to basics and create conditions, particularly for [the] poor and excluded, to demand and enjoy human rights.”

But the Global Platform “fell short” in promoting DRR as a right. “Unless we tackle the unequal and unjust power that creates inequalities and make people vulnerable, we cannot sustainably deal with the impact of disasters, climate change and conflict,” Singh said.

Kevin Watkins, the former head of the UN Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report, is making a case for equity-based development targets after the MDGs end in 2015.
He pronounced in a recent lecture, “Today, inequality is back on the agenda.”

In a recent statement, UN human rights experts also called for a cross-cutting development goal on eliminating inequalities.

The High Level Panel (HLP) on the post-2015 development agenda is expected to release its report with its list of recommendations later today.

Focus on risk

But the experts and activists at the Global Platform also called for bringing DRR to the development agenda. Risk was absent from the MDGs, say Mitchell and Hillier. DRR was included in the first draft of the HLP report, says Mitchell, but was missing in a subsequent draft.

“In particular, the risks from climate change, natural hazards and conflict need to be combined,” said Hillier.

Wisner wrote: “A future set of DRR guidelines (what has been referred to as HFA2) should be coordinated or even integrated with re-cast MDGs, SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals], CCA initiatives (climate change adaptation) and support for skillful conflict management (PEACE).”

Data management

A statement from the GNDR says: “HFA2 needs a paradigm shift in order to bring community resilience at the heart of the framework.” It would like to see an emphasis on a “bottom-up approach.”

It also called for the establishment of national databases on damage and losses, community capacities and resources. But accounting of data losses is fragmented at the moment, says ODI’s Micthell. The global community lacks a common understanding of what a disaster is and what kind of loss should be accounted for.

This would require establishing a way to distinguish a disaster – an event that “overwhelms local capacity” – from “an accumulation of individual, small-impact events such [as] one basement flooded,” said Debby Guha-Sapir, director of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED). For instance, she says, “a series of small road accidents added up is not the equal to a mass transport disaster, or endemic levels of disease is not same as an epidemic”.

ActionAid’s Singh points out that declaring an event a “disaster” continues to be a “political exercise in most countries. The use of data and accounting methods varies from country to country. On one hand, developing countries struggle to account for uninsured and indirect losses, mainly due to extensive risks from ‘everyday disasters’. We are now also grappling with how to account and address the issue of non-economic losses (and damages) due to climate change impacts.”

ODI’s Mitchell says there is an urgent need to address this problem.

jk/rz source


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AU ready for rapid deployment of soldiers in the continent when required

Posted by African Press International on June 3, 2013

The African Union wants to urgently establish a quick reaction force to deal with the continent’s crises


  • AU spurred into action by French intervention
  • 1,500 soldiers for rapid deployment at any time
  • Troop contributions to new force will be voluntary
  • More heavy air lift aircraft needed

JOHANNESBURG,  – A newly sanctioned African Union (AU) force for quick deployment in conflicts such as in Mali is being promoted as a stop-gap measure ahead of the planned formation of the “rapid deployment capability” (RDC) African Standby Force (ASF).

Unlike the ASF, which will also have policing and civilian duties, the African Immediate Crisis Response Capacity (AICRC) force will have “a strictly military capacity with high reactivity to respond swiftly to emergency situations upon political decisions to intervene in conflict situations within the continent,” Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the AU Commission, said in her recent report to the AU summit in Addis Ababa.

While the AU’s failure to resolve crises in countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Libya and Mali has been a source of embarrassment to the continent-wide body, the AU Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) is widely regarded as a success, with the annual US$500 million running costs bankrolled by international partners.

AMISOM provides “pride” for the AU, according to analysts, as African forces at the cost of significant lives (some estimates say thousands), were able to achieve what a far better equipped US force failed to do in Somalia – bring about an opportunity for peace.

Spurred into action

Dlamini-Zuma said in her report Mali was a spur for the AICRC’s formation and it was “obvious” an African military force with an RDC would have meant the French military intervention would not have been “the only recourse”.

“[The French intervention in Mali] left a bad taste in the mouths of many people here and led to discussions at the highest level of the AU”

Solomon Dersso, a senior researcher at the Addis Ababa office of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), a Pretoria-based think tank, told IRIN Mali interim president Dioncounda Traoré’s reaching out to former colonial power France for military assistance to counter the Islamist rebels “left a bad taste in the mouths of many people here [Addis Ababa and AU headquarters] and led to discussions at the highest level of the AU.”

According to Dlamini-Zuma, the AICRC will be drawn from a “reservoir of 5,000 troops, with operational modules in the form of tactical battle groups of 1,500 personnel that can be deployed rapidly… which must have a minimum initial self-sustainment period of 30 days”.

The report said the AICRC would have three tactical battle groups, comprised of three infantry battalions of 850 troops each, an artillery support group and light armour elements, as well as an air wing of 400 troops, which would include strike aircraft and helicopters and logistical support, including strategic airlift capabilities. The unit would have a “10-day notice of movement”.

The force headquarters will have a nucleus of 50 staff and AICRC duties would range from “stabilization, peace enforcement and intervention missions; neutralization of terrorist groups, other cross-border criminal entities, armed rebellions; and emergency assistance to Member States within the framework of the principle of non-indifference for protection of civilians,” Dlamini-Zuma’s report said.

Lamamra Ramtane, AU commissioner for peace and security, said in astatement that troop contributions to the AICRC would be on a voluntary basis by member states and those countries participating would finance the AICRC so it could “act independently”.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is seen as Africa’s greatest conflict resolution success

On the face of it, the AICRC looks like a prototype of the ASF, except there appear to be slight differences in the way the two forces can be deployed. Lamamra said: “Command and control [of the AICRC] will be ensured by the AU Peace and Security Council upon request of a Member State for intervention.”

The ASF mandate under the Constitutive Act of the AU adopted in 2000, is a complete break from its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, which adopted a philosophy of non-interference in member states. The Act gave the AU both the right to intervene in a crisis, and an obligation to do so “in respect of grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity”.

Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the South Africa foreign affairs department, told IRIN the AU remained committed to the ASF, and although any AICRC deployment was conditional on a government’s invitation, “there may be exceptional circumstances” where the force could intervene in the absence of such a request.

Ad hoc forces

Outside of AU and UN missions, African military operations have favoured ad hoc forces, such as the four-country force ranged against Joseph Kony’sLord Resistance Army (LRA).

The advantage of ad hoc forces, Sivuyile Bam, the AU Commission head of the Peace and Support Operations Division, told IRIN last year, was that it used the lead nation concept and was more direct, rather than dealing in the political intricacies of the ASF. “A country can go to the AU [with the ad hoc system] and say I have got a battalion. I will deploy it tomorrow.”

Bam envisaged a “combined system for the next 5-10 years. The ASF system is maturing and taking time to develop and still relying on the lead nation [ad hoc] concept. So when there is a need for an operation – send out a note to the (AU) member states saying `I need soldiers, please help me out’.”

“Once it [the AICRC] gets a life it may take a different course altogether, depending on its success”

The AICRC is framed as a “temporary arrangement”, the ISS’s Dersso said, but “once it gets a life it may take a different course altogether, depending on its success,” and may evolve from an ad hoc force into a “fully fledged unit” at the disposal of the AU.

Some analysts have argued that a functioning, efficient and well equipped ASF may still lack the capacity to simultaneously operate in places like South Sudan, the Sahel and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

If and when the ASF eventually materializes, troop contributions to the five stand-by brigades will be based on Africa’s five regional economic blocs with each supplying about 5,000 troops, 720 police officers and 60 civilian members (e.g. human rights advisers, political affairs and public information officers) – and each regional bloc’s brigade will be placed on a six month rotational standby every two years to be available for rapid deployments.

The ASF will fulfil a range of functions, for example, supplying troops for attachment to a regional military, political or UN mission; or it may deploy a regional peacekeeping force within a 30-day timeframe, or 14 days in “grave circumstances”, such as genocide.

Question marks over military capacity

An urgent need for quick reaction forces was highlighted in a recent ISS report that said “the risk of instability and violence [in Africa] is likely to persist and even increase in some instances.”

Drivers of conflict cited by the report included: the fact that “many states were trapped somewhere in between autocracy and democracy;” the “bad-neighbourhood” syndrome resulting in the effects of conflict spilling across borders; and post-conflict states lapsing back into “repeat violence”.

The imminent deployment of a 3,000-strong “robust, highly mobile”intervention force – comprising troops from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania – under the masthead of SADCBrig (Southern African Development Community Brigade) to “neutralize” armed groups in the eastern DRC under UN Resolution 2098 has a stronger resemblance to the AICRC’s mandate rather than to the ASF’s, as it will comprise a combat force without any civilian or policing appendages.

However, deployment of the intervention force in DRC is being delayed by a combination of factors, including an increasing scarcity of available heavy air lift aircraft, and a paucity of landing strips capable of handling them, Helmoed-Romer Heitman, a senior correspondent for Jane’s Defence Weekly, told IRIN.

“How do you deploy quickly if you don’t have heavy airlift?”

“How do you deploy quickly if you don’t have heavy airlift?” he asked. African militaries were chartering aircraft “as usual”, but relied on former Soviet logistical aircraft, such as Antonovs, which were becoming obsolete, he said.

South Africa ordered eight Airbus military A400m transport aircraft in 2005 at a cost of about US$1 billion, but later cancelled the order citing financial constraints and associated cost increases, and was reimbursed the $407 million down-payment in December 2011 by the European aircraft manufacturer. The transport aircraft were expected to enter service in 2013.

Heitman also questioned how the AU defined the concept of “quick reaction”, alluding to recent events in Bangui, the capital of the Central Africa Republic (CAR), that saw the botched deployment of South African troops in support of CAR President Francois Bozizé. Thirteen South African troops were killed and two others died from wounds on their return.

“A lot can happen in 48 hours. Putting a paratroop battalion on the ground in 24 hours is a quick reaction,” he said.

go/cb  source

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