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Archive for July 26th, 2013

South Sudan: Food fears in Jonglei

Posted by African Press International on July 26, 2013

JUBA/BOR,  – Tens of thousands of people face severe food insecurity as they hide in the bush in South Sudan‘s Jonglei State following another wave of violence that ha s cut off aid to them.

“We believe these people need food now and cannot wait for much longer after hiding in the bush for weeks,” said Chris Nikoi, the UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) South Sudan country director, in a statement on 23 July. “We need more food supplies in the country and more helicopters to take this food to those who most need it.”

More than 100,000 people are out of reach of humanitarian support following violence that broke out in July between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities and following clashes between the government and a rebel movement led by David Yau Yau. Over the past six months, around 120,000 people have fled to the bush as insecurity gathered pace.

Insecurity, rains and a lack of roads or useable airstrips make it very difficult to reach the neediest, especially with heavy foodstuffs.

“The delivery of food aid poses extra logistical challenges as trucks are unable to move along water-logged roads, and we do not have enough helicopters to fly sufficient food to the swamp-like areas,” Toby Lanzer, the humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, said in an 18 July statement.

WFP said it was providing food assistance to the displaced in areas it could access, but required US$20 million to purchase food and hire helicopters for an operation to feed 60,000 people until December. Humanitarian agencies in South Sudan are facing an overall funding shortfall of $472 million.

Extreme coping strategies

Murle communities have already resorted to extreme coping strategies, with some eating wild fruits and leaves; following cattle raids, thought to be in the tens of thousands, the population is slaughtering female cattle for meat, even if this means they cannot replenish stocks.

Women who have been hiding in the bush with children for days or weeks have walked into towns to collect food, but those IRIN spoke to said they would return to the swamps, where they have no shelter, healthcare or clean water, as they feared security forces more than disease or hunger.

“Even prior to the start of armed conflict, the UN and the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) reported [Jonglei’s] Pibor County was experiencing chronic levels of food insecurity and predicted that 39,000 people would be severely food insecure in early 2013, with food insecurity potentially reaching emergency thresholds by July-August,” said a statement by InterAction, an alliance of US-based NGOs.

“These people need food now and cannot wait for much longer after hiding in the bush for weeks”

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in 2012, “pre-harvest malnutrition rates between January and July were already approaching emergency thresholds”, while as of March 2013, 12 percent of Jonglei’s population was severely food insecure and 24 percent moderately food insecure.

Access to populations in need

On 14 July, after protracted negotiations with state and non-state armed groups, charities were allowed access to around 25,000 people in parts of the state.

Vincent Lelei, head of OCHA in South Sudan, said aid agencies had only accessed “a very, very small part [of Pibor county] both for logistical and security reasons,” although thousands had been suffering for six months.

“Going forward into the lean season, it is very likely that they will get into difficulty,” he said, adding that flying in food would be more difficult than flying in other commodities such as plastic sheeting, water purification tablets and medicines, as limited air assets meant the UN had “very limited weight to carry”.

Lelei said some of the populations they had accessed showed signs of serious illness, while Lanzer noted that “some children show signs of measles, a fatal disease in such conditions”.

Some of those affected do not want to come in to towns to seek help. “They are afraid to seek medical care in towns, so it is essential for us to intervene where they are so that all those in need can access treatment,” said John Tzanos, head of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team in Pibor.

MSF is running the only healthcare facility in the village of Gumuruk after its hospital in Pibor was destroyed during clashes in May.

hm/kr/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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Bukura to offer scholarship to its community – Kenya

Posted by African Press International on July 26, 2013

  • BY GODFREY WAMALWA, API KENYA,

Bukura Agricultural Training College in Kakamega county is set to offer free scholarships to students from the surrounding community,the college principal has revealed.

The popular move has been prompted by a general apathy by parents from local community to send their children to the institute  to study agriculture to boost food production in the area.

The college’s principal Mr. Justus Simiyu said the initiave under the institution’s social corporate responsibility will initially start with five students and increase depending on availability of funds.

He further revealed that the first batch of students is expected to start this year but due to budget constraints the programme has been pushed forward.

During this year’s graduation Mr.Simiyu had expressed a concern he raised last year during another graduation over continued low student enrolment from surrounding communities.

He said while the college admits students from other areas in the country to train in agriculture, the community around had shunned taking their students to the college.

Mr.Simiyu is optimistic that the free scholarship the college will offer, will address the problem of low enrolment and boost food production in the area.

 

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The HIV/AIDS experience – Africa

Posted by African Press International on July 26, 2013

NAIROBI,  – Twelve years after African governments pledged in the Abuja Declaration to alloc ate at least 15 percent of their annual budgets to healthcare by 2015, just six countries have met this goal.

Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Togo and Zambia have met the target, and five other countries are spending at least 13 percent of their annual budgets on health, according to data compiled by the UN World Health Organization (WHO).While on aggregate spending on health has increased – up to 10.6 percent from 8.8 – about a quarter of African Union (AU) member-states have regressed and are now spending less on health than they were in 2001, adds the WHO data.

Recently, the AU held another special summit on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria in Abuja, Nigeria, dubbed Abuja +12, which provided an opportunity for African governments and other stakeholders to review progress made and to discuss what should be done to ensure health funding targets are met before 2015.

The HIV/AIDS experience

“A renewed and bold commitment here in Abuja is essential as, drawing from experiences in the AIDS response, we know that smart investments will save lives, create jobs, reinvigorate communities and further boost economic growth in Africa,” said Michel Sidibé, the executive director of UNAIDS, in a press statement.

At present, funding for healthcare remains short of requirements and is very unevenly spread across countries. According to UNAIDS, an additional US$31 billion per year will be needed to meet the continent’s 15 percent health funding targets.

As of 2011, at least 69 percent of the world’s 34 million people estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS were in sub-Saharan Africa.

But there are encouraging signs. The number of new HIV infections fell to 25 percent in 2011 compared to a decade earlier.

“The main challenge in the fight against HIV and AIDS globally is how to ensure universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support, and… ensuring zero transmission of new HIV infections in children,” wrote Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama in a blog article in May.

Among 21 priority countries in Africa, the number of children newly infected with HIV has fallen by 38 percent since 2009, according to a joint AU-UNAIDS report launched at Abuja +12.

Malaria and TB burden

Africa is also lagging behind in reducing cases of – and deaths from – TB and malaria.

Globally, Africa is the only region not on track towards halving TB deaths by 2015, and it accounts for almost a quarter of the global caseload, according to WHO.

Inadequate TB detection and drug-resistant strains of the disease, which can be 100 times more expensive to treat, pose significant challenges in Africa. About 40 percent of TB cases in Africa go undetected, adds WHO.

Malaria is also a serious health problem. Eighty percent of the world’s cases and 90 percent of malaria-related deaths occur in Africa.

“We are at a turning point for making historical gains in Liberia’s health sector – where no child dies of malaria and every mother living with HIV can give birth to HIV-negative children while living healthy lives themselves,” wrote Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in a statement to the Global Fund.

Liberia allocates 18.9 percent of its annual budget to healthcare, the second highest proportion in Africa; Rwanda spends 23.7 percent.

Health for development

According to the AU/UNAIDS Abuja +12 report, there is an economic case to be made for further investment in healthcare: For every year that life expectancy rises across the continent, it argues, GDP will increase by 4 percent. The average life expectancy in Africa is 54.4 years, the lowest globally.

“A sick population cannot generate the productivity needed to maintain the acceleration of our economy,” said Ghana’s President Mahama.

More funding for health could also mean more jobs within the health sector. In 2012 for example, the AU approved a business plan to increase the output of the local pharmaceutical industry.

“Focusing on three things that Africa needs to do urgently – decrease dependency by growing African investments, deliver quality-assured drugs sooner to the people who need them, and leadership – the blueprint will help African countries to build long-term and sustainable solutions,” stated Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, the AU Commissioner of Social Affairs, in a statement, ahead of the Abuja +12 summit. “Africa’s health and our prosperity are inextricably linked.”

aps/aw/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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