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Posts Tagged ‘Burkina Faso’

IOM Training Workshop on Managing Population in Natural Disasters

Posted by African Press International on December 15, 2013


Dakar: IOM Training Workshop on Managing Population in Natural Disasters

 

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/– The International Organization for Migration’s Regional Office in Dakar is organizing a five-day workshop for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) to train trainers during natural disasters. The event is made possible due to funding from the European Commission’s Office for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO).

The West and Central Africa Region has suffered from numerous political, social and ecological crises in recent years and all will only be exacerbated by climate change in years to come. This underlines the relevance of CCCM which sees the increasing importance of managing populations displaced by natural disasters.

“The objective of the training is to train as many Governmental counterparts as possible to strengthen their capacity to manage with dignity and according to international standards the respective caseloads of forced migrants,” said Carmela Godeau, IOM Regional Director for West and Central Africa

IOM and the CCCM Global Cluster have strong ties with the overall humanitarian system and national disaster management structures. Large scale displacements caused by border-crossing regional natural disasters demand an operational preparedness of the highest standards for management of camps and evacuation centres. To meet these challenges, the region increasingly needs a comprehensive system of joint preparedness involving humanitarian partners, disaster management agencies and governments.

Participants are from both countries of West and Central Africa region, including Burkina Faso, Chad, Egypt, Gabon, Mali, Mozambique, Lebanon, Liberia, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Syria, Zambia and Zimbabwe. IOM also welcomes members from ECCAS, the Somali Disaster Management Agency, the Rwandan Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, the National Disaster Management Agency of Mozambique, the Zimbabwe Department of Civil Protection, the Office of National Security in Sierra Leone, the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, the Malian National Directorate for Social Development and the Senegalese Military.

Exchanges during the workshop will allow CCCM perspectives from a global and regional perspective to inform and develop an enlarged focus on information management and gender issues. Coordination of crucial relations between national, regional and local actors, as well as those within the camp itself, is an important part of the curriculum. Creating protection mechanisms and ensuring participation of host population, displaced people out of and in the camps, including vulnerable groups, are some of the issues that add to the relevance of this training.

IOM’s CCCM Training of Trainers in Dakar is the third training of this kind in a global effort to target national authorities. The first was in Indonesia last August and focused on natural disasters in the Asian region, and included participants from the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Nepal, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, and Switzerland. The second was in Bogota, Colombia and included the Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, Argentina, the Regional Office of IFRC in Mexico, and El Salvador.

 

SOURCE

International Office of Migration (IOM)

 

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SECRETARY-GENERAL IN BURKINA FASO, 6-7 NOVEMBER

Posted by African Press International on November 14, 2013

NEW YORK, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from Niger, on Wednesday evening, 6 November. This was the third leg of a four-country joint visit of the Sahel region with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim; the Commissioner for Development of the European Union, Andris Piebalgs; and the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka.

Shortly after his arrival, he attended a state dinner at the Presidential Palace hosted by the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré.

The following day, Thursday, 7 November, the Secretary-General held a joint meeting with the Prime Minister, Beyon Luc Adolphe Tiao, and members of his Cabinet. The Secretary-General said that he was encouraged to see that the region was coming together to solve its problems. He underlined three of the current United Nations priorities: accelerating efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015; defining sustainable development goals for after 2015; and having a legally biding agreement on climate change. (See Press Release SG/SM/15451.)

The Secretary-General then held a meeting with President Compaoré in which they discussed, amongst other subjects, Burkina Faso’s progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, as well as regional efforts to address the serious security, humanitarian and development challenges facing the Sahel.

Before departing Ouagadougou, the Secretary-General held a press briefing. He said Burkina Faso was an active player in the Sahel region and underlined its role in forging solutions to the many challenges facing the Sahel and West Africa. He said it was essential to work together to find solutions to the problems of the Sahel.

The Secretary-General left Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, for N’Djamena, Chad, at midday on 7 November.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Africa tour

Posted by African Press International on November 14, 2013

NEW YORK, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in N’Djamena, Chad, from Burkina Faso, in the afternoon of Thursday, 7 November. This was the last leg of a four-country joint visit of the Sahel region with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim; the Commissioner for Development of the European Union, Andris Piebalgs; and the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka. Before arriving in Chad, the delegation had visited Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Early that evening, the Secretary-General had a meeting with the President of Chad, Idriss Déby Itno. At the beginning of the meeting, he congratulated Chad on its election to the Security Council and also thanked the country for its contribution to peacekeeping. He noted Chad’s role in regional stability and said that the United Nations was determined to assist the region and strengthen coordination at all levels. He added that this joint visit to the Sahel by five institutions symbolized their commitment. (See Press Release SG/SM/15455.)

Following that meeting, the Secretary-General spoke to reporters, telling them that challenges in the region did not respect borders and solutions should not either. He said progress had already been made in many areas and noted he was leaving Chad and the Sahel with hope and optimism.

Before departing, the Secretary-General attended a state dinner hosted by the President.

Having completed his four-country joint visit to the Sahel, the Secretary-General left N’Djamena late on 7 November to return to New York.

 

SOURCE

UNITED NATIONS

 

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SkyVision to Unveil its New Cloud Services

Posted by African Press International on November 13, 2013

SkyVision cloud-based solutions will enable customers to reduce overall IT expenses

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, November 11, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – SkyVision Global Networks Ltd. (http://www.skyvision.net), a leading global communication provider, today announced its launch of a full suite of Cloud services and solutions. The official launch will take place at AfricaCom 2013, November 12-14, Cape Town, Booth C14. AfricaCom is an integral part of the company’s ongoing commitment to expanding its activity within the telco market and throughout Africa.

SkyVision’s success in Africa is the result of a comprehensive network of local partners and representatives, and SkyVision offices in Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Guinea Conakry, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Morocco. As a leading service provider in Africa, SkyVision provides viable solutions that help African companies, organizations and service providers develop their ICT capabilities, increase their productivity and profitability, and the level of service they provide to their customers. SkyVision cloud-based solutions will enable customers to reduce overall IT expenses by deploying new applications without having to purchase additional hardware, software licenses, or be concern with scale up/scale down their computing and storage resources.

In addition SkyVision will introduce a new mobile application for its voice services. SkyVision’s voice services provide high quality and cost effective international and interbranch voice connectivity. With the addition of the new SkyVision Voice line mobile app, SkyVision customers can now use the same service account at their office, from their laptop using our softphone application and on the go from their mobile device using the new mobile app.

“Deploying efficient, effective infrastructure and solutions when limited resources are available, is a challenging task and a key enabler for diffusing ICT in developing countries,” comments Doron Ben Sira, SkyVision CEO. “We are especially proud to be taking part in this continent-wide event where we can reach out to customers, prospects, policy makers and practitioners in ICT with a viable cloud-based solution. AfricaCom gives us the perfect stage to promote our corporate cloud services, uniquely tailored to meet the needs of e-Governance, e-Infrastructure, and e-Business customers,” he added.

 

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About SkyVision

SkyVision (http://www.skyvision.net) is a leading global communications service provider, offering comprehensive, integrated solutions to meet all corporate, government and telco market requirements.

Via its gateways in Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East, the company provides IP connectivity with access to the global Internet backbone, as well as an extensive suite of both customized end-to-end solutions and industry-standard services. With a network spanning 100 countries, SkyVision’s solutions combine global reach with active local presence and support. SkyVision’s customers include telecos, ISPs, cellular operators, global and local enterprises, government entities and NGOs. For more information, visit http://www.skyvision.net.

 

SOURCE

SkyVision Global Networks Ltd.

 

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Liberia Sanitation Project Selected by UNFCCC as one of 2013 Outstanding Climate Innovations

Posted by African Press International on November 8, 2013

BONN, Germany, November 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ The United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) announced Wednesday the selection of the Monrovia Fostering Innovative Sanitation and Hygiene (FISH) project as one of the 17 Lighthouse Activities to be showcased at the November 2013 UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland.

Lighthouse Activities projects are selected based on their innovative and transformative qualities, and are recognized for the value of the solutions they propose to address both climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges.

The 2013 Lighthouse Activities were selected by a 16-member, international advisory panel (http://unfccc.int/secretariat/momentum_for_change/items/6648.php) as part of the secretariat’s Momentum for Change initiative (http://unfccc.int/secretariat/momentum_for_change/items/6214.php), which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and operates in partnership with the World Economic Forum.

“The 2013 Lighthouse Activities are true beacons of hope, demonstrating what happens when innovation and passion come together to address the biggest challenge of our time,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres said. “There are thousands of examples of people taking action to address climate change all over the world. The Lighthouse Activities highlight some of the most practical, scalable and replicable examples of what people, businesses, governments and industries are doing to tackle climate change, which I hope will inspire others to do the same.”

The FISH project was designed to enhance Monrovia city’s capacity for sustainable city-wide fecal sludge management. The project complements efforts by the Government of Liberia and development partners to improve sanitation service access rates and reduce the vulnerability of the urban poor to diseases caused by water contamination resulting from open defecation and septic tank overflows.

Earlier this year, the project had received a €1.2 million grant from the African Water Facility (AWF) to cover 86 per cent of the financing needed for its implementation.

“The selection of the Monrovia project is a much-deserved recognition of Liberia’s leadership in promoting innovation to deal more effectively with issues affecting peoples’ lives and build resilience to climate change,” said Akissa Bahri, Coordinator of the African Water Facility. “This also goes to show that improving sanitation services is a must-have component of any city’s resilience strategy, and that it is possible for fragile states to overcome sanitation challenges through the adoption of creative ideas meant to optimize resources recovery. The FISH project is a remarkable example to follow.”

The 17 Lighthouse Activities will be showcased at special events during the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw, Poland, November 11-22. Interested stakeholders can interact with the activity representatives during two social media discussions ahead of the climate conference.

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About the African Water Facility (AWF): The AWF (http://www.africanwaterfacility.org) is an initiative of the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), established in 2004 as a Special Water Fund to help African countries achieve the objectives of the Africa Water Vision 2025. The AWF offers grants from €50,000 to €5 million to support projects aligned with its mission and strategy to a wide range of institutions and organizations operating in Africa. Its three strategic priority activities are (1) preparing investment projects to mobilize investment funds for projects supported by AWF; (2) enhancing water governance to create an environment conducive for effective and sustainable investments; (3) promoting water knowledge for the preparation of viable projects and informed governance leading to effective and sustainable investments. Since 2006, AWF has funded 84 national and regional projects in 51 countries, including in Africa’s most vulnerable states. It has mobilized more than €935 million as a result of its project preparation activities, which constitute 70 percent of its portfolio. On average, each €1 contributed by the AWF has attracted €20 in additional follow-up investments. The AWF is entirely funded by Algeria, Australia, Austria, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Burkina Faso, Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, France, Norway, Senegal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the African Development Bank. The AWF is governed by a Governing Council representing its 15 donors, UN-Water Africa, the AU via NEPAD, AMCOW and the AfDB. For more information:http://www.africanwaterfacility.org

SOURCE

African Development Bank (AfDB)

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Mali’s herders fear the rebels may strike again

Posted by African Press International on August 12, 2013

Herders in Gao region must walk a long distance to find pasture for their animals

GAO,  – Despite the victory of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in Mali’s peaceful presidential elections at the weekend, sporadic violence continues in the north, where for months herders have been cut off from accessing traditional routes in search of pasture for fear of attacks by bandits and rebels.

Sporadic attacks continue in Gao, Timbuktu and parts of Kidal, pastoralists told IRIN.

Many are also too scared to enter towns which have seen clashes between locals and displaced people who have settled in their outskirts; or they fear rebels might steal their cattle and sheep on market days if they do enter town.

The rebels include National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) members, mainly in Kidal, but also in some villages north of Menaka in Gao Region. Elsewhere, locals joined one of several Islamist groups or the separatist Tuareg rebels.

“Some Islamists stayed behind in villages and rural areas following the French-led military intervention, hiding in and among the local populations when they were driven out of major towns,” said Capt Traoré with the Malian army in Bamako.

Keita will have his work cut out to end the insurgency and bring lasting peace to the north.

Herders in Forgho, 25km north of Gao city, and Bourem in Gao Region on the road to Kidal, told IRIN they had been attacked when they left the market on their way back into the desert with their animals. “They [the rebels] would threaten herders in the bush and stop stockbreeders on their way to the market and steal their cattle,” said Aklini Moliomone, a Songhai pastoralist from Forgho.

Robberies along the road from Gao to Tessalit in Kidal Region have also risen, according to French army communications officer Cyrille Zimmer.

Violence has also broken out between herders in Mali and displaced people or refugees returning from Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania, all of whom are also vying for access to scarce grazing land, according to Malian NGO Tassaght, based in Gao.

Northern Malian refugees have started to return to Mali from Mbera camp in Mauritania, travelling via Niafunké in Timbuktu Region, to Timbuktu town.

Market day in Forgho, 25km north of Gao

“The pastoralists from Burkina Faso who used to cross the border into Mali with their animals were not ready to share the limited resources with the displaced,” explained Wanalher Ag Alwaly with Tassaght in Gao.

Last year’s rains meant good pasture throughout much of the north, but many of these herders said they were unable to fully take advantage of it. This year rains arrived late in most of the north – coming two weeks ago – and have so far been weak, thus pasture is minimal, say pastoralists.

Competition for grazing land

“There is almost no grass and no water, because there are so many herders in this area and only limited grazing land. We have to walk far to find food for our animals,” said Moliomone.

On market day in Forgho, where thousands of herders congregate, 60-year-old herder Moussa Ag Bilal hoped to get a good price for his animals – mostly goats, plus one cow that is so thin that it has stopped producing milk. When a potential buyer approached to inspect the animals, Ag Bilal gently turned it to hide its sticking-out ribs. Afraid of rebels, he told IRIN he is too scared to move his animals to the grazing areas north of Gao.

While UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) forces and Malian soldiers are posted in most major towns, rural areas are sometimes left unmonitored.

According to MINUSMA, in some areas of the region around Menaka, MNLA are still in control, while suspected members of Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) have been spotted in parts of Kidal Region. The road from Gao to Kidal – especially north of Tessalit – has seen an increase in bandit attacks; improvised explosive devices are occasionally used. “Last week a food truck was stopped and the cargo was taken away by rebels,” said MINUSMA spokesperson Michel Bonnardeux in the capital Bamako.

Undetonated explosives and arms left behind by the armed groups, and hidden in the terrain, pose another threat to herders and their animals.

Herders lift their goats onto a truck going to Gao

The tensions just reinforce pastoralists’ plight – many had most of their herd of confiscated by rebels or Islamists, or have had to eat their animals to survive, given the high prices and low availability of food across most of the north since the Islamist occupation. “Many [herders] fled without their animals. Others lost their herds when the rebels attacked their villages. They returned with nothing having lost their only source of income”, said Tassaght’s Ag Alwaly.

“The months of May, June and July are always hard for Mali’s herders,” he continued.

Animals weaker than last year

“The cattle are starving. This year the Islamist occupation, the following conflict and continued rebel attacks made life extra difficult,” Ahmed Ag Algarbi, a Tuareg pastoralist from Teshak, a Tuareg village in Timbuktu Region, told IRIN: “For two years we have had nothing to eat. We were forced to kill our goats to feed our families. Life in the desert is hard. Before, we at least had our animals, now we have nothing.”

Most of the animals IRIN came across were frail and very weak, even more so than the same time last year, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Since January ICRC and the Malian Red Cross distributed roughly 400 tons of animal feed hoping to reach 30,000 herders during the lean season. Tassaght buys meat at above-market value to distribute among families in Gao and nearby villages to boost both livelihoods and food security. According to Gao-based herder Atarouna Abdoulaye, prices for goats and sheep went from US$30 to $6-8 in some markets.

The Red Cross also vaccinated two million cattle, sheep, goats, camels and donkeys to help restore their health as the rains approached. Often thin and weakened animals succumb to illness or drowning when the rains arrive, according to Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières in Bamako. But between January and July insecurity hampered the ability of NGOs and ICRC to distribute food, seeds, fertilizers and tools in some areas, according to Jean Cimangay, ICRC’s project officer.

Tassaght plans to give returning herders small stocks of around 10 animals each, to help them build anew. “Some pastoralists had herds with over 100 animals. Ten goats is not much but at least it’s a start,” said Ag Alwaly.

aj/cb  source http://www.irinnews.org

 

 

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Malian refugees returning home face challenges

Posted by African Press International on July 30, 2013

Malian refugees return home as stability improves

DAKAR,  – Malians are slowly returning from refuge in neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger as stability improves more than a year after a military coup and an insurgency shook the West African country.

Some 8,148 people who returned on their own were registered between 25 June and 12 July in Mali’s Gao, Mopti and Timbuktu regions. It is the most significant number of returnees since reports emerged of spontaneous returns, said Anouk Desgroseilliers, an information officer with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Mali.

“There are still explosive remnants of war, robberies in some regions as well as a sense of wariness, but the lull in violence over the past three months, and the presence of the army, the authorities and the local administration is encouraging returns,” said Boni Mpaka, OCHA’s deputy head of office in Mali.

More than 175,000 Malians are still living in refuge and 353,455 others have been displaced within the country since the outbreak of violence mainly in northern Mali following the March 2012 coup.

“We are not encouraging any returns at the moment. But we are assessing the needs the returnees will have,” Desgroseilliers said. Aid groups voice worry about high malnutrition rates in northern Mali’s Gao Region, which they say could worsen with the spontaneous return of refugees. The global acute malnutrition rate is 13.5 percent, slightly below the 15 percent emergency threshold.

The country’s elections set for 28 July are also encouraging returns, said Lucien Simba, a humanitarian affairs officer with OCHA in Dakar. “People hope things are going to change.” The authorities have set plans for refugees in neighbouring countries to vote.

“Search for pasture, preparation for next year return to school, the upcoming elections, people coming to verify the status of their homes and belongings; there are several reasons why people are gradually moving to Mali,” the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), told IRIN.

However, the returnees lack sufficient food, need to be helped in rebuilding their homes and restocking their animals. Children will also need conditions in place a part from safety, teachers and functional schools for returning to school next year. A lot of efforts should be channeled to work on social cohesion and rebuilding resilience capacities at the community level which has been weakened by the unrest, DRC said.

cr/ob/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

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Voters faced frustration before the voting day in Mali

Posted by African Press International on July 29, 2013

Photo: IRIN
Timbuktu in northern Mali. (file photo)

BAMAKO,  – Malians voted yesterday on 28 July in the first ever polls since a military coup and an insurgency 16 months ago, but complaints of missing voting cards and worries that the elections are rushed marred the run-up to the ballot.

Some 6.8 million Malians have been registered to vote. Two days to the poll, electoral officials scrambled to issue voting cards amid complaints of disorganization. Other voters nonetheless looked to the elections hoping they will set the country back on the path to recovery.

“Mali has suffered political and military instability these past months,” said Aboubacar Hamidine, a refugee in neighbouring Niger. “I am going to vote to end this instability.”, he said before the voting day.

Forty-year old Hamadikane Maiga, who was also forced to seek refuge in Niger told IRIN: “We hope that these presidential elections will bring lasting peace to our country. This will usher a new era in Mali.”

According to Mariam Sangaré, a teacher in the Malian capital, Bamako, “The top priority for the new president must be the reconciliation between all Malians, because we are divided, south versus north and vice versa.”

While Bamako shop-keeper, Oumar Oulk Mammouny, stressed the economy must come first. “The economy is in pieces. Everything has stopped…the new president has to give us confidence that we’ll be able to eat three times a day.”

Malian authorities have made plans for refugees in next-door Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger to take part in the election. However, only 19,000 registered to vote out of 73,000 refugees of voting age, said the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which is helping with voting in the camps. The delay in issuing voters cards has affected many within Mali as well.

“I was here two weeks ago. I waited for two hours, before I gave up,” said Mariam Guindo, who had gone to Bamako to pick up her card. “I hope I will have my card today so I don’t have to come back a third time.”

France, which sent troops in January to beat back Islamist militants who threatened to march onto Bamako from Mali’s north, pressed for the vote to be held. Observers have raised concern over the timing of the elections, arguing that while they are important in helping Mali back on its feet, their credibility were as equally critical.

A UN peacekeeping force is currently rolling out in Mali, taking up from African troops who have been in the country for some months, but have largely been off the combat scene.

“Disastrous” process

Tiébilé Dramé, a former minister and chief negotiator between Mali’s interim government and Tuareg rebels, termed the elections preparations “disastrous”. He withdrew from the presidential race after his attempt to have the courts move the election date was rejected.

“Organizing elections without the full participation of the population in the [northern] region of Kidal, and possibly Gao and Timbuktu will only deepen the divide between the north and the south and possibly lead to new rebellions,” he said.

“What other country would accept an imperfect vote. If this is only to have an elected government in Bamako, why not wait two, three months until the situation has stabilized,” said Ousmane Maiga, who was displaced from his home in Mali’s northern Gao region and is now living in Bamako.

Disgruntled troops overthrew then president Amadu Toumani Touré in March 2012 on charges that his government had failed to tackle a Tuareg rebellion in the north. The coup however, eased the way for the Tuaregs to seize swathes of territory before being ousted by Islamist rebels, some linked to Al-Qaeda, who imposed strict Islamic law during their occupation of the northern half of the country.

The violence and insecurity has left more than 175,000 Malians living across the borders and 353,455 others displaced within the country, according to UNHCR.

In Mauritania and Burkina Faso only about five percent of the refugees had received voting cards by voting day.

“We made lists of all refugees who are eligible to vote and sent them Bamako. Out of 4,161 names on our list, the authorities could only identify 932 people,” said UNHCR’s Charlotte Arnaud.

“We were registered in Bamako in 2010 and I should be having my card, but I don’t,” said Ousmane Ag Dalla, the head of Tuareg refugees in Burkina Faso. “Things have been rushed and people are not ready.

“Mali is not ready to hold proper elections, but it’s better to do it because we will never be ready as there are so many problems. We from the north are hoping to have a president so that the underlying problems can be tackled by a legitimate president,” he said before the voting day.

The Malians expect results on Friday, a week after the vote..

kh/bb/bo/ob/aj/oa source http://www.irinnews.org

End

 

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Worrying climate outlook

Posted by African Press International on July 27, 2013

DAKAR,  – Drastic water loss in West Africa’s River Volta basin – covering Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, and Togo – could deprive millions of people of food and hydropower in coming years due to climate change, researchers predict.

Higher average temperatures, seen to be rising by up to 3.6 degrees Celsius over the next century, and reduced rainfall could see water flows in the basin drop by 24 percent by 2050, and 45 percent by 2100, according to a new study by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

By 2050 there would be enough water for only 50 percent of current hydropower production, the study found. Ghana’s Akosombo dam, the world’s largest man-made lake, currently generates 1,020 megawatts.

The roughly 24 million people living in the basin are mainly dependent on agriculture, which accounts for around 40 percent of the region’s economic output. This population, however, is expected to reach 34 million by 2015, up from 19 million in 2000, adding to pressure on water resources.

Matthew McCartney, the study’s lead author, told IRIN climate change effects were already being felt in the basin.

“Climate change warning signs in the Volta Basin are an upward trend in mean annual temperature,” he said. “Because of the natural variability, rainfall trends are much harder to assess than temperature, but there is some evidence of declining trends in rainfall, at least over Ghana.”

Climate change would make planned additional water storage in the basin unattainable.

In the absence of climate change about 78,000 hectares would be irrigated and 11,800 gigawatt hours per year of hydroelectric power would be generated in the coming years, explained Tim Williams, IWMI’s director for Africa. But, he said, climate change would mean that “only about 75 percent of the irrigated area will be possible and only about 52 percent of the potential hydroelectricity will be generated by 2050.”

“We do notice two trends: The increasing demand on the available water resources which is population driven – that is already affecting the water availability. On top of that there is anecdotal evidence by farmers who point to shifts in the onset of rains as well as variability within the season in terms of frequency of dry spells within the growing season,” he told IRIN.

The study’s predictions are based on a moderate impact scenario which the report says are “relatively conservative, but not overly cautious…

“In general, climate change predictions point to extreme weather events. A middle impact climate change scenario mimics the way nature works in a long period of time,” Williams said.

Solutions

Improving ground water by filling local aquifers with water from the local rivers or reservoirs as well as relatively simple solutions such as building small ponds on farms, or roofed water tanks are important for sustaining water supply, said the study.

Cooperation by the riparian states on future dam projects and incorporating climate change impact in those developments are other ways of ensuring that water from one of the world’s largest river basins continues to sustain lives.

“In many countries there has been almost no systematic evaluation of the possible implications of climate change for water resources…”

Robert Zougmoré, West Africa programme leader for Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security at Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), said offering reliable weather and climate information would help farmers plan better to avoid losses due to extreme weather conditions.

“If we are able to provide communities with up-to-date weather forecasts, this can help farmers on how to effectively manage their farms without suffering much of the effects of climate change.

“If a farmer knows that the rainy season will have above-normal rainfall he will, for instance, decide to grow rice rather than millet,” he said.

However, the study noted that climate change was not a priority in many sub-Saharan African countries. “In many countries there has been almost no systematic evaluation of the possible implications of climate change for water resources and it is given little consideration in the planning of future water resources development.”

Uncertainty about climate change impact, the fact that predictions tend to be in the distant future and that the priorities for many sub-Saharan African governments are mainly basic service provision, discourage timely climate change adaptation, the researchers argued.

“In the Volta, riparian states need to develop ‘no regrets’ options for water planning and management that are socially and economically viable over a range of possible climate futures. They also need to think much more about more integrated water planning and management across the whole basin, with all the states cooperating rather than the piecemeal ad hoc water resource development that has occurred to date,” said McCartney.

IWMI’s Williams, however, said African governments were gradually becoming more aware of the dangers of climate change, “but the rate and magnitude of climate change adaption response is not yet sufficient.”

ob/cb source http://www.irinews.org

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Humanitarian needs rising

Posted by African Press International on July 5, 2013

Malian refugees in Damba camp, Burkina Faso (file photo)

DAKAR, 4 July 2013 (IRIN) – Humanitarian agencies have revised upwards their appeal to help Sahelians affected by hunger, malnutrition, impoverishment and conflict to US$1.7 billion, said UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel Robert Piper.

“The Sahel is always in crisis mode,” Piper told journalists at a Dakar press conference.

Some 11.3 million Sahelians are estimated to be short of food this year and 1.5 million under-fives acutely malnourished.

As of May 2013, 345,000 acutely malnourished children had been treated in UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and NGO-run nutrition centres. But despite year-on-year nutrition support, surveys show malnutrition rates of over 10 percent in almost all of the countries, and above the 15 percent threshold in parts of Chad, Mauritania and Niger.

In Mauritania one third of the population is food-insecure.

Most vulnerable are families who were affected by the 2012 drought, and who have not yet recovered their animal or seed stocks, and the half a million Malians displaced by conflict in the north. But even Mali – the most “visible and acute” crisis in the region, with 3.5 million people estimated to be food-insecure – has received just 29 percent of the funding called for.

Just 35 percent of the amount needed – US$607 million – has been received thus far, leaving a US$1 billion shortfall. The funds received are unevenly spread, said Piper. “We recognize the response that has been given, but we are concerned that it is not equally spread across all sectors.”

Agriculture is just 23 percent funded, meaning it is already too late to get the necessary seeds to farmers to plant in time for the rains.

“We have missed a window of opportunity here to support agriculture and reduce the number of farmers in need of aid. We cannot distribute the seeds that are needed [for rain-fed agriculture] but there is still a lot that can be done,” said Piper, pointing to livestock vaccinations during the rainy season, getting animal fodder where it is needed, and getting seeds to farmers who plant on flood plains during the rainy season (the harvest is in late August).

Other severely under-funded sectors include water and sanitation (11 percent) and health (26 percent), both of which underpin infant nutrition; as well as education (10 percent), and early recovery (8 percent).

Most Malian refugee students living in camps are unable to go to school because of the lack of funds.

Interestingly, early recovery is not prioritized by donors (despite much talk of the need to boost resilience in the Sahel this year) to make vulnerable families less reliant on aid and more able to cope with harsh climatic conditions and endemic poverty.

aj/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

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Mali: A rush to elections is dangerous

Posted by African Press International on June 7, 2013

Elections in Mali could pose a danger, if rushed, say observers (file photo)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • July elections could further destabilize north
  • MINUSMA will barely have settled in by July
  • Reconciliation body yet to gain momentum
  • Elections would coincide with rains, Ramadan

DAKAR/BAMAKO,  – As international donors, notably France and the USA, as well as the Economic Community of West African States, push for July presidential elections in Mali, critics say doing so could foment factionalization in the north thus further destabilizing it, threaten ongoing negotiations over Kidal town, and hamper reconciliation and dialogue. IRIN spoke to analysts, citizen activists and would-be voters to glean their views.

It is clear why certain outsiders are pushing for elections, said Jamie Bouverie in Africa Report: France needs to put in place a legitimate authority to enable it to declare the Mali problem over; the US requires a democratically elected authority to restart its aid and investments; and the UN requires a legitimate partner for MINUSMA, its stabilization mission.

“Conducting elections is the only realistic way,” said Paul Melly, associate fellow at think tank Chatham House. “If there were no restoration of democratic structures, the country would not get international aid and would struggle to cooperate with others countries.”

Some Malians agree. Maimouna Dagnoko, a trader in Bamako, told IRIN: “The government must do all it can to hold these elections in July. Only through them can we put in place a legitimate authority which can take charge. The longer the transition government persists, the further we sink into the abyss.”

But while all agree that elections are needed, many say rushing them will further destabilize Mali. Inter-communal violence, suicide attacks and roadside bombs recur in the north, while France plans to bring its troop count down to 1,000 (from 4,000 in April) by election month, creating a security vacuum, some say. While MINUSMA is set to fully deploy in July it will take time to establish itself.

“What makes elections highly complicated is the situation in the north – not only Kidal, which gets most of the attention, but in Ménaka, Gao and Timbuktu, which have not been sorted out,” said Yvan Guichaoua, international politics lecturer at the University of East Anglia, mentioning the continuation of exactions against light-skinned people in parts of the north – inter-communal violence between the Movement for the National Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and Arab fighters in Ber (Timbuktu Region) and Anefis (in Kidal Region). “Distrust between communities is still very high. Just think back to the 1992 national pact, which was ambitious but still led to three more years of communal violence.”

The Kidal question remains controversial: Malian troops this week wrested control of Anefis, midway between Gao and Kidal town, as part of a military offensive that is assumed to aim to take back Kidal Region from the MNLA. This offensive will have stymied the Burkina Faso-led negotiations currently under way between members of the MNLA, the High Council of Azawad (formerly of MNLA and then Ansar Dine) and the Malian authorities.

No “game-changers”

One problem is that while the Bamako political landscape has changed a bit since the March 2012 military coup, newcomers have by and large not shown any more concern for addressing the country’s core problems than their predecessors, said Guichaoua. “The godfathers of Malian politics are still in the game – there are no game-changers there,” he told IRIN.

Elections must be a beginning not an end, he added. If they are rushed, then after them, the problems of alienation in the north, the collapse of the Malian state, an inability to provide quality basic services such as health and education, and impunity for abuses that took place both recently and in previous conflicts over the north, will all persist.

Truth and reconciliation

All analysts IRIN spoke to stressed the importance of community and national-level reconciliation and dialogue. “For generations, tensions between nomadic Tuaregs and other ethnic groups have caused deep wounds that can only be healed through a truth and reconciliation process,” said academics Greg Mann and Bruce Whitehouse in a March article. “The scope of this process should not be restricted to events in northern Mali, but should encompass misdeeds committed throughout the country, including by the previous government and the soldiers who overthrew it a year ago.”

But the Commission for Dialogue and Reconciliation (already set up) has yet to gain momentum, and its mandate is overly broad, said Guichaoua. Further, several communities, including the Bella and those represented byCOREN (a northern Malian group calling for unity amid rebellion) do not recognize it.

One risk is that, once elected, no politician will want to adopt a transformative agenda that might destabilize their hold on power, he said.

The general feeling among many southern Malians is that they are tired of Tuareg rebellions, and have little appetite for further reconciliation moves, said University of Ghent history lecturer Baz Lecocq.

Mali has rarely done truth and reconciliation well, so there is a dearth of models to draw on. One successful attempt discussed at a gathering of Mali experts at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London last week was in 1996 in Bourem in the Gao Region, where leaders from various communities joined forces to put an end to mutual distrust and violence. There are few present-day examples, though some community-level dialogue is going on in Burkina Faso’s refugee camps, according to one analyst. “But just because there is no clear bottom-up approach at present, does not mean there should be a top-down one,” said Guichaoua, “It is unlikely to reap long-term dividends.”

Legitimacy

Election supporters say elections are the only way to restore some sort of legitimacy for Mali. “Elections will not solve everything… but not having a democratic process will not make it any easier,” said Chatham House’s Melly.

Elected officials have long struggled with legitimacy in Mali – both in the south and the north, where only 40 percent of the electorate on average turns out to vote, said Gregory Mann, lecturer in African studies at Columbia University in a blog conversation with academics and Mali experts Bruce Whitehouse, Baz Lecocq and Bruce Hall. And this support for politicians grows weaker still when the state is unable to deliver basic services.

“We tend to think of this as a problem between Bamako and Kidal… but what seems much more problematic for the future is the fact that the health service collapsed, that the state completely delegitimized itself, and its infrastructure was destroyed in 2012,” said Bruce Hall, who lectures on African history at Duke University in the USA.

International diplomats and local authorities should be wary of partial credibility, said Guichaoua. “Either you are legitimate or you are not… What if a candidate who has lost, tries to inflame the situation and argue elections have been manipulated or rigged. You need something serious if you don’t want to pay the price afterward.

“Veneration for elections on the part of the international community has led to failures in the past… [he mentioned the Democratic Republic of Congo] “Why not wait a bit?… “We faced a pretty dramatic crisis over the past 15 months, and this could have been an eye-opening experience. If we let things go on as usual, what will the next crisis be?”

Logistics

Putting questions of security and sustainable peace aside, no one can agree if it is even feasible to hold elections in July. It is not an ideal month, given the start of the Ramadan fast, and the rains which will prevent many rural voters from participating – something that could lead northern pastoralists not to see the elections as legitimate. “Even under the best of circumstances, July is a terrible time for elections in Mali,” said Baz Lecocq.

Much of the voting in villages in the north takes place through mobile voting booths, which would probably be blocked by the rains. “If you want low voter turnout, organize elections in July,” he said, noting that July elections in the past have led to low voter turnout.

Figuring out a way to enable the 174,129 refugees in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania to vote is crucial, said Guichaoua, not to mention the many unregistered refugees who are getting by in capital cities such as Ouagadougou, Niamey and Nouakchott. “How do you identify these people?” he asked.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) will allow the Malian authorities to conduct voter registration in the camps on a voluntary basis, it said in a communiqué.

Youssouf Kampo, a member of the national independent election commission, is optimistic: “We are in full preparation… Materials are already in place, except in some parts of Timbuktu and Gao, where they were destroyed. Voting booths, ballot boxes, ink and others things are all in place. I believe we will succeed in time.”

Gal Siaka Sangaré, a member of the government’s General Office on Elections (DGE), told IRIN they are making progress towards biometric voter registration despite some technical glitches. “We have to respect the 28 July date and pray to God that it all works out,” he said.

aj/ob/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

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In 2001 just 73,000 Burkinabés could access clean water, according to research by Peter Newborne at the Overseas Development Institute,

Posted by African Press International on May 18, 2013

OUAGADOUGOU,  – Earlier this year Denis Ouedraogo, a tailor living in the Tampouy neighbourhood just north of Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, connected his mud-walled home to the water network for the first time. “Even without electricity, having enough water can make you happy,” he said.

He is among 1.9 million people to have connected to the government water grid since 2001, thanks to major changes in how the National Office for Water and Sanitation (ONEA) delivers water to urban Burkinabés.

In 2001 just 73,000 Burkinabés could access clean water, according to research by Peter Newborne at the Overseas Development Institute, which is trying to track and communicate examples of progress on development.

In 2002 just half of Burkina Faso residents had access to clean water. In 2008 (the latest statistics available) this had risen to 76 percent – 95 percent in urban areas. The plan was to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to double the number of those with access to clean water, in this case to 87 percent, by 2015. Those tracking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) progress in Burkina Faso, say the goal will be surpassed.

How?

A number of factors made this possible: ONEA was nationalized and restructured in 1994 following a period in which it had become unprofitable and poorly functioning. The new national company ran along commercial lines, instilling a culture of performance and efficiency, said Newborne.

The second priority was to find a bulk water supply, in this case by building the Ziga dam 45km from the capital.

A mixture of government grant funds (from France and other European donors) and concessionary loans at low interest rates (predominantly from the World Bank), provided the required finances. This helped them bring costs down: for instance, connecting to the grid now costs a household US$61, down from on average $400 in the 1990s, according to ONEA’s chief operating officer, Moumouni Sawadogo.

Next came the work: building a network of pipes throughout Ouagadougou, including in the city’s unzoned [unplanned] suburbs, which house one third of the capital’s residents and had hitherto been overlooked in terms of household water supply.

“Even in non-zoned areas, people can pay their water bills,” said Halidou Kouanda, head of NGO Wateraid in Burkina Faso, citing a 2011 ONEA study noting that financial recovery rates in unzoned neighbourhoods were 95 percent.

Now, with a steady income and an 18 percent leakage rate, ONEA is one of the best-performing water utility companies in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Bank.

Targeting the poor

While targeting unzoned areas upped the percentage of urban dwellers who could access clean water (thus helping to meet the MDG), it did not ensure that water was affordable.

Now ONEA needs to try to target the poor, as it pledged to do in an initial equity strategy agreed with the Ministry of Water and Sanitation.

As part of its strategy, ONEA built 17,290 wells and standpipes for some areas without household-level connections. Water from a standpipe costs 60 CFA (11 US cents) for a 220 litre barrel (transported on wheels). But the very poor cannot afford such barrels, turning instead to water vendors who sell the same amount for 200-500 CFA (40-98 cents) depending on the season.

Thus paradoxically, the poorest families pay up to eight times more than others for their water.

ODI is discussing different pro-poor targeting methods that might work, including: subsidizing part of the water supply for certain households; targeting poor areas; allocation by housing type; means-testing; community-based targeting; or self-targeting.

At the moment, all households are charged the same connection tariff. “Is this equitable? We think not,” said Newborne. “You could means-test it; you could waive the connection charge for some; or charge the first X cubic metres at a different rate,” he suggested, adding that lower-income households could pay bills weekly or on a pay-as-you-go basis, to keep track of costs. “Think of how mobile phone companies have fixed their pricing plans to be accessible,” he said. 

The concern is that households who experience running water for the first time may use more than they can afford, then falling behind and drop off the grid, said WaterAid’s Kouanda. This happened to 6.8 percent of Ouagadougou’s ONEA customers in 2009.

Families must be made aware of this risk, said Kouanda. But many customers are so nervous of this happening, that they practice their own careful monitoring.

Ami Sidibé, who lives in Somgandé neighbourhood, which was connected to the water mains three months ago, said she continues to fill jerry cans – using tap water – to monitor her household’s use. “I’ll do anything to avoid returning to the situation before,” she told IRIN.

Reduced disease risk?

No studies have yet been published linking the spread of the water network with the incidence of disease, but some Somgandé residents who were recently connected to the grid said their children were falling sick less frequently. Water-borne illnesses are among the top five reasons for children’ health visits, according to the Health Ministry.

Future challenges will include how to extend such networks to rural areas, which are currently under-serviced in terms of clean water: 72 percent of rural Burkinabés access clean water, versus 95 percent of city residents.

The local authorities are responsible for rural water supply under Burkina Faso’s decentralized governance system.

According to a just-published report Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water 2013 Update by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, striking disparities remain between rural and urban water access, with rural communities making up 83 percent of the global population without access to an improved water source.

bo/aj/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

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