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Posts Tagged ‘Millennium Development Goals’

UN’s Amina Mohammed in a meeting with Erna Solberg of Norway

Posted by African Press International on December 14, 2013

Amina Mohammed og Erna Solberg

Amina Mohammed og Erna Solberg. Foto: Statsministerens kontor

The Norwegian Prime Minister today met Amina Mohammed, special adviser to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon responsible for UN development goals by 2015.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg, is the leader of the Secretary General advocate group to meet the MDGs with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

– This work is an important starting point when new development for the years after 2015 shall be designed and was a key topic of conversation, the Prime Minister said.

– Education for all, especially girls’ right to education, is another important issue. This is a high priority in the government’s development policies, as well as the MDGs and to work with the new development targets for the years after 2015, said Solberg.

Amina Mohammed has broad international experience in the work on the MDGs, women’s education and development., including experience having worked for Nigeria‘s president and the Gates Foundation.



source MFA norway

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Conference of African Parliamentarians on deepening legislative engagement

Posted by African Press International on November 20, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, November 21, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – Most African Parliaments have embraced the MDGs as a means to achieve human development for their constituencies. Standing Committees and caucuses have been set up specifically to ensure the effective implementation of MDGs in some national parliaments while similar structures have been instituted in Regional Parliaments to track commitments and progress towards the MDGs.

Focused on the role of legislatures, a dialogue of African Parliamentarians is being convened from the 20th to 22nd November 2013 to discuss progress with the Millennium Development Goals and the emerging post -2015 development agenda.

Key objectives of the dialogue

•    To promote parliamentary ownership, leadership and co-operation on, and advocacy for MDG-focused policies including financing in the lead up to the 2015 target date;

•    To enhance parliamentary knowledge on MDG Acceleration efforts, including the sharing of best practices of Parliamentary engagement with MDGs across Africa;

•    To develop a common understanding of the Post-2015 Development process among parliamentarians;

•    To advocate strategies to enhance parliamentary engagement on the post-2015 development agenda ; and,

•    To contribute to the African Common Position on the Post -2015 development agenda.

Who will be there

•    National and Sub-regional Parliamentarians (from the East African Legislative Assembly, SADC Parliament, ECCAS Parliament and ECOWAS Parliament) and the Pan-African Parliament, and

•    Staff members from the various Parliaments across the continent

Discussions will combine expert presentations, panel interventions, break-out group and plenary sessions.

What: Dialogue of African Parliamentarians to discuss progress with the Millennium Development Goals and the emerging post -2015 development agenda (all meetings are open to the media)

When: 20-22 November 2013

Where: Pan-African Parliament, Gallagher Estate, Midrand (Johannesburg)



United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)


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Posted by African Press International on November 15, 2013

NEW YORK, November 13, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Niamey, from Mali early in the morning of Wednesday, 6 November. This was the second leg of a four-country joint visit to 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.

That morning, the delegation had a meeting with the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, and inspected the Guard of Honour. They then held a larger meeting with the President, the Prime Minister, Brigi Raffini, as well as members of the Cabinet. Speaking at the meeting, the Secretary-General said that the delegation was in Niger and the region to show its solidarity and to coordinate its actions with the countries of the Sahel. The Secretary-General also underlined Niger’s contribution to peacekeeping, including in Mali, and noted the assistance given by the country to the thousands of Malian refugees in Niger during the presidential elections. S

After briefly speaking to reporters in a joint press briefing, the Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank answered a “Call for Action” for improvements in women’s reproductive health and girls’ education by President Issoufou. The Secretary-General said that throughout his visit to the Sahel, he was calling on leaders to listen to girls and women, to hear their needs and concerns and give women a voice in decision-making. He also asked men to speak out for gender equality. (See Press Release SG/SM/15445.)


After attending a State lunch hosted by the Government, the Secretary-General met in the afternoon with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hama Amadou, and then addressed a plenary session of the National Assembly. He told the Parliamentarians that the United Nations was in the country to help Niger in its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and underlined Niger’s role in addressing the challenges of the Sahel. He also offered his condolences to the families of the migrants who died in the Sahara a few days before, saying we must bring their traffickers to justice and address the problems that pushed them to leave.

The Secretary-General left Niamey, Niger, for Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the third leg of his trip to the Sahel, in the early evening of 6 November.





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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.





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Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum (ANSAF) of Tanzania has been named winner of the 2013 ONE Africa Award

Posted by African Press International on November 11, 2013

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The announcement was made today by ONE’s Africa Director (, Dr. Sipho S. Moyo, at a ceremony held at the UN Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The ceremony, which was attended by ONE co-founder Bono, Board Chairman Tom Freston and CEO Michael Elliott, took place at the Africa Media Leaders Forum.

Now in its sixth year, the annual $100,000 USD prize celebrates the innovations and progress made by African civil society organisations towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa.
“The ONE Award is an incredible opportunity for us at ONE to shine a spotlight on some the most innovative Africa-led, Africa-driven efforts and initiatives by civil society organizations that are working hard to build a better future for African citizens. These organizations often tie public service delivery efforts to robust advocacy tactics so that systemic change can be achieved,” Dr. Moyo said, while announcing the winner.

ANSAF is a network of non-state stakeholders in Tanzania’s agricultural sector that brings the voices of struggling smallholder farmers to the policy-making table. The organization monitors Tanzania’s agricultural budget and advocates for the government to allocate 10% of its national budget to agricultural and rural development in accordance with the 2003 Maputo Declaration.

ANSAF is also using cashew nuts to develop an advocacy model aimed at improving the entire value chain of agriculture in the country. Tanzania was once one of the world’s leading exporters of cashew nuts. Regaining this position could contribute significantly to curbing poverty in rural areas that produce the nuts.

“The work ANSAF is doing to give smallholder farmers a seat at the policy table and to use the cashew industry as a model for finding the right solutions to increasing agricultural productivity and finding markets for that produce, holds enormous promise for the economy of Tanzania.  We’re proud to partner with them and with our board member Howard Buffett, who has dedicated much of his life to agriculture development and funds this special award,” said Michael Elliott.

Accepting the trophy from Tom Freston, ANSAF’s Executive Director Audax Rukonge said:

“This is Award is for Tanzanian and African smallholder farmers who work had to ensure Africa has enough food to feed the nations.”

Speaking at the ceremony, Bono described the information revolution taking place in Ethiopia and around the world, and how it is empowering civil society organisations to hold governments to account.

“The quality of governance depends on the quality of civil society, ” he said. “And the quality of civil society depends on the quality, the accuracy, and the relevance of information,” Bono added.

He also spoke about ONE’s work with civil society organizations campaigning for transparency to fight corruption:

“Transparency plus insight equals transformation. Capital flight is always at night, in the dark.  Phantom companies, with more wealth than some governments, can’t stand the daylight that would unmask who owns them.  Corporate and government corruption is killing more kids than any disease.  But there is a vaccine, and it is information. It’s transparency.”

Addressing the Africa Media Leaders Forum, which hosted the ceremony, Bono spoke out on the importance of media freedom and commented:

“To try and pretend the revolution in information technology isn’t happening is like King Canute putting his hand up to try and stop the waves. They can’t be stopped, they are tidal waves.  I would encourage this government, which has done such incredible work on human development, to surf these waves.  Not to fear journalism, but to encourage it.”

Two hundred and fifty-seven NGOs from across Africa entered this year’s competition for the prestigious award. Previous winners include Positive-Generation (PG) of Cameroon in 2012; Groupe de Réflexion et d’action, Femme Démocratie et Développement  (GF2D) of Togo in 2011; SEND-Ghana of Ghana in 2010; Slums Information Development and Resources Centres (SIDAREC) of Kenya in 2009; and Development Communications Network (DEVCOMS) of Nigeria in 2008.


Runners-up of this year’s ONE Award include Zambia Open Community Schools (ZOCS) of Zambia; Doper l’Entrepreneuriat par la Finance Innovante et Solidaire (DEFIS) of Mali; Jerusalem Children and Community Development Organization (JeCCDO) of Ethiopia; Friends of the Global Fund Africa of Nigeria; and Réseau Accès aux Médicaments Essentiels (RAME) of Burkina Faso.


About ONE –

ONE ( is a campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 3.5 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Co-founded by Bono and strictly non-partisan, we raise public awareness and press political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programs.

ONE is not a grant-making organization and does not solicit funding from the public or receive government funding. ONE is funded almost entirely by a handful of philanthropists and foundations. We achieve change through advocacy. Our teams in Washington, D.C., London, Johannesburg, Brussels, Berlin, and Paris educate and lobby governments to shape policy solutions that save and improve millions of lives. To learn more, go to

Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum (ANSAF) – Tanzania

In Tanzania, poverty remains rampant in rural areas where smallholder farmers struggle to make a living. Yet Tanzania’s agricultural sector offers immense opportunity to lift millions out of poverty…an opportunity that is not often exploited because the farmers’ voices go unheard…

ANSAF is using one commodity to change this trajectory. Tanzania was once a world leader in exporting cashew nuts.  Farmers now find themselves mired in redtape and bureaucracy as they try to get their cashews to the market and make a profit. If Tanzania could get cashews right, its economy would benefit enormously.

ANSAF is bringing farmers’ voices to the policy-making table in Tanzania. And with the African Union and Tanzania’s leadership zeroing in on smallholder farmers in the coming year, the prospects for Tanzania’s farmers will have no limit.




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A high-level political meeting on increased domestic funding for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, in Addis Ababa from November 11-12, 2013

Posted by African Press International on November 10, 2013


ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – The African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and the African Development Bank (AfDB) will convene a high-level political meeting on increased domestic funding for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, in Addis Ababa from November 11-12, 2013.

The meeting will advocate for increased innovative domestic resource mobilization following renewed commitments in Abuja by Heads of State and Government this year in July and pledges to support the Global Fund’s fourth replenishment.

The response to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria over the last three decades has mobilized unprecedented resources, commitment and action at the national, regional and global levels. However the results achieved and the progress made over the years in responding to these epidemics is not sustainable. African countries have relied heavily on external financing, leaving them vulnerable to the unpredictability of donor funds and often considerably weakening national ownership. Sub-Saharan Africa’s dependency on international funding has been especially stark, with over 60 per cent of investment coming from external sources. More innovative domestic resource mobilization is vital in effectively implementing the African Union Roadmap for Shared Responsibility and Global Solidarity on AIDS, TB and malaria (2012-2015) and related continental commitments.

The commitment of implementing countries to the fight against the diseases in the form of investing increasing amounts of domestic resources in their national health and disease programs is crucial for demonstrating country ownership and for the long-term sustainability of programs. It also demonstrates accountability and sends a strong message to donors that implementing countries are taking action to address their countries health and development challenges.

Pledges from African Union Member States can provide an opportunity to help secure a fully funded Global Fund, which in turn is a guarantee for implementing countries to receive sufficient and predictable funding in order to reach the Millennium Development Goals and win the fight against the three pandemics.

These commitments are all the more crucial as we stand at a key historic moment: it is now within our grasp to turn the three epidemics into low-level epidemics, virtually control them, and remove them as threats to public health if we intensify our efforts. The global community has secured the science, acquired the requisite experience and understands the high impact interventions that will sustain the results.

The African Union spearheads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens. AU Vision: An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena. 

The Global Fund is a unique global public/private partnership dedicated to attracting and disbursing additional resources to prevent and treat AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. This partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector and affected communities represents a new approach to international health financing. The Global Fund works in close collaboration with other bilateral and multilateral organisations to supplement existing efforts in dealing with the three diseases.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) spurs sustainable economic development and social progress in its 54 regional member countries (RMCs), thus contributing to poverty reduction through mobilizing and allocating resources for investment in RMCs; and providing policy advice and technical assistance to support development efforts. The AfDB’s Human Development Department supports RMCs in areas of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Health, Social Protection and Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship. The AfDB recently approved a new Strategy for 2013-2022.


African Development Bank (AfDB)


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Aid unlikely to return to 2010 high any time soon

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2013

Aid unlikely to return to 2010 high any time soon

DAKAR, – Aid from the top 15 global donors – all from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) – is estimated to reach US$127 billion by the end of 2013, reversing the aid declines of the last two years, according to projections from the Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre.

This represents a less than 1 percent increase over 2012, and is mainly due to some donors pursuing the commitment to give 0.7 percent of national income to development aid by 2015, a promise made by 15 European governments in 2005. The UK has promised to stick to this commitment, agreeing to raise aid from 0.56 percent to 0.7 percent of GNI, representing an increase of $3.7 billion.

“One can only speculate [as to why], but… the predominate theory is that [UK Prime Minister] David Cameron’s commitment to overseas aid is part and parcel of fashioning a new, compassionate brand of conservatism,” said Robin Davies, associate director of the Development Policy Centre and co-author of the report. “There is, at present, no reason to doubt that they [the UK] will meet its spending target,” he continued, “but programming an additional $3.7 billion in a single year is no mean feat.”

Without this hike from the UK, global aid would probably have fallen by 3 percent over the course of 2013, as most DAC donors reduced their aid, with a few exceptions, including Switzerland, Sweden and Italy.

The US, for example, is expected to have reduced its global aid spending by $1.7 billion in 2013, and the Netherlands by $1.23 billion, following austerity cuts at the end of 2012.

Researchers based their aid predictions on what the 15 largest DAC donors have pledged to spend this year, compared to their spending intentions at the same time last year. These top donors account for around 95 percent of official development assistance.

Non-DAC buffer

Even if the UK does not reach its global aid goal, Davies said the overall drop in global aid would be quite small. It is likely an increase in aid from non-DAC emerging donors and NGOs, as well as contributions from multilateral sources, which often take a while to “filter through the system,” would all act as a buffer against any drastic decreases in global aid.

Aid from non-DAC sources, including emerging donors and NGOs, has risen by several billions of dollars each year on average, reaching $43 billion in 2011 (compared to $133.9 billion from DAC donors). However, these figures are just estimates – many emerging or private donors do not officially report their aid.

Between 2000 and 2010, the amount of global aid from all DAC donors grew by more than 60 percent. According to Davies, this was linked to the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which led to “a much more effective narrative about the aims and achievements of aid.” This growth was also linked to the relative prosperity that prevailed in most of the OECD countries prior to the global financial crisis, which provided fertile ground for effective social campaigns in favour of aid, and to the terrorist attacks of September 11, which “led to a renewed focus on the geostrategic importance of aid”, he said.

As for the future, however, the Development Policy Centre says that it normally takes up to a decade for a country to recover from an economic crisis. This means that it is doubtful that the world will see another increase in global in the next few years.

“It appears likely aid will resume its downward trend in 2014, falling by perhaps a few percent per annum for several years,” Davies said.

Aid is not expected to return to its 2010 peak level until well after 2014.

If this happens, it is likely the level of funding allocated for short-term, discretionary purposes, such as emergency response, will fall, Davies said.

jl/aj/rz source

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The dangers faced by immigrants are many

Posted by African Press International on October 5, 2013

The dangers faced by migrants such as these, near the Italian island of Lampedusa, were highlighted by the deaths on 4 October of more than 100 people when their boat capsized barely a kilometer from the island (file photo)

NEW YORK,  – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development at the UN General Assembly on Thursday by outlining an eight-point agenda to “make migration work” for the world’s 232 million migrants, as well as their countries of origin and destination.

The meeting brings together migration experts and delegates from 150 countries to discuss ways to support the developmental benefits of international migration while reducing its economic and social costs.

Ban described migration as “a fundamental part of our globalized world” and “an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future”. His eight-point agenda included ending the exploitation of migrants, addressing the plight of stranded migrants, improving public perceptions of migrants and protecting their human rights.

The opening of the meeting coincided with news that more than 100 migrants had lost their lives after the boat they were travelling on caught fire and sank just off the coast of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. The boat was carrying an estimated 500 passengers, many of them believed to be Eritreans, from Libya. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that 150 migrants had so far been rescued, leaving some 250 of the passengers still missing. Earlier this week, another 13 migrants drowned while trying to reach Sicily. UNHCR estimates that in 2011 alone, 1,500 migrants died trying to reach Europe from Libya.

Ban and several other speakers at the meeting referred to the latest tragedy as further evidence of the need to commit to addressing the challenges arising from migration, particularly as the political climate in many countries remains hostile to migrants.

Research needed

“Too often, migrants live in fear,” Ban told delegates. “We need to create more channels for safe and orderly migration.”

Ian Goldin, professor of globalization and development at Oxford University, referred to the meeting as “a ray of light… in what is otherwise an extremely cloudy environment for migration and development.”

Goldin cited a World Bank study that found that changes in national migration policies that increase the flow of migrants even minimally bring significant economic benefits to sending and receiving countries, in addition to transforming the lives of individual migrants and their families.

Photo: IOM
Syrian refugees on a flight to Germany

But both Goldin and Ban, in his list of recommendations, highlighted the need to strengthen the evidence-base on the positive benefits of migration as one way to combat the political rhetoric that fuels negative perceptions of migrants.

“Migrants contribute greatly to host societies…They are doctors, nurses and domestic workers and often the unheralded heart of many service industries,” said Ban. “Yet far too often they are viewed negatively. Too many politicians seek electoral advantage by demonizing migrants.”

Fuelling development

Much of the discussion on the first day of the meeting made a case for incorporating migration into whatever new set of goals replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are due to expire in 2015.

One compelling reason why migration matters for development is the estimated US$550 billion that migrants remit to their families back home annually, according to the World Bank. The figure is more than three times higher than global aid budgets but could be larger still if transaction fees, which are often exorbitant, were lowered.

However, at a side meeting devoted to how to incorporate migration into the post-2015 agenda, speakers warned against framing migration and development as a purely economic issue.

“Migrants are not just commodities or conduits for financial remittances,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. “We must look beyond the dollar value of global remittance flows and pay more attention to the conditions in which this money is being earned. Development won’t work where it’s accompanied by inequality, injustice and repression.”

While there is a greater understanding of the role migration plays in contributing to development now than in 2000, when the original MDGs were formulated, several speakers also pointed out that many people still view migration as a threat rather than a boon to development.

“From a political point of view, it’s a very hard sell,” said a delegate from the Bahamas. “What do you do when people feel the economy is being under-cut and their identity swamped?”

The migration community has come late to the debate over the post-2015 development agenda, and there is unlikely to be a stand-alone goal associated with migration. Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration Laura Thompson advocated instead for trying to incorporate migration and the rights of migrants into a series of existing goals. “This would reflect the reality of migration as a cross-cutting issue,” she said.

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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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Kenya Medical and Education Trust (KMET) improves the Education of Vulnerable Children

Posted by African Press International on May 26, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

A total of 7800 Most Vulnerable Children (MVC) living in informal settlements in Kisumu County is currently gaining from early childhood development (ECDEs).

The 7,800 target MVC include in-school children who are at risk of dropping out and out-of school children. The project is designed to complement the Kisumu City Directorate of Education (formerly Kisumu Municipal Education) office’s efforts to achieve the millennium Development Goal number 2.

The Sh 21.1 Million project is being implemented by Kenya Medical and Education Trust (KMET), United Nations for Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Education.

The KMET Programs Manager Mr Sam Owoko said to date 30 school communities and over 7,800 most vulnerable children reached as beneficiaries. This number has risen from the previous 19 schools to 30 with 4,900 vulnerable children.

“We are currently implementing an active inclusion of most vulnerable children in the education projects in the City,” he said adding that they plan to expand to other counties with proper funding.

This, he said is to increase access to early childhood development and education for 3900 children (2730 girls and 1170 boys) aged 4-5 years in the informal settlements within the Kisumu Municipality.

Owoko said the project has three components, ECDEs, Primary Education and Social mobilization and advocacy.

Kisumu Municipal Education Officer, Juma Omwendo said the county education board has in place a committee that looks in to ECDEs, Home craft and youth polytechnics and will ensure that the project runs smoothly.

Omwendo added that all primary schools will have management committees to look further into early child hood development. “At the city level there are already 450 early Childhood centers, and this project is in line with the constitution’s basic right for a child” said Omwendo.

He said that the governor is a superintendent of the ECDEs and that financial assistance will come though small but in the next financial year due to the slow transition of governance.

“A child must get better early childhood development and this includes also better health,” said Owoko. The informal settlements include Nyalenda, Obunga, Manyatta, Bandani and Manyatta Arabs.

Some of the schools that have benefitted from this project include Tido, Manyatta, Kosawo, Kanyamedha and Kodiaga Prison Primary Schools among others.

Owoko revealed that 31 teachers have undergone training on early childhood development three times and will be able to teach most of the vulnerable children after graduation. Out of the project, 50 aged women put in two groups have also been trained to run day care services and 40 children are under their care.

“Others that have gained from the ECDE project are 60 teenage mothers in the informal settlements,” said Owoko.

He added that 50 professional women mentors have been identified and 26 inducted on mentorship skills by KMET to help in mentoring girl child to improve their education.

“Children under perform at primary and secondary level if they fail to pass through ECD,” Owoko saying parents should ensure that their children access basic education.

Owoko also said that195 Pupils and 31 patrons have been trained so far to facilitate formation of peer education clubs to help in role modelling in schools.

In strengthening sustainability of MVC basic education KMET has kicked off various interventions through partnerships between target communities and stakeholders in 5 informal settlements.

Such intervention includes community sensitization and awareness meetings, conducted various training to head teachers and quality assurance education officers.

UNICEF Education Officer, Linda Kharemwa said more of advocacy on ECDE will be beneficial since the devolved government does not have enough funding for the same. She however challenged both the devolved and national government to give Early Childhood development a priority instead of laptops.




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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.



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Kenya: National slum upgrading and prevention policy aims to improve livelihoods

Posted by African Press International on May 22, 2013

  • By Maurice Alal, API Kenya

The government has embarked on national slum upgrading and prevention policy to improve the livelihoods of 5.4 million Kenyans in slums and informal settlements.

The policy requires adequate housing for Kenyans as in the constitution to facilitate the realization of the Vision 2030 which aspires for a slum free nation.

Currently it is estimated that more than 34% of Kenyan’s total population lives in urban areas with this number projected to hit 63% by 2030 in not well addressed.

It s also estimated that 71% of the urban population lives in slums and are facing various challenges such as social, political and economic exclusion.

Other vital problems faced by slum dwellers include, housing, resource allocation, deprivation marginalization, employment or underemployment, health and insecurity among others.

According to Mutuva Mutisia who represented the Director of Slum Upgrading Department, Charles Shikuku the slum agenda is aimed to arrest the situation from escalating beyond manageable proportions especially where there is no slum with devolution in place.

“We can no longer ignore the urbanization of poverty and growth of slums in effort to address city and town developments,” said Mutuva adding this is the way to achieve the Millennium Development Goals for significant portion of the population by 2015.

He also expressed the risk of massive social deprivation and exclusion with all of its attendant consequences for peace, social stability and security.

Mutuva made the remarks during a formulation of slum prevention and upgrading policy forum held in Kisumu yesterday adding that the government needs a comprehensive policy to address the challenges facing our rapidly growing towns and urban centres.

This, he said have resulted in proliferation of slums and informal settlements that will greatly affect the housing flagship projects in Vision 2030.




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Everyone has the right to be safe – Disaster risk reduction

Posted by African Press International on May 21, 2013

By Jaspreet Kindra 

Everyone has the right to be safe


  • Focus on implementation
  • Need to make countries accountable
  • A human rights-based approach to making people safer
  • New-found attention to resilience could help

JOHANNESBURG, 17 May 2013 (IRIN) – A month after the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in December 2004, affecting millions, 168 countries signed on to a 10-year plan to make the world safer from natural hazards. Yet the plan, the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015, focused primarily on “what to do to prevent disasters, but not enough on how to implement it,” says Neil McFarlane, chief coordinator and head of all regional programmes at the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Countries have since begun discussing what a follow-up action plan, the Hyogo Framework for Action 2 (HFA2), should look like. The results of these talks, a sketch of the HFA2, will be presented at the Fourth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, which begins in Geneva on 19 May.

A draft will be finalized towards the end of 2014, for consideration and adoption at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Japan in 2015.

The HFA2 will need to take on a number of emerging risks and concerns. While the HFA has helped countries reduce the loss of human lives, the economic consequences of natural disasters have continued to rise. For three consecutive years, natural hazards have cost the world more than US$100 billion a year, according to data from the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) released in March 2013.

Additionally, disaster risks are changing: The effects of the changing climate are expected to prompt more intense and frequent extreme natural events, including floods, droughts and cyclones. Urban populations are growing, as is demand for food, ratcheting up pressure on resources like land and water.


In tackling the HFA2, experts are discussing how to improve accountability. “We have a framework with options to develop good disaster plans in the Hyogo, but how do we make governments, agencies… ensure it is implemented?” Tom Mitchell, head of the climate change programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), told IRIN.

Mitchell says one of the major weaknesses of the HFA is its failure to ensure that “well-crafted” disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies were actually implemented. The agreement is voluntary, and there are no penalties for failing to put in place measures to protect citizens.

“Because it [HFA] is voluntary, we have to ask how… effective it can be,” remarked Frank Thomalla, senior research fellow with the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in Asia.

Some question whether the world should consider a legal disaster-prevention treaty with a provision for penalties.

The new plan’s timing is significant for the global community; 2015 also marks the end of the Millennium Development Goals and possibly the implementation of new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are still under discussion. A new agreement on addressing and adapting to climate change is also likely to be put into place around that time. Aid agencies and think tanks are all calling on the global community to consider the synergies among these policy-shaping developments.

Many observers now question whether DRR policies should become a part of the legal climate deal, which might ensure their implementation. Countries’ DRR activities are increasingly considered part of their climate change adaptation plans, and are being funded as such.

But there is no appetite for a legal treaty on DRR, says UNISDR’s McFarlane.

Harjeet Singh, ActionAid‘s international coordinator for DRR and climate change adaptation (CAA), says he is uncertain if a legal treaty “will bring about a dramatic change… After all, we have seen how [the UN’s] climate convention (UNFCCC) … failed to deliver in the last 20 years.”

Besides, the climate change deal will not consider geophysical events such as earthquakes and other triggers of potential disasters unrelated to climate, he added.

“Many of the drivers of vulnerability result from inequality and marginalization, meaning certain regions and social groups are more vulnerable to hazards than others and are more strongly affected by the impacts”

That fact, plus the range of social and economic factors contributing to disaster risk, calls into question the rationale for viewing DRR, CCA and development from a purely climatological perspective, SEI’s Thomalla told IRIN in an email.

But the Cancun Adaptation Framework adopted by countries at the UNFCCC talks in Mexico in 2010 urges countries to implement the HFA, so it does make it a part of a stronger commitment linked to climate change says UNISDR’s MacFarlane.

Taking measurements

Under the HFA, countries are required to report on how far they have complied with implementing DRR strategies and policies. But how “reliable is this data?” asked Thomalla. “How much opportunity is there for governments to ‘manipulate’ the information in order to be seen to be doing something?”

For instance, a country might report to the HFA that it has established an early warning system to reduce hazard vulnerability. “But how can we be sure that the system works…? That people know how to respond to the warnings?” Thomalla said.

There is no proper baseline at the start of HFA, nor are there specific targets for countries to follow, said Singh.

“Targets and milestones for implementation should… be relevant and realistic for each country and agreed on through multi-stakeholder consultations,” noted Mitchell in a briefing paper co-authored with colleague Emily Wilkinson.

McFarlane and Mitchell suggest the development of a peer-review mechanism, which is just taking off in some developed countries, could be an effective way to ensure countries comply.

UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlstrom said there has been a change in mindset since HFA: “The most visible signs of this change are summarized by the facts that 121 countries have enacted legislation aimed at reducing the potential impact of disasters, and 56 countries have national disaster-loss databases, which illustrates the growing recognition that you cannot manage risk management if you are not measuring your disaster losses.”

Mitchell’s ODI briefing paper also suggests “a human rights approach, in which countries fulfil obligations to respect, protect and fulfil basic human rights, including the ‘right to safety’ of vulnerable people exposed to hazards.”

This suggestion has support. Singh says, “Legislation to ensure safety and security of people is a good first step.” But it has to be implemented effectively all the way down to the community level, and must take into account the voices of the poor and women, he added.

Thomalla says a rights-based approach would be a good way to address DRR “because many of the drivers of vulnerability result from inequality and marginalization, meaning certain regions and social groups are more vulnerable to hazards than others and are more strongly affected by the impacts.”

But, again, creating global legislation could be problematic, he noted. “Monitoring and enforcement will also be difficult. Rich countries must come forward to provide resources and transfer skills to developing countries to reduce disaster risks.”

Resilience is key

Most experts pin their hopes on the new-found interest in “building resilience”. Resilience is billed as a concept that will better link development, DRR and CCA by bringing the humanitarian aid community, which deals with disasters, closer together with development agencies. A focus on resilience might also help push for the implementation of DRR plans and promote funding.

The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami helped disaster risk reduction get the attention it needed

“The current separation of what is mainly [a] humanitarian response to disasters, through DRR and CCA, from business-as-usual development funding no longer makes sense,” said Thomalla.

In fact, disasters routinely reverse development gains. For example, floods in Thailand in 2012 cost three percent of the country’s annual GDP, affected education and caused the loss of vulnerable families’ household assets.

“New development goals must factor in risk, whereby all goals, to the extent possible, are risk- informed,” said Antony Spalton, the DRR specialist with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Given the significance of the risks posed by climate change, fragility and conflict, a post-2015 framework that better draws together DRR, climate change adaptation and conflict prevention/peace building under a goal or target for resilience could be considered.”

UNISDR has already drafted a resilience-based disaster plan for the post-2015 development agenda, the Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience. It calls for an assurance that “DRR for resilience” is central to post-2015 development agreements and targets. It calls for timely, coordinated and high-quality assistance to countries where disaster losses pose a threat to development, and for making DRR a priority for UN funds, programmes and specialized agencies.

Singh says countries “should develop a comprehensive resilience strategy rather than a piecemeal …strategy, when ‘pushed’ by donors.”

Building resilience to a range of changes and risks does make sense, according to Thomalla. But we have a long way to go.

“While we have made a lot of progress in thinking about resilience as a unifying concept, we need to strengthen our methods and tools to help… develop the institutions and governance structures that enhance resilience and enable them to measure and demonstrate success,” he said.

Ultimately, Singh says, “it all depends on the willingness of country governments to take concrete steps from local to national levels and enhance [the] resilience of poor and vulnerable communities.”

McFarlane says there are lots of ideas and suggestions on the table. Stay tuned.

jk/rz source


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

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Education needed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Growing businesses

The programmes are working.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ar/go/rz source



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Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is endemic

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2013

Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio is endemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Avoidably high child and maternal mortality

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

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

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

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

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

2. Nutrition

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

Poor nutrition weakens the body’s natural defence mechanisms.

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

3. “Lifestyle diseases

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

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

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

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

4. Low public spending

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

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

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

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

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

kh/jj/cb source


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