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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Chad
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    Sorghum, millet, white maize, and local and imported rice are the most important food commodities. Millet is most heavily consumed in the eastern and northern regions of the country. Local rice is another basic food commodity, especially for poorer households. Imported rice and white maize are most commonly consumed in and around the capital. The Marché d'Atrone in N’Djamena, the capital city, is the largest market for cereals. Moundou is an important consumer center for sorghum and the second largest market after the capital. The Abéché market is located in a northern production area. The Sarh market is both a local retail market and a cross-border market.


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Senegal
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    Rice, millet, sorghum, and maize are the primary staple foods in Senegal. Groundnuts are both an important source of protein and a commonly grown cash crop. Imported rice is consumed daily by the vast majority of households in Senegal particularly in Dakar and Touba urban centers. Local rice is produced and consumed in the Senegal River Valley. St. Louis is a major market for the Senegal River Valley. Millet is consumed in central regions where Kaolack is the most important regional market. Maize is produced and consumed in areas around Kaolack, Tambacounda, and the Senegal River Valley. Some maize is also imported mainly from the international market. High demand for all commodities exists in and around Touba and Dakar. They are also important centers for stocking and storage during the lean season. The harvests of grains and groundnuts begin at the end of the marketing year in October; and stocks of locally produced grains are drawn down throughout the marketing year. Senegal depends more on imports from the international market for rice than from cross border trade which mainly includes cattle from Mali and Mauritania that supply Dakar and surrounding markets.


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo
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    West Africa can be divided into three agro-ecological zones or three different trade basins (West Basin, Central Basin and East Basin). Both important for understanding market behavior and dynamics.

    The three major agro-ecological zones are the Sahelian, the Sudanese and the Coastal zones where production and consumption can be easily classified. (1) In the Sahelian zone, millet is the principal cereal cultivated and consumed particularly in rural areas and increasingly, when accessible, in urban areas. Exceptions include Cape Verde where maize and rice are most important, Mauritania where sorghum and maize are staples, and Senegal with rice. The principal substitutes in the Sahel are sorghum, rice, and cassava flour (Gari), the latter two in times of shortage. (2) In the Sudanese zone (southern Chad, central Nigeria, Benin, Ghana, Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, southern Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia) maize and sorghum constitute the principal cereals consumed by the majority of the population. They are followed by rice and tubers, particularly cassava and yam. (3) In the Coastal zone, with two rainy seasons, yam and maize constitute the most important food products. They are supplemented by cowpea, which is a significant source of protein.

    The three trade basins are known as the West, Central, and East basins. In addition to the north to south movement of particular commodities, certain cereals flow horizontally. (1) The West basin refers to Mauritania, Senegal, western Mali, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, and The Gambia where rice is most heavily traded. (2) The Central basin consists of Côte d'Ivoire, central and eastern Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Togo where maize is commonly traded. (3) The East basin refers to Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Benin where millet is traded most frequently. These three trade basins are shown on the map above.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, South Sudan (Republic of)
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    HIGHLIGHTS

    • The African Development Bank has allocated $140.5 million to resilience efforts.

    • Peace agreements for DRC and Sudan/South Sudan have been signed amid continuing concerns.

    • Refugees continue to flee DRC and Sudan. Some 12,000 Somalis left Kenya for Somalia despite challenging conditions.

    • Food security has generally improved across the region, though 16 million people are still facing crisis and emergency conditions.

    • Peace holds in Kenya voting despite some violence.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Chad, Sudan

    LES TITRES

    • Tchad : la réponse humanitaire de 2013 menacée par une crise de financement (Xinhua, 20 mars)
    • 12.500 Soudanais réfugiés dans le sud-est du Tchad sans assistance (HCR) (AFP, 16 mars)
    • Sahel : la production céréalière brute estimée à 54,6 millions de tonnes (Xinhua, 19 mars)
    • Avec le soutien de l'ONU, le Tchad lance une campagne nationale de vaccination antipolio (ONU, 15 mars)
    • Micro Finance: Un appui du PAFIT au gouvernement tchadien (ATPE, 18 mars)
    • Les pays musulmans adhèrent à une déclaration historique sur les violences contre les femmes (AFP, 16 mars)

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    Source: NATO Civil-Military Fusion Centre
    Country: Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic
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    This document provides complex coverage of global events from 05 - 18 March 2013 with hyper- links to source material highlighted in blue and underlined in the text. For more information on the topics below or other issues pertaining to events in the region, contact the members of the Complex Coverage Team or visit our website at www.cimicweb.org.

    INSIDE THIS ISSUE

    Iraq 1
    Mali 3
    Syria 4
    IED/Demining 4


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    Source: Caritas
    Country: Mali

    La crise actuelle au Mali, ajoutée à celles déjà connues ailleurs dans d’autres pays, rendent l’environnement sécuritaire d’intervention de Caritas au Sahel très délicat. Conscients de cette situation, les différents responsables de Caritas au Niger, au Mali, au Burkina et au Sénégal, parties prenantes du projet d’urgence EA 38/2012 Sahel, ont entrepris de se former et de former leurs agents à la gestion sécuritaire.

    Ils sont une trentaine de participants, venus des quatre pays de la sous-région, réunis du 19 au 23 mars 2013, à Ouagadougou au centre de Formation DHI de l’OCADES Caritas Burkina, à la recherche des compétences et aptitudes requises en matière de gestion sécuritaire.

    M. Shannon Olivers de Catholic Relief Services (CRS), spécialiste de sécurité à Djouba au Sud Soudan, doté de solides expériences sur des questions de sécurité, déroule un programme qui le conduira à aborder, tour à tour avec les participants, un aperçu général sur les questions de sécurité en situation d’urgence ; les basiques de la Charte humanitaire et les normes minimales pour les Interventions lors de catastrophes/crises.

    Il évoquera aussi les différents niveaux et aspects de la sécurité auxquels ils devront faire face (gestion de camp de déplacés et/ou de réfugiés, gestion des ressources humaines en situation d’urgence, gestion de la logistique, dispositif et arbre de sécurité, etc.) ; les comportements que doivent adopter les humanitaires intervenant en situation d’urgence dans un environnement d’insécurité et enfin le kit minimum de sécurité en période d’urgence.

    Caritas au Sahel compte disposer au terme de cette formation, d’une trentaine de responsables et d’agents capables de mettre en place un dispositif de gestion de la sécurité en période d’urgence ; gérer un dispositif de sécurité en période d’urgence ; suivre et d’évaluer un dispositif de gestion de la sécurité en période d’urgence et mettre en œuvre un dispositif de sécurité au niveau des Caritas nationales.

    Les Communicateurs de Caritas au Sahel


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    Source: Counterpart International
    Country: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Niger

    In the Armenian village of Aragatsavan, residents had struggled for more than two decades to secure clean drinking water.

    The community’s Soviet-era reservoir was contaminated, and leaked more than 70 tons of water a day. It was limiting access to water for 5,600 residents; 120 families had no water at all.

    During a town hall meeting facilitated by Counterpart International, the community agreed it had to take action.

    Residents came together and raised half the money. A grant from Counterpart’s Civil Society and Local Government Support Program, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, covered the rest.

    “After the town hall meeting, our water problem was transformed into a challenge for the entire community to prioritize and conquer,” said Aragatsavan’s accountant Manuk Khoyetyan. “Our municipal representatives, our community working group and active citizens young and old worked hard to ensure clean drinking water. Today, Aragatsavan is one step closer to becoming a truly wonderful place to live.”

    A problem that had lasted 22 years was solved in two and a half months. Today, all of Aragatsavan’s residents have access to clean drinking water.

    But the story didn’t end there.

    Motivated by their community’s commitment to clean water, young leaders from the Counterpart-supported Youth and Community Action Center joined a global environmental movement to learn how to protect their water resources and monitor the local water supply.

    They engaged with World Water Monitoring Challenge and got tool kits that allowed them to monitor the quality of their waterways and share their findings.

    They were ultimately joined by 400 youth from 21 other communities across Armenia in learning about the importance of clean water and their role as its protectors. And they are building the confidence to stand up for the environment when they find support lacking.

    Projects like these demonstrate the importance of water to communities—not just as a basic need but as a symbol of collective action and government support.

    On World Water Day, Counterpart is reflecting on how this vital resource can be a symbol of sustainable development and community empowerment.

    Advocating for clean water

    Around the world, Counterpart works with communities to identify their most pressing needs and help them advocate for getting them. Access to clean, safe water routinely tops the list of things people need the most.

    As in Armenia, the village of Labaabe Baala in Afghanistan’s Samangan province had struggled to secure a clean and safe water source, ever since its well had fallen into disrepair.

    The residents of Labaabe Baala brought up their water issues in regional policy dialogues sponsored by Counterpart’s Initiative to Promote Afghan Civil Society, an innovative program supported by USAID.

    A community dialogue officer traveled to Labaabe Baal to investigate. In addition to getting the well fixed, he helped the villagers create a cost-sharing maintenance plan to deal with future problems.

    “We are now trying our best to take care of the water,” says community member Raees Khaliq. “We have a specific time for people in the community to come and take the water and we even lock the manual pump when it is not being supervised.”

    Protecting the waterways, and profiting

    Beyond making sure people have access to water, Counterpart’s programs also make sure water resources are not being harmed in pursuit of development gains. Key to Counterpart’s approach is the knowledge that communities cannot be expected to protect the environment if it comes at an economic cost they cannot bear.

    In the Dominican Republic, rice farmers were poisoning the waterways that led into a protected national park. Counterpart worked with rice farmers to decrease their pesticide, fertilizer and water use while actually increasing the profitability of their crop.

    The delicate mangroves and lakes downstream are profiting too. In just a few years, communities near Montecristi national park have seen fish return to once-toxic ponds.

    Managing water responsibly

    Efforts like these to improve both farming and water are just as important in Ethiopia, where farmers and herders were seeing their land destroyed by flooding due to deforestation.

    Things started to turn around in Arsi Negele after Counterpart implemented its Ethiopian Sustainable Tourism Alliance program, which included a large-scale watershed management project.

    Planting seedlings and constructing low-budget rock structures called check-dams created a manageable water flow to corn and teff fields while preventing flooding and erosion.

    The landscape is transforming now as plants return, allowing crops to thrive and animals to graze again.

    Responsible water management is just as critical for Counterpart’s Multi-Year Assistance Program in Niger, where families must constantly guard against food insecurity and drought.

    As the wetlands became overexploited in a community called Issoufouri, more and more men were forced to emigrate in search of employment.

    Counterpart worked with Issoufouri and other Nigerien communities to plant native grasses and shrubs that stop erosion, and taught farmers to make better use of wetlands with new crop varieties, planting and harvesting methods and proper post-harvest handling and storage.

    Counterpart also provided irrigation equipment and technology, and organized community groups to manage it.

    Twenty-two years after he left Issoufouri, Fadjimi Boula returned this year to find a wetland transformed.

    “To my surprise, I found wells constructed in our wetland, with many women busy cultivating vegetables,” he says.

    By the end of the farming season, Boula had enough money to replace his roof and send his first child to school.

    More than 50 families are now cultivating the wetlands in Issoufouri. The water management and improved livelihoods have left them better nourished and more resilient to the droughts and shortages of their harsh environment.

    Bringing water into the future

    Counterpart’s work helping communities get clean, safe water and manage it well continues to be a key factor in new programs.

    In Guatemala, Counterpart’s Food for Progress program will work with farmers to instill water management practices as part of efforts to increase agricultural productivity and tackle entrenched rural malnutrition.

    In Bangladesh, the Leadership Development Program will bring youth and community leaders the skills they need to advocate for their communities’ most pressing needs. In a county so vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change, water accessibility and management will surely be a critical issue for the next generation.

    Counterpart will continue to work with communities every day to use water responsibly in a way that benefits both people and the planet.


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    Source: ICRC
    Country: Mali

    21-03-2013 Interview

    Au Nord Mali, une région où le choléra est endémique, maintenir l'approvisionnement en eau potable des villes de Gao, Kidal et Tombouctou est un enjeu majeur de santé publique: la vie de 115 000 personnes en dépend. C'est aussi un défi, dans une zone qui a été la proie d'importants combats depuis le début 2012.

    Abdoule-Karim Diomande, le coordinateur des activités eau et habitat dans la région, détaille les mesures prises par le CICR en coopération avec les habitants et les autorités.

    Quels étaient les problèmes auxquels étaient confrontés les habitants de Gao, Kidal et Tombouctou ?

    De nombreux habitants ont commencé à fuir la région au début 2012. Les installations de service public – qu'il s'agisse de la fourniture d'eau, d'électricité ou des soins de santé – se sont trouvées à l'abandon, suite au départ de la majeur partie du personnel qualifié. Assurer l'approvisionnement en eau potable est d'autant plus nécessaire que son absence entraîne des risques de maladies comme le choléra. Nous sommes donc intervenus pour éviter une catastrophe humanitaire.

    Quelle a été la réponse du CICR ?

    Sans électricité pour alimenter les stations de pompage, pas d'eau. Le CICR a donc décidé de fournir du carburant pour permettre aux équipements de fonctionner et donc, garantir l'approvisionnement en eau potable. Le carburant a également servi à assurer à ces trois villes quelques heures d'électricité en soirée. Nous avons par ailleurs contribué à la maintenance des infrastructures existantes, comme le générateur de la Société malienne de gestion d'eau potable, en attendant que les autorités maliennes prennent le relais et fournissent le matériel nécessaire aux rares techniciens restés sur place.

    Cette intervention a-t-elle atteint son objectif ?

    Les habitants de Gao, Kidal et Tombouctou ont bénéficié et continuent de bénéficier d'eau potable et nous avons ainsi pu éviter des épidémies de choléra. La maladie est apparue dans certaines zones rurales, mais là aussi, nous sommes intervenus rapidement en fournissant de quoi traiter l'eau et en réhabilitant des puits.

    Comment le CICR a-t-il pu travailler dans des villes aux prises avec des combats?

    Au Mali comme ailleurs, le CICR travaille en coopération avec les communautés concernées. Suite au départ de la plupart des employés des services publics, la gestion de l'eau et de l'électricité a été reprise par des cellules de crise mises en place par la société civile. Les représentants de la population étaient donc nos principaux interlocuteurs et partenaires. Nous étions également en contact tant avec les autorités maliennes qu'avec les groupes armés, afin de pouvoir mener à bien nos activités en toute sécurité.

    D'autres interventions sont-elles menées dans le reste du Mali pour garantir l'accès à l'eau potable ?

    Le CICR était présent au Mali avant la crise actuelle. La région du Sahel doit faire face à un problème de sécheresse endémique, ce qui est une source de conflits potentiels dans des pays où l'activité pastorale est importante et donc également les besoins en eau pour abreuver les troupeaux. Nous procédions déjà à des forages, à la construction de puits ou encore à l'extension des réseaux d'eau urbains. Aujourd'hui, outre les interventions en faveur des habitants de Gao, Kidal et Tombouctou, nous réhabilitons notamment des puits pastoraux et des pompes à eau en milieu rural. Enfin, nous assistons les populations déplacées, notamment à Tinzawatene: nous installons des latrines et assurons l'alimentation en eau potable, en attendant que les gens puissent rentrer chez eux.


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    Source: Inter Press Service
    Country: Mali

    By Issa Sikiti da Silva

    BAMAKO , Mar 22 2013 (IPS) - One of Amina Diallo’s sons, 14-year-old Salif, has been missing since August last year. She thinks Islamists kidnapped him while he was on his way to the market in their hometown of Gao, in northern Mali, and recruited him as a child soldier.

    “Wherever he is, he must know that I still pray for him to come back alive and well,” she tells IPS.

    While a French intervention allowed the Malian army to reclaim the north of the country in January – it had been held for more than a year by Islamist militants composed of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, Ansar Dine and the Movement of Unity and Jihad in West Africa – this West African nation still remains in turmoil with hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people, missing and abducted children and food shortages.

    Diallo and her four other children now live at a relative’s home in Bamako after they left Gao last October. But despite Diallo’s hopes that Salif might return, chances are unlikely.

    She tried to search for her missing son, only to be told by local authorities that they were sorry for her loss, and that the Malian army was doing its best to find out where the children were taken.

    Media relations director of Christian relief agency World Vision, Laura Blank, tells IPS that children in Mali still remain at risk.

    “Unsupervised children are also vulnerable to sexual harassment and violence, including the potential to be recruited as child soldiers by armed groups. This continues to be a concern for World Vision.”

    A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report published in February found that children as young as 11 were placed on the Islamist rebel frontline. Shocked residents told HRW researchers that they saw bodies of child soldiers lying in pools of blood after the fighting. The United Nations Children’s Fund reported at least 175 children were used as soldiers in the conflict last year.

    Blank says that her organisation is working with volunteers to share valuable child-protection messages with local communities, which will hopefully empower parents to keep their children safe.

    “Children and their families remain vulnerable. They have increasingly limited access to food, water, medicines, and safe shelter, and are prone to diseases,” Blank adds.

    Not all children are reported to have taken part in active combat. Some were also used as porters, cooks and spies. Others were offered as sexual slaves to combatants.

    Oumou Camara was forced to watch as heavily-armed gunmen, who conducted door-to-door operations in their area in Gao, snatched her 16-year-old daughter from her. They were looking for underage girls, widows and other unmarried women to “marry off” to the mujahidin (combatants of religion).

    “They took my daughter away at gunpoint and threatened to shoot us if anyone in the house objected,” the mother of seven tells IPS. “I never saw her again.”

    Camara has given up all hope of ever finding her daughter and has no faith in the authorities. “What can the authorities do if they couldn’t even fight their own war? I’m powerless and can only hope and pray.”

    Getting comment from the Malian government is impossible. The state has barred independent reporters from entering the war zone, and threatened to detain and prosecute anyone who publishes “sensitive information” that could incite mutiny under the current state of emergency.

    But as rights groups try to protect Mali’s vulnerable children, they are also concerned about the growing food crisis in the country.

    Oxfam International says that food prices have rocketed, aggravated by a shortage of cereals on the market. Rice has gone up by more than 50 percent since October last year.

    “Many traders in Gao region have moved and/or sold out their remaining stocks from Gao to villages and communes outside of the town,” Oxfam International campaign manager in Mali, Ilaria Allegrozzi, tells IPS.

    Also, the population has very little cash available as banking systems were disrupted by the conflict.

    “Most people in the Gao region don’t have any money left, are in debt, and have sold assets – exhausting their coping strategies,” she says.

    Allegrozzi says Oxfam International aims to provide food aid to at least 70,000 people. And Blank says that as of December, World Vision reached nearly 130,000 people in Bamako, Segou and Sikasso, in southern Mali.

    Against this backdrop, finding abducted or missing children will prove difficult, as the conflict here has displaced 260,665 people internally, according to the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In addition, there are some 170,313 registered refugees in neighbouring countries such as Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.

    Many are reluctant to return to their former homes because of the food shortages. Diallo is one of them.

    “I’m not in a hurry to go back because even if the war is over, what will we eat? What will I sell and buy in the market? Gao is thirsty, hungry and angry.”


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    Source: Plan
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger

    London (22 March) – On the first anniversary of the Mali Conflict, the global children rights organisation Plan International is calling on donor governments to provide more humanitarian aid alongside military intervention budgets.

    “There is a major imbalance which needs to be addressed by donor nations. Conflict causes huge, long-term disruption to people’s lives. Provision of shelter, reconstruction, and protection of children whose lives have been shattered by conflict need to be a top priority,” said Plan CEO Nigel Chapman.

    “Back in January, on the day that a donor conference was held in Addis Ababa to raise these funds for the Mali conflict, humanitarian agencies had barely received 1% of the $370 million they had been appealing for the Sahel region since last year. Then, to our great concern, we learn that in just a few hours, donors in Ethiopia willingly opened their treasuries to underwrite the mission with $455 million of funds.

    “Since then aid donations have increased to 15% however, it is still a comparatively tiny sum to provide the substantial emergency response that we need,” he added.

    Nearly a quarter of a million children have been displaced by the conflict in Mali. They comprise 51% of total 447,542 displaced people who have been scattered across six countries including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger where Plan works.

    “This funding gap is extremely worrying and will be a major block in reaching out to vulnerable children,” said Fadimata Alainchar Country Director of Plan Mali.

    “We have stepped up our humanitarian operation in seven locations in Ségou Region, including Diabaly which was retaken from the armed insurgents, in Mopti region in Central Mali and we are now preparing to start operations in Timbuktu. Our focus is on education, child protection, water, sanitation, hygiene and other life saving needs,” she added.

    In neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso Plan is servicing several refugee camps providing water, sanitation, hygiene awareness training, education and protection.

    Head of Disaster Response and Preparedness, Dr Unni Krishnan, said that in conflict situations displacement can range from a few months to a few decades.

    “Plan International has been operating in these West African states for decades and we are here for the long haul. We will need the long term commitment of donors and governments to stay with us during the long term recovery as we build resilience of affected communities.”

    Plan is appealing for $25 million for its 2013 emergency response for the Mali Conflict.

    Further details please contact: MALI: Thiekoro Coulibay, PR and Communications Advisor (French, English) Mobile: +223 76 29 40 42 Email: coulibaly.thiekoro@plan-international.org Skype name: thcoulibaly

    BURKINA FASO: Françoise Kaboré, Media, Communication and PR Coordinator (French, English) Mobile: +226 76 20 25 11 Email: francoise.kabore@plan-international.org Skype name: francoisekabore

    NIGER: Aminatou Abdou, Communications Officer (French) Mobile: +227 94 26 55 33 Email: Aminatou.Abdou@plan-international.org Skype name: aminatou.bakah

    REGIONAL OFFICE: Florence Cisse, Regional Media Specialist, Senegal Mobile: +221 777 403 600, Email: Florence.cisse@plan-international.org Skype name: madamelcisse

    UK HQ: Terry Ally, Press Officer, Emergencies and Disasters, Plan International UK, Mobile: + 44 7720 736 884 Email: terry.ally@plan-international.org Skype name: terryally

    EDITOR’S NOTE: · Displaced Malian children have been speaking out about their experience “in exile”. Their stories can be found at: www.plan-international.org/maliconflict and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfSA78Mv3n0&feature=youtu.be

    ABOUT Plan: Founded 75 years ago, Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world. We work in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote child rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations. www.plan-international.org


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire

    22 March 2013 (IRIN) - Which of Côte d'Ivoire's 20 million inhabitants qualify as nationals is a question that has driven political debate and conflict here for many years, and one that came to the fore earlier this month when thousands of people who had lived here all their lives were finally, and simultaneously in a public ceremony, given formal citizenship documents.

    While some 600,000 people with origins or parentage in nearby West African states have been discreetly granted citizenship since 2011, a ceremony in the administrative capital Yamoussoukro on 5 March to issue citizenship to 8,133 people of Burkinabé descent drew far more attention.

    Among the most recent batch to receive citizenship was 53-year-old Maurice Kamgabéga whose family settled in Côte d'Ivoire's central-western Bouaflé region in 1933 from what was then known as Upper Volta (present day Burkina Faso).

    "I breathed a sigh of relief. Finally the end of a long struggle," Kamgabéga said after being handed a certificate giving him Ivoirian citizenship.

    "We were frustrated and angry because our Ivoirian brothers and sisters treated us like foreigners. It was humiliating to know that we never belonged to a country and were somehow non-existent," he told IRIN.

    "For my children and grandchildren to go to school at times I had to do under-the-table dealings with the schools. But it's when they were to take final examinations that things got more complicated because we did not have any documents," he added.

    Kamgabéga's brother Zongo, who also took part in the ceremony, said: "We now have the same rights [as other Ivoirians].We are all very proud of the decision by the government. The harassment on the roads that some of us have suffered will be over. We are grateful to the Ivoirian authorities."

    Identity has been at the heart of Côte d'Ivoire's political crises for decades. After independence from France in 1960, founding president Felix Houphouet-Boigny continued the French tradition of encouraging workers from neighbouring countries to come and work in the Ivoirian cocoa fields.

    However, Ivoirian nationality became a controversial political issue when current President Alassane Ouattara, Houphouet-Boigny's then prime minister, set his eyes on the presidency upon the founding president's death in 1993.

    Henri Konan-Bédié, who later succeeded Houphouet-Boigny, used Ouattara's mixed parentage - Ivoirian and Burkinabé - to bar him from running in 1995 by engineering a constitutional amendment requiring that only candidates both of whose parents are Ivoirian citizens were eligible to contest the presidency.

    Ouattara was again barred by from taking part in the 2000 presidential and parliamentary polls, leading to street protests in which scores died and which was seen by some observers as sparking the 2002 rebellion that split the country in two, with the north under insurgent rule and the south under former president Laurent Ggagbo.

    "The issue of nationality is one of the causes of Côte d'Ivoire's crisis that stretches back two decades. It should therefore be dealt with carefully," said René Hokou Légré who heads the Ivoirian Human Rights League.

    Légré argued that mass naturalization was irregular, as it ought to be done on a case by case basis. "We need to agree that naturalization must be in accordance with the procedure. It is an individual not a collective matter. We fear that dealing with it in this manner could cause further conflict."

    Political move?

    Other critics accuse the government of using the process to boost its electoral support base.

    "The government is bolstering its electoral strategy ahead of the 2015 or 2020 presidential polls. Otherwise there is no urgency to naturalize so many people. It is a worrying situation and the authorities must explain themselves," said Françoise Bah, a teacher in the commercial capital Abidjan.

    According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), of the 950,000 stateless people in Côte d'Ivoire, 600,000 have received citizenship since 2011.

    Justice Minister Mamadou Gnénéma said: "It is unacceptable that people can belong to no country. The statelessness of these people had to be resolved to make them understand that they can now enjoy the same rights as other Ivoirians. It's been a long time since their names were gazetted."

    Dissenting voices

    Lawyer Nick De Bessou said the country's laws required that one must first apply to become an Ivoirian national. "You cannot give nationality to hundreds of thousands of people at once."

    "It's not at the discretion of the authorities to issue citizenship to foreigners. Moreover, for such a huge number of people to be naturalized there should be a debate in parliament to determine their eligibility. But this naturalization was never announced. It's like selling nationality at a throw-away price," Bessou argued.

    However, Paul Koréki, a technical adviser at the Justice Ministry, explained that the 8,133 people recently handed citizenship had been identified in the official government gazette in 1996, but that the notice had not been sufficiently publicized.

    For Salifou Soro, who heads the NGO SOS Apatride, criticism of the government has no basis. He argues that the lack of documents created a class of citizens who were constantly marginalized and treated as foreigners.

    "Over time this situation caused socio-political tensions. It was therefore important to regularize their status in order to turn the page on this sombre history of Côte d'Ivoire," he said.

    aa/ob/cb


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    Source: ICRC
    Country: Mali

    Interview

    In northern Mali – where cholera is endemic – maintaining the drinking-water supply to the cities of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu is a major public-health issue. The lives of 115,000 people are at stake. This is no mean feat in an area that has been gripped by heavy fighting since the beginning of 2012. .
    Abdoule-Karim Diomande, who coordinates water and habitat activities in the region, talks about the measures taken by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in cooperation with local residents and the authorities, and with the support of the Mali Red Cross.

    What were the problems facing people living in Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu?

    Many people started to flee the region at the beginning of 2012. Public services – water, electricity and health care – ground to a halt when most of the staff qualified to run them left. Against this backdrop, providing safe drinking water is even more vital. Without it, diseases like cholera spread. So we stepped in to prevent a potentially disastrous situation in humanitarian terms.

    What has the ICRC been doing?

    No electricity to power pumping stations means no water. So the ICRC decided to provide fuel to keep the infrastructure running, thereby safeguarding the water supply. The fuel was also used to supply electricity to the three cities for a few hours each evening. We also helped maintain existing equipment, such as the Malian water board's generator, until the authorities were able to take over and equip the handful of engineers who remained.

    Were you successful?

    The inhabitants of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu have been able to count on a reliable supply of drinking water. We were therefore able to avoid a cholera epidemic. There were a few outbreaks in some rural areas, but there too we took swift action by treating the water supply and repairing wells.

    How did the ICRC manage to operate in places caught up in the fighting?

    In Mali, like elsewhere, the ICRC works directly with local communities. When public-service employees left, civil society representatives set up emergency committees to keep the water and electricity networks running. So we mainly worked with community leaders. We were also in contact with both the Malian authorities and the armed groups to make sure we could pursue our activities in complete safety.

    What is the ICRC doing elsewhere in Mali to provide access to safe drinking water?

    The ICRC was already working in Mali before the current crisis. The Sahel region has an endemic drought problem, which is a source of potential conflict in countries where livestock herding is a way of life and depends on water resources. We were already drilling boreholes, installing wells and laying pipelines to extend urban water networks. Today, in addition to our work for the people of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu, we are repairing wells used by herders and installing hand pumps in rural areas. And finally, we are helping people displaced by the fighting, particularly those who have sought refuge in Tinzawatene. We are building latrines and delivering drinking water to meet their needs until they can return home.


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    Source: World Food Programme
    Country: Malawi, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

    LILONGWE – The UK Government, through UKaid, has contributed US$7.8 million (£5 million pounds sterling) to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to help provide school meals to children in Malawi.

    The contribution will benefit nearly 770,000 children in 683 primary schools in food-insecure districts of central and southern Malawi. It will also enable WFP to support more than 5,000 children in 35 Community-based Childcare Centres, and provide take-home rations for more than 24,000 girls and orphan boys in primary schools.

    “Providing a daily ration of Likuni Phala (locally-made corn soya blend) for children at school means they get the food they need to concentrate on their lessons,” says Dr. MacPhil Magwira, Malawi Secretary for Education. “It also means that they are more likely to stay in school and get an education, which will help them move out of poverty.”

    Under WFP’s school meals programme, children receive a daily mid-morning serving of fortified Super Cereal (Likuni Phala) porridge which gives them vital sustenance so they can concentrate on their lessons.

    “We are aware that this is a difficult time for Malawi and Malawians, with food insecurity in parts of the country and rising prices of maize and other essential commodities. The UKaid support for school feeding is part of our efforts to help protect the most vulnerable, particularly children,” says Sarah Sanyahumbi, Head of DFID Malawi. “We are also aware that, when facing food shortages, households sometimes have to resort to taking children out of school to look for food or work, or providing fewer or lower quality meals. We hope these school meals, alongside the ongoing cash and food transfers in the most affected areas, will help reduce the need for families to cope in ways which compromise their children’s future.”

    Schools which provide these regular meals are also shown to have better enrolment and attendance records. Monthly take-home rations of maize are also given out during the lean season (January-March) to girls and orphaned boys in standards 7-8 as an incentive to reduce dropping out from school.

    “School Meals contribute to increasing the percentage of girls and boys accessing and completing pre-primary and primary education,” says WFP Country Director a.i. Baton Osmani. “During times of food shortage, school meals are a crucial safety net to protect children from hunger, and ensure that the education process is not disrupted.”

    This contribution will enable the continuation of school meals in 13 districts in southern and central Malawi. Food insecurity was the main criterion for selecting the districts.

    For more information on WFP’s work in Malawi, visit our dedicated country page: http://www.wfp.org/countries/malawi

    #

    WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries.

    WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on wfp.org. For more details see: http://www.wfp.org/rss

    Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media

    Contact:
    Pamela Kuwali, Public Information Officer, WFP/Lilongwe Tel. +265 1774 66, Email: Pamela.Kuwali@wfp.org

    #


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Somalia

    NAIROBI, 22 March 2013 (IRIN) - Every Somali citizen will have access to basic healthcare by 2016 if a new, government-led strategic plan achieves its aims.

    The launch on 21 March of new Health Sector Strategic Plans (HSSPs) for Somalia's three zones - south-central Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland - indicates a move away from the emergency-level health provision that has been the norm in the country for over 20 years and towards more mainstream, national health systems.

    "The strategic planning process leading to this result is a clear indication of the beginning of a new time, a time of good governance and re-building of systems," Mariam Qasim, Somalia's Minister for of Human Development and Public Services, said at the launch, adding that the implementation of the plan would be a "litmus test" of the government's ability to provide services to its population.

    Somalia has some of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the world, and thousands of infants and children succumb annually to easily preventable and treatable conditions such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malnutrition and measles.

    Starting anew

    The country's health system was virtually destroyed by more than 20 years of conflict, during which time there was no legitimate government; during the war, NGOs, the UN and private sector practitioners managed healthcare.

    "The major change is government ownership of the HSSP," said Marina Madeo, the coordinator of the Somali health sector. "By 2016, we hope that in every part of the country, health centres will be equipped with drugs, equipment and health workers."

    She noted that for now, as the government continued to build its ability to handle healthcare, large parallel health programmes such as immunization would continue to be handled by UN agencies. The government and its partners will also seek public-private partnerships with the country's vibrant private health sector.

    The HSSPs are expected to make improvements to health financing, human resources for health, drugs and the country's health infrastructure, among other things. The four-year strategies are expected to cost US$350 million, 70 to 75 percent of which will be spent on actual health services. Some $50 million has already been raised; key donors include the Australian, UK and US governments.

    Marthe Everard, UN World Health Organization representative for Somalia, stressed that "all national and international investments in the health sector should be guided by these plans, which provide the basis for cooperation, harmonization and alignment of all support to the Somali health sector".

    Security

    Although much of Somalia is now secure, Islamist insurgents still control parts of south-central Somalia. Qasim said she hoped security would continue to improve, and that in the interim "there are always ways" to work in Al-Shabab-controlled areas.

    "We can't wait for everything to be in place [to] secure to start working," said Madeo.

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    Source: International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
    Country: Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe

    Nigeria and 19 other African countries will directly benefit from the African Development Bank- funded initiative known as the Support for Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops (SARD-SC), but the multiplier effect of the project is expected to affect other regional member countries in the continent.

    Direct beneficiaries of the intervention include farmers in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

    “But the project will have a positive spin off effect in the other member countries,” according to the Project Coordinator, SARD-SC, Dr Chris Akem at the country launch of the project in Abuja which ended today.

    Scientists, other stakeholders and policy makers say the initiative will help narrow the yield gap facing Africa’s strategic crops even as most countries on the continent embark on agricultural reforms. “SARD-SC is a huge opportunity for Nigeria to bridge the yield gap through increased local production,” says the Executive Secretary, Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), Prof Baba Yusuf Abubakar.

    Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akin Adesina, who was represented by Dr Martins Fregene also welcomed the project, noting that it would compliment ongoing efforts to transform agriculture. Maize, cassava, rice, and wheat are considered crops of strategic importance for Africa.

    In Nigeria for instance, about 20 per cent of households consume maize at different times, according to ARCN. The crop is consumed by millions of people as either roasted or boiled and eaten off the cob or as dish prepared from raw or fermented flour, says Dr Sam Ajala, IITA-SARD-SC Maize Commodity Specialist. The country also imports about 3.4 million metric tons of wheat annually to meet its demand. Rice importation is also huge while cassava is both a food security and cash crop.

    Prof. Abubakar said that the project would provide leverage for ongoing reforms especially the Agricultural Transformation Agenda.

    Explaining the scope of the SARD-SC, the Deputy Director General (Partnerships & Capacity Development), Dr Kenton Dashiell, said the project has several components including agricultural technologies and innovations generation, agricultural technologies and innovations dissemination, and sustainable capacity development.

    To achieve the set goals, Dr Dashiell emphasized partnerships among various stakeholders—farmers, input dealers, farmers, researchers, consumers etc.

    He stressed that the overall objective was to enhance food and nutrition security, and contribute to poverty reduction.

    Approved in 2012, the SARD-SC project is a US$ 63.24 million funded initiative that is being co-implemented by three Africa-based centers under the CGIAR namely: the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Africa Rice Center, and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas. IITA is also the Executing Agency of the project.

    The Country Representative (Nigeria), African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Ousmane Dore said the project would contribute towards addressing the current shortfall in food supply in the continent by working across the full value chain of each crop and addressing both food costs and employment creation. According to him, through the value chain approach, SARD-SC will also contribute to crop-livestock integration based on the use of the commodities’ by-products.END


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria
    preview


    Augmentation de l’insécurité alimentaire au nord Mali et localement au Nigeria

    MESSAGES CLÉS

    • L’insécurité alimentaire reste Minimale (IPC Phase 1) dans la région à l’exception des poches d’insécurité alimentaire de niveau Stress (IPC Phase 2) consécutive aux inondations, au mauvais fonctionnement du marché, au faible pouvoir d’achat et à la faible performance agro-pastorale. Dans les mois à venir, la crise alimentaire (IPC Phase 3) se présentera dans les zones fortement touchées par les impacts du conflit sur les marchés au nord du Mali et au nord-est duNigeria.

    • Les difficultés d’accès engendrées par la hausse des prix constituent actuellement des facteurs susceptibles d’aggraver les indicateurs nutritionnels au nord du Nigeria, au Niger et au nord du Mali et cela bien avant la période de soudure (mi-juin à mi-septembre).

    • Les pertes de production des cultures de base (surtout des tubercules) au Nigeria pourraient conduire à un effet de substitution parles consommateurs, ce qui peut conduire à un resserrement de l'offre céréalière régionale. Le suivi des flux saisonniers venant du Nigeria particulièrement à partir de mars/avril est important pour détecter le degré d’impact global sur la demande et les prix dans la région.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal
    preview



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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    03/22/2013 19:16 GMT

    BAMAKO, 22 mars 2013 (AFP) - Cinq civils ont été tués en début de semaine par des hommes armés dans le centre du Mali, a affirmé vendredi l'armée malienne, accusant "des éléments du MNLA", rébellion touareg qui a démenti toute implication dans l'attaque.

    L'armée a appris mardi que "des éléments du MNLA" (Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad) ont attaqué deux véhicules dans la zone de Teguerekoumbe (centre), puis "ont tué et jeté les (corps des) cinq occupants" de l'un des deux véhicules "avant de dépouiller" les passagers de l'autre, a déclaré à l'AFP le colonel Souleymane Maiga, porte-parole des forces armées maliennes.

    "Nous condamnons fermement ces attaques barbares, qui montrent le vrai visage du MNLA", a-t-il indiqué.

    D'autres sources ont affirmé que le bilan de l'attaque, survenue lundi dans le village de Gnagna, situé dans la région de Mopti (grande ville du centre), atteignait au moins "dix morts".

    Des "gens du MNLA", des "assaillants à la +peau claire+", ont "attaqué des voitures de civils qui allaient à une foire dans la région de Mopti. Au moins dix civils ont été tués ou jetés dans un puits", a déclaré à l'AFP l'imam Hama Cissé, résident à Bamako et originaire de la région.

    "Il y a plus de dix morts", a assuré une députée de la région, Oulématou Ascofaré, se basant également sur des témoignages. "Les rares rescapés sont en route pour Mopti", a-t-elle ajouté.

    Interrogé par l'AFP, Ibrahim Ag Assaleh, un responsable du MNLA basé à Ouagadougou, a démenti tout lien de son mouvement avec cette attaque.

    "Elle n'émane pas de nos éléments. Nous considérons tous ces individus armés dans cette zone comme des résidus de groupes terroristes affiliés souvent à l'armée malienne pour créer le chaos", a-t-il accusé.

    Une opération franco-africaine a permis depuis janvier la reprise des grandes villes du nord du Mali qui étaient occupées depuis 2012 par des islamistes armés liés à Al-Qaïda. Les opérations se concentrent actuellement dans l'extrême Nord-Est, où est présent le MNLA, qui fut un temps allié aux islamistes.

    sd-str/tmo/sba

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Reuters - AlertNet
    Country: Mali, Mauritania

    By Laurent Prieur

    MBERA, Mauritania, March 22 (Reuters) - Fears of ethnic reprisals by government troops in Mali have driven thousands of Arabs and Tuaregs in the country's north to abandon their homes and flee to Mauritania, undermining efforts to reunite their war-torn homeland.

    Read the full report


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