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    Source:  Groupe Urgence - Réhabilitation - Développement
    Country:  Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger (the)


    The Sahel has been affected by recurring crises and each time the response has encountered the same difficulties. What have we learned from the past? How should the new characteristics of the Sahel be analysed and taken into account? There is the growing pressure on ecosystems, the visible impact of climate change and the further impacts to come, the accelerated urbanization around the capital cities of the region, the unprotected exposure to market forces and the speculation that this brings and the complex interactions between pastoral systems in crisis and agricultural areas, bringing increased inequality, vulnerability and poverty. In addition, there are problems of governance and the redistribution of wealth from underground raw materials, the arrival of new international actors (China, Gulf states) and the emergence of religious extremism, which, till now, was not on the radar screen. All these factors are changing the rules of the game. In this context, how should we respond to the short term needs of the population and reinforce the resilience of individuals, communities, societies and systems? These are the central questions facing the response to the crisis currently affecting our friends in the Sahel and it is around these that the current issue of Humanitarian Aid on the Move is structured.

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    Source:  Inter Press Service
    Country:  World, Cameroon, Malawi

    By IPS Correspondents

    YAOUNDE/ROME, Oct 23 2012 (IPS) - “One in eight people goes to sleep hungry every day,” according to the ‘State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012’, a document released annually by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

    The report goes on to state that 870 million people worldwide are starving, a decrease of 130 million since 1992 but still a far cry from the Millennium Development Goal of halving the world’s hungry people by 2015.

    As the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) wrapped up its 39th session in Rome on Saturday with the promise to begin a two-year consultation process to “develop principles for responsible investment in agriculture that respect rights, livelihoods and resources”, hopes were high that local and international efforts could really begin to tackle chronic hunger.

    Meanwhile, amid fears of rising prices on the grain market, the FAO dedicated this year’s World Food Day, celebrated on Oct. 16, to ‘Agricultural cooperatives: key to feeding the world’.

    Millions of small-scale producers, particularly in the developing world, are responding to the triple crises of climate change, food price fluctuations and market instability by organising themselves into cooperatives to join forces and collectively tackle national and international policy constraints.

    The FAO sees cooperatives as a major way to lift small-scale farmers out of poverty and hunger, and help them to access markets to sell their products, buy inputs at better prices and obtain financial services.

    “Agricultural cooperatives can help smallholders overcome these constraints,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said in a statement. “Cooperatives play a crucial role in generating employment, reducing poverty, improving food security, and contributing to the gross domestic product (GDP) in many countries.”

    The FAO chief urged governments to do their part and “create conditions that allow producer organisations and cooperatives to thrive.”

    Cameroonian farmers band together

    Collins Mangong used to farm a one-hectare piece of land in his native Konnye sub-district in Cameroon’s southwest region. His harvest, most of which came from roots and tubers, was often lost in the post-harvest phase.

    “I did not have the financial means to improve my farm and (preserve) my harvest,” he told IPS.

    But in 2008, Mangong, along with some 132 farmers in the locality, came together to form the Ikiliwindi Farmers Roots and Tubers Cooperative Society. Each farmer contributed about 50 dollars as shares, which created a baseline that the farmers used to access bank loans.

    “Our cooperative now farms on 25 hectares of land,” Mangong added, harvesting and processing the by-products of cassava such as gari flour. The farmers’ yields per hectare have increased dramatically.

    “Having brought our resources together, we are now able to (procure) inputs like fertilisers, and our yield has risen.

    “At first, I used to get about 1,400 dollars per year by selling cassava from one hectare of land but after we formed the cooperative and I improved my farm I now get two million CFA (about 3,900 dollars) for the same piece of land,” Mangong told IPS.

    As production and productivity rises, many in the group are finding new ways of making the harvest more sustainable.

    Selamo Dorothy, a member of the Yaounde-based cooperative and head of the Common Initiative Group for Food Security has found a novel way of transforming cassava. Her group uses gari to make what she calls ‘Gari-Light’ – a fruit-enriched food drink.

    “We also make our own local spaghetti from tubers like cassava, yams and plantains,” she told IPS.

    “What we want to do is to give value to our own local products, because the market is flooded with imported, manufactured products, most of them genetically modified. Our products are accessible, cheaper and rich because they (are) full of nutrients.”

    While launching activities to mark this year’s World Food Day, the Cameroon minister of agriculture and rural development, Essimi Menye, made a strong appeal for farmers to come together into cooperatives.

    “We’ve got the work force. We’ve got fertile land. What we need to do now is to organise our farmers. By coming together in cooperatives, farmers can boost production, get better market access and stand a better chance of negotiating market prices for their produce,” he said.

    Malawi turns to social protection

    But establishing cooperatives is not always easy.

    Malawi, one of the world’s least developed countries (LDCs), is being forced to look at short-term solutions to cushion the most vulnerable from the blows of spiraling food prices fuelled by this year’s poor harvest and rising inflation.

    The headline inflation rate soared to 25.5 percent in August, up from 21.7 percent in July, on account of escalating food prices, which have risen 50 percent in the last few months.

    Apart from a poor harvest and run-away inflation, increasing global oil prices are also pushing food prices up in Malawi, which hurts the poorest most.

    “We are looking at agriculture cooperatives as a vibrant and effective long-term answer,” Finance Minister Ken Lipenga told IPS.

    “We need to reinvent our existing cooperatives, create markets for them and (grant them) loans so they can grow and become sustainable.”

    But in the interim, the government is working with the World Bank to roll out social protection programmes that target the most vulnerable members of society, the majority being women head-of-households, and children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

    “In the short term, the social cash transfers and food for work programmes are targeting the poorest who fail to acquire minimum daily food requirements,” Lipenga added.

    “(The) government has set aside about 94 million dollars (for) rolling out a public works programme, a school feeding programme targeting 980,000 pupils in primary schools, the school bursaries programme targeting 164,800 needy students and a social transfer programme to reach over 30,000 households across the country,” Lipenga said.

    International commitments

    But individual country efforts will not be enough to tackle the crisis of hunger and poverty on a global level.

    French President François Hollande called for a high-level meeting on global agricultural governance on the sidelines of World Food Week at FAO headquarters last week to discuss issues of transparency in international agricultural markets; the coordination of international actions; responses to the global demand for food and the fight against ripples effects of food price volatility.

    French Minister Stéphane Le Foll said France “will continue to support any political initiatives and concrete plans in this direction.”

    Graziano da Silva said important advances have already been made in terms of governance, referring to the recent reform of the CFS; the establishment by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of the high level task force on global food security; and the creation by the G20 of the agricultural market information system (AMIS) to ensure international coordination, information and market transparency.

    According to Graziano da Silva, AMIS “allowed us to react quickly to the price rise we saw in July 2012, preventing panic, avoiding unilateral actions and further spikes in those initial tense days.”

    Meanwhile, civil society organisations are requesting that the G20 lay out a road map to urgently address the drivers of price volatility rather than simply responding when crises hit.

    Recent data from the World Bank revealed price increases of 10 percent on international food markets. Thus, investing in food stocks is but a partial solution that must be coupled with such measures as a revision of the European Union and United States’ biofuel policies, which allow massive tracts of land to be shifted from food to fuel production.

    “The importance of smallholder farmers appeared repeatedly in the ministerial meeting. Smallholders, and particularly women, should be supported for sustainable food production,” Aftab Alam Khan of ActionAid International told IPS.

    “The recurrent food price rise demands serious and practical actions to address both national and global food prices,” he said.

    *Sabina Zaccaro contributed to this report from Rome, Mabvuto Banda from Linogwe, and Ngala Killian Chimtom from Yaoundé.

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    Source:  IRIN
    Country:  World, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Somalia, Zambia

    JOHANNESBURG, 24 October 2012 (IRIN) - Researchers in Africa are identifying ways to improve domestic wheat production in the face of sub-optimal conditions and stiff international competition.

    For example, in Somalia - a country better known for conflict and famine than agricultural research - postgraduate volunteers are exploring ways to reduce the country’s wheat import bill, a subject discussed in one of several research abstracts released at the recent Wheat for Food Security in Africa conference in Addis Ababa.

    Wheat imports, which cost Somalia US$30 million to $40 million annually, consume "scarce hard currency earned from livestock exports and remittances," reports Jeylani Abdullahi Osman, the author of the paper. The volunteers, who studied agriculture abroad, have returned to Somalia to develop wheat varieties suitable for the country’s increasingly high temperatures. Wheat thrives in cool conditions, but is able to adapt to a wide range of climates.

    In 2005, the volunteers established the Afgoye Field Crop Research Farm (AFCRF) in the Afgoye District of the Lower Shabelle Region. There, they have been testing wheat varieties for tolerance to heat and water stress. Osman reports they have identified several promising cultivars, but a lack of technical and financial support have limited commercial production.

    Improving local wheat

    An abstract of a study published out of Cameroon notes that, while there is growing demand for bread in the country, the protein content of the imported wheat used for bread-making is less than 12 percent. High-quality wheat has 14 to 15 percent protein.

    Lead author Michael Taylor, from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, now working with the Divisional Delegation of Agriculture and Rural Development Fontem-Lebialem in Cameroon, identifies varieties of wheat with high protein content that could be grown in Cameroon.

    Researchers from the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research report that the older wheat varieties used for making bread flour are unable to cope with new strains of stem rust - a virulent fungal disease that can devastate crops within weeks. The authors identify new strategies to robustly multiply newly released rust-resistant seeds for distribution.

    Standing up to competition

    Research teams from Zimbabwe and South Africa also have investigated how to make their wheat production stand up to competition posed by cheap wheat imports.

    Zambia offers an important case study. The country, which recently became self-sufficient in wheat production, is already facing the threat of dropping yields, report researchers with Seed Co, a Zimbabwe- based company. The researchers highlight several contributing factors, including marketing challenges for small producers, the increasing cost of production and lack of availability of suitable wheat varieties.

    These and other abstracts, covering Algeria, Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia, are available on request from the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, known by its acronym CIMMYT.


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    Source:  New York Times
    Country:  Mali


    BAMAKO, Mali — A military strike to recapture Mali’s Islamist-held north is growing more likely, according to Western powers, regional bodies and the United Nations — a pronounced shift after months of hesitation and hopes that negotiations might end what is now seen as a far-reaching jihadist threat.

    Read the full article in the New York Times.

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    Source:  IRIN
    Country:  Niger (the), Chad, Mali, Nigeria

    DAKAR, 24 October 2012 (IRIN) - Sahelians are used to living on the edge and doing all they can to overcome adversity. In 2011, the combined shocks of ongoing high food prices, an end to remittances from Libya, poor harvests across much of the region, and conflict in northern Mali, had a disproportionate effect on the fragile food security situation and the region’s economy: An estimated 18.7 million people are at risk of hunger and 1.1 million at risk of severe malnutrition this year.

    The situation catalysed the largest humanitarian response the region has ever seen and it is widely agreed that this helped avert a large-scale disaster. As Martin Dawes, West Africa media head of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), put it: “The greatest success is that the severest form of African clichés was avoided, based on timely intervention.”

    IRIN spoke to aid agencies, donors and Sahel experts to find out where the crisis response worked better this year.*

    Early warning worked

    Donors and agencies had been “stung” by criticisms of their late response to the Horn of Africa drought in July 2011, spurring them to respond earlier and more quickly in the Sahel three months later, said Peter Gubbels with NGO Groundswell International and co-author of Escaping the Hunger Cycle: Pathways to Resilience in the Sahel. “They avoided the worst and took early action,” said Gubbels.

    Early warning reports came out in October in some places; before December national governments (other than Senegal and Gambia) had recognized the early warning signals and reacted to them; and response started to scale up from January onwards.

    Data on who was in need and how, is much more accurate now that governments and aid agencies across the Sahel systematically carry out SMART surveys (a methodology that gives an accurate assessment of the severity of a crisis by analysing the nutritional status of infants, and population mortality rates) every lean season; and have taken on household economy analysis (HEA) which gives a fuller, more nuanced picture of how vulnerable families are thrown into crisis.

    “This is a major improvement on how to identify vulnerability and greatest need,” said Gubbels. HEAs in Burkina Faso for instance, identified food-insecure households in areas untouched by drought.

    More money sooner

    Donors have pumped US$971 million into the region since the end of 2011; and when compared month by month to the drought response in 2010, more money came in and sooner, with big announcements from multilaterals such as the UN Central Emergency Response Fund ($80 million) and the European Union humanitarian funder ECHO in November (ECHO and the European Commission have provided $410 million for the food crisis).The USA then gave $315 million; with smaller donors such as the UK and France following suit in January.

    “Donors pumped in money from the beginning,” said West Africa advocacy adviser with NGO Oxfam, Stephen Cockburn. The crisis maintained a fairly high profile throughout the year: “We never had so many high-profile visits to our area over a condensed period,” said Gubbels.

    However, despite increased donor action, funding is still at just 59 percent of the $1.6 billion estimated needs.

    National governments took lead

    Many national governments led on the response, and nutrition systems are now in place in most Sahelian countries, said nutrition adviser for UNICEF, Felicité Tchibindat.

    Niger stands out, raising the alarm in October and using sophisticated early warning systems. It scaled up the nutrition response system that has been going since the 2010 crisis, scaled up nutrition training as part of its national nutrition protocol, and is now ahead of the game resilience-wise, says Oxfam. The country has nearly halved the death rate of under-fives since 1998.

    Chad has also made significant progress since the beginning of the year, taking on a nutrition protocol, setting up referral systems, and training hundreds of health workers in nutrition. Even Nigeria now accepts SMARTs, noted Tchibindat.

    Malnutrition stigma has dissipated: Governments that several years ago, sought to hide or gloss over malnutrition as they deemed it shameful, are now confronting it. “Nutrition, hunger and poverty will always be shaming subjects, but there is now an openness and dialogue involved,” said Stéphane Doyon, nutrition expert with Médecins sans Frontières (MSF).

    Niger has made the most progress, from denial in 2005, to undergo “a revolutionary change in attitude,” says Gubbels, and lead agencies in setting up nutrition research, prevention and response.

    RUTF supply smoother

    Under the agreed regional nutrition response system, UNICEF is charged with supplying all ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) and has an automated local production line in Niger, which has led to increased better quality control, higher production and fewer stock-outs.

    When RUTF supply lines work well “it means we don’t have to worry too much about them and can get on with other things,” said Tchibindat. This was the first time Niger-produced RUTF was used to feed malnourished children in neighbouring countries.

    UNICEF estimates some 800,000 children will have been treated for severe acute malnutrition across the Sahel by the end of 2012. “It shouldn’t be shaming to see these numbers [one million children treated in Niger alone],” says MSF. “It should encourage efforts to do more,” it said, noting that Niger preserved its treatment system even in last year’s bumper harvest.

    Moderate acute malnutrition emphasized

    “The importance of nutrition was better understood and better-applied,” said UN humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel David Gressly.

    With some three million Sahelian children estimated to suffer from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM), the World Food Programme (WFP) has expanded its regular food security role to incorporate the prevention of MAM, reaching 3.7 million children and their mothers with fortified supplementary food and RTUF, according to Susan Rico, WFP coordinator for the Sahel regional response. The neglect of MAM over the long term in the Sahel has been widely criticized over recent years.

    The supplemental food that WFP uses to address MAM is an improved version of its classic corn-soya blend (CSB). In 2010 CSB+ was created for children over two, adolescents and adults. It is less processed and easier to digest; and CSB++ was made with added milk, oil and sugar, to target moderately malnourished children under two.

    While attention to MAM needs to be vastly scaled up over the long-term, WFP’s efforts have already had an impact. A preliminary September WFP study in Niger said the strategy had reduced MAM where it was used.

    More cash

    WFP distributed cash or vouchers to 2.1 million people as of the end of September, according to Rico, making it the biggest emergency cash distribution the organization has ever attempted. NGOs also stepped up cash distributions across the region. Evaluations have not yet been completed and much more analysis is needed of market conditions and the economic climate as cash transfers are scaled up, said Jean-Martin Bauer, a market analyst with WFP, but cash when used elsewhere has proved more nimble, flexible and quicker to leverage than food distributions, under the right conditions.

    Market interventions

    Some of the government market interventions in response to the crisis paid off on a limited scale, said WFP’s Bauer, notably Mali removing VAT for rice sales to try to stabilize sky-rocketing rice prices; and the government of Mauritania setting up subsidized sales of rice and vegetable oil in the capital, Nouakchott, which had an impact as it was done on a large scale in an urban setting.

    Several countries - notably Niger, Mali, Nigeria - have large national grain reserves which help kick-start humanitarian response in times of need, as agencies can use them with a view to replenishing them when their food stocks arrive.

    West African states are on the right path as they have a regional agricultural policy, ECOWAP, but need to implement it, says Bauer, and take it further to create a common market policy where countries standardize import taxes on cereals, create regional grain reserves, clamp down on the region-wide racketeering that ups food prices, and take other measures to enable the region to better meet the climate and economic shocks that are inevitable in the future.

    Procurement quicker

    WFP can now buy food on loan, paying once donor funds arrive, which speeds up procurement in some cases by up to 100 days, said Rico. Increasing regional procurement to one third of the total also sped up response. Rico estimates WFP reached eight million people with food aid or cash vouchers, which represents an estimated 80 percent of those in need.

    Governments, donors more resilience-minded

    Donors are slowly understanding the importance of building resilience in the Sahel. “Due to this crisis, governments are now more open to talk about food insecurity, resilience, nutrition,” said ECHO head in West Africa Cyprien Fabré.

    In July 2012 the governments of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), WFP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), CILLS (Inter-state Committee to fight drought in the Sahel) and donors launched the Agir Sahel initiative (Global Alliance for resilience) to help Sahelians cope with future shocks partly by focusing more on agriculture.

    The UN is currently formulating its Sahel resilience strategy. And affected governments are also getting better at resilience - Burkina Faso’s government is focusing more on small-scale agriculture; Niger’s government is considering boosting social safety nets.

    They should look to Ethiopia for inspiration, says Gubbels, where the government has set up a system to get cash or food to seven million of its most vulnerable citizens within two months when there is a shock. “There is nothing similar in the Sahel from what I can see,” said Gubbels.

    What next?

    Don’t drop the ball, say Sahel experts. This year’s harvest is not expected to be bad, and cereal prices are beginning their seasonal fall, but like every other year, over half a million children will be acutely malnourished in the Sahel this year. “The question now is where we go next,” said MSF’s Doyon. “Of course you need additional development action [to build resilience], but that shouldn’t supplant all that’s been done to gear up on health and nutrition over the past years.”

    There is “a lot of good will and rhetoric,” said Gressly. “But will that be translated into operations? If it doesn’t, the status quo will be maintained and we’ll be back to where we were this year,” he warned.

    *To be followed by a report on what went wrong


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    Source:  UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country:  Mali


    The complex emergency in Mali has displaced 412,401 people from their homes since fighting erupted in the north of the country. Of these 203,8431 are internally displaced in Mali and 208,5582 are refugees in neighbouring countries.

    An estimated 4.6 million people are at risk of food insecurity due to the food and nutrition crises and conflict in northern Mali.

    Access to education remains a major challenge for thousands of children in the North.

    Funding remains insufficient with only 48 per cent of funding requirements covered under the CAP 2012. US$ 110.5 million is still required to meet the urgent needs identified in the 2012 Mali CAP.

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    Source:  UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country:  Mali


    Depuis le début de la crise et à cause du conflit au nord, environ 412.401 personnes ont été forcées de fuir le nord du pays. 203.8431 de ces personnes sont des déplacés internes et 208.5582 sont des réfugiés dans les pays voisins.

    Environ 4.6 millions de personnes sont estimées d’être à risque d’insécurité alimentaire à cause de la crise alimentaire et nutritionnelle, et le conflit au nord.

    L'accès à l'éducation demeure un défi majeur pour des milliers d'enfants dans le Nord.

    Le financement du CAP 2012 reste insuffisant. Jusqu’à maintenant seulement 48 pour cent du financement requis a été reçu dans le cadre des projets soumis dans le CAP Mali 2012. US$110.5 millions sont encore nécessaires pour répondre aux besoins urgents identifiés dans le CAP 2012 au Mali.

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    Source:  Intergovernmental Authority on Development
    Country:  Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Djibouti, Gambia (the), Kenya, Mali, Niger (the), Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Sudan (Republic of), Sudan (the), Uganda

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Fifteen countries from Africa’s most drought prone regions are meeting in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to share practices on how to best address recurrent droughts and chronic food insecurity on the continent.

    Governments and organizations from Africa’s Horn and Sahel regions are showcasing initiatives on some of the good agricultural practices with a view of easing the impact of recurrent droughts on the continent’s productivity. Both regions suffer recurrent and severe droughts, sometimes leading to famine.

    “The AgriKnowledge ShareFair is a unique platform to cultivate knowledge sharing, in all dimensions, about interventions that can improve food and nutrition security, “ said Castro Camarada, the sub regional coordinator for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

    The Horn of Africa is one of the most food-insecure regions in the world, with the highest malnutrition rates, severe food shortages and high food prices.

    shared vision

    A three-day fair, which kicked off on Tuesday, has attracted participation of 15 countries and is organized by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Eastern African Grain Council (EAGC). Participating countries include, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Chad and Senegal.

    IGAD’s Director of Agriculture and Environment, Mr. Mohamed Moussa warned that the region risks loosing food security gains due to lack of a shared vision on how to best deal with chronic food insecurity.

    Mr. Moussa said: “Recurrent crises in the Horn of Africa are stark evidence that insufficient attention has been given to addressing the root causes of chronic and transitory vulnerability in the region.”

    “It is practically doable to end emergencies in a very short time, by providing farmers with the necessary and appropriate technological inputs (improved seeds and fertilizers) and accompanying services especially agricultural extension and micro-credit,” he added.

    Improving knowledge sharing on interventions that have succeeded in easing food insecurity and nutrition in the region, with focus on livestock marketing and value chain, water and land, agricultural technologies and cash based interventions.

    Upscaling for resilience

    With successful but often small-scale initiatives going on the region, agencies in the frontline of the fight against food insecurity and malnutrition hope to identify best practices and upscale them across the region to increase drought resilience.

    “The essence of identifying and sharing good practices is to develop the numerous success cases across the region a view of upscaling them in some of the most vulnerable communities for quick impact,” said FAO’s Castro Camarada.

    The AgriKnowledge ShareFair was officially opened by His Excellency Ato Mitiku Kassa, Ethiopian State Minister of Agriculture.

    In his speech, he welcomed all participants. He said, "Fighting poverty and food insecurity is a qualitative commitment that drives institution and calls upon the engagement of individuals at all levels. In a interconnected globalized world, there is a need to balance commencing new research and gather existing information.

    "In the context of food security, outstanding achievements have already been obtained, thus the challenge is to identify where significant achievements have been made and actors who have made progress to in-cooperate relevant information and lessons to our existing reality."

    For more information, please visit

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    Source:  UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country:  Niger (the)

    Au sommaire

    Nouvelle menace acridienne au Sahara et au Sahel

    Choléra: De nouveaux cas à Birni Konni et Tillabéry

    Prix des vivres: la courbe fléchit sur le mois à Diffa et Maradi

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    Source:  African Union
    Country:  Mali, South Sudan (Republic of), Sudan (the)

    Commission Chairperson assures the three Member States of AU support

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 24 October 2012- The African Union (AU) will continue to do everything in its power to resolve the situation between Sudan and South Sudan, as well as that in Mali. African Union Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said this while addressing the 339th meeting of the AU’s Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) at Ministerial level, in Addis Ababa today.

    On the situation in Darfur, the Chairperson said “There remain … critical outstanding matters relating to the determination of the final status of Abyei; the resolution of the status of the disputed and claimed border areas; and the resolution of the conflict in the Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States of Sudan. The establishment of sustainable and cooperative relations between Sudan and South Sudan requires the final delineation of their common border, a decision on the future status of Abyei Area, as well as the peaceful resolution of internal conflicts within each state” the Chairperson said.

    In an effort to resolve the situation, the AU PSC adopted a roadmap for the resolution of the outstanding issues in the post-secession relations between the two countries. The roadmap was endorsed by the UN Security Council and other AU Partners, in a display of unity of views among the members of the international community.

    Within the context of these efforts, the AU engagement has taken many forms. “We have convened talks to mediate between stakeholders. We have deployed peacekeepers in order to ensure security and build confidence. We have mobilized African elder statesmen to lend a hand to the parties as they seek to end conflict and move these great African sisterly countries towards post-conflict reconstruction and sustainable development”, the Chairperson said.

    These continental efforts are bearing fruit as witnessed by the signing, on 27 September 2012, of a series of agreements on post-secession relations, by Presidents Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Salva Kiir Mayardit, under the facilitation of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel.

    “The AU will stand by them shoulder-by-shoulder” in the process of addressing the remaining issues”, added Dr Dlamini Zuma.

    On the other hand, Mali is faced with overlapping crises i.e a serious crisis in its northern part, which is now occupied by armed terrorist and criminal groups; and the institutional crisis that arose as a result of the coup d’état of 22 March 2012. These crises constitute a serious threat to some of the core principles of the AU, particularly the principles of respecting the national unity and territorial integrity of Member States, and rejection of terrorism and transnational crimes.

    In respect of the Malian crises, the AUC chairperson said the Union welcomed the formation of the Government of National Unity, last August. Dr Dlamini Zuma also reported that the Support and Follow-up Group held a high-level meeting in Bamako, on 19 October 2012, to interact with the Malian authorities on the way forward, as well as to review the Draft Strategic Concept for the Resolution of the Crises in Mali, prepared by the AU Commission in consultation with the Malian authorities, ECOWAS, the UN, the EU and other international stakeholders. The Strategic Concept, which was developed as a follow-up to decisions by the AUPSC, articulates, in a holistic manner, the political, security, military and other measures that need to be taken to address the challenges at hand. A key outcome of that meeting was that the meeting in Bamako welcomed the Draft Concept.

    As a way forward, the Commission Chairperson said the AU is working with the Malian authorities, ECOWAS, the UN, the EU and other partners to finalize the joint planning for the early deployment of an African-led international force to help Mali recover the occupied territories in the North. At the same time, it will leave the door of dialogue open to those Malians willing to negotiate on the basis of a clear commitment to the respect of Mali’s unity, territorial integrity and rejection of links with terrorist and criminal groups.

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    Source:  ICRC
    Country:  Niger (the), Mali

    Le président du CICR Peter Maurer est actuellement en visite au Niger et au Mali pour évaluer les besoins humanitaires. Au cours d'une distribution de vivres du CICR à quelque 580 familles déplacées à Niamey (Niger), le président du CICR a rencontré des personnes particulièrement éprouvées et affaiblies par les pénuries alimentaires successives et les combats qui se déroulent dans le nord du Mali.


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    1) With seasonal rains ending and as vegetation dries out, locust swarms have formed in Chad and are expected to form shortly in Niger and Mali. Swarms are then expected to migrate towards the north as well as potentially into cropping areas in western/central Mali.

    2) Torrential rain from localized thunderstorms caused flash flooding in portions of northern and southern Somalia during the past month. During the next week, the risk for isolated, heavy rainfall remains across Somalia, southern Ethiopia and eastern Kenya. Flash flooding could occur in affected areas while additional rainfall across the upper Shabelle River could cause river flooding.

    3) Several weeks of above-average and heavy rains across southern Nigeria and Cameroon led to widespread flooding across the region and elevated river levels resulting in the closures of highways, displacement of local populations and damages to infrastructure. With heavy rain forecasted, the risk for additional flooding is elevated.

    Note: Map in 2 pages

    Country:  Somalia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the), Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan (Republic of), Sudan (the)
    Source:  Famine Early Warning System Network, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Agency for International Development

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    Source:  ICRC
    Country:  Mali, Niger (the)

    24-10-2012 Communiqué de presse 12/211

    Bamako / Niamey / Genève (CICR) – « Quelle que soit l’évolution prochaine du conflit armé dans le nord du Mali, le risque d’une aggravation de la situation humanitaire dans cette région et dans l’ensemble du Sahel est important », prévient le président du CICR, Peter Maurer, au terme d’une visite de trois jours sur place. « En particulier, d’éventuels déploiements militaires et une reprise des hostilités au nord du Mali auront des répercussions inévitables et il faut être prêt à y répondre », précise M. Maurer, après s’être rendu à Niamey et Agadez au Niger, d'où le CICR déploie l’essentiel de son action humanitaire dans la région, puis à Bamako et Mopti au Mali.

    Les populations dans le nord du Mali, celles qui se sont déplacées vers le sud, et tous ceux qui ont fui le conflit pour chercher refuge et assistance dans les pays voisins dont le Niger, la Mauritanie, le Burkina Faso et l'Algérie, sont particulièrement vulnérables », explique M. Maurer. « Leur aptitude à faire face aux difficultés de la vie quotidienne est déjà largement entamée. Tous ont besoin de nourriture, d'un meilleur accès à l'eau potable et aux soins de santé. »

    À Niamey, le président du CICR a participé à une distribution de vivres en faveur de plus de 4 000 personnes venant du nord du Mali. « Les mots d'un père de famille m'ont particulièrement marqué. Ce dernier a fui avec ses sept enfants. Il m'a confié que tant que la situation restait instable, il ne pouvait pas rentrer chez lui. Les familles que j'ai rencontrées sont particulièrement éprouvées et affaiblies par les crises alimentaires successives et par les combats des derniers mois. »

    À Mopti, le président du CICR a rencontré des familles déplacées dont certaines ont été récemment réunifiées, et a inauguré un centre de santé de la Croix-Rouge malienne fraîchement réhabilité.

    M. Maurer s’est entretenu avec les autorités nigériennes et maliennes des conséquences humanitaires cumulées du conflit dans le nord du Mali et de la récurrence des crises alimentaires de ces dernières années. Il a réaffirmé l’engagement de l’organisation d’agir en faveur des populations touchées, en particulier dans le nord du Mali, où le CICR poursuit une vaste opération d'assistance alimentaire et médicale.

    Par ailleurs, M. Maurer a visité la maison d'arrêt de Kati près de Bamako, où le CICR a récemment construit un dispensaire et réhabilité les cuisines dans le but d’améliorer les conditions de vie des détenus. « Il est particulièrement important aujourd’hui de pouvoir visiter tous les détenus au Mali », précise M. Maurer.

    « Une action humanitaire neutre et indépendante s’impose dans la région aujourd'hui plus que jamais, et le CICR qui agit toujours en se conformant scrupuleusement à ces principes, est bien placé pour remplir ce rôle », estime M. Maurer. « L’acceptation du CICR par les différents acteurs sur le terrain nous permettant de mener une action à large échelle, je lance un nouvel appel aux donateurs pour qu'ils s'engagent davantage en faveur des populations et de nos opérations humanitaires au Sahel ».

    Lors de sa visite, M. Maurer a également rencontré les responsables de la Croix-Rouge nigérienne et de la Croix-Rouge malienne, partenaires essentiels du CICR, et a soutenu les équipes sur place dans un contexte marqué par de nombreux défis, dont celui de la sécurité.

    Informations complémentaires :

    Germain Mwehu, CICR Bamako, tél. : +227 97 45 43 82 et +223 76 99 63 75

    Sébastien Carliez, CICR Genève (actuellement à Bamako), tél. : +41 79 536 92 37

    Jean-Yves Clémenzo, CICR Genève, tél. : +41 22 730 22 71 ou +41 79 217 32 17

    Carla Haddad Mardini, CICR Genève, tél. : +41 22 730 24 05 ou +41 79 217 32 26

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    Source:  UN General Assembly
    Country:  World, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the), Mali, Myanmar, occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic (the)


    Sixty-seventh General Assembly
    Third Committee
    22nd & 23rd Meetings (AM & PM)

    UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Presents Report; Also Hears from Experts On Iran, Extrajudicial Executions, Judicial Independence, Violence Against Women

    The recent protracted violence in a number of sensitive areas around the world was a reminder that the prevention of conflict and protection of human rights in times of conflict remained among the world’s most daunting challenges, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today.

    “The past year has been marred by developments which have put to the test the capacity of the international community to prevent and promptly respond to human rights and humanitarian crises: the conflict in Syria, fragile transitions, the situation in the Horn of Africa, in Mali and the Sahel, and the economic and social crises on all continents,” said Navi Pillay, noting that the challenge of addressing crises had grown, as today they tended to develop at a faster pace, and often involved non-State actors.

    Ms. Pillay’s briefing on the work of her Office over the past year began the Committee’s consideration of specific human rights questions, which over the next week will feature the special rapporteurs tasked with investigating the matters. Today it heard presentations by experts on Iran, extrajudicial executions, judicial independence and violence against women.

    Ms. Pilay told delegates that, while much remained to be done to prevent abuses, there had been encouraging developments, including increased invitations to her Office by Member States to assist in addressing human rights concerns. Her Office now supported 57 field presences, and in June it had started regional activities in North Africa. In September, it signed an agreement with Yemen for a country office in Sana’a, and it also had a memorandum of understanding with Somalia on technical cooperation for human rights.

    She said she valued her several opportunities to brief the Security Council this past year, including on Syria, which demonstrated the intrinsic link between human rights, peace and security. She also briefed the General Assembly on Syria, and had appealed for a focus on the centrality of human beings above political and economic interests. “This is the reason d’être for the United Nations, and must be reflected both in the decisions of its intergovernmental bodies and throughout the work of the Organization,” Ms. Pillay said.

    To that end, her Office had also provided consistent support to the Human Rights Council, whose resolutions required it to provide monitoring, reporting and technical cooperation. The Office was now providing support to 48 Special Procedures, who carried out 82 country visits in 2011 and issued 605 communications to 124 States, she said.

    Integrating human rights into the development agenda, her Office worked this year to have the right to development included in documents, especially as it related to the Rio+20 Conference. The main human rights commitments in the outcome document were welcome steps, she said.

    But it had become increasingly difficult for her Office to keep pace with its expanded mandates because it was labouring under financial constraints. “While we will continue to endeavour to fulfil such work, without sufficient resources, we are being compelled to do less with less,” she said, earnestly seeking renewed commitment and support to enable the Office to maintain its momentum.

    During a lengthy question-and-answer session, most State delegations pledged to continue to cooperate and engage with her Office to promote and protect universal human rights. However, a number expressed concern over the decision this year to move treaty body meetings from New York to Geneva. Several also asked for comment how the Office would address underfunding, as the budget heavily relied on voluntary contributions.

    Responding, Ms. Pillay said she looked for Member State support for an increase in the regular budget. “This tradition of keeping human rights as the Cinderella of the three pillars must be addressed,” she said. On concern about the relocation of meetings of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Human Rights Committee, she said their sessions had not been reduced, but rather those in New York had been moved to Geneva, with prior consultation, as the Office had overspent extra budgetary funds by $40 million.

    Following Ms. Pillay, the Committee began the afternoon with the report from Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, who said responses to communications from Iran made him optimistic about establishing a substantive dialogue with its Government. Since the drafting of his report, he added, Iran had announced hundreds of pardons and released a number of prisoners of conscience. He continued to call for the release of all such prisoners and to investigate charges of human rights violations, especially of due process rights.

    The impact of general sanctions on Iran’s human rights situation had been raised in several meetings with Iranian officials and members of the Iranian diaspora. “The potential impact of sanctions on human rights does concern me”, Mr. Shaheed said, and an examination would be part of his future work.

    However, Iran appeared to have a “deeply troubling” human rights situation, Mr. Shaheed told the Committee. Information from interviews painted a picture in which a “climate of fear” pervaded civil society, and legislative actions served to frustrate healthy participation in democratic processes and impaired the judicial system. He recommended that attention be paid to legislation that attenuated and abrogated rights guaranteed by the five human rights instruments it had ratified. Impunity must be addressed to facilitate accountability, he said.

    Responding to the presentation during the question and answer period, Iran’s representative said she had expected that the Human Rights Council, as the main pillar in the human rights sphere, would not allow any of its mechanisms to be abused as “instruments for discouragement”, but the appointment of a country mandate holder had been the result of the political ambition of certain countries. That approach undermined the Special Procedures mechanism and status of the Council. Iran had submitted its general comments and observations on the draft report, but regrettably, they had not been included in the report. She welcomed cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms and her country had invited the High Commissioner for Human Rights to visit.

    The Committee then heard from Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, who said he had deemed it essential to dedicate this year’s report to the use of the death penalty, which was at the core of his mandate. There was a consistent trend among States toward abolition of the death penalty, and the impact of the General Assembly on the process, through the adoption of a series of resolutions in recent years, was well known and important, he said.

    “Yet the retention of the death penalty remains a reality in a shrinking group of States,” he said. Moreover, in many cases, domestic law and practice regrettably run counter to international standards surrounding capital punishment, while in other cases information on the use of the death penalty is kept secret, which forecloses an assessment of the level of State compliance with international standards.”

    His report detailed areas of concern in the continued use of the death penalty, and explored options for strengthening international engagement, he said. He welcomed a number of developments in Africa, including Benin acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights earlier this year, but regretted the renewal of executions in The Gambia, which represented a significant step backward.

    Also speaking today were Gabriela Knaul, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, and Rashida Manjoo, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences.

    The Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Thursday, 25 October to continue its discussion on human rights with presentations by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons; the Chair of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances; and the Chair of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

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    Source:  UN General Assembly
    Country:  World, Mali, occupied Palestinian territory, Syrian Arab Republic (the)


    Troisième Commission

    22e et 23e séances – matin et après-midi

    Les droits de l’homme en Iran, la peine de mort, la corruption judiciaire, la violence contre les femmes handicapées, débattus avec les rapporteurs spéciaux

    La Haut-Commissaire des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme, Mme Navi Pillay a exhorté les États Membres aujourd’hui devant la Troisième Commission à faire primer la protection de la vie humaine sur toute autre considération d’ordre politique ou économique, en particulier en Syrie actuellement.

    La Commission chargée des questions sociales, humanitaires et culturelles a également dialogué avec les titulaires de mandats sur la situation des droits de l’homme dans la République islamique d’Iran; les exécutions extrajudiciaires, sommaires ou arbitraires; l’indépendance des juges et des avocats; et la violence sur la violence contre les femmes, ses causes et conséquences.

    Mme Pillay a déclaré, en présentant son dernier rapport annuel*, que « la crise en Syrie, les transitions politiques, économiques et sociales difficiles et la situation au Sahel et dans la corne de l’Afrique, de même que la crise financière et économique mondiale, auraient pu être moins dramatiques si la protection des populations avait prévalu sur les considérations d’ordre politique ».

    À cet égard, elle a estimé que « le mépris absolu affiché pour les droits de l’homme, le droit international humanitaire ou la vie humaine en général était un anachronisme qui ne saurait être toléré par la communauté internationale ».

    Elle a exhorté les États « à trouver, d’urgence, une solution à la perte massive de vies parmi la population civile, et aux violations des droits de l’homme ».

    Alors que l’année 2013 marquera le vingtième anniversaire de la création du Haut-Commissariat aux droits de l’homme, elle a tiré le signal d’alarme concernant son budget étriqué, qui ne convient pas à l’élargissement continu des activités dont il a la responsabilité.

    « Le pilier des droits de l’homme ne devrait pas devenir la Cendrillon de l’ONU », a-t-elle déclaré avec force à l’adresse des États Membres, avant d’exprimer son inquiétude quant au fait que le Secrétaire général a appelé à une croissance 2013-2014 avec une baisse de 5% du budget du Haut-Commissariat aux droits de l’homme.

    Le représentant de la Syrie a saisi l’occasion du dialogue interactif avec Mme Pillay pour exprimer la préoccupation de son pays face à une « lecture unilatérale et manichéenne » faite par celle-ci de la crise syrienne. Il a regretté l’absence de référence au financement extérieur des groupes armés qui « attaquent le pays et ses infrastructures », et a estimé que l’appel lancé par la Haut-Commissaire en vue d’une intervention de la communauté internationale sortait du cadre de son mandat.

    Le droit à la vie a également été fortement défendu dans une analyse de la peine capitale, thème du dernier rapport du Rapporteur spécial sur les exécutions extrajudiciaires, sommaires ou arbitraires**, M. Christoff Heyns.

    M. Heyns a jugé vital de réaffirmer que « le droit à la vie est le droit suprême, le droit des droits sans lequel aucun autre droit ne peut être exercé », et, qu’en conséquence, « l’égale protection de toutes les vies est au coeur du système international des droits de l’homme ».

    Au titre de l’examen des situations relatives aux droits de l’homme et des rapports des rapporteurs et représentants spéciaux, la Commission a également tenu des dialogues avec le Rapporteur spécial sur la situation des droits de l’homme en République islamique d’Iran***, M. Ahmed Shaheed, qui a réitéré sa requête de visite dans ce pays.

    Tout en reconnaissant les efforts du Gouvernement iranien sur le plan législatif et les mesures de grâce à certains détenus et prisonniers de conscience, M. Shaheed a dépeint un « climat de peur au sein de toute la société iranienne ». Il a rappelé, notamment, que cette année, l’Iran avait exécuté 10 personnes pour des affaires liées à la drogue.

    La représentante de la République islamique d’Iran a répliqué que le rapport de M. Shaheed « était une illustration du deux poids, deux mesures » dont son pays est victime sur le plan international.

    La Rapporteuse spéciale sur l’indépendance des juges et des avocats****, Mme Gabriela Knaul s’est penchée, quant à elle, sur la corruption judiciaire et sur la lutte contre ce phénomène par le système judiciaire même.

    La Rapporteuse spéciale sur la violence contre les femmes, ses causes et ses conséquences*****, Mme Rashida Manjoo, a appelé pour sa part, à une approche transversale des droits des femmes handicapées, qui ont été au centre de son dernier rapport.

    Elle a en particulier préconisé de cesser « leur infantilisation » et de mettre en place des mécanismes et des lois leur permettant de faire leur propre choix, en les préservant des nombreuses formes de violences abusant de leur handicap.

    La Troisième Commission poursuivra ses travaux jeudi 25 octobre à 10 heures, pour examiner les rapports et dialoguer avec le Rapporteur spécial sur la situation des droits de l’homme dans les territoires palestiniens occupés depuis 1967 et d’autres titulaires de mandats.

    ** A/67/275

    *** A/67/369

    **** A/67/305

    ***** A/67/227

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    Source:  ICRC
    Country:  Mali, Niger (the)

    Bamako/Niamey/Geneva (ICRC) – "However the armed conflict in northern Mali unfolds, the risk of a further worsening in the humanitarian situation in the region and throughout the Sahel is high," warned the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, at the end of a three-day on-site visit. "In particular, in the event of military deployments and renewed hostilities in the north of Mali there would inevitably be consequences for the population, and we have to be ready to respond," said Mr Maurer after going to Niamey and Agadez, in Niger, where the ICRC carries out most of its humanitarian work in the region, and to Bamako and Mopti in Mali.

    "People in the north of Mali, those who moved southward, and all those who fled the conflict to seek refuge and assistance in neighbouring countries such as Niger, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Algeria are particularly in need of help," said Mr Maurer. "Their ability to cope with their daily struggles is already greatly diminished. They need food and better access to clean drinking water and health care."

    In Niamey, the ICRC president took part in a distribution of food to over 4,000 people who had arrived from the north of Mali. "The words of a father who had fled with his seven children were especially striking. He told me that as long as the situation remained unstable he would not be able to go home. The families that I met have suffered greatly and been weakened by the successive food crises and by the fighting of recent months."

    In Mopti, Mr Maurer met displaced families, some of whom had recently been reunited, and opened a newly refurbished health-care centre of the Mali Red Cross.

    With the Niger and Mali authorities, President Maurer discussed the cumulative effects, in humanitarian terms, of the conflict in the northern part of Mali and of the recurring food crises of the past few years. He reiterated the ICRC's commitment to help the people affected, particularly in the north of Mali where the organization is carrying out a vast operation to provide food and medical aid.

    Mr Maurer also visited the Kati detention centre near Bamako, where the ICRC recently built a dispensary and renovated kitchens in order to improve living conditions for detainees. "It is particularly important at this time that we be able to visit all detainees in Mali," he said.

    "Now more than ever, it is necessary that humanitarian activities that are neutral and independent be carried out in this region. The ICRC, which always adheres scrupulously to these principles, is well positioned to perform such a function," said Mr Maurer. "Because the acceptance of the ICRC by the various actors on the ground enables us to carry out large-scale activities, I once again call on donors to commit more resources to helping the people in the Sahel and to backing our humanitarian work there."

    During his visit, President Maurer also met with leaders of the Red Cross Society of Niger and the Mali Red Cross, both of which are key partners of the ICRC, and to show support for staff on the ground in a context characterized by many challenges, including those relating to security.

    For further information, please contact:

    Germain Mwehu, ICRC Bamako, tel: +227 97 45 43 82 or +223 76 99 63 75

    Sébastien Carliez, ICRC Geneva (currently in Bamako), tel: +41 79 536 92 37

    Jean-Yves Clémenzo, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17

    Carla Haddad Mardini, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 05 or +41 79 217 32 26

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    Source:  ShelterBox
    Country:  World, Ethiopia, Somalia

    Rotarians around the world are celebrating 25 years today since the End Polio Now initiative began.

    Originally started with the aim of eradicating all global cases of Polio, through the awareness and fundraising efforts of the Rotary network and its partners and the implementation of an intense vaccination programme, what followed was nothing short of monumental: 25 years later and Rotary has raised more than US$1 billion dollars and committed countless volunteer hours to fighting the disease. There are now only three countries where the wild poliovirus has not been stopped Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.

    However although global cases of polio have declined rapidly since 1985, the fight is not over. It is feared that if polio is not eradicated now then the disease could rebound to 10 million cases in the next 40 years.

    ShelterBox has encountered polio in many forms during deployments over the years. In August 2011, ShelterBox was responding to the need for aid for vulnerable families in refugee camps in Ethiopia when the ShelterBox Response Team (SRT) working in the region met Aodo Rno Absher a 17-year-old orphan who lived with her sister and two brothers. Aodo and her sisters and brothers were forced to flee from Somalia because of the famine and drought in the region at the time. Aodo suffers from polio, which made living in the harsh conditions of the camp even more difficult. ShelterBox were able to provide a disaster relief tent for Aodo’s family alongside 1,600 more ShelterBoxes, which were distributed in Ethiopia to families in need of somewhere safe and sheltered to live.

    ShelterBox supports the End Polio Now campaign and would like to congratulate Rotary International and it’s partners on a successful 25 years of campaigning.

    In 2012, ShelterBox became Rotary International's first project partner. This agreement enables the two organisations to collaborate more closely to bring relief and temporary shelter to survivors of disasters worldwide.

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    Source:  IRIN
    Country:  World, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Somalia, Zambia

    JOHANNESBOURG, 25 octobre 2012 (IRIN) - Dans les pays africains, des chercheurs tentent de trouver des moyens d'améliorer la production de blé nationale afin de faire face à des conditions sous-optimales et à une concurrence internationale féroce.

    Par exemple, en Somalie - un pays mieux connu pour ses conflits et ses famines que pour ses recherches agricoles -, des étudiants de troisième cycle explorent bénévolement de nouvelles façons de réduire la facture d'importations de blé, un sujet abordé dans l'un des nombreux résumés de recherche présentés à l'occasion d'une conférence sur le thème « Du blé pour la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique », qui s'est tenue récemment à Addis Abeba.

    Les importations de blé, qui coûtent chaque année à la Somalie entre 30 et 40 millions de dollars, drainent « les faibles réserves de devises fortes obtenues grâce aux exportations de bétail et aux transferts de fonds », rapporte Jeylani Abdullahi Osman, l'un des volontaires somaliens. Ses collègues et lui ont étudié l'agriculture à l'étranger et sont revenus en Somalie pour développer des variétés de blé capables de résister aux températures de plus en plus élevées du pays. Le blé pousse bien dans les régions fraîches, mais il s'adapte à une grande variété de climats.

    En 2005, les volontaires ont créé une ferme de recherche, l'Afgoye Field Crop Research Farm (AFCRF), dans le district d'Afgoye, dans la région de la Basse Shabelle. Ils y testent la tolérance à la chaleur et au stress hydrique de plusieurs variétés de blé. Selon M. Osman, ils ont identifié plusieurs cultivars prometteurs, mais le manque de soutien technique et financier a jusqu'à présent limité la production commerciale.

    Améliorer le blé local

    Le résumé d'une étude publiée à l'extérieur du Cameroun indique que la demande de pain augmente dans le pays, mais que la teneur en protéines du blé importé utilisé pour produire la farine à pain est inférieure à 12 pour cent. La teneur en protéines du blé de bonne qualité atteint quant à elle 14 à 15 pour cent.

    L'auteur principal, Michael Taylor, de l'université norvégienne des sciences de la vie, qui travaille actuellement auprès de la délégation de la division de l'agriculture et du développement rural de Fontem-Lebialem au Cameroun, identifie des variétés de blé ayant une teneur élevée en protéines et qui pourraient être cultivées au Cameroun.

    Selon des chercheurs de l'Institut éthiopien de recherche agricole, les anciennes variétés de blé utilisées pour faire de la farine à pain ne résistent pas aux nouvelles souches de la rouille des tiges du blé - une maladie fongique virulente capable de dévaster des cultures en l'espace de quelques semaines. Les auteurs ont identifié de nouvelles stratégies afin de produire à grande échelle les semences résistantes à la rouille du blé qui ont récemment été développées et les distribuer.

    Faire face à la concurrence

    Des équipes de recherche du Zimbabwe et de l'Afrique du Sud tentent également de trouver des moyens d'aider leurs agriculteurs à faire face à la concurrence des importations de blé bon marché.

    La Zambie est un cas intéressant. Selon des chercheurs de Seed Co., une entreprise basée au Zimbabwe, le pays, qui est autosuffisant en blé depuis peu, est déjà confronté à des baisses de rendement. Les chercheurs ont évoqué plusieurs facteurs, notamment les difficultés de commercialisation pour les petits producteurs, l'augmentation des coûts de production et l'indisponibilité des variétés de blé adéquates.

    Les résumés de ces recherches et d'autres, portant sur l'Algérie, l'Égypte, le Soudan et la Tunisie, sont disponibles sur demande auprès du Centre international pour l'amélioration du maïs et du blé (CIMMYT), basé au Mexique.

    jk/rz- gd/amz


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    Source:  Africa Center for Strategic Studies
    Country:  Somalia

    By J.R. Warner, Africa Center Staff Writer

    Over the past year, sustained military offensives by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping force and the Somali government may have dealt a devastating blow to al-Shabaab, the Al-Qaeda-linked militant group that had controlled much of southern Somalia since late 2008. Recent elections that brought educator and activist Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to power have even ushered in hope that Somalia, long-considered the world’s most failed state, might finally be on the path to peace.

    However, until the country finds a way to integrate and empower a generation of Somalis that has known only conflict, experts warn Somalia will remain fertile ground for youth recruitment and radicalization by terrorist and criminal organizations.

    Read the full article here

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    Source:  Agence France-Presse
    Country:  Mali

    10/25/2012 19:09 GMT

    Par Stéphane BARBIER

    DAKAR, 25 oct 2012 (AFP) - La réintégration du Mali dans l'Union africaine (UA), alors que les tensions persistent à Bamako, illustre la volonté de ses partenaires de l'associer à la préparation d'une force militaire internationale pour reconquérir le nord de son territoire occupé par des islamistes armés.

    L'UA, qui avait suspendu le Mali après le coup d'Etat militaire ayant renversé le 22 mars le président Amadou Toumani Touré, a décidé mercredi de réintégrer ce pays et a nommé jeudi l'ex-président burundais Pierre Buyoya Haut représentant de l'UA pour le Mali et le Sahel.

    La réintégration du Mali au sein de l'UA, qui va ouvrir un bureau permanent à Bamako, est assortie d'une demande aux autorités de transition, mises en place en avril après le retrait des putschistes, d'organiser des "élections libres" avant avril 2013.

    Ce scrutin doit parachever le retour "à l'ordre constitutionnel", loin d'être consolidé à Bamako, où un front du refus à toute intervention étrangère dans le nord est très actif et où l'ex-chef des putschistes, le capitaine Amadou Haya Sanogo, reste influent: ses hommes ont été accusés d'atteintes aux droits de l'Homme commises à Bamako contre les partisans du président Amadou Toumani Touré.

    Le capitaine Sanogo a été nommé par le président intérimaire Dioncounda Traoré à la tête d'une structure chargée de réformer l'armée malienne.

    Cette dernière, sous-équipée, est encore traumatisée par sa débâcle dans le nord face aux groupes armés emmenés par Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique.

    En quelques jours après le coup d'Etat, les islamistes avaient pris progressivement le contrôle de cette vaste région, d'où ils ont ensuite évincé les rebelles touareg laïcs et indépendantistes ayant lancé l'offensive en janvier. Ils y imposent aujourd'hui avec brutalité la charia (loi islamique).

    Des élections sur l'ensemble du territoire malien sont impossibles si le nord - les deux-tiers du pays - n'est pas libéré.

    C'est en partie pourquoi, tout en réintégrant le Mali afin d'aider le régime de transition à asseoir son pouvoir, l'UA a appelé à "une finalisation rapide de la préparation conjointe d'une force internationale, menée par l'Afrique", pour reprendre le nord.

    Cette force, composée d'environ 3.000 soldats de pays de la Communauté économique des Etats d'Afrique de l'Ouest (Cédéao), sera déployée avec l'aval de l'ONU et le soutien logistique de pays comme la France et les Etats-Unis.

    Agir "de manière immédiate et décisive"

    "Les Maliens et la communauté internationale doivent redoubler d'efforts pour résoudre la situation actuelle dans le nord, qui représente une menace à laquelle nous devons répondre de manière immédiate et décisive", a déclaré Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, présidente de la Commission de l'UA.

    A ce jour, la composition de la force, son financement et ses moyens réels demeurent flous.

    Or il reste peu de temps aux Africains pour répondre au Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU qui, le 12 octobre, leur a donné 45 jours pour préciser leurs plans avant un feu vert définitif à l'intervention.

    Avant l'échéance, un intense ballet diplomatique entre partenaires internationaux est mené, incluant l'Algérie, voisine du Mali et puissance militaire régionale incontournable dans la résolution de la crise.

    La secrétaire d'Etat américaine Hillary Clinton sera à Alger la semaine prochaine, avant une visite en décembre du président français François Hollande.

    L'Algérie a souscrit à une déclaration conjointe adoptée le 19 octobre à Bamako lors d'une réunion internationale de haut niveau qui, outre sa "solidarité" avec le Mali, l'enjoint à prendre "des mesures immédiates pour faciliter les efforts" en vue d'une intervention armée.

    Sans exclure l'intervention, Alger privilégie cependant le dialogue avec les groupes armés qui rejettent "le terrorisme" et la partition du Mali.

    Un tel dialogue, soulignait un haut dirigeant de l'ONU en marge de la réunion de Bamako, n'interdit pas l'usage de la force.

    Il a plutôt pour but de permettre le regroupement de certains groupes armés composés essentiellement de rebelles touareg - dont le principal, le Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad a été laminé par les islamistes - pour faciliter la réussite de l'intervention. "Moins il y aura de groupes armés, plus ce sera facile", selon ce dirigeant.


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