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- 10/25/12--05:55: _CAFOD fears militar...
- 10/25/12--08:05: _Analysis: Sahel cri...
- 10/25/12--08:34: _Tuareg gives up goo...
- 10/25/12--08:54: _Somalia: Humanitari...
- 10/25/12--09:12: _Transcript of the p...
- 10/25/12--11:43: _ICRC president talk...
- 10/25/12--12:15: _Mali Price Bulletin...
- 10/25/12--12:39: _Resilience: New Win...
- 10/25/12--13:06: _Complex Coverage - ...
- 10/25/12--17:06: _Horn of Africa Drou...
- 10/25/12--18:39: _Water facilities un...
- 10/25/12--18:56: _Voice from the Fiel...
- 10/25/12--19:26: _UN health agency ca...
- 10/25/12--19:43: _GAFSP 2012 Annual R...
- 10/25/12--20:57: _Food crisis top of ...
- 10/26/12--00:50: _World Food Day: Fig...
- 10/26/12--01:00: _Appeal: Food Crisis...
- 10/26/12--02:16: _Boost for Tanzania’...
- 10/26/12--04:40: _Floods, locusts add...
- 10/26/12--07:21: _Desert Locust situa...
- 10/25/12--05:55: CAFOD fears military intervention in Mali
- 10/25/12--08:05: Analysis: Sahel crisis - lessons to be learnt
- 10/25/12--08:34: Tuareg gives up good private sector job to help Malian refugees
- 10/25/12--08:54: Somalia: Humanitarian Dashboard (September 2012) - Info graphic
- 10/25/12--11:43: ICRC president talks about the situation in Mali
- 10/25/12--12:15: Mali Price Bulletin October 2012
- 10/25/12--12:39: Resilience: New Wine In Old Bottles?
- 10/25/12--13:06: Complex Coverage - 23 October 2012
- 10/25/12--17:06: Horn of Africa Drought Fact Sheet #29, Fiscal Year (FY) 2012
- 10/25/12--18:39: Water facilities under construction in Bale Zone
- 10/25/12--19:43: GAFSP 2012 Annual Report
- 10/25/12--20:57: Food crisis top of mind for UN Development chief
- 10/26/12--01:00: Appeal: Food Crisis in Malawi – MWI121
To assist 12,013 people with standard food rations (cereals, pulses, corn soya blend and cooking oil) for six months.
To ensure recovery of the affected populations through implementing recovery and livelihood activities.
To reduce morbidity and mortality among children under the age of five (U/5) and the affected population for a period of 3-6 months, through provision of water treatment chemicals, and dissemination of sanitation and hygiene promotion messages.
To provide and ensure mainstreaming of cross cutting issues to the affected persons/households.
- 10/26/12--02:16: Boost for Tanzania’s Agriculture Sector
- 10/26/12--04:40: Floods, locusts add to humanitarian challenges
- 10/26/12--07:21: Desert Locust situation update 26 October 2012
CAFOD is deeply concerned about the possible humanitarian consequences of the proposed Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) military intervention in Mali.
The military action against armed rebel groups in northern Mali could have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of people living in the area. Mali is already one of the poorest countries in the world and, along with other desperately poor countries in the Sahel region of West Africa, is in the midst of a food crisis. CAFOD urges all parties involved to vigorously pursue political and diplomatic approaches to end the conflict.
Philippe Mougin, CAFOD’s Emergency Coordinator for West Africa, says:
“There is the risk that the proposed military operation in Mali would make an already fragile humanitarian situation much worse. This is a region suffering a serious food crisis; the conflict in Mali has already forced thousands of people from their homes. It has exacerbated people’s vulnerability, when they are still recovering from the food crisis.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is proposing to take military action against rebel groups in northern Mali. Action by ECOWAS is supported in principle by the Malian government, by the United Nations and by other countries including France and the United States.
Philippe Mougin, continues: “As ECOWAS makes plans to put an intervention force together, CAFOD calls on all those involved in planning this intervention, to ensure that the welfare of civilians is paramount and that people who are made homeless because of the fighting will have full access to humanitarian assistance. It is vital that all military forces take full regard for human rights, international law and child protection. The British government’s newly appointed Special Envoy to the Sahel, Stephen O’Brien, can play a crucial influencing role in this regard.”
CAFOD will be responding to any increase in humanitarian need, working with its partners Caritas Niger and Caritas Mali.
For further information or interviews, please contact Nana Anto-Awuakye on: Tel: +44(0)207 095-5456 or Blackberry +44 (0)7799 477 541 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
DAKAR, 25 October 2012 (IRIN) - The Sahel food crisis this year put an estimated 18.7 million people at risk of hunger and 1.1 million children at risk of severe malnutrition, prompting the largest humanitarian response the region has ever seen and averting a large-scale disaster. But emergency responses are rarely smooth and there is always room for improvement. IRIN spoke to Sahel aid practitioners, analysts and donors to discuss what hampered the response, and what needs to be done to improve response in the future.
Early warning messages in competition
As early warning data came in, aid agencies and food security analysts interpreted it very differently, creating some confusion and slightly slowing down the response of donors. The debate “diverted energy away from scale-up, which was the priority,” said Stephen Cockburn, West Africa advocacy adviser for NGO Oxfam.
The issue lay in different means of interpreting early warning signals - food production across the region was down by just 3 percent, but severely high food prices (30-80 percent higher than the five-year average), lack of jobs, border closures between Niger and Nigeria, and the Mali crisis, were jarring enough to throw people into a crisis, and pushed agencies to call for a US$1 billion (it later became $1.6 billion) aid response.
“The circumstances that cause vulnerability have changed,” said Sahel expert Peter Gubbels, with NGO Groundswell International. “With food prices that high, you don’t need a drought to spell a crisis, the drought merely stimulated these dynamics.”
Aid to pastoralists off-rhythm
Pastoralists are affected by food access issues earlier than other groups and need support to access animal fodder, water, vaccinations and to destock, in March and April, not May and June.
This need is rarely reflected in early warning or response, said aid agencies. Pastoralists’ needs are still relegated to a few specialist NGOs rather than being addressed through national systems and as a result they remain marginalized, said Gubbels. Further, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which could be a vocal advocate on their behalf, did not clearly ring the alarm bell to donors on their needs, said NGOs.
Agriculture, health, WASH and education
Donors were swift to fund food security and nutrition efforts and their response “went beyond the traditional nuts and bolts” this year, for instance addressing some of the water and sanitation aspects of malnutrition in their response. But funding to other sectors - notably agriculture, water and sanitation and (particularly relating to the Malian displaced) education - lagged.
“Agriculture is key to rebuilding food security in 2013,” said UN humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel David Gressly, yet FAO had received just one third of its $125 million funding requirement by October, and partly as a result could only reach 53 percent of the 9.9 million people it was targeting (as of the end of August), according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Health was 18 percent funded across the nine affected countries, WASH 24 percent, and education 7 percent, according to OCHA.
“There is no point in saving malnourished children’s lives only to lose them to an epidemic or to diarrhoea or malaria,” said Gressly. “We have a better understanding of the package of interventions required. Now we need to have interventions that cover them.”
Preparedness is also severely under-funded, with disaster risk reduction (DDR) still making up just 4 percent of humanitarian funding. Further, it remains a centralized activity when instead “each district authority needs a plan… Preparedness is not at the national level, that’s DRR 101,” said Gubbels.
Scale-up better but still slow
While early warning was for the most part good, and most actors across the humanitarian community geared up as fast as they could, time was still lost at the beginning, partly because aid agencies used to working in a development context found it hard to shift into humanitarian gear, noted Cyprien Fabre, head of European Union humanitarian funder ECHO in West Africa. Some NGOs, including Plan International, said funding took a while to trickle down from donors to multilateral agencies and in turn to NGOs. However, speed picked up in early 2012, interviewees agreed.
Finding sufficient francophone technical staff remains a challenge for most aid agencies, said the World Food Programme (WFP) Sahel coordinator Susana Rico, and Oxfam’s Cockburn, noting they each had problems doing so, despite using emergency staff rosters.
Moderate acute malnutrition still not sufficiently prioritized
Some three million children were estimated to be moderately acutely malnourished in the Sahel this year, despite greater awareness of the need to prevent moderate acute malnutrition (MAM); initiatives such as the SUN movement, which aims to reduce under-nutrition; and a shift in approach from WFP to included MAM prevention through its blanket feeding. National governments and donors still have not prioritized MAM enough, said UNICEF West Africa nutrition adviser Felicité Tchibindat. More help is needed through national health and nutrition strategies, cleaner water and sanitation and better education on nutrition and public health, say experts.
Food pipeline delays
Despite good early warning, better use of regional markets (where one third of the food aid was sourced) and much faster procurement procedures; border closures, insecurity, and other logistical challenges led to food pipeline delays in some countries, notably Chad and Niger.
In Chad WFP had to resort to transporting food through Sudan, which is a long and insecure route requiring escorts. “It was a painful exercise,” said Rico. Rations in Niger had to be cut and targeted to fewer people because of shortages. But it is “always going to be tough sourcing food from so many different pipelines over such a vast region,” said Rico, particularly when constrained by insecurity in Nigeria and Mali, and the combination of rains and poor roads. WFP staff met last week at its Rome headquarters to figure out how to continue to improve its supply-chain.
There was no regional West Africa humanitarian appeal launched in 2011 or 2012, leaving fundraising to a series of national appeals, some of which were early (Niger) but others which came as late as June, creating confusion over how much money was needed for the crisis. UN and NGO humanitarian leadership group the Inter-Agency Standing Committee estimated US$724 million was needed based on initial appeals, a figure that was in use until June 2012, despite agencies predicting in January that they would need at least $1.2 billion; and WFP alone stating it would need $808 million to address food security. The figure has since been revised up to $1.6 billion. On the whole, donors gave more, and more quickly, to the Sahel this year, said OCHA head of programmes in West Africa Noel Tsekouras, but some say the confusion eroded the confidence of smaller bilateral donors to fund in large quantities.
Resilience must go beyond humanitarians
The resilience message is getting through to donors and some are already trying out more flexible funding - such as the US Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance, which enables quick scale-up of development activities into humanitarian - but the resilience debate is relegated mainly to humanitarian circles, not development actors.
“Development actors remain in the neo-liberal paradigm where economic growth will help people out of poverty… but robust economic growth in the Sahel has been coupled with increasing food insecurity and malnutrition - there is something wrong with the development model,” said Gubbels.
Investment in agriculture - key to resilience in the Sahel - tends to focus on high-input development in areas of the Sahel with high potential (such as southern Mali), overlooking small-scale farmers who grow in ecologically fragile zones. Look to Brazil for inspiration, says Gubbels, which has two agriculture ministries: one focuses on exports, the second on the needs of small-scale peasant farmers.
Social protection schemes for the poorest are also fairly undeveloped in the Sahel - be they targeted cash or food distributions (from national reserves), employment programmes, or healthcare benefits for children - and need to be prioritized. Niger is talking about social protection, but others need to do the same, says Gubbels.
Avoid knee-jerk market interventions
As opposed to 2010, when food markets functioned quite well, in 2011-2012 prices in some markets were 80 percent higher than the five-year average, meaning any efforts to lower prices would have to be at an enormous scale to have an impact, said WFP food security analyst, Jean-Martin Bauer. Thus when national governments subsidized and made available their national cereal stocks, it did not have a widespread impact (other than in Mauritanian capital Nouakchott) as the amounts were too small.
“It is also a very expensive intervention,” Bauer told IRIN. “A better use of money would be to target aid to the most vulnerable groups.”
Some governments took a knee-jerk response to restrict trade - for instance, Burkina Faso stopped cereal trade to Niger during the lean season - but rather than lower prices domestically, it slowed down domestic trade, as wholesalers held back their available stocks, noted Bauer.
Trade was also restricted between Mali and its neighbours Burkina Faso and Mauritania, partly linked to insecurity. All West African states need to come together to set up a common agricultural market, which would enable surpluses and deficits to better work themselves out, and could stabilize prices across the region, Bauer said.
The scale-up of cash and cash vouchers is generally seen as a positive development, but given the volatility and dynamism of West African food markets (“here markets can change completely every year,” remarked Bauer), a better understanding of when to choose food or cash is needed, he said. “The type of analysis we need in the humanitarian sector must start to change.”
MENTAO, Burkina Faso, October 25 (UNHCR) – When thousands of Malian families started streaming through his village in northern Burkina Faso earlier this year, Ahmid Ag Rali was struck by the number of children among the refugees. Moved and keen to help, the 35-year-old from Oudalan province quit his job with a foreign mining company and applied to join UNHCR.
Today, he plays an important role as a community services assistant, helping the most vulnerable among the arriving refugees, including older people, pregnant women and those living with disability. But UNHCR's operation for tens of thousands of Malian refugees is hampered by security concerns and funding needs, which is affecting its ability to help the needy.
Up at the crack of dawn, the 1.85 metres tall Ahmid is usually the first person that the overnight arrivals see at Mentao refugee camp after their journey from the border, some 95 kilometres to the north. It's more than a job for the local lad, who calls the Malians members of his "extended family" – as a Tuareg born and bred in Burkina Faso, he is ethnically related to many of them.
"Since I was a child, I have always wanted to make a difference in people's lives," Ahmid said here in Mentao, one of two refugee camps in his home province. "To become a humanitarian was my true vocation – at UNHCR I feel at home." As a local who was lucky enough to complete secondary school, he also expresses concern about the welfare of the children. More than half of the refugees in Burkina Faso are below 18 years of age.
Ahmid greets the new arrivals with a hearty "taberakam," which means "welcome" in Tamasheq, a variety of Tuareg that is spoken in Timbuktu and other areas of Mali. Hospitality is a vital component of Tuareg culture and Ahmid places great importance on making tired, scared and vulnerable refugees feel safe, cared for and at home when they reach Mentao.
"My welcoming ceremony is an art. If I misplace my gaze, or any of my words, I can lose their trust forever," he said recently at the camp, which opened last April and hosts just over 6,000 people. They have fled from fighting that started in January between Mali government forces and a rebel Tuareg movement.
The local knowledge, language skills and cultural sensitivity of national staff like Ahmid is vital to UNHCR as it strives to help the more than 200,000 Malians who have fled to neighbouring countries, mainly Burkina Faso (35,000), Mauritania (108,000) and Niger (64,000). The refugees in Mentao include Tuaregs, Arabs and Songhai, making a visit to the camps a rich cultural experience.
Although basic assistance has been provided from the start, security problems and difficult access to the camps along sandy roads has restricted the refugee agency's ability to do more in the Oudalan camps. The agency also needs to keep open a funding pipeline at a time when Ahmid's community services team, among others, is understaffed despite recent donations from several sources.
Ahmid grew up in Oudalan, one of the poorest and most arid provinces in one of the world's poorest countries – Burkina Faso ranks 181 in the UN Human Development Index. Most of those who fled to Burkina Faso, almost 80 per cent, made their way to Oudalan. So Ahmid naturally feels a sense of responsibility for people who have landed on his doorstep.
But it is a major logistical challenge getting relief items and personnel to this remote and undeveloped area at a time when the harsh conditions in the Sahel region are compounded by food and water shortages. Some aid workers have dubbed the situation as the "double crisis" because the refugees have fled to a region where the locals were already suffering.
Ahmid just gets on with helping the neediest and making them feel good. His success can be judged by their smiling faces whenever he turns up. He knows all those in his care by name and helps them get access to food distributions, health care and other services provided by UNHCR and its partners.
One such case is Offeda, who heads a household of 80 but can no longer walk because of his paralyzed legs. Offeda arrived in Mentao refugee camp in late January after fleeing from Timbuktu in a car driven by his youngest son. Thanks to Ahmid's constant visits and shared language, Offeda feels assisted and cared for.
When asked about his own family and being separated for long periods from his wife and new-born child, Ahmid explained: "I have two homes, one in the camps, where I can create a better world, and the second with my family where I can live in the better world that has been created."
By Hugo Reichenberger in Mentao, Burkina Faso
As a result of the AMISOM offensive against Al Shabab in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo, more than 14,000 people were displaced into the neighboring districts of Jilib, Jamame and Bu’aale in September. The majority of the movements started after AMISOM and the Somali National Security forces (SNF) advanced towards Kismayo in mid-September. Many of those who fled were expected to return when the situation stabilises.
At the end of September, the Shabelle River banks broke as a result of heavy rainfall leaving more than 10 people dead and over 8,000 displaced in Belet Weyne town and its environs. Support to the victims in the form of food assistance, water trucking and nonfood items is ongoing.
There were over 180 suspected cases of AWD/Cholera recorded in Lower Juba region that resulted in 18 deaths. The majority of the cases occured in Badhaadhe district. Cholera cases were also confirmed in Afmadow district in Lower Juba and Badale village in Lower Shabelle. Health Cluster partners dispatched medical supplies and staff to respond to the situation. With conflict and consequent displacement ongoing and the onset of the short rains, the risk of sporadic cholera outbreaks in southern regions remains high.
DSG : Je vais commencer en français, si vous permettez, mais je vais continuer en anglais et vous pouvez poser les questions en anglais ou en français. C’est pour moi un grand plaisir de rentrer à Genève ; c’est un peu avec nostalgie parce que la première fois que j’ai passé des mois ici c’était pendant la guerre, après la guerre entre Iran et Iraq. Moi, j’étais l’envoyé spécial de l’ONU et j’ai négocié ici dans ce bâtiment pendant des mois à cette époque-là assez dramatique. La deuxième fois c’était quand j’étais le Sous-secrétaire général pour les affaires humanitaires aux Nations Unies et j’ai fait la navette entre New York et Genève pendant deux ans, de 1992 jusqu’à 1994. La troisième fois, c’était à l’introduction du Conseil des Droits de l’Homme ici à Genève. Moi, j’étais Président de l’Assemblée générale à New York et la première réunion c’était en juin 2006. Ce sont les trois occasions et c’est vraiment un plaisir de rentrer ici chez vous.
I will make a short introduction about my tasks in the UN now. I am very honoured to be the Deputy Secretary-General appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. I have three main tasks and I will say something briefly about each of them. My first task is the area of political affairs, including humanitarian affairs; the second area is development and the third area is the rule of law. On the first area, I will make a few comments on Syria and on Mali; in the second case I just came back from Bamako over the week-end.
On Syria: of course we all have our eyes on the tragedy in Syria and we pin our hopes now on the ceasefire that hopefully can take place. Well, now the Eid al-Adha will begin; it’s a holiday of pilgrimage but it’s also a holiday of peace and reconciliation and I would very much hope that the parties will seize this opportunity to reduce the level of violence and create a climate in which political progress can be made. This proposal was first introduced by the Secretary-General when the Foreign Minister of Syria visited New York just a couple of weeks ago. And since then Lakhdar Brahimi, our Joint Mediator for the United Nations and the Arab League has pursued the issue both with the parties on the ground and with the countries involved, both in the Security Council and in the region.
We very much hope that this first step towards the reduction of violence and the beginning of the political progress will be taken because we see very great dangers, both vis-à-vis the Syrian people and the future of the nation of Syria, and of course also for the security and stability of the region. We already see very dangerous signs of the conflict spreading: we have seen border incidents between Turkey and Syria and we have seen of course dramatic developments in Lebanon, and there is also a risk that other neighbouring countries will be affected.
So we hope that the Security Council and the countries in the region will accept the responsibility now to influence the parties to agree to the ceasefire and then of course by that encourage the political process which is so necessary. I myself was mediating in several conflicts, know that when the tensions rise and when there is an escalation of hostilities it’s very difficult to achieve political progress; but when the reduction of violence is there, you create an environment in which the mediator can make progress and that’s what the Secretary General and Lakhdar Brahimi and we all hope for.
So let’s hope that we have good news coming from Syria, of ending of the artillery shootings in the cities, and then of course corresponding measures taken by the opposition groups. And in that new atmosphere, maybe we can make some progress in this horrible tragedy.
I move on to Mali. I spent part of last week, until the week-end in Bamako. I find it interesting that the meeting on Mali took place in Mali. There have been far too many situations, not least in Africa, that have been discussed in other capitals or in other places, but I think it’s a good sign that this matter was discussed in the country itself with the Mali authorities and with the Mali people watching us closely.
We were the African Union, ECOWAS, the sub-regional organization, and the United Nations, and I noted a unique sense of common purpose among the African Union, ECOWAS and the United Nations. A unique purpose in supporting the Mali authorities to establish constitutional order and of course to establish national unity, to achieve respect of territorial integrity after the takeover of the North by extremist and terrorist elements. The support was expressed in different ways: support to a political process and of course support to planning for a possible military mission in the end. On the first point there is a hope that there are groups in the North of Mali who would want to distant themselves from the extremist and terrorist groups and by that, isolate those groups. We hope that such a process is going on. The second element is an element which is related to the Security Council Resolution 2071 which was adopted in New York on 12 October, which authorizes the United Nations to help in the political process but also to help in the planning for a possible military mission. We are to report to the Security Council 45 days from 12 October - it’s probably around 35 days now - so we are in the midst of doing that planning, but in the meantime we hope of course also for some progress in the political arena.
You cannot discuss Mali without putting it in the larger context of the whole situation of the Sahel region, where you have 18 million people at risk, 1 million children at grave risk of malnutrition and hunger, starvation, and the fact that we need to see the situation in its totality. Therefore the Secretary-General has appointed Romano Prodi, the former President of the Commission of the European Union and also former Prime Minister of Italy, to serve as Special Envoy for the Sahel. And I was very glad to have at my side, leading the UN delegation, Romano Prodi. He will of course have as his task to not only be in contact with the Mali people and Mali authorities, but also with the countries in the region who certainly are affected by the crisis in Mali and might be affected even more so in the future.
I was also there with Said Djinnit who is our Special Representative for West Africa, and we have a strong team now working both on the political front and on the military planning. Then it is of course up to the Security Council to decide when they have received the report of the Secretary-General in about 35 days whether a military operation will be needed. It‘s a very important situation, a situation that has ramifications not only for Mali but also for the region obviously. There is a grave humanitarian aspect to the situation, also if there were to be a military operation, and of course you do not know what ramifications these developments will have on neighbouring states. So it certainly is logical that the Security Council is involved in an issue which has such important security ramifications for the region and the world.
I often raise my glass. Not to toast you but to demonstrate the importance of water. This glass of water is a luxury for 784 million people in the world; 2.5 billion people don’t have sanitation, which is a euphemism for toilets. 37 per cent of humanity lives without toilets and this is the reason why 3,000 children, approximately, die every day under the age of five because of diarrhoea, dysentery, dehydration and cholera, and I have seen them die in front of my own eyes. This is something we, it is a shame I think, we need to make sure that we make serious progress on, particularly, sanitation and maternal health.
Apart from trying to achieve the Millennium Development Goals we have to start to define the goals after 2015. And I am sure it will require work on poverty eradication. But I am also sure that we have to take into account the need to look at sustainability. We have finite resources and a planet in danger of climate change which is so obvious to us that, for the first time in history, we really have to take an existential look at the need for sustainability. But there is also a need to take the rights perspective, human rights and the rule of law, and, of course, the aspects related to good governance, which is good institutions and good infrastructure.
This is a huge task ahead of us where we are working on different tracks in the United Nations. One is a panel that the Secretary-General has set up, a high level panel on the post-2015 development and one member is actually in the group, Ms. Amina Mohammed, here on my left who just now nods to you and is a member of that group who will report to the Secretary-General and myself in June next year, latest in June. We also have a government group that is going to start soon in New York working on sustainable development and we hope of course that in the next year or two we will have serious work on setting the direction for development in the future. But we take into account not only poverty eradication but also sustainability, rights and good governance.
My last point briefly is the rule of law. There was a very important meeting in New York on 24 September, where all Member States, and among them 44 Heads of Government, signed or accepted, adopted, a declaration on rule of law where it was established that not only international norms that are necessary for rule of law inside nations but also the need to set up institutions for fighting corruption, reconciliation processes, correction facilities of the right order, judicial organs that work, reconciliation processes, all of these things that are necessary to maintain peace, not only in post-conflict situations but also to build a decent society. That this document was accepted is very relevant for the United Nations because it will affect both the work on peace, development and human rights. For peace it will stabilize peace efforts, for development it will make it possible to have institutions that encourage development, and of course for human rights you have the institutions that are necessary to bring about real achievement in that area.
The final formula that I would like to repeat to you is a formula that I was very proud as President of the General Assembly to gavel and that is the agenda for the United Nations in my view, and the reason for us to toil in this organization, work hard in this organization, hopefully for you to get it to keep your interest in this organization. It is simply this formula: there is no peace without development, there is no development without peace and there is neither lasting peace nor sustainable development without respect of human rights and the rule of law.
So that would be my far too long introduction for members of the media but I hope you can bear with me and I will take questions in French, English, Swedish, German and Spanish.
Q: Thank you. On behalf of the UN press association, firstly I would like to thank you for this press conference and then I would like to ask you a question about Syria. If we now see a cease fire, what makes you think that it will actually hold? Because, as you know, it has been broken before so what chances do you see for it actually holding, and if violence breaks out again, what difference can the United Nations actually make as there is no unity in the Security Council and so far you have been obliged, basically, to stand by and watch things getting worse while you are giving humanitarian aid. So what difference can the UN make if violence takes off again? Thank you.
DSG: Well, we have no guarantees that a possible ceasefire will hold. We regretfully have no observer still in Syria. We had observers but that mandate expired some time ago. So the ceasefire builds on trust that both sides will cease the fighting and that they will realize that this is an obligation and that the one that breaks against the obligation certainly will be noted. We hope that they both realize the importance of a pause in the fighting, and by this they can prove that they desire a solution, a peaceful solution, to the benefit of the Syrian people. Ceasefire has its major significance in the symbolic quieting, silencing of the guns, and letting the Syrian people finally have silence around themselves for the possibilities to see what the fighting has done but the most important thing is that it could, possibly, create an environment in which a political process is possible. This is the moment when then Lakhdar Brahimi could possibly make a move in the political arena.
Well, if the violence erupts again we will feel the same frustration that we have felt for some time about the lack of unity in the Security Council. If the Security Council is not unified it translates itself to weakness for the Secretary-General and his representatives. If we have strong resolutions, supported by the Member States, we have muscle power, so to speak, to really translate that to action on the ground. So I can only appeal again to the Security Council to show unity and come up with a formula that can bring about the end of the violence. There is also an obligation of countries in the region to act accordingly, to use their influence, not only those who are members of the Security Council, but also vis-à-vis the region, vis-à-vis the country, both vis-à-vis the government and the opposition groups that you either choose an escalation of hostilities, or you choose a de-escalation, reducing of violence, and I think there could be no doubt what you would think the United Nations would prefer as alternative. So there rests a very serious responsibility on the Security Council to come up with a unified position as soon as possible; and also a responsibility on countries in the region to exercise their influence over both the government and the parties, and the opposition.
Q: My question is on Latin America basically, American hemisphere. First, on the issue of reconciliation as you mentioned, do you think 20 years after dictatorships in Latin America, it is time, for example, for Brazil to abolish the amnesty law that was created at that time? By the way, your government received many of the refugees that at that time were coming to Brazil from Argentina and other countries. Do you think this is the time to basically, get over with this and do the reconciliation that would be necessary? And secondly, on Haiti, how is the, let’s say international financial crisis or the lack of resources affecting your work in Haiti at the moment? Thank you.
DSG: I can only speak in general terms about reconciliation in Latin America. I have worked a long time with Latin America back in the 70s and 80s, when we received refugees from Chile, Argentina, several countries, Uruguay, who were living under military dictatorship and of course, it’s a great relief to have seen those sad periods behind us. I can only say that any effort to achieve reconciliation, to bring people together is to be welcomed. We hope very much now that negotiations on Colombia in Oslo will be successful and we hope that the positive trends that have been so obvious over the years will continue. There is a factor that affects all world politics right now, and that is the serious economic situation, which shows itself also on the social and political arena. I would hope very much that the resistance to such problems would be high in Latin America and that democracy is strongly founded in the societies and in public opinion.
On Haiti, I cannot recall that the economic difficulties are particularly obvious; of course there was an enormous show of solidarity with the Haitian people after the horrible earthquake. The work continues with successes in some areas and some problems in other areas, particularly in housing, but it is important that solidarity with the Haitian people continues and I hope that the programmes that are underway will be continually funded.
Q: Thank you for your presentation. I have two questions regarding your third area, the rule of law, which is very important. The first one is related to the Syrian issue and the positioning of the UN, which needs to be very clear. So as you know, 10 days ago in Akçakale, five Turkish civilians were killed. The UN condemned the attacks, denounced the violation of international law on territorial integrity, this was done. However, the statement did not consider the attack as an armed attack, which is important because it does not trigger the right of self-defence; and Turkey answered to those attacks killing Syrian soldiers. So, I would like to know, did Turkey use its right of self-defence and had the right to attack the Syrian soldiers or is this a breach of international law? And if it is a breach of international law, why did the UN not condemn the Turkish answer? That is my first question. My second question is on the… peut être que je peux vous la poser en français pour varier un petit peu. Elle concerne les relations turco-israéliennes. Israël a tenté une nouvelle négociation avec la Turquie, la Turquie a refusé. Ma question concerne le Rapport Palmer. Un an après le Rapport Palmer, un rapport sur lequel ne s’est pas réellement exprimé le Secrétaire général M. Ban Ki-moon, ce rapport qui viole le droit international, le blocus de Gaza, le droit de légitime défense qui n’existe pas dans la haute mer, ce rapport qui devait amorcer une négociation a finalement détérioré considérablement les relations turco-israéliennes : est-ce que un an plus tard vous regrettez ce rapport en tant que Secrétaire général adjoint ?
DSG: Thank you very much. You are right, there was a statement of condemnation of the attack, not only by the Secretary-General but also by the Security Council, and they were similarly phrased. There was no condemnation of the immediate Turkish response. The question about the right to self-defence touches very much on the principle of proportionality. If there is an attack across a border, it is almost automatically accepted that an immediate response is possible, according to international law but it has to be in line with proportionality and that is why the continued fighting, the continued attacks is such a great problem. There is no conclusion on our side whether proportionality is broken or not, it is very hard to measure and to guide. But our statement is meant to stop the risk of increasing violence and the escalation of that conflict into an international conflict but there is no ruling on whether this is legal, or illegal. But basically you have the right to self-defence if you accept the principle of proportionality in your response.
Well, this was before I started in the UN, so I must say I haven’t really read that whole [Palmer] report. I understand that it has been given different interpretations and I take your view that it didn’t help but I have really no comment of my own. I hope that the issues will be resolved in direct contact, direct talks between Turkey and Israel, but it would be improper for me to comment on something that I haven’t read and I hope you can understand that I haven’t been able to read every report from the period before I started.
Q : Deux questions aussi. D’abord sur la Syrie. Vous avez l’espoir que la trêve va être vraiment une trêve, mais on sait tous que lundi et mardi…on n’est pas très optimiste que cela va durer longtemps et que le conflit va continuer. Les agences humanitaires de l’ONU se préparent déjà pour que le conflit continue jusqu’à juin 2013, c’est ce que OCHA nous a dit cela fait deux jours. Vous êtes chargé des affaires politiques. Est-ce que vous vous organisez aussi, et comment, pour que le conflit dure tout 2013, et quoi faire pour ne pas rester les bras croisés à rien faire pendant que le conflit continue ? Et deuxièmement, sur les MDGs, il manque trois ans maintenant. A nouveau la même question : qu’est-ce qu’on peut faire, parce que les pays en développement ils essaient de se développer et je crois qu’ils font ce qu’ils peuvent et les pays riches, on est tous soumis à une crise atroce, ce qui n’aide pas le développement. Alors, est-ce que vous croyez que l’on va rester là où on est ou on a encore l’espoir que l’on va en améliorer quelques uns ou un, concrètement ?
DSG: We certainly do not plan for this horror to continue until 2013. We will do everything we can to contribute to an ending of the fighting and the suffering. The plan is to as soon as possible achieve a reduction of violence so that we can start a political process and that political process would of course be built on a complete ceasefire and a political process leading up to transition, which is what was concluded in the Geneva meeting on the 30th of June. That’s our work plan. In the meantime, we are doing our very, very best - and I want to commend my colleagues in the humanitarian area, and the NGOs involved and the Red Cross, ICRC, in what they are doing to help people in very dire circumstances right now. Hundreds of thousands of people are in grave danger. We have refugee flows across the borders. Winter is approaching in Syria, and those winters are harsh. There are problems with the electricity grids. We see huge humanitarian problems ahead of us. It’s already serious but it could become even worse. My colleagues in OCHA, led by Valerie Amos, and the different other actors in the field -I am just now, in twenty minutes, going to meet Peter Maurer at the ICRC and this will be one of the subjects to discuss - we will do everything we can to reduce the suffering but of course we want to go to the root cause, namely the fighting and the war, and solving the political crisis in Syria. So I hope we will not see this nightmare continue into 2013 and I hope everybody else realizes that it’s so dangerous not only for the people of Syria but for the region and the world.
As for the MDGs, the reason I repeat this very strongly, is that it’s a reminder. When we start to talk about post-2015, we must remind ourselves that we have three years and two months to go to achieve what we had promised in 2000. Some progress is made and I commend those who have helped that progress be possible but we need to do much more and I particularly point to these two areas: maternal health and sanitation. And we hope that in spite of the fact that we have financial difficulties - official development assistance is going down somewhat- that we still will be able to show solidarity with those who are suffering so chronically and so desperately and that we should realize that these enormous inequalities are not only unfair, they are also dangerous. If we don’t do it out of compassion, we should do out of enlightened self-interest, because we are affected by whatever happens in any part of the world these days. We are interconnected and so therefore we have an interest in the welfare and the well-being of our fellow human beings wherever they are.
Q: I have two very small questions. My first question is what is the UN comment on the incident in Sudan, two days ago, the bombardment on one factory of arms in an urban region? As you know, Sudan announced that Israel is responsible for this attack but Israel does not mention anything. What does the UN comment on that? My second question is: from your experience, do you believe really that a ceasefire in Syria could be reachable with no conditions, no observers, co commitment, nothing? Do you really believe in that?
Q: Est-ce que vous ne pensez pas que les Nations Unies devraient trouver une nouvelle solution pour pouvoir intervenir dans les conflits dans le monde ? On a vu la question Syrienne, ou le manque d’unité dans le Conseil de sécurité bloque la possibilité d’intervention et on voit une dégradation de la situation depuis 18 mois. Même chose pour le Mali. L’Afrique de l’Ouest a demandé une intervention et une aide de la part des Nations Unies et ça traine également. On s’achemine aussi vers une prolongation du conflit puisque le Mali vient d’être réintégré dans l’Union Africaine et que la situation n’et pourtant pas résolue. Je vous remercie.
Q: J’ai une question qui va être plus ou moins un follow-up à ma collègue. J’aimerais savoir, vous qui avez l’expérience de la médiation de conflit : quand on a une situation comme en Syria où il y a une multiplication es acteurs non-étatiques, comme ce qui s’est passé en Somalie par exemple, est-ce que l’ONU en tant qu’institution a les armes aujourd’hui pour trouver une solution ? Simplement parce que c’est une organisation interétatique, internationale, comment vous faites ? Le Conseil de Sécurité n’est-il pas, si on peut dire…out of …
Q: My question is in the same sense as my colleagues. What is the role of the UN in these situations like Syria? Is it “wait and see”? Do you see a reform of the Security Council or something can be done?
DSG: I think questions 1, 3 and 4 are in the same category. I think we simply have to believe it, in the possibility of reducing violence. I agree: it’s a great deficiency that we don’t have observers on the ground, that we don’t have exact conditions made, that we don’t have commitments from all the parties. We have vague indications of consideration. I hope today we will receive confirmation from the government and hopefully from the opposition forces that they will respect it. The only hope is that the Syrian people are most probably very tired, exhausted, of this fighting and that those who break the truce would be seen as those who stop this process which could indeed lead to a political process. So I agree, that’s a faint hope. But what else can we do? The United Nations stands for peaceful settlement of disputes. Chapter VI of the UN Charter, that I always carry in the pocket. And my favourite Chapter is “Pacific Settlement of Disputes”. That’s what we have to strive for. But I know, and I recognize, that we are weakened if we do not have a strong Security Council resolution. But this is what the Secretary-General suggested a couple of weeks ago. The idea has caught momentum and I hope that in the end it will prove possible. But it is a hope, I admit. Lakhdar Brahimi used the phrase last weekend: “microscopic hope”. I notice that he has taken away the “microscopic” and there is hope that we could achieve something concrete. But it not the truce in itself, it’s the sign of reduction of violence which opens up for a mediator to do the work that he or she would want to pursue.
You are right: it’s more difficult when you deal with several parties. I was a mediator in Darfur and I spent more time trying to gather and collect the different movements than discussions between the government and the movements. So, this is a problem in Syria, that there are so many parties on the opposition side that there is no clear entity that we can deal with. But we have no difficulty dealing in principle with non-state actors. I have been involved in conflicts since the early 1990s and unfortunately, the civil wars were the rule of the day in the early 1990s in the Balkans and in Africa, and we were used to dealing with the non-state actors. It was a fact of life: if you wanted to have peace, you had to deal with both sides, and the governments had to accept that.
But I also want to say that the role of the mediator is more limited than I would hope and I am sure Lakhdar Brahimi would hope because you have to have a minimum of political will to achieve any result. The mediator is like a person bringing horses to a water hole. You drag them and pull them and bring them to the water hole but has anyone in this room been able to force a horse to drink water? You have to have a minimum of political will. And the question is: is that political will among the Syrian parties? And is that political will in the members of the Security Council and the neighbouring states? That’s the question. So the mediator is very much a function of the collective political will.
Now the basic problems, I have difficulties talking about because it has to do with the responsibilities of the Security Council to act in situation where threats exist against international peace and security. If you think about it carefully, if you define the word “threat”, it is actually before the conflict erupts. And of course that is the ideal situation, that in this world, we would act early and not wait for the last moments of crisis. And that in fact, we should move in the direction of acting early, before the house is on full fire. I would hope that is possible. But is often considered interference in internal affairs if you act on threats to international peace and security. When it comes to the veto, it’s a fact of life, it’s a Charter-based right. And I can only hope that the veto is used a little as possible and only in situations when the Security Council cannot in any way find other methods to solve the issues. But it is a privilege to have that right, for those who are in the Security Council. To have that right, to act on threats on threats to international peace and security, is not only a duty, it’s also a privilege. And a privilege that should be seen as a privilege given by all other Member States. And that’s why I hope that the Security Council would act more and more in the direction of finding negotiated solutions and insist on them by unanimity, as much as possible.
We are where we are and I come back to the question on Mali and on Syria. There was unity on Mali in terms of planning for a political process and in terms of planning for a military operation if necessary. Actually, there was no dissenting voice, so on that issue, it was complete unity. There was also complete unity on the Sudan-South Sudan situation in the Security Council, so I shall not be in general critical. There have been many important steps taken forward to unity on issues again like Mali, and South Sudan-Sudan but on Syria we don’t have that unity.
As to the incident in Sudan, I am not fully informed. I just got the news this morning and I have no report from the field so I cannot pronounce myself about the background. I’ll have to know more before I comment on it.
I’ll be back. Thank you very much.
On 13 September 2012, amidst a deepening regional crisis, the ICRC asked donors for an additional 21 million US dollars to covers the most urgent humanitarian needs in northern Mali.
This week, Mr Maurer met ICRC staff, senior politicians and staff of the Niger and Mali Red Cross Societies to better understand the Malian conflict, its local and regional consequences in humanitarian terms and the scope of our operations on the ground.
As he prepares to leave Bamako, the ICRC president speaks about the conflict in Mali, what he saw and what he brings back for ICRC donors and his diplomatic contacts.
Click here for audio.
Millet, rice, and sorghum constitute the basic staple foods for the majority of the Malian population. Millet has traditionally been the most widely consumed, but since 2005 rice has become a popular substitute in urban households. Sorghum is generally more important for rural than urban households. Markets included are indicative of local conditions within their respective regions. Ségou is one of the most important markets for both the country and region because it is located in a very large grain production area.
Bamako, the capital and largest urban center in the country, functions as an assembly market. It receives cereals from Koulikoro, Ségou, and Sikasso for consumption and also acts as an assembly market for trade with the northern regions of the country (Kayes and Koulikoro) and Mauritania. Markets in the deficit areas of the country (Timbuktu and Gao) receive their supplies of millet and rice from Mopti, Ségou and Sikasso.
The term resilience has entered the aid lexicon. But is it just “new wine in old bottles”? Haven’t aid agencies already been seeking to build resilience among beneficiaries for decades? To find out, we spoke to David Gressly, who was appointed Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Sahel earlier this year.
David Gressly was appointed Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Sahel (RHC) by USG/ERC Valerie Amos in April 2012. His role is to oversee the response at the regional level and ensure coherence of efforts across countries. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Gressly was the UNICEF Regional Director in West and Central Africa, responsible for UNICEF operations in the region’s 24 countries with over US$800 million in annual programmes. He also served as UN Regional Coordinator for Southern Sudan for the UN peacekeeping mission from 2008 to 2011.
Inside this issue
IED & Demining 4
· The USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) expects food security conditions in some areas of the Horn of Africa to improve between October and December as a result of favorable seasonal rainfall, an increase in household food stocks from upcoming harvests, and decreasing food prices.
· African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and supporting forces continue to advance on al-Shabaab in Lower Juba Region’s Kismayo town, capturing towns and villages in the surrounding area, according to international media. As of September 26, approximately 12,000 residents had fled Kismayo as a result of military activities and additional clashes, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Humanitarian organizations have developed contingency plans to assist civilians in Kismayo affected by the fighting and have pre-positioned emergency relief supplies in strategic locations to respond to anticipated humanitarian needs. However, relief agencies continue to face access challenges in reaching affected populations, primarily due to insecurity. UNHCR estimates that as many as 50,000 people may require humanitarian assistance. USAID continues to track the situation in Kismayo to determine humanitarian needs and response options as conditions evolve.
· In FY 2012, the U.S. Government (USG) provided a total of more than $685 million in humanitarian assistance for the Horn of Africa. Of this total, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) provided more than $116 million for agriculture and food security, economic recovery and market systems (ERMS), health, nutrition, natural and technological risks, protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) activities, as well as support for humanitarian studies, humanitarian coordination and information management, and the provision of emergency relief supplies. In addition, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) provided nearly $472 million for food-related assistance in the region, while the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) provided nearly $98 million for refugee-related assistance. In total, the USG provided more than $1.34 billion in humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa in FY 2011 and FY 2012.
Goba October 24/2012 Construction of 33 water facilities is underway in Bale Zone of Oromia State at a cost of more than 72 million Birr, the Zonal mine and energy office said. Office head, Jemal Mohammed told ENA that the facilities include sinking and spring development. He said government, WASH program and the public covered the construction cost of the facilities. Upon completion at the end of this Ethiopian budget year, the facilities would benefit more than 224,000 people. According to him, water facilities constructed in 2004 EC have benefited more than 71,386 people.
Dr. Kalyani Gomathinayagam, from India, runs the Doctrors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) nutrition center in Biltine, eastern Chad, where acutely malnourished children in need of intensive care are nursed back to health. Here, she discusses the situation on the ground.
Every year there are families in Biltine who don’t have enough food in the months leading up to the harvest. This year, the crisis was particularly severe. Our emergency program saves lives, but it cannot change the underlying causes of this chronic crisis.
Our mobile teams make daily visits to surrounding villages to treat malnourished children on an outpatient basis, and the most severe cases are brought to the hospital for treatment. The biggest problem—on top of malnutrition—is diarrhea. In Biltine, less than 15 percent of people have access to clean drinking water, and the result can be seen in our program, as more than half of the children suffer from diarrhea. Respiratory infections and malaria are also major problems. For a malnourished child, these diseases can quickly become life-threatening.
Milk Around the Clock
My day at the nutrition center starts at 7:00 am when I examine the children whose conditions may have worsened overnight. We then weigh and measure all the children. I am fortunate to work with a highly motivated team. We have nine Chadian nurses who do shift work, and nine other local employees who have the huge task of providing children with special milk every three hours, day and night. Without this dedicated team working around the clock, we wouldn’t be able to cope.
At the morning meeting we discuss the most important cases, and around 9:30 am the first admissions of the day begin to arrive. The children are often from poor families and they are usually brought to us in the late stages of malnutrition. We examine and register them and then we immediately begin the nutrition program. We treat acutely malnourished children with special milk through a naso-gastric tube. Children with severe diarrhea are rehydrated with intravenous fluids to compensate for fluid loss.
From April to mid-September we treated some 430 children at the hospital. In order to treat them all, and accommodate their mothers as well, we set up large tents in the hospital courtyard. At the end of September—the end of the rainy season and just before the crops were harvested—we admitted 46 new cases.
“It’s Hugely Rewarding When . . . a Child Starts to Smile”
Fortunately, most children who come to us recover very quickly. It is satisfying to see that we can help these young patients so quickly, often with the simplest of tools. The work is stressful, but it's hugely rewarding when a child is strong again and starts to smile.
However, sometimes the children who come to us are so sick that we can no longer help. And if a child dies, the whole team suffers. But parents don’t blame us. Many people here say, "Physicians may be helpful, but they cannot save lives. Only God can."
In the afternoon we hold a group meeting for the mothers. We explain how the nutrition program works, and the importance of outpatient care after their child is released, including the importance of clean drinking water and hygiene to prevent malnutrition and other diseases.
For mothers, it is not easy to have a sick child in the hospital. Who takes care of the other children at home? First they must convince their husbands they need to take the child to hospital—and often the men do not want their wives to be away from home for long. If a parent refuses to have their child treated at the hospital it is hard to accept, but it sometimes happens. I don’t have much time to think about it, because there's always the next emergency; another child who needs help.
Same Time Next Year?
Although we are still treating many children, we realize that our emergency program may end soon. Once the harvest is collected the families will have more to eat, and the peak of this year's food crisis will be over. We will hand over the program to the local health authorities. It won’t be easy, though, because people here have so many other problems. And because we know that it is quite possible that we may be here again next year to treat more acutely malnourished children.
25 October 2012 – Countries gripped by a hunger crisis in West Africa’s Sahel region urgently need additional help to combat a series of intestinal-worm and other Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that have spread in the wake of regional flooding, the United Nations health agency said today.
According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), simple de-worming interventions will ensure that people can fully benefit from the food aid distributed.
“Humanitarian (agencies) should come out in full force and support de-worming activities in affected countries as malnourished children and adults are very susceptible to contracting these NTDs, transmitted via contaminated water, soil and parasites,” said WHO’s African Regional Director, Dr Luis Gomes Sambo, in a news release.
NTDs are a group of poverty-associated chronic infectious diseases – such as bilharzia, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms – that are endemic in poor and rural populations in the developing countries of Africa, America and Asia, according to WHO.
The diseases affect over 1.4 billion people worldwide, and cause severe morbidity and mortality, and are transmitted by insect bites, flies, water contact or worms in the soil, and are easily spread in areas of poor sanitation.
Dr. Gomes said the flooding created the “ideal breeding ground” for contracting NTDs and worm-like diseases in the Sahel region, which spans Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, amongst other countries. As a consequence, they are now “more at risk of malnutrition,” he added.
The Sahel region has been gripped by prolonged drought and internal conflict, with nearly 19 million people currently food insecure, including more than one million severely malnourished children under the age five years.
The agency said the number of food insecure people in the region is likely to increase because of the rise in the number of NTD cases, with NTD cases also on the rise because of low quality drinking water and inadequate latrine coverage that coincide with the Sahel flooding.
“The full impact of the Sahel crisis will only be felt in the months ahead on people’s livelihoods,” the health agency noted in the news release. “Integrating de-worming activities is… feasible and cost-effective – costing less than 50 cents to treat a person for a year.”
It added the low cost was “especially important” because only half of $1.6 billion of an appeal for Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, Mauritania and Niger have been received.
Cholera outbreaks in several countries of the Sahel have exacerbated the situation, and the problem is extending to Central African countries, such as Chad and Cameroon, WHO noted.
second year in brief
The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) was launched on April 22, 2010 after the 2009 G20 Summit requested that the World Bank establish a multilateral mechanism to address food security in low-income countries. The 2011 GAFSP Annual report covered key milestones that were achieved in the first 14 months of the program, including the establishment of an inclusive and transparent governance structure, and the awarding of US$ 481 million to 12 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean—Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Liberia, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan and Togo—in support of prioritized investments identified by the countries to improve food security.
During its second year, GAFSP worked to raise awareness and to develop and expand its portfolio while incorporating lessons learned from the previous period. The program was featured at major global events such as the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness and other food security gatherings. Increased awareness helped to raise pledges from US$ 971.5 million to US$ 1.25 billion. Two new donors—the Netherlands and the United Kingdom—joined Australia, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, Spain, and the United States in the fight against hunger and poverty.
GAFSP continued and strengthened its partnerships with CSOs such as farmer organizations, Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs), research organizations, and other stakeholders to effectively achieve its goals. CSO representatives on the GAFSP Steering Committee have actively worked to meet with local CSOs in GAFSP project areas, hear their concerns, and increase their capacity to get involved with GAFSP projects. As a result, GAFSP CSO Working Groups have been established as a coordination mechanism at the country level in Nepal, Cambodia, and Mongolia; and CSOs have been effective advocates based on their on-going involvement with GAFSP.
The Public Sector Window launched its Second Call for Proposals in January 2012. Six new countries received funds in May 2012 bringing the total number of countries receiving GAFSP grants to 18 amounting to US$ 658 million. This is expected to reach 8.2 million farmers and their families. In order to start implementing projects, countries, together with their selected Supervising Entity, carry out a detailed design of the project including a rigorous results matrix with clear indicators, financial and economic analysis, environmental and social safeguard analysis, defining implementation arrangements, fiduciary arrangements, and any additional national procedures and requirements. By the end of the second year, 11 GAFSP supported projects in seven countries have completed preparation with their Supervising Entities, and five countries have begun to receive funds to implement their projects. Some early indication of results include:
In Bangladesh, a series of field demonstrations for new production technologies have taken place through 375 livelihood field schools, with 758 Rabi season and 750 Kharif season demonstrations for farmers’ groups.
In Rwanda, the project has already reached 6,750 farmers (54 percent are women) and their families by providing improved farm methods and protection against soil erosion; and net sales from agricultural activities on targeted, non-irrigated hillsides have almost doubled.
In Sierra Leone, preparation for delivering improved extension services through 360 farmer field schools has been completed and will be delivered during the 2012 agricultural season on 180 demonstration sites; 193 Agricultural Business Centers (ABCs) are being rehabilitated; and the rehabilitation of 500 ha of inland valley swamps in five districts has begun.
In Togo, new lowland rice varieties supported by the projects’ quick start operations are being cultivated on 750 ha; simple soil and water conservation techniques initiated by the project are now practiced on 1,000 ha; farmers in the project area are carrying out group-based experimental learning activities in 200 farmer field schools; and 250 km of rural roads have been rehabilitated to improve farmers’ access to local markets.
On the Private Sector Window side, the First Call for Proposals was held in July 2011. As it welcomed two more donors, the governance structure and funding platform were revamped, and the Private Sector Window Secretariat was formally established at the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in January 2012. Even during the re-launch process, the Private Sector Window announced its first project in March 2012: a US$ 5 million loan to an agribusiness firm in Bangladesh concurrent with a US$ 10 million loan from IFC. The project will expand production capacity in response to an increase in the demand for packaged food products both in local and international markets. The project is expected to create over 1,200 new jobs in rural areas, and will source fruits, vegetables, and other inputs directly from over 1,700 small farmers, positively impacting their livelihoods.
The 2012 GAFSP Annual Report covers the program’s second year of operation (July 1, 2011– June 30, 2012) and sets out more details about GAFSP’s accomplishments during its second year, as well as foreseen challenges, as this innovative program supports the global effort to improve food security.
“Top of mind right now is the food crisis,” said Helen Clark after her meeting with President Joyce Banda. “We discussed the work that can be done with the UN and other development partners to support Malawians through this crisis. We talked about the need for the response to the food crisis to build in greater resilience for the future. More can be done, for example, to build water infrastructure and on reforestation.”
Food security has become a significant issue in Malawi. It is estimated that some 1.8 million people will need relief support until the next rainy season.
In addition to meeting with President Banda, Helen Clark also met with Magnga Chiume , Minister of Foreign Affairs, the women’s parliamentary caucus, and civil society organization leaders.
“Malawi has a woman president and 22 per cent of parliamentarians are women. This creates opportunities to ensure that development progress embraces the women of Malawi,” Helen Clark said at the meeting with women MPs
Malawi has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the region (675 per 100,000 live births), in spite of skilled attendance at birth increasing from 54% to 73% in 2010. Only two per cent of pregnant women have access to emergency obstetric care. Access to sexual and reproductive health services is still limited, particularly in rural areas. Gender-related Millennium Development Goals 2, 3 and 5 are currently unlikely to be achieved by 2015, but there is much that can be done to accelerate progress.
Tomorrow Helen Clark will visit a UNDP-supported batik factory which promotes women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship. She will also visit Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe to observe the work of UN Volunteer doctors providing essential health services to the people of Malawi.
Helen Clark became the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme in April 2009, and is the first woman to lead the organisation. She is also the chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programmes and departments working on development issues.
By Ryan Worms, Caritas Internationalis
“I want to set-up a small business to sell rice, flour and sugar. The last time, I made a tidy profit. I need 1000 gourdes (US$25),” says Ariette Tessono.
Ariette is one of the members of the solidarity fund set up by Caritas in Labiche, in the south of Haiti. The women who are part of the fund are taught techniques so they can grow kitchen gardens.
“Thanks to the training I’ve received from Natasha, who’s an agronomist, I now have a lovely garden full of chilli peppers,” says Jaunasse, another member of the project. “What I make from selling my produce at the market is enough to feed my family well, buy uniforms and school books and pay for my children’s education.”
“Today is a day of hope,” says Haman Abdou. “Thanks to Caritas’s help, I know that I’ll have something to sow in my field once the rains begin to fall.”
In Niger, Caritas helps small farmers face up to climate change by giving them drought-resistant seeds or by digging wells so women don’t have to walk miles to draw water.
In North Kivu, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Adèle and a dozen other women are working hard in their field. “We’ve sown a crop of peanuts and we’re just pulling up some weeds so they don’t take over everything,” she says.
“Up to 60 women are now part of the project and we’ve been given seeds for peanuts, green beans and peas. With the first harvest we’ve bought maize seeds and look at the result! We’ve got two hectares of good maize that we’re going to be able to harvest soon.”
This project enables women who have survived war and the worst violence to take control of their lives and improve their families’ lives. Each year, Caritas Internationalis receives the stories of hundreds of men and women who have seen their lives transformed by Caritas projects. These personal stories show us how supporting agriculture is pivotal in the fight against poverty.
One person out of eight in the world goes to bed hungry. The 16th October is World Food Day. This year the theme is “Agricultural cooperatives – key to feeding the world”.
Martina Liebsch, policy director at Caritas Internationalis, says, “Supporting farming, especially on a small scale and kitchen gardens is strategic. It will help thousands of families to become self-sufficient. They will no longer have to rely on commercial food providers but will be able to grow their own food and sell what’s left over at the market.
Also, this will help stop the “exodus” from the countryside. Investing in farming and giving people better access to the land, tools and seeds is key to enabling them to escape poverty.”
This is why Caritas Internationalis joins in with the call of the United Nations to highlight how small farmer should be made a cornerstone of the global fight against poverty and the development of peace.
Appeal Target: US$ 505,271
Balance Requested: US$ 481,852
Geneva, 24 October 2012
Floods and droughts have negatively impacted the food security situation of communities in Malawi. Results of the assessment by Malawi ACT forum members, coupled with results of a food security assessment exercise carried out by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC Forecast – April 2012 to March 2012) show that an estimated total population of 1,630,007 will need food assistance in the 2012/2013 consumption season. The Malawi Food Security Outlook update reports that a total of 3.61 million metric tonnes (MT) of maize will be harvested, and this is not enough to feed the Malawi population currently at 14.8 million. Agricultural production in the most affected areas of the southern region of the country is estimated at 8.6% lower than the average production of 1.1 million MT in the previous five years.
A total approximate population of 480,534 has been affected in the districts of Nsanje, Thyolo, and Balaka where some of the Malawi ACT Forum members (Churches Action in Relief and Development and Blantyre Synod Health and Development Commission) have running programmes. The Malawi ACT forum agreed to respond to the food crisis at its bi-monthly forum meeting held on the 19 th of July, 2012. This was further reiterated during the Malawi Forum annual forum meeting of 5 – 7 September 2012. The situation has now reached crisis levels. Members intend to reach out to about 2.5% of the affected population in the selected three districts. The total number of beneficiaries translates to approximately 12, 013 for the planned response.
Specifically the response by the Malawi ACT forum members intend to achieve the following objectives.
WASHINGTON, October 23, 2012 – The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved US$25 million to boost the productivity of Tanzania’s agriculture sector through timely delivery of seeds and fertilizer to 300,000 farmers, and additional financing of US$30 million to enable farmers to access the latest in agricultural knowledge, farm technology and irrigation infrastructure. The funds will be provided by the International Development Association.*
The funding comes at a time of rising grain and fertilizer prices, and investments in the rural farm economy are needed to help small farmers to get inputs, extension services and access to local infrastructure. The financing will support seed and fertilizer subsidies under Tanzania’s flagship National Agricultural Input Voucher Scheme (NAIVS) that has already distributed over 15 million vouchers to over 2.5 million farm households, enabling purchase and application of more than 500,000 tons of fertilizer and 50,000 tons of improved seed. These inputs have increased production of 1.5 million tons of additional maize and rice reducing the country’s dependence on costly grain imports and food aid.
The additional resources will support local investments under the Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP) to increase smallholder crop and livestock productivity and farm incomes by strengthening small scale irrigation development, farmer capacity building and service delivery and market linkages. The program has noted substantial gains, including rehabilitation and establishment of 120,822 hectares in irrigation contributing to a 48 percent gain in total irrigated area, which has led to a doubling of irrigated rice productivity. The number of farmers using improved seeds and farm mechanization has also increased.
“Increasing the productivity of Tanzania’s farm sector is essential for meeting national economic growth targets, boosting food availability and protecting the environment,” said Philippe Dongier, World Bank Country Director for Tanzania. “This support is designed to help Tanzania achieve the goal of five percent agricultural growth rate and give farmers access to latest knowledge, technology and infrastructure.”
Agriculture is the primary economic activity for 80 percent of Tanzania’s population. The Agricultural Sector Development Program (ASDP) is Tanzania’s primary tool for implementing its growth strategy for the farm sector as outlined in Mkukuta II, the national development plan.
“Achieving income growth and food security are closely inter-linked and both depend on the sustained adoption of modern agricultural technologies,” said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Sustainable Development in Africa. “Our support for Tanzania’s farm economy is designed to offset the risks posed by spiking food and fertilizer prices and climate change by equipping farmers with the necessary tools to increase food production to reduce dependence on imports and mitigate impact of climatic shocks” .
“Recent impact surveys indicate that the improved seed and fertilizer made available through the subsidy program have increased average maize yields by 1.2 tons per hectare, and increased average rice yields by 0.6 tons per hectare,” said Tijan Sallah, World Bank Sector Manager Agriculture, Rural Development and Irrigation. “We look forward to effective implementation of these projects for the benefit of all Tanzanians.”
The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing loans (called “credits”) and grants for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 81 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.5 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 108 countries. Annual commitments have increased steadily and averaged about $15 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent of commitments going to Africa.
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AIROBI, 26 October 2012 (IRIN) - The number of flood-affected people in Chad has risen to 700,000, up from 445,000 in September, according to humanitarian agencies, which also report the loss or damage of 255,720 hectares of cropland, 94,211 houses and 1,015 schools. Some 70,000 people have been displaced by the flooding, one of several challenges to the country’s humanitarian situation.
The areas worst affected by the floods include the regions of Moyen Chari, Tanjile, the two Logones, the two Mayo Kebbis and Salamat, according to a 15 October update by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). At least 16 of the country’s 22 regions have been affected, with 20 deaths recorded. As of 13 October, about 18,800 displaced people from Walia District were seeking refuge at two sites on the outskirts of N’djamena, according to a report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
"These are the worst floods that N'djamena has seen since 1962. About 30,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in parts of the city flooded by the Logone and Chari rivers. Thankfully, it looks like the water levels are slowly going back down, but people will need help to rebuild their lives and repair their houses, schools, hygiene facilities and wells," Pierre Péron, a public information officer at the OCHA office in N'djamena, told IRIN.
The current flooding, which started in August, has damaged infrastructure, crops and homes, according to the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
"Over the last two months, the rains have continued steadily while the authorities and humanitarian agencies provided emergency relief to the most affected," said IFRC’s 21 October emergency appeal to help 30,800 people in Mayo Kebbi Est and N’djamena. The organization is requesting 775,716 Swiss francs (US$ 832,265) to cover assistance over a six-month period, with the main needs including emergency health services, clean water, sanitation and hygiene promotion activities, as well as basic household items and protection.
A UN Central Emergency Response Fund grant has also just been approved for $3 million to respond to flooding in the south, according to OCHA’s Peron.
As of 15 October, over three million had been affected by flooding in the West and Central Africa region, according to a situation report by the OCHA.
The flooding in Chad follows a period of high food insecurity in Chad’s Sahelian belt. In Bahr-el-Ghazal, Guéra, Kanem, Ouaddai and Sila regions, food insecurity rates increased from 45 percent in December 2011 to 48 percent in June 2012, according to the UN World Food Programme’s October global food security update.
The number of children being newly admitted for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition, a deadly condition, in Chad’s Sahelian region has been high compared to previous years, according to UNICEF. In 2010, some 59,260 new admissions were recorded; in 2011 that number was 69,936, and from January to August 2012 it was 98,664.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to admit new patients to its emergency feeding programme in eastern Chad, according to an update. At present, more than 1,000 children are being treated in MSF's emergency feeding programme in the eastern Biltine District.
“Since April, more than 500 severely malnourished children requiring intensive care have been admitted to MSF’s nutrition ward in Biltine District hospital. The team hopes the number of admissions will decrease as the harvest comes in and the annual ‘hunger season’ comes to an end,” the update states.
MSF will continue its emergency nutrition programme there until early December.
Chad is also grappling with the growing threat of desert locusts.
"Immature swarms are currently forming in northeast Chad [adjacent to Darfur, Sudan] near Fada and further west," Keith Cressman, the senior locust forecasting officer with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told IRIN. "So far, damage has been reported to pastures and subsistence crops, both important to livelihoods of herders and farmers, respectively."
“The desert locust threat should continue to be monitored in Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania. A potential threat to crops in 2013 exists should locust numbers multiply,” he added.
On 23 October, FAO issued a new locust warning for northwest Africa alerting Algeria, Libya, Mauritania and Morocco to prepare for the likely arrival of locust swarms from the Sahel.
"Any locust infestations that can be found and treated now will decrease the scale of migration from the Sahel to northwest Africa and also reduce the threat to crops in the Sahel that are about to be harvested," said Cressman.
Control operations underway in Niger and Chad
As the seasonal rains have ended in the Sahel and vegetation is drying out, Desert Locusts are concentrating and increasing in density in the few areas that are still green. Although current control operations are reducing locust numbers and infestations in Niger and Chad, migration to Northwest Africa is imminent, albeit on a smaller scale, since it is difficult to find and control all locust infestations in the northern Sahel.
In Chad, control operations are in progress against small swarms that continue to form in the northeast near Fada. In Niger, control teams are treating small groups of hoppers and adults that are forming near Tahoua, on the Tamesna Plains and along the western side of the Air Mountains. A few hopper bands have also been reported. The situation in northern Mali is expected to be similar to that in Niger and Chad but this cannot be confirmed due to insecurity. National survey teams continue to monitor cropping areas in central Mali where only a few isolated locusts have been detected so far.
As vegetation continues to dry out in the Sahel, more small groups and swarms are expected to form in Chad, Mali and Niger. In the coming weeks, they will migrate towards the north and west to western and central Libya, southern and central Algeria, and northwest Mauritania. Some swarms could reach western Algeria, southern Morocco and Western Sahara. The swarms are likely to settle in areas that receive rainfall where they will mature and lay eggs in about December. There is also a risk that a few swarms could move towards cropping areas in central and western Mali.
Local breeding is currently underway in northwest and central Mauritania where control operations are in progress against groups of hoppers and adults.
All countries in the Region have been informed to remain on high alert and take the necessary precautions. In addition, all efforts should continue to maintain and expand survey and control operations in the areas presently infested in Chad, Niger and Mauritania.
Elsewhere, control operations are underway in northern Sudan against groups of hoppers and adults near Khartoum. Low numbers of locusts recently arrived on the Red Sea coastal plains from the summer breeding areas in the interior of the country.