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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Ethiopia, Somalia
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    Source: International Peace Institute
    Country: Mali

    As voters prepare for a second round of voting in presidential elections on August 11, international attention is already focusing on the multiple challenges facing Mali and the international community in the months ahead. As was widely anticipated, former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita came in first in the July 28 first round with 39.2% of the vote, and in second place, former finance minister Soumaila Cisse.

    Whichever one wins the August 11 runoff, the makeup of the new cabinet will not be radically different from its predecessors. This is both good and bad news. The next government will enjoy the formal legitimacy of an internationally validated national election, succeeding the post-February 2012 coup leaders and the transitional government. The reappearance of the traditional political elite with a new mandate also suggests, however, that some of the bad governance practices of the past will not have been completely eradicated. According to a poll published in February 2013, the majority of Malians pointed to “the incompetence of the political class” as the number one cause of the crisis. Many former government officials directly or indirectly have profited from drug smuggling networks, or maintained political viability by looking the other way.

    The first challenge for the new government then will be to prove to its citizens, particularly the disadvantaged and disempowered tribal leadership and population in the north, that the government will truly attend to their most basic requirements. This means entering in coming weeks into the “national dialogue” with Tuareg and other northern representatives as set forth in the Ougadougou agreement of June 18, 2013 and endorsed in the mandate of MINUSMA, the new UN peacekeeping force, in Security Council Resolution 2100. The national dialogue alone will be very difficult, as the opening position of the northern representatives is for full autonomy for Azawad (as they call the northern half of Mali) whereas the government clearly wants to maintain a unified sovereign state. It will need a strong independent mediator to prevent the dialogue from deteriorating into an impasse.

    The second challenge will be to craft, with the assistance of the United Nations, the African Union, and the European Union, a meaningful development strategy for the north. The donors conference in Brussels pledged 3.25 billion euros in development aid. The United States and other western states had pressed for the quick convening of national elections in order to be able to resume their development and aid programs. As with many other similar commitments, these internationally pledged funds will now have to be mobilized, and transformed into specific development projects. Unless these projects are forthcoming and developed in a transparent visible manner within the next year or so, further disillusionment is almost inevitable.

    The third challenge will be mobilizing a sustainable security structure to prevent renewal of the radical Islamic insurgency of the north which in part precipitated the February 2012 coup. This in turn has several components. First will be standing up and deploying the estimated 12,000 MINUSMA contingents into southern Mali. These are mostly African troops from the preceding African Union force AFISMA. The recent decision of the Nigerian government to withdraw its 1,400 troops from MINUSMA in order to deal with the Boko Haram insurgency can only slow down deployment.

    Second, MINUSMA is charged with “rebuilding the Malian security sector, especially the police and gendarmerie… developing and implementing programs for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of former combatants and militias.” The recent experience of the UN in seeking to implement DDR programs in Cote d’Ivoire underscores the inherently difficult political issues involved. The retraining of the Malian army will also prove a political as well as a technical challenge. The army’s support is essential for a viable transition. Personal and political differences, as well as the army’s defeat at the hands of the radical Islamists, triggered the February 2012 coup in the first place.

    In sum, the next Malian government and the international community face a new opportunity to begin to seek the tangible (not just verbal) re-unification of the fractured country, to initiate a few visible development projects, and to rebuild the Malian armed forces. It is also a tall order, given the history of Mali’s corrupt political class, MINUSMA’s level of preparedness and capacity, and the complexity of coordinating UN, AU, and EU security and development programs. The roles of France, with its 3,000 troops still in the north (this number will be further reduced to 2,000 in September and 1000 by the end of the year), and the United States, with its leverage in the Security Council and aid resources, will also remain key to the future.

    John Hirsch is Senior Adviser to the Africa program at the International Peace Institute.

    Originally published in the Global Observatory


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    Source: University of Texas at Austin
    Country: Kenya, Mali, Somalia, World, South Sudan (Republic of)
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    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    CCAPS research provides a critical overview of the literature on ‘complex emergencies,’ including the broad range of data and definitions available, before suggesting a revised definition and typology of this commonly used, yet poorly understood, concept. The components, causes, and consequences of complex emergencies, as well as the variation of possible responses, are explored. Co-occurring instabilities including environmental disasters, conflicts, poverty, epidemics, and migration assemble to create acute, chronic, urban, and protracted complex emergency types. Through a deductive method, this brief proposes a framework to distinguish a complex emergency from ongoing conflicts within developing regions, based on aggregation of multiple political, social, economic, and physical instabilities.


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    Source: University of Texas at Austin
    Country: Malawi
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    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    Little is known about how donors are addressing the three core aspects of food security – access, availability, and utilization – and whether food security programs are primarily geared towards short-term assistance or long-term development objectives. This brief presents a new methodology for tracking aid for food security, designed to capture robust information on food security activities at the aid project level. To pilot this method, researchers coded and mapped all available official development assistance projects, active between 1996 and 2010, from five major donors in Malawi. This study found that approximately 29 percent of development activities across these donors were relevant to food security, a figure much higher than the average percentage of development assistance spent on food security across developing countries. However, the individual approaches of donors vary considerably between availability, access, and utilization. Combined with mapping of project locations, this new food security coding represents a key step in understanding how donors are approaching food insecurity in developing countries. This tracking effort can lead to better targeting of food security programs, as well as increased donor coordination.


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    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Niger, Nigeria
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    FAITS SAILLANTS

    • Les prix des céréales en baisse dans plusieurs régions avec des variations d’une région à l’autre, selon les produits

    • Aucun cas de choléra depuis deux semaines dans le foyer de Téra

    • Des cours de mise à niveau d’enfants réfugiés du camp d’Intikane en vue d’une bonne rentrée 2013-2014.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    08/09/2013 02:12 GMT

    by Stephane Barbier

    BAMAKO, August 9, 2013 (AFP) - Two veterans of Malian politics face off Sunday in the second round of a presidential election intended to turn the page on months of unrest after a coup, Islamist insurgency and French military intervention.

    The vote, the first since 2007, is seen as critical to unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised after international donors halted contributions in the wake of the military mutiny in March last year.

    Former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and ex-finance minister Soumaila Cisse go into the run-off after none of the 27 candidates achieved an outright majority in the first round on July 28.

    Keita, who is considered the frontrunner, ran a nationalist campaign under the slogan "For Mali's honour", promising to restore the country's dignity after the humiliation of having to call for France's help to prevent the country from breaking up.

    With the official campaign period ending on Friday, both candidates have been horse-trading behind the scenes to get the crucial backing of the 25 candidates eliminated in the first round, whose support accounted for more than a quarter of the vote.

    Keita, widely known as IBK, claims to have the support of most of the also-rans and is backed by Mali's influential religious establishment, but Cisse has been endorsed by Adema, Mali's largest political party, which can mobilise tens of thousands of members.

    In his first public comments since winning a first round marred by accusations of fraud, Keita urged voters on Sunday to hand him a "clear and clean" majority in the run-off to ensure victory couldn't be "stolen".

    Keita, 68, finished more than 20 percentage points ahead of 63-year-old Cisse but the runner-up complained about widespread ballot-stuffing while more than 400,000 ballots from a turnout of 3.5 million were declared spoiled.

    Mali's Constitutional Court rejected the allegations, however, confirming Keita had won 39.8 percent of the vote, while Cisse had garnered 19.7 percent.

    "By giving me about 40 percent of the vote and a wide lead over the other candidates, the Malian people have expressed a clear first choice," Keita said in a speech at his campaign headquarters in the capital Bamako.

    "On August 11, I ask you to amplify your vote, I ask you to give me a clear and clean majority, a majority beyond dispute which will give me the power to lead the national recovery to which you aspire."

    Keita and Cisse faced off once before in the 2002 presidential election, both losing to Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown in the March 2012 military coup led by Captain Amadou Sanogo.

    The chaos following the mutiny opened the way for the Tuareg separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) to seize the towns and cities of Mali's vast northern desert with the help of allied Islamist groups.

    The MNLA was then sidelined by its one-time allies, extremists who imposed a brutal version of shariah law in the north and destroyed historic buildings and artifacts in the fabled desert city of Timbuktu.

    When the Islamists pushed south toward Bamako in January, French President Francois Hollande deployed more than 4,000 troops who forced the militants back into the country's mountains and desert.

    Mali remains the continent's third-largest gold producer but its $10.6 billion economy contracted 1.2 percent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

    The impoverished north is home predominantly to lighter-skinned Tuareg and Arab populations who accuse the sub-Saharan ethnic groups that live in the more prosperous south -- including Bamako -- of marginalising them.

    The MNLA's top representative in Europe said on Sunday the movement would resume fighting if no negotiated solution were reached to grant autonomy to the northern homeland they call Azawad.

    "We are going to make a proposal... for an autonomy agreement with the central government in Bamako," Moussa Ag Assarid told a forum organised by a separatist Corsican party on the French island.

    "We will continue our struggle democratically but we will take up arms again if we have to," he added.

    The MNLA and the authorities in Bamako reached a deal in June that allowed Malian troops to enter the northern rebel bastion of Kidal ahead of the July 28 presidential vote.

    The agreement sealed in neighbouring Burkina Faso provides for talks on Azawad's autonomy to start between the rebels and the new administration 60 days after a cabinet is formed.

    Around 100 MNLA supporters demonstrated on Tuesday in Kidal to demand the release of fighters detained in Bamako, in line with another provision in the deal.

    A 12,600-strong UN peacekeeping operation took over from African-led forces in Mali on July 1, while France expects to keep 1,000 troops inside the country until the end of the year.

    str-ft/hmn

    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Mali

    BAMAKO/MOPTI, 9 August 2013 (IRIN) - Billions of dollars of foreign aid are poised for release following Mali’s successful transition to a democratically elected president. But before donors turn on the aid spigot, they should reconsider how aid is channelled in Mali, to mitigate the misappropriation of funds that exacerbated the conflict in the first place.

    Mali’s new president will face the usual development challenges endemic to the region, but the political and security crises in Mali have highlighted a new set of aid priorities. This transition period presents Mali and its donors with the opportunity to address systemic issues that previously impeded development: ethnic tensions, poor governance and economic disenfranchisement.

    Better accounting

    Mali is heavily dependent on foreign aid. The suspension of aid flows following the 2012 coup d’état devastated the economy, contributing to the first contraction in GDP growth since 1993, a potentially poor reflection on the resiliency of previous development projects.

    A 2011 European Commission study on direct budget assistance to Mali noted “significant weaknesses in treasury management and in public accounting.” Improving transparency and accountability would go a long way toward improving the population’s confidence in their leadership, say analysts and community leaders.

    For years, the Malian government announced major infrastructure and development projects in the north, but channelled funds through local elites who did not invest these funds in services for the population. “The government and international partners didn’t work through civil society associations or local government, but with nefarious individuals based upon their personal relationships,” said Timbuktu-based community leader Mohamed Ibrahim Cissé.

    Much of the funding was not transparently monitored, empowering corruption and deteriorating Malians’ faith in their leadership.

    Foster reconciliation

    Ethnic tensions have been inflamed by the recent conflict. Many black Malians from the Bambara, Songhaï and Fulani ethnicities express thinly veiled disdain for light-skinned Tuaregs. In Mopti, in central Mali, Jaousin Traoré dismissed Tuareg grievances of underdevelopment and years of central government neglect. “It is in the culture of Tuaregs to rebel once aid money runs out,” he explained. “Large amounts of resources have been sent to the north, but Tuaregs do not want to work.”

    Conversely, Tuareg and Arab populations from the north feel persecuted and marginalized by an administration controlled by ethnic groups from the south. A municipal councillor from Timbuktu remarked, “For the Malian army, if you have white skin, you are already guilty; you are already suspected [as a traitor].”

    Recent reports of ethnic clashes in northern cities have only heightened these tensions.

    Before the rebuilding and development process can begin, divided communities must re-establish trust. Donors can support this by promoting inter-communal dialogue and cooperation through community projects.

    Decentralize aid and its monitoring

    The political and security crises resulted in a population disillusioned by their political institutions and a breakdown of already tenuous inter-communal relations. Addressing that these issues stem from poor oversight and corruption could go a long way toward the reconciliation of communities.

    Between 1996 and 2005, official development assistance made up 27.6 percent of the state’s general budget. “Delivering aid through the national government has huge problems. It doesn’t have a well-structured channel for distribution and administrators are not well trained,” confided a project chief from an international NGO in Mali.

    Decentralizing aid management would help tackle these problems. Shifting monitoring mechanisms over to the local community would hold recipients more accountable for funds and increase local ownership, say experts.

    Central government involvement may be unavoidable when pursuing large-scale projects, but it often makes processes more cumbersome and results in the creation of parallel structures.

    The French Ministry of Development has recognized this need for local-level monitoring and plans to launch a pilot project that will set up a website displaying the status of all its Mali projects. People can phone in or update the website if a project is delayed.

    Emergency aid needs persist

    In the immediate term, international organizations must continue to provide emergency humanitarian assistance, stress residents of the north.

    There are over 350,000 internally displaced Malians and 175,000 refugees in neighbouring countries, all of whom require food, water, basic healthcare and shelter.

    Conflict significantly disrupted economic activity and the delivery of basic social services in the north. Many pastoralists, farmers and traders were forced to abandon their herds, fields and businesses. Like many of his friends, Mahoumoud Cheibani fled Timbuktu to seek refuge in Bamako. He believes “some refugees would prefer to stay in their camps because they have nothing to return to”.

    Following the retreat of the Malian administration, many public buildings and services were looted or destroyed. The International Committee of the Red Cross provided fuel to power generators and water pumping stations in the northern cities of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal during 2012, but services were only maintained at a minimum level. All three regional capitals in the north lack the pre-conflict levels of potable water, electricity and medical services. As a result, the UN has warned of acute humanitarian needs in cities like Gao.

    The gradual return of internally displaced persons and refugees to the north will further strain limited social services. A struggling Malian government will need assistance repairing infrastructure and restoring services needed to meet the most basic needs of northern inhabitants.

    Livelihood support

    With the average Malian living on less than $2 per day, most of those displaced by the conflict do not have the capital to rebuild their livelihoods. Helping them do so will prevent dependency on emergency relief efforts and promote peace, stability and longer-term development.

    In a displaced camp near Mopti, camp director Modibo Tounkara is cataloguing the names, occupations and hometowns of residents, with the goal of reintegrating these displaced persons into their communities. But returning is financially difficult because “they lost everything,” Tounkara says. “They want to go back. They want to work. But they don’t have the money to start over.”

    Dramane Diakité of the Mopti Chamber of Commerce advised future partners to pursue private-sector approaches that would lay the ground work for sustainable economic growth in local communities, paraphrasing the well-known Bambara proverb: “Instead of giving a man a fish, teach him to fish.”

    Prevent an unemployed youth time-bomb

    Mali is also undergoing a demographic transition as its youth population surges. Mamadou Coulibaly from the National Council of Youth in Bamako expressed concern over the 300,000 who enter the job market each year but are unable to find work.

    Without integration into the formal economy, it is unsurprising that many young Tuaregs and Arabs pursued activities in the lucrative illicit economy, say analysts. Continued economic marginalization will make any successes in disarmament and demobilization short-lived.

    A Tuareg local government official from Kidal warned, “An unemployed person in Kidal is dangerous, very dangerous… There isn’t one person in Kidal who doesn’t have a gun.”

    Northern populations use small arms as a means of insurance against crime and overzealous military intimidation. The influx of weapons in the region after the fall of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and the introduction of improvised explosive devices by al-Qaeda-linked militants have only compounded the problem.

    Fernando Arroyo, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Mali, has also raised concerns about the proliferation of unexploded ordnance in the region, which could pose continued risk to local populations for years to come.

    ew/fm/aj/rz


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    Source: Internews Network
    Country: Kenya, Somalia

    Created on July 27, 2013 by Anahi.

    In August 2011 Internews conducted an assessment in Dadaab on Information needs. In light of the findings of that assessment with regard to mobile phone access in the camps, Internews decided to partner with Souktel to provide the Humanitarian Information Service Project in Dadaab with key mobile technology components to directly communicate with local communities using mobile phones.

    Based on Souktel experience and expertise in the region, and in partnering with Star FM, this system will create a customized SMS-based informational alert and survey/opinion polling systems for the HIS.

    The SMS systems will be used for a variety of media-integrated service. This will enable, to name a few:

    · listeners to "text" in their questions and feedback to the HIS/radio station in real-time;

    · for the radio station to send out news updates, informational announcements and emergency alerts to subscribed listeners;

    · the radio station will be able to launch surveys of listeners to assess listener satisfaction

    · the radio station will be able to run opinion polls of the audience, on everything from content feedback (i.e., "which topics do you want to hear more about? 1 = health services 2 = education services 3 = food distribution 5 = family reunification"), to "plot polling" (i.e., for radio shows that have plot-driven character narratives, you can survey the audience to "help" the character make the right choice - ex. "How should Abdullah react to finding out his wife works outside the home? 1 = he should strike her for not obeying 2 = he should talk to her about how he feels about it 3 = he should make her new boss fire her 4 = he should congratulate her).

    All SMS-based interactions with the system (i.e. texting in feedback, responding to surveys and opinion polls) will be the cost of a local SMS for the listener, as Souktel will set up a dedicated local number for the news service.

    Souktel will carry out the following connectivity processes for Internews.

    a) Negotiation and signature of network gateway contracts and bulk SMS pricing plans with mobile networks and/or third-party mobile network gateway access providers, to enable SMS messaging to/from service users in Kenya via messaging gateway.

    b) Connectivity activation, testing, and de-bugging of components described in coordination with mobile networks and/or third-party mobile network gateway access providers.

    c) Ongoing purchasing of all outgoing bulk SMS messages, upon request of Internews, in coordination with mobile networks and/or third-party mobile network gateway access providers.

    Once it completes each milestone, Souktel will provide all back-end database server hosting for the SMS messaging service and software platform. Souktel will also provide in-person training to Internews staff, and technical support.

    We are very excited about this project because we have been trying to work with Souktel for very long time. Knowing and following their projects from the Mali Speaks project to the JobMatch project in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, we are very happy to finally be working with them in Dadaab and hopefully expand in other places soon.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    08/09/2013 15:30 GMT

    by Stephane Barbier

    BAMAKO, August 9, 2013 (AFP) - Campaigning wrapped up in Mali for Sunday's presidential election runoff which will see two veterans of politics face off in a vote intended to end months of unrest after a coup, Islamist insurgency and French military intervention.

    The vote, the first since 2007, is critical to unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised after international donors halted contributions in the wake of a military mutiny in March last year.

    Former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and ex-finance minister Soumaila Cisse go into the runoff after none of the 27 candidates achieved an outright majority in the first round on July 28.

    Campaigning, which officially ends on Friday, has been largely dull in the days leading up to Sunday's vote. Cities and towns were deserted Thursday as Malians -- over 90 percent of whom are Muslims -- stayed home to celebrate Eid.

    Keita, who is considered the frontrunner, has refused to participate in a television debate suggested by his rival Cisse, saying he prefered to spend his time "meeting electors".

    The 68-year-old had finished the first round with more than 20 percentage points ahead of 63-year-old Cisse.

    However, Cisse remained optimistic about his presidential bid.

    "I am confident, because it is not about adding to the votes from the first round, there will be new votes, it is a new election," Cisse told AFP.

    "Everything restarts from zero."

    Cisse had complained about widespread ballot-stuffing in the first round while more than 400,000 ballots from a turnout of 3.5 million were declared spoiled.

    Mali's Constitutional Court rejected the allegations, however, confirming Keita had won 39.8 percent of the vote, while Cisse had garnered 19.7 percent.

    Keita urged voters to hand him a "clear and clean" majority in the runoff to ensure victory couldn't be "stolen".

    "I ask you to give me a clear and clean majority, a majority beyond dispute which will give me the power to lead the national recovery to which you aspire," he said.

    Keita, widely known as IBK, claims to have the support of most of the also-rans and is backed by Mali's influential religious establishment, but Cisse has been endorsed by Adema, Mali's largest political party, which can mobilise tens of thousands of members.

    The two rivals both lost the 2002 presidential election to Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown in the March 2012 military coup led by Captain Amadou Sanogo.

    The chaos following the mutiny opened the way for the Tuareg separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) to seize the towns and cities of Mali's vast northern desert with the help of allied Islamist groups.

    The MNLA was then sidelined by its one-time allies, extremists who imposed a brutal version of shariah law in the north and destroyed historic buildings and artifacts in the desert city of Timbuktu.

    When the Islamists pushed south toward Bamako in January, France deployed troops who forced the militants back into the country's mountains and desert.

    Mali remains the continent's third-largest gold producer but its $10.6 billion economy contracted 1.2 percent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

    The impoverished north is home predominantly to lighter-skinned Tuareg and Arab populations who accuse the sub-Saharan ethnic groups that live in the more prosperous south -- including Bamako -- of marginalising them.

    The MNLA's top representative in Europe said the movement would resume fighting on Sunday if no negotiated solution were reached to grant autonomy to the northern homeland they call Azawad.

    The MNLA and the authorities in Bamako reached a deal in June that allowed Malian troops to enter the northern rebel bastion of Kidal ahead of the July 28 presidential vote.

    A 12,600-strong UN peacekeeping operation took over from African-led forces in Mali on July 1, while France expects to keep 1,000 troops inside the country until the end of the year.

    str-ft/hmn/mfp


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    Source: Southern African Development Community
    Country: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
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    Regional Summary

    ♦ The Regional cereal harvest for 2013 is estimated at 35.11 million tonnes, representing a 0.2% increase over the 35.02 harvested in 2012. However, this year’s estimated Regional cereal production is 5% above the average Regional cereal production for the last five years (Table 1).

    ♦ The Region (excluding DRC, Madagascar and Seychelles) has recorded an overall cereal deficit of 3.93 million tonnes, which is almost equal to the 3.98 million tonnes deficit recorded during the 2012/13 marketing year (Table 3 & 4)

    ♦ Compared to 2012 harvest, all countries except Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe experienced increases in cereal production (Table 1).

    ♦ The current national and household level food security situation has improved in many parts of the Region due to the coming in of the newly harvested crop from the 2012/13 agricultural season.

    ♦ Although staple food prices are beginning to show a declining trend in many parts of the Region, they still remain higher than those at the same time last season and the last 5 year average food prices (Figure 2).

    ♦ The 2013 Regional vulnerability assessments indicate that the number of the food insecure population is up 19% from about 12 million last year to about 14 million this year (Table 2).


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    Source: World Food Programme
    Country: Malawi

    As the global coordinator for WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) pilot, I visited Malawi in July to review the challenges facing smallholder farmers and how P4P might build on progress made to date. These are a few of my observations.

    Flying into Malawi, nestled between Africa’s southernmost Great Lake and the lush hills of the Rift Valley, one can clearly see from the air the country’s deforested hills and depleted soils. This combination presents daunting challenges for Malawi’s farmers, most of whom rely on semi-subsistence rain-fed production to feed their families and earn a decent living.

    One might say that the P4P pilot initiative in Malawi is experimenting with a two-track approach: one bottom-up by working directly with smallholder farmers’ organizations and the other top-down by working through the Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa (ACE) to engage various stakeholders in using the commodity exchange as a marketing platform. A nascent Warehouse Receipt System (WRS), affiliated to ACE, provides guaranteed storage and quality control for buyers and sellers.

    Value chain

    WFP offers a reliable market opportunity for farmers’ organizations (FOs) and to small and medium traders who can supply high-quality staple commodities, particularly white maize and pulses. Through P4P, we work closely with numerous partners at different points along the value chain to improve the capacities of smallholder farmers. To date, P4P and partners have provided hands-on training to some 15,000 farmers who belong to participating farmers’ organizations. The farmers have been trained in various skills including : organizational management and business planning; improved production and post-harvest handling; quality control; storage facility management; marketing; and conservation agriculture.

    Continuous increase in purchases from smallholder farmers

    WFP Malawi purchases almost 70 percent of its food locally. Since the inception of P4P in 2009, WFP has purchased almost 52,000 metric tons of commodities through ACE or directly from farmers’ groups, putting an extra US$ 14 million directly into the pockets of the smallholder farmers and into the local economy. The food is used in WFP programmes in Malawi and neighbouring countries for activities such as school meals, food for assets, refugee rations and maternal child health programmes. Purchases from farmers’ organizations continue to increase as more FOs meet WFP’s quality standards, minimal contract sizes and strict delivery requirements.

    Applying knowledge from P4P training to other markets

    During the visit, I met the members of Cheka FO in Ntchisi district. The FO had recently received a ‘Certificate of Graduation’ as a result of their good performance in marketing to WFP and others. This means that they have graduated from a ‘direct purchase’ modality (a negotiated contract), to a competitive procurement modality through the internet-based trading platform of ACE.

    Matthews Kamphambe, the chairman of Cheka FO, told me that last year the FO sold maize to a large agro-dealer as well as to WFP.

    “We got a good price, as we sold later in the season,” he said.

    He attributes this success to the training and experience he and his colleagues got over the past three years.

    Cheka is now applying their improved knowledge of warehouse management and marketing to the other products that they aggregate.

    “We offer our members the possibility of getting paid when they bring their commodities to the warehouse - or to wait to get paid a better price when we find a market,” explained Matthews. Last season we didn’t have any farmers asking for upfront payment because they now believe that it’s better when we all sell together. And we always encourage our members to keep enough for their families before deciding to sell.”

    Optimism despite challenges

    As part of the ‘graduation strategy’, WFP’s P4P team in Malawi seeks to help farmers progress from semi-subsistence agriculture to become empowered market actors. As in all P4P pilot countries, many challenges remain, such as access to affordable financial services, poor roads and insufficient storage infrastructure.

    Fortunately, many FOs in Malawi are steadily overcoming these obstacles through their own initiative, hard work and persistence. There is certainly enormous potential to strengthen WFP’s partnerships with other organizations to support conservation agriculture, improve access to farm inputs and financial services, and to enhance further both production and market access.

    Ken Davies, WFP's Purchase for Progress (P4P) Global Coordinator


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    08/09/2013 19:26 GMT

    Par Stéphane BARBIER

    BAMAKO, 9 août 2013 (AFP) - La campagne pour le second tour de la présidentielle de dimanche au Mali entre Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta et Soumaïla Cissé s'est achevée vendredi, un scrutin à l'issue duquel l'un de ces deux hommes aura à redresser un pays sorti exsangue de 18 mois de crise politico-militaire.

    Hormis quelques réunions publiques, cette campagne a été terne et peu animée.

    Les deux candidats ont dû attendre la publication des résultats définitifs du premier tour du 28 juillet par la Cour constitutionnelle, qui n'est intervenue que mercredi. Le lendemain, jeudi, a coïncidé avec l'Aïd el-Fitr, marquant la fin d'un mois de jeûne pour les musulmans, et aucune activité politique ne s'est tenue à Bamako.

    Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK), 68 ans, ex-Premier ministre, et Soumaïla Cissé, 63 ans, ex-ministre, ont annulé des meetings prévus vendredi à Bamako, leur préférant de petits rassemblements, animations et caravanes sillonnant les rues.

    IBK a refusé de participer à un débat télévisé que lui avait proposé son adversaire.

    A l'issue d'une rencontre vendredi avec des artisans et commerçants dans un hôtel de Bamako, Soumaïla Cissé a néanmoins affiché sa confiance en la victoire.

    "Je suis confiant, car il ne s'agit pas de compléter les votes du premier tour, il y aura de nouveaux votes, c'est une nouvelle élection", a affirmé M. Cissé à l'AFP.

    Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta s'est aussi déclaré "serein et confiant" en sa victoire dans un entretien avec l'AFP et la Radio-télévision suisse (RTS).

    "Au vu des résultats affichés au premier tour, il y a une bonne chance que cela se concrétise au second", a-t-il affirmé, souhaitant "que les choses se passent dans l'ordre et l'équité".

    "Ma première priorité sera la réconciliation du pays. (...) Après le traumatisme qu'il a subi, il faut (pour le Mali) un nouveau départ", a-t-il ajouté.

    Poursuite des opérations de sécurisation dans le Nord

    M. Keïta est arrivé en tête du premier tour avec 39,79% des voix, suivi de M. Cissé (19,70%). Tous deux ont, depuis, multiplié les négociations pour obtenir les ralliements des 25 autres candidats éliminés.

    Le camp d'IBK affirme avoir obtenu le ralliement de 22 candidats et Soumaïla Cissé celui d'un autre ex-Premier ministre, Modibo Sidibé, arrivé quatrième avec près de 5% des voix, ainsi que celui de Tiébilé Dramé, artisan d'un accord entre le régime de transition à Bamako et des groupes armés touareg.

    Sur le papier, IBK apparaît donc largement favori, mais Soumaïla Cissé compte sur une partie de près de 400.000 bulletins déclarés nuls au premier tour et sur une mobilisation des abstentionnistes pour remonter son handicap apparent.

    En dépit de craintes d'attentats de la part de groupes jihadistes liés à Al-Qaïda qui avaient occupé tout le nord du Mali pendant neuf mois en 2012, avant d'en être chassés par une intervention armée internationale initiée par la France, le premier tour s'était déroulé dans le calme et sans incidents majeurs.

    Vendredi, selon l'état-major de l'armée française, les soldats français poursuivaient la sécurisation de la zone de Kidal (extrême nord-est) et de l'ensemble du nord du Mali au côté de l'armée malienne et de la force de l'ONU, menant "des opérations de fouille" au sol et de survol par des avions de chasse.

    Lors du premier tour, des dysfonctionnements ont été constatés sans remettre en cause les résultats, selon les observateurs nationaux et internationaux et la Cour constitutionnelle.

    Ce premier tour avait fortement mobilisé les Maliens, avec un taux de participation de 48,9% jamais égalé pour ce type de scrutin, signe de leur volonté de tourner la page d'un an et demi de tourmente.

    Cette sombre période de l'histoire du Mali a débuté en janvier 2012 par une offensive de rebelles touareg dans le nord du pays, suivie le 22 mars 2012 par un coup d'Etat qui a renversé le président élu Amadou Toumani Touré. S'en est suivi la prise de contrôle du Nord par des groupes criminels et des jihadistes qui ont humilié l'armée, commis de nombreuses exactions avant d'être chassés en 2013 par l'intervention militaire de la France aux côtés d'armées africaines.

    Ce conflit a entraîné un exode massif de populations - environ 500.000 réfugiés et déplacés internes -, plongé le pays dans la récession, accentué la pauvreté et ravivé les haines entre les différentes communautés du pays, Touareg et Arabes d'un côté assimilés aux rebelles et aux jihadistes, Noirs majoritaires de l'autre.

    Le nouveau président aura l'immense mission de redresser le pays, de lui redonner confiance et d'entamer le processus de réconciliation, en particulier avec la minorité Touareg qui vit essentiellement dans le Nord, dont une frange rêve d'indépendance ou au moins d'autonomie.

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    Source: Danish Refugee Council
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali

    Malian refugees and internally displaced persons have expressed a desire to return to their roots of origin. But since the situation is still volatile in the country, Danish Refugee Council does not encourage returns – but is working hard to ensure the prospects for returning.

    More than 500,000 Malians are still displaced following political unrest in the country more than a year ago. More than 300.000 are internally displaced and almost 200,000 are refugees in the neighboring countries. Almost 80 % of the displaced have stated that they would like to return. Among the reasons for this happening now is the upcoming second round of the presidential election, agriculture planting season and re-opening of some schools.

    “Search for pasture, preparation for next year, return to school, the upcoming elections, people coming to verify the status of their homes and belongings; there are several reasons why people are gradually would like to move to Mali, “ says Dominique Koffy, DRC Country Director in Mali.

    But significant obstacles to voluntary and informed returns remain; such as lack of basic services and local administration in areas of origin, precarious security conditions. The returnees lack sufficient food, need to be helped in rebuilding their homes and restocking their animals. Children will also need conditions in regards of safety, teachers and functional schools for returning to school next year.

    “There is often a lack of access for IDPs and refugees to essential information that would allow for informed decision-making on returning. We remain cautious to not engage in activities that may coerce homebound movement while necessary mechanisms are not in place to assure that all returns takes place in safety and dignity,” Domiqique Koffy says.

    Especially with the elections, it has been a hassle to secure the necessary structures to get the displaced the access to voting. A lot of the efforts should be channeled to work on social cohesion and rebuilding resilience capacities at the community level which has been weakened by the unrest. DRC is working hard to ensure the necessary protection for the people being able to return.

    “DRC has been focusing on assure effective protections monitoring in both Burkina Faso and Mali since the beginning of 2013. Monitors have already been reporting key protection concerns and need in both areas of displaced and origin that help to identify, assist and inform the most vulnerable among the affected population,” Dominique Koffy says.

    Following an exploratory mission in late December 2012, DRC has managed to open the Mali and Burkina Faso Missions with DANIDA funding. The presence of protection teams in these volatile bordering areas has allowed to gradually gathering relevant information on protection risks in order to elaborate adequate responses for relevant actors, local authorities, UN and other humanitarian actors.


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    Source: Concern Worldwide
    Country: Malawi

    Thanks to Concern Worldwide’s irrigation farming schemes in Malawi, families like Annie’s are no longer going hungry.

    Heart-breaking hunger

    Annie Kapolo lives in the rural village of Masewe in Malawi. She is only 28 but is the sole provider for her three young children. Before we introduced irrigation farming schemes to the village, families were surviving on just one meal a day. Annie recalled:

    "In the past, my family and I may have had enough from our harvest to get by for eight months of the year. We’d eat a maize porridge twice a day. For the other four months, we never had enough to eat. Sometimes if we ate once a day, we were lucky. It was heart-breaking to see my children go hungry."

    Training new farmers

    But, irrigation farming has changed everything for Annie, her family and her entire village. We provided two treadle pumps for the village and each famer now uses the pump about twice a week. This gives their crops enough water to grow. Our scheme ensures that beginners, like Annie, receive the necessary training to become irrigation farmers. Annie explained:

    "I was shown how to plant the crops so they would get as much of the water we pump from the river as possible."

    Improved farming techniques

    We promote multi-cropping to ensure the best use of the soil. We are continuing to educate the community about the benefits of vegetable gardens and we distribute watering cans and seeds. The benefits are clear to see: maize, pumpkin and cow peas, okra, tomatoes and onions and sweet potato are all prospering in the area.

    Flourishing vegetable gardens

    Annie has recently started her own vegetable garden and hopes it will flourish so she can continue to provide for her young family. She said:

    "Now we all eat three times a day. We have really benefitted from this project."


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    08/10/2013 14:34 GMT

    by Stephane Barbier

    BAMAKO, August 10, 2013 (AFP) - Mali's presidential hopefuls entered a final day of behind-the-scenes preparations Saturday for a crunch election intended to turn the page on a political crisis following a coup that led to an Islamist insurgency and French military intervention.

    Campaigning wrapped up Friday with former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and ex-finance minister Soumaila Cisse both saying they were confident of victory in Sunday's runoff, called after none of the 27 candidates achieved an outright majority on July 28.

    The election, the first since 2007, is crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised after international donors halted contributions in the wake of a military mutiny in March last year.

    The days leading up to the vote have been largely uneventful, with cities and towns deserted as Malians -- over 90 percent of whom are Muslim -- stayed at home to celebrate the Eid festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

    Keita, who is considered the favourite, has refused to participate in a television debate offered by Cisse, saying he preferred to spend his time meeting voters.

    The 68-year-old was more than 20 percentage points ahead of his rival in the first round but Cisse has remained optimistic.

    "I am confident because it is not about adding to the votes from the first round. There will be new votes, it is a new election. Everything restarts from zero," the 63-year-old told AFP.

    Cisse had complained about widespread fraud in the first round while more than 400,000 ballots from a turnout of 3.5 million were declared spoiled.

    Mali's Constitutional Court rejected the allegations, however, confirming Keita had won 39.8 percent, while Cisse attracted a 19.7 percent share.

    Keita has urged voters to hand him a "clear and clean" majority in the runoff to ensure victory cannot be "stolen".

    "Given the results from the first round, there is a good chance that they would be confirmed in the second," he said on Friday.

    "My first priority would be the reconciliation of the country... after the trauma that it has suffered, a new start is needed."

    Keita, widely known as IBK, claims to have the support of most of the candidates eliminated in the first round and is backed by Mali's influential religious establishment, while Cisse has been endorsed by Adema, Mali's largest political party.

    The rivals lost the 2002 presidential election to Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown in the March 2012 military coup led by Captain Amadou Sanogo.

    The chaos following the mutiny opened the way for the Tuareg separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) to seize the towns and cities of Mali's vast northern desert with the help of several Islamist groups.

    The MNLA was then sidelined by its one-time allies, extremists who imposed a brutal version of Islamic shariah law in the region and destroyed historic buildings and artifacts in the desert city of Timbuktu.

    When the Islamists pushed south toward Bamako in January, France deployed troops who forced them back into the country's mountains and vast desert hinterland.

    Mali remains the continent's third-largest gold producer but its $10.6 billion economy contracted 1.2 percent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

    The impoverished north is home predominantly to lighter-skinned Tuareg and Arab populations who accuse the sub-Saharan ethnic groups that live in the more prosperous south of marginalising them.

    The MNLA and another Tuareg group, the High Council for the Unity of Azawad, reached a deal with the government in June that allowed Malian troops to enter the northern rebel bastion of Kidal ahead of the July 28 polls.

    The MNLA has made clear, however, that it will take up arms against the government again if no negotiated solution is reached to grant autonomy to the northern homeland they call Azawad.

    The group released a statement late on Friday with the HCUA and the Arab Movement of Azawad announcing an end to an often violent struggle between the three factions for control of the region.

    The statement, sent to AFP from Nouakchott, the capital of neighbouring Mauritania, pledged to "open a new page in the history of Azawad based on tolerance and overcoming past differences".

    A 12,600-strong UN peacekeeping operation took over from African-led forces in Mali on July 1, while France expects to keep 1,000 troops inside the country until the end of the year.

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    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    08/11/2013 01:57 GMT

    by Stephane Barbier

    BAMAKO, August 11, 2013 (AFP) - Malians will go to the polls Sunday in their millions for a president expected to usher in a new era of peace and democracy in the first election since a military coup upended one of the region's most stable democracies.

    Almost seven million voters have a choice between former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and ex-finance minister Soumaila Cisse to lead the nation from a crisis which allowed Islamists last year to seize Mali's vast desert north before they were dislodged by a French-led military intervention.

    Both declared themselves confident of victory in the runoff, called after none of the 27 candidates in the first round on July 28 achieved an outright majority.

    The election, the first since 2007, is crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised after international donors halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.

    The days leading up to the vote have been largely uneventful, with cities and towns deserted as Malians -- over 90 percent of whom are Muslim -- stayed at home to celebrate the Eid festival marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

    The rivals have faced off before, losing the 2002 presidential election to Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown by a military junta in March 2012 as he was preparing to end his final term in office.

    The return to democratic rule will allow France to withdraw most of the 4,500 troops it sent to Mali in January to oust Al Qaeda-linked extremists who had occupied the north in the chaos which followed the coup, imposing a brutal regime of sharia law characterised by executions and amputations.

    Keita, who is considered the favourite, was more than 20 percentage points ahead of his rival in the first round but Cisse has remained optimistic.

    "I am confident because it is not about adding to the votes from the first round. There will be new votes, it is a new election. Everything restarts from zero," the 63-year-old told AFP.

    Cisse had complained about widespread fraud in the first round while more than 400,000 ballots from a turnout of 3.5 million were declared spoiled.

    Mali's Constitutional Court rejected the allegations, however, confirming that Keita, 68, had won 39.8 percent, while Cisse attracted a 19.7 percent share.

    Keita has urged voters to hand him a "clear and clean" majority in the runoff to ensure victory cannot be "stolen".

    "Given the results from the first round, there is a good chance that they would be confirmed in the second," he said on Friday.

    "My first priority would be the reconciliation of the country... after the trauma that it has suffered, a new start is needed."

    Keita claims to have the support of most of the candidates eliminated in the first round and is backed by Mali's influential religious establishment, while Cisse has been endorsed by Adema, Mali's largest political party.

    A UN peacekeeping mission integrating more than 6,000 African soldiers is charged with ensuring security on Sunday and in the months after the election. By the end of the year it will have grown to 11,200 troops and 1,400 police.

    Mali remains the continent's third-largest gold producer but its $10.6 billion economy contracted 1.2 percent last year, and widespread poverty has contributed to unrest in the north, with several groups vying for control in the vaccuum left when the Islamists fled.

    The region is home predominantly to lighter-skinned Tuareg and Arab populations who accuse the sub-Saharan ethnic groups that live in the more prosperous south of marginalising them.

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    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: UN News Service
    Country: Mali

    9 August 2013 – Ahead of Sunday’s presidential run-off, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is assisting national electoral authorities in getting materials out to remote areas in the north.

    The UN spokesperson in New York, Farhan Haq, said that MINUSMA is “deploying sensitive materials to Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal and Mopti for the second round of presidential elections.”

    As it did in the first round of voting on 28 July, the peacekeeping mission will also support the Malian Defence and Security Forces in implementing the security plan for the elections.

    Mr. Haq said MINUSMA also organized a flight to Néma, Mauritania, to ensure that Malian refugees living in camps there could obtain a voter card. The move is part of UN efforts to increase the number of refugees who are able to vote, he noted.

    The first round of the elections was seen as an important step on the path to recovery for Mali, which, since early 2012, witnessed a military coup d'état, renewed fighting between Government forces and Tuareg rebels, and the seizure of its northern territory by radical Islamists.

    In a statement ahead of the July ballot, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had noted the importance of the election for the restoration of constitutional order and national dialogue and reconciliation in the country.

    He had also cited the need to ensure that any post-election disputes are resolved through peaceful and legal means.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    08/11/2013 15:11 GMT

    by Stephane Barbier

    BAMAKO, August 11, 2013 (AFP) - Malians voted Sunday in a presidential election run-off expected to usher in a new dawn of peace and stability in the conflict-scarred nation.

    An electorate of almost seven million was urged to choose between former premier Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and ex-finance minister Soumaila Cisse to lead Mali's recovery following a military coup that ignited an Islamist insurgency and a French-led military intervention.

    The election, the first since 2007, is crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised after international donors halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.

    Torrential rain hit early turnout, however, with many polling stations in the capital Bamako reporting smaller numbers than during the first round, when a turnout of nearly 50 percent was seen as a key sign that the electoral process would be viewed as credible.

    The rain had stopped by lunchtime and AFP reporters across the capital witnessed a steady stream of voters heading to polling booths.

    A network of some 2,000 independent Malian observers issued a statement welcoming the smooth running of the poll but it noted that fewer voting booths were able to open on time due to the rain in Bamako and the southern towns of Koulikoro and Kayes.

    "The rain is trying to ruin our day. I hope it stops, otherwise they will have to extend the voting hours," said Oumar Toure, one of the few voters who had turned up at the opening of a polling station in a city centre school.

    Both Keita and Cisse have declared themselves confident of victory in the run-off, called after none of the 27 candidates in the first round achieved an outright majority.

    The two men separately appealed for calm among the population in Mali's post-election recovery period after casting their ballots in Bamako.

    The rivals have faced off before, losing the 2002 presidential election to Amadou Toumani Toure, who was overthrown by a military junta in March last year as he was preparing to end his final term in office.

    The return to democratic rule will allow France to withdraw most of the 4,500 troops it sent to Mali in January to oust Al Qaeda-linked extremists who had occupied the north in the chaos that followed the coup, imposing a brutal regime of sharia law characterised by executions and amputations.

    Keita, 68, who is considered the favourite, was more than 20 percentage points ahead of his rival in the first round.

    Cisse, 63, had complained about widespread fraud in the first round while more than 400,000 ballots from a turnout of around 3.5 million were declared spoiled.

    Mali's Constitutional Court rejected the fraud allegations, however, confirming that Keita had won 39.8 percent, while Cisse attracted a 19.7 percent share.

    Keita claims to have the support of most of the candidates eliminated in the first round and is backed by Mali's influential religious establishment, while Cisse has been endorsed by Adema, Mali's largest political party.

    "My first priority would be the reconciliation of the country," Keita said Friday. "After the trauma that it has suffered, a new start is needed."

    A UN peacekeeping mission integrating more than 6,000 African soldiers is charged with ensuring security on Sunday and in the months after the election. By the end of the year it will have grown to 11,200 troops and 1,400 police.

    The country of more than 14 million remains the continent's third-largest gold producer, but its $10.6 billion economy contracted by 1.2 percent last year, and widespread poverty has contributed to unrest in the north, with several armed groups vying for control in the vacuum left when the Islamists fled.

    The region is home predominantly to lighter-skinned Tuareg and Arab populations who accuse the sub-Saharan ethnic groups that live in the more populous and prosperous south of marginalising them.

    In the northern districts of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, polling began in an atmosphere of calm, with reports of strong voter turnout.

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    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    08/11/2013 19:33 GMT

    Par Stéphane BARBIER, Ahamadou CISSE

    BAMAKO, 11 août 2013 (AFP) - Les Maliens ont voté dimanche dans le calme au second tour de la présidentielle, mais moins nombreux qu'au premier tour du 28 juillet, pour élire un nouveau chef de l'Etat qui devra sortir leur pays de dix-huit mois de chaos.

    Le vote, qui opposait deux vétérans de la vie politique malienne, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta dit IBK, 68 ans, donné favori, et Soumaïla Cissé surnommé "Soumi", 63 ans, a été perturbé une partie de la journée par de fortes pluies dans le sud du pays, en particulier dans la capitale, Bamako.

    L'affluence dans les bureaux a été moins importante qu'au premier tour, qui s'était également déroulé dans le calme, ont constaté des journalistes de l'AFP.

    Certains chefs de bureaux de vote à Bamako ont affirmé que la participation n'atteignait pas la moitié de celle atteinte au premier tour, lors duquel le taux d'affluence avait été exceptionnel pour le Mali avec 48,98%.

    Les fortes pluies du matin ne sont pas la seule explication, selon certains électeurs.

    "Ce n'est pas à cause de la pluie seulement", a déclaré l'un d'eux, Ibrahim Tounkara, restaurateur. Selon lui, "les Maliens ont compris que le jeu est déjà fait et qu'IBK va gagner, que ce n'est plus la peine de sortir sous la pluie pour voter, mais ça peut être préjudiciable à la qualité de l'élection".

    "Il faut que la pluie nous laisse accomplir notre devoir civique, c'est l'avenir du Mali qui est en jeu", déclarait dans la matinée une étudiante, Mariam Kanté dans un bureau de vote du centre de Bamako.

    Les deux candidats ont appelé au "calme et à la sérénité" après avoir voté dans la capitale.

    Selon des témoins interrogés par l'AFP depuis Bamako, dans les grandes villes et régions administratives du nord du pays - Gao, Tombouctou et Kidal -, le vote s'est également déroulé sans incidents, en dépit de la crainte d'attentats de groupes jihadistes qui ont occupé et terrorisé ces régions pendant neuf mois en 2012.

    "Il y a un engouement pour ce second tour"à Gao, a déclaré Ousmane Maïga, membre d'un collectif de jeunes de la ville.

    A Tessalit, ville de la région de Kidal (extrême nord-est), berceau des Touareg et de leur rébellion où la participation avait été très faible au premier tour, la pluie a provoqué de fortes inondations il y a deux jours et les opérations de vote ont commencé "timidement", selon une source administrative dans la zone.

    Un réseau de quelque 2.000 observateurs maliens indépendants s'est réjoui dans un communiqué du bon déroulement du scrutin, notant cependant que moins de bureaux avaient pu ouvrir à temps en raison des fortes pluies dans les régions de Bamako, Koulikoro et Kayes (sud).

    Retour à l'ordre constitutionnel

    Le second tour de la présidentielle de dimanche doit rétablir l'ordre constitutionnel interrompu par un coup d'Etat militaire le 22 mars 2012, qui a précipité la chute du nord du pays aux mains de groupes islamistes armés liés à Al-Qaïda.

    Le scrutin a été surveillé par plusieurs centaines d'observateurs nationaux et internationaux et sa sécurité assurée par l'armée malienne, les Casques bleus de la Minusma et l'armée française.

    Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, fort de son avance de 20 points (39,79% des voix au premier tour, contre 19,70% pour Cissé), semble largement favori, d'autant qu'il a reçu le soutien de 22 des 25 candidats éliminés au premier tour dont la majorité a obtenu moins de 1% des suffrages.

    Mais Soumaïla Cissé tablait sur une mobilisation plus forte qu'au premier tour et sur un bon nombre de près de 400.000 bulletins déclarés nuls le 28 juillet.

    La tâche du vainqueur sera rude, car le Mali vient de vivre la plus grave crise de son histoire récente qui a laissé exsangue ce pays de quelque 14 millions d'habitants.

    Cette sombre période avait commencé en janvier 2012 avec une offensive de rebelles touareg dans le nord du pays, et suivie du putsch de mars 2012 puis de l'occupation du Nord par des groupes criminels et des jihadistes qui ont humilié l'armée et commis de nombreuses exactions avant d'en être chassés en 2013 par une intervention militaire internationale initiée par la France, toujours en cours.

    Le conflit a poussé 500.000 personnes à fuir leurs domiciles, il a accentué la pauvreté et ravivé les haines entre les différentes communautés du pays, Touareg et Arabes d'un côté assimilés aux rebelles et aux jihadistes, Noirs majoritaires de l'autre.

    Le nouveau président devra redresser l'économie du pays et entamer le processus de réconciliation, en particulier avec la minorité Touareg.

    Les quelques centaines de milliers de Touareg du Mali vivent essentiellement dans le Nord désertique, qui a déjà connu plusieurs rébellions depuis l'indépendance du Mali en 1960: une partie d'entre eux rêve d'indépendance ou au moins d'autonomie.

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    © 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Inter Press Service
    Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Togo

    Brahima Ouédraogo

    OUAGADOUGOU, 10 août (IPS) - Des organisations de gestion des eaux du Bassin de la Volta appellent à des mesures urgentes pour arrêter la dégradation continue des sols, de l’écosystème autour du Bassin de la Volta qui nourrit plusieurs millions de personnes en Afrique de l’ouest.

    "Les gens doivent respecter les normes, accepter certaines pratiques culturales, par exemple, laisser une marge d’environ 500 mètres afin que la terre ne parte pas dans la rivière ou les barrages quand il pleut", déclare Jacob Tumbulto, le directeur de l’observatoire au sein de l’Autorité du Bassin de la Volta (ABV) basé à Ouagadougou, la capitale du Burkina Faso.

    "Les producteurs ne doivent pas couper les arbres, ne doivent pas pratiquer la culture de brûlis. Il y a des normes à respecter dans l’utilisation des engrais et pesticides qui affectent les espèces comme les poissons, et l’écosystème", explique-t-il à IPS.

    La baisse de la quantité de poissons se situe autour de 40 pour cent et te taux d’envasement des cours d’eau, très élevé, se manifeste par une réduction de la quantité d’eau dans les sous-bassins de 30 à 40 pour cent, due au manque de pluies et aux mauvaises pratiques culturales, indique Tumbulto.

    Quelque 23 millions de personnes – dont la moitié vit au Burkina Faso - vivent des ressources du bassin du fleuve Volta au Mali, au Bénin, en Côte d’Ivoire, au Ghana, et au Togo.

    "Le bassin est vraiment menacé et l’un des problèmes auxquels on assiste, est l’envasement des cours d’eau, des barrages, et des bas-fonds", ajoute Tumbulto, résigné.

    Selon l’ABV, les pénuries alimentaires vont entraîner le déplacement de dizaines de milliers d’habitants de l’Afrique de l’ouest si des actions urgentes ne sont pas prises pour freiner la dégradation de l’écosystème dans la région du bassin dans les 15 années à venir.

    L’érosion et la déforestation vont entraîner une baisse de 40 pour cent des récoltes, prédit en outre l’AVB, indiquant que 80 pour cent de la végétation est détruite chaque année par le feu avant chaque saison agricole.

    Le taux de croissance démographique dans les pays autour du bassin, qui est de trois pour cent ou plus, est aussi considéré comme l’une des menaces sur l’écosystème du Bassin de la Volta. Dans la partie du bassin couvrant le Burkina, ce taux atteint les 3,24 pour cent.

    Au Burkina, l’Agence de l’eau du Nakambé (AEN), du nom du bassin versant national ou (Volta blanche), qui fait partie du Bassin international de la Volta, constate une augmentation des besoins en eau, et une occupation importante des cours et retenues d’eau pour des activités maraîchères et le développement d’activités minières.

    Les cultures maraîchères sont notamment la tomate, la salade, les carottes, alors que l’activité minière concerne principalement l'orpaillage qui y est très développé avec la recherche de l'or.

    "L’état des lieux effectué en 2010 sur l’espace de gestion du Nakambé, situe le taux d’utilisation de l’ordre de 95,4 pour cent des ressources en eau disponible; une situation qui entraîne un stress hydrique élevé", explique Diby Millogo, le directeur général de l’AEN.

    Millogo, signale par ailleurs des migrations internes vers les pôles de disponibilité en eau que sont les barrages et les tronçons du cours d’eau.

    En avril dernier, le ministère de l’Eau du Burkina a décidé de déguerpir une population d’environ 5.000 personnes installées anarchiquement autour du barrage de Ziga chargé d’approvisionner en eau potable la ville de Ouagadougou et alentours. Ces personnes qui pratiquaient le maraîchage jusque dans le lit du barrage construit sur le Nakambé, menaçaient sérieusement l’ouvrage victime d’ensablement et de pollution, selon Millogo.

    Pour sauvegarder le barrage qui approvisionne en eau potable plus de trois millions de personnes, l’AEN a également décidé de construire un cordon pierreux, et planter des arbres, autour des berges du barrage et du bassin.

    "Le protocole d’accord entre les acteurs est en train d’être réactivé pour policer les activités autour des berges", annonce Millogo. Il regrette cependant la mise en veilleuse du protocole qui impliquait les populations riveraines dans la gestion intégrée des ressources du bassin.

    En dehors de l’agriculture, d’autres activités économiques comme l’élevage, les mines, l’artisanat, la foresterie, la pêche, l’hôtellerie, sont menées autour du bassin de Nakambé, indique Millogo.

    "Il faut informer et sensibiliser les communautés sur les enjeux et les risques sur le bassin en s’appuyant sur des chiffres et anecdotes qui peuvent toucher leur sensibilité et leur faire changer de comportement", préconise Lucien Damiba, chargé de programme à l’ONG Wateraid.

    "Il faut faire des propositions d’alternatives pour subvenir aux besoins des producteurs", ajoute Damiba.

    L’ABV qui comprend une composante visant à impliquer les acteurs locaux dans la gestion de l’environnement, a recensé 20 organisations non gouvernementales qui travaillent dans les pays du bassin. Leurs membres seront formés pour disséminer, à leur tour, des informations dans les zones d’intervention pour s’assurer des bonnes pratiques autour du Bassin de la Volta, indique Tumbulto.

    Seydou Tiendrébéogo, secrétaire général de l'Union des groupements de gestion du barrage de Ziga, déclare à IPS: "Au début, nous avions les moyens de surveiller les activités autour du barrage, ensuite on ne nous donnait plus rien pendant deux ans".

    Il ajoute: "Mais nous avons continué de surveiller jusqu'à épuiser nos ressources car nous, les producteurs, savions que la terre avait commencé à entraîner la réduction du niveau de l'eau à certains endroits du barrage". (FIN/2013)


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