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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: Government of Ethiopia
    Country: Ethiopia

    Addis Ababa November 12/2012 Various development projects are underway in pastoral areas of the country with nearly one billion Birr, Minister of Federal Affairs, Dr. Shiferaw Teklemariam said. The Pastoralist Affairs Standing Committee of the House of Peoples' Representatives evaluated plan for 2005EC. Speaking on the occasion Dr. Shiferaw said the projects are underway in four regions namely in Somali, Afar, Oromia and South Ethiopia Peoples' States. The Minister said the projects significantly contribute to improve the livelihoods of pastoralists. He said the projects are in the areas of basin development, capacity building and also voluntary villagization program, among others. Standing Committee Vice-Chairperson, LijAlem Wolde on his part stressed the need to undertake activities in environmental protection, ensuring the benefits of women and youth and also prevention of HIV, according the Information and Communication Directorate of the House.


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    Source: Oxfam
    Country: Somalia

    November 9th, 2012 by Jesse Kinyanjui

    In Somalia, one of the most difficult and dangerous places for aid agencies to work, the conflict has left many communities hard to reach. Mobile phones offer an innovative way of educating such communities with life-saving information.

    Oxfam and our partner Hijra started a pilot project to provide public health information to people’s mobile phones, timed to coincide with the peak cholera season, when many displaced families living in crowded camps in Mogadishu are particularly at risk. Despite the many challenges in Somalia, there is good network coverage and phones are cheap and available. Many Somalis use phones to receive remittances from relatives overseas.

    A messaging centre was set up in Hijra’s office, capable of sending 10,000 messages an hour – as long as there is power. The messages can be received on any ordinary phone. 10,000 people took part and received five “sessions” of messages explaining cholera prevention and control.

    A recent evaluation of the pilot phase found notable impact among the youth, who are most keen to use new technology to connect to the outside world. Young people were talking about the project at school, and said it was seen as “cool” to get involved and learn about cholera in this new way. Peer pressure got many new youth involved.

    The main expense was setting up the platform and software. But the software can be changed to fit the context, local language and subject matter without an IT expert, so programme staff are able to manage it. The sessions cost about 60 cents. Although many people have phones, not everyone has credit – so users are refunded $1. Just like traditional public health campaigns, (where staff and volunteers go out into communities to engage face-to-face) the software is interactive, allowing people to text questions for staff to reply.

    Feedback has been mostly positive. Unlike traditional campaigns, people said they liked being able to store the messages to look at in their own time – particularly women who were at home looking after children. One said it was like “attending a workshop in your own home.” People remembered the text messages more than radio bulletins (which cannot be saved) or posters.

    One man said he made up an Oral Rehydration Supplement (ORS) for his sick child after referring back to the text messages. One woman had wanted to use chlorine but did not remember the dosage and had to refer back to her text message.

    There were many recommendations for us to take forward. Youth said they would like to receive “private” information about HIV/AIDS and sex education, as well as health songs as downloadable ringtones. Other suggestions included using e-vouchers for aid distributions, and community feedback via text to help us increase our accountability. While the youth liked to receive text messages, older generations – particularly women – preferred a real voice, so a Voicemail component was recommended.

    Mobile phones are not a perfect solution on their own, but done in coordination with traditional methods they have so far proved successful. Traditional public health promotion may be more participatory, but youth are increasingly engaged with new technologies and, in areas where access is not guaranteed (whether due to security or weather), the mobile phone based platform offers a new way for Oxfam to engage with communities.

    A second phase of this project is now underway, comprising a fully fledged mobile phone Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (mWASH) platform, with the capability to undertake rapid assessments, distribute non food items (NFIs), conduct community education, and conduct monitoring.


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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Brazil, Cambodia, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Thailand, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania (the), World, Zambia

    New FAO report focuses on investments in developing countries, urging caution on large-scale land acquisitions

    13 Novembre 2012, Rome - International investments that give local farmers an active role and leave them in control of their land have the most positive effects on local economies and social development, according to a new FAO report published today.

    The report, Trends and Impacts of Foreign Investment in Developing Country Agriculture, emphasizes that investment projects that combine the strengths of the investor (capital, management and marketing expertise, and technology) with those of local farmers (labour, land, local knowledge) are most successful.

    Business models that leave farmers in control of their land give them an incentive to invest in land improvements and also favor sustainable development. The publication offers a number of case studies on the impact of foreign investment in Africa and Asia, including large-scale land deals often referred to as land grabbing.

    "While a number of studies document the negative impacts of large-scale land acquisition in developing countries, there is much less evidence of its benefits to the host country, especially in the short-term and at local level," says the report. "For investments involving large-scale land acquisition in countries where land rights are unclear and insecure, the disadvantages often outweigh the few benefits to the local community," it notes.

    The report advises that "acquisition of already-utilized land to establish new large farms should be avoided and other forms of investment should be considered."

    Jobs creation in doubt

    In large-scale land investments the main type of benefit appears to lie in employment generation, but there are questions as to the net gains and sustainability of the jobs created. "In several projects the number of jobs was lower than what was initially announced ... and in some projects even low-skilled worker jobs were mainly taken up by non-locals".

    Foreign investment in agricultural land in developing countries has increased markedly over the past decade, according to the report. The lands acquired tend to be among the best available, with good soil quality and irrigation.

    But since a majority of foreign investment projects aim at export markets or the production of biofuels, "they may pose a threat to food security in low-income food-deficit countries, especially if they replace food crops that were destined for the local market."

    Potential adverse impacts include: the displacement of smallholders; the loss of grazing land for pastoralists; the loss of income and livelihoods for rural people; and degradation of natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity.

    Alternatives to land acquisition include contract farming deals, outgrower schemes giving farmers a share of the capital, and joint ventures between investing companies and farmer cooperatives. Inclusive business models require effective local organizations that also represent groups who are often marginalized such as women, young people, landless farmers and migrant workers.

    National laws and institutions are key

    National laws and institutions governing agricultural investment and land tenure are critical in determining whether such investments have positive or negative effects, the report says.

    Countries can obtain guidance from some international agreements such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security adopted in May 2012 by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

    Highly pertinent too are the Voluntary Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that respect rights, livelihoods and resources jointly proposed by FAO, IFAD, UNCTAD and the World Bank. In addition, the CFS is about to start consultations for the development and broader ownership of principles for responsible agricultural investment that enhance food security and nutrition.

    While agricultural investment is the most important and effective strategy for poverty reduction in rural areas, "the challenge for policy makers, development agencies and local communities is to maximize the benefits of foreign agricultural investment while minimizing its risks," the report says.

    Foreign direct investment on the rise

    FAO estimates that investment to the tune of more than $80 billion a year is needed to keep pace with population and income growth, and feed more than 9 billion people in 2050.

    Although Foreign Direct Investment has risen significantly, especially in Asia and Latin America over the past decade, only a small share goes to agriculture -- less than five percent in sub-Saharan Africa. This represents an opportunity, however, given the high potential for growth, particularly in the light of currently high international food prices.

    "It is important that any international investment should bring development benefits to the receiving country...if those investments are to be ‘win-win' rather than 'neo-colonialism'", stresses David Hallam, Director of FAO's Trade and Markets Division in a foreword to the report.

    [PR 12-127 EN]


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    Source: Kenya Red Cross
    Country: Kenya

    One year after the Kenyans for Kenya Drought Initiative began, one of the areas, Walda Location in Sololo District, Moyale is already reaping the fruits of the Initiative. The Initiatives mid to long-term programming was to focus on Integrated Food Security, Water and Sanitation and Health with a specific objective of ensuring resilience to the impacts of drought for affected populations in Turkana North, East Pokot and Moyale.

    The integrated food security and livelihood project in Walda was aimed at improving the food security situation of an estimated 2,100 people through irrigation projects, greenhouse farming and training of farmers. A total of four boreholes yielding 60 cubic meters per hour have been sunk.

    A water pan as well as a dam for water storage was also sunk as well as delivery and installation of irrigation systems done. 60 acres of land was also identified for farming. The seedbeds were also set up. One year later, the residents of Walda are already recording bumper harvests. The key crops that are already being harvested include Tomatoes, buttercups, kales and spinach.

    The residents are all smiles as they sell their farm produces in markets that include Marsabit, Moyale and Isiolo. Cooperatives have been established to ensure that the residents who have changed their lifestyle from pastoralist to also include farming learn how to manage their funds as well as ensure that their produce gets to the market.


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    Source: IRIN
    Country: Cameroon

    YAOUNDE, 13 November 2012 (IRIN) - Scientists and farmers’ associations have high hopes that a variety of cassava could help build their resilience to droughts and food insecurity.

    Cameroon’s National Development Programme for Roots and Tubers (PNDRT) has distributed seedlings of a new high-yield, pest-resistant variety of cassava to 1,000 smallholder farmers - most of them women - all over the country with a view to buying back cuttings from them to multiply distribution in coming years.

    While regular cassava varieties produce 9-10 tons per hectare, these improved varieties can yield as much as 20-35, according to Rachid Hanna, country representative with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and PNDRT. The two institutions have been working since 2005 to develop these new species, with backing from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

    Cassava is the second most important source of carbohydrates in sub-Saharan African, after maize, and is eaten by around 500 million people globally every day, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Every year 280 million tons are produced, with half the supply coming from Africa.

    The crop is seen as key to boosting food security amid climate change Regular varieties are considered by Cameroonians to be a “crop of last resort” as they can grow on poor soils and in difficult climatic conditions, and require little to no fertilizers.

    About 80 percent of Cameroonian households, most of them subsistence farmers, consume cassava on a daily basis, though a 2010 study by Plant Foods for Human Nutrition indicated that consumption of cassava is a risk factor for inadequate vitamin A, zinc and/or iron intake.

    Despite this, very little research on cassava varieties to date has taken place in Africa. The IITA is trying to change this, having introduced new varieties across the tropical cassava belt.

    The World Food Programme has an ongoing programme to deliver food to 200,000 Cameroonians in the far north, who have faced crop failure, livestock losses and high food prices that have barred them from being able to access food. Over half of families in northern Cameroon live in poverty.

    “We see it as a new dawn for cassava farmers in Cameroon,” said Hanna, adding that the new variety should improve the nutrition and livelihoods of farmers. Several varieties have been developed to fit one or more of the country’s five ecological ones.

    The new species is low in cyanide content (cassava leaves and tubers contain cyanide which disappears to trace levels when properly processed); is more resistant to drought as well as other climates including very hot temperatures; and matures in 12, not 18-26 months. In studies over the past three years, these new strains have doubled harvest sizes.

    Some 2.5 million tons of cassava is grown in Cameroon each year. Most of it is turned into flour; the rest is fermented to make liquor, to feed animals, and increasingly processed into biofuel (ethanol).

    Downsides

    But early-maturing varieties can also have a downside - they rot rapidly when in the ground, which can cause farmers to abandon species en masse.

    Felicitas Atanga, head of programmes with FAO in Cameroon, warned that no matter how high-yield the seeds, they have to also produce cassava that tastes good - as in, is sweet rather than bitter - to be picked up on a mass scale.

    Mbairanodji André, controller of production, transformation and post-harvest for PNDRT, told IRIN they are working hard to explain to the farmers involved that they must start to harvest at nine months, no later.

    To really add value to smallholders lives, each stage of the production process needs to be improved, said farmers, including helping them get their product to market quickly.

    Cassava does not store well beyond a few days, as it is 70 percent moisture, yet just a tiny minority of Cameroon’s roads are paved, making it difficult to get products from rural to urban areas.

    Experts agree that a holistic view must be taken, but large-scale infrastructure development has not yet prioritized the needs of small farmers.

    For André the next priority is processing to turn cassava into a far more lucrative cash crop. “The next stage for PNDRT or the government is to move cassava from being just a food security solution to processing it in a way that it can be used for industrial purposes,” he told IRIN.

    mn/aj/cb


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    Source: Guardian
    Country: Niger (the)

    Government wants cash – and ideas – to increase food security through diverse seeds, milk transfers and better land use

    The Niger government is urging the international community to invest millions of dollars in the country's programme to increase food security and build its agricultural capabilities.

    Read the Full Report

    Watch the Video


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    Source: AlertNet
    Country: Malawi

    By Karen Sanje

    BLANTYRE, Malawi (AlertNet) – Farmers across Malawi, struggling to harvest sufficient staple crops of maize and rice in changing weather conditions, are turning to crops they had never previously considered for food.

    Read the Full Report


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    11/13/2012 11:51 GMT

    PARIS, 13 nov 2012 (AFP) - La force militaire internationale au Mali pourra être déployée dès que l'Onu donnera son feu vert à une intervention armée pour chasser les groupes islamistes du nord du pays, a affirmé mardi le président de la Commission de la Cédéao, Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo.

    "La force est tout-à-fait prête. Lorsque l'Onu donnera son feu vert, le déploiement pourra commencer immédiatement", a affirmé M. Ouédraogo à des journalistes en marge d'une table-ronde sur le Niger à Paris.

    Dimanche, les chefs d'Etat ouest-africains, réunis à Abuja, se sont mis d'accord sur l'envoi au Mali d'une force de 3.300 soldats afin de reconquérir le nord du pays occupé depuis avril par des groupes islamistes armés.

    Ce plan doit être transmis à l'Onu avant la fin novembre, via l'Union africaine. Le président en exercice de la Commission économiques des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest (Cédéao), l'Ivoirien Alassane Ouattara, a dit espérer que le Conseil de sécurité donnerait son feu vert à l'intervention à la fin du mois ou début décembre.

    Interrogé sur les délais nécessaires à la constitution de cette force, dont la composition reste encore floue, M. Ouédraogo a affirmé qu'"on n'a pas besoin de déployer toute la force en même temps".

    "Ce n'est pas une guerre classique. Il y aura des opérations spéciales. Ca se fera par phases", a-t-il dit.

    Au lendemain du sommet d'Abuja, plusieurs experts avaient mis en doute la capacité de l'Afrique de l'Ouest à déployer une force avant plusieurs mois.

    "Il y a eu beaucoup de progrès ces dernières semaines en terme de cohérence internationale", avait souligné Gilles Yabi, d'International Crisis group (ICG) à Dakar, "mais nous ne sommes cependant pas à la veille d'une intervention qui se décline dans la durée", même après accord de l'ONU associée à sa préparation.

    Mardi, le ministre français de la Défense Jean-Yves Le Drian a affirmé que les pays ouest-africains voulaient "aller vite".

    Des ministres de cinq pays européens (France, Allemagne, Pologne, Espagne, Italie) discuteront jeudi à Paris d'une mission européenne d'entraînement des forces africaines, qui pourrait mobiliser au moins 200 militaires, encadrés par des "éléments de protection".

    "Nous avons demandé un soutien aérien. Tous nos partenaires, la France entre autres, ont promis leur soutien", a assuré mardi M. Ouédraogo.

    Un peu plus tôt, le ministre français de la Défense avait pourtant écarté l'éventualité de frappes aériennes : "Quand je dis pas de troupes au sol, ça veut aussi dire pas de troupes en l'air", avait-il résumé. "Que nous puissions apporter du renseignement, c'est autre chose", avait-il ajouté.

    cf-alc/kat/ej

    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse


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  • 11/13/12--07:10: Mali: Mali force ready to go
  • Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    11/13/2012 13:41 GMT

    by Cecile Feuillatre

    PARIS, France, Nov 13, 2012 (AFP) - A West African military force assembled to intervene against Islamic radicals in Mali is ready to be deployed as soon as the United Nations issues a green light, a senior official at the centre of the preparations claimed Tuesday.

    "The military force is fully ready. Once the UN gives the go-ahead, deployment can start immediately," Kadre Desire Ouedraogo told journalists here.

    Ouedraogo, a former prime minister of Burkina Faso, is the president of the commission, or permanent secretariat, of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

    His comments contradicted the scepticism expressed by some military experts on the readiness of ECOWAS to send in a force capable of sweeping Islamists out of northern Mali, a vast desert area that has fallen under the control of Al-Qaeda-linked militants.

    ECOWAS leaders meeting in Nigeria agreed on Sunday to deploy a force of up to 3,300 men. A detailed plan of action, backed by the African Union, is due to be presented to the UN by the end of the month and Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara has said deployment could come as soon as early December.

    Ouedraogo said the full force would not necessarily be deployed at once.

    "That will not be a classical war, there will be special operations and it will be done in phases," he explained.

    The African force being assembled will have logistical support from France and the United States, who have been lobbying hard to get ECOWAS to take action and to ensure Algeria does not stand in their way.

    "We have requested air support and all our partners have promised their support," Ouedraogo said.

    Doubts about whether the mooted intervention will go ahead have been fuelled by the ambiguous stance adopted by Algeria, the biggest military power in the region.

    Algiers reacted to Sunday's ECOWAS declaration by saying that it believed negotiations with the rebel groups in northern Mali -- who are mostly led by Algerian nationals -- could still deliver a settlement.

    Ouedraogo said Algeria had indicated it would not stand in the way of military intervention and, in that case, would close its border with Mali, which measures around 1,700km (1,100 miles), in order to try and deny militants an escape route.

    The ECOWAS official appeared sceptical about the chances of a negotiated settlement.

    "Any political dialogue will be with groups who recognise the unity of Mali and the secular character of the state," he said. "There will be no discussions with terrorist or mafia groups."

    The Islamists in northern Mali have imposed a strict version of sharia law in the areas under their control, which has led to cases of unmarried couples being stoned, thieves having hands amputated and suspected drinkers being whipped.

    cf/am/rm/gk

    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse


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

    FAITS SAILLANTS

    • L’initiative AGIR-Sahel propose une feuille de route pour une meilleure coordination de l'aide humanitaire et de l'aide au développement.
    • Le CERF a approuvé $3 million pour la réponse aux inondations.
    • La faiblesse de la couverture sanitaire ainsi que certains éléments d’origine socio-économique ont des conséquences sur la chronicité de la malnutrition dans le Salamat.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    11/13/2012 19:16 GMT

    Par Cécile FEUILLATRE

    PARIS, 13 nov 2012 (AFP) - Des dirigeants ouest-africains ont insisté mardi sur l'imminence d'une intervention pour reprendre le nord du Mali aux islamistes armés, affirmant que l'armée malienne et les pays de la zone étaient "prêts" pour cette opération qui soulève pourtant des interrogations.

    "La force est tout à fait prête. Lorsque l'Onu donnera son feu vert, le déploiement pourra commencer immédiatement", a affirmé à des journalistes Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo, président de la Commission de la Cédéao (Communauté économique des Etats d'Afrique de l'Ouest), en marge d'une table ronde sur le Niger à Paris.

    Dimanche, à Abuja, les dirigeants des 15 pays de l'Afrique de l'Ouest avaient approuvé l'envoi d'une force militaire internationale de 3.300 soldats pour une durée d'un an afin de reconquérir le nord du Mali, sous la coupe de groupes islamistes armés.

    Mardi, l'Union africaine (UA) a donné son aval à l'envoi de cette force. Le Conseil de paix et de sécurité de l'UA a "décidé ... d'approuver le Concept harmonisé d'opérations pour le déploiement planifié de la force (...) conduite par l'Afrique, en soutien au Mali", a annoncé à Addis Abeba son commissaire, Ramtane Lamamra.

    Ce plan d'intervention militaire doit, à présent, être transmis avant la fin novembre au Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU, pour qu'il donne son feu vert.

    "Je ne peux pas parler de délai de rigueur pour le déploiement" de la force, a cependant déclaré mardi à Ouagadougou le représentant de l'ONU en Afrique de l'Ouest, Saïd Djinnit.

    En dépit du volontarisme affiché, de nombreuses questions subsistent sur les délais nécessaires à la mise sur pied de la force, sur sa composition, et sur le consensus réel des pays de la zone concernant la nécessité d'une intervention armée au Mali.

    "On n'a pas le choix, il faut intervenir", a réitéré à Paris le président nigérien Mahamadou Issoufou, dont le pays pourrait envoyer plus de 500 soldats au Mali voisin.

    Intervention "par phases"

    Puissance régionale incontournable mais réticente à une intervention internationale à ses portes, l'Algérie a même promis qu'elle "fermerait ses frontières" en cas d'opération, pour priver les groupes armés de toute base arrière, a affirmé M. Ouedraogo. L'Algérie a indiqué mardi soir qu'elle prendrait "les mesures appropriées" pour assurer la défense de ses intérêts et la protection "maximale" de ses frontières.

    Pays africains et occidentaux pensent avoir obtenu si ce n'est le soutien, du moins l'accord d'Alger à une intervention militaire, malgré les déclarations répétées de responsables algériens sur la possibilité d'une solution politique à la crise.

    Concernant le calendrier, "les Etats sont prêts à envoyer leur contingent", a assuré M. Issoufou, citant notamment le Nigeria, le Niger, le Burkina Faso, le Sénégal, le Togo et le Bénin.

    L'armée malienne "peut être rapidement en mesure de combattre", a renchéri M. Ouedraogo.

    Selon lui, l'intervention se fera "par phases". "On n'a pas besoin de déployer toute la force en même temps, ce n'est pas une guerre classique. Il y aura des opérations spéciales", a-t-il dit.

    Au sujet du soutien logistique des pays occidentaux, et notamment de la France, il a déclaré: "Nous avons demandé un soutien aérien. Tous nos partenaires, la France entre autres, ont promis leur soutien". L'éventualité de frappes aériennes "dépendra des difficultés sur le terrain", a-t-il précisé.

    Mardi, le ministre français de la Défense Jean-Yves Le Drian a toutefois écarté cette éventualité.

    La France n'interviendra "en aucun cas" elle-même au Mali, a affirmé mardi soir le président François Hollande, rappelant que Paris s'était engagé à "soutenir logistiquement" les pays africains pour mettre un terme à l'occupation du nord du Mali par des "groupes terroristes".

    Enfin, le représentant de l'ONU en Afrique de l'Ouest, Saïd Djinnit, a rencontré mardi à Ouagadougou des représentants d'Ansar Dine, l'un des groupes islamistes armés occupant le nord du Mali.

    Il s'agit de la première rencontre officielle entre un responsable onusien et Ansar Dine, mouvement qui applique de façon stricte la charia (loi islamique) dans le nord du Mali (amputations, lapidations...), comme les jihadistes d'Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi) et du Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao) qui dominent aussi la région.

    cf/prh/jpc

    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    11/13/2012 19:42 GMT

    by Romaric Ollo HIEN

    OUAGADOUGOU, Nov 13, 2012 (AFP) - A UN envoy on Tuesday met Islamist rebels occupying northern Mali as the African Union endorsed military intervention to retake control of the desert north.

    The UN's representative in West Africa Said Djinnit met representatives of Islamist rebels Ansar Dine at a private residence in Ouagadougou, marking their first official contact.

    The meeting came after Djinnit held talks with Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, the regional chief mediator in the crisis.

    Djinnit stressed that "all options and avenues of dialogue should be exploited to try to fix the problem in a peaceful manner."

    Mohamed Ag Aharib, an Ansar Dine representative said his group "assured (Djinnit) that we are ready to dialogue."

    He underlined that his movement, one of the Islamist groups occupying the north, was waiting from a sign from Malian authorities that they were also seeking peace.

    Tuareg rebels, who also met Djinnit in Ouagadougou, separately said they were "completely open to dialogue, according to Ibrahim Ag Mohamed Assaleh, one of the leaders of the movement.

    Mali rapidly imploded after a coup in Bamako in March allowed Tuareg desert nomads, who had relaunched a decades-old rebellion for independence, to seize the main towns in the north with the help of Islamist allies.

    The secular separatists were quickly sidelined by the Islamists, who had little interest in their aspirations for an independent homeland and set about implementing their version of strict Islamic law, meting out punishments including public stonings and floggings and destroying World Heritage sites they considered idolatrous.

    African nations and the international community have expressed growing concern over the continued occupation of Mali's north since it could provide a safe haven to Al Qaeda-linked extremist groups and criminal gangs.

    While not ruling out talks to resolve the crisis, leaders from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) meeting Sunday in Abuja agreed to send 3,300 soldiers to retake control of north Mali, which has been occupied since April.

    On Tuesday, the African Union endorsed the military intervention.

    The AU's Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra, did not provide details of the mission.

    But he said it aims to "regain the occupied regions in the north of the country, dismantle the terrorist and criminal networks and restore effectively the authority of the state over the entire national territory."

    Lamamra said he believes the UN will pass a resolution approving the mission before the end of the year, but did not confirm when the first troops could be deployed.

    Djinnit also said he "cannot speak about the deadline for the deployment" of the force.

    But he stressed that "the option preferred by everyone, including ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations, is the option of dialogue, and we hope that dialogue will take place as soon as possible".

    In Paris, French President Francois Hollande said "France and Europe will provide logistic support, and training" to any mission. He stressed that France would not intervene on its own in the crisis.

    roh-tmo/hmn/har

    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Algeria, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger (the), Sudan (the)

    Swarms form in Sudan and Mali

    The Desert Locust situation remains serious. New reports indicate that second-generation adults are forming groups and small swarms in northeast Mali. In Niger and Mauritania, ground control operations continue against groups of hoppers and adults. Hopper bands are forming near Tahoua, Niger and on the coast in Mauritania, south of Nouakchott. Control operations were also carried out in southern Algeria against groups of adults near the Niger border. More groups and small swarms are expected to form in Mali and Niger and move to Algeria, Libya, northwest Mauritania and perhaps Morocco in the coming weeks.

    In Sudan, ground and aerial control operations are in progress against swarms that have formed in the Baiyuda Desert north of Khartoum. Adults are moving towards the winter breeding areas along the Red Sea coast of Sudan.


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    Source: European Union
    Country: Lebanon, Mali, occupied Palestinian territory, Somalia, Syrian Arab Republic (the)

    Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt

    13 ovember 2012

    The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union and of the League of Arab States, meeting on the occasion of the second ministerial conference between the European Union and the League of Arab States in Cairo on 13 November 2012, at the invitation of HE Catherine Ashton, European Union High Representative, HE Dr. Nabil Elaraby, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, and HE Dr. Adnan Mansour, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of Lebanon;

    Engaging together to tackle the common political and economic challenges;
    Supporting the ongoing historical changes across the Middle East and North Africa region and determined to work together towards taking concrete steps responding to these changes;

    Conscious of the opportunities these changes present to the people of the region to build up more stable, prosperous, and inclusive societies;

    Considering that the development and the strengthening of the relations between the European Union and the League of Arab States will contribute to regional security, prosperity and democracy in full respect of international law, the United Nations Charter and the relevant UN resolutions.

    And recalling the "Malta Communiqué" adopted at the first ministerial meeting between the European Union and the League of Arab States on 11 February 2008;

    Have adopted the following Declaration.


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    Source: US Agency for International Development
    Country: Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia (the), Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the), Senegal, United Republic of Tanzania (the), United States of America (the), World

    SECTOR OVERVIEW

    USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) supports agriculture and food security interventions that address the immediate humanitarian needs of populations whose livelihoods and ability to meet basic food needs have been affected by disasters. USAID/OFDA also works to strengthen local disaster response capacity and increase resilience to future emergencies that could negatively affect agricultural activities and food security. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, USAID/OFDA worked with farmers to rehabilitate agricultural infrastructure and facilitate economic recovery by supporting agriculturally based livelihood activities in the aftermath of disasters. USAID/OFDA-funded programs benefited livestock and fisheries, implemented pest control programs, and supplied veterinary medicine and agricultural inputs. In total, USAID/OFDA provided more than $78 million in FY 2012 to support agriculture and food security activities in 30 countries, as well as regional programs in west, east, and southern Africa.

    RESPONDING TO ACUTE NEEDS AND BUILDING RESILIENCE IN THE SAHEL

    USAID/OFDA provided more than $17.2 million in FY 2012 to support agriculture and food security programs in drought-affected areas of Burkina Faso, Chad, the Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal. In addition to meeting acute needs in the Sahel, USAID/OFDA supported programs that strengthen community resilience to future agriculture and food-related crises.

    In Mali, USAID/OFDA responded to critical needs by supporting emergency agriculture and food security activities, including initiatives that promote home gardens, strengthen pastoral livestock breeding programs, and reinforce local drought early warning systems. In FY 2012, USAID/OFDA provided more than $284,000 to ACDI/VOCA to assist drought-affected households in central Mali’s Mopti Region. ACDI/VOCA aims to protect households’ livelihoods through the provision of fodder vouchers that support livestock-raising activities, as well as to improve access to high-yield, drought-resistant seeds while educating farmers about the benefits of these seeds to increase agricultural production. With USAID/OFDA funding, ACDI/VOCA also aims to strengthen communities’ long-term food security and disaster management capacity through trainings on preparing livestock for sale in markets, producing improved seeds locally, and conducting village-level early warning and disaster risk reduction activities.


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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Mauritania

    The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) monitors trends in staple food prices in countries vulnerable to food insecurity. For each FEWS NET country and region, the Price Bulletin provides a set of charts showing monthly prices in the current marketing year in selected urban centers and allowing users to compare current trends with both five-year average prices, indicative of seasonal trends, and prices in the previous year.

    Local rice and sorghum are the most consumed food products by poor households in Mauritania followed by imported wheat which is a substitute that these households turn to the most. Local rice is grown in the river valley (in the southern regions of Trarza, Brakna, Gorgol and Guidimakha). Sorghum is produced in all areas of production (rainfed) and in flood-recession areas. However, a significant portion is imported from Mali and Senegal. Mauritania depends greatly on food imports (70% in a good agricultural year and 85% in a bad year) than on internal production. Nouakchott is the principal collection market for imported products and also the distribution market where traders acquire supplies for the secondary markets referenced below. Cooking oil is consumed mainly in urban areas. The sale of animals is a lifestyle in all areas and an important source of income and food.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    11/14/2012 00:58 GMT

    NEW YORK (Nations unies), 13 nov 2012 (AFP) - L'envoyé spécial du secrétaire général de l'ONU pour le Sahel, Romano Prodi, a indiqué mardi qu'il allait appeler à une réunion internationale en décembre pour tenter de résoudre la crise au Mali.

    M. Prodi, qui s'est entretenu avec le secrétaire général des Nations unies Ban Ki-moon, n'a pas précisé de date. Il a déclaré à la presse qu'il voulait réunir les représentants des pays concernés, de même que des groupes régionaux (dont la France, la Grande-Bretagne et l'Union Africaine), pour une réunion qui se tiendra à Rome.

    L'ancien Premier ministre italien a également noté qu'il essayait de mettre en place une aide humanitaire pour la région du Sahel.

    M. Prodi a été chargé début octobre de coordonner les efforts de l'ONU pour mettre au point une stratégie sur le Sahel.

    Des dirigeants ouest-africains ont insisté mardi sur l'imminence d'une intervention pour reprendre le nord du Mali aux islamistes armés, affirmant que l'armée malienne et les pays de la zone étaient "prêts" pour cette opération qui soulève pourtant des interrogations.

    "Il faut du temps pour préparer une opération militaire", a souligné M. Prodi, qui espère mettre ce délai à profit pour travailler à une solution diplomatique.

    tw/bdx/sam

    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Caritas
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the)

    Le groupe de travail de Caritas Internationalis sur le Sahel (GTCIS) s’est réuni à Ouagadougou du 8 au 10 novembre 2012, pour se concerter sur les questions humanitaires et de résilience des populations de la bande sahélienne, qui subissent les chocs de la sécheresse, des inondations, de la variabilité climatique et des tensions politiques ayant entraîné de grands mouvements migratoires forcés internes et externes en 2012.

    Les chocs susmentionnés avaient déjà été l’objet de la préoccupation du groupe de travail lors de sa rencontre à Bamako, Mali, en février 2012 alors que les prévisions au niveau des Etats du Sahel et des organisations humanitaires nationales et internationales faisaient apparaître une situation d’insécurité alimentaire grave menaçant environ 18 millions de personnes.

    C’est alors que les Caritas du Burkina, du Mali, de la Mauritanie, du Niger, du Sénégal et du Tchad se sont mobilisées et ont lancé des Appels d’Urgence (EA) au réseau Caritas Internationalis pour pouvoir répondre rapidement et efficacement aux besoins exprimés par les populations vulnérables.

    Réagissant à ces différents appels humanitaires, le réseau Caritas a mobilisé plus de treize millions d’euros (€ 13 000 000), pour venir au secours de plus d’un million de personnes affectées, d’une part, et soutenir les capacités de résilience des populations dans une perspective de développement humain, d’autre part.

    Cette importante mobilisation des ressources humaines et financières, jointe aux actions des états du Sahel et de la communauté internationale, a permis d’éviter une catastrophe humanitaire dans la zone sahélienne confrontée de façon récurrente à l’insécurité alimentaire.

    L’option ferme pour la poursuite de la mission de Caritas dans le Sahel est de continuer dans son engagement socioéconomique à allier réponse aux urgences et développement intégral et à renforcer le plaidoyer aux niveaux national et international pour des politiques agricole, économique et sociale, centrées sur le progrès humain.

    Le Groupe de Travail demeure très préoccupé par la crise au Mali, dont les conséquences au niveau du Sahel et de la sous-région risquent de provoquer encore une fois d’importants déplacements internes et externes, d’accroître l’insécurité alimentaire et d’augmenter la vulnérabilité des populations.

    Le réseau Caritas apporte déjà son soutien aux déplacés internes et aux réfugiés dans les pays frontaliers : le Burkina Faso, le Niger et la Mauritanie, et reste déterminé à déployer sa solidarité envers les victimes.

    Nous demeurons dans la prière et l’espérance pour un règlement pacifique de la crise au Mali et pour plus de justice et de solidarité dans le monde.


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    Source: UN News Service
    Country: Mali

    13 November 2012 – A top United Nations official today stressed the need to preserve the unity of Mali, which has been divided since rebels took control of the north earlier this year, while at the same time tackling the country’s humanitarian and development needs.

    “The first step is clearly to push for unity in the Malian Government,” the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

    “The existing divisions, the past divisions, the history that we had and the present difficult relations are certainly obstacles to preserving the unity and solidarity of the country,” he added.

    The instability and insecurity resulting from the renewed clashes, as well as the proliferation of armed groups in the region, drought and political instability in the wake of a military coup d’état in March, have led over 250,000 Malians to flee to neighbouring countries, with 174,000 Malians estimated to be internally displaced.

    “The second goal is clearly to preserve and guarantee the unity of a country that is now divided,” said the former Italian prime minister, noting that the current split of the country is “unnatural.”

    This is the first visit to New York for Mr. Prodi since his appointment in early October. In addition to meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday, the envoy held a range of consultations that will help him to move forward with his mandate, which is focused on the development and implementation of a UN regional strategy on the crisis affecting the Sahel as a whole.

    This included meetings with the Secretariat officials, Member States of the Sahel region, as well as with Security Council members and other delegations interested and active on the issue.

    The western part of the Sahel region, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and parts of Sudan, Cameroon and Nigeria, is currently facing a swathe of problems, which are not only political but also involve security, humanitarian resilience and human rights.

    In addition to political instability in Mali, the region suffers from extreme poverty, with human development levels among the lowest in the world, porous borders that present significant security challenges, as well as human rights problems.

    Added to that is the humanitarian crisis affecting the region this year, in which over 18 million people are estimated to be at risk of food insecurity and over one million children risk severe acute malnutrition.

    Since his appointment, Mr. Prodi has travelled to a number of cities for meetings with government officials, including in the Malian capital, Bamako, as well as in Ethiopia, Egypt and Algeria. He is scheduled to travel to Morocco next week.

    He stated that his mission is not only focused on the security situation in Mali but also on humanitarian aid and development issues, noting that there can be no solution to the crisis in Mali without addressing these two dimensions.

    Last month, in a unanimously adopted resolution, the Security Council indicated that it could consider endorsing an international military force to restore the unity of Mali.

    The 15-member body called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to support the Malian political process and provide, at once, military and security planners to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and other partners, to help frame a response to a request by Mali’s Transitional Authorities for such a force, and to report back within 45 days.

    Upon receipt of the report, and acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the Council said it was ready “to respond to the request of the Transitional authorities of Mali regarding an international military force assisting the Malian Armed Forces in recovering the occupied regions in the north of Mali.”

    Chapter VII of the Charter allows the Council to use force in the face of a threat to peace or aggression, taking “such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security,” including blockades and other operations by the forces of Member States.


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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Somalia

    By Mike Pflanz

    MOGADISHU, Somalia, 13 November 2012 – Ten-month-old Ifrah Mohamed Abdi was born as the first famine declared in more than 20 years in Africa held its grip on the village in which her family has lived for generations.

    UNICEF correspondent Susannah Price reports on efforts to reach malnourished children in Somalia.

    Her mother, Fatuma Hassan, desperately hungry herself, struggled to feed her. What little food there was in the markets was too expensive, and Ifrah become sicker and sicker.

    Today, she is a smiling, healthy baby whose first months plagued with diarrhoea and chest infections are “only like a bad memory,” Ms. Hassan says.

    Famine ends, but Somalis remain at risk

    In 2011, famine was declared in several regions of Somalia after three years of poor or failed rains and ongoing civil insecurity. Famine conditions ended in February 2012.

    But more than two million Somalis are still considered to be at ‘crisis’ or ‘emergency’ levels. Currently, 236,000 children are acutely malnourished, of whom 70 percent are in the South.

    Ms. Hassan fled her village in Somalia’s southern Lower Shabelle region in May of this year, bringing Ifrah, her brother and sister to a camp for internally displaced persons in Mogadishu.

    Health centres support malnourished children

    At the camp in Mogadishu, health staff working with displaced families immediately referred Ifrah to Wadajir Health Centre, where UNICEF supports Somali organization SAACID in treating malnourished children.

    Ifrah is one of 90,000 severely malnourished children under 5 years old who have, in the past six months, been helped in more than 1,200 centres funded by UNICEF across southern Somalia.

    “If this health centre was not here, I don’t know where else I could have taken Ifrah,” says Ms. Hassan, as SAACID staff carry out routine health checks at Wadajir.

    “The help that they gave her, I am sure, saved her life. Without it, we had nothing; there was no money, and I do not know where I could have bought food for her.”

    Outpatient care follows children’s nutritional status

    As part of UNICEF’s Outpatient Therapeutic Programmes, children are closely monitored by qualified staff on a weekly basis.

    They are weighed, their temperatures are taken and the circumference of their upper arms is measured – a simple and effective indicator of a child’s nutritional status.

    A week’s supply of a peanut-based paste with a high nutritional value is given to the mothers of malnourished children who are more than six months old. The paste both helps return them to health and, coupled with medicine, beats back the effects of malnutrition. This specially formulated therapeutic food has made a huge difference to tens of thousands of children already suffering from severe acute malnutrition, like Ifrah.

    Integrated approach includes health, water and sanitation

    Elsewhere in the tin-roofed, brick-walled health centre at Wadajir, nurses give children antibiotics and deworming medicines, and immunizations are administered for tuberculosis and measles.

    Nearby, mothers sit in circles on the floor for short lessons about keeping their homes clean and breastfeeding infants exclusively for their first six months – key ways to avoid the onset of underlying causes of malnutrition including diarrhoea.

    “Managing children for malnutrition is not just about giving food; we take an integrated approach,” says Field Supervisor for SAACID at Wadajir Health Centre Adan Hassan Mohameed.

    The continuation of this integrated approach, bringing together nutrition, health, water and sanitation, is crucial, according to Nutritional Officer for UNICEF Somalia in Mogadishu Nur Ali Mohamud.

    “The situation is improved compared to last year, but, in Somalia, we must not forget that we have been in such a chaotic situation, thanks to civil war for so long,” he says. “It is not enough to give help during the worst times, like the famine, and then to stop helping when that improves. The baseline that we are dealing with is still a very, very poor situation. There are still more children every day who need help.”


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