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ReliefWeb - Updates

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


    • The Sahel in West Africa currently faces the most serious Desert Locust threat since 2005. More than 50 million people could be affected in Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

    • More groups and small swarms have formed in Mali and Niger and moved to Algeria and Libya. Ground control operations continue in Niger and Mauritania and to a lesser extent in Chad.

    • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) requested USD 10 million in June 2012 for urgent action to coordinate the emergency campaign and allow national locusts control units to undertake the required operations.

    • With the USD 5.7 million received so far (from Belgium, France, United Kingdom and USA), FAO ensures overall campaign coordination and technical support through:

    • A Regional Strategic Response Framework for the Desert Locust threat in the Sahel.

    • Regular update of the Regional Action Plan.

    • Strengthened the operational capacity of national survey and control teams in Niger, Chad and Mali.

    • Triangulation of pesticides (airlifting pesticides from a country in the region with available stocks to a recipient country).

    • Enhanced preparedness for potential upscale of interventions in Niger, Mauritania, Chad, Mali and Senegal.

    • Bilateral assistance of USD 1 million to Niger has allowed the country to further strengthen its survey and control capacity.

    • Current funding gap is USD 3.3 million. Consequences of unmet requirements: reduction of field survey teams, less control, increased risk to crops, and more locusts will move to other countries.

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    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Lesotho


    • Generally favourable start to the 2012/13 cropping season

    • Erratic rains during the previous 2011/12 season resulted in a significant drop in the national cereal output

    • High maize meal prices persist

    • Low cereal stocks and high food prices contribute to the deterioration in household food security

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    Source: Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat
    Country: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan (the), Uganda, Yemen

    covering mixed migration events, trends and data for Djibouti, Eritrea/Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Puntland, Somalia, Somaliland and Yemen.


    New Arrivals: During October 2012, an estimated 9,877 persons arrived on Yemen’s shores, of these 71 percent or 7,013 of the migrants arrived from Djibouti. The total arrivals from Djibouti in October 2012 were higher than the previous month, with a 21 percent increase in arrivals between September, 2012 and October, 2012. However, in comparison to migrant departures from Djibouti at the same time last year, there was a 20 per cent decrease in migrants leaving from Djibouti. The major departure points of the migrants from Djibouti, was Obock and different coastal departure points 30-40 km north of Obock. During the month, there were a total of 102 smuggler boats which left Obock and landed on the Red Sea Coast of Yemen, this is a slight rise in boats as compared to August 2012 and September 2012 which had 92 and 95 boats respectively. An average of 220 persons left from Obock to Yemen each day in October. Efforts to curb smuggling: In October, at least four boats carrying migrants were intercepted by the Djiboutian Coast Guards. Migrants and Smugglers on the vessels were arrested and detained and some later released. There were however reports by migrants that they paid a fee of USD 2000 in order to secure their release from Djibouti authorities. Somali migrants continue to report deportation if caught travelling in and around Djibouti without refugee identification cards. Vulnerable migrants Obock: New arrivals continue to face starvation and dehydration as they make their passage to Obock for their onward journey to Yemen. On the 12th and 13th of October, two Ethiopian males are reported to have died of starvation while in Obock.

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    Source: CARE
    Country: Lesotho

    Mamatsuri Mathinyane is a 33 year old widow, and she is trying to find a way to feed her five children until the next harvest. She has tried everything to budget the money she has and to find a way to bring in more income, but she knows it may not be enough.

    Because she has no plough animals, Mamatsuri hasn’t been able to sow her plots during the current planting season. Instead she has been able to rent half the land to a tenant who will pay her R400 (about $45 US) when the harvest season comes. The harvest though is not until May and Mamatsuri does not know how she will buy food for her family over the five months until then.

    Lesotho experienced a poor agricultural season last year as well, and Mamatsuri did not collect a harvest then either. Currently then she has no food stores, and her family’s only income is the settlement money she receives from a neighbour who was found guilty after killing her only horse. This provides just enough to feed her children, but the settlement payments will end next month. That will leave Mamatsuri with no income – and still four months until the harvest.

    She does not have many assets left that she could sell. Once, she and her husband had five cows as well as the one horse. After her husband died of tuberculosis four years ago, Mamatsuri was forced to sell two of the cows to cover the cost of the funeral. Over the next few years she found herself having to sell two more cows to buy food and cover other household expenses during difficult times. Now she has just one cow, and she has sent it to a family member’s farm so that it will not be stolen. She has tried as well to earn money by starting a small business brewing local beer, but found that she just couldn’t make a significant profit.

    Unfortunately, Mamatsuri’s story is a typical example of how critical food shortages impact thousands of female-headed families, especially in contexts where a wide range of underlying factors make the crisis worse: poverty and already-exhausted savings (including for example livestock), insecurity, a high risk of HIV/AIDS, and years of poor harvests and unpredictable rains that may be linked to a changing climate.

    Lesotho is a very small country, and media and humanitarian attention has been slow to arrive - perhaps in part due to the focus on high-profile crises in the Horn of Africa and across the Sahel. While these large crises require a great deal of attention, there is a risk that countries like Lesotho and families like Mamatsuri’s may be overlooked.

    CARE has been one of the first agencies to begin responding to this crisis, beginning with the distribution of seeds to vulnerable families so that they are able to plant in the current agricultural season. This is vital as unless farmers have the support they need to plant next year’s harvest, the emergency is likely to deepen and affect an even larger population. In addition to seed distributions, over the coming months CARE plans to deliver a combination of cash vouchers and cash-for-work programmes to enable people to buy food in the market.

    In addition to an immediate response though, long-term assistance for recovery and future resilience is also vital. Even when the next harvest season arrives, Mamatsuri will only earn R400 from her tenant, which is only enough to feed her family two meals of maize a day for about three months. With barely enough money to feed her family, Mamatsuri will have to wait to rebuild investments and safety nets such as her cattle and horse. For this reason, CARE works to connect its emergency response existing long-term CARE programming in Lesotho, which includes efforts to improve agricultural production, irrigation projects, community gardens and vegetable cultivation, and other programs such as Village Savings and Loans Associations.

    About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. CARE has worked in Lesotho since 1968. Read more about CARE's work in Lesotho and the current food crisis here.

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    Source: Guardian
    Country: Kenya

    Poor soil, diseases and extreme weather make agriculture difficult in Kenya, and finding a market for crops can also be a struggle. Sawsan Bastawy explains how smallholders are working together to save their livelihoods.

    Read the full report on the Guardian.

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    Source: Guardian
    Country: Burkina Faso

    The food crisis in Burkina Faso makes it hard to feed children well. Amateur winner Lucy-Anne Mizen reports on how health centres are helping prevent malnutrition

    Read the full report on the Guardian.

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    Source: University of Oxford, Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat
    Country: Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan (the), Uganda, Yemen

    Overview of the project

    The Horn of Africa and Yemen is home to highly visible migration flows, whose numbers have been increasing over the last two decades. Migration in this region has been described as ‘mixed’, a term used to capture the varied social, economic, political, and environmental motivations of individuals who utilise similar migration channels and trajectories, and, as the insights from this project emphasize, the multiple motivations for migration that may co-exist within the same individual.

    The term ‘mixed’ migration may also describe migrants whose motivations for movement may have changed en route, causing them to switch between the different legal categories of migration for which they might qualify.1 While the migration literature recognises the main drivers of movement in the region, the regional dialogue on ‘mixed’ migration remains weak and current initiatives tend to be local and scattered and often fail to account for the existence of all forms of mobility in the region. The emergency conditions, particularly the violations against migrants’ human rights, which persist in parts of the region, often lead to short-term research and planning, and prioritise mechanisms for the protection of migrants’ human rights.

    While essential, this focus can prevent the promotion of research that captures all forms of mobility, from internal to international, and the development of longer-term perspectives and reflections on how the conditions in the region may change over time and how these changes may impact international migration in the future.

    From January to August 2012, the Global Migration Futures (GMF) project of the International Migration Institute collaborated with the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS) in Nairobi to promote discussions on possible longer-term developments in the region and to create scenarios for future international migration to, from and within the Horn of Africa and Yemen in 2030. Through this collaboration, 1 Jureidini, R. (2010). ‘Mixed Migration Flows: Somali and Ethiopian migration to Yemen and Turkey’. Cairo, Mixed Migration Task Force. the GMF research team investigated the patterns and drivers of contemporary movement and the potential futures of migration flows, as well as the scale and scope of the various protection and assistance mechanisms required for the near and mid-term future.

    It is important to emphasize that the project’s scenarios are not predictions or forecasts of the future, rather they are possibilities of what the region’s key migration drivers and patterns may be in 2030. Scenarios serve as tools for innovative thinking about future change and are created through a series of exercises carried out by experts and stakeholders in migration in the Horn of Africa and Yemen.

    This report is organised in sections that reflect the scenario building process:

    • Section 2 introduces the core elements of the scenario methodology and the role of stakeholders in the development of scenarios.

    • Section 3 presents past and present migration dynamics and patterns in the region.

    • Section 4 discusses trends that are significant in shaping migration and for which researchers are relatively certain – based on available data and knowledge – will continue through 2030 – e.g. population growth.

    • Section 5 explores the factors that are highly uncertain in terms of how they will take shape in the future. They highlight trends that need to be monitored because they may substantially impact the volume and direction of future migration – e.g. forms of governance.

    • Section 6 presents two scenarios of possible futures in the region, their potential consequences for migration, as well as offering a number of insights and important questions for future migration research and policymaking.

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    Source: Inter Press Service
    Country: Kenya

    DOHA, Nov 28 2012 (IPS) - The skyscraper Qatari capital city of Doha is a far cry from Cecilia Kibe’s home in Turkana district, a remote area in Kenya inhabited by mostly nomadic communities and pastoralists hit hard by the effects of climate change.

    But the agriculturalist-cum-sociologist has come here to the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), thanks to funding from the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice (MRFCJ), to sit and listen as scientists, researchers, top government officials and activists argue their case.

    Kibe is on a mission – to gather as much knowledge as possible to share with the women in her community. Turkana district was one of the hardest-hit areas in the Horn of Africa in the 2011 drought that affected the entire region.

    According to Oxfam International, Turkana district has gone without good rain for about five years. And this has affected the community severely. In 2011 the United Nations news agency IRIN reported “Turkana has experienced malnutrition rates of up to 37.4 percent; the highest recorded in 20 years and more than double the U.N. World Health Organization emergency threshold of 15 percent.”

    Back in Turkana district, Kibe runs an information-sharing network that she started because she refused to allow herself and the other women in her village to continue suffering from hunger as they repeatedly lost their crops in the prolonged drought.

    “Most women in African rural communities still attribute the impact of climate change to different myths, including that God is upset with people,” Kibe told IPS.

    “I work with 4,000 champions (women) who educate their fellow community members and help them come up with adaptation strategies,” she said. She named her organisation Kenya Climate Justice Women Champions, and has now expanded her network to benefit over 3,000 households.

    “In turn the women identify their areas of need and, based on the information I get from international conferences such as this one, we start projects that address those challenges,” said Kibe. The projects are funded by MRFCJ.

    She said that often the information from conferences such as COP 18 does not filter down to the people most affected by climate change.

    “We need to get the information from this conference to help them understand what exactly is happening,” said Kibe.

    Top of Kibe’s priority list of things to tackle is food insecurity. And the cultivation of cassava, a drought-tolerant crop, has been identified as part of the strategy to combat this. Previously people in Kibe’s area grew maize, which often failed because of the lack of rain.

    Another priority is addressing water insecurity, Kibe said. Back home, women and children have to travel long distances to fetch water, which in many cases is contaminated.

    “We have introduced solar water cleaning, which is a technology that uses a device that easily purifies water when placed in the sun,” explained Kibe. “It’s just a press of a button.”

    Women are also encouraged to plant five trees each to combat carbon emissions.

    What Kibe is doing is important. According to Trish Glazebrook, a researcher from the University of Texas: “Knowledge transfer is very important because we know that in as much as women need to adapt, they also have to mitigate through climate smart technologies for their farming and sources of domestic energy.”

    She told IPS that women in sub-Saharan Africa are not only victims of climate change, but are also contributing to pollution because they lack the technology to improve their farming methods and remain heavily dependent on agriculture, a sector that contributes to global emissions.

    But Robinson, who was the first female president of Ireland, said Kibe’s story was a compelling case of why women should be adequately represented at the COP 18.

    “A lot of rural women like Cecilia are doing a lot of work on the ground to adapt, but they are hardly recognised and they work with limited resources,” Robinson said.

    Speaking at the first ever Gender Day at COP 18 on Nov. 27, Robinson called for more active participation of women in the conference. For more than 10 years gender organisations have advocated aggressively for this day to be recognised in the climate negotiation process.

    “We need gender balance in all the UNFCCC bodies, including the attendance,” she said.

    Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, concurred.

    “It’s very dumb not to maximise the participation of a group that is over 50 percent of the world population,” she said.

    She said she was proud that the gender text was included in the UNFCCC process, although the words needed to be transformed into action.

    Mozambican Minister of Environment Acinda Abreu said that society as a whole needed a mind shift to allow women to make meaningful contributions at all levels of the climate change process.

    “Adaptation strategies should prioritise the farmers, particularly women who are mainly into subsistence agriculture, and the communities they live in,” she said.

    The special advisor at the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Francois Rogers, told IPS that women from all walks of life have to be adequately trained to give them the capacity to participate in policy-formulation processes at the local, regional and international levels.

    “It should not be just about meeting quotas, but we should ensure that they have confidence in understanding the issues so that they can fully participate in the decision making,” he said.

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    Source: UN Radio
    Country: Kenya


    Rural areas in Kenya, as in other countries of Africa, are always left behind in getting good quality health care for a number of reasons.

    One of them is that it is difficult to attract trained doctors and nurses to work in these areas, and funds are often scarce.

    However, there is good news regarding funding health care facilities in the rural areas of Kenya, thanks to a special fund known as the Health Sector Services Fund.

    Dianne Penn reports
    Duration: 3’09″

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

    Au sommaire

    • Crue annoncée du fleuve Niger: Niamey se prépare
    • Dans la région de Tillabéry, le niveau du fleuve monte de 1 à 2 cm par jour
    • Zinder: Le centre de réinsertion attend depuis deux ans d’ouvrir ses portes.

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    Source: Voice of America
    Country: Somalia, South Africa

    OHANNESBURG — South Africa attracts more asylum seekers than any other country in the world. There are 58,000 refugees in the country and more than 200,000 pending cases for asylum seekers. Somalis are among the most visible of the refugee communities as they usually are traders who operate in the most destitute places. But this leaves them vulnerable to very high levels of crime.

    In the dry heat of the austral summer, 103th Street in Johannesburg recalls images from the other side of the continent. A veiled woman listens to Quran readings in her shop and Amin Salat, chairman of the Somali Association of South Africa, stops every two steps to shake hands with tall, lean men with the unmistakable bearing of people from the Horn of Africa.

    “We are in... we call it here “Mogadishio”, the street of Mogadishio and the suburb of Mogadishio, but in fact it's Mayfair, in Johannesburg," said Salat.

    ​​​​​​Somalis form one of the most visible refugee minorities in South Africa. Because their country has not had a functioning government in two decades, they cannot be turned away by any country that has signed the U.N. Convention for Refugees.

    Salat says that South Africa has a particular appeal for them. Its laws, described as “good” by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, grant refugees the right to work, study and even a chance to become a full-fledged citizens, after a few years. And perhaps even more important, Salat says, South Africa has a no-camp policy, which allows refugees to settle wherever they want.

    “The majority of them, they build a better life here in South Africa. When it come to education, business, what you're doing, you know, that kind of freedoms, you can do whatever you want and South Africa is better than any other country in Africa," he said.

    But there is a very high price to pay to live in South Africa - security.

    In 2008, xenophobic attacks flared throughout the country, displacing thousands of people. But even though this type of wide-scale violence has disappeared from the front pages, they have not stopped. Last year, the UNHCR recorded 100 violent deaths among refugees in South Africa.

    “They hate us. They say to us “those East African people, they take all our business places," said a cafe owner.

    “I was robbed once when I was in George. I was admitted to the hospital. I was in the hospital for seven days. I got 12 stitches on the left side of my face, as you can see. And... Yeah! It happens! That is common crime, that happens in the country," said a supplier.

    Xenophobia plays a role in the violence against Somalis. But criminals also know that because of bureaucratic hurdles, it is difficult for refugees to open bank accounts. Robbers are so likely to find cash in Somali-owned stores that humanitarians say they have been nicknamed the community “ATMs” (automated bank-teller machines).

    Abdikadir Hassan Mohammed, owner a small stationery store in Mayfair, agrees.

    He says that every evening, he goes home with his pocket full of cash, and thieves know it. He has been robbed several times, and as long as he cannot use an ATM, he says he cannot have security and peace of mind.

    Those problems are compounded by the fact that Somali traders work everywhere, in the poorest and most crime-ridden townships.

    Mohammed Reys Osman, who supplies cellphones to local Somali shops around Johannesburg, says the risk of being robbed is ever present - so much so that he will stop working for the whole month leading up to Christmas, when violent crime in the area typically increases.

    “These guys, their targets, it's that they want to find people that, even if they shoot them, nobody would follow. And, people who are easily targeted, that's mostly the Somalians. So, for me to lower my risk I'm working with South Africans," said Osman.

    For the refugees, the biggest hope is to see an improvement in their own country's political situation. Signs are improving; the Somali Association of South Africa says a small group of refugees has chosen to go back this year. It is the first time in a decade it has happened.

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    11/28/2012 22:13 GMT

    BAMAKO, 28 nov 2012 (AFP) - Le groupe islamiste armé Ansar Dine, occupant le nord du Mali depuis huit mois avec des jihadistes, s'est installé mercredi sans combats dans la localité de Léré, à une soixantaine de kilomètres de la frontière avec la Mauritanie, a appris l'AFP de sources concordantes.

    Quelques dizaines d'hommes de la rébellion touareg du Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad (MNLA, laïc), qui étaient sur place, ont été chassés sans combats, ont indiqué un habitant de Léré, une source sécuritaire régionale et un élu local joints au téléphone depuis Bamako.

    "Les combattants d'Ansar Dine sont actuellement dans la ville. Il n'y a pas eu de combats. Ils ont chassé les quelques combattants du MNLA, qui étaient là", a déclaré l'habitant de Léré, petite ville située à 65 km de la frontière mauritanienne.

    "On voit actuellement des véhicules avec les drapeaux d'Ansar Dine circuler", a ajouté l'homme, contacté par téléphone satellitaire, les lignes téléphoniques régulières ne fonctionnant plus depuis plusieurs mois à Léré.

    La prise de la ville sans combats a été confirmée par une source sécuritaire régionale. "Les combattants d'Ansar Dine occupent actuellement la localité de Léré. Ils ont même réuni les habitants pour notamment leur dire qu'à compter d'aujourd'hui, il n'y aura plus de taxe sur les produits vendus au marché, parce que l'islam interdit le paiement de taxe", a affirmé cette source.

    Selon un élu de la localité, "c'est la police islamiste qui a désormais la gestion de la ville. Les quelques combattants du MNLA, qui étaient sur place, ont fui" en direction de Foïta, une localité malienne à 18 km de la frontière mauritanienne.

    Léré a été abandonnée il y a plusieurs mois par l'armée malienne qui était confrontée depuis mi-janvier à des offensives de rebelles touareg et d'islamistes dans le nord du Mali. Elle est située à une centaine de kilomètres de la localité mauritanienne de Mbera qui abrite un camp de réfugiés maliens ayant fui le conflit.

    Depuis qu'Ansar Dine, le MNLA et les jihadistes d'Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi) et du Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao) ont pris, entre fin mars et début avril, le contrôle des trois régions administratives formant le nord du Mali, c'est la première fois que les islamistes s'installent aussi près de la Mauritanie.

    Chassés mi-novembre de la ville de Ménaka (nord-est) où ils tentaient de se reconstituer une base pour combattre les islamistes, quelques dizaines de membres du MNLA avaient rallié Léré, où se trouvaient déjà d'autres hommes du même groupe, d'après des sources concordantes.


    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse

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    Source: US Agency for International Development
    Country: Somalia, United States of America (the), Yemen


    • Internally displaced persons (IDPs) continued to return home in southern Yemen during November. The U.N. reported that more than 80,000 IDPs—including 39,000 outside the formal returns process—returned to Abyan Governorate between July and late November, a significant increase from the 21,000 IDPs who had reportedly returned by the end of September. Returns to Lahij and other southern governorates also increased. With the rise in returns, humanitarian organizations have expressed concern regarding the absence of strong law enforcement in some areas of return. Relief agencies have also highlighted the lack of services, risk from landmines and other explosives, damage to property and infrastructure, and shortage of livelihoods opportunities throughout communities to which IDPs are returning.

    • In mid-December, the U.N. plans to release the 2013 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan (YHRP), which focuses on saving lives, increasing resilience, protecting civilians, and implementing joint programming among humanitarian and development agencies. The U.N. expects the funding request for the 2013 YHRP to substantially exceed the $585 million requested under the 2012 YHRP, which is 56 percent funded to date. The increase is a result of several factors, including rising food assistance needs, repeated disease outbreaks, damaged infrastructure, and early recovery requirements, among others.

    • The United States Government (USG) continues to support activities that address the needs of IDPs, refugees, and other vulnerable individuals throughout Yemen. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) supports nearly $30 million in ongoing humanitarian interventions funded in FY 2012, more than half of which are in the nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sectors. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (USAID/FFP) provided more than $70 million in food assistance in FY 2012, and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (State/PRM) supports approximately $20 million in ongoing FY 2012 health, livelihoods, protection, shelter, and WASH interventions in Yemen.

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia (the), Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger (the), Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo

    West Africa can be divided into three agro-ecological zones or three different trade basins (West Basin, Central Basin and East Basin). Both important for understanding market behavior and dynamics.

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

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    Source: Plan
    Country: Mali

    23 November 2012: Minthi, 13, is one of hundreds of children who are getting their education back on track after being forced to flee violence in northern Mali, thanks to Plan-supported ‘catch-up’ lessons.

    Eight months ago, Minthi arrived in Segou, southern Mali, with her family, leaving conflict behind. She registered at the local school but doesn’t speak the local language and soon fell behind in her studies, despite tremendous effort.

    The school facilities were crowded with many other new students just like Minthi, and she considered dropping out.

    Education help

    Now Minthi attends ’catch-up' courses organised for 450 students across 25 schools in Segou by Plan. Students learn subjects including maths and French, and activities are organised in child-friendly spaces where healthy snacks are served.

    Many of the students also engage in activities that address the emotional distress they are experiencing as a result of violence they have witnessed.

    Emotional distress

    According to Ms Samake, coordinator of remedial courses funded by Plan, all displaced children from the northern regions need psychological support.

    ”There are more than 100 students here who show signs of learning challenges caused by emotional distress. Plan will continue to offer appropriate follow up programmes to ensure emotional stability while advancing their education,” she said.

    The displaced students are showing significant improvement thanks to the ’catch-up’ lessons with monthly assessments showing an 80% success rate.

    Minthi is confident that she will achieve good grades on her end-of-year exams. “My teacher praised my work in maths, I feel happy with my studies. I love this school,” she said.

    Military intervention fears

    The Plan-supported programme is set to continue throughout January. However, teachers here are worried that students and education will be a forgotten consequence of any military intervention in the north.

    Resources - including teachers, classrooms and supplies - are already being stretched almost to breaking point, compromising the learning of students.

    Plan has distributed 1,100 school kits to 25 schools in Segou to help them cope with the influx of students.

    Read more about Plan's work in Mali

    Support children affected by the Sahel crisis

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    11/29/2012 02:14 GMT

    NEW YORK (Nations unies), 28 nov 2012 (AFP) - Le secrétaire général de l'ONU Ban Ki-moon a mis en garde mercredi contre les risques d'une intervention militaire au Nord-Mali pour la situation humanitaire et les droits de l'homme, dans un rapport adressé au Conseil de sécurité.

    "Je suis tout à fait conscient que si une intervention militaire dans le Nord n'est pas bien conçue et exécutée, elle pourrait aggraver une situation humanitaire dejà extrêmement fragile et entraîner aussi de graves violations des droits de l'homme", écrit M. Ban.

    "Elle pourrait aussi risquer de ruiner toute chance d'une solution politique négociée à cette crise, qui reste le meilleur espoir d'assurer la stabilité à long terme au Mali", ajoute-t-il.

    Avant toute opération militaire "l'accent doit être mis sur un dialogue politique", en particulier avec les touaregs du Nord, insiste M. Ban.

    Tout en estimant qu'une opération armée internationale pour chasser les islamistes qui contrôlent le Nord-Mali "sera sans doute nécessaire en dernier recours contre les plus extrémistes" d'entre eux, M. Ban souligne que "des questions fondamentales (..) restent en suspens". Elles concernent "la manière dont la force sera dirigée, entretenue, entrainée, équipée et financée".

    M. Ban estime que les plans pour mettre sur pied la force internationale ainsi que pour renforcer les forces armées maliennes "doivent être précisés davantage".

    Le 11 novembre, la Communauté économique des Etats d'Afrique de l'Ouest (Cédéao) a approuvé l'envoi dans le nord du Mali, contrôlé par des groupes islamistes armés, d'une force militaire de 3.300 hommes soutenue sur le plan logistique par des pays occidentaux.

    Le Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU doit se prononcer en décembre sur cette intervention, en se fondant notamment sur le rapport de M. Ban. Des détails sur les préparatifs et le schéma opérationnel de cette force ont été transmis au Conseil.

    "Si la force militaire sera sans doute nécessaire à un moment donné, en dernier recours, pour débarrasser le nord du Mali d'Al-Qaïda et de ses alliés, il est extrêmement important que tout soit fait pour minimiser ses éventuelles conséquences humanitaires et sur les droits de l'homme", affirme M. Ban, qui recommande de tenir compte de ces risques "dès la planification" de la force.

    En particulier, s'il donne son feu vert à cette force, le Conseil devra chercher à "s'assurer que les forces maliennes et africaines impliquées dans toute offensive militaire dans le nord soient tenues pour responsables de leurs actes" et qu'elles respectent les lois humanitaires internationales.

    M. Ban recommande à cet effet de déployer "un nombre suffisant d'observateurs des Nations unies" et de renforcer dès maintenant "la présence politique de l'ONU" au Mali.


    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Lesotho

    By Suzanne Beukes

    VAN ROOI, Lesotho, 28 November 2012 – Since losing her two daughters to HIV/AIDS – “this disease which is affecting everyone,” she says – 75-year-old Puseletso Tsiu has been forced to eke out a living for herself and her three orphaned grandchildren by doing piecework.

    Tears stream from her eyes as she describes how much more difficult putting food on the table has become for her since food crisis gripped the small, landlocked, mountainous country of Lesotho.

    In desperate times, stretching slim resources

    In Lesotho, the effects of two consecutive years of floods and heavy rains followed by a drought have been amplified by rising food prices, especially for staple foods such as maize. Families like Ms. Tsiu’s, already struggling to make ends meet, have fallen on even harder times.

    The government estimates that about 725,000 people, a third of the population, are in need of humanitarian assistance. The food crisis is aggravating the already massive social challenges Lesotho faces, including HIV/AIDS. The country has the third highest HIV prevalence in the world, with an estimated 23.6 per cent of adults aged 15-49 affected.

    The village of Van Rooi, where Ms. Tsiu’s family lives, is a desperate one. It’s about an hour’s drive from the capital, Maseru. Along the route, soil erosion bears evidence to years of erratic weather conditions and poor farming methods. There is hardly any cultivated land to be seen. There are no trees.

    Ms. Tsiu is resourceful, using what she has to care for her grandchildren and herself. Every now and then, she can invest 100 maloti (about US$12) to purchase a piglet. Once it’s grown fully inside its makeshift pen, a broken-down white Mazda, the windows covered with chicken wire, she’ll slaughter the animal and sell its meat.

    But in times like these, it is simply too hard to stretch what little they have.

    Supporting the most vulnerable households, and the most vulnerable children

    Ms. Tsiu is a beneficiary of a child grants programme that UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Development have been operating since 2007 to help the most vulnerable households afford basic necessities. Each quarter, she receives 360 maloti (US$40).

    Because of the crisis, the programme, which already supports over 10,000 households, has been expanded to disburse an extra 800 maloti (US$94) between September and December to more than 15,000 households. Ms. Tsiu says that the extra money she receives as part of the emergency response has allowed her to buy papa (maize meal) – the price of which, she says, has spiked to “about 50 maloti [US$6] for a 12.5 kg bag”, oil and sugar. She has also been able to purchase school shoes for the two younger children.

    Another way support reaches children is through a school feeding programme. In a mountain village school 180 km from Maseru, teacher Khali Khali explains how HIV has hit the community: Around half of the 243 schoolchildren are orphans.

    For most of these children, the only meals they eat in a day are the two meals they receive in school as part of a World Food Programme-sponsored feeding programme. These meals are a big motivation for the children to attend school, especially during the crisis.

    The programme is also a way to mitigate high rates of malnutrition in Lesotho. A 2009 report showed that about 39 per cent of ethnic Basotho children under 5 were stunted. And during the crisis, the United Nations estimates that 8,640 children are acutely or severely malnourished and require therapeutic nutrition through inpatient care.

    Creating resiliency

    The Government of Lesotho, UNICEF and partners are responding to the crisis with relief assistance that includes agriculture and food security, nutrition, social protection and school feeding. But they are also focusing on long-term strategies that will ultimately help the population to be more resilient during times of erratic weather.

    One method is conservation agriculture. Farmer Makana Makana is passionate about this method. He proudly shows off the maize field he farms with three other families. It is the planting season, and he has received seed and fertilizer from a Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations seed depot.

    Mr. Makana explains conservation agriculture: “I dig a small hole. Then I use this 75 cm metal rod as the distance between this hole and the next one.” He then adds fertilizer and organic manure. Once it rains, he plants the seeds and waits for the crop to grow. “No animals are allowed to graze here because it creates soil erosion,” he says.

    Lesotho is fighting to keep its people from losing their livelihoods. As the crisis worsens, more needs to be done to ensure both that the people of Lesotho receive life-saving assistance during this critical time and that sustainable strategies are put in place to make sure that the most vulnerable families are more resilient, in the long term.

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    Source: NATO Civil-Military Fusion Centre
    Country: Iraq, Mali, Syrian Arab Republic (the)


    Iraq 1

    Mali 2

    Syria 3

    IED & Demining 4

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    Source: Save the Children
    Country: Somalia

    by Justin Forsyth

    With the world turning its attention away from the violence in Gaza, back to the turmoil in Syria and the rising floodwater here in the UK, there’s not much room left for the beleaguered country I’ve just returned from.

    Hunger, war, and drought have turned this nation in the Horn of Africa into possibly the hardest place in the world to be a child. Flying into its ravaged capital, Mogadishu, looking down at the bright blue sea and the white sandy beaches, it’s at first hard to believe that this is the case. But as the battle-scarred buildings come into view, the old familiar shiver of fear and expectation runs down your spine.

    At least the burnt out plane on the runway has now gone. I had been there over a year before on a Save the Children cargo plane full of life saving emergency supplies and was intrigued to see the difference.

    A country on the up?

    I’d read how Mogadishu was now on the up, with investment pouring in, the diaspora returning and a new president and cabinet. Wearing flak jackets and helmets, protected by armed guards, the Somali capital is still far from safe – we did indeed see a frenzy of building activity, an army of workers renovating bullet-riddled houses, hotels and shops.

    Property prices are going through the roof. Markets are now open. Restaurants are popular again. Somalis, always great entrepreneurs, are hustling and bustling in the various city markets.

    At the beach we joined dozens of young boys playing football – back-to-back games for miles up and down the seafront in their Arsenal, Barcelona and Liverpool shirts. At the old port fish market local fisherman said business was good as they showed me their catch of giant tuna and lobster. But this is only one side of Mogadishu. It’s still a very dangerous place.

    The heavy protection gear and armed guards are ample proof of that. The noise of gunfire and constant threat of improvised explosive devices is with you at all times. Our local Somali partner organisation CPD – recently lost a staff member shot randomly by a militia.

    Our local Somali staff are very brave, risking their lives daily to deliver life-saving aid. For the poorest there are some slight and welcome improvements, but there is no boom.

    Suban and Natesha

    When I was last here it was the height of the famine. Since then, the food situation has eased and aid has helped save hundreds of thousands of lives. This was brought home to me when I met a mother and daughter who I had seen a year ago.

    When I first met Suban and Nasteha, aged two, Nasteha was very ill from hunger and close to death. She had walked with her mother for over four days and was very severely malnourished. Before my eyes. our frontline health staff rescued her and rushed her to our clinic – a tent in the camp. She was pulled back from the brink and then taken to a bigger hospital, where after a month of intense treatment, she recovered.

    When I met her again a few days ago there were big smiles and laughter all round. A shy little healthy girl beamed at me from behind her mother’s dress. I felt proud of our amazing local staff and partners who in the midst of great danger managed to save children like Nasteha. But for many displaced families life is sadly still a battle for survival.

    The struggle to survive

    The following day I met another mother and her daughter at a Save the Children clinic in a more remote camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu. Mulki had brought her daughter Yasmin, aged two, to be treated for diarrhoea, the second biggest killer of children in Somalia. She had fled the recent fighting in the Afgoye corridor, where thousands had been caught in the crossfire between different sides and had to flee for their lives.

    Mulki had seen neighbours and relatives killed. Her husband had remained behind. She had given birth 13 days previously to a little boy, Zakaria, in a tiny shelter made up of sticks and plastic. She stoically told me how she and a heath worker had used the Save the Children birth kit – a scalpel, a plastic sheet, some soap and a tie for the umbilical cord. She was struggling to survive.

    Some 370,000 other displaced people in Mogadishu face a similar struggle. Many are children. It’s hard to explain in words how vulnerable the children are in these camps. They are right on the edge. The difference between life and death is a thin red line of aid.

    Staying the course

    Outside the capital, Somalia’s poorest are still facing emergency levels of malnutrition and hunger, recovering from a terrible drought and famine. The most recent assessment shows the number of people in urgent need of humanitarian aid is expected to exceed 2.1 million in the coming months – down from 2011, but still high. We need to stay the course with these families and not pull the rug from under their feet just as they begin to recover.

    We need a twin-pronged approach in Somalia. Continued humanitarian assistance for the poorest families, but also aid to help them plant crops again and rebuild their lives. This will take innovative strategies to transfer cash and other inputs into remote rural areas of Somalia, often cut off and inaccessible. We also need to make sure another generation of Somali children don’t miss out on education.

    The international community deserves some credit for helping to avert the worst effects of famine last year. As we go forward, we must stay the course, helping those still facing humanitarian crises and ensuring we help families build a securer future, free from hunger.

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

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