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ReliefWeb - Updates

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan (the), Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania (the), South Sudan (Republic of)

    Acute food insecurity likely to decline for most poor households from October to March.


    • October to March 2013 is anticipated to have a significant reduction in the food insecure population in East Africa from the exceptionally high level of acute food insecurity during the peak of the drought crisis in August 2011. An estimated 14.5 million people in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, and Rwanda, down from 16 million in September 2012, are in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) phases of acute food insecurity.

    • Generally favorable agroclimactic conditions have improved production, labor, and security in Sudan,
      South Sudan, Djibouti, and parts of Somalia and Ethiopia. Poor households are expected to soon experience significant improvements in food security outcomes as a result.

    • While significant improvements in food security are anticipated through March 2013, poor households live in high risk environments. Possible unexpected shocks may increase acute food insecurity, including increased conflict, macroeconomic changes, dramatic increases or volatility in food and non-food prices, unpredictable humanitarian assistance flows, and sudden flooding, which often leads to asset losses and the proliferation of vector- and water-borne diseases.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Cameroon


    • Widespread flooding in the North and Far North districts of Cameroon continues to cause extreme hardship for the local populations. Crops have been destroyed, especially millet, rice and sorghum, which may lead to serious food shortages. Water is beginning to recede around the Benoue River in the North, however, in the Far North increased water in the Logon River downstream of Lake Maga is contributing to flooding in the departments of Logon and Chari. During the last week (13-18 October) 1,274 families (8,238 persons) in Kousseri district were displaced and the number of displaced is expected to increase further in the coming week.

    • 1.9 million children reached with polio, measles, DPT, Vitamin A and deworming campaign in Extreme North, North and Adamaoua regions.

    • No funding received in the last reporting period. Additional funds are needed urgently to be able to meet the new emerging needs of flood affected areas.

    • Coverage of SAM increased from 30% to 47% during the reporting period, with 25,949 children admitted to therapeutic feeding programs. This is a result of data rationalising and training efforts being carried out since last three months. The distribution improvements have also helped achieve better results in this month.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Chad


    • For 2012, the annual caseload of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) across the Sahel Band was estimated at 127,300 children under five years of age based on August 2011 nutrition survey results. As of September, 114,837 cases of SAM have been admitted for treatment (90.2% of the target). As the number of implementation sites and the number of admissions continue to increase and GAM rate is 18.9% in June 2012 SMART survey across the Sahel belt, UNICEF estimates that the number of expected cases for treatment of severe acute malnutrition is likely to exceed 2012 original.

    • A slight decrease in the rate of admissions for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) between August and September 2012 was recorded (14,241 in September versus 14,661 in August).

    • An additional 17 outpatient therapeutic program (OTP) centres were opened between July and August 2012. UNICEF is currently supporting 384 centres in the Sahel belt of which there are 32 inpatient facilities (IPFs) for treatment of SAM with complications and 352 OTPs for outpatient treatment.

    • More than 700,000 people are being affected by flooding nationwide, with 70,000 people displaced.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Gambia (the)


    • As of 4th October, the total population affected by floods and windstorms stands at nearly 34,018, of which 7,007 are children under five years. Almost 20% of the affected households were displaced (7,745 people) while 13 people were reported dead.

    • Food assistance, shelter and support to WASH continue to be among the immediate needs of the affected population.

    • The SMART nutrition survey data collection has been completed in all the six health regions reaching 7,779 children - 3,809 girls and 3,970 boys in 4,276 households. Data cleaning and analysis has commenced and a draft report will be available in November.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Nigeria


    • A total of 21,360 new cases of children (10,466 boys and 10,894 girls) with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) have been treated in September in the 466 Community Management of Acute Malnutrition sites

    • 159,143 are from Sahelian states and 11,416 from non-Sahel states

    • The funding gap of 51% is remaining. The funding shortfall for the sectors beyond nutrition management places constraints on UNICEF integrated response to scale up plans to reach more vulnerable children.

    • Whilst response to Sahel food and nutrition crisis continues, according to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) until Oct 11th 2012, the flooding has affected 2,389 communities in 231 Local Government Areas (LGA) and resulted in the displacement of 1,341,179 people and 431 deaths. However, based on the preliminary findings of the Inter Agency Rapid Assessment, over 2.2 million people have been displaced so far. The verification process of these figures is on-going. UNICEF support has so far reached 250,194 IDPs. The funding gap for flood response is estimated at US$ 9 million out of which US$1 million has been pledged.

    • A total of 432 suspected Cholera cases with no laboratory confirmation and 6 deaths (CFR 1.39%) were reported until Oct 19th 2012. The Nigerian Ministry of Health has established a Health Emergency Taskforce on Flood, in preparedness for any disease outbreak, including cholera. Funding gap is estimated at US$ 300,000.

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Senegal


    • By October 20th, the regions of Diourbel and Matam together are already at 6,919 cases of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) since the beginning of the emergency response. The prediction for the two regions in the nutritional survey with SMART methods from June 2012 was of 4,950. With the gradual scale up in coverage and capacity being replicated to other regions, the total need may well surpass the national previsions of 22,336.

    • In order to cover the estimated caseload as per the nutritional survey of June 2012, UNICEF estimates that there is still a need for 4,000 cartons of Plumpynut until the end of the year and an additional 8,552 cartons in the first quarter of 2013. The current resources committed still leave a gap of approximately 5,000 cartons for the first quarter of 2013. If actual caseload exceed predictions, as is already the case in Diourbel and Matam, even greater amounts of RUTFs may be required.

    • Of the 174 health facilities in the Regions of Matam and Diourbel, 169 have tap water and 168 have toilets within the facilities – a coverage of 97%. Currently 87% (151) of these health facilities offer hygiene promotion activities, with 40% (70) also having hand- washing stations with soap.

    • UNICEF is prepositioning hygiene kits in Louga, S. Louis and Thies regions to support the gradual scale up to the 367 health facilities in these regions starting November 1st.

    • Funding of UNICEF’s emergency response plan in Senegal continued at 46%. Additional funding is needed to sustain and expand current coverage.

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    12/01/2012 19:26 GMT

    BAMAKO, 01 déc 2012 (AFP) - Plusieurs associations et partis politiques maliens se sont dits samedi contre toute négociation avec le groupe islamiste armé Ansar Dine et la rébellion touareg du MNLA, qui doivent entamer prochainement des discussions avec le pouvoir malien sous l'égide de la médiation burkinabè.

    L'Alliance des démocrates patriotes pour la sortie de crise (ADPS), regroupant une vingtaine de partis et une dizaine d'associations et de mouvements, récuse également le président burkinabè Blaise Compaoré comme médiateur.

    Elle "refuse toute négociation avec le MNLA (Mouvement national de libération de l'Azawad) et Ansar Dine (Défenseurs de l'islam)", affirme l'ADPS dans un "manifeste pour la Nation" publié à l'issue d'un forum à Bamako.

    Selon la coalition, le MNLA et Ansar Dine "ne sont pas représentatifs des Touareg du nord du Mali, et les Touareg eux-mêmes sont minoritaires au sein des populations du Nord".

    Ansar Dine, qui prône l'application de la charia (loi islamique), est un des groupes jihadistes qui occupent depuis huit mois le nord du Mali avec Al-Qaïda au Maghreb islamique (Aqmi) et le Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao).

    Tous ont pris le contrôle des vastes régions administratives du Nord (Kidal, Tombouctou et Gao) entre fin mars et début avril, à l'issue d'une offensive de près de trois mois menée avec le MNLA, qu'ils ont fini par évincer des principales villes en juin.

    Médiateur dans la crise malienne pour la Communauté économique des Etats d'Afrique de l'Ouest (Cédéao), le président burkinabè Blaise Compaoré travaille à une solution négociée tandis que parallèlement se prépare une intervention armée africaine pour chasser les islamistes armés du nord du Mali.

    Selon une source proche de la médiation, sous l'égide de M. Compaoré, le pouvoir malien, Ansar Dine et le MNLA devraient tenir leurs premières discussions la semaine prochaine à Ouagadougou.

    Dans son "Manifeste pour la Nation", l'ADPS récuse le président burkinabè comme médiateur, estimant qu'il "applique une approche contraire aux intérêts du Mali". "Son attitude partisane en faveur des rebelles et leurs complices terroristes, le disqualifie comme médiateur crédible dans le règlement de la crise au Nord", affirme la même source.

    Le manifeste rejette aussi "la plate-forme politique d'autonomie" du MNLA, réclame "l'organisation des élections avant la libération totale" du nord du Mali "et le retour de l'Administration et de l'armée malienne" dans les régions occupées.

    "Nous devons compter d'abord sur nos propres forces, nous connaissons nos alliés, il faut leur faire appel pour libérer le pays", a dit devant la presse l'ex-Premier ministre malien Soumana Sako, président de l'ADPS.

    Dans un rapport adressé le 28 novembre au Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU, le secrétaire général des Nations unies Ban Ki-moon avait mis en garde contre les risques d'une intervention militaire dans le nord du Mali, tout en relevant que "la force militaire sera sans doute nécessaire à un moment donné".

    Réagissant à ce rapport, le Front uni pour la défense de la République et de la démocratie (FDR), qui presse pour le déploiement d'une force africaine au Mali, a réitéré son appel pour l'intervention dans un communiqué transmis samedi à l'AFP.

    "Le FDR espère vivement que le rapport" de M. Ban "ouvrira la voie à l'adoption d'une nouvelle résolution autorisant l'usage de la force contre les groupes armés terroristes et rebelles qui continuent à bafouer la souveraineté et l'intégrité territoriale du Mali", affirme-t-il.


    © 1994-2012 Agence France-Presse

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    Source: UN Children's Fund
    Country: Kenya

    By Daisy Serem

    TURKANA, Kenya, 29 November 2012 - At Namukuse Village, in Turkana Central District, northwestern Kenya, sandy landscape leads to the shores of Lake Turkana. The lake is the fourth largest in Africa and a source of livelihood for the fishing community that lives along its shores.

    Yet, despite the huge water resource at its doorstep, access to safe drinking water has been a problem for the community for many years.

    Water poses health risks

    Lake Turkana is a saltwater lake with high levels of fluoride. The water is unsafe for consumption. However, with no other alternatives, residents have been forced to drink this water in order to survive.

    According to District Public Health Officer Innocent Sifuna, the continued use of lake water causes deformities of the limbs because of the high salinity and fluoride. Cholera cases have also been high in the region, with devastating outbreaks that have mainly affected children.

    “Studies have showed that these conditions have been caused by use of Lake Turkana water,” says Mr. Sifuna.

    Along with lack of access to clean water, lack of proper sanitation and hygiene facilities and practices has been a major challenge. Diarrhoeal diseases have been common; recurrent outbreaks have contributed to the high child mortality rates in Turkana.

    Jacinta Asinyen, a mother of six, sits under a palm tree facing the lake. She weaves a basket for sale. Her youngest son, 3-year-old Sunday, sits next to her watching his mother’s handiwork.

    Three of Ms. Asinyen’s children, including young Sunday, have limb deformities such as bow legs or knock knees.

    “I have been using this salty water for drinking and cooking,” she says, “and I realized that my children were having health problems, especially with their bones.”

    WASH project pipes in clean water

    UNICEF, in partnership with the Government of the Netherlands, the Government of Kenya and the Kenya Red Cross, is addressing the water problems among communities in the Lobolo, Namukuse and Longech villages of Turkana Central District. A water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project has been set up to benefit 7,600 residents at a cost of US$253,730.

    The project taps a natural, safe and reliable underground spring, the water of which is further filtered to provide clean water to the community. An environmentally friendly solar pumping system pumps the water to a reservoir closer to the community. Water is delivered to beneficiary communities through a 26 km pipeline.

    Access to improved drinking water has made a real difference in the community, especially for the children. Today, for only ten Kenya shillings, Ms. Asinyen fills her 20 litre jerrican at one of the local water kiosks and heads to her home just a few minutes away, Sunday in tow.

    WASH in schools helps girls’ enrolment

    Sanitation and hygiene components of the project have also had a great impact on the children’s lives. Gender-sensitive segregated latrines have been constructed to address hygiene and sanitation in the four local schools, as well as in the health dispensary that serves the three villages.

    Girls who have had to stay at home during their menses because of lack of sanitation and hygiene facilities no longer have to miss school.

    “Now we can come to this bathroom and clean ourselves and change, then go back to class and study, just as any other student,” says Diana Akai, 16, who is president of the school’s WASH Committee.

    Community manages project

    Netherlands Ambassador to Kenya His Excellency Joost Reintjes recently visited Turkana, where he and other delegates were treated to music, dance and poetry.

    “We were shown around by children from Namukuse Primary School, and they showed us how they now wash their hands. They do it better than I do,” said Ambassador Reintjes. “They know how to use their toilets, and have been educated about hygiene and their health. I think that is very good.”

    The WASH project has been handed over to the community to ensure efficient and transparent use of the resource. “We are happy to see that schools, health centres and the community are benefiting from this project, and our call to the community and national administration is to manage and maintain this project for sustainability,” says UNICEF Kenya Representative Marcel Rudasingwa.

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    Source: World Bank
    Country: Djibouti

    World Bank Establishes Representative Office in Capital

    WASHINGTON, December 1, 2012 – The World Bank Group celebrated a number of firsts in Djibouti this week with the first visit by Inger Andersen, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa to formalize the institution’s first permanent office in Djibouti which is being established and managed by Homa-Zahra Fotouhi as the first Resident Representative.

    “Djibouti and the World Bank Group have enjoyed a 32-year partnership and I could not be more proud than to finally put our roots down here so we can work shoulder to shoulder in tackling the country’s development challenges,” said Andersen. “This signals the real measure of our commitment to support Djibouti and its Vision 2035.”

    During her two-day visit, Andersen saw the Urban Poverty Reduction Program which has provided both community training and a vocational program with a 30 percent job placement success rate so far. The program focuses on the poorest citizens and provides key infrastructure such as roads, community centers and sports fields. She was accompanied throughout her visit by Hartwig Schafer, World Bank Country Director for Djibouti, Egypt and Yemen.

    Andersen participated in a nutrition education session for mothers of children under the age of two in Hayableh, where she noted the vital importance of the fight against malnutrition: This Social Safety Net Project supports small labor-intensive works projects aimed at boosting household incomes and thus better nutrition.

    Andersen congratulated the government on the consultation workshop held last month during which the Bank sought guidance for the development of its Country Partnership Strategy. Led by Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, Minister of Economy and Finance, the workshop attracted the active participation of key government ministers for its two-day duration.

    In a meeting with private sector representatives, Andersen committed to working with the Government to address constraints to private sector development and job creation. In discussions with development partners, she reiterated the Bank's commitment to strengthened coordination for greater impact of development programs and increased benefits for the population.

    In meetings with ministers and counterparts, Andersen and her delegation discussed the development challenges facing Djibouti, and reaffirmed the Bank’s commitment to supporting the country’s emerging development vision, Djibouti Vision 2035, which will lead to poverty reduction and shared prosperity. Among important topics discussed, was the Bank’s support to the exploration of the country’s geothermal potential.

    Andersen urged the acceleration of the implementation of the four projects approved by the Bank on June 12, 2012 for a total of US $19.2 million. The projects support improved social safety nets for the poorest and most vulnerable citizens, better access to water and electricity, education reform and rural development.

    These projects all have a focus on helping Djibouti recover from one of the worst droughts to hit the Horn of Africa in 60 years. Fotouhi noted Djibouti’s vulnerability to a range of natural hazards, including multi-year droughts that create crippling water scarcity for both agricultural and domestic use. She said the World Bank was organizing a Risk Management Round-Table with the Government of Djibouti next April to consolidate the country’s risk management progress and continue building a national culture of disaster resilience.


    In Djibouti
    Homa-Zahra Fotouhi
    tel : +253-21 35-1090

    In Washington
    Irene Sitienei
    tel : (202) 458-0175

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    Source: Government of Australia
    Country: Australia, Kenya, United Republic of Tanzania (the), World, Zimbabwe

    Foreign Minister Bob Carr today announced a $15 million partnership with Canada for agricultural research into improving food security for expectant mothers and children under five in sub-Saharan Africa.

    Researchers would examine ways to address water use in drought conditions and address post-harvest crop failures. Senator Carr said an emphasis on food security for expectant mothers and infants would also help address Africa's high rates of stunted growth in children under five.

    "More than a quarter of sub-Saharan Africans – around 234 million people – will suffer from a lack of nutrition this year," Senator Carr said.

    "Under-nourishment is particularly acute among expectant mothers and young children in east and southern Africa.

    "This research will focus on the needs of these women and children by examining ways to improve water use and reduce the post-harvest loss of crops from drought.

    "Crop failures in sub-Saharan Africa cost around $4 billion a year in grains alone.

    "Research will examine how small-scale irrigation projects can lift crop yield. It will build on existing work that is helping women farmers in Kenya to triple the yields of their maize crops and poultry farmers in Tanzania to better utilise water supplies."

    The Australian International Food Security Centre and Canada's International Development Research Centre will contribute $7.5 million each to the partnership to fund research grants.

    The new partnership with Canada, and the AIFSC, is part of more than $500 million in long-term Australian commitments to African development. Recent outcomes include new livestock vaccines for East Africa; tools, fertiliser and seeds to support 376 000 Zimbabwe farmers and improved harvest conditions for 500,000 African maize farmers.

    Media enquiries

    • Minister's Office: (02) 6277 7500
    • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Media Liaison: (02) 6261 1555
    • AusAID Media: 0417 680 590

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    Source: US Agency for International Development
    Country: Kenya

    December 1, 2012
    Irine Zippy Kalamai | USAID | Feed the Future

    The following is a guest blog post by Irine Zippy Kalamai, founder of the Chepterit Horticultural Growers Organization in Nandi County, Kenya.

    I’ll always remember the first case of AIDS that I saw. It was almost twenty years ago. I had been working as a nurse in rural Kenya for a very long time.

    There are many myths and superstitions surrounding HIV/AIDS. Some people even believe that the disease is a hex cast by a neighbor through witchcraft. This misinformation can make it difficult for us to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, combat the effects of stigma facing people living with HIV/AIDS, or even advise people on the proper diet to boost their immune systems.

    When I was transferred to work as a nurse in Nandi County in 1998, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in that area was about seven percent. Women who had lost their husbands to AIDS sometimes resorted to prostitution, further spreading the disease. As a result, we saw a lot of orphaned children.

    At that time, antiretroviral drugs that are used to boost immunity against HIV had just been introduced to Kenya. Most people living with HIV were reluctant to take the drugs. They had seen or experienced the side effects of the antiretroviral drugs that are similar to those of drugs used to treat cancer – they made people feel worse. Without a proper balanced diet, the effects of the antiretroviral drugs had little impact in boosting people’s immune systems.

    As a nurse, I recognized a dire need to improve how and what people in my community were eating. I was constantly trying to educate people on how important it is to eat a healthy and balanced diet. But it is difficult to eat a balanced diet without a regular income.

    At the same time that I was working as a nurse, passion fruit farming had just begun here in Nandi County, and I was interested in growing it myself. It was always my routine to spend the first hour of the day on my farm before going to work at the clinic. Eventually, I visited a farm that taught people how to grow and nurture passion fruit seedlings, and it suddenly occurred to me that I could hit two birds with one stone: I could help others generate income while educating them on how to use better nutrition to combat HIV/AIDS.

    I started to train people how to grow passion fruits, dedicating a third of my small piece of land specifically to my newfound project. I used the training to encourage people to get tested for HIV and to take the antiretroviral drugs. By teaching them to grow passion fruit, I was helping them generate income so they had some money to improve their diet.

    I founded the Chepterit Horticultural Growers Organization to empower women living with HIV/AIDS through passion fruit and vegetable farming. Our group focuses on passion fruit because it yields so much on such small pieces of land. Passion fruit can also be intercropped, which means you can grow it at the same time and on the same land as a second crop. And passion fruit provides necessary vitamins that help supplement the diet with nutrients necessary to fight off diseases.

    As a nurse, I knew about the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and its work in the clinics to provide antiretroviral drugs, get people tested for HIV/AIDS, and help us raise awareness about the disease in our community. So when I started the Chepterit Horticultural Growers Organization, I was not surprised to learn about a Feed the Future project supported by USAID that was providing information on agricultural innovations, like soil testing and drip irrigation technologies.

    Through the U.S. Government’s support, our group received nets to keep out the insects that always invade the farms during the rainy season, and we were able to connect with Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture. By selling high-quality passion fruit seedlings, we have been able to expand beyond the local market and sell our crops to buyers in other parts of the country. Some of our buyers are from as far as Kakamega in Western Kenya!

    Now we have members living with HIV who can afford school uniforms for their children. We have widows who can afford to support their children to continue beyond primary to secondary school. In addition to learning about better nutrition, some members are even using their income to supplement their diet with fish, even though it is not a traditional staple food in Nandi County. The knowledge we’ve gained about both health and agriculture means we won’t lose another generation to AIDS in Kenya.

    In 2006 Irine Zippy Kalamai was awarded the Head of State Commendation by the President of Kenya, His Excellency Mwai Kibaki, for championing the introduction of antiretroviral drugs in rural Kenya.

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali

    Good household food security outlook, with prices expected to drop


    • The ongoing harvests of all rainfed crops, the sharp uptick in seasonal employment, and price increases for livestock and cash crops are strengthening food access for food-insecure households who were previously in IPC Phase 2 (Stressed). Moreover, the improvement in household purchasing power and the gradual replenishing of food stocks will restore seasonal food access and bring food insecurity levels back down to IPC Phase 1 (Minimal/None) between now and next March.

    • The expected good harvests and the likelihood of at least average to above-average food stocks (even in areas with structural deficits), above-normal farm income levels, social assistance, and the continuation of humanitarian aid programs (cash transfer programs and distributions of free food aid) through the end of December are mitigating the impact of debt incurred by poor households during this past year.

    • Staple cereal prices are still 17 to 70 percent above-average, though down by 8 to 12 percent from their peak levels back in August. Cereal prices are expected to gradually decline in line with normal seasonal price trends after the harvest, between October and December.

    • Subsidized cereal sales ended in September and the government is not planning to continue providing any further humanitarian aid between now and December. Free food distribution programs, which were delayed in getting started, will end between October and December.

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Nigeria

    Food Insecurity Remains Minimal as Main Harvest Peaks


    • The ongoing main harvest has replenished food stocks across the country. Staple food prices at most markets have been either stable or declining compared to last month, which has improved household food access. Most poor households in Nigeria will face Minimal/None (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity levels through March 2013.

    • Conflict relating to Boko Haram persists in the extreme northeast, negatively affecting crop production, trade, and markets. Food stocks from the current harvests will deplete earlier than normal and high prices there will reduce food access. Between January and March 2013, at least 20 percent of the population in Borno and Yobe states will face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of food insecurity.

    • Widespread flooding from July to October displaced over 2.8 million people and damaged about 1.9 million hectares of cropland. The displaced are returning to their homes and only 387,153 people remain in shelters. Despite crop damage, food flows from the country's surplus production areas will lessen acute food insecurity in flood-affected areas.

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    Source: Famine Early Warning System Network
    Country: Senegal

    Normal 2012/13 consumption year expected for poor households


    • The 2012/13 cereal production is forecasted to be 52 percent higher than last year – a bad year – and 16 percent higher than the five-year average. Other crops (such as groundnuts, cowpeas, and cotton) have also generally performed well and will likely improve poor household access to basic foods and incomes.

    • Good household food stock levels, coupled with stable or slightly declining imported broken rice prices and normal income levels, will result in Minimal (Phase 1) food insecurity through at least March 2013.

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    Source: AllAfrica
    Country: Ethiopia


    While government leaders, NGOs and corporations devise strategies to churn out more food for future generations, Eleni Gabre-Madhin is taking a different approach. Concerned by a 2002 famine in her home country of Ethiopia that followed bumper crops in 2000 and 2001, the Stanford-educated economist decided it was time to go beyond food production and take a hard look at distribution.

    The result? Africa's first commodity exchange. As the founder and outgoing CEO of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX), Gabre-Madhin established a reliable interface for buyers and sellers to meet - an idea that has inspired other African countries to follow suit. Gabre-Madhin won the Yara Award at the African Green Revolution Forum in Arusha, Tanzania, for her role in transforming Ethiopia's commodity market. She told AllAfrica's Lauren Everitt how a formal market has revolutionized Ethiopia's economy and empowered smallholder farmers.

    What prompted your decision to found Africa's first commodity exchange in Ethiopia?

    I had been doing research on grain markets and other agriculture markets in Africa for many years and as it happened I did my Ph.D. on grain markets in Ethiopia. One of things that I kept seeing over and over, which I'd seen in other parts of Africa, was just how difficult it was for buyers to find sellers and sellers to find buyers and how difficult it was to enforce the contract.

    And so you'd see over and over that a seller, such as a farmer, for example, who sold grain to a trader wouldn't get paid for weeks, sometimes months. There were cases in the coffee market in Ethiopia where people had committed suicide because they had outstanding loans and their buyers hadn't paid them. So there were all sorts of cases of contract default.

    Then from the buyers' perspective you'd hear over and over again that they'd have to visually inspect the grain or the coffee to check if it was really the quality they'd been told it was. They would have to reweigh it, re-bag it to see if it was the actual quantity and quality that they were contracting.

    So these are all the problems in the supply chain that make us poor and make us food insecure. If people can't get grain where it's produced really efficiently to where it's needed, then you have markets that are segmented. You have pockets of surplus where prices collapse and places in other parts of the county where prices shoot up because there's a deficit and there's no grain coming in.

    That's actually exactly what happened in 1984 in the big famine that claimed a million lives in Ethiopia. There was obviously a shortage in the north and yet Ethiopia had to go to the world and beg for food aid, but there was a grain surplus in the fertile parts of western Ethiopia.

    When I found out as a student about this situation of the 1984 famine, I said, 'It can't just be about producing more - sure producing more is important but we've got to figure out how to distribute it. We've got to figure out how to make an efficient market work for everybody - for the farmers, for the buyers, because otherwise we're always going to be in this cycle'.

    The same thing was repeated in 2002 when there were two years of consecutive bumper harvests in 2000 and 2001 and Ethiopia was doing really well. Then six months later prices collapsed completely almost to zero, and farmers could not sell the grain. Six months later, in mid-2002, Ethiopia went to the world for emergency food aid for 14 million people risking starvation.

    I was so shocked. By that time I had my Ph.D. and I knew this was thing I wanted to work on. I think 2002 just crystallized that I needed to go back to Ethiopia and do something about this. I had the idea of a commodity exchange - I'd written about it in my dissertation, I did my Ph.D. at Stanford, which is really specialized on commodity markets.

    What other sorts of dialogues are ongoing about distribution?

    I think more so than 10 years ago, now there is an interest in markets and issues around distribution. In the Ethiopian debate about food security and famine, people would always say, 'More seeds, more fertilizer, more irrigation - these are the things we have to do'. And yes, we have to do all of that, but then here you are - you get a bumper harvest and six months later people are still going to starve.

    Every crisis leads to an opportunity so that crisis led me to tell the government: 'We have 40 or 50 Ph.D.s in economics working on production issues, and there are exactly four of us who have written Ph.D.s on market issues, and that's how skewed our development policy is - we're always talking about production and we have to have a more balanced perspective on how we're going to get out of hunger in Ethiopia, and we have to think about the marketing side'. That actually somehow resonated, and the government decided to start up a whole initiative on markets. That's how I got invited to start the project on the commodity exchange and subsequently left the project and then started the exchange.

    Has the idea of a commodity exchange gained traction elsewhere on the continent?

    I think around Africa now our exchange in Ethiopia has really gained a lot of visibility. We've had 18 countries come to visit the exchange.

    There has been a huge amount of interest. Many countries are writing it into their policies - that they want to have a commodity exchange. I think organizations like AGRA, FAO, Nepad, UNDP, the World Bank - all these organizations are now sort of saying, we have to take this seriously, and help countries think through initiatives like the Ethiopia commodity exchange.

    As the outgoing CEO of the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange, what will you do next?

    I've seen this enormous demand, and that's going to be my next chapter - to sponsor that demand, which in a sense has been created by the initiative in Ethiopia. So that I feel this is the natural next step for me.

    And how will you do that?

    I'm setting up a company that will precisely do this kind of project for different countries, bringing in knowledge, technology and management experience. At this point there are about six countries, I would say, that are really moving quite aggressively on getting commodity exchanges set up in Africa, and that's really exciting.

    You have talked about a disconnect between buyers and sellers - how does a commodity exchange address that and hold both parties accountable?

    Basically it's a membership-based system. So we have members of the exchange that buy a membership seat, just like Charles Schwab and Merill Lynch are seat holders on the New York stock exchange or Cargill is a member on the Chicago Board of Trade.

    When you buy a membership seat, then you use that seat to trade either on behalf of yourself or clients, who you may sign up. We have members of the exchange who trade on behalf of farmers, who themselves are farmers, and members who are buyers like industrial processors, flour millers, exporters, roasters, etc.

    The members of the exchange follow the rules of the exchange in the sense that they will bring commodity to our warehouse, get it graded, certified, weighed and essentially stored in a warehouse that we are operating. This means that now we have a guarantee that we know what the quality is, we know what the quantity is and we know that it will be delivered at sale.

    On the buying side we have a clearinghouse that takes the buyer's funds into a pre-trade cash account that is used for exchange trading purposes. The exchange has no involvement besides providing the platform for the buyer and seller to physically or virtually meet, and once they've agreed on the terms of what the price is and what the quantity is, then our clearinghouse will take the funds from the buyer from that pre-trade cash account and transfer it to the seller the next day. The same next day we will take the warehouse receipt from the seller and transfer the ownership to the buyer. So the exchange is the third-party guarantor of the transaction, and that's the key point.

    By being a guarantor for the transaction it means you didn't need relatives or special connections. You don't have to go beg people to pay you or chase after them. You don't have to go check if the quality is really grade one. The exchange is guaranteeing the quality, the quantity, the payment and the delivery. That's a very big value-add proposition to the market - that if you trade through the exchange, you will receive your payment the next morning.

    That means we are a T + 1 clearing and settlement system. The day of trade being "T" and T + 1 is tomorrow morning you're paid. Even stock exchanges that have been around for 20 years are still taking two days after trade or three days after trade to effect payment. We're settling the next day. This is a financial revolution in Ethiopia - that somebody who sold is guaranteed payment the next day, especially when you imagine how many people have committed suicide or spend a large part of their time getting paid.

    This is a very big change in our market - that people can go to market saying, 'I'm going to sell at whatever price I want, and I will get paid'. Same thing for the buyers: 'I will get my delivery, I will get my commodity when I want it, not months later'.

    There are exporters that used to default on their export contracts because the supplier had not yet met their contract. Or processors, like millers, that would get a delivery but it would be full of sand or stones. They'd put it in their machines, and their machines would break down. All of these problems are not going away because of our system.

    The smallholder farmer was the theme of the African Green Revolution Forum. Are they able to access the commodity exchange easily?

    Twelve percent of the members of our exchange are farmer cooperatives that are representing 2.4 million small farmers in Ethiopia. That's a massive number in just four short years and relative to the amount of investment. Millions and millions are being spent on linking farmers to markets, and here with less than U.S.$10 million we've accessed 2.4 million farmers in four years.

    More importantly, even if they don't trade directly through the exchange, because of the transparency around the pricing, all the farmers in the country are now using the ECX price as the reference price. In the case of coffee, there are 15 million coffee farmers in Ethiopia, and they are referencing their local market sales off of the ECX price. This basically means that the margin between the local price and the ECX price has narrowed almost by half. So if a trader knows what the central market price is, but the farmer doesn't know, the trader will try to bring it down. So even if the prices are going up, the trader is buying at the lowest possible price to get a big margin - that margin has now shrunk down to half of what it used to be because of the transparency of the system and because everybody's using the same system.

    We're getting 1.2 million calls a month for market prices off of the market data server, of which 70 percent come from the rural areas.

    When Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete came to ECX in May 2012 he asked a trader who was part of our meeting, how do you negotiate with the farmers? How do you set prices with the farmers? And she looked at him and said, 'Mr. president, even if I wanted to cheat farmers I can't, because they know the prices before I do'.

    0 0

    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization
    Country: Afghanistan, Algeria, Chad, Egypt, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger (the), Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan (the), Tunisia, Western Sahara, World, Yemen

    The Desert Locust situation remained serious during November as small swarms formed in Mali, Niger, and Chad, and adult groups moved north to Libya, Tunisia and Algeria. And increasing number of adults were seen in Morocco and the Western Sahara. Locusts formed groups and small hopper bands in western Mauritania.

    0 0

    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, United Republic of Tanzania (the)


    • Malawi launched Response Plans to address increasing food insecurity.

    • The Response Plan is requesting $102 million of which $41 million have been sourced, leaving a shortfall of $61 million.

    • The number of people with missing food entitlements stands at 1.97 million, an increase of 21% from the June MVAC Report.

    • This situation is compounded by the devaluation of the kwacha and the increasing price of fuel and maize.

    • Expected humanitarian consequences include changes in food consumption patterns, increased malnutrition and negative coping strategies.

    0 0

    Source: Assessment Capacities Project
    Country: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic (the), Chad, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the), Democratic Republic of the Congo (the), Djibouti, Dominican Republic (the), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger (the), Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Pakistan, Panama, Philippines (the), Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan (the), Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic (the), United Republic of Tanzania (the), World, Yemen, Zimbabwe, South Sudan (Republic of)

    Storm Bopha is heading toward southern Philippines as thousands of people are evacuating in high-risk areas. The storm is expected to intensify to a typhoon and will make landfall in Northern Mindanao late on Tuesday night. Severe rains have affected at least 6,500 people in Panama prompting the Government of Panama to declare a state of emergency for the regions of La Chorrera, Capira and Colón.

    The situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, with heavy fighting in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Deir al-Zor, Deraa as well as Idlib and Hama provinces.

    Global Emergency Overview web interface

    0 0

    Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
    Country: Angola, Comoros (the), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe

    0 0

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

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