Secretary-General appoints Ms. Denise Brown of Canada as Deputy Special Representative in Central African Republic

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations - Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Denise Brown of Canada as his new Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), where she will also serve as United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. 

Ms. Brown succeeds Najat Rochdi of Morocco, who completed her assignment in February 2019. The Secretary-General is grateful for Ms. Rochdi’s leadership and dedicated commitment during her tenure to supporting recovery, peacebuilding and humanitarian efforts in the Central African Republic. 

Ms. Brown brings to the position over two decades of professional experience and an extensive knowledge in humanitarian affairs and recovery programmes with a particular focus on contexts of complex emergencies, and a thematic focus on operations, programme development, coordination and interagency relations. She has been serving at World Food Programme (WFP) headquarters in Rome since 2017, first as Director of the Emergency Preparedness and Support Response Division then, since 2018, as Director of Policy and Programmes. From 2013 to 2016, she was the WFP Director for West and Central Africa based in Dakar, Senegal and covering 20 countries. Ms. Brown has spent most of her career based in the field, with WFP, covering a range of situations in Niger, Somalia, Kenya, Afghanistan and Iraq. She has also worked in Haiti and Cambodia with non-governmental organizations.

Ms. Brown holds a Master of Science degree in Children’s Development from Purdue University, United States.

Born in 1963, Ms. Brown is married and has three children.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Source: Apo-Opa

Emergency water and sanitation units deployed to disaster-struck Mozambique

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
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Two major emergency response units are being deployed to Beira in Mozambique as the world’s largest humanitarian network continues to scale up its response to Cyclone Idai.

The first will provide basic sanitation facilities for up to 20,000 people. The second will produce up to 225,000 litres of clean water per day – enough for 15,000 people. The humanitarian experts accompanying the units will arrive in the coming days, with the equipment to arrive in Beira early next week.

Jamie LeSueur, the Head of Operations in Mozambique for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said:

We know that health risks can rise dramatically in the aftermath of any emergency, let alone one of this magnitude. We are concerned about the potential spread of waterborne disease. These emergency response units will be crucial for preventing that spread, and for making sure that people have the basic support they need.”

A third emergency response unit, designed to manage the complex logistics involved in an operation of this scale, is also being deployed.

In addition to water and sanitation, IFRC and Mozambique Red Cross are also aiming to address the massive shelter needs caused by the tropical cyclone and the floods. According to the government, at least 400,000 people have been displaced. Red Cross volunteers have already distributed emergency shelter kits – made up tarpaulins and basic tools – to about 1,500 families. These kits were part of a consignment that IFRC managed to deploy to Beira ahead of the flooding.

Tomorrow (22 March), an additional consignment of emergency shelter kits for 3,000 families will arrive at the Beira port. These crucial supplies were deployed in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai from a French Red Cross warehouse on Réunion island.

Many people have been waiting for days for rescue and for support. It’s encouraging that the humanitarian response is really starting to come to scale. But more help is needed, and we are continuing to do all we can to bring in more resources and to reach more people,” said LeSueur.

IFRC and Mozambique Red Cross are appealing for 10 million Swiss francs to help 75,000 people. Red Cross will focus on reaching those worst affected by the crisis. In addition to water and sanitation and shelter, IFRC is also focusing on responding to health needs and to ensuring that cyclone survivors are safe from harm during the coming recovery.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
Source: Apo-Opa

Switzerland extends aid to disaster areas in south-east Africa

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

The Federal Council, Switzerland
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Swiss Humanitarian Aid is dispatching further experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) to the areas of Mozambique affected by Cyclone Idai. Their main focus will be on restoring the drinking water supply.

Swiss Humanitarian Aid, part of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), will dispatch another team of five SHA members to Mozambique in the coming days. The team consists mainly of water experts and logisticians and will reinforce the team of SHA experts who have been working in Mozambique since the beginning of the week.

So far, twelve tonnes of relief goods have been transported to the disaster area with the first unit. These supplies consist mainly of materials and tools for building shelters. The new consignment to the region will primarily consist of materials and equipment for restoring drinking water supplies, e.g. for cleaning wells.

In addition, Switzerland is making two to four SHA members available to UN agencies responding on the ground to the flood disaster. Swiss Humanitarian Aid is providing a total of CHF 2 million to cope with the ensuing hardship in south-east Africa. Half of this will be used for Swiss Humanitarian Aid's own actions. The other half will be disbursed to UN agencies fighting the catastrophic flooding in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Federal Council, Switzerland.
Source: Apo-Opa

Tanzania: A long-standing issue, with potential for change

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

World Council of Churches (WCC)

What if HIV were just a virus, and not also a taboo? This week in Tanzania, religious leaders gathered to address stigma and discrimination related to HIV.

Convened as part of the PEPFAR-UNAIDS FBOs Initiative on 18-21 March, the interfaith consultation was facilitated by the World Council of Churches-Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy.

And while stigma and discrimination have been long-standing concerns facing people living with HIV, participants saw hope on the way ahead.

“Faith leaders can play such a great role in reducing stigma and discrimination related to HIV, through the provision of knowledge and information,” reflected Global Fund/PEPFAR implementation adviser Koech Rotich, who also works with UNAIDS in Tanzania – speaking in a national context where the vast majority of people are committed to the Christian or Islamic faiths.

Young people took centre stage in challenging those religious leaders who stigmatize people living with HIV as sinners, and firmly stated that many young people living with HIV were actually born with the virus.

A 24-year-old man who wishes to remain anonymous, said he was born with HIV, and due to stigma has vowed never to disclose his status until after he gets married – affirming to the religious leaders how HIV-related stigma can be detrimental.

At the same time, one who has experienced first-hand the effects of breaking the silence as a person living with HIV, is Imam Mnyonge Masoud from the Tabora region of Tanzania.

By speaking openly about his status, Masoud said, he has “managed to provide guidance and counseling”. But also, he noted, “it has helped reduce discrimination and stigma among people living with HIV.”

Reflecting on the impact of the consultation, Rev. Melania Mrema, a priest from the Monrovian Church of Tanzania living with HIV, stressed the value of developing tools and techniques for religious leaders to implement in their own faith communities.

The occasion also saw the Kiswahili translation of a recent WCC training manual for religious leaders, on “Treatment Adherence and Faith Healing in the Context of HIV and AIDS in Africa”, serving for the first time as a reference point as religious leaders seek to address the issue of so-called faith healing and its often detrimental impact to treatment adherence.

WCC Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiatives and Advocacy regional coordinator for Eastern Africa Rev. Pauline Wanjiru Njiru, who facilitated the consultation, challenged the participants to take stock of “where we have come from, where we are and where we want to go”.

“We need to acknowledge the achievements made by science and play our part to encourage religious communities to uptake prevention, testing and disclosure and treatments as God’s gifts. This will only be achieved if we end stigma,” Njiru said.

“As we have gathered here in Mwanza, to listen, learn and share our experiences, it is also clear that these are issues where faith leaders who take action see a clear and direct impact,” she added. “This gives us both hope and strength as we continue our common ministry, of unpacking these issues and finding ways forward.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Council of Churches (WCC).

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World Council of Churches (WCC)
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Source: Apo-Opa

Equatorial Guinea Pushes Growth and Diversification via Year of Energy Initiative, Eyes Tourism and Services Expansion

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Year of Energy
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At III Oil & Gas Meeting Day, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons promotes Year of Energy 2019 (www.YearofEnergy2019.com) events, including APPO CAPE VII Congress on April 2-5; Minister emphasizes that Equatorial Guinea aims to diversify its economy into services and tourism, calls for investment and exchange of experience; In April Equatorial Guinea will welcome new oil and gas operators, aims to reach financial close on major gas infrastructure and continues 2019 licensing round.

Today in Gran Canaria, Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons emphasized his country’s commitment to using its energy resources to diversify the economy. Speaking at the III Oil & Gas Meeting Day, he gave details on multiple value-added projects currently underway and invited the global energy sector to participate in the Equatorial Guinea Year of Energy 2019 initiative.

The Year of Energy, spearheaded by the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons, positions Equatorial Guinea’s as Africa’s energy hub. Through events in Nigeria, Spain, the Emirates, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea, it brings attention to issues of regional cooperation, gaining greater value from natural resources and promotes investment in world-class oil and gas projects. Key events will be the APPO CAPE VII Congress & Exhibition on April 2-5 and the GECF 5th Gas Summit on November 26-29, 2019.

H.E. Minister Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima announced that he expects a final investment decision on the natural gas ‘backfill’ project linking producing gas fields in Equatorial Guinea to onshore liquefied natural gas facilities in April. Local content is going to be a key part of the execution and contracting strategy as more jobs and contracts need to be awarded to citizens and companies that are compliant with the laws.

He also welcomed petroleum sector operators to explore Equatorial Guinea through the EG Ronda 2019 licensing round and told delegates that new operators would soon be entering the country to take over amortized fields.

“Oil and gas has been fundamental to our growth and we have taken advantage of our resources to fuel development,” said the Minister, “but it will not be enough to secure our future. We are looking to the Canary Islands as an example that is close to home for many of us, of a place that has succeeded in building a sustainable economy on tourism and services. Equatorial Guinea will be the Singapore of the Gulf of Guinea. For that to happen, we invite our international partners to invest with us in technology, infrastructure and education and to exchange their experiences with us.”

Representing Equatorial Guinea at III Oil & Gas Meeting Day alongside the Minister was the national oil company GEPetrol, national gas company Sonagas and local industry association NAHSCO. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Year of Energy.

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Learn more about the Year of Energy at www.YearofEnergy2019.com

Source: Apo-Opa

Launch of New Research into Preventing Violent Extremism in Kenya

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

British High Commission Nairobi
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Representatives from the Kenyan Government joined members of the diplomatic community and civil society today, for the launch of new research into preventing violent extremism in Kenya. The launch was co-hosted by the National Counter Terrorism Centre, the British High Commission Nairobi, and the Embassy of the Netherlands, Nairobi.

The research, which was jointly funded by the British and Dutch Governments, seeks to further understanding of ‘at-risk’ communities in Kenya, and to support an evidence-based approach to policy and decision making. 

Researchers looked at the drivers of radicalisation, how radicalisation and recruitment work in practice, and which approaches to preventing and countering violent extremism may be most effective. Among the findings, it was clear that social networks are key; those with small or weak social networks are at risk of radicalisation. Personal crises, and structural challenges such as unemployment & poverty also play a big role. When considering how to effectively respond to the risk of radicalisation, the research highlighted the positive role informal grassroots interventions can play in influencing ‘at-risk’ individuals, and the role mothers play in encouraging their children to leave violent extremism.   The research includes recommendations for government, practitioners and development partners working to prevent violent extremism. 

Speaking during the launch, Ambassador Martin Kimani said: 

‘This launch delivers carefully researched findings and practice-relevant recommendations that help sharpen the focus of terrorism prevention work on individuals who are truly at risk of recruitment. I commend the researchers on this effort.’

British High Commissioner Nic Hailey said: 

‘The UK is committed to working with Kenya to respond to the shared threat of violent extremism. Research ensures we adopt an evidence-based approach to the design of our interventions, so that they really work, preventing people from being radicalised in the first place.’ 

Dutch Ambassador Frans Makken said:

‘Preventing and countering violent extremism is not just a matter of violence alone; it is also about a country’s reputation, investment climate and, most importantly, the future of its youngsters. This research helps to pinpoint causes of radicalization and recruitment and, hence, to support policies as well as concrete action on the ground to prevent and counter violent extremism.’

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of British High Commission Nairobi.
Source: Apo-Opa

Embassy of Japan gives UNICEF Ethiopia US$ 2.5 million to meet the water, sanitation, and hygiene needs of internally displaced populations

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
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The Embassy of Japan in Ethiopia has contributed US$ 2.5 million to UNICEF Ethiopia to help alleviate the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) needs of some 400,000-people displaced by droughts and ethnic conflicts.

UNICEF will use the funds over 12 months to provide lifesaving WASH services to internally displaced populations (IDPs) and host communities in all regions of Ethiopia, with priority given to SNNP, Oromia, and Somali regions. 

UNICEF will use the grant to procure emergency supplies such as jerry cans, soap, SaTo toilet pans and life-saving activities such water trucking and construction of sanitation facilities and sustainable water infrastructure to reduce dependency on water trucking.

“This contribution from Japan could not have come at a better time when we are seeking resources to support the large number of IDPs,” said UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Gillian Mellsop. “Conditions in the IDP sites remain dire, with the brunt of suffering borne by children and women. We are grateful for this contribution, which will enable us to reach nearly half a million people. The needs, however, remain large while the funding, regrettably, is limited.”

As of October 2018, 2.9 million people, including 1.5 million children, had been displaced in Ethiopia.

Japan’s financial contribution will enable UNICEF to:

  • supply safe water to 332,800 IDPs and 83,200 members of host communities. Some 220,000 children are set to benefit; and
  • provide sanitation and hygiene services to 172,800 IDPs and 43,200 members of the host communities. This intervention will benefit 114,000 children.

UNICEF Ethiopia’s total humanitarian appeal for children for 2019 is pegged at US$ 124.1 million and aims to reach 3.7 million people, including two million children.

For more information, refer to the humanitarian appeal for children 2019

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Source: Apo-Opa

Experts tease out kingpin role of digitization for Africa’s revenue harvest

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
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Digitization has been variously described as pivotal in ramping-up revenue collection for financing Africa’s development.

This convergence of views characterized discussions at one of the plenary debates of the 38th meeting of the Committee of Experts of the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, taking place in Marrakech, Morocco.

Convened to critically discuss and share experiences around the theme: “Fiscal policy, trade and the private sector in a digital era: a strategy for Africa,” the experts mainly evoked questions of speed and productivity, governance, timeliness and cybersecurity associated with digitizing fiscal regimes.

“Digitalization has the greatest potential to influence trade and productivity in Africa,” asserted Adam Elhiraika, Head of ECA’s Macroeconomics and Governance Division, who buttressed his points with examples from Rwanda and South Africa, using evidence from the soon-to-be-launched 2019 Economic Report on Africa.

While Rwanda has increased its tax collection by a commendable 6% of GDP thanks to digital strategies, South Africa has reduced the cost of revenue collection for both the State and taxpayers by 20% by going virtual with the process.

He opined that Africa should expect to see further success stories as more countries get converted to digital methods, which make it easier than ever before to access hitherto hard-to-tax domains such as agriculture, the informal sector and the digital economy itself.

The possibilities for increasing state revenues with the use of new technologies are real, explained the delegates from Guinea, who reported that 19 per cent of their compatriots already use mobile money solutions in their regular and business transactions.

However, their worry was the need for systems to protect users of technological platforms from hackers; hence the need for African countries to create regulatory and surveillance frameworks for cybersecurity.

According to Mr. Elbakkouri Aziz, heading the Moroccan team of experts at the session, these and other policies on the digital economy should be practical and citizen-centered.

His team said African countries should come together and form a common front to deal with the preoccupying issue of adequately taxing multinationals, including the use of digital strategies.

In pursuing revenue collection, “levying the informal sector is a huge challenge,” noted Mr. Makki Mohammed Abdelrahim Allan, Director General of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of the Republic of Sudan.

“But we are rolling out a digital identification program, which takes into account tax and business information of citizens and we are hoping it will pay a great role in revenue collection,” he said.

At this juncture, the Senegalese offered some experience on revenue collection from the informal sector.

“Local councils are best placed to tap revenue from the informal sector, and should be drafted-in to do so” said Mr. Mayacine Camara, Mayor of Koungheul, in Senegal, whose council has made progress in that regard.

Ambassador Raj Busgeeth of Mauritius explained that his country had made much progress on digital tax collection, noting that performance has been enhanced by incentives to citizens who pay their tax online.

Digitalization would, however, only be optimal for resource mobilization when corruption is stamped out of the process, he argued, while making a case for people in position of power to be closely followed up to pay their taxes.

Corruption is a hindrance to tax revenue collection, he harped on, adding that “the big shots are probably those not paying taxes.”

The Egyptian team led by Ahmed Kamaly, Deputy Minister for Panning Affairs, seemed to have a fix for such a difficulty.

He said e-government services and tech centers have proved advantageous in Egypt by reducing transaction costs, enhancing investments and reducing the incidence of corruption related with revenue collection.

“But it’s a good idea to first ask the question on whether we do have active or passive fiscal policies in Africa’” he mooted, while submitting his belief that the continent didn’t seem to have active tax policies.

The conversation will continue for two more days to prepare grounds for incisive ministerial discussions.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
Source: Apo-Opa

On International Day of Forests, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announces new forestry education initiatives

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
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FAO marked the International Day of Forests today by announcing two new forestry education initiatives aimed at raising awareness among children and young people on the sustainable use and conservation of forests.

The two projects, funded by Germany with over $2 million, will address major challenges in forestry education and will help increase understanding of forests among the general public.

“Education is a critical step to safeguarding natural resources for future generations. It is essential for children to learn about forests at an early age,” said José Graziano da Silva, FAO's Director-General.

The theme of this year's International Day of Forests – “Forests and education – underscores the importance of education at all levels in achieving sustainable forest management.

“Forests help to keep air, soil, water and people healthy. And they play a vital role in addressing some of the greatest challenges we face such as tackling climate change and ending hunger,”  Graziano da Silva said.

Yet, warns FAO, despite these widely documented benefits, the integrity and sustainability of the world's forests are threatened by the cumulative effects of deforestation, land degradation and competition for alternative land uses. At the same time, a growing number of people needs access to greater amounts of nutritious food.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is that there is a lack of understanding of the many ways in which forests give back to global society, compounded by a growing disconnect, particularly in urban areas, between people and nature. FAO stresses that this issue needs to be challenged and reversed, and that it can be done through education.  

However, at present, education about forests is often inadequate and is not able to address emerging challenges. Fewer young people study forestry at university or college, and even fewer primary and secondary schools include forest education in their changing curriculum. When forest education is offered, it often fails to take into account forests' multi-functional role.

This is why FAO and partners are working to raise awareness about issues threatening our forests and strive to support the creation of comprehensive forestry education programmes and rural vocational schools that can skill professionals to deal with the complex challenges and opportunities that the forest sector will continue to face.

Educating children on sustainable forest use and conservation in Tanzania and the Philippines

One of the projects announced on the International Day of Forests aims to increase forest literacy and the need to manage forests sustainably among children aged 9-12 in Tanzania and the Philippines.

Funded by Germany with over $1 million, the three-year-project will develop forest education modules based on an interactive, experiential, forest-based learning approach, and will then make these materials available for further adaptation and use around the world via a dedicated website. The materials and lessons learnt will be also disseminated during key forestry events.  

In both countries, forests and woodlands are vital, especially for rural populations' food security, energy needs and livelihoods. They are also facing several challenges. 

Nearly half of the population in Tanzania and one third in the Philippines are under the age of 15. Educating primary school students on sustainable forest use and conservation is an obvious entry point for ensuring the integrity and sustainability of the two country's forests in the long run.

Enhancing global forestry education

With the support of Germany of over $1 million, FAO, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and the International Union of Forest Research Organization (IUFRO) are also joining forces to conduct, together with other partners within the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and beyond, an inventory of forest education to review the state of forest education across six regions and globally, identify forestry education challenges and gaps, and develop recommendations to address these. The initiative also aims to create an online platform to serve as a “one-stop-shop” for forest education.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Source: Apo-Opa

The 6th Edition of International Association of Sports Press (AIPS) Africa Congress will be held in Accra, Ghana

21.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG)
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The Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) will from April 2-6, host the 6th Edition of International Association of Sports Press (AIPS) Africa Congress, in Accra.

The Congress will hold at the Accra City Hotel and it is the first time ever that the 50-year old SWAG will host the the biggest gathering of Sports journalists in the continent.

Expected to be sandwiched with expert presentations and discussions on contemporary issues on sports media, administration and hosting of big sports events, the congress comes on the heels of a successful women centered seminar hosted by SWAG last year in partnership with AIPS AFRICA.

No fewer than 50 delegates from national sports journalists associations across the continent as well as executive committee and honorary members of both AIPS and AIPS AFRICA are billed to attend this annual assembly according to a statement from the secretariat. Also expected to participate fully in these three days are officials of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of Africa Games 2019, Africa Rugby Union and the continental and regional football bodies.

The statement added that, the AIPS President Gianni Merlo, the President of the Association of National Olympic Committees in Africa (ANOCA) Mustapha Berraf, the Chairman of APO Group Nicolas Pompigne- Mognard, and the Power of Sports in AFRICA and Rivers State Governor Barrister Nyesom Wike are on cue to make their presence felt with unique messages.

Tested resource persons from Ghana and outside have been earmarked to talk and provide fresh insights on such topics as; “When Will Africa be ready to win the FIFA World Cup , How bold is Africa’s gold chase at Tokyo 2020? “Africa Games and the future”, The New Sports Journalism in Africa – finding the right mix.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG).
Source: Apo-Opa