Four start-ups launched in Jubbaland following intensive training of youth in construction skills

25.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

UN Habitat

As part of the Somalia Strengthening Institutions for Public Works Project RAJO (SSIPWP) and Youth Employment Somalia (YES), 280 young Somali women and men have graduated from three months of comprehensive training to empower them with knowledge and skills for careers in the construction sector, a booming industry across Somalia as the country rebuilds with good employment prospects for young people.

The training which was conducted by UN-Habitat in Kismayo, Jubbaland had four key components – life-skills, construction skills, entrepreneurship and ICT innovation. The modules are designed to impart key building blocks needed by the youth for lifelong learning and effective business and value chain management in the construction sector. The project enhanced their ability to succeed as entrepreneurs, creating job opportunities rather than being job seekers.

As a direct result of the training four start-ups were launched in Kismayo in partnership with iRise, Somalia’s first innovation hub. The ideas will be incubated with coaching from iRise Hub over the next three months. A total of eight start-ups have been launched by Project Rajo following the training in Mogadishu.

Somalia’s economy has continued to grow modestly in recent years with a significant contribution from the construction sector. However, the sector has a large skill gap due in part to poor training which does not meet market standards. UN-Habitat is committed to help fill this gap by equipping youth with market driven skills.

“I developed a strong passion for construction and I hope the skills and practical experience I gained from the three months training will help me find my dream job,” said Ahmed Mukhtar, one of the trainees.

UN-Habitat International Youth Expert Balqesa Sheikh with Programme Management Officer Sharmaarke Abdullahi and Jubbaland State Minister for Public Works Reconstruction and Housing Ismail Ahmed Garas at the graduation ceremony.

In his opening remarks during the graduation ceremony, the Minister for Public Works and Housing, Mr. Ismail Ahmed Garas said it is very relevant to the demands of the market and is intended to narrow the skills gap. “The government is happy to have the pool of young men and women with construction skills available locally. It will be more affordable to use locally available skilled human resource instead of outsourcing them from neighboring countries,” he said. The Minister for Youth and Sports, Mr. Osman Hussein promised to prioritize job placement for the graduates.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Habitat.

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Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) surpasses 1000 cases, daily case rate on the rise

25.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Rescue Committee
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Since the Ebola outbreak was declared in August, the confirmed and probable case count has now surpassed 1000; case numbers are on the rise which is not what we expect at this stage in the outbreak that may last another six to twelve months; in the past week we have seen 58 new reported cases – this is the highest number in a week in 2019. There could still be many more which have not been reported; working with the community is the key to getting this outbreak under control; IRC teams are supporting 59 facilities to improve infection prevention and control as well as working to protect women and children.

A thousand people have now contracted Ebola since the outbreak was declared in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in August. This tragic milestone is a reminder that this outbreak is not yet under control and in order to make progress more must be done to work in partnership with the affected community. The ongoing mistrust facing health workers and the response is a symptom of the years of insecurity they have endured, and a sign that those responding must work even harder to combat the stigma and misunderstanding held by some in the community.

Tariq Riebl, IRC’s Emergency Response Director in DRC said: “Alarmingly at this stage in the outbreak, the number of cases of Ebola is once again on the rise. In the past week we have seen 58 new cases – this is the highest number in a week in 2019. With mistrust and security issues, cases are likely to be going unreported and the true figure could be even higher. These numbers show that despite the hard work being done, this outbreak is far from over. Insecurity and violence has led to the IRC and other agencies being forced to frequently suspend programs, which time and again we have seen lead to a spike in cases.

“Data shows us that working with the community is the key to stopping this outbreak. Without greater engagement we will see more lives lost. IRC’s team in North Kivu are redoubling their efforts to understand the concerns of people living in the impacted communities and to work with them to quash this outbreak. In the past weeks IRC teams have run a series of community meetings to understand their concerns as well as establishing focal points within affected neighborhoods and villages.

“We are already almost seven months into this outbreak and at this stage we should be seeing the case rate declining, not on the rise. With an optimistic outlook this outbreak is predicted to last another six months — but realistically we could be looking towards another year of fighting this disease. The Ministry of Health and partners including the IRC are working around the clock to curtail the outbreak as quickly as possible to reduce the loss of life and further damage to the community.”

Leading on infection prevention and control, the IRC is working in 59 health clinics, training health workers to recognize symptoms and safely triage and transfer suspected Ebola patients to treatment centers; as well as working in women’s and children’s protection and community sensitization.

With more than 13 million people in need of aid, DRC is one of the world’s most complex, chronic and long-standing humanitarian crises. The IRC has been working in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1996 responding to the humanitarian crisis in the east. It has since evolved into one of the largest providers of humanitarian assistance and post-conflict development, with life-saving programming in health, economic recovery, women’s and children protection, and livelihoods.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Rescue Committee.
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Lady Cheetahs and Georgia take Top Gongs at Kwese Sevens

25.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU)

Zimbabwe’s national sevens rugby side the Lady Cheetahs and Georgia’s men’s national team scooped top honours in emphatic fashion to win the women’s and men’s finals to wrap up an actioned packed two days of the Kwese Sevens Tournament at the Machinery Exchange Stadium, Harare Sports Club.

Both sides were unbeaten – Lady Cheetahs conceded only one try in the tournament as they beat Zambia 31-0 in their final while Georgia beat home favourites Zambezi Cheetahs 19-14 to close off the tournament.

The ladies stood unopposed as they were a solid unit which boasted of experienced senior players and the new generation of players.

One the teams old guards Charity ‘Choki’ Mucucuti opened the scoring and the speed and leadership of Constance ‘Kadiki’ Ngwende gave Zambia a torrid time.

Lady Cheetahs were an impermeable fortress held by Caroline Malenga, Precious Marange and Lissy Wasarirevhu – packed with pass and clinical finishers, out classed Zambia stood no chance.

“I cannot describe how it feels to win a championship in front of our home fans, they were supporting us all the way and we have won their hearts by giving our best at every moment.”

“All three teams representing the Lady Cheetahs gave their hearts out for two days of god rugby and we hope to get to play at even bigger tournaments,” said captain Ngwende.

Lady Cheetahs Head Coach Abigail Kawonza echoed Ngwende’s sentiments as she hopes for more international invitationals.

“The ladies executed everything we planned, their chemistry on the field and composure on the field would make any coach happy.”

“They really wanted to win this and they not only won a trophy but a new fan base at home, we hope that we get more game time to accommodate the growth and appetite for competitive women’s sevens in Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa,” said Kawonza.

Meanwhile visiting Georgia had entered the tournament as the third ranked favourites behind Zambia and Zimbabwe only to stun the hosts in a nail bitter of a match.

The build-up to the final came off a dramatic 12-7 semi-final against Zambia in which Georgia’s surpassed Zambia’s physicality along with a blistering fast running lines to earn a finals berth.

In the final match of the day Zimbabwe led 14-7 at half time and but the pendulum swung against them as Georgians capitalised of defensive errors in a clinical come back to score two tries in the second half.

Georgian Head Coach Zaal Lejava was on his feast as his charged up players gave Zimbabwe difficult run.

“I am very happy for us, this is my second year as he head coach and this is a big one for my team.”

“It I very important for the boys who want to qualify for the Olympic Games and after this tournament we hope to be much stronger,” said Lejava.

Georgian Captain Ramaz Kharazishvili lauded Zimbabwe for hosting the tournament and giving much needed competition in their quest for Olympic qualification.

“I want to thank  Zimbabwe for inviting us here, it was a tough tournament and Zimbabwe played very good rugby in the final.”

“This will help us get better as we prepare for the Olympics,” he said.

Zambezi Cheetahs Coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba remains optimistic ahead of the Hong Kong Sevens and prospects of Olympic Qualification.

“Unfortunately we did not get the result we wanted, Georgia wanted to win this and they did everything to deserve that win.”

“We are keeping our heads up high and we have achieved a lot of what we planned as we approach the Hong Kong Sevens and other events to come, the key thing was identifying weaknesses and strengths which we did this weekend,” said Nyamutsamba.

The final in the schools category went in favour of Prince Edwards Tigers who beat Churchill Bulldogs (7-7) by virtue of the tournament rules which stated that the first team to score a try will win in the event of a tie that will clash with a live broadcast and where the sudden death would not be played.

This means the Bulldogs will have to settle their age old score with the Tigers and this year’s Dairiboard Rugby Festival.

Day Two results


5th and 6th                Goromonzi 26-05Hellenic  

1st Semi-final             Churchill 19-12 Allan Wilson         

2nd Semi-final             Prince Edward 17-12 Wise Owl    

3rd v 4th                    Wise Owl 26-14 Allan Wilson        

Final                           Churchill 7-7  Prince Edward (Prince Edward win 1st try)      


1st Semi-final             Cheetahs 35-00 Zim Southern 7's          

2nd Semi-final             Zambia 17-12 Zimbabwe A

Final                            Cheetahs 31-0 Zambia


Qtr Finals 1               Georgia – Bye          

Qtr Finals 2               Zambia 26-12 Mbare Academy    

Qtr Finals 3               Goshawks 05-22 Spartans (Botswana)

Qtr Finals 4               Zim Cheetahs 45-00 Malawi          


                                  Mbare Academy 28-12 Mbare Academy B         

                                  Goshawks 38-00 Malawi    

1st Semi-final             Georgia 12-07Zambia        

2nd Semi-final           Spartans (Botswana )12-07 Zimbabwe Cheetahs        


3rd & 4th                    Zambia 17-12Botswana Spartans


Final                           Zim Cheetahs 14-19 Georgia

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU).

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Regional integration remains low, according to African Regional Integration Index (ARI)

24.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) marks a momentous milestone for Africa but preliminary findings of the upcoming 2019 African Regional Integration Index, released at the on-going Conference of Ministers in Morocco on Saturday, indicate that regional integration in Africa remains low.

The Index, known as ARII, was set up to monitor and evaluate the status of economic integration among African countries and provides a basis for member States to track their progress.

The findings reveal that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is the most integrated region in terms of trade, with South Africa as the most integrated country on the continent.

In the five areas that were analysed – trade integration, regional infrastructure, productive integration, free movement of people and macroeconomic integration – South Africa topped the ranking; with South Sudan as the least integrated mainly because of its modest performance in regional infrastructure and financial integration.

Meanwhile, integration in services, contributed more than 53% of the continent’s GDP, but ratification of the protocol on the free movement of people has been slow, despite the 2016 launch of the Common Electronic Biometric African Passport, and the AU Protocol on Free Movement of Persons. The Continent’s large infrastructure deficit remains a major hindrance to intra-regional trade.

“It is up to Africans themselves to ensure that the initiative benefits them through hard work and efficient implementation of the mechanisms of the CFTA,” says David Luke, Co-ordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, Regional Integration and Trade Division of Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) (

Leila Mokadem, Country Manager and Resident Representative in Morocco for the African Development Bank (AfDB) added that despite the “tremendous” political support for the AfCTFA, there are still major challenges ahead in terms of implementation and pushing the agenda forward to meet the goal of increasing intra-African trade to 25% by 2023 from between 15% and 18% currently. She cited weak productive capacity in Africa, high production costs, large infrastructure deficits and other challenges that affected Africa’s competitiveness. This is compounded by the number of small markets and 16 landlocked countries. “We cannot gloss over the challenges, but it is important to underscore the fact that it cannot be business as usual if Africa is to progress.”

The final ARII and the accompanying Assessing Regional Integration in Africa IX Report will be released later in the year.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

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Constance Haasz

About Economic Commission for Africa (ECA):
Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN’s five regional commissions, ECA’s ( mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intraregional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. ECA also provides technical advisory services to African governments, intergovernmental organizations and institutions. In addition, it formulates and promotes development assistance programs and acts as the executing agency for relevant operational projects. Made up of 54 member States, and playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape, ECA is well positioned to make unique contributions to address the continent’s developmental challenges. The ECA is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with offices in Rabat, Lusaka, Kigali, Niamey, Yaoundé and Dakar.
About the Conference of Ministers:
The 52nd session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development ( is taking place the Palmeraie Golf Palace in Marrakech, Morocco. The Committee of Experts will commence on Wednesday, 20 March and end on Friday, 22 March 2019. The ministerial segment of the Conference of Ministers will take place on Monday, 25 and Tuesday, 26 March 2019. The twentieth session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCMAfrica) and side events will take place on Saturday, 23 and Sunday, 24 March 2019 at the same venue.

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Tax reform, digitisation key to financing development

24.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Africa must digitise its economies, broaden its tax base, prevent further deterioration of fiscal and debt positions, and aim for double-digit growth to achieve the UN 2030 global goals (SDGs), and the AU Agenda 2063 according to the 2019 Economic Report on Africa released today at the Conference of Ministers.

This year’s Economic Report on Africa, a flagship publication of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) ( focuses on fiscal policy. Government revenues account for 21.4%, insufficient to meet countries’ development financing needs.
“The Report identifies several quick wins in Africa’s pursuit of additional fiscal space to finance its accelerated development,” Vera Songwe, the ECA’s Executive Secretary stated at the launch. “[It also] focuses on the instrumental role of fiscal policy in crowding-in investment and creating adequate fiscal space for social policy, including supporting women and youth-led small and medium enterprises.” 
But, a decade away from the SDG, she added that “African countries continue to search for policy mixes to help accelerate the achievement of the SDGs. However, for many countries, financing remains the biggest bottleneck with implementing capacity a close second.”
While analysing and highlighting both challenges and opportunities, the Report also recommends comprehensive macroeconomic reforms aimed at building financial resilience, placing emphasis on the need for Africa to accelerate growth to double digits by 2030 and to boost investment from its current 25 per cent of GDP.
While economic growth in Africa remained moderate at 3.2 per cent in 2018 – due to  “solid global growth, a moderate increase in commodity prices and favourable domestic conditions”, the Report emphasises that Africa needs to to do more, and work towards achieving a fine balance between raising revenue and incentivizing investments, in order to boost growth.
In some of Africa’s largest economies—South Africa, Angola and Nigeria – the Report reveals, growth trended upwards but remains vulnerable to shifts in commodity prices. East Africa remains the fastest growing, at 6.1 per cent in 2017 and 6.2 per cent in 2018, while in West Africa, the economy expanded by 3.2 per cent in 2018, up from 2.4 per cent in 2017. Central, North and Southern Africa’s economies grew at a slower pace in 2018 compared to 2017.
On the issue of Africa’s debt burden, the Report reveals that debt levels remained high as African countries increased their borrowing, to ease fiscal pressures most of which have been precipitated by the narrowing of revenue streams that has gone on since the commodity price shocks of 2014. 
It argues that African countries can increase government revenue by 12–20 per cent of GDP by adopting a policy framework that strengthen revenue mobilisation, including through digitalising African economies stating that digitization could enhance revenue mobilization by up to 6 per cent.  
“Digital identification can broaden the tax base by making it easier to identify and track taxpayers and helping taxpayers meet their tax obligations. By improving tax assessments and administration, it enhances the government’s capacity to mobilize additional resources. Digital ID systems yield gains in efficiency and convenience that could result in savings to taxpayers and government of up to $50 billion a year by 2020.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Media Contact:
Mercy Wambui

Constance Haasz

About Economic Commission for Africa (ECA):
Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN’s five regional commissions, ECA’s ( mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intraregional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. ECA also provides technical advisory services to African governments, intergovernmental organizations and institutions. In addition, it formulates and promotes development assistance programs and acts as the executing agency for relevant operational projects. Made up of 54 member States, and playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape, ECA is well positioned to make unique contributions to address the continent’s developmental challenges. The ECA is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with offices in Rabat, Lusaka, Kigali, Niamey, Yaoundé and Dakar.
About the Conference of Ministers:
The 52nd session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development ( is taking place the Palmeraie Golf Palace in Marrakech, Morocco. The Committee of Experts will commence on Wednesday, 20 March and end on Friday, 22 March 2019. The ministerial segment of the Conference of Ministers will take place on Monday, 25 and Tuesday, 26 March 2019. The twentieth session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCMAfrica) and side events will take place on Saturday, 23 and Sunday, 24 March 2019 at the same venue.

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Kwese Sevens: Cheetahs Reign On Day One

24.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU)
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Zimbabwe’s senior men’s and women’s sides entertained home fans with convincing wins to top both their groups at the end of day one of the Kwese Sevens Tournament on the Machinery Exchange Stadium at Harare Sports Club

Zambezi Cheetahs were the sauce of the day with a brilliant 36-12 victory over Zambia to finish on top of Group A which see them facing Malawi in Sunday’s quarter-final.

This was prior to a flawless 30-0 win over the Spartans from Botswana much to coach Gilbert Nyamutsamba’s delight.

“I am very happy with how the boys came together in both matches, together with the way Goshawks had won two out. of three matches is good.

“This was an important day for us to have a look at the areas we need to work on and the final day will be another chance in front of our home crowd to play some good rugby,” said Nyamutsamba.

Lady Cheetahs had a clean sheet beating Zambia, Zimbabwe A and Zim Southern Sevens which means they will in their afternoon semi-finals as favourites.

Coach Abigail Kawonza said she will push her charges to up the ante as they aim for the cup.

“It was a good day for the girls who put in a lot of hard work today but I will drive them to give us more because I know what they are capable of.

“There will be tougher games this year and we have to always condition ourselves to prepare for that, I am happy that the crowd was screaming for them and seeing what we are capable of,” said Kawonza.

Lesotho were not able to make it to the tournament as they had break-downs on their way and fixtures had to be adjusted.

Day one results:


Hellenic 5-21 Allan Wilson

Goromonzi 7-17 Wise Owl

Churchill 17-5 Wise Owl

Churchill 28-5 Goromonzi

Prince Edward 17-14 Allan Wilson

Prince Edward 48-0 Hellenic


Zambia 40-5 Zim Southern Sevens

Zambia 0-19 Cheetahs

Zambia 19-7 Zimbabwe A

Cheetahs 24-0 Zimbabwe A

Cheetahs 24-5 Zim Southern 7s

Zimbabwe A 15- Zim Southern 7s


Zambezi Cheetahs 36-12 Zambia

Zambezi Cheetahs 30-0 Spartans (Botswana)

Zambia 28 – 17 Spartans (Botswana)

Georgia 34-0 Mbare Academy

Georgia 26-5 Goshawks

Georgia 55-0 Malawi

Mbare Academy 7-24 Goshawks

Mbare Academy 40-0 Malawi

Goshawks 40-0 Malawi

Fixtures for day two



5th and 6th

09:40 hrs.       Goromonzi v Hellenic


10:00 hrs.       Churchill v Allan Wilson

10:20 hrs.       Prince Edward v Wise Owl

Women semi-finals

12:40 hrs.       Cheetahs v Zim Southern 7s

13:00 hrs.       Zambia v Zimbabwe A

Men’s Quarter-finals

11:20 hrs.       Georgia v Bye

11:40 hrs.       Zambia v Mbare Academy

12:00 hrs.       Goshawks v Spartans (Botswana)

12:20 hrs.       Zambezi Cheetahs v Malawi

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU).

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UN chief calls for ‘far greater support’ for Cyclone Idai response

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations (UN)

The world needs to step up support for the survivors of Tropical Cyclone Idai, the UN Secretary-General said on Friday, in a strong personal appeal as relief workers rush to provide aid to people stranded across the storm countries in southern Africa.

Describing how we was “deeply saddened by the loss of life and heart-wrenching images of human suffering” in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, António Guterres also praised rescue teams “who have been working around the clock to save thousands of lives” in desperately challenging conditions.

“These heroes have not only rescued families off roofs, but are also delivering food, water purification tablets and other life-saving humanitarian assistance to survivors after communities have literally been washed away,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement.

“What is needed now are funds to support the response in the days, weeks and months to come,” he insisted, noting that although the UN has already released $20 million from its emergency fund, “far greater international support is needed.”

Echoing the UN chief’s comments, UN Children’s Fund Executive Director Henrietta Fore confirmed that the situation for survivors of Idai remains “desperate.”

The UNICEF chief made her comments while visiting Mozambique, which was worst-hit by the flooding and devastation caused by 150 kilometre-per-hour winds.

Quoting her, UNICEF spokesperson Christophe Boulierac in Geneva said that “the situation on the ground remains criticaland there is no electricity or running water. Hundreds of thousands of children need immediate help. The priority right now is to give them shelter, food, water, education, protection.”

As the destructive scale of Idai unfolds – and with vast areas under water and search and rescue missions ongoing – the UN has appealed for urgent assistance from the international community at a “crucial moment” in the humanitarian response.

For Mozambique alone, the World Food Programme (WFP) is seeking more than $121 million to help 1.7 million people affected through the next three months.

Tragic toll set to rise with many areas still inundated

The official death toll in Mozambique has risen to at least 242 people, “but many areas remain inundated and tragically, the counting of the dead will take some time,” said UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) spokesperson Jens Laerke.

“So, we do expect the death toll to rise as that progresses.”

In Zimbabwe, authorities have reported 139 deaths and 189 people missing following flooding and the cyclone, while more than 4,300 people have been displaced.

Malawi was impacted far less by the cyclone than by flooding that began on 5 March, which has nonetheless affected up to 920,000 people.

Helicopters and boats crucial to humanitarian and rescue effort.

According to OCHA, 11 helicopters from the UN and other nations are involved in operations, and more are on the way.

Thirty boats are also involved in the humanitarian effort, funded by WFP.

In worst-hit Mozambique, according to OCHA, at least 65,000 people are sheltering in more than 100 temporary sites across the provinces of Sofala (73), Manica (18), Zambezia (10) and Tete (4). Most people have found refuge in schools and churches.

Food, safe drinking water and shelter are also urgently needed.

Improvised camps house thousands in desperate conditions

“Right now, we are seeing thousands of people congregating in informal, improvised camps. Many of these informal camps are in desperate conditions,” said UNICEF’s Christophe Boulierac.

While the search for survivors continues, field assessments have indicated the devastating scale of the immediate and long-term needs.

In Mozambique, 11,400 houses have been completely destroyed and crop losses are extensive, according to OCHA. At least 385,000 hectares of crops have been damaged, “which will impact food security in the months ahead” spokesperson Jens Laerke warned.

In the Mozambican port of Beira – the epicentre of the crisis – the situation remains critical, Mr. Laerke continued, with “destruction to schools…destruction to houses of worship, destruction to factories. The city is still without power, food prices have reportedly tripled with long queues forming for staples such as for bread and for fuel.”

Secondary flooding risk threatens areas inland

In Buzi, south-west of Beira, some of the flood levels are starting to recede, “but there is still risk of secondary floods and the situation may still worsen,” the OCHA spokesperson said. “Many people from Buzi have been relocated through search and rescue to other areas but for those that remain, we need to get them by any means possible.”

Hervé Verhoosel from the World Food Programme (WFP) underlined the critical need for funding from countries and concerned individuals.

“Now that the world is beginning to grasp the scale of devastation and despair in the wake of Cyclone Idai, we as an international community are at a crucial moment to act,” he said.

“WFP and partners have been rushing to assist tens of thousands who have lost everything, but as the immense scale of the damage is becoming clearer the numbers of people in need are rapidly increasing, and more must be done. The World Food Programme needs urgent financial support from governments and individuals to reach hundreds of thousands with immediate life-saving assistance.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations (UN).

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A guiding hand: School counsellors in Sierra Leone address early pregnancy, child marriage

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Fatmata Sesay was 15 years old when she became pregnant. Her parents forced her to move in with her boyfriend, who was neither in school nor employed. Moving in with him felt like an underage marriage, she says.

To make matters even more difficult, childcare responsibilities meant Fatmata was unable to continue schooling. She dropped out for more than two years.

“It was a situation I found difficult to accept,” she said. “Seeing my peers attending school every morning was a bitter pill for me to swallow.”

In Sierra Leone, 28 per cent of adolescent girls between ages 15 and 19 are pregnant or already mothers, according to a 2013 survey

Adolescent girls are also extremely vulnerable to child marriage. One in six women were married by age 15, according to the survey, and nearly half were married by age 18. 

And for the most vulnerable girls, gender-based violence is an ever-present threat. The Port Loko Police Station’s Family Support Unit reported 272 cases of gender-based violence in 2017, almost half of them involving adolescents.

A guiding hand

To help girls find alternatives to early marriage and pregnancy, UNFPA is helping to put guidance counsellors in nearly 200 junior secondary schools. 

The Girls’ Access to Education and Services (GATES) programme, funded by Irish Aid and implemented with the Ministry of Basic Secondary School Education, aims to teach young people important life skills and to empower them with information about sexual and reproductive health.

It trains guidance counsellors to sensitively address these issues with young people, and also to raise awareness about gender-based violence and human rights. 

Many of the counsellors have established student-led clubs, which are reaching vulnerable youth through peer outreach, skits, radio programmes and debates.

Additional training will also be provided to health care workers and people who support survivors of violence in Moyamba, Kailahun, Koinadugu, Port Loko, Pujehun and Tonkolili – the six districts with the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone. 

Making a difference

In September, members of the girls’ club at the Movement of Faith Islamic Secondary School in Port Loko visited Fatmata.

They encouraged her to return to school and, with their guidance counsellor, helped her to reenrol. A few days later, Fatama joined the girls’ club. 

They meet once a week to discuss issues affecting them and to find ways of helping other vulnerable girls.

“The good thing about the girls’ club is that members are given the opportunity to speak about their experiences and share their aspirations,” Fatmata said. 

The programme is having an impact, says Santigie Aruna Sesay, the district education focal point for the GATES project in Port Loko.

“Since the implementation of the GATES project in 2018, about 80 out-of-school girls from the district have been identified and reintegrated back into the formal school system,” he said. 

“Two community learning centres in the district also help prepare out-of-school girls to return to formal school.” And the girls “are being referred for psychosocial support, family planning and other social welfare services,” he added.
These girls can become leaders and role models, Mr. Sesay said. They just need help realizing their potential. “Girls have the power to influence change in our society,” he said. 
Fatmata is on the road to realizing her own potential. Her life has become more stable in recent months.

“I have now returned home to live with my parents,” she said. “I want to continue with my studies, as I dream of becoming a nurse.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

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Mozambique: “Tens of thousands of families have lost everything”

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
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The Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), speaking at the end of a visit to Beira, Mozambique and surrounding areas, said:

The scale and scope of suffering and damage is breath taking. Hundreds of thousands of people have been impacted in some way. We must respond fast and at scale, and prepare to accompany the affected populations on a longer term.”

Mr Sy visited areas outside of Beira that were flooded by the cyclone. He also joined Mozambique Red Cross volunteers at the port in Beira as they received people who had been evacuated from flooded areas by boat.

I was able to fly over some of the flooded areas. The scale of this crisis is staggering. But we can’t forget that it is an intimate and human crisis. Tens of thousands of families have lost everything. Children have lost parents. Communities have lost schools and clinics.

Tragically, we know that the full picture of this disaster is probably even worse than it seems now. The death toll will probably rise further as more and more areas are reached and as more and more bodies are recovered,” said Mr Sy.

There is growing concern among aid groups on the ground of potential disease outbreaks. Already, some cholera cases have been reported in Beira along with an increasing number of malaria infections among people trapped by the flooding.

Mr Sy called on governments and donors to support the IFRC and Mozambique Red Cross preliminary emergency appeal for 10 million Swiss francs. These funds will allow Red Cross volunteers and aid workers to reach 75,000 people. This appeal will be substantially increased in the coming days as IFRC expands its operation to reach more people. Relief efforts are primarily focused on providing emergency shelter, health, water, sanitation and hygiene.

Already, 1,500 emergency shelter kits that have already been distributed by Red Cross volunteers, providing families with protection from the elements and some degree of privacy and dignity. Shelter supplies for about 3,000 families will arrive by boat next week from a French Red Cross warehouse on Réunion island.

A further dispatch of basic relief supplies (including tarpaulins, buckets and blankets) – enough for 37,500 people – will arrive mid next week.

In addition, two IFRC Emergency Response Units (ERU) – one that can provide basic sanitation facilities for 20,000 people, and one that can produce clean water for 15,000 people per day – will arrive in Beira early next week. A third logistics ERU is also en route.

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

International Organization for Migration (IOM) responds to devastating Cyclone Idai with shelter materials and more

22.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Organization for Migration (IOM)

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has responded to the deadly Cyclone Idai, which has taken over 500 lives across Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.

“A week after the cyclone we’re starting to grasp the scope and complexity of the challenges facing the governments and peoples of these three nations,” said Mohammed Abdiker, Director of IOM’s Department of Operations and Emergencies.

He added: “Moving forward we will continue to work with our UN and governmental partners to address the immediate and life-saving needs of the most affected communities, particularly relating to the provision of badly needed shelter assistance and Non-Food Items.”

IOM and its international partners are working on the details of a broad appeal that will be issued in coming days to assist those affected by the emergency across the three nations.

Conditions are challenging everywhere, after the cyclone made landfall on March 15; thousands are stranded in tropical zones without bridges or accessible roads.

Mozambique’s official death toll from Cyclone Idai’s landfall has reportedly risen to at least 242 persons, but that number is expected to increase in the days ahead. The government expects the toll of fatalities to surpass one thousand, with 142 confirmed injured, and an untold number still missing.

Mozambique’s government estimates that some 400,000 are internally displaced at this time and has declared a state of emergency. Shelter materials from the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID), including 7,550 shelter kits and 100 family tents sufficient for 38,000 people, arrived in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, Tuesday. More emergency aid is due to arrive from Switzerland and Italy. 

“The situation is very bad. The damage is quite serious,” said IOM Mozambique Chief of Mission Katharina Schnoering. “There are many communications issues.” Difficulty restoring power to the large city of Beira and problems with road access, where the rising Buzi River has washed out sections of highway, also complicate aid delivery. 

In Zimbabwe, the cyclone reached the districts of Chimanimani, Chipinge, Masvingo and Mashonaland East, affecting over 50,000 people. More than 120 bodies had been washed into neighbouring Mozambique, where residents buried them. At least four bridges have been washed away.

Total fatalities known to IOM are 259, with hundreds more injured. Some 217 are missing. Authorities confirmed that 16 000 households have been displaced (Chimanimani 8000, Chipinge 3000, Buhera 1000 and Mutare 4000).

Among national and international partners responding to the crisis, the Government of Zimbabwe through the Department of Civil Protection (CPD) requested IOM be the lead agency on shelter and Non-Food Items (NFI) cluster.

“We are swiftly responding to areas of Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Masvingo which are in desperate need of relief. Our UN migration partner IOM is coordinating the shelter and NFI emergence assistance response and they are already in Manicaland for rapid emergence needs assessment,” said Nathan Nkomo the Director for the Department of Civil Protection.

The District Administrator for Chipinge, Wilson Mashava, appealed for more humanitarian support to reach out to more displaced households in desperate need of assistance.

IOM Zimbabwe has dispatched 1,000 tarpaulins and 200 Non-Food Item kits as part of its initial response. Joint rapid needs’ assessments with partnering UN and government agencies began on Monday (18 March), covering the Chimanimani, Chipinge, Mutare, Nyanga and Buhera districts. 

“I could see my loved ones dying, there are children here who are now orphans and have nowhere to stay. The house where I lived was destroyed, I am devastated,” said Jane, a resident of Chimanimani, who is expecting a child in April. “These tarpaulins will protect me and my family from the rains, thank you! I hope you have enough for everyone around here, our challenges are the same.”

In Malawi, IOM is aware of 56 confirmed deaths, 577 injuries. Countrywide, the Government of Malawi estimates some 920,000 displaced persons.

“The greatest need we have seen on the ground is for shelter for 23,000 people, we’ve also noted an urgent need for food, for 5,905 households in one district of the Phalombe region,” said Mpilo Nkomo, Head of Office for IOM Malawi. “The challenge here is the persistent rainfall, since the beginning of March. A number of families have been displaced. Many are seeking shelters in schools.” 

Mr. Nkomo thanked IOM Geneva for the release of USD 75,000 in emergency funds. The three IOM units in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe with the support of Regional Office Pretoria Emergency Unit and DOE Geneva HQ jointly working on a sub-regional appeal for more aid from the international humanitarian community.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Organization for Migration (IOM).

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Source: Apo-Opa