Isotopes Help Trace the Origin of Urban Water Pollution in Mauritius

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Agricultural activities, illegal sewage disposal and animal breeding could be among the sources of nitrogen pollution in urban waterways around Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, according to preliminary findings of an IAEA-supported study using isotopic techniques. In excessive levels, some compounds of nitrogen, such as nitrate, can find their way into urban waterways and pose a danger to people and the environment.

“Nitrate pollution is a major concern in the country,” said Yannick Fanny, Scientific Officer at the National Environmental Laboratory in Port Louis, the largest city and economic centre of the island, with a population of around 200 000. “The study was a breakthrough, and preliminary findings show that nitrate contamination most probably originates from manure and septic wastes, as well as from dissolved organic matter in the soil.”

Nitrogen is a key fertilizer and has been widely used since the mid-1900s. When overapplied, it can make its way into rivers and groundwater through agricultural run-off, but also through sewage systems, animal feedlots and industrial activities.

Nitrate is a nitrogen compound and an essential nutrient for plants. In excessive quantities, nitrate poses a concern for public health, since it can impair the blood’s ability to transport oxygen around the body.
It can also cause algal blooms in lakes
and rivers, reducing biodiversity and the ability of aquatic ecosystems to support valuable services, such as tourism and commercial fishing.

In 2016, scientists began working with the IAEA to use isotopic techniques to assess the origin of nitrate pollution after authorities had detected nitrate contamination around Port Louis. Contaminants were found in streams and rivers, threatening protected areas, such as the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary. Toxic algal blooms in the ocean caused episodes of fish kill, raising complaints among local fishermen.

The sources for such pollution could have been manifold: inappropriate wastewater disposal systems from households, faulty septic tanks, industrial discharges, animal breeding and agricultural activities. Knowing who or what is responsible for nitrate pollution can help policymakers take informed action to protect rivers
and groundwater.

Deciphering the origins of nitrates in waterways can be difficult. “Conventional chemistry will tell you how much nitrogen pollution there is in a river, but not where this pollution comes from,” said IAEA isotope hydrologist Ioannis Matiatos. “Analysing the isotopes of nitrate can give this kind
of information.”

With technical assistance, scientists from the National Environmental Laboratory collected chemical and isotopic data in fourteen river stations and fifteen water boreholes around the city, and identified mechanisms influencing water quality around the area. They sampled and analysed nitrogen compounds in Port Louis’ waterways with support of the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme in the form of expert visits, training and equipment. The method they used involved analysing the unique ‘fingerprints’ of nitrate in water molecules by looking at the molecules’ isotopic composition (read more about this on page 5).

Taking action

The results of the IAEA technical cooperation project will form the basis of a comprehensive report with findings and recommendations not only for government officials, but also local communities. “Targeted courses of action by all concerned stakeholders can help to swiftly remedy or improve the situation in these urban settings,” Fanny said.

The cooperation also set the ball rolling for increased water monitoring activities throughout Mauritius. The scientists at the National Environmental Laboratory have begun mapping areas that contribute the most to nitrogen pollution in waterways and are collecting source material samples to create an inventory of isotopic signatures for identifying pollutants.

“In the future, when there are incidents, authorities can quickly match water samples with pollution sources and immediately know what kind of activity is probably responsible,” Matiatos said.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

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UNESCO will celebrate the 2019 edition of the African Week, during which various cultural and scientific events will be organized under the theme Peace, Innovation and Sustainable Development in Africa

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
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An Innovation Hub of select African innovators with their state-of-the art inventions will run all week.

The Week also includes an Authors’ Lounge for a special encounter with 40 authors representing the new generation of African penmanship. 

FESPACO Etalon d’Or film – The Mercy of the Jungle, as well as other documentary-feature films will be screened through the week. 

Art exhibition, handicraft boutiques, conference on “Innovation at the service of sustainable development in Africa”, and artistic performances will be on the agenda of the week as well.

Audrey Azoulay Director General of UNESCO, along with ambassadors to UNESCO, African dignitaries, business and academic representatives, as well as students will attend the annual event.

Rachel Annick Ogoula Akiko, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Gabon to UNESCO, President of the Africa Group of UNESCO, will inaugurate the event alongside Phyllis Kandie, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of the Republic of Kenya to UNESCO will deliver the opening speech – as Chair of the Organizing Committee.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Source: Apo-Opa

Six New Members Join United Nations University (UNU) Council

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations University
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The United Nations University (UNU) is pleased to announce the appointment of six new members to the governing United Nations University Council:

Dr Denisa Čiderová (Slovakia), Vice-Rector for Research and Doctoral Studies, University of Economics in Bratislava

Dr Comfort Ero (United Kingdom), Program Director, Crisis Group

Dr Xin Fang (China), President & Professor, School of Public Policy and Management, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences

Professor Adam Habib (South Africa), Vice-Chancellor and Principal, University of Witwatersrand

Professor ‘Funmi Olonisakin (United Kingdom & Nigeria), Vice-President/Vice-Principal International & Professor of Security, Leadership and Development, King’s College London

Professor Brenda Yeoh (Singapore), Raffles Professor of Social Sciences, National University of Singapore

The new Council members, who will serve six-year terms, took office on 3 May and attended the 71st session of the UNU Council that was convened in Rome on 13–14 May.

UNU Council members are appointed jointly by the UN Secretary-General and UNESCO Director-General. They serve in an individual capacity ― not as representatives of their country’s government and are selected with an eye to achieving a geographic and gender balance, with due regard to each member’s field(s) of expertise.

The new Council members join six members whose six-year terms will end in 2022:

Professor Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz (Brazil), Scientific Director, São Paulo Research Foundation & Professor, Gleb Wataghin Physics Institute, State University of Campinas

Ms Isabel Guerrero Pulgar (Chile), Director, IMAGO Global Grassroots, & lecturer at Harvard and MIT

Dr Angela Kane (Germany), UNU Council Chair; Senior Fellow, Vienna Centre for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, & Professor, Sciences Po, Paris

Dr Segenet Kelemu (Ethiopia), Director General and CEO, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology

Dr Radha Kumar (India), Policy Analyst

Professor Tsuneo Nishida (Japan), Director, Institute for Peace Science, Hiroshima University For profiles of all current UNU Council members, see unu.edu/about/unu-council.

The UNU Council comprises 12 appointed members, the UNU Rector, and three ex officio members (the United Nations Secretary–General, the Director–General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization , and the Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research). Its main functions are, inter alia, to formulate the principles and policies of UNU, govern the University’s operations, and consider and approve the UNU biennial work programme and budget.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations University.
Source: Apo-Opa

India-Botswana Foreign Office Consultations

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Ministry of External Affairs - Government of India
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Third Round of Foreign Office Consultations between India and the Republic of Botswana held today on 15th May, 2019 in New Delhi. The Indian side was led by Dr. Neena Malhotra, Joint Secretary(East & Southern Africa) and the Botswana side was led by Ms. Tapiwa Mongwa, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Affairs and Cooperation of Botswana Government.

The Consultations provided an opportunity to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations, including political, economic, commercial, defence, consular and international cooperation, including United Nations and also to discuss the ways to further strengthen the existing friendly relations by way of expanding cooperation in development projects.

Botswana side conveyed their decision to join the International Solar Alliance (ISA) by signing the Framework agreement at the earliest.

Both sides expressed satisfaction on the level of political exchanges and the current excellent state of relationship and cooperation. It was decided to convene next Round of Consultations in Botswana on mutually agreed dates.

Secretary(ER), Sh. T.S Tirumurti hosted a lunch in honour of the visiting dignitary.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of External Affairs – Government of India.
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European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone Celebrates A Colourful Europe Day 2019

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

European External Action Service (EEAS)

To celebrate the power of unity, cooperation and dialogue in Europe and around the world, more than 400 guests happily joined in the celebration of Europe Day 2019 at a reception held at Sierra Lighthouse. The EU Delegation had prepared a video for the occasion with messages on EU in Sierra Leone, which was projected at the entrance. Watch the video.

In the course of the evening, guests were pleasantly surprised by a flash mob dance performed by the teachers and students of the British International School and a vibrant traditional krio cultural dance was brought by the Ballanta Music Academy. For the first time, several sponsors were also present, making the 9th May event in Sierra Leone even more colourful and memorable.

Joined by the EU Ambassadors and honorary consuls in Freetown, EU Head of Delegation Tom Vens highlighted that “partnership and cooperation are part of the EU's DNA. In the case of Sierra Leone, this partnership goes back more than 40 years and we are here to stay. A mature partnership relies on an open and constructive dialogue on policy matters and issues of shared concern. We will therefore continue to invest in an open and sincere dialogue to achieve our shared goals. What we want is what you want: a Sierra Leone that is resilient, prosperous, and that cares for all its citizens.”

He further underlined that “Democracy cannot function without compromise” and underscored that “we will not make meaningful progress if we do not redouble our efforts to give women and girls, and other vulnerable groups, their rightful place in society. We are stepping up our engagement in this area.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of European External Action Service (EEAS).

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Youth, Environment/Education, Sports and Solidarity (YESS) : The sports day in Accra

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Embassy of France in Accra, Ghana

On Friday, May 10, 2019, the YESS event “Youth, Environment/Education, Sports and Solidarity” was held at University of Ghana. Jointly organized by the French Embassy in Ghana and the French company Decathlon, which has been based in Accra for two years, its objective was to support the practice of sport and its values (solidarity, cohesion, respect, fraternity…), to strengthen the links between the youth of Ghana and France, while raising awareness among participants of the need to preserve the environment.

Sports Day in Accra

About 300 children and their companions, 20 coaches from Decathlon Ghana, the French ambassador Anne Sophie Avé and her team gathered at the University of Ghana – Legon to celebrate the sport and its values! These students came from different Ghanaian schools, Bishop Girls Basic School, Al-Waleed comprehensive basic school, Muslim institute school, Sakumono complex 1 primary school, University of Ghana basic school, Lekma 1&2 primary school but also from the Lycée Français d’Accra and the German-Swiss school.

The promotion of the practice of sport, as a vector of good health, its values (solidarity, fraternity, conviviality, respect) was the key word of the day. The different schools competed in different competitions such as football, tug-of-war and relay in a joyful and cheerful atmosphere.

University of Ghana basic school distinguished itself brilliantly by winning the tug-of-war and relay competitions. The winners were fortunate to receive a trophy from the Regional Deputy Minister, Hon. Elizabeth Sackey for tug-of-peace and by Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Perry Curtis Kwabla Okudzeto, for the relay. Sakumono complex 1 primary school, for its part, won the football tournament for which it was awarded the trophy by the Ghanaian football star Abédi Ayew Pelé.

Other activities proposed by Decathlon Ghana made it possible to introduce children to table tennis, archery and badminton.

Raise awareness of environmental protection among the youngest

This first edition of YESS also aimed to make environmental protection an important theme during the day. As the Ambassador of France to Ghana Anne Sophie Avé pointed out:’’ It is necessary to involve young people in sports activities but also to raise their awareness of environmental protection’’

The goal? To raise awareness of the need to preserve the planet in a fun way, in particular through the activities of reusing plastic bottles, proposed by Plastic Punch, an NGO working to preserve the environment and biodiversity, and a quiz on good environmental practices. In addition, as recalled by the Director General of the Ghana Education Service, Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, (representing the Minister of Education Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh):’’I believe it is important to raise awareness among students from an early age so that they are aware throughout their adult lives and contribute to creating an environmentally conscious society’’.

This event was an opportunity to strengthen the ties between the youth of Ghana, France but also its neighbours such as Germany and Switzerland. Sport has thus been the link between peoples whose principles coincide with the essential values of our countries.

Thank you to all our sponsors for making this event a great success: Total GhanaVolticNestlé GhanaKoala et Golden Exotics.

See you next year for a new edition with even more schools and other activities to discover!

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of France in Accra, Ghana.

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From where I stand: “I believe times have changed and my community needs adapt to this change”

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

UN Women

Ibrahim Hamawa, is the Lamido— traditional leader— of Zamay Kanton, a village in the Far North Region of Cameroon. The 63-year-old leader has already appointed the first-ever woman as a Lawal (Chief) and encouraging more women to take up decision-making roles within the traditional council. If women from other countries can make good leaders, why shouldn’t they in his community, he challenges.

Lack of education remains the biggest challenge that prevents gender equality, as uneducated women lack self-affirmation and uneducated men find it difficult to change their mindset and accept equality between men and women.

The “club de mari” of Zamay, where I serve as the president, organizes regular sensitization meetings with community members on issues of gender equality, gender-based violence, education of the girl child, forced and early marriages, etc.

After I became Lamido [traditional leader], I participated in several training and sensitization sessions on issues related to gender equality, gender-based violence and early marriage organized by UN Women and other humanitarian organizations. I believe the world is changing, and my community needs to change with the times and adapt to progress.

I realized we have good women leaders in other countries, so I decided to do the same in my community by nominating Mamah Kiagama as Lawal (chief of a community) of Mayo Tshaka, one of the villages that make up the Zamay Kanton.

The Lawal was appointed based on her competence and moral integrity. This initiative to appoint a woman as Lawal was appreciated by the majority, but we still face some resistance from a few men in the community. When men of her village bypass her and bring their complaints to me, I send them back to her.

She is a good leader and has already improved things in her village and contributed towards reducing crimes. I believe this decision to nominate Lawal Mamah Kiagama will change the perception of women in our area, and also in other areas. Her nomination has boosted the self-confidence of a lot of women in the community. Women now feel more comfortable to express themselves and bring their complaints to the traditional council. Lawal Kiagama has also started a women’s association to help sensitize and empower women and to promote gender equality.

I am in the process of appointing three more women to participate in the traditional council of Zamay and join decision-making processes in the community.

Our community has seen a lot of positive changes, such as the reduction of abusive divorce, forced and early marriages, and improvement in girls’ education. The gender-sensitive market constructed by UN Women also helps with economic empowerment of women in my community as it offers women vendors a clean and safe space to sell their fresh produce, even while nursing their babies.”

Lamido Ibrahim Hamawa, 63, was elected as the traditional leader of Zamay Kanton, in Cameroon’s Far North Region in 2012. Through a UN Women project that promotes economic empowerment and resilience of women affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, funded by the Government of Japan, Lamido Hamawa received training on gender equality. He has made inclusion of women in leadership and decision-making position his priority.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women.

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A Salute to the Indomitable Women of Niger By Ambassador Eric P. Whitaker

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

U.S. Embassy in Niger
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On Nigerien Women’s Day, May 13, we honor the daughters, sisters, mothers, wives, and grandmothers who contribute to a greater Niger. We admire their intelligence, strength, and resilience as they raise their families, build their communities, and improve their country.

This day, we also remember the Nigerien women who lost their lives as a result of violence, unsafe childbirth or inadequate medical treatment. In partnership with our Nigerien colleagues, we resolve that these deaths must stop, along with reducing the staggering number of women and girls who lose opportunities each year due to lack of education or early marriage.

For this Women’s Day, we join our Nigerien partners in recommitting to women’s well-being, doing all that we can to help them lead healthy and productive lives. We believe that, across the country, no young girl or woman should ever be denied any opportunity because of her gender, whether it’s access to health services, education, or the right to live in safety. This is important not only for the individual women involved, but also for Niger as a nation so that their contributions can assist in building a strong and more prosperous country.

Through various U.S. Government programs, we are working with our partners to contribute to a more positive outlook for women in Niger. The U.S. Agency for International Development invests $115 million each year promoting good governance and improvements in agriculture and food security, health, and education, including encouraging women’s literacy by persuading parents to make schooling a priority for their daughters. Last year, we began the President’s Malaria Initiative, contributing $18 million annually towards malaria prevention and control. In collaboration with the Government of Niger, we recently launched the $18.5 million Amplify Family Planning project to improve access to quality health services, including family planning, childhood disease prevention, and family wellness.

In 2018, we launched the Millennium Challenge Compact, a $437 million, five-year partnership with Niger to improve lives through better irrigation practices and expanded market access, particularly in the interior, where enhancement of women’s business skills and economic opportunity programs need more support. Over the past year, this program has launched reforms that will improve access to water for crop and livestock production and access to important farming inputs such as fertilizer and veterinary services that will have a positive impact on the livelihoods of rural women and the households they manage.

Additionally, the Embassy sponsors many exchange programs for talented and bright women to travel to the United States, often a transformative experience. The Young African Leadership Initiative for young adults, the Fulbright program for scholars and researchers, and the International Visitor Leadership Program for professionals allow women to study, meet with counterparts, and make lasting connections with Americans.

We have assisted hundreds of women entrepreneurs and journalists through training, promoted soccer and basketball for hundreds of girls and their coaches, and helped our exchange alumnae mentor and support the next generation of Nigerienne entrepreneurs through our “Pay It Forward” grant program.

All of our initiatives demonstrate our Embassy’s abiding commitment to Nigerien women and girls. In the past decade, two Nigeriens, Major Aichatou Issaka Ousmane (2017), and Hadizatou Mani (2009), have won the annual Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage award for exemplifying exceptional leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress. That’s why we at the Embassy say, “Le Niger se Léve” as Nigerien woman become empowered to create a prosperous and flourishing Niger, since without women, no development is possible.

Today, on this Nigerien Women’s Day, let us acknowledge the women in our lives and commit ourselves to equipping them with the skills they need to reach their full potential. Barka to all!

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Niger.
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20,000 Sudanese benefited from UAE's assistance

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Coperation

The UAE Embassy in Sudan has distributed more than 100 tonnes of foodstuffs to some 20,000 people across the various cities of Kassala province, as part of the assistance provided by H.H. Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, wife of the Crown Prince of Fujairah.

The humanitarian aid was distributed by the Emirates Red Crescent, ERC.

The beneficiaries expressed their appreciation to the UAE and the ERC delegation, praising the country's leadership for standing with Sudan. They also wished the UAE and its people further progress and prosperity.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Arab Emirates Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Coperation.

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UNAMID strongly condemns looting of its West Darfur Headquarters

15.May.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)
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On 14 May 2019, the eve of UNAMID’s scheduled handover of its Sector West Headquarters in El Geneina, an unruly crowd forcefully intruded into the super camp, where they looted UN property and contingent-owned-equipment, vandalized premises and put the lives of UN staff and personnel at grave risk. According to our reports, the crowd of looters included elements in Government of Sudan (GoS) Police and military uniforms. Earlier in the day, the intruders had gathered in front of the main gate, blocked it and later in the evening forced their way into the camp.

UNAMID condemns these acts in the strongest possible terms as they constitute a blatant violation of international norms governing the presence of UN peacekeepers across the world. The Mission also extremely regrets these actions, which are contrary to peaceful behaviour. It is particularly deplorable that Sudanese military and Police personnel, who were called in to assist UN peacekeepers in securing the camp, had allegedly joined in these acts of looting and vandalism.

“We strongly condemn this incident and call on the relevant authorities to take every possible step to bring the uniformed personnel who were alleged to have been part of the looting to account,” said Jeremiah Kingsley Mamabolo, UNAMID Joint Special Representative (JSR).

UNAMID commends the quick action taken by the commander and troops of the Ethiopian battalion responsible for securing the camp, who avoided confrontation with the uniformed elements that had joined in the looting and gathered UN staff into one location and ensured their safety and security.

The Mission wishes to remind the Government of Sudan and the local populations of their obligation to safeguard UNAMID personnel and assets in accordance with the State of Forces Agreement (SOFA). UNAMID is committed to protecting its staff and assets and reminds would-be perpetrators that it is mandated, under Chapter VII, to protect UNAMID personnel and assets by all means available to it, including through the use of force.

The Mission has dispatched troop reinforcements from Zalingei Mission Headquarters and Saraf Umra Team Site to El Geneina to strengthen its protection arrangements ahead of the planned handover of the camp later today.

“We call on the Government of Sudan to facilitate the handover process, particularly the safe exit of UNAMID staff and personnel who are still in the Sector HQ in El Geneina,” the JSR said. “I hope the camp will be used for the benefit of the civilian population upon its handover to GoS authorities.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
Source: Apo-Opa