Disease detection in a box – a high-tech solution for emergency settings

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

World Health Organization (WHO)
Download logo

In the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans were left without shelter, food or access to health services. Many people have been living in temporary settlements without access to safe water and sanitation, putting them at high risk of diseases like cholera, malaria and measles.

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Health, WHO is rolling out its early warning alert and response system (known as EWARS-in-a-Box) to rapidly detect priority epidemic-prone diseases and allow a quick response before they develop into large outbreaks.

“EWARS helps us as epidemiologists to track any reports or rumours of disease,” says Tamayi Mlanda, epidemiologist deployed by WHO to the Cyclone response in Beira, Mozambique. “This is really important for us to do in this situation because people do not have access to health care. When we can detect diseases early, it helps us to prevent them from spreading or developing into massive outbreaks.”

In Mozambique, a team of epidemiologists deployed from across the Organization, and through WHO’s Global Outbreak and Response Network (GOARN), is supporting the Ministry of Health and health partners to expand this emergency disease surveillance system to 80 sites across the areas affected by the cyclone. The system is already fully operational in four affected districts of Beira, Buzi, Dondo and Nhamatanda, with more than 30 health centres, including emergency medical teams and cholera treatment centres, reporting data daily to a central surveillance system using EWARS.

EWARS in a box is a custom-built solution designed for use in difficult field conditions, such as following a natural disaster or in a conflict. Each box contains 60 mobile phones, laptops and a local server to collect, report and manage disease data. A solar generator and solar chargers allow the phones and laptops to function without 24-hour electricity. A single kit costs approximately US$15 000 and can support surveillance for 50 fixed or mobile clinics serving roughly 500 000 people.

Each health site receives a mobile phone loaded with a custom-developed disease reporting application that allows health workers to enter information when they see a patient with symptoms of one of 8 priority diseases or conditions. These are acute watery diarrhoea, acute bloody diarrhoea, cholera, measles, acute flaccid paralysis (which could indicate polio), fever, malaria and jaundice.

This information is sent immediately to a central system, where the data is used to generate real-time reports that enable a rapid response to diseases before they have time to spread.

WHO has trained over 50 epidemiologists, surveillance officers, health partners, clinicians and data managers in health centres and offices to use the EWARS system in Mozambique. All health data is now being fed into a common reporting system, thanks to strong collaboration between the Ministry of Health and partners including US Centers of Disease Control, Médecins sans Frontières, International Federation of the Red Cross and the Clinton Foundation. In particular, a team of Portuguese-speaking field epidemiologists has been deployed from Brazil’s Field Epidemiological Training Program (FETP) through the GOARN network to work closely with national staff to support this work.

“WHO has implemented EWARS in a number of emergencies – both natural disasters as well as conflict situations,” says Niluka Wijekoon who was deployed from WHO headquarters to roll out EWARS in Mozambique. “At the end of the emergency, the Ministry of Health who owns this process can exit from the emergency system and go back to its existing surveillance system. But it can keep the knowledge and the materials so that the country is better prepared for the next emergency.”

Some countries that have used EWARS in emergencies have used the training and technology they received with EWARS to strengthen their permanent disease surveillance system.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).
Source: Apo-Opa

ICRC helps 12,000 displaced persons in North Ethiopia access water, sanitation services

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
Download logo

The ICRC has supplied four water tanks and built sanitation facilities for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in North Ethiopia to help them get access to water and sanitation services.

Some 12,000 people displaced as a result of ethnic violence could benefit from the water and sanitation facilities built in Iyemba IDPs site in Central Gondar Zone of Amhara Region, remarked Mulat Mengiste, Deputy Coordinator of Water and Habitat Department with the ICRC delegation in Ethiopia.

Four water tanks with a 10,000 liter capacity each were among the facilities which were supplied and installed by the ICRC. Each water tank was connected to water distribution points with pipelines facilitating the distribution of water to the IDPs.

Four blocks of emergency showers and two blocks of emergency trench latrines were built as part of improving sanitation service for 50 men and women at a time.

Earlier in the year, the ICRC, in partnership with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS), had delivered non-food items consisting of plastic shelters, blankets, sleeping mats, jerry cans, kitchen sets and soaps to the IDPs sheltered in the same camp with an aim of addressing their immediate needs.

In Ethiopia, the ICRC provides direct assistance to displaced people, consisting mainly of essential goods, seeds and farming tools, and re-establishes basic services such as water and health care, with the objectives of protecting their lives and restoring livelihoods of community's affected ethnic violence.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Source: Apo-Opa

Indian Folk Dance Performance at Gomhouriya Theater

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Embassy of India, Cairo, Egypt
Download logo

The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture, Embassy of India, Cairo, in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Culture is organizing  an Indian Folk Dance Performance by Bundeli Lok Nritya Natya Kala Parishad at Gamhouriya Theatre on 22/04/2019 at 8.00PM.

Bundeli Lok Nritya Natya Kala Parishad, from the State of Madhya Pradesh, represents a rich spectrum of creative endeavor in folk art forms. Santosh Panday, the group leader, is an acclaimed Rai folk dance performer and has been honoured with several awards in India.

The group will also perform at venues of the 7th International Festival for Drums and Traditional Arts viz., Citadel, Qubbat El-Ghouri, Moiz Street and Talaat Harb Cultural Centre etc. from 20  to 27 April 2019. The opening and closing ceremonies of the Festival will be held at Joseph’s Well Theatre at the Citadel.

For further details, please contact the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture at macic@indembcairo.com

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of India, Cairo, Egypt.
Source: Apo-Opa

Guinea: Create Special Unit to Probe Protest Deaths

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Download logo

The government of Guinea should set up a special task force of judges to investigate the conduct of the security forces and others engaged in unlawful acts during protests. The government’s failure to adequately investigate a dozen alleged killings in 2018 by the security forces and several alleged killings by protesters risks fueling future abuses.

Guinea experienced frequent and violent street protests in 2018, as nongovernmental groups and opposition parties organized demonstrations linked to disputed local elections, a long-running teachers’ strike, and anger at fuel price increases. With tensions mounting over whether President Alpha Condé will seek to amend the constitution and run for a third term in office, further street protests are likely.  

The failure to adequately investigate alleged misconduct by the security forces and violence by demonstrators risks fueling future cycles of political violence,” said Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The Guinean government should take concrete steps to reverse the longstanding impunity for these kinds of violations. Families and victims deserve nothing less.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed 55 people in January and February 2019 about the conduct of the security forces during protests, violence by demonstrators, and the justice system’s response. Interviewees included participants in and witnesses to demonstrations, opposition political activists, law enforcement officials, local nongovernmental groups, doctors, and journalists. Human Rights Watch had conducted previous research on this issue in July 2018.

Witnesses and journalists covering the protests said they were often violent, with large groups of protesters and security forces clashing along main streets of Conakry, the capital. A projectile thrown by a demonstrator killed a gendarme, Mohamed Chérif Soumah, on February 19, 2018. On November 8, protesters in Wanindara fatally stabbed a police officer, Bakary Camara, who had become separated from his unit.

The leadership of Guinea’s police and gendarmerie say that the security forces are only permitted to use non-lethal weapons in responding to protests, such as teargas and water cannons. But witnesses to eight of the dozen fatal shootings during protests in 2018 alleged that members of the security forces fired automatic weapons while trying to disperse demonstrators or while pursuing them through local neighborhoods.

“The gendarmes tried to chase off a crowd of demonstrators, and people started running,” said a witness to the October 30 death of Mamadou Cellou Diallo, a taxi driver killed in the Bambeto neighborhood during an opposition protest. “Mamadou doesn’t know the neighborhood well and didn’t know where to run. He was hit before he could get inside.”

Human Rights Watch also documented in earlier reporting that stray bulletsthe security forces fired recklessly into the air killed at least one person in 2018 – a young mother of six – and wounded many others.

More than 20 witnesses also said members of the security forces damaged property and stole goods as they pursued protesters. In several cases, family members of people detained during the demonstrations said that police and gendarmes demanded bribes to free their relatives. Groups of protesters also frequently sought to extort money or steal goods from passers-by, according to witnesses.

The authorities’ failure to adequately investigate deaths and other abuses during the 2018 protests reflects a familiar pattern dating back years. The February 4, 2019 conviction of a police captain for the 2016 killing of a demonstrator was the first conviction of a member of the security forces for shooting a protester dead since 2010.

International human rights standards give security forces the right to use proportionate force for legitimate self-defense, as well to arrest protesters engaging in violence. The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, however, states that firearms should only be used in strictly limited cases, such as “self-defense or defense of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury,” and “only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives.”

Intentional lethal use of firearms is only permissible “when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.” Guinea’s 2015 law on maintaining public order requires security forces to use non-violent means before resorting to force and requires any use of firearms to be necessary and proportionate.

In an April 8 letter to Human Rights Watch, Guinea’s Minister of Defense, Doctor Mohamed Diane, whose ministry oversees the gendarmerie, said that, “contrary to the unfounded allegations [that you] documented, [which are] illustrated by uncorroborated witness testimony,” the Guinean government “has always opted for preventative over repressive measures in public order operations.”

The Ministry of Security and Civilian Protection, which oversees the police, did not respond to a March 25 letter from Human Rights Watch. The leadership of the police and gendarmes have previously said that the security forces are not permitted to carry firearms when responding to protests and blame demonstrators for the deaths, accusing opposition supporters of carrying guns.

Given the security forces’ blanket denial of responsibility for deaths during protests, the creation of a unit of judges focused on protest violence is important to shed light on the circumstances of the deaths of both demonstrators and law enforcement personnel, Human Rights Watch. An effective judicial unit would also need a dedicated a team of police and gendarmes, independent from the usual chain of command.

“Given Guinea’s uncertain political future, it’s highly likely there will be further clashes between the security forces and demonstrators,” said Dufka. “Dedicating a specialized team of judges and investigators to killings during protests would ensure that demonstrators and members of the security forces will be held accountable for their actions.”

History of Election-Related Violence

Guinea has a long history of election-related violence. Scores of people were injured in communal and ethnic violence following the 2010 presidential election. Dozens of demonstrators and two law enforcement officers were killed in 2012-2013 in advance of parliamentary elections. At least 12 people were killed and scores injured prior to and following presidential elections in 2015.

The 2018 local elections are likely to be the first of several fiercely contested polls in the coming years. Guinea’s National Assembly members reached the end of their official term on January 12, although no date has been set for a new election. Condé will reach the end of his second term in 2020, and the 2010 constitution stipulates a two-term limit. Many activists and opposition politicians believe, however, that Condé will try to run for a third term and have expressed concerns about the potential for violence if he does. Condé has yet to make any clear statement on his future.

Since July 2018, Guinean officials have increasingly prohibited public protests, citing security, with opposition parties and independent groups accusing the government of imposing a blanket ban. The government denies there is an outright prohibition.

When opposition political parties or other groups have defied prohibitions on protests, security forces have sought to prevent people from assembling or have broken up protests. Security forces have used teargas, water cannons, batons, and, at times, firearms to disperse protesters, while demonstrators have created improvised checkpoints, burned tires, and used slingshots to throw rocks and other projectiles.

In November, citing deteriorating security, the Guinean government deployed army units to key trouble spots in Conakry. Guinean human rights groups contend that this is a violation of the 2015 law on public security, which limits the army’s role in law enforcement.

Even after November, however, the police and gendarmerie remained the units most frequently deployed to opposition protests. The Mobile Intervention and Security Force (Compagnie mobile d’intervention et de sécurité, CMIS), a rapid-response police unit, and the Anti-Criminality Brigade (Brigade anti-criminalité, BAC), a mixed force of police and gendarmes, were the units most frequently implicated by witnesses in abuses in 2018.

Use of Lethal Force by Police, Gendarmes 

Human Rights Watch documented 12 fatal shootings of protesters or bystanders in Conakry in 2018, eight of which witnesses alleged involved members of the security forces firing at protesters. Witnesses said that one other person was killed by a stray bullet. In the three other cases, Human Rights Watch interviewed family members of victims, who alleged killings by members of the security forces, but were not able to interview direct witnesses.

Witnesses said that shootings usually occurred during the chaotic, fast-moving clashes between security forces and protesters, and described security forces shooting at protesters to try to disperse them or while pursuing them through neighborhoods. The chaotic nature of the clashes, as well as the violence used by demonstrators, suggests that some shots the security forces fired may have been motivated by fear. None of the witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch, however, said that they saw the victim of the shooting use or threaten violence before the security forces opened fire.

“Ibrahima and I were sitting on the side of the street, when I saw a BAC unit coming toward us,” said a friend of Ibrahima Bah, who was shot dead in the Koloma neighborhood during an October 16 opposition shutdown. “I started running, but Ibrahima had his back to the road so didn’t see them in time. As I was running, I heard shots and later found out Ibrahima was hit.”

In some cases, witnesses alleged that that the security forces targeted a particular person. A witness to the November 7 deaths of Mamadou Bella Baldé and Mamadou Alimou Bah in Wanindara, a suburb of Conakry, told Human Rights Watch that two armed men wearing “military uniforms” shot the men, killing them. “It seemed to me like they were targeting the man [Bella] they shot,” the witness said. “There was nothing violent happening on the streets when the men fired. They arrived on a motorbike, stopped in front of us, and the passenger immediately got his gun out to fire.” The witness, who underscored that the shooting happened at night, said that he was not sure whether the alleged security force members were in army or gendarmerie uniforms.

Medical records Human Rights Watch reviewed indicate that the bullet entered the middle of Bella’s forehead, killing him instantly. The witness said that, upon seeing Bella fall, Bah attempted to assist him, but was also shot. The witness said that he immediately ran away. As he fled, he heard further shots and a bullet struck his thigh, causing a wound that was visible on his leg.

On November 14, Guinea’s media regulator suspended the accreditation of a Radio France International journalist, Mouctar Bah, after he reported that Bella’s family stated that he had been killed by members of Guinea’s “red berets,” an elite military unit. Bella’s family repeated this allegation when interviewed by Human Rights Watch on January 8.

On November 16, the day of Mamadou Bella Baldé’s burial, a soldier, Vivien Gérard, was severely beaten in the Bambeto neighborhood, where the funeral took place, allegedly by young men angry at Baldé’s death. Gérard was eventually evacuated to Morocco for treatment.   

Human Rights Watch also documented the death of one person and the wounding of several others from stray bullets fired recklessly into the air during protests that hit the victim on their descent. On October 23, a man said a stray bullet injured his 9-year old daughter in the foot. “We were all inside watching television when she was hit,” he said, pointing to a bullet hole in the ceiling. On the same day, a woman said a stray bullet hit her thigh while she cooked food in her courtyard. “I thought it was an insect bite,” she said. “But when I saw the flow of blood from my leg, I knew it was something else. I never go near demonstrations, and I prefer to stay at home to stay safe.”

Some non-fatal shootings had devastating impacts. A stray bullet that witnesses said was fired by gendarmes pursuing demonstrators through the Hamdallaye neighborhood on November 13 struck a 10-year old boy, Mamadou Hady Barry, as he returned from Koranic school, hitting him in the back. Barry was lying on a bare mattress when interviewed on January 12, unable to move his legs and sipping water from a ladle held by his father. When interviewed again on April 13, Barry’s family said he now crawls on his knees to move around, and that he has not regained the use of his legs. “He was struck right before our house,” his father said. “We’d closed one of the doors because of the level of insecurity during demonstrations. Otherwise, he would have already been inside.”

Criminal Conduct by the Security Forces

Witnesses also alleged that police and gendarmes frequently engaged in criminal conduct, including theft and banditry, when policing demonstrations in 2018. More than 20 witnesses, from Hamdallaye, Bambeto, Wanindara, and Matam neighborhoods, said that police and gendarmes stole cell phones and cash, carted off merchandise from small businesses, smashed windshields, and vandalized homes. Human Rights Watch documented numerous such incidents in a July 2018 report.

On November 8, as part of an hours-long crackdown on the Wanindara neighborhood following the killing, allegedly by demonstrators, of a police officer, CMIS officers vandalized and stole goods in the neighborhood, witnesses alleged. “I hid myself in my house with my children,” said one woman. “But two police officers forced the door and ordered us out of the house. I had one million GF (US$108) and a telephone in a bag, but they cut it off me with a knife.”

Another woman, Djalikatou Barry, said that on the same day a police officer hit her in the face and then stole a purse containing money she earned selling bananas at a small roadside stall. “Three police officers, in black uniforms, stopped me in the courtyard in front of my house,” she said. “One of them hit me and then put my bag into his uniform. My nose was bleeding. I went to a clinic nearby and they did an x-ray but fortunately it wasn’t broken.”

Several business owners in Wanindara said that police had stolen or damaged merchandise during the November 8 operation. “The police came into our yard and used their batons to smash the front and back windows of all the 13 cars parked here,” said a parking lot attendant. Other vendors said police stole or destroyed motorbikes, televisions, chairs, cash, and telephones.

“They burned a motorbike that was in the courtyard, smashed a TV screen, and burned some plastic chairs that I had in my store,” said one shop owner. “They parked a pick-up truck outside our courtyard, and then climbed the gate to get in,” said another vendor. “I hid in my shop with my wife and our 8-month old baby. But in my hurry to hide I’d left my bag outside. They stole 280,000 FG ($30) cash and a telephone.”

Arbitrary Arrests After Killing of Police Officer 

Witnesses said that the police and gendarmerie on several occasions arbitrarily arrested people in neighborhoods where demonstrations occurred, with family members subsequently forced to pay bribes to free those detained. Human Rights Watch documented several such incidents in a July 2018 report.

On November 8, the day a police officer was stabbed to death, CMIS forces detained more than two dozen residents of Wanindara, in several cases arresting people with little apparent connection to the officer’s killing. “I had just come back from a baptism,” said an elderly Wanindara resident, who was arrested and detained by the CMIS for several days:

I saw police officers on the main road, and I saw one throw a stone toward my house. I said, “Stop throwing stones,” and they came over toward me. They then made me climb into one of their vehicles. One of them said, “You’re the rebels who killed our friend.” I said, “No, please let me go, it’s time for the call to prayer, and I do the call to prayer.” But they wouldn’t release me.

A teacher at a local Koranic school said that after arriving back in Wanindara that afternoon, he could not find a taxi, so he decided to walk home. The police stopped him and told him to get into a pick-up truck.

They said, “Do you know why we arrested you? They killed a police officer today, stabbed him.” I told them I didn’t know about the incident. But they took me to the CMIS building in Anco 5. I told them that I was just a Koranic schoolteacher, but they detained me for almost a week.

Several witnesses said they had to pay to free family members who were detained during the CMIS operation. “I got a call from a police officer saying that I should negotiate a sum to free two of my nephews,” said a shop owner. “He initially asked for 2 million FG ($216) per person, but I ended up paying 750,000 FG ($81) each.” A local UFDG activist said that on the same day he paid 500,000 FG ($54) to secure the release of his younger brother.

By the end of the day on November 8, approximately 25 people arrested in Wanindara were in detention at Conakry’s judicial police headquarters (Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire), where they remained for several days without their detention being reviewed by a judge. On November 13, the police held a news conference in which Guinea’s principal television stations filmed the 25 people standing in front of a table of knives, scissors, and other weapons.

State television coverage later that night implied that the detainees were implicated in the police officer’s death and the killing of two civilians on November 7 that Human Rights Watch documented earlier in this report. The state television coverage showed footage of the table of knives arranged in front of the detainees but did not state that the civilians had died from gunshot wounds.

Several of the detainees at the news conference said that it unfairly associated them with crimes that they had not committed. “I hadn’t seen any of the knives before,” one of the detainees, who featured in the television footage, told Human Rights Watch. “Later that day, after the filming had finished, four of us were called into the commander’s office and freed.”

Other detainees were, following the press conference, held pending further investigations, with several detained for several weeks. “After the filming of the press conference, my brother and I were brought to court and then placed in detention,” said one of the 25 detainees. “We only go out in January.”

Lack of Justice; Recommendations 

Human Rights Watch found no evidence that members of the security forces have been suspended, disciplined, or prosecuted for alleged misconduct in the 2018 protests. Guinea’s Ministry of Justice did not respond to a March 25 letter from Human Rights Watch requesting information on the status of investigations into deaths, of both protesters and law enforcement personnel, during 2018’s demonstrations.

The lack of progress in investigations reflects a wider failure to adequately investigate alleged killings by the security forces since Condé came to power. Even in the case of Kaly Diallo, whose February 4 conviction is the only known example of a member of the security forces being held accountable for a protester’s death, there may have been little concrete evidence linking him to the protester’s killing. Although the prosecutor asked the court to acquit Diallo, the government held up the conviction as one example of “its determination to shed light on emblematic criminal cases.”

In May 2013, following a spate of political violence in which at least 12 people were killed – in several cases in shootings by the security forces – Condé formed a special pool of judges tasked with investigating crimes committed by both protesters and the security forces. Although Condé at the time said that “no one is above the law,” including gendarmes and police, ultimately no members of the security forces faced trial for the 2013 violence.

Law enforcement and judiciary officials said that the chaotic, violent nature of protests, immediate disturbance of the crime scene, the lack of trust between the local community and law enforcement, and unwillingness of witnesses to come forward, always made it difficult to investigate deaths during protests.

Despite the lack of success in 2013, however, creating a team of judges to investigate deaths during protests, supported by a detachment of police and gendarmes, could help address these challenges. The creation of a special unit could help ensure that adequate resources are available for investigations and provide opportunities for judges, police, and gendarmes to develop expertise in investigating demonstration-related abuses, including through training from international donors. Establishing the unit as a separate entity from the normal chain of command for the police and gendarmerie could also help guarantee independence from political pressure. A panel of three judges completed their investigation into the September 2009 stadium massacre in November 2017, charging 14 high-level officials. That case is now awaiting trial.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Source: Apo-Opa

U.S. Government delivers more than 700 Metric Tons of Humanitarian Assistance to Mozambicans impacted by Cyclone Idai

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

U.S. Embassy in Mozambique

The amount of humanitarian supplies delivered to Mozambique by the U.S. Government has surpassed 700 metric tons.  This includes eight commercial flights chartered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to deliver relief supplies from U.S. Government warehouses in Pisa, Italy and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and eight U.S. military airlifts of USAID food from their warehouses in Djibouti.

The supplies have included:

  • Plastic sheeting to meet the emergency shelter needs of more than 100,000 people;
  • Water-treatment units to purify, store, and distribute safe drinking water; each unit can meet the daily water requirement of 10,000 people;
  • Water-storage containers, including 25,000 buckets with built-in taps and lids and jerry cans to help people collect & store safe drinking water;
  • Kitchen sets, which include pots, bowls, plates, cups, and utensils;
  • Latrines to help improve sanitary conditions and help prevent the spread of waterborne diseases such as cholera;
  • Wool blankets to help keep people warm and dry; and
  • Enough food to feed 100,000 people for one month.

On March 20, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to coordinate the U.S. government’s response efforts.  This team of elite disaster experts has been closely coordinating with the Mozambican Government, the United Nations, and nongovernmental organizations to rapidly distribute aid to affected communities in Mozambique.

In addition, the U.S. Government, in coordination with the Mozambican Ministry of Health and National Institute of Health, is focused on controlling and preventing diseases most likely to impact the affected areas, in particular cholera and malaria.  From economic growth to democracy to HIV/AIDS control and prevention, the United States has supported tremendous progress in the affected areas over the past two decades, and we are committed to safeguarding that progress for the Mozambican People.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Mozambique.

Media files
U.S. Embassy in Mozambique
Download logo

Source: Apo-Opa

Press Release Regarding the Visit of H.E. Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and the Gambians Abroad of the Republic of The Gambia

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Download logo

H.E. Mamadou Tangara Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and the Gambians Abroad of the Republic of The Gambia will pay a visit to Turkey on 18-19 April 2019.

During the visit, all aspects of our bilateral relations will be discussed and views on regional and international issues will be exchanged.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Source: Apo-Opa

Easter eggs with a difference

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

As Easter approaches, all over the world orders ramp up for chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs. But, have you ever thought about where chocolate comes from and its environmental impact?

There are approximately 5–6 million cocoa farmers around the world and, according to the International Cocoa Organization, around 70 per cent of the world cocoa is grown in small farms. As global demand for chocolate is on the rise, this number is set to increase even further.

But smallholder producers are hard to monitor, manage and work with due to their sheer number. Poor management of existing cocoa trees leads to low productivity, and forest clearing for new cocoa plantations. This, in turn, contributes to destruction of ecosystems, biodiversity loss, soil erosion and stream sedimentation.   

Côte D’Ivoire is the world’s largest cocoa producer with the most smallholder producers. Yet deforestation remains a major threat to ecosystems, costing the country 64 per cent of its forest cover between 1990 and 2015. If this trend continues, Côte D’Ivoire is expected to lose its entire rainforest by 2030.

“Cocoa is a key provider of livelihoods for millions of people in West Africa and the demand for chocolate will forever be strong,” says James Lomax, UN Environment’s Sustainable Food Systems and Agriculture Programme Officer.  

“It is therefore critical that industry and government work together more effectively to grow the cocoa sector as a model sustainable and deforestation-free agriculture. At the same time, entrepreneurs can play a fantastic role in not only brining quality chocolate for Ivorians to enjoy but also to educate and raise awareness of the current situation in Côte D’Ivoire.” 

Local chocolatiers are aware of challenges in the industry and are increasingly supporting small local farmers to produce organic cocoa beans. Organic agriculture is a holistic system, which promotes better health and management of the whole ecosystem. 

Dana Mroueh is one of them. A 30-year-old Ivorian, she founded the company Mon Choco to find eco-friendly ways of producing chocolate in a country that is threatened by its unsustainable production patterns.

Mon Choco outsources cocoa supply to local farmers that are sustainable and that produce organic cocoa. Mroueh highlights that finding these farmers can be a challenge.  

Yet she is passionate about relying only on organic cocoa beans, which Mon Choco grinds using bicycles, to reduce energy consumption. They also only use recycled paper in their packaging, and reuse the shell of the cocoa. 

“Using bikes to grind the cocoa allows us to reduce our energy impact, get some exercise and produce chocolate. It can’t get better than that!” says Mroueh. 

Employees at Mon Choco often compete to see who can bike the fastest—and therefore produce more chocolate—with the winner getting their picture on the office wall.

Mroueh established this eco-friendly chocolate business for many reasons. “Although Côte D’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer of cocoa, the local population doesn’t really know what chocolate tastes like,” she says.  

Indeed, chocolate consumption in the country is one of the lowest worldwide, and chocolate bars are considered a luxury product due to their very high prices. 

Producing chocolate locally represents a way in which Mroueh can celebrate the beauty of her country as well as its fertile soil. It is also a way to honor her grandfather. “He always dreamt of letting Ivorians taste their country’s choco, and this business was originally his idea,” she explains. 

Easter is an incredibly busy period for Mon Choco, and Mroueh and her team are busy biking to grind the chocolate and designing new products. “For the past three years, we have prepared special products for Easter, such as chocolate rabbits and eggs,” she says.

“These have the added value of being environmentally friendly, which makes Easter a much sweeter experience!” 

Establishing an eco-friendly chocolate business is not easy, and Mroueh has faced numerous difficulties on her journey. 

“Our main challenge is finding local organic cocoa. We produce a lot of cocoa in Côte D’Ivoire, but most of it is produced using pesticides and other chemicals,” she says. 

Expansion of cocoa production in the country remains a threat to swathes of rainforest, and flora and fauna endemic to the country. “We need to educate farmers and raise awareness of the impact of unsustainable cocoa production,” Mroueh said. 

She is already working to do just that. Although her organic cocoa supply is currently outsourced and grown by local farmers, she dreams of eventually expanding the business to create employment while helping her business grow in an environmentally friendly manner. 

Beyond that, Mon Choco is looking further afield, and pursuing another dream: “Exporting to Africa and Europe, now that we are becoming a bit famous in Côte D’Ivoire,” laughs Mroueh.  

The Young Champions of the Earth prize, powered by Covestro, recognizes and celebrates young entrepreneurs making a difference for the environment. The winners for 2019 will be announced in September. Applications open again in January 2020. Stay tuned!

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Media files
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Download logo

Source: Apo-Opa

Southern region: Encouraging results in adult education progress

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Embassy of the State of Eritrea in Sweden
Download logo

Owing to the active participation of administrations encouraging adult education program was registered in the Southern region in the past five years. The report was made at an activity assessment meeting conducted on 11 and 12 April in Mendefera city.

At the meeting in which representatives from administrations, Ministry of Education, regional assembly, PFDJ and national associations attended, Mr. Belay Nurhussien, head of Adult Education Supervision stated that from 2014-2018 over 20 thousand or 76% of those enrolled have successfully concluded their education.

Pointing out that illiteracy rate is declining in the Southern region Mr. Belay said that nomadic lifestyle and other reasons are impeding several nationals from attending school and called for integrated effort on the part of Government and Front bodies. Mr. Belay also called on the public to take advantage of the 22 community libraries put in place throughout the region and tackle the resurgence of illiteracy.

Participants on their part discussed on the effective implementation of illiteracy eradication programs, on the role and integration effort of government bodies in the program, on the significance of community libraries as well as the challenges encountered and possible solutions among others.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Gebrezgi Demam, D.G. of Adult Education and Media in the Ministry of Education, pointing out that illiteracy is the cause of poverty and underdevelopment, indicated that owing to the huge investment theGovernment has made in eradicating illiteracy encouraging results are being registered and called for increased effort to that end.

Mr. Efrem Gebrekiristos, Governor of the Southern region, on his part expressed the administrations readiness to play its part in creating educational opportunities to all citizens.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of the State of Eritrea in Sweden.
Source: Apo-Opa

Thirty-seven young women from across Africa graduate from "Women in African Power" Program

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Africa Regional Media Hub
Download logo

After a month-long intensive training, 37 hand-picked women from 22 countries across Africa will graduate from the Women in African Power (WiAP) Program.  This training equips a new generation of women leaders to contribute to Africa’s energy sector.

This prestigious graduation will be attended by the Minister in the Presidency Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Vice Chancellor of UNISA Prof. Mandla Makhanya, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Deputy Mission Director Rebecca Krzywda, as well as senior representatives of Power Africa and the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs).

Launched by Power Africa, the Women in African Power network promotes leadership among women in Africa’s energy sector.  WiAP includes a diverse group of current and emerging women leaders, representing government, private sector, civil society, and academia.  The network provides a regional platform for networking, information exchange, mentorship, and exposure to new business opportunities.  WiAP is sponsored by Power Africa and hosted by the University of South Africa’s Graduate School of Business Leadership (UNISA SBL).

YALI is a signature U.S. government effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders.  YALI RLCs, based in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa, empower young people aged 18-35 to harness their leadership potential in Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, and Public Management.  Since 2015, the RLCs have transformed the lives of over 13,000 young African leaders directly, while alumni initiatives have influenced thousands more.  This event also will include the launch of YALI AFRICA, an umbrella organization to coordinate and support the four RLCs.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.
Source: Apo-Opa

Women can change face of Africa with enough access to finance

17.April.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Access to finance by women in Africa is critical if the continent is to attain the sustainable development goals, Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha said Tuesday.

Speaking at an event to discuss the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) in Marrakesh, Morocco, ahead of the fifth Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD), Ms. Biha said adopting the right actions to integrate gender in Africa’s economies will result in financial inclusion, guarantee women’s economic empowerment and achievement of the SDGs, thereby helping change the face of the continent.

According to the ECA’s Women’s Report (2013), failure to integrate gender equality and women’s empowerment into national economies has cost African countries a combined $95 billion in lost productivity annually.

“This is an indicator that financial exclusion of women is not an option for our continent,” said Ms. Biha, adding the African Women Leadership Fund was an impact fund that aims to strengthen economic empowerment of women and accelerate the emergence of African women fund managers who in turn will invest in and develop African women-led businesses and micro-businesses.

Over the next decade the fund is envisaged to have made an investment of up to $500 million in African owned and women-led companies.

The fund is anchored on six pillars;

  • Providing African women entrepreneurs access to sustainable capital
  • Providing African cooperatives access to sustainable capital
  • Lowering barriers to entry for capable women asset managers focused on investing in women-owned and women-led companies
  • Providing technical assistance to accelerate the fund management learning curve and supporting growth and expansion
  • Providing seed capital to develop a track record and accelerate fundraising and scale
  • Focus on sustainability and scalability of the platform

The ECA is supporting the operationalization of the innovative fund, a brainchild of the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohammed, African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat and the AWLN.

Speaker after speaker praised the formation for the fund saying it will address the fundamental gap in the access of women to finance architecture.

Djibouti’s Women and Family Affairs Minister, Moumina Houmed, said the story of women and finance was similar to that of every other African country. She shared efforts being undertaken by her country, including capacity building of associations and cooperatives; partnerships with the private sector to train women entrepreneurs and getting banks to give women more access to finance.

“We know that even in family-owned businesses women have a much lower share. We have very few women entrepreneurs on the continent because of the hurdle of access to finance. As such, the fund seeks to lower these hurdles faced by women-owned businesses, promote investments in micro enterprises and take women’s cooperatives to the next level,” said Nabila Freidji, a Moroccan entrepreneur and member of the AWLF committee.

Thoko Ruzvidzo, ECA’s Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division Director, spoke about the AWLF and what it is expected to achieve. “Failure is not an option,” she said, adding women’s financial inclusion in African economies was a must.

She said funds will be earmarked for each of the five regions of North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa, and Southern Africa with a strategy being established for each region to address unique elements of the markets, or to reflect priorities for each region.

Priority would be given to women-led businesses. At least 65 percent of capital will be invested in women-led companies.

Ms. Leila Rhiwi, a representative of UN Women in Morocco, emphasized the importance of women accessing finance to bolster their businesses saying they have already proven themselves as entrepreneurs and drivers of the economy.

The high-level meeting was attended by representatives of the Moroccan business and financial ecosystem, government officials, senior women executives and young women entrepreneurs, among others.

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

Media files
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
Download logo

Source: Apo-Opa