WFP Boosts Food Security By Connecting Smallholder Farmers To Global Markets

DAVOS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced an important agreement which is the next step towards unlocking opportunities for smallholder farmers in the developing world.

Together with a consortium of leading public and private sector organizations, the Patient Procurement Platform (PPP) will make it possible for farmers to plant, harvest and sell enough high-quality crops to boost their income and increase food security. The platform will offer farmers access not only to quality seeds and other inputs but also insurance and financing as well as a predictable market.

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A young farmer in Rwanda, one of the three countries where the platform was introduced last year. Copyright: WFP/Riccardo Gangale

Consortium members who signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Davos today include: AGRA, Bayer, GrowAfrica, the International Finance Corporation, Rabobank, Syngenta, WFP, and Yara International. The consortium will also include local members across the agricultural value chain, including commodity buyers, in each of the 25 countries where it will be active.

“Half of the 795 million hungry people in the world today are family farmers,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin in Davos. “The platform will enable some of the most marginalized farmers to access reliable markets for the first time. This will have a profound impact on food security and bring us closer to our Global Goal of zero hunger.”

With the support of the consortium, more than 1 million of the world’s poorest farmers in 25 countries will be able to shift from subsistence farming to market-oriented agriculture by facilitating their access to fair harvest contracts before planting begins, obtaining agricultural inputs to increase yields, and receiving other forms of support including trainings from consortium members or other providers.

The platform was introduced late last year and is now operating in three African markets. In Rwanda, 20,000 farmers have obtained contracts to sell a combined 8,000 metric tons (MT) of maize to a local buyer. In Tanzania, six local and regional buyers have joined WFP to contract 38,000 metric tons of maize and 5,000 metric tons of pigeon peas from 30,000 farmers who now have access to loans from local consortium member banks to expand production. In Zambia, three regional buyers have joined WFP to contract 17,000 metric tons of five different commodity crops from family farmers.

“Because of the platform, thousands of farmers in these three countries are already in a better position this planting season than the last one. They can now expand production to earn a more stable income knowing they have a trusted buyer committed to their long-term success,” added Cousin.

The platform builds on WFP’s previous work through Purchase for Progress (P4P) that supports small-scale farmers to include the private sector, which provides extra demand, financing and inputs needed to bring efforts to scale and make the largest impact. Committed and patient buyers are key to the platform’s success, because longer-term contracts secured before planting lowers risk and enables farmers to access necessary resources to expand production.

Increasing food production and income opportunities is vital to building resilience and food security, and the private sector has a major role to play in reaching the Global Goal of zero hunger by 2030. Over the next three years, the platform aims to engage 1.5 million farmers across 25 countries with US$750 million worth of contracts through a wide array of local, regional and international buyers.

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Half The Population Of The Central African Republic Faces Hunger, WFP Warns

BANGUI – An Emergency Food Security Assessment by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners reveals that half the population of the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) – nearly 2.5 million people − faces hunger. This marks a doubling in the number of hungry people in a one-year period, as conflict and insecurity have led to limited access to and availability of food.CAR

“Three years of crisis have taken a huge toll on the people of the C.A.R. Families have been forced so often to sell what they own, pull their kids out of school, even resort to begging, that they have reached the end of their rope. This is not the usual run-of-the-mill emergency. People are left with nothing,” said Guy Adoua, WFP Deputy Country Director in the C.A.R.

According to the assessment, one in six women, men and children struggles with severe or extreme food insecurity, while more than one in three is moderately food insecure, not knowing where their next meal is coming from.

“WFP is extremely concerned by this alarming level of hunger. People not only lack enough food but are also forced to consume low-cost, low-nutrient food that does not meet their nutritional needs,” added Adoua.

The report shows that the 2014-2015 harvest was poor and that food prices remain high as farmers have not tended their fields due to insecurity, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and abandon their land and livelihoods.

Further clashes erupted in late September as much of the food security data for the assessment was being collected. That violence fuelled more displacement as people were slowly returning home.  Nearly 1 million people are still displaced inside the C.A.R. or seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

The report recommends continued emergency food assistance to displaced families and returnees; food and technical assistance to farmers to recover; creating safety nets through programmes such as the school meals programme; and providing support to rehabilitate the infrastructure through food-for-assets activities.

WFP is providing emergency food and nutritional support to those most vulnerable and plays a crucial role in supporting recovery efforts. WFP’s programmes focused on cash-based transfers and local food purchases going into school meals for thousands of children boost the local economy and people’s livelihoods.

“We must help the most vulnerable, who need emergency food assistance to survive, yet we also need to focus on people across the C.A.R. so they can recover and rebuild,” said Adoua.

In December 2015, WFP provided food for nearly 400,000 people through general food distributions, cash-based transfers, nutrition support and school meals, and food-for-assets activities.

WFP needs urgent support to continue to provide food and nutritional assistance to displaced and vulnerable communities as well as to support recovery efforts. US$41 million is needed so that WFP can respond to urgent needs through to the end of June in the C.A.R. and the neighbouring countries hosting C.A.R. refugees. To date, WFP’s operation is only 45 percent funded.

Ban Kin-moon engages Nigerian president on the humanitarian consequences of Boko Haram  

 

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, on Monday 18th January 2016, met with H.E. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates and commended Buhari’s efforts to address corruption.

Ban Ki-moon also commended President Buhari’s efforts to tackle insecurity and promote economic development in the country and expressed the United Nations’ continuing support to these efforts.

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The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and H.E. Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Reiterating the United Nations’ support to Nigeria and the countries of the Lake Chad Basin in the prevention of violent extremism, the Secretary-General encouraged the Government to support his newly unveiled Plan of Action and join the global partnership to confront this issue. He stressed the need for military operations to be conducted in full accordance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.

The Secretary-General and the President also discussed the serious security, human rights and humanitarian consequences of Boko Haram’s activities in Northeast Nigeria and in the Lake Chad Basin countries. The Secretary-General noted the success of recent military efforts to combat Boko Haram, while highlighting the need to address the root causes of the conflict.

President Buhari also said in collaboration with the Multinational Joint Task Force, the Nigerian Armed Forces have driven the terrorist group from Nigerian territory into “fall-back positions”.

“They are currently not holding any territory today as we speak,” he reassured Mr. Ban Ki Moon.

‘Staggering’ civilian death toll in Iraq – UN report

A United Nations report released today details the severe and extensive impact on civilians of the ongoing conflict in Iraq, with at least 18,802 civilians killed and another 36,245 wounded between January 2014 and October 2015, while another 3.2 million people have been internally displaced due to violence.

Of the total number of casualties, at least 3,855 civilians were killed and 7,056 wounded between 1 May and 31 October last year – the period covered by the report. According to the UN, the actual figures could be much higher than those documented, and about half of these deaths took place in Baghdad.

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An increasing number of people, including families with children and the elderly, have encountered deadly ambushes as they try to escape areas controlled the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Photo: UNAMI

“The violence suffered by civilians in Iraq remains staggering,” the report states. “The so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) continues to commit systematic and widespread violence and abuses of international human rights law and humanitarian law. These acts may, in some instances, amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide.”

The report, compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is based largely on testimony obtained directly from the victims, survivors or witnesses of violations of international human rights or international humanitarian law, including interviews with internally displaced people.

“During the reporting period, ISIL killed and abducted scores of civilians, often in a targeted manner,” the report notes. “Victims include those perceived to be opposed to ISIL ideology and rule; persons affiliated with the Government, such as former Iraqi security forces (ISF), police officers, former public officials and electoral workers; professionals, such as doctors and lawyers; journalists; and tribal and religious leaders.”

The report adds that “others have been abducted or killed on the pretext of aiding or providing information to Government security forces. Many have been subjected to adjudication by ISIL self-appointed courts which, in addition to ordering the murder of countless people, have imposed grim punishments such as stoning and amputations.”

In addition, it details numerous examples of killings by ISIL in gruesome public spectacles, including by shooting, beheading, bulldozing, burning alive and throwing people off the top of buildings. There are also reports of the murder of child soldiers who fled fighting on the frontlines in Anbar. Information received and verified suggests that between 800 and 900 children in Mosul had been abducted by ISIL for religious education and military training.

“ISIL continued to subject women and children to sexual violence, particularly in the form of sexual slavery,” the report states.

It also documents alleged violations and abuses of international human rights and international humanitarian law by the Iraqi Security Forces and associated forces, including militia and tribal forces, popular mobilization units, and Peshmerga.

The UN indicated that concerning reports have also been received of unlawful killings and abductions perpetrated by some elements associated with pro-Government forces.

“Some of these incidents may have been reprisals against persons perceived to support or be associated with ISIL,” the report explains. “Moreover, as civilians move around the country, fleeing violence, they have continued to face Government restrictions on their ability to access safe areas. Once they reach such areas, some have experienced arbitrary arrest in raids by security forces and others have been forcibly expelled. The conduct of pro-Government forces’ operations raises concern that they are carried out without taking all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects.”

Furthermore, the discovery of a number of mass graves is documented in the report, including in areas regained by the Government from ISIL control, as well as mass graves from the time of Saddam Hussein. One of them uncovered reportedly contains 377 corpses, including women and children apparently killed during the 1991 Shi’a uprisings against Saddam Hussein in the east of Basra.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, said “despite their steady losses to pro government forces, the scourge of ISIL continues to kill, maim and displace Iraqi civilians in the thousands and to cause untold suffering.”

Mr. Kubiš strongly reiterated his call to all parties to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians from the effects of violence, while also calling on the international community to enhance its support to the Government of Iraq’s humanitarian, stabilization and reconstruction efforts in areas liberated from ISIL, “so that all Iraqis displaced by violence can return to their homes in safety and in dignity and that affected communities can be re-established in their places of origin.”

“I urge the government to use all means to ensure law and order, necessary for the voluntary return of [internally displaced persons] to their place of origin – a task of primary importance given the recent wave of violence and killings, often of sectarian nature, notably in Diyala and Baghdad,” the top UN official added.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned that the civilian death toll may be considerably higher, and called for urgent action to rein in the impunity enjoyed by the vast majority of the perpetrators of violence.

“Even the obscene casualty figures fail to accurately reflect exactly how terribly civilians are suffering in Iraq,” he underlined. “The figures capture those who were killed or maimed by overt violence, but countless others have died from the lack of access to basic food, water or medical care,” the High Commissioner said.

“This report lays bare the enduring suffering of civilians in Iraq and starkly illustrates what Iraqi refugees are attempting to escape when they flee to Europe and other regions. This is the horror they face in their homelands,” he added.

Mr. Zeid also appealed to the Government to undertake legislative amendments to grant Iraqi courts jurisdiction over international crimes and to become party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Climate Change Affects Children

Compiled by Alpha Bedoh Kamara

With almost 70 million children in risk areas don’t have access to clean water and 50 million children living with families making less than $3.10 per day, Save The Children is calling on Governments and organizations to intervene and help salvaged the situation.

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A boy carries supplies through waist-high floodwater in Pasig City in Manila, Philippines.

“Our family used to have many livestock and seven camels, but now we just have three goats. I miss drinking camels’ milk – I remember it was so delicious, but it’s too expensive to buy now. When I’m older I’d like to look after livestock like my family used to.” — Ayan is 11 years old. Severe drought caused her family to lose their only source of food and income.

The humanitarian situation in East Africa is deteriorating at an alarming rate due to El Nino-induced weather patterns caused by climate change. Following the failure of the seasonal rains earlier this year, the typically strong June through September rains have failed in some areas for the first time since 1989.

With over 80 percent of the population dependent on rain to grow crops for food and income, millions of families and children are at risk of extreme hunger and malnutrition. This urgent crisis has already exceeded levels not seen since the Horn of Africa drought of 2011 and is projected to be far more severe in 2016.

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Climate change impact

Nora lives with her five children and husband in Bodale. She says life is hard as the family earn two thirds less income as they did when they had more livestock.“We moved 20 villages trying to find water before settling here. It was very hard but we had to do it to find water and keep as many of our livestock alive as possible. We used to have over 80 but now we have 26 – so many have died.” — Nora, 20-years-old, and her infant daughter Sahra.

“In the mornings I walk to near the mountains and try and feed the goats we have. We used to have hundreds of goats but now we just have 10. I also help my mother by collecting water. When it’s hot I get really thirsty but there isn’t much water. I can’t move or do anything when I’m thirsty. I just have to sit down. I’d like to play football but we don’t even have a ball to play with. I just feel disappointed all the time.” — Ahmed, 9 years old.

“I help my mother to look after my baby sister. I also help with the goats, herding them from place to place. My favorite goat is a little one called Quruxo. It means beautiful one.” — Aasha, 5 years old.

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Cocoa farming threatened by climate change

Aasha lives with her mother, father and four siblings. When Aasha was just one-years-old, a series of droughts killed many of her family’s herd, forcing them to leave their home in search of better living conditions for themselves and their remaining livestock. They traveled around 20 villages before settling again.

Story and testimonies courtesy of ‘Save The Children’

Stakeholders in Sierra Leone Validate Independent Police Complaints Board Strategic Plan

By Amadu Femoh Sesay

Sierra Leone — More than 25 stakeholders and partners drawn from the educational, public, private, police, media, non-governmental organizations on Tuesday 12th January 2016 validated the Independent Police Complaints Board’s (IPCB) Strategic Plan at a workshop hosted by the Public Sector Reform Unit (PSRU), Wesley Street in Freetown.

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A cross section of the stakeholders

The rationale behind the validation exercise was to allow stakeholders and partners scrutinize the document which will serve as the IPCB’s ‘road map’ for the next five years. The Plan was sent out to all the participants four days before validation to enable them examine and analyze the document and also note areas of concern.

In her opening remarks and overview, the Chairperson for the occasion, Sidratu Koroma, Director, PSRU, pointed out that the IPCB is an independent civilian oversight body which operates at arm’s length from both elected officials and the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) in giving effect to its mandate.

Ms. Koroma said the IPCB has taken the initiative to do with whatever resources they have to achieve good results and stressed that the Board must be commended for its efforts.

The Chairman of the Independent Police Complaints Board (IPCB), Valentine Collier, told the gathering that the IPCB will serve as a bridge between the public and the SLP, stressing that it will always be the aim of the Board to bring both sides closer in order to foster better understanding, harmonious and good working relationship in the interest of the common good, adding that the IPCB is not here to confront the police.

In his closing remarks, the IPCB Chairman thanked the participants that all their varied inputs will be taken in good faith and that the Board will continue to build and maintain good relationships with its various partners, and in particular the police and the community at large.

Opinions from the floor suggested that the IPCB needed to constantly maintain high levels of accountability, openness and transparency, thereby creating enough credibility to win the trust and confidence of the people.

The Board’s approach which aims at institution building has been multi-dimensional which has so far yielded good returns.

This maiden Strategic Plan was prepared through an interactive, hands-on work and consultative process involving the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) and IPCB, as well as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Access to Security and Justice Programme (ASJP).

The Plan speaks to the strategic goal and objectives for the IPCB for the next five years (2016 to 2020) and highlights the Board’s continued commitment to develop its capacity and professionalism while increasing its intake of complaints and its performance on investigation.

The Plan herein sets out the priorities for the IPCB and will specifically receive and investigate complaints; refer cases for prosecution and administrative procedures; enhance its human resource capacity; undertake research; conduct outreach; monitor and evaluate its performance; produce regular statistics on police abuse and criminality, and coordination with partners.

Credit SLENA

 

 

 

UN chief condemns deadly suicide bombing at mosque in Cameroon

Cameroon — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned a deadly suicide bombing in the village of Kouyape, in the Far North region of Cameroon, during morning prayer at a mosque.

“The attack, perpetrated by suspected Boko Haram elements, resulted in the death of an estimated 13 people, including the imam, and numerous injured,” indicated a statementissued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson.

“The Secretary-General extends his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Cameroon, and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured in the attack,” it added.BokoHaram

The UN chief also reiterated his call for a comprehensive approach to preventing and countering the scourge of terrorism, and addressing its root causes, in compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ban welcomed the holding of the African Union’s Donors Conference to mobilize resources for the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to combat the Boko Haram terrorist group, to be held on 1 February in Addis Ababa.

“He encourages full support for this initiative,” concluded the statement.