FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Monday:  October 6, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

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Entries in Burundi (6)

Tuesday
Jul092013

Great Lakes women leaders meet in Burundi (NEWS) 

(PHOTO: A woman with her baby leaves Ngululu, 80km NW of Goma, DR Congo after the village & others nearby were attacked & burnt by members of the Congo Defence Front./NATION MEDIA GROUP)

(HN, 7/9/2013) - A three-day conference bringing together 100 women leaders from across the Great Lakes region is set to start in Bujumbura on Tuesday.  The Burundi meeting aims to develop a road map for the engagement of women in peace processes.

The conference, which has been organized by the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region in Africa, Mary Robinson, in partnership with Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

It is also expected to look at ways of implementing the “Peace, Security and Cooperation” (PSC) Framework and the United Nations Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 1325 in the Great Lakes Region.

The PSC Framework is a milestone in national, regional and international efforts to bring peace in the Great Lakes region and in particular in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where sexual violence continues at appalling levels and is regularly used as a weapon of war.

The framework was signed on February 24 by 11 African countries and was the fruit of a concerted effort between the UN, ICGLR, the South African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union.

(PHOTO: Mary Robinson at the WEF, 2013)The conference will also consolidate an integrated regional approach for the effective participation of women in conflict resolution and peace building through the implementation of a Regional Action Plan on UNSCR 1325 in the Great Lakes region.

“A common plan will help to ensure that women’s voices are heard “from the bottom up and adhered to and implemented by Governments from the top down,” Ms. Mary Robinson, the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region in Africa, said in a statement.

- This article was originally published in the Africa Review and was written by Sandra Chao in Nairobi, Kenya.

Tuesday
Oct092012

Six people confirmed dead, more missing after small boat capsizes off Mayotte (REPORT) 

(PHOTO: A boat carrying asylum seekers & migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. UNHCR/L.Boldrini)(October 9, 2012) - Six people died and 10 are still missing after a small vessel carrying 24 people capsized on Monday morning off the French territory of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean, the United Nations Refugee Agency reported today.

“The capsizing is a reminder of the risks faced by people desperate to escape poverty, conflict and persecution,”  Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva.

“As in the Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden, the seas around Mayotte are the scene of irregular movements of migrants and refugees searching for a better life or protection from persecution and war.”

This is the second such tragedy in a month, bringing to 69 the number of people reported dead or missing after incidents off Mayotte this year.

For decades, people have been using small open vessels known as “kwassa-kwassa” to sail from the Comoros to the more prosperous French territory of Mayotte, according to UNHCR.

(PHOTO: A general view of the island of Mayotte/UNHCR)Most of these movements take place without the requisite documentation and involve considerable risk to those attempting them. Asylum-seekers account for a small proportion of these movements but their numbers have been increasing in the last two years, Mr. Edwards said.

UNHCR said that last year there were some 1,200 applications for asylum in Mayotte, 41 per cent more than in 2010. The largest proportion of applicants – about 90 per cent – came from the Comoros, with citizens from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Rwanda and Burundi, accounting for the rest.

- This report first appeared at the UN News Centre

Welcome to Mayotte

Mayotte:  Is an overseas department and region of France consisting of a main island, Grande-Terre a smaller island, Petite-Terre, and several islets around these two. The archipelago is located in the northern Mozambique Channel in the Indian Ocean, namely between northwestern Madagascar and northeastern Mozambique. Mayotte's area is 374 square kilometers and with its estimated 194,000 people is very densely populated. Its biggest city and prefecture is Mamoudzou. The territory is geographically part of the Comoro Islands, but has been politically separate since a 1974 referendum in which it elected to remain under French rule. The territory is also known as Mahoré, the native name of its main island, especially by advocates of its inclusion in the Union of Comoros. In a 2009 referendum, the population overwhelmingly approved accession to status of department. On March 31, 2011, Mayotte became an overseas department. (By Alex Ohan)

Tuesday
Dec272011

THE HUM - HEADLINES FROM THE GEOGRAPHIC GAP - 12/27/11

Armenia 

Armenia faces Vietnam at Women's Chess Championship round 8

(PHOTO: Azerbaijan protesters outside the French embassy in Baku; upset with France's policy towards Turkey regarding Armenia, AZERBAIJAN NEWS)Azerbaijan 

Protest action outside French embassy in Baku

Brazil 

Brazil pips UK as sixth-largest economy: CEBR

Burundi 

Burundi government taken before an East African court over graft

Canada 

Canada the global housing leader

In Redford’s Alberta, tailpipe emissions a bigger concern than oil sands pollution

Falkland Islands 

Uruguay says there's no 'diplomatic cataclysm’ with UK over Malvinas (Falkland Islands) developments

France 

The rift between Turkey and France: Is it Armenians or Syrians? (Perspective)

Georgia 

(PHOTO: The new Georgia-Turkey border crossing. Jessica Marati)New Georgia border crossing provides a whimsical welcome

Guinea-Bissau 

Guinea-Bissau soldiers in pay protest

India 

First India-UAE legal lecture series held

UK funds aid rural jobs creation in India

Urdu newspaper editors to attend two-day meet

Indonesia

Electricity sparks new life into Indonesia's corals

‘Perang topat’ reflects Islam-Hindu tolerance in West Lombok

(PHOTO: Jobs in India, INDIA TODAY)Iran 

Iranian naval maneuvers to start (Photo)

Ukraine firm to invest $1 bn in Iranian oil fields

Iran says electricity exports up by 24%

Persian epic poet "Ferdowsi" int'l confab in Iran

Iraq

Bombings in Syria and Iraq raise spectre of Sunni-Shia war (Perspective)

Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast rocked by ethnic violence

Kenya 

Security and Humanitarian Situations in East Africa Remain Tense 

Strangers united by the fears they share

‘Your event is a real gem in a sea of mediocrity’: Safari Rally, 2011

Famine early warning system gives Africa a chance to prepare (Perspective) 

Myanmar

Japanese FM Assures Aung San Suu Kyi Burmese Icon of Full Support

North Korea 

Eldest son of North Korea's late leader in Beijing under Chinese protection: source 

Pakistan 

(PHOTO: Pakistan's Imran Khan, WIKICOMMONS) The Growing Clout Pakistani Sports-Star Turned Politician Imran Khan

Pakistan coal reserves to provide electricity more than 30 years (Perspective)  

Philippines

Asia Pacific passenger traffic sustains growth

How big is Manny Pacquiao’s charitable heart? (Perspective)

Russia

Diplomatic Spat with Qatar fraught with serious fall-out

Russia, Iran Discuss Regional Conflicts, Bilateral Ties 

Russia has 25,000 undersea radioactive waste sites

Launch of Russian Proton-M carrier rocket postponed

Why Russia No Longer Emulates the U.S. (Perspective)

Rwanda

Kagame honoured for empowering the youth 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Prince Pledges Help for Death Row Migrant Worker 

Saudi to allow foreign airlines to fly domestic routes

United States and Saudi Arabia: Working together to keep our countries healthy (Perspective)  

(PHOTO: Indonesia, the ‘bullet’ women carry the topat before cakes are distributed to residents. The Jakarta Post)Singapore

More Singaporeans using smartphones to shop online 

Somalia

Somalia: Hero dies while removing mines

Taking Schools Back From Militants 

South Africa

Biogas technology benefits S Africa's poor (Video)

South Korea

Seoul School Fuels Coffee Industry

South Korea badly needs Vietnamese workers

Spain

Spain opens pavilion in Dubai's Global Village 

(PHOTO: Taiwan Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network of East Asia planning director & Penghu Symbiotic Algae Association chairperson Allen Chen yesterday calls on 3 presidential candidates to protect ocean resources. Taipei Times) Sri Lanka

Pakistan-Sri Lanka expand bilateral ties

Swaziland

Processing Plant Threatens Water in Capital

Switzerland

Switzerland to Invest in Tajikistan’s Water Supply System

Syria

‘Syria trying to reveal secrets behind abduction of Iranian engineers’ 

Taiwan

Oceans around Taiwan threatened by overfishing

EPA asks Kuokuang to protect dolphins

India’s $35 tablet computer, Aakash to be displayed in Taipei

Taiwan to work to establish mobile commerce foundation next year

Targeting emerging markets is right strategy: official

Underprivileged students to get sponsorship for exchange program

Tajikistan

(PHOTO: A Tajikistan wedding. IWPR.ORG)Multiple Marriages in Tajikistan

Tanzania

Public must fight human trafficking (Perspective)

Why Voice Against Abuse of Women and Children in Zanzibar Remains High (Perspective)

Thailand

Met warns of more violent seas in South

Thailand coastal residents evacuated due to high waves on 7th anniversary of tsunami

Long-term flood plan chief concern for investors

Energy imports hit record

(PHOTO: The eastern coast of Thailand will likely face 3 to 4 more rounds of high & violent waves over the next few months, according to the Meteorological Department.THE NATION)Christmas in Bangkok, Thailand (Perspective)

Tonga

Strong earthquake strikes off Tonga, no damage reported

New Christian video library in the Tongan language (Press release)

Trinidad and Tobago 

Curing our sick Trinidad and Tobago (Perspective)

Tunisia 

Tunisia: New Cabinet Members Take Office

Tunisian Bloggers Meet at Douz International Sahara Festival

Tunisia: "Revolution" over, economy battered, tourism down 40 percent

Welcome 2012: Ringing in the New Year in Tunisia

(PHOTO: Youcef Baaloudj, an Algerian blogger & writer presenting his book on the Tunisian Revolution. TUNISIALIVE) Turkey 

Turkey’s infamous Article 301 could change

Snowfall, storms hit eastern Turkey / PHOTO

Turkey's draft law allowing foreign nationals to own property will be put to vote in the first days of 2012

Turkey becoming major hub for contemporary art

Turkmenistan

CIS to Send Observers to Turkmenistan Presidential Elections

Uganda 

Government urged to toughen on gay proponents

Over 2,300 fake nurses work in hospitals, products of illegal nursing schools

Man held over acid attack on top city pastor

Vision Group launches Uganda at 50 project

(PHOTO: Turkey's Art Scene. The 12th İstanbul Biennial was held from Sept. 17 through Nov. 13 at Antrepo No 3 & 5. TODAY’S ZAMAN)Ukraine 

Ukraine's foreign policy to rest on national pragmatism principle, says president

Ukraine: Taking to the Web to Raise Funds and Awareness

It is important for Ukraine to get next tranche of IMF loan (Perspective)

Ukraine introduces new classification of passenger trains

Ukraine starts delivering sparkling wine to China

United Arab Emirates

UAE launches online registration for Emirates ID cards

Steep fines for spitting gum, throwing cigarette butts in Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Award for Medical Sciences makes headway in research in diabetes

'Social networking sites equally popular in Emirates'

Civilian nuclear power drives an international safety culture

Emergency rooms see too many outpatients-report

The UAE Prepares to Host Two Major International ICT Events

Print media will flourish for at least another decade (Perspective)

Sharjah musical festival attracts huge crowds

Lindsay Lohan in Dubai for New Year's Eve Party on board the QE2

Christmas cheer for retailers across UAE

United Kingdom 

Church of England and National Trust concerned about plans to cut solar panel subsidies

Foster families are needed warns charity

UK's Boxing Day bargain hunt (Video)

International karate champion faces jail after sending 5,000 texts to schoolgirl, 13 

United States

Swine flu recently confirmed in five states, CDC reports

US households struggle for a warm winter (Video)

Uruguay 

UTE, Uruguay’s state power company presents plan for domestic solar generation

Vanuatu 

Vanuatu offers more for travellers

Vietnam 

Great potential for tropical fruit, vegetable export in Vietnam

Vietnam to allow free market pricing of power, fuel:  finance ministry 

Wuhan Kaidi Electric Power Got USD300mn Contract in Vietnam 

Jubilant Christmas celebrated in Vietnam

Yemen

IOM urges donors to assist Ethiopian migrants in Yemen

Zambia

Former Minister of Energy Kenneth Konga summoned by the Zambia police

Corruption setback to Foreign investment -Report

Munali mine, run by China’s Jinchuan Group, in talks with potential investors

UN buys beans from local farmers

31 accidents recorded on Xmas eve countrywide

David Livingstone memorial set for March 2013

Zambians toast Christmas Day

Zimbabwe

Anhui Farm Project of China Helps Zimbabwe's Agriculture

Rapaport Group of Israel Boycotts Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamonds

Detained Air Zimbabwe plane returns home

“Most youths have embraced Indigenisation” (Perspective)

Thursday
Jul142011

A Small Cash Box Powers Up Girls in Burundi (REPORT)

The precious savings and loans box contains funds for both the building of girl adolescent dreams - and emergencies. CREDIT: M Bociurkiw/HUMNEWSBy a HUMNEWS Correspondent in East Africa

(HN, July 15, 2011) - It doesn't look like much at first glance, but the small tin cash box holds in it a lot of promise and dreams for about 30 girls gathered today in a suburb of Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi.

Not surprisingly, custodians of the box protect it with all they have. Not only does it help funds dreams through small loans, it also helps out members of the Ishaka solidarity group in times of crisis, perhaps to fund funeral expenses.

Little wonder then that the group’s savings are kept in a locked box that has three padlocks, held by three different girls.

This group of girls belong to Ishaka - a project to socially and economically empower girls, aged 14-22 in the two main urban areas of Burundi.

Many of their stories bear painful similarities. Young girls who loose their parents or care givers, or are thrown out onto the streets after becoming pregnant at a young age. They try to fend for themselves, end up having to beg for money or engage as sex workers, become pregnant and can no longer fend for themselves.

Even in relatively normal household environments in Burundi, domestic violence is widespread, says CARE Burundi Country Director Michelle Carter. It is believed that decades of civil unrest has created an environment for domestic violence to thrive. In addition, the unrest and scourge of HIV and AIDS has left behind many orphans.

To make matters worse, discriminatory laws and a patriarchal system make young women more susceptible to early marriage, sexual exploitation and early pregnancy.

Many girls find Ishaka at the depths of utter despair. The solidarity group not only helps boost their self confidence, it extends micro-loans for approved projects and educates the girls on life skills such as how to protect themselves against sexually-transmitted diseases.

Three succesful graduates from Ishaka who run their own businesses in Bujumbura. CREDIT: M Bociurkiw/HUMNEWSIshaka provides financial support so that the girls will not be forced to beg for money from boys and others. The loans are small - as little as $33 dollars, even less sometimes - but enough for the girls to start small businesses. One girl sold enough beer to purchase a rabbit that would be rented out for breeding. That eventually generated enough income for a goat and some pigs, and then school fees. Another borrowed just eight dollars to start an egg business, which eventually propelled her back to school.

Every participant is expected to make a deposit at each meeting: in this case 80% is dedicated towards a savings and loan fund and 20% towards social causes, or a rainy-day fund. At the beginning of each meeting, the savings are carefully counted - in such silence one could hear a pin drop.

"If not for Ishaka I wouldn't be where I am," said one graduate, who has opened up a small farm. "I'm no longer dependent on boys."

Christine, another participant who is a single mother of two, used her first loan to buy and sell corn. Within five months she paid back the loan, used her profits to build a small home and even ended up with some savings. "I put the past behind me and replaced it with dignity," she said.

The mechanics are elegantly simple: a group is self-selected and self-managed, with between 10-30 members. All members must meet and save on a regular basis. Decisions are made collectively, and subtle peer pressure helps ensure compliance.

Carefully tabulating the day's intake of savings and loans. CREDIT: M Bociurkiw/HUMNEWS

A solar-powered and wind-up radios play an integral part of this initiative, by allowing groups to listen to financial literacy and life skills broadcasts.

When asked what skills they would like to pick-up, the girls said they are keen to learn soap-making as it could be easily sold in their community for income.

The Ishaka project has been supported by the Nike Foundation, with funding totalling $2.58 million over three-and-a-half years. More than 12,000 girls have benefited so far, with another 8,000 still to take advantage.

Many participants discover Ishaka by word of mouth, or from CARE staff during visits to various neighbourhoods. In early phases CARE staff provide intensive monitoring, but gradually blend into the background to allow the girls to lead themselves.

One of the wonderful aspects of the project, Carter said, is that it is easily replicable, designed to be scaled-up when necessary. Infrastructure and overhead is kept to a minimum.

To be sure, the graduates, or successful businesswomen, serve as superb role models for the younger participants.

At a recent meeting in June, one 22-year-old gave a passionate lecture on the scourge of HIV and AIDS, and quizzed her younger colleagues on how to protect themselves.

Afterwards, old and young embraced each other and erupted into a spontaneous celebration of song and dance.

Friday
Jun242011

As Peace Takes Hold in Isolated Burundi, Donor Crisis Feared (REPORT)

Waiting for change in Burundi: According to UNICEF about 50% of the population is under 18 years old CREDIT: HUMNEWSBy a HUMNEWS Correspondent in East Africa

The global economic crisis and the drawing down of the emergency situation is translating into a decline in donor and humanitarian aid agency activity in Burundi - one of the poorest nations on the planet.

As the scarred nation struggles to emerge from four wars since independence in 1962 - between 1993 and 2006 some 300,000 people were killed - Burundi finds itself near the bottom of the UN's Human Development Index - with a GDP per capita of just $110. More than two-thirds of the population lives below the poverty line.

 

The health system is in a shambles and, according to UNICEF, almost 60% of children are stunted, a key manifestation of malnutrition.

On the economic side, the former Belgian colony has a very small tax base and is heavily reliant on external aid. It is set to miss most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). One of the most densely populated places in the world, it has difficulties feeding its 8-million inhabitants. Quite the change from independence until 1993, when Burundi's economic performance was one of the best in Africa.

Yet the landlocked, East African country hardly registers on the radar of major donor countries.

And crises elsewhere in the world means that cash-strapped agencies like the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) are scaling down their operations here.

"Maybe donors need to be told that they need to invest in Burundi to prevent another crisis," said a European diplomat. "You can either spend $100 now to treat a mildly ill patient or $1000 later to treat a severely ill patient."

However one main challenge, experts agree, is the provision of good governance. Diplomats say the current leadership is extremely inexperienced and lacking vision. "They are narrow-minded and introverted and are only interested in looking after their own constituencies," said one diplomat.

Periodic violence by armed bandits remains a problem in Burundi. Earlier this week gunmen in police uniforms killed five people.

The humanitarian arm of the European Community (ECHO) is shuttering the doors of its Burundi head office all together next year. Other UN agencies are also expressing fears about the cash situation a year or two up the road.

Part of the challenge in drawing donor attention is generating more media coverage, aid workers say. Few of the major western news agencies have a bureau in the capital Bujumbura, preferring instead to send correspondents from the East African media hub of Nairobi.

A man dries his coffee beans next to a highway near Gitega. Coffee exports represent about 90 percent of Burundi's export earnings. CREDIT: HUMNEWSRelatively peaceful and credible elections last year won the Maryland-sized country international applause. But rampant corruption, low capacity and frequent changes in the cabinet makes the shift from the emergency phase to long-term development difficult, experts say. Recently, western ambassadors wrote a scathing letter to the Government complaining of an escalation in extra-judicial killings.

After President Pierre Nkurunziza, an avid golf player, won the election last year, opposition figures have either fled the country or gone undercover.

A 2006 USAID-funded study recently found that what is needed is diversification of the economy - away from an over-reliance on coffee growing, which accounts for some 90 percent of export earnings. However landlocked and with the nearest seaport well over 1200 kilometers away in Dar-es-Salaam - via poor roads and customs barriers, connecting Burundi to the outside world is not a simple matter. Indicative of the lack of economic activity is that Bujumbura's lakeside port is operating a just a fraction of its capacity.

A Nairobi-based Western diplomat who follows Burundi said the country's only, long-term hope is to take advantage of the opportunities that can come from regional integration. He pointed to the small neighbouring country of Rwanda, which has recovered from its multi-year conflict much better and is even now boasting a tourism sector and functioning stock market.

Said the diplomat: "The Government will have to position itself to benefit fully from regional integration. Instead what we are seeing is a squandering of one opportunity after another. I'm seeing very little political will to open horizons.

"My message is to focus on integration. It will be a catastrophe if they don't."

One glimmer of hope is the prospect of new mining operations in the country. A Canadian mining company is said to have obtained exploration rights for gold deposits. Another is improving yield on coffee exports: the Seattle-based company Starbucks is said to be looking at Burundi as a market for beans.

And in another positive development to further integrate Burundi into the global economy, Seacom Ltd., a closely held company that operates a fiber-optic link off East Africa, said this month it plans to extend the high-bandwidth fibre-optic cable to Burundi.

The USAID study suggests development of the tourism sector as part of an economic development package. But Burundi's sandy beaches - it sits on the clean and majestic Lake Tanganyika - international-quality hotels and guest houses are little known to the jet-setting public. For visitors, it's possible to arrive at Bujumbura International Airport - one of the cleanest and most efficient in Africa - and be sitting on the beach drinking a can of locally-made Primus beer less than one hour after touchdown.Burundi already has some international-standard tourism assets, including a good international airport and the Bora Bora Beach Resort in Bujumbura (shown above). CREDIT: HUMNEWS

International air links are limited, but that may improve later this year with the addition of service by South African Airways. Sadly, deforestation and a decline in the wild animal population doesn't give the countryside the appeal of other East African countries. The part of the country with the most exotic vegetation and wildlife - bordering Congo and Rwanda - is still regarded as a security risk.

Tuesday
Nov022010

(Report) Job scarcity causes gender disparities in Africa, World Bank report reveals 

(HN, November 2, 2010) -- The US-based World Bank said in a study released on Tuesday in Maputo, Mozambique that gender disparities in African labour markets are caused by jobs scarcity and not discrimination while highlighting that investments in education and job creation are key to fostering gender equality.

The study analyses household survey data collected in the early 2000s in 18 countries across Africa, looking into gender dimensions in employment, unemployment, pay gap, as well as the role of educational attainment.

The survey shows that women’s participation rates in the labour market range from under 40 percent in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, and Uganda, to 80 percent and above in Burkina Faso, Burundi, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

For Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, women’s employment ratio over the survey period is 25 percent lower than for men, respectively at 53 percent and nearly 70 percent.

“We found little evidence to support the idea that labour market discrimination is a key explanation for gender gaps in underdeveloped economies, especially those whose job markets are small and can only supply formal employment for a minority of the population,” says World Bank Senior Economist Jorge Arbache, one of the book’s editors.

Arbache added that disparities are indeed greater in countries that have few job opportunities to begin with and, conversely, countries with the highest job rate for men are also those with the least gender disparities.

Another co-editor of the survey, Ewa Filipiak, project manager at Agence Française de Développement, said “ensuring women’s access to jobs is essential to the fight against poverty and reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)... because it has been shown that well-paid jobs empower them to redirect spending on essential needs, notably in favour of children’s health and education.”

Survey data shows that on average the male-to-female earnings ratio is as high as 2.8 among individuals with no education, and as low as 0.9 among those with post-secondary education.

The authors therefore recommend that policy-makers adopt targeted measures that facilitate women’s access to education, such as conditional cash transfer programmes, that encourage families to enrol girls in schools.

The 18 African countries surveyed are Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia.

Case studies were conducted in the Congo Republic, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania while cross-country studies were done in Benin, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Senegal and Uganda.

- African Press Agency /APA-Maputo (Mozambique)