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Thursday:  July 31, 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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Friday
May182012

#DearG8: Summit must focus on food security (PERSPECTIVE) 

 

(Video: An explanation of food insecurity/British Red Cross)

By Shenggen Fan

As the G8 leaders meet in the United States this week, agriculture and food security must be at the forefront of the discussions, and ways to prevent price volatility, including halting grain-based biofuels production, establishing grain reserves for emergency use, eliminating food export bans and increasing the transparency of food and agricultural market information - should be addressed.

Most importantly, the G8 leaders should fulfill their commitments on global food security.

In 2009, G8 leaders made considerable financial commitments to global agriculture and food security, pledging to mobilize $22 billion over three years through a coordinated, comprehensive strategy focused on sustainable agriculture development. But as of May 2011, it was estimated that only 22 percent of these commitments had been disbursed.

In addition to the G8 leaders, the heads of states from Ethiopia, Ghana, Benin and Tanzania will take part in the summit discussions. The direct participation by these African leaders underscores the seriousness of the food security situation on the continent, where more than 220 million people are undernourished. Millions suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, a total of 100 million women and children are iron deficient, and 33 million children have Vitamin A deficiencies. The 2011 Global Hunger Index, a combined measure of the proportion of undernourishment, child malnutrition, and child mortality, shows that Sub-Saharan Africa is home to all the countries with "extremely alarming" scores and many of the countries with "alarming" scores.

In addition, it is projected that smallholder farmers, particularly those living in the highland areas and semi-arid savannahs in Sub-Saharan Africa, face increasing natural resource scarcity risks, including land degradation, which can cost as much as 10 percent of national GDP. Many parts of the region are extremely vulnerable to both man-made and natural shocks. Last year, more than 13 million people were affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa. This year more than 15 million people across seven countries in the Sahel region are already suffering from severe food insecurity or at risk.

It is crucial that developed countries take action to fight starvation in Africa. The cost of hunger is high, and the damage is irreversible.

For over three decades now, the International Food Policy Research Institute has been engaged in promoting the transformation of smallholder agriculture across Africa through evidence-based research and support to country-driven development initiatives. Priority areas include: building capacity for agricultural and food policy analysis and supporting country-led development strategies; improving nutrition along value chains to increase poor people's access to nutritious foods and increasing the availability, access, and intake of nutrient-rich, biofortified staple foods for the poor; resilience-enhancing schemes such as productive social safety nets, weather insurance index, and other risk management tools that help reduce vulnerability and enhance resilience to shocks and contribute to overall long-term growth and prosperity.

Technological innovations such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and biofortification are crucial to increasing agricultural productivity, building resilience to weather-related shocks, enhancing the nutritional value of food crops, and ensuring food safety. Biotechnology has great potential to improve crop yield, nutrition and resilience to weather, which will be even more frequent in the future due to climate change.

As the world's population increases, there is enormous pressure on the planet's ecosystems. The most reasonable solution to feeding the ever-growing population is sustainably producing more food on the existing land. Scaled-up investments in science and technology and support for improved country capacities are essential to accelerate progress and achieve development objectives. While the governments of developing countries have taken important steps to boost food security-related investments, support from the G8 countries remains critical.

- This commentary first appeared at XinhuaNet

RELATED:

New G8-African Alliance For Food Security And Nutrition Launched

Cash-strapped G8 looks to private sector in hunger fight

Private sector organizations commit to support the G8 food security agenda

Oxfam: G8 Food Security Alliance Answers Question Hungry People Have Not Asked

Friday
Mar022012

UN-Leashing the Power of Women (REPORT) 

(PHOTO: Kate Holt, IRIN) (HN, March 2, 2012) -- This week, the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women opened on Monday at United Nations Headquarters in New York. It's special focus? The development of `Rural Women'. 

For the next two weeks, leaders - men and women alike - are meeting  to focus on women's visibility, contributions, and empowerment, in poverty and hunger eradication, development, climate change adaptation, conflict resolution, gender inequality, technology and energy access, and ending female genital mutilation and sex slavery.

The session, led by Chile's former President and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, is also preparing the agenda for the UN Rio+20 Conference that Brazil will host in June. The Commission was established by ECOSOC resolution 11, June 21, 1946; just a year after the signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco in 1945. Of the 160 signatories, only 4 were women - Minerva Bernardino (Dominican Republic), Virginia Gildersleeve (United States), Bertha Lutz (Brazil) and Wu Yi-Fang (China).

(PHOTO: Minerva Bernardino/Archive) The Commission's mandate was expanded in 1987 to include the functions of promoting the objectives of equality, development and peace at the national, sub regional, regional and global levels. Following the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women, the General Assembly mandated the Commission to integrate into its program a follow-up process to the Conference, regularly reviewing the critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action and to develop its catalytic role in mainstreaming a gender perspective in United Nations activities.

45 member states of the UN serve as members of the Commission at any one time. The Commission consists of one representative from each country elected by the Council on the basis of equitable geographical distribution: 13 members from Africa; 11 from Asia; 9 from Latin America and Caribbean; 8 from Western Europe and other States and 4 from Eastern Europe. Members are elected for a period of 4 years(SEE BELOW FOR FULL LIST)

In her opening speech to delegates, UN Deputy Secretary General Aisha-Rose Migiro welcomed attendees from around the world which included government officials, rural women, representatives of the UN and civil society; the media and the private sector to review progress, share experiences, good practices, analyze gaps and agree on actions to empower rural women.

(PHOTO: Opening session of the 56th UN Women's Conference/UN News Centre) Migiro, called for `systematic and comprehensive strategies' to empower women and girls in rural areas as `key agents of change' by maximizing their `potential to combat extreme poverty and hunger for themselves'.   "If rural women had equal access to productive resources", she said, "Agricultural yields would rise and hunger would decline".

Further, "They are leaders, producers, entrepreneurs and service providers, and their contributions are vital to the well-being of families, communities and economies, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals".

World population demographics put the number of women and men in the world as roughly equal (with men just slightly ahead by a few hundred million). The idea is that women are becoming the most effective catalysts of sustainable development, and they must be supported.  

Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), said empowering women, "Requires a transformation in the way governments devise budgets and make and enforce laws, policies and land rights; including trade and agricultural policies, and how businesses invest and operate.  Private sector partnerships are crucial”, she said.

"Let us be clear. This is not just hurting the women.  It is hurting all of us”, said Bachelet.  "It's a matter of human rights, equality and justice on behalf of women.  

According to a UN Women's report released last week, rural women and girls comprise 1 in 4 people worldwide and they constitute a large share of the agricultural workforce.

(PHOTO: UN Multimedia) The gathering squarely noted that not only do women face gender inequality - despite progress; they also face blowback from Mother Nature too. How to bring women online while also creating sustainable solutions is a major focus of the conference.   

Some 86% of the global rural population of both genders derives a livelihood from agriculture,  with an estimated 1.3 billion people engaged in small scale farming or working as `landless laborers'.  Increasingly, almost 70% of agriculture laborers are women, producing the majority of global food grown; while playing key roles in rural economic activities, such as planting crops, saving seeds and selling their produce. Not to mention, performing virtually 100% of household labor.

In South Sudan, women farmers are working with a host of civil society groups like the U.N.’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Norwegian People's Aid, Catholic Relief Services and Concern Worldwide, organizing themselves to engage in climate-resilient crop production and sustainable pursuits like goat rearing and bee keeping.  The women grow food drought-tolerant crops such as cereals, legumes, sorghum, bulrush or pearl millet and vegetables in order to improve their children’s overall nutrition and bring in a small, market-based income.

In Mexico, rural women have organized themselves to struggle against financial and environmental crises. In many cases, local NGOs have assisted in this process by building formal structures and developing capacities.  39% of Mexican households are rural.

(GRAPH: Poverty in the world, darker is worse/PRB.ORG)But still, generally worldwide, women continue to face lower mobility, less access to training, market information, and financial resources.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, rural women can tap just 5% of the services and facilities  including bank credits, public services, welfare, employment and the market; a mere 3% of the $7.5bn in official allocations for rural advancement and agriculture between 2008-2009 were assigned to gender equity.  Additionally, rural women constitute one-fourth of the world’s population and while women have equal property ownership rights in 115 countries and have equal inheritance rights in 93, gender disparities in land holdings persist worldwide."

The conference platform posits that if rural women had equal access to productive tools such as seeds, tools, and fertilizer; and laws were loosened -  agricultural yields would rise by up to 4% and there would be 100 million to 150 million fewer hungry people worldwide.  

Mobile is Key

Mobile phones are changing lives and strengthening economic enterprises, providing information about credit, markets, weather updates, transportation or health services - changing the way rural women and men obtain services and conduct business. 

In a recent global survey, 93% of women reported feeling safer because of their mobile phone, 85% reported feeling more independent, and 41% reported having increased income and professional opportunities.

(PHOTO: UNH WC Superhero/UNH) Sisters Doing it For Themselves

Women on the ground in the global South aren't waiting. They are already busy deploying a combination of indigenous techniques and adaptive agricultural methods to stave off the impacts of climate change, and in June on the eve of the Rio+20 Summit, UN Women will join the Government of Brazil in convening a high-level meeting on women and sustainable development.

It All Starts With Education

"Women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 796 million illiterate people," the UN said and, "Just 39% of rural girls attend secondary school". Far fewer than rural boys (45%), urban girls (59%) and urban boys (60%).  A lack of a high school education can mean poverty and even earlier death, and even a lack of local schools is a reason fewer girls attend high school. 

"Data from 68 countries indicates that a woman’s education is a key factor in determining a child’s survival," according to UN statistics. "Every additional year of primary school increases girls’ eventual wages by 10–20 percent. It also encourages them to marry later and have fewer children, and leaves them less vulnerable to violence."

(GRAPH: Girls, Women global education levels/PRB.ORG) If Women Ruled The World There Would Be No War

In a study of 24 major peace processes since 1992, UN Women  found that women composed only 2.5% of peace signatories, 3.2% of mediators, 5.5% of witnesses and 7.6% of negotiators.  

War is always most devastating to women and children who are often the victims of rape, abuse, and sexual slavery during and after conflict.   But when women's interests are not represented at the negotiation tables, in the post-resolution restructuring process, or in the governance bodies established after the war, the interests of children and families are almost always omitted from discussions.  The UN recognized this 12 years ago when it voted to "ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels; urging governments to `adopt a `gender perspective'".

For instance, in Egypt, rural women are receiving identity cards so they can obtain social services, and are able to vote and can have a say in shaping the future of their country.  In India, more than a million women are now members of local village councils.  This has changed their lives for the better, and also the lives around them.

(PHOTO: Martine Perret)From Costa Rica to Rwanda, where quotas have been used, more women are in positions of decision-making. They are using their voices to secure land rights, to understand political processes, to engage with governance and policy issues, to tackle domestic violence, to improve healthcare and employment, and to demand accountability.  

But in other parts of the world, a recent study which covered 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific showed that the proportion of elected representatives in rural councils who are women ranged only from 0.6 percent to 37%.

In her speech UN Women's Bachelet pointed the finger at her own organization, the UN too, saying, "Here in the United Nations, we must lead by example. From 2007 through 2010, the UN experienced an unprecedented increase in women at the most senior levels - from 17% to 29% at the Under-Secretary-General level, and from 20% to 25% at the Secretariat at the Assistant Secretary General level".

Last December the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling on Member States to take concrete steps to increase the political participation and leadership of women, including the follow through on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Labor Organization conventions,  the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the report on the Social Protection Floor, that UN Women launched last year.

(PHOTO: FAO) Still, despite all the progress of the global women's empowerment movement, many conference speakers have lamented the need to `reality-check' the situation by reminding delegates that currently in the world: "925 million people were chronically hungry, of whom 60 percent were women.  Moreover, 884 million people in the world lack access to potable drinking water; 2.6 billion people do not have access to sufficient sanitation facilities; and 1 billion people do not have adequate access to roads and transportation systems."

What future will we leave our children?

The African Women’s Decade (2010-2020) is a bold political initiative that aims to put women at the centre of development on the continent. Launched in Nairobi, Kenya, in October 2010, with roots traceable to the UN First World Conference on Women, held in Mexico City in 1975. However, the disheartening reality is that very few women in Africa actually know about the Women’s Decade and the policies set out to be implemented during this decade.   

What's clear from this 56th Conference on Women is that women worldwide want change, they want to have their voice be heard, and they are impatient for equality and solutions to their own problems.  Out of sheer survival, many women are taking circumstance into their own hands and making progress despite the world.

Because these life situations, cannot stand:  In Afghanistan - 87% of women are illiterate; in  Pakistan 90% of women face domestic violence and more than 1,000 women and girls are victims of honor killings every year according to the Human Rights Commission.  In the DRC  420,000 women are raped every year; while in India, 100 million people, mostly woman and girls are victims of traffickers.

Before they go though from UN Headquarters next week, the commission will agree on urgent actions needed to make a real difference in the lives of millions of rural women by making recommendations for other policy forums, such as the Rio+20 and, they will celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th.  A celebration indeed.  

Full List of Current UN Women's Commission Members:

Argentina, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Central African Republic, China, Colombia, Comoros, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Guinea, Haiti, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mongolia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, South Korea, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Thailand, US, Uruguay, Zimbabwe.

---- HUMNEWS (c) 2012

Tuesday
Feb072012

Sweeter Kisses? Hershey Commits to Fair Trade, Responsible Cocoa, Uses Innovative Technology 

(HN, 2/7/2012) -- Last week The Hershey Company announced it was expanding its programs to improve living standards and supply chain efficiencies for cocoa producing communities in West Africa by investing $10 million over the next five years.  By 2017, the Company says its public and private partnerships will directly benefit 750,000 African cocoa farmers and over two million people in cocoa communities across the region by focusing on two important groups – cocoa farmers and those they say who `love Hershey’s products’.

HUMNEWS spoke with Andy McCormick, VP of Public Affairs for The Hershey Company about the investment and what it would mean to Hershey’s farmers.  McCormick, who grew up in Pennsylvania and now leads Communications, PR and Corporate Social Responsibility efforts for the Company has also worked in Ghana as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and knows West Africa well.  He calls his tenure at Hershey’s a `happy coincidence’.   McCormick also serves on the boards of the World Cocoa Foundation and the International Cocoa Initiative – both global bodies designed to regulate and offer solutions in cocoa production.

Hershey’s announcement comes 10 years since major international chocolate companies, including Hershey, committed to ending child labor, forced labor and trafficking in their cocoa supply chain by signing the Harkin-Engel Protocol, commonly known as the Cocoa Protocol in September 2001.  A decade later, although both Hershey and its public and private partners have invested in developing new agricultural practices that are helping West African farmers double the yield on their cocoa farms, which in turn increases their family’s income - hundreds of thousands of children continue to labor in hazardous conditions in West Africa, particularly in the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

The US Department of Labor has also noted five West African nations which may still be producing cocoa tainted by forced and/or child labor. To address the problem they’ve created a partnership which includes Hershey as well as other partners include USAID, USDA, Cote d’Ivoire Cocoa Committee, numerous local and global NGOs, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called the Framework of Action to significantly reduce the worst forms of child labor in Ghana and the Ivory Coast by 2020.  

(PHOTO: A female cocoa farmer/SOURCETRUST)By making its pledge last week, Hershey is following on other initiatives in recent years that it and other major cocoa producers have committed to in order to clean up the cocoa industry.  UNICEF estimates 600,000 children work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and that 35,000 are victims of trafficking;  children carrying machetes or pesticide equipment used in cocoa work has been widely reported on.

McCormick acknowledges that, We are a growing global business and we have had criticism in the past. But, we try to listen constructively and are working to strike a balance between our business strategy and our values, and we keep learning.”  He goes on to say, “At Hershey we’ve already been working to address child labor issues in West Africa, and we all recognize that more needs to be done.”  

The Company has formed partnerships with the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, and Fair Trade Certified and commits to production of `certified cocoa’, which Eric Servat of the Rainforest Alliance’s cocoa program says, “Is almost doubling every year”.   

“Certified cocoa is currently under 2% of the market,” says Andy McCormick, “But it’s growing by a large margin and we believe that by 2020 that will increase to about 15-20% of market share”. 

All of the certification partners require farmers to comply with International Labor Organization standards, which includes a ban on child labor.

In fact, chocolate is big business and accounts for an annual $83 billion in global sales.  Certified cocoa is actually worth more and growers can make $0.10 more per kilogram for certified cocoa, but it’s just a start for poor farmers who often don’t have enough money to even send their children to school.

(PHOTO: A cocoa farmer in Ghana using Cocoalink/Hershey) Hershey, a 100 year old company and one of the world’s leading chocolate companies, has worked with farmers and development organizations for more than 50 years and Andy McCormick says, “Because cocoa farms are family farms where on average 5 family members work and live, improving farming methods to be more modern, sustainable and safe will increase West African cocoa output by 50%; increasing family income.  In turn, doing so will increase school attendance and improve community health”.

Addressing the needs of cocoa farmers and the chocolate producing supply chain is becoming not just a humanitarian issue but also is necessary action due to the impact of climate change on growers.  Global cocoa production is primarily done by the 10 member countries of COPAL (The Cocoa Producers Alliance) - namely Brazil, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo who account for approximately 75% of total world cocoa production; almost 70% in West Africa alone grown on 2 million small family farms.  The crop is labor-intensive and only grows in equatorial climates.

Hershey’s Andy McCormick says that, “Climate change has been causing desertification in parts of West Africa where cocoa is grown, and as the desert squeezes out fertile lands – in Ghana in particular – that’s starting to have an impact on harvests. We are talking with the farmers about this and about varieties of cocoa which grow more efficiently by instituting new programs”.  He adds, “Weekly rainfall moves the cocoa market right now”.  

Cocoa prices have risen since the start of the year by almost 15% with some of the highest prices seen since 1977, as the annual weather phenomenon called the `Harmattan’ - which brings a dry, dusty and cold trade wind in West Africa from the Sahara desert to the Gulf of Guinea from the end of November to the middle of March - has been most severe this year.  Though, meteorological forecasts show that the Harmattan will dissipate shortly and the rainy season will begin.

(PHOTO: Cocoa farmers in Ghana/Hershey)One such innovative program aimed at addressing farmer’s growth needs is CocoaLink. Started in 2011 in Ghana by Hershey, the World Cocoa Foundation, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Dream Oval and World Education, CocoaLink leverages Ghana's mobile phone infrastructure (almost 80% saturation) to connect more than 8,000 cocoa farmers and community members in 15 villages with practical agricultural and social information that will help them increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods. The program has the potential to reach more than 100,000 by 2014.

Farmers and community leaders receive, at no charge, voice and SMS text messages that include information on improving farming practices, farm safety, child labor, health, crop disease prevention, post-harvest production and crop marketing.  Farmers can also share their own information and receive answers to specific cocoa-farming questions from peers and experts.

In October of last year Hershey said it would enhance CocoaLink to include information about disease prevention and would provide cell phones and solar chargers for women farmers in rural villages by partnering with the nonprofit organization Malaria No More to leverage CocoaLink to help save lives and decrease malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.   The Company instituted an internal smart phone recycling program, collecting more than 500 smart phones no longer being used by Hershey’s U.S. employees and redeployed them to women across Ghanaian cocoa communities.  Ghana accounts for about 20% of world cocoa production, making it the country’s single largest non-oil foreign exchange earner beside oil.

Last week in making its announcement Hershey said it would expand the CocoaLink program to farmers in the Ivory Coast to further grow crop yields, provide education and support to farmers, their families and communities.  The Ivory Coast is the source of more than 1/3 of the world's cocoa supply and has approximately 600,000 cocoa farmers; industry data indicates that about half are already using mobile phones.  Cocoa makes up 15% of Ivory Coast’s GDP and 40% of its export revenues. Hershey’s initiative adds to the eight-month-old government's plan to overhaul the cocoa industry in the country and is a condition for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund.

In its latest output report on the sector, Marex Spectron a London based analyst group said that world 2011-2012 cocoa output will be short 94,000 tons, which is a change from its November estimate of a small global surplus.  Not all of this impact is due to climate change however, though Marex noted weather conditions in December and January in Ivory Coast and Ghana were dry compared to a much wetter 2010-2011 season which saw a record cocoa surplus of 417,000 tons.  Much higher cocoa demand globally is also driving production needs – and inevitably will increase costs for chocolate products.  Hershey has said its own costs should remain higher in 2012 and recently raised prices on its candies.

(PHOTO: Learning about cocoa farming/Hershey) The International Cocoa Organization estimates that Asian demand for chocolate would grow 10% in 2012, with strong growth in China, Indonesia and India; with Europe remaining the world’s largest cocoa buyer.

This is why in making its announcement last week, Hershey also established the `Hershey Learn to Grow’ farm program along with its partner Source Trust. Launching in Ghana the initiative will provide local farmers with information on best practices in sustainable cocoa farming as growth in demand intensifies, and consumers call for more responsible growing standards.  For example by supplying farmers with technologies such as high-yield seedlings, better planting and pruning practices, organic fertilization and biocontrol of insect pests, farmers can increase output and therefore, income – even while climate change takes hold.  

Additionally, the effort will create a farmer and family development center in the heart of Ghana’s central cocoa region where during the day the schoolchildren will use the computer lab for learning and in the evening the farmers will use the lab for cocoa learning. Hershey is also working with technology partner Cisco to use `telepresence’ for distance education purposes.

The initiative will involve more than 5,000 cocoa community members, more than 1,000 farm families, establish 25 community-based farmer organizations and will build technology centers that will be used to teach improved agricultural, environmental, social and business practices; provide access to planting materials as well as finance for farm inputs; and support GPS mapping of farm acreage so that farmers will use the right amount of fertilizers and pesticides for maximum yield and sustainability - with the goal to double productivity yield and farm income over four years.

(PHOTO: Cocoa farming/Hershey) By doing this Hershey hopes to assist the Government of Ghana to meet the goals of Ghana’s 2009-2015 National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL), associated with achieving the international Millennium Development Goals by 2015. 

“Creating sustainability throughout our supply chain is our goal,” says Andy McCormick. “Milton Hershey was a master of building business and we know that you’re only as successful as the communities you’re in.  Our future is intimately connected to the growing regions and people we work with. Our scientists and farmers are excited to be working on the ground together to make things better.”

Further says McCormick, “The issue of rural youth and their job prospects-we think our interaction with farmers, school systems and young people to `skill build’ can really make a long term positive contribution to kids’ lives and we’re very excited about playing a constructive role”.

Consumers win too as Hershey will address their demands to bring to market for the first time, 100% Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate products later this year.  The first sweet treats will be the Hershey’s Bliss® chocolate bar available in the United States; and later Latin America and Africa where the Company is working with the Rainforest Alliance to source cocoa from certified farms for Hershey’s premium brand, Dagoba®.

Rainforest Alliance Certified farms have met comprehensive sustainability standards that protect the environment and ensure the safety and well-being of workers, their families and communities. Additionally, Rainforest Alliance inspectors will monitor and audit practices on farms supplying certified beans to Hershey, to include instances of unsafe or illegal child labor and use training programs to increase school attendance. These programs will be coordinated with industry and government initiatives.

Hershey made their investment announcement just days before a planned protest group which included the The International Labor Rights Forum and was started last year by Change.org called the `Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign’ which was to run a high profile commercial challenging Hershey’s labor practices during the US Super Bowl Game after collecting over 100,000 petition signatures.

In a statement, the group said, `This commitment is a welcome first step for Hershey to improve its supply chain accountability. This commitment also demonstrates that The Hershey Company acknowledges the severity of the labor abuses that taint the West African cocoa sector and the members of the Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign congratulate Hershey on this first step to achieve greater supply chain accountability and hope that it will be the beginning of comprehensive supply chain traceability and certified child-labor free Hershey chocolate products.’

In making the commitment to better global cocoa standards Hershey Company President and CEO, J.P. Bilbrey, said, “Hershey is extending our commitment with new programs to drive long-term change in cocoa villages where families will benefit from our investments in education, health and economic opportunities. Our global consumers want The Hershey Company to be a leader in responsible business practices and in finding smart ways to benefit cocoa communities. We are excited and humbled by this opportunity to create positive change in West Africa”.

Hershey says it will regularly update its progress on these programs through its Corporate Social Responsibility public reporting.   

Will all of this mean sweeter `Kisses’? Stay tuned…..

----Joy DiBenedetto, HUMNEWS

Thursday
Nov102011

Ghana: We Need to Have a Greater Sense of National Pride (PERSPECTIVE)

Last week, HUMNEWS was the first western news agency to break the news of a case in the West Africa nation of Ghana, where a young Ghanaian woman, after being told by a foreign restaurant owner in Accra that she was not welcome to become a club member, turned to Facebook to stir up public opinion. Her efforts quickly led to the restaurant being closed down by the authorities. In the column below, the victim, Elizabeth Okoro, expressed her feelings about the threat such discriminatory acts pose to society.

By Elizabeth Okoro
(HN, November 10, 2011) - Looking at the comments that have been posted in my Facebook Group and also considering my own experience living here, in as much as there seems to be an upsurge in establishments that exclusively target white foreigners, it is also evident that discrimination in Ghana is not only inter racial.

 

We also have Ghanaians practising a form of reverse racism against their fellow citizens due to a misguided belief that a foreigners' money is more worthy than our own or that anything foreign automatically equates to superiority. 

What a situation when a taxi driver can speed past a waiting Ghanaian by the roadside to the other side of a road where a white tourist waits - or when a server in a restaurant saunters past a table of Ghanaians waiting to be served to a newly arrived group of white business men.

I believe that this is symptomatic of a graver, deep-set psychological barrier that refrains us from attaining the soaring heights that our founder, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, foresaw for us. 

It is something we need to work on as a nation, and in order to achieve this, we need to have a greater sense of national pride and ownership of our country. This will take a revolution of the mind set of the average Ghanaian.Growing expatriate populations in Africa, including at this beach-side club in Bujumbura, could create more tension about different service levels for locals and expats. Credit: HUMNEWS

We need once again to believe in our rich culture, our bountiful resources, our colourful history,our individuality as well as our diversity, our world renowned hospitality and our potential to be an even greater nation than we are now.

Collectively as a nation, we must begin to seek answers of our leaders and to question the status quo.

We also need to stop sitting idly whilst our self-seeking leaders sell off our hard fought inheritance to Oliver Twist-minded foreigners traipsing in with their bottomless bowls. 

We are physically located at the centre of the world and it is my fervent belief that Ghana has the potential to be just that; the centre of all great things. The centre of political transparency, the centre of great education, the centre of excellent health care, the centre of outstanding individual achievements and the centre of technological advancement. 

Once we start treating each other with the respect due, and acknowledging our own worthiness, every other nation and race will have no choice but to follow suit.

The time for making excuses for our lack of development is past, it is now time to take action. We have demonstrated that as long as we speak out together, our voices CANNOT and WILL NOT be drowned out.

We need to use this new found voice to crumble the deep foundations of the establishment who prefer social and economic stagnation in the name of party politics. It is the only way to shape a better Ghana and a better future for us all. 

Okoro, 26, was born and raised in Ghana by a Ghanaian mother and Nigerian father. She studied in England from the age of 16 culminating with a BSc in Biomedical Sciences from King's College London. She moved back to Ghana in 2008 and has been living and working there since.

Wednesday
Nov022011

Social Media Stirs Ghanaians to Action over Discrimination (REPORT)

By Karen Attiah

(HN, November 2, 2011) - African governments are not the only ones to fear the combination of disgruntled masses and social media. Businesses too are at the mercy of Africans wielding mobile phones, Facebook and Twitter.

In the west African nation of Ghana, where five mobile networks have generated a cell phone penetration rate of 80.5 percent, hand-held devices are all the rage. And many people in this country of almost 25 million people have social media access on their mobile devices.

Take Elizabeth Okoro. She took to Facebook to recount being discriminated against at a restaurant named Atlantic Lobster and Dolphin Ltd.  in the Osu part of the bustling capital, Accra.

In a Facebook post dated Saturday, Okoro recalled asking the Italian owner of the restaurant if she, along with her Spanish and Japanese dining companions, could become members of the restaurant’s “Seafood Lovers” Club.

According to Okoro, restaurant management responded with a laugh, saying the club was for white people only. “I was completely taken aback and rendered speechless,” Okoro says in her Facebook post.

Okoro was not speechless for long.

The Facebook group that she created on Saturday - “White’s Only Club in Gh..Pls Boycott Atlantic Lobster and Dolphin Ltd” - has ballooned to over 1,420 members. Even a local radio station, X-FM, invited Okoro on the air to speak about her experiences.

The Ghanaian government has taken notice. On Tuesday, Joy FM reported that Ghana’s tourism ministry has shut down Atlantic Lobster, as a result of a lack of compliance with operation codes.

Elizabeth’s plight seems to have resonated with many Ghanaians on social media.

On both Twitter and Facebook, they are now speaking out about their experiences of discrimination at the hands of foreign-owned businesses, particularly in Accra.

And, as more and more expatriates are moving to Accra to take advantage of investment opportunities, political stability and easy proximity to palm-fringed beaches, many Ghanaians are sharing experiences of being refused service in favor of expats at clubs, bars, restaurants, and bakeries. “Ghana should not accept this from any foreign investor”- said one Facebook commenter named Yehowa Ji Mi Kwelor.

“That’s Ghana for you” is a popular expression of defeated resignation, and is used to explain everything from corruption to power rationing to discrimination.

But now with virtually unlimited access to social media platforms, young Ghanaians are pledging to no longer keep quiet about injustices Perhaps older generations of Ghanaians would have kept silent about such treatment.

But as Okoro posted on her Facebook wall on Tuesday, “Today marks the birth of a new generation. A new generation of Ghanaians who will not only be heard but will scream out against discrimination. A new generation who will not turn a blind eye against injustice. We have shed the cloak of inaction and out on a super hero cloak of determination. I am proud to be member of this generation. “

It may come as no surprise that the government acted so promptly. According to the World Bank, the tourism industry is now the third highest foreign exchange earner in Ghana, with average earnings of over $400 million per year.

From the looks of things, Okoro’s call for action on Facebook has sent echoes far and wide.

Attiah is a Ghanaian-American master's student at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. She holds research interests in broadcast media and citizen participation in Africa.

Monday
Apr042011

Can Knowledge Arrest Corruption and Poverty in Africa? (Perspective)

Can African youth escape the crushing weight of poverty and corruption? CREDIT: M Bociurkiw/HUMNEWS- by Pokuaa Busumru-Banson in Johannesburg

(HN, April 4, 2011) - So I sit in my constitutional law class and we are engaged in deep philosophical debates about the importance of constitutional supremacy vs. parliamentary supremacy and democracy.

Further we read about the importance of seperation of power and how "power arrests power." We mull and chew on the importance of voting and majority vs. minority rights. The more I attend this class the more emotion rises up in me about the current state of Africa.

In as much as the effective implementation of democracy rests on the assumption that the majority of the population is educated, I'm realising more and more that knowledge in an African sense is power - but not necessarily one that will eradicate corruption or poverty.

I'm sure if there had to be a competition for the best written constitution, Africa would collect all the prizes. The intellectual quotient of the African is quite high and I'm almost certain that we would find a large number of genius people in our midst (whether the test is also structured in a way that incorporates all cultures is a debate for another day; maybe we should develop our own tests).

Take Zimbabwe.  If we were to look at the concept of powers in a mechanical way Zimbabwe definitely has a good system.  On paper, there is rule of law, and in theory, one can litigate against the state and win.

So what is the problem? I'm of the view that a different approach to corruption is needed. Zimbabwe had one of the highest literacy rates in Africa and the world. At some stage it was easier to get admission into the Ivy League colleges than institutions of higher learning in Zimbabwe because the standards were so high.

The African education system produced the best professors and doctors. But, sadly, even with all of this, we still find ourselves lagging behind in almost of things - except corruption and poverty.

In Japan and South Korea not even the president is above the law. One can leave a camera on a park bench in Singapore and come back and find it. Yes there is no such thing as a perfect system but what am I trying to get at? Culture.

I can speak for my own country (Ghana) and maybe parts of South Africa because it's what I know. I speak to people who fear undergoing drivers licence tests because they don't have extra money even for a can of coke. It's ridiculous. It's now no longer the amount of money you give but the system is so used to corruption that anything small suffices.

Or on the contrary, in Africa one can no longer give a gift as an act of appreciation for the person's effort (which is African culture to begin with) without it being received as a bribe. The culture needs to be taught at schools from a young age and practiced at grass roots level.

Education can teach us that corruption is wrong but if culture says it's ok then guess what? Corruption it is.

We as Africans should no longer accept the status quo as life, and merely say 'awww well that's life, that's the real world.'

Statistics and norms can be challenged and changed. We just have to be willing to change and fight the system.

HUMNEWS youth contributor, Pokuaa Busumru-Banson, was chosen to speak on a panel by The Elders at the Fortune Summit in Cape Town. A national of Ghana, she is currently studying law at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Tuesday
Mar222011

Ghana is a Cholera Endemic Country, Deputy Health Minister Declares (News Brief) 

Spread of cholera in Ghana, photo courtesy of myjoyonline(HN, March 22, 2011) -- Deputy Health Minister Rojo Mettle Nunoo says the government in Ghana is rolling out a comprehensive strategy to fight the spread of cholera in the country.

The Ghana Health Service says over 4,000 cholera cases with 61 deaths have been recorded since the outbreak of the epidemic in the latter part of 2010.

Officials of the Disease Surveillance Unit at the Ghana Health Service say the situation is worrying and needs urgent attention.

Cholera cases reported at various health facilities across the country particularly in the Accra Metropolis keeps increasing by the day.

Speaking to Joy News the Deputy Health Minister said Ghana has over the years been known to be a cholera endemic country, owing largely to the attitudinal and lifestyle of some Ghanaians.

He said the recent outbreak was triggered by the early rains, adding, the Interior Ministry in collaboration with the National Disaster Management Organization is tracking the cholera endemic areas in the country to provide the needed health support.

The Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Joseph Amankwa says poor sanitary conditions coupled with the non-adherence to personal hygiene practices are contributory factors to the outbreak.

“Some of the shell fish, and sea foods are some of the causes of cholera. If you pick sea food that is contaminated and not properly prepared you will get cholera.

"People are disposing waste anyhow on main roads, highways and close to rivers. The waste is supposed to be dumped at landfill sites but where are the landfill sites in Accra and other districts?

"We don’t have them and until we address that, it is going to be a major problem for us and every year we are going to have cholera,” he cautioned.

The Ghana Health Service has set up receptive centers at various clinics in the Accra metropolis to deal with the increasing cases.

Deputy Health Minister Rojo Mettle Nunoo says his outfit will embark on a comprehensive education and media outreach program to inform people on the incidence of cholera, the mode of transmission and its prevention.

- HUMNews staff

Wednesday
Dec222010

(EXCLUSIVE) (Perspective) - `Obsession with Political Power: the Case of Laurent Gbagbo’

The Republic of Côte d'Ivoire AKA Ivory Coast is a country in West Africa. (CREDIT: Wikipedia--- By Adama Burkari

Did I know that Africa was just about setting in motion it’s own system of democracy where two presidents rule one nation when I authored “AFRICA’S LEADERSHIP QUAGMIRE: any way forward?” Dear reader, I had not the slightest hint that Ivory Coast was the nation to redefine democracy in the African context in such a vague and unrealistic form it has just done! Please, do me the honour by reading the full publication which featured concurrently on the Ghana’s myjoyonline.com and humnews.com.

I shudder at the reality that the once peaceful nation called Ivory Coast is almost on the verge of sinking again into the dregs of political conflict which engulfed the country some years ago. The sight of fallen victims of the conflict most of whom were women and children was such as despicable scenario that the eyes had to behold! Things had virtually fallen apart and the war resulted in the loss of innocent souls. The tears of children could not stop the blood-thirsty and power-obsessed political ‘trustees’ from firing gunshots indiscriminately!

Laurent GbagboI certainly can’t bring back the pains and undignified savagery that went on in the land of Ivory Coast and no one should try re-opening unhealed wounds! Not even the Gbagbo’s or the Ouattara’s should revisit sane minds with such a toxic pain! It surely should not happen again for Africans are neither savages nor cannibals; we are humans with a sense of dignity and pride. Sorry, reader if I sound harsh in your ears but must we not condemn the on-going political garbage in Ivory Coast in the strongest terms? It is so sad that we live on a continent that prides itself as the premier to human civilizations yet we seem far from the realities and the application of common sense in our political governance systems to the extent that political conflict has virtually become engrained in Africa’s politics. What a shame!

Until the death of its longest serving President, Felix Houphouet-Boigny who ruled the country right from her time of independence, Ivory Coast lacked any real experience in democratic governance. This is because under his dictatorial claws, Felix Houphouet-Boigny held onto power for over 3 decades baring any democratic political activities in the country. It was after his death that multi-party politics started to unfold and then the thorny issues such as who qualified to vote in Ivory Coast became contentious. As if these issues were light-weighted, they became so thorny that conflict finally reared its ugly head and split the nation apart.

Felix Houphouet-BoignyIn my article “AFRICA’s Leadership Quagmire; any way forward?”, I talked about political dynasty in Africa and cited Togo and Gabon as two among the several African countries that have experienced the unfortunate scenario where political leaders simply pass on the reigns of governments to their kinsmen and one wonders if the late Houphouet-Boigny would have ever ceded power to anybody apart from his kinsmen. Because of his long stay in power, the political aspiration of the people was curtailed. Even though under his reigns, the country was not only politically stable but also economically viable, it must be emphasized that his long stay in power was by itself a breach of trust and a denial for a fair and democratic political activities in Ivory Coast. Certainly, that was a trait of dynastic rule and the rippling effect is vivid for all to see.

The Ivory Coast’s civil war was prompted by the new law ushered in through a referendum that required a presidential candidate to have both parents born in Cote D’Ivoire. Obviously, this bared the main opposition leader Alassane Ouattarra from contesting in the country’s election. With his huge support base in the country especially the north and the obvious game of political gymnastics Gbagbo sought to pursue against Ouattara, it was not surprising that civil war finally broke out in the country.

Events leading up to the peace process had been difficult but the Marcoussis Accord of January 2003, supposedly the most comprehensive peace pact, was expected to end the crisis. Importantly, the main characters of the conflict signed this agreement which among other things dealt with the issues of nationality, eligibility for citizenship and land ownership. With these thorny issues having been resolved under mutual consent and satisfaction, it was expected that Ivory Coast was on the road to national cohesion. Unfortunately, elections after the Marcoussis Accord had been delayed for six consecutive times.Alassane Ouattarra

In the events leading up to the October 31st, 2010 elections, there were concerns over possible vote rigging and as a result ballot papers had to be printed in Europe and a new Independent Electoral Commission comprising representatives of all the political parties was put in place. In the face of all these, it was the expectation that peace would be restored after the October 2010 elections. For now, one can say no to this expectation and unless a fast and decisive approach is adopted, Ivory Coast would sink again into political chaos!

In my view, the single person who should rationalize his position and make way for peace is Laurent Gbagbo. As a history professor and a critic of the Felix Houphouet-Boigny regime, and having suffered political imprisonment from 1971 to 1973 he should be the last person to provoke war in his cherished home country. Becoming president in October 26, 2000 after Robert Guei had fled the country, Laurent Gbagbo has perhaps become so obsessed with power that is why he could defy the will of the people and over-turn their verdict. I daresay that he is trying to entrench himself on the seat of the presidency and I am not surprised at all. In my recent publication of November 24, 2010, I did indicate that “having the entire state apparatus under their control for a few years nurtures an unbridled desire to remain in control even after the expiration of their mandatory regime”. This is Gbagbo’s ailment.

Indeed, it is shocking that the two personalities under the Ivory Coast saga are high-profiled public figures. As an economist, Alassane Ouattara has had extensive working relationship with international organizations. He served as the Deputy Managing Director for the International Monetary Fund, in Washington DC. As mentioned earlier, Laurent Gbagbo is a history professor. Both personalities have what it takes to be statesmen if only they will exercise restraint and allow due process to take its course. My worry is; if elite personalities will engage in such political sycophancy, then where are we heading towards?

It is important to state that regional and international bodies must remain resolute in their decision not to recognize the government of Laurent Gbagbo. The AU must bite now or remain mute forever! I am however excited at the stance of ECOWAS. At its extraordinary meeting held in Abuja, Nigeria on Tuesday December 7, 2010, the West African regional body unequivocally called on Gbagbo to step down and hand over power to Ouattara. That is indeed a refreshing call coming from ECOWAS.

It is expected that the African Union and other regional bodies would continue to exert pressure to stop the power-obsessed Gbagbo from holding on to political power. Africans are tired of backslapping behaviours of leaders who are expected to blaze the trail of democratic governance. Surely, the world is watching to see how at the continental level, African leaders can stop this show of tyranny coming from Gbagbo. His conduct smacks of hypocrisy at the highest level and an indictment to his academic laurels. Quoting from my earlier publication, I wish to ask Gbagbo, “Why must people think that they and their lineage are the only one who must rule?” How I wish to hear the history professor whose academic records are undoubtedly akin to a genius respond to this question. How does he expect the people of Ivory Coast and the world not to wonder if his desire to stay in power is not a way of covering up any excesses under his regime?

Peace is the foundation to progress and we must not allow one man to deny the good people of Ivory Coast from leaving in peace and tranquility. The era of fear and political intimidation in Africa cannot be revisited. The success story of Ghana’s journey to democratic governance must remind the likes of Gbagbo that times have changed and bully tactics would not be countenanced in Africa. Let the world tell him to deal with his own obsession privately. Eyes are watching! Long live Ivory Coast; Long Live Africa!

The writer, Adama Bukari, is a full-time author/publisher and the C.E.O of Exceed Media Ltd, a company that delivers superior services in publishing, media consultancy, business communications and advertising. He is also a motivational speaker and the editor-in-chief of JUVINILE INSPIRER; a youth magazine which seeks to deal with youthful inertias. Currently, he is studying Master of Philosophy in Global Leadership at the Institute of Professional Studies, Legon, Ghana. He was a finalist in the JoyFM’s MY BUSINESS 2010 Entrepreneurial Mentorship Programme.

Email: adamab2@yahoo.com

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)

Wednesday
Sep152010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - September 15, 2010 (Africa and the Middle East) 

The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa that juts hundreds of kilometers into the Arabian Sea, & lies along the south side of the Gulf of Aden. The region contains the countries of Eritrea, Djibouti, Djibouti, Ethiopia, & Somalia. As such, it covers approximately 2,000,000 km² & is inhabited by about 100.2 million people (Ethiopia: 75mn, Somalia: 10mn, Eritrea: 4.5mn, Djibouti: 0.7 million). Regional studies on the Horn of Africa are carried out, among others, in the fields of Ethiopian Studies as well as Somali Studies. (VIA WIKIPEDIA) REGION – Africa and Middle East

Hung up on the Horn of Africa

BP and off-shore drilling in the Mediterranean

World Bank report highlights Middle East economic challenges

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE among the most generous donors around the globe

ALGERIA

Petroceltic hopes to tap a new markets as loss hits $5m

Algeria to host North African security meeting

Algeria Power Report 2010 – Between 2010 & 2019, report forecasts an increase in Algerian electricity generation of 57.3%

Algeria convicts anti-corruption activist of corruption

ANGOLA

British ambassador praises role played by Angola in Africa

Social reintegration of disabled persons easier

Angola and Kenya to analyze cooperation in media

BENIN

Benin, Oba wants Swedish help on sex trade

Police give reasons for violent crimes in Edo

Internet and e-commerce industry in Benin

Guitarist Lionel Loueke combines African, jazz, classical sounds (entertainment)  

BOTSWANA

Cosatu’s radical new plan for the economy  

Residents against Botswana joining United States of Africa

Botswana installs full body scanners

Botswana, SA move up Fifa rankings (sports)

ISAF welcomes Botswana as a new member national authority (sports)

BURKINA FASO

Iran urges enhanced ties with Africa

CAMEROON

Cameroon begins search for seized vessels

First CamairCo flight to Paris scheduled on March 28, 2011 (travel)  

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

New network launches in Republic of the Congo

The ICC is a phantom court  

GABON

Fifa rankings: Gabon overtakes Nigeria (sports)

GAMBIA

Pres. Jammeh tours affected communities – brings hope to disaster victims

VP launches support for disaster victims

GHANA

Ghana to set up International Trade Commission

Ghana breaks in Top20 in Fifa rankings (sports)

Michael Essien leads Ghana Quintet in champs league action (sports)  

Derrick Adjei, A damaging liability to Ghana  

Chris Gardner arrives in Ghana next month

LESOTHO

Report says hunger costing poor countries billions

New customs deal to lighten burden on SA  

LIBERIA

African Aura Mining granted Liberia iron ore development rights

Cellcom gives US$500,000 to Liberian Football Association

Country still faces security challenges  

Monrovia, Liberia, Now Delta’s 7th African destination (travel)

LIBYA

Growing row in Italy over alleged Libyan attack on fishing boat

Libya paying fees for assault suspect

Libyan Shoah survivors to get reparations

MALAWI

Malawi President expects remarkable growth in Iran-Africa ties

Ex-President Muluzi denies Malawi corruption charges

Malawi democracy ‘on the right track’  

MAURITANIA

35 Islamists pardoned show their repentance

QATAR

Qatar index up after delayed opening

Qatari official and Darfur mediator discuss peace process

Qatari oil rises as refiners seek more distillate rich grades  

SIERRA LEONE

Politics with a new dimension in Sierra Leone: President Koroma brings the government to the people of the U.S.

African minerals constructs schools for Tonkolili kids

SOMALIA

Ethiopia troops arrive in Somaliland to hunt down ONLF rebels

SUDAN

Sudanese FM hails Iran’s remarkable progress in different fields

Child refugees at risk from sexual abuse

YEMEN

Three coincident explosions rock south Yemen, separatists blamed

Terrorist death squads publish their hit lists  

Yemen to attend 34th session of Arab Central Banks Governors Council

Monday
Jul262010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - July 26, 2010 (Africa and the Middle East) 

ALGERIA

One killed in attack on Algeria security forces: resident

Algeria turns down Desertec project

Bougherra could still go (sports)

Moroccan music takes spotlight in Algiers festival (entertainment)

ANGOLA

Angola becomes China’s largest oil import source in H1

Angola: Transfers Palop presidency to Mozambique

Angolan basketball team stronger now player says (sports)

Angolan footballer Gilberto leaves Al Ahly of Egypt  

BENIN

3 to die by hanging over murder of Benin chief

Russia’s proud moment: First black (originally from Benin) gets elected into office

BOTSWANA

Botswana upholds guarantee not to execute death row inmate

Foreign criminal syndicates operating in Botswana - DIS

Botswana opens path for Bushmen to study at university

IFSC has helped match demands with right skills

Where is it all going wrong? (sports)

BURKINA FASO

Gold production booming in Burkina Faso

New leaders, new tools can transform fight against malaria

CAPE VERDE

Action not words will improve maternal and child health (opinion)

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Mills makes stop-over in Central African Republic

All we want it to celebrate the birth of our children (opinion)

Abused women in Africa demand justice

CHAD

ICC’s call to arrest Bashir is futile

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

The hired guns

ERITREA

Gerenfit inhabitants commend health service in their village

Effective Agriculture Activities Carried Out in Mogolo Sub-Zone

Dialogue can bring peace to Somalia

GAMBIA

Jammeh accuses Britain of stealing from Gambians

Nationwide AHINI vaccination campaign starts in Gambia

Gambia government demolishes M Sumareh and Sons business center

GHANA

Education Ministry asked to provide funds for research into Ghanaian languages

GUINEA-BISSAU

Security council calls on Guinea-Bissau to improve on rule of law

LIBERIA

Liberians observed 163 years of independence on Monday

Like water for Liberia

Liberia and Nigeria sign oil deal

LIBYA

Prince Andrea hosted VP guest from Libya as Cameron prepared to meet Obama over Megrahi storm

Libya stops diplomatic operations in South Korea

Gathafi muscles back into African Union

Russia has stronghold on Libyan weapons market – arms exporter

Italian minister hails cooperation between Libya, Italy and Malta on migration

MADAGASCAR

With Madagascar's Priceless Biodiversity on the Line, New Report Says 'Go for it' to USAID

MALAWI

Madonna performs for charity

President’s dogs dominate front pages

GAIN awarded injunction against USD 6.9 m fine

MALI

Al Qaeda kills French hostage in Mali, says Sarkozy ‘has opened the doors of hell’

Mali: water has become a “luxury”

MOZAMBIQUE

Mozambique’s retail sector set to soar

11 Nepali students missing in Mozambique

NAMIBIA

Shot in the arm for Namibian infrastructure projects (business news)

Land auction prices skyrocket

QATAR

Qatar telecom signs up English premiership coverage

Qatar airways confirms order of Bombardier jets

AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011 online ticket sales start  (press release)

SIERRA LEONE

Midas: Algy Cluff striking more gold in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, Paul Kamara breaks silence over youth commissions

How China is changing Sierra Leone (opinion)

SUDAN

African Union drops resolution barring arrest of Sudanese president in continent

UGANDA

Ugandan President rallies support for fight against terrorists

YEMEN

Yemeni forces kill 3 Al Qaeda members

Yemeni high court upholds death sentence

Yemeni President calls for end to tribal clashes

Friday
Jul022010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - July 2, 2010 (Africa and the Middle East) 

ANGOLA

Foreign direct investment almost doubles between 2006 – 2008

Angola: Mobile ID’s issuing posts opens in Huambo

Angola: U.S. cooperation at best, says Ambassador Diakite

Angolan and Brazilian marines ready for mission in the community

Black Stars potential moment in history (sports)  

Angola: Jazz festival gathers 16 musicians

BOTSWANA

Botswana to offer new gold bullion ETF

Networking Botswana to the world

CAPE VERDE

Jonathan chairs ECOWAS summit in Cape Verde

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Central African bushmeat hits European market

ERITREA

The threat of a water war (op-ed)

Inhabitants of Gerset express satisfaction for becoming beneficiaries of development programs

Hgi Endaba: The laws of our ancestors (history/analysis)

GABON

Genocide fugitive faces extradition from Gabon

Corruption and environment top Ban’s talks with Gabonese leader  

GAMBIA

President Jammeh’s achievements highlighted in London

Taiwan embassy donated farm inputs to Gambian army

Food sold in markets should be hygienic  

Sunday beach on the spotlight (travel)

GHANA

Ghana in the vanguard of new logging laws

KENYA

Kenya data networks expands Wi-Fi services

LESOTHO

World Bank board of executive directors endorse new assistance strategy for Kingdom of Lesotho

LIBERIA

Reopening tourism in Liberia

Will congress pass LFA’s U.S. 1.8 million dollar budget?

LIBYA

Libyan envoy says Sudan never requested expulsion of Darfur rebel chief

Do not report Eritrean refugees – allow access to UN refugee agency

Vigilance urged as oil giant BP set to explore Libyan waters

Libya orders giant cruise boat

MALI

Mali gets 22.5 billion CFAF from Saudi fund, BOAD for dam project

MOZAMBIQUE

Mozambique: Former parliamentary deputy assassinated

Mozambique’s mobile license draws 22 bids

Attempt to  sell Mozambician island

Rebelo rejects ‘generation of the turning point’

NAMIBIA

The Swapo party’s – Think tank and the inner party’s disciple (opinion)

City’s ‘merciful’ tariff hikes

NIGERIA

Nigeria: Scientific development central to development

Nigeria: Highway with Cameroon fosters co-operation

SIERRA LEONE

Sierra Leone improves internet connectivity

Niomi Campbell subpoenaed in war crimes trial – what is a nice supermodel doing in a case like this?

What the UN Secretary General saw in Sierra Leone gave him hope for Africa

SOMALIA

Somali government declares offensive on al-Qaeda group

SOUTH AFRICA

2,000 apply for refugee status daily  

Evicted shack dwellers seek legal recourse

QATAR

Qatar signs military cooperation pact with Pakistan

Sovereign debt – the good, bad and plain ugly

$34bn projects are online in Qatar  

YEMEN

Al-Qaeda puts celebrities and bombs online with Inspire magazine

Yemen Shiite rebels bomb pro-government chieftains home, 3 killed

Yemen says G77 plus China attaches importance to UNDCF role

Yemen natural resources must be utilized well: IFAD official says

Turkish FM affirms support for Yemen’s unity, stability

Tuesday
Jun222010

Amid humiliating African Losses, South African team told to "storm the Bastille"

(HN, June 22, 2010) -- Today all eyes on the continent will be on the South African team at the World Cup to reverse a string of humiliating losses chalked up by African teams Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire.Johannesburg fan Tamara Sutila shows her support for "Bafana Bafana"

In a few hours Bafana Bafana (the boys, the boys) meet France in a do or die soccer encounter in the South African city of Bloemfontein. The South Africans need several goals in order to stand a chance at progressing into the second round.

One local newspaper today instructed South African players to "storm the Bastille" in their meet-up with France. The South African team tied with Mexico in the opening match of the World Cup, but lost to Uruguay a few days later.

Should South Africa be defeated today, it would signify the first time a host nation fails to make it to round two.

The hopes for an African win is palpable in the country's airports, shopping malls and streets. After all, this is the first World Cup to be played on African soil and the poor performance thus far by the continent's teams has thrown fans into a collective depression.

This morning at Johannesburg International Airport dejected fans from Cameroon were headed home, unable to afford a longer stay in South Africa.

Asked what he thought about the poor performance of the Cameroonian and other African teams, one departing fan said: "I think it has to be back to the drawing board for our teams. They havent been communicating well internally."

Ghana, and to a lesser extent Algeria and Nigeria, are among the other African teams that still stand a chance at progressing to the second round.

South African political and sports leaders are reminding their countrymen that no matter what the outcome of today's match, the host country must continue to play the perfect host to the world.

"Over the past few weeks South Africa has undergone an extraordinary revival of its national spirt," said Archbishop Emeritus Demond Tutu. Observers here say the Cup has been extremely helpful in boosting the spirits of South Africans - many of them concerned about poverty, crime, unemployment, and factionalism within the African National Congress.

Of the more than 400,000 foreign tourists who have come for the World Cup, there are only about 50,000 African fans who bought tickets. The difficulty and cost of acquiring tickets, and the expense of flights and accommodation have been factors in keeping African fans at home.

In hosting the World Cup, some South African opinion leaders are hoping that it will bring a change in the mindset of the political, business and sports elite. Said columnist John Carlin: "South Africa...is at a crossroads. Either the spirit imposes itself of those who have contrived to get the country ready for the World Cup, whose hard and honest toil is ensuring that so far everything is going well or, after the World Cup has come and gone, the spirit of the Bafana 'black elite' reigns in the land. At which point we might as well forget all notion forever of this country re-establishing itself - as it did during the Mandela glory years - as a light and example to Africa, let alone the world."

-- Reporting by HUMNEWS staff in Johannesburg, SA. 

Tuesday
Jun152010

HUM at the World Cup

(HN, June 15, 2010) Starting today, HUM News takes its front row seat at the World Cup in South Africa to report on the backstories surrounding the world’s most watched sporting event.

Four countries that fall within HUM’s definition of a ‘geographic gap' are represented at the World Cup. They are: North Korea, Algeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

(Tonight North Korea competes in the first round against Brazil in a sold out match in Johannesburg. The North Koreans so far have held all of their practices behind closed doors).

Along with a small editorial team now on the ground in South Africa, HUM will utilize a team of writers, editors, stringers and commentators spread across the globe. 

The HUM News site at www.humnews.com will serve as the main portal for World Cup coverage. In addition the news agency will be sharing video, audio, images and text with a variety of media outlets, big and small. Instant updates and links to stories will be posted on the HUM News Twitter feed at @humnews.

The World Cup is the second major global sporting event to be covered by HUM. Earlier this year, the Atlanta-based news service deployed a large team to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, where about a dozen HUM countries competed for the medal stand. Over four consecutive days, HUM’s unique brand of coverage was streamed live to Barcelona, where it was displayed at the Intel booth at the Mobile World Congress.

Star Alliance partners Air Canada and Lufthansa assisted HUM’s journey to South Africa.
Tuesday
Jun012010

Dispute Pushes Thousands of Ghanaians Into Togo

(HN, May 31, 2010) A violent dispute between two villages in northeastern Ghana had forced some 3,500 Ghanaians to flee their homes and cross into neighbouring Togo since April.

Ghanaian refugees, presently sheltering in four Togolese villages, have told United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that their houses have been pillaged and destroyed, their belongings torched.

Fortunately, Togolese authorities are providing Ghanaian refugees with immediate emergency assistance and food. The refugees are in need of water, food, shelter and medicines, said Andrej Mahecic of the UNHCR. Most belong to vulnerable groups – including many children, some of them suffering from diarrhea and malaria. 

The refugees - who represent six communities with a total of 375 households - presently outnumbered the local population and share their quickly diminishing resources, said Mr. Mahecic. Water is of particular concern and UNHCR has offered to rehabilitate several wells in the area.

A first UNHCR emergency aid convoy left from Accra last week, loaded with humanitarian assistance, and another convoy will leave in the next few days with additional aid items - including some 700 tents and other shelter materials.

UNHCR has identified a new site in Togo, further away from the border, where it plans to transfer the refugees. This move would help to improve security and alleviate the pressure on the scarce resources of the host communities and free the public buildings presently used as shelter by refugees.

Since the Ghanaian refugees come from opposing villages involved in the violent dispute, UNHCR is working with the local authorities in Togo to identify a second site that will allow the separation of the two opposing groups, which would also prevent the perpetuation of the conflict while in displacement.

This is not the first time the Ghanaian villagers crossed into neighbouring Togo seeking safety and shelter. In early March some 300 Ghanaians fled to Togo due to the same land dispute, but had returned home within a few weeks, said Mr. Mahecic. This time however, refugees claim they have lost everything and are reluctant to return home.

Late last week, senior delegations from both affected countries met to try to find an amicable solution to the refugee problem. Togo, for its part, said it would not force its displaced guests to go back home.

--Reporting by Michael Bociurkiw and staff