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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Investing in school meals ‘win-win’ for West African nations – UN

The United Nations food relief agency has urged governments in West Africa subregion to spend more money on school meal programmes as these investments not only contribute to children’s better future but also create local jobs around agriculture, reports NaijaAgroNet.
“It is a win-win opportunity which governments must seize,” said Abdou Dieng, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Children enjoy healthy meals that make it more likely that they will stay in school and learn for a better future, while jobs are created and businesses develop.”
The call was made on African Day of School Feeding, annually observed on 1 March.
Increasingly, the food for the meals is sourced from smallholder farmers within the community. The idea is that home-grown school meals provide local farmers and businesses with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to more stable incomes, more investment, higher productivity and the creation of jobs for youth and women in the communities concerned.
In Burkina Faso, the introduction of yoghurt in school meals has had multiple benefits – a women’s group that collects milk locally has recently set up a processing plant for yoghurt that is now delivered to schools by young people on motorcycles.
Some governments in the region are showing a growing interest in investing more in national school meals programmes. The Government of Benin has allotted $47 million to feed 400,000 children over the course of five years in partnership with WFP, using a home-grown school meals model.
WFP’s regional school meals programme, which aims to assist about 2.7 million children this year, faces a $60 million funding gap. Without proper financing, the programme will fall short, leave many vulnerable students hungry and at risk of dropping out of school.


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Miss Ghana UK 2017 to hang out with tertiary students

Food for All Africa in partnership with Miss Ghana UK Foundation and Psychosocial Africa would next month, April bring together tertiary students within Accra to hang out with the current Queen, Miss Sabina Lawabea Awuni, reports NaijaAgroNet.
The hangout, NaijaAgroNet gathered would culminate in a social event aimed at promoting mental health and nutritional well-being among tertiary students in Ghana.
NaijaAgroNet also gathered from Food for All Africa that for every case of suicide reported, five people have already contemplated committing suicide, making a total of about 200,000 people contemplating the idea annually.
Sabina said that on the use of social get together as a means to suicide prevention as such programmes tend to give people listening ears.
According to a 2012 survey conducted by the Network for Anti-suicide and Crisis Prevention in Ghana, five or more people commit suicide every day in the country. 
The dominant cause of their death ranged from problems with parents, failure at school, inability of parents to provide needs, impotence and relationship related issues. 
Former Chief Psychiatrist of the Accra Mental Hospital, Dr Akwesi Osei reiterates that suicide is premeditated. It is not something one does the first time he or she thinks about it.
“There are three organizational stages of suicide, involving “getting used to,” the idea, the means and the opportunity or motivation,” he said.
He described the first stage as the preparation state where a person prepares to commit suicide. People who are naturally secretive, who come from broken homes, people with no loving childhood and people with traumatic stress disorders are susceptible.
The second, he said were the precipitate factors that triggered one to commit suicide. Some of the triggers were financial crisis, loss of a loved one and separation.
The final stage was when victims remained in a perpetual state of the desire to kill him or herself, and with the triggers including the lack of financial support, among others.
Hang Out with Miss Ghana UK 2017, The Jubilee Queen on Saturday 7th April 2018 at Tuo Restaurant and garden on Ring road Central will be an experience sharing session with the Queen, Sabina Awuni, mental health advocate, Nana Abena Korkor Addo  and Chef Elijah Addo in promoting mental health and nutritional wellness among tertiary students in Ghana through activities such as cooking competition,eating,games,let’s talk and music jams.
The Queen together with SRC executives of participating schools will in the morning cook and serve breakfast to patients of Accra psychiatric hospital.

Uj. N. Dominic/ED, Ops
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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

ICTs essential to empowerment, success of poor rural women

The role of information communications technologies in supporting rural women's economic empowerment, voice and status, was the focus of discussions at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on 8 March, International Women’s Day, reports NaijaAgroNet.

IFAD, together with United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), will highlight the role that innovations in information and communications technologies (ICTs) can play in expanding rural women's opportunities in value chains and enterprise development, while increasing their access to education and information.

Many women, particularly young rural women, lack access to productive resources such as land, credit and technology. Women lag behind in terms of their access to ICTs, with only 41 per cent of women in low-and middle income countries owning mobile phones compared to 46 per cent for males. Nearly two-thirds of women living in the South Asia and East Asia and Pacific sub-regions do not own a mobile phone. Rural women regularly lack access to health care, education, decent work and social protection. As a consequence, they are more likely to be poor and they are vulnerable to economic and climatic shocks.

ICTs can go a long way to boosting economic opportunities for rural women. Mobile and smartphones, for example, provide access to real-time information on prices in different markets and allow more informed choices about where and when to buy and sell. Studies indicate that when women earn money, they are more likely than men to spend it on food for their families and the education of their children.

Uj. N. Dominic/ED, OP

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Sweden partners FAO to tackle dignity preservation @EMC

The Government of Sweden is partnering the Food andAgriculture Organisation (FAO) and The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan as well as Arab Republic of Egypt to tackle issues on “Preserving Dignity and Sharing Responsibility: Mobilizing Collective Action for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Extra-ordinary Ministerial Conference slated for March 15 at the FAO Headquarters, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, NaijaAgroNet gathered, will afford UNRWA to host the event on the oldest and largest UN humanitarian and human development programme in the Middle East, serving over five million Palestine refugees.

NaijaAgroNet equally gathered that UNRWA is experiencing the worst financial crisis in its 70 year history and may be forced to suspend services.

The Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Sweden and Egypt will co-chair the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference in support of UNRWA, which the aim to actively support a collective response by the international community to protect the rights and dignity of Palestinian Refugees and ensure that UNRWA’s unprecedented funding crisis of US$ 446 million is urgently resolved.

NaijaAgroNet the Extraordinary Ministerial Conference will include special attendance of the UN Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms Federica Mogherini.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Africa: Scale up women's rights, nutrition activism

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, three African leaders and activists, Martin Chungong, Cameroonian Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, former Prime Minister of Niger and CEO of NEPAD Agency, and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN), come together to celebrate rural and urban crusaders who have transformed women’s lives and call for more activists to speak up for gender equality to fight malnutrition across Africa.
Today, as we mark International Women’s Day, we celebrate not only all women, but especially the activists – rural and urban, men and women – who are transforming women’s lives. Right now, women and men across Africa are part of a movement sweeping across the world for women’s rights, equality and justice.
You do not have to look far to see – or hear – women on the continent slowly breaking the silence, joining the #MeToo campaign on social media, raising their voices in unison alongside many men and against the status quo, organising for better representation in decision-making and demanding land rights and equal pay for work of equal value.
However, with the increase in hunger and food insecurity seen last year across parts of sub-Saharan Africa – for the first time in decades – there are few rights as important to our future survival as the right to adequate food and good nutrition. This will not happen unless each woman and man, girl and boy is equally valued and has the same access to food. This means that, when we move from thinking to acting on nutrition and food security, we must also think and act on gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Throughout history, activism in Africa has yielded enormous results. Many women have fought for justice for women before us. Today this is not only a moral duty, it is the smart thing to do. Recently, countries such as Senegal and Tunisia have made strides in ensuring equal rights for both women and men. Rwanda has secured the highest percentage of women in parliament in the world, whilst women in Liberia and South Sudan have been at the forefront of peace and reconciliation efforts. In the words of Nelson Mandela – our ‘own’ Madiba – whose 100th birthday we will celebrate later this year, "freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression". Sadly, no country has achieved this freedom yet.

Where there is food insecurity, rural women and girls are disproportionally affected and more likely to experience the multiple burdens of malnutrition. They are often tasked with making sure every family and community member reaps the benefits of the best possible food and nutrients available and are involved at each stage of the food value chain – from farm to fork.
Although there are no large differences in the number of malnourished girls versus boys under five years old, the difference in power between males and females really becomes visible as girls reach adolescence. Malnourished mothers, especially those who have not attended secondary school, are more likely to give birth to malnourished girls and boys, perpetuating a vicious intergenerational cycle – with devastating effects for the brain power of the continent.
It is widely accepted that good nutrition is a maker and marker of sustainable development. What we now know is that gender equality is a maker and marker of good nutrition. With this knowledge, the main message we have for policy-makers, leaders and activists all over Africa is to scale up investments in women for better nutrition and food security everywhere. Yet, without empowering lawmakers to unblock resources from national budgets and putting in place the necessary means and policies in support of women and girls, no initiative will succeed.

Yesterday, we gathered together to address a high-level event of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Johannesburg. This Alliance has been tasked with ensuring that food security and nutrition remain at the highest level of both political and legislative agendas. We brought together a regional platform for African Members of Parliament to make sure that women’s and girls’ rights, needs and agency are at the front and centre of all actions.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises to leave no one behind. Recently, the publication Nature estimated that no single African country is set to end childhood malnutrition by 2030, due to large disparities within countries themselves. This is in spite of the fact that most African countries, especially much of sub-Saharan Africa and eastern and southern regions, have shown improvements.

As members of the Lead Group of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement – a voluntary push for better nutrition which today counts 60 countries, many of whom are African – we know that successful nutrition approaches are those that have sought to address and eliminate gender inequalities. Much of the reduction in hunger worldwide between 1970 and 1995 is a result of improvements in women’s status and access to decision-making, including in parliaments. We know that if we give a girl access to secondary schooling, more than 25 per cent fewer girls and boys will be stunted, and will be able to develop normally. The evidence is clear. Now is the time to act.

International Women’s Day is not just a celebration but a reminder to us to remain activists in our own right, not only as heads of agencies which promote equality, but also as individuals. Together, let us empower women in all settings, rural and urban, and make improved nutrition a reality.

We commit to scaling up women’s rights and nutrition activism in Africa, and beyond. And hope you will do the same. The #TimeisNow for the #TheAfricaWeWant.

*Contributed by: Op-ed by Martin Chungong, Secretary-General of IPU, Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, CEO of NEPAD Agency and Nahas Angula, former Prime Minister of Namibia and Convener of the Namibia Alliance for Improved Nutrition (NAFIN)

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Monday, March 5, 2018

Rice importation: Okada riders operates new route in Katsina

Although the Federal Government of Nigeria banned the importation of foreign rice into the country,  there is a new route of importing foreign rice into the country through the Okada riders, reports NaijaAgroNet.
This route, source making rounds online showed are heavily protected with over 100 motorcycle riders, also known as okada riders carrying across from Niger Republic some bags of rice.
Some Nigeria have equally condemned the opening of the northern borders for rice importation with motorcycle, while in the south, especially via Lagos border with Contonou, Benin Republic borders are closed.
“Now they opened Niger Republic border and have been importing Rice from the Northern borders and have it repackaged,” source said.
Other concerned Nigerian also disclosed that the long queue of Motorcyclists transporting Rice to Kastina State, its evident that in a day, some six Trailer loads are being offloaded every day.
“One Nigeria. With two different laws. Rice importation is banned in the south and free duty in the north,” our source decried.
Further, some source claimed that as at November 2017, some of these bags of rice are brought in and sold for N7,000 in the north, while
 “It was easy to enter from Katsina but here in the South you see Customs Officers raiding shops and killing innocent people all in the name of attacking smugglers.  This is unfair,” our source lamented.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Pix: Okada riders allegedly  transporting foreign rice from Niger Republic to Katsina State in Nigeria.

Friday, March 2, 2018

GE’s healthymagination, Miller Centre, graduate second cohort on maternal, child health

GE’s healthymagination Mother and Child Programme has graduated its second cohort of social entrepreneurs who completed training and mentorship that is designed to scale impact, thereby improving maternal and child health outcomes in Africa, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The graduation of the second cohort, NaijaAgroNet gathered, builds on the success of the 1st group of entrepreneurs, all of whom have reported a notable impact of the programme on their businesses.
One such entrepreneur, NaijaAgroNet reports, is Dr. Steve Adudans whose HewaTele has attracted over 2 Million USD in additional investment since completing the programme in March 2017.
“The skills and practical knowledge we received has enabled us to transform our business model for greater impact. Thanks to the programme, we managed to secure investment from global development partners for the expansion of 2 additional oxygen plants which will increase access to affordable, safe and quality life-saving medical oxygen in Kenya” Dr. Adudans said.

The Executive Director, New Growth Markets, Business Innovations at GE, Robert Wells said they are proud of the major strides that the first cohort of enterprises have made since they graduated, and are thrilled that a second stellar group of passionate entrepreneurs is now better equipped to expand their reach and save the lives of more mothers and children across the continent.

“GE is committed to continue partnering with Social Entrepreneurs to support sustainable healthcare development especially through capacity building and skills transfer” he said.

NaijaAgroNet notes that after a rigorous evaluation process, the social enterprises selected to feature in the second cohort of the healthymagination Mother and Child Programme attended a three-day, in-person workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa followed by a six-month online accelerator program that included weekly in-depth mentorship from Silicon Valley-based executives and local GE business leaders.
Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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CDC partners Lagos to unveil disability awareness ribbon

The Children's Developmental Center (CDC) has unveiled the Disability Awareness Ribbon with the support of the Lagos State government in commemoration in aid of the campaign for the Developmental Disability Awareness month, demanded action against discrimination practices, reports NaijaAgroNet.

At the launch in Lagos key stakeholders in the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) space called for action by government at all levels to provide the necessary support towards the upbringing of children with various forms of disabilities.

They also expressed deep concern about the future of children with disabilities in the country where there is no clear cut policy their growth support plan and engagement that will better their lives.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Yinka Akindayomi, service director at CDC said over the last twenty years has been both a service provider and in forefront of advocating for children and adults with development disabilities and their families.

Akindayomi said in the course of the Centers intervention it has realized that the inclusion of children and adults with any disabilities can only come through a joint effort.

She noted that there must be a harmonious and strong partnerships among stakeholders for any society to grow, adding that one of the great benefits of working together is the inspiration and ideas that can result from unity, because people from different backgrounds and levels of experience can help in creating solutions to problems in the society especially where stigma is concerned.

"Personal boundaries are limits we set for our selves as individuals but when we work together, there is the motivation to push beyond those boundaries which yields results. Nigeria will be better if we work together, because unity maximizes strengths and brings out the best in its citizens. This value of unity is regularly seen in sports, culture, entertainment etc and we should endeavor to include in our everyday life, workplaces, homes and community at large", she counseled.

In her remarks, Mrs. Emmanuella Otiono, educational consultant at Center Escolar Educational, emotionally spoke about discrimination against people with disabilities, and advised that rather discourage them by attitude efforts should be made to identify those special talents in them to help them maximize their potentials.

Otiono said her center like similar others offers a continuum of services that meet the specialized needs of young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities including those with autism or other autism spectrum disorders.

"We help youth in all aspects of their lives so they can be successful at home and in school, with friends and family. We understand that no two young people are alike and consider a number of factors including their home environment, upbringing and clinical history when creating Individualized Service Plans" she said, adding that whether serving youth in foster care or providing supports in home and community settings, stakeholders should also help youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities reach new heights.

Otiono, expressly noted that youths with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities represent special populations at risk for juvenile delinquency, victimization, educational failure, and poor employment outcomes and that they often have multiple, overlapping risk factors.
She noted that youth with disabilities typically receive mentoring, if at all, within disability-specific programs rather than in inclusive, community-based programs.

Speaking further, Otiono stated that early childhood is the period from prenatal development and a crucial phase of growth and development because experiences during early childhood can influence outcomes across the entire course of an individual’s life.

"For all children, early childhood provides an important window of opportunity to prepare the foundation for life-long learning and participation, while preventing potential delays in development and disabilities. For children who experience disability, it is a vital time to ensure access to interventions which can help them reach their full potential.

Despite being more vulnerable to developmental risks, young children with disabilities are often overlooked in mainstream programmes and services designed to ensure child development", she added.

Other stakeholders at the forum expressed disappointment that these children however, do not receive the specific supports required to meet their rights and needs as children with disabilities and their families are confronted by barriers including inadequate legislation and policies, negative attitudes, inadequate services, and lack of accessible environments.

They argued that if children with developmental delays or disabilities and their families are not provided with timely and appropriate early intervention, support and protection, their difficulties can become more severe and often leading to lifetime consequences, increased poverty and profound exclusion.

Isaac Oyimah with additional reports by Yemisi Izuora/GEE

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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

FAO warns that food insecurity is set to rise again

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has warned that food insecurity may be on the rise again over the course of 2018 farming season, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The number of food-insecure people in the South African subregion is likely to rise over the course of 2018, partly reversing last year's sharp decline, the GIEWS alert warned.

According to the latest Special Alert issued by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) and made available to NaijaAgroNet, FAO noted that in 2016, crop production declined due to El Niño drove up significantly the number of food-insecure people in the subregion.
In Malawi, for instance, FAO said, an estimated 6.7 million people and in Zimbabwe just over 4 million people were food insecure.  

“But the significant rebound in the subregion's cereal production to a record level in 2017 led food insecure numbers to fall by up to 90 percent, according to official estimates,” FAO said.

Maize production in 2017 increased 43 percent above the recent average and the subregion produced more than required for domestic consumption for the first time in five years, even excluding South Africa, a traditional net exporter. As a result, most countries were able to build up inventories. The higher stock levels should be able to partly cushion the effects of the likely production decreases to come. Local maize prices, currently down on a yearly basis, also reflect favourable supply conditions. 

However, at the household level, many smallholders and rural families are still recovering from losses due to the severe El Niño- associated drought, and they are vulnerable to a downturn, GIEWS noted. This is especially the case where harvests in 2017 were poor, such as Madagascar.

It is also likely to be the case in areas where the weather trends have been unfavourable, notably parts of Lesotho, southern and central areas of Mozambique, western South Africa, southern parts of Zambia and Malawi, eastern Zimbabwe and southwestern Madagascar.

Precipitation trends also matter greatly for the Fall Armyworm, an invasive species that has now been detected in all countries of the subregion, except Lesotho and Mauritius. While recent heavy rains in some localities may have contributed to containing the pest's spread, the general dry weather may help it spread and could exacerbate the impact on yields.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Africa to witness reduced harvests, courtesy of dry weather conditions

The lack of adequate rains and rise in hot temperatures has triggered water stress and adversely affecting crop development in several areas in Africa, reports NaijaAgroNet.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, this weather conditions is very high in the Southern Africa.

The latest Special Alert issued by FAO's Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), indicated that while cereal stocks in the region are ample, the spell of dry weather and erratic rains earlier in the season signals multiple risks to agricultural yields and may aggravate the impact of the Fall Armyworm pest.

Reduced harvests are "foreseen to intensify food insecurity in 2018, increasing the number of people in need of assistance," part of the alert noted.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that maize production hit a record level in 2017 in the Southern Africa subregion, a welcome development after sharp output declines in the previous year caused by an unusually strong El Niño.

Also, FAO said, Cereal production in the sub-region in 2018 is foreseen to fall due to erratic rains, along with an intense dry period in January.

NaijaAgroNet recalls that the alert comes as FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, spoke in Khartoum, emphasizing the importance of boosting the resilience of communities, particularly in Africa - in making sure that "Zero Hunger is possible".

Isaac Oyimah/GEE

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