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Showing posts with label 2015. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2015. Show all posts

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Lack of hand washing, kills over 300,000 in 2015 – UNICEF

The spate of cholera in aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and with a new outbreak of war-in Yemen, have made it difficult for children, families and communities to make washing hands with soap a habit to help prevent the spread of diseases, says United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), reports NaijaAgroNet.

This is coming as UNICEF said over 300,000 lives should have been saved if hand washing has become a habit globally.

Chief of Communication for UNICEF Nigeria, Ms Doune Porter, told NaijaAgroNet that as the world celebrate the Global Handwashing Day, UNICEF has discovered that, in 2015 alone, over 300,000 children under the age of five died globally from diarrhoeal infections linked to poor access to safe drinking water and sanitation – a rate of over 800 per day.

“Yet many of these deaths could have been prevented through the simple act of handwashing with soap,” she said.

Porter quoted the UNICEF’s global head of water, sanitation and hygiene Sanjay Wijesekera as saying that every year, 1.4 million children are dying from largely preventable diseases like pneumonia and diarrhea.

“These are staggering numbers, but they could be greatly reduced by working with children and families to adopt a very straightforward solution – handwashing. We know, for example, that handwashing with soap before meals and after using the toilet could reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal infections by 40 per cent,” Sanjay said.

In addition, NaijaAgroNet gathered that a recent survey conducted by UNICEF in Nigeria found that about 10 per cent of households did not know about the critical times to wash hands and could not demonstrate proper handwashing techniques.

The survey, Porter further said revealed that only 12 per cent of households have handwashing facilities with soap or ash located at their latrines.

Isaac Oyimah/GEE
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Saturday, July 18, 2015

SDGs take effect September

The United Nations (UN's) new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that details the investments needed to eradicate world hunger by 2030 is expected to take effect from September,2015, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano Da Silva at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said additional investments in social protection and rural development is necessary.

"Through the SDGs and the Accord, the world has declared: ‘Our goal is to end poverty and hunger,'" da Silva said while addressing world leaders, civil society and private sector groups gathered for the conference plenary, NaijaAgroNet reports.

Significant boosts, according to him, is therefore required in investment in both social protection and rural development to ensure that every person has adequate access to food all year long, and improve the productivity, incomes and livelihoods of the poor, he stated.

Graziano da Silva's remarks, NaijaAgroNet gathered, follow the release of a report by FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) that details the investments needed to eradicate world hunger by 2030 - a key aim of the SDGs to be adopted in September.

To make hunger history by 2030, the UN food agencies estimate that an additional $267 billion, about N53.1trillion per year on average needs to be invested in rural and urban areas, as well as in social protection measures that give poor people access to food and the means to improve their own livelihoods.

Cyriacus Nnaji/ GEE

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

South Africa: Agric leads in job creation

The data made public from South Africa indicated that the agricultural sector was the leading job creator in the first quarter of 2015, adding 150, 000 jobs, reports NaijaAgroNet.

The Statistics South Africa in 2015 released the data showing an estimated 891 000 people employed in the sector. This NaijaAgroNet gathered, accounts for about 6% of South Africa’s total employment figures which is a significant achievement, considering the challenges within the sector, ranging from land policy to climatic conditions.

NaijaAgroNet learnt that South Africa leads the continent in the advancement of agricultural technology, particularly in crop production. This is being driven by climate change and growing variability that have increased the need for research and development.

Agricultural meetings are significantly about development and production, with an emphasis on technological advancement, to optimize productivity to meet yawning food demand and to improve the resilience of agriculture. Many research institutions equally are working with organized agriculture with focus on the sector’s potential to create jobs, NaijaAgroNet reports.

The National Development Plan (NDP) reports that agriculture has the potential to create close to one million new jobs by 2030, a significant contribution to the overall employment target.

To achieve this, NaijaAgroNet was informed, the NDP primarily focuses on improving production to achieve sustainability in smallholder and commercial farming, but the onus for labour training and education is placed mostly on farmers.

Cyriacus Nnaji/ GEE

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ghana scales MDG’S deadline

Ghana has scaled the hurdle of the 2015 deadline set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and World Food Summit (WFS) for countries of the world to bring down the proportion of those living without food by half, reports NaijaAgroNet.  
The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Regional Representative for Africa,Mr Bukar Tijani, said around one person in four persons in Sub-Saharan Africa suffered from undernourishment, down from one in three persons 25 years ago.

This assertion was made recently by Mr.Tijani while speaking at the launch of the first edition of the FAO’s Regional Overview of Food Insecurity in Africa (SOFI) 2015 report, on the theme, “African Food Security Prospects Brighter than Ever” in Accra, Ghana.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that the report presented the key undernourished figures for Sub-Saharan Africa and examined the factors driving the progress made in food security in the Africa region.

The documents,
NaijaAgroNet also reports, discussed successful experiences in African countries to institute and sustain policies, which have contributed to improve nutritional and food security.
It was also disclosed that Ghana was able to reach this far, because it has partnered with the private sector and civil society in implementing and reviewing policies and programmes to develop the agriculture sector.
Cyriacus Nnaj/ GEE
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

China lifts 138m citizens out of chronic hunger

The Republic of China has said the country effectively lifted 138 million citizens out of chronic hunger since 1990 and have reached the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the prevalence of hunger ahead of the 2015 deadline, NaijaAgroNet reports.

This revelation, NaijaAgroNet reports, was made during the signing of a $50 million, about N9.94 billion agreement between China and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) to support developing countries in building sustainable food systems including agricultural value chains, recognizing the growing importance of collaboration between Southern countries in the fight against extreme hunger and poverty. 

Mr. Wang Yang, Vice Premier, China, NaijaAgroNet learnt, said, "China is the leading agricultural producer among the developing countries; FAO is the world's top agricultural organization. We are ready to enhance our cooperation with FAO, which will not only benefit agricultural development and progress toward hunger reduction targets, but also the poor and hungry people of the world."

NaijaAgroNet reports that China's new contribution to the FAO-China South-South Cooperation Trust Fund will support the exchange of Chinese agricultural experts with countries in the global South, particularly in low-income food-deficit areas of Central Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and Latin America, over a period of five years.

The Trust Fund has supported knowledge exchanges through 11 country projects and two global initiatives in areas such as irrigation, horticulture, livestock protection, and food processing and marketing. 

During the first phase, Chinese experts deployed to host countries will stay for two-to-three years, train local farmers in using adaptable and affordable technologies for crop, animal and water management, while the second phase will expand on the lessons learned so far, sharing best practices and supporting host countries in developing sound policies, building institutional capacities, facilitating the transfer of new technologies, working with research centres and other partners. 

Cyriacus Nnaji/ GEE

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Monday, June 8, 2015

MDG: 72 countries halve proportion of hungry people


About 72 out of 129 countries have achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to halve the proportion of hungry people by a 2015 deadline, or bringing it below the 5 per cent threshold were, Sunday recognized at an International award ceremony, reports NaijaAgroNet.


Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva paid tribute to these achievements at the ceremony which was held at the Organization's headquarters.

 Bolivia, Costa Rica, Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic), Mozambique, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Suriname and Uzbekistan received an award for having reached the MDG target. They joined other countries who, NaijaAgroNet gathered, were awarded for reaching the target in previous years.
Angola, China, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Mali and Myanmar were awarded for having also achieved the more ambitious WFS.

"Since 1990, 216 million people have been freed from hunger," Graziano said.
He noted however that almost 800 million people still suffer from chronic undernourishment.

Graziano da Silva urged for a redoubling of global efforts to combat chronic undernourishment.

"One out of nine people on the planet still do not have enough food to conduct active, healthy and productive lives. It is not acceptable," adding that "If we all do our part, zero hunger can be achieved within our lifetimes. Together we can make this vision a reality," he said.

The year 2015 marks the completion of the monitoring period for the Millennium Development Goals which will be replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals currently being negotiated by the international community.


The Prime Minister of Gabon, Daniel Ona Ondo and the Vice Premier of China, Wang Yang, NaijaAgroNet further learnt, received diplomas on behalf of their countries at the ceremony that attracted  dignitaries as President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Prime Minister of Djiboutim, Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe.

Cyriacus Nnaji/ GEE

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

2/3 countries improve on food security - EIU

World leader in global business intelligence, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in its Global Food Security Index (GFSI) annual update,Expo Milan 2015, revealed that two-thirds of 109 countries have improved in food security, reportsNaijaAgroNet.

The GFSI overall results, NaijaAgroNet gathered was unveiled at the DuPoint Forum on Food and Agriculture tagged; Rural and Urban Innovations, showed that sustained economic expansion in most regions and rapid growth in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, combined with lower global food prices provided the necessary food security improvement in almost every region of the world over the past year.

It further revealed that food security in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)improved in 28 countries in the region, with 82 percent recorded score increases between 2014 and 2015, and the region as a whole saw a score improvement of 1.5 points.

Also it pointed out that Sub-Saharan Africa saw impressive gains in food Quality & Safety, with Burkina Faso and Mali leading the way, driven by improved access to quality protein, a measure of the average consumption of essential amino acids in a country’s diet. Burkina Faso also made significant strides in the diet diversification indicator, with a 25% increase (87% score increase) in the amount of non-starchy foods consumed in the average diet.

Dr Richard Okine,Regional Director for DuPont Sub-Saharan Africa, speaking on the report said that,“Developing countries often lack basic infrastructure, including storage, road and port facilities, while smaller incomes inhibit access to and affordability of nutritious food. Political risk and corruption frequently compound structural difficulties in these countries. Investment in infrastructure and food systems in low-income and lower-middle income countries is the key to narrowing the gap.”

He also stressed that an overwhelmingly positive factor has been the fact that over the past few years, the overall economic growth in the developing world has led to improvements in the structural areas that are essential to improving people’s access to a wider range of affordable, nutritious foods.

“This, according to Dr. Okine, includes more extensive food safety-net programmes, expanded crop storage capacity and dietary diversity.”

With such progress notwithstanding, global food insecurity remains a challenge. According to UN estimates,NaijaAgroNet learnt that the world population is projected to increase by 1 billion over the next 12 years and reach 9.6 billion by 2050, with growth coming mainly from developing countries, with more than half in Africa. As populations’ boom and incomes rise in developing countries, the FAO also estimates that food production will have to grow by 50% to meet demand.

The GFSI is an annual measure of food security across 109 countries, produced by the EIU and sponsored by DuPont.

Daniel Nsolibe/GEE

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Climate Change: Averting groundwater depletion walk by 2030

A call for better understanding of groundwater resources is imperative for development of groundwater industry, reports REMMY NWEKE. Excerpts.

UNESCO DG, Irina Bokova:
As the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) alongside the World Bank, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and International Association of Hydrogeologists joint meeting kicks off this week under the aegis of 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongbuk one thing that has reverberated lately is the need to ensure globally that actions on irreversible ground water depletion is averted.

A United States-based hydrologist with Geological Survey in Sacramento, California, Steven Phillips, had defined groundwater as “… any water that lies in aquifers beneath the land surface.” 

Although experts at the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) with headquarters at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, also defined groundwater as water that is located below the earth's surface. 

Ultimately, water from rain and rivers migrates through the ground and is stored in porous soils and rocks. The study of groundwater is known as hydrogeology, while issues pertaining to groundwater could affect the challenges or otherwise of climate change, depending however, on how its managed and taken seriously.

Groundwater most poorly understood aquifers:
NCGRT experts informed NaijaAgroNet that groundwater is found in vast quantities filling the spaces between grains of soil or rock; it slowly flows through aquifers; connects with rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands; feed trees and vegetation. 

They cited Australia as a very old continent, and much of its groundwater is tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years old. For example, the Great Artesian Basin in central Australia is the largest aquifer of its kind in the world, covering 22 per cent of Australia, and containing water that is more than a million years old.

Groundwater, NCGRT experts said, makes up 98 per cent of the fresh water on the planet. It currently makes up around a third of our total water consumption, although this varies from location to location. In the Northern Territory, 90 per cent of water is sourced from aquifers, while the highest concentration of groundwater use is in the Murray–Darling Basin. 

FAO's Moujahed Achouri:
Experts went onto to inform NaijaAgroNet that in spite of its importance, groundwater is poorly understood and often undervalued. This may in part derive from the nature of groundwater: a complex, hidden resource that is difficult to conceptualise. 

The area where water fills the aquifer is called the saturated zone (or saturation zone). The top of this zone is called the water table. The water table may be located only a foot below the ground’s surface or it can sit hundreds of feet down.

Global community must work against depletion:
NaijaAgroNet recalls that as prelude to the meeting, calls have come from the aforementioned organisation for action by the global community to manage the increasingly urgent depletion and degradation of limited groundwater resources.

They also proposed a set of principles governments could use for better groundwater management, including the 2030 Vision and Global Framework for Action which represents a bold step for collectively responsible action among governments and the global community to guarantee sustainable use of groundwater.

NaijaAgroNet gathered that for too long, groundwater governance has remained an area of policy neglect, resulting in its degradation and depletion. Just as global groundwater abstraction reportedly tripled over the past 50 years, as experts claimed that over a fourth of current withdrawal is non-sustainable and spread groundwater pollution has threatened humans and the environment.

Most urban aquifers, experts argued, have suffered from sanitation issues while coastal aquifers are exposed to saline water intrusion, even as industrial pollution, pesticides and fertilizers also find their ways into reservoirs.

The amount of renewable groundwater, therefore, NCGRT experts led by its director, Professor Craig Simmons stated, is unevenly distributed across regions. Some areas, especially those with low rainfall, are at risk more than others. Withdrawal intensity is highest in large parts of China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, the US, Mexico and Europe. This could result in lost freshwater reserves at a time when groundwater storage is critical for sustaining water security and adapting to climate variability.

Building industry around groundwater:
To build an industry around groundwater will amount to near perfect understanding of groundwater and obviously understanding its importance, hence there is need to define an aquifer, which is an underground geological formation which transmits and contains appreciable quantities of groundwater. 

Water in the ground travels, experts say, flow slowly through pores or fractures, depending on the type of sediment or rock material the aquifer is made of. 

Aquifers could vary prominently in the quality and quantity of water they hold and the extent of their connectivity with other aquifers or surface water bodies. 

Equally essential is to know there are two main types of aquifers, according to experts, namely the ‘unconfined’ and ‘confined'

Unconfined aquifers:
And unconfined aquifers are characterised by the absence of a low-permeability thereby confining a layer above them. Their watertables are typically close to the surface and roughly follow the changes in the land surface.

These aquifers are an important source of groundwater in Australia, for instance, because of their relative shallowness and hence ease of access. Just as in low-lying areas, groundwater from these aquifers is often released as natural springs, streams and wetlands. 

Confined aquifers:
GEF's Naoko Ishii:
Confined aquifers, thus are permeable rock units deep under the ground and overlain by less permeable layers. Replenishment occurs in areas known as recharge zones where the aquifer is unconfined and which may be a long distance from the confined portion of the aquifer. 

Experts at NCGRT explained that pressure from the recharge zones creates high water pressure in the aquifer beneath the confining layer. Sometimes the pressure is so great that, where there is a break in the confining layer, water will naturally rise and bubble to the surface without the need of a pump. This is called artesian flow. 

They said, watertable in a confined aquifer is called the piezometric surface and does not necessarily follow the land surface.

In response to the essence of groundwater, a Senior Director, World Bank Group Water Global Practice, Mr. Junaid Ahmad, noted that since time immemorial humans have sought water from the soil, “But we have moved from a village being based around a well to whole cities and industries being built around groundwater. 

“We have learned how to dig ever deeper, pump ever harder, and how to turn deserts into breadbaskets. But we have done this without considering the rate at which our groundwater is recharged, and so we should not be surprised when our wells run dry. Much as we have invested in pumps and crops, so now we must invest in groundwater governance," Ahmad said.

GEF wants urgent action on groundwater:
The chief executive officer and Chairperson, Global Environment Facility (GEF) Naoko Ishii, noted that her team and world at large, could no longer take this invisible but vital source for granted, hence urgent action is needed to ensure its long term availability.

“We look forward to joining hands with partner agencies and countries to ensure water for drinking, food, cities, energy and industrial uses is available for generations to come,” she said, declaring “Sustainable management of groundwater is key to maintaining ecosystems and adapting to climate change.” 

NaijaAgroNet reports that in response to the urgency of the situation, a product of four years of consultations with stakeholders from over 100 countries; these principles focus on legal and institutional frameworks, policies, and plans as well as information and incentive structures for sound and effective groundwater management.

No doubt, this process signals strengthened collaboration across the international community to understand the barriers to better groundwater governance and address key regional challenges.
Moujahed Achouri, Director, Land and Water Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) intimated NaijaAgroNet that collective and coordinated action is urgently needed to protect and prolong the integrity of aquifers. 

He stressed the cost of inaction could be enormous, because this vision and framework are urgent calls to decision-makers to act now with the right political decisions to help reach globally shared goals of social and economic development”.

For the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, to make groundwater governance a reality, it is necessary to foster cooperation among countries, especially on transboundary aquifers. Pointing out that “Water directly influences our future, we must work together to manage this precious resource more sustainably."

In summary, groundwater is indispensable to poverty reduction and shared prosperity, mostly looking at its accounts for over a third of municipal and industrial supply and some 40 per cent of the global irrigated area is serviced by groundwater. 

According to experts, groundwater has the potential to provide an improved source of drinking water for millions of urban and rural poor people. Yet, many poor farmers and their families depend on it to irrigate their crops and sustain their livelihoods.

The 2030 Vision and Framework for Action which provides the enabling framework and guiding principles for a coordinated action among governments and organizations should be upheld in order to achieve the goals of this vision for a definite better water and groundwater management as part of the efforts at combating climate change.

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Pix: UNESCO D-G, Irina Bokova; Chairperson, GEF, Naoko Ishii, & Moujahed Achouri, Director, Land and Water Division, FAO.