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Kigali: 14 African scholars teams win Mastercard Foundation support
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo

Edith Naisubi explains the AgriSan project during the 2019 Social Venture Challenge in Kigali, Thursday

Edith Naisubi explains the AgriSan project during the 2019 Social Venture Challenge in Kigali, Thursday

Africa’s 14 scholars teams and one Lebanese team have emerged winners of the 2019 Mastercard Foundation Social Venture Challenge.

The 15 teams are from 10 countries as Uganda shines with three winning teams. Each of Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe won with two teams while Cameroon, Gambia, Lebanon, Malawi, Rwanda and Senegal got one winning team each.

The winners were announced at the closing of Mastercard Foundation Scholars Baobab Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, on Saturday. The three-day annual summit brought together more than 250 undergraduate scholars pursuing their studies at different universities around the world under the Mastercard Foundation’s scholarships.

Each team will receive seed funding to scale their projects and a lifetime membership to the Resolution Fellowship that will help them continue getting guidance and membership to grow their projects.

The Mastercard Foundation and The Resolution Project received 125 applications for the 2019 competition but 31 teams bringing together 65 scholars reached the semi-final, according to Ashley Collier, Manager of Youth Engagement and Networks at Mastercard Foundation.

Winners speak out

 Many Scholars are developing projects inspired by challenges they have observed first-hand in their communities. With modest resources, Scholars are activating their ideas for change to make a difference in their societies.

Some of the 2019 winners told media that the scooped Mastercard Foundation’s support will enable them to implement their projects and bring change in their communities.

Nadine Iradukunda, who owns “Healthy Us” project, said she aims to increase the wellbeing of orphans in Kigali through a nutritional awareness program.

young scholars from countries gathered in Kigli from Thursday to Saturday at the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Baobab Summit 2019

young scholars from countries gathered in Kigli from Thursday to Saturday at the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Baobab Summit 2019

“The program will create a kitchen garden in a local orphanage in Masaka, Kicukiro District, to grow fruit and vegetables, especially mushrooms, which are rich in protein and easy to cultivate. The income from the mushroom sales will provide orphaned children with food, toiletries, and school materials,” she said.

Iradukunda co-owns the project with Marie Aimée Nirere, both pursuing their bachelor studies at Ashesi University in Ghana.

Other Ashesi University’s scholars, Edith Naisubi and Amanuel Eshete, scooped an award thanks to their “AgriSan” project which aims to establish a community market garden for underprivileged rural women in the Pallisa District of Uganda.

“Women will grow vegetables as a source of income and use the leftover vegetables to make manure. In addition, the venture will teach the women savings strategies and other financial management skills to ensure their economic security,” said Ms Naisubi.

Edith Naisubi and her fellow Amanuel Eshete scoop an award at the 2019 Mastercard Foundation Social Venture Challenge

Edith Naisubi and her fellow Amanuel Eshete scoop an award at the 2019 Mastercard Foundation Social Venture Challenge

The Mastercard Foundation collaborates with The Resolution Project to host a Resolution Social Venture Challenge, a competition that provides a pathway to action for socially responsible young leaders who want to create change that matters in their communities. In 2016, six teams won the challenge, followed by 10 and 15 winning teams in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

The Canada-based Mastercard Foundation is one of the world’s largest foundations which strives to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty and operates almost exclusively in Africa. The Foundation was established in 2006 by Mastercard International.

 

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Mozambican parliament approves Amnesty law for government-Renamo clashes
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

The Assembly of the Republic, the Mozambican parliament, approved on Monday the Criminal Responsibility Amnesty Law for acts committed during the political-military crisis in the country involving the Government Forces and the rebels of Renamo, the largest opposition party in Mozambique.

“This law is intended to amnesty citizens who, in the context of military hostilities, have committed crimes against state security, related military offenses and crimes against persons and property” said Verónica Macamo, President of the Assembly of the Republic.

Amnesty crimes must have occurred in the Mozambican territory from 14 August 2014 until the date of the signing of the peace agreement scheduled for August.

The draft law was submitted by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in the context of peace negotiations between the Mozambican executive and Renamo, with the aim of promoting political stability, guaranteeing effective and lasting peace.

The Minister of Justice, Constitutional and Religious Affairs, Joaquim Veríssimo, who presented the document to the plenary of the Assembly of the Republic, said that the materialization of this aim will only be possible with the interest and involvement of all parties.

Also on Monday at least 50 former Renamo guerrillas registered in the Satunjira region, Gorongosa district, Sofala province, in an act marking the official launch of the Demobilization, Disarmament and Reintegration process.

Four of these elements also surrendered their respective weapons.

 

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AU, African Development Bank sign $4.8 million grant earmarked for continental free trade secretariat
August 6, 2019 | 0 Comments

Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, 06 July 19 – The African Development Bank Group on Monday signed a $4.8 million institutional support grant to the African Union (AU) for implementation   of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The grant, approved by the Group’s Board of Directors on 01 April 2019, forms part of a series of interventions by the Bank in its lead role to accelerate implementation of the Free Trade Agreement, seen as a major force for integrating the 55-nation continent and transforming its economy.

Albert Muchanga, AU’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry, initialed for the continental body, and Obed Andoh Mensah, representing the Bank’s Director of the Industrial and Trade Development Department (PITD), signed on behalf of the Bank, signaling the startup of implementation.

African leaders meeting in Niamey, Niger in early July launched the implementation phase of the free trade area agreement established in March 2018 after it became operational at the end of May this year. Currently, 54 states have signed the deal and are set to begin formal trading next July.

“The AfCFTA is going to work and we are  confident that by the 1st of July next year, all the 55 countries would have been state parties – meaning, they would have signed and ratified the agreement and intra-African will start,” Muchanga said and urged countries to use this period to complete the parliamentary processes.

Muchanga commended the Bank’s strong and consistent support to ensure smooth implementation of the Agreement, saying the grant would be used judiciously for the rollout of various protocols relating to the structure and mandate of the AfCFTA secretariat.

The AU currently has an interim secretariat, tasked to provide the organizational structure for the permanent administrative body, its work program and related issues including its budget. The Niamey summit announced the siting of the AfCFTA secretariat in Accra, Ghana.

The Continental Free Trade deal has the potential to create the largest free-trade area in the world.  – uniting 55 African countries with a combined gross domestic product of more than $2.5 trillion. It is a major force for continental integration and expansion of intra African trade, currently estimated at around 16%.

The trade agreement is expected to expand intra-African trade by up to $35 billion per year, ease movement of goods, services and people across the continent’s borders and cut imports by $10 billion, while boosting agriculture and industrial exports by 7% and 5% respectively.

In his remarks, Andoh Mensah stressed that the deal will help stabilize African countries, allow small and medium sized enterprises to flourish, promote industrialization and lift millions out of poverty.

“If the AfCFTA is complemented by trade facilitation reforms, reduction in non-tariff barriers, improved infrastructure and policy measures to encourage employment and private sector investments, it will stimulate poverty reduction and socio-economic development across Africa,” he said, noting that the goals of AfCFTA are aligned to the Bank’s flagship High 5s.

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Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe reinforce strategies to combat crimes
July 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe want to adopt better strategies for combating cross-border crime to maintain security along the borders of the three countries.

At a meeting in Maputo City, attended especially by police representatives from the three countries, namely, Paulo Chachine (Mozambique), Thulane Phala (South Africa) and Rangarirai Nshucharua (Zimbabwe), it was agreed that the current strategies need to be updated taking into account the modus operandis of the bandits.

“We have situations of wrongdoers who commit crimes in South Africa and then flee to Mozambique, commit in Mozambique and go to Zimbabwe or South Africa from a

routinely ” denounced Chachine adding that” with this our essential objective is to study how to identify criminals and combat because they affect us“

Mozambique borders Zimbabwe through the provinces of Tete and Manica and with South Africa through Maputo and Gaza.

The three countries were unanimous in explaining that the most notable crimes along the border line to be fought are cattle theft, organ and human trafficking, drug and firearm trafficking, car and motor vehicle theft, illegal immigration as well as poaching.

Cattle theft has been proliferating along the border, largely at grazing sites, Chachine said calling for community involvement in the fight.

“The Police-Community link is the key, because criminals live in the communities and neighborhoods we live in, in the restaurants we go to, whether in Mozambique, South Africa or Zimbabwe.

“Therefore, through the Police-Community link we can be able to identify and fight offenders because, in general, the population does not want to live with them,” he added.

The next meeting is scheduled for September, October or November in South Africa.

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ZPBA to facilitate the launch of the African Association of Plant Breeders
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Zimbabwe Plant Breeders Association (ZPBA) is set to facilitate the launch of the African Association of Plant Breeders on 23 to 25 October, 2019 in Ghana, according to Dean Muungani, ZPBA President at the recent ZPBA annual event held in Mazowe, Zimbabwe under  the theme: ‘Unpacking Better Seeds for Sustainable Development.’

However, Muungani lamented over the low uptake after a call was made for abstracts to be submitted for the scheduled launch event. He said that only one applicant had made a submission and encouraged members of the association to make submissions.

The ZPBA is also planning to host its elective congress scheduled for January 2020.According to Muungani, it will also be an opportunity for new office bearers to be elected into office to champion to association to go forward.

The ZPBA is a registered trust, membership based, non-political and not-for-profit professional association of Zimbabweans based locally or abroad active or interested in plant breeding and related fields launched on the 26th of January, 2016 with funding from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

According to Muungani, the related professionals include biotechnologists, geneticists, molecular biologists, seed technologists, seed agronomists, seed inspectors, genetic conservation specialists and  plant propagators, just to mention a few.

The main objectives of the association include promoting scientific plant breeding  and related research through discussion and communication, influencing  plant breeding training and education and contributing to continuing professional development of members so that they are technically up-to-date and remain relevant for their current and future employers both locally  and in the global village, promoting high standards of professional ethics among its members, representation of members’ interest and promoting interaction with the view to advancing the science and business of plant breeding.

 

 

 

Since its  inception the ZPBA has organised a number of seminars and workshops which include a seminar focussing on Genetically Modified Crops, ZPBA first anniversary event with Climate change themed presentations from various presenters. Facilitators were drawn from the Ministry of Environment, Water & Climate (MoEWC), FAO, CIMMYT, OXFAM, Seed Services, the Prof. Pangirayi Tongoona Symposium themed ‘From Art to Science in the Crop Seed Sector’ with several presentations from CIMMYT, Tobacco Research Board (TRB), and several ex Prof Tongoona students, the Demand-led Plant Breeding approaches training workshop at ACCI-UKZN made possible with external sponsorship, breeders Course on preparing and presenting variety release and supporting documents in Zimbabwe funded from member subscriptions  and the seminar on molecular breeding of soya-bean by Prof Kristin Bilyeu of USDA/ARS at the University of Zimbabwe  department  of Crop Science in  Harare, a seminar titled in search of excellence in agriculture research management in Africa by Professor Paramu Mafongoya of UKZN at the  University of Zimbabwe department  of Crop Science in Harare, breeders’ course on generation, analysis and interpretation of experimental and genetic designs applied to plant breeding, facilitated by Dr. Juan Burgueno and Dr. Fernando Toledo in Harare, seminar presentations by three UK visiting scientists- Professor Liz Baggs of University of Edinburgh, Dr Eric Paterson of the James Hutton Institute and Dr Lumbani Mwafulirwa of University of Edinburgh.

 

 

According to Muugani, the ZPBA is currently planning two events before the end of the year on the promotion of liming of soils, earmarked for some time in August/ September in Mhondoro.

“We are now moving from seminars and workshops to projects in the field. We hope more field projects will be implemented in future,” Muungani said.

 

The other event will involve a training course on variety screening and breeding for resistance to fall armyworm (FAW), which will include a field visit to Muzarabani.

Commenting on the recent meeting, Muungani said;

“The meeting which has largely been oversubscribed, is unique in that it brings a lot of diversity in terms of content, as past events were largely dominated by maize presentations, in terms of the breadth of institutions represented such as research, academia, farmers unions and   seed houses and the diversity of participants. This reflects growth on the part of the association”.

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Giant Multi-National Retail business feels the Zimbabwean Economy heat
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Nevson  Mpofu

OK Zimbabwe, the giant retail group under Delta is currently tumbling in the smouldering heat of Business difficulties the country is facing. OK Zimbabwe CEO Mr A. E  Siyavora  said the country is swimming currently in a flooded pool of economic difficulties among them  inflation characterised by deterioration in exchange rate .

The result, he elaborates is the resultant escalation in the prices of goods. He further points out that the retail business organisation experienced difficulties in accessing foreign currency to import goods. ‘’Suppliers,’’ he reiterates, had the same problems.

‘’The macro-economic environment is unstable, characterised by deterioration in the exchange rate .This escalates prices of goods. Other difficulties are in accessing foreign currency. It has been a challenge in the long run.

‘’Our suppliers had the same problems. Erratic of goods supply were encountered. However our stores remained reasonably stocked with these goods. Our biggest promotion OK Grand Challenge Jack-Pot was successful despite challenges faced.’’

Zimbabwean businesses have since 2008 at maximum height experienced a plethora of difficulties. These are still biting in the Business sector.  Deterioration of exchange rate caused steep price increase in June this year.

‘’We however managed to succeed with our greatest national OK Grand Challenge Jack-Pot. Price increases were tense in June, but we made it a win. The rate stabilised following the introduction of local currency. There were accompanying policy measures. Prices have stabilised since July 2019. We hope this will continue for the benefit of our own consumers’’.

Electricity Difficulties

Lack of electricity continues to affect the whole country at the expense of all business operations. Most of them are operating below minimum levels. The retail giant is facing the same problem. The retail group has turned to other forms of energy.

‘’Lack of electricity is affecting operations. We operate our stores on generator power. This is costly in both fuel and repairs. We have been forced to rationalise opening hours, making sure that we open at peak times so that our customers are not inconvenienced. Some operations in store bakeries have been affected. In the future near as we move on, we have to use solar power so as to cushion other forms of power.

Mr Siyavora said that they continue to refurbish and improve customer experience. OK continues opening new stores if possible. He added, the giant is soon opening in Karoi . The construction of the building is on.

‘’We are in the process of doing refurbishments. We do this to improve customer experience and satisfaction. If, there is any reason for opening new branches we have to do so. ’.

‘’Sales grew by 167%. Net sales amounted to $398, 9 million. Our Gross profit margin has been maintained at about the same the same levels as those reported for the year ending 31 March. We are experiencing increasing cost pressures. We will however ensure we meet our profit targets’’, he concludes.

 

 

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Philanthropist, farmer challenge Zim govt ban of sale of maize
July 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Allan Norman Markham

Allan Norman Markham

A philantropist and a farmer in Zimbabwe have hauled Lands, Agriculture, Water,
Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Hon. Perrance Shiri and the
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to court challenging the restrictive
measures banning the sale of maize grain in the country and giving the
state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB) a monopoly over trade in the
commodity.

In an application filed in the High Court recently, Hon. Allan
Markham, a philanthropist and Clever Rambanapasi, a farmer, argued
that Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019 Grain Marketing (Control of Sale
of Maize) Regulations, 2019, which was recently gazetted by government
had made GMB the sole trader of maize in the country and made it
illegal for people to trade in maize among themselves and banned the
transportation of more than five bags of maize grain except in
situations where one is delivering to the state-run body.

The regulations also empowered Zimbabwe Republic Police officers to
seize maize grain suspected of being moved without authority and
compliance with the law.

But through their lawyer Tendai Biti of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights, Hon. Markham, who is a philanthropist who buys and sells maize
in communities to support many charities and Rambanapasi, a farmer
based in Murewa in Mashonaland East province, protested that through
the regulations, Hon. Shiri had set up a monopoly and a dangerous one
which bars anyone who trades in grain whether he or she is a buyer or
seller to only do so through the GMB and at a fixed price.

Hon. Markham and Rambanapasi charged that the consequences and effect
of the restrictive regulations and of declaring a product a controlled
one is drastic as it affects the contractual right of farmers and
traders of buying grain from any party or individual and has a serious
effect on livelihoods especially in rural communities where communal
farmers produce subsistence maize.
Rambanapasi, who runs a small piggery project in Murewa, argued that
maize is an essential ingredient in pig production and he buys the
grain from rural communities in various villages to feed his pigs
while Hon. Markham, who as a philanthropist supports some charities in
the country, said he buys maize from communal farmers, which he uses
to feed vulnerable communities in high density suburbs.

The duo said the regulations had affected people who engage in barter
trade in communities and had also affected the freedom to contract and
freedom to trade as professional millers, retailers and other
organisations and individuals, who previously had the right to buy
maize everywhere could no longer do so except from GMB.

Hon. Markham, who is also the legislator for Harare North constituency
and is an entrepreneur with extensive interest in the agriculture
sector and Rambanapasi said the restrictive regulations has an effect
on due process rights protected under Section 56 of the Constitution
of Zimbabwe of which both procedural and substantive due process
requires that one has notice, and one has choices and opportunities,
which have been taken away by Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019 Grain
Marketing (Control of Sale of Maize) Regulations, 2019.

The regulations on grain, Hon. Markham and Rambanapasi said, has the
effect of depriving one of his property and appropriating the same to
the GMB at a price that is already fixed and does not make economic
sense.

Hon. Markham and Rambanapasi want Statutory Instrument 145 of 2019
Grain Marketing (Control of Sale of Maize) Regulations, 2019 to be
declared as ultra vires the Constitution in particular Section 56, 58,
64 and 71 of the Constitution.

The philanthropist and farmer also want Part V and Part VI of the
Grain Marketing Board Act particularly Section 29, 33,34,35 to be
declared ultra vires Section 56, 58, 64 and 71 of the Constitution.

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Mozambique: Eni starts the installation of the hull of Coral Sul FLNG
July 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

Eni has started installation works on the hull of the Coral Sul floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) treatment and liquefaction unit that will be moored offshore in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. The unit is part of the Coral South project, which will put in production 450 billion cubic meters of gas from the giant Coral reservoir. The hull is expected to be launched in 2020, in line with the planned production startup of the Coral South Project in 2022.

The italian company sanctioned its Coral South project in June 2017 and achieved financial close for a total amount of around $4.7 billion for the Coral South FLNG multi-sourced project financing in December 2017.

The Coral Sul FLNG facility will have a gas liquefaction capacity of 3.4 million tons per year when completed and will be the first FLNG vessel ever to be deployed in the deep waters of the African continent. The vessel, which will be 432 metres long and 66 metres wide and weigh about 220,000 tons, will be able to house up to 350 people in its eight-storey accommodation module.

Alongside the LNG infrastructure under construction, the Coral South project also includes a number of initiatives aimed at enhancing the overall capabilities of the local workforce. These include specialized training activities for over 800 Mozambicans, who will eventually be employed during the operational phase of the project.

Eni is planning to anchor a second FLNG vessel using gas from the northern part of the Coral field, which is estimated to hold 16 trillion cubic feet of gas, but FID on that project is not expected until after 2020.

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Zimbabwe scientists use geospatial mapping technology to predict pending disasters
July 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Professor Amon Murwira

Professor Amon Murwira

After Cyclone Idai ravaged southern Africa, killing at least 1,000 people, Zimbabwe’s scientific community is actively using   geospatial mapping technology to better predict future disasters.

The cyclone hit southern African countries including Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

In Zimbabwe, at least 268 people were killed and many are still missing. Local scientists hope that despite lags in scientific advancement, their use of geospatial technology and space technology will allow them to foresee climate-induced risks and disasters.

Amon Murwira, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development, confirmed the country’s use of science and technology to guard Zimbabwe from climate shocks.

This includes the use of High Performance Computing (HPC), geospatial and space technology. Murwira said that local scientists were conducting Cyclone Idai impact assessments using color-coded geospatial and space technology.

“Zimbabwe is suffering from climate shocks such as drought, floods and disease outbreaks, we can guard Zimbabwe from these shocks in future using science and technology,” professor Murwira said.

In cyclone-hit areas like Ngangu, a suburb in Chimanimani, Professor Murwira said that scientists were already using data analysis. The government-sponsored scientists were also trying to  help locate and retrieve  several corpses which were buried underground during the devastating cyclone.

The scientists are modeling areas anticipated to be high-risk using geospatial mapping to help them prepare for future disasters.

Professor Murwira said that scientists in cyclone-hit areas were starting to predict future malaria outbreaks and mapping vegetation density using the same geo-spatial and space technology.

 

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Video reveals violent methods used by Government Forces to combat extremist attacks in northern Mozambique
July 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

A video that is circulating on social networks shows elements dressed with the uniform of the Defense Forces of Mozambique, FADM, torturing a supposed civilian, in the scope of the fight against the extremist attacks that since October of 2017 terrorize the province of Cabo Delgado, in the extreme north of Mozambique.

In the images, it is possible to see the soldiers whipping the victim supposedly because he did not give a satisfactory answer when asked about what he was doing in the vicinity of that military position. One of the uniformed men suggested that the victim should be shot while another was searching for water, probably for the practice of torture known as water boarding.

The video was picked up by one of the FADM military on one of the patrol rounds against the extremist attackers and that, in fact, it is their modus operandis, according to local reports. There are also reports of kidnappings of merchants in the areas of the attacks allegedly because they are believed to be feeding the attackers.

In late 2018, human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and summary executions of dozens of individuals suspected of belonging to armed groups.

The situation prompted divergent comments on social networks with one wing condemning the use of aggressive methods by the FADM while another encouraged by the argument that the attackers have also been barbaric in their incursions that have already resulted in the murder of more than 200 people, mostly civilians, as well as the burning of dwellings, the ambush of vehicles, the plunder of public and private property.

Recently, the Mozambican president, Filipe Nyusi, classified the attacks as <acts of terrorism> and ensured that the Defense and Security Forces will continue on the ground to fight, without respite, and will not rest until peace is restored.

The attacks occur near one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves located in the deep waters of the Rovuma basin, which covers the northern Mozambican-Tanzania border.

Several oil giants, notably Italy’s ENI and the US-based Anadarko and ExxonMobil, are preparing to extract natural gas in a process that will cause the country’s economy to grow sharply.

The National Petroleum Institute of Mozambique admits being worried about the violence considering that the situation should be controlled “as soon as possible” to facilitate the development of the projects.

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Ebola outbreak declared global emergency
July 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

The World Health Organization, WHO has declared Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo a “public health emergency of international concern”.

The outbreak which has killed more than 1,600 people in the DRC alone has devastated West Africa since the outbreak in 2016.

But the WHO stopped short of saying borders should be closed, saying the risk of the disease spreading outside the region was not high.

“It is time for the world to take notice,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news conference in Geneva on Wednesday at which the emergency was declared.

He said he accepted recommendations there should be no restrictions on travel or trade, and no entry screening of passengers at ports or airports outside the immediate region.

Reacting to the declaration, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said they welcomed the move.

“While it does not change the reality on the ground for victims or partners engaged in the response, we hope it will bring the international attention that this crisis deserves,” it said in a statement.

The outbreak in the DRC, is the second largest in history with more than 2,500 people infected and two-thirds of them declared died.

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EU earmarks €30 million for a cross-regional wildlife conservation programme in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean
July 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The European Union (EU) has launched  three projects under the EU 11th EDF Cross-Regional Wildlife Conservation programme in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean, according Timo Olkkonen, Ambassador, Head of EU Delegation to Zimbabwe.

According to Olkkonen, the three initiatives the EU is currently implementing in Zimbabwe are to protect and promote the country’s marvellous biodiversity endowment.

“Indeed Zimbabwe’s natural riches are not only something for the Zimbabweans themselves to cherish, but they form part of a world heritage. It is something truly worth protecting,” he said.

He also highlighted on the conclusions of the latest UN Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services assessment report, in which researchers report that 1 million species are threatened with extinction and global biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented speed and that 75% of the earth’s land surface has been significantly altered.

“Pressure from human population growth is creating more demand for energy and resources,” Olkkonen said.

He added that the EU is putting a lot of effort in promoting a culture of sustainable development with particular focus on climate and environment action at every level, be it global, regional, national and local.

According to the Ambassador, the EU has had a leading role in the global efforts to tackle climate change and the recent European Parliament elections testified that Europeans want further serious action in this field.

At global level the European Commission launched in November 2015 the study “Larger than Elephants: Inputs for an EU Strategic Approach to Wildlife Conservation in Africa” as part of the EU’s flagship initiative Biodiversity for Life which promotes coherence and coordination of EU actions in the area of biodiversity and ecosystems

The Larger than Elephants approach addresses the illegal trade in wildlife and reviews strategies for stopping the killing, the trafficking and the demand for wildlife products.

The dominant theme is that in order to exploit economies of scale, hence enhance wildlife conservation efficiency, Africa needs to focus on regional conservation strategies.

The Ambassador highlighted the importance of transfrontier conservation areas, a well-developed model embraced by SADC, through signed Protocols on Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement among bordering countries, which promotes transboundary collaboration in the management of the shared biodiversity, including ecosystems, river basins and watersheds.

He said that another EU policy worthwhile to mention is the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, adopted in 2016, which spells out priority activities to halt the impact of wildlife crime on ecosystems and on economies affected directly or indirectly by the increase in wildlife crime.

“I want to assure you that these two global EU policies in the wildlife sector are supported by a significant amount of funding,” he said.

He added that the EU had taken action to support biodiversity conservation, both within local boundaries and internationally, with the commitment of more than €500 million in Africa over the past 30 years.

It is reported that the current portfolio of on-going projects amounts to approximately €160 million and during 2014-2020 the EU had invested €710 million in wildlife conservation across Africa. The introduction is over; we are now diving into the meat of the matter.

“The 3 projects launched are just a fraction of the offspring generated by the Cross-Regional Wildlife Conservation (CRWC) programme I mentioned,” he said.

It is reported that elements of transfrontier conservation areas establishment and operation extend from the highest level down to the grassroots at community level, the keystone for the success of any conservation programme.

“Communities are in fact the core beneficiaries of these projects as we believe they play a critical role in the sustainable management of natural resources,” he added.

The EU ambassador said that from their own experience on the ground, supported by a number of reputable studies and research, they can realistically state that communities are the first line of defence against poaching, human wildlife conflict, illegal wildlife trafficking and land degradation.

“We are not reinventing the wheel, we are actually reinforcing what this country audaciously conceived in the ’80 with the CAMPFIRE programme,” he said.

“I also have to say that communities’ critical role in wildlife conservation was vocally expressed by all participating heads of state at the recent Wildlife Economy Summit in Victoria Falls,” he said.

The ambassador said that the objective of the three projects is common such as to enhance community based cross-border cooperation on natural resources management, with a particular attention to wildlife conservation in terms of anti-poaching and human wildlife conflict and illegal wildlife trafficking mitigation.

“However, we cannot take communities’ assistance and loyalty for granted, we need to give them a voice in the decision making process and an incentive to support wildlife conservation as an economically viable and competitive land use option,” he added.

He said that the three  projects represent an effort to specifically empower communities voice their minds, actively participate in the decision making process and build the necessary technical and business management capacity to enable them generate viable and sustainable livelihoods.

 

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