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Sinking island gets livelihood support through funding from the Government of Japan
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Uzman Unis Bah

Yeliboya, the sinking island in the north of Sierra Leone receives livelihood support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR).

The intervention provides fish processing and preservation equipment to the Yeliboya Fishing Community, which is primarily reliant on fishing to meet its social and economic needs, in the Kambia District.

“Our presence here today is made possible by the generosity of the Japanese Government who recognized the needs of Yeliboya community, so I must start by thanking the Government of Japan for providing these funds for us to be able to bring these equipment today,” the country Representative for FAO, Dr Nyabenyi Tito Tipo said.

FAO provided fish landing equipment, fish hygiene and processing equipment, preservation and transportation materials, which included solar freezers and iceboxes. Dr Tipo said, Yeliboya is a place with lots of potentials, but with climate variability and change, the island is adversely impacted, and that prompted FAO to come to the aid of the needy community.

Hon. Minister of MFMR, Hon. Emma Kowa Jalloh expressed gratitude for FAO’s support in complementing the effort of the Ministry and the Government of Sierra Leone in implementing diverse development projects in the country. She thanked the Government of Japan for helping the Ministry through FAO to aid the deprived community.

Hon. Jalloh admonished recipient of the items to handle them with care to help improve their source of revenue; she said the ministry is committed to providing the necessary support and facilitate the required measures to develop the fishing sector of the country.

The Director of Fisheries, Mrs Khadija Jalloh said FAO started with Yeliboya because it is the most vulnerable area, and the impact of climate change is taking a toll on the community; she admonished the people to take good care of the equipment and ensure they use it for the rightful purposes.

The National Project Coordinator, Abdulai Amadu Bangura, said the donation was a means of support to help the deprived community maintain its source of revenue. There are frequent fire incidents in the island that occur due to the use of local kilns (Banda) made with wood to process their  fish products, most of the women have been exposed to smoke while burning woods to process fish, and that is affecting their health, he said.

According to Abdulai, the project targeted women because they are the most disadvantaged in the fishing communities; women are responsible for processing and preserving fish; the donated equipment will enable them to do their work with less burden to get their goods to the market without wastage.

The next step will see the construction  of smoke ovens, known as the FAO- Thiaroye Processing  Technology (FTT), a new technology that would be fitted inside a structure to support women in drying their fish; the FTT structure is smokeless, and it is more improved and easily adaptable, Abdulai Said.

According to the project coordinator, ten FTT units will be constructed on the island to help the women in drying their fish. He stated that this would enable the women to preserve fish and supply the market in Freetown, where they will get the right value for their fish products.

Chief Pa Adeakalie B Bangura of the Yeliboya community thanked FAO and the MFMR for supporting their community; he said Yeliboya was open to receiving more support from government and its donor partners. He encouraged the men to believe that even though the donation targeted women, men should be proud because besides being on the marketing side of fishing sector; women are the backbone for providing food in the homes while the men are off to fish in the sea.

FAO consulted the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in developing the project proposal, which was design to address policy issues in combating Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing activities and the Voluntary Guideline for securing Sustainable Small-Scale fisheries for sustainable fisheries and maritime security.

The Director of Fisheries warned the indigenes of the Yeliboya community to take heed and be ready to evacuate at any time, as it is evident that climate change is taking a toll on the island, and the sea level is swiftly encroaching on the land, and the best way out is to start making alternative plans.

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Supporting Elections Across Africa
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Akua Gyekye*

Helping to build informed and civically engaged communities is central to our work around elections.

Our work in supporting elections across Africa continues to be a priority and we’ve dedicated unprecedented resources to these efforts both locally and globally, with protecting election integrity at the center of this work. This update provides an overview of our ongoing work in reducing misinformation  and removing voter suppression, preventing election interference, supporting civic engagement and increasing transparency in political advertising.

Here’s what you need to know about some of the steps we’re taking:

Combating Misinformation and False News
We’re working hard to fight the spread of misinformation on our services because we know that people want to see accurate information on Facebook and Instagram – and so do we. Our updated policies allow us to remove misinformation which could lead to imminent violence or physical harm, and also remove misinformation which could prevent people from voting, such as false news related to the dates, location, time, and voting methods. Over the past year we’ve expanded our work with independent fact-checking organisations across Africa to review and rate the accuracy of content shared on Facebook and Instagram. We work with organisations such as Dubawa, Africa Check, Pesa Check, AFP, Congo Check and France 24 – all of which are certified by the International Fact Checking Network. The program now covers 18 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and also supports local languages such as Swahili, Wolof, Igbo, Yoruba, Zulu and Setswana.

Boosting Digital Literacy and Helping People Spot False News
We want to make sure people can spot false news and know how to alert us about it. That’s why we continue to run campaigns focused on providing educational tips on how to spot false news like ‘Three Questions To Help Stamp Out False News’ . These campaigns are supported in local languages and run across both local radio and on Facebook. We are also continuing to run education ads focused on hate speech, how it’s defined and actions users can take.

Making Political Ads More Transparent
We believe political discussion and debate should be transparent to every voter, which is why over the past few years we’ve introduced tools that provide more information about political ads on Facebook and Instagram. Since launching our political ads transparency tool in 2019, we’ve expanded this to cover a number of countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. We encourage anybody who wants to run ads about elections or politics to go through a verification process to prove who they are and that they live in the country they are targeting, and in a growing number of countries across Sub-Saharan Africa we have made this process mandatory. We run additional checks to ensure compliance with our policies, and every political ad is labelled with a “paid by” disclaimer so you can see who paid for them. We also store all political ads in our Ads Library  so that everyone can see what ads are running, who saw the ads and how much was spent. These changes mean that political advertising on Facebook and Instagram is now more transparent than other forms of election campaigning such as billboards, newspaper ads, direct mail, leaflets or targeted emails.

Promoting Civic Engagement
Helping to build informed and civically engaged communities is central to our work around elections. For example, in countries like Ghana, Ivory Coast and Guinea we’ve engaged in conversations with civic stakeholders such as the Electoral Commissions and civil society organisations to focus on how Facebook can be a positive tool for civic engagement and the steps they can take to stay safe while using our platforms. We’ve also conducted virtual trainings on ads enforcement and civic engagement with political parties in these same countries. We continue to roll out a number of products and features across Facebook and Instagram, including Election Day reminders at the top of Facebook’s News Feed to encourage people to vote, and Security Megaphones to remind page admins of political groups to further secure their accounts using Two-Factor Authentication . We’ve also trained parties, and candidates on security best practices, and how to avoid common threats online.

Keeping People Safe
Keeping people safe on Facebook and Instagram is always our top priority and this is especially important during elections. Since 2016 we have tripled the size of the teams working on safety and security to more than 35,000 people. We’ve hired more systems engineers, security experts and content reviewers, including native language speakers in Swahili, Amharic, Zulu, Somali, Oromo and Hausa, to name a few examples. We’ve also pioneered the use of artificial intelligence to find and remove harmful content more quickly. Between April and June of this year we removed  over 15 million pieces of graphic and violent content globally, detecting over 99% proactively, before anyone had to report it.

Our efforts to keep people safe also include using different tools to mitigate harmful content from certain accounts and as hate speech evolves. To further limit the spread of potentially inflammatory content, we continue to temporarily demote content in the News Feeds of users in Ethiopia, and other countries across Africa if it comes from those who repeatedly and severely violate our policies, whether or not those repeat violators are located in the country.

As we do in other languages, we’ve also started using our technology to stay ahead of new trends in hate speech in Amharic and Oromo. We identify new forms of potentially violating speech that hasn’t yet been reviewed for possible removal from our platform and demote this content to reduce the risk of it going viral or inciting violence or hatred, taking local context into account.

Our Partnerships with NGOs and Civil Society
Alongside our local experts on the continent, we continue to work on-the-ground with NGOs and civil society across many African countries to enable us to better understand challenges and how we can tackle them more effectively. This work continues to be instrumental, with local partners giving us feedback that we incorporate into our policies and programs.

We’re committed to making Facebook and Instagram places where people feel safe, can access accurate and transparent information and, most importantly, make their voices heard.

*Akua Gyekye is Public Policy Manager, Africa Elections
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The New Note 8 – Infinix Unveils An All-Rounder for Success
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

The new Note 8 was unveiled yesterday and it exudes sleekness and power. The premium online-driven smartphone brand, Infinix, has once again outdone themselves with an excellent all-round smartphone model that is targeted at the mid-to-high end market segment. The new Note 8’s high performance will make it one to watch and for others to envy.

The brand’s new flagship model comes with a high-performance MediaTek Helio G80 processor, the biggest dual front camera screen, 64M Ultra HD 6 cameras and a fast charging, massive 5200mAh battery with super long endurance among others, making it an ultra-sleek, ultra-fast and ultra long-lasting phone.

“We are committed to developing cutting-edge products that will become the industry benchmark, so we are very proud to launch Note 8 in Nairobi. With its looks, power and endurance, the Infinix Note 8 demonstrates Infinix’s capabilities of addressing consumer needs as well as its strength in technical R&D and product innovations. The new Note 8 certainly has all the makings of an elite phone for the elite user, as it has both the appearance and strength to help achieve that successful life we all strive for. This ultra-sleek, ultra-fast and ultra long-lasting phone is not one to be missed.” said Mike Zhang, Kenya Brand Manager of Infinix Mobile.

Excellent all-round performance
The high-performance MediaTek Helio G80 processor with MediaTek HyperEngine Game Technology powering the new Note 8 makes it incredibly fast and ensures that the phone provides a comprehensive strong and smooth all-round performance. This high-performance chipset not only makes it more fluent and more stable, but also delivers an unparallel E-sports experience, where top scores in every game will be a breeze – an ideal choice for game lovers who want an ultra-smooth gaming experience.

MediaTek HyperEngine Game Technology ensures your smartphone always keeps up with you. It features an intelligent resource management engine that ensures sustained performance and longer gameplay Intelligent, dynamic management of CPU, GPU and memory according to active measurements of power, thermal and gameplay factors. Smoother performance in heavy-loading game engines, demanding scenes and intense gameplay. Enhanced power efficiency and connectivity enhancements for even longer and uninterrupted gameplay.

Bringing visual experience to a whole new level
One of the key highlights of the Note 8 is that features the biggest dual front camera screen in industry – a 20.5:9 screen with dual super tiny camera punch hole – allowing the display to wrap around the punch hole and be less of an inconvenience when consuming media.

And to broaden ones horizons even more is the phone’s 6.95″ Dual Infinity-O Display. Its precise cutting ensures that the camera remains clear of any blockages and does not suffer from a degradation of the picture quality.

To complete the users’ audio visual experience, the Note 8 comes with dual speakers surround sound including with DTS and 4 modes that deliver immersive musical experiences for your ears and soul. Allowing users to level up the sound effect to better enjoy the audio experiences while watching their favorite movies or listening to music or gaming.

Making super stable videos easy
To meet the exacting demands of mobile phone users in the 5G era, Infinix has made continuous efforts to improve the camera functions of its smartphones. The new Note 8 comes equipped with a top of the line set of high definition cameras – 64MP Ultra HD 6 Cameras – that will allow users to capture every wonderful moment in life in unbelievable detail, with crystal clear clarity and lifelike beauty.

In today’s world of TikTok and vlogging, there is huge demand to produce professional quality videos while on the go. After intense testing and evaluation by Infinix’s development team, Vidhance’s video enhancement solution was chosen, as it provided top quality video stabilization software. This was successfully implementation in the Note 7 to great reviews.

For uncompromising quality when it comes to video performance and stabilization, the Note 8 will also have leading video-enhancement algorithms from Vidhance®. This will guarantee stability and clarity of videos when using the Note 8.

And should users decide on making a dramatic slow motion video, the phone’s Slow Motion Capture will capture every frame of the action without missing a detail.

Infinix has also found a solution to combat insufficient light situations that has been plaguing users when shooting videos. By spending more than 180 days and nights of unremitting research and development to address this issue, Note 8’s Ultra Night Mode 2.0 can deliver uncompromising results under low light conditions.

Infinix Note 8 with 6GB RAM+128GB ROM, provide three options of Deepsea Luster, Silver Diamond, and Iceland Fantasy, priced at 21,799KES.

Starting from October 21, Note 8 will be available in following channels including JUMIA, Kilimall, Xpark and offline retail stores in Kenya. For more information about Note 8, please visit

About Infinix

Founded in 2013 and targeting the young generations, Infinix Mobile is a premium online-driven smartphone brand. With “THE FUTURE IS NOW” as the brand essence, Infinix aims to allow consumers to stand out in the crowd and to show the world who they really are. Infinix is committed to providing the most cutting-edge technologies, bold and stylish designs, keeping consumers on trend and up-to-date.

Infinix has a presence in more than 40 countries around the world, covering Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

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African Development Bank AgriPitch Competition: $120,000 in prizes on offer during African Youth Agripreneur Forum 3-17 November
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

The AgriPitch competition is open to youth aged 18 to 35 who hold African nationality or citizenship and who submit their application online by 23rd October.

There are just hours to go until the 23 October deadline to enter the African Development Bank’s ( AgriPitch Competition. Selected entries by African youth agripreneurs will be invited to showcase their agribusiness startup plans and compete for a share of $120,000 in funding seed prizes, a slot of the competition’s business development boot camp, an audience of online panel of experts and investors to pitch their agribusiness plans, as well as receive post-event mentoring and training.

The AgriPitch competition is part of the African Development Bank’s fourth African Youth Agripreneurs Forum (AYAF) – one of the continent’s most exciting platforms for African youth in agriculture start-up scene – to be held online for the first time this 3 -17 November, 2020.

“The African Youth Agripreneurs Forum and AgriPitch Competition has always been a high-energy gathering for young entrepreneurs in agriculture to meet, share experiences – and work the room for that next big investment,” said Edson Mpyisi, Coordinator of the Bank’s Enable Youth Program responsible for the event. “The COVID-19 pandemic may keep us from networking in person in 2020, however, the Bank and partners are gearing up to present a dynamic, knowledge-rich Forum online – as well as the most seed funding AgriPitch has ever awarded competitors,” he added.

In collaboration with partners like UN Women, the African Leaders for Nutrition and the Affirmative Finance Action for Women Africa initiative, this year’s AYAF and AgriPitch competition will have two segments:
AYAF webinars held on 3, 10  and 17  November.
The AgriPitch boot camp training from 2 – 13 November, followed by the finalists pitching on 16 and 17 November.
Under the theme Driving sustainable nutrition and gender inclusivity in Africa’s agri-food systems: youth agripreneurs seize the decade, AYAF and AgriPitch 2020 intends to attract hundreds of participants from across the continent including youth agripreneurs and representatives from agribusiness companies, academia, development organizations, financial institutions and government agencies.

“The event highlights how youth agripreneurs address nutrition and gender inclusivity while serving as entrepreneurial leaders within their communities and being involved in the agribusiness sector,” said Bank Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry, Martin Fregene. “AYAF and AgriPitch aims to provide the knowledge, confidence, financing and networking boosts to grow their startups and make a greater impact,” he added.

The general public is invited to register for the webinars, scheduled to draw speakers and presenters from across the development, nutrition, gender and agriculture landscape. The weekly sessions will address three topics:
Policies for sustainable nutrition and gender inclusivity (3 Nov).
Empowering youth and women in agricultural value chains to address nutrition (10 Nov).
Strategic partnerships for Equity in Agriculture: Financing Women, Youth and Nutrition (17 Nov).
The AgriPitch competition is open to youth aged 18 to 35 who hold African nationality or citizenship and who submit their application online by 23rd October.

Competition organizers will select agripreneurs with promising proposals to participate in the AYAF/AgriPitch online training platform. In this ‘business development boot camp’, AgriPitch competitors can attend sessions on product

development, revenue channel identification, logistics, marketing, business management, investment readiness, financing and other issues, led by coaches, mentors and investors.

At the end of the boot camp, selected agripreneurs will pitch their business proposals to a panel of judges.Competition winners will be named in three categories: early start-up, mature start-up and women-empowered businesses.

In addition to receiving seed funding prizes and post-competition mentoring, winners will be invited for the AYAF online DealRoom. The DealRoom connects expansion-ready, youth-led African businesses with global investors (debt, equity and/or grant).

*SOURCE African Development Bank Group (AfDB
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The OPEC Fund and West African Development Bank (BOAD) boost cooperation in Western Africa
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
The agreement focuses on increased engagement and knowledge-sharing between the two institutions and ensures enhanced cooperation in co-financing public and private sector projects.

The OPEC Fund for International Development (the OPEC Fund) and the West African Development Bank (BOAD) have signed a Framework Agreement to further strengthen their development cooperation in the member countries of the Western African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU): Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte-d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.

The agreement focuses on increased engagement and knowledge-sharing between the two institutions and ensures enhanced cooperation in co-financing public and private sector projects, as well as supporting international trade and regional integration. It also enables the OPEC Fund and BOAD to join forces to directly mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on economic activity in the West African countries.

Signing the agreement on behalf of the OPEC Fund, Director-General Dr. Abdulhamid Alkhalifa said: “We are pleased to grow our partnership with BOAD to work together toward our common cause. West African countries have significant potential to increase trade flows and strengthen competitiveness which will drive growth, reduce poverty, and create new jobs in the region. The OPEC Fund’s global expertise, combined with BOAD’s strong regional presence, positions our two institutions well to help the region to weather the impacts of the pandemic and improve its competitiveness within the global economy.”

President Serge Ekué of BOAD commended “the commitment and growing partnership between Africa and the OPEC Fund, which translated into support to BOAD for several decades now, thereby contributing to growth and sustainable development in the WAEMU member countries.” He added that the implementation of this framework agreement will help support the objectives of BOAD’s new strategic plan for 2021-2025, with the “aim of increasing the impact of its operations in terms of development outcomes by funding productive investments and creating jobs for youth and women, while focusing on micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), transport infrastructure and digitalization, agriculture and food security, energy, real estate, health and education.”

The OPEC Fund and BOAD have been collaborating since 1983 and have jointly financed 25 public, private and trade finance projects. The OPEC Fund has also provided three direct loans to BOAD in support of private sector and trade finance projects in WAEMU.

About the West African Development Bank:
The West African Development Bank (BOAD) is the common development finance institution of the member countries of the West African Monetary Union. It is an international public institution that aims to promote the balanced development of its member countries and foster economic integration within West Africa by financing priority development projects. It is accredited to the three climate finance facilities (GEF, AF, GCF). Since 2009, BOAD sits as an observer at the UNFCCC and actively participates in discussions on architecting an international climate finance system. As from January 2013, it has been home to the first Regional Collaboration Centre (RCC) on the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), whose aim is to provide direct support to governments, NGOs and the private sector in the identification and development of CDM projects. Moreover, the Bank is committed to carbon neutrality by 2023 and is an active member of the International Development Finance Club that brings together 24 national, regional and bilateral development banks.

About the OPEC Fund:
The OPEC Fund for International Development (the OPEC Fund) works in cooperation with developing country partners and the international development community to stimulate economic growth and social progress in low- and middle-income countries around the world. The organization was established by the member countries of OPEC in 1976 with a distinct mandate: to drive development, strengthen communities and empower people. The OPEC Fund’s work is people-centered, focusing on financing projects that meet essential needs, such as food, energy, infrastructure, employment (particularly relating to MSMEs), clean water and sanitation, healthcare and education. Our vision is a world where sustainable development is a reality for all.
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Development finance institutions pledge to sustain COVID-19 mitigation, livelihood recovery
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
They discussed how to achieve maximum impact in their relief efforts, and the debt sustainability of beneficiary countries.

Multilateral development finance institutions on Wednesday pledged to continue to collaborate in their efforts to mitigate the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate the recovery of economies and livelihoods.

At an extraordinary virtual meeting to discuss the impact of their responses to the pandemic and the worsening debt situation, the organizations said that sustaining their joint efforts would protect livelihoods, especially among vulnerable populations, preserve macroeconomic stability and promote a stronger private sector role after COVID-19. 

The meeting, chaired by Hajjar Bandar, President of the Islamic Development Bank Group, was attended by the heads of 12 Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs). They discussed how to achieve maximum impact in their relief efforts, and the debt sustainability of beneficiary countries.

Bandar said the collaboration by the MDBs had proven meaningful in their efforts to swiftly provide crucial financial relief to member countries in the wake of the pandemic.

“In the face of this unprecedented crisis, we have shown our responsibility and unity…The total package has already started disbursing and is bearing fruits,” Bandar said.

The joint effort of the MDBs has seen a COVID-19 response envelope of about $230 billion. In addition, the IMF has provided financing to 81 member countries totaling over $100 billion since mid-March, with further room for member countries to tap into its $1 trillion lending capacity through program arrangements.

He urged members to sustain the collaboration to steer financing towards development, help communities out of poverty and spur digitization and promote education. “This forum is where partnerships make a difference. We need to join forces to support our member countries better.”

President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina, said collaboration among development partners has become more vital than ever to help economies recover from the pandemic and attract private financing to rebuild infrastructure.

“We are really…in very extraordinary times. There’s no doubt about it, in terms of the devastation that this pandemic is causing. The challenge is huge and the collective resolve must be strong as MDBs,” he said.

He said efforts must be deepened to help member states mobilize more domestic resources and attract private creditors to participate in financing capital projects.

“It’s time for us to change the paradigm to get the private sector, with incentives, to do a lot of private-public partnerships,” Adesina said, restating the Bank’s commitment to helping Africa rebuild boldly and smartly.

The African Development Bank Group introduced a COVID-19 Response Facility (CRF) of up to $10 billion to support Regional Member Countries and private sector clients in their efforts to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MDBs represented at the meeting include the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Finance Corporation (IFC), International Monetary Fund (IMF), the New Development Bank (NDB), World Bank Group and the African Development Bank.

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Ilara Health Secures $1.1M Grant to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes in Kenya
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

Kenyan healthtech start-up positioned to impact antenatal care in peri-urban areas with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ilara Health, the healthtech company which provides point of care diagnostic testing to small primary care clinics in Kenya, has received a $1.1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The grant will be used to develop effective antenatal care (ANC) interventions and tech based solutions for pregnant women unable to access essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ilara Health, in tandem with the Kisumu Ministry of Health and the Kenya Medical Research Institute, will leverage a network of local primary care facilities, telemedicine, and home-based health worker consultations to ensure safe continuity of life-saving maternal care during the pandemic and beyond.

The grant, which was awarded in September and is expected to reach approximately 4,000 low income pregnant women in peri-urban Kisumu county, will address a significant drop in ANC attendance at large health facilities as concerns for possible COVID-19 transmission grow in these hotspots. Currently less than 3% of women in Kenya complete the World Health Organization recommended eight ante-natal care appointments, which reduces the likelihood of maternal deaths and stillbirths. Maternal mortality in Kenya is already high with 342 maternal deaths per 100,000 recorded in 2017; however, Kisumu County has one of the highest rates of maternal death at 595 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2019. 

Ilara Health and its partners will work to ensure essential ANC (i.e. the battery of tests comprising ANC profile, obstetric ultrasounds, and micro/macronutrient supplementation) is available at small local clinics. The project aims to improve access to diagnostics locally and, through Ilara Health’s technology platform and diagnostic tools, the team will reach pregnant women at their local clinics, individual homes, or remotely — collectively providing safe, COVID-free, high-quality care to both mother and baby. Additionally, through its partnership with Butterfly Network, the company behind the telemedicine-enabled Butterfly iQ, a separate set of small facilities without in-house sonographers will be linked to imaging specialists so scans that are carried out locally can be read and diagnosed remotely in real time, so patients receive immediate feedback. If successful, this feature will be rolled out across the larger project to improve the availability of ultrasounds across peri-urban areas. The project also aims to drive community awareness on the importance of ANC services and ANC attendance in improving maternal and neonatal health outcomes for longer-term improvement in care. 

Commenting on the grant, Emilian Popa, CEO and Co-founder of Ilara Health says “We are incredibly excited to receive support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to improve Kenya’s maternal health outcomes and promote Ilara Health’s core mission of improving access to diagnostics countrywide. This grant underscores the acute need for the continuation of essential ANC services during the COVID-19 pandemic; we hope to see a great reduction in poor maternal and neonatal health outcomes through its implementation in these low-resource peri-urban areas.”

About Ilara Health

Since 2019, Ilara Health has partnered with more than 120 clinics, enabling access to life-saving point of care diagnostic tools to thousands of patients across Kenya. Its innovative underlying technology seamlessly integrates these diagnostic tools into easy to manage tablets and mobile phones that require minimal training to operate.

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Merck Foundation partners with Burundi First Lady to build healthcare capacity, empower girls in education and break the infertility stigma
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother during her meeting with H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother during her meeting with H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother

The First Lady of Burundi was also appointed as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother during the meeting.

Merck Foundation , the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany partnered with The First Lady of Burundi, H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, during a high-level meeting held between Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Burundi First Lady. During the meeting, Merck Foundation underscored their long-term commitment to continue their efforts to build healthcare capacity, empower girls in education and break the infertility stigma in Burundi. The First Lady of Burundi was also appointed as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother during the meeting.

H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother expressed, “I am very happy to partner with Merck Foundation and excited to capitalize on their valuable programs in our country. These programs will create a very significant impact on our people’s advancement, as health is very critical to our social and economic development. As the Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother, I will work closely with Merck Foundation to sensitize our communities to better understand infertility and empower women through access to education, information, health and change of mindset and also empower our girls through education”.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother emphasized, “I am very proud of our partnership with Burundi First Lady and welcome her as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother and new member of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative-MFFLI . We have discussed our long-term collaboration and partnership with her Foundation and Ministry of Health & Ministry of Education to build healthcare capacity in Burundi, by providing training to doctors in the fields of Cancer, Fertility, and Diabetes care. With the outbreak of the global pandemic, building healthcare capacity is more significant than ever, and through our long-term partnership we are looking forward to creating a strong medical army in Burundi.

The Burundi First Lady had also attended Merck Foundation’s first Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI) VC Summit held last month, which was attended by a total of 13 African First Ladies and introduced her development programs in Burundi”.

Merck Foundation has conducted their capacity building programs in Burundi for the past three years through their partnership with Burundi government and Former First Lady of Burundi, H.E. MADAM DENISE NKURUNZIZA 

Merck Foundation has provided specialty training to more than 31 doctors from Burundi and will continue doing so for the next 10 years plan.

Merck Foundation made history by providing training to the first oncologist and fertility specialists and embryologists in Burundi.

So far 10 doctors have completed the fertility and embryology training, and together with Burundi First Lady, more doctors will be trained to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care in the country.

Merck Foundation has also trained the first Oncologist in Burundi and will continue enrolling doctors for oncology fellowship program as a contribution to improve cancer care in the country.

Moreover, Merck Foundation has provided Diabetes care training to twenty doctors and is going to train more doctors, one from each province. After completion of the training, these doctors should be able to establish a diabetes clinic in his/her Health Centre or Hospital with the aim to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities.  

“We will continue our new important Program “Educating Linda”, in partnership with the First Lady of Burundi together with the Ministry of Education. Under this program, we have sponsored 20 girls in 2019 and will sponsor the education of 20 best performing girls in their secondary schools this year and fir the next 10 years. We strongly believe that Education is one of the most critical areas of women empowerment”, added Dr. Rasha Kelej, One of 100 Most Influential Africans (2019, 2020).

Merck Foundation also announced a winner from Burundi for their “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards from French speaking African Countries.

About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign:
“Merck More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe, effective and equitable fertility care solutions. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.

With “Merck More Than a Mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility at all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.

The Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” are:
H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana
H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia
H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia

The First Lady of Burundi
H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana
H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic
H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry
H.E. AISHA BUHARI, The First Lady of Nigeria
H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad
H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Liberia
H.E FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone
H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville
H.E. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of Malawi
H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia
H.E. DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, THE First Lady of Democratic Republic of Congo
H.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique
H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe
Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck More than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as;
‘Merck More than a Mother’ Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training
‘Merck More than a Mother’ Fashion Awards
‘Merck More than a Mother’ Film Awards
Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
Children storybook, localized for each country
About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation , established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation

*SOURCE Merck Foundation
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Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, at a media briefing in Khartoum, Sudan: “There is an urgent need for justice in Sudan; sustainable peace and reconciliation are built on the stabilizing pillar of justice”
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda meets with Sudanese leadership, senior government and judicial officials in Khartoum

The victims in Darfur have waited far too long to have justice

 Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for being here today at this media briefing. I am grateful for this opportunity to reach out, through you, to the people of Sudan.

My name is Fatou Bensouda, and I am Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”) .

The victims in Darfur have waited far too long to have justice. Through this historic visit, we hope to mark a new era of cooperation between my Office and Sudan towards greater accountability for atrocity crimes. The ICC was established as an independent and impartial international court to deal with atrocity crimes, namely: war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression.

My role as Prosecutor is to bring to justice those responsible for atrocity crimes, and by doing so, to seek accountability and hope to prevent future crimes.

The ICC is at the heart of what we call the Rome Statute system of international criminal justice. The ICC is a court of last resort. This means that national justice systems have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute individuals who commit such crimes. If this does not happen, then the ICC is there as a fail-safe judicial mechanism.

In this way, my Office conducts investigations and prosecutions into atrocity crimes around the world. Politics do not influence any of my independent and impartial decisions. All my actions are based on the law – the Rome Statute of the ICC – and the objective evidence collected by my investigators. I will go wherever the law provides me with the power to go and follow the evidence wherever it leads me in the pursuit of justice for the victims. Thus, the goal of the ICC is to contribute to ending impunity – in other words, to make sure that no one, irrespective of status or rank, can avoid accountability for atrocity crimes, no matter how long it may take.

This is how international justice can contribute to protecting future generations from the scourge of lawless wars and conflict, and prevent human suffering.

My Office has been investigating the Situation in Darfur, Sudan since 2005, when the United Nations Security Council through Resolution 1593 (2005), triggered our jurisdiction by referring the situation to the Prosecutor of the ICC.

Much has happened since then. As we continue our investigations today, it is important for our work at the ICC, and especially the affected communities of Darfur, that the Sudanese authorities extend their full, sustained and tangible cooperation to my Office.

In Khartoum this week, I have engaged in productive meetings with the highest officials of the Government of Sudan and other important stakeholders. My programme included notably, meetings with H.E. Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok ; H.E. Mr Omer Gamaruddeen Ismail, Minister of Foreign Affairs ; H.E. Mr Nasredeen Abdelbari, Minister of Justice; and Prosecutor General of Sudan, Mr Tag el-Sir el-Hibir , and representatives of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, Lt. General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan  and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo as well as and Mr Mohamed Hassan Altaishi .

I also held fruitful discussions with representatives of civil society organisations, international bodies, and diplomatic corps in Khartoum . Through you, the media, I am pleased to also address the public and affected communities.

These meetings have enabled me and my team to explain ICC proceedings, and the status of our cases in connection with the Situation in Darfur, Sudan and to chart a course for effective cooperation to bring the suspects against whom ICC warrants have already been issued to justice.

My meetings with the authorities have laid the foundation for cooperation between the ICC and the Sudanese national authorities.

This first historic visit to Khartoum after more than a decade provided an opportunity for Sudan’s Transitional Government to demonstrate its commitment to justice, accountability and the rule of law.

I am encouraged by the frank, open and constructive exchanges we have had. I particularly welcome the assurances of support and cooperation expressed to me by the authorities during this visit, including from H.E. Prime Minister Hamdok, committing Sudan to achieve justice for atrocity crimes, and to fully collaborate with my Office for this purpose .

We must now follow through and build on the promising discussions of this past week with concrete action. A Memorandum of Understanding on the modalities of cooperation, technical visits, and immediate access to Sudan by our investigators, amongst other action points were discussed, and we look forward to making timely progress on all of these items.

We count on Sudan’s tangible and timely cooperation as well as continued constructive engagement with my Office.

We stand ready to assist Sudan towards the goal of achieving accountability for atrocity crimes committed in Darfur.

I want to seize this opportunity to assure the people of Darfur that my Office continues to work hard on the Darfur situation. I solemnly call upon all affected Darfuri communities and those who have dedicated themselves to the cause of these communities, to come forward and contact my Office with the accounts of their sufferings, with the stories of what they have witnessed and what they have endured. With their evidence, we can contribute to bringing the long awaited justice to the victims in Darfur. My Office, together with colleagues in the Registry of the Court will soon embark on outreach activities to further explain the work of the ICC and its processes.

I wish to also add that I welcome the Juba Peace Agreement, officially signed on the 3rd of October 2020 between the Sovereignty Council and the Sudan Revolutionary Front and other movements, with a view to bring justice to the victims of atrocities that have occurred in Darfur and to build sustainable peace in Sudan. I also welcome the importance the Peace Agreement affords to the ICC, and the emphasis placed on cooperation between Sudan and the Court in relation to the five ICC suspects.  I am encouraged by the assurances given by the authorities that full effect will be given to these references, and that justice will play a central role in Sudan’s transition and the particular importance of the ICC in this ongoing process.

The focus of my investigation is on crimes allegedly committed by these five ICC suspects between 2003 and 2004, 2007, and as far as Mr Al Bashir is concerned up to 2008.

In June of this year, the alleged militia leader, Mr Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman aka Ali Kushayb was transferred to the Court following his voluntary surrender. The ICC has outstanding arrest warrants against Messrs Omar Al Bashir, Ahmad Harun, Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, and Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain. These suspects are still wanted for the atrocity crimes listed in their ICC warrants of arrest. They must all face justice without further delay. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with the Sudanese authorities to ensure we make progress on these cases with full respect for our respective roles and mandates and the principle of complementarity.

The opportunity to prosecute other alleged suspects in the Darfur situation at the national level is possible through the Darfur Special Court, as provided for in the Juba Peace Agreement. This would be a positive step in terms of burden-sharing between the ICC and the Sudanese courts.

Now that the channels of communication are open and a spirit of cooperation guides our discussions with the Sudanese authorities, we are open to exploring the possibilities in full compliance with our obligations under the Rome Statute, and guided by our unflinching commitment to achieving justice for the victims in Darfur.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the Sudanese people, the Government of Sudan and other stakeholders for the warm welcome extended to me and my delegation during this visit. I am also grateful for the logistical support and the security arrangements put in place in connection with this visit.

Fighting against impunity for the atrocity crimes committed against the people of Darfur is a joint responsibility. There is an urgent need for justice in Sudan. Sustainable peace and reconciliation are built on the stabilizing pillar of justice.

I thank you for your attention. I look forward to answering your questions and to address any comments you may have.

The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial preliminary examinations, investigations and prosecutions of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Since 2003, the Office has been conducting investigations in multiple situations within the ICC’s jurisdiction, namely in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic (two distinct situations); Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire; Mali; Georgia, Burundi Bangladesh/Myanmar and Afghanistan (subject to a pending article 18 deferral request). The Office is also currently conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Bolivia; Colombia; Guinea; Iraq/UK; the Philippines; Nigeria; Ukraine; and Venezuela (I and II), while the situation in Palestine is pending a judicial ruling.

For further details on “preliminary examinations” and “situations and cases” before the Court, click here , and here .

*SOURCE International Criminal Court (ICC)
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How to Build a More Civilized Society, One Interaction at a Time
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

San Francisco, CA, October 21, 2020 — Is civility a lost art? Now more than ever, a refresher course on basic social graces seems abundantly needed. According to former political appointee, speaker and author Shelby Scarbrough, the core values of civility are trust, respect, courtesy, dignity, honor and humility. Scarbrough began her career in the White House Office of Presidential Advance, then became a protocol officer at the U.S. Department of State. Her latest book, Civility Rules!: Creating A Purposeful Practice Of Civility,shares how every citizen can embody these values to help build a more civilized society.  

“While our civilization continues to advance, our capacity to live civilly―to appreciate our common humanity with empathy and humility―ironically dwindles daily,” Scarbrough says. “Even as we become more technologically connected, many of us feel increasingly disconnected and disengaged from each other.”

Scarbrough’s experiences in both public service and the private sector have given her a unique insight into the practices that lead to positive relationships and productive communication between individuals, countries and societies. Civility Rules! gives readers an opportunity to learn about the history, substance and significance of civility through the lens of George Washington’s “Rules of Civility,” a collection of 110 maxims that helped shape our country’s first president.

Scarbrough also draws upon personal experiences, real-life examples and a foundational belief that civility is integral to a democratic society; every citizen can make a difference by building a personal practice of civility. 

“Civility is not an archaic concept of manners and politeness but rather a crucial component of a functioning democracy,” she emphasizes.

Scarbrough shows us how―with conscientious practice and patience―we can each contribute to the preservation of our democracy, one interaction at a time.

Throughout her career, Scarbrough worked with such notable figures as Pope John Paul II; Presidents Reagan, Bush, Ford, Carter and Nixon; President Lech Walesa of Poland; Queen Elizabeth and members of the Royal Family; Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; and President Nelson Mandela of South Africa. As a member of Pres. Ronald Reagan’s advance team, she helped coordinate such landmark events as the Reagan-Gorbachev Moscow Summit, and was asked to serve as Deputy Lead in Washington, D.C., for President Reagan’s funeral. In 1990, Scarbrough founded Practical Protocol, LLC, a consulting and event-management firm that provides solutions for individuals, corporations and government clients in need of national and international diplomatic and business protocol services. 

She now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is an international speaker, entrepreneur and writer. For more information, please visit

Civility Rules! Creating A Purposeful Practice Of Civility 

Publisher: Forbes Books

Release Date: November 17, 2020 

ISBN-10: 1950863409 

ISBN-13: 978-1950863402 

Currently available for presale on

Read More expresses solidarity with Nigeria’s #EndSARS movement while condemning the injustices being meted on Nigerian nationals
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

Lagos, Nigeria — In the past week, the world has witnessed senseless brutality against human rights champions and Nigerian citizens at large who have been calling for the disbandment of the crack police unit under the banner of #EndSARS. This crack police unit has been at the centre of extra-judicial killings and many other human rights abuses.

Landry Ninteretse, the Africa Team Leader of said,

“As an organization that firmly believes in social justice we strongly condemn the police brutality and human rights violations happening in Nigeria, taking away innocent lives. It is unacceptable that the same citizens that have been brutalised by the security forces and are calling to an end to these injustices are facing repression and abuse from the same government that swore to uphold their human rights.

As a global community, we stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to swiftly bring an end to police brutality and the disregard of basic rights, a first step towards ensuring safety and real social justice for all Nigerian citizens. We too say #EndSARS!”

Yesterday, security forces in Nigeria opened fire on peaceful protesters in Lekki, Lagos killing at least 20 people. This latest incident demonstrates the intolerance of the Nigerian government as well as its inability to amicably resolve the police brutality concerns that have been raised by its citizens.

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Sierra Leone: Concerned Students appeal to FBC administration to slate date for Student Union Elections
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Concerned students Rep Mohamed Sesay holding mega phone during Tuesday's press conference on campus
Concerned students Rep Mohamed Sesay holding mega phone during Tuesday’s press conference on campus

A group of concerned students at Sub- Saharan Africa’s Oldest University, Fourah Bay College has in a press briefing held on Tuesday 20th October      appealed to the University authorities to slate a date for the next Student Union elections (SU) as the Bona led government comes to an end.

Speaking during the short presser on FBC Campus, representative of the concerned students, Mohamed Sesay, said the current student Union government of President Augustine Diction Bona’s term was coming to an end and thus the reason they as concerned student are appealing to the university administration to slate a date for an election as the academic year wraps up.

“It is clearly stated in the Student Union constitution that every sitting president and his cabinet minister’s tenure is for an academic year hadn’t been for the corona virus this academic year wouldn’t have been up till now. However, now that we are back, and constitutionally now that his time elapses on 31st October 2020, it was expected by the general student’s populace that, before now, a date telling student’s about elections preparation, about sending in their application on various position that should be contested for; should have been out but we have not seen anything of such,’’ he said.

He said that last week they dropped letters to the current student Union government, the deputy vice chancellor and the warden of students reminding the college administration and those concerned about the announcement of a date for SUG elections on FBC campus adding that they didn’t signed the letter because it is the modus operandi for they the concerned students are in their thousands and cannot get all those signatures.

“Get us an election date after the 31st October, 2020 as the Augustine Diction Bona led executive time elapses. It would only be a sided something if the University refuses to listened to us because I believe the administration is not here to side certain set of student’s but instead to serve in the interest of the general students at Fourah Bay College,’’ Sesay urged.

The Concerned Student’s Rep added they will continue to engage with the university administration and authorities including student’s on the announcement of the next student union elections date and therefore called on the general student’s populace to be peaceful and law abiding as they continue to engaged with the college administration.

Director of Media Alumni and International Relations in the University of Sierra Leone, Dr. Tonya Musa said they as administration were disappointed with the students holding of the press conference, referring to it as unlawful adding that they issued out public notices informing them about their position regarding any form of gathering especially in a state of emergency.

 “Based on that, the public notice was to informed that any one that is going to do contrary to the notice he or she will be brought to book and therefore as an administration condemned this act, we frowned at it and we want everybody to know that all those that have been identified are going to be interrogated and thereafter if possible they will be penalised according to the rules and regulations of the university,’’ he said.

He said there are procedures and processes for expression of concerns, adding that they are of the view that student’s union governments whether the tenure has come to an end or otherwise there is way to communicate that professionally to the college authorities.  

“The office of the warden is a point of call, and such communication must be done in writing and they can even copy the deputy registrar and they may wait for the response of the administration. It is not a matter of organizing a press conference.  we are aware of the facts that there must be social distancing. we are aware of the principle and prescriptions of NACOVERC to prevent the transmission of covid -19, ‘’Dr. Tonya Musa, said, adding that as an administration they are mindful of security, thus the reason they wanted the students to understand that there are structures in place where they can channel their concerns where and whenever possible. The University administrator went on to say that they do not think it was wise enough for students to have gathered as it undermined the security, and peace of the university thus thanking the security personnel for their professional intervention.

“The university will see the possibility and visibility to even talk about electioneering process. These are part of the things administration we will look at; cognizant of the health implication, the security implication, implication on peace on campus before the college announces student union elections,’’ Dr. Musa added.

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