By: Bernard Rono for unhcr.org
Dadaab, Kenya – Susan James is working on a document. Close by, Abdifatah is adding up figures on a spreadsheet, while Ikrah sketches a house on a notepad. Welcome to Friends Primary School in Ifo, Dadaab Refugee Camp. This is where students learn computer skills.
With electricity in short supply, the prospect of learners embracing information technology is difficult, if not impossible. But thanks to the Italian energy and gas company ENI, headquartered in Rome, the school now has solar panels. The panels provide lighting in classrooms and power the computers.
Through AVSI, an international Non-Governmental Organization operating in Dadaab, the Ministry of Energy and the County Government of Garissa where Dadaaab is located, Eni has installed solar lighting in 11 schools. As part of this Public Private Partnership, Friends Primary School received 10 desktop computers too.
The solar power project was conceived after a lecture to the children of Dadaab, as part of the Vodafone Foundation’s Instant Network Schools, by the CEO Claudio Descalzi. Access to renewable energy and a crossover tool to support education was identified as one of the priorities in the camps.
‘Learners are now very motivated to come to school and this in turn has led to improved performance and results. Before the solar project, the school was ranked second last out of 18 schools, but the recent performance placed us at position 4,’ says Mr. Atem Pete, the Headmaster of Friends Primary School.
Published by AllAfrica.com
They say desperate times call for desperate measures and for farmers in northern Uganda grappling with climate change, intercropping rice with bananas has helped a great deal, writes Tobbias Jolly Owiny.
Growing banana in rice fields and vice versa would probably have been dismissed as "unthinkable" by traditional farmers, but farmers who have dared to experiment with it only sing praises.
The government through ministry of agriculture has rallied farmers to embrace conservation farming that is already widely being practiced in some neighbouring countries such as Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. They are growing banana, rice and coffee plants on the same soil to prepare for the new climate in the long term, and to grow the economy in the short term.
Michael Opiyo, a resident of Aputi cell, Kochgoma Sub County, Nwoya District is one of the farmers experimenting with growing rice alongside bananas.
"I have 10 acres of bananas that I have intercropped with both rice and coffee. I do not regret this decision I am just grateful for the training I got from AVSI initiative," Opiyo says.
BY NDYAMUHAKI EMANZI for www.kawowo.com
With the 2017 National Basketball League season looming, women’s side A1 Challenge took time off their training schedule to expand their schools outreach program over the weekend.
The A1 Outreach program is designed to inspire the Girl Child to enhance a better life, education, a life of empowerment and embrace achieving their dreams and becoming role models within their communities and societies.
A1 Challenge teamed up with Non-Governmental Organization AVSI, Uganda through their SKY program to work towards development that is sustainable and capable of responding to the needs of the youth; a project they shared at Gayaza Girls School using basketball as a vehicle of communication and under the theme “Basketball Meets Agribusiness.”
Skilling Youth for Employment in Agribusiness (SKY) is a 5 year project being implemented by AVSI Foundation in Uganda under the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands and AVSI Foundation.
BY GABRIELE ERBA for www.ponabana.com
Between July 2016 and February 2017, inter-communal conflicts led to the displacement of 120,000 people to the town of Kalemie in the province of Tanganyika. Meanwhile, clashes between a local militia and the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) forced more than 216,000 people to flee their villages in Kasai Oriental.
Now, some families displaced from Kasai have started returning thanks to the relative calm prevailing in their home villages. However, families from Tanganyga see no possibility of an imminent return.
In response to this humanitarian crisis, UNICEF and its partners Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and AVSI carried out, at the beginning of March 2017, an evaluation mission of the situation and registration of the displaced and returned populations. The aim was to identify a response adapted to the needs of families affected by the conflicts. Hence they covered the towns of Moni, Kalunga, Kankomba and Kalemie (Tanganyika) and Kabeya-Kamwanga in Kasai Oriental.
This mission is part of the Alternative Response for Communities in Crisis (ARCC) programme.
Intervention of the Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See at the Brussels Conference on Syria
Published by press.vatican.va
The Conference “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” began in Brussels yesterday, co-chaired by the European Union, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Nations. It will also be attended by ministerial level representatives of seventy delegations, and representatives of international organizations and civil society.
The following is the intervention of His Excellency Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See, given yesterday during the concluding day of the conference.
Intervention of His Excellency Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher
The Holy See is pleased to participate in the “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” Conference with its twofold aim: to reconfirm the humanitarian commitments that the international community made in London last year, and to look at the best ways to support a lasting political solution to the Syrian crisis, that is inclusive and Syrian-led. While the crisis has entered, regrettably and painfully, into its seventh year, the Holy See remains deeply concerned about the tremendous human suffering, affecting millions of innocent children and other civilians who remain deprived of essential humanitarian aid, medical facilities and education, and urges that international humanitarian law be fully respected, particularly with regard to the protection of civilian populations, guaranteeing them access to necessary medical assistance. Furthermore, the Holy See also expresses its concern for the conditions and treatment of prisoners and detainees.
In his address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, on 9 January last, His Holiness Pope Francis appealed to the international community “to make every effort to encourage serious negotiations for an end to the conflict, which is causing a genuine human catastrophe. Each of the parties must give priority to international humanitarian law, and guarantee the protection of civilians and needed humanitarian aid for the populace”.
The Holy See invites all parties to the Syrian conflict to spare no effort to end the seemingly endless cycle of violence, to restore that sense of solidarity that is the basis of social cohesion and peaceful coexistence. As Pope Francis has stated: “Peace triumphs through solidarity. It generates the desire for dialogue and cooperation which finds an essential instrument in diplomacy”.
The Holy See warmly welcomes the emphasis on providing humanitarian assistance and the efforts to sustain the ceasefire and the political solution to the crisis at this pledging conference and joins its voice to the appeals for increased funding to help the internally displaced persons, the refugees and impacted-host communities in the neighbouring countries. On this occasion, I wish to reassure that the Catholic Church remains committed to continue its humanitarian assistance in the coming year.
In 2016, the Holy See and the Catholic Church, through its network of charitable agencies, contributed to providing USD 200 million of humanitarian assistance of direct benefit to more than 4.6 million people in Syria and the region. In distributing aid, Catholic agencies and entities make no distinction regarding the religious or ethnic identity of those requiring assistance, and seek always to give priority to the most vulnerable and to those most in need. This approach was demonstrated also through the opening in January of a Caritas point in the Muslim area of East Aleppo and the “Open hospitals” project that seeks to open the Catholic hospitals in Aleppo and Damascus and render them fully operative for the needs of the local populations, especially the poor and disadvantaged.
Of deep concern remains the vulnerable situation of Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, who suffer disproportionately the effects of war and social upheaval in the region, to such an extent that their very presence and existence are gravely threatened. As His Holiness Pope Francis has repeatedly recalled, their continued presence can enable them to fulfil their historic and essential role of contributing to the social cohesion of those societies, which will be of vital importance for the future of the entire region.
Published by reliefweb.int
OCHA STARTS EIGHT-DAY MISSION IN TSHIKAPA
The mission aims to assess the needs of those who have been affected bythe violence that has ravaged the area in the past few months. This is the first of three missions planned in Kasai, Kasai Central and Kasai Oriental aimed at mapping out a suitable response to the needs of those displaced.
OVER 80 TONS OF FOOD DISTRIBUTED TO 46 PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN ITURI
From 15 to 28 February, International NGO Samaritan’s Purse provided the food assistance to 23,000 students and school personnel as part of an emergency school canteen supported by the World Food Programme. Close to 160 tons were also provided to some 11,000 displaced people during the last two weeks of February. Those displaced had arrived from the areas of KomandaMambasa and Tchabi-Boga where nearly 90,000 IDPs are hosted since 2014 consecutively to ADF activities in North Kivu. In Irumu and Mambasa territories, clashes between armed groups and FARDC continue to negatively impact the protection environment and the work of humanitarian actors.
URGENT NEED TO TREAT MALNUTRITION IN HAUT LOMAMI
Since the beginning of 2017, there is a lack of nutritional products in several nutritional centers in Malemba-Nkulu, according to a recent mission. An average of some 520 children under 5 years old suffering from severe acute malnutrition are admitted in the ambulatory therapeutic nutrition unit of Malemba since January. Since December 2016, when international NGO ADRA ceased its activities in the area, no other actor has taken over to treat children suffering from malnutrition. In February 2017, 5 children died of malnutrition.
ESCALATION OF THE LAND CONFLICT OPPOSING TWO COMMUNITIES IN ITURI
This conflict that is taking place some 140 km north of Bunia broke out on 19 March. 550 houses and two schools have been burnt down in Lodjo and Tchulu. On 23 March, the Land Commission in Ituri noted that the estimated 5,000 habitants of Lodjo and Tchulu have fled to neighboring villages. The Governor of Ituri is due to visit the villages where IDPs are currently hosted .
WATER, SANITATION AND FOOD ASSISTANCE FOR 32,000 IDPS IN NORTH KIVU
In Mweso, humanitarian actors have installed emergency latrines, hygiene material in three public sites targeting some 15,000 IDPs. They are also conducting awareness sessions on the importance of hygiene. The displaced, who are lving with host families arrived in Mweso on 16 March from the “JTN” IDP site following clashes between FARDC and FDLR/FOCA. In Nyanzale, Caritas is due to deliver food to some 17,000 IDPs who have reached the area in successive waves since September 2016 following violence and insecurity.
CONCERNS ON THE FATE OF MINORS IN SOUTH KIVU AND MANIEMA
While there have been reports that the Congolese army recently escorted 10 children formerly enrolled in an armed group to NGO AVREO in Shabunda Territory, child protection experts remain concerned for the sake of many others who are allegedly on the front lines. AVREO is actively trying to reunite these children with their families. INGO AVSI and the Rapid Response to Movement of Population recently undertook an assessment of the protection needs of children separated from their families in Fizi (South Kivu) and Kabambare (Maniema) noting that they are particularly vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation.
THOUSANDS VACCINATED AGAINST MEASLES, SUSPECTED CHOLERA IN SOUTH KIVU
Some 25,000 children up to 15 years old, out of a total target population of 35,000, were vaccinated against measles from 15 to 21 March in the area of Shabunda. Measles and cholera have been major public health issues in the province. In Nyange, Fizi Territory, between 21 February and 2 March, over 140 cases of cholera including over 10 deaths have been signaled among IDPs who came from Tanganyika. In the neighboring Tanganyika Province, health actors are concerned about a major outbreak of measles linked to malnutrition in Kansimba, Moba Territory. At least 285 cases including 56 deaths have been registered between 13 February and 12 March. Over 80% cases were notified in Maseba health area. Health authorities are calling for support to treat the worrisome rates of measles and malnutrition. OCHA has been leading humanitarian efforts to roll out a holistic assistance to the most vulnerable displaced people.
By Stephen Otage for www.allafrica.com
The United States Embassy in Kampala wants the government of Uganda to develop programs tailored towards addressing challenges faced by adolescent girls beyond providing free sanitary pads to them.
Mr. Mark Meassick, a director at the US Mission said Uganda needs to critically think about the plight of adolescent girls because they comprise the majority of the population; they have the highest HIV infection rates and they are the ones producing the highest number of children without any planning.
"Provide tailored attention to their needs. Help them to overcome all these obstacles because they deserve a chance like all Ugandans. In special circumstances, we should give a special package of chances," he said while passing out formerly vulnerable girls who have been empowered to fend for themselves without waiting for handouts.
Mr. John Makoha, the AVSI country representative said they are celebrating the success of the SCORE Project which did not give out handouts to girls but empowered about 30,000 lasses to increase their social security.
He said the beneficiaries can now start income generating projects which would enable them send their children to school and have stable families.
By HTET KHAUNG LINN / PUBLISHED BY MYANMAR NOW www.myanmar-now.org
BYINKAT VILLAGE, Mandalay Region - Kyaw Win is one of the millions of farmers who have long struggled to make ends meet in the harsh environment of central Myanmar’s Dry Zone.
But last year he began cultivating high-quality rice seeds at his farm in Byinkat Village and closely followed the growing instructions for the drought-resistant variety, which was supplied by international NGO AVSI.
Since then, his harvest has significantly increased. “I can now produce 100 paddy baskets per acre by using the methods of AVIS. Some farmers have imitated me and asked about my farming practices,” Kyaw Win said, adding that his harvest had increased with about 40 percent.
In the Dry Zone, some 10 million farmers rely on rainy season rice, oil seeds and pulses. Many languish in poverty and debt, and a lack of enough food is common. The region’s drought is compounded by the poor quality groundwater and by climate change, which has caused increasingly erratic rainfall in the past decade.
The introduction of more productive and resilient rice seeds, government officials and aid workers said, is a key strategy for helping the vulnerable communities.
“Climatic change in the Dry Zone is affecting the incomes of farmers through unseasonal rainfall or drought,” said Aung Soe Win, project manager of AVIS in Yamethin Township, Mandalay Region.
By Jo Griffin for theguardian.com
In recent weeks, more than 140 prison inmates have died in gang violence in Brazil. But away from the headlines a parallel catastrophe has been unfolding in the country’s juvenile detention centres, with campaigners demanding reforms and warning that proposals to stiffen sentences for young offenders could compound the crisis in the penal system.
Under existing law, offenders aged 12 to 18 are supposed to be dealt with through community service or education, with a maximum penalty of up to three years at a detention centre for the most serious crimes. In reality, however, young people who commit minor infractions are often locked up in overcrowded facilities with scant opportunity for rehabilitation and education, or protection from mistreatment, claim campaigners.
Robert Muggah, founder of the thinktank Igarapé Institute in Rio de Janeiro, says politicians have seized on rising crime to win support for tougher jail terms for young people. “The so-called ‘bullets, bibles and beef caucus’ are pushing through the legislation at a time of acute political and economic crisis in Brazil. Even before the impeachment of Dilma [Rousseff], they aggressively campaigned to water down gun control legislation and lower the age of criminal responsibility.
Increasing privatisation has generated an incentive to fill prisons, says Muggah, with “little concern expressed by the Brazilian public [about] the state of prisons, their conditions or the inmates”. The recent crisis has led to calls for more privatisation.
“Unless Brazil decriminalises drugs and begins applying existing legislation that sanctions alternative and proportionate sentencing, these problems will continue unabated,” says Muggah.
He cites the pioneering Apac programme, used in Brazil and other countries as an example of a restorative justice plan with a high success rate in reducing recidivism. In Chile, a prison reform plan including alternative sentencing for non-violent crimes reduced overcrowding from 60% to 15% in 2014, he says.
By Charlie Wood for www.csmonitor.com
What would you do with a modest paycheck that showed up monthly, regardless of employment: Retire early? Change careers? Open that business you’ve always dreamed about?
This question lies at the heart of the growingly popular but contentious topic of Universal Basic Income (UBI), which proposes replacing often inefficient social welfare programs with a guaranteed paycheck for all, enough to afford at least the basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. It's a counter-intuitive income model that challenges assumptions about effective compassion and induced laziness, but amid fears of an automated future, more economists are starting to take a hard look.
This summer, Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected a UBI referendum, with almost 80 percent voting against it. “If you pay people to do nothing, they will do nothing,” Charles Wyplosz, an economics professor at the Geneva Graduate Institute, told AFP.
But is that necessarily the case? Some economists say a mounting body of evidence regarding a poverty-fighting tool called “cash transfers” may suggest otherwise.
Cash transfers are just what they sound like: a gift of capital, often from an NGO to members of a population living in poverty. Narrow in scope, they generally target groups of a few hundred to a thousand individuals with sums that fall between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars. Some are one-time lump sums, and others recur monthly for a time.
Proponents argue that cash transfers are effective for precisely the same reasons cash birthday gifts can be disappointing: they require almost no effort and often end up getting used on what the recipient needs, rather than what they desire. In these respects cash transfers resemble UBI with its flexibility and low overhead costs, although much more focused on helping people escape from poverty, rather than, say, surviving automation.
The Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) Foundation gave a one-time transfer of $150, accompanied by four days of business skills training, to 15 of the poorest women in 120 Ugandan villages. Half of the 1,800 women received the cash transfer and training a year-and-a-half after the others. Comparing the group that received the money early with the one that received it later, research and poverty organization Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) concluded that the program had a “transformative” economic effect, with monthly income almost doubling, consumption increasing by a third, and savings tripling.
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