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 Tuesday 30 October 2007
 
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WEST AFRICA: IRIN-WA Weekly Round-up 398 for 13 - 19 October

DAKAR, 20 October 2007 (IRIN) - CONTENTS:

COTE D’IVOIRE: Malnutrition worsens, FAO says
NIGERIA: Food shortages on the horizon with northern farmers declaring bad crop
TOGO: Observers sanction elections while opposition cries foul
MALI: Looking to communities to lead malaria fight
CHAD: State of emergency imposed even as peace talks conclude
BURKINA FASO: Cotton producers celebrate WTO ruling against US subsidies
SIERRA LEONE: Lots of rain but little water





COTE D’IVOIRE: Malnutrition worsens, FAO says

Almost a quarter of households in rural parts of Cote d'Ivoire suffer from food insecurity and malnutrition is spreading, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warns. “The main part of the poverty [in Cote d’Ivoire] is found in rural areas,” Marie-Noëlle Koyara told journalists on 18 October. According to the statistics of FAO, between 9 and 22 percent of rural households are either moderately or chronically food insecure. Aid agencies have been warning for months that there is mounting evidence of worsening malnutrition, especially in northern Cote d’Ivoire which is traditionally poorer than the south.

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NIGERIA: Food shortages on the horizon with northern farmers declaring bad crop

Harvests will be poor in the north of Nigeria because of inadequate rains, according to the Kano State chapter of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN). “The implication of this is that there is likely to be shortage of food items in the coming season,” said the state chairman of the association, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, speaking on state radio, as reported by BBC Monitoring on 18 October. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) told IRIN its “optimistic” mid-September crop forecast for the Sahel region had been revised down as the rains have ended early. However, FAO also stressed that the extent of the problem in northern Nigeria will not be known until after the results of a joint evaluation mission are announced next week.

full report




TOGO: Observers sanction elections while opposition cries foul

Crucial parliamentary elections in Togo, which donors said they would use as a benchmark for whether the country is ready to start receiving development aid again, were flawed according to opposition leaders but monitor groups declared them free and fair. “Apart from some deficiencies,” the elections were “free, fair and transparent,” the regional organisation, the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), which mobilised 100 monitors to scrutinise the polls, said in a report. The national election commission in Togo announced late on 18 October that the ruling party had won a majority of at least 49 of 81 contested seats. The main opposition party, the Union des Forces de Changement (UFC), which won 21 seats, challenged the results. In a statement, it alleged that the voting process had been “compromised” as ballot boxes were tampered with, fake election cards had been distributed before the poll, and some voting papers had been destroyed. Electoral officials said the turnout for the poll was 95 percent. The ECOWAS report concurred: “In the capital Lome and generally everywhere in the country, there was a strong participation.”

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MALI: Looking to communities to lead malaria fight

Kalifan Keita is a peasant farmer with no medical education, salary or transport other than a wobbly bicycle, yet he is achieving in Mali what the government and decades of Western aid have largely failed to do. He is saving the lives of hundreds of children infected with malaria, many of whom would otherwise have died after a slow, agonising descent into delirium and unconsciousness. Keita bicycles around the six villages in his area carrying a small white box with a red cross on it. Inside are little white sticks and needles. When he enters a village, mothers with sick children gather around. Keita takes out a needle and pricks a child’s index finger then smears a drop of blood on the stick which will quickly indicate if the child has malaria or not. Of 14 tests administered by Keita on the day IRIN met him, 12 had malaria. Keita then handed the mother six Artemisin-based Combination Therapy (ACT) pills and told her to give the child two tablets a day. Within three days all the children were healthy again. Keita is a volunteer in one of 18 communities that are part of a pilot project being run by the non-governmental organisation [NGO] Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in a malaria-endemic region of Mali. What is novel about the project is that it takes malaria treatment to people’s homes instead of expecting them to travel to distant health centres - and that it works.

full report




CHAD: State of emergency imposed even as peace talks conclude

The government of Chadian President Idriss Deby and four rebel groups are set to sign a new peace accord at a time when inter-ethnic fighting has flared and the government has declared a new state of emergency in three regions. "The government is debating the situation of insecurity in the east of the country which is becoming worse by the day", said government spokesman Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor. President Deby issued a decree on 16 October imposing a state of emergency for 12 days in Chad’s two eastern regions, Ouaddaï and Wadi Fira, as well as in the BET (Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti) Region in Chad’s north. Officials said the state of emergency may be extended beyond the 12 days. Also on 16 October the town of Abeche, the main hub for relief organisations working in the east, came under a 6.30 pm curfew by order of the governor of Ouaddaï.

full report




BURKINA FASO: Cotton producers celebrate WTO ruling against US subsidies

Cotton industry officials in West Africa’s largest cotton producing nation are celebrating a ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) that US government subsidies to cotton farmers there undermine free trade. The WTO ruled on 15 October that the US had failed to bring subsidies and export credit guarantees to US cotton farmers into conformity with the WTO. The subsidies and export credit guarantees were put in place through the 2002 Farm Bill which the WTO had ruling against in 2005. Officials in developing countries and international poverty analysts say the subsidies drive down prices, making it hard for small farmers in poor countries to compete on international markets. The ruling could open the door to billions of dollars in trade sanctions against the US by Brazil, another major cotton producing country, which initially brought the case against the US.

full report




SIERRA LEONE: Lots of rain but little water

Freetown is one of the wettest capital cities in the world and yet even in the midst of heavy downpours its taps are often dry. The result is that many neighbourhoods have no piped water at all and women and children must roam the streets with buckets on their heads and in their hands looking for water. Many residents dig wells in swampy areas or collect water from polluted streams and rivers. Drinking that water often makes people sick. The main reason for the lack of water in the taps is that the surrounding dams are too small, the chief engineer of the city’s water company, known as Guma Valley, Awoonor Williams told IRIN. “We even have to ration water in the rainy season to ensure there is something in reserve when it’s dry,” he said. The water company’s infrastructure is so decrepit that it provides less than 60 percent of the city’s water needs, he said. It is also illogical. The two main dams supplying Freetown, Guma Dam and Congo Dam, as well as a smaller one in the town of Regent, are all situated in the west end of the city while the bulk of the population live in the east.

full report



Theme(s): (IRIN) Aid Policy

[ENDS]

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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