Monday, 20 November 2017
News & Stories

News & Stories (1602)

When Josephine Kiiza first moved from Kampala to Masaka, in southern Uganda, to flee civil war raging in the 1980s, she had no money, land or food in her name.

"My in-laws gave us two piglets, which brought us manure to farm a plot of leased land, crops we could sell at the market, and ultimately enough money to buy our own piece of land," she told Reuters, keeping an eye on her constantly buzzing phone.

Today she owns a dozen acres of land, where she has trained hundreds of students and farmers — among others — on organic farming practices as a means of adapting to Uganda's increasingly erratic climate.

Although most farmers in Uganda own or rent a plot of land, however small, many lack the knowledge and skills to cope with increasingly extreme weather events like longer dry spells and erratic rainfall, agricultural experts in the area say.

"In times of extreme weather many carry on farming the same way they've always known, and see their yields decline as a result," explained Deziderius Irumba, a learning coordinator at charity Care International.

"If the rains don't come, for example, they just wait, and by the time the rains do come, many of their crops will have already failed due to pests," he said.

Efforts to change that are under way, however, by training farmers — but also entrepreneurs, students and journalists — on climate change and efforts to adapt to it, and encouraging them to share that knowledge among their networks.

Since 2015, the campaign has trained over 1,000 people in partnership with Uganda's Makerere University. The most promising have been elected "climate champions" by their peers, and are then responsible for training others.

The initiative, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, is called Uganda Education and Research to Improve Climate Change Adaptation Activity.

FILE - Women water seedlings at a small farm outside Lira, Uganda, March 2009.
FILE - Women water seedlings at a small farm outside Lira, Uganda, March 2009.

"The idea is to show people that climate change affects every one of us, but also to explain how they can do something about it, so they hopefully become inspired to take action and become a go-to person in their area," said Sarah Fortunate, a climate adaptation specialist who coordinates the project.

Smart farming

Kiiza, who became a climate champion in 2015 and whose five children are also champions, showcases a range of farming practices at her farm. Those include building underground water tanks to harvest rainwater while limiting evaporation, and planting herbs in jerrycans tied to wood boards to maximize farming space.

"I try to make the most of the resources I have, whether it's building a drip irrigator out of a plastic bottle or putting dirt in a used tire to grow vegetables," she said, bending to examine a patch of spinach.

Geoffrey Mabirizi, another farmer and champion from a nearby village, teaches his neighbors to do intercropping — growing two or more crops together so they have a crop to fall back on if one harvest fails.

He said it doesn't matter whether those he trains are farmers or others who can help spread the news about new ideas.

"Journalists or traders, for example can be just as influential as farmers by spreading the climate and farming advice they've received to their readers or clients," he said.

Although training sessions are open to people of all ages, the project has set up week-long "boot camps" for university students to help them learn about climate change and brainstorm ideas on how to adapt to it.

Fortunate said students at a recent boot camp decided to design teaching materials on climate change and smart farming for primary school students.

She hopes to get those educational aids approved by the government "so they are everywhere."

Show, don't tell

Key to the trainings, said Mabirizi, is teaching practice rather than theory.

"In my first training I talked about carbon dioxide, about adaptation, and I completely lost them," he admitted.

"They would ask questions like 'How do you know this is carbon dioxide'? Even I started to get confused!" he laughed. "So I decided to go back to basics — that is, demonstrating smart farming practices to trainees rather than just telling them what to do."

Even then, less than half go on to implement the techniques based just on the training, he said. "So if you can, the best thing is to go to their farm or home and show them what to do."

Efforts to work with farmers need to start with women, who are more financially vulnerable than men, Kiiza said.

"Many women I met throughout the country, especially widows whose husbands had died of AIDS, could only afford to eat one meal per day and were severely malnourished," she said.

But women can be excellent messengers for the new ideas, she said.

"When you talk to a woman, you effectively get access to her whole family, as women know everything that's going on," she said. "So if you're trying to reach farmers, women can be a powerful communication tool."

Scaling up

Although many champions stay in touch with each other after meeting at in-person trainings, there is no formal platform yet for them all to do so, Fortunate said.

"So we'd like to set up an online forum or a WhatsApp group where they can share experiences," she said.

Some champions are already doing this themselves. Mabirizi said he has "over 20 WhatsApp groups with farmers and trainees, where I try to take a few minutes every evening to answer questions."

The next step for the project, said Fortunate, is to help 40 university students secure three-month internships with farmers who are also climate champions in their area.

"That will grow our pool of trainers, but also make the students more employable," she said.

Posted On Tuesday, 27 June 2017 00:38 Written by

Tanzania has threatened to arrest and expel activists, as well as de-register all non-governmental organizations that campaign for gay rights.

Homosexuality is a criminal offense in the East African nation, where the law states that suspects convicted of having "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature" could face up to 30 years in jail.

At a rally late on Sunday, Tanzania's Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said both domestic and foreign campaigners for gay rights would now face punitive measures in the country.

"Those who want to campaign for gay rights should find another country that allows those things," Nchemba said in the capital Dodoma. "If we establish that any organization registered in our country is campaigning for gay rights ... I will deregister that organization. If a Tanzanian national is doing that campaign, we will arrest him and take him to court ... and if it is a foreigner, we will immediately order him to leave the country."

The planned crackdown comes amid repeated warnings against "immoral behaviors" by President John Magufuli, who is nicknamed "the Bulldozer" for pushing through his policies.

Last week, he rejected calls to lift the decades-long ban on pregnant students from attending state schools, drawing criticism from rights groups.

Nchemba said Magufuli's decisions were final and non-negotiable.

Since his ascent to power in 2015, Magufuli has been praised by some Western donors for his bid to stamp out corruption and cut wasteful government spending.

Opponents, however, accuse him of becoming increasingly authoritarian by curbing political activity and cracking down on dissent.

Posted On Tuesday, 27 June 2017 00:34 Written by

Fifty-two migrants have been found dead in the deserts of central Niger, near Séguédine.

A group of 75 set out in three vehicles but were abandoned by traffickers, who feared the security forces.

A local official told the BBC that dozens of bodies had been buried, and 23 survivors were taken to the town, although one later died.

African migrants travel through the desert aiming to reach Libya and cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

However, the journey is perilous as the migrants are crammed into pick-up trucks and have few supplies.

Two weeks ago Niger troops rescued 92 migrants who were on the brink of death in the Sahara Desert.

The group, which included women and children, was abandoned without water and food.

Posted On Tuesday, 27 June 2017 00:21 Written by

•Agencies compile list of stolen arms, ammunition
•Suspect arrested by NSCDC, handed over to JTF

Security agencies in Bayelsa State are probing the identity of Suoyo mentioned by the notorious billionaire kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeje Onwuamadike, aka Evans, as one of his gang members in the state.

Evans, in one of his numerous confessional statements, named Suoyo as one of the active members of his gang, who had the assignment of buying arms and ammunition, for their operations.

He said: “When Suoyo, who lives in Bayels State, called me and expressed fears, I also assured him that nothing was going to happen. I told him I was making plans for another operation and needed him to go into the creeks and buy a new set of arms and ammunition”.

But security commanders in Bayelsa were said to have met over the weekend to analyse Evan’s confessional statement to unmask the real identity of Suoyo.

In the meeting which held in Government House in the presence of Governor Seriake Dickson, the security commanders were said to be certain that that the Suoyo mentioned by Evans was the same person recently arrested by the operatives of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the state.

Suoyo Dickson was arrested and paraded on Thursday by the state Commandant of NSCDC, Mr. Desmond Agu, in connection with the recent attack on a pipeline belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).

Suoyo, popularly known as Hustler, reportedly led a gang of vandals that attacked the Agip pipeline at Lagosgbene, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state on May 30, 2017.

He was, however, arrested on June 16, 2017 at Agbigiba community in Southern Ijaw.

Suoyo, in his confessional statement, also admitted having some criminal camps in the creeks saying he led an oil and gas task force operating in Southern Ijaw to destroy the camps but became frustrated when the task force failed to reward him.

On how he attacked the pipeline, he said;: ”I used two handsaw blades and handsaw to open up the point, I cut the handle in the valve, I fetched 20 litres of petrol, I lit spark lighter and threw it into the pipe and burnt it.”

”I burnt the pipeline because the task force did not keep to their promise of employing us after making us to show them our bunkering camps and the subsequent destruction by the military.

”We showed them our camps, eight of them. All the camps did not belong to me. Three were mine while other groups have five. After showing them, the task force engaged the military to destroy our camps.

”The other groups, whose camps were destroyed were not happy with me. They said I betrayed them and they started planning to kill me and my family members. The situation put me under pressure more so the employment they promised all of us after seven days did not materialise”.

It was gathered that Agu, after parading the suspect, handed him over to the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe (ODS) for further investigations.

A security source, who spoke in confidence, said at the meeting of the security commanders in Yenagoa, which was attended by the heads of ODS, the police and NSCDC, it was agreed that Suoyo should be subjected to further investigations.

Following Evans’ confession, the security heads were said to be linking him to the theft of service rifles of security operatives especially policemen in the state.

They recalled many attacks on operatives by criminals, who only fled with arms and ammunition handled by their victims.

“The security heads also agreed to compile a list of such stolen arms and ammunition in the state and send it to the Force Headquarters to know whether they were among the ones recovered from Evans.

“The Suoyo mentioned by Evans seems in all ramifications to be the same suspected arrested by the NSCDC recently in connection with attack on a pipeline. The security heads in the state believe so and they will surely carry out further investigations to determine his linkage with the Evans’ gang.”

Posted On Monday, 26 June 2017 23:38 Written by

All Kenyan schoolgirls are to get free sanitary pads, the government has said. It is hoped the move will improve access to education in a country where many cannot afford sanitary products like pads and tampons.

According to the UN's education agency, one in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their period.

Some girls reportedly lose 20 per cent of their education for this reason, making them more likely to drop out of school altogether.

The amendment to the education act, signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta this week, states free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels must be provided to every girl registered at school, as well as providing a safe and environmental sound mechanism for disposal.

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 16:39 Written by

President Paul Kagame has said that Rwanda will proceed with the planned phase-out of importation of second-hand clothes despite the threats that it could lead to a review of eligibility to access duty-free access to the American market.

President Kagame made the remarks yesterday while addressing a news conference moments after submitting his nomination papers to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania’s eligibility to trade with the US is under review, following the region’s move to phase out the importation of used clothes.

The review could see Rwanda and her neighbours lose duty-free access to the American market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Kagame, however, said the situation leads Rwanda to make a choice between continued importation of used clothes and developing the local textile industry.

He said that despite the consequences of being locked out of AGOA, Rwanda is keen on developing its local textile industry.

“Rwanda and other countries in the region that are part of AGOA, have to do other things, we have to grow and establish our industries,” Kagame said.

“We are put in a situation where we have to choose; you choose to be a recipient of used clothes with a threat hanging or choose to grow our textile industries, which Rwandans deserve at the expense of being part of AGOA.

“This is the choice we find that we have to make. As far as I am concerned, making the choice is simple, we might suffer consequences. Even when confronted with difficult choices, there is always a way,” he added.

The President noted that this is not the first time that Rwanda has had to make tough decisions in the interest of citizens.

EAC member countries have moved to phase out the importation of used clothes and shoes across the East African region as part of an industrialisation plan to give rise to the growth of the local textile industry.

As part of the move, Rwanda last year increased taxes on used clothes from $0.2 to $2.5 per kilogramme, while taxes on used shoes will increase from $0.2 to $3 per kilogramme.

Budget focus

In the 2017/18 Budget Estimates, the Government also eased taxes on inputs under the Made-in-Rwanda initiative, which is expected to facilitate the growth of the local textile industry.

President Kagame is one of the African heads of state advocating for improved engagement terms between African countries and Western countries for mutual benefit.

Kagame has said several times that it’s time to consider Africa as an equal partner in development as opposed to a beneficiary requiring donations and aid.

As part of the move to make the continent less dependent on external financing, Kagame was last year asked to spearhead the African Union reforms.

He said he will continue playing the role as requested by the African heads of state to support the reforms process.

Kagame is scheduled to present a progress update at a meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, next month.

The President said that the intention by African leaders to change status quo was a huge step.

“The fact that the leaders of Africa have found it necessary to do things different is a very big step,” he said.

Going forward, he said the move by the continent will reduce the impact of external factors on the continent’s socio- economic progress.

Courtesy: The New Times -

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 16:33 Written by

Organised by Zhejiang Normal University, the event attracted more than 500 government officials, academics, economists and business leaders from China and 40 African countries.

The experts argued that without strong industries to add value to raw materials and create jobs, African countries risk high unemployment rates and increasing poverty levels.

Speaking at the meeting, Wang Yi, the Chinese Foreign Minister, urged governments to develop targeted approaches that will help attract foreign direct investment into the continent.

Wang also called on governments to invest in infrastructure and human capital to accelerate economic development on the continent.

China’s approach of establishing industrial zones for joint ventures between foreign enterprises and state owned enterprises is being experimented all over the continent, according to officials.

However, the Chinese Foreign Minister noted that broader consensus has emerged among Chinese and African academics that African countries must consider their unique socio-cultural issues when setting up special economic zones.

Speaking at the forum, Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, urged the continent’s private sector to play its role and ensure proper co-ordination between farmers, processors and exporters to ensure quality and standards and increase competitiveness of the continent’s products on the world market.

“This think tank has a role to promote China-Africa relations...We will work with African governments to cultivate a win-win situation for all parties involved,” Mahamat added.

In 2015, China promised $60 billion funding to promote China-Africa cooperation to support the continent’s development.

The value of Africa-China trade totaled over $200 billion in 2014. In addition, the continent benefits from over half of China’s total foreign aid.

Dr Arkebe Oqubay, the inter-ministerial co-ordinator in the office of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, said strong Africa-China economic partnership is vital to achieve desired prosperity on the continent.

Meanwhile, Liu Honggwu, the dean of the Institute of Africa Studies at Zhejiang Normal University, stressed the need for African governments to, individually and collectively, develop supportive policy and investment guidelines that will help reduce poverty on the continent and drive inclusive growth.

He said clear tax policies and regulations and other laws, as well as contract transparency, predictable policy environments, and currency and macro-economic stability were essential to attract long-term investors.

In a related development, Africa and China have taken yet another step to strengthen bilateral trade relations, a move that could help drive sustainable economic development on the continent. Both parties have agreed to help promote research and share business experience which according to the experts will help reduce poverty and support development efforts on the African continent.


Courtesy: The New Times -

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 16:26 Written by

Rwanda has taken its push to increase tourist arrivals and income from China. The country was one of the 50 countries that took part in the three-day Beijing International Fair for Trade and Services and Beijing International Tourism Expo 2017 in Beijing, China last week.

Speaking at the event, Virgile Rwanyagatare, the counselor at Rwanda’s mission to China, said the exhibition presented an opportunity to market and open up Rwanda’s tourism sector to the Chinese market. Rwanda and Ivory Coast were the only African countries at the fair.

“Visitors to Rwanda’s stall were impressed by our tourist sites and attractions, as well as products such as crafts, coffee and tea,” Rwanyagatare told The New Times on the sidelines of the expo.

The official added that the exhibition was also a platform for Chinese businessmen who want to invest in Rwanda’s tourism industry to get information and network.

“Rwanda’s tourism sector still needs investment in infrastructure such as roads and airports, hotel facilities and other complementary services,” he said.


Rwanyagatare said many Chinese nationals have expressed willingness to attend this year’s ‘Kwita Izina’ (the gorilla-naming ceremony), which is Rwanda’s flagship tourism activity that takes place every year in September.

He said Rwanda gained valuable tips on how to develop its tourism sector by exchanging ideas with other participating countries.

Bangladeshi firm coming

Meanwhile, Rwanda has been hailed as a “beautiful and peaceful country with hospitable people”.

Dhusor Ahamed, the Managing Director of Bangladesh International Tourism Services, who visited the country in 2014, promised to set up a tour and travel services company in the country.

 “Rwanda is a business friendly country and is corruption free,” Ahamed added.




Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 16:18 Written by

The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has stressed that his government will not shield anyone found to have broken the laws of the country.

President Akufo-Addo stated that the application of the laws of the land must occur, in the words of the judicial oath, without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, and, therefore, without recourse to the political, religious or ethnic affiliations of any citizen of the land.

“When you fall foul of the law, you must be dealt with accordingly, and the law enforcement agencies, including the Judiciary, must ensure this is done. To persons perpetrating acts of lawlessness in the name of being members of the ruling party, let me make it clear to you that you will find no shield in my government from the law,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo was speaking at the swearing into office of the new Chief Justice of Republic, Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo, on Monday, 19th June, 2017, when he made these known.

Recent disturbances in Savelugu, for example, where, allegedly, a handful of party executives and youth are trying to prevent the Municipal Chief Executive, who has been duly appointed with the requisite approval of the Municipal Assembly, from working, according to the President, are obviously unacceptable.

“I urge the Police to do everything in their power to bring to book all those who fall foul of the law. We cannot have development, which will bring jobs to our youth, without order,” he said.

The President continued, “With the Office of the Special Prosecutor in the offing, to ensure the prosecution of public officials, past and present, who engage in acts of corruption and financial malfeasance, it is my expectation that the Judiciary will help facilitate the work of this body.”

He reiterated the commitment of his government to building a new Ghanaian civilisation, where the rule of law is not a slogan, but an operating principle for the development of our State, where the separation of powers is real and meaningful, where public officials behave with honesty and integrity, where the liberties and rights of our people are fully protected, and where law and order provide a firm basis for our social and economic development, so that the dreams of freedom and prosperity that animated the great patriots, who founded our nation, can find expression in our generation.

“All of us, from the public sector, the security agencies, the private sector, the political parties, the civil society, the religious bodies, and the traditional authorities, have a joint responsibility to work together, with our different views and our different perspectives, for the Ghana project,” he said.

The Ghana Project, he noted, is “a united Ghana, governed according to the rule of law, respect for individual liberties, human rights and the principles of democratic accountability; a Ghana that meets fundamental requirements of social justice and solidarity; and a Ghana where we look past commodities to position our country in the global marketplace.”

The President urged all Ghanaians to help work and “free ourselves from a mindset of dependence, aid, charity and hand-outs, and rather concentrate on mobilising Ghana’s own considerable resources to resolve Ghana’s problems.

It is a collective enterprise to which we should all commit ourselves, in unity and in sincerity. For my part, I have an unshakeable faith in the boundless prospects of Ghana’s future and will work for it, the radiance of the Black Star.”

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 15:47 Written by

Mauricio Pellegrino has been appointed as the new Southampton manager on a three-year deal.

He replaces Claude Puel, who was sacked last week after frustrations behind the scenes and in the stands, despite guiding Saints to eighth in the Premier League and the League Cup final in his first season.

Southampton have acted quickly to name his successor, with former Alaves boss Pellegrino penning a contract at St Mary's less than a month after stepping down as boss of Alaves. 

Pellegrino ensured Alaves had a memorable first season back in La Liga, leading them to a ninth-placed finish -- beating Barcelona, Valencia and Villarreal along the way -- as well as to the Copa del Rey final, where they lost 3-1 to Barca.

"I am really happy to become the new coach of Southampton Football Club," Pellegrino said. "The club has a great reputation for having a strong and stable structure, competing in the Premier League and playing attractive football.

"I think my philosophy and the culture of the club will work well together. We have to be a team on and off the pitch; I want to make the supporters proud of the players and to feel part of the game every week.

"I want to win matches, be successful and develop a team spirit where everyone gives 100 percent and supports each other.

"I am excited and passionate about what the future holds for us and look forward to meeting the players and beginning our preparation for the new season." 

Southampton were looking for a manager who would embark on a long-term project to try and take them into the top six of the Premier League on a regular basis, sources close to the club told ESPN FC earlier this week. 

Saints were keen to avoid a repeat of managerial appointments in recent years when Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman left following successful spells at the helm.

Sources said Pellegrino's experience of English football from his time working alongside Rafael Benitez as an assistant at Liverpool was also viewed as positive.

"We had an impressive list of candidates and went through a comprehensive interview process," said Saints vice chairman Les Reed. "Mauricio impressed us throughout with his depth of knowledge, motivation and ability, communicating this in a professional and passionate way.

"He has an excellent understanding of the Southampton way, and his style of play and aspiration matches the philosophy, culture and ambition of the club.

"We firmly believe Mauricio is the right person to help us take the next steps. He knows our players and believes we have a great squad that with some fine-tuning will be able to deliver continued success.

Pellegrino becomes Southampton's second Argentine manager, with Mauricio Pochettino previously at the helm.

The 45-year-old, a former international defender, will officially join up with the club next week, in time for the start of preseason training.

Pellegrino played for Barcelona, Valencia and Liverpool, while his coaching career has included stints in charge of Valencia, Estudiantes and Independiente.

Posted On Saturday, 24 June 2017 03:50 Written by
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