Daily Archives: July 30, 2015

New Global Population Estimates from the UN

The report from the number crunchers at the UN also show that life expectancy in the least developed countries has increased sharply over the last 6 years. “The world’s population is projected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion by 2050 and exceed 11 billion in 2100, with India expected to surpass China as the most populous around seven years from now and Nigeria overtaking the United States to become the world’s third largest country around 35 years from now, according to a new United Nations report released today. Moreover, the report reveals that during the 2015-2050 period, half of the world’s population growth is expected to be concentrated in nine countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the United States, Indonesia and Uganda.” (UN http://bit.ly/1KApafa)

The Largest Refugee Camp in the Middle East Turns 3 Years Old…The Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan, which opened July 29 2012, has some 81,000 Syrian residents and can’t take any more. “With Za’atari at capacity, the number of urban refugees seeking shelter in Jordan’s second camp, Azraq, increased fourfold in the first six months of this year,” UNHCR spokesperson Ariane Rummery told a press briefing in Geneva. In the first half of 2015, 3,658 people returned to Azraq from urban areas, compared to just 738 in the second half of 2014. This trend is driven by increasing vulnerability of urban refugees in Jordan whose savings are depleted after years in exile, and who are unable to find secure legal livelihoods. Those living in Amman, in particular, are trying to survive in one of the most expensive cities in the Middle East.” (UNHCR http://bit.ly/1KAj4LX)

Where’s the money? Only one percent of Kenyan government spending can be properly accounted for, according to a report by the country’s auditor-general released just days after US President Barack Obama warned corruption was holding the country back. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JvuvpB)

Deadly Flooding in India…Flash floods triggered by torrential monsoon rain have killed at least 26 people in a west Indian state in the past 48 hours, authorities said Wednesday. (AFP http://bit.ly/1D97jMX)

Africa

The president of Nigeria made his first official state visit to neighboring Cameroon on Wednesday, as the two former enemies struggle to contain the mutual threat posed by Islamic militants carrying out suicide bombings across the region. (AP http://yhoo.it/1H2OANP)

Nairobi announced it was going to relocate street children to rehabilitation centers in the country. The move coincided with a project to clean up the streets before the president’s arrival. Many say there must be a better way to address the plight of the Kenyan city’s street families. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MtVoes)

Fears are growing that endemic graft in Tanzania will deny the majority of its people a fair share of the wealth generated by the country’s natural gas riches. (Guardian http://bit.ly/1JRP4Z6)

Sudan’s foreign ministry summoned the European Union’s representative in Khartoum to complain about “false information” it said the EU had disseminated about the number of refugees and displaced people in the country. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1MtVrqB)

Threatened by the advance of a desert that already covers two-thirds of Niger, the poor Sahel nation hopes to halt rapid deforestation by promoting natural gas. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1Jvu9PM)

Nigeria has appointed a new boss for the amnesty scheme for ex-Niger Delta oil rebels, in a move seen by observers as an attempt to put back on track the programme which doused militancy in the oil-rich region. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1JvupOH)

More than 5 million text messages have been sent to subscribers, who get health information and reminders for doctor’s appointments direct to their mobile phones – many of them in distant parts of Tanzania. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1DbeqnG)

US President Barack Obama’s visit to Ethiopia, which saw him speak out against democratic restrictions, was positive but Washington must maintain pressure on the government, an Ethiopian opposition figure said Wednesday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/1I1XFKv)

MENA

A car bomb exploded outside an Ismaili mosque in Yemen’s war-damaged capital Sanaa on Wednesday, killing four people and wounding six, health authorities and a security source said. (Reuters http://reut.rs/1KAklm0)

Saudi-led warplanes bombed targets in Yemen’s northerly Saada province, a stronghold of Iranian-allied Houthi forces, local officials said Wednesday, and a U.N. official accused both sides in the conflict of failing to respect international law. (VOA http://bit.ly/1KAktlu)

Turkey’s renewed conflict with Kurdish militants intensified on Wednesday as the government launched a new wave of airstrikes in northern Iraq and a blast temporarily crippled a key oil pipeline in southeastern Turkey. (WSJ http://on.wsj.com/1KAkzd0)

Asia

China’s widespread crackdown on rights lawyers and activists over the past three weeks has fueled growing concerns that President Xi Jinping is using the law as a tool to mute dissidents and those who defend them in court. (VOA http://bit.ly/1MtVpiz)

Bangladesh’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence for an influential opposition leader and an aide to a former prime minister for his role in mass killings during the country’s independence war against Pakistan in 1971. (AP http://yhoo.it/1OOL2Fb)

Myanmar’s democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday registered for November elections to keep her seat in parliament and challenge the ruling military-backed party. (AP http://yhoo.it/1H2OR3g)

The Americas

The jaguar is being defeated by a ruthless, modern-day warrior: Powerful drug cartels are carving up its Central American natural habitat. In some areas, particularly in Honduras and Guatemala, the big cats are at risk of disappearing entirely. (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1Db5EGe)

Organisers of the 2016 Rio Olympics are facing a serious challenge to clean polluted waters for sailing and windsurfing events. (BBC http://bbc.in/1Db5ONZ)

Concerns of a humanitarian emergency in Haiti are mounting as a growing number of Haitians returning to their country from neighboring Dominican Republic are living in rapidly growing tent cities with little resources. (CNN http://cnn.it/1D96S58)

The Brazilian government plans to use drones to strengthen its fight against slave labor in rural areas, the Labour Ministry has said. (TRF http://yhoo.it/1MtVrqE)

Opponents of President Barack Obama’s soon-to-be-implemented policy to cut carbon emissions from power plants are planning to use an unlikely and potentially potent weapon against him: the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that saved Obamacare. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/1gmGfzq)

…and the rest

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde says the world economy is recovering but fragile and “faces some downside risks.” (AP http://yhoo.it/1H2OF46)

Aid agencies have no problem agreeing that gender-sensitive programming is a good idea, but few have come up with concrete methods for evaluating the impact it has on those it is supposed to be helping. (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Dbeyn6)

Western Union Co plans to invest more in its compliance and monitoring systems in a renewed effort to combat fraud and money laundering, a senior executive said on Tuesday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/1DbePXf)

Opinion/Blogs

Unpacking Obama’s Message to the African Union (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/1OOQTKK)

Why Local Content in Extractive Sector Won’t Work Without Home Grown Human Capital (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1Db4E4N)

Obama probably won’t be invited to speak at the African Union again any time soon (GlobalPost http://bit.ly/1OOGEWD)

Did Malaysia merit its human trafficking upgrade? (IRIN http://bit.ly/1Db5mzh)

Secret aid worker: sexual harassment and discrimination in the industry (Guardian http://bit.ly/1Db5L4J)

Analysts: Obama’s Africa Trip Underscores Drive for Foreign Policy Legacy (VOA http://bit.ly/1DP50Jo)

Will Kenya’s Heightened Security Leave With Obama? (RFI http://bit.ly/1DP6inK)

Africa Will Grow Faster When Private Sector Finally Steps Up (East African http://bit.ly/1DP6rHX)

South Africa: Rebranding Condom Campaign – Will It Work This Time? (The Conversation http://bit.ly/1DP6HH1)

5 things needed to turn the SDGs into reality (Devex http://bit.ly/1h5mIDO)

The Politics Behind Mobile Money in Ethiopia (CFI Blog http://bit.ly/1h5mInb)

Humans of Lagos offers a glimpse at daily life in the West African mega city (Africa is a Country http://bit.ly/1h5mHzz)

Zimbabwe’s Opportunity to Join the African Economic Success Story (CSIS Prosper http://bit.ly/1OOQTu0

Discussion

comments…

Reducing Child Labor is a Shared Responsibility

Statement from the World Cocoa Foundation about the 2013/14 Survey Research on Child Labor in West African Cocoa-Growing Areas Report

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2015 / PRNewswire — In response to the 2013/2014 Survey Research on Child Labor in West African Cocoa-Growing Areas Report, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) today issued the following statement, which underscores that reducing child labor is a shared responsibility:

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) is deeply concerned that the collective efforts undertaken thus far by the cocoa and chocolate industry, the United States government, the governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, and others, have not been sufficient to achieve significant reductions in the number of children working in unacceptable conditions in West Africa, often in circumstances defined as child labor. Reducing the number of children participating in child labor is a shared responsibility of industry, governments, NGOs, civil society, communities and families, among others, and remains a top priority for WCF and our member companies.

We know that achieving reductions in child labor will take a sustained collaborative effort by public and private stakeholders, including through collective platforms such as the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI). Child labor is both a symptom of and contributing factor to poverty, and any approach that aims to eliminate child labor must include a focus on alleviating poverty. The 2013/14 Survey Research on Child Labor in West African Cocoa-Growing Areas Report highlights some promising signs of progress and illustrates the challenges that remain. The research was commissioned by the U.S. government and conducted by Tulane University.

WCF believes that several core interventions are needed to dramatically accelerate progress toward achieving reductions in child labor, and the organization and its members are actively advancing programs in each of the following intervention areas:

  • Improving farmer incomes, especially considering the vast majority of cocoa in West Africa is grown on small, family-owned farms
  • Involving local communities in the effort, including awareness-raising and training of farmers and communities
  • Establishing child labor monitoring and remediation systems in the cocoa supply chain
  • Improving labor efficiency and developing a more formalized adult labor market in cocoa-growing communities that are reinforced by strong regulatory and legal systems
  • Expanding access to quality primary education for all children

The Tulane survey data collected during the 2013/14 cocoa harvest seasons are used to identify children’s exposure to child labor and hazardous work, and the estimates provided are representative of agricultural households in cocoa-growing areas of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. According to the recent data collection, and in comparison to the data collection during the 2008/09 harvest season, there was a more than 20 percent reduction in the number of Ivorian children who were exposed to many types of hazardous work, and in Ghana a 14 percent reduction in the number of children exposed to multiple hazards. In Côte d’Ivoire, a smaller percentage of children were found in child labor based on working hours. Most notably, the number of children in child labor in Ghana decreased by nearly 30,000, with a 9 percent decrease in the number of children in hazardous work. Results in both countries were impacted by strong growth in both cocoa production and population.

According to the Tulane survey, substantial gains in education are continuing in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. More children are attending school in both countries – in Ghana, 96 percent of children in cocoa production attended school during the 2013/14 school year. In Côte d’Ivoire, 71 percent of children in cocoa production attended school during the same period of time, a 12 percent increase since the data collection of 2008/09. The governments of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire have implemented several initiatives to address child labor. In Ghana, the government has created the National Steering Committee on Child Labor, District Child Protection Committees coordinated by the Child Labor Unit, and the National Program for the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labor in Cocoa. The Ivorian government is moving quickly toward making education compulsory for children ages 6 to 16 for the first time, beginning September 2015. First Lady Dominique Ouattara has been a tireless champion for the children of Côte d’Ivoire, including her leadership role on the National Monitoring Committee for Actions to Fight against Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labor (CNS). WCF and its members are investing in a variety of formal and informal education initiatives. It is widely accepted that when access to education increases, there are reductions in child labor.

In addition to substantial obligations made by the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments, the cocoa and chocolate industry is investing more than $500 million in cocoa sustainability. Industry is determined to accelerate its collective efforts to achieve reductions in child labor in a number of ways. CocoaAction was established in May 2014 by WCF and the world’s leading chocolate and cocoa companies, in close consultation with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, to advance sustainability and improve the livelihoods of cocoa farmers in both countries, with plans to work in 1,200 cocoa-growing communities in the years ahead, reaching more than 300,000 farmers and their families.

CocoaAction, existing WCF programs, other industry-led initiatives, and ICI-led interventions seek to reduce the occurrence of farm-level practices that, in the past, have too frequently involved the use of children. These efforts include:

  • Programs to support education activities in Côte d’Ivoire that are reaching tens of thousands of children in cocoa-growing areas
  • Programs to strengthen child protection in cocoa-growing communities, such as those implemented by ICI, whose work in more than 500 communities since 2007 has led to improved access to quality education for more than 50,000 children
  • Organizing farmer field schools and increasing farmers’ awareness about the risks and dangers of child labor
  • Training teams of professionals to safely apply agrochemicals to cocoa farms in areas where children have previously been involved in this task
  • Leading informational child labor awareness sessions, which, in 2014 alone, were attended by more than 12,000 farmers and 35,000 community members
  • Within farmer field schools, demonstrating best practices regarding pesticide spraying, reaching 24 cooperatives and 11,000 farmers
  • Training cocoa farmers to open cocoa pods with wooden mallets rather than machetes, a practice that is not only safer for the farmer but improves cocoa quality and yields
  • Helping to train and certify nearly 400,000 farmers in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, with external studies showing that children of certified farmers attend school 30 percent more than children of farmers who are not certified

CocoaAction’s strength lies in combining community development and productivity with the intention of raising farm level incomes, an approach that’s an important driver for change in cocoa-growing communities. WCF is confident that continued close collaboration among those who share responsibility in reducing child labor in West Africa, including the governments of cocoa-producing countries and continued involvement by the U.S. Department of Labor as well as Congressional participation, will lead to increased sustainability in the cocoa sector and necessary reductions in child labor.

To request interviews with WCF leadership on this topic including President Bill Guyton and Chief of Party of the WCF African Cocoa Initiative Sona Ebai, please contact Sara Neumann at sara@cfoxcommunications.com or +1 (301) 585-5034.

ABOUT COCOA FARMING IN WEST AFRICA
Cocoa is a way of life and chief source of income for at least 3 million farmers in West Africa. By some estimates, nearly 20 million people in the region depend on the crop by virtue of support provided to them by the farmers who grow cocoa and/or by the involvement with other parts of the cocoa supply chain including trading, transportation, and processing. The vast majority of the crop is grown on small, family-owned farms (of 5 hectares or less), located in isolated and underdeveloped areas of some of the world’s poorest countries. Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana account for approximately 55 percent of global production.

Cocoa is a tree crop, and methods for growing and harvesting remain virtually unchanged since cocoa was introduced to West Africa in the 19th century. For a variety of reasons, including how cocoa tress grow and produce large pods that contain the sought-after beans, there is little mechanization involved in the growing, harvest, and initial post-harvest processing of cocoa. Hiring outside labor to help with harvests is often not an option because of its relative high costs. This means that, as is often the case on small family-owned farms around the world, West African cocoa farmers turn first to family members to assist in a wide range of farm tasks. This approach was likely inherited as a way of life from previous generations of cocoa farmers.

ABOUT THE WORLD COCOA FOUNDATION
The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) is an international membership organization that promotes sustainability in the cocoa sector. WCF provides cocoa farmers with the support they need to grow more quality cocoa and socially and economically strengthen their communities. WCF’s 109 members include both large and small cocoa and chocolate companies and others from across the supply chain, representing more than 80 percent of the global cocoa market. WCF’s programs benefit farmers and their communities in cocoa-growing regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Americas. For more information, visit www.worldcocoafoundation.org or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Nephila Capital Ltd Protects Farmers Across Africa Against Drought

BERMUDA, July 30, 2015 / PRNewswire – Nephila Capital is excited to announce that it recently agreed to provide drought protection to farmers in multiple countries in Africa to help transfer the risk of dry weather impacting crop yield. The deal was executed through Nephila’s Syndicate 2357 at Lloyd’s of London, and is the first weather risk transfer transaction written by the syndicate. Lloyd’s has a storied history as a market that supports innovative and unusual risk, and an express part of Syndicate 2357′s business plan is to build out a weather risk transfer business within the market.

Nephila joins a panel of risk capacity providers that collectively extended $US 72.5 million of coverage working with Willis Group Holdings plc through the African Risk Capacity (“ARC”) initiative, which is a sovereign pool of funds that compensates African Union governments when adverse weather and natural catastrophe events occur. The drought reinsurance program is entering its second year and will last for twelve months through April 2016. Farmers in nine countries across Western and Eastern Africa receive compensation from their respective country within days of contract expiry if crop yields are low due to a lack of rain.

The structure of the reinsurance program highlights a benefit of parametric weather risk transfer products: swift settlement and efficient transfer of funds to the underlying insured. In this case, farmers dealing with the economic and community impact of drought can avoid a lengthy claims process and receive compensation rapidly. Payment is based upon rainfall measured by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and crop impacts estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. This guarantees that measurements are transparent and unbiased. ARC then uses the rainfall estimates to calculate payments, if triggered, to countries and their farmers.

Such products are increasingly used by entities that are exposed to variation in temperature, rain, snow, wind, water, or sunshine – weather risk transfer allows the impact of damage, including lost revenue or business interruption, to be offset by an efficient injection of capital if defined triggers are met. Beyond agriculture, many businesses and municipalities also purchase weather protection, in sectors such as traditional and renewable energy, recreation and tourism, construction, and transportation.

Nephila is proud to support the ARC in its drought risk management program, as the latest step in over fifteen years of providing weather risk transfer protection on behalf of our underlying investors.  We launched our first dedicated weather fund in January 2005 and have deep experience in the sector.  Working with Willis and the ARC, through Lloyd’s of London and alongside other capacity providers in this market, on such a transaction is another encouraging sign that the weather risk transfer market will continue to grow.  A growing awareness that weather risk can be quantified and transferred, like other financial and insurance-related exposures, is a healthy development for the global economy and for society.

About Nephila Capital
Nephila Capital Ltd is a leading investment manager specializing in reinsurance risk, and is the largest institutional asset manager of investment funds dedicated to natural catastrophe and weather risk. Nephila offers a broad range of investment products focusing on instruments such as insurance-linked securities, catastrophe bonds, insurance swaps, and weather derivatives.

Nephila has assets under management of approximately $9.5 billion as of June 30, 2015 and has been managing institutional assets in this space since it was founded in 1998. The firm has over 100 employees based in its Bermuda headquarters, San Francisco, CA, Nashville, TN and London. Further information can be found at www.nephila.com.