Daily Archives: January 15, 2018

Nigeria’s Buhari Vows to Punish All Those Behind Ethnic Violence

ABUJA Nigeria will punish all those behind an outbreak of deadly clashes between cattle herders and farmers, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday pushing back at accusations that he failed to take action against members of his own ethnic group.

At least 83 people have been killed since the start of the new year in violence between the mainly Christian farmers and the semi-nomadic herders, who are mostly Muslims from Buhari’s Fulani ethnic group.

The outbreak of violence, mostly in the central state of Benue, has become increasingly political ahead of elections in February 2019, with Buhari’s opponents accusing him of failing to take action against the herdsmen.

“President Buhari said all those involved in the conflict that culminated in loss of lives would not escape justice, including any illegally armed militia in the state,” said a statement released by Nigeria’s presidency, after Buhari spoke to a delegation of Benue political leaders.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is home to 250 ethnic groups, about evenly divided between Christians who mainly live in the south and Muslims who mainly live in the north. Central states such as Benue have often seen violence over religious, ancestral and cultural differences.

Farmers caught up in the clashes say herdsmen, who roam West Africa in search of pasture and often travel in and out of Nigeria through porous borders, are armed with guns and cutlasses. Groups representing herdsmen have also accused farmers of violent attacks in the last few years.

“I assure you that the police, the Department of State Service and other security agencies had been directed to ensure that all those behind the mayhem get punished,” Buhari told the delegation, according to the statement.

Those who attended the meeting in the capital, Abuja, included the Benue state governor, members of parliament and traditional rulers. Buhari, a former military ruler who was elected in 2015 after vowing to improve security, has not yet said whether he will seek a new term next year.

Last week his spokesman said the suggestion that Buhari was not taking action regarding the herdsmen because of his ethnicity was “disturbing,” adding that such clashes predated Buhari’s administration.

Source: Voice of America

Gauteng Legislature visits Tshwane schools as part of back to school campaign, 17 to 19 Jan

Nurturing young learners in becoming responsible citizens for the future of South Africa.

Presiding Officers of the Gauteng Provincial Legislatures (GPL) will from the 17th till the 19 January, visit 15 secondary schools of the Tshwane region Education District as part of the Institution’s School Readiness Programme for the 2018 academic year.

Towards the end of 2017, the Gauteng Department of Education’s Executive authority painted a bleak picture relating to the Department’s financial situation underpinning several constraints which may mean some pupils and prospective learners may not find schools in 2018. Thus the visits are aimed at assessing the schools’ state of readiness ahead of the new academic year. The initiative forms part of GPL’s oversight mandate over the work of the Executive Authority in the Province. Presiding Officers will also engage with the schools’ management to identify critical needs for speedy intervention.

During this campaign, the Presiding Officers together with the Portfolio Committee on Education will each actively visit 2 identified schools accompanied by relevant stakeholders compromising Members of the Provincial Legislature, Independent Electoral Commission, Department of Home affairs, local councillors, school governing bodies, school management team, Parliamentary Constituency Office, civil society and community members to oversee the readiness of schools for the 2018 academic year looking specifically on issues such as the registration intake process, monitoring teaching and learning and looking at the state of affairs in respective schools.

Presiding Officers will also use this initiative to donate valuable educational support materials to the schools based on their individual needs. School Shoes, School Uniforms, and groceries among other things.

The GPL will also use this programme to educate parents and learners about the mandate of the Provincial Legislature as well as to campaign for the promotion of the right to education for children and the role of parents in providing support and strengthening the education system.

Members of the media are invited to be part of this initiative and the programme will commence at 8h00.

Source: Government of South Africa

Madagascar Cyclone Death Toll Rises to 51, with Thousands Displaced

ANTANANARIVO The death toll from a cyclone that hit Madagascar about 10 days ago has risen to 51, with another 22 people reported missing, authorities said on Sunday.

Tropical Cyclone Ava passed through Madagascar on Jan. 5-6, hitting mostly the eastern coast of the island with wind speeds of between 140-190 kph (87-119 mph).

The death toll had been put at about 29 people a week ago.

The National Office of Risk and Disaster Management said in a statement on Sunday more 54,000 people were displaced by the cyclone.

In March 2017, Cyclone Enawo killed at least 78 people on Madagascar’s vanilla-producing northeastern coast.

Source: Voice of America

NHI payment issues resolved, dept says

The Department of Health says the late payment of staff at NHI pilot sites has been resolved and that this does not set the tone for the roll out of the programme.

South Africa is piloting the National Health Insurance (NHI), which will see citizens accessing health care based on their health needs, irrespective of their socio-economic status. The NHI — a health financing system that is designed to pool funds to provide access to quality, affordable health care — is part of government’s major health sector reforms and is being rolled out over a 14-year period.

Media reports on Sunday said doctors and pharmacy assistants contracted to assist in the project had experienced delays in receiving their payments. However, Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja on Monday confirmed to SAnews that the issue of late payment had been resolved.

Maja said the late payments were due to a change of payment administrators and an unanticipated problem in the administrative support for the project. Notwithstanding, Maja said these challenges had been resolved.

He said this would not affect the roll out of the NHI, as the doctors and pharmacists in question have received payments for more than 50 months without incident. The pilot project started in April 2012.

Maja said those affected by the late payments were not employees but service providers.

The pilot, Maja said, is being conducted to get a sense of interest from private sector health practitioners, and to see how health practitioners and clinic staff would work together.

The pilot is also an opportunity to test payment and administrative mechanisms, as the NHI fund would be a separate entity with its own administrative processes, Maja said.

Addressing the media after Cabinet approved the White Paper on the NHI in 2015, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said only 16.2% of South Africa’s population was covered by medical aid, while over 80% of the population was limited to accessing public health care services.

Minister Motsoaledi said South Africa spends 8.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health and 4.1% of the GDP is spent on 84% of the population (the majority using the public health sector), while 4.4% of GDP was spent on only 16% of the population in 2015/16.

In May 2017 while tabling his department’s Budget Vote, Minister Motsoaledi said tax credits being earmarked for the establishment of the NHI Fund amounted to R20 billion.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Inside Kenya’s Turkana region: cattle, climate change, and oil

The county of Turkana, in northwest Kenya, is among the poorest, most marginalised, and most malnourished in the country.

Its arid climate and soil conditions render most of its terrain unsuitable for growing crops, so almost all of the county’s 1.3 million inhabitants raise livestock. And although pastoralism accounts for an estimated 12 percent of Kenya’s GDP, successive governments have long neglected the sector as backward, and denied it adequate investment in key areas such as animal health, market access, and water management.

As a result, the people of Turkana and, to an even greater extent, their livestock, are particularly vulnerable when drought strikes � as it did during much of 2017.

Turkana is the epicentre of the drought, a senior official in the Turkana County government told IRIN, referring to the natural disaster that gripped much of East Africa last year.

While conditions have improved significantly since the reporting for this collection of stories was conducted, about half a million goats, sheep, cows, and camels perished in 2017, leaving many households destitute.

If recent years are anything to go by, droughts are likely to continue being frequent. They used to happen about once a decade, but, thanks to the effects of climate change, are now happening more regularly and with greater impact.

What follows is a selection of IRIN’s recent multimedia coverage of Turkana County, based on several field reporting trips.

As well as giving voice to livestock herders and fishermen, who provide a ground-level account of their challenges and hopes, the series also provides detailed analysis of the impact of climate change and of recent economic developments, notably in the petroleum sector.

Source: IRIN