• Call for a Realistic Approach to End Hunger

    Oxfam says that a more holistic and integrated approach needs to be developed to end the scourge of hunger in South Africa. 

    Oxfam Economic Justice Campaign manager, Rashmi Mistry, says that according to the report ‘The Hidden Face of Hunger in South Africa’, low incomes, rising costs, a lack of access to productive resources and climate change are amongst the reasons causing 13 million people to go to bed hungry.

    “In our dialogue with government, we discovered that the gap between their implementation, policies and strategies is very far from what people actually need and are experiencing on the ground and that needs to change.”

    To read the article titled, “Ending hunger needs a more realistic approach: Oxfam,” click here.

    SABC News
  • South Africans to Celebrate World Food Day

    16 October is World Food Day and as the 20th World Food Day since the inception of democracy in South Africa, a grim shadow of hunger and malnutrition hangs over the gains of the democratic era.

    In his article, Daniel Mclaren argues that while Section 27 of the South African Constitution guarantees the right to have access to sufficient food to all people in our country, a growing body of research on access to sufficient and nutritious food shows that this most basic of rights remains far from being fulfilled for millions of South Africans.

    He further states that as a result of lack of access to nutritious food, South Africa is experiencing a double crisis of both underweight and overweight adults.

    To read the article titled, “As World Food Day approaches, one in four South Africans are hungry,” click here.

    All Africa
  • African Governance is Improving too Slowly

    The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has become more famous for the award – or, more usually, the non-award – of its US$5 million annual prize for African leadership than for its Ibrahim Index on African Governance (IIAG).
    It used to announce both at the same time, but the leadership prize inevitably stole the limelight from the governance index, despite the latter being a thorough and painstaking research effort.
    So this year (2014) the foundation decided to separate the two announcements. It announced the IIAG for 2014 and later this year, or early next year, it will announce the leadership prize.
    It must be said – just in passing – that already it is hard to imagine who might get the leadership prize, which is meant to go to an African head of state or government who governed well and left office within the constitutionally prescribed time limits over the last three years. It ought to be a no-brainer and past recipients have shown that the standard is not terribly high. Even so, it is only been awarded half the years it has been in existence. Obviously clinging to power is still very much the fashion on this continent.
    It is easy to see why the leadership prize always stole the show. This year, it would surely have done so again as the IIAG was, superficially at least, rather dull; looking a lot like last year’s except for an incremental improvement in governance across Africa last year.
    The index divides governance into categories of human development, safety and rule of law, human rights and sustainable economic opportunity. Out of a total maximum score of 100, overall governance performance rose just 0.9 points over the last five years. This represented a deceleration of governance improvement, since overall governance had increased by +1.2 score points during the previous five years.
    Even if one started from the benchmark year of 2000, African governance has barely shifted in 14 years, rising from just under 50 points to 51.5 points last year. African governance as a whole has improved in some ways and deteriorated in others, resulting in this slight net improvement.
    And so the index found that some countries near the bottom of the rankings – specifically Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger and Zimbabwe – which had dragged the overall performance down in the past, then turned negative trajectories into positive ones, improved by more than five points.
    ‘Over the past five years they have become the biggest improvers on the continent,’ the foundation says. Incidentally, one must bear in mind that Zimbabwe’s improvement covers the period of the government of national unity, which ended in 2013.
    Conversely the top performers failed to make their expected contribution to the continent’s overall performance, the foundation says. The top five countries were, in descending order, Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana, South Africa and Seychelles. These rankings have been largely unchanged for some time.
    South Africa, as expected, was once again dragged down by low scores on personal safety because of high crime rates. But the foundation also found South Africa had declined - over the last five years compared to the five years before that - in the categories of participation and human rights and human development.
    The index also makes it obvious that the other huge drags on the continent’s overall performance, though they are not singled out for special commentary, are the major oil producers. Angola ranks 44th out of the 52 countries measured this year (the two Sudans have been temporarily removed while the foundation tries to separate statistics for them). That is three ranks down from where it stood for a few years. Its overall governance points are down three over the past five years.
    Nigeria ranks 37th: more or less constant, with no change in its overall points over the past five years. Equatorial Guinea ranks 45th for the fourth year – down one point over the past five years. The performances of Nigeria - especially now that it is Africa’s largest economy - and Angola are particularly disappointing, as they have so much potential to lift the whole continent.
    From the perspective of categories rather than countries, the foundation interprets this year’s index as illustrating a shift in the drivers of governance improvements, from economic to political. From 2005 to 2009, the overall improvement in governance had largely been driven by improvement in the categories of sustainable economic opportunity and human development. Over the last five years, the progress had instead mainly come from improvements in the categories of participation and human rights, the foundation says. This appeared to be another way of saying the long commodity boom, or super-cycle, was drawing to a close.
    As Lord Cairns, a board member of the foundation, remarked: “Perhaps some of the low-hanging fruit of better economic management have been garnered. The challenge grows for the continent to become a fully competitive force in the global market at a time when commodity price trends are becoming less helpful to many countries on the continent.”
    Ibrahim himself remarked when the index was announced this week that ‘the results of the 2014 IIAG challenge our perceptions about the state of African governance.’ He added, ‘Africa is progressing, but the story is complex and does not fit the stereotypes. Even if the overall picture looks good, we must all remain vigilant and not get complacent.’
    It was not perfectly clear what he meant by the index not reinforcing stereotypes. He might have meant that participation and human rights buoyed the overall index this year, even as the economic indicators declined. Yet the improvement in participation and human rights was not, on the face of it, very dramatic; showing an overall improvement of 2.4 points over the five-year period 2009 to 2013, compared to the previous five-year period.
    But Ibrahim was certainly right to warn that the results gave no cause for complacency. He was also right when he said the correct stance on Africa is not the Afro-pessimism of the past nor the Afro-optimism of the current Africa Rising narrative, but Afro-realism.
    His own index bears that out as objectively as one can. That incremental improvement in governance of just 0.9 points out of 100 in the past five years tells us, among many other things, that the perceptions about the continent have exaggerated the reality, in both directions.
    But more pertinently perhaps, the index suggests that Africa still has a long way to go, and has to move much faster if it is to overcome its chronic problems of poverty, underdevelopment and insecurity.
    If the index is rightly interpreted to mean that improvements in democratic governance just evened out the tailing off of the commodity boom last year, that balance cannot be counted upon to remain positive forever. 

    - Peter Fabricius, Foreign Editor, Independent Newspapers, South Africa. This article first appeared in the ISS Today
    Peter Fabricius
  • Calls for Renewed Global Push to End Poverty

    In the report, ‘Financing Africa’s Future: The Fight Against Poverty’, the ONE campaign laments setbacks in the fight to eradicate extreme poverty around the world and called for a renewed drive to that end.
    ONE says that some progress has been made, noting that the proportion of people living on less than US$1.25 a day has been halved over the past two decades.
    The organisation praises such countries as Britain, Japan, Germany, Norway France, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands for increased aid.
    The advocacy organisation of nearly six million people - cofounded by Bono of the music group U2 - aims to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa, and is funded by foundations, individual philanthropists and corporations.

    To read the article titled, “Advocacy group urges renewed global push to end Africa poverty,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • Fragile States Unable to Meet Citizens Needs

    According to Sue George, editor of Guardian Creative, fragile states - low-income countries where the state is weak due to disagreements over its legitimacy or capabilities – are often unable to meet their citizens’ basic needs.
    According to the World Bank, progress to ending extreme poverty is much slower in fragile states than elsewhere and it estimates that by 2030, 40 percent of the world’s poor will live in states that are fragile or affected by conflict.
    As a result, many organisations working in various parts of the development sector have projects designed to improve this situation.
    To read the article titled, “Expect the unexpected: starting successful partnerships in fragile states, click here.

    The Guardian
  • Angola’s Poverty Programme Commended

    Fernando Pontes Pereira, the State secretary for local Administration within Angola’s Ministry of Territorial Administration, states that the development works, in the framework of the integrated programme to fighting hunger and poverty are in a good path.

    Pereira asserts that among the programmes in execution, greater attention has been given to the projects in education and water supply.

    He further adds that, the quality of works must be taken in account - the human resources and other factors - as a situation that guarantees the materialisation of infrastructures.

    To read the article titled, “State secretary praises works of programme against poverty,” click here.

    All Africa
  • NGO Heading to Gaza for Relief Efforts

    Humanitarian aid agency, the Gift of the Givers Foundation is preparing to travel to Gaza to assist with relief efforts.

    Gift of the Givers founder, director and chairperson, Imtiaz Sooliman, points out that, “This is probably one of the most dangerous missions we've ever undertaken in 22 years of our history. It is a mission for which we have got the greatest number of volunteers and medical volunteers.”

    Sooliman states that apart from medical volunteers, the organisation can probably fill three planes, adding that, “But you have to be practical, and you have to take people who can save lives."

    To read the article titled, “Gift of the Givers to travel to Gaza,” click here.

    SABC News
  • S Sudan, Worst Food Crisis in the World - UN

    The United Nations (UN) Security Council is calling for urgent funding to step up deliveries of desperately-needed aid as South Sudan's food crisis is now the worst in the world. 

    The agency says that approximately 3.9 million people - a staggering one in three people throughout the country - are going hungry as fighting continues in that country.

    The UN Security Council describes a “catastrophic food insecurity situation in South Sudan that is now the worst in the world” saying the country is on the threshold of a full-blown famine if fighting continues. 

    To read the article titled, “S Sudan ‘food crisis worst in the world’,” click here.

    IOL News
  • Food Aid Needed for Refugees in Africa

    The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have launched an urgent appeal to address a funding shortfall that has already resulted in food ration cuts for a third of all African refugees.

    In light of nearly 800 000 refugees in 22 African countries having their monthly food allocations reduced, most of them by more than half since mid-June, WFP appeals for US$186 million to maintain its food assistance to refugees through the end of the year, while UNHCR asks for US$39 million to fund nutritional support and food security activities to refugees in the affected countries.

    A joint report by WFP and UNHCR warns that the failure to prevent continued ration cuts will lead to high levels of malnutrition, particularly among children and the most vulnerable. 

    To read the article titled, “New thinking needed on food aid for refugees in Africa,” click here.

    IRIN News
  • Malawians Hard Hit by Poverty

    As Malawi marks 50 years of freedom from colonial rule, numerous locals say the country today is living in a new form of bondage: poverty.

    At an event in the capital Lilongwe, thousands of Malawians, along with African leaders, including Zimbabwe President, Robert Mugabe, are expected to mark five decades of freedom from Britain.

    Malawi’s president, Peter Mutharika, will use the event to mark five decades of freedom from Britain in Lilongwe, to outline government’s plans for the fragile economy in a keynote address that also marks the 20-year anniversary of multi-party democracy.

    To read the article titled, “Fifty years after independence, Malawians struggle under grinding poverty,” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
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