Africa: Focused On Ending Hunger, Africa Neglects Rising Obesity

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Dakar — In Africa people are often unaware that highly processed foods are unhealthy and do not necessarily see being overweight as a problem

Focused for decades on ending hunger, African countries have largely failed to address a rising obesity epidemic that could soon become the greater public health crisis, experts said as new data was released.

A quarter of the world’s 41 million overweight children under five live in Africa, a figure that has nearly doubled on the continent in the last two decades, according to the Global Nutrition Report published on Saturday.

There are still six times more children on the continent whose growth is stunted from malnutrition, and that number is also increasing, the report said.

But noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, most of which are obesity-related, are expected to become the biggest killer in Africa by 2030, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“Diets are changing, but they are not becoming more nutritious,” said Corinna Hawkes, co-chair of the Global Nutrition Report.

“We’re worried that because attention hasn’t been paid to this issue, obesity has had the space to grow,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

More than 30 percent of adults in Africa are overweight, according to WHO, with obesity rates nearing 10 percent even in very poor countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia.

In some places people are both overweight and malnourished, experts said. Sometimes a mother is obese but her children are stunted, said Hawkes.

Highly processed foods have become increasingly affordable and available worldwide, which is one of the primary drivers, said Bruce Lee, executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins University.

Moreover, in Africa people are often unaware that these foods are unhealthy and do not necessarily see being overweight as a problem, he said.

“If you have a country where the concern was always not getting enough food, it’s going to take a while to shift people’s perceptions,” Lee told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

West Africa’s regional health organisation (WAHO) makes no mention of weight gain or obesity in all 60 pages of its 2016-2020 strategic plan, although it notes “alarming” rates of diabetes and growing prevalence of high blood pressure.

Aid organisations that address hunger should adapt their existing programs to also prevent obesity, said Hawkes.

School meal programmes in West Africa, for example, are usually focused on making sure children get enough food but sometimes have no standards for quality, she said.

Obesity-related conditions are usually expensive to treat and will take a heavy toll on developing countries’ economies, experts say.

“If we invest in nutrition, we’ll be helping to achieve other development goals,” said Hawkes. “This is not a side issue.”

(Reporting By Nellie Peyton; Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://www.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source : Thomas Reuters Foundation

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Nigerian Farmers Blame Soaring Prices of Foodstuff on High Cost of Farm input

Govt. Should Create an Enabling Environment for Them-WAIDA President

Farmers in Nigeria  have blamed the  escalating prices of foodstuff in the country to the prohibitive cost of  farm inputs.

The farmers lamented that the present administration was yet to make public a clear cut policy direction on agriculture, that was farmer friendly.

They called on the Federal Government to create a conducive environment for farmers, as a step  towards bringing down the price of foodstuff.

”Go to the market, prices of farming equipment, chemicals and other inputs have gone beyond the reach of farmers, worse still the banks are not ready to give out loans at friendly interest rates”, the farmers disclosed.

In reaction to the present scheme of things in the country,  President, West Agro Input Dealers Association(WAIDA), Chief  Olayinka Akinmade  called on the Government to create an enabling environment for farmers.

”Government should provide an enabling environment in each situation where farmers are having difficulties. In the United States, it goes beyond just giving subsidy to farmers, when they know that farmers there,  have farm produce and they cannot sell, they even go to the extent of taking these products together and then pouring it back into the system, so that they can control the output of the farmers, and ensure that each farmer is able to return to the farm, but  not in Nigeria. There is surplus, and we feel unhappy and we withdraw from the farm, only for scarcity to creep in, the following year and everybody now rushing after that, it goes on and on. This is not encouraging the farmers”, Chief  Akinmade concluded.

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Kano Wheat Farmers Get N50m Loan

The Kano state Government has given out N50 million as loan to the  state chapter of the  Wheat Farmers Association(WFAN), to aid its members  in storing their produce after harvest.

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According to the Chairman of the Association, Alhaji Farouk Rabi’u who made this disclosure,  the association would give out interest free loans to all its members, so as to assist them in protecting their products all through the season.

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Alhaji Rabi’u emphasized that the interest free loan was repayable, after the farmers must have sold their produce.

The programme titled ”Warehousing Finance Receipt Programme’ would ensure that farmers receive 30 per cent  value of their products as loans, while they would be required to pay a token for the storage of their products.

 

 

 

 

Animal Vaccines Should Be Administered By Professionals-Vet Doctor

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The indiscriminate administration of  of vaccines on  animals by non professionals, has been  condemned.

This condemnation was made by a Veterinary Doctor, Dr. Oumide Ogunjobi, the Operations Manager  of a Veterinary Consulting Firm, in Ibadan, Nigeria.

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Indeed, vaccines are sold, and  administered  on animals, by mostly unqualified people, who learned the process informally.

”We’ve been trying to ensure that only Veterinary Doctors have access to vaccines, vaccines are biologicals that are used for the immunization of animals. If animals are not well immunized, vaccinated, there is no way , we will be able to control and prevent the outbreak of diseases. Any vaccines  that would be given in the state, a Veterinary Doctor must be involved. Everywhere you go, you see people selling veterinary drugs, but if  we ensure that only registered Veterinary Doctors are consulting in these  outlets, there will be sanity”, Dr. Ogunjobi concluded.

Africa: UN – U.S.$4.4 Billion Needed to Prevent ‘Catastrophe’ of Famine

The United Nations needs $4.4bn by the end of next month to prevent “a catastrophe” of hunger and famine in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, according to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

More than 20 million people face starvation in the four countries and action is needed now to avert a humanitarian disaster, Guterres told a news conference at UN headquarters on Wednesday.

“We need $4.4 billion by the end of March to avert a catastrophe,” he said.

So far, the UN has raised just $90m.

South Sudan on Monday declared a famine in northern Unity State while Fews Net, the famine early warning system, has said that some remote areas of northeast Nigeria are already affected by starvation since late last year.

The four famine alerts are unprecedented in recent decades.

There has only been one famine since 2000, in Somalia. At least 260,000 people died in that disaster – half of them children under the age of five, according to the UN World Food Program.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF this week said almost 1.4 million children acutely malnourished in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen could die from famine in the coming months.

Of the four famine alerts, only one – Somalia – is caused by drought, while the other three are the result of conflicts, also described as “man-made food crises”.

“The situation is dire,” said Guterres.

“Millions of people are barely surviving in the space between malnutrition and death, vulnerable to diseases and outbreaks, forced to kill their animals for food and eat the grain they saved for next year’s seeds.”

The appeal for international action came as humanitarian aid groups are already struggling to meet needs in Syria and cope with the global refugee crisis.

This story from Al Jazeera was supplied to AllAfrica under an agreement with the Africa Media Agency

Source : All Africa

Tanzania: We’ll Table Confidence Vote Against JPM – Zitto

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Dar es Salaam — The Alliance for Democratic Change (ACT-Wazalendo) has said it would table in Parliament a motion of no confidence against President John Magufuli in the event of some Tanzanians dying of hunger.

This was said by ACT Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe during a campaign rally for Kijichi Ward councillor’s seat.

Mr Kabwe said President Magufuli would become the first country’s Head of State to face a vote of no confidence in Parliament should people die for lack of food.

The ACT-Wazalendo leader said according to Article 46 (a) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, Parliament may debate a “No confidence vote” if at least 20 per cent of Members of Parliament support the move.

“If the Opposition members would unite, then President Magufli would become the first Head of State in the county’s to face a confidence motion,” Mr Kabwe said.

The party leader added that the President must stop heaping blame on some politicians and the media claiming that they were politicising the famine reports.

“We, ACT-Wazalendo are urging the President to be responsive because this is a democratic country; not everyone holding a different view over matters of the country (contrary to that of the government) has been bribed,” he said.

Mr Kabwe advised the President to observe the Constitution in the course of discharging his duties.

According to the firebrand opposition politician, it was the constitutional duty of the government to protect its people in the event of any calamity or disaster.

At the same time, he called on the Head of State to remember that no one was above the law.

Mr Kabwe furthered that ACT-Wazalendo will continue to criticise the government whenever things were not being run properly.

He urged Tanzanians, regardless of their political affiliation, to open up on the state of food in the country.

The ACT-Wazalendo leader said further that although the President has played down the famine reports, only time would tell who between the government and the Opposition was telling the truth.

Mr Kabwe commended religious leaders for weighing in on the matter.

The prevailing drought in parts of the country has made the Catholic Church to issue a pastoral letter to its believers calling them to pray for rain.

In the letter dispatched to bishops, the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) President, Bishop Tarcisius Ngalalekumtwa, warned that the country was facing a dire situation due to the prolonged dry season.

Bishop Ngalalekumtwa, who is the head of the Catholic Church in Tanzania, asked bishops to organise special masses from yesterday for congregations to pray so that it would rain in the country.

The ACT-leader claimed further that although the President has done well in restoring discipline in the public sector, some of his statements have not only hurt wananchi but have also been scaring away investors. “It is not right for the President to address the masses as if he was still in the election campaigns. He should focus on building the country as well as generating employment opportunities,” he said.

Calls from a cross-section of leaders have continued to mount on the government to accept the real situation on the ground and take action to forestall a crisis over the unpredictability of the situation.

Scores of regional government officials have signalled stress arising from drought and death of livestock in their areas but the national government is yet to issue a firm direction on how to respond to the growing famine threat. In his recent addresses at public rallies, President Magufuli denied there is famine threat and stressed that his government would not give food relief to anyone.

Rwanda: Gasabo Youth Makes Fortune From Banana Stems

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Banana is like the tale about seven blind people and the elephant. To some people, it’s food, for a farmer it is fodder for animals, and for alcohol manufacturers; it is a raw material for some gins and beer like Urwagwa.

But for one youth in Gasabo district in Kigali province of Rwanda, the banana plant has a whole new meaning. Every morning, Celse Ngaruye wakes up in the morning to hunt for banana stems which he later makes into a final product: the banana lampshades.

When he has collected enough banana stems for the day, he chops them into small pieces, packs them in a sack and makes his way back to his art studio at Niyo Arts center based in Kacyiru. The banana stems are key raw material for his enteprise.

“Apart from the bulb and sockets, our final product is uniquely Rwandan,” he explains. Ngaruye says since he started the enterprise, he has had steady stream of customers, mostly tourists, who are impressed by the unique lampshades made from local products.

“I sell most of these eco-friendly products during the tourism peak periods, from May to November. This is the time, when many tourists flock into the country,” he says.

He says the lampshades he makes during the other months target local clients.

He adds that his other buyers include big hotels around Kigali, and individuals, who like ambiance the local lampshades create in bedrooms or living rooms.

“I have already started getting bulk orders from key hospitality industry players, like hotels. When they make their orders, they are free to dictate the style of the lampshades. I don’t mind this since I value my clients and their opinions,” says Ngaruye.

He notes that what has also endeared him to customers is the fact that buyers are free to choose their favourite colours.

He explains that the lampshades come in different colours, depending on the hue of the paper and ‘ibitenge’ fabrics used. Each lampshade costs between $100 (about Rwf80,000) and $150 (about Rwf120,000), when he sells to tourists, while Rwandans buy them at a bargain price.

The former visual artist says he has now concentrated on making lampshades abandoning his first love – painting – “because this business is more lucrative.”

“I realised that there’s a lot of competition when it comes to visual arts since many youth are into it. But making banana paper lampshades is a new phenomenon in Rwanda… it’s still a virgin field,” he says.

Challenges

Ngaruye, who is soon holding a banana lampshade exhibition, says since his main buyers are tourists, that “business is low during off season (time when there are few tourists coming into the country)”.

Source : The Independent(Kampala)

Zambia: Mealie Meal Price Skyrockets – 25 Kg = K100 – Fuel May Go Up to K21 Per Litre

Biting economic conditions are sweeping through Zambia with a bag of 25 kg mealie meal hitting the K100 mark in Lusaka.

A survey of locations selling meali4e meal, a form of powder made out of corn and is Zambia’s staple food, show prices swinging between K90 and K100 in urban areas. Reports also indicate the commodity has broke beyond the K100 mark in remote areas.

There are indication a 25 kg is going for between K150 to K200 in North-Western Province. Meanwhile, the price of fuel may go up a month after it was adjusted. This follows a slight increase of the commodity on the market.

According to available information, a litre of petrol may fetch up to K21 prompting an opposition leader to take proactive action by asking the government to reconsider any price adjustment.

IMPENDING INCREASE IN THE PUMP PRICE OF FUEL AGAIN

I humbly appeal to President Edgar Lungu on behalf of fellow Zambians not to increase the Pump Price of Fuel again. I am reliably informed that a decision to increase fuel to K21 per litre has just been made.

Our economy is headed for a recession and taking any action which increases the cost of production exacerbates the situation. UPP is ready to sit down with the government and provide our humble direction on what we ought to do for the sake of our nation.

UPP is scheduled to hold a major news conference by mid November, 2016. We shall write our first official letter to the President immediately after the conference.

God bless you! God bless Zambia!

Saviour Chishimba

UPP PRESIDENT

Source : Zambia Reports

Africa: Why Urban Agriculture Isn’t a Panacea for Africa’s Food Crisis

Analysis

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By Gareth Haysom, University of Cape Town and Jane Battersby

Urban agriculture is widely promoted as the solution to the growing problem of urban food insecurity in South Africa and in Africa more broadly. It is said to provide livelihoods and social cohesion, and have environmental benefits. But it’s also promoted as having additional food security benefits.

It is the primary, and usually the only, food security policy of local governments, and the focus of many NGOs and corporate social investment programmes.

There is, however, very little evidence to support this level of investment and focus.

It is thus important to critically assess whether the promotion of urban agriculture is warranted, particularly when it is at the expense of other potential solutions. We simply cannot afford to keep polishing the lamp and hoping the genie will appear.

Research shows something else

Proponents of urban agriculture offer figures suggesting that as many as 40% of African urban residents are involved in some form of agriculture. Such figures require far greater interrogation. In the case of Cape Town in South Africa, research conducted in low-income areas of the city in 2008 found that less than 5% of poor residents were involved in any form of urban agriculture. In reality, those most active in urban agriculture were found to be wealthier people in low-income areas.

Context is a further determining factor. Research shows that in towns where the municipal boundary extended into areas with more rural characteristics, urban agriculture was higher.

In South Africa this finding is supported by the 2011 census, which identified more than 30% of the population practising urban agriculture in medium-sized towns like Mafikeng, Polokwane and Newcastle. In Mogale City and Johannesburg, larger settlements with large urban settlements adjacent, the practice was well below 10%. And in Cape Town it was below 5%. Context, climate, soil fertility and spatial legacies all matter.

There is little evidence to suggest urban agriculture is contributing to food and nutrition security, either locally or internationally. The incomes from sales of produce are generally low, so the indirect food security benefits are limited.

Assumptions without evidence

The assumption in much advocacy work and policy is that urban agriculture benefits the most food-insecure households. But numerous case studies show this is not the case.

Two themes are implicit in motivations for urban agriculture. The first is welfare driven. The second is a narrative that calls for self-help interventions so that the poor initiate their own food security through urban agriculture. This assumes free time for the under-employed poor, who pursue multiple strategies to survive.

Linked to this is the assumption that the food insecure can get access to land, water, seeds and everything else they need. This misses the reality of poverty. State and NGO programmes do facilitate access to such resources, but the most vulnerable lack the knowledge or social networks to access these.

Urban agriculture is often promoted as a means of empowerment. But expecting the urban poor, who have the least access to resources, to grow their own and lift themselves out of poverty and food insecurity fails to recognise the barriers constraining urban agriculture. That isn’t empowerment; it’s the cruelty of false promises.

So where does the dogged pursuit of urban agriculture as the solution come from?

Local governments have no direct food security mandate, as food insecurity is still considered by most states to be primarily a rural problem. This means local governments wishing to address food insecurity adapt rural programmes to meet urban needs.

Food insecurity is seen as a household poverty problem and not a systemic problem. The obvious household response is food production.

The state is largely unwilling to address the systemic drivers of food insecurity, which would entail regulating food companies and challenging the dominant development agenda.

Looked at in this light it is possible to view the increased promotion of urban agriculture as a politically reactionary response. It claims to be aimed at fixing the worst effects of structural poverty and food insecurity. But it doesn’t actually address the root causes.

Changes that need to be made

For as long as urban agriculture remains local government’s main entry point for addressing food insecurity, it is essential that programming be improved.

First, more effort needs to made in monitoring and evaluation of government-run initiatives. Though inputs are monitored well, outputs and impact monitoring are extremely weak. This means many programmes are failing and lessons are not being learnt.

Second, many NGOs working in urban agriculture have sustainable, viable projects. Local government should work more directly with these to increase the viability of state-initiated projects.

And if urban agriculture is to be a main focus area for food security programming, then suitable land should be identified and protected.

But urban food security efforts need to look beyond urban agriculture. For example, it is essential that local governments understand the food system in which urban agriculture operates to understand why producers struggle to find markets for their goods. This would allow them to develop a range of interventions based on their existing mandates, including integrating formal and informal food retailing spaces, and supporting fresh produce markets to increase their role in local, pro-poor food value chains.

Finally, local governments should develop food security strategies to guide their interventions. Through these measures, urban agriculture can remain integral to efforts to alleviate food insecurity and would be more likely to have the desired impact.

It is clear that urban agriculture can have significant benefits for some participating households. But we are concerned about the absence of wider evidence supporting its potential to address food insecurity beyond those households. The assertion that urban agriculture can provoke systemic change is untested. Through their dogged promotion of urban agriculture, the state and the private sector can claim they are working towards food insecurity and have a good photo op with key personnel in wellington boots. At the same time they can absolve themselves from responsibility for the causes of food insecurity.

Disclosure statement

Gareth Haysom received funding from from CIDA (AFSUN Programme) and currently receives funding from the ESRC/DFID (Consuming Urban Poverty Project) and IDRC (Hungry Cities Partnership programme).

Jane Battersby has received funding from CIDA (AFSUN Programme) and FORMAS (Ways of Knowing Urban Ecology Project). She currently receives funding from the ESRC/DFID (Consuming Urban Poverty Project).

Source  :The Conversation

Zimbabwe: Drought Claims 24 800 Cattle

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The number of cattle that have died due to drought has risen to 24 801 countrywide, director of economics and marketing in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Mr Clemence Bwenje said yesterday.

Speaking at a multi-stakeholder meeting held in Harare bringing together experts in agriculture — Mr Bwenje said more cattle died last month.

Masvingo province recorded almost 50 percent (12 373) of the deaths.

He said the Government was mobilising money to feed 227 417 cattle.

“Livestock Drought Mitigation Programme through destocking and provision of subsidised livestock feed targeting 227 417 cattle requires $53 878 825,” he said.

He said farmers were not willing to sell their cattle because most of them were in poor condition and would fetch low prices.

Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers’ Union president Mr Wonder Chabikwa said the recent rains being experienced in the country would go a long in saving the livestock.

“We were actually in a big dilemma due to the drought that hit our country, but we are now happy that almost every part of the country is receiving rains. These rains will save our livestock that was under threat and farmers will be more secure if these rains continue until April,” he said.

Source : The Herald (Harare)