Kenya: Uhuru Offers Raila Special Envoy Post
13 April 2013
PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta has asked former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to become a special envoy for Kenya.
The initial offer was made on Easter Monday at a private evening meeting at the home of a city businessman in Muthaiga. The meeting was also attended by Deputy President William Ruto.
On Thursday morning Ruto called Raila to repeat the offer and spoke to him for more than ten minutes. He reportedly told Raila that it was important that he worked with Uhuru's administration to unite the country.
The Deputy President emphasized that he and Uhuru were keen to have Raila play the role of an eminent Kenyan locally, in Africa, and around the world.
"He appealed to Raila to consider the role because the Kenyatta administration did not want his experience and international connections to go to waste," said an associate of the Deputy President.
Raila reportedly wished Ruto and the President success as they start their term in office and promised to do whatever he could to help them succeed.
Ruto and Raila agreed to speak again on Thursday evening together with President Kenyatta and agree on a possible second meeting with a clear agenda. It is not known if they did in fact speak again on Thursday evening.
Raila's spokesman Dennis Onyango has confirmed that the two spoke and said the discussion on the issue was ongoing.
"The Deputy President thanked the former PM for his statement on arrival from South Africa to the effect that he and the CORD team were ready to engage constructively. He told Raila that he personally has no hard feelings against the former PM and neither does Uhuru," said Onyango.
Yesterday Raila's aides were in meetings ahead of the Cord retreat this weekend at Great Rift Valley lodge.
The retreat will discuss how CORD will conduct itself inside and outside of Parliament as the official opposition, as well as the role of Raila for the next five years.
At the Easter Monday meeting, the President reportedly wanted to hold a joint press conference with Raila to assure their supporters that they would work together to unite the country.
Uhuru and Ruto were concerned about an interview by Raila broadcast by the BBC shortly after the Supreme Court ruling on Easter Saturday.
Raila told the BBC that Uhuru's victory on March 4 was "predetermined and manipulated by a few technocrats".
"It is a replica of what exactly happened in 2007. What is the point of going to polls if results are going to be pre-determined? Voter apathy will be high in the next five years and Kenyans may look for other ways. We want to avoid people looking for other means," Raila told the BBC.
Uhuru and Ruto won the election with 50.07 percent, just 8,000 votes more than needed for a simple majorit, but a considerable 800,000 votes ahead of Raila who received 43.7 percent.
East Africa: Half a Million Kenyans, Ethiopians Face Conflict, Hunger Due to Dam - Report
15 April 2013
The Gibe III hydropower dam, due for completion in 2014, is being built on the Omo River in southern Ethiopia. It will reduce the flow of water to farmers and pastoralists living downstream, including those 600 kilometres to the south in Kenya, where the river flows into Lake Turkana, the world's largest desert lake.
The British government's Department for International Development (DFID) is one of many international donors funding Ethiopia's Protection of Basic Services (PBS) programme, which subsidises basic services and local government salaries.
This includes areas where people are being relocated to make way for the dam, part of a wider programme to resettle people into designated villages - known as villagisation - begun in 2010.
Survival argues that the forced resettlment of thousands of tribal people could not be carried out without the DFID-funded PBS programme.
"UK money is bankrolling the destruction of some of the best-known pastoralist peoples in Africa," Stephen Corry, director of Survival said in a statement. "The UK government is renowned for only paying lip service to human rights obligations where tribal peoples are concerned. When it comes to human rights in Ethiopia, DFID's many commitments are worthless."
It is not the first time that the PBS programme has come under fire.
Last year, the London-based law firm Leigh Day began legal action against DfID on behalf of an Ethiopian man, known as Mr O, who claims he suffered severe abuse under the villagisation programme.
DFID visited the Lower Omo, where it heard reports of rape and intimidation, but it has not been able to substantiate the claims.
Survival International cites three recent reports by Oxford University, International Rivers and the Africa Resources Working Group to support its case.
The Africa Resources Working Group report warns of "an impending human rights and ecological catastrophe" and a "very real threat of mass starvation and armed conflict in the border region."
The International Rivers report says that those who lose their homes and livelihoods are "likely to seek out resources on their neighbours' lands in the Kenya-Ethiopia-Sudan borderlands."
"Well armed, primed by past grudges and often divided by support from different state and local governments, these conflicts can be expected to be bloody and persistent," it said.
The Ethiopian government is planning to use the water to develop large-scale irrigation schemes, create jobs and generate huge amounts of electricity to power the region.
Today, the world is searching for solutions to a series of global challenges unprecedented in their scale and complexity. Food insecurity, malnutrition, climate change, rural poverty and environmental degradation are all among them.
A recent meeting hosted by the Irish government and the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice (MRFCJ) in Dublin convened experts and practitioners from around the globe to discuss how the next iteration of development goals following the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can respond to this set of challenges, as part of the so-called "post-2015" development agenda.
Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly vulnerable to these threats as both supply-side and demand-side challenges are putting additional pressure on an already fragile food production system.
Indeed, current systems of production will only be able to meet 13 percent of the continent's food needs by 2050, while three out of four people added to the planet between now and 2100 will be born in the region.
Improving agricultural yields efficiently and sustainably must be central in addressing Africa's food insecurity challenges. This calls for "sustainable intensification".
Sustainable intensification offers a framework for producing more food with less impact on the environment, intensifying food production while ensuring the natural resource base on which agriculture depends is sustained, and indeed improved, for future generations.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the term has taken on a highly politicised meaning, with some arguing it is synonymous with industrial agriculture reliant on a high use of fertilisers and pesticides. But this does not have to be the case.
The term's original scientific intent was for it to be relevant to all types of agricultural systems, including smallholder farmers in Africa. It is now time that the term is re-embraced to help meet the challenges we face as a global population of 9 billion people by the year 2050.
REPORT POINTS THE WAY
A new report from the Montpellier Panel, an eminent panel of international experts led by Sir Gordon Conway of Agriculture for Impact, provides innovative thinking and examples of how sustainable intensification can be used by smallholder African farmers to address the continent's food and nutrition crisis.
Africa: Invest in Water Storage to Secure the Future of Africa
By Ben Braga, 19 April 2013
Indeed, as the world population continues to increase and that population strives for higher standards of living, demands on our limited usable water resources grow. As a consequence, we are failing to keep up with water demands for the most basic human needs and, at the same time, we need to start having a different look towards water from a perspective of an engine for social and economic development.
The World Water Council has been advocating for global recognition of water security as a milestone for beyond the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. During the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York in October last year, we called on all countries in the word for a Pact on Water Security. The current efforts made by the UN to set a global definition of water security for next General Assembly are a promising objective.
An enormous challenge lies ahead of us to improve water security in Africa. An effective investment framework must be adapted to different levels and contexts, as water provides a useful basis for discussion and engagement between policymakers, investors and stakeholders in water and other sectors in Africa. Since 2008, the World Water Council has been working on a programme on water for growth and development in Africa and presenting the need for investment in water in Africa as leverage for growth and shared development.
Wise investments in managing and developing Africa's water resources are essential to the future growth and prosperity of the continent.
Foremost, this is a policy choice, but it must also be seen as an imperative. These investments are a necessary part of Africa's development, but need to be conditioned effectively within overall infrastructure improvements.
Forecasts say that five percent of Africa's GDP is lost annually due to poor access to water and sanitation, two percent due to power cuts, and five to 25 percent due to droughts and floods in affected countries. A further five percent could be lost in the future because of climate change.
Africa: UN Experts Urge World Bank to Adopt Human Rights Standards in Its Policies
18 April 2013
Ahead of a key meeting to review the World Bank's social policies, a group of United Nations independent experts called on the organization to adopt human rights standards to ensure its measures do not unintentionally harm the world's most vulnerable populations.
"All activities supported by the World Bank, not only its investment lending, should be included in the review to ensure consistency with international human rights standards," said the group of experts in a news release.
"Doing so would improve development outcomes and strengthen the protection of the world's poorest from unintended adverse impacts of activities financed by the Bank," they said.
The group consists of: the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter and the Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina.
Their call was made ahead of the conclusion of the first consultation period this weekend of a two-year review of the World Bank's social and environmental policies - also known as safeguard policies.
The review is an opportunity to broaden the World Bank's scope in areas related to human rights such as disability, gender, labour, land tenure, and the rights of indigenous people. A first draft of the revised policies, which will be open for public comment, is expected in the next few months.
"Unfortunately, economic development can have negative as well as positive impacts," said Ms. Sepúlveda. "Often, the poorest of the poor do not benefit from development, or even worse, it is undertaken at their expense."
For Mr. Anaya, the review "is an opportunity for the World Bank to heed the call of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which provides that States, intergovernmental organizations, and UN specialized agencies, including the World Bank, shall promote respect for full application and realization of, its provisions."
Mr. De Schutter said that large-scale World Bank projects often have a negative impact on land used by small-scale farmers, affecting their right to food.
"The updated safeguard policies must ensure that the voice of affected communities is more effectively heard, through inclusive and participatory impact assessments and through effective accountability mechanisms that provide effective remedies for any harm caused," he said.
Mr. Lumina said it was no longer acceptable to use the excuse that the World Bank is precluded by its Articles of Agreement from taking human rights into consideration in the design and implementation of its policies and projects.
"The Articles allow, and in some circumstances, enjoin the Bank to recognize the human rights implications of its development policies and activities," Mr. Lumina said. "We should not forget that States must also adhere to their international law obligations when they act through international organizations. The World Bank is no exception