BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, August 21, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States H.E Alahaji Muhammad Mumuni expressed delight at the smooth conduct of the two Presidential election rounds held in Mali on 28 July and 11 August 2013. The just ended electoral process in Mali which he described as transparent, credible, peaceful and democratic and was testified to by all the national and international observers, illustrates the entrenchment of democratic values in the ACP Group and the Group’s commitment to these values.
The Secretary-General was convinced that the election of a new President of the Republic will make a decisive contribution to the smooth implementation of the reconciliation and dialogue process initiated in Mali after a long period of politico-military crisis and will further galvanise the commitment of the international community for the reconstruction of Mali.
The Secretary-General addressed his most heartfelt congratulations to the President elect of the Republic of Mali, Mr. Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, on his electoral victory and wished him success in the performance of his future functions.
The Secretary-General also commended the other presidential candidate, Mr. Soumaïla Cissé, for his brilliant and dynamic electoral campaign and for conceding victory to his opponent, as a proof of his commitment to republican and democratic values.
The Secretary-General also wishes to express his admiration for and appreciation to H.E. Mr. Dioncounda Traoré, Interim President of the Republic of Mali, for his courage, self-denial and successful conduct of the transition of his country to the benefit of the entire nation of Mali, more particularly the exemplarity of the elections that requires special mention due to the tight deadlines to be met and the conditions in which they were held.
The Secretary-General finally paid homage to the public-spiritedness of the people of Mali for overcoming the various traumatic upheavals caused by the recent politico-military crisis in order to take up their responsibilités by choosing a leader to preside over the destinies of the Malian nation for the years ahead.
The Secretary-General of the ACP Group hopes that this Presidential election will mark the rebirth of a proud, united and prosperous Mali.
PRETORIA, South-Africa, August 20, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — To tweet this news, copy and paste #MasterCard and #sassagrants celebrate the issuing of 10 million SASSA Debit MasterCard social grant payment cards http://bit.ly/16XQukE
MasterCard, (http://www.mastercard.com) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), (http://www.sassa.gov.za/) today announced that there are 10 million active SASSA Debit MasterCard cards in South Africa, following the introduction of the new biometric grant payment disbursement system that commenced in March 2012.
This milestone marks the conclusion of the re-registration phase of the project, with social grant beneficiaries having received their new Debit MasterCard cards with biometric functionality, issued by Grindrod Bank, (http://www.grindrodbank.co.za) in association with SASSA and Net1 UEPS Technologies (Net1), (http://www.net1.com/).
Since March 2012, just under 22 million social grant beneficiaries (1) have re-registered onto the new system introduced by SASSA to minimise fraudulent grant applications and collections and reduce grant administration costs by distributing all grant payments electronically.
A crucial feature of the SASSA card’s biometric functionality is that it positively identifies social grant recipients using unique identifiers such as fingerprints, voice and other personal information, which means that the SASSA cards cannot be used by any person other than the approved beneficiary to collect his/her grant.
“A key driver of the new system was to put stringent measures in place for SASSA to ensure that only qualifying grant recipients – those really in need – are authorised to receive one of seven grants that SASSA offers. Between April 2012 and June 2013, over 150,000 grants were cancelled, which has led to a saving of R150 million (about US$15.1 million) per annum,” explained Virginia Petersen CEO, SASSA.
By simply moving all grant payments from largely cash payments, which were costly, cumbersome and riddled with inefficiencies, to electronic payments, the new system has already saved SASSA a considerable amount in grant administration costs. Before March 2012, it cost SASSA on average R33 (US$3.33) per grant to pay beneficiaries. Under the new system, disbursement costs have been capped at R16.44 (US$1.66) per payment.
To mark the occasion, Ann Cairns, (http://bit.ly/RJQ4c4) President of International Markets, MasterCard presented SASSA with a commemorative award to acknowledge SASSA’s world-leading social grants payment programme on her visit to South Africa to celebrate the milestone achievement.
“By supporting the South African government in the implementation of a cost-effective electronic payments programme, we are helping them save money, improve efficiencies and prevent fraud,” said Cairns. “More importantly, we are opening up a world of financial inclusion to millions of South Africans who haven’t previously had access to traditional financial services.”
Between March 2012 and July 2012, the SASSA Debit MasterCard card was cited as the main contributing factor to the 4% growth in the country’s banked population from 63% in 2011, to 67% in 2012 according to the FinScope South Africa 2012 survey (http://bit.ly/14RKiG9). As at July 2012, 2.5 million SASSA MasterCard (http://bit.ly/P9F5S9) cards had been issued to grant recipients. Since then an additional 7.5 million cards have been issued to grant recipients which should further increase financial inclusion in South Africa.
“Millions of South Africans lack access to the most basic financial tools. They don’t have secure places to save money or reliable means to transfer it and use it for transacting. Through the introduction of the SASSA Debit MasterCard card, nearly one fifth of the South African population, (http://www.statssa.gov.za/Publications/P03014/P030142011.pdf) now benefits from having a formal banking product, helping them build a stronger future for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Cairns.
As part of the SASSA re-registration process, each recipient has a bank account opened for them, which is offered free of monthly charges by Grindrod Bank. Recipients can deposit funds into their bank account via electronic funds transfer (EFT) or third party bank transfer.
The SASSA Debit MasterCard card can be used anywhere MasterCard cards are accepted, and grant recipients can make purchases, check their account balances and withdraw cash at till points without incurring transaction charges at selected South African retailers. Recipients can also withdraw cash at any ATM, which does however attract transaction charges.
“Ten million cards distributed to grant recipients in just 17 months is an outstanding achievement. What is more remarkable, however, is the impact that the SASSA Debit MasterCard card has had, and will continue to have, on the lives of the grant beneficiaries, and on the national economy in general,” said Cairns
“It is our goal to continue to introduce innovative payment solutions that help make transacting quicker, safer and more convenient for everyone, everywhere and whenever needed, and to realise MasterCard’s vision of creating a world beyond cash,” she concluded.
(1) Multiple grant beneficiaries can be loaded onto a single SASSA Debit MasterCard card
Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of MasterCard Worldwide.
For further information or media queries directed for the Department of Social Development or SASSA:
Ms Lumka Oliphant
+27 (0)83 484 8067
For media queries directed for MasterCard:
Birgit Fawkes, Tribeca Public Relations
+27 (0)82 349 4894
MasterCard (NYSE: MA), (www.mastercard.com), is a global payments and technology company. It operates the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard’s products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, (
https://twitter.com/MasterCardNews) join the discussion on the Cashless Conversations Blog (http://newsroom.mastercard.com/blog/) and subscribe, (http://newsroom.mastercard.com/subscribe/) for the latest news, (http://newsroom.mastercard.com/).
36th International LAUD Symposium
Short Title: LAUD 36
Date: 31-Mar-2014 – 02-Apr-2014
Location: Landau/Pfalz, Germany
Contact Person: Martin Pütz
Meeting Email: email@example.com
Call Deadline: 15-Sep-2013
36th International LAUD Symposium
Endangerment of Languages across the Planet:
The Dynamics of Linguistic Diversity and Globalization
University of Koblenz-Landau
Landau is a small city surrounded by the Southern Wine Route district of Southern Rhineland-Palatinate and close to the Black Forest (1 hour from Frankfurt airport).
Confirmed Plenary Speakers:
Peter Austin (University of London)
Bernd Heine (University of Cologne)
Lisa Lim (University of Hong Kong)
Rajend Mesthrie (University of Cape Town)
Salikoko Mufwene (University of Chicago)
Shana Poplack (University of Ottawa)
Suzanne Romaine (University of Oxford)
Sarah Thomason (University of Michigan)
Li Wei (University of London)
‘The disappearance of a language is like the disappearance of life-giving water sources: in a generation, a lake or river can be reduced to a series of water holes, then puddles, after which it may dry up …’(2010, The UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger)
Aim and Scope:
There is general consensus among linguists and language experts that slightly more than 7,000 languages (Ethnologue 2013) are spoken across the world today and that half of them are under threat of extinction within fifty to one hundred years. Today at least 3,000 tongues are endangered, seriously endangered or dying in many parts of the universe. It is a deplorable fact that many linguists have remained rather ignorant to the threat to most of the world’s languages until fairly recently. This conference aims to examine the reasons behind this dramatic loss of linguistic diversity, why this matters, and what can be done and achieved to document and support endangered, moribund and small languages especially in the context of an ever increasing globalized world. In fact, to date there is very little empirical research on the impact of globalization on endangered languages and language shift. How can a minority/indigenous language be maintained in this era of globalisation and what is the role of language policies and language planning strategies in multilingual contexts? And finally, what are the benefits of documenting and archiving endangered languages for linguistics, related disciplines and human cultural heritage in general, especially in the light of new advances in technology and data collection methodologies? In this vein, the context of globalization and language threat will be explored, with all the challenges and consequences involved and discussed from a variety of perspectives: sociolinguistics and the sociology of language, language contact, language policy/planning, language ecology, language endangerment and documentation.
The conference fee is EUR 75 and is payable on arrival.
2nd Call for Papers:
Call deadline: September 15, 2013
In the light of increasingly complex and variable multilingual environments and their impact on language endangerment the following thematic and partly overlapping areas of research will be explored:
Theme session 1:
Language Endangerment, Language Ecology and Globalization
The first session examines the richness and complexity of linguistic diversity and language contact situations from the perspective of language endangerment, with a focus on case studies from around the world. In this regard, topics such as the diversification of languages, their adaptation to new ecologies, and the relation between linguistic and biological diversity (i.e. ecolinguistics) will be discussed. In the context of globalization, the impact of English in different parts of the world, such as Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific region will be explored. The spread of English to virtually all parts of the world has brought along completely new challenges to the research in this area, such as the effects of the gradual shift in the functions of language (e.g. Europe), as well as the impact of the ever increasing changing role of English as a second language and as the preferred language in communication among non-native speakers from a variety of lingui!
stic backgrounds. The contemporary global processes of socio-cultural, economic and environmental disruption represent a threat to the world’s fast-declining linguistic diversity. Globalisation also entails discussion of attitudinal and ethnic identity factors as necessary for conflict resolution.
In particular, we invite abstracts on the following topics:
- Linguistic diversity and endangerment: case studies
- Language, ecology and environment (ecolinguistics)
- Globalization, power and the status of threatened languages
- Globalization, Englishisation and post-colonial English
- Effects of the spread of English from colonialism to the ”New World Order”
- Relationships between majority languages, indigenous minority languages and newer migrant minority languages
- Globalisation and endangered pidgins and creoles
- Linguistic diversity, biodiversity and poverty
- Attitudes, beliefs and ethnic identity
Theme Session 2:
Language Endangerment, Language Policy/Planning and Ideology
When languages and linguistic varieties are endangered, language policy often takes the form of specific ideologies and attitudes that underlie language planning strategies and language management. This session explores language policy and language planning models, activities associated with minority and endangered languages, and issues such as linguistic imperialism and language inequality in communities around the world. Are language policies the way to maintain and promote an endangered minority language or can they sometimes be counterproductive? In this vein, should we insist on promoting and implementing mother tongue education or should we further encourage the use of an ex-colonial and official language such as English in multilingual and multicultural contexts?
In particular, we invite abstracts on the following topics:
- Language policy, the nation and nationalism
- Cognitive models of language policy (rationalist vs. romantic)
- Language inequality and linguistic imperialism
- Empowerment of the populations through the use of indigenous languages
- Linguistic human rights
- Colonial and post-colonial language policies (e.g. Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific)
- Language policy and medium of instruction in education
- Language planning and policy in the context of protection of linguistic diversity vs. promotion of linguistic homogeneity
- Governmental support of endangered languages as a moral obligation
Theme Session 3:
Language Endangerment and Documentation
One response to language endangerment has been the creation of a new discipline within linguistics labeled language documentation or documentary linguistics. With the disappearance of unwritten and undocumented languages, humanity would lose not only an invaluable portion of its linguistic and cultural wealth but also important ancestral knowledge embedded, in particular, in indigenous languages. The last session, therefore, aims to assess what can be done to promote the documentation, preservation and revitalization of endangered languages. A further question concerns the forms and functions in the structural system of an endangered language. For example, from the perspective of cognitive semantics, metaphors are considered to play an important role in the ecosystem of endangered languages: they appear not to be universal but rather shaped by the sociocultural worldviews of native speakers.
In particular, we invite abstracts on the following topics:
- The role of the linguist in language maintenance, promotion and revitalization
- Degrees of endangerment: ethnolinguistic vitality
- Revitalization of endangered languages: case studies
- Language obsolescence and language death
- Language documentation and documentary linguistics
- Information technologies: digital archiving and the role of the new media
- Language preservation projects and language activism (e.g. Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project, etc.)
- Structural changes in endangered language systems
- Endangered metaphors and metaphors in endangered languages
Submission of Abstracts:
Submissions are invited for oral presentations on the topics described above. Contributions should focus on results from completed as well as ongoing research, with an emphasis on current approaches, methods, and perspectives, whether theoretical, descriptive, sociolinguistic or corpus-based.
Submissions are solicited for theme session presentations by one or two authors within a thirty-minute period, including time for discussion.
All submissions for presentations should be in line with the following abstract guidelines:
- 1 page (approximately 500 words), single-spaced, font size 12 pt, Times New Roman, 2.5 cm margins on all sides
- The subject header of your email should include: Abstract LAUD 2014 – name/s.
- Please include the following information in the main body of your email: name of author/s, affiliation, email address, presentation title.
- Please also state for which of the 3 theme sessions, as listed above, your contribution is intended.
Abstracts should be submitted to Martin Pütz (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Monika Reif (email@example.com).
Notification of acceptance will be given by October 1, 2013.
Malawians brace for another year of hunger
MZIMBA, 16 August (IRIN) – The phrase on the lips of many Malawians these days, particularly in the north of the country is: “There will be hunger this year.”
In Karonga District, prolonged hot, dry spells caused maize crops in the southern part of the district to wilt. The dry spell was followed by heavy rains, which not only knocked down the wilting maize but also brought down several houses, affecting scores of people. In the northern part of the district, flooding filled rice paddies with sand, virtually burying the crop.
Rumphi and Mzimba districts – the hub of maize production in Malawi’s northern region – were also hit by dry spells starting from February.
As a result of the weather conditions, most farmers in the region harvested little maize. In fact, an annual food security forecast [ http://www.moafsmw.org/ocean/docs/Recent%20Reports/MVAC%20Annual%20Report%20June%202013_FINAL.pdf ] by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) – composed of the government, UN agencies and NGOs – predicted that 21 of the country’s 28 districts will face varying degrees of food insecurity until the next harvest in March 2014, with the northern region most severely affected.
Costs to rise
Across the region, residents have started buying and storing bags of maize to prepare for the steep price increases that normally accompany the peak of the lean season.
“Unlike in the past, when vendors were the ones buying the maize, most of those buying the maize this time around are people who say they are just stocking it for domestic use,” said Francis Chirwa, a farmer from Chitipa District, who was selling some of his maize.
Currently maize is selling at between 120 and 130 kwacha (between US$0.36 and $0.39) per kilogramme at points of production in rural areas. The MVAC report projects that prices will increase to 200 kwacha (about $0.60) per kilogramme by the peak lean period, which will fall between December 2013 and January 2014.
The MVAC report projected a slight increase in total maize production compared to last year, with a surplus of 194,000 metric tons beyond the national food requirement. However, the report also estimated that nearly 1.5 million people – representing 9.5 percent of the country’s total population – would need food assistance equivalent to 57,346 metric tons of maize over the coming months.
In its July to December 2013 food security outlook [ http://www.fews.net/docs/Publications/Malawi_OL_07_2013.pdf ], the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) suggested that the maize surplus could be less than projected because of a possible over-estimate of the amount of maize produced from the irrigated farming sector, which failed to take into account the lowered water table resulting from erratic rains.
The FEWSNET report also noted that rain-fed maize production was down by 27 per cent compared to last year in the area covered by the Mzuzu Agricultural Development Division (ADD) in the north and by 19 per cent in the central region areas covered by Kasungu ADD.
Meanwhile, the MVAC report attributes the maize surplus to the government’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP), which targets more than a million poor smallholder farmers with subsidised inputs such as fertilizer and seed. However, John Paul, project manager for the Building Resilience to Climate Change project run by the NGO Total Land Care, pointed out that “the success of the FISP lies in favourable weather conditions”.
“Most parts of the country have not received favourable rains over the past two years or so, and this period has exposed how vulnerable the FISP is,” he told IRIN. “There is a need for the implementation of the FISP to incorporate conservation agriculture technologies, such as maximum soil cover and limited tilling, as a way of fighting off the effects of dry spells.”
Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, made similar observations after completing an 11-day mission to Malawi in July. In a strongly worded statement [ http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=13567&LangID=E ], De Schutter urged the government to rethink its focus on the FISP, which, with its dependence on costly fertilizer imports, was using up more than half of the Ministry of Agriculture’s budget and crowding out spending on other priorities, but failing to rid Malawi of chronic food insecurity and high levels of malnutrition.
“From a purely agronomic point of view, inorganic fertilizers may be masking soil nutrient depletion, rather than correcting it,” said De Schutter, adding that this helped explain why the country had seen an initial increase in yields of maize and other cereals following the introduction of the FISP between 2005 and 2009, which had been followed by a levelling off starting in 2010.
De Schutter recommended promoting the cultivation of other crops besides maize, in particular legumes, as a way of replenishing depleted soils and improving children’s diets. He also proposed a “brown revolution” which would focus on the use of organic fertilizers.
This report on line: http://www.IRINnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=98586
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Cholera resurgent in Guinea-Bissau
DAKAR, 16 August (IRIN) – More than 700 people have been sickened by cholera in Guinea-Bissau, the highest number of cases so far this year in West Africa, which has nonetheless seen a significant drop [http://www.irinnews.org/report/98465/west-africa-cholera-down-but-officials-vigilant ] in cases this year compared to 2012.
Isolated health centres, insufficient medical personnel and detrimental traditional beliefs have contributed to the prevalence, explained Inācio Alvarenga, an epidemiologist with World Health Organization (WHO).
Guinea-Bissau’s southern Tombali region is the worst hit, with 225 cases and 21 deaths as of late July, said Nicolau Almeida, a health ministry director.
“Tombali is the poorest region [in the country] in terms of human resources. There is only one nurse per health centre. The health system cannot properly cater for patients. This is in addition to superstitions by people who don’t believe the scientific explanation of cholera,” Alvarenga told IRIN.
As of 22 July – when the latest data was available – the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported 742 cases in Guinea-Bissau, 416 in Niger and 368 in Sierra Leone. The outbreak in Guinea-Bissau is a continuation of the 2012 epidemic, when 3,359 people contracted cholera.
“To confirm a new epidemic, the 2012 outbreak should have been declared over” by demonstrating the absence of vibrio cholera in diarrhoea, said Alvarenga.
“For reasons I’m not aware of, the government did not test cases in the first weeks of the year. These cases did not disappear but got spread around,” he continued. “I don’t think we will hit the 2008 level [when 14,204 people were infected and 225 killed], but the disease risks will be lingering for several months like in 1996-1998.”
Most cases have so far been reported in Catungo and Mato Foroba localities in the country’s south. “These are rice-growing areas where vibrio cholera can easily reproduce,” Alvarenga said.
Other cases have been reported in Catio area and in Quinara region – all in the south. Almeida said that the cases in Catio town indicated that the disease was spreading. Two cases have been confirmed in the capital, Bissau, said hospital sources.
“Residents of the city’s old town district are very concerned,” Alvarenga said. The water and electricity company has been unable to supply water to the capital in the past weeks due to financial difficulties, although it recently resumed partial service. “People are seeking all possible means to get water. It’s not rare to see water transporters on the streets.”
Need for medical personnel, drugs
Almeida, from the health ministry, said the government’s priority was to contain the disease in Tombali, where a medical team – comprising an epidemiologist, two doctors, two nurses and a community outreach specialist – has been sent.
“We, however, need to boost the medical team with three more nurses and five doctors to better guide the health sector in the region. We need to set up different teams in the different areas. There is also a huge requirement for medicines,” he said.
In neighbouring Guinea, cholera has infected 146 people and killed 10 since March, according to aid group Action Contre la Faim (ACF). In Sierra Leone, where around 300 died of cholera in 2012, 369 people have been infected so far this year, mainly in Kambia area, near the border with Guinea.
“Fish is often a factor of cholera infection in this region,” said Jérôme Pfaffmann, a health expert with UNICEF; fishermen criss-cross between the islets off the Guinean coast. The movement of people across the borders of Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone are also factors in transmission, said ACF’s Jainil Didaraly.
Guinea is conducting a vaccination campaign targeting 4,679 people.
Africa – and West Africa in particular – is the only part of the world where cholera [ http://www.irinnews.org/report/97068/guinea-new-cholera-strain-poses-prevention-challenges ] cases are steadily increasing.
This report on line: http://www.IRINnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=98587