United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Rotary International & the First Lady of Ghana Launch 2018 Family Health Days

On February 20, 2018, the First Lady of Ghana, Mrs. Rebecca Akufo–Addo; representatives from the Ministry of Health; representatives from Rotary International; and USAID/Ghana Mission Director, Sharon L. Cromer, participated in the national launch of Rotary Family Health Days at Osu Ebenezer Presbyterian Church in Accra. Since 2014, Ghana’s Rotary Clubs held Rotary Family Health Days, in partnership with governmental and non-governmental organizations, to provide health screening services to vulnerable children, women, and men in the urban and peri-urban areas, benefitting more than 119,000 clients.

This year’s event, entitled “Healthy Families, Healthy Communities,” is scheduled for February 20-24, 2018. Fifty communities located in the Volta, Central, Ashanti, Western, Eastern, Brong Ahafo, Northern, and Greater Accra Regions will benefit from targeted outreach activities. Community members will receive condoms; HIV counseling and testing; family planning education; screenings for tuberculosis and diabetes; blood pressure checks; childhood vaccinations and vitamin A supplements; deworming; and eye health testing. USAID/Ghana, through its implementing partners, will support the Rotary Family Health Days with logistics, commodities, and communications.

USAID/Ghana Mission Director, Ms. Cromer, highlighted the importance of providing critical services to under-served communities. She described USAID’s support to the Government of Ghana, ranging from malaria, HIV, maternal and child health, family planning, nutrition, water and sanitation, and social protection: “Only last year, we provided US $71 million support for life-saving health interventions in Ghana.” She also described USAID’s strategic partnership with Rotary International. “We aim to contribute to the country’s sustainable development by expanding the quality and delivery of health services. One way we do this is by partnering with private sector organizations like Rotary International. In the Western Region, USAID and Rotary have partnered with Coca-Cola to provide safe drinking water to a local community in Prestea.”

The U.S. Government has a long history of working with Rotary International to improve health in Ghana. Previous partnerships focused on improving access to water and sanitation facilities such as, family and institutional latrines and boreholes. In 2003 and 2016, USAID signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Rotary Clubs in Ghana committing to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6: “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

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Source:: United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Rotary International & the First Lady of Ghana Launch 2018 Family Health Days


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South Africa: Agri SA on the 2018 Budget Speech of the Minister of Finance

The 2018 national budget was tabled under very difficult economic circumstances. The Minister of Finance acknowledged that difficulty, but necessary trade-offs had to be made to formulate a budget that moderates spending, raises revenues whilst aiming to minimize the potential negative effect on growth.

The 2017 GDP growth projection has been revised upward to 1 per cent, from the 0.7 per cent expected at the time of MTBPS last year. Economic growth is forecasted to be 1.5 per cent in 2018, rising to 2.1 per cent in 2020. However, government still faces a revenue gap of R48.2 billion in the current year. The consolidated deficit is projected to narrow from 4.3 per cent of GDP in 2017/18 to 3.5 per cent in 2020/21.

From an agricultural perspective, Agri SA is particularly pleased that the Minister took time to acknowledge agriculture’s contribution to the country’s economic growth, says Dan Kriek, president of Agri SA.

Unfortunately, once again agriculture received relatively little further attention in this budget as it did in the medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) of October last year. This is despite the claims made by the minister that government remains committed to the goals set in the Constitution and the National Development Plan (NDP).

Given that the NDP overwhelmingly recognises the agricultural sector as a sector of growth and its potential to create job opportunities for rural communities, broader consideration for the sector in the budget would have been welcomed.

Agri SA welcomes the strengthening of global market access for South African agricultural products which will see an additional allocation of R40 million over the MTEF (medium-term expenditure framework) to upgrade infrastructure and equipment for analytical services laboratories. However, the effective and efficient use of these funds will be crucial to maximise its value to the sector. In addition, the increase in fuel levies will have a negative impact on farmers’ cash flow. However, the option of the diesel rebate should help farmers to mitigate the impact on their business.

Agri SA welcomes the budget’s proposal for provisional funding to help mitigate the negative impact of drought conditions. The option of temporarily increasing the intake in the Working for Water programme is being considered as a means of mitigating drought related job losses in agriculture. However, there is not any broader consideration aimed at supporting agriculture. We hoped that the budget would have provided broader support specifically for agriculture.

“Given the fact that the sector is presently facing serious cost pressures because of the prevailing drought especially in the Western Cape, our view is that the increased excise duties on alcohol might have an adverse impact on the wine industry and could possible lead to job losses. Some relief in this regard would have been acutely welcomed,” said Kriek.

In conclusion, we hope the positive commitments mentioned in the budget will be effectively implemented towards limiting the budget deficit and supporting economic growth.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Agri SA.

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Source:: South Africa: Agri SA on the 2018 Budget Speech of the Minister of Finance


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Statement by the Human Rights Commissioner on suspension of the death penalty in the Gambia

Dr. Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (20 February) on the suspension of the death penalty in the Gambia:

“I warmly welcome the decision by Gambian President Adama Barrow to suspend the use of the death penalty in his country as a first step towards abolition. The moratorium also sends a positive message by President Barrow as regards furthering reforms and fostering political change in the Gambia.

The death penalty is an inhuman and cruel form of punishment. The German Government rejects the death penalty under all circumstances and will continue to work with its partners in the European Union to actively campaign for its worldwide abolition.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Germany – Federal Foreign Office.

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Source:: Statement by the Human Rights Commissioner on suspension of the death penalty in the Gambia


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Anticipation from Tanzania on the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism

Bishop Dr. Fredrick O. Shoo is presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). He is also author of a “Welcome” in the Handbook for the upcoming World Council of Churches Conference on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME). Below, Bishop Shoo is featured in an interview that comments on crucial issues in the conference that will require deliberations to lead toward a truly transforming discipleship. The upcoming CWME will occur in Arusha, Tanzania on 8-13 March.

Q: What do you most wish conference participants will ponder during their stay in Arusha?

Bishop Shoo: We will welcome all of the participants to worship, reflect, deliberate, and celebrate God’s mission at this crucial moment in the world, when humanity still continues to violate God’s creation, justice, and peace. As the world enters the fourth industrial revolution, we need to ponder these two questions: Where is the place of Spirituality? How will our missional pilgrimage address this era?

Q: Can you speak a bit about the conference objectives?

Bishop Shoo: There are four basic aspects of this conference: its missional, ecumenical, African, and youthful character. In its deliberations, the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism strongly expressed the need for the conference to reflect missiologically — in an African and ecumenical context — on the signs of the times in our world today. This is a world in which God is active and present, bringing completion to God’s creation.

Looking at the content of the conference, I see crucial issues that will need our bold deliberations. I hope that we shall be vigilant in addressing global issues that threaten life in the world today.

Q: What does a transforming discipleship call us to do?

Bishop Shoo: A transforming discipleship calls us to leave our comfort zones and be ready to carry the cross. Fear and selfish interests can be serious obstacles to a truly transforming discipleship. Jesus, the master of the cross and resurrection, teaches us what it means to be transforming disciples, as he says: “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it” (Mark 8:34-35).

Q: In what ways will the conference reflect the African context?

Bishop Shoo: Our Local Host Committee and the Conference Preparatory Committee of the All Africa Conference of Churches have worked together to ensure the conference embraces the African context. A joint process by the Conference Planning Committee and ELCT staff was crucial in preparing ground for the practical realization of this conference.

Tanzania is a country with great and beautiful flora and fauna. There is much to see, to hear, to taste, to touch, and to learn.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Council of Churches (WCC).

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Source:: Anticipation from Tanzania on the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism


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