Southern Africa: urgent measures needed to address El Niño impact

Countries in the Southern African Development Community need to urgently implement a set of agreed-upon measures to mitigate the effects of El Nino. A strong El Niño has seen the 2015-2016 rainfall season being one of the driest in over 35 years in Southern Africa and has far reaching effects on main sectors including agriculture, fisheries, forestry, water, health, education and sanitation.

Crop and livestock production are already projected to decline sharply, triggering shortages and price hikes, and threatening people’s livelihood. This could mean a reversal in recent gains made in reducing malnutrition and also leave an increased number of people vulnerable to food insecurity, particularly women, children and HIV-affected people.

Speaking after a meeting convened by SADC, in partnership with FAO and the World Food Programme, David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for southern Africa said the region faced a predicament, which called for swift and coordinated action.

“In a region where 70 percent of the population depend on agriculture, the consequences are dire. Such a sharp decline in production is likely to result in increased malnutrition and hunger,” he said. “This comes against a backdrop of declining economies and the fall of most currencies in the region against the US Dollar, making this situation so severe that it can indeed be described as ‘El Niño plus’” Phiri added.

Southern Africa faces second successive drought season

The current crisis comes hot on the heels of a poor 2014-2015 season, which drought decimated crop yields in almost all the countries in the region – the total for 2014 was 43 million tonnes compared to 33 million tonnes for last year.

SADC meeting participants acknowledged that climatic extremes would continue to recur and hence there was a need for the region to develop and implement both short, and medium/long-term measures in a coordinated manner.

FAO is already responding to the needs of communities. The focus of the agency’s immediate interventions includes supporting male and female farmers by providing drought-tolerant crops, seeds and livestock feed and carrying out vaccinations.

FAO is also supporting longer-term resilience-building approaches among vulnerable groups, including the rehabilitation of irrigation systems, improving farmers’ access to rural finance, and promoting wider use of climate-smart agricultural technologies. Several countries have already produced national plans that address the impact of El Niño on agriculture.

“The main challenge we are facing is that because the onset of drought is a slow process, funding to address the crisis remains inadequate. We are confident that this meeting has served to convey the urgency for action,” Phiri said.

Some 165 delegates from the agriculture, environment, food and nutrition, disaster management, climate change, water, health, planning and finance sectors from the 15 SADC member states participated in the 2-day meeting, which ended on 26 February 2015. Other participants included representatives from the humanitarian, development and donor communities.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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Categories: AFRICA

Africa stands with the Saharawi people until attainment of liberation and independence

The call for the decolonization, liberation and independence of Africa’s last remaining colony was increasingly re-echoed in Western Sahara and around the world, when the Saharawi people celebrated the 40th anniversary of the proclamation of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) on 27 February, 2016.

An African Union delegation from the Commission and some Member States joined other international dignitaries to deliver strong messages of support and solidarity to the people of Western Sahara.

The message was clear and unequivocal: Africa will not be free, until the last of its colonies, Western Sahara, was liberated, free and independent.

African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs, Dr. Mustapha Sidiki Kaloko, represented the AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, at the celebrations in the Dakhla Refugee Camp near Tindouf. He delivered the Chairperson’s message of congratulations, support and solidarity, reassuring the people of Western Sahara that, “that Africa will stand side by side with the Sahrawi people, until victory is achieved!”

Dr. Kaloko reiterated the Decisions of the 25th and 26th AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, in which they called on the United Nations to, ‘determine a date for the holding of the self-determination referendum for the people of Western Sahara and protect the integrity of Western Sahara as a non-self-governing territory from any act which may undermine it.’

On her twitter handle, the AU Commission Chairperson, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, reassured the people of Western Sahara that Africa will stand with them until victory is achieved. “The Western Sahara referendum is a promise that Africa and the international community have made to you, we must make it come true,” she wrote.

Delegation after another took the rostrum to echo the same message of encouragement and solidarity. Namibia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who herself lived in refugee camps in different countries before her country’s independence, said, “Africa will be with the people of Western Sahara until independence is achieved. We will be with you, to have your place in the international community as we did in the doors of the African Union.”

Western Sahara was welcomed as a member of the Organisation of African Unity in 1982. It remains an active member of the AU to date.

In his 40th anniversary address to the Saharawi people and the rest of the world, the President of Saharawi Republic, H.E. Mohamed Abdelaziz paid tribute to Africa, which he described as the continent of revolutions and liberation movements, for embracing SADR.

“We value highly the African Union’s commitment to the defence of the Saharawi cause, and we note with appreciation its rejection and condemnation of the Moroccan colonial practices,” President Abdelaziz said in a televised message.

The Saharawi President took the opportunity to call on the AU to intensify its engagement as a partner of the UN, in bringing the UN-OAU Plan of 1991 on the referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara to conclusion.

The people of Western Sahara are undoubtedly keenly waiting for the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to announce a date for the referendum, promised 25 years ago, when he visits the region on the 4th and 5th of March.

Among other international dignitaries, official and unofficial delegations from AU Member States included: Algeria, Angola, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Outside of Africa, delegations also came from Cuba, Mexico, and several European countries.

The celebrations included a military, civil and cultural parade, with the active participation of Saharawis from the liberated as well as the occupied territories. They continuously chanted the choruses, “No alternative, No alternative to self-determination!”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud cuts short Djibouti visit to address security matters in capital, postpones Sweden visit

The President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, HE Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, cut short his participation in the Troop Contributing Countries meeting being held in Djibouti yesterday to urgently review security incidents that occurred in Mogadishu and Baidoa in the last week.
In addition, the President postponed his official visit to Sweden, which was scheduled to take place from 1-3 March 2016. This visit was intended to strengthen the bilateral cooperation of the two countries.

Sweden has a very strong relationship with Somalia, providing substantial support for humanitarian assistance, development aid and reconstruction initiatives.

The President had intended to meet with the King of Sweden, HE Carl XVI Gustav, the Prime Minister of Sweden, HE Stefan Löfven, and Cabinet members to exchange views on Somalia’s political and reconciliation progress, economic development and the enhancement of the Swedish private sector direct investment in Somalia.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud would like to express his sincere and gratitude to the Swedish people and Government for extending the invitation and looks forward to being able to accept in the near future.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Federal Republic of Somalia – Office of the President.

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Communiqué of the visit of the African Union High Level Delegation to Burundi

1. Within the framework of the efforts to find a lasting solution to the crisis in Burundi, the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, meeting in Addis Ababa, on 30 and 31 January 2016, decided to send a High Level Delegation to Bujumbura to hold consultations with all the stakeholders in the crisis. At the initiative of His Excellency Idriss Deby Itno, Current Chairman of the AU and in consultation with the Heads of State and the Commission, the High Level Delegation, coordinated by H.E Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, comprised also, Their Excellencies Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania; Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal; Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Gabonese Republic; Hailemariam Dessalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. The meeting was also attended by Ambassador Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security, Honourable Mr. Cryspus Kiyonga- special envoy of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, facilitator of the Inter-Burundian Dialogue, and Professor Ibrahima Fall, AU Special representative for the Great Lakes region.

2. The High Level Delegation travelled to Burundi from 25 to 26 February 2016 and held consultations with H.E Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, the representatives of political parties, the religious leaders, the representatives of the Civil Society Organizations and one former Head of State representing other former Heads of State of the Republic of Burundi. A delegation of the National Commission on the Inter-Burundian Dialogue led by its President also attended the consultations.

3. The visit enabled the High Level Delegation to assess the evolution of the situation in Burundi since the last Summit of the continental organization held in Addis Ababa, as well as find ways and means for the AU to support Burundi to put an end to the spiraling violence in which it was engulfed since April 2015.

4. The High Level Delegation deplored the continuing violations of human rights, the acts of violence against civilians and public security forces as well as the deterioration of the already alarming humanitarian situation. In this regard, it requested the government and the armed groups to put an end to the acts of violence. The High Level Delegation stressed the need to dismantle and disarm all militias operating on the territory of Burundi. It called upon on all the armed groups and armed militias to lay down their arms and all the stakeholders of the Burundi crisis to return to the negotiating table.

5. The High Level Delegation encouraged the governments of the countries of the region to promote the spirit of good neighbourliness in conformity with the provisions of the relevant AU instruments. It encouraged the peoples of the region to refrain from statements and actions that may heighten, maintain or worsen the tension.

6. The High Level Delegation welcomed the commitment of the Government and that of all the other actors in the Burundian crisis, present in Burundi, to participate in the Inclusive Dialogue, under the facilitation of H.E. Yoweri Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, on behalf of the East African Community. It called upon all the stakeholders in the crisis in Burundi to participate in this Dialogue without prior conditions and in strict compliance with the Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation.

7. The High Level Delegation reaffirmed its strong support for President Yoweri Museveni, as the appointed Facilitator in the Burundian crisis, encouraged him to continue his consultations with all the stakeholders in the crisis and to announce, in the beginning of March 2016, a date for the immediate resumption of the Inter-Burundian Dialogue. Within this framework, the High Level Delegation decided that the African Union should provide an active support to the Facilitator of the Burundian Dialogue.

8. The High Level Delegation welcomed the decision of the withdrawal of the international arrest warrants issued against some Burundian citizens, the reopening of a private radio station and radio-television broadcasting station as well as the announcement of the imminent release of detainees. The High Level Delegation encouraged the government to extend such measures to other persons who were still detained and to other media which were still closed.

9. The High Level Delegation commended the work done by the AU Human Rights Observers and Military Experts deployed in Burundi. The High Level Delegation and the Government agreed to increase the number of this personnel to 100 Human Rights Observers and 100 Military Experts.

10. The High Level Delegation called upon the international community to envisage, in case the security and humanitarian situation improves, to restore the international aid to Burundi in order to encourage the authorities and people of Burundi to remain engaged in the inclusive dialogue.

11. Within the purview of the follow up of its mission, the High Level Delegation decided to meet with the stakeholders in the Burundian crisis who were outside the country. It also requested its Coordinator, H.E. Jacob Zuma, to report to President Idriss Deby Itno, President of the Republic of Chad and Current Chairman of the African Union, on the outcome of the mission to Burundi.

12. The High Level Delegation expressed its sincere gratitude to H.E Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, the Government and the people of Burundi for the warm welcome accorded to it, for their preparedness and cooperation and for the excellent arrangements made for the smooth conduct of their mission. It also thanked all the participants in the consultations.

– See more at: http://www.peaceau.org/en/article/communique-of-the-visit-of-the-african-union-high-level-delegation-to-burundi#sthash.AjOTZEcP.Gst8ECUS.dpuf

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: Communiqué of the visit of the African Union High Level Delegation to Burundi

Categories: AFRICA

First Africa School Feeding Day

WHAT: First African School Feeding Day

WHEN: Tuesday, 1st March 2016

WHERE: Niamey, Niger

1st March 2016, themed “Home Grown School Feeding: a Conduit for Africa’s Sustainable Development”, will mark the first edition of the Africa Day for School Feeding, to be observed jointly by the African Union Commission, AU Member States and development partners.

Niamey, the capital of Niger, will host the official celebrations with the participation of school children and top level officials of the government, AU Member States, the African Union Commission as well as development partners including WFP, UNICEF and FAO. Dr. Lassaad Lachaal, FAO Representative to Niger will take part.

Background

Africa Day for School Feeding was instituted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government during the 26th AU Summit, in recognition of the immense value of home grown school feeding to enhancing retention and performance of children in school, and in boosting income generation and entrepreneurship in local communities.

Africa Day for School Feeding is the culmination of several initiatives and efforts aimed at assuring quality universal school enrollment in Africa, and placing school feeding at the centre of solutions to help African children from the poorest households, and who live in difficult areas, to have access to quality education in a safe and conducive environment.

School food and nutrition require a multidisciplinary and multi-sector approach. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is strategically positioned to address some of these areas. Working across disciplines, in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in school food and nutrition, FAO provides guidance and advice from a food systems perspective. This includes a range of areas and issues for example; policy and legal frameworks, the environment, biodiversity, input use, value addition, local foods and consumption patterns, nutrition education and the promotion of healthy diets. School children benefit from this through school meals and school food and nutrition programmes as an entry point.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

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UK military personnel train Tunisian forces

A Short Term Training Team of around 20 troops deployed earlier this month to train Tunisian forces responsible for countering illegal cross-border movement from Libya.

The training, being delivered by 4th Infantry Brigade, involves both classroom and practical exercises, that will assist the Tunisians to better guard their land borders.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:

With Daesh terrorists determined to target innocent civilians wherever they can, this training will help Tunisian forces to increase their border security. It underlines our commitment to peace and security in the region.

UK personnel are training commanders in the 1st Tunisian Brigade, and the current deployment follows on from a previous tranche of border security training with the 1st Tunisian Brigade Headquarters at the end of last year.

This initial training was successfully delivered and has built upon the 1st Tunisian Brigade border security capability. Both deployments point to the strengthened Defence relationship between the UK and Tunisia.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom.

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The Bureau of the Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment meet in Addis Ababa

The Bureau of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment met today at the African Union Commission Headquarters to review and adopt the draft ministerial report from the inaugural session that was held on October 5-9, 2015. `

The inaugural meeting of the STC on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment, was organized under the theme, “Advancing concerted action for improved livelihoods in Africa,” and reviewed the relevant strategic goals and linkages in agriculture, rural development, water and environment related initiatives and their implications on the achievement of the overarching goals set out in the Malabo Declaration on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Africa Agenda 2063 to transform Africa.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Bureau meeting, H.E Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture assured the Bureau that the, “Commission stands ready to provide the necessary support and guidance as we all work together to achieve the desired outcomes,” which includes, reviewing the draft Ministerial report, with a view to concluding the pending discussions on the working arrangements of the STCs, as well as come up with a framework of integrating the existing Ministerial bodies within the STC on Agriculture Rural Development, Water and Environment.

Officially opening the meeting, Chair of the Bureau of the STC, and Minister of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development of Congo, Hon. Henri Djombo, commended the AUC for preparations towards the meeting. He noted that the inaugural STC held in October 2015 was a success and that the Bureau looked forward to concluding all matters and adopting the draft report.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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The Bureau of the Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment meet in Addis Ababa

The Bureau of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment met today at the African Union Commission Headquarters to review and adopt the draft ministerial report from the inaugural session that was held on October 5-9, 2015. `

The inaugural meeting of the STC on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment, was organized under the theme, “Advancing concerted action for improved livelihoods in Africa,” and reviewed the relevant strategic goals and linkages in agriculture, rural development, water and environment related initiatives and their implications on the achievement of the overarching goals set out in the Malabo Declaration on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Africa Agenda 2063 to transform Africa.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Bureau meeting, H.E Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture assured the Bureau that the, “Commission stands ready to provide the necessary support and guidance as we all work together to achieve the desired outcomes,” which includes, reviewing the draft Ministerial report, with a view to concluding the pending discussions on the working arrangements of the STCs, as well as come up with a framework of integrating the existing Ministerial bodies within the STC on Agriculture Rural Development, Water and Environment.

Officially opening the meeting, Chair of the Bureau of the STC, and Minister of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development of Congo, Hon. Henri Djombo, commended the AUC for preparations towards the meeting. He noted that the inaugural STC held in October 2015 was a success and that the Bureau looked forward to concluding all matters and adopting the draft report.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: The Bureau of the Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment meet in Addis Ababa

Categories: AFRICA

The Bureau of the Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment meet in Addis Ababa

The Bureau of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment met today at the African Union Commission Headquarters to review and adopt the draft ministerial report from the inaugural session that was held on October 5-9, 2015. `

The inaugural meeting of the STC on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment, was organized under the theme, “Advancing concerted action for improved livelihoods in Africa,” and reviewed the relevant strategic goals and linkages in agriculture, rural development, water and environment related initiatives and their implications on the achievement of the overarching goals set out in the Malabo Declaration on the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the Africa Agenda 2063 to transform Africa.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Bureau meeting, H.E Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture assured the Bureau that the, “Commission stands ready to provide the necessary support and guidance as we all work together to achieve the desired outcomes,” which includes, reviewing the draft Ministerial report, with a view to concluding the pending discussions on the working arrangements of the STCs, as well as come up with a framework of integrating the existing Ministerial bodies within the STC on Agriculture Rural Development, Water and Environment.

Officially opening the meeting, Chair of the Bureau of the STC, and Minister of Forest Economy and Sustainable Development of Congo, Hon. Henri Djombo, commended the AUC for preparations towards the meeting. He noted that the inaugural STC held in October 2015 was a success and that the Bureau looked forward to concluding all matters and adopting the draft report.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: The Bureau of the Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment meet in Addis Ababa

A Discussion on Civic Engagement and Women’s Political Participation across Continents

The African Union Commission (AUC) in collaboration with the United States Mission to the African Union (USAU) held a discussion on Civic Engagement and Women’s Political Participation in honor of U.S Black history month and AU Project 2016.

The objective of the discussion was to provide a platform to share experiences between the continents.

To ensure a lively discussion, five panellists were selected from both the AUC and the US. The AUC panellists included, Ms. Victoria Maloka, Head of Coordination and Outreach Division, AUC Women and Gender Directorate, Amb. Salah Hammad, Project 2016, Human Rights Expert, AUC Political Affairs Department, and Ms. Kesaobaka Pharatlhatlhe, AUC Economic Affairs Department, Youth representative.

The US panellists included Ms. Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement and Ms. Monica Dennis is the New York City Regional Coordinator for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The discussion which took place both on Skype and twitter through the hashtag AUProject2016 was an opportunity to draw connections on civic engagement and social issues between Black American’s and Africans.

It was also an opportunity to revive old bonds. As many may recall the relationship of the AU and black Americans is anything but new. In the summit of 1964, in Cairo, the Organization of African Unity (OAU) issued a resolution on racial discrimination in the USA. African Members states expressed sympathy and concern for the situation in the US and urged the USA to eliminate all forms of discrimination.

In 1964 Africa’s main human rights concern was abolishing the apartheid and gaining independence. Yesterday’s conversation was proof that Africa has since evolved. The dialogue on Human rights and Civic participation was pegged to the AU’s theme of 2016 “The year of human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women” with conversations centred on the promotion and protections of human rights, the necessity of engaging and mainstreaming women and youth -who are the demographic dividend of the continent, the challenges faced, and the way forward.

As the discussions grew it was easy to draw common good practices from across the continents, i.e. Creating spaces where women and youth are key and central, spaces which can uplift and centralize those voices and where conversations are driven by people’s lives instead of policies. Policies need to reflect the realities on the ground and once this is established the focus needs to be more action.

The event enlisted the support of various departments in the AUC. This includes the Directorate of Information and Communication (DIC), Directorate of Women and Gender (WGD), The Human resources, Science and Technology Department (HRST), Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and was coordinated by the Directorate of Citizens and Diaspora Organization (CIDO).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: A Discussion on Civic Engagement and Women’s Political Participation across Continents

Categories: AFRICA

First Edition of the Africa Day of School Feeding

March 1 2016 will mark the first edition of the Africa Day of School Feeding, to be observed jointly by the African Union Commission, AU Member States and development partners. The Day, which is centered on the theme “Home Grown School Feeding: a Conduit for Africa’s Sustainable Development”, will be celebrated withcontinent-wide activities and highlighted by series of official eventsin the Nigerien capital, Niamey.Africa Dayfor School Feeding was instituted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government during the 26th AU Summit, in recognition of the immense value of home grown school feeding to enhancing retention and performance of children in school, and in boosting income generation and entrepreneurship in local communities.

A number of African countries are already implementing school feeding programmes, but due to inadequate financing and heavy dependence of the programmes on foreign donors, poor logistical arrangements and provision of dry food lacking in dietary diversity, the programmes often fall short of meeting the required impact. This is one reason whythe emphasis has shifted toHome Grown School Feeding (HGSF), due to its integrated, multi-sector approach.

Africa Day of School Feeding is the culmination of several initiatives and efforts aimed at assuring quality universal school enrolment in Africa, and putting school feeding at the centre of solutions to help African children from the poorest households, and who live in difficult areas, to have access to quality education in a safe and conducive environment. The Cost of Hunger in Africa Study (COHA) was conceived close to a decade of the launch of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which aims to among other things, transform agriculture and catalyze it to achieve sustainable annual economic growth, food and nutrition security and humanitarian goals. Commissioned through a partnership of the Africa Union Commission, the NEPAD Agency, theUnited Nations World Food Programme and United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa, the COHA study specifically demonstrates that child nutrition can be a determining factor in achieving Africa’s transformation agenda and illustrates the additional barriers limiting undernourished children to gain full health, school performance and compete in labour markets.

The AU Commission’s drive to ingrain home grown school feeding on the continent was also inspired by the highly successful Brazilian Home Grown School Feeding programme, which has been instrumental in promoting universal access to basic education and preventive health services, while creating new income generating activities for extremely poor families.One of the launchpads for attainingthe Agenda 2063, school feedingis an opportunity to prevent the high rate of school drop-outs, an idea well espoused in the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA). The Africa Day of School Feedingwas again envisaged by the African Union Commission and its development partners to enhance advocacy for school feeding; mobilize, engage and involve States, as well as technical and financial partners in school feeding development initiatives. It is expected to stimulate information and experience sharing among stakeholders; support and promote local economy, whilst encouraging and inviting partners and political organizations to promote the initiative.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is working with 65 nations worldwide on implementing school feeding programmes which are an effective safety net, helping to ensure that over 18 million children have access to education and food. In Africa alone, WFP works with some 39 nations. In the fight against hunger, school meals are a sound investment in the future of the next generation.

The Republic of Niger has offered to host the first edition of the celebrations considering its strong advocacy for home grown school feeding, with emphasis on the impacts such a programme could have within the framework of Education by 2030, notably the improvement of access to and completion of primary education in relation to the fight against early marriages and street children.The official celebrations in Niamey will attract the participation of top level officials of AU Member States, Nigerien government officials, the AUC, school children and development partners such as the WFP, UNICEF, FAO, etc. It will also include thematic discussions, brainstorming, as well as idea and experience sharing involving a wide range of stakeholders.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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Source:: First Edition of the Africa Day of School Feeding

Categories: AFRICA

Meeting with Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church: A New Time of Fraternal Friendship

This morning, Pope Francis welcomed His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. During the meeting the Bishop of Rome emphasized that the patriarch’s visit strengthens the fraternal bonds that already unite both churches. He mentioned as milestones of the common path towards unity His Holiness Abune Paulos’ encounters with St. John Paul II in 1993 and with Benedict XVI in 2009, who invited him to participate in the Synod of Bishops for Africa as was common practice in the early Church for representatives to be sent to the synods of other Churches. Likewise, a delegation from the Holy See was present at the 2012 funeral of Patriarch Abune Paulos.

Moreover, as Francis explained, since 2004 the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches have deepened their communion through theological dialogue in the International Joint Commission, which over the years has analysed the fundamental concept of the Churches’ communion understood as participation in the communion between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Many things have been found in common: one faith, one baptism, one Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and many elements of the monastic traditions and the liturgy. “What unites us,” the Pope said, “is greater than what divides us.”

He continued, “We truly feel that the words of the Apostle Paul apply to us: ‘If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together.’ Shared sufferings have enabled Christians, otherwise divided in so many ways, to grow closer to one another. Just as in the early Church the shedding of the blood of martyrs became the seed of new Christians, so today the blood of the many martyrs of all the Churches has become the seed of Christian unity. The martyrs and saints of all the ecclesial traditions are already one in Christ. Their names are inscribed in the one martyrologium of the Church of God. The ecumenism of the martyrs is a summons to us, here and now, to advance on the path to ever greater unity.”

The Pope recalled that the Orthodox Tewahedo Church has been, from the beginning, a Church of martyrs and that still today “you are witnessing a devastating outbreak of violence against Christians and other minorities in the Middle East and in some parts of Africa. We cannot fail, yet again, to implore those who govern the world’s political and economic life to promote a peaceful coexistence based on reciprocal respect and reconciliation, mutual forgiveness and solidarity.” He also acknowledged the great strides being made in Ethiopia “to improve the living conditions of its people and to build an ever more just society, based on the rule of law and respect for the role of women”. In particular, he noted the problem of access to water, with its grave social and economic repercussions. “There is great room for cooperation between the Churches in the service of the common good and the protection of creation,” he stated, certain of “the readiness of the Catholic Church in Ethiopia to work together with the Orthodox Tewahedo Church”.

“it is my fervent hope that this meeting will mark a new chapter of fraternal friendship between our Churches. We are conscious that history has left us with a burden of painful misunderstandings and mistrust, and for this we seek God’s pardon and healing. Let us pray for one another,” the pontiff concluded, “invoking the protection of the martyrs and saints upon all the faithful entrusted to our pastoral care. May the Holy Spirit continue to enlighten us and guide our steps towards harmony and peace. May he nourish in us the hope that one day, with God’s help, we will be united around the altar of Christ’s sacrifice in the fullness of Eucharistic communion.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Vatican information Service (VIS).

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Source:: Meeting with Patriarch of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church: A New Time of Fraternal Friendship

Categories: AFRICA