KIGALI, Rwanda, November 5, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The recently operational East Africa Exchange (EAX) (http://www.africaexchange.com) concluded the first regional trade auction from its Rwanda head office, successfully selling 50 metric tons of maize at 398 USD per metric ton between a Ugandan seller and Rwanda buyer. The auction took EAX one step closer to its ambition to create “one African market” and has given further credence to the importance of regional commodity trading.
Logo Heirs Holdings: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/heirs-holdings.jpg
Photo Tony Elumelu: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/tony-elumelu.jpg
EAX is owned by African Exchange Holdings (AFEX) which was formed by Tony Elumelu’s Heirs Holdings (http://www.heirsholdings.com), Berggruen Holdings and 50 Ventures to develop a network of commodity exchanges across Africa to transform trade dynamics and ensure higher incomes for the rural poor. EAX, the first AFEX exchange is the first regional commodities exchange established to link smallholder farmers with agricultural and financial markets, secure competitive prices for their products and facilitate access to financing opportunities.
AFEX Chairman Tony O. Elumelu, CON, said, “East Africa Exchange’s successful first auction is a powerful demonstration of the tremendous value that can be unlocked through this platform. EAX will continue to advance the competitiveness and integration of East Africa’s agricultural markets, as well as bringing tangible improvements to the lives of the region’s farmers. We are looking to replicate this impact in many countries across Africa.”
With a brand new trading platform, powered by NASDAQ, the East Africa Exchange (EAX) has big plans to transform the way small farmers and traders do business within the East African region and beyond. It will provide global market access to local farmers through proven technology.
In the days prior to this first auction, local traders were required to visit EAX offices and undergo training on the NASDAQ OMX electronic trading platform. Over the past four months, the EAX has trained over 50 local and regional traders on the new technology.
The exchange will be a marketplace offering price transparency and wider market access to farmers from across East Africa and beyond.
Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Heirs Holdings.
EAX Rwanda is the first part of a regional exchange intended to increase transparency in the region’s commodity markets. It is a subsidiary of Africa Exchange Holdings Ltd (AFEX), a holding company co-founded by Heirs Holdings (http://www.heirsholdings.com) and Berggruen Holdings (http://www.berggruenholdings.com), in partnership with The Tony Elumelu Foundation ((http://www.tonyelumelufoundation.org), and 50 Ventures, which seeks to develop a network of commodity exchanges across Africa to transform trade dynamics and ensure higher incomes for the rural poor.
Through private-sector-led investment and under the terms of an agreement signed with the Government of Rwanda, the East Africa Exchange aims to increase regional market efficiency and liquidity as well as giving the region’s population of 130 million, especially smallholder farmers, better access to markets. Powered by NASDAQ OMX, the exchange will initially focus on establishing an auction facility and spot trading for agriculture and non-agriculture commodities, but will also develop futures trading across East Africa. Its investors are Heirs Holdings, The Tony Elumelu Foundation, Berggruen Holdings (a part of the Nicolas Berggruen Charitable Trust and advised by the Berggruen Institute on Governance (http://berggruen.org), 50 Ventures and Rwandan-led Ngali Holdings (http://www.ngali.com).
EAX will complement the East Africa Community’s (EAC) goal of regional economic integration as set out by the Common Market Protocol, increasing liquidity and sustainability of regional financial and commodity markets, supporting the EAC’s competitiveness globally. EAX will also uplift national and regional economies by reducing market barriers to trading, providing a transparent regional economy through a secure mechanism that facilitates financing to farmers and traders.
GENEVA, Switzerland, November 5, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Uganda, in coordination with the government and civil society partners, has safely returned 21 child victims of trafficking to their communities of origin.
The children had been trafficked from Karamoja, a remote region in remote northeastern Uganda, to Kampala for the purpose of street begging.
“My aunty told me: ‘There is no money so you must go to Kampala to look for money on the street’. In Kampala big boys beat me, bullied me and snatched my money until the authorities took me to a rehabilitation center,” explained a nine year old trafficked child.
Before the return process, the children received various services in Kampala, including medical assistance, nutritional feeding, and shelter.
“Counseling is a main component of the assistance that we provide. These children have been forced to work on the streets and have suffered and seen many terrible things,” said Martin Koriang Naburri, an NGO caseworker.
IOM and its NGO partners worked in Karamoja to locate the families of the children and determine if it was in the children’s best interest to return.
Simultaneously, IOM offered training in sustainable agriculture and integrated animal management to the children’s families and communities.
“By providing livelihood support we are working to ensure that families have the necessary resources to financially support their children. This way we are working towards preventing re-trafficking,” said Bosco Okwonga, IOM’s senior caseworker in Karamoja.
A mother explained her worry after learning that her son had been trafficked: “My child disappeared in June last year. I was told that my child was in Kampala. I was very worried and I wanted him back,” she said.
The children will now undergo a three-week reintegration programme led by an IOM implementing partner in Karamoja before returning to their families and enrolling in school.
Since November 2011, IOM has assisted with the rehabilitation of 179 children from Karamoja, who were trafficked to Kampala for labour exploitation. 163 of these children are under the age of 14, and 98 are girls. In addition, IOM Uganda has assisted 30 children under five years old.
IOM is planning to publish its research into the causes and mechanisms of trafficking of children from Karamoja to urban centres to assist stakeholders to develop evidence-based policies.
Return and reintegration assistance to trafficked children is one of the key components of the Coordinated Response to Human Trafficking in Uganda (CRTU) project funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Kampala. IOM Uganda works closely with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, as well as the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the provision of direct assistance to trafficking victims.
GENEVA, Switzerland, November 5, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — According to IOM’s latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) report published by IOM Mali, 45,526 households (283,726 individuals) are still internally displaced as consequence of the 2012 crisis in the country’s north.
This means the number of the internally displaced people (IDPs) in Mali has decreased by 50,824 from 334,550 reported by the DTM three months ago.
The report indicates that Bamako, the capital, hosts the largest number of IDPs (67,250), followed by the northern regions of Gao (47, 562), Tombouctou (45,082) and Kidal (36,800.)
In addition to Bamako, other southern regions continue to host smaller numbers of IDPs: Mopti (29, 722), Ségou (24,442), Koulikoro (23,500), Sikasso (7,257) and Kayes (2,111).
The vast majority of IDPs registered in the southern regions come from Tombouctou (49%) and Gao (38%) – the regions most affected by the crisis in the north.
The data show that the decrease is due to people returning home. This was observed during verification exercises carried out in the field by IOM, in coordination with the General Directorate for Civil Protection (DGPC) and the National Directorate for Social Development.
In order to better understand the IDP’s return intentions, IOM recently conducted a return intention survey in the southern regions of Ségou, Koulikoro and Bamako. Out of the total of 1,486 households surveyed, 84% said that they were willing to return to their places of origin.
The return trend has also been confirmed by data collected at flow monitoring points (FMPs) established in January this year at the main crossroads of Bamako, Mopti, Gao and Tombouctou cities.
The FMP data shows that more individuals are traveling north than south. Between January and September this year, 78,012 IDPs travelled from the south to the north, while 39,309 travelled from the north to the south.
The improvement of security conditions in the north is the main reason for return, according to 78% of the households surveyed in the FMP. Additionally, most of the returning IDPs said that they needed financial support (47%), and food assistance (33%), according to the report.
Although the movement of IDPs to the south is lower than the movement to the north, some IDPs continue to go to south because of violence in their regions (25% of households surveyed) or the difficult economic situation caused by the crisis (25% of the households surveyed.)
The forthcoming results of the needs assessment carried out by IOM in coordination with the government and local NGOs will provide a clearer understanding of the needs of the displaced population, returnees (IDPs and refugees) and host communities in the northern regions of Mali.
COTONOU, Benin, November 5, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — FAO is supporting farming families in northern Benin who lost crops, livestock and fishing grounds when the Niger River overran its banks in August, just as many villagers were only barely getting back on their feet from the last floods in 2012.
On his first day in Benin, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva met with President Yayi Boni, who welcomed him to the country and accompanied him for some of his travels. Graziano da Silva lauded the impressive progress Benin has had in achieving the first Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of the nation’s hungry, while the country is also near to achieving the World Food Summit goal of halving the actual number of people who are undernourished.
The FAO chief also voiced his hope that Benin, which has vast agricultural potential and water resources especially in the country’s south, could become the future home of a regional food reserve that can offset shortfalls where production is weaker, such as in the arid Sahel.
Emergency assistance moves into action
Graziano da Silva also took part in an official signing ceremony Sunday to immediately activate emergency assistance to the northern villages of Malanville and Karimama, the communities worst affected by flooding. Nearly all agricultural production was wiped out, and farmers were left with no crops and no seed for planting anew.
A portion of the emergency funding will go toward rehabilitating the commercial activities of some 1300 young people who had started farming under a Beninese government programme aimed at creating rural jobs and economic opportunity to reduce widespread youth unemployment.
The government of Benin has funneled some of its own resources into helping those people worst affected by the floods. Crop losses are estimated at some $20 million, not to mention the hundreds of livestock animals lost and damages to fisheries. Due to the scale of the destruction, the government of Benin has nearly exhausted its resources assisting victims with food, shelter and cash transfers, with little possibility to help re-launch the agricultural sector.
Agriculture accounts for 70 percent of nationwide employment in Benin. In the rural and impoverished northern region, families are even more dependent on agriculture and less able to cope with repeated set-backs.
Mainstreaming climate change resilience
The Director-General emphasized that the FAO programme recognizes the need to rethink the whole concept of ‘emergency response.’ “This is emergency assistance with a longer-term view, in that it includes awareness raising and training on resilience for community members and local authorities. This can help shape a new approach that looks to the future beyond the short timeframe of immediate emergencies,” Graziano da Silva said.
The programme includes training on the use of ‘resilience funds’ and structural reinforcements such as silos for preparedness in the face of more frequent and severe weather shocks due to the effects of climate change, Graziano da Silva added.
The emergency programme will move into action immediately, assisting a total of 7500 households who have been worst affected by the floods by supplying:
• Quality seed for rice, off-season vegetables and floodwater-recession farming of maize along the riverbank for November/December planting
• Farming equipment such as shovels, hoes and wheelbarrows
• Training in post-harvest activities, such as seed production/conservation
• Storage infrastructure to reduce production losses and promoting contingency measures
Farmers will also be trained in modern technologies and best practices, such as micro-dosing of fertilizers, to increase farm production, reduce costs and protect the environment.
The workshops on resilience will also benefit the local community services, as well as farmers themselves. The workshops will aim to build upon already existing community mechanisms aimed at improving resilience. This is done by raising awareness of the principles of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation and natural resources management, so that communities diversify farm activities, can accumulate assets which in turn can enable the creation of savings, loan and insurance or contingency schemes.
The crops can be harvested as early as January, which should lessen food shortages that could hit. It’s likely that people will have exhausted food reserves and seed stocks, without which there can be no planting for the next harvests.
Songhai Centre – a model taking root far afield
Graziano da Silva also paid a visit Sunday to the national Songhai Centre in Porto Novo, Benin. This home-grown centre for sustainable, ecological agriculture strives to transform subsistence farmers into savvy, small and medium-size entrepreneurs who not only produce but also transform their farm output into a variety of diversified finished products. The Centre was founded in the 1980s by a Catholic priest, whose vision was to reverse the rural exodus by creating opportunities in the countryside. Farmers receive hands-on training and education to transform farming from a matter of living hand to mouth to a means of creating a better quality of life.
Songhai Centre has been supported by various UN agencies, including FAO, and is now being emulated in other countries, including Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, which have their own Songhai Centres patterned after Benin’s example.
Graziano da Silva met with various civil society, producer and private sector groups while in Benin.
Africa Rice Center
On Monday, the FAO Director-General also visited the Africa Rice Center, a member of the CGIAR research consortium and a key FAO partner. The Africa Rice Centre aims to improve food security and nutrition by increasing rice production and quality in its 24 member countries. Many African countries have vast potential for production of rice – also often their main staple – but under current conditions must meet demand by importing the bulk of their rice from abroad. AfricaRice aims to reverse that trend through science and local capacity development.
GENEVA, Switzerland, November 5, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons Chaloka Beyani will conduct a visit to South Sudan, beginning tomorrow and lasting until 15 November 2013 to examine the overall situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country. Mr. Beyani will go to Juba, and other areas, in particular in Jonglei state.
“During my eleven-day visit, I will gather first-hand information from displaced persons, and follow up on the visit by my predecessor in 2005, before South Sudan’s independence,” said Mr. Beyani, who visited neighbouring Sudan in 2012.
“I will also look at the challenges and opportunities for durable solutions for IDPs in South Sudan, and discuss the implementation of our earlier recommendations with the various stakeholders,” he added.
The Special Rapporteur will meet with representatives from the Government, UN partners and civil society, among others. He will also visit various sites of displacement and meet with internally displaced persons and local authorities.
Mr. Beyani will present preliminary observations at a press conference in Juba on 15 November 2013 from 9 am to 10:30 am, at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ( OCHA). His full report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2014.
To see the 2005 report by the previous Special Rapporteur to the UN General Assembly, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IDPersons/Pages/Annual.aspx