FRW news in brief

    | September 30, 2013

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    Locust control campaign launched as food crisis looms in Madagascar

    The UN FAO is beginning a control campaign against a plague of locusts in Madagascar. The insects threaten the food supply and livelihoods of nearly 60 per cent of the island’s population. Spraying is expected to start by late October, after the onset of the rainy season.

    This will be the first of three annual control campaigns being administered by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization in partnership with the Madagascar Ministry of Agriculture. Over two million infested hectares will be sprayed during the three-year plan.

    Patrice Talla is the FAO’s representative in Madagascar. He says: “Of the 13 million people at risk, nine million are directly dependent on agriculture for food and income. The locust campaign is vitally important to try to limit any further damage to poor farmers’ crops.”

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    Burkina Faso tackles land issues

    For many years, rural landowners in Burkina Faso have suffered from unfair deals in which wealthier buyers acquire vast areas of land at the expense of poor villagers. Land conflicts have also erupted repeatedly between herders and farmers.

    At the start of the new millennium, the Burkina Faso government encouraged agrobusinesses to modernize agriculture and boost production. Since then, many firms have been criticized for allegedly buying up fertile land and marginalizing small-scale farmers.

    But a rural land tenure law passed in 2009 and a new initiative to increase the transparency of land transactions are starting to take effect. Media campaigns are also encouraging villagers to resolve their disputes peacefully through rural land commissions.

    Seydou Dao is the mayor of western Padema District, which includes 12 villages. He says: “Conflicts [over land] have abated since the adoption of the new law, mainly thanks to a lot of awareness-raising. More than 80 per cent of conflicts are resolved by the authorities at the village level.”

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    West Africa flood roundup

    The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that, in 2013, flooding killed 84 people, displaced more than 40,000, and affected more than 300,000 in West Africa. Thirty-four thousand hectares of agricultural land have been damaged. Niger, western Mali and parts of southern Senegal were the worst affected.

    In Niger, some 3,000 gardeners and farmers in the capital, Niamey, lost their harvests. Salifo Lompo farms in Komo, a neighbourhood in Niamey. He says, “We watched the river water rise quickly. Within hours, all of our vegetables were flooded.”

    In Bamako, Mali’s capital, two rainstorms hit the city, causing severe flooding. Thirty-seven deaths were reported, , 20,000 people have been displaced, and 280 homes destroyed

    In Senegal, between 73,000 and 105,000 homes have been flooded, mainly in and around the capital, Dakar.

    But the extent of the flooding and damage is less than last year, when the homes of three million people were flooded. Almost a million and a half people were displaced in Nigeria alone.

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