FRW news in brief

    | December 9, 2013

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    1- Changing laws to combat “sextortion”

    In countries all over the world, the problem of “sextortion” is rampant. The International Association of Women Judges, or IAWJ, defines sextortion as an abuse of power involving a demand for sexual favors.

    A Tanzanian judge says it wasn’t until 2007 that solicitation of sexual favours was recognized as a form of corruption in her country. Experts say there are no laws to date to combat sextortion, as it falls under many different statutes, but a study over the last three years led to a 48-page guide for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, law enforcement, and others involved in the justice systems around the world.

    The IAWJ identified legal provisions under which sextortion can be prosecuted and is encouraging countries to change laws to put an end to this form of corruption.

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    2- Western Kenya battling cassava viral disease

    Cassava mosaic disease has reemerged in Busia, west Kenya.

    Farmers have lost their cassava crops to the viral disease, which is spread both by pests from neighbouring Uganda and the cross-border trade in infected stems. Most people living in Western Kenya use cassava either in ugali, a dish cooked to a porridge-like consistency, or eat it as a meal on its own.

    Cassava mosaic disease is the most severe and widespread disease of cassava, limiting production of the crop in sub-Saharan Africa. Until recently the disease was being contained with the advent of a highly resistant cassava variety bred by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute.

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    3- Somalia cyclone threatens further suffering

    In the wake of the tropical cyclone in Somalia on November 8, 2013, which killed more than 100 people and devastated livestock and infrastructure, fears of a waterborne disease outbreak is causing further instability.

    The cyclone lashed Puntland for four days causing flash floods, icy winds and mudslides, which destroyed houses, schools, farms and mosques.

    A representative of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies stated the amount of dead livestock around the country may cause waterborne diseases, due to contaminated water sources. Humanitarian access, as well as safe drinking water, is needed to halt the spread of disease in remote areas affected by the cyclone.

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    4- Is Africa ready for GM?

    Genetically modified crops are making inroads in Africa, but many African policymakers are still divided on whether to use GM crops to tackle poverty and food security.

    South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Sudan have all seen improvements in productivity, according to a recent study called “Status of development, regulation, and adoption of GM agriculture” published in the journal Food Policy.

    But the study found that effective regulatory frameworks covering bio-safety need to be in place for GM to be accepted and adopted by other countries in Africa. Only South Africa performed a European-style risk assessment and has shown the most support for GM technologies out of the six countries (Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa and Tunisia) in which the study was carried out.

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