FRW news in brief

    | January 13, 2014

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    1-Bubonic plague arrives early in Madagascar

    From September to December 2013, Madagascar’s Ministry of Health reported 84 cases and 42 deaths from bubonic plague in four of the country’s 112 districts.

    Also known as the “Black Death,” bubonic plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which is carried by infected fleas that transmit the bacterium to humans by biting. Madagascar’s Ministry of Health says 300 to 600 cases of bubonic plague occur annually, between October and March.

    This year saw the plague arrive as early as September, and the strain is thought to be more deadly than before in certain areas.

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    2-Study finds cattle in sub-Sahara Africa produce more earth-warming gases

    A study produced by scientists from three research groups found that cattle from developing countries account for 75 per cent of all global emissions of earth-warming gases from cattle.

    In Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, cattle can release the equivalent of 1,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide for every kilogram of protein they produce. By comparison, in many parts of the US and Europe, cattle fed on a more efficient diet produce only about 10 kilograms for every kilogram of protein.

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    3-Severe malnutrition in Cameroon’s children

    In Cameroon’s Far North and North regions, 58,000 children suffered from severe acute malnutrition in 2013, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF.

    Health experts are concerned that parents’ lack of information about malnutrition is exacerbating the situation in 7 out of 10 regions in the central African country.

    Malnutrition is responsible for 38 per cent of deaths among children under age five in Cameroon, and one of three children is stunted. A new government initiative is attempting to counter this situation by promoting breastfeeding, increasing food security, fortifying foods with key nutrients, and boosting nutritional supplements to mothers and children.

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    4-Compensation scheme for lost livestock

    A pilot livestock insurance plan launched by the International Livestock Research Institute is insuring pastoralists’ cattle and goats against extreme weather patterns such as drought.

    The insurance was originally offered to pastoralists in Kenya, and has since been expanded to cover pastoralists in a semi-arid zone of southern Ethiopia.

    The pilot project is subsidized by the British government’s Department for International Development, as well as the European Union and the Australian Agency for International Development. Four thousand Kenyan pastoralists are now insured under the plan, which provides compensation to farmers for lost livestock.

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