FRW news in brief

    | February 3, 2014

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    1-Central African Republic: AU lends its support to aid convoys

    Aid convoys which had been unable to enter the Central African Republic from neighbouring Cameroon are now being escorted by African Union troops. Soldiers have been ordered to help deliver relief supplies to the capital, Bangui.

    As violence between ex-Seleka rebels and anti-balaka militias continues across the country, a humanitarian threat is looming. According to IRIN, the UN’s News Agency, aid agencies are having difficulty distributing relief supplies around the country.

    The UN’s World Food Programme stated that 38 of its trucks were stranded on the Cameroonian side of the CAR border after a Food and Agriculture Organization truck was hijacked while delivering emergency food supplies.

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    2-Uganda: Facebook group fights government plan for gardens

    The Ugandan government is attempting to launch a network of community gardens in the arid, northeastern region of Karamoja. But government efforts have met with lively resistance in a Facebook discussion.

    Members of the online group Karamoja Development Forum criticized the government’s plan for everyone to cultivate gardens. Commentators labelled the scheme as “short-sighted” and “patronizing.” In Karamoja, where, according to one Facebook post, arable farming is “just a side dish to pastoralism,” some are criticizing the scheme as not a viable way to avert hunger and reduce poverty.

    However, Uganda’s State Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Barbara Nekesa, believes the region’s 1.2 million people have a real chance to improve food production. If farmers start growing cassava and potatoes, she says, more food will be available during the dry season.

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    3-South Sudan: Fragile health system falters

    The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, is concerned that the lack of water, food and shelter in camps for internally displaced South Sudanese could cause an outbreak of disease.

    The international NGO, Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, described the South Sudanese health system as being “extremely fragile” before the outbreak of violence, with 80 per cent of health services provided by international organizations. According to MSF and OCHA, the situation has deteriorated. Nearly 600,000 people are currently displaced inside South Sudan, and more than 100,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.

    The head of MSF’s mission in South Sudan said that clinics have not been resupplied and medical workers have fled, leaving the health care system to collapse. The UN Children’s Fund warns that, without humanitarian aid, the risk of preventable deaths “will increase dramatically.”

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    4-Zimbabwe: Urban farmers hope to harvest rainwater

    Farmers growing crops on small patches of land within the city of Bulawayo are short of water to irrigate their crops. This is despite higher than average rainfall since November, 2013.

    The Ministry of Agriculture wants urban farmers to help battle food insecurity in the country. But, according to a story by the Thompson Reuters News Agency, the Ministry is offering little assistance to farmers who want to harness rainwater for irrigation. The government says many urban farmers are working on illegal plots. The government did not consider urban farmers when drafting recent legislation on the role of irrigation in the country’s agricultural sector.

    Zimbabwe’s poor harvests are being attributed to drought, as well as the government’s lack of resources to support farmers and an early warning system to detect drought. While many urban farmers are growing maize on small plots in towns, the country must import the crop from neighbouring countries such as Zambia and South Africa.

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