FRW news in brief

    | March 10, 2014

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    1-Central African Republic: Food insecurity worsens as traders flee

    Food security is at risk in the Central African Republic as rural people continue to flee the country. Anti-balaka militias are targeting anyone they perceive to be an ex-Seleka rebel.

    Tens of thousands of traders have fled in order to seek safety. Their absence is causing food markets in the country to collapse. The exodus follows months of violence, which French and African Union peacekeepers have been unable to halt.

    The violence started when the Seleka rebel group took power and installed Michel Djotodia as president. Mr. Djotodia stepped down last month and was replaced by Mrs. Catherine Samba-Panza, the former mayor of the capital, Bangui. She called on the anti-balaka to stop the violence.

    The United Nations estimates that 1.3 million people − more than a quarter of the population − are in need of emergency food aid.

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    2Cameroon: Climate change blamed for soaring food prices

    Residents in Cameroon’s most populous cities, Yaounde and Douala, are paying dramatically higher prices for their food. The increases were triggered by recent changes in the weather, and farmers are blaming water shortages.

    Prices of staple foods such as rice, plantain, flour and cocoyam have risen by over 20 per cent in the last three months. The price of vegetables and fruit has also doubled, according to the Cameroon Consumers Association.

    In 2008, riots broke out in both cities after food prices spiked. According to government figures, more than 100 people died in the rioting.

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    3 Nigeria: Threat of floods makes farmers wary of investment

    In 2012, floods devastated much of the farmland in Nigeria’s Kogi State.

    The worst floods in four decades affected over seven million people across Nigeria. Two major rivers, the Niger and Benue, merge in Kogi State. More than a million people were cut off from their homes and businesses by flood waters, while farms and food stocks were washed away.

    Although farmers want to commercialize their production of staples such as cassava, yams and rice, there was another flood warning last year, and farmers are wary of investing in their farms after the government responded so slowly in 2012.

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    4West Africa: Youth unemployment

    Across West Africa, many youth are either unemployed or underemployed. The resulting breakdown in social cohesion is often associated with higher levels of crime and violence, and can perpetuate poverty.

    Globally, an estimated 73 million youth − defined as those between the ages of 15 and 24 − were unable to find work in 2013, according to a study by the International Labour Organization. Although the rate of underemployment is more difficult to measure, it is likely that millions more are either overqualified for their job or receiving below-average wages.

    In sub-Saharan Africa, about 12 per cent of youth are unemployed. Africa has the world’s highest rate of working poor, defined as employed people who earn less than $2 US a day. The ILO study shows that despite being part of Africa’s most educated generation, young Africans are twice as likely to be unemployed as adults than residents of other continents.

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