FRW news in brief

    | March 17, 2014

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    1-Kenya: Big investment in irrigated agriculture

    Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta recently launched a one million acre irrigation project, expected to cost 250 billion Kenyan shillings ($3 billion USD) over five years.

    The project is designed to address the recurring problem of food insecurity in the country. Government-owned land in the semi-arid counties of Tana River and Kilifi in the Coastal Region will be irrigated to provide maize for central grain stores. These stocks of maize s will be mobilized during national shortages.

    The government acquired the land in 1989 from through the Agriculture Development Corporation. Half a million acres will be planted with maize, boosting the country’s production to 45 million bags per year.

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    2-Somalia: Stopping sexual violence

    There were 800 cases of sexual and gender-based violence in Mogadishu in the first half of 2013, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. One NGO, Save Somali Women and Children, has recorded 2,000 survivors of sexual violence since July 2012.

    In January 2013, a woman who alleged she had been raped and the journalist who interviewed her were both arrested and sentenced to jail.

    Ed Pomfret is the Somalia campaigns and policy manager for Oxfam. He says, “Women need to have access to sympathetic courts and police to ensure that perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence are tried fairly and brought to justice.”

    The Somali government is working on a national gender policy, but critics argue the initial draft of the proposed law doesn’t address violence in a meaningful way. In February 2014, Human Rights Watch released a report calling on the government to take action to protect women and children in government-controlled areas of the country.

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    3-Niger: Farmers losing ground

    West Africa has recently been experiencing the most abrupt changes in climate since weather records began. The UN Development Program blames climate change for the environmental stresses hammering Niger.

    The stresses include soil erosion, desertification, degradation of grazing land, decreasing availability of water, and loss of vegetation cover and biodiversity. Farmers say the rains came late and ended early last year, ruining their harvests.

    This year, drought, land degradation, pests and poor seeds are again threatening their livelihoods and causing hunger and poverty on a massive scale. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that up to three million Nigeriens will face food insecurity this year.

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