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Africa Investment Forum: Projects worth $140 million to boost vaccines, healthcare in West and East Africa

Members of the Africa Investment Forum team showcased two projects during a virtual investor roundtable as the continent looks to boost its healthcare sector and attract much-needed investment in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The projects, jointly worth around $140 million and located in East and West Africa, were previewed for potential investors.

The roundtable, held 21 October, is part of a series of events organized by the Africa Investment Forum and hosted by the Atlantic Council to drum up interest in the Forum’s upcoming Market Days, where a range of investment opportunities will be unveiled. The invited participants represented the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors.

The first opportunity, with a project cost of $96 million, is for the development of a 250-bed specialist hospital offering world-class healthcare services in a West African country. Feasibility studies have been undertaken and the land has been secured. The second entails the construction of a $45 million WHO-prequalified vaccine production plant in East Africa that will be capable of routine production of three vaccines, including for Covid-19.

After the presentations, a panel of investors provided their insight on investing in Africa’s healthcare sector. The panelists were Rhulani Nhlaniki, sub-Saharan Africa Cluster Lead at Pfizer; Jean-Philippe Syed, Principal with private equity firm Development Partners International; Afsane Jetha, Managing Partner & CEO at private equity firm Alta Semper Capital; Stavros Nicolaou, Senior Executive – Strategic Trade at Aspen Pharmacare; and Dr. Dumani Kula, Chief Operating Officer for Africa with Evercare Group, a healthcare company. Aubrey Hruby, a Senior Fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center, moderated.

Through trade and investment, particularly in its pharmaceutical sector, the continent can avoid vaccine inequity

Syed said the African hospital sector, and in particular health tourism, had suffered as a result of pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Nicolaou said Africa’s disease burden—the highest of any continent—made preventive care, including vaccines, all the more important for Africans. The need for pharmaceuticals will increase the requirements for partnerships that can overcome constraints such as research & development.

Other challenges mentioned by the participants include overcoming cold chain and last-mile-delivery issues, and ways to scale up pilot technologies, such as the use of drones to facilitate vaccine delivery.

Health is one of five priority investment sectors under the Africa Investment Forum’s Unified Response to Covid-19 (bit.ly/3nnig7l) pillars. The others are agribusiness, energy and climate change, ICT/Telecoms, and industrialization and trade.

At a panel discussion organized by the University of Edinburgh last week, Africa Investment Forum Senior Director Chinelo Anohu referenced the East Africa vaccine plant project in the context of Africa’s current limited access to Covid-19 vaccines. Through trade and investment, particularly in its pharmaceutical sector, the continent can avoid vaccine inequity, Anohu said.

“What we’re looking to provide with the Africa Investment Forum is a co-investment platform where you mobilize domestic investors, mobilize project sponsors for the continent, and then mobilize international investors, those who are looking to make an investment and get a profit,” Anohu said.

The Africa Investment Forum aims to channel investment into Africa. Its 2021 Market Days, to be held on 1-3 December,  will showcase transformative investment opportunities from across the African continent, many with the potential to drive Africa’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Africa Investment Forum was launched in 2018 by eight founding partners: The African Development Bank, Africa 50; the Africa Finance Corporation; the African Export-Import Bank; the Development Bank of Southern Africa; the Trade and Development Bank; the European Investment Bank; and the Islamic Development Bank.

 

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Food

AFRICA: WFP, Japan support nutrition response in The Gambia

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes a USD1.5 million (JPY 164 million) contribution from the Government of Japan to provide nutrition response to 40,000 vulnerable food insecure people in The Gambia.

With this contribution, WFP will provide fortified blended foods to malnourished children under 5, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, and mothers living with HIV to address moderate acute malnutrition. WFP will also support nutrition education and awareness-raising to increase the knowledge and skills of caregivers, mothers, adolescent girls, households, and community leaders in best feeding practices.

We are grateful for Japan’s generous contribution to our work in The Gambia

“We are grateful for Japan’s generous contribution to our work in The Gambia,” said Yasuhiro Tsumura, WFP’s Representative in The Gambia.  “This support came at a critical time when COVID-19 pandemic, seasonal climate shocks including flash floods and windstorms are causing the hardest blow in families’ food security situation.”

The latest food security analysis estimated that 600,000 people (30 percent of the population) are food insecure with 114,000 men, women, and children severely affected during the lean season period, June-August 2021.

Attending the handover ceremony, today, Tatsuo Arai, Ambassador of Japan to The Gambia commended the good collaboration between WFP and the Government of The Gambia in drawing and implementing this important project relating to Human Security in this critical time of the Covid-19 pandemic. “We look forward to the active participation of The Gambia in the upcoming Tokyo International Conference for African Development, next year and the Nutrition-for-Growth Summit to be held in December 2021 in Tokyo, Japan”, he indicated.

WFP’s comprehensive response in The Gambia includes emergency assistance to disaster-affected people and provision of nutrition support to malnourished children and women, as well as life-changing support including school feeding, resilience building, and community/national capacity strengthening.  WFP needs USD 3.4 million in the next 6-months for its operations in The Gambia.

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Traditional, religious and civil society leaders of Africa vow to take bold action to end violence against women and girls in the African continent

Traditional, religious and civil society leaders of Africa gathered today in Addis Ababa to confirm their commitment to joining hands with the African Union Commission, the United Nations, and the Spotlight Initiative and taking bold action to end child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM) and other harmful practices.

On behalf of the African Union Chairperson, Prudence Nonkululeko Ngwenya, Ag. Director, Women, Gender Youth Directorate in her opening remarks stressed that “violence against women and girls remains as one of the critical impediments to the realization of their fundamental rights, including the rights to life, human dignity, peace, justice, and socio-economic and political development.”

Thomas Huyghebaert, the Head of Policy Cooperation at the EU Delegation to the African Union observed that “We can change legislation, or improve access to services, but to change mindsets and challenge stereotypes, we need to engage at the community level – engage men, boys, traditional and religious leaders at the grassroots level”.

At least one in three young women in Africa are married before they turn 18. Although there are signs of small progress in changing attitudes toward FGM, the practice remains a major problem across many countries on the continent. About 200 million girls and women have been subjected to the practice.

We can change legislation, or improve access to services, but to change mindsets and challenge stereotypes, we need to engage at the community level

Across the continent of Africa, traditional leaders, including religious leaders, continue to play significant roles as influencers and custodians of cultural practices within communities. As attention grows to the slow progress on ending gender-based violence, including child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), traditional leaders have a critical role in shifting the deep-rooted cultural beliefs that justify the perpetuation of these harmful practices.

Investing in preventing violence against women and girls is a critical investment for upholding the rights of women and girls and traditional leaders have the power to call out the patriarchy embedded in cultural practices and traditions. At UN Women, we know we cannot go far if we go alone in our efforts to end violence against women and girls. We are excited that we are now partnering with religious and traditional leaders and we need to hear your experiences and solutions to make the partnership a partnership for change”, said Letty Chiwara, UN Women Representative to Ethiopia, the African Union Commission, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

Following a series of dialogue sessions facilitated by UN Women with over 300 traditional leaders from various countries across Sub-Saharan Africa, the Council of Traditional Leaders of Africa (COTLA) was established in February 2019. As a network of leaders, COTLA aims to drive the transformation and eradication of negative cultural practices, customs, and traditions to end child marriage, FGM, and other harmful practices.

King Adedapo Aderemi of Nigeria, Convenor General of COTLA, is one of the most powerful allies on this journey. “When we cooperate, we operate. We need to plan and walk the plan to end harmful practices in Africa,” he said.

The meeting provided a range of opportunities for traditional and religious leaders to exchange strategies they are using and discuss partnership opportunities with key stakeholders. The gathering also created a space to celebrate achievements. Through partnerships such as the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative, traditional leaders are engaging with UN Women and other partners as agents of change. In Malawi, chiefs working with police, mother groups, and child protection workers dissolved 1,893 child marriages. In Mozambique, traditional leaders agreed on an action plan at a national forum to address child marriage and gender-based violence in their communities. In Liberia, traditional chiefs in the 11 FGM practicing counties signed a Seven County Policy banning FGM.

The three-day meeting also provides a platform for traditional and religious leaders to voice their Generation Equality commitments. The outcome of the deliberations will be used to develop a guideline to strengthen systematic partnerships between AUC, regional faith-based organizations, communities of traditional leaders, youth-led initiatives, and CSOs to eliminate violence against women and girls in Africa.

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Unlocking the potential of Africa’s free trade area for rural women

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Office for Africa has launched a new brief that advocates for seizing the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the economic empowerment of women in agriculture. The publication is launched today to coincide with the International Day for Rural Women which is celebrated every year on 15 October to honour women and girls living in rural areas.

The AfCFTA holds the potential to contribute significantly to eliminating poverty, creating jobs, and improving food security. However, the new publication Seizing the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area for the economic empowerment of women in agriculture warns that the AfCFTA could exacerbate existing gender disparities and discrimination and worsen the condition of women engaged in trade and agriculture if women’s inclusion is not prioritized.

The AfCFTA will change existing trading practices and formalize markets which could preclude women’s access and further relegate them to informal and less lucrative value chains.

“Women must not be left behind,” said FAO Senior Gender Officer Clara Park. “It is of pivotal importance that we create ecosystems of support that enable women to access opportunities created through the AfCFTA and reinvigorate our efforts to address existing gender inequalities in access to and control over land, services, technology, markets, and knowledge. We need to bring women and their organizations to the decision-making table,” she said.

We need to bring women and their organizations to the decision making table

Women’s key role in Africa’s food production and trade

Around 85 percent of economic activity in Africa is conducted in the informal sector where women account for nearly 90 percent of the informal labour force. Many rural women also sell goods and agricultural produce through informal trade channels and cross-border trade.

The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement establishes the largest free-trade area in the world. The single market aims to enhance intra-African trade, facilitate investment, improve continental economic integration, and boost African countries’ competitiveness in the global market.

Some of the many benefits women can reap by trading under the AfCFTA include moving up the value chain, leveraging networks of women’s associations, upgrading their businesses, and tapping into new markets.

Ensuring women’s inclusion

The publication makes recommendations relevant to stakeholders across the trade sector, including strategic partnerships to develop innovative solutions and policy recommendations to ensure that the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement will provide opportunities that benefit women; build the capacity of women and women’s organizations so that they are involved in Africa’s trade environment and understand what the AfCFTA agreement entails, including its opportunities and challenges; and engage the private sector to connect with women’s groups involved in agricultural value chains.

FAO recognizes that women play a critical role in food production in Africa. FAO is working with partners to unlock the potential of trade and seize the opportunities of the AfCFTA for rural women.

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Food crisis-hit people in north-eastern Nigeria- WFP Reports

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warns that it may soon be forced to cut food rations to more than half a million women, men, and children in north-eastern Nigeria unless urgent funding is secured to continue life-saving operations in crisis-ridden Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states.

The cuts would come just as severe hunger reaches a five-year high in the country in the wake of years of conflict and insecurity – a situation that has been worsened by the socio-economic fallout from COVID-19, high food prices and limited food supply. Moreover, the number of internally displaced surpassed two million in September 2021 – reaching another grim milestone.

“Cutting rations means choosing who gets to eat and who goes to bed hungry. We are seeing funding for our life-saving humanitarian work dry up just at the time when hunger is at its most severe,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa following a recent visit to Nigeria.

If at least US$ 55 million is not received in a matter of weeks, WFP will have no choice but to cut food rations and reduce the number of people it serves – where assistance is already prioritized for the most vulnerable – as early as November.

We are seeing funding for our life-saving humanitarian work dry up just at the time when hunger is at its most severe

“Our food assistance is a lifeline for millions whose lives have been upended by conflict and have almost nothing to survive on. We must act now to save lives and avoid disruptions to this lifeline,” Nikoi added.

The number of internally displaced people – people forced to flee their homes in search for safety – in northeast Nigeria has been rising steadily and reached a new all-time high of over 2 million in September 2021, while current food security analyses show that 4.4 million people in northeast Nigeria do not know where their next meal is coming from. Additionally, over 1 million children are malnourished.

Continued attacks on communities by non-state armed groups, harsh lean season conditions amid an economy dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19, high food prices, and a severe reduction in household purchasing power – all contribute to a bleak outlook for the most vulnerable people in northeast Nigeria.

Despite increasing needs, WFP may soon be unable to sustain life-saving operations in conflict-riddled north-eastern Nigeria. Without additional resources, the food assistance agency will run out of funds for emergency food distribution and nutrition support by the end of October 2021.

“Cutting food assistance will be a painful decision for humanitarians as it will negatively affect children, women, and men uprooted from their homes due to continued violence,” said Edward Kallon, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria. “As we call upon our partners to step up their support in response to the growing needs, I would like to say thank you to those who have stood with us over the years in providing the much-needed humanitarian assistance in the country.”

For five years, WFP has provided life-saving food and nutrition assistance to severely food insecure people, displaced families in camps, and to vulnerable people living in host communities thanks to generous contributions from Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the United States of America, and private donors.

This year, relying on the continued generosity of donor partners, WFP ramped up its response to address rising food insecurity and the impact of COVID-19, targeting 1.9 million displaced people in Nigeria with life-saving food assistance. To sustain humanitarian operations in northeast Nigeria until March 2022, WFP urgently requires USD 197 million.

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AfricaFoodHealth

Africa youths to lead innovation on ending female genital mutilation

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, and the global UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation have launched a new youth-led initiative, the FGM HackLab, to speed up progress on ending female genital mutilation (FGM) in Africa.

The FGM HackLab initiative will contribute towards an Africa where every young woman and girl can exercise her right to bodily autonomy and to make her own decisions regarding her life and future. This initiative will provide a platform for young people to share innovative ideas and solutions to end FGM in communities across Africa.

While a decline in FGM has been observed in some countries across the region in the past ten years, the rate at which this is occurring is not fast enough. In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the first-ever resolution against FGM, calling for intensified global efforts to eliminate the practice. In 2015, FGM was included in the Sustainable Development Goals under Target 5.3, which calls for eliminating all harmful practices.

Our commitment to ending FGM in Africa and beyond would be incomplete and unsustainable without mobilising, preparing and working alongside the next generation

“COVID-19 showed us that the progress we have achieved in ending FGM in Africa is fragile,” said Dr. Bannet Ndyanabangi, Regional Director a.i. for UNFPA East and Southern Africa. “With just nine years left to eradicate gender-based violence including FGM by 2030, we need an innovative approach. The ICPD Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals call for smart innovation and action from the youth, not only during this campaign but for each day of each year. This initiative will be beneficial in finding fresh solutions to the worrisome problem of FGM.”

UNFPA and UNICEF are leading the fight to end FGM and other harmful practices with initiatives such as the FGM HackLab. The joint programme focuses on 17 countries where FGM is practised and supports regional and global initiatives.

“We recognize the untapped potential of young people and through this initiative, the Joint programme will channel their energy and creativity to develop innovative solutions to end FMG on the African continent,” said Mireille Tushiminina, coordinator of the UNFPA-UNICEF Joint Programme on the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation. “We are in the Decade of Action, which calls on young women and men to play a critical role to exert agency and sustainable solutions to generate an unstoppable movement towards the elimination of FGM with bigger dreams – and more innovative approaches – to deliver on the promise of ending FGM by 2030.

“Our commitment to ending FGM in Africa and beyond would be incomplete and unsustainable without mobilising, preparing and working alongside the next generation for the tasks ahead,” she said.

 

This initiative is supported by the Spotlight Initiative Africa Programme to end violence against women and girls.

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Starvation and Hunger-related Deaths a Reality Amid Worsening Food Crises, says FAO

With some of the world’s worst food crises in recent years impacting tens of millions of people, there is an urgent need for specifically targeted funding for emergency livelihoods assistance and to build resilience, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said today.

“Today we face unprecedented food crises on multiple fronts. Starvation and hunger-related deaths are a present reality,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu told the  High-Level UN event: Action in Support of Preventing and Ending Famine Now. “As we near the end of 2021, the situation has continued to deteriorate.”

Over half a million people in four countries (Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan, and Yemen) are experiencing catastrophic food insecurity and more than 41 million are on the edge of famine, in emergency conditions (IPC Phase 4 out of 5) – one shock or stress away from a worst-case scenario, QU said. Burkina Faso and northeastern Nigeria are also facing an increased risk of acute food insecurity.

Today’s event was convened in collaboration between the Governments of the Dominican Republic, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden, FAO, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The FAO Director-General said the situation had continued to deteriorate, with amounts of aid allocated and disbursed falling well short of the $6.6 billion sought by humanitarian organizations to meet urgent needs. In addition, of the funding provided, far too little was focused on the resourcing of emergency livelihoods assistance – a central component of any effective strategy to prevent famine, QU said.

Starvation and hunger-related deaths are a present reality

Since UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the creation of a High-Level Task Force on Famine in March, FAO has helped at least 5.5 million people in the six countries designated as high priority by the group to produce critically needed food in the last few months.

FAO is also committed to building long-term resilience to protect, restore and improve livelihoods in the face of threats that impact agriculture, nutrition, food security, and food safety.

FAO points to evidence on the ground showing that the emergency humanitarian support is highly effective:

  • Hundreds of thousands of families in Yemen face the imminent threat of losing their sole source of income to easily preventable animal diseases. With just $8, FAO can vaccinate and deworm an average herd of five sheep or goats in Yemen, protecting assets worth $500 on the local market.
  • In South Sudan, FAO provided essential livelihood packages to 545 000 families, distributing cereal and vegetable seeds and fishing kits, ensuring a steady supply of nutritious food for almost 3.3 million people.
  • In Burkina Faso and Northern Nigeria, FAO was able to provide seeds, cash, and other time-bound inputs to more than 700 000 people, a further 1.4 million people missed the critical main season planting this year because the funds allocated for this were simply not sufficient.
  • Providing a farmer in Madagascar with cash and drought-tolerant seeds enables them to remain on their land, to continue producing food, to earn their own income and ensure their children are well-nourished and educated.

Across the six priority countries that the task force is focused on, FAO has received less than one-quarter of the resources needed for emergency livelihoods assistance.  But many more countries and regions also face the growing threat of acute food insecurity.

Among those about which FAO is concerned are Haiti where livelihoods are threatened by COVID-19, instability, insecurity, the earthquake, livestock diseases and economic turbulence; Afghanistan, where one in three Afghans were already acutely food insecure and where basic services are under threat; East Africa, which faces the threat of a third consecutive season with scarce rains for crops and livestock, with significant implications for food security.

QU called for an urgent scaling up of anticipatory actions, such as last year’s efforts by FAO and partners during the desert locust upsurge, preventing massive losses of staple crops and livestock valued at over $1.5 billion, protecting the food security of over 36 million people.

He said the humanitarian community could not afford to wait for famine declarations before taking action, adding that to really prevent famine, humanitarian assistance was needed to transform agri-food systems and build resilience for the most vulnerable.

“We need to work together to transform our agri-food systems so that they are more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable,” the FAO Director-General said.

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FoodHealth

Coca-Cola Company Unveils New Global Brand Platform

Brand Introduces Real Magic, its first new global platform since 2016 and reveals the “Hug,” a new perspective on the iconic Coca-Cola (www.Coca-ColaCompany.com) logo; brand launches “One Coke Away From Each Other,” the first global campaign under the Real Magic Platform

Coca-Cola today unveiled a new global brand philosophy and platform called Real Magic, which invites everyone to celebrate the real magic of humanity.

The platform refreshes the brand’s trademark promise – to unite and uplift people every day – with renewed relevance for the world we live in today. The platform is built from lessons of the last 18 months: that we can find magic all around us when we come together in unexpected moments that elevate the everyday into the extraordinary. It also acknowledges the many contradictions experienced as new generations find harmony and human connection in a virtual and divided world.

“Coca-Cola is a brand defined by dichotomies: humble but iconic, authentic yet secret, real yet magical,” said Manolo Arroyo, Chief Marketing Officer for The Coca-Cola Company.  “The Real Magic philosophy is rooted in the belief that dichotomies can make the world a more interesting place – a world of extraordinary people, unexpected opportunities, and wonderful moments. At the same time, it captures the essence of Coca-Cola itself: a real taste that is indescribable, unique, a touch of real magic.”

Real Magic marks the first new global brand platform for Coca-Cola since 2016 and is being launched alongside a refreshed visual identity for Coca-Cola, as well as a new perspective on the Coca-Cola logo that will feature across Coca-Cola marketing. Inspired by its representation on Coca-Cola’s iconic packaging, the “Hug” logo lifts the curved Coca-Cola trademark on the bottle and can label to provide a visual signature that will embrace and frame moments of magic across Coca-Cola’s communications.

Coca-Cola is collaborating with artists, photographers, and illustrators to bring the concept of Real Magic to life through the embrace of the Hug logo. Through their own distinct and unfiltered lenses, they will bring moments of everyday magic to life in ways that are inclusive and collective, yet also individual and expressive.  Design partners include Wieden+Kennedy London, KnownUnknown, and Kenyon Weston.

Through the Real Magic platform, we ultimately want to engage people very differently through an ecosystem of unique and ownable experiences

“Real Magic is not simply a tagline or a one-off campaign: It is a long-term brand philosophy and belief that will drive and guide marketing and communications across the Coca-Cola Trademark,” Arroyo said.

Real Magic launches with a new campaign called “One Coke Away From Each Other.” Blending real and virtual worlds, “One Coke Away From Each Other” is a metaphor that speaks to the belief that what unites us is greater than what sets us apart and celebrates our common humanity. The film, which launched digitally on September 27th, asks what if Coca-Cola, as a symbol of togetherness, could bridge universes meant to be a part of  create Real Magic. The film also features three well-known gamers – DJ Alan Walker, Team Liquid’s Aerial Powers, and Average Jonas.

Coca-Cola partnered with advertising agency BETC London to create the “One Coke Away From Each Other” campaign, as well as leading film director Daniel Wolfe and gaming and CGI specialist production partner Mathematic.

The campaign also features social and digital executions, as well as out of the home. In select markets, Coca-Cola is running a code hunt beginning Oct. 11 where people can win prizes, including gameplay sessions with celebrity gamers. There are 25 codes hidden within the film. Through collaboration with the Brand Partnership Studio at Twitch, the interactive live streaming service, gaming creators on Twitch will unlock another 10 codes with their viewers, during live streams on their Twitch channels. As a part of the campaign, Coca-Cola will award prizes to consumers who find and enter the hidden codes on a Coca-Cola micro-site, in participating countries.  Winners have the chance to receive their share of one of the largest ever prize pools of Bits, a virtual good used to show support for Twitch streamers, as a part of the sweepstakes administered by Coca-Cola.

“Through the Real Magic platform, we ultimately want to engage people very differently through an ecosystem of unique and ownable experiences,” Arroyo said. “’ One Coke Away From Each Other’ has been built for, and with, a community that demands something different than what they may have come to expect from Coca-Cola. In developing this campaign, we’ve partnered with the best creators, with gamers, with Twitch, and with others to find our place in reality unlike any we’ve known before. That’s tremendously exciting.”

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UNFPA: With emergency funding for family planning, a glimmer of hope amid crisis

As a high school student, Christabel Mwewa had always been ambitious and sociable. She loved to learn, particularly history and had an affinity for making friends. When, at age 16, she learned she was pregnant, everything changed. Suddenly the studious teenager felt stigmatized. It was as though no one saw a future for her anymore.

“After I found out I was pregnant, the people in my community thought that I just dropped out of school, and started spreading rumours saying that because I have a child now I won’t go back to school,” she said.

Her situation is all too common in Zambia, which has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world. Pregnant teens often do drop out of school, and they can be subjected to harmful practices such as child marriage, as their future prospects dwindle.

But Christabel was fortunate –with UNFPA support she was able to return to school after having her baby. While excited to rejoin her fellow students, she was also anxious and uncomfortable about how she would be seen by her teachers and peers.

“I thought people would look down on me for having a baby,” Christabel said.

But she persevered. Now 18, Christabel is still in school and dreams of practising law in order to help others and support her child’s education.

And she is no longer worried about another unintended pregnancy complicating those plans. With support from the UNFPA Supplies Partnership, the flagship family planning programme of UNFPA, Christabel was able to access a long-acting contraceptive method to ensure that another unplanned pregnancy does not sideline her goals.

I am glad that I have control over when I can have children because I can finish my education and find a job

An unprecedented shortfall 

The UNFPA Supplies Partnership is the only United Nations programme dedicated to family planning, and it is the world’s largest provider of donated contraceptives.  But these efforts are currently at risk. COVID-19 has led to a shrinking fiscal space for reproductive health. More than a third of countries have pandemic-related disruptions in family planning, reproductive health, nutrition, and pregnancy-related care.

According to estimates from UNFPA and partners,  some 12 million women and adolescent girls lost access to family planning services in 2020, leading to 1.4 million unintended pregnancies. The loss of access to contraceptive products and services and supply chain disruptions are still ongoing in 2021 as countries struggle to contain new outbreaks.

Amid these challenges, the UNFPA Supplies Partnership is facing an unprecedented funding shortfall of $150 million for 2021-2022.

Emergency funding

There is a great deal at stake. To ensure women and girls can continue to get the contraceptives and other reproductive health medicines they need right now, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and another private donor have announced up to $50 million in emergency stop-gap funding to the UNFPA Supplies Partnership.

This funding is a one-time investment to mitigate the immediate budget shortfall for 2022 but long-term support is still needed.

If fully funded for the upcoming four years (2022–2025), the UNFPA Supplies programme can also strengthen health systems to reduce the unmet needs in family planning, which would help prevent around 1.1 million maternal and child deaths, 53 million unintended pregnancies, and 1.7 million unsafe abortions, according to estimates.

A fully funded UNFPA Supplies Partnership means Christabel – and many in similar circumstances – will never have to wonder if her method of choice will be available when she needs it.

“I am glad that I have control over when I can have children because I can finish my education and find a job. And whatever my child needs, I’ll be able to provide for her,” she told UNFPA.

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Africa: Niger to Improve Women and Girl’s Access to Nutrition and Health Services

The Nigerien government will be able to provide its population with better health coverage with financing approved today by the World Bank. This 15-year multiphase program will use innovative and comprehensive nutrition and health interventions to improve health system efficiency, equity, and sustainability, as well as boost girls’ and women’s empowerment.

 

The project aligns with Niger’s investment case, supported by the GFF, to accelerate health and nutrition outcomes for women, children and adolescents

Niger’s health system faces immense challenges. Despite progress in recent years, the country has a high under-five mortality rate of 77 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2020, and stunting continues to have devastating effects on the long-term development of Niger’s human capital. Lack of qualified health professionals, particularly doctors, nurses, and medical assistants, has an impact on overall public health. In addition, more than 75% of girls are married before the age of 18, and 30% marry before the age of 15.

Improving health and nutrition outcomes, as well as empowering girls and women to accelerate the demographic transition will require a transformational commitment over the long term,” says Joelle Dehasse, World Bank Country Manager for Niger. “The World Bank is strongly committed to build human capital and improve the lives of the poorest in a fragile context. Refugees and host communities, who use health care services in the targeted areas, will also benefit from these improved basic services.”

The first phase of the MPA, the Niger – Improving women’s and girls’ access to improved health and nutrition services (Lafia-Iyali) project aims to increase the utilization of reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition services and improve key behaviors known to improve health and nutrition outcomes, as well as girls’ and women´s agency in Zinder and Maradi region. Specifically, the project will increase the coverage, utilization, and quality of the integrated package of services, as well as the continuity of services to address under-five child mortality, maternal mortality, and sexual and reproductive health. It will support demand for health and nutrition services to promote key behaviors for increased demand. About 6,500,000 people, including refugees, and IDPs will benefit from the project by 2026.

The total financing for the project’s first phase is $125 million. This includes a $25 million grant from the Global Financing Facility (GFF), a global partnership hosted at the World Bank that supports country-led efforts to prioritize investments in the health, nutrition and well-being of women, children and adolescents while building more resilient and inclusive health systems. The project aligns with Niger’s investment case, supported by the GFF, to accelerate health and nutrition outcomes for women, children and adolescents.

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