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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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Sports

African Legend Didier Drogba appointed World Health Organization Ambassador for Sports and Health

Football legend Didier Drogba was today announced as the World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Sport and Health. Drogba, from Côte d’Ivoire, will support WHO to promote the Organization’s guidance on the benefits of physical activity and other healthy lifestyles and highlight the value of sports, particularly for youth.

Mr. Drogba, well known for his football career at Chelsea and as a two-time African Footballer of the Year (2006 and 2009), has a long track record of participating in various health campaigns such as healthy lifestyles, anti-malaria, and HIV prevention and control.

“I am honoured to team up with the World Health Organization and support its work to help people reach the highest level of health possible, especially young people in all countries,” said Mr Drogba during his ambassadorship announcement event at WHO’s Geneva headquarters. “I have benefited first hand from the power of sports to lead a healthy life and I am committed to working with WHO to share such gains worldwide.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, hailed Mr Drogba as not only a football legend but a dedicated advocate for the health and sustainable development of communities and added that his support for WHO can help curb the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) through the promotion of healthy lifestyles, including the benefits of physical activity and sports for all people.

“Didier is a proven champion and game-changer both on and off the pitch,” said Dr Tedros. “We are pleased to have him playing on our team, and helping communities worldwide reach and score goals through sports for their physical and mental health and well-being. He will also support the mobilization of the international community to promote sports as an essential means for improving the physical, mental health, and social well-being of all people, including in helping COVID-19 recovery efforts.”

I am honoured to team up with the World Health Organization and support its work to help people reach the highest level of health possible, especially young people in all countries

Current global estimates show four in five adolescents, and one in four adults, do not do enough physical activity. Increased physical inactivity also negatively impacts health systems, the environment, economic development, community well-being, and quality of life. Regular physical activity, including through sports, helps lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various types of cancer (including breast cancer and colon cancer).

Mr Drogba’s announcement as a WHO Goodwill Ambassador was made during a ceremony to launch the “Healthy 2022 World Cup – Creating Legacy for Sport and Health” partnership between Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health and its Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, WHO and world football’s governing body, FIFA.

Mr Drogba joins other WHO ambassadors including champion Brazilian footballer Alisson Becker; Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of the City of New York; Cynthia Germanotta, President of the Born This Way Foundation; and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Biography – Mr Didier Drogba, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Sports and Health

Didier Drogba is an Ivorian retired professional footballer. He is best known for his career at Chelsea, for whom he has scored more goals than any other foreign player and the club’s fourth highest goal scorer of all time. Drogba was also named “African Footballer of the Year” twice, winning the accolade in 2006 and 2009. His leadership was outstanding when the Ivorian football team had their best run between 2006 and 2014 when they qualified for three consecutive FIFA Word Cups.

Off the pitch, in 2007, Drogba established the Didier Drogba Foundation to support economic development initiatives to improve the living conditions of vulnerable communities. He is also a former UNDP Goodwill Ambassador focusing on development issues in Africa from January 2007 to April 2021 and Afrijapan’s advocacy initiatives in the framework of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).

In his role, Drogba will amplify and spread WHO’s guidance and public health messages to practice physical activity, adopt healthy lifestyles, and highlight the value of sports as a source of life skills, particularly to the youth. Drogba has a long track participating in various health campaigns such as healthy lifestyles, anti-malaria and HIV.

Mr Drogba was officially appointed as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Sports and Health on 18 October 2021

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Jack Ma’s cash grants for African entrepreneurs

Violet Awo Amoabeng, CEO & Founder of Skin Gourmet

Ghana’s Skin Gourmet qualify for ABH Grand Finale

Interview Story ;Mohammed Abu,ADM,Accra 

Ghana’s Violet-Amoabeng, CEO of Skin Gourmet is among Ten finalists, 50% of who are female and from 7 African countries, poised to make their pitch at the grand finale pitch in November this year.

This was contained in a press release by The 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) prize; a flagship philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation, These ten entrepreneurs will take the stage at the grand finale in November for their final pitch to win a share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.

The ten entrepreneurs, half of whom the release said, were selected from over 12,000 applications across all 54 African nations. They had passed multiple stages of judging and evaluation. With an average age of 32 years, the top ten represent businesses primarily operating in 7 African countries: Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Their businesses span key industries such as agriculture, beauty, education, energy, food & beverage, logistics, manufacturing, media & entertainment, and retail. 80% of the finalists operate their businesses in rural areas. Through their ventures, these outstanding entrepreneurs are generating positive impact and creating opportunities for their communities.

“It’s African time! We have been continuously impressed with all of our 2021 Top 10 finalists, especially their diversity and strength of their businesses. The Top 10 are truly inspiring and are a testament to the talent, resilience, innovation, and passion of African entrepreneurs. In the midst of unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we remain steadfast in our efforts to identify, support and shine a spotlight on African entrepreneurs that are driving positive growth for their communities,” said Jason Pau, Executive Director of International, Jack Ma Foundation.

Each year for 10 years (2021 being the 3rd edition), the ABH awards grant funding to 10 outstanding African visionary startups/entrepreneurs who are providing innovative and robust solutions to problems in their local communities. The winner receives US $300,000, the 1st Runner up receives $250,000, the 2nd Runner up receives $150,000 and 7 others in the Top 10 each receives $100,000, on top of other networking and learning opportunities and support.

Awo-Amoabeng’s qualification for the finals  comes on the back of another Ghanaian entrepreneur Abdulai A Dasana, CEO & COO, Amaati Company Limited who also made it to the Top 10 and was awarded 100,000 USD.

 In an interview earlier with Awo-Amoabeng, prior to the announcement on what were her expectations, she said, she expects the judges will make the right choice for the top 10 and added, that for all the training that she had received, she expected that whatever decision they make, it will be the right one.

“I am excited for whatever is next because I have not been disappointed yet by this experience”.

On the input of the ABH programme jn her business endeavours,she said noted  that her company was so thankful for the opportunity to continue to be a part of the competition.

“Even at this point, what the competition is doing for my business and for me as an entrepreneur is mind blowing”adding,”ABH is teaching us how to understand, improve, and guide our business so Skin Gourmet can be a global success. The insight, mentorship, and exposure this competition is giving us is incredible. We are beyond grateful and are really looking forward to seeing what the Top 10 finals has in store”

On what inspired her to become and entrepreneur she said she became one because she wanted to help people and a strong believer in the concept of “Ghana beyond aid” as she believes in her country and her people. Thus, she is building a business that reflects that Africa is capable of taking care of not just itself, but the rest of the world.\

Many people she noted, don’t realize that what they put on their skin ends up inside their body. In other words, users put products on their skin without realizing that they are absorbed into their body. She noted that even though users of the said products won’t eat it but they little realize that its application on the human skin “whether we eat or wear it ends up in the same place = our body. Stabilizers, fragrances, preservatives have no place in the human body much less in our environment”.

It was therefore against this background that, Skin Gourmet created RAW handmade skincare sourced from the WILD of GHANA and so PURE you can eat it. Skincare that is so safe that anyone can use it for anything – even food.

This Awo-Amoabeng noted, is not a far-out concept – “this is the definition of Ghanaian skincare, and we want and need to share this with world. Our products have 7 or less real plant-based ingredients and we don’t add anything that you don’t need”.

“Skin Gourmet is so safe it can be used for anything by anyone. It has absolutely no additives, no fragrances, no preservatives, or anything you can’t pronounce”adding,”The best part? It’s useful even when it is empty and it will not harm you or the planet. This is real Ghanaian skincare – which the whole world deserves”.

On what were the early years challenges she encountered in her business, she recounts that she started her business with just GHS 145.00 (USD 45 approximately) in 2014.

“Skin Gourmet looked nothing like my vision but even with almost no financing – I started.

I struggled and I am still struggling BUT I am glad I started and look how far I have come and how much further I know I will go because I will not give up”.

On what words of inspiration she had for other entrepreneurs, she exhorted them to remain focus and never to give up amidst challenges and they think they don’t have enough they should endeavour to find a way and push on and they would be so surprised by their  ability to overcome, to innovate, to adapt.

He also exhorted them not to be afraid to fail. “It is okay – but only if you get back up.

You don’t need money to make your dreams come true. You need you – to believe in you and your dream. Yes, it is hard, and yes, it will never get easier, but the reward is in overcoming the challenge. And if no one encourages you – encourage yourself”

.“We are all struggling, we all fail but what makes us winners is – we get back up.As African entrepreneurs we don’t do this for just us. So never give up”.

On What are the special moments and achievements of Skin Gourmet she wish to share,she recounted that, the most amazing day of her  life was when I she was  able to pay Social Security and National Insurance Trust(SSNIT) contributions for her  staff.

“To be honest, I have way too much to be grateful for to count – but being able to create jobs, and the opportunity to impact Ghana through our value chain – and be profitable.

“Even though it’s been a hard almost 7 years – I have grown. Were one to ask what I have achieved with Skin Gourmet as an individual, I would say this company is shaping me into the person I have always wanted to be. Every challenge we overcame is an achievement because when I look back; I’m grateful for all of it – the ups, down, tears, pain, and joy. I enjoy every single day in this company – especially the hardest days because then I remember why I do this.

“So I guess my most special moments are my hardest days when am broke because that is when I learnt the most”.

On business tips she had to share with up and coming entrepreneurs, she said she had seven of them she had always reminded herself about and which really helped her. They are namely, “Watch your motives”, “Rebuke is a blessing”, “Do not take it personally”, “It’s not about me”, “Keep walking. No excuses”. “Keep an open mind” and “I don’t know everything”.

Violet is a young Ghanaian entrepreneur, the Founder and CEO of Skin Gournment limited – dealers in RAW handmade high-quality skincare sourced from the Wilds of Ghana.

She is a high energy super hopeful entrepreneur who has always been passionate about people and has attained Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Business administration – specializing in marketing, supply chain management and accounting.

In 2014, Violet created Skin Gourmet with GHS 145 (USD 45.00). Skin Gourmet is now distributed in over 17 different countries and Violet has been featured in Glitz and EMY Magazine as an emerging industry leader. Skin Gourmet has been featured in Forbes, Elle, Pop Sugar, and Indian Cosmopolitan for an Editor’s Best Product Pick Award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Child Marriage Kills More Than 60 Girls A Day- Report

More than an estimated 22,000 girls a year are dying from pregnancy and childbirth resulting from child marriage, a new analysis from Save the Children released on International Day of the Girl reveals.

With the highest rate of child marriage in the world, West and Central Africa account for nearly half (9,600) of all estimated child marriage-related deaths globally, or 26 deaths a day. In addition, the regional teenage maternal mortality rate is four times higher than anywhere else in the world.

South Asia sees 2,000 child marriage-related deaths every year (or six every day), followed by East Asia and the Pacific with 650 deaths (or two every day), and Latin American and the Caribbean, with 560 annual deaths (or nearly two a day).

Although nearly 80 million child marriages globally have been prevented in the last 25 years, progress had stalled even before the COVID-19 pandemic—which has only worsened inequalities that drive child marriage. With school closures, health services under strain or closed, and more families being pushed into poverty, women, and girls face an increased risk of violence during lengthy lockdowns. A further 10 million girls are now expected to marry by 2030,[1] leaving more girls at risk of dying.

President and CEO of Save the Children Janti Soeripto, said: “Child marriage is one of the worst and deadliest forms of sexual and gender-based violence against girls. Every year, millions are forced into wedlock with men who are often much older, robbing them of an opportunity to keep learning, be children, and in many cases, to survive.

“Childbirth is the number one killer of teenaged girls because their young bodies aren’t ready to bear children. The health risks of children having children cannot, and must not, be ignored. Governments must prioritize girls and ensure they’re protected from child marriage and premature childbirth-related deaths. This can only happen if girls have a say in the decisions that affect them.”

Childbirth is the number one killer of teenaged girls because their young bodies aren’t ready to bear children

Gender inequality continues to fuel child marriage, as revealed in a national report from Save the Children in Nigeria, The state of Nigerian girls: An incisive diagnosis of child, early and forced marriage in Nigeria. According to a survey carried out by the organization, the belief that children born to young mothers are healthier and smarter is widespread among many communities. There’s also a common perception that younger girls “refresh” older men with their “younger blood.”

Even in countries where child marriage is illegal, exceptions are common, and the practice is still widespread, including in Burkina Faso—which has one of the highest rates of child marriage globally.

Viviane*, now 23, was promised at birth to her husband and was forced to marry him when she was only 12. She said:

“My husband was 54 and already had four wives. I wanted to keep studying, so I decided to escape. I was caught and taken back to live with him, so I tried again. I walked for 25 miles, managed to make my way onto a bus, and eventually ended up in a center that supports child brides like me. I’m now studying mathematics and training to become a nurse while mentoring other young girls about the importance of getting an education.”

In a global report released today by Save the Children, Global Girlhood Report 2021: Girls’ rights in crisis, the organization is calling on governments to:

  1. Raise girls’ voices by supporting their right to safe and meaningful participation in all public decision-making.
  2. Address immediate and ongoing risks of gender-based violence, including child marriage, by putting girls’ rights and gender equality at the center of COVID-19 and humanitarian responses, development policy, and broader efforts to build forward better.
  3. Guarantee the rights of all girls, including those impacted by different forms of inequality and discrimination (including on the basis of gender, race, disability, economic background, etc.), by developing inclusive policies and programs. Safe and ethical data collection must also be improved to better understand and respond in real-time to COVID-19’s impact on existing economic, climate, and conflict-related crises.
  4. Ensure the safe and unrestricted participation of female humanitarian staff in all humanitarian response efforts, including needs assessments and the design, implementation, and monitoring, and evaluation of all humanitarian services at every level.
  5. Join the Generation Equality movement, working to deliver on the Global Acceleration Plan for Gender Equality, which set a target to prevent nine million child marriages in five years.

Name has been changed to protect the identity of the child marriage survivor.

[i] COVID-19: A threat to progress against child marriage – UNICEF DATA

[ii] This source was used for a minority of countries and is not age specific. The Lancet data was replaced by DHS Stat Compiler data when the latter presented a lower value than the former.

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ARC Statement on International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction

With COP26 around the corner, our focus should be on the devastating impact of climate change as we mark International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction today, observed annually to raise awareness about disaster reduction risk.

That’s the word from Lesley Ndlovu, CEO African Risk Capacity (ARC) Limited, a specialist insurance company that provides parametric coverage to African countries against extreme weather events and natural disasters.

Alarm bells for humanity have been sounded around issues of climate change, following the recent release of the Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change and increased media interest around the UN’s climate talks in November.

In Africa, the UN’s GAR Special Report on Drought warned that drought may well be the next pandemic as Africa faces “exponential collateral damage” posing systemic risks to its economies, infrastructure investments, water and food systems, public health, agriculture, and livelihoods, and threatening to undo its modest development gains and slip into higher levels of extreme poverty.

There simply is no time to lose in “acting decisively”.

Shifting the disaster risk architecture

Advocating for a shift in the current disaster risk architecture, Ndlovu believes the response is unacceptably slow, inefficient, and reactive, as climate disasters increasingly threaten Africa, a continent that bears the brunt of climate change, but has contributed the least to climate emissions.

“It takes far too long for African countries to mobilise the immediate resources they need for relief efforts, to save lives and livelihoods. The traditional disaster response is extremely slow and inefficient and, by the time governments and NGOs have raised enough money to respond meaningfully, the problem has become much worse, and more funding is needed,” says Ndlovu.

One of the issues to address is around premium affordability because it’s quite expensive to insure against natural disasters

ARC Group’s role as a parametric insurer is critically important in building resilience and ensuring a country is able to bounce back swiftly after a natural disaster.  “We monitor the rainfall of countries in the risk pool and sovereign insurance pay outs from ARC Limited are triggered when the system reveals that there hasn’t been enough rain, before droughts get to a crisis stage, farmers are left with nothing and people are starving,” explains Ndlovu.

The programme further helps countries build capacity to manage climate-related risks. In this way it attempts to shift the disaster risk management architecture to be proactive, not reactive, says Ndlovu.

“When dealing with risk mitigation and management, one needs to examine the reason why governments don’t act. On the insurance side, one of the issues to address is around premium affordability because it’s quite expensive to insure against natural disasters and payment of premium competes against other national priorities,” explains Ndlovu.

Sovereigns which participate in the ARC programme must also develop a contingency plan which sets out at a very high level how the government would spend any insurance pay out they receive from ARC Limited.

“Through this plan, we ensure the funds get to the intended beneficiaries. Having a plan increases dramatically the speed of execution because at a point the government received the funding, it already has a plan on how to disburse this,” he says.

Insurance builds resilience

Emily Jones, Climate and Disaster Risk Financing Advisor for WFP, highlights the challenges of convincing authorities to be more proactive than reactive when preventing human suffering and hardship when events like drought occur.

“Unfortunately, no one person or organisation can make the necessary shift alone. Change starts with building resilience and insurance plays a significant role in that, particularly in climate change,” says Jones.

Governments pay a premium every year and receive their agreed-upon pay-out if and when a predicted disaster occurs. “This money can then be used to help those people affected, with the remainder of the pay-out going towards covering other consequences that might not have been expected, such as conflict or a loss of progress in terms of important local development projects,” she says.

“Humanitarians are working on highlighting the need to predict crises and act before they manifest to avoid human suffering. After all, why wait if you don’t have to?”

ARC Limited is the first African company to join the UN-convened Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance. With US$100 million in its kitty, the organisation has the largest balance sheet dedicated to climate risks in Africa.

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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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