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Archive for the tag “Rift Valley”

FAO issues alert over third consecutive failed rainy season, worsening hunger in East Africa (14.07.2017)

Number of people needing humanitarian assistance on the rise.

ROME, Italy, July 14, 2017 – Poor rains across East Africa have worsened hunger and left crops scorched, pastures dry and thousands of livestock dead – according to an alert released today by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The most affected areas, which received less than half of their normal seasonal rainfall, are central and southern Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania and northeastern and southwestern Uganda.

The alert issued by FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) warns that the third consecutive failed rainy season has seriously eroded families’ resilience, and urgent and effective livelihood support is required.

“This is the third season in a row that families have had to endure failed rains – they are simply running out of ways to cope,” said FAO’s Director of Emergencies Dominique Burgeon. “Support is needed now before the situation rapidly deteriorates further.”

Increasing humanitarian need

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the five aforementioned countries, currently estimated at about 16 million, has increased by about 30 percent since late 2016. In Somalia, almost half of the total population is food insecure. Timely humanitarian assistance has averted famine so far but must be sustained. Conditions across the region are expected to further deteriorate in the coming months with the onset of the dry season and an anticipated early start of the lean season.

The food security situation for pastoralists is of particular concern, in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, where animal mortality rates are high and milk production from the surviving animals has declined sharply with negative consequences on food security and nutrition.

“When we know how critical milk is for the healthy development of children aged under five, and the irreversible damage its lack can create, it is evident that supporting pastoralists going through this drought is essential,” said Burgeon.

Livestock prices have plummeted because of poor animal body conditions and this, coupled with soaring cereal prices, has severely constrained pastoralists’ access to food.  Rangeland and livestock conditions are expected to further deteriorate at least until the next rainy season starts in October.

Poor crop prospects

In several cropping areas across the region, poor rains have caused sharp reductions in planting, and wilting of crops currently being harvested. Despite some late rainfall in May, damage to crops is irreversible.

In addition, fall armyworm, which has caused extensive damage to maize crops in southern Africa, has spread to the east and has worsened the situation. In Kenya, the pest has so far affected about 200 000 hectares of crops, and in Uganda more than half the country’s 111 districts are affected.

In Somalia there are unfavourable prospects for this year’s main gu crops, after the gu rains were late with poor rainfall and erratic distribution over most areas of the country. In the Lower Shabelle region, the main maize producing area, seasonal rainfall was about 50 percent below- average and drought conditions are currently affecting up to 85 percent of the cropland.

In Ethiopia, unfavourable belg rains in southern cropping areas are likely to result in localized cereal production shortfalls. Drought is also affecting yields in Kenya’s central, southeastern and coastal areas. In Tanzania, unfavourable rains are likely to result in localized cereal production shortfalls in northern and central areas, while in Uganda there are unfavourable production prospects are unfavourable for first season crops in the southwestern and northern districts.

Cereal prices are surging, driven by reduced supplies and concerns over the performance of current-season crops. Prices in May were at record to near-record levels in most markets and up to double their year-earlier levels.

Kampala’s BRT at this stage is a pipe-dream!

The Bus Rapid Transport system together with a Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (MATA), in the midst of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Kampala City Hall and Ministry of Kampala. This are having different heads combined with the mastermind on the top President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Doesn’t matter what the ones in the parishes are considering, the Division Mayors, Lord Mayor Lukwago, KCCA Director Musisi or even State Minister Kamya. The one rubber-stamping the initiatives is and will be the President. Since he has his finger into everything.

That is why I have no faith in BRT. Even if it is stop the congestion, the lack of public transport in Kampala and problems of control of the Boda-Boda’s, the authority of the Taxi’s and the Specials. There are still significant issues to be reached. It doesn’t matter if they are banning or stopping certain transport options. As long as the ones working, are the taxis and boda-boda’s. These are the ones who has designated routes and travels with licensing for their routes. The Taxis are usually used Toyota Hiace imported from Japan, second-hand ones who was former bread-trucks, who are rebuilt to fit as many people as possible.

While a BRT means there will be heavy investments in stages, in divisions and in congested areas to fit the paradigm of buses. It isn’t barely putting buses on the road and assume the population will start taking it. The need for steady implementation of road structure, of bus-companies, of driving schools and of time-tables has to be put on order to make sense for the citizens to use it. Since it needs to be better than the transportation options that are today, like the taxis, boda-boda’s and specials. At this stage the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) in their feasibility study estimates the needed funds to get it going at this point to be the staggering $612.06 Million. With today’s value of the Uganda Shillings it is about Shs. 2,193,883,999,999 UGX, in other terms over 2.1 trillion shillings. Which means one tenth of the Financial Year budget of 21 Trillion Shillings in FY 2017/2018. Just to put in perspective.

This infrastructure project of this size and ramification better make the roads of Kampala into bricks out of gold. Clear every single pothole and make sure the gravel grade more than standard. This project has been going on for ages without any movement or significant progress. Why I am writing about it, well there suddenly if it is true, some Chinese Investors who wants to touch the erratic transport system of Kampala. This are together with the Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, at the State House discussing investments into it. Therefore, the sudden move of actual fueled money into it. As the 2.1 Trillion shillings doesn’t grow on trees.

President Museveni stated this today:

The Kampala Metropolitan Rapid Bus Transport project is a necessity. We should not continue to have so many cars with limited capacity” (…) “The investor will construct 26 rapid bus stations, 420 stage shelters and an initial 400 buses with a carting capacity of 74 passengers” (Museveni, 18.06.2017).

With this unknown Chinese Investor, they are clearly indicating some infrastructure and some buses to put up. If this will see the light of day and will be honestly implemented, than there are start, but it takes time to find routes and needed ways to make it profitable, as there will also be lost oppertunities for the ones who used taxis, specials and boda-boda’s on these roads. That is if this isn’t a scheme and plot of manufacturing more monies through the state-house. Which wouldn’t be surprising knowing how the President often operate.

The BRT would be a bonus and strengthen the congestive traffic of Kampala, a needed one for more time working and less time stuck in traffic jams. It would be important for the citizens leaving the divisions and traveling across town to work. But the state haven’t been able in the recent years to pull it off. Maybe Chinese investments would help it and their involvement in it would see it moving. But it shouldn’t just be the President’s blessings over the investments. The KCCA, Ministry of Kampala and City Hall should all have a say and make reports on how to build it properly. As the UIA even states there have only been a feasibility-study. That is preparation for the solution, but not the white paper or even framework for the Divisions or Central Business District of Kampala to make the BRT a success. Right now it is dream, which most likely could turn into a nightmare before its shuttle.

NAMA Proposals in 2013 are even more costly: “The capital costs budgeted over the 15 year period were estimated to total some US$ 1.181 Billion”. That is the double of the estimates from UIA in 2017. Therefore, something has either been scaled down or the NAMA was considering more aspects in their plans, than the UIA has. But is not like the President today has delivered any paperwork or reveled any sort of information what sort of possible deal he done with the “the Investor”. He could be scapegoat or even a mirage for all we know. Because none is on the up and up.

Especially considering he had a meeting with them at the State House in Entebbe with none of the leadership of Kampala. The ones in Kampala will just later get the news of the building and investments, therefore has to figure out how to implement it and work-out the perks. Parts of me wonder if the President even has looked into the documentation and considered the needed partners in play. But that is just how the President operates. He just can build Rome on his own or Kampala for that matter. He has all the skills and the brown envelopes at his disposal. Peace.

Ethiopia: Food insecurity intensifies despite late Gu and Belg season rainfall (24.05.2017)

Key Messages

  • Despite enhanced rainfall at the end of April into early May over many areas of Ethiopia, food security outcomes are still expected to deteriorate, particularly in southern and southeastern pastoral areas due to the late start, erratic, and below-average Gu/Genna rains. In portions of Somali Region, the accelerated loss of livestock has significantly expanded food consumption gaps, and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely in the absence of sustained assistance during June to September. In lowland areas of SNNPR along the Rift Valley and in East and West Hararghe, southern Tigray, and portions of northern Amhara, projected outcomes are expected to move from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis (IPC Phase 3), beginning in June, due to low household purchasing power and a lack of confirmed humanitarian assistance.
  • Late Gu/Genna season rainfall has partially rejuvenated water points for both livestock and human consumption across some woredas of Somali Region, and improved water availability has been reported in Borena and Guji zones of Oromia and South Omo in southern SNNPR. However, the rainfall has not continued into mid-May, and the short-term forecast indicates only moderate rainfall as the season concludes. The current marginal improvements in pasture and water are likely to be depleted by early June, which will mean rangeland resources will rapidly decline, and subsequently livestock body conditions and productivity, until the Deyr/Hageya season in October.
  • Over most Belg-producing areas of the country, extended dry spells through much of April suppressed the growth of Belg crops as well as Meher long-cycle crops. As a result, even if the Belg rains continue through the end of May, lower yields are likely for maize crops in particular, especially in lowland areas of SNNPR along the Rift Valley. Due to late planting, the green and dry Belg maize harvest in SNNPR is likely to be delayed by more than two months. Poor households are already experiencing constrained food access as they are highly market dependent during the peak of the lean season. Staple food prices, especially for maize, remain atypically higher.
  • The 2017 HRD initially estimated that 5.6 million people needed humanitarian assistance through June 2017, but the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC) has revised higher the number to 7.81 million. In addition, the NDRMC has projected that in Belg-dependent areas, additional PSNP beneficiaries past the traditional six-month period of transfers will need extended support. The NDRMC, JEOP, and WFP completed the first two distribution rounds, and the third round is underway. However, there are logistical constraints that might impede timely distributions.

Kenya: Statement on the Latest Attacks in Baringo County (15.03.2017)

Kenya: CS Nkaissery Declaration of Certain Administrative Locations of Baringo County as Disturbed and Dangerous Areas (28.01.2017)

nkaissery-28-02-2017

Immediate Suspension of All Operation in Baringo County by The Kenya Red Cross Society (25.02.2017)

krc-25-02-2017

Kenya: Human Rights Violations and Brutality on Residents of Baringo (23.02.2017)

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Mogadishu Declaration on Regional Cooperation on the Current Drought (22.02.2017)

East-Africa

Mogadishu – Wednesday, 22 February 2016The following joint declaration was made in Mogadishu by H.E. Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, President of the Republic of Djibouti, H.E. Hailemariam Desalegn, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, and H.E. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

1. We have come together as the heads of government of four countries in a region facing significant stress as a result of the current drought. Multiple seasons of failed rains and global weather patterns have, yet again, negatively affected the resilience mechanisms of millions of our people. This is evident in the immediate humanitarian crisis facing us today and will show up in longer term socio-economic vulnerability in communities that today are selling all their assets and uprooting their families for survival.

2. This situation, which may worsen in Somalia and result in a renewed famine over the coming months, could also have security and political implications in our region and beyond, as coping mechanisms are eroded and tensions over dwindling resources risks sparking conflict. Scores of people are moving both within countries and across borders in the hope of increasing their chances of survival. This upheaval is taking a particularly heavy toll on children and women, and makes people vulnerable to exploitation, human rights abuses and to criminal and terrorist networks. Drought-related disease outbreaks and inter-communal conflict are already on the rise.

3. While each of our governments is mobilising to respond, the dire situation calls for international collaboration and regional partnership between governments, civil society, aid organisations, business and international donors.

4. We commit ourselves to regional cooperation to facilitate a more comprehensive response and strong partnership.

5. We commit to strengthening our cross-border collaboration and our efforts to establish security and stability in Somalia to ensure an effective response to the drought and to enable further progress in peace building and state building in Somalia. We further commit to the provision of appropriate protection and assistance to those compelled to leave their areas of origin as a consequence of the drought, including those who have fled to neighbouring countries.

6. We will be consulting on a regular basis to review progress on these issues, and to agree upon any necessary collective action that will help our countries and region respond to this emergency. Furthermore, we have instructed our respective foreign ministers and drought response teams to work together and keep us briefed.

7. In the longer term, we commit to working together bilaterally and through existing regional bodies such as IGAD, the African Union as well as the United Nations to address the underlying structural issues that commonly affect our economies, environments and communities, including cross-border rangeland and water resource management.

END

FAO reports on the souring food prices in the East African Countries!

eldoret-cereal-warehouse

“In pastoral areas of Kenya, Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia, the widespread drought had a severe impact on pasture and water availability, and prices of livestock sharply decreased in recent months to very low levels, as livestock body conditions dramatically deteriorated. In these areas, the resulting sharp decline of terms of trade for pastoralists is severely constraining food access for large numbers of households” (FAO, P: 10, 2017).

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has this month released a report that assessed the prices and the issues concerning food prices in the nations around the world. This is the droughts, lack of rain and the problems occurring after the El Nino that hit the African continent. Therefore, the sad reality with the influx of issues and variables, the food markets in different nations has hit a snag and they have gone up. At levels that are worrying, as the markets they haven’t had the same rise in added income compared to the prices of staple foods. This hits the poorest the most and gives them a harder day to day, as their added prices makes the cost of living even more turbulent and hazardous than it already is.

Like the Maize and Beans prices in Kenya:

“Maize prices increased in January by 9-14 percent in most monitored markets, as the output of the short rains harvest, currently underway in eastern and coastal lowlands, was sharply reduced due to insufficient rainfall. Prices of maize in January were 20-30 percent higher than 12 months earlier in several markets, also as a result of a below-average long rains harvest, recently completed in high potential western areas of the Rift Valley. Sustained imports from neighbouring Uganda contained the increased in maize prices. In drought affected coastal counties, sharper year-on-year price increases are recorded, and in December 2016 prices of maize in Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, Taraka Nithi and Embu counties were up to 40 percent higher than a year earlier. Prices of beans are also at high levels and in January they were up to 40 percent higher than their year-earlier levels. Most pastoral areas were affected by drought, and prices of livestock declined in recent months as animal body conditions deteriorated. For instance, in Marsabit, Mandera, Garissa and Tana River counties, prices of goats in December 2016 were 15-30 percent lower than 12 months earlier” (FAO, P: 3, 2017).

That the prices of maize had added about 20-30 percent in a year time is worrying for the region, as the Kenyan market and the current state before the elections. The Kenyan state is borrowing at a steady haste for bigger infrastructure investments, but isn’t using funds to secure the agricultural output. This is lacking initiative or use of government subsidises to secure enough production, as much as there are droughts that has hit areas, where the prices has risen as a cause of lacking output or none as the climate has deteriorating the soil. That not only Maize has risen on higher prices, also the hiking of prices of beans shows the incapacity of agricultural output in general and also securing cheap government imports.

Like the prices of Maize and Sorghum in Somalia:

“Prices of locally-produced maize and sorghum continued to soar in January as the output of the 2016/17 secondary deyr harvest was affected by a severe drought and is estimated at 25 percent of last five-year average. In Mogadishu, prices of coarse grains increased up to 35 percent. In most markets of key maize producing region of Lower Shabelle, maize prices surged in January by 32-41 percent. Overall, prices of coarse grains in January in key markets of central and southern Somalia were up to twice their levels of 12 months earlier. Prices are likely to further escalate in the coming months, as an earlier than usual stock depletion will be compounded by concerns over the performance of the 2017 gu harvest. In pastoral areas, drought caused shortages of grazing resources, with deterioration of livestock body conditions. Livestock prices sharply declined in recent months, especially in the south, and are at very low levels, up to 60 percent lower than 12 months earlier. As a result of declining livestock prices and increasing cereal prices, terms of trade for pastoralists sharply deteriorated over the last 12 months. The equivalent in maize of a medium size goat declined in Buale market from 114 kg January 2016 to just 30 kg in January 2017. The severe drought has also caused a sharp decline in milk production and surge in milk prices” (FAO, P: 5, 2017).

So Somalia who has just gone through an election, has had a heavy affected by the drought, as the grains and food production has been hit by it. As proven with the rising food prices in Mogadishu and the prices has doubled in Central and Southern Somalia, in only a year! That proves the dire food situation, as the fierce internal fighting, the federation food production combined with the military fighting together with a drought has the food markets and food productions. Therefore the citizens and farmers are the losers, as they cannot have peaceful production, lacking rains and also insecurity of their own safety. All these things combined with the uncertainty of the electorate and the new administration. The steady rise of food prices has surely hit a population that did not need another crisis.

Rising prices in South Sudan:

“In the capital, Juba, prices of sorghum and maize declined in January by 6 and 10 percent, respectively, partly as a result of the harvesting of 2016 second season crops in southern bi-modal rainfall areas, which improved the domestic supply situation. Prices of other staples, wheat flour, cassava and groundnuts, followed similar patterns. In markets located in central and northern uni-modal rainfall areas, prices of sorghum increased by 15-20 percent in December 2016 and January 2017, after having declined in previous months with the harvesting of 2016 crops. In January, food prices in nominal terms were between 2 and 4 times above their levels in January last year, due to insecurity, a tight supply situation, hyperinflation and a significant depreciation of the local currency” (FAO, P: 5, 2017).

In South Sudan the new crisis of internal battles hit, even after the long term peace-agreement was fresh and the battles that started in July 2016. The continued escalation has hit the country. South Sudan administration has been busy fighting the SPLM-IO. The SPLM-IO has also been busier fighting the SPLA/M. Therefore the engagement with trying to get people to live in peace and fresh produce to happen in the country has stopped. That together with the civil war the agricultural output has been lost with the fleeing civilians and burning villages. Therefore in this current state, the food prices rise as the lacking food stocks of internal produced are dwindling, as the state needs more import of foreign food. Not only the inflation rates of the currency, the food production has been unstable. Therefore the rising prices and the armed situation create the rise of food prices. So the stability of the nation will also secure the currency and also the agricultural output, as of now is more or less in need of food aid because of the current in-fighting and lack of government oversight. This is unhealthy and makes even the security of food into a limbo.

Rising prices of Maize in Uganda:

“Prices of maize followed a sustained upward trend in recent months, increasing in all monitored markets by 33-58 percent between August and December 2016. Subsequently, prices followed mixed trends in January, declining in the capital, Kampala, as the second season harvest increased supplies, remaining firm in Lira market, located in a major cereal producing area, and continuing to increase in Busia, a key cross-border hub with Kenya. Overall, maize prices in January were up to 75 percent higher than a year earlier and at near-record to record levels, as the upward pressure exerted on prices by a reduced second season harvest, affected by poor rainfall in southeastern parts bordering lake Victoria, was compounded by a reduced first season harvest gathered last June/July and by sustained export demand from neighbouring countries, mainly Kenya and South Sudan. In Kampala, prices of beans and cassava flour, important staples, are also at high levels, and in January they were about 25 percent higher than 12 months earlier” (FAO, P: 6, 2017).

Ugandan government has already showed lacking instruments to the current drought and the lesser output during the election and campaigning of the current leadership. This is proven now with the monetary issues that are in dire straight in republic. The proof of the rising prices as the export of maize and others to South Sudan, as the added refugees who also needs foods and are also supported aided food. The government needs to secure added food production and development of bigger yields of the staple foods. That the food prices have sky-rocketed as the region has all been hit in corridors and districts where the dried lands have killed of livestock and others. Government has showed lacking oversight and mechanism from the government has not helped the dry-lands and the aftermath. Because of this with the added strains of a cash-strapped government after a heavy-burden state after elections, has not stagnated or had initiatives to stop the growing prices of food.

Maize prices are rising also in Tanzania:

“Prices of maize continued to increase in January in all monitored markets, as production prospects for the vuli harvest, currently underway in northern and eastern bi-modal rainfall areas, are unfavourable due to poor and erratic rainfall. Further support to prices was provided by concerns over the performance of the msimu harvest, to be gathered from May in central and southern uni-modal rainfall areas, as early-season dryness affected planting operations and crop establishment. Prices of maize in January were almost twice their year-earlier levels in Arusha, located in the northeast, while they were about 25 percent higher than in January 2016 in Dar Es Salaam, the largest urban centre” (FAO, P: 6, 2017).

That President Magufuli and his party like to be the example of the East Africa. Here the Tanzanian government are delivering the same sort of levels of rising prices. The maize prices are affected by drought and the Tanzanian government also have had to take in the refugees from other nations of late. This together with the less rainfall has pushed the prices on maize in Tanzania. Certainly the prices that doubled shows signs of lacking agricultural output and less yields as the rains and drought has happen during the last 12 month.

The numbers of rising food prices together with the lacking yields shows the worrying signs of lesser rain and longer dry seasons. This all hurt the citizens and the customers in the central regions or in urban areas who buys the foods from the agricultural districts, as much as the violence and the crisis in South Sudan and long term effects of the civil war in Somalia. This happens after the drought and other political issues, together with little efforts to add the yields, shows in the rising prices of staple foods. So now the people have to pay more for the same food they would have bought last year, in some places not only 20% added, but up to double or tripled. This is certainly added strains on the personal economy of the citizens in these nations. Peace.

Reference:

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – ‘Food Price Monitoring and Analysis – Bulletin’ (14.02.2017)

Press Release: URC, KCCA and RVRU resume Passanger Rail Service in Kampala (02.12.2015)

URC KCCA 021215

They have done it before, take a look:

KCCAUG 2014

In 2012:

“The Ministry of Transport at the weekend authorised the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) to temporarily run passenger rail services in a move to add pressure on striking taxi drivers.RVR will transport passengers Monday to Friday, from Namanve to Kampala and back at Shs1,500. In the morning, there are two shifts that depart Namanve at 7am and 8am. Evening shifts leave Kampala at 5:30pm and 7pm. Each shift can transport 550 passengers using five coaches”.

Quick thinking:

So they have done it before, will be able to do it now? Secondly, how long will it last before it break down or the money is gone and the trains lay astray somewhere? Peace.

 

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