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IRIN - United Arab Emirates


Yemen PR wars: Saudi Arabia employs UK/US firms to push multi-billion dollar aid plan

Wed, 15 Feb 2017 14:08:18 +0000

Saudi Arabia has recruited an array of foreign consultants and public relations firms to draw up and promote its new multi-billion dollar aid plan for Yemen, one that could reduce imports of vital goods into a key rebel-held port, an IRIN investigation reveals.   Critics say the extent of the PR campaign betrays the kingdom’s determination to win the propaganda battle after nearly three years of conflict marked by high civilian casualties, widespread food and fuel shortages, a record cholera epidemic, and fear of famine.   Late last month, Saudi Arabia and its allies announced a new operation that commits billions of dollars “to relieve suffering” in Yemen, which is in the midst of what is often termed the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.   The plan, known as Yemen Comprehensive Humanitarian Operations, or YCHO for short, promises $1.5 billion in “new humanitarian funding for distribution across UN agencies and international relief organisations”, plus the setting up of “safe passage corridors” to deliver relief, improved capacity at coalition-controlled ports, and regular flights of humanitarian aid to coalition-controlled Marib. It also includes the $2 billion Saudi Arabia recently said it would deposit in Yemen’s Central Bank to shore up a flagging currency.   But the plan rejects calls by the UN to lift an on-off blockade of Hodeidah port, a vital lifeline for civilians in the rebel-held north: it proposes reducing the overall flow of cargo into the city and stepping up imports into coalition-controlled areas.   Exact details of how (and if) the plan is intended to help hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Yemeni civilians – especially in rebel-controlled areas – are not yet clear. However, IRIN can reveal the lengths Riyadh has gone to in preparing and promoting it.     The press release journalists received announcing the plan came neither from the coalition itself nor from Saudi aid officials. It came, along with an invitation to visit Yemen, straight from a British PR agency.   UK- and US-based consultants and PR firms, including US defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, were also involved in helping to write and promote YCHO, which is tagged as “counter-terrorism” on a website funded by the kingdom’s US embassy. A screenshot of Saudi government-funded website Arabia Now All of this has fed suspicions that rather than a genuine attempt to help the people of Yemen, the plan is really intended more to gloss over the Hodeidah issue and improve Saudi Arabia’s battered image, or at least a bit of both.   From PowerPoint to press release   Two high-placed sources in the UN told IRIN they first learned the particulars of YCHO in a PowerPoint presentation – at the time a “work in progress”, according to one of the sources.   A PDF of the presentation, obtained exclusively by IRIN and marked “confidential for discussion”, lists one “Nahas, Nicholas [USA]” as the author.   Nahas appears to be an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, which has 35 job listings in Riyadh on its website, including “military planner”, a role that requires the applicant to: “Provide military and planning advice and expertise to support the coordination of Joint counter threat operations executed by coalition member nations and facilitate resourcing to enable operations.”   IRIN tried emailing and calling Nahas, as well as several Booz Allen Hamilton spokespeople, but none replied. A switchboard operator at the company’s Abu Dhabi office said Nahas was not currently in.   Following the initial PowerPoint presentation (and, IRIN understands, high-level discussions with UN representatives, donors, and diplomats), press releases – including detailed maps and infographics – were sent to journalists by Pagefield Global Counsel, one of several successors to disgraced UK firm Bell Pottinger (Pagefield employs over 20 former Bell Pottinger staff).   IRIN tried to contact the Pagefield associate partner who sent the emails and was involved in ar[...]

Water crisis in the Gulf needs radical solutions

Thu, 21 Jul 2016 16:51:38 +0000

Despite their location smack in the middle of the desert, the Gulf countries have water parks, public fountains, and bright green lawns. But all that glitters is not gold, and a water crisis is looming for countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Technology can alleviate its natural scarcity – there will be enough to drink – but the costs and environmental impacts are simply unsustainable in the long run. So what’s to be done? Experts argue that radical change is now the only way to avoid disaster, but policymakers are reacting far too slowly. The problem Desalination, a technique that removes the salt from saltwater to make it drinkable, produces around 90 percent of the water in the Arabian Peninsula, a region that is naturally arid but consumes 816 cubic metres of water annually per person, well above the global average of 500. The most popular technique for removing salt from water is thermal distillation – water is evaporated, the vapours collected, and the salt separated out. This requires a fair bit of energy, which is usually obtained by burning fossil fuels – increasing carbon emissions that some have argued, if left unchecked, could push heat in the already steamy region to an unliveable level. The process also leaves behind a highly saline solution that ends up in the sea: Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE all have desalination facilities on the shores of the Gulf, sending brine discharges into its shallow waters. Columbia University anthropologist Gokce Gunel is concerned about “peak salt”, the possibility that the Gulf will become so salty that desalinating its waters will become unaffordable. The peak salt concept has been on the radar for years now, but only recently have scientists and policymakers begun to take it seriously. High salinity not only ups the price of creating drinking water, it also alters the chemistry of the marine ecosystem, threatening coral reefs and other creatures. Sea pollution also causes algal blooming, known in common parlance as “red tide” for the dramatic appearance it takes on – when algae spreads out of control, increases toxicity levels, absorbing the ocean’s oxygen and suffocating fish. The technical option Farid Benyahia, a professor of chemical engineering at Qatar University, is concerned that “there are big environmental issues associated with desalination on a massive scale”. So he’s on the hunt for a viable alternative to traditional methods, and told IRIN by email that he’s hit on an invention that aims to solve both the problems of carbon emissions and excess brine in one. Through a cycle of chemical reactions, Benyahia's method turns CO2 and saline solution into solid substances that can be disposed of in a more controlled manner (read: not back into the water). Though still at an early stage and not entirely impact-free, this new method could massively reduce the side-effects of traditional desalination. Other radical solutions are being explored. The UAE, where it rains on average only three days a year, is even reportedly looking into ways to make it rain artificially. The people problem Whichever way you look at it, Benyahia believes that over-consumption is a major piece of the puzzle. "Water has been historically heavily subsidised by Arabian states and in some countries… it is free,” he said. “This is set to change soon, and it has already started being more expensive in some Gulf states." Gunel said that because humans can produce fresh water artificially, we have come to see it as an inexhaustible resource. “There is not enough attention towards the social relations that created climate change in the first place,” Gunel told IRIN. “[This] perpetuates the environmental conditions in which we find ourselves.” So locals water luxurious gardens, keep their lawns in tip-top shape, and wash cars with abandon, lulled into a false sense of security. After years of attempting to encourage residents to decrease their water usage with limited success, count[...]

Should Save the Children take money from this donor?

Tue, 14 Jun 2016 15:20:24 +0000

A foundation set up by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is donating £20 million ($29 million) to British NGO Save the Children to train a “next generation” of emergency aid workers from developing countries. The six-year pledge was first announced on 19 May, weeks after the UN accused a Saudi-led military coalition of killing 510 children in Yemen last year. Critics say Save the Children should not take the money on ethical grounds and that it weakens respect for international humanitarian law. Others say humanitarian funding is often tainted and ask why Saudi Arabia should be singled out for criticism. Saba Al Mubaslat, chief executive of Save the Children’s Humanitarian Leadership Academy, welcomed the donation in a press release: “We are delighted to partner with HRH Prince Alwaleed, a philanthropist who sees the benefit of investing in front-line responders, investing in peace and investing in a global public good.” The multibillionaire prince chairs Alwaleed Philanthropies, the source of the funding. The donation will go towards setting up 10 training centres for professional humanitarian responders over the next few years. By the end of 2016, new centres will be set up in Dubai and Bangladesh, according to Save the Children. On 1 June, Alwaleed also joined the Giving Pledge, a club of ultra-rich charitable donors started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates. Alaweed Philanthropies, via its PR firm, declined to comment for this article. Despite being a prominent royal, Save the Children pointed out to IRIN that Alwaleed “does not hold a government position”. Sultan Barakat, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center however told IRIN that Alwaleed is “clearly aligned with government policy, and over the years he has always been careful about criticising wrongdoings by the Saudis”. A senior staff member at a humanitarian NGO, who requested anonymity, told IRIN that accepting the donation is highly dubious because of “a stark and fundamental contradiction between Saudi behaviour in the real world and what the aspirations or goals would be of this Humanitarian Leadership Academy”. Humanitarian Leadership Academy A graphic from the Humanitarian Leadership Academy website The funding crosses an ethical line, he said, in a style of “anything goes” fundraising, practised notably by Save the Children, but also by many other aid organisations: “It’s not where you draw the line, it’s that no one’s drawing any line. No one.” Save the Children UK, in a written response to IRIN questions, said the grant passed the organisation’s “robust” donation acceptance policy. The policy “means deciding whether the impact the charity can have through programming and advocacy funded by a donor or partner outweighs any potential risks that the donor's practices may have on children, our staff, or Save the Children’s reputation.” In 2014, the NGO’s donation acceptance process declined only £700,000 out of a potential £22.5 million in “high-risk opportunities”. “It’s not where you draw the line, it’s that no one’s drawing any line. No one.” If there is a line, many aid agencies have already crossed it, a senior UN official working on the Middle East told IRIN. (The UN received over $300m of humanitarian funding from Saudi Arabia in 2015). He said any aid agency, UN or NGO, taking UK or US money, but turning their nose up at Gulf funding because of Yemen, was operating a double standard, “verging on racism”. “The Yemen war would not last 10 minutes without the support of the Americans and the British. Impossible.” As long as the donor does not influence decision-making nor become too dominant as a proportion of income, any ethical dilemma is no greater with Saudi Arabia than with the US or UK, he argued, adding: “it’s about whether the money converts into control” and whether grantees gag their own public statem[...]

MERS’s best friend is ignorance, so it’s time to wise up

Mon, 15 Jun 2015 23:00:00 +0000

The full story of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is yet to be told. Would South Korea now be in the grip of one of the disease’s largest ever outbreaks if more had been done sooner to unravel its mysteries? A key point about MERS was that it gave some warning of its arrival. This was not the case with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which struck in early 2003 after an infected Chinese doctor and travellers from Vietnam, Singapore and Canada mingled in a Kowloon hotel. At the time, no-one knew a disease was afoot. The gravely ill doctor took his virus filled-lungs into Hong Kong’s hospital system, touching off a massive wave of infections among health care workers and their families. And after they went home and became sick, the hotel guests seeded infections into their hospital systems.  By contrast, a full 33 months before a South Korean businessman was confirmed to have brought the MERS virus his country, the discovery of a new coronavirus appeared in a report from Saudi Arabia published in ProMED, a disease and outbreak reporting system with broad international reach. Shooting the messenger Egyptian virologist Ali Zaki teamed up with the Netherlands’ renowned Erasmus Medical Center to identify the virus that had sickened and killed a Saudi Arabian man in June 2012. That it was Zaki, not the Saudi health ministry, who revealed the existence of the new SARS-like virus turned out to be impolitic. He was quickly stripped of his Saudi job and left the country. Looking back, that initial official reaction was perhaps a harbinger of what was to come. Over nearly three years, information about MERS has systematically either been hoarded, mishandled or perhaps not even collected at all.  That has left the world still unable to answer key questions about MERS and how it occasionally infects people. To complicate the situation, over the past year MERS efforts sputtered, overshadowed by west Africa’s catastrophic Ebola outbreak.  “The world’s attention has understandably shifted to managing that crisis,” said Kamran Khan, an infectious diseases physician who researches the global spread of diseases at the University of Toronto. “Although MERS has continued to ‘simmer’ in countries across the Arabian peninsula, it hasn’t - until now - evolved into an international outbreak that has reminded us all that it’s still out there and continues to pose a threat,” added Khan. The virus is most prevalent in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. And with millions of pilgrims flocking there annually and with its large contingent of foreign workers, Saudi Arabia seems to pose the biggest risk of exporting MERS to other parts of the world.  But these countries appear not to have fully grasped the dangers, or taken on board their own responsibility to prevent precisely the kind of scenario that is now playing out in South Korea. The disease and death toll (which stands at 19 as of June 16), the social and economic disruption as well as the fear and political strife South Korea is experiencing will likely ratchet up the pressure on the source countries – and the World Health Organization – to come up with more answers about MERS as well as strategies for limiting its damage. Peter Ben Embarek, WHO’s point person for the disease, knows what is happening in South Korea could happen elsewhere. “So we should also use it as an argument for doing more in the Middle East.” Next time could be worse But infectious diseases expert Michael Osterholm is worried the lesson the world will take from the Korean outbreak will be the wrong one. “What I fear is once we get through Korea people will say ‘See, we can control this. Don’t worry.’ And they’re going to miss the point that we may not be so lucky next time,’” said Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. To date, 25 countries have reported cases of MERS. Most have had the traveling ki[...]

Briefing: How the world's top donor spends its aid

Wed, 04 Feb 2015 00:00:00 +0000

During 2013 the United Arab Emirates spent over US$5.5 billion on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) – at 1.33 percent, it had the largest ratio of Gross National Income to aid of any country globally during that year. * - See more at: During 2013 the United Arab Emirates spent over US$5.5 billion on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) – at 1.33 percent, it had the largest ratio of aid to Gross National Income of any country globally during that year. * This week the UAE’s Ministry of International Co-Operation and Development (MICAD) presented a detailed breakdown of how and where it spent its 2013 foreign aid. In total it supported 145 different countries, with Egypt dominating spending. Here’s a breakdown of some of the key trends. - Overall development spending - budget assistance, fuel support, health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, energy, biodiversity etc - accounted for 94.60 percent of the money. - The Egyptian government received more than 80 percent of this - $4.6 billion - four times the amount of the UAE’s total aid allocation in 2012 (see chart below). height="400" frameborder="0" width="500" src="" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen">- Humanitarian causes - food, shelter and other relief for emergencies – received $144.3 million (2.45 percent) and $173.96 million (2.95 percent) went to charity projects, such as religious sites and small organisations (see chart below). height="400" frameborder="0" width="500" src="" allowtransparency="true" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen">   - Shelter and non-food items were distributed to 32 projects in the following 10 countries: Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Sudan, Kazakhstan and the Philippines. - Nearly two thirds of the UAE’s humanitarian aid – $87.2 million - was directed towards to Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey. - During 2013 the Emirates Red Crescent shipped 735 tons of dates to various countries across the world.    More on this topic: UAE aid - a top 20 donor plans to get bigger Serving up five-star service for refugees the UAE way   *According to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), the body at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) responsible for issues surrounding aid, development and poverty reduction in developing countries.   lr/am-jd 101089 201203291247180956.jpg News Aid and Policy Briefing: The world's top aid giver IRIN DUBAI United Arab Emirates Global Français العربية [...]

NGO probes gaps in tackling anaemia in pregnancy

Thu, 07 Oct 2010 23:00:00 +0000

Are iron-folic acid tablets difficult to take? Is the packaging appropriate? What are health workers advising? Is the mineral content correct? These are some of the questions the organization Micronutrient Initiative (MI) is posing in several developing countries – studying women’s use of iron-folic acid supplements to get at why despite widespread coverage “on paper”, anaemia prevalence in pregnant women remains high. The coverage data does not necessarily reflect how or whether women are taking the supplements, or factors that might deter them. “We know from efficacy trials that if women take iron-folic acid supplements the prevalence of anaemia in late pregnancy and at delivery is low,” Lynnette Neufeld, MI chief technical adviser, told IRIN. In most countries where MI works there are high levels of anaemia and folic acid deficiency during pregnancy, despite almost all of the countries having iron-folic acid supplementation for pregnant women in their health policies and including the products in their standard drug procurement lists, she said. “If these policies and the supplements are in place but we are not seeing improvements, something is amiss.” Countries’ demographic and health surveys have information about iron-folic acid supplement coverage, but generally the question posed to women is simply whether they received the supplements. “Our plan is to accumulate specifics from the countries where we work about iron-folic acid supplementation to get a clear understanding of formulation, supply issues, usage and other factors, with the aim of creating programmes more effective in reducing anaemia.” She noted that so far MI is studying programmes for public distribution of prenatal supplements for the most vulnerable populations. MI has already done ‘mini situation analyses’ in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, Neufeld said. In one case researchers found that the dose of iron in the supplements used was much higher than World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and above the level associated with frequent adverse effects including cramping and heartburn. Women’s nutrition Many health experts say in discussions about child malnutrition all too often the importance of women’s nutritional status is overlooked. “Absolutely the nutritional status of a woman during pregnancy gets neglected,” Neufeld said. “But also if a woman is not well-nourished or is anaemic before she’s pregnant that too will affect her and her child.” The issue is beginning to get more attention. After consultations in 2007 on anaemia in women, WHO put out a policy statement in 2009 on providing iron-folic acid supplementation to non-pregnant women of child-bearing age. Improving iron and folate nutrition of women of reproductive age could improve pregnancy outcomes as well as enhance maternal and infant health, WHO says in the policy statement. “There is growing recognition that you cannot fix [nutritional deficiencies] just once a woman is pregnant,” Neufeld said. np/aj 90722 A mother tends to her baby at a hospital in Bangladesh's northern Siraganj District. Maternal mortality rates in the impoverished nation remain poor and the worst in South Asia. News Human Rights Health NGO probes gaps in tackling anaemia in pregnancy IRIN DAKAR Afghanistan Africa Armenia Angola Saudi Arabia Azerbaijan Bangladesh Burkina Faso Bahrain Burundi Benin Bhutan Botswana Belarus East Africa DRC Central African Republic Congo Côte d’Ivoire Cameroon Comoros Cape Verde Djibouti Algeria Egypt Eritrea Ethiopia Gabon Georgia Ghana Great Lakes Global Gambia Guinea Equatorial Guinea Guinea-Bissau HORN OF AFRICA Haiti Indonesia Israel Inde Iraq Ira[...]

Le Royaume-Uni, un modèle pour le financement privé des secours d’urgence

Mon, 06 Sep 2010 23:00:00 +0000

Le Comité britannique de gestion des urgences liées aux catastrophes (DEC), un organisme fondé il y a plus de 45 ans afin de convaincre les organisations humanitaires de collaborer plutôt que de se livrer concurrence pour récolter des fonds d’urgence, a à ce jour récolté plus de 60 millions de dollars à la suite de son appel de fonds en faveur des crues au Pakistan (indépendamment de l’aide publique britannique). C’est la deuxième fois cette année, après le séisme en Haïti, que cette machine londonienne bien huilée se met en marche. Et ce modèle est adopté par de plus en plus de pays. Selon Brendan Gormley, directeur exécutif du comité, les appels de l’organisme s'adressent au grand public, y compris aux personnes qui ne donnent pas régulièrement aux associations caritatives. « Lorsque les gens ont vu quelque chose de terrible à la télévision, ou en ont entendu parler à la radio, quand ils ont vu qu’il est possible de faire quelque chose pour y remédier, nous leur donnons les moyens d’agir facilement. C’est un service centralisé. Nous avons un seul numéro de téléphone, un seul site Internet, les banques reçoivent les fonds sans frais, et notre boîte postale est 999, le numéro des urgences au Royaume-Uni », a-t-il expliqué à IRIN. En situation d’urgence, les organismes membres, dont Oxfam, la Croix-Rouge britannique, Concern et World Vision, peuvent continuer à recevoir des fonds de leurs propres donateurs, mais ils ne sont pas tenus de faire de la publicité pour obtenir des dons parallèlement à l’appel du DEC. D’après Jeremie Bodin, directeur de la récolte de fonds d’urgence chez Save the Children Royaume-Uni, les organismes tirent parti d’une campagne publicitaire de grande envergure qu’ils n’auraient pas les moyens d’organiser individuellement. « L’appel télévisé est lancé gratuitement par les opérateurs de télévision. On voit vraiment la différence dans les sommes récoltées et les sommes qui ont dû être dépensées pour récolter ces fonds. Au cours des derniers appels lancés, nous avons constaté que nous recevions normalement entre deux et cinq fois plus que nos revenus normaux ».  L’inconvénient, pour les organismes, c’est qu’ils perdent leur visibilité auprès du public. « Lorsque les gens donnent, on ne peut pas les recontacter, alors on passe à côté d’une occasion d’obtenir le soutien de nouveaux donateurs », a déploré M. Bodin. Il n’est pas surprenant que tout organisme dont les campagnes viennent « se greffer » à celles du DEC fasse l’objet d’un ressentiment considérable. Le Fonds des Nations Unies pour l'enfance (UNICEF), par exemple, a lui aussi lancé un appel en faveur du Pakistan en Grande-Bretagne. « Nous perdons notre visibilité au profit d’autres organismes qui ne font pas partie du DEC », a déclaré M. Bodin à IRIN. « L’UNICEF, qui ne fait pas partie du groupe, fait de la publicité en ce moment. Evidemment, il en bénéficie énormément, tandis que nous [chaque organisme] sommes invisibles pendant la période où le DEC lance son appel ». « Si la BBC convient que la situation exige de lancer un appel sur le réseau, j’aime à penser que c’est une reconnaissance énorme » En comparaison, l’appel lancé par Islamic Relief à l’occasion du Ramadan ne fait pas l’objet du même ressentiment ; les organismes reconnaissent que cette campagne avait été planifiée et financée bien avant les crues au Pakistan. Selon M. Gormley, cette campagne est un atout, et non un obstacle à l’appel collectif. « Islamic Relief est membre du DEC et nous l’avons encouragé à collaborer avec d’autres associations caritatives islamiques (Muslim Aid, Muslim Hands) pour assurer que le message sur le Pakistan soit diffusé au plus de monde possible. Chez les musulmans, le Ramada[...]

Comment obtenir l’attention à Copenhague

Fri, 11 Dec 2009 00:00:00 +0000

Certains des pays les plus pauvres du monde, qui sont aussi les plus affectés par le changement climatique, sont à la recherche de stratégies pour obtenir l’attention des participants aux négociations climatiques de la Conférence de Copenhague afin que ceux-ci les aident à s’adapter et à faire les choses différemment. Le nombre fait la force : certains pays, comme le Mali, ont trouvé des bailleurs de fonds pour les aider à envoyer plus de représentants à Copenhague ; le Lesotho et le Burkina Faso se sont associés avec d’autres pays qui connaissent des problèmes semblables. D’autres choisissent de se concentrer sur certains points : à titre d’exemple, l’Érythrée assiste uniquement aux séances qui peuvent lui profiter directement. La plupart de ces pays feront face, au cours des dix prochaines années, à de terribles pénuries dans la production alimentaire et à des situations de stress hydrique. Leur principal objectif est d’accéder au financement et aux technologies pour les aider à s’adapter au changement climatique dans le cadre d’un accord obtenu à Copenhague. IRIN a rencontré certains chefs de délégations des gouvernements des pays les moins avancés (PMA) et des ONG locales pour savoir comment les petits pays et les organisations qui peinent à imposer leurs vues planifient de se faire entendre. Trouver l’argent Le Mali, un pays d’Afrique de l’Ouest pris dans un cercle vicieux, souvent imprévisible, de sécheresses et de pluies abondantes qui illustre l’impact du changement climatique, a souhaité que son gouvernement envoie une délégation importante et énergique à Copenhague pour s’assurer de peser dans les négociations. « Pendant un an, nous avons organisé une série d’ateliers auxquels ont participé jusqu’aux autorités locales pour se préparer à exiger du reste du monde, au moment des négociations climatiques, le financement et les technologies pour aider notre peuple à s’adapter », a dit Fatoumata Diakité, ambassadrice du Mali au Danemark. Lors d’une séance de briefing de fin de journée avec la délégation malienne, elle a ri en se rappelant le nombre de délégués que le Mali était capable d’envoyer dans les conférences mondiales. « Il y avait peut-être cinq personnes du gouvernement, et le reste d’entre nous - neuf femmes desquelles je faisais partie - venaient des ONG. Malheureusement, il n’y a aucune femme dans la délégation envoyée à Copenhague ». Il n’est pas facile d’être présent à toutes les séances pour exposer leur situation, mais le nombre de délégués représentant le Mali aux négociations sur le changement climatique à Copenhague est passé de 5 à près de 50. « C’est grâce à la volonté politique, et aux bailleurs de fonds que nous avons trouvé pour nous soutenir...La population est de plus en plus sensibilisée au réchauffement climatique ». Une question de survie Le Mali est à cheval sur le Sahel, une région aride qui longe le désert du Sahara. Dans cinquante ans, le climat y sera beaucoup plus chaud et sec. « Cinquante pour cent de notre économie dépend de l’agriculture – pour nous, c’est une question de survie », a indiqué Mme Diakité. Selon les prévisions, 68 pour cent de la population connaîtra la faim. Chacun des membres de la délégation est chargé d’aborder les intérêts et les préoccupations du Mali lors des séances auxquelles il assiste et d’en faire un compte-rendu à son équipe à la fin de la journée. Les membres discutent ensuite de leurs impressions et élaborent des stratégies pour les aider à recentrer leur approche. D’après Robert Farmer, directeur de Third Planet, une ONG basée aux États-Unis qui fait la promotion du développement des énergies renouvelables, assister aux séances de n[...]

Vive les vitamines !

Tue, 12 May 2009 23:00:00 +0000

Pendant la crise financière asiatique qui a duré trois ans, dans les années 1990, le nombre d’enfants souffrant d’anémie en Indonésie a considérablement augmenté, les populations pauvres n’ayant pas les moyens de se procurer des vivres de qualité. Cette affection est causée par un manque d’oxygène (lui-même provoqué par un régime alimentaire pauvre en micronutriments, notamment en fer), qui affecte les tissus et les organes du corps. Le pourcentage d’enfants anémiques est passé de 52 en 1996 à 68 en 1998, selon une étude, citée dans un rapport intitulé Investing in the Future (Investir pour l’avenir), publié récemment. Selon les conclusions de cette étude, dans les foyers pauvres, la faible consommation d’œufs et de légumes à feuilles vert foncé (deux sources importantes de micronutriments comme le fer) entraîne une plus forte prévalence de l’anémie à la fois chez les mères et chez les enfants. « Les conséquences sont particulièrement graves pour les enfants conçus pendant ou juste avant la crise ». L’économie mondiale est désormais en récession et les enfants des pays en voie de développement sont les plus menacés, ont averti les auteurs du rapport, un groupe d’organisations non-gouvernementales (ONG) spécialisées dans le plaidoyer dans le domaine de la nutrition (la Micronutrient Initiative, la Flour Fortification Initiative et la Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), ainsi que diverses organisations humanitaires, l’USAID, l’Agence canadienne de développement international, le Fonds des Nations Unies pour l'enfance (UNICEF), la Banque mondiale et l’Organisation mondiale de la santé. D’après une étude de la Banque mondiale sur les conséquences de la crise financière actuelle, en 2008 seulement, quelque 44 millions d’enfants de plus ont souffert de troubles physiques et cognitifs permanents dus à la malnutrition, elle-même causée par la hausse du prix des vivres. Les auteurs d’Investing in the Future, publié à l’occasion du forum 2009 de Beijing sur les micronutriments, qui s’est tenu le 12 mai, ont appelé les pays à augmenter leurs investissements, à renouveler leurs engagements et à développer les programmes actuels d’apports complémentaires en vitamines et minéraux. Conséquence des carences en micronutriments, les infections sont plus fréquentes, les enfants sont moins capables de résister et de survivre aux maladies, et leurs capacités mentales sont affaiblies. Chez l’adulte, les carences en vitamines et en minéraux peuvent compromettre la productivité générale, causer des maladies invalidantes et même entraîner la mort. Les carences chez la femme enceinte mettent en péril la santé et la vie des futures mères, et se répercutent sur les enfants à naître. Il existe des compléments et des fortifiants peu coûteux : l’iodation du sel, par exemple, coûte à peine cinq centimes de dollar par personne et par an, et les gélules de vitamine A se vendent à deux centimes de dollar l’une. Selon le rapport, chaque année, dans le monde : • 1,1 million d’enfants de moins de cinq ans meurent en raison de carences en vitamine A et en zinc • 136 000 femmes et enfants meurent d’anémie par carence en fer • 18 millions de bébés souffrent de handicaps mentaux à la naissance en raison de carences en iode chez la mère • 150 000 bébés souffrent de graves problèmes de santé à la naissance, en raison d’une consommation insuffisante de vitamine B par les mères • 350 000 enfants deviennent aveugles en raison de carences en vitamine A • 1,6 milliard de personnes souffrent d’une réduction de leur productivité, causée par l’anémie jk/he/nh 84372 News Human Rights Food Health [...]