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East Africa: Preventing another Desert Locust Upsurge

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Rome — $11.2 million partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to aid control and recovery efforts

While the Desert Locust upsurge that swept through the Horn of Africa and Yemen may be declining, it is critical to continue implementing control efforts against any new swarms and monitoring subsequent breeding in the region until at least the end of the year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

A new $11.2 million partnership with the Mastercard Foundation means that locust surveillance and control efforts are now fully supported to the end of the year.

“Depending on weather conditions and our ability to reach breeding and migration areas, the upsurge could be over by the end of 2021 or in early 2022,” said Rein Paulsen, the Director of FAO’s Office of Emergencies and Resilience.

“Until then, we must not drop our guard. Thanks to the generous contributions of various partners, national teams guided by FAO experts are continuing to undertake the necessary survey and control operations in the affected countries.”

The campaign against Desert Locusts in the Greater Horn of Africa and Yemen has been underway since January 2020. FAO and the affected countries have gained major successes in containing the worst recorded locust upsurge in Ethiopia and Somalia in 25 years and the worst infestations seen in Kenya in70 years.

East Africa: Preventing another Desert Locust Upsurge
The Minister for Agriculture of Somaliland sits in a meeting with FAO delegates in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Wednesday 4th March, 2020. The Minister for Agriculture, Ahmed Mumin Seed, said that they fear a nation-wide disaster brought on by the nymphs left behind by the locusts swarms that stripped fields and damaged crops last year. He added that some of the nymphs have already been spotted in the coastal areas of Somaliland such a Zeylac. “We are informing our partners that these nymphs are waiting for the first drops of rain to hatch and that if it does so, it will bring on us a great deal of damage”.

With the support of 29 partners and FAO’s own resources, more than $230 million was mobilized for the locust campaign. The Mastercard Foundation previously partnered with FAO in April 2020 contributing $10 million to the early detection of locust swarms, ground and aerial spraying operations, and impact assessments on the ground.

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“The Desert Locust swarms weren’t just eating away at crops; they were eating away livelihoods, productivity, and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. As a foundation committed to enabling access to opportunity in Africa, we felt compelled to step up and address the crisis. The progress FAO has made is deeply encouraging—and holding on to the ground gained is critical to a process of reclaiming hope for farmers and communities in the region,” said Daniel Hailu, Mastercard Foundation’s Regional Director, East and Southern Africa.

Control operations undertaken by FAO and its partners protected the livelihoods of more than 40 million people in rural areas, saving crops and pasture and thereby securing households’ cereal and milk supplies. FAO estimates that around 4.4 million tonnes of cereal crops and some 878 million litres of milk were saved and the value of saved production exceeded $1.7 billion.

East Africa: Preventing another Desert Locust Upsurge
31 March 2020 Lewa Wildlife Conservancy airstrip, close to Isiolo, Isiolo county, Kenya. Pilot from Orsmond Aviation, South Africa based company, ready for take off on mission to do aerial spraying. Spray airplanes on the airstrip, ground crew are fueling the plane and loading it with chemicals in preparation for aerial spraying to fight locusts swarms in the area.

“It was an extraordinary effort in a short space of time. Together, we not only controlled the onslaught of this insidious pest but FAO managed to strengthen locust fighting capacity in East Africa from near zero in some places to a high level of readiness,” said Paulsen.

The Desert Locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world and a small swarm covering one square kilometre can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35 000 people.

Swarms the size of cities were vanquished and now a very small number of remnant swarms remain in Ethiopia and Somalia. Kenya is locust free and Djibouti and Eritrea are relatively calm and under control.

Lingering risks

Despite progress, there is continuing concern about northern Ethiopia where new swarms have formed in the past month as local conflict has limited control operations. The swarms may pose a risk to the critical Meher season harvest, already anticipated to be 40 percent below normal.

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FAO forecasts suggest these swarms will migrate north out of Ethiopia or into eastern regions of the country where control operations are possible. However, there is concern about how many might remain and whether they threaten crops in a highly food insecure region.

New swarms from Yemen where controls remain a challenge could also pose a threat if they move south across the Gulf of Aden and reinvade the Horn of Africa.

East Africa: Preventing another Desert Locust Upsurge
2 June 2020, Loima, Kenya – A Turkana man stands at a severely damaged sorghum crop part of his community farm providing food for 100 households in Loima, Turkana County, Kenya. An increasing number of second-generation immature swarms continue to form in northwest Kenya.

Livelihoods support for farmers and their families

Despite the success of the locust control operations, up to 2.5 million people were affected by the upsurge in 2020 in addition to at least another 1 million in early 2021.

FAO has been helping farmers who suffered locust damage with agricultural support packages, providing veterinary care for vegetation-starved livestock, and making cash transfers to families who have lost their crops so that they can purchase food.

To mitigate the devastating impact on livelihoods, FAO provided diverse support to over 300 000 farming, agro-pastoral and pastoral households, while an additional 347 000 families were assisted by partner non‐governmental organizations under the Regional Desert Locust Alliance (RDLA). Together, these activities assisted over 4 million people.

While regional and local preparedness and field operations are much improved, they can only be supported with effective forecasting and early warning, which FAO’s Desert Locust Information Service has been providing for more than 50 years.

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AFRICA

Air Traffic Controllers 2-day strike leaves Passengers stranded

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Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers, ATCs, commenced two days disruption of early morning domestic flights across the country to press home their demands for better working conditions.

The disruption is expected to last for three hours each day between 6 am and 9 am.

The action has already affected the flight schedules of many airlines as they had to reschedule.

The action of the Traffic Controllers is coming after another ATC, Mr Aniekan Effiong Inuk, died in the early hours of Monday, November 22, 2021 while on duty at the Nnamidi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

A statement issued by the Controllers yesterday read: “That commencing from 0600 UTC today, 23rd November 2021, ATC units nationwide should operate flow control. That all departures should be spaced at 20 minutes intervals. That all international flights are exempted.”

“That all ATCOs should endeavour to be on high alert should there be a need to escalate this exercise beyond flow control, we are ready to further such actions. That this exercise will be for two days and will be strictly executed at the four major airports with strict coordination from adjacent aerodromes before any start up is issued”.

Speaking further on the grievances of the Controllers and action to be taken in another statement titled: An SOS On Poor Air Traffic Control Working Conditions And Staffing, signed by Abayomi Agoro, President of the association and Rev. Agbonlahor Felix, General Secretary, the union said: “Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers’ Association (NATCA) rose from an emergency meeting conveyed over the tragic, painful and avoidable exit of one of our diligent and dedicated colleague Mr Aniekan Effiong Inuk in the early hours of Monday, November 22, 2021.”

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“The council observed that within the last two years, Nigerian Air Traffic Controllers Association has lost nine of her members on active service due to stress-related health complications which seem associated with poor working conditions and inadequate staffing. “

“Several appeals to management and other stakeholders in the industry and inactions by appropriate managers on communiqués from the Association’s past Annual General Meetings had failed to address the issues. “

“The death of Mr Aniekan Effiong Inuk on active duty at Abuja airport whose sad event is not unconnected with the unavailability of operational vehicle to move him to a hospital in record time amongst others is one too many.”

“Hence, Air Traffic Controllers are embarking on a three (3) hours flow control for two days, 23rd and 24th November, 2021 from 0600UTC to 0900UTC to register our displeasure and call the attention of relevant authorities and the public to quickly address our concerns without further delay.”

Meanwhile, Some airlines have sent messages of flight delays and adjustments to their customers who were already at the airport while some have cancelled flights outright blaming the action on ATCs.

A Green Africa Airways flight scheduled to depart Lagos for Akure at 1.34 pm was first cancelled, then rescheduled to 4.45 pm and then another notice of delay was sent to customers.

“Flight 318 from QOW to AKR scheduled for 23 Nov 2021 04:45:00 has been cancelled. This is due to an ongoing industrial action by Air Traffic Controllers. We apologise for any inconvenience this might cause you.”, the message to passengers read.

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“Please be notified that your flight 307 from AKR to LOS will be delayed due to an industrial action by Air Traffic Controllers at some major Airports in the country today.”, another message reads.

The ATCs are, amongst other demands, asking the government to “approve and implement a 500% upward review of the annual ATC medical allowance to enable ATCOs to carry out comprehensive medical assessment among other stuff.”

“That all Air Traffic controllers be enrolled in an enhanced comprehensive health and life insurance schemes that will meet their health needs. “

“That standard medical emergency kits be provided at all ATC units and yearly Health Safety Environment (HSE) training programs for ATCOs be conducted,” amongst other demands.

Source: Vanguard News Nigeria

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We Don’t Have Control Over Cooking Gas Price ― FG

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The federal government on Tuesday said that it has no control over the price of cooking gas because the product is fully deregulated in the country.

The minister of state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva, who made the declaration in a chat with correspondents however noted that President Muhammadu Buhari is worried about the hike in the price of cooking gas.

The minister was at the presidential villa, Abuja to introduce to the president the CEO, Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, NMDPRA,

Engr. Faruk Ahmed and the CEO, Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission NUPRC, Engr. Gbenga Komolafe.

He asserted that gas prices are determined by the global market, even though he indicated that government will everything possible to bring down the price of cooking gas especially during the Yuletide season.

He said, “We must understand that cooking gas is not subsidized. It is already a deregulated commodity. So the price of cooking gas is not determined by the government or by everybody in the industry. In fact, gas prices are determined internationally.

“And you all are aware that in Europe, today, gas prices have gone up. There was even a crisis in Europe relating to gas prices. So the pricing of gas internationally now affects also the price of gas in the country.

“Apart from that, there are some issues around VAT charges on imported gas, and of course, taxes on imported gas, which we are handling. But of course, quite frankly, these taxes on imported gas, you must also juxtapose it side by side with the local producers of gas.

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“So, if you incentivize the importance too much, then you will also kill the local industry. And also, you don’t want to incentivize the local industry at the expense of the imports, because if incentivize the local industry at the expense of the imports, then you will not have enough gas produced within the country.

“So, these are the issues of balancing that the midstream and downstream regulatory authority are handling and I want to assure you that we are quite concerned.

“Mr. President also is very concerned. He is aware that the price of cooking gas is high in the market, and we’re doing everything trying to see how we can bring down the price of gas especially as we approached the Yuletide.”

Sylva also disclosed that the president has directed him to proceed to Nembe, Bayelsa State to investigate the level of damage caused by the recent gas spillage in the area.

The minister stated that he will visit the affected communities on Wednesday to assess the situation.

He said; “And the question which is on the spillage in OML 29, we are quite aware of it. Unfortunately, it has happened. It is also one of the issues I discussed with the president as a minister and he has actually asked us to go and visit the site to assess the situation and report back.

“Definitely, we are quite concerned with what is happening in Nembe and will be going there very soon tomorrow. In fact, to go and look at what is happening and report back.

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“Mr. President is very personally interested and we have discussed it and he said we should go there and come back and report to him because environmental degradation issues are things that we are not going to condone but of course we’ll work with the operators of OML 29 to ensure that this spillage is brought under control as quickly as possible.”

On the resurgence of fuel queues in parts of the country, the minister directed the CEO of the Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Ahmed to answer it.

The NMDPRA CEO explained: “You see intermittent queues in some parts, maybe of Abuja and maybe the environs, basically what happened is that some of the depot owners are selling PMS, above the official ex-depot price of N148, they are selling at N156, N157.

“And the reason they adduced is that they are paying for their logistics like shipping in US dollars, they’re paying for NPH, port charges and NIMASA charges in US dollars.

“They have to go to black market to source these US dollars. And that differential between the official and the black market they buy, that is why they added about N9 to N10 to N15 and it depends on whether you are in Lagos, Calabar, Port Harcourt, or Oghara.

Now, we had a meeting the week before last on Tuesday, the 9th, and the NPA was there represented and the DG NIMASA was there as well NNPC, major marketers were all there and we all agreed and resolved that NNPC excess capacity of their shipping their vessels will be chartered to all marketing companies. We will be charging in Naira so that NNPC now will go and source for converting US dollars through the CBN.

“As for the NIMASA and NPA charges, it was all agreed that they will revert to their supervising ministry to get direction on the receipt of these charges in Naira rather than US dollars and I understand the process of that engagement with their supervising ministry has already commenced.

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“Once the NNPC from the 15th of this month, they have already converted to charging Naira instead of dollars for their excess capacity charter to all marketing companies. So, I believe with this, there will be no reason for the depot owners to increase their price beyond the official selling price of N148 naira.

“Now, we have been working tirelessly in the past few years to sensitize our people to start using LPG for example. And they were making an effort to do so. People are now interested in are working towards utilization of LPG, but then the production is not commensurate with the demand.

“And this is why we want to focus on investment in the area. Now, a lot of major oil companies like their IOCs want to invest, but the pricing framework is an issue for them. So, we’re working with the guidance of the Honourable Minister of State for Petroleum Resources to ensure that we put the pricing framework that is attractive enough for the investors but at the same time is simple enough for the consumers, whether it is power, or industrial base, or the commercial sectors.”

 

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Binance challenges The Nigerian Stock trading apps by offering U.S stocks

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Nigerian stock trading apps with exposure to foreign stock listing face a herculean task as Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange recently disclosed it will list three new stock tokens over the coming weeks, following the launch of stock tokens that gauged the performance of Coinbase and Tesla Stocks in early April.

The Hong Kong-based exchange in a statement released today said that such tokenized stock offerings will include MicroStrategy, in addition to tech juggernauts Apple and Microsoft.

The tokens will permit its customers to trade fractionalized units of the share tokens, at cheaper transactional fees when compared to traditional trading apps.

Fast-rising fintech trading platforms like Chaka, Trove, Bamboo, and Risevest already offer Nigerians such platform in purchasing foreign listed stocks amid the recent clampdown of such services by the Nigerian Securities Commission.

What you should know about Binance Tokens

Binance Stock Tokens are tokens of stocks (i.e., shares of public companies) that trade on traditional stock exchanges.

Each Stock Token represents one ordinary share of the relevant stock. These Stock Tokens are fully backed by a depository portfolio of underlying securities held by CM-Equity AG, Germany (“CM-E”). Holders of Stock Tokens will qualify for economic returns on the underlying shares, including potential dividends.

Blockchain technology is already revolutionizing financial system services. This technology has made the need for a third party unnecessary in transactions or access to the stock market. Conventionally, buying stocks usually required a stockbroker, paperwork, or a long list of financial assessments.

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Unlike regularly traded stocks, tokenized stocks do not require any sort of paperwork or the need for a stockbroker as a middle-man, which makes them free from the stockbroker’s fees.

Tokenized stocks are derivatives assets. This simply means that the price of a tokenized stock is determined by the price of the company’s stock. If a particular asset is traded at a certain price on a stock market, the same price or a little difference in price will be traded on different exchanges.

Tokenized stocks are digitalized forms of a company’s stock traded on secondary markets. What this means is that Tesla, Apple, Facebook, etc. stocks can be traded on a crypto exchange. Trading Tesla’s stocks, for instance, on crypto exchanges makes it easily accessible to purchase anywhere.

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AFRICA

Creative: South African woman makes dress from recycled KFC packaging

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The Internet has transformed the world into a global village today. Within a minute we get to know news from a thousand miles away and feel connected. Social media platforms also keep us informed and entertained. People are finding new ways these days to get noticed on these online platforms by doing something unique. A female fashion designer and blogger from South Africa is a recent example of this, having garnered the attention of social media users for her creative take on sustainable clothing.

The young fashion designer, who goes by the name NokuzothaNtuli on Twitter, has shared images of a beautiful dress made from recycled KFC packaging that has left people stunned.

Showing her love for KFC, the fashion designer, in a caption, explained that the dress was made out of recycled KFC packaging. She also tagged KFC South Africa in her post. The pictures were an attempt by the designer to win KFC’s Superfan contest, which had the grand prize of a year’s supply of the brand’s fried chicken products.
Take a look at NokuzothaNtuli’s post:

https://twitter.com/NokuzothaNtuli/status/1461041200299978753

Since being shared, this tweet has grabbed over 13,000 likes and a plethora of reactions by Twitter users. Enjoying the attention on social media, the fashion designer has it pinned on her profile at the moment.

After viewing the photos of the dress on Twitter, KFC South Africa themselves were pretty impressed and responded to the woman’s idea on the social networking site, saying that, “All this fresh drip, we were never ready”.

https://twitter.com/KFCSA/status/1461235360973926404

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The word drip is an urban slang word for chic and fashionable clothing.

Not only KFC South Africa but social media users also appreciated the creativity of the fashion designer. Several users found the dress very innovative and commended the fashion designer on her skills.
Some people rooted for NokuzothaNtuli to win the Superfan contest.

Others were impressed by the talent of the designer as well as the free marketing that KFC got through her.

Some people also shared their own experiences with clothing made out of recycled paper.

Now its your time, how creative do you think this dress is?

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