News and Views on Africa from Africa
Last update: 1 July 2022 h. 10:44
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Millions of children employed in subsistence and commercial farming are at risk of death, injury and sickness, a conference heard on October 13. George Ruigu, deputy director with the International Labour Organisation in Ethiopia, said that some 120 million children are at risk worldwide.

The risk of accidents exists and is increased by fatigue, poorly designed tools, difficult terrain, exposure to elements and poor general health, Ruigu warned. Our duty and obligation are to protect those children by preventing and reducing fatal and non fatal accidents and ill health at work.

Ruigu was speaking at a four day regional conference aimed at combating the dangers faced by children in the farming sector. In Ethiopia, some nine million children aged between five and 17 are working nine tenths of them in the agriculture sector. About three million, according to the government s statistics agency, are aged between five and nine. A third of children aged under 14 in sub-Sahara Africa are working.

Sam Nyambari, head of the African Regional Labour Administration Centre (ARLAC) which fights child labour, said there must be more political will to combat child labour. He said poverty and poor education were exacerbating the problem and there was little law enforcement, despite the fact that many countries had signed up to global agreements to end child labour. The conference aims to draw up ways to improve inspection methods of commercial farms to prevent child labour. (Source: IRIN)


The nominated members of the new Liberian parliament met for the first time in the capital, Monrovia, on October 13, one day ahead of the inauguration of a broad based two-year transitional government led by businessman Gyude Bryant.

The nominees to the 76-member parliament however met without 15 representatives of Liberia's counties after the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) chief mediator on the Liberian conflict, General Abdulsalami Abubakar rejected names of nominees from the counties.

General Abubakar told reporters in Monrovia that he rejected the 15 nominees after the two rebel groups - Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), raised objections.

"Those elections were exclusively conducted in Monrovia and not in the various counties. LURD and MODEL informed me that similar elections were carried out in those counties," the chief mediator said.

General Abubakar, who chaired the meetings, called for fresh elections in the 15 counties. Under a peace agreement signed in Accra on 18 August, each of Liberia's 15 counties was provided a slot in the broad-based National Assembly. Other members of the assembly include representatives of the government, LURD, MODEL and political parties, civil society and interest groups. (Source: IRIN)


The number of people in need of relief assistance in Namibia has risen to 642,000, the country's Emergency Management Unit (EMU) said on October 13. EMU deputy director Gabriel Kangowa said recent vulnerability assessments conducted by his teams had discovered that the number of people in need had risen to well over the estimated 400,000 projected in August.

Flash floods in the Caprivi region had also contributed to people's vulnerability. Last year around 345,000 Namibians required food aid, which the government was able to provide without making an appeal for international assistance. This year's drought has been more severe.

Given the sharp increase to 642,000 people in need, the government would soon hold a donor conference to appeal for Nam $230 million (about US $33.8 million) to cover emergency relief operations.

"We are calling for tenders to buy food, and give the food to the people. We are going to drill new boreholes and rehabilitate other boreholes, transport animals from areas with poor grazing to areas with better grazing, and provide marketing incentives to farmers," Kangowa said. (Source: IRIN)

South Africa

South Africa may be heading for a prolonged drought, which researchers warn could be among the most severe in decades. The country "is currently experiencing drought conditions over most of the summer rainfall regions", the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) said.

"The drought in Limpopo [province] is worsening, with many dams nearly half full and water levels in some having fallen to as low as two per cent. Large numbers of animals are also dying and farmers are forced to sell their livestock," the CSIR warned.

The main provinces affected by the drought are the northern Limpopo province, the eastern coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal and the central Mpumalanga province. The central Free State province and North West Province "will also be seriously affected if no rain falls within the next few weeks", the CSIR warned.

By using satellite imagery, the CSIR's Satellite Application Centre (SAC) has constructed an archive of vegetation condition maps that stretches back to 1986. To put the current weather conditions in context, the CSIR pointed to data on previous droughts.

"The 1982-83 and 1991-92 droughts were the most severe meteorological droughts of the 20th century over Southern Africa. In the 1991-92 drought, 70 percent of the crops failed. It was estimated that half of the population in the affected area was at risk of malnutrition, other related health problems, and even starvation," the CSIR noted.

"Satellite imagery is indicating very similar results when comparing the 1992 and 2003 October vegetation condition maps. The imagery shows shocking similarities with the disastrous drought year of 1992. If current dry conditions prevail for the next two months, South Africa can expect one of the biggest drought disasters in 100 years," the CSIR SAC warned. (Source: IRIN)


A rapid assessment conducted around the town of Mukjar in west Darfur found that almost 100 children under five years of age were severely malnourished, according to the NGO Medair. Among some 900 children who were surveyed earlier this month, a further 502 were either moderately or mildly malnourished, the NGO reported.

In August at least 150 people were killed, and 225 injured, during a series of militia attacks in Wadi Sali province. Most of the displaced lost all their possession and livestock, as 89 villages were burned to the ground by Arab militas known as the Janjaweed. Almost 32,000 people fled to Mukjar, while the populations of 24 villages, who remain unaccounted for, are believed to have fled to neighbouring Chad.

The current death rate among the population around Mukjar was averaging seven per day, Medair reported. Three quarters were under five. With no health facilities in the town, general health is continuing to deteriorate, principally due to malaria, diarrhoea, chest infections and eye diseases.

People were defecating around their living spaces, due to a lack of latrines in the area and the fear of going too far away because of possible militia attacks, the NGO reported. Out of nine hand pumps in the area, only two were working, forcing people to dig for water in a local river bed.

The UN believes that about 75,000 people from Darfur are scattered inside Chad along the border, while a further 300,000 people within Darfur have been displaced by attacks since August. (Source IRIN)

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