Burkina FasoBurkina Faso's government and education experts hope that the introduction of bilingual schools that teach pupils in both French and their mother tongue would increase school enrolment that are often as low as 12 percent in rural areas. At the end of a three-day workshop in the capital, Ouagadougou, on "bilingual education in Burkina Faso" attended by 300 delegates, including some from Mali and Senegal, Burkina's minister for basic education and literacy, Mathieu Ouedraogo, said the government would create adequate conditions for extension of bilingual schools but would not "force people to accept it".
"Bilingual education is in line with the practical utility of the child in its environment... with manual activities and cultural aspects of life. That does not exist in the classic [mainstream] school," Ouedraogo said on May 10.
The delegates, mainly education experts, called for the use of local and foreign languages in all primary schools in Burkina Faso. They called for a strategy to implement bilingual education in the country, where the main language of instruction in schools has been French. (Source: IRIN)
Central African RepublicJapan's ambassador to the Central African Republic (CAR), Nabuyoshi Takabe, said on May 12 that the Japanese and the CAR governments were "considering" the resumption of repairs on the main road linking the capital, Bangui, to the Cameroonian seaport of Douala.
The government-run Radio Centrafrique reported that Takabe made the announcement after a meeting with CAR leader Francois Bozize.
"Our conversation focused on the project of paving National Route 3 to Cameroon," Takabe told the radio.
The Bangui-Douala road is vital for the economy of the land-locked CAR, as it links the capital to Douala, through which most of the country's imports and exports are channelled. (Source: IRIN)
DRCThe number of victims in May 8’s air disaster, which occured when the rear doors of a cargo plane flew open shortly after takeoff from Kinshasa, sucking passengers to their death, "will never be known", government spokesman Kikaya Bin Karubi said on May 12.
The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has launched an investigation into the accident, which involved a Ukrainian plane carrying military personnel, policemen and their families to DRC's second city, Lubumbashi. The death toll has been put at anything between 60 and 170, but the passenger list was incomplete and survivors say the plane was overloaded.
Karubi said he had been informed by the Air Force of 60 people who had disappeared, but state television on may 9 reported a figure of 170.
"Apart from the police there were about 100 women with children aboard the plane who were joining their husbands already in Lubumbashi," Mukalayi Mwamba, a policeman who survived, said. "There were also about 100 more people who'd got on the plane."
Mwambi, like others who survived, clung to ropes and netting to stop themselves being sucked out of the plane's rear door. (Source: IRIN)
EthiopiaFears are mounting that survivors of the severe flooding in southern Ethiopia, which has claimed about 40 lives, may now fall victim to disease. Humanitarian organisations said on May 13 that many of the victims of the flooding had been weakened due to the preceding severe drought in the region. Tens of thousands of people were forced from their homes after the main Wabe Shebelle river burst its banks on 22 April, flooding lowland areas of Somali Regional State.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said that already weakened children were more likely to succumb to respiratory infections, diarrhoeal and other waterborne diseases.
"With few safe water supplies functional in the area, people are drinking directly from the river and are at great risk of getting waterborne diseases," UNICEF said.
UNICEF, which has been distributing emergency medical kits, warned that more than half the children in the region were suffering from malnutrition.
According to UNICEF, which is planning an emergency measles immunisation and vitamin A campaign, as many as 80 percent of the flood victims are women and children.
A massive rescue operation has begun to provide aid for the 110,000 people who have been affected in Somali Region - one of the poorest and most remote parts of Ethiopia. (Source: IRIN)
GhanaThe International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a new US $258 million loan for Ghana to support the country's economic reform programme over the next three years. The IMF said in a statement on May 12 it had also also agreed to provide $22 million of additional assistance under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. Ghana is saddled with a $6 billion external debt. The new $258m loan will be disbursed under the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), a soft loan window available to low-income countries. It carries an annual interest rate of 0.5 per cent and will be repayable over 10 years, with a five and a half year grace period on principal payments.
The IMF aims to ensure that PRGF-supported programmes are consistent with a comprehensive framework for policies to foster growth and reduce poverty.
According to the 2002 Human Development Report produced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 44.8 percent of Ghana's 20 million population lives below the poverty line. (Source: IRIN)
MadagascarAt least 20 people have died and thousands have been affected by tropical cyclone Manou which battered Madagascar's east coast. An aerial survey found the village of Vatomandry, south of the port of Toamasina, was severely hit, with houses damaged and the community's agricultural fields flooded, World Food Programme (WFP) spokeswoman Annmarie Isler said on May 13. Although the weather bureau had warned residents to prepare for a moderate tropical storm, average winds reached 150km/h with gusts as strong as 210km/h when the cyclone struck.
Rice crops were damaged and the high salt content of the violent winds burnt cash crops like coffee, litchis and cloves.
"Homes have been damaged and people's food stocks have gone because their food stores were damaged. Schools and hospitals have also been damaged," Isler said.
Some parts of the road from Vatomandry are blocked by landslides and collapsed bridges. A downed bridge near the town of Ilaka has left one community cut off from outside supplies with only one week of food stocks left. "The main problem now is road access."
She said WFP, with CARE International, would provide food from a disaster mitigation initiative for a food-for-work programme to repair the roads.
Meanwhile, teams are assessing the full extent of the damage to determine what other help is needed and whether the food-for-work programmes need to be extended.
The government has appealed for help in the form of medicines, water treatment kits, blankets and clothes. (Source: IRIN)