- Distribution of food supplies and rice and groundnut seed in north-western Guinea-Bissau started this week. The otherwise fertile but impoverished country suffered from low rainfalls last year, causing acute poverty and food shortages.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today reported it had begun distributing food supplies and rice and groundnut seed to over 20,000 people living near the town of São Domingos in north-western Guinea-Bissau, "an area where poverty has been aggravated by the low rainfall of 2007," according to a Red Cross statement sent out from Dakar.
São Domingos is located closely to the southern Senegalese Casamance region, en route between Dakar and Bissau. The lowlands here normally are green and fertile, receiving water both from rainfall and the many rivers reaching the Atlantic in the region. However, widespread poverty makes the population vulnerable to even small irregularities in precipitation.
According to the ICRC, the recipients of the aid make their living largely by gathering cashew nuts and growing rice and ground nuts as cash crops. "Guinea-Bissau suffered poor harvests last year and people did not have enough food to tide them over," said Juan Coderque, head of the organisation's delegation in Senegal.
The ICRC distributions, which are being carried out with the help of volunteers from the Red Cross Society of Guinea-Bissau, are part of ICRC activities to assist people in an area that hosts some 8,000 Senegalese refugees from unstable Casamance and where there are a wide range of problems such as clean water shortages and inadequate access to health care.
The ICRC adds that it has helped repair and upgrade the water-supply system in São Domingos and has offered aid to the town's health-care facility. It has further aided revive market-gardening businesses run by groups of women. In March 2006, a similar operation was carried out by the ICRC and the Guinea-Bissau Red Cross following armed clashes in the area.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.