Daily Archives: March 11, 2018

African Bicycle Contribution Foundation (ABCF) To Distribute an Additional 50 Free Bamboo Bikes in Ghana’s Ejisu, Ashanti Region, and in Kumbungu School District, Northern Region

ABCF’s Chairman and Executive Director to Visit Ghana, from the U.S., to participate in the Foundation’s 240th Bicycle Distribution

KUMASI, Ghana, March 11, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — On Tuesday, March 13 (10:00am-1:00pm GMT), at Boama Dumase, Ejisu-Juabeng Municipal, officials of the African Bicycle Contribution Foundation (ABCF) will visit Ejisu-Juabeng Municipal, in the Ashanti Region, from the U.S., to join Bernice Dapaah, CEO of Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative (GBBI), and other distinguished local leaders, at the distribution of the 240th ABCF-funded, free bamboo bicycle to under-resourced students, teachers, small farmers and healthcare workers, in rural Ghana.

In addition to 39 bicycles to be distributed to students and teachers in Ejisu, GBBI officials, in a separate event, next week, will also distribute an additional 11 of the ABCF-funded bikes, at Boama Dumase School Park, at Kumbungu Senior High School, in Kumbungu District, Northern Region.

In Ejisu, the student-recipients will range in age from 10-17 years old, and the distance of their commutes to and from school, by foot, have averaged about 4.7Km (2.9 miles) per day, or 14.5 miles weekly.

In Kumbungu, the median recipient age will be 17 years, and the median distance traveled, on foot, to and from school, daily, has been 24Km (14.9 miles) or about 74.5 miles per week.

What: ABCF/ABCF Free Bicycle Distribution

When: March 13, 2018, (10:00am-1:00pm GMT)

Where: Boama Dumase, Ejisu-Juabeng Municipal, Ashanti Region

Who: – Moderator, Anthony Asamoah

– Remarks, A. Bruce Crawley, Chairman, ABCF

– Remarks, Patricia M. Harris, Executive Director, ABCF

– Remarks, Bernice Dapaah, CEO, Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative (GBBI)

– Remarks, Edward Adams, Municipal Director of Education, Ejisu-Juabeng

– Distribution of Bicycles

– Acknowledgement, Nana Adjei Bieni, Duampompo chief

– Closing Remarks, Nana Abanquah Ababio, Boama Dumase Traditional Area

– Closing Prayer, Adama Yeboah, Assemblyman

Established in July 2016, the African Bicycle Contribution Foundation is a U.S.-based 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, whose mission is to generate funding to underwrite the free distribution of bicycles to under-resourced students, small farmers, and healthcare workers in West Africa. The Corporation has made a commitment to finance the distribution of 2500 bicycles, in Ghana, over its first five years of operation.

Contact: A. Bruce Crawley
African Bicycle Contribution Foundation
Tel: 215-751-0140
Email: abcrawley@africanbike.org

 

Fighting, Displacement Cause Hunger to Soar in DRC

The United Nations says hunger is soaring in the Democratic Republic of Congo mainly because of fighting and widespread displacement in Kasai and Tanganyika in Central and Eastern DRC.

The United Nations reports 7.7 million people in DRC, mainly in rural areas are suffering from acute hunger. This is a 30 percent increase since 2016 and the situation on the ground does not auger well for the future.

Conditions are particularly grim in the Kasai region. Spokeswoman for the World Food Program, Bettina Luescher tells VOA 3.2 million people there � or one in four � are suffering from severe food shortages.

Malnourished children at risk of dying are 300,000 � at risk of dying. Just think of that � 300,000 little kids. We have 762,000 people that are still displaced, she said.

The most worrying aspect, says Luescher is that the DRC has fallen off the international agenda and aid agencies are not receiving the money they need to provide life-saving assistance. She says WFP is so severely underfunded it was forced to cut food rations in half for beneficiaries in Kasai in November.

The hard thing is how people are affected. People sometimes have fled into the bush,” she said. “People have died there because there was just no aid coming. So, I think it is a really, really tough one.

The United Nations has appealed for $168 billion to provide humanitarian assistance for 10.5 million people in DRC this year. The response, so far, has been tepid.

In hopes of stimulating greater support, the U.N. plans to hold a large international donor’s pledging conflict in Geneva in mid-April.

Source: Voice of America

India, France Call for Affordable Solar Technology to Address Climate Change

French President Emmanuel Macron pledged over $850 million for solar projects in emerging economies, as both India and France called for affordable solar technology for emerging nations at the first conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) held in New Delhi.

The alliance was co-founded by both countries two years ago on the sidelines of the Paris climate summit to boost the use of solar power, countering the impact of climate change.

Dozens of country leaders, including many from Africa, attended the meeting in the Indian capital and emphasized the need for access to solar technology and concessional financing to address massive energy shortages in many of their sun-drenched nations.

Promising more loans and donations for solar projects by 2022, Macron stressed the need to remove obstacles in scaling up clean energy.

We only have one planet, and we are sharing it, he said.

Pointing to African women called solar mamas who are trained in India to use solar technology to light up homes and villages, Macron said they had continued their mission, even after “some countries decided just to leave the floor and leave the Paris agreement” � apparently alluding to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the Paris climate accord.

Because they decided it was good for them, for their children, their grandchildren. They decided to act and keep acting, and that’s why we are here, in order to act very concretely, Macron said amid applause.

One hundred and twenty-one countries, situated between the tropics, have signed on to the ISA. Backed by the World Bank and other multilateral agencies, it aims to raise $1 trillion for projects by 2030 for a massive deployment of solar energy.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who is chairman of the African Union, pointed out that half the members of the ISA are African countries.

The sunniest countries in the world should not lack for energy,” he said. “The fact that they do is an unacceptable irony.

The solar alliance initiative is seen as a bid by India to be at the forefront of countries addressing the challenge of climate change � a departure from its stand some years ago that developed economies should cut their emissions more drastically, rather than pressure developing countries.

After the U.S. walked out of the Paris accord, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to abide by it. India, which is the world’s third largest polluter, is ramping up solar energy rapidly in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint. The country plans to source at least 40 percent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

If you want all of humanity to benefit, then I am confident that we all will come together and think like one family, so that we are able to bring unity in our objectives and efforts, said Modi, advocating a solar revolution worldwide.

United Nations environment chief Erik Solheim, who attended the meeting in New Delhi, called the ISA a “milestone” in the fight against climate change and pollution.

Source: Voice of America

Tillerson Resumes Normal Schedule in Kenya

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has resumed his normal schedule in Kenya Sunday after canceling events the day before because he was “not feeling well.”

Tillerson laid a wreath at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi Sunday at a ceremony to honor those killed and injured in a bombing there 20 years ago.

“As all of you well know, in 1998, terrorists thought they could demoralize and destroy the Kenyan and American people by attacking the U.S. embassy here in Nairobi. Of course they were wrong. Nearly 20 years later, we meet here to honor those who we lost and those who were injured,” Tillerson told an audience including survivors of the attack.

Among the survivors present was Joash Okindo, who continues to work at the U.S. Embassy after having both of his legs broken in the blast. Okindo, who wore a medal of bravery to the ceremony, was a guard at the embassy the day of the attack.

“When it’s cold, that’s when I feel pain,” he said.

Tillerson had cancelled events to seek respite from what has been an extraordinarily busy schedule, according to the State Department.

“The secretary is not feeling well after a long couple days working on major issues back home such as North Korea and has cancelled his events for the day,” said Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein.

Tillerson added a meeting Sunday with Kenyan Foreign Minister Monica Juma, as he was only able to speak with her during a brief pull-aside on Friday.

After meeting Friday in Nairobi with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Tillerson hailed the political reconciliation between Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga as “a positive step toward healing Kenya’s ethnic and political divisions,” the State Department said in a statement.

Kenyatta and Odinga met for the first time since last summer’s contentious presidential elections to start what they called a joint push for national unity.

Tillerson underscored at the meeting with Kenyatta “strong U.S. support for democratic institutions” � including the media � and voiced concern over “restrictions to political space.”

The Kenyan government shut down three television channels in January on the day that Odinga took a symbolic presidential oath in a mock inauguration. The government defied a court order to allow the stations, which had planned to live-stream the oath, to resume broadcasts.

U.S. Institute of Peace senior adviser Johnnie Carson said in an interview with VOA a free and independent media instills public confidence.

“It is time for the parties to move forward, but it is the government’s responsibility to act responsibly in defense of the rule of law, in defense of the judiciary, in the defense of free speech and defense of protection of the media,” Carson said.

Other topics of discussion during Tillerson’s meeting with Kenyatta were defeating terrorism in neighboring Somalia, political unrest in South Sudan and strengthening U.S.-Kenyan business relations.

Tillerson said the U.S. will seek to work with African nations, providing them with incentives to improve governance and meet their long-term security and development goals. He is on a five-nation trip to Africa that began earlier this week.

He arrived in Nairobi Friday from Djibouti. Tillerson kicked off his trip with a visit to Ethiopia on Wednesday, where he met with the country’s prime minister and the African Union Commission chief.

Source: Voice of America

Kenyan Conservationists Lament US Lifting Trophy Ban as Tillerson Visits

Wildlife protection in Kenya has improved dramatically in recent years, thanks to widespread anti-poaching efforts, including some help from the United States. But as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits Kenya, conservationists there say the U.S. lifting a ban on imports of some African animal trophies sends the wrong message.

Tillerson praised Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officials Sunday as he toured a U.S.-supported forensics laboratory just outside of Nairobi National Park.

The laboratory, opened in 2015 with help from USAID and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, performs DNA analysis of illicit wildlife products and weapons used in animal poaching.

Tillerson told reporters with him on his first trip to Africa that the U.S. considered wildlife conservation vitally important.

“You know Kenya’s really a leader in preventing trafficking in particular, and illegal poaching,” said Tillerson. “This is very interesting in terms of what this lab now allows them to do, and to also track outside Kenya where the trafficking networks are going. That’s really the key is to shut it all down out there as well so people are not going to — just because you get it out of Kenya doesn’t mean you’re safe. And so, extremely important.”

Laboratory officials told Tillerson their work led to fifty prosecutions in their first two years of operation.

Much of the poached and smuggled animal parts throughout Africa make their way to Kenya’s port in Mombasa, known as the world’s hub for ivory smuggling. But, Kenya has made fast progress cracking down on domestic poaching.

Elephant poaching for ivory in Kenya has been reduced from a recent high of 103 killed in 2012 to eight killed last year, says Tom Lalampaa with the Northern Rangeland’s Trust, a USAID-supported program.

Lalampaa credits stepped-up community policing, rangers, and mobile response teams for cracking down on poachers.

“And then also the legislation, the current wildlife law, is quite strong in terms of penalties-unlike before, which is good,” said Lalampaa. “I think Kenya Wildlife Services has also sort of geared up their efforts, improved their efforts. So, things are working. But, it’s not yet time to celebrate.”

Just ahead of Tillerson’s arrival on the continent, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service overturned Obama-era restrictions on imports of some African hunting trophies-including parts of lions and elephants such as ivory.

The agency was acting on a court’s ruling on a lawsuit brought by Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in December found the Obama administration did not follow proper procedure when implementing its ban.

The decision lifts a blanket ban on imports of lion and elephant trophies from six African nations-Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Imports of the endangered animal parts will be decided instead on a case-by-case basis.

Kenya has banned trophy hunting since 1977 and many conservationists, like Lalampaa, oppose the U.S. decision.

“That sends a very wrong signal in this country. Because the communities are working tirelessly to try and stop poaching from the source. To try and ensure that there’s no poaching,” said Lalampaa. “And, then all of a sudden when such a policy announcement is made, it really hurts, it really discourages those communities who are taking care of this wildlife 24 hours a day.”

The U.S. move on wildlife imports expands a November decision to lift the ban on elephant trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe, which U.S. President Donald Trump had indicated he planned to reverse.

Trump at the time tweeted it would be very hard to change his mind that trophy hunting – what he called a “horror show” – in any way helps conservation of elephants or any other animal.

Paula Kahumbu, a Kenyan conservationist with Wildlife Direct, notes the U.S. was instrumental in pushing China to ban the trade in ivory. But the U.S., she says, is sending confusing messages that started when it expanded the ivory trade with Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“These two countries are renowned for corruption. They’re renowned for their ivory disappearing from their national stockpiles and ending up in China and Thailand and other countries,” said Kahumbu. “So, that’s one big problem-they’ve created a loophole. But, secondly, the idea that it’s okay to hunt these animals, and that you’re helping those countries through hunting, is an idea that should be questioned rigorously.”

Big game trophy hunting advocates argue the high fees they pay – up to $100,000 per safari – directly benefit conservation efforts.

But critics of trophy hunting like Kahumbu say most of that money goes to organizers of the hunts while little reaches the local level.

Source: Voice of America