Tuesday, 30 April 2013


The number of Egyptian students who suffered food poisoning on Monday rose to 107, while other students blocked a road in protest and clashed with the police, state-run Al-Ahram newspaper reported on its website.
The health ministry told the newspaper that the number of victims had risen to 107. Earlier Monday night, official MENA news agency put the toll at 90, quoting a statement of the health ministry.
The students of al-Azhar University felt sick after having meals at a dining hall on campus, located in Nasr City in eastern Cairo. The meal contains tuna and vegetables, with rotting tuna suspected to be the cause of poisoning.
The victims have been sent to nearby hospitals for medical treatment, with no deaths reported so far.
After the incident, dozens of angry students blocked a road near the campus on Monday night, and clashed with the police who attempted to disperse the students by firing teargas.
Earlier this month, more than 500 students at al-Azhar University were hospitalized due to food poisoning. Protests over the incident led to the sacking of University President Osama al- Abd.

Friday, 26 April 2013


Anytime I watch good football like Manchester United’s brilliant display this week at the English Premier League, I see so many lessons that we can learn.
First, think of all the people who would want to be in that winning team but could not make it because they did not have the required level of skill. It is not that they were bad. They were just not good enough.
There will always be room at the top for the best. A lot of people settle for mediocrity because frankly speaking, it is easier. It is easier to be good at something than to be the best. Differentiation by excellence is inevitable if you want to stand out and this is done by consistent practice and self-development.
You need to practice when no one sees. Diligence in obscurity always leads to prominence. The hidden part of your life is responsible for the visible part. The part of your life that is not seen is what drives the part that is seen. Your private habits become your public reputation.
You therefore need to be able to practice and prepare for an opportunity that does not exist yet. Prepare for opportunities that no one else can see so that when the opportunity arises, you are ready.
Some people have dreams, but are not preparing for the fulfilment of their dreams. So they are caught unawares by their own dreams.
Greatness is the default destination of people who exert themselves preparing for things that no one else can see. If you cannot prepare for the visions in your head, you will not move beyond the reality in your hand.
A beauty queen was once asked how she won every pageant that she contested in. She said that she had watched videos of beauty queens from around the world thousands of times and practiced in her room for years, what they did. She revealed when she got to the pageant, she simply did what she had done thousands of times in her room.
The only difference was that this time she had an audience. When the opportunity came, she only did in public what she had perfected in private.
Long before anyone ever called me to speak anywhere, I would stand in front of a mirror and speak. We had a chapel at home, and so I would stand in front and imagine myself speaking to people. I would go to the farm and speak to the goats and the chickens. I did this for years before any human being ever heard me speak before large audiences.
My practice ground had been in obscurity. My family would be amused. Today, I speak in different nations in front of thousands of people every week. I am having the last laugh.
Practice is your way of declaring that you believe that your dreams will come to pass. You need to be ready because if you are not, when the opportunity comes there will be no time to prepare. That will be the time for delivery.
David practiced in obscurity by protecting his sheep against an attack from a lion and a bear when no one was watching. It was preparation for Goliath and ultimately for ruling the nation and defending his people.
While some people are interested in the minimum level of input, greatness is reserved for those with the maximum input.
Think of an iceberg. The greatest part is the unseen part. Think of crude oil. The hardest part is the refining process. No gift comes refined. Practice is the refinery of champions.
The players that took Man U to victory were each exceptional in their own rights. That leads to something else.
Winning does not happen because of one single kick. While it is true that one final kick produces the goal, it is the end result of consistent passing of the ball from one player to another.
Meanwhile, the other team is working desperately to stop this passing and take control of the ball. You have to remain focused and consistent in a very hostile environment. This is the story of life.
So many obstacles are working to keep you down, such as your past experiences, mind-set and attitudes. Feelings of unworthiness, of inadequacy and inferiority added to the mix mess up potentially great people big time.
Friends, if anyone deserves to succeed, you do. Remember that for all those working hard to keep you down, you have people who are also working hard to ensure that you win. They are your team - people who share the same dream as you and who believe in you.
Always remember that you cannot do it alone. You need a team, a network. You also need a great coach – someone whose past is your future, whose experience is your expectation.
Have a fulfilled week

Thursday, 25 April 2013


As dark clouds roll over South Sudan, humanitarian actors face a dilemma. Heavy rain is cutting off many parts of the country, but it also dampens the conflict in the world’s newest nation.
Female refugees at a flooded camp in South Sudan.
Photo by: B. Sokol / UNHCR
South Sudan’s Jonglei state has been a subject of humanitarian concern in recent months. Renewed clashes between government troops and non-state actors, as well as inter-communal violence, have displaced thousands of civilians in the area, where insecurity has also hampered aid delivery by U.N. agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

But with the downpour this week, which signals the coming of the rainy season in Jonglei, humanitarian organizations are hopeful that the clashes will soon be significantly reduced.

U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs head in South Sudan Vincent Lelei described the rain as a “silver lining.”

“When the rainy season comes, and flooding happens in many places, the ability of different individuals who would have wanted to cause problems are completely reduced because they cannot move easily from one point to another point,” he told Devex.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan Toby Lanzer tweeted that the downpour is “good news” and will lead to less violence and fewer number of displaced people.

But bad weather is a double-edged sword in this fragile state.

Sixty percent of South Sudan becomes inaccessible by road during the rainy season, which usually starts in May and lasts until October. The situation in Jonglei is worse: 90 percent of the roads are submerged.

This restricts aid workers from reaching communities affected by floods and in dire need of assistance. Airlifting relief goods is an option but up to ten times more expensive than delivering aid by land, Lelei explained.

In addition to this, the only route to Pibor country, where an army offensive against rebels was launched in recent weeks, is currently off-limits to aid workers following an ambush by rebels on April 9 that led to the death of several U.N. mission personnel and civilian contractors. The situation is already affecting efforts by U.N. agencies and NGOs in prepositioning relief supplies in Pibor.

U.N. staff are currently assessing whether the road is now safe for travel or will at least be open before the official start of the rainy season.

Violence in Jonglei forced nearly 400,000 people to flee their homes in 2012. The exact number of currently displaced people in the state due to the fighting remains unclear.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

"ENORMOUS OPPORTUNITY" FOR ENDING HUNGER IN AFRICA - Proposed new partnership will build on successes, political commitment

Graziano da Silva with (from left) Amadou Allahoury Diallo
(Niger), Jeffrey Luhanga (Malawi) and Rigobert Maboundou
(Chair of FAO Regional Conference for Africa).

Ministers and senior delegates from five African Nations met today with FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva ahead of a High-Level meeting of African and international leaders in Addis Ababa next June set to create a renewed partnership for intensifying efforts to end hunger in Africa.

"There is an enormous window of opportunity," for eradicating hunger in the continent, Graziano da Silva told a side-event organized during a week-long Session of FAO's governing Council here. The key lies in capitalizing on the successes of the many African countries who have already found solutions for food insecurity and malnutrition.

"By building on these experiences we can eradicate food insecurity and malnutrition in Africa. Together we can stop the suffering of the estimated 23 percent of all Africans who remain undernourished, and 40 percent of children under five who are stunted or malnourished," he said.

One reason for optimism is the unprecedented political commitment of governments and the African people to end hunger. An example is the decision of FAO's regional Conference for Africa to set up an Africa Food Security Trust Fund.  The Republic of the Congo, Angola and Equatorial Guinea have already announced they will contribute.

New, unified approaches

Together with political commitment, partnership is the key. "This is the reason why FAO joined forces with the African Union and Brazil's Instituto Lula to host a High-Level meeting in Addis Ababa from 30 June to 1 July called "New, unified approaches to end hunger in Africa".

The new approach will build on the work of the 10-year-old Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which is already running successfully in 30 countries, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's  Zero Hunger Challenge, in order to harness strong and sustained political commitment to end hunger in Africa.

"Our aim is to see what works for Africans and non-Africans, to learn from those experiences, to scale up already successful activities, to fill gaps we identify and, if necessary, adjust or rethink our approach," Graziano da Silva said.

Innovative partnerships

"We intend to apply forms of innovative partnerships, to involve all sectors of society, to strengthen collective responsibility, and in this way to improve implementation of CAADP goals," he added.

Guests on the podium at the side event included Rigobert Maboundou, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Republic of Congo, and Chair of the 27th FAO Regional Conference; Amadou Allahoury Diallo, High Commissioner of the Republic of Niger's Nigerians Nourish Nigerians (3N) initiative; Jeffrey Luhanga, Principal Secretary for Agriculture and Food Security of the Ministry of Agriculture, Republic of Malawi; Florêncio Mariano da Conceição, Ambassador of the Republic of Angola; and Abreha Aseffa, Deputy Permanent Representative to FAO of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia. Laila Lokaseng, CAADP Advisor on Nutrition and Food Security, represented the African Union's Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Tumusiime Rhoda Peace.

Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger have asked FAO to enhance its support to their efforts to promote food security and nutrition in the framework of the New, Unified Approaches to End Hunger in Africa. The pilot phase of the partnership will therefore begin in those four countries.

Niger's Amadou Diallo told today's forum that although his country had a long history of droughts and food crises its 3N initiative aims to ensure that "drought no longer rhymes with famine". The programme centres on improving smallholders' access to water, inputs, information and training. Social protection through safety nets, cash and food vouchers, and school canteens is also essential, as is the promotion of local markets with the objective of achieving  "zero transport" distribution of produce.

Consistent political will

Malawi's Jeffrey Luhanga said the country had turned itself from a heavy food importer into a food surplus producer in less than a decade. One reason was "consistent political will", with  17 percent of the country's budget now devoted to the farm sector. Another important element was the subsidized inputs offered by the Government to farmers, while a current push was being made to increase production of legumes and beans - poor people's food -  and encourage people to keep sheep and goats.

Angola's Florêncio Mariano da Conceição said a basic objective of his country's national development plan was the promotion of a competitive and sustainable agricultural sector to provide food for domestic consumption. The programme included promotion of smallholder credit facilities and improvement of roads, railways and ports.  Another key element was provision of water to all - with 60 percent of the rural population now having proper access to water.

For Ethiopia,  Abreha Aseffa said that the country is running the largest social protection programme in sub-Saharan Africa, covering 6.8 million chronically food-insecure people. This included microfinance services, cash and food vouchers, cash-for work public infrastructure programmes and other initiatives to build community and individual resilience. The country is set on "accelerated and sustained development to end poverty" he said.

Enabling environment

On behalf of the African Union Laila Lokaseng said a key element in hunger eradication was the creation and sustenance of an enabling environment and of the right leadership to drive a zero hunger agenda. Well-grounded, sustainable coordination mechanisms for multisector response is vital too.

Rigobert Maboundou, Chair of the 27th FAO Regional Conference, stressed it is important for all countries to respect the commitments they made at that Conference. In boosting agricultural production, partnerships are important in order to muster appropriate resources, as is are appropriate legislative frameworks that foster sustainable agricultural development.

Summarizing the discussions, Graziano da Silva listed seven elements which he said are essential in any national "menu" aimed at achieving food security: 1. Political will. 2. The creation of local markets. 3) Promoting rural development, including storage and transport infrastructure. 4. Recognizing that small farmers are not part of the problem but part of the solution.5. Awareness that increasing agricultural and livestock production is not enough to pull people out of poverty: social protection is needed too. 6.Coordination and governance is fundamental in implementing actions. 7. Build resilience rather than just address immediate needs.