Wednesday, 26 March 2014


A lack of clear-cut and secure land rights means people from post-conflict African countries are prevented from getting the most out of the land they rely upon for their survival.
An African peacekeeper from Rwanda stands guard near people gathered
by the Oubangui River in Bangui at the border of Central Africa Republic
and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Experts at the World Bank conference on Land and Poverty said on Wednesday that overlapping formal and informal laws and differing views about the value of land hamper their efforts at improving the situation.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), for instance, less than 5 percent of the land is registered because the land registration system is so intricate. 
“We have to change the way people perceive the land if we are going to develop our economies in Africa,” said Francesca Marzatico, a European Union land governance expert in South Sudan. “It is difficult to have land reform if you understand the perception of land as a social, rather than economic good.”
The Minister of Land of the DRC, Robert Mbwinga Bila, said that post-conflict countries such his own have had to deal on the one hand with people from villages whose relationship with the land is guided by long-established communal laws and on the other hand with government and development officials who want to install more modern land tenure systems.
The government of the DRC recently introduced a land reform process to secure investment and improve land across the country, but Mbwinga Bila said this has run into resistance from people who could not understand why they need to secure title for communal land. He also said his government was determined to implement the new land registration policy.
“We can’t do things differently because there is resistance from local communities,” he said. “The reforms that we are rightly undertaking will ensure that the interests of everyone are protected in the same way. There are no separate laws for the towns and for the villages. The law is for everyone,” he said in an interview.
Speakers at the session on land tenure in post-conflict situations agreed on the need for such societies to have a recognisable system of land tenure laws. But there is not always agreement on land policies between donor countries and governments. If the donors push too hard, it can be difficult to persuade governments to take ownership, they said.
Ferrari Florence, an official at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, said donors and governments should collaborate to design programmes that benefit everyone, especially women.
“Development agencies provide legal and technical support in the drafting of laws to ensure they respect the rule of law and other human rights norms and are in accordance with international standards,” she said.
However, imposing a one-size-fits-all system, especially in societies that are yet to stabilise, can also have its dangers.
In newly created South Sudan, for instance, a fresh outbreak of violence last year between followers of President Salva Kiir and those of his then-deputy Riek Machar has created additional problems for people working on a land registry for the country.
 “Land is a factor for peace and development,” said Marzatico. “Land is also a trigger for conflicts. So if we don’t build structures now despite the crisis, we will move back to square one when this ongoing violence is resolved.”


Generally, this is the project aimed at implementing the Lusaka Water Supply, Sanitation and Drainage Project. It is funded by the United States of America the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
See the details here
Procurement of the consultant for the US$355 million Lusaka water is once again in shambles.
Symptoms of bribery and corruption continue to slow the process of consultant appointment. CDM of Consultant of United States and SMEC International of Australia are fighting to win this lucrative project.
In 18 June 2013 the MCA Zambia unilaterally cancelled the consultancy contract with the selected consultant due what authorities saw as clear evidence of corruption in appointment of the consultants
(1). The consultancy contract was re-advertised on 4 September 2013 requesting proposals for management of capital improvement works amounting to US 250-300 million
(2). The total fund budgeted for the entire project is US$355 provided as a grant by Millennium Challenge Corporation an agency of US Government.
Bid from seven international and one local consultant were received. Among the bidders were:
1. MWH Americas with significant experience in Africa, Zambia and Lusaka.
2. Black and Veatch who were Consultants on the Lusaka water project some years ago with in depth knowledge of the project and Africa.
3. Hatch / Goba from Canada and South Africa with large experience in Southern Africa and North America.
4. Gauff Engineers of Germany and Mott McDonald of UK as a consortium both are among the top engineering consultancies in the world. Gauff was involved in the design of the project and was seen as having the great advantage of knowing the details of design work.
5. SMEC International of Australia with large experience in International consultancy and significant projects in Zambia.
6. CDM / COWI, CDM with very limited experience in Africa and virtually non in Zambia.
and COWI of Denmark with lots of experience in Africa.
The result of technical evaluation was announced on public opening held in Lusaka on 13 January 2014.
Three firms name Gauff, Hatch/Goba, and Bloomsberry were disqualified due to technicalities. MWH and Black and Veatch with greatest experience and best qualified staff scored 69% and 65% respectively which is much below the high passing mark of 85%. Only SMEC International with technical score of 85.5% and CDM with 95.5% qualified technically. The difference between the technical score of both companies and disqualification of very experienced firms is clear indication of corruption aimed at appointing COWI/CDM as the preferred firm.
At the public financial opening taking place in Lusaka the prices were announced:
CDM US$30.5 million and SMEC US$14.9 million. CDM price was more than double than that of SMEC.
This was all planned by the evaluation committee to ensure CDM wins. What the evaluation committee failed to anticipate is the MCC has a criteria for price competitiveness. MCC suggested to the MCA authorities in Lusaka to assess if the price of CDM is reasonable.
The news of this email was given to CDM by their friends at the evaluation committee of MCA. CDM works closely with CH2MHill in the US and in many part of the world and have won a US$500 million contract with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This is for providing technical assistance support for FEMA disaster related operations throughout the United States.
Senior members of CDM has been said to have approached senior member of CH2MHill to assist CDM win this contract in exchange with more share of the US FEMA contract. The management indicated to CDM that they can support them if they bring their price down to 22 million which they felt was the highest this consultancy could attract and an informal agreement was reached. Through informal channels this was communicated to MCC of United States and a deal was struck for CDM to be called to negotiation.
MCA management of Zambia which had supported the CDM bid was delighted of the outcome as they were given US$50,000.00 upfront cash with promise of US$ one million to be disbursed over the life of the project to all involved in the project implementation and evaluation.
At negotiation CDM refused to reduce their prices less than 28 million. The reduction was done by introducing new staff and replacing the expensive staff. They even advertised the position openly( See reference 5). At this time when they heard this they were very angry that CDM have not met their commitment of price reduction. The other twist on the issue is that based on procurement rules of MCC the price cannot be negotiated with the consultant which has an unreasonably high price. They used this reasoning to suggest negotiation with SMEC. When CDM heard the decision could be against them being awarded they demanded the return of US$50,000 from the MCA team.
At this time the evaluation committee approached SMEC asking them to give US$50,000.00 cash so CDM can be refunded and a promise of US$ one million during the execution of the project. MCA in return agreed to increase the contract price by US$ one million dollar to cover the kick backs.
At the time of this writing MCA is preparing to call SMEC to negotiation.
At the same time both MWH and Gauff are filing complaint with MCC on irregularities with the procurement process.
You may wonder why I am telling you this. I am one of the members of evaluation committee. I have been very happy that I have a chance of benefiting from this project. However the Lord had another plan. Something happened to 10 days ago. I promised my Lord that if he saves me, I will repent. Lord has done his part and I am doing mine.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


About a million children, double the previous estimate, fall ill with tuberculosis every year, said a study Monday that also gave the first tally of drug-resistant TB among the young.
"Many cases of tuberculosis and multi-drug resistant tuberculosis disease are not being detected in children," it said.
The team's computer model, based on population data and previous studies, suggests 999,800 people aged under 15 fell sick with TB in 2010.
Around 40 percent of the cases were in Southeast Asia and 28 percent in Africa.
"Our estimate of the total number of new cases of childhood TB is twice that estimated by the WHO (World Health Organisation) in 2011, and three times the number of child TB cases notified globally each year," said Ted Cohen from the Harvard School of Public Health.
The research, published in The Lancet, coincides with World TB Day, which places the spotlight on a disease that claims some 1.3 million lives each year.
The team estimated that nearly 32,000 children in 2010 had multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB), meaning the strain was impervious to frontline drugs isoniazid and rifampin and was thus harder and costlier to treat.
This is the first estimate of MDR-TB among children under 15, who constitute a quarter of the global population.
Children are at a higher risk of disease and death from MDR-TB, but react well to medication. They are harder to diagnose, partly because smaller children cannot cough up sputum samples needed for laboratory tests.
Reliable estimates are necessary for health authorities to assign resources for diagnosing and treating the infectious lung disease.
Commenting on the study, Ben Marais of the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity in Sydney, Australia, described it as the "most rigorous effort to date" to assess TB and MDR-TB incidence in children.
"Every effort should be made to reduce the massive case-detection gap and address the vast unmet need for diagnosis and treatment," he said.
The WHO says about 450,000 people developed MDR-TB in 2012 and 170,000 died from it.
Less than 20 percent of MDR patients received appropriate treatment, which promotes further spread of the disease.
Nearly 10 percent of MDR cases are thought to be of the even deadlier XDR (extensively drug resistant) variety which does not respond to a yet wider range of drugs.

Monday, 24 March 2014


Najib Razak: "It is with deep sadness and regret, that according
to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."
Malaysia's prime minister has announced that missing flight MH370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean.
Najib Razak said this was the conclusion of fresh analysis of satellite data tracking the flight.
Malaysia Airlines had told the families of the 239 people on board, he said.
Earlier the BBC saw a text message sent to families by the airline saying it had to be assumed "beyond reasonable doubt" that the plane was lost and there were no survivors.
Flight MH370 disappeared after taking off on 8 March from Kuala Lumpur.
The announcement by PM Najib Razak, at a late-night news conference, came on the fifth day of an international search effort in the southern Indian Ocean.
Based on new analysis, the UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch and Inmarsat, the UK company that provided satellite data, "have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth," Mr Razak said.
"This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean."
Mr Razak appealed to the media to respect the privacy of the families of the passengers and crew, saying the wait for information had been heartbreaking and this latest news harder still.
The text message sent to families by Malaysia Airlines announcing the loss of the plane said: "Malaysia Airlines deeply regrets that we have to assume beyond any reasonable doubt that MH370 has been lost and that none of those on board survived... we must now accept all evidence suggests the plane went down in the Southern Indian Ocean."