UN chief welcomes release of arrested leaders in Cameroon

31 August 2017 &#150 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has welcomed yesterday’s release of several leaders of the English-speaking regions in Cameroon’s South West and North West as well as the dropping of all charges against them.

&#8220The Secretary-General hopes that this positive step will lead to a further lowering of tensions and strengthened political dialogue,&#8221 said Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, in a statement issued overnight.

&#8220The Secretary-General encourages the Cameroonian authorities to pursue their efforts to address the grievances of the Anglophone community and promote measures of national reconciliation in order to find a durable solution to the crisis,&#8221 Mr. Dujarric added.

The Secretary-General also reiterated the UN’s readiness to continue to support such efforts, the Spokesman said.

According to media reports, President Paul Biya has ordered the release of the leaders who were arrested late last year and accused of inciting violence during the protests in the North West and South West regions. They pleaded not guilty to the charges which included complicity in hostility against the homeland, secession, and campaigning for federalism.

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La conférence TEDGlobal 2017 commence en Tanzanie

Dix ans après, TEDGlobal revient en Afrique pour un évènement en direct présentant plus de 45 interventions, entretiens et performances ARUSHA, Tanzanie, 28 août 2017 /PRNewswire/ — TED, l’organisation à but non lucratif qui se consacre aux « Ideas Worth Spreading » (idées qui méritent d’être diffusées) inaugure sa conférence TEDGlobal 2017 aujourd’hui à Arusha, en Tanzanie. Placé […]

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Kenya Bans Plastic Bags

NAIROBI � Kenya has become the latest African country to ban the use of polythene plastic bags, imposing stiff fines and even jail time for anyone found using, importing or manufacturing the bags.

In one of the biggest garbage dumping sites in Nairobi, it was business as usual Monday. Loads of plastic bags full of garbage were brought in, a testament to their widespread use in the capital.

But no more, says the government.

A new law went into effect Monday making the manufacture, sale and use of polythene plastic bags illegal. Offenders can get slapped with penalties up to a four-year jail term and a $40,000 fine.

The National Environment Management Authority, with the help security agencies, has been going around Nairobi to urge retailers and manufacturers to heed the new ban.

Geoffrey Wahungu is the director general of NEMA. He is promoting the take-bag scheme, basically calling on consumers to bring their own cloth bags or baskets from home.

I hope soon we’ll start seeing people who are carrying out these recycling materials, or alternative bags, which are eco-friendly. All this is creating much more employment than is being lost, he said.

Economic impact

Two plastic bag importers unsuccessfully challenged the ban before the High Court Friday. Kenya produces plastic bags for local use and export in the region. The National Association of Manufacturers has argued that the ban will cost more than 60,000 jobs and hurt more than 170 companies.

NEMA gave six months’ notice of the new ban, but it still appears to have taken many in Kenya by surprise.

Some large retailers have already switched to paper, but small traders are feeling the pinch.

Simon Njenga runs a grocery kiosk. He says he lost customers Monday.

He says the ban pains me a lot because a customer wants to purchase vegetables, but he doesn’t have a bag and I can’t give him one, so they leave my kiosk without buying. The government has to bring back the plastic bags. My livelihood depends on it.

Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Cameroon have announced similar bans on plastic bags, although the bans aren’t widely enforced. Rwanda is the only African country so far to both declare a ban and push people to follow the law.

Kenyan Environment Minister Judy Wakhungu told Reuters news agency that manufacturers and importers will be the ones initially targeted for enforcement of the ban.

Experts argue that polythene bags are bad for the environment and public health. The thin plastic bags have been blamed for polluting cities and shorelines and killing animals who eat them.

NEMA says the single-use polythene bags never fully biodegrade, remaining in the environment as small or even microscopic particles, essentially forever.

Source: Voice of America

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Fall Armyworm Spreads to Cameroon

YAOUNDE � Fall armyworm has spread to Cameroon. The pest has attacked crops in at least 24 African countries. In Cameroon, the Ministry of Agriculture says it is particularly concerned about the impact of the fall armyworm infestation in the north and the east of the country.

Minister-delegate Ananga Messina says fall armyworm has infested six of the central African state’s 10 regions.

She says the armyworms have been a serious threat to food security in Cameroon because cereals like maize, sorghum, rice and legume plants like cow-pea, peanuts and beans are increasingly being attacked every day. She says the situation is particularly worrisome on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria where the population and 100,000 Nigerian refugees are already suffering from food scarcity due to the Boko Haram conflict.

The Ministry of Agriculture says nearly two million people are currently in need of food assistance in northern Cameroon.

Messina told VOA about half of Cameroon’s 23 million inhabitants and millions of livestock risk hunger in the months ahead. She said the armyworms have extended to Cameroon’s eastern border, putting neighboring Central African Republic at risk, a country gripped by a severe humanitarian crisis after years of conflict.

Cameroon has launched a task force to manage the infestation.

Some farmers have been using chemicals to kill the pests, but agriculture technician Anicet Mvondo says that is not the best approach.

“The problem is that the insecticide is not good for the health of the farmer,” said Mvondo. “It is not good for the environment. It kills other organisms in the environment. Using insecticides is not a good way. We should try to look for other solutions because these insects on the field are also eaten by other organisms.”

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports fall armyworm was first detected in four countries in West Africa in early 2016. It has since spread to at least 20 other countries.

Experts say the fall armyworms can reproduce rapidly and can fly long distances in moth form, though it remains unknown how the pest spread to West Africa from South America.

The FAO is leading the regional response efforts in Africa, and it says it is drawing from lessons learned in the America’s on sustainable fall armyworm management. FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, David Phiri says methods like regular monitoring and hand-picking of worm larvae can be effective.

“Fall armyworm has a lot of natural enemies and we should enhance their use to control the fall armyworm … So the message is that fall armyworm has come here to stay and also that use of chemical pesticides should be reduced to a minimum, said Phiri.

Staple crops like maize, sorghum, rice and sugarcane have been hit hard in Africa, though the fall armyworm can ravage more than 80 other plant species. Losses for Africa are estimated at at least $13 billion.

Source: Voice of America

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