Speakers Underline Social Protection Systems, Public Service Accessibility Being Critical to Gender Equality, as Women’s Commission Opens Session

As pushback against women’s rights around the world threaten to reverse hard-won gains, conviction and political courage must drive forward progress and build on achievements, high-level speakers pledged at the opening session of the sixty-third …

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Young People’s Voices Must Be Amplified, Speakers Declare as Third Committee Concludes Social Development Debate amid Calls for Greater Involvement

Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Elderly Demand More Focus, Delegates SayGiven young people’s demographic weight, their voices should be amplified at the national and international levels, young delegates told the Third Committee (Social, Hum…

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Full Participation of Youth in Decision-making Key to Shaping Brighter Future for All, Social Development Commission Hears as General Debate Continues

Younger generations must have readily available tools enabling their full participation in decision‑making arenas to better shape a brighter future for all, the Commission for Social Development heard today as it continued its general debate.“We live i…

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Let the Games Begin

The Olympics are no boon for Rio. “No medals have yet been awarded, and Rio is already an exemplar of the Olympics’ disastrous model of urban development and planning.This is a disaster 30 years in the making. As with almost all host cities over the last couple of decades, Rio is unlikely to see any perceptible post-Olympics rise in growth, employment, wages, or tourism, and the gains that are made in terms of new transport infrastructure and housing are overwhelmingly focused on neighborhoods that are already super wealthy.” (QZ http://bit.ly/2aUuxOo)

On a  more positive note…”For the first time, a refugee team will compete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It will comprise those two Syrian swimmers, an Ethiopian marathoner, two Congolese judokas and five South Sudanese middle-distance runners. They will represent more than 60 million refugees across the world, the highest total since World War II, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. They will provide a human story to a worldwide crisis. They will walk into Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night under the same flag not as victims, but as competitors.” (WaPo http://wapo.st/2aUvuq0)

New UN Report shows Yemen is a mess…”Yemen’s Houthi rebels used civilians as human shields, Islamic State militants in the country received an influx of cash and al Qaeda has improved its roadside bombs, according to a confidential report by United Nations experts monitoring sanctions on Yemen.The 105-page report to the U.N. Security Council, seen by Reuters on Thursday, also said a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia had violated international humanitarian law by bombing a civilian home in Al-Mahala village in May, and the monitors were investigating three other cases in which civilians were bombed.” (Reuters http://reut.rs/2axjSWI)

Tens of millions in aid money allegedly diverted to Hamas…Israeli prosecutors charged a World Vision aid worker on Thursday with diverting tens of millions of dollars meant for aid projects to Hamas. Mohammad El Halabi, who was arrested in June, is accused of infiltrating the aid group and running sham programs on behalf of Hamas in Gaza. World Vision issued a statement that said it is “shocked” by the charges and that there is no reason to believe they are true. (Humanosphere http://buff.ly/2aDPkRI)

Security Council Holds Second Straw Poll Today on the Next UN Secretary General (Xinhua http://bit.ly/2aUvTJ4)

Government soldiers and security forces in South Sudan executed civilians and gang-raped women and girls during and after ethnically-charged fighting last month in the capital Juba, the United Nations said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2aZ4LWz)

Floods and heavy rain in Sudan have killed 76 people and destroyed thousands of homes in recent days, the interior minister said on Thursday. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2apmLHp)

East African leaders will gather in Ethiopia on Friday to discuss a regional intervention force to back up UN troops in South Sudan, an initiative vehemently opposed by President Salva Kiir. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aX5k6o)

South Africa’s local elections have delivered a sharp setback to the African National Congress, as partial results showed falling support for the party that ended apartheid. (Al Jazeera http://bit.ly/2aUw3ju)

Chad has banned opposition rallies planned for this weekend, ahead of Monday’s swearing-in ceremony for President Idriss Deby’s fifth term, the interior ministry announced in a decree. (AFP http://bit.ly/2aUwQkA)

The Malian defence ministry on Thursday admitted six soldiers have been missing since a deadly jihadist attack in July on a military base in the heart of the country. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aUKpjZ)

The world must not forget about the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency on West Africa’s Lake Chad region where 100,000 people are uprooted, as fears of famine rise in northeast Nigeria, aid agencies said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aZ2BWJ)

The World Health Organization and its partners shipped more than 6 million yellow fever vaccines to Angola in February to quash an emerging epidemic, yet when they asked country officials the following month what happened to the vaccines, they discovered that about 1 million doses had mysteriously disappeared. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayDz4r)

World Breastfeeding Week has taken on special urgency in Cameroon where a recent government survey revealed that as many as 70 percent of babies are not exclusively breastfed during the first six months of life. Health workers in Cameroon are trying to get the message out. (VOA http://bit.ly/2apl3Wc)

Human rights activists on Thursday demanded clemency for a Senegalese maid who was trafficked to Saudi Arabia and may face the death penalty after being charged with killing her employer. (Reuters http://bit.ly/2ayXZqU)

The World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration and UNICEF completed an urgent relief operation to provide a one-month ration of desperately-needed food and hygiene supplies to more than 75,000 people who are trapped along a land embankment, or berm, at the Syria-Jordan border.  (WFP http://bit.ly/2aUwYAG)

Cranes hoisted huge white bags with rice, lentils and dates from Jordan into tent camps on the Syrian side of a border berm — an unprecedented way of delivering U.N. aid to tens of thousands of displaced Syrians cut off from outside help for almost two months. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayXj4S)

The White House and Hillary Clinton faced questions Thursday about a $400-million cash payment to Iran early this year, there was a bit of shared incredulity that it has suddenly become an issue in the presidential campaign. After all, the White House’s spokesman noted, President Obama publicly announced the payment last January as part of the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. (WSJ http://lat.ms/2aUuUbU)

Shell companies created by the law firm behind the “Panama Papers” played a central role in alleged Italian bribes paid to Algerian officials for energy contracts, an investigative journalism group said Monday. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2ayDuOc)

A Turkish gay rights organization says a gay Syrian refugee has been found decapitated in Istanbul. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aZ4B1u)

A Chinese rights activist whose health is deteriorating after a three-month hunger strike should be released and given medical care, United Nations human rights experts said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2ayY4ec)

The death of a schoolgirl three days after she was set on fire by a stalker in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has sparked outrage from activists who said the law was failing victims of unwanted advances from men. (VOA http://bit.ly/2aZ2rPi)

Only 20 percent of Pacific Island households have access to electricity — and the cost is among the highest in the world, according to a senior World Bank official. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2axVfa6)

At least 30 children have died in northwestern Myanmar since mid-June from an unknown disease that causes breathing difficulty, officials said Thursday. (AP http://yhoo.it/2aBDs5C)

Nepal’s new Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda named a minority leader to the key position of home minister in his first appointments on Thursday, seeking reconciliation after months of protests by southern plainsfolk over a new constitution. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aZ5yqB)

Three experimental Zika vaccines protected monkeys against infection from the virus, an encouraging sign as research moves into studies in people. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayDwWj)

The United States is deeply concerned about Venezuela’s failure to embrace a robust dialogue to address its political crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aZ3ajD)

Colombia says it will deport more than 1,200 Cubans who’ve been stranded in the South American country. (CNN http://cnn.it/2ayEOQS)

Cuba says it has diagnosed the Zika virus in two people who appear to have contracted it inside the country, which has been largely successful in controlling the disease. (AP http://yhoo.it/2ayE8eu)

The Colombian government and FARC rebel group will sign a peace agreement after the guerrillas hold a final internal conference to approve the historic deal, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said. (AFP http://yhoo.it/2apmfJo)

Major progress has been made in curbing the number of children going to bed hungry, but a deadly combination of discrimination and poverty means some groups are being left behind, an international children’s charity said on Thursday. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aZ2P0b)

Italy’s anti-corruption authority is investigating Rome’s public rubbish management agency as concerns grow that waste problems plaguing the capital could turn critical. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2axUmi5)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday the government is compelled to overhaul state institutions after an abortive military coup attempted to topple him. (Reuters http://yhoo.it/2aBCDtL)

One of the most stable Democracies in Africa Faces A Tough Test. (UN Dispatch http://bit.ly/2axjFmj)

Poverty, Vulnerability and Social Protection (Inter Press Service http://bit.ly/2axTIRj)

How to tell humanitarian disaster stories responsibly (Guardian http://bit.ly/2aBCG8S)

World Vision “humanitarian hero” accused of funnelling millions to Hamas (IRIN http://bit.ly/2aUKlRh)

Look at 11 key challenges facing Nepal’s new government (AP http://yhoo.it/2apngBi)

Will US strikes on IS deepen Libya divisions? (AFP http://yhoo.it/2aX6w9K)

It was genocide with a template. We must seek justice for the Yazidi people (Guardian http://bit.ly/2aMnPrc)

Who and what is missing from the Yemen peace process? (IRIN http://bit.ly/2apl9gT)



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Africa’s infrastructure drive must take into account health and gender to be sustainable

11 Jun 2015

imagePhoto: UN Photo

Strengthened environmental and social impact assessments can improve access to health and improve gender equality

Pretoria, South Africa – As African countries undertake significant infrastructure development to transform their economies, it is critical that they take into account the impact of these capital projects on the health of workers and nearby communities, and on women and girls in particular, to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth.

“Large capital projects are a key driver of employment and growth, and for development to be achieved, we must minimise environmental and social damage,” said Ms. Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Vice President and Special Envoy on Gender at the African Development Bank (AfDB).

Ms Fraser-Moleketi was speaking at the opening of the two-day Second Technical Meeting on Health, Gender Equality and Capital Projects, that brought together more than 18 African country representatives from health, environment, mining, transport, infrastructure and civil society, as well from regional economic communities.

The meeting, co-hosted by the AfDB and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), together with the African Union, provided a forum to share country experiences, discuss emerging issues in this areas related to tuberculosis (TB), malaria, non-communicable diseases, occupational health and safety, and explore how environmental assessments could be used to mobilise resources for health in Africa.

Capital projects such as roads and mines draw huge numbers of workers, particularly men, to sites away from their homes for long periods of time. Their working and living conditions, usually in close quarters, are seen as potential drivers of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis. A study by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases finds that the disease is the leading cause of death among mine workers, with prevalence about three times higher than in the general population.

At the same time, mobile workers’ disposable income is usually spent on commodities such as alcohol and sex in nearby communities, increasing the risks of HIV infection, especially for women and girls.

Risks have also been identified related to increased incidences of malaria. Bad water management and workers’ limited access to good health care due to prohibitive costs, can drive up cases of malaria where large capital projects are being developed.

African countries have made significant investments in infrastructure in recent years, however a USD 96 billion annual infrastructure deficit remains, according to the AfDB. Closing this gap is necessary if the continent is to reach its full development potential and achieve meaningful employment creation and poverty alleviation, in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

As all sub-Saharan Africa countries require environmental assessments prior to launching significant infrastructure projects UNDP and the AfDB are working with countries to advocate for and strengthen capacity to make these assessments more robust to help mitigate health and gender-related risks that come with mobile workers with money.

While some countries have made progress in mainstreaming health and gender into their impact assessments, participants identified areas for improvement.

Among the recommendations, participants highlighted the need for harmonized legal frameworks at the regional level to ensure better integration of social issues particularly health (communicable and non-communicable), occupational health and safety included in impact assessments, and increased capacity and financial resources to conduct evidence-informed assessments and ensure monitoring and compliance.

They also recommended more advocacy and emphasis be placed on strategic environmental assessments given the nature of capital projects planned across the continent.

The Guidelines for Integrating HIV and Gender-Related Issues into Environmental Assessment in Eastern and Southern Africa, prepared in 2013, form the basis of action for participants, and called on governments to take the necessary steps to mitigate health and gender-related risks in the development of infrastructure and execution of large capital projects.

Following this meeting, the guidelines will be revised to include broader health issues such as TB, malaria, occupational health and safety, as well as workplace rights.

Participants includes representatives from Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Uganda, as well as the International Labour Organisation, the International Organisation for Migration and the World Health Organisation.

Contact Information

Annah Muja Rutebuka, Principal, AFDB Social Safeguards Specialist, [email protected]
Sandra Macharia, UNDP Communications Advisor, [email protected]

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