Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Briefs and such

This week, more than 200 journals will publish theme issues on the relationship between poverty and human development. The global initiative is coordinated by the Council of Science Editors.

Idriss Mohamed Osman, the World Food Program representative in Mogadishu who was seized by the Somali government has been released, a United Nations official said.

The Somali government admitted Osman had been released but refused to offer reasons why he was detained on October 17 when soldiers stormed a United Nations compound.

Osman’s detention prompted the WFP to halt food distribution to more than 75,000 residents.

The Accra Mail points out that at least one Ghanaian wasn’t thrilled that ex-Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano won the first annual Mo Ibrahim Award: Ex Flt-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.

“Mr. Rawlings’ supporters have been holding him up as African’s most exemplary leader in the last decade, but he was not even short listed for the prize,” said the story, which bore the headline: No to Coup Makers. “Rawlings himself has been parading as such, throwing up tantrums and vilifying President Kufuor and his administration on local and international platforms. His tantrums do not seem to have impressed the international community for him to even be considered as a leader worth short listing.”

Many of the goals for the United Nations Millennium Development Plan in Africa are not only off track, but sub-Saharan Africa may not achieve a single target, warned J. M. Lawrence in the Accra Mail.

Lawrence then produces a set of quick wins for public spending to help achieve the goals:

1. Provide "improved rural infrastructure services in the form of modern energy services, and communication technologies major road-building programs" and "low-cost transport services," supplemented by "subsidies for fertilizers and other critical inputs," to aid "impoverished smallholder farmers."

2. In urban areas, by "making land available to the poor at affordable prices and ensuring the provision of housing, urban infrastructure, and transport services," people living on less than $1 a day, the U.N.'s definition of extreme poverty, can be helped.

3. For all, "universal access to essential health services" in conjunction with both the "elimination of user fees for basic health services" and "a legal right to the highest attainable standard of health" will ensure meeting the goals.

Africa’s digital gap is growing, warns the Economist. The United Nations called for “digital solidarity” in 2005, but the numbers remain stark: Only 4 percent of the Africans have access to the internet; Africans pay exorbitant sums for slow connection speeds.

Poor technology is blamed as is state-controlled telecom monopolies and high illiteracy rates. But there’s other problems, too: A lack of local content and the video-centric content from rich countries.

Although poverty in Uganda has fallen from 56 percent in the 1980s to 31 percent today, the government Yoweri Museveni needs to do more, writes the Monitor, based in Kampala.

“The President pledged his government to saving the lives of Ugandans, tackling inequality, being accountable to Ugandans, governing fairly and justly, fighting corruption, and upholding human rights. Very laudable,” the paper wrote in an editorial. “Unfortunately, his government has not made the grade on all the items listed over the last 21 years it has been in power.”

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