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Archive for July 11th, 2011

Ham Muzukulu wa Buganda – A born entrepreneur

Posted by African Press International on July 11, 2011

By Korir, Chief editor (API)

Ham left his native country Uganda for Oslo Norway. His mission in Europe was to take up his education and travel back to Uganda where he wanted to serve in the Buganda Kingdom in any capacity that the Kingdom was willing to give him as an employee.

That was not to be. After his education in Norway, Ham decided to go into business due to his love for the financial world.

API Photo: Ham Muzukulu wa Buganda

API Photo: Ham Muzukulu wa Buganda

He started small businesses in Norway through his investment company Gala and Karl Investment. The company employed students and jobless immigrants. Those who took up employment in his company benefitted economically and became self-empowered. While running the company, Ham was not satisfied with that so he decided to start a Night club that he named Safari club. The club attracted many Africans and other residents in Oslo alike.

The problem with the club Ham was running was the fact that there was no way to expand it to cater for top class clientel, like those who wanted to relax in a swimming pool while having their afternoon drinks.

He decided to involve two Norwegians and that did not go down well becuase of disagreements on how to run the enterprise arose.

Ham later invited this writer to join the business. It was not long that this writer took over the business in agreement with Ham. This happened because Ham wanted to establish a more executive Night Club elsewhere.

Soon after, he joined a telecommunication company that was to be started in Uganda in collaboration with the Norwegian giant company Telenor. He was later to take up employment in the company where he worked for sometime before re-establishing himself in Night club business in the centre of Uganda’s capital Kampala.

The Night Club he is involved in is named after the good wine “Lebeaujolais” that is enjoyed by the high class drinkers . Lebeaujolais Night Club featured on Facebook is reportedly popular. The place is said to be fully parked with Ugandans and others who are out to kill the weekend now and then.

Ham continues to visit Norway whenever he can, sometimes twice a year, alone or with his family. He has many friends in Oslo whom he likes to party with when he is around.

He is blessed with two boys whom he seems to be guiding to become businessmen when they grow up.


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Pakistan army offensive against militants in Kurram displacing many families

Posted by African Press International on July 11, 2011

PAKISTAN: Thousands displaced by fighting in Kurram

Thousands of people have fled Kurram Agency on trucks, vans, tractors and other vehicles as the new offensive continues

PESHAWAR, 5 July 2011 (IRIN) – A new Pakistan army offensive against militants in Kurram Agency in the northwest has sent thousands of people fleeing on trucks, vans, tractors and other vehicles; aid agencies are trying to map out a response.

“The operation has been launched to clear the area of terrorists involved in acts of terrorism, including kidnapping and killing of local people, suicide attacks and blocking the road that connects Lower Kurram with Upper Kurram,” military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas told the media on 5 July.

Civilians were forced to flee conflict-hit areas along the tribal belt made up of seven agencies along the Pakistan-Afghan border after the operation began on 3 July. “I am waiting for news of my parents, grandparents and four siblings,” Faheem Ali, 24, who works as a pharmacist, told IRIN in Peshawar.

“They set out from our home in central Kurram on Monday [4 July] and are trying to join me here in Peshawar,” he added, saying he had failed to establish contact with them for over 14 hours and could only hope they “get here safely given the heavy firing that is taking place”.

“There is likely to be a displacement of at least 4,000 families and possibly double that number due to this latest fighting,” Arshad Khan, head of the Disaster Management Authority (DMA) in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), told IRIN.

Already, he added, 1,000 families – around 7,000 individuals – had been displaced since the operation started.

Aid agencies said they were preparing to help the newly displaced.

“We are working closely with the DMA in FATA and government authorities there, as we are not on the ground in Kurram,” said Duniya Aslam Khan, spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

She said people displaced from Kurram were being accommodated at Durrani Camp, a former Afghan refugee camp, in the town of Sadda in Lower Kurram. Following a request from the DMA in FATA, the UNHCR has so far provided 700 tents and other non-food items for those displaced in Kurram.

The DMA in FATA says 250 families have reached the camp while others have moved in with relatives in various parts of Kurram or Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa Province. The fresh displacements add to the 34,785 already displaced from Kurram, according to official statistics.


“The situation in Kurram is looking grim. We have conducted a meeting to determine how to help them,” Riaz Khan, a medical student who also works with a volunteer student group to help the displaced, told IRIN. He said a campaign to “collect funds and food item donations” would be launched.

Other NGOs cite lack of access to conflict-hit areas as a key problem, preventing them from helping people. This means that most welfare activities are being carried out, for now, by local authorities. “We have arranged food and non-food items for the displaced,” Sahibzada Muhammad Anees, who heads the local administration in Kurram, told the media.

“There is real fear in Kurram. Because the road linking the agency to Peshawar has been closed for many months due to fighting, it is not easy to leave. People feel trapped, and therefore even more scared,” Kareem Abassi, 37, told IRIN. Abassi left Kurram with his family of five a week ago, as rumours of a military operation spread.

“Thousands of others are preparing to do the same,” he added. “I am glad I am out with my children and wife.”

kh/eo/cb source

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Delays at checkpoints: Giving birth unexpectedly

Posted by African Press International on July 11, 2011

OPT: Born at a checkpoint

It is estimated that 10 percent of pregnant Palestinian women were delayed at checkpoints while travelling to hospital to give birth (file photo)

LONDON, 5 July 2011 (IRIN) – For three years now a UK medical journal, the Lancet, has been working with Palestinian health professionals and researchers to document the effects of stressful living – coping with economic difficulties and shortages, restrictions on movement, political tensions and fear of outside attack – and has just published its latest findings.

Restrictions on movement are an everyday irritant in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt): Apart from tedious and humiliating searches at checkpoints, residents never know for sure how long their journeys will take, or whether, indeed, they can be made at all. But in a medical emergency these restrictions can be a matter of life or death.

Last year the Lancet’s collaborators described vividly the terror of women waiting to give birth during Israeli bombing raids on Gaza in early 2009: They knew they might need urgent medical care at a time when they were trapped in their homes during the attacks. This year another of their researchers has looked at what happens to women already in labour who are caught at oPt checkpoints.

Halla Shoaibi of Ann Arbor University in the USA estimates that in the period she studied (2000-2007) 10 percent of pregnant Palestinian women were delayed at checkpoints while travelling to hospital to give birth. One result has been a dramatic increase in the number of home births, with women preferring to avoid road trips while in labour for fear of not being able to reach the hospital in time.

Their fears are well founded. Ms Shoaibi says 69 babies were born at checkpoints during those seven years. Thirty five babies and five of the mothers died, an outcome which she considers to amount to a crime against humanity.

When the Lancet group held their first meeting in March 2009, Gaza was still reeling from the Israeli attacks known as Operation Cast Lead, which led to the deaths of well over a 1,000 people. In the latest publication, researchers return to that period, with further analysis of survey material about the effects of the attack on the civilian population.

The disruption to normal life was great. Forty-five percent of those surveyed had to leave their homes and move in with other people for at least 24 hours; 48 percent had other people moving in with them; 48 percent of homes were damaged. Nearly everyone had power cuts all or part of the time, and many also suffered disruption to other services – telephone, water supply and rubbish collection.

Psychological effects

In terms of psychological effects, over 80 percent reported a family member screaming or crying or having nightmares. Loss of appetite was also commonly reported. But although Gaza is a relatively small area, the effects varied considerably according to where the respondents lived, with the governorates of Gaza and North Gaza the most, and Khan Younis and Rafah (near the border with Egypt) the least affected.

Another study looked at the feelings of insecurity which remained, even six months after the end of the attacks. Some of the results might have been expected – women, for instance, felt more nervous and insecure than men. The groups who reported lower levels of insecurity were those who were better educated, and had a better standard of living, and also older people, those over 65.

Not all the studies published are directly linked to the Palestinian political situation; topics include smoking among teenagers, the number of pharmacists working in the territories (rather high, as it turns out) and the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine.

The Lancet’s editor, Richard Horton, stresses the importance of encouraging academic research into all aspects of health, as part of the process of rebuilding Palestinian society and strengthening its academic institutions.

He says he sees two immediate priorities: “First, while the collaboration between scientists in Gaza and their colleagues in the West Bank is encouraging, even more effort needs to be invested to create productive alliances between Palestinian academic institutions. And second, while there is much strength in public health research, there is a gap in the clinical sciences. More attention needs to be paid to strengthening research in the many excellent clinical facilities in the region.”

eb/cb source

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Improving food security: The early warning tool should help policymakers

Posted by African Press International on July 11, 2011

FOOD: Predicting food price volatility

The early warning tool should help policymakers and others working to improve food security (file photo)

JOHANNESBURG, 6 July 2011 (IRIN) – A new tool for measuring food price volatility in global agriculture markets could help poor countries or aid agencies like the World Food Programme (WFP) decide where and when to buy staples, says Maximo Torero, director of the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) Markets, Trade and Institutions Division.
The early warning tool, NEXQ (Non-parametric Extreme Quantile Model) has been developed by IFPRI and is based on sophisticated economic modelling, which provides daily price variability ratings for four major crops – hard wheat, soft wheat, maize (corn) and soya beans – and aims to help analysts predict price volatility.
The model uses daily cereal price data going back to 1970 to calculate whether, or to what extent, prices have moved from their expected normal price.
“What the tool does is [it] provides updates if we are in a period of excessive volatility based on global future prices which will be transmitted to developing countries in the following days or even weeks,” explained Torero.
Homi Kharas, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes in an opinion piece that it is price volatility or “the rapid and unpredictable changes in food prices that wreak havoc on markets, politics and social stability, rather than long-term structural trends in food prices that we can prepare for and adjust to.
“And it is also worth noting that volatility cuts both ways – prices go up and down. The only reason food prices are going up so much this year [2011] is because they came down so fast after reaching 2008 peaks. Both rapid increases and rapid declines in food prices can create problems.”
NEXQ should help policymakers and others working to improve food security “make better informed decisions, including whether or when to release stocks from emergency grain reserves,” said Torero.
The tool was developed to support two of the recommendations in the Action Plan on Food Price Volatility and Agriculture made by G20 agriculture ministers on 23 June in Paris, he added.
One of the decisions of the G20 ministers was to set up the Agriculture Market Information System (AMIS) to get agri-food markets to share data and improve food intelligence. NEXQ will feed into AMIS, Torero said.

''Speculators make money out of understanding and providing insurance against volatility. They do not create the volatility themselves, except under very strange conditions''

The G20 ministers also offered to support a pilot programme for a targeted emergency humanitarian food reserve system. A feasibility study, which will also consider which countries might be eligible for the proposed reserve, will be conducted by WFP and partners in September 2011.
Global trigger mechanism
NEXQ will support the management of the proposed reserve, said Torero, by providing a consistent global trigger mechanism for periods of extreme price variability. This should help managers of the reserve analyse the most vulnerable countries and develop country-level contingency plans.
Financialization” of the futures markets, along with poor market transparency, insufficient information about investors, unexpected changes triggered by national food security situations, panic buying and hoarding – have been listed among the root causes of harmful, rapid food price hikes.
But the Brookings Institution’s Kharas points out that volatility is “inherent in the food market place” which causes speculation, “not the other way around.”
“Speculators make money out of understanding and providing insurance against volatility. They do not create the volatility themselves, except under very strange conditions.”
Oil price link
Among the solutions he lists, is breaking the link between food and oil prices. “The current global food system worked well in a world of cheap, stable energy prices which allowed food to be grown in concentrated locations and transported over huge distances to meet demand. That system will continue to give us volatility as long as oil prices remain volatile.
“I would not bet on a return to cheap, stable oil prices in the near term, so the answer must be to change the food system to adapt to the new economics of energy. That probably means more localized and more diversified production and consumption, less use of fertilizer, and less wastage [20 percent of all food gets spoiled in storage and transport today]. Ironically, the organic, slow-food, go-local cooperative movement may find that market forces are their new best friend.”
jk/cb source

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