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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • Parents seek Nigeria kidnap girls April 17, 2014
      The parents of some of the girls abducted from their school in north-east Nigeria head into the forests in a dangerous search for their daughters.
    • Pistorius forensic tests challenged April 17, 2014
      The tests carried out by a forensic expert for Oscar Pistorius' murder trial are rigorously challenged by the state prosecutor in South Africa.
    • Algeria votes on Bouteflika's future April 17, 2014
      Algerians are voting in elections in which incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke last year, is seeking a fourth term.
    • Senegal's Karim Wade 'to face trial' April 17, 2014
      A Senegalese court rules that Karim Wade, the ex-president's son, should stand trial on corruption charges over his wealth, an official says.
    • Guinea-Bissau run-off to pick leader April 17, 2014
      Officials in Guinea-Bissau say a run-off vote will be held next month after no candidate won an outright victory in Sunday's presidential election.
    • Remittance fees 'hurt Africans' April 16, 2014
      Communities in sub-Saharan Africa are being "hurt" by high fees charged by money transfer operators, charity Comic Relief says.
    • UN mulls medal for peacekeepers April 16, 2014
      The UN Security Council hears a proposal to create a medal for bravery in UN peacekeeping, to be named after a Senegalese soldier who saved lives during the Rwandan genocide.
    • Head of oldest African park shot April 16, 2014
      The Belgian director of Africa's oldest national park - Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo - is shot and wounded in an ambush.
    • 'Last' Chadian soldier leaves CAR April 16, 2014
      Chad has withdrawn all its peacekeepers from the Central African Republic, an official confirms, after accusations they sided with Muslim rebels.
    • South Sudan rebels 'seize' oil hub April 15, 2014
      Rebel forces in South Sudan say they have recaptured the oil hub of Bentiu and want oil companies to halt operations.
    • Elite marathon runner misses flight April 15, 2014
      A London Marathon runner from Sierra Leone is missing after she disappeared and failed to catch a flight home.
    • Jordanian envoy kidnapped in Libya April 15, 2014
      Masked gunmen kidnap Jordan's ambassador to Libya in the capital, Tripoli, in an attack that left his driver wounded, officials say.
    • VIDEO: Hunt for 100 abducted girls in Nigeria April 16, 2014
      Security forces in Borno State in Nigeria are searching for dozens of teenage girls abducted by suspected members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial shown prosthetic leg April 17, 2014
      The prosthetic leg belonging to Oscar Pistorius has been shown to the court during his murder trial. He denies murder, claiming he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for a burglar.
    • AUDIO: 'Killing books' in Libya April 15, 2014
      Libyan author Mansour Bushnaf says Libya does not have much of reading culture because under Col Muammar Gaddafi, people were afraid of books.
    • VIDEO: At site of Nigeria bus station blast April 14, 2014
      A powerful bomb blast has ripped through a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, killing at least 71 people.
    • VIDEO: Cleaning up Cairo's waste system April 14, 2014
      The Egyptian government is turning to its traditional rubbish collectors - the Zabaleen - to revolutionise Cario's waste disposal industry.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 23 - in 60 secs April 16, 2014
      The girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius was shot in quick succession as she fell down, a forensics expert has told the South African athlete's murder trial.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 21 - in 60 secs April 14, 2014
      The prosecutor at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial suggests the South African athlete is using his emotions "as an escape".
    • VIDEO: Ghana's 'waste to wealth' initiative April 12, 2014
      Suzanne Vanhooymissen reports on the large and smaller-scale enterprises set up to segregate waste and encourage recycling in Ghana.
  • RSS BBC News – Home

    • Putin cautious on force in Ukraine April 17, 2014
      Russia's President Putin says he hopes he will not have to exercise his "right" to send troops into Ukraine, as crisis talks are held with Western leaders in Geneva.
    • Weather blights S Korea ferry search April 17, 2014
      Bad weather, murky water and strong currents are hampering the search for about 280 people missing after a South Korean ferry sank.
    • Co-op Group reports £2.5bn loss April 17, 2014
      The Co-operative Group reports losses of £2.5bn, the worst results in its 150-year history, after what its chief executive calls a "disastrous" year.
    • Female MPs shunning PMQs - Bercow April 17, 2014
      Some female MPs have stopped attending Prime Minister's Questions because it is so "bad", says Speaker John Bercow.
    • Lorry driver held over M26 crash April 17, 2014
      A lorry driver is arrested following a five-vehicle pile up on the M26 in Kent in which two people died and seven others were injured.
    • Pensioners could get death estimate April 17, 2014
      Retirees could be told how long they are likely to live after stopping work, says pensions minister Steve Webb.
    • Lucas cleared over fracking protest April 17, 2014
      Green MP Caroline Lucas and four co-defendants are cleared of obstructing a public highway during an anti-fracking protest in Balcombe, West Sussex.
    • Fireworks 'not to blame' for pile-up April 17, 2014
      Smoke from fireworks was "not to blame" for a pile-up on the M5 near Taunton which killed seven people, a coroner rules.
    • Anglo Irish bank pair found guilty April 17, 2014
      Two former Anglo Irish bank chiefs have been found guilty of making loans designed to illegally prop up the bank's share price.
    • Tube staff plan five days of strikes April 17, 2014
      RMT workers on the London Underground are to take five days of strike action according to the union.
    • George Alagiah treated for cancer April 17, 2014
      BBC News presenter George Alagiah is diagnosed with bowel cancer and will take a break from broadcasting while he receives treatment.
    • RBS: No evidence of small firm fraud April 17, 2014
      Royal Bank of Scotland says law firm Clifford Chance has cleared it over allegations that it forced small firms to close so it could make a profit.
    • Kelpies lit up for the first time April 8, 2014
      Two enormous steel sculptures of Kelpie horse heads towering over the M9 at Falkirk are lit up for the first time.
    • Leigh and Loach selected for Cannes April 17, 2014
      Veteran British directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach see their new films selected for competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
    • Palace loss should not stand - Cardiff April 17, 2014
      The BBC obtains a letter sent by Cardiff City that says the defeat by Crystal Palace in early April should not stand.
    • Lambert 'can't discuss suspensions' April 17, 2014
      Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says he is unable to talk about why two members of his coaching staff have been suspended.
    • O'Sullivan to face Hull in first round April 17, 2014
      Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is drawn to face Robin Hull in the first round of the World Championship in Sheffield.
    • Rosberg plans Hamilton Bahrain talk April 17, 2014
      Nico Rosberg is to discuss with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton his concern their fight for victory in Bahrain went too far.
    • Bale finally emerges from Ronaldo's shadow April 17, 2014
      Gareth Bale proves he can be a game-changer on the big occasion for Real Madrid with the winner in the Copa del Rey final
    • Lamb takeaways 'often another meat' April 16, 2014
      Takeaway owners are to face a new testing programme, after a watchdog found nearly a third of lamb takeaways it checked contained a different meat.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • Obama budget plan would boost U.S. tax revenues, cut deficits: CBO April 17, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's fiscal 2015 budget request would boost U.S. tax revenues by nearly $1.4 trillion over 10 years if fully enacted, slashing deficits by $1.05 trillion while funding new spending, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday.
    • California Governor Brown wants rainy-day fund in constitution April 17, 2014
      SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday stepped up his efforts to enshrine a rainy day fund in the state's constitution, stealing some thunder from Republicans backing a similar measure as he seeks an unprecedented fourth term.
    • Detroit pension deal approved by one retirement system April 17, 2014
      (Reuters) - The board of Detroit's General Retirement System on Wednesday approved economic terms of a settlement with the city that include cuts to pension benefits, putting in place another key component of Detroit's effort to exit bankruptcy by October.
    • U.S. calls for more investment-friendly Indian government April 17, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday urged the Indian government that emerges from ongoing elections to follow economic policies that encourage investment, saying Washington would like to see bilateral trade grow to $500 billion a year.
    • Obama, Republicans openly feud over immigration legislation April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Partisan bickering over immigration reform legislation intensified on Wednesday as President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Republicans accused each other of standing in the way of progress one year after bipartisan Senate legislation was introduced.
    • Two incompatible gun ballot measures lead in Washington state April 16, 2014
      OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Two incompatible ballot measures on background checks for gun buyers in Washington state enjoy majority support in a poll released on Tuesday, but the one advancing stricter gun controls is more popular.
    • Detroit pension deal approved by one retirement system April 16, 2014
      (Reuters) - The board of Detroit's General Retirement System on Wednesday approved economic terms of a settlement with the city that include cuts to pension benefits, putting in place another key component of Detroit's effort to exit bankruptcy by October.
    • Wisconsin passes law to curb private custody transfers of children April 16, 2014
      NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wisconsin has adopted a law to limit private custody transfers of children, the first law of its kind in the United States, responding to a Reuters investigation that exposed the dangers of the unregulated practice.
    • Obama, Biden visit Pennsylvania to promote job-training plan April 16, 2014
      OAKDALE, Penn. (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took a trip to a Pennsylvania community college on Wednesday to promote a plan to train workers for skills they need for hard-to-fill jobs.
    • Former New York Mayor Bloomberg to spend $50 million on gun control April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ramped up his efforts to fight gun violence on Wednesday with a plan to spend $50 million on a grassroots network to organize voters on gun control.
    • Obama looks to salvage Asia 'pivot' as allies fret about China April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON/MANILA (Reuters) - When a Philippine government ship evaded a Chinese blockade in disputed waters of the South China Sea last month, a U.S. Navy plane swooped in to witness the dramatic encounter.
    • Obama's departing health chief mulls U.S. Senate run: report April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Departing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who took withering criticism over the botched rollout of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
    • F-35 fighter jet to make first trans-Atlantic flight in July April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department has approved the first trans-Atlantic flight of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet in July to take part in two international air shows near London, U.S. and British officials said Wednesday.
    • HUD's Donovan says U.S. Senate housing bill is best chance of reform April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's top housing official on Wednesday said a proposed Senate bill provides the best chance to overhaul the mortgage finance system this decade, but more debate over down payment requirements for government-backed loans is needed.
    • Paul, Rubio lead potential Republican 2016 contenders in spending April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Groups supporting Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio lead the pack of potential Republican presidential candidates in spending money and investing in possible campaigns this year, more than 20 months before the first votes are cast in 2016.
    • Ex-con, ex-governor Edwards raises $33,000 in Louisiana run for Congress April 16, 2014
      (Reuters) - Former Louisiana Governor, Edwin Edwards, a convicted felon now running for the U.S. Congress, has raised nearly $33,000 in donations since launching his campaign last month, according to a contribution report.
    • Michigan, White House discuss federal money for bankrupt Detroit: report April 16, 2014
      (Reuters) - Michigan officials and President Barack Obama's Administration are discussing a plan to free up $100 million in federal money to aid Detroit's retired city workers, the Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday.
    • Bill signed allowing surprise inspections of Arizona abortion clinics April 16, 2014
      PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into a law a bill allowing state health authorities to conduct surprise inspections of abortion clinics without first obtaining a warrant, handing another victory to abortion foes.
    • Two incompatible gun ballot measures lead in Washington state April 16, 2014
      OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Two incompatible ballot measures on background checks for gun buyers in Washington state enjoy majority support in a poll released on Tuesday, but the one advancing stricter gun controls is more popular.
    • Pentagon says automatic budget cuts would hit F-35, other weapons April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Tuesday detailed $48.3 billion in cuts to major weapons programs like Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet that would kick in from fiscal 2016 to 2019 if Congress does not reverse automatic budget cuts that are to resume in 2016.
  • RSS CNN.com – Africa

    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
    • Meet Nigeria's 'Mark Zuckerberg' April 3, 2014
      At 23, many people around the world are still at university -- at that age, Gossy Ukanwoke had already started one.
    • Why we need more geek girls April 3, 2014
      "It was like taking a big leap of faith."
    • 'Uncle Ebo' revives Ghanaian theater April 15, 2014
      African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
    • How medics saved lives at Westgate April 9, 2014
      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
    • Embracing Ghana's natural beauty April 1, 2014
      She started her business with just £100, lugging her beauty bag from door to door, but some 25 years later Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
    • Africa's most endangered April 16, 2014
      Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened. Find out more about its most endangered animals.
    • Secrets of 'gorilla whisperer' March 25, 2014
      Zain Verjee visits Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park -- the home of half of the world's endangered mountain gorilla population.
    • Savannah from the sky March 13, 2014
      It's almost impossible for a photographer to find fresh visual perspectives these days. Brooklyn-based Zack Seckler had to travel to a different continent and strap into an ultra-light aircraft to find one. His Botswana series presents the country from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique and captivating view of the savannah.
    • Rating Pistorius's defense April 16, 2014
      After five days of intense cross-examination, has Olympian Oscar Pistorius helped or harmed his defense that he did not intentionally kill his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkam?
    • Pop art condoms saving lives April 15, 2014
      The Center for African Family Studies in Nairobi has teamed up with Kenyan artist Michael Soi to create eye-catching condom wrappers to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among young people.
    • Ebola: A swift and bloody killer April 16, 2014
      It took only moments to feel the impact of what was happening here.
    • 'I lost my fingers, made new ones' April 14, 2014
      A South African carpenter lost his fingers in an accident -- now he's making mechanical fingers and hands for others.
    • Kenya double in London Marathon April 13, 2014
      World record-holder Wilson Kipsang completed a Kenyan double at the London Marathon Sunday as home hope Mo Farah disappointed on his debut over the 42km distance.
    • Pistorius at mercy of 'bull dog?' April 11, 2014
      He's known as the "bull dog" in South Africa's legal circles, and just two days in to Gerrie Nel's merciless cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius, it's easy to see why.
    • 'Now is the time for Afro-realism' April 11, 2014
      Over the last 20 years, the narrative on the African continent has shifted from Afro-pessimism to Afro-optimism. The truth lies somewhere in between. Now is the time for Afro-realism: for sound policies based on honest data, aimed at delivering results.
    • Africa's tastiest street food April 11, 2014
      Here are your photos of the tastiest -- and most unusual -- African street food.
    • Most stylish tribe in Africa? April 10, 2014
      A South African designer is making sure that when Xhosa boys come of age, they're dressed to the nines.
    • Egypt's sex pest epidemic? April 9, 2014
      A university student cowers in a pharmacy as a mob outside threatens her with sexual violence. A law student is groped by her classmates, the dean cites her "inappropriate attire." Frightening allegations but advocates say this is an everyday reality for women in Cairo.
    • Day that changed Kenya forever April 9, 2014
      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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Cooperatives championed amid NGO restrictions

Posted by African Press International on November 9, 2012

ADDIS ABABA,  – As Ethiopia imposes increasing restrictions on foreign-backed NGOs, cooperatives – which have boosted the country’s coffee industry – are being championed as a preferred model for economic development.
NGOs have been active in Ethiopia for roughly 40 years, yet the country still ranks in the world’s seventh percentile in terms of health, education and living standards, according to the UN Development Programme’s human development index. This has led to questions about the effectiveness of NGOs – especially those that are foreign-backed – in creating tangible, long-term progress.
By contrast, say development observers and government advisers, the cooperative model gives ownership of development issues to those affected by them, creating incentives for lasting change. “Cooperatives are businesses owned and run by and for their members… They have an equal say in what the business does and a share in the profits,” according to the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA).
Ethiopia’s coffee industry has recently seen significant growth, thanks in part to indigenous coffee cooperatives – demonstrating, advocates say, cooperatives’ superiority to NGO assistance.
But others argue that cooperatives model on its own isn’t capable of achieving long-term sustainability, and that many cooperatives remain reliant on NGOs for support. Success, they say, will depend on the combined efforts of cooperatives, NGOs and the Ethiopian government, and even foreign government assistance, where appropriate.

  • Fraught political history
Both cooperatives and NGOs have had fraught relationships with Ethiopia’s political establishment, with cooperatives once perceived as an arm of the government and NGOs now seen as agents of foreign influence.
The cooperative movement in Ethiopia emerged in 1950s, during an effort to transition from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture. In the 1970s, under Mengistu Haile Mariam’s socialist-inspired Derg regime, cooperatives were used to implement a series of radical policies, such as the March 1975 Land Reform Bill, which outlawed private land ownership. Farmers were forced to join cooperatives and give up land for collective use; as a result, cooperatives became very unpopular.The 1991 rebellion that ousted Mengistu paved the way for more democratic, member-constituted cooperatives, even as the government itself came under criticism over its commitment to democracy. General assembly members were elected to determine cooperatives’ policies, and cooperatives began to adhere to the principles of the ICA.
Over a decade later, NGOs became targets of government ire. Several were perceived as assisting Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s political opponents during the 2005 election, which nearly saw Meles’s defeat, according to Stephan Klingelhofer, senior vice president at Washington-based the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law.
In the following years, members of organizations such as the Ethiopian Human Rights Council and the Swiss branch of Médecins Sans Frontiers (MSF) faced arrests and detentions. The International Committee of the Red Cross and MSF Belgium were expelled by the government in August and September 2007.
In February 2009, the government adopted the Proclamation to Provide for the Registration and Regulation of Charities and Societies, which restricted the activities of NGOs receiving more than 10 percent of their financing from foreign sources. Over the past six months, the restrictions have expanded, Klingelhofer said.
  •  Concerns about dependency
These tensions are now bearing out in how cooperatives and NGOs are viewed. As the successful strategies used by coffee cooperatives are applied to bolster other agricultural sectors – including dairy, wheat and livestock – cooperatives are increasingly seen as alternatives to the kinds of assistance offered by NGOs.
Particularly problematic is that many NGOs are foreign-backed and are not member-oriented, critics say.
“It’s a problem of dependency syndrome,” said Mesay Kassaye, who works for the Costa Foundation, which assists coffee cooperatives. Kassaye previously worked for the NGO Self Help Africa and argues that too few NGOs promote self-sufficiency. “An NGO would bring all things, so that the community remained like beggars, with no role in development.”
Programmes often collapsed when NGOs departed, and some NGOs channel up to 75 percent of their budgets to administrative costs, he says. Cooperatives are an improvement because Ethiopia’s chronic problems are better tackled by the long-term capacity-building that cooperatives promote, he contends.
This view is shared by Haile Gebre, who is regarded as the father of Ethiopia’s cooperatives. He headed the government’s Bureau for Cooperatives in the 1990s, and his policies have resulted in the way cooperatives function today. He concedes the issue is not quite black-and-white: “Nothing is totally wrong or fair – things are relative,” he said.
“But if I’d been president of Ethiopia in 1973, I’ve have banned NGOs from Ethiopia.”
NGOs are good for providing temporary support after catastrophes, but for poverty, they aren’t the solution, he argues.
  • Outside help
Yet a variety of NGOs have been responsible for supporting the cooperative model.
“We are development-oriented, not relief-oriented,” said Amsalu Andarge, an Addis Ababa-based field officer coordinator for the NGO Agriculture Cooperative Development Integrated Volunteers Overseas Cooperative Assistance (ACDI/VOCA). In 1995, the US-based organization helped launch Agricultural Cooperatives in Ethiopia(ACE), which established regional-level cooperative bureaus.
“Those cooperatives established by ACE are now leading the economic transformation of the country,” Andarge said.
In fact, some cooperatives receive help not only from foreign-based NGOs but from foreign state aid agencies as well.
Since September 2003, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has worked alongside the Oromia Forest and Wildlife Enterprise (OFEW), a state-run forest protection organization, and local coffee farmers, helping them produce sustainable coffee for the Japanese market, said Fumiaki Saso, a JICA project coordinator in Jimma, 200km southwest of Addis Ababa.
JICA offered technical support, such as organizing Rainforest Alliance certification and facilitating access to the international market, while OFWE controlled the coffee exportation process. After administrative costs – including JICA’s – were covered, 70 percent of remaining revenue went to farmers and 30 percent was retained by OFWE.
In March 2012, full oversight of the project was successfully handed over to OFWE.
  • Support and oversight needed

The cooperative business model contains both the key to economic success and a raft of potential problems, said cooperative expert Gebre.
“They are self-contained: members are producers, sellers, buyers and consumers, and the cooperative that is member-led and member-oriented will remain efficient and effective,” generating profits for members and contributing to self-sufficiency.
But if cooperatives start to focus on profits to the exclusion of their members’ needs, they could be transformed into supply-and-demand driven “oligarchies”, he said, describing organizations controlled by a select few with no concern for improving members’ lives or investing in communities.
“As they get bigger, there may be problems,” allowed Kassu Kebede, a programme manager for ACDI/VOCA.
But growth can’t be avoided; to compete, the cooperatives will need to diversify and become business-oriented. And it can be handled successfully, he reasoned, citing as an example India, which has cultivated large, business-oriented cooperatives that compete internationally while still serving farmers.
For now, cooperatives still need support from NGOs like ACDI/VOCA and the government, he added, noting that the latter should also provide oversight to ensure cooperatives balance business-oriented growth with the needs of cooperative members.

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