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  • November 2012
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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

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    • Violent crime 'continues to fall' April 23, 2014
      Violent crime is continuing a long-term fall in England and Wales, according to annual figures from NHS hospitals.
    • Three children found dead in London April 23, 2014
      A woman is arrested after three children are found dead at a house in south London.
    • Scholes returns to help coach Man Utd April 23, 2014
      Paul Scholes will assist long-time friend Ryan Giggs at Manchester United following the sacking of David Moyes.
    • US runs the show in Ukraine - Russia April 23, 2014
      Russia's foreign minister accuses the US of "running the show" in Ukraine, influencing Kiev's anti-terror operations in the east.
    • Cancer teen reaches £1m target April 23, 2014
      A teenage blogger with terminal cancer raises £1m for charity after posting his final message to followers.
    • Madeleine police probe 18 break-ins April 23, 2014
      UK police investigating Madeleine McCann's disappearance are looking at 18 potentially linked cases involving a lone intruder breaking into holiday villas in the Algarve, Portugal.
    • Blair warns West over radical Islam April 23, 2014
      Tony Blair warns Western leaders they must put aside their differences with Russia over Ukraine to focus on the threat of Islamic extremism.
    • Breast cancer drug price cut urged April 22, 2014
      Campaigners urge pharmaceutical giant Roche to lower the cost of a pioneering breast cancer drug as the NHS prepares to rejects its use on price grounds.
    • Referendum pleas on St George's Day April 23, 2014
      Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and UK Prime Minister David Cameron use the English feast day of St George to make their Scottish independence referendum appeals.
    • Survivor's regret over ferry students April 23, 2014
      A survivor of the South Korean ferry that capsized last week says he saw students trapped inside the vessel's cafeteria as it capsized.
    • UK government hits borrowing target April 23, 2014
      The UK government borrowed £107.7bn in the financial year to April 2014, lower than the amount it borrowed the previous year.
    • Top Gear 'regrets' Burma remark April 23, 2014
      The executive producer of Top Gear expresses regret over a "light-hearted" remark on its Burma special that led to the BBC show being accused of racism.
    • Spotlight stays on Man Utd - papers April 23, 2014
      The focus is still on Manchester United after the sacking of David Moyes, while figures suggesting violent crime has fallen are picked up on by many of the papers.
    • Led Zeppelin unleash unheard work April 23, 2014
      Legendary rock group Led Zeppelin make public two previously unheard recordings.
    • Shakespeare 'a cultural icon' abroad April 23, 2014
      William Shakespeare is the UK's greatest cultural icon, according to the results of an international survey released to mark the 450th anniversary of his birth.
    • Ferguson to help pick new Man Utd boss April 23, 2014
      Sir Alex Ferguson is to play a key role in selecting David Moyes's replacement as Manchester United manager.
    • Barcelona transfer ban put on hold April 23, 2014
      Barcelona will be able to buy and sell players this summer after Fifa suspended its transfer ban on the club.
    • Savage on Man Utd: spend £200m & sell 12 players April 22, 2014
      BBC Sport's Robbie Savage unveils his action plan to make the Red Devils a domestic and European force once again
    • Mourinho 'wants to rest players' April 22, 2014
      Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says he wants to rest key players for Sunday's Premier League trip to leaders Liverpool.
    • Seamer Junaid returns to Lancashire April 23, 2014
      Pakistan left-arm seamer Junaid Khan will return to Lancashire this season as an overseas limited-overs signing.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • 'Bridgegate' scandal threatens next World Trade Center tower April 23, 2014
      NEW YORK (Reuters) - The "Bridgegate" scandal that rocked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's administration earlier this year is threatening a deal that would allow developer Larry Silverstein to finish building the next World Trade Center skyscraper.
    • Obama reassures Japan, other allies on China as Asia trip begins April 23, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama has said Washington welcomes China's rise but that engagement with Beijing would not come at the expense of its Asian allies - as Chinese state media greeted his arrival in the region with a broadside accusing the United States of wanting to "cage" the emerging superpower.
    • U.S. steps up trade pressure on Japan ahead of Obama visit April 23, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States put last-minute pressure on Japan to compromise in tough trade talks on Wednesday, shortly before President Barack Obama was to arrive for a state visit.
    • California GOP hopeful wants free college for science, math students April 23, 2014
      BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari called for free college tuition for students pursuing math and science degrees, part of an education reform plan released Tuesday that would also model public schools after charter schools.
    • California congressman woos Sriracha pepper sauce factory after odor complaints heat up April 23, 2014
      LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. congressman from a Los Angeles community is seeking to lure the factory that makes the bestselling Sriracha-brand hot pepper sauce to his district after residents in its current location complained about the smell.
    • New Jersey governor's press aide subpoenaed in 'Bridgegate' probe April 23, 2014
      (Reuters) - A New Jersey legislative panel investigating the "Bridgegate" traffic scandal subpoenaed the press spokesman to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and three other officials on Tuesday.
    • Asia tensions simmer as Obama set to arrive in Tokyo April 22, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in a tense Asian region on Wednesday, faced with the delicate task of assuring Japan and other regional allies of America's commitment to their defense without hurting Washington's vital ties with a rising China.
    • U.S. top court upholds Michigan ban on college affirmative action April 22, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday further undermined the use of racial preferences in higher education by upholding a voter-approved Michigan law that banned the practice in decisions on which students to admit to state universities.
    • Colorado lawmakers move to tighten edible marijuana laws April 22, 2014
      DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado lawmakers are moving to tighten laws governing the sale of marijuana-infused edibles, an issue that has gained attention following two deaths possibly linked to the ingestion of cannabis products, the measures' main sponsor said on Tuesday.
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      MIAMI BEACH (Reuters) - Climate change is already impacting south Florida coastal communities, which could see a three-foot rise in sea level by the end of the century, a panel of officials and scientists testified at a Senate hearing on Miami Beach on Tuesday.
    • Georgia joins other U.S. states facing gay marriage lawsuits April 22, 2014
      ATLANTA (Reuters) - A federal lawsuit was filed in Atlanta on Tuesday, challenging the constitutionality of a Georgia law banning same sex marriage, the first such case in the southern U.S. state.
    • Missouri mayor quits after anti-Semitic remarks tied to Kansas killings April 22, 2014
      (Reuters) - The mayor of a southwestern Missouri town resigned on Tuesday in the wake of community anger over anti-Semitic comments he made in reference to recent killings at two Jewish community facilities in Kansas.
    • Senator Boozman undergoes heart surgery in Arkansas April 22, 2014
      (Reuters) - Senator John Boozman of Arkansas was recovering from heart surgery on Tuesday, his office said in a statement.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Tuesday announced the departure of the top health official responsible for reforming Medicare under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court justices across the ideological spectrum voiced doubts on Tuesday about a state law that prohibits false statements during a political campaign.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Internal Revenue Service will go before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to defend the way it enforces its power to issue legal summonses to obtain sensitive documents from taxpayers who refuse to cooperate with audits.
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      (Reuters) - The federal judge overseeing Detroit's historic bankruptcy case tapped a top restructuring official at Phoenix Management Services on Tuesday to help the court determine if the city's plan to adjust its $18 billion of debt is feasible.
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      CHATTANOOGA, Tenn./DETROIT (Reuters) - The United Auto Workers, surprising even its supporters, on Monday abruptly withdrew its legal challenge to a union organizing vote that it lost at a Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee in February.
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      NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court ordered the U.S. Department of Justice to turn over key portions of a memorandum justifying the government's targeted killing of people linked to terrorism, including Americans.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday indicated that creditors should be able to seek limited information about Argentina's non-U.S. assets in a case about bank subpoenas in decade-long litigation over Argentina's obligations to bond investors.
  • RSS – 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.
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      African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
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      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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      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.
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      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.
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      The new Web series "An African City" is fun, trendy and over the top.
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      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
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    • Ebola: A swift and bloody killer April 16, 2014
      It took only moments to feel the impact of what was happening here.
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      A South African carpenter lost his fingers in an accident -- now he's making mechanical fingers and hands for others.
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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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