Posts tagged as: major

Nigeria: Epidemic Looms in Lagos Over Piling Heaps of Waste

By Oluwatosin Areo

Except the state government and general public urgently rise to the occasion and impose sanity on the environment, Lagos may be in for disease outbreak of epidemic proportion.

Public health physicians, who gave this warning, expressed concerns over the state of Lagos environment that is currently in squalor. Their fears are worsened by the high population density and congestion of Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, which is already a risk for any form of outbreak.

And true to type, the backlash of unkempt Lagos environment is beginning to unfold. Specifically, Lagos residents were last Thursday alarmed at the news of another outbreak of Lassa fever. The rodent-related disease has claimed two victims, with 150 under surveillance.

About two weeks ago, it was also reported that two persons have been confirmed dead, while 25 other were receiving treatment in hospitals following an outbreak of cholera at Somolu, Oshodi-Isolo, and Surulere local government areas of the state.

Many were, however, not surprised amidst heaps of loose rubbish around major markets and streets.

A public health expert, Prof. Akin Osibogun, added that improperly disposed refuse could cause common hazards that are the breeding of vermins and vectors of disease.

Vermin (colloquially varmint or varmit) are pests or nuisance animals that spread diseases or destroy crops or livestock. Use of the term implies the need for extermination programmes.

Osibogun, former Chief Medical Director of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), explained that common houseflies that are in abundance at sites of improperly disposed refuse could also transmit diarrheal causing agents of disease. Rats will breed rapidly in the presence of improperly disposed refuse.

He stressed that environmental factors obviously have impact on human health and, therefore, the general public should all be concerned about the state of their surroundings. Other determinant of one’s health includes human genetics, individual lifestyles, and health care system of the people.

Emphasising on the effects associated with dirty surroundings, he said: “We know that rats are associated with the spread of diseases such as Lassa fever, and Leptospirosis. Rats also cause economic losses by consuming and spoiling household food items.

Osibogun added: “In addition, improperly disposed refuse also pose fire hazards and can be the source of physical injuries to man in addition to its unsightliness and the psycho-social aversion it creates.

“It can also cause blockage of drainage systems with resultant flooding during raining seasons, which also lead to an increased incidence of diarrheal diseases as a result of contamination of food and drinking water sources.”

The public health analyst further advised individuals and communities to be properly organised to dispose of their refuse in hygienic manner to prevent the spread of diseases related to improper refuse disposal.

“Individuals can bag their refuse in polythene bags or stored in covered bins that prevent access by rats and vermins. There must also be organized mechanisms for the removal and disposal of refuse in every community,” he added.

Addressing the media recently on the filthy state of the environment, the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, who associated the cause of the outbreak to the heavy rainfall and the aftermath of flooding in the state said, it is obvious that the cause could not be from dirty water but also the general dirt on the streets.

Although, the Ministry of the Environment in July said, the Sanitation Intervention Programme would ensure that no vacuum is created during the transition from the old waste management system to the Cleaner Lagos Initiative and had removed refuse dumped indiscriminately in places such as Ojuwoye, Mushin, Eti-Osa, Agege, Alimosho, Ojo, Ikeja, Badagary, Oshodi-Isolo, Lagos Island, Lagos Mainland and other areas in order to restore cleanliness and purity within the environment in Lagos State, there is still a dire need for intense sanitation.

Public health practitioner, Dr. Dumebi Owa, expressed worries over the state of the environment, especially considering the health implications. Owa said: “I remembered in March, when Meningitis broke out, I was angry with my country because we do not plan adequately. I warned then that the level of filth in Lagos State would cause a big problem if nothing were done.

“Everywhere is dirty, Ikoyi, Ikeja, Surulere is dirty. Even the second avenue of Festac is dirty because of the full canal. The drainages now have materials that are non bio-decaying and this causes flooding and emergence of diseases,” she said.

Owa, a former president, Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN), added that the effects are already upon the citizenry.

“A few weeks ago there was outbreak of cholera, now we are dealing with Lassa fever. I am very angry because these diseases are preventable. I don’t know why we have to wait till there is a crisis, especially when it is on health issue. The outbreak of these diseases (cholera, dysentery, typhoid) is when there is an open defecation, and it goes to contaminate water sources.”

Addressing the challenges caused by improper waste management, Owa said it ranges from loss of lives, environmental degradation, to decrease in the state’s economy and psychological distress.

“I feel very pained because many times the people blame the government. But this intervention at this critical time requires the effort of everybody.”

Speaking on the way forward, Owa emphasised that people should keep their environment clean; there should be more public enlightenment, market campaign that could be tagged Lagos Filth Free campaign. Landlords and other associations should be directly involved. Government should go out and ensure that lives of its residents are protected from looming death and epidemics outbreak.

She, therefore, charged Lagosians to clean the mess because if nothing were done, there would be more diseases and more death. “Two years ago Lagos was very clean; I don’t know what is happening; now it is the mega city of refuse. Before the worse will happen let us do the needful,” she said.

An ICT expert, Abimbola Jeremiah, said the reason one would see heaps of dirt in many parts of the state is because the government was yet to conclude plans with the Cleaner Lagos Initiative before the PSP stopped working. “So the gap between when this new initiative would become effective is the cause of the rubbish in the metropolis,” he emphasised.

“In fact, Lagos has not been this dirty. Although it depends on which part of Lagos that we are looking at, but generally speaking, the filth is seen in more crowded areas of the state where commercial activities are taking place. Although private organisation has stated something such as the STEM initiative by Sterling Bank, it is not still enough, it takes the effort of everyone to ensure a cleaner Lagos,” Jeremiah noted.

Speaking on the people having the right orientation about waste management, he said, “Basically, Lagos State has tried but more importantly, it has to do with the people having the right orientation, you see some people indiscriminately throw dirty in the gutter or anywhere, and this on the long run leads to environmental disaster.

Expressing his view about how waste had been managed in his environment, an entrepreneur, Chijioke Nwabuzor said, the PSP were effective in my area of Ikorodu. They come weekly or bi-weekly to help us properly dispose our waste. But recently, we were told that they would not be coming again. We have no option than to wait for the government to do something about this dirt, we are having heaps of them already.

In a different opinion, Adegbenle Adewale said his own environment has been generally clean. “I stay in Berger and since Governor Ambode has built the New Berger, one could scarcely see dirt heaped.”

The stench readily perceived while passing through the city appears to be defiling all publicised actions and promises of the Lagos state government with its ‘Clean Lagos Initiative’.

Filth that has been raised by the recent heavy rainfall and flooding is visible in every part of the metropolis. No one can possibly doubt the need for a clean environment, because it ensures better health of the residents and tourists. Hygienic environment helps us to stay fit and augurs for a longer, healthier life. It is a known fact that dirty environment breeds mosquitoes, Lassa rats, insects and flies that carry a lot of germs and bacteria in them, which are the main transmitters of diseases cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, malaria and jaundice. The mega city would also lose the much-attracted tourist, which would in turn affect the economy of the state. Non-degradable wastes such as plastic waste also lead to degrade in the soil.

Drastic measures must be taken to ensure a filth-free environment. All hands must be on deck to savage this situation, both government and private individuals are to be fully involved. Furthermore, medical practitioners are to be at alert to ensure that prompt medical treatment is given to patients.

Lagosians are advised to imbibe personal hygiene by washing of their hands with soap and water frequently and thoroughly, especially after using the rest room. Boil water before drinking, especially if you are not sure of the source of water, stopping open defecation, which has been linked to outbreak of cholera and diarrhoea.

JKT Decorates Victorious Simbu

By Jimmy Lwangili

NATIONAL Service (JKT) yesterday feted national athletics team, following their recent feat at the 2017 IAAF World Athletics Championships in London, UK, pledging to rollout more quality athletes.

JKT organised a grand reception to congratulate the four athletes – Alphonce Simbu, Emmanuel Giriki, Steven Guche and Magdalena Shauri, who are army employees for putting up a scintillating performance in London.

JKT awarded them certificates of recognition, sports equipments and trophies for performing well at the world’s event. Long distance runner, Simbu managed to put his mark again in the world’s map, winning men’s marathon bronze at the championships on August 6th, this year.

Simbu won the glittering bronze medal after finishing third in the 42 kilometres men’s category in a time 2:09:41. He was surpassed by Kenyan athlete Geoffrey Kipkorir Kirui and Ethiopian runner Tamirat Tola, who clocked 2:08:27 and 2:09:49 respectively. It is the first medal for the country in the championships since 2005.

The only medal Tanzania has ever won in the event was in 2005 edition, when Christopher Isegwe won silver in Helsinki, Finland. His feat came after disappointing campaigns in 2009 Berlin, German, 2011 Daegu, Korea, 2013 Moscow, Russia and 2015 Beijing, China.

And Simbu’s success has thrilled Chief of National Service, Major General Michael Isamuhyo, who has promised that JKT will continue rolling out more top quality athletes to represent the country at the international events.

“We will continue to produce and develop top quality athletes and the objective is to make sure that they represent and win honours for the country at the international events,” Isamuhyo said.

“Through these young athletes, we have realised that there are many talented sportspersons in the country and if they are well organised, there is a possibility of winning more medals at the continental and world level,” he said.

Isamuhyo added; “It is our duty to cooperate with other sports stakeholders in supporting the talented athletes for the benefit of our country,” he said. Athletics Tanzania (AT) Secretary General, Wilhelm Gidabuday thanked JKT for drilling the athletes.

“They are all well baked athletes and always behave in cooperative manner, patriotic and disciplined, that is why they are always performing well in different competitions,” said Gidabuday. He said through the JKT athletes, their teammates learned a lot and developed the spirit to compete and win for the country.

National Sports Council (NSC), Secretary General, Mohamed Kiganja has also lauded JKT for producing classic athletes, requesting them to continue fine turning and train young athletes. “We believe through JKT, the talented youth will not only develop their talents, but also maintain highest standard of discipline and spirit of competing at the top level.

MultiChoice Tanzania Pubic Relations Manager, Johnson Mshana said they will strengthen cooperation with JKT and other sports stakeholders to make sure the country’s athletes continue to win big at the international stage.

On behalf of others in the team, Simbu who is the team captain thanked JKT for the support and training that encouraged them to perform well in the competition. He said through JKT, they are learning many things but the most important was the influence that the army was putting behind them to perform better in different competitions.

On Tuesday, Gidabuday pleaded for more support from government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), to push the sport further as it seeks extra medal-hunt in international competitions.

Cameroon: South West – Gigantic Worksites, Redeeming Commuters

By Nkeze Mbonwoh

The Region is gradually recovering from the nightmares of yesteryear’s bad roads.

Commuters in the South West Region have begun to beam out smiles of comfort on two major roads in the area namely the 151 – Kilometre Kumba-Mamfe and the 124-Kilometre Bamenda-Mamfe-Ekok popularly known as the Bamenda-Enugu Transnational Corridor. It now takes 45 minutes from Mamfe to Ekok, a journey many recall that it took days during the rainy season. The new-found joy of the people is coming to bury erstwhile gutters of wrinkles on the faces of businessmen and women, farmers and travelers who wept over bad roads and could not turn their economy full circle. Mayors of many South West localities, as the people’s representatives, were like agreed to welcome each Governor or Minister reminding them that to travel from the Regional capital, Buea, to four of its six administrative Divisions required to pass through Nigeria or through three other Regions of Cameroon to get back to the South West. The page of such nightmares is being turned with voyagers from Bamenda (North West Region) or Mamfe (Manyu Division) dressing in their cream white suits or “agwada” and riding safari cars to Kumba, Buea or even Douala passing through Manyemen (Nguti) in Kupe Manenguba Division. “It is a dream-come-true”, as many roadside dwellers testified to this reporter last week. Socio economic plus The fallouts are already evident. Many modern houses are mushrooming along these highways thanks to facilitated transportation of construction material like cement, iron rods, corrugated iron and sand. The diaspora now quickly visit their ancestral lands and can make on-the-spot conception of development. Rural exodus is being curbed with many eager to stay back at home and develop themselves instead of crowding the cities in misery. Farmers can now place their produce by door-sides and be sure of traveler-buyers. The administration can quickly reach the people and liaise for development. Politically, many more people now speak better of their government because of better road communication that had been their all-time cry. Patients can get to hospital quicker to save their lives. And so the gains of good roads are already multifarious with the highways of Bamenda-Bachuo Akagbe-Ekok and the Kumba-Mamfe.

Cameroon

Cycling – Chantal Biya Cycling Race Itinerary Disclosed

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Uganda: Police Officers On the Spot Over Failing to Stop Illegal Sand Mining

Photo: Jessica Sabano/Daily Monitor

Miners load sand on a truck at a mining site in Wasinga village, Mpunge Sub-county in Mukono District.

By Jessica Sabano

Mukono — Top police officers in Mukono District risk facing disciplinary action over alleged failure to halt illegal sand mining in Wasinga village, Mpunge Sub-county.

The police officers are accused of allegedly defying a directive by the Mukono Resident District Commissioner, Rtd Maj David Matovu, to curb illegal sand mining in Wasinga village.

This has created suspicion as the police officers are alleged to be conniving with the illegal miners.

The uncontrolled sand mining in the area has since caused the diversion of Mukono-Nsanja-Mpunge-Kiziru road thus inconveniencing motorists.

The activity, according to the district council, threatens the existence of wetlands in the area.

Obligation

According to Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Emilian Kayima, the officers were supposed to implement the directive since it was in public interest and their failure to do so is a sign of indiscipline.

“The Police Professional Standards Unit will investigate this matter and punish those found culpable,” Mr Kayima said by telephone on Wednesday.

Mr Kayima added: “The road is a public good and individual interests should not supersede those of the public.”

In his letter dated May 20, addressed to the Mukono District police commander, Mr Rogers Sseguya, which Daily Monitor has seen, Maj Matovu asked the police to stop the illegal sand mining in the area.

“I did my part and if they [police] failed to execute their mandate for one reason or another, they should be held responsible,” Mr Matovu said during an interview recently.

But Mr Sseguya defended his officers in a June 21 letter, saying they carried out the necessary action and arrested illegal sand miners.

” … in an operation that police carried out with the district chairperson, Mr Andrew Ssenyonga, materials used in sand mining were confiscated and the culprits charged with unlawful removal and interference with the planned feeder road,” Mr Sseguya said.

However, he said the complainant in this matter, whom he did not name, failed to record a statement over unknown reasons.

Petition

Being dissatisfied with the way Mr Sseguya had handled the matter, Mr Matovu later petitioned the commander of Kampala Metropolitan Police, Mr Frank Mwesigwa, seeking his personal intervention.

He said the issue of illegal sand mining in the area had reached an alarming level and caused wrangles among district leaders.

“I wish to draw your attention to the above matter which has made the entire district a laughing stock. I request your personal intervention in a rather outstanding and complicated matter which is beyond my capacity to resolve,” Mr Matovu said in his July 27 letter.

According to the district speaker, Mr Emmanuel Mbonye, for a road to be diverted, council has to first pass a resolution pronouncing itself on the matter, but this was not the case.

Diversion of road

Mr Mbonye said by 2012, the Mukono-Nsanja-Mpunge-Kiziru road had no diversion, but when excavation of sand was extended to areas closer to the road, there was a diversion made without council’s approval.

Recently, the district councillors called for investigations into allegations that some top district officials are engaged in illegal sand mining in Wasinga village.

The councillors also recommended that Mengo Rainbow Primary School, which is located near the sand mining site, be relocated to prevent the pupils from falling into the deep holes created by sand miners.

Currently, sand mining has become a lucrative business especially in peri-urban areas due to the high demand in the construction sector where it is used to make concrete.

Dangers

Environmentalists have continuously raised concern over the increasing sand mining activities in major swamps across the country, warning that excessive excavation of sand in wetlands will spark off serious ecological disasters.

According to environmental experts, excessive sand mining is a threat to bridges, river banks and nearby structures.

It also affects the adjoining groundwater system resulting into the destruction of aquatic habitat.

Mr Collins Oloya, the commissioner for wetlands, said the environment and natural resources department, which is responsible for wetlands conservation in the country, is understaffed and poorly funded-something that has affected their operations.

Mauritius: New Technologies Vital to Position Mauritius As a Software Development Platform, Says ICT Minister

press release

Government is conscious of the need to give due recognition to the importance and potential of adopting new technologies, matched with infrastructure, as Mauritius moves towards a service and knowledge economy, said the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Yogida Sawmynaden, this morning at the Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa, in Balaclava.

The Minister was speaking at the launching of the Mauritius CIO (Chief Information Officers) Summit 2017. The ICT sector strategy, highlighted Mr Sawmynaden in his address, aims to position Mauritius as a reliable software development platform for the African market.

According to him, one major area of focus is to make sure that the country has a critical mass of competent software developers, skilled in the latest mobile and web development techniques who are capable of finding efficient and cost-effective software solutions to existing problems.

Speaking about CIOs’ role, the Minister underscored that they will be facing numerous new challenges in this period of ever-shortening cycles of innovation, agile development and deployment, multi-platform and multi-device delivery, and cybersecurity threats. Businesses from different sectors are all rethinking their digital strategies and you, as CIOs, need to keep abreast of latest developments to properly guide your upper management in future plans, he added.

For his part, the Group Vice President, Regional Managing Director, IDC Middle East, Africa, & Turkey, Mr Jyoti Lalchandani, gave an overview of how businesses are being reinvented through customer, information and business model transformations. He dwelt on digital transformation investments in Mauritius. These include web-based self-service portal to customers; infrastructure modernisation; and collaborative technologies for employees.

Summit 2017

The networking conference which is at its third edition is organised by the International Data Corporation (IDC), in collaboration with the National Computer Board and other key ICT stakeholders. It is bringing together several influential decision-makers of Mauritius in the ICT sector to share ideas and experiences with regard to latest tech trends and proven IT strategies for organisations.

Globally respected IDC analysts are providing the compelling intellectual framework and guidance required to power the Summit’s discussions. The agenda comprises interactive panels, roundtable debates, best-practice workshops, and dedicated networking sessions.

Six sessions are scheduled with focus on: Developing the New IT Capabilities for Digital Transformation; Combating Cyber-Risks with Smart Security Solutions; Future of Business; Internet of Things and Datacentre; Security in an Open Source Digital World; and, Real Challenges, Real Stories – Turning Adversity into Opportunity.

Mauritius

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Students’ Ingenuity to Make Food Much Safer

By Hazla Omar

Arusha — BAD weather, infections, diminishing immunity or simply calamities? Well, while all these could be the causes, many diseases affecting most Tanzanians have been discovered to originate from dinner tables.

To solve the problem, students from the Arusha Technical College (ATC) have invented automatic utensil washing and sterilising machine which can rapidly clean food plates and free the cutlery from germs and impurities at a speed of 5 utensils per minute.

“We have realised that most, if not all, ailments breed from the plates onto which food is served,” said Mr Emmanuel Daniel, the team leader of one of the innovative students’ groups at ATC, pointing out that the old simple soap and water dish cleaning procedures at homes, are not enough to sanitize table wares.

“Our machine not only saves cleaning time, but ensures that each piece of utensil is allocated the same amount of soap and water, unlike when the plates are cleaned manually where some parts can be overlooked and other pieces bypassed,” he said.

Electrical and Biomedical Engineering students at the Arusha Technical College are currently inventing and innovating new devices, including automatic water treatment and storage system; dumpsite garbage regulating system and utensils cleaning and sanitizing machine.

Their field of study, alternately called Biomedical Engineering Equipment field, is considered to be new in most African countries, including Tanzania.

The Rector at ATC, Engineer Richard Masika, stated that skills gaps or lack of skills in this field had been one of the main causes for lack of maintenance and repair for most of the equipment and tools used in hospitals and medical centres in the country, especially in rural areas.

“The situation analysis carried out by ATC in some major hospitals in Tanzania in 2011 showed that 80 per cent of the equipment were not functioning due to lack of skilled personnel in the field of Biomedical Engineering,” he said.

According to Dr Masika, it was against these findings that the college established the Electrical and Biomedical Engineering programme at Diploma level in the 2012/13 academic year, followed by that of Bachelor’s degree level in the 2016/17 academic year.

It was considered that blending of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering skills would give a competitive edge for the graduates, especially in the labour market.

Tanzania

Cattle Moved Out of Forest Reserve on Minister’s Order

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Kenya Cribs Finland’s Solution to Baby Deaths

The Finns’ cardboard box prompts an African graduate to develop a life-saving device for babies

When Lucy Kaigutha read about a Finnish tradition that dates back to the 1930s, she was struck by a thought: Could the Scandinavians have a tool that would save the lives of newborn babies in Africa, in her native Kenya? Could a simple cardboard box doubling as a bed keep a baby safe in the first months?

“I remembered a student field trip to Marachi village in northern Kenya. There was a mum with a two-week-old baby who didn’t have much to take care of this child,” says Kaigutha, a graduate in public health and international development. “[It] really moved me. And I thought maybe I could also come up with a box, but one that will help mothers and babies in our poor areas.”

For that is what Finland’s welfare state has been doing for decades: giving every expectant mother a brightly coloured, sturdy cardboard box that is 74cm long, 43cm wide and 27cm high. It comes with a small mattress to turn it into a bed, and also sheets and clothes.

The box serves as an incentive to pregnant women to visit maternity clinics: only women who have a pregnancy certificate confirming that they had a health examination before the fifth month of their pregnancy receive a box.

Studies have shown that the earlier a pregnant woman visits a maternity clinic, the better the chances are that doctors will be able to save her baby, should something go wrong during her pregnancy.

As many women have more than one child, and therefore already have a box, they can also choose to rather receive a maternity allowance of about R2 200. But, according to Finland’s health department, only about a third of mothers choose the money.

Government statistics for 2014 show that 99.6% of Finland’s pregnant women visited maternity clinics before the fifth month of their pregnancy.

The country also has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world – two deaths in 1 000 live births of babies before their first birthday, data from the World Bank shows. This is a remarkable drop from the end of the 1930s, when nearly every 10th child born in Finland died under the age of one, according to Statistics Finland.

In comparison, South Africa’s infant mortality rate is 35 in 1 000 live births, according to the 2015/2016 Health Barometer. World Bank statistics show Kenya’s is 36 in 1 000.

Baby boxes go global

In July last year, after consulting midwives, nurses and mothers, Kaigutha used crowdfunding for the Toto Care Box.

“It is a crib for the first three months, but the box also comes with 18 essential items that protect the baby in its first 28 days,” Kaigutha explains.

This includes a waterproof mattress, baby clothes, a blanket and a mosquito net. The container looks like any brown storage box, although it boasts the bright Toto Care logo.

But these boxes are sturdy and specially commissioned from young men from poor areas, Kaigutha says.

The idea of baby boxes has spread across the world. Health professionals and local authorities have run pilot projects or adopted the boxes in efforts to cut infant deaths and to help poor parents. Businesses have caught on to the idea and are selling bumper designer versions to the well-heeled and trendy – the Baby Box Co offers a deluxe, if still cardboard, style stacked with products for $449.

In South Africa, a plastic baby box is being studied and trialled by the department of economics at Stellenbosch University and the health department is investigating a maternity package linked to baby boxes.

Japan, New Zealand, Mexico, India and Canada all have local variations of the maternity package and in the United Kingdom, where government statistics show there are four infant deaths in 1 000 live births, health chiefs in several hospitals have started giving the boxes to new families.

The Scottish government has confirmed all babies born on August 15 or after will get a box with essentials as a “welcome gift” and to help tackle deprivation. The box acts as a Moses basket, according to information on the Scottish government website, and is a safe and comfortable place for babies to sleep.

Simple solution may not stave off Sids deaths

But the Lullaby Trust, a British charity that provides sleeping advice and works to cut sudden infant death syndrome (Sids), has warned there is no evidence to suggest the use of the boxes will cut the risk of infant mortality caused by Sids.

“We support all efforts to promote safer sleep for babies,” explains Francine Bates, chief executive of the charity, in a statement. “However, we do have concerns about the baby boxes being marketed as products which will reduce infant mortality and Sids.”

The Lullaby Trust has also expressed concern about whether the boxes comply fully with safety standards because there is no “specific standard for the use of a cardboard box as a sleeping place for an infant”.

The Finnish government itself has cautioned that Finland’s low infant mortality rate has many contributing factors. The maternity package may not have had a direct effect on reducing infant mortality, Tuovi Hakulinen and Mika Gissler of the National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland said in a recent blog.

“It is difficult to study what the impact of the maternity package actually is, because it has been in use for decades and everyone who wants it can have it,” Hakulinen and Gissler write.

A box with a history

It is important to understand the history of the maternal package, says Karoliina Koskenvuo, head of the research team at the social security service, Kela.

In the early 1900s, Finland was a poor agrarian society in which social support was available mainly from family, church and the local poor relief system, Koskenvuo writes on Kela’s website.

“Major public health challenges included the low standard of living and general hygiene, tuberculosis, epidemics and a high rate of infant and child mortality,” Koskenvuo explains.

It is against this background that Finland established maternity and child welfare clinics, expanded the healthcare system and the hospital network, launched vaccination programmes and raised the standard of living and education.

The maternity package was introduced in 1938 to disadvantaged mothers after childbirth. This was extended to all pregnant women in 1949 – but they were expected to see a doctor, midwife or the municipal maternity welfare clinic by the fifth month of pregnancy.

At the time, Hakulinene and Gissler stress, the poorest families could not always provide a newborn with a clean place to sleep and textiles were in short supply during the war. The box formed a hygienic and safe bed for infants and meant the baby would not sleep in the same bed as the parents, but in the same room.

The box was a tangible way of helping and of encouraging women to use maternity welfare services.

‘I can see it working for these mothers’

In Kenya, where Maigutha has handed 30 boxes a month to pregnant women who attend at least four antenatal visits, she explains that the success of the project lies in the incentive of the box.

“When they attend the clinic, we can educate expectant mothers to care for themselves and their babies. We can also spot health problems early on,” she says. “In the shacks, there is no place for a cot or a crib. With the box, the babies are kept dry and warm, which is important to protect them against pneumonia.”

In many cases, a family share just one bed and the box, which costs Maigutha about $30 or just over R400 to put together, is a cheap option to keep a newborn from suffocating.

The babies are put down to sleep on their backs and, with the infant fitting snugly in the box, Maigutha says they can’t roll over.

“I can see it working for these mothers,” she says. “I don’t have statistics yet, but I can see it.”

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How Crane Bank Takeover Led to Shs114b Dfcu Profit

By Christine Kasemiire

Kampala — The acquisition of Crane Bank in January 2017 is one of the major factors why dfcu is now Uganda’s largest bank, by profitability.

In its 2017 half year results, the bank revealed an after-tax profit surge of Shs114b, compared to Shs23b over the same period in 2016.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, dfcu confirmed that the profitability was driven by the acquisition of Crane Bank assets.

“The performance is largely attributed to the January 2017 acquisition of Crane Bank assets and assumption of liabilities by dfcu Bank that presented numerous opportunities in line with dfcu’s growth aspirations,” said the bank in a statement.

According to Mr William Sekabembe, the executive director, dfcu, the assets brought in terms of loans and advances, contributed to a rise in interest income for the bank. The asset base expanded to Shs3 trillion in part because of the customer loan growth by 55.5 per cent to Shs1.3 trillion. This led to the increment in interest income – the largest contributor to the total income of the bank.

“dfcu took over Crane Bank so that it can make more profit and this reaffirms that customers can easily get their money and transact the same way prior to the takeover,” he said.

Furthermore, they also grew their deposit base from Shs 1.1trillion to Shs1.8 trillion, which they were able to leverage and increase on their lending.

Dfcu acquired some of the assets and liabilities of Crane Bank in January 2017. Crane Bank had been taken-over by Bank of Uganda (BoU) after its capital had fallen below the minimum requirement set by the regulator. Dfcu acquired all cash, deposits, loans and advances, furniture and branches. However, the bank did not acquire insider loans, related company loans, any shareholder liabilities and taxes among others.

Dfcu discloses Shs68bn as being expenditure on acquisition of the cash and balances of Crane Bank.

The results also indicated a decline in non-performing loans ratio from 6.6 per cent to 5.5 per cent which Mr Kisaame believes will reduce even more with time generating profits for the bank.

“With the economy set to grow by 5 per cent in 2017-2018, with increase in new infrastructure, the oil and gas sector all show signs of development, I expect the bank to keep making more profits,” he said.

Dfcu bank seeks to move from a niche bank to a universal bank serving many purposes to society implemented through its digital strategy. So far, Shs72 billion ($20m) has been set aside to cater for this movement.

Mr Sekabambe said the bank will put in place strategies to mitigate the increasing cyber-crimes.

Of the Shs114b profit, Shs55b has been attributed to the revaluation of the assets and liabilities of Crane Bank.

Uganda

3,000 Lose Millions in Pyramid Scheme

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Tanzania: Farmers’ Tale As Tanga Comes Back to Life

By Cheji Bakari in Tanga

HAMISI Mabula, a smallholder farmer in Tanga region, is familiar with a dark and bright side of practicing agriculture in the region. Like many other farmers in the region, Mr Mabula relies on agriculture as the only means to enable him earn his daily bread and pay school fees for his children.

“It is agriculture which made me own my own house and pay school fees for my children,” says Mr Mabula who resides in Totonoka suburb. Though agriculture still pays him, but he recalls better days gone by between 1960 and 1990 when the demand for agricultural produce was high due to existence of several industries which required raw materials.

“Those days, there was a strong link between farmers and industries. The situation then changed just after privatization,” he says. Agriculture is the main economic activity for the residents of Tanga where over 70 per cent of its population lives in rural areas.

But, Mr. Mabula recounts a number of challenges facing the latter, ranging from lack of enough capital and poor technology to practice modern farming. “For me, I find it hard to cultivate a large farm because I still use a hand hoe…

I wish I could do that with a tractor, but I can’t afford it,” he says. His feeling is echoed by Ms Violet Msambili, also a farmer, who suggests that the farmers be empowered to cultivate using modern farm inputs so that they can boost production.

“Many of us are poor. We lack capital. The government should reach out to many farmers in providing loans for buying farm equipment,” she appeals. Some farmers who spoke about the coming Tanga Business Forum expressed optimism that the event may help in raising some critical issues facing agriculture in the region, thus making the sector contribute more to regional and national economy.

The event is organized by Tanzania Standard Newspapers (TSN), publishers of the Daily News, Sunday News, Habari Leo, Habari Leo Jumapili and Spoti Leo newspapers in partnership with Tanga region leadership.

With an exception of Tanga and Pangani districts, the remaining six districts of the region–Mkinga,Muheza, Korogwe, Kilindi, Handeni and Lushoto–were earmarked for agriculture. For decades, Tanga has been a major grower of sisal, with availability of large sisal plantations.In the past, people from other regions flocked to Tanga region to work in the sisal plantations.

“During that time, agriculture in the region contributed a lot to the regional gross domestic product as opposed to the current situation where the sector’s contribution has dropped,” says Makame Seif, the Mbaramo ward councilor in Muheza.

He blamed the decrease in agricultural production on the government’s move to divert more incentives to other sectors such as industries and mining. He argues that for national agricultural development plans to bring an impact, they need to address challenges facing the small holder farmers by giving them training and support by giving them farm machinery like tractors and plows so that they can shift from local agriculture to commercial or large scale agriculture.

According to the 2007/08 National Sample Census of Agriculture for Small Holder farmers, Tanga has an area of 610,519 hectares available for smallholder farmers. This is the fourth census after the previous ones conducted in 1971/72, 1993/94 and the third was conducted in 2002/03.

Out of 610,519 hectares, the total area planted with annual crops and vegetables was 436,725 hectares. The report shows that a total of 330,779 households engage in agricultural activities, with Lushoto district leading by having the largest number of households, totaling 94,075 (28 per cent) followed by Korogwe with 56,898 households (17 per cent).

The remaining districts are Handeni (52,718), Muheza (41,779), Kilindi (33,977) Mkinga (22,581), Tanga (15,629) and Pangani (13,122). Of the 330,779, a total of 213,940 households (64.6 per cent) were engaged in crop production only as the major agricultural activity compared to households engaged in mixed crop and livestock production.

The survey indicates that113, 476 households (34.3 per cent) engaged in crops and livestock, 3,131 households (0.95 per cent) were only for livestock and 233 households were pastoralists (0.1 per cent) The first three districts with the largest number of households engaged in growing crop only were Lushoto (45,296) followed by Korogwe (40,882) and Handeni (36,317).

In general, crop or seaweed farming provided the most important source of income (46 per cent), followed by livestock keeping. At the national level, the country envisages that by 2025, as the target set by the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS), the agricultural sector will be modernized, commercial, highly productive and profitable, utilizing natural resources in an overall sustainable manner and act as an effective basis for intersectoral linkage.

Among efforts to boost agricultural production, the government is determined to enable more farmers use fertilizers. The Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Charles Tizeba, said when presenting the 2017/18 ministry’s budget in the Parliament that the government has been making efforts to increase availability and use of fertilizers, noting that by 2016/17, availability was 277,935 (57 per cent) tonnes against the total need of 485,000 tonnes.

Dr. Tizeba noted that in emphasizing the use of modern farm equipments, the government through the National Development Corporation (NDC) has completed earmarking areas in eight zones for establishing centres that will be providing tractor services, selling spare parts and educating farmers on better farming practices.

Through the Policy and Human Resource Development (PHRD), the government has also procured and distributed 14 machines for processing paddy in the districts of Korogwe, Mwanga, Babati and Kilombero, among others.

Under the Agricultural Inputs Trust (AGITF), the government plans to spend 7.9 billion for providing 71 tractors in terms of loans to farmers in this financial year. Currently, Tanga has tremendous investment opportunities in agriculture, ranging from production, processing, marketing and service provision in the crop sub sector.

Opportunities are available in sisal, spices, tea, cashew nuts, floriculture, fruits and vegetable. For instance, the region had several sisal plantations scattered throughout the region. These were the backbone of the economy of the region.

Unfortunately, most of these plantations which were state owned could not survive the turbulence that was manifested in the world economy over the past decade. This left most of the plantations abandoned.

Due to this trend, opportunity is available in establishment of new plantations and joint venture in the privatized sisal estates in Tanga. This may be partnership with local communities, private companies or the government of Tanzania through Public Private Partnership (PPP).

Currently, only 4 per cent of sisal is utilized for fibre and twine production. Investment opportunities are available in sisal spinning and weaving, production of alcohol, particle boards, biogas, and citric acid and in establishment of pulp factories.

Ugandan Chief of Defence Forces Visits the Country

The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) General David Muhoozi arrived in Somalia Tuesday on an official visit.

His visit to Somalia on a routine assessment mission, is his first since his appointment as Chief of Defence Forces.

During his visit, he will interact with troops, inspect their bases and engage with with several leaders. He is accompanied to Somalia by the senior UPDF officials.

“The purpose of the visit is to check on the troops; it is a routine visit but also coming on the heels of the recent incident in Goryowein. It was planned that we come and meet the officers and men in the Mission area and that is the purpose of my coming today,” Gen. Muhoozi said on arrival in the capital Mogadishu.

Gen. Muhoozi met with AMISOM Force Commander Lt. Gen. Osman Noor Soubagleh and the AU Special Representative for Somalia and Head of AMISOM, Ambassador Francisco Caetano Madeira.

They discussed the current security situation in Somalia and measures being undertaken to support the peace process.

“I want to express my recognition and thanks to the people and government of Uganda for their generosity and commitment to the objectives of the African Union. I want to really express my profound admiration for the brave soldiers of AMISOM Ugandan Contingent for the wonderful work they are doing here,” Ambassador Madeira said, after their meeting.

He lauded Uganda’s contribution to the AU Mission, saying the troops had made a major contribution to Somalia’s stabilization. The SRCC condoled with the families of gallant soldiers who have fallen in the battle to rid the country of terrorists.

In his remarks, the Uganda CDF paid tribute to the troops who bravely fought Al-Shabaab militants in a recent ambush in Goryowein, in Lower Shabelle region.

“I appeal to them to stand firm, to stay the course knowing too well that we can’t be derailed by what happened,” Gen. Muhoozi said. “We are with them in thought and those that lay their lives here, don’t do so in vain.”

Uganda was the first country to deploy troops in Somalia in March 2007 and contributes 6000 troops to the AU Mission.

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