Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

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Friday, 20 April 2018
The European Union through its European Partnership Agreements with the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states is encouraging common Agricultural policies for regional groupings like CARICOM. Through this approach to policy implementation in order to deal with regional blocs rather then individual countries, ACP countries like The Bahamas would have to synchronize its Agricultural policies to conform with the regional perspective if it is to benefit from EU/ACP Agricultural programs.
A lack of aid agencies and poor infrastructure are factors which will make the distribution of aid more difficult in the famine-stricken country of Niger, according to Amadeu Altafaj Tardio, the European Commission Spokesman for Development. “One of the biggest problems is that Niger is not a common playground for non-governmental organisations for a number of reasons – it is the second poorest country in the world, it is a huge country with a very nasty climate, and there are also many administrative problems”, Mr Tardio told IPS News. He said that even though the money needed to feed the estimated 3.6 million people who are facing starvation may be available, getting it to those most in need is often difficult. The readiness of aid agencies to respond to emergency situations has also been highlighted as an issue by Steffen Stenberg from the EU’s humanitarian office (ECHO), he said: “The problem is that many NGOs are not geared for emergency situations as most of them work on long-term development issues. This means that it is not easy for them to go into emergency mode.” In addition to this concern Mr Stenberg questioned the UN’s capability to ensure all donations would be properly spent, and highlighted the need to secure a long term solution to guard against future food crises. “If you don’t have the means of implementation you can throw all the money at a crisis but you don’t get anywhere, so we will have to look at the UN’s capacities to implement donations.”
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Sunday, 31 July 2005
The European Commission will provide the aid through its Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Louis Michel. The decisions allocate €400 000 for the victims of the drought in Haiti and €500 000 to strengthen the Red Cross’ capacity in the Caribbean. The aid will be implemented by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Haiti and by the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) of the International Red Cross Federation in the Caribbean.

“The European Commission has been active in the region for many years. It has granted €13.9 million in humanitarian aid following the socio-economic crisis and the natural disasters which hit Haiti in 2004 and again this year. The rest of the Caribbean has been allocated almost €9 million since 2004, used exclusively to respond to natural disasters. Putting European solidarity into action remains crucial for these very vulnerable countries”, said Mr Michel.


From November 2004 to April 2005, southern Haiti was hit by a drought which seriously affected end-of-year harvests and further increased the vulnerability of rural households which depend solely on agriculture for survival. The acute vulnerability of Haiti’s population, due to the socio-economic crisis in the country, has been further heightened by these successive agricultural losses. The summer harvest is the biggest of the year, and after two lost harvests and the damage caused by Hurricane Dennis last week, emergency support is needed.

The aim of the six-month decision is to provide support in the form of seeds and equipment to farmers in southern Haiti hit by the drought and by the aftermath of Hurricane Dennis and who are in a state of chronic food insecurity, to enable them to resume agricultural activities for the 2005 summer cropping season.

The Caribbean
The hurricane season was particularly severe in 2004 and clearly demonstrated the Caribbean’s extreme vulnerability to these natural disasters. Nearly 5 000 people lost their lives in the region in 2004.
The Red Cross Federation, which is active in all the countries in the region, conducted operations on nearly all fronts and the lessons learnt have underlined the need to strengthen the National Red Cross Societies’ ability to respond to such events.
The main aim is to reduce the impact of the disasters on the most vulnerable sections of the population by strengthening coordinated regional responses over a twelve-month period. The Commission’s assistance will focus on training, technical support and equipment in order to better respond to natural disasters.
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European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, signed today a 30M€ support program for regional economic integration in the Eastern and Southern African region. Louis Michel participates at the Indian Ocean Commission summit which takes place in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Commissioner Michel said: “Regional integration and the removal of barriers which limit the region’s trading opportunities are two vital elements for development and eradication of poverty.” The overall objective of the Regional Integration Support Programme (RISP) is to assist the Regional Organisations (COMESA, EAC, IGAD and IOC)[1] in the implementation of their respective programs for regional integration.Louis Michel stressed his « strong commitment to capacity building of regional organisations, reinforcing their ability to provide the services needed to facilitate regional integration of their member states”.
The programme’s purpose is to develop the capacity of the Regional Organisations and their member states in policy formulation, implementation and monitoring of regional integration, multilateral and regional trade and trade-related areas. It will also assist the countries in the region in their preparation for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations. The four ACP member states of the IOC, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles, all members of COMESA, will benefit from this large programme.“I strongly believe in ownership by African countries of their development policies, but this implies having the means to realise them and this is our contribution”, said Commissioner Michel. This programme will be implemented through an innovative ‘Contribution Agreement’ with COMESA which allows funds to be used according to the organisations’ own structures, procedures and systems. This novel approach will speed up and simplify implementation and, at the same time, reinforce the beneficiaries’ internal administrative capacities. It is a substantial step led by the EU towards the harmonisation of donors’ assistance.
The EC and the East and South African region have agreed long term cooperation under the Cotonou Agreement. The current five-year strategy for regional cooperation was agreed in November 2002 for 223 M€. Support to regional economic integration is the highest priority.
The total budget for the RISP amounts to 38 M€, 30 M financed by the EU and 8 M co-financed by COMESA and EAC. The activities that will be supported under the programme are: implementation of COMESA and EAC Customs Union roadmaps; consolidation and expansion of the COMESA Free Trade Area; improved trade negotiating capacities (including EPAs) in ESA member states; development of regional standards and capacities of standards bureaus in member states; improved and harmonised statistical data; harmonisation of implementation of the Regional Payments and Settlement System.
[1] COMESA : Common Market for East and Southern Africa; EAC: East African Community; IGAD: Intergovernmental Authority on Development; IOC: Indian Ocean Commission
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Saturday, 23 July 2005
Today the European Commission presents a new publication on Europe’s position in research and innovation. The “Key figures 2005 for science, technology and innovation” show worrying trends in R&D investment and innovation in Europe. The growth rate of R&D intensity (R&D expenditure as % of GDP) has been declining since 2000 and is now close to zero. Europe is on track to miss the objective it set itself to boost spending on R&D from 1,9 to 3% by 2010.
European Commissioner for Science and Research Janez Potocnik said: “We must heed this wake-up call. If the current trends continue, Europe will lose the opportunity to become a leading global knowledge-based economy.” The 2005 key figures show that EU R&D intensity is close to stagnation. Growth of R&D investment as a % of GDP has been slowing down since 2000 and only grew 0.2% between 2002 and 2003. Europe devotes a much lower share of its wealth to R&D than the US and Japan (1.93% of GDP in the EU in 2003, as compared to 2.59% in the US and 3.15% in Japan). While China has lower R&D intensity (1.31% of GDP in 2003) it grew at about 10% per year between 1997 and 2002. If these trends in the EU and China continue, China will be spending the same amount of GDP on research as the EU in 2010 – about 2.2%.
One of the reasons for this has been a slow-down in business funding of R&D. In 2002 business funding grew at a slower rate than GDP, though this was compensated for by a slightly higher growth of government funding, as well as growth in R&D financed from abroad. In 2002, business financed 55.6% of domestic R&D expenditure in the EU, compared to 63.1% in the US and 73.9% in Japan, and this share is decreasing. If the trend is not reversed, not only will the EU miss the overall target of two-thirds of R&D expenditure financed by the private sector in 2010, but the situation will have worsened. The most worrying conclusion of the key figures is that Europe is becoming a less attractive place to carry out research. Between 1997 and 2002, R&D expenditure by EU companies in the US increased much faster than R&D expenditure by US firms in the EU (by 54% compared to 38%). The net imbalance in favour of the US increased five-fold between 1997 and 2002, from about €300m in 1997 to almost €2b in 2002. Additionally, US investment has been growing at a much greater rate in areas outside the EU – about 8% per year in the EU and 25% per year in China.
These trends are worrying in the context of Europe’s intention to becoming a leading knowledge-based economy. A recent impact assessment by the European Commission showed that investment in R&D at European level has a positive effect on productivity and economic growth. The study also showed that funds spent at European level were successful in mobilising additional business spending. If Europe is to become an integrated research area where the best research can be carried out, able to attract investment from all over the world, there must be a substantial and wide-ranging European level programme, as proposed by the Commission in April 2005. Otherwise, Europe will remain a series of national programmes, with little coherence. Enterprises will keep relocating their research and innovation activities to other continents offering attractive public support and larger research, innovation and commercial markets. A recent public opinion survey showed that EU citizens support spending more on research at both national and European level.