Mauritania to Improve its Health System and Delivery of Essential Services
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved three grants for a total of $133 million from the International Development Association (IDA)*, including funding from the Refugee and Host Communities IDA18 sub-window, to help improve access to basic infrastructure and services for poor and vulnerable communities in the southern regions of Trarza, Gorgol, Assaba, Guidimakha, Hodh el Gharbi and Hodh el Chargui at the borders with Senegal and Mali.
“Through this financial package, the World Bank is doubling its program in Mauritania with a specific focus on the most fragile areas of the country where climate change, poverty and growing insecurity is affecting the daily lives of people,” said World bank Country Manager, Laurent Msellati. “These three projects focus on the government’s priority to fight against exclusion, support the decentralization, and improve access to basic health services, drinking water, sanitation and electricity in secondary urban centers and rural areas, in particular in the Hodh regions supported by the Sahel Alliance. ”
The approved package will finance the following two projects and provide additional financing to an existing Health support project:
The Decentralization and Productive Intermediate Cities Support project amounting to $66 million IDA grant will help improve access to local services in selected localities in the southern regions or wilayas, and will strengthen the capacities of local governments to plan and manage public services. In particular, the project will finance basic infrastructures and decentralized services in intermediate cities. The project will also benefit refugees and host communities by addressing the increase in demand for local services and providing opportunities for refugees to contribute to the local economy.
The Water and Sanitation Sectoral Project amounting to a $44 million IDA grant, will increase access to improved water and sanitation services in selected rural areas and small towns located in the same regions. In particular, the project will build and rehabilitate water systems, latrines and handwashing facilities in public centers, undertake water, sanitation and hygiene awareness raising campaigns, and
strengthen institutions capacities and performance. About 473,000 people living in rural areas, including the M’bera refugee camp in Hodh El Chargui, will benefit from the project.
An additional financing amounting to $23 million IDA grant will scale up the Mauritania Health System Support project and expand the utilization and quality of reproductive, maternal, neonatal, and child health and nutrition services into the Hodh el Chargui region. In collaboration with humanitarian and development partners, the project will provide specific support to address the health needs of host communities and refugees, and will in particular reinforce the health facilities of the M’bera camp. The project will also provide Conditional Cash Transfers to poor households in order to promote vaccination, birth registration and nutrition services through the National Social Transfers program.
TIME: Will China create a better world?
China is everywhere in global politics. China is “ubiquitous,” a retired Senior Colonel Zhou Bo of China’s PLA told in a conversation with TIME magazine. On March 10, in an agreement brokered by Beijing, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to normalize relations, after seven years of bitter rivalry in a deal that sidelined the U.S. Earlier, on February 24, China put forward a 12-point proposal for peace in Ukraine. On March 20, President Xi Jinping arrived in Moscow, where he discussed the situation in Ukraine with Vladimir Putin.
Senior Colonel Zhou Bo spoke about what the “watershed moment” means for China and the world. He said:
– For Beijing, the war in Ukraine is a trigger for new security arrangements in Europe that will have to be made before peace returns. China’s proposal on peace in Ukraine is a big step forward. The success on mediation between Iran and Saudi Arabia will encourage China to make more proposals, but the challenge is always to find road maps. With reform and opening up, as Deng Xiaoping said, China was trying to get across the river by feeling the stones on the riverbed, but now China is entering the ocean.
– We are talking about Global China. When Boris Johnson talked about Global Britain, it was probably more rhetorical. But Global China is definitely real. China is ubiquitous. China’s influence is everywhere. The PLA’s operations overseas are carefully chosen to be humanitarian in nature, but as your strength grows, people have higher expectations for you. We are talking about the world. This is the ocean we are wading in.
– China does have some sympathy with Russia on how this war came about because of NATO expansion, despite NATO’s promises on no expansion from time to time. China understands why Russia is resentful. When China stresses sovereignty must be respected, it also tries to look at it from a more comprehensive perspective. Countries like South Africa, Brazil, or India are taking similar positions like China on this.
– There is no doubt that China wants to see a ceasefire because China’s interests were damaged in Europe. Because of China’s neutrality, China’s relations with Western capitals have soured. This is ludicrous because China has nothing to do with this war.
– It does not make any sense that China, which has not provided weapons to Russia since the outbreak of the war, would change its mind, especially at a time when they have actually announced a peace plan. Why would Antony Blinken say that? By saying it, Blinken was actually giving a pre-emptive warning because China providing military support would be the worst fear of the U.S. But it’s totally impossible.
– The American presence in the region is not as strong as before, but the U.S. will not go away. But on this issue China is doing what the U.S. cannot do. Why? Because the U.S. doesn’t even have diplomatic relations with Iran. It cannot become a mediator between the two sides. The U.S. has allies in the region. It has to adopt double standards. Therefore, China can do a better job, but this is not an attempt to replace the U.S.
– If there were a war between Saudi and Iran, this would damage China’s interests, both economic interests and energy security, profoundly. So China needs to prevent a war and that may explain its new role.
– China depends on energy imports from the Middle East, which make up 40-50% of Chinese energy imports. We are trying to diversify, but that is the situation for now… At the same time, China’s activity in the Middle East now comprises almost everything, from building infrastructure to launching satellites to energy imports, therefore its stake on peace and stability in the Middle East has become higher.
– This is the first time China becomes directly involved in regional security. The biggest question of the 21st century is, if China’s rise is inevitable, will China create a better world? My answer is, at least it can make a safer world. At least it will make much less harm than the U.S.
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War in Ukraine: Congress adopts a declaration of condemnation
The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted on 21 March 2023 a Declaration to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war against Ukraine, presented by the Congress President and Rapporteur on The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, Leendert Verbeek (Netherlands, SOC/G/PD).
President Verbeek said that the Congress declaration is a clear message of condemnation of this brutal war and a strong reaffirmation of the Congress’ unwavering solidarity with Ukraine, its people and communities : “we must continue to show our Ukrainian friends, colleagues and peers – the elected leaders that are engaged in a battle for their lives, their citizens, their towns and their futures – that they are NOT forgotten and that we will do everything in our power now, and in the future, to support them.” President Verbeek also stressed that the declaration reiterated the Congress’ resolute support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
The debate was preceded by a video message from the Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets. “The solidarity of our partners strengthens the stability of our resistance to the aggressor and our strong confidence in victory”, he underlined while speaking about the difficult humanitarian situation in Ukraine. He also stressed the importance of mechanisms for the protection of citizens’ rights on the local level for everybody. He described how his office was implementing this approach by opening representative offices of the Commissioner in each region.
In his speech, the Congress President praised the “extraordinary courage and resilience of the Ukrainians and their leadership as they relentlessly defend their country at the frontline and the home front. “The Congress commends the solidarity and unity of Europeans, their cities and regions. We call on all to continue to mobilise and provide large-scale financial, security and humanitarian assistance to their Ukrainian counterparts”, he highlighted.
During the debate, Congress members supported the creation of a special international tribunal for the crime of aggression against Ukraine and the setting up of an international compensation mechanism for the injury, damage and loss incurred by the State of Ukraine as well as natural and legal persons in Ukraine. “It is imperative to hold Russia accountable for all crimes and justice must be done for all the victims.”, stressed President Verbeek.
“The Congress stands by the Ukrainian people at this historically decisive time for Ukraine and the world and believes in a common, democratic future based on respect for international law and a just peace.”, he concluded.
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