Weather-related crises have triggered more than twice as much displacement as conflict and violence in the last decade, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Thursday.
Coinciding with Earth Day on Thursday 22 April, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, published data showing how disasters linked to climate change likely worsen poverty, hunger and access to natural resources, stoking instability and violence.
“From Afghanistan to Central America, droughts, flooding, and other extreme weather events are hitting those least equipped to recover and adapt”, said the UN agency, which is calling for countries to work together to combat climate change and mitigate its impact on hundreds of millions of people.
Since 2010, weather emergencies have forced around 21.5 million people a year to move, on average.
Home countries worst hit
UNHCR said that roughly 90 per cent of refugees come from countries that are the most vulnerable and least ready to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
These countries also host around 70 per cent of people internally displaced by conflict or violence.
Citing the case of Afghanistan, UNHCR noted that it is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, as nearly all of its 34 provinces have been hit by at least one disaster in the past 30 years.
The country is also ranked the least peaceful globally, owing to longstanding conflict that has killed and injured thousands of people and displaced millions.
Chronic floods, droughts
Recurring floods and droughts – along with population growth – have compounded food insecurity and water scarcity and reduced the prospects of refugees and IDPs being able to return to their home areas, UNHCR said.
It pointed to indications that 16.9 million Afghans – nearly half of the country’s population – lacked enough food in the first quarter of 2021, including at least 5.5 million facing emergency levels of food deprivation.
As of mid-2020, more than 2.6 million Afghans were internally displaced and another 2.7 million were living as registered refugees in other countries, mainly Pakistan and Iran, according to UNHCR.
Mozambique is experiencing a similar confluence of conflict and multiple disasters, says the agency, with one cyclone after another battering the country’s central region while increasing violence and turmoil to the north displaces hundreds of thousands of people.
Hosts hit too
Many of the countries most exposed to the impacts of climate change are already host to large numbers of refugees and internally displaced.
In Bangladesh, more than 870,000 Rohingya refugees who fled violence in Myanmar are now exposed to increasingly frequent and intense cyclones and flooding.
“We need to invest now in preparedness to mitigate future protection needs and prevent further climate caused displacement,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, earlier this year.
World Bank Supports MSMEs to Foster Inclusive Growth in Mozambique
The World Bank approved today a $100 million grant from the International Development Association (IDA) in support of the Government of Mozambique’s Economic Linkages for Diversification Project, which supports Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) develop their capacitities to provide goods and services to larger businesses, as well as serve the growing cities in the center and north of Mozambique, thus fostering linkages and economic diversification.
“Mozambique’s growth has been driven by Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into capital-intensive industries, which has not translated into adequate levels of job creation,” noted Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius, and Seychelles. “Supporting MSMEs is a key factor of economic diversification, job creation, inclusive growth, and fragility mitigation, and this is exactly what this project is all about.”
“The project will help develop MSMEs’ abilities to provide goods and services to large investments along their value chains, through skills development, expanding access to finance and markets, and quality upgrading of their processes and products,” noted Francisco Campos, Senior Economist, and the project’s co-team leader. “This effort, combined with developing consumption linkages through skills and finance for microenterprises in major cities, especially women-led enterprises, can generate more and better jobs.”
The project will also support enabling conditions for economic linkages. “This project focuses on the development of digital solutions that will increase firms’ access to markets and financial services and on promoting last-mile infrastructure,” added Eva Clemente Miranda, Private Sector Specialist, and the project’s co-team leader.”
Michelle Gomes Souto, Operations Officer, and the project’s co-team leader noted: “Other interventions will include support to institutional development and regulatory reforms that can drive further sustainable private investments and institutional coordination.”
While the project will impact the wider economy, its priority geographic areas include the provinces of Cabo Delgado, impacted by the conflict, as well as Nampula and Tete, where poverty rates are high and opportunities for economic linkages are significant. The project will also support green industry firms in their capacity to offer climate friendly solutions, as well as support engagement between state agencies and the citzens.
This operation is in line with the country’s priorities outlined in its five-year plan, the Bank’s partnership framework with Mozambique for FY 2017-21, as well as the new conflict-prevention and resilience-building focus of the World Bank activites in Mozambique.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.
Tanzania helpline calls time on child marriage and abuse
Child marriage continues to affect many young girls across Tanzania, in East Africa, but now a series of interventions supported by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are allowing children to get the support they need to avoid unwanted and potentially damaging relationships.
It was 3 o’clock on a Friday afternoon when Grace*, a counsellor at the National Child Helpline in Tanzania, received a call from a concerned teacher in Msalala, a small town in the remote Shinyanga region in the north-west of the East African country.
One of her brightest students Eliza*, aged 13, had not gone to school that day following worrying rumours that her parents intended to marry her off. She learned that they had accepted a payment in the form of a bride dowry from the family of the intended groom. The man chosen for Eliza was at 35-years-old, more than 22 years her senior.
On a recent two-day visit to Tanzania, UNFPA’s Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem, met with counsellors at the National Child Helpline, in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. The helpline is run by C-Sema, a national NGO, in collaboration with the Government.
The #116 toll-free service, available across all mobile networks in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar, responds to around 3,500 calls a day from women and children who are at risk of violence, and from family and community members who report abuses.
The helpline has reported an increase in calls during the COVID pandemic as school closures made children more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Trained volunteer counsellors like Grace give women and young people support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The counsellors also liaise with support networks and protection systems in the callers’ locality to provide further assistance.
Eliza’s story has a happy ending. As a result of Grace’s coordination with local government authorities and district social welfare officers in Msalala, officers from the Police Gender and Children’s Desk visited Eliza’s parents and the marriage did not take place.
A whole-of-community effort
Dr. Kanem expressed gratitude to C-Sema and counsellors for their dedication to advancing gender equality and the health, rights and well-being of women and young people, including through the use of digital platforms and new technologies.
Despite progress and the commitment by the Government to tackle gender inequalities and discrimination, as articulated in the Five-year National Plans of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children, violence remains a daily reality for many women and adolescent girls.
UNFPA Tanzania is supporting efforts to eradicate gender-based violence and to strengthen protection systems across the country In addition to supporting the National Child Helpline, it is also working with police officers who staff specialized gender and children’s investigation units which meet the needs of women and girls, and other one-stop support services that provide holistic care all in one place to ensure that victims of abuse do not have to go from one place to another to get medical care, psychosocial support or legal assistance.
Community centres, where women support each other and take the lead in ending violence in their communities, have also been set up.
Empowering men and boys as agents of change
Efforts to end violence are not only focused on empowering women and girls. Men and boys, and traditional and community leaders, are also included in conversations in recognition of their role and contribution to gender equality. Through extensive community outreach, UNFPA’s partners are encouraging discussions around harmful stereotypes of masculinity and positive ways to support the rights of women and girls.
Engaging men in holding other men accountable is critical to creating the basis for greater equality and they must not be left out or left behind, stressed Dr Kanem. “Every girl and boy should be valued and should be taught that the expression of their right and empowerment should not be centred on overpowering others.”
Supporting government-led efforts
During her visit to Tanzania, Dr. Kanem met with the country’s first female President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who expressed Tanzania’s commitment to eliminate preventable maternal and child deaths, gender-based violence and harmful practices, including female genital mutilation.
Dr. Kanem commended the government’s leadership and reaffirmed UNFPA’s support to Tanzania to realize development targets and stronger, more inclusive socioeconomic growth with the goal of leaving no one behind.
*name changed to protect identity.
Joining hands to strengthen food safety knowledge in West Africa
In the context of the Guinea-Bissau component of the European Union-funded West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP), implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), 30 Bissau-Guineans received training on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System, HACCP, and on the ISO standard for Food Safety Management System, ISO 22000.
This virtual training was made available to all those participating in the WACOMP, which allowed additional 30 people to benefit from the training. The 60 participants who attended the training came from nine countries in the region: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia and Togo.
In his opening remarks, Christophe Yvetot, UNIDO’s representative to Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia, Cabo Verde and Mauritania, emphasized that the “training sessions on HACCP and ISO 22000 are crucial to provide capacity-building in the fields of food safety assurance and management for people responsible for performing conformity assessment activities, and technicians involved in food safety and quality.”
The WACOMP Programme is funded through a €116m contribution under the 11th European Development Fund and includes one regional and 16 country components. The objective of the programme is to strengthen the competitiveness of West African countries and enhance their integration into the regional and international trading system. UNIDO has been entrusted with the implementation of the WACOMP regional component, as well as six country components, namely The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone, and a component of the one for Cabo Verde. With a portfolio of €29m, UNIDO is the main implementing agency of the WACOMP.
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