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Wednesday, 13 August 2014 15:20

Food security alarm for east, central Africa

Written by Administrator

Some 20 million people are facing acute food insecurity in eastern and central Africa, with most of them being at “crisis” and “emergency” levels, according to aid agencies. This figure compares unfavorably with 15.8 million people in July 2013.

The affected countries include Somalia, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Central Africa Republic (CAR), Sudan, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.

The scam starts like this: The legitimate multinational nonprofit organization (in this case AAF) gets a genuine inquiry through its website's contact form from an individual stating that they want to know how to make a donation and know more about the nonprofit's cause.

Since this is a common occurrence in many multinational nonprofit organizations and does not raise any flags, an employee follows up with details about the organization, its mission and vision, and how donations can be made to the legitimate multinational nonprofit organization.

In the latest of several partnerships between tradition and modern science aimed at improving resilience to climate change, pastoralists and meteorologists in Tanzania are working together to produce weather forecasts better suited to farmers.

The hope is that by drawing from both indigenous knowledge and contemporary weather forecasting techniques, crop yields could be increased.

Thursday, 24 April 2014 19:16

Zambia: AAF NGO Re-Registration Approved

Written by Administrator

Amsha Africa Foundation's NGO re-registration was approved by the Zambian government under the NGO Act No. 16 of 2009.The Zambian NGO Registration Board approved and issued AAF's certificate of registration after successfully completing the registration process. The Zambian AAF team led by Auldridge Chibbwalu ensured that this process went smoothly.

AAF had to re-register since the new act does not recognize the previous legal status of the registered NGOs under the existing legal frame work(societies Act) and the provision in the NGO Act on re-registration have been confusing and ambiguous.

While the death of a mother during childbirth has obvious emotional and personal implications, a new study in Kenya that quantifies the precise economic burden on households has found that it can be debilitating for a family and push them into poverty.

The report, entitled A Price Too High to Pay and released in March  found that families were paying upwards of an entire year of their household income to cover the medical and funeral costs of such a death.

“A mother’s death begins a chain of disruption, economic loss, and pain that, far too often, leads to the death of her baby, loss of educational and life opportunities for her surviving children, and a deepening cycle of poverty for her family,” warned James Macharia, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for health.

Findings of the report

The report looked at almost every case of maternal mortality in parts of Siaya region in Western Kenya over a period of 22 months, and interviewed 59 households who had experienced a maternal death (death of a mother). Interviewers also spoke to households who had delivered a healthy child about the cost of their pregnancy care.

The data revealed that, on average, the total cost during a normal pregnancy was 934 Ksh (US$11), while for cases of maternal mortality, the hospital bill averaged 7,322 Ksh ($85). Further, “across all wealth levels, families’ funeral costs exceeded their total annual expenditure on food, housing, and all other household consumption.”

Siaya region has a particularly high maternal mortality ratio (MMR) - more than double the national average.

“This new research puts hard numbers, as well as heart-breaking stories, behind a message that maternal health advocates have known for years: when women die, children suffer and families fall apart,” said Ann Starrs, president of Family Care International (FCI).

A lot of the women who died were economically contributing to their families, and their loss - and the gain of a child - meant that households were further driven into poverty. The study found that many of the women had worked on their own or on family farms, or were running their own market stalls, shops, or other small businesses.



“Over more than a decade of surveying the population in this part of the county, we have seen, over and over again, the devastating consequences of maternal death for children and families,” said John Vulule, director of the joint US Centers of Disease Control and Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI/CDC) Research and Public Health Collaboration.

The study was conducted from 2011 to 2013 by KEMRI/CDC, FCI and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW).

MMR in developing countries

In Kenya, there are 360 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, according to government figures. The country’s MMR has come down by 0.5 percent each year over the last 20 years, not enough to meet the MDG targets to reduce the ratio by three quarters. Less than nine months remain before the MDGs expire.

“We are still very far from achieving the maternal the goal,” Simon Mueke, head of reproductive and maternal health services at the Ministry of Health, told IRIN by phone. “Some of the factors are beyond the Ministry’s reach, for instance rampant poverty levels and cultural issues.”

MMR in developing regions, according to the UN, is still 15 times higher than in the developed regions.

Most maternal deaths are due to causes directly related to pregnancy and childbirth, unsafe abortion and obstetric complications such as severe bleeding, infection, hypertensive disorders, and obstructed labour.

Ill-equipped and expensive poor-quality medical care contributes to the high MMR.

“Many of our health facilities don’t have simple resuscitating equipment for pregnant women. Sometimes women brought here don’t get needed assistance,” Shikanga O-tipo, head of the integrated disease surveillance department in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation said.

“In such scenarios health workers have little to do, but sometimes to hold back their hands and wait for the patients to die,” added O-tipo.

Although the government introduced free maternal care last year, it has been unable to cope with the increased demand for hospital deliveries.

“The government failed to address personnel deficit. In a major hospital, like Nyanza Provincial Hospital in Kisumu where deliveries were between 15 and 20 patients per day, sometimes only two nurses are attending to the mothers,” said O-tipo.

Before free maternal health care, only 35-40 percent of pregnant women had their babies at these facilities.

The study data shows that of the 59 cases of maternal death cited, even though 31 infants survived delivery, 8 died during their first week and another 8 died within the next few weeks. Therefore, a total of only 15 babies survived from the 59 pregnancies.

“The research, which is critically important, shows yet again that the costs of maternal death are indeed far too high for the Kenyan people to bear,” the Health Ministry’s Mueke noted.

Government, public sector infighting

In Kenya, health officials and the government are at odds over who is responsible for the high MMR.

“There is total confusion in the government [over] who ought to recruit more staff,” said Mueke.

O-tipo said that for Kenya to prevent maternal mortality, the government needs to put more resources into the sector, and urge pregnant women to attend maternal clinics and buy enough drugs.

“There is need for enough staff and functional facilities with functional theatre services. On top of these, we need a functional non-pharmaceutical and pharmaceutical supplies like simple drugs to stop bleeding,” he added.

“Across Kenya, in every county, we must commit ourselves to ensuring that every woman has access to high-quality antenatal, maternity, and postnatal care, and that the families who suffer these devastating losses receive the support services they desperately need,” said Mueke.

Sources: IRIN/Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation/AAF/KEMRI/CDC, FCI and the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW)

Satellite and other new technologies could be deployed to help predict disease outbreaks and give us more time to devise strategies to counteract them, suggests the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which cites examples of how weather information can be used in the battle against deadly pathogens.

Cattle raiding in Kenya is often viewed in the legitimizing context of tradition, climate change and resource conflict, but increasingly it has much more to do with organized crime meeting a rising demand for meat, and political violence resulting from a new devolutionary constitution.

The human cost of raids is immense: hundreds are killed every year and many thousands forcibly displaced.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 14:16

Breaking the cycle of youth unemployment, poverty

Written by Administrator

Youth unemployment and underemployment are among the main barriers to development in Africa, say experts. Not only does the exclusion of young people from the labour force perpetuate generational cycles of poverty, it also breaks down social cohesion and can be associated with higher levels of crime and violence among idle youth.

Young unemployed men play cards in an abandoned warehouse in Conakry (Sept 2013)  © Tommy Trenchard/IRIN

Wednesday, 12 February 2014 10:05

New AAF Project Manager in Kenya - Stella Mawondo

Written by Administrator

Amsha Africa Foundation (AAF) is happy to welcome our newest team member, Stella Mawondo.

Stella Mawondo

Stella is based in Nairobi, Kenya and is the newest member of AAF, joining the team as a Project Manager.

She brings to AAF years of experience having worked within the Kenyan Government and parastatals as a project administrator/secretary for 30+ years.

Stella will work closely with AAF's Kenya staff in implementing projects in the grassroots and ensuring our programs comply with government regulations.

To see our other staff profiles, please visit our website at http://amshaafrica.org/about-us/our-staff.html

 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 20:44

Hand-Made Holiday Cards from Kids in the U.S - 2013

Written by Administrator

This is a holiday card project piloted by Katie Burke of San Francisco in 2009, in partnership with Amsha Africa Foundation. For this project, children in the U.S. make holiday cards for children in Kenya, and Amsha Africa brings them to Kenyan orphanages. These are the cards the children made this year.

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