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The US will fund research for climate adaptation of traditional or indigenous African crops.
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  • The US plans an initiative to invest in climate adaptation for African crops, to beat food insecurity.
  • The programme targets traditional and indigenous African fruits and vegetables that have received less attention
  • The UN estimates that more than 280 million people in Africa are experiencing hunger
  • For climate change news and analysis, go to News24 Climate Future.

The US is launching a new initiative to identify and invest in climate adaptation for Africa's most nutritious crops in a bid to deal with growing hunger on the continent.

The programme, announced by the US State Department together with the United Nations's Food and Agriculture Organisation and the African Union on Wednesday, will seek to identify crops in Africa's five sub-regions that have historically not attracted research and investment. It will also assess how they will be affected by extreme climates. 

"This push will seek to highlight these crops and aim to adapt both to climate change, to farmers needs and to the demands of the marketplace," Cary Fowler, special envoy for global food security at the State Department, said. "We expect this will provide options for nutrition and better food security."

READ | El Niño set to return, but load shedding is the bigger threat to SA crops

Reducing Africa's reliance on food imports would make it more resilient to external shocks and curb hunger. The UN estimates that more than 280 million people in Africa are experiencing hunger — a problem exacerbated by climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact of Russia's war in Ukraine.

Unlike most crop adaptation efforts that focused on maize, rice and wheat, the Vision for Adopted Crops and Soils initiative will target traditional and indigenous African fruits and vegetables that have received much less attention, Fowler said.

Back on the table

Many of them are rich in vitamins and micronutrients and important to lactating women and children in their first 1 000 days, in a continent where stunting levels are very high, he said. According to the Global Nutrition Report, the prevalence of stunting is 31%, higher than the global average of 22%.

Stunting can cause lower IQ, impaired brain development and weakened immune systems.

The initiative, which has the support of the Rockefeller Foundation and the African Orphan Crops Consortium, will also map soils for crop choice and the effective use of fertiliser, Fowler said.  News24


JUBA, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Some 151,256 South Sudanese refugees voluntarily returned home in 2022 amid the relative security situation in the country, the UN refugee agency said on Friday.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 627,028 refugees have so far returned home since the signing of the revitalized peace deal in October 2018 to Dec. 31, 2022.

"Some 6,845 South Sudanese refugee returnees have been reported in December 2022. This is a significant increase compared to the returns recorded in the month of November 2022," the UNHCR said in its latest update on returns released in the South Sudanese capital of Juba.

The UN agency said the increase in the number of refugees returning home is due to improved security in some parts of the country, enabling safe access to spontaneous refugee returns to South Sudan.

The UNHCR, which conducted an in-depth household-level survey of returnees across the country on reasons for leaving their country of asylum, said 20 percent of the returnees cited lack of access to basic services, six percent cited lack of employment and livelihood opportunity, and four percent cited insecurity.

According to the survey, 12 percent of those who have returned cited an improved security situation in South Sudan and reunion with family members, while one percent cited checking and attending to property as the reasons for their returning home.

UNHCR and partners, on a quarterly basis, collect information on refugee returns through key informant interviews, focus group discussions, and partner monitoring reports.

There are more than two million refugees from South Sudan hosted in the East Africa region, and another 1.7 million displaced in the country, according to the UNHCR. - Xinhua


The family of Esther Nakajiggo, 25, has been awarded $10.5 million (about Shs 40 billion) by the court after a falling unsecured metal gate pierced through her car and severed her head, killed her instantly in 2020. 
Nakajiggo was killed on June 13, 2020. She was coincidentally wearing a t-shirt with the inscription; “Everything hurts and I’m dying” on the fateful day. The couple had been hiking inside and were exiting the park when tragedy struck.
The family had sought $140 million in damages, arguing that Arches National park was negligent and failed to maintain the gate properly. US government admitted that it was 100% at fault and responsible for Nakajiggo's death. 
In his ruling delivered yesterday January 30 in Salt City, Federal US judge, Bruce S. Jerkins awarded $9.5 million to Nakajiggo's husband, Ludovic Michaud and $ 1 million (Shs 3.6 billion) to Nakajiggo’s parents - $700,000 to her mother and $350,000 to her father. Jerkins described the case as unusual since neither the victim nor complainants were US citizens. 

"The husband is a French citizen, employed in and a resident of the United States. The parents are citizens of Uganda, a poor and heavily populated African nation, formerly part of the British empire. The deceased, Esther Nakajjigo was a citizen of Uganda, but at the time of her death, a United States resident, newly married to Plaintiff Ludovic Michaud," said Jerkins. 
Speaking about the verdict, Michaud said “This decision serves as a reminder of the proper maintenance and safety measures in our parks, so as to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.” - URN/The Observer

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