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East-Africa

EAC Member States Endorse Kenyan For WTO Top Job

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The East African Community (EAC) has officially endorsed the candidature of Amina Mohamed in the race to head the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Amina is a Kenyan national and this is a boost to her bid for the highly competitive job.

Dr. Vincent Biruta Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister also the current chairman of the East African Council of Ministers said on Sunday that Amina had received unwavering support from member countries following a request from President Paul Kagame for her endorsement.

“Reference is made to the favourable responses received from all states of the EAC on the … request to support the candidature of the Republic of Kenya to the post of Director- General of the World Trade Organisation. I would like to inform you that the Ambassador Amina is endorsed as the candidate of the EAC to the post of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation,” Dr. Biruta wrote to counterparts in Uganda, Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania.

Amina is battling for the 164-member WTO job along with Nigeria’s Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela, Ms Yoo Myung-hee of South Korea, Mohammed Maziad Al-Tuwaijri of Saudi Arabia and Dr. Liam Fox of the UK.

This year, the WTO will decide which two candidates from the five candidates will compete in the final leg that will culminate in the announcement of a new Director-General by December.

Members are supposed to reach decisions by consensus, which means that endorsements like that of the EAC can help a candidate amass broad support among WTO member states.

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East-Africa

World Bank Commits U$500million Aid To Burundi

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The World Bank has said, it will commit to extend over U$500million to support the Burundi government development projects.

This was revealed by Véronique Kabongo the representative of the World Bank in Burundi. She was visiting Prime Minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni on Tuesday, September 21, 2021.

According to details, their discussions focused on several points including confirmation of support in socio-economic development.

“We hope to commit this year a total envelope of U$500 million in donations to Burundi in various fields including trade facilitation, digitization, infrastructure and many others,” said Kabongo.

Meanwhile, in May, the World Bank Group approved a U$6 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to support communities in restoring degraded landscapes and intensifying sustainable land management practices for more resilient food production and strengthened value chains.

“Climate change is the ultimate threat multiplier of fragility in a country like Burundi, and this additional financing builds on the recognition that landscape restoration efforts must be addressed to tackle multifaceted problems related to rural poverty, nutrition, food security, and land use at the community level” said the World Bank official then.

Burundi has a policy that requires all International NGOs to pursue an ethnic quota system which has since 2018 soiled the relationship between government and the NGOs.

In October 2018, the government slammed a three-month suspension on almost all international NGOs operating in Burundi earlier this month is part of a wider crackdown on civil society, analysts say, in a nation where an estimated 3.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Government officials claim the ban comes as a result of organizations violating an article in the General Framework for Cooperation between the Republic of Burundi and Foreign NGOs, a 2017 amendment that means recruitment of national staff must respect ethnic quotas laid out in the constitution.

But humanitarians argued that while the national constitution seeks to achieve ethnic balance within public administration, it does not include recruitment parameters for NGOs.

“The logic behind the constitutional law is to encourage power sharing … and no one is questioning power sharing as a principle at the government level … but why are these quotas being specifically implemented on INGOs and not other sectors?” Rachel Nicholson, an Amnesty International researcher, asked.

Some 130 international NGOs are represented in Burundi, according to a government official.

The suspension excluded those INGOs running hospitals and schools, in what some say is a tactic to avoid blame for any negative impacts of the suspension.

In June 2020, Maj. Gen. Evariste Ndayishimiye officially took over as new president of Burundi replacing his former boss Pierre Nkurunziza who died from sudden sickness.

Nkurunziza had cultivated a very bad relationship with the international NGOs and other global institutions which later suspended aid to the East African nation.

Maj. Gen. Evariste Ndayishimiye seems to be courting a new path with the NGOs and global institutions as he urgently seeks financial and technical support to rebuild the country after years of problematic leadership of his former boss.

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East-Africa

Schools in Burundi Reopen With Disregard For Covid-19

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Schools in Burundi reopened early this week bringing an end to more than two months of vacation.

Egide Harerimana, a journalist attached to Iwacu, a private media critical of the Gitega based government, has taken a quick observation of the reopening of the schools.

According to Harerimana, while the start of the school year is happening in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, the barrier measures are not respected in some schools in the town hall of Bujumbura.

For good reason, insufficient desk benches and the high number of pupils and schoolchildren.

It is 10 a.m. at the Kamenge III primary school north of the city of Bujumbura. Classes haven’t started yet. The students play in the yard. A reunion after two months of long vacation.

Some even go so far as to kiss. Others look at their names on the bulletin board lists. No one cares about covid-19.

The washing kits are there but there is no soap, physical distancing is almost non-existent, the wearing of masks as well. There are risks of contamination.

“The situation is worrying. At a time when we are talking about an upsurge in positive cases, no measures have been taken to protect our children “, deplores a parent who met on the spot.

He calls on the school administration and the government to take all possible measures to protect students from covid-19.

The school administration says it reminded students to strictly observe barrier measures to prevent covid-19.

However, she does not deny a relaxation in the application of barrier gestures.

“It’s difficult to respect physical distancing with all these children,” says Hildegarde Banyankindagiye, headmistress of the primary school (ECOFO) Kamenge III.

She evokes a problem of lack of desk benches: “Three students share a desk bench. Normally, it should be at most two students on a bench to respect the physical distance but it is impossible “.

Time check, 11 a.m. at the Buyenzi municipal high school in Mukaza commune. A few students are in the classroom and others are entering. No one wears a mask.

In classrooms, two or three of them sit on small desks. Difficult to keep a distance between two students. There are no wash kits. Even on the two taps installed, the students wash their hands without soap.

“I wash my hands before I go to class. But in the classroom the situation is dangerous. We’re too tight, without a mask. There are risks of contamination, ”laments a 8th grade student at the same school.

According to Olive Habonimana, director of the municipal high school Buyenzi, it is difficult to control the pupils with respect to the barrier measures.

“We try to sensitize them but sometimes they forget the instructions, kiss or even shake hands,” She explains that wearing a mask is not mandatory.

The situation was the same at the Rohero Municipal High School. On this day of the start of the school year, the activities had not yet started. The pupils formed small groups in class to discuss, share how they spent their holidays.

Observation; they do not wear a mask and do not respect physical distancing. Yet, they came from different parts of the city, where covid-19 is reported.

“It’s difficult to prevent possible contamination when the students are external. We reminded them to wear masks on buses and to wash their hands when they arrive at school, ”said Gertrude Simbananiye, principal of Rohero Municipal High School.

She explains that her school has a high number of students, which is why it is impossible to maintain physical distancing in the classroom.

“Some classes have more than 80 students. So three students must share a desk bench, ”regrets the principal, adding that even classrooms are narrow and cannot contain many desk benches.

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East-Africa

President Ndayishimiye Launches Population Census in Burundi

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The excersise to count every Burundian in the much isolated East African country was officially flagged off by President Evariste Ndayishimiye on Friday.

President Ndayishimiye launched activities of the general census of the population, habitat, agriculture and breeding scheduled for 2022.

He urged his compatriots , each as far as he is concerned to invest in the success of this census so that decision-makers can know the real life situation of Burundian citizens.

Ndayishimiye indicated that the general census under preparation will provide objective figures which will help to know the personnel to be aligned on the fight against poverty.

According to him, the next general census will provide the opportunity to assess what has happened since the last census in 2008 and the economic situation of Burundi.

On this occasion, the President specified that the results of this census will serve as a basis for the implementation of public policies adapted to the real needs of the population.

He added that the general census of 2022 will make it possible to know the number of the population by age groups, and especially the number of young people, which will facilitate the State to take strategies to prepare for a better future.

Ndayishimiye says this census will also provide a good opportunity for the State to make the population understand that it is necessary to give birth to children that we can bear.

It was also an opportunity for the Head of State to call on the entire Burundian population to prepare to respond massively to this census, inviting all the administrators and leaders to sensitize the population on the importance of being registered.

“We have integrated the basic modules of agriculture and livestock in the general census population and housing and data collection will be done using new information and communication technologies,” he said.

On behalf of technical and financial partners friends of Burundi, the representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) appealed to the Government of Burundi to complete the process of setting up the Central Census Bureau, the central technical body of execution and condition sine qua non for the optimal realization and the success of this census.

Because of the importance of the 4th general census of Burundi, the representative of UNFPA in Burundi called on politicians, administrators, religious men and women, members of civil society and the private sector to call for the mobilization and support from all.

He reaffirmed the readiness of UNFPA and the United Nations system to continue mobilizing global expertise in the field of censuses and additional resources to support the diligent completion of this important operation in accordance with international standards until dissemination and development.

It should be noted that this general census of the population, housing, agriculture and livestock in 2022 will last 21 days and that the cost is estimated at BIF 48,556,797,000 (U$24,458,583).

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