Wednesday, February 8, 2023
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Egypt bets on US to restart talks on Nile dam dispute

Ethiopia took advantage of its participation in the UN climate summit COP27 in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh to highlight the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as a key to regional cooperation in renewable energy.

Following the summit, Egypt hopes to resume the stalled negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia to reach a binding legal agreement on the GERD, which Ethiopia is building on Egypt’s main water lifeline, the Nile River.

Cairo fears the GERD will affect its share of the river’s water. In a Nov. 17 interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Monica P. Medina, the US special envoy for biodiversity and water resources, spoke about the US’s role in resolving the water conflict.

“The US administration has appointed a special envoy for the Horn of Africa [Mike Hammer], and he is working hard to find a solution,” she said. Medina stressed “the need to ensure adequate awareness about not wasting water, as well as providing low-cost technological solutions to improve use efficiency.” She recalled that USAID has a diversified range of programs to help farmers in Africa manage water resources.

(Al-Monitor)

COVID has ‘ruptured’ social skills of world’s poorest children, study shows

School closures during the COVID pandemic have “severely disrupted” the academic and social development of some of the world’s poorest children, a new study revealed.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge looked at 2000 primary school pupils in Ethiopia to see what they had faced since the virus caused disruption to large swathes of normal life, including education.

They also found that key aspects of their social and emotional development, including their ability to make friends, stalled during school closures and have probably deteriorated.

Other social skills, such as confidence in talking to others and the ability to get along well with peers, had gotten worse since the pandemic hit.

Children who were already disadvantaged educationally—girls, pupils from the poorest backgrounds, and those from rural areas—appeared to be the worst hit.

The research, along with another linked study of 6,000 children, also found evidence that the COVID pandemic had negative consequences on their academic progress.

Pauline Rose (Prof.) from the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education said: “Covid is having a long-term impact on children everywhere, but especially in lower-income countries, where it has affected dropout rates, learning, and social skills.”

(The Independent)

12 men trained as kosher meat slaughterers in first for the country

A dozen Ethiopian Jewish men received certification as ritual slaughterers this week, becoming the country’s only officially recognized kosher “shochtim,” following a months-long training program.

Thousands of Jews live in Ethiopia, mostly in the cities of Gondar and Addis Ababa, yet they lack many of the basic services and infrastructure that are available in larger communities, including a full-time kosher slaughterhouse.

Though ritual slaughterers would occasionally visit Ethiopia, particularly before holidays, to ensure a supply of kosher meat, this situation meant that many observant Jews in Ethiopia were forced to keep a vegetarian diet.

To address this, Rabbi Menachem Waldman, who serves as a community rabbi in Ethiopia, reached out to Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum, who trains rabbinic emissaries for Ohr Torah Stone, a modern Orthodox network, the organization said.

Working with the Struggle to Save Ethiopian Jewry, Waldman and Birnbaum developed a training program, recruiting another rabbi, and long-time slaughterer, Rabbi Netanel Ansani, who had experience working in remote Jewish communities.

A dozen young men from Gondar and Addis Ababa were chosen for the training, and all 12 passed the course and received their official certification to slaughter chickens last week after being tested by an Israeli examiner.

(The Times of Israel)

Ethiopia increases scholarship slots for South Sudanese students

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on Tuesday announced an increase in the number of scholarships for South Sudanese students in Ethiopian universities to 210.

This development follows a visit by the Minister of Education of Ethiopia to South Sudan, where they signed the Education Cooperation Agreement.

Previously, Ethiopia provided 100 scholarships for both postgraduate and undergraduate study and 60 for Technical Education and Vocational Training (TVET).

In the new agreement, the number of undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships for South Sudanese students was increased to 150, while they maintained the 60 slots for TVET.

Addressing journalists after the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, Gabriel Changson Chang, South Sudan’s Higher Education Minister, said the agreement will also provide for research exchange programs between South Sudanese universities and Ethiopian universities.

“There will be exchange programs between the universities’ teaching staff and the students, and they will also engage in joint research intended to solve the problems of the two countries in terms of health issues, economics, and other technical aspects of improving our industrial base and performance in various fields,” Changson said.

(Radio Tamazuj)

Kenya’s inflation unexpectedly slows for first time in nine months

Kenyan inflation unexpectedly slowed for the first time in nine months in November, helped by lower gas and food prices.

Consumer prices rose an annual 9.5 percent, compared with 9.6 percent in October, the Nairobi-based Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday in an emailed statement. The median estimate of five economists in a Bloomberg survey was 9.8 percent. Prices rose 0.3 percent in the month.

The Central Bank of Kenya has increased interest rates by a cumulative 175 basis points in 2022, the most in seven years, in a bid to bring price growth back within its 2.5 percent to 7.5 percent target band in early 2023. Inflation has been above that range since June.

Slower-than-forecast inflation may ease pressure on the central bank to hike interest rates again at its first monetary policy committee meeting of 2023 in January.

Annual food and non-alcoholic drink price growth—the largest component in the inflation basket—slowed to 15.4 percent in November, compared with 15.8 percent in the previous month. Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuel prices rose 6.1 percent after climbing 7.1 percent in October.

(BNN Bloomberg)

Soaring food prices, funding shortfalls add to growing food insecurity in Uganda’s refugee settlements

Multiple and interrelated crises, including the ongoing economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of climate change on agricultural productivity, a funding shortfall for key humanitarian actors, and globally increased food prices, are aggravating the food crisis in Uganda’s refugee settlements.

Uganda is often lauded for its open approach to asylum seekers. The country currently hosts almost 1.5 million refugees and asylum seekers, predominantly from its neighboring countries, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The World Food Programme (WFP) is facing an ongoing funding crisis brought about by decreasing contributions of donor states and agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic and increased operating costs in the wake of food price hikes resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

One consequence of this is that the food rations distributed to Uganda’s refugees, which are designed to only cover basic food needs, will be reduced by half in 2022.

The decision has been described by WFP Executive Director David Beasley as “heartbreaking” but necessary to reallocate scarce funds for those most in need worldwide.

(Global Voices)

Two new minerals found in huge Somali meteorite

Two new minerals that have never been seen in nature have been found in a 15-ton meteorite in Somalia, which was the ninth-largest ever found.

Chris Herd (Prof.), curator of the University of Alberta’s meteorite collection, analyzed a thin slice of the meteorite and saw something that caught his attention.

There are at least two new minerals in there, according to Herd. The two minerals found came from a single 70-gram slice that was sent to the university for classification, and there already appears to be a potential third mineral under consideration.

There is a chance that more might be found if more samples are obtained, Herd notes. “Whenever you find a new mineral, it means that the actual geological conditions, the chemistry of the rock, were different than what’s been found before.”

The two newly discovered minerals have been named elaliite and elkinstantonite. The first receives its name from the meteorite itself, dubbed the “El Ali” meteorite because it was found near the town of El Ali, in the Hiiraan region of Somalia.

(Yahoo! News)

Sudan’s Red Sea state faces unidentified fevers amid worst dengue outbreak

More than 25 people in eastern Red Sea State are infected with unidentified fevers. Three of them have died so far. Sudan is currently witnessing its worst outbreak of dengue fever in over a decade.

The federal Ministry of Health announced that 44 new cases of dengue fever were recorded in White Nile State (30) and Kassala (14) on Sunday, bringing the total number of people affected this season to 4,147.

The ministry said that new cases were recorded in 10 states and that 29 people have died. The worst outbreak in over a decade has hit North and South Kordofan, as well as the Red Sea state.

Radio Dabanga reported earlier that the real numbers are likely to be higher because there is only one laboratory in the whole of Sudan that can confirm vector-borne diseases.

Cases of dengue fever and malaria are on the rise in Sudan after recent floods, which have allowed diseases transmitted by mosquitoes to spread faster as post-flood conditions are ideal for these insects, which lay their eggs on the surface of stagnant waters.

These conditions are worsening as climate change causes the weather to become more extreme in Sudan.

(Dabanga)

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