Link to Launch…
Link to Support for MOTEC and its work in Ghana…
Link to Launch…
Link to Support for MOTEC and its work in Ghana…
MOTEC celebrated May Day with a reception at Westminster to Launch their NUWLIFE project for tackling malnurishment among children in Ghana’s Upper Western Region of Jirapa.
MOTEC’s Patron, David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool) said his main message was that “just because you can’t solve the problems of the entire world, it’s not a reason for refusing to solve any of them; we need a combination of heart and head” and that ” the Jewish Rabbi who said “the man or woman who saves a single life, saves the world”, was right.
Lord Alton said that:
“The United Nations Development Programme say we must develop more effective nutritional programmes, which is exactly what NUWLIFE is trying to do in Ghana:
The great challenge is for countries to develop co-ordinated programmes of intervention which boost nutrition, expand access to health services, education, sanitation and clean water. International agencies rightly argue, based on empirical research, that mothers’ education is a more powerful factor in driving down rates of malnutrition in children than household income.
The desperate need is demonstrated by a few key facts:
870 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. This number has fallen by 130 million since 1990, but progress slowed after 2008.
The vast majority of hungry people (98 percent) live in developing countries, where almost 15% of the population is undernourished.
If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.
Under-nutrition contributes to 2.6 million deaths of children under five each year – one third of the global total.
One out of six children — roughly 100 million — in developing countries is underweight.
One in four of the world’s children are stunted. In developing countries the proportion can rise to one in three.
80 percent of the world’s stunted children live in just 20 countries.
66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.
WFP calculates that US$3.2 billion is needed per year to reach all 66 million hungry school-age children.
Sub Saharan Africa desperately needs projects to tackle these challenges. Its social and health projects must keep up with Africa’s significant economic progress – evidenced in an average 5% growth in GDP across the continent.
Despite boasting some of the world’s quickest expanding economies, as well as improvements in life expectancy and schooling, there has not been a corresponding uplift in food security and in eradicating malnutrition.
UNICEF reminded us last month that adequate nutrition in the first 1000 days is crucial to development.
Compare our failure to provide nutrition to malnourished babies with the food we waste in the developed world. A recent report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers suggested that an additional billion people could be fed if we stopped wasting food. As much as half of all food produced in the world – around 2 billion tonnes – is disposed of as waste, while people are malnourished or starve to death.
Their report, Global Food; Waste Not, Want Not, discovered that between 30% and 50% or 1.2-2bn tonnes of the world’s food production never reaches a plate or a stomach.
Another report, by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined obesity in the USA and Europe and found that if we tackled obesity it would produce enough food for another 1 billion people.
The Lancet reported that the World Health Organization predicts the obese population will double by 2015 to 700m. In the UK, nearly a quarter of adults are classed obese, twice as many as there were in the 1980s.
Mahatma Gandhi, was right when he said of our insatiable appetite for endless consumption, that there is “sufficient in this world for people’s needs but not for their greeds”.
Motec know all this but with a combination of heart and head is doing something about it. Its project in Jirapa deserves our support. It’s wonderful that they have brought their message into the heart of Parliament.”
Lord Alton introduced Motec’s founder and President of Motec Life UK, Dr.Paul Ofori-Atta, who said that the purpose of the evening was to focus on the plight of malnourished children in sub-Saharan Africa:
My Lord, Professor David Alton- chief patron of Motec Life UK, noble member of Parliament Sir Tony Baldry, honourable representatives of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ghana, His Excellency Professor Danso-Boafo Ghana High Commissioner represented by Mr Peter Taylor, Head of Political & Economic Affairs, His Worshipful Mayor of the Borough of Dacorum, Councillor Herbert Chapman and Mrs Chapman, co-patrons Mr Peter Dyson of Hertfordshire and Mrs Dyson, and Mrs Marian Barnor Chair, Board of Directors, Merchant bank of Ghana, Accra, Mr Emmanuel Akuffo MBE, Patron, Ghana Doctors and Dentist Association of UK, and wife Mrs Akuffo, colleagues, my elegant wife Gladys, comrade Trustees of Motec Life –UK, the modern nightingale of nursing Mrs Georgina Gaisie, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I join Right Honourable David Alton in welcoming you to this evening’s reception.
This event has been facilitated by Lord Alton and we are very grateful to him for this esteemed privilege.
I consider myself blessed, and indeed humbled to stand before you this evening, on the occasion of ‘May Day call’ on behalf of Motec and malnourished children across the globe, especially impoverished sub-Saharan Africa. And what a place to choose to remind ourselves of the plight of the impoverished families and children – the institution of fairness, where important international changes are made, ratified and implemented – the House of Lords. Today, we are gathered here to focus on malnutrition in the world especially sub-Saharan Africa with the hope that our little efforts can have far reaching benefits.
Ghana has contributed to the medical vocabulary and focus on malnutrition, by naming one of the disease conditions ‘kwashiorkor’. The name comes from the Ga language of Accra, and describes the unsightly, bloated-plump-child syndrome, which occurs when attention is swapped from the preceding baby to the one that has just been born. Kwashiorkor is protein deficient–high calorie malnutrition, one of the most serious and most widespread forms of malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to statistics from the Ghana Health Service, 60% of the 10.5 million deaths per annum of children under the age of five worldwide, is caused by malnutrition. 30% of the children are stunted, 22% are underweight and 6% of children aged between six months and five years have severe anaemia (Health 28 October 2005, Ghana Health Service). About 12,000 children in Ghana alone die each year from malnutrition. The statistics also indicate that under-nutrition contributes to about half of all child deaths beyond early infancy whilst one out of every thirteen children in Ghana die before their fifth birthday mostly as a result of under-nutrition (Ghana Health News, Sept. 22, 2012).
We note that Ghana has enjoyed sustained economic growth in recent years, however, this favourable situation has not filtered down to where it is most needed, leaving the health and nutrition status of many vulnerable children in dire straits. It is so serious that Ghana organized a workshop on Nutrition Advocacy Communications under the theme ‘Build the Future, Invest Now in Nutrition’ in 2012.
The situation is very uncomfortable looking across the sub-region.
Today we want to highlight the need for governments to continue to play a major role and to provide support for non-governmental organisations in the prevention of, and the fight against malnutrition in children. We intend to share with you our thoughts, joys, experiences, and wisdom from the shortfalls and failures that we came across in our work, in one of the harshest and poorest environments in the world, the Jirapa District of Ghana. This is a district with a population of about 100,000 people living in an area of about 1,400km square. The plight of these people attracted Comic relief to visit the district in February 2012, during which education was looked into. The issues of malnutrition and direct health care were not touched. We have identified the contribution nutrition and education could make in supporting children in our NUWLIFE project. We want Nutrition to Work for Life and we are working with the local chief (Naa Ansoleh Ganaa II), the local hospital Jirapa St Joseph’s district hospital and the people of Jirapa, to facilitate a sustainable support for the children and their families.
We recognise that life is not worthwhile unless it has been useful and made a positive difference to the people we see or never get to know.
We are here today because we care, and want to be counted among those who touch the lives of people in need.
We want to be filled with renewed dedication to humanity, with the hope that we will continue to support good causes.
We want to be inspired by this dynamic house and the people who work in it, like Rt Honourable David Alton and influence good changes in the world.
Above all, in the true spirit of this House, we are here to be part of the history that focuses minds to diminish, and eventually abolish one of the cruellest forms of preventable disease that this modern world has ever witnessed – food deprivation in the midst of plenty, with the unnecessary loss of young lives, at a time when we as a nation, are seeing huge quantities of food being destroyed.
Motec’s Trustee responsible for education and international affairs Dr Louisa Draper will recall the journey that we have been through the past few years. We have been supported throughout this journey by The Ghana High Commission and Lord Alton, from whom we have enjoyed responsible inspirational and unadulterated guidance. It is no surprise that Lord Alton is Professor of good citizenship at Liverpool John Moores University.
We appreciate the contributions that Lord Alton, our consortium of patrons, health workers and the British public especially the people of the Borough of Dacorum, have made in support of the NUWLIFE project.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy.
My Lord, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Let us enjoy our evening to the full, as we draw the attention of the world to the children muted by hunger. We can lend them a voice and a hand of friendship for a healthy start in life and hope for the future.
A new report just released from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) “Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress” focuses attention on this remarkable ‘window of opportunity’ during which adequate nutrition, vitamins and minerals can prevent irreversible physical and cognitive developmental damage.
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of reports that mutineers in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo have received assistance from foreign military officials.
My Lords, we have studied the United Nations Group of Experts report and believe it to be credible. We call on the countries named in the report to seek a sustainable resolution to the conflict, and one that breaks the cycle of violence.
I am grateful to my noble friend for that Answer, but is he aware that Presidents Kabila and Kagame have agreed that the 11-nation International Conference on the Great Lakes Region should work with the AU and the UN to establish a neutral force along the Rwanda-Congo border? Has President Kagame discussed with our Prime Minister which countries are offering to commit troops while Rwanda withdraws its support from the M23 rebels? Secondly, the Tutsi leader, Senator Mwangachuchu, claims that the M23 rebellion resulted from the ICC judgment against Thomas Lubanga and the indictment of Bosco Ntaganda for recruiting child soldiers and other crimes. Has the Prime Minister offered UK assistance, or has any other agency offered assistance in the pursuit and capture of Bosco Ntaganda?
In answer to my noble friend’s questions, yes I am aware of the Great Lakes conference agreement by Presidents Kabila and Kagame and others that they should consider the idea of a border force, but it is still only at the thinking stage. Did my right honourable friend the Prime Minister discuss this with President Kagame when he saw him a few weeks ago? The answer is no, because the propositions of the Great Lakes group had not come forward at that point. The Prime Minister expressed extreme concern at the Group of Experts report that Rwanda might be involved in backing the M23, but other developments have taken place since.
Has the ICC judgment against Thomas Lubanga created an atmosphere in which the M23 rebellion and breakaway from the Congolese army has taken place? I have to say that it may have played a part, but it is very hard to say. It may have been one of the reasons why Bosco Ntaganda and others retreated from their previous co-operation with the Congo army and have set up a mutineers’ group again. Have we offered, and has my right honourable friend offered, UK assistance in the pursuit and capture of Bosco, who is of course indicted by the ICC? No, because it is the responsibility of the DRC itself to co-operate fully with the ICC, and that is what we constantly urge.
Given the importance of the African Union and South Africa and their good offices to the future of the DRC, would the Minister welcome the accession of the former Foreign Minister of South Africa, Mrs Dlamini-Zuma, to the leadership of the African Union? Her good offices are going to be absolutely crucial at this time if we are to bring peace and security to that area.
The noble Lord is absolutely right, and I certainly welcome that accession. The African Union is playing an increasingly positive part in facing up to the regional issues in the centre of Africa and at the centre of its concerns. We certainly welcome that. Obviously the African Union has played a key part in the International Conference on the Great Lakes, which was in the margins of the meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa the other day. It is a very good prospect that South Africa is playing a leading part, as the noble Lord describes.
My Lords, was the Minister’s reply to the noble Lord, Lord Chidgey, an acceptance that Rwanda has been aiding and abetting not only M23 but the other six rebel groups that have led to 1.4 million people being displaced in the Kivu in eastern Congo? That being the case, why are we not using the £344 million of aid which we are providing to Rwanda as leverage to persuade Rwanda not to aid and abet these insurgent groups, and to do rather more to bring to justice people such as Bosco Ntaganda, who has been responsible for the recruitment of child soldiers, which has led to the deaths of countless numbers of people—a haemorrhaging loss of life that dwarfs even the terrible and tragic events in Syria by comparison?
In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Alton, no one questions the atrocities and misery of these various armies. I have counted five different armies and groups involved in killing and fighting each other in the region, and there is an extreme danger of this spreading and creating mayhem more widely on both humanitarian and security grounds. That is certainly the case.
As to our leverage, our aid programme is not quite as large as the sum mentioned by the noble Lord. I have a figure of £198 million a year to the DRC, and £83 million a year to Rwanda. Certainly our judgment is that, through that aid, we have the authority and the leverage to influence the situation. I spoke to the Foreign Minister of Rwanda, Louise Mushikiwabo, about three weeks ago, as did my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Development and my honourable friend Mr Bellingham. We all impressed on her and her colleagues the necessity of facing up to the reality, and of Rwanda’s activity, as reported in the Group of Experts, to cease and to make way for a proper solution to the conflict. We are using our leverage and influence in a very nasty situation, but the way we do it obviously varies from country to country.
My Lords, I am very grateful for the opportunity to ask a question in this particular context, because I think the plight of the Congo is well known to everyone in this House. The issue of regional co-operation has already been flagged indirectly in what has been said. One of the questions I would like to ask is to do with what Her Majesty’s Government are doing to foster a broader regional strategic engagement involving more than simply the Governments of Rwanda and Congo. As part of that regional question, I am very concerned about a cross-border issue in the region: the plight of the indigenous peoples and indigenous minorities such as the Batwa. Twelve months ago I met the Batwa community in Congo and was dismayed to find what little attention some local authorities, especially by the United Nations, give to their plight. Are the Government aware of this?
I am very grateful to the most reverend Primate for his question about the regional aspects, which are vital. May I answer him in this way? First, my honourable friend Mr Bellingham, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary concerned with African matters, was at the African Union conference last week and talked to regional leaders in detail all the time. Secondly, we have been promoting the idea of regional dialogue between the countries concerned. Thirdly, we are the third largest humanitarian donor trying to grapple with the situation. Fourthly, there is the matter, which my noble friend raised, of the Great Lakes group and its movement towards the idea of detailed regional co-operation and the involvement of all the key players in the region in solving this problem themselves. The regional aspect is very important, and I fully agree with the most reverend Primate that this is what we should concentrate on.
As to the cross-border issue, which was his other question—
Noble Lords: Oh!
I have been asked many questions, which produces many answers. The cross-border issue is very serious and we are looking at it very closely.
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady King, has been trying very hard to get in.
My Lords, I have visited the Great Lakes region on 10 occasions over a decade and I have never ceased to be amazed by the resilience and dignity of the local populations and the barbarity and scale of the atrocities visited on them, such as a nine month-old baby who was raped with a military-issue rifle and who then sustained terrible gunshot wounds. Does the Minister agree that we need to hold Rwanda to account, and that we should also hold the Congolese army to account? Could he press for more military tribunals so that we can play our role in ensuring that innocent victims such as that nine month-old baby girl get the justice they deserve?
Yes. Obviously we encourage the bringing to account of the very evil people who are committing these atrocities; there is no question at all about that. Bosco Ntaganda has been indicted by the ICC, and Rwanda has its own tribunal and court for assessing the horrors of the past. In all other aspects of bringing those involved to account, we will certainly press as hard as we can in the ways I have described in detail to your Lordships over the past five minutes.
August 5th 2012
According to the International Rescue Committee, since 1998 almost five and a half million people have died from war-related causes in the Congo (the DRC). Many have died violently but even more have died from diseases which have attacked displaced people left without sanitation, homes or food. The IRC say that up to 45,000 people continue to die every month. Although this makes the Congo the world’s deadliest conflict since the Second World War, it rarely makes our TV screens or news reports.
The scandalous conflict in the Congo and the haemorrhaging loss of life – often driven by power hungry militias and the pillaging of the country’s natural resources – dwarfs even the barbarism in Syria. It exposes the West to two things – the accusation that it considers a life in Africa to be worth far less than a life in other places; and the accusation that it has aided and abetted some of those responsible for this carnage.
The worst of the conflict is in the east of the country – especially North and South Kivu.
There are now 1.4 million internally displaced people in the Kivus – including 220,000 new IDPs. Since April 1st around 200,000 people have been forced to flee in North Kivu; and in South Kivu, 225,000 people were displaced between January and March, a 235% increase compared to the same period in 2011.
Rwanda has been accused of deliberately destabilising the region so that it can pillage rich mineral resources, weaken its Congolese neighbour, and ultimate encourage a secession from the DRC. Last month a leaked United Nations report by the Group of Experts pointed the finger at Rwanda implicating it in what has become known as the M23 Mutiny.
Last April 300 soldiers in the DRC’s army mutinied, forming the ‘March 23 Movement ‘ – popularly called M23. Led by Bosco Ntaganda, a former member of the Rwandan Patriotic Army he was indicted in May 2008 by the International Criminal Court for enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and using them as child soldiers.
The charity World Vision, has collected evidence that M23 has actively conscripted children into the latest upsurge of violence. They quote Jean Claver Rukomeza, a resident of Runyonyi, one of the strongholds of the M23 rebellion, as stating: “I saw at least three or four little fighters accompanying each adult soldier.”
Lambert Mende, the Congolese Minister for Communications, has said that “Between March and April 2012, Rwanda recruited around 200 very young children which it trained and sent out as combat troops in M23.” The same Minister has, meanwhile, had to deny reports that the DRC has armed and equipped groups hostile to Rwanda and encouraged them to take part in tit-for-tat reprisals.
The US State Department’s assessment points to Rwanda’s role in precipitating these latest killings: “We are deeply concerned about the report’s findings that Rwanda is implicated in the provision of support to Congolese rebel groups, including mutinous elements now operating as the M23 armed group. Any such support threatens to further undermine security and fuel displacement in the region. We are also concerned about the report’s findings that the mutineers have forcibly recruited child soldiers.”
The Congolese army has responded to the mutiny by withdrawing units from other parts of the Kivus (an area the size of California) to fight the mutineers. This has left vast areas without security and unprotected. In a lawless and dangerous part of the world this has allowed some of the other militias to capitalise on this situation and, in the vacuum, opportunistically to seek to impose their control.
So, beyond the obvious concern that we should have for the phenomenal loss of life, what has this got do with us? A great deal.
First, we are Rwanda’s biggest bilateral donor of aid. Between now and 2015 we will have given them £344 million. We encouraged them to join the Commonwealth and we have upheld President Paul Kagame as a model leader for Africa.
I have visited Rwanda and met President Kagame.
He had the unenviable job of rebuilding his country after a genocide which claimed the lives of one million Tutus. The shameful failure of the international community to stop that genocide instilled a sense of guilt in Western donor countries. But that has led them to turn a blind eye as Rwanda has restricted democratic rights and, far more dangerously, has become involved in the destabilisation of the Kivus.
So, it was surprising, that when President Kagame recently met David Cameron in London, the incursions in the Kivus did not feature in their discussions. Anneke Van Woudenberg from Human Rights Watch says that the UK is “worryingly silent” on the deteriorating situation.
After the Prime Minister met President Kagame a Downing Street spokesman initially said: “The Prime Minister made clear to President Kagame the UK’s serious concerns that Rwanda was providing official support to the M23 rebels in Eastern Congo,” She added: “The Prime Minister urged the President to take steps to calm the situation down and build trust in the region.”
However, the official press briefing made no mention of this and said that the discussion was simply about development issues and population control (the Government’s current obsession).
Britain should make our aid to Rwanda conditional on Rwanda desisting from acting as quartermaster in a conflict which involves the recruitment of hundreds of child soldiers and which has led to death and displacement on a vast scale.
But if we should be using leverage with Rwanda we should also be using leverage with the Congo.
Western countries simply cannot justify giving a staggering $14 billion to the DRC when only 1% has been used for security sector reform and MONUSCO (the United Nations peace keepers in Congo), with 17,000 troops, seems utterly incapable of providing the security, without which, development aid makes precious little difference for the suffering people of the Congo.