Logo: Farm Radio Weekly

1404 Scott Street,
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1Y 4M8

Tel: 613-761-3650
Fax: 613-798-0990
Toll-Free: 1-888-773-7717
Email: info@farmradio.org
Web Site: http://farmradio.org/

Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Issue #271

Corruption and Compassion

Hello and welcome to issue #271 of Farm Radio Weekly. In this issue, we look at how alleged corruption affects farmers in Nigeria and Malawi, and share an article on a generous and compassionate midwife from Somaliland.

December 9 is International Anti-Corruption Day. Across the world, many people are affected by corruption in one way or another. High-level corruption has seen government officials send money to secret bank accounts in other countries, denying their countryfolk of the benefits of their nation’s wealth. But on all levels of society, there are some people who try to get ahead through dishonest means.

FRW brings you two stories about how farmers suffer when government schemes are mismanaged. Efforts are being made to correct the situations, but there may be some way to go before farmers feel the full benefits of government-led schemes.

Enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is the right to health care. To mark Human Rights Day on December 10, we highlight the work done by a Somaliland midwife, Edna Adan, in bringing a high standard of medical care to a country once badly affected by civil war.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Mr.Mandela, in your absence we continue to be inspired by your passion to do the impossible.

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

Post your comment »

Nigeria: Farmers short-changed by fertilizer subsidy (Daily Trust)

During Ramadan, many Muslims fast and pray, and try to avoid the midday heat by resting in shady, cool places.  However, this year during Ramadan, Abubakar Jibrin took several trips on his bicycle in the hot sun to a distribution point in Kembu. The young farmer from Kumo town, in northern Nigeria’s Gombe State, travelled to try to pick up two bags of government-subsidised fertilizer.

Mr. Jibrin plants rice, maize, millet and groundnuts on two hectares of land. These crops require about six 50 kilogram bags of fertilizer per season. At the market price of 6,000 naira ($38 US) per bag, it would cost him 36,000 naira ($228 US) to buy the required amount.

Mr. Jibrin had registered for a federal government fertilizer subsidy scheme, the Growth Enhancement Support (GES), which would enable him buy two bags at 2,750 naira each ($17 US). But he got no fertilizer even after undertaking the twelve kilometre round-trip three times.

Frustrated, he stopped going to Kembu for fertilizer and was forced to buy a few bags locally at market price. He says, “Even when they [did] come to distribute, they don’t follow the queue. They will just be giving the fertilizer to people outside the queue….even if they are not registered farmers.”

Babajide Awoyelu, a farmer from Kajola Ijesha in Osun State, south-western Nigeria, had a similar experience. In February, he registered for GES.

Mr. Awoyelu says, “They promised to give us two bags of fertilizers, vegetables seedlings and chemicals but they kept on saying the items have not been brought to them. I stopped going because I saw they were deceiving us.”

Federal government and state governments are expected to subsidize fertilizer through GES so that farmers could purchase it at half the market price. Each farmer is supposed to get two bags of fertiliser at the subsidised rate, along with a free bag of either improved maize or rice.

When launching the programme in 2011, Agriculture Minister Akinwumi Adesina said it was designed to tackle corruption in the fertiliser distribution system. Much of it was being diverted by officials and passed to well-connected politicians or sold. The government lost nearly five billion US dollars between 1980 and 2010.

In theory, the GES scheme aims to cut out middle men, bypass fraudulent officials and sell fertilizer directly to farmers. The government licensed a process under which dealers sell inputs to registered farmers.

Osho Akinbolawa is the director in charge of GES for the federal government. He says, “I am definitely sure that we have crossed even over 80 per cent, in terms of reaching our target.”

A recent investigation found that none of the registered centres were selling at the subsidized price.  Farmers across the country were asked to pay more, with officials telling them that the additional amount is to take care of transport and storage.

In spite of the challenges the GES scheme has faced, however, some farmers say the new system is far better than the previous method of fertilizer distribution as it is far more efficient and less corrupt.

Abdullahi Sule is a physically challenged farmer from Bauchi State who benefitted from the GES scheme. He was full of praise for the federal government for introducing it. Mr. Sule says: “I am extremely happy to get this support, and we thank the government for subsidising fertilizer for us to use. I came all the way from our village to get these fertilizers after receiving a text message from the official.”

Post your comment »

Malawi: Efforts to rescue subsidy programme affected by corruption may yet bear fruit (IPS)

Gogo Munthali dissolves into tears every morning as she worries about what to feed her five orphaned grandchildren. Her youngest grandson is living with AIDS. She says, “Samson may not be with me for long; he is on treatment and I can’t give him the food he needs.”

Mrs. Munthali lives in Rumphi district. Her village, over 400 kilometres north of Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, was among the first beneficiaries of Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme, or FISP, which was introduced eight years ago.

Over a million small-scale farmers were provided with subsidized fertilizers and hybrid maize. Village headmen identified beneficiaries, with priority being given to households headed by women and children.

Maize output more than doubled nationwide in the first two years. This pushed economic growth to nearly seven and a half per cent, exceeding the World Bank target of six per cent for sub-Saharan Africa.

But today, Mrs. Munthali is suffering. Due to the late delivery of subsidized fertilizers, she is unable to reproduce the crop yields she had started to achieve. The 65-year-old widow says, “For the last four years … I have had to plant my crop three weeks late and this has reduced my harvest drastically.”

Mary Juma, from Malawi’s Central Region has a similar story. She says, “We got so used to waiting for cheap fertilizers every year but now things have changed. [One day] we are beneficiaries, the next day we are not.”  When the FISP fertilizer was delivered to her area, it was well below the required amount. Many families did not receive any fertilizer at all.

Chris Chisoni is the national secretary for Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. The organization conducted a study in 19 districts of Malawi to find out why fertilizers arrived late, whether corruption was involved, and how this affected small-scale farmers. He says: “The story of FISP since it was launched has always been about how it has helped reduce poverty … no one has bothered to find out what has really happened to the poor farmers being targeted.”

Mr. Chisoni continues: “We discovered that those entrusted with the responsibility of selling the inputs are asking the poor farmers to pay more than the 500 kwacha ($1.20 US), which is the recommended subsidy price, forcing many who cannot afford [it] to do without.”

Wide scale corruption within FISP has played a huge part in the failure to improve the lives of many farmers. An investigation into the programme by Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau was conducted in 2007, but has not been publicly released. However, Inter Press Service reports that FISP nearly collapsed in 2005 after a preferred supplier from Saudi Arabia failed to deliver fertilizers on time.

No action was taken by the government when this situation arose, and now delays in the delivery of fertilizers have now become the norm.

Mrs. Joyce Banda, Malawi’s current President, promised this year to improve the situation. The Ministry of Agriculture subsequently disqualified local and international suppliers who were delivering the inputs late. This year, many companies have failed to pass the stringent measures that have now been put in place.

Jeffrey Luhanga is the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture. He blames the former government for fuelling the corruption that affected small-scale farmers.

He says, “This is a good program with good intentions but failure to rid [the program of] corruption has ended up in some bad results for the program and punished farmers and made others rich.”

Post your comment »

Malawi: Efforts to rescue subsidy programme affected by corruption may yet bear fruit (IPS)

Gogo Munthali dissolves into tears every morning as she worries about what to feed her five orphaned grandchildren. Her youngest grandson is living with AIDS. She says, “Samson may not be with me for long; he is on treatment and I can’t give him the food he needs.”

Mrs. Munthali lives in Rumphi district. Her village, over 400 kilometres north of Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, was among the first beneficiaries of Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme, or FISP, which was introduced eight years ago.

Over a million small-scale farmers were provided with subsidized fertilizers and hybrid maize. Village headmen identified beneficiaries, with priority being given to households headed by women and children.

Maize output more than doubled nationwide in the first two years. This pushed economic growth to nearly seven and a half per cent, exceeding the World Bank target of six per cent for sub-Saharan Africa.

But today, Mrs. Munthali is suffering. Due to the late delivery of subsidized fertilizers, she is unable to reproduce the crop yields she had started to achieve. The 65-year-old widow says, “For the last four years … I have had to plant my crop three weeks late and this has reduced my harvest drastically.”

Mary Juma, from Malawi’s Central Region has a similar story. She says, “We got so used to waiting for cheap fertilizers every year but now things have changed. [One day] we are beneficiaries, the next day we are not.”  When the FISP fertilizer was delivered to her area, it was well below the required amount. Many families did not receive any fertilizer at all.

Chris Chisoni is the national secretary for Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. The organization conducted a study in 19 districts of Malawi to find out why fertilizers arrived late, whether corruption was involved, and how this affected small-scale farmers. He says: “The story of FISP since it was launched has always been about how it has helped reduce poverty … no one has bothered to find out what has really happened to the poor farmers being targeted.”

Mr. Chisoni continues: “We discovered that those entrusted with the responsibility of selling the inputs are asking the poor farmers to pay more than the 500 kwacha ($1.20 US), which is the recommended subsidy price, forcing many who cannot afford [it] to do without.”

Wide scale corruption within FISP has played a huge part in the failure to improve the lives of many farmers. An investigation into the programme by Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau was conducted in 2007, but has not been publicly released. However, Inter Press Service reports that FISP nearly collapsed in 2005 after a preferred supplier from Saudi Arabia failed to deliver fertilizers on time.

No action was taken by the government when this situation arose, and now delays in the delivery of fertilizers have now become the norm.

Mrs. Joyce Banda, Malawi’s current President, promised this year to improve the situation. The Ministry of Agriculture subsequently disqualified local and international suppliers who were delivering the inputs late. This year, many companies have failed to pass the stringent measures that have now been put in place.

Jeffrey Luhanga is the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture. He blames the former government for fuelling the corruption that affected small-scale farmers.

He says, “This is a good program with good intentions but failure to rid [the program of] corruption has ended up in some bad results for the program and punished farmers and made others rich.”

Post your comment »

Somaliland: Midwife puts women’s rights at the heart of her hospital (Trust)

Whilst patrolling the wards of the hospital she founded in Somaliland, Edna Adan Ismail holds the hand of a teenage girl about to have an operation. She urges her to be brave.

It is an approach that owes much to the influence of her father, Dr. Adan Ismail. He used to ask his daughter, now 76, to wash forceps and make bandages out of old bed sheets as a young girl.

Ms. Adan says that her father taught her how to be compassionate and generous. She adds, “He taught me the value of looking after the sick. One of his favourite expressions was ‘if you cannot do it with your heart, your hands will never do it.'”

In 1950, her father was called away to work in a relief camp for people affected by a severe drought, dubbed the “Season of Red Winds.” He left notes for his then 12-year-old daughter asking her to make sure patients received their medication or had their sutures removed.

Ms. Adan says: “I had no idea what these medicines were for but I was the boss’ daughter, so I would just go to whoever was in charge of the hospital and say ‘by the way, Dad wanted you to remove these.'”

And she vowed, one day, to build the kind of hospital that her father would have wished to have.

The Edna Adan University Hospital first opened its doors in 2002. Patients have come from as far as Mogadishu, more than 800 kilometres south, and neighbouring Ethiopia, to seek treatment in the well-equipped facility. Ms. Adan and her medical team have delivered more than 14,000 babies and treated more than 140,000 patients for problems ranging from dysentery to diabetes.

Ms. Adan says it had been a lifelong dream to open a hospital in her native Somaliland. The desire increased when she saw how the civil war had ruined the healthcare system in the territory which declared independence from Somalia in 1991.

She lives at the hospital in a modest apartment and shares meals with her staff. During a break, she recalls, “Midwives, and nurses, who had been trained in Somaliland or Somalia before the war had either fled the country or died.”

One factor in Somaliland’s relative success has been her hospital’s focus on training a generation of midwives. Experts give Ms. Adan much of the credit for Somaliland’s maternal mortality rate being a quarter that of Somalia, where one in 12 women die in childbirth and one baby in eight can expect to die before the age of five.

In Africa, fewer than 50 per cent of births are attended by a skilled health worker, which contributes to the high numbers of women who die as a result of childbirth. But over the years, Ms. Adan has trained 300 midwives, and sent them to help women give birth safely in the most remote parts of the country. The expense has largely been paid for through her own money.

She says: “What I want to leave behind for my people is not only a building, not only four walls and bricks and beds. I want to leave people who are trained, who are compassionate, and who are as passionate about what they are doing as I am.”

Post your comment »

Notes to broadcasters: Corruption

Attitudes on corruption are changing. As recently as ten years ago, corruption was only whispered about. Today there are signs of growing intolerance toward corruption and more and more politicians and chief executives are being tried and convicted.

The General Assembly of the United Nations designated December 9 as International Anti-Corruption Day, to raise awareness of corruption. Find out more about the Day through this link: http://www.actagainstcorruption.org/actagainstcorruption/

What can you do about corruption? Find out here: http://www.actagainstcorruption.org/actagainstcorruption/en/about-the-campaign/what-can-you-do.html

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, or UNODC, is charged with leading the fight against corruption and other global crime issues. Visit their website to find out more: http://www.actagainstcorruption.org/actagainstcorruption/fr/about-the-campaign/what-can-you-do.html

Corruption is a serious problem in the water sector. One study estimates that, if African water utilities functioned in an environment free of corruption, their costs would be reduced by almost two thirds. Farm Radio International’s Resource Pack #92 (November 2010) features an issue pack, scripts and stories on water integrity. Access it through this address: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-92-water-integrity/

Farm Radio Weekly published Notes to broadcasters on water integrity in issue #133 (November 2010). It contains a discussion on corruption in the water industry, and the effect on people caused by corruption in general. There are several links to websites of organizations which aim to highlight and tackle the problem, as well as ideas on how to create radio programming on corruption. Revisit these Notes though this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/11/01/notes-to-broadcasters-on-water-integrity-2/

Post your comment »

Notes to broadcasters: Human rights and maternal mortality

December 10 is recognised as Human Rights Day. The UN General Assembly proclaimed the Day in 1950, to bring the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. For more information and resources, follow this link: http://www.un.org/en/events/humanrightsday/. More general information on human rights can be found on the UN Human Rights page: http://www.un.org/en/rights/

In 2013, the Office of the UN High Commission for Human Rights marks 20 years since its establishment. Find out more about its work here: http://at20.ohchr.org/

There is also a history of the development of human rights available on Wikipedia. You can read that at this address: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights

The full text of the Universal Declaration of Human rights can be found on the UN website, via this link: http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/

Farm Radio Weekly produced Notes to broadcasters on human rights stories in issue #178 (October 2011). It provides resources to support journalists who wish to write human rights or gender-based stories. It also has links to several FRW stories on these subjects. Please revisit those Notes here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/10/31/notes-to-broadcasters-on-human-rights-stories/

The story about Edna Adan mentions the subject of women who die as a result of childbirth, or maternal mortality. There is plenty of information about this issue on the UN World Health Organization website. Go to this address to access statistics and analysis: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/. More resources are available through this link: http://www.who.int/topics/maternal_health/en/

Africa has the technology to save the lives of women. Africans have the powerful spirit and the will to demand their rights. More than this, there are thousands of heroes and heroines of maternal health across the continent. Find out more about the African Union’s Campaign for accelerated reduction of maternal mortality, or CARMMA, through this link: http://www.carmma.org/; and through the African Union’s website: http://pages.au.int/carmma

What is the situation in your listening area? Do women have access to trained medical professionals, or are they reliant on more traditional help, from family members and older, female members of the community? How far are the nearest ante- and post-natal clinics? Is reliable and safe transport available? Are these issues talked about amongst you listeners? What do men think are the important issues, compared to the opinions of women? Start a discussion on the airwaves with pre-recorded opinion, in-studio experts and a phone-in for those listening: you might be surprised by the responses that you get.

Post your comment »

FRW news in brief

Farm Radio Weekly has a new trial resource for you: Farmer news briefs. These are stories from across the continent which have been adapted from print or online sources and are suitable for use in your regular farm radio program. Read them, edit them, broadcast them, localize them, or simply use them as background info. Want more details? Click the link under the story to see the original article.

Please let us know what you think. Do you want to see Farmer news briefs in Farm Radio Weekly on a regular basis? Email us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

1- Changing laws to combat “sextortion”

In countries all over the world, the problem of “sextortion” is rampant. The International Association of Women Judges, or IAWJ, defines sextortion as an abuse of power involving a demand for sexual favors.

A Tanzanian judge says it wasn’t until 2007 that solicitation of sexual favours was recognized as a form of corruption in her country. Experts say there are no laws to date to combat sextortion, as it falls under many different statutes, but a study over the last three years led to a 48-page guide for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, law enforcement, and others involved in the justice systems around the world.

The IAWJ identified legal provisions under which sextortion can be prosecuted and is encouraging countries to change laws to put an end to this form of corruption.

To read the article in full, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20131202171549-yeq1d/?source=hpbreaking

2- Western Kenya battling cassava viral disease

Cassava mosaic disease has reemerged in Busia, west Kenya.

Farmers have lost their cassava crops to the viral disease, which is spread both by pests from neighbouring Uganda and the cross-border trade in infected stems. Most people living in Western Kenya use cassava either in ugali, a dish cooked to a porridge-like consistency, or eat it as a meal on its own.

Cassava mosaic disease is the most severe and widespread disease of cassava, limiting production of the crop in sub-Saharan Africa. Until recently the disease was being contained with the advent of a highly resistant cassava variety bred by the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute.

To read the article in full, go to: http://www.africasciencenews.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1007:farmers-wary-as-cassava-viral-disease-reemerge-in-busia&catid=49:food&Itemid=113

3- Somalia cyclone threatens further suffering

In the wake of the tropical cyclone in Somalia on November 8, 2013, which killed more than 100 people and devastated livestock and infrastructure, fears of a waterborne disease outbreak is causing further instability.

The cyclone lashed Puntland for four days causing flash floods, icy winds and mudslides, which destroyed houses, schools, farms and mosques.

A representative of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent societies stated the amount of dead livestock around the country may cause waterborne diseases, due to contaminated water sources. Humanitarian access, as well as safe drinking water, is needed to halt the spread of disease in remote areas affected by the cyclone.

To read the article in full, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99190/disease-hunger-fears-after-somalia-cyclone

4- Is Africa ready for GM?

Genetically modified crops are making inroads in Africa, but many African policymakers are still divided on whether to use GM crops to tackle poverty and food security.

South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt and Sudan have all seen improvements in productivity, according to a recent study called “Status of development, regulation, and adoption of GM agriculture” published in the journal Food Policy.

But the study found that effective regulatory frameworks covering bio-safety need to be in place for GM to be accepted and adopted by other countries in Africa. Only South Africa performed a European-style risk assessment and has shown the most support for GM technologies out of the six countries (Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa and Tunisia) in which the study was carried out.

To read the article in full, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99218/is-africa-ready-for-gm

Post your comment »

Call for applications: ‘Power of the Pen’ roundtable for sub-Saharan African journalists

The International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) is hosting the “Power of the Pen” roundtable: an interactive, three-day event co-sponsored by the U.S. State Department to be held in Accra, Ghana, in the spring of 2014. IACA is an international organization created by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Based in Austria, it seeks to empower professionals in the field of anti-corruption.

Participants will have the opportunity to discuss with well-known journalists from the region about the impact of corruption on fair and independent reporting, ethics, investigative reporting, legal frameworks, and best practice.

Applicants must currently be working in print, broadcast (TV or radio) or photographic media in sub-Saharan Africa. Candidates must fill out the online application form and submit a letter of motivation, a CV and published or broadcast samples of work (including date, place and medium of publication).

The roundtable will be held in English, but translation into other UN languages is possible.

IACA will cover the tuition fee, accommodation, travel, meals and incidental expenses. For more information, visit: http://www.iaca.int/standardized-trainings/power-of-the-pen

The deadline for applications is December 17, 2013.

Post your comment »

Toolkit for journalists covering human rights issues

Internews is an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide to give people the news and information they need, the ability to connect and the means to make their voices heard. They have released a web resource, “Speak up, speak out: A toolkit for reporting on human rights issues”, which tackles issues such as gender violence, human trafficking and workforce exploitation.

This toolkit is both a human rights reference guide and a workbook for journalists and civic activists who want to improve their ability to report on human rights issues in a fair, accurate, and sensitive way.

The free PDF download of the guide is available in English through this link: http://www.internews.org/sites/default/files/resources/Internews_SpeakUpSpeakOut_Full.pdf. French, Arabic and Spanish-language translations are planned for the future.

More information about Internews, along with further resources for journalists can be found through their website: http://www.internews.org/

Post your comment »

Audio Postcard: Focus group brings youth together to share insights on mental health in Malawi

Farm Radio International’s latest efforts in Malawi look to address the problem of depression among young people, which affects five to seven per cent of adolescents in the country. A serious issue, depression can undermine performance in school and work, cause youth to withdraw from family and social networks, and may lead to suicide.

In partnership with broadcasters, youth groups, schools and healthcare providers, Farm Radio International is using  interactive radio shows to minimize the stigma that surrounds mental health, rally community support and increase understanding.

You can listen to the postcard, presented by Stephen Sherman, a Farm Radio intern based with Farm Radio Trust in Lilongwe, Malawi, through this link: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/2013/11/29/audio-postcard-focus-group-brings-youth-together-to-share-insights-on-mental-health-in-malawi/

To learn more about the project featured in this audio postcard, Integrated Mental Health In Malawi, funded by Grand Challenges Canada, please visit the project page here: http://www.farmradio.org/portfolio/integrated-mental-health-in-malawi-and-zambia/

To revisit any of the other audio postcards Farm Radio International’s archive, please click on this link: http://www.farmradio.org/ourblog/category/audio-postcard/

Post your comment »

How corruption can affect farmers

Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement. Corruption can occur on different scales.

There is corruption that occurs as small favours between individuals, corruption that affects the government on a large scale, and corruption that is so prevalent that it is part of the everyday structure of society.

This week’s script, Zamana, or ‘The confession, gives us insight into the core of a system of corruption that afflicted Zamana village, located in the fictional country of Manibu. Lying in the Sudan-Sahel region, it has a rainy season that lasts only three months.

Therefore, the problem of drinking water in the area is acute, and the problem of water for agriculture is even more serious. Irrigation would increase and diversify farm production if water could be harvested. Near Zamana, a dam was built, swamps reclaimed, and the promise of a better future given.

But how much money got lost before the dam was built? Bribes here, promises there.

This script is a mini-drama based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station.

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-92-water-integrity/zamana-or-the-confession/

Post your comment »