Friday, August 5, 2011

Experts to validate report of study on equivalence of certificates in ECOWAS region

Regional Conference On Migration In Africa Promotes Circular Labour Migration 
  • World Bank Plans more than $500 million in Rapid Response to Drought  

Experts to validate report of study on equivalence of certificates in ECOWAS region
A technical group of experts will meet in Lome, Togo, from 3rd to 6th August 2011 to validate the report of a feasibility study on the Equivalence of Certificates in West Africa.
In 2003, the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government adopted the Convention on Equivalence of Certificates intended to harmonize the criteria for admission into institutions of higher learning, research institutes and vocational training centres; certificates and the educational and training systems in the 15 Member States of the Community.
Consequently, the Authority constituted an ad-hoc Committee of five Member States (Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal), as well as ex-officio members as strategic partners to provide necessary guidance towards the implementation of the Convention.
These include the African and Malagasy Council for Higher Education (CAMES), the Association of African Universities (AAU), the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), among others.
In line with the 2006 recommendations of the ad-hoc Committee, the ECOWAS Commission engaged two consultants in 2009 to conduct a feasibility study for the implementation of the Convention.
The report of the consultants, which was considered by the ad-hoc Committee at its meeting in Cotonou, Benin Republic in September 2010, highlighted the list of tertiary institutions in the region as well as the courses offered and certificates issued. The report also indicated the requirements for admission and certification of various courses and made recommendations for harmonization of education systems in the region.
Based on the report of the consultants, the ad-hoc Committee also developed a broad time-lined Action Plan for the implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on Equivalence of Certificates, as a move towards strengthening comprehension and cooperation among the peoples of the region as a means of realizing the Community’s common aspirations to solidarity and greater fraternity.
The objective of the forthcoming Lome meeting is to validate the report of the consultants and make necessary recommendations based on inputs from experts in the evaluation and accreditation of academic programmes and certificates.
The meeting is also expected to develop modalities for implementation of the recommendations of the consultants and the meeting of the ad-hoc Committee; create awareness and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas in order to secure a buy-in by a wide spectrum of stakeholders; and also consider the roadmap developed by the ad-hoc Committee for the implementation of the Convention.
Ultimately, the Convention seeks to harmonize educational and training systems as a key factor in optimizing the benefits of the abundant socio-economic resources within the region.
Furthermore, the Convention would contribute to the effective implementation of the ECOWAS Protocols, Decisions, Regulations and Conventions on Free Movement, Common Investment Market, Residence and Establishment as well as trade and other human endeavours.
The ECOWAS Commission is also convinced that recognition of degrees, diplomas, certificates and other qualifications and or their equivalence is a prerequisite for increased mobility of students, teachers and specialists and a means of accelerating all-round development and achieving regional integration.
Source: Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)

Regional Conference On Migration In Africa Promotes Circular Labour Migration
Migration experts are meeting this week in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, to discuss how Africa and the European Union can benefit from organized labour migration.
The conference which opened yesterday, 25 July, 2011, has been organized by the IOM through funds from the EU’s AENEAS 2006 programme, which provides financial and technical support for countries on migration and asylum. It is attended by officials from EU, Africa and Canada as well as major international bodies, such as the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Commission (SADEC)
The conference builds on a previous event which took place in 2008, during which IOM with funds from the AENEAS 2006 programme, launched a Labour Migration Project for West Africa (LAMIWA). The project aimed at reversing the negative trends of increased irregular migrations from Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal to Europe, with Libya as the main transit country.
The conference is assessing the overall benefits of the LAMIWA programme on the participating countries, namely Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Italy. It also aims to gain understanding of different approaches taken by regional bodies to labour mobility.
One of the key areas for discussion is circular migration – a scheme whereby migrant workers from Africa enter the European labour market for a limited period of time in line with specific country entry quotas and then return home once their contracts are over.
This scheme will benefit migrants and both origin and the host countries. The countries of origin will benefit from the skills and knowledge acquired by the migrant workers, technology transfer, unemployment reduction and the remittances. Host countries will have access to migrant workers willing to fill short-term labour market needs.
Through LAMIWA project, a pilot scheme for circular migration scheme is taking place between Ghana and Italy. As part of the scheme, an initial group of twenty selected Ghanaian migrant workers will depart later this week for Italy where they will spend three months working in the agricultural sector. IOM will provide pre-departure counselling, including information on contract and working conditions as well as return and reintegration assistance in Ghana upon completion of the contract.
Apart from initiating circular migration scheme between Ghana and Italy, the funds provided by EU’s AENEAS 2006 programme, have enabled IOM to provide assistance to the governments of Ghana and Nigeria in drafting labour migration policies, and support for the two governments’ efforts to reduce irregular migration in the region.
In addition, AENEAS 2006 funding facilitated IOM to conduct national assessment of labour migration policies, legislation and practices in Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Libya.
Source: International Office of Migration (IOM)

World Bank Plans more than $500 million in Rapid Response to Drought  
On the eve of the international emergency summit on the unfolding tragedy in the Horn of Africa, the World Bank today announced it is providing more than $500 million to assist drought victims, in addition to $12 million in immediate assistance to help those worst hit by the crisis.
More than 11 million people in the region have been hit by one of the worst droughts in 60 years, resulting in widespread hunger, deaths, and the loss of subsistence crops and livestock. Rising food prices and deteriorating livestock prices have exacerbated the situation, and the UN is warning of worsening conditions in the coming months.
“Immediate relief and recovery is the first priority, and it is important to act fast to reduce human suffering,” World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick said on July 25. “But we also have an eye on the long term solutions of economic recovery and drought resilience that are key to re-establishing livelihoods and ensuring that droughts don’t take such a heavy human toll in the future.”
The International Development Association (IDA) which serves as the World Bank’s Fund for the Poorest, and the donor-funded Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) are making these funds available with more than $500 million coming from restructuring of existing projects and immediate reallocation and fast track processing of new projects, including with funding from IDA’s new Crisis Response Window, subject to approval by the Board of Executive Directors. This funding could support the following activities: (a) a regional Enhanced Drought Resilience and Livestock Recovery Program to restore livelihood in all countries in the region; (b) scale up – through additional financing – of the Ethiopia Pastoralist Community Development Project; and the Productive Safety Net Program; (c) a possible new agriculture operation in Ethiopia; and (d) a possible operation in Djibouti. Another $12 million will be immediately available in GFDRR financing to rehabilitate rural livelihoods; build drought resilience; assist farmers to resume planting in time for the next harvest through cash transfers, seeds, fertilizer, and farming tools. In Somalia, the support program will be implemented building on previous rapid response operations and partnership with the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and on their presence and ability to deliver in Somalia’s most affected areas, where circumstances permit.
The GFDRR funds are also immediately available to support regional drought resilience planning based on a regional needs assessment and developing regional capacity in Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience.
Following decades of recurring droughts in the Horn of Africa, several World Bank-financed projects have established contingency and risk financing mechanisms that will be used to immediately scale up response to drought affected communities.
“The recurring nature of drought and growing risk it poses to social and economic gains in this region calls not only for immediate relief from the current situation, but also for building long term drought resilience,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region.
This World Bank support builds on strong collaboration with national governments, international agencies, regional and non-governmental organizations. This support includes drought impact assessment in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and early livelihood recovery in partnership with the FAO. The World Bank is also supporting countries to develop early warning systems and strengthen drought management agencies that help plan crisis response.

A Wake-Up Call
“This food crisis in Eastern Africa is another startling example of why international partners need to put food first,” said Zoellick. “Agriculture is one-third of GDP and three-quarters of employment in Sub-Saharan Africa. When a crisis like this hits, millions of people suffer. Agriculture is more vulnerable to climate change than any other sector. We need a major international effort to address this challenge now. Climate-smart agriculture, including scaled-up research on drought resistant seeds, and cross-border strategies for drought risk reduction are essential over the medium and long term.”
In the longer term, it is important for countries in the Horn of Africa to prepare for recurring droughts that climate change will make more intense. An integrated approach to food security, poverty, and climate change is needed. The World Bank announced in April 2011 that rising food prices have pushed 44 million people into poverty since June 2010. Another 10 percent rise in the food price index could push 10 million more people into poverty. Global action is critical and international partners could help by supporting small holder farmers with seeds, fertilizer, better weather forecasting, and monitoring crop production; creating better ways to get produce to markets; providing food and effective social safety nets for the most vulnerable.
The World Bank Group is boosting agriculture and agriculture-related investment to $6 – $8 billion a year from $4.1 billion in 2008. The past two years of implementation of the Africa Region’s agricultural strategy achieved more than a doubling of finance to the sector, from about $0.5 billion per year in 2008 to $1.2 billion annually averaged over 2009-2010. The World Bank’s Agriculture Action Plan emphasizes increased support in five areas: raising agricultural productivity; linking farmers to markets; reducing risk and vulnerability; improving nonfarm rural employment; and making agriculture more environmentally sustainable, as well as a source of positive environmental services.
Source: The World Bank

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