One million jobs in four years

first_imgCage assistants Moeketsi Momlekoa andNdlaka Mtano at the shaft at Harmony Gold Mine in Welkom, Free State. The Expanded Public Works Programme aims to give the jobless short-term work that will train them in the skills they need tofind permanent employment. (Image:Graeme Williams, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com.For more photos, visit the image library.)Janine ErasmusThe Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), set up by the South African government in 2004 to fight poverty by using existing government budgets to create jobs in labour-intensive projects, has reached one of its major goals a full year ahead of schedule – it has created over a million new job opportunities.In his State of the Nation address in 2003 President Thabo Mbeki announced the new initiative, aimed at drawing at least 1-million jobless people into productive work between 2004 and 2009. Of those, 40% would be women, 30% would be youth and 2% would be disabled.The EPWP arose out of the 2003 Growth and Development Summit, which explored the causes of unemployment. The programme is the major instrument of the Department of Public Works’ (DPW) poverty alleviation strategy, working as a bridge between South Africa’s formal and informal economies.The EPWP has two major components: creating employment using labour-intensive methods, and giving people skills they can use to find jobs when their work in the EPWP is done.Although the projects have a limited lifespan, the main focus is on skills development and access to work, which allows the previously unemployed to take their first steps into the job market.Making an impactIn her annual budget speech in parliament in May 2008, Minister of Public Works Thoko Didiza said the target of a million jobs had been reached by the end of April. Exactly 1 077 801 work opportunities had been created, way ahead of the March 2009 deadline.The EPWP had also surpassed its targets for women and youth, who made up 47% and 40% respectively of those employed.Didiza cited examples of the impact the EPWP has had on the lives of ordinary South Africans. One is Samuel Mangena of Limpopo, a former farmworker who, with the help of the EPWP, brought two acres of land under cultivation, growing tomatoes and other crops. He is now so successful he is able to employ six workers full-time and another 10 seasonally. “Such a daring spirit of entrepreneurial adventure should be an inspiration to the country,” said Didiza.She also mentioned the Siyazenzela waste management project, which combines job creation with care for the environment. In the programme, modelled after one used in Curituba, Brazil, poor households collect garbage from their neighbourhoods and exchange it for food vouchers and groceries. Piloted in KwaZulu-Natal, the programme is to be rolled out to other provinces.“The majority of participants in the Expanded Public Works Programme have earned income during their involvement,” said Didiza, “which made it possible for them to support their families and invest in entrepreneurial activities that have become sustainable after they exited the programme. This has been possible because of the limited training they received while working in the various projects.”She highlighted the Kamoso Awards, initiated in 2007 to reward municipalities, provinces, and other public bodies that showed excellence in implementing the infrastructure component of EPWP in their regions. It was later expanded to include the economy, environment, and social interventions. The awards were presented in July 2008.“The EPWP has been very effective in reaching the target of 1-million work opportunities a year ahead of schedule,” the minister said. “However, we recognise that given the state of unemployment in the country, the EPWP needs to be significantly bigger.”Because of this, says EPWP chief director Ismail Akhalwaya, the programme’s targets may be revised, one of which may be the creation of 1.5-million job opportunities every year by 2014.Phase twoThe second phase of the EPWP, set to launch in March 2009, will include targets up to 2014. The DPW has studied similar systems in Argentina and India and is hoping to introduce some of those methods into phase two.The Indian National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which guarantees 100 days of work annually to at least one unskilled and unemployed person in a rural household where no one has a job, is one of the strategies studied by the DPW. This and other initiatives were on the agenda at the International Labour Organisation’s 12th regional seminar on promoting labour-intensive practices, held in November 2007 in Durban.The use of legislation to address unemployment is still a much-discussed topic, with some experts saying it could increase social dependence and corruption. On the other hand, those in favour argue that the legal route would overcome current objections regarding the temporary nature of EPWP jobs, and would cost up to R30-billion annually in wages compared with the R3-billion currently disbursed – making a far greater impact on poverty.Also under consideration is the potential contribution to the EPWP of non-state institutions such as NGOs and community-based organisations, as well as the private sector and its large number of corporate social responsibility projects.The Business Trust, an association of local companies that works with government to create jobs and provide skills training, already participates in the EPWP, committing R100-million for the programme’s first five years.The EPWP is specifically looking at proposals that will halve the number of unemployed by 2014, said Didiza, in accordance with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Under this international programme governments and organisations around the world are working to reduce poverty and provide unemployment for all, including women and the youth, by 2015.Unfortunately, only 14% of EPWP beneficiaries have found permanent jobs afterwards. But Akhalwaya says this problem will be addressed. “The EPWP is an ongoing programme,” he said, “and for phase two we will make the necessary changes to its design, including training and exit strategies, that will improve its ability to deliver on its objectives.”Poor-quality training is another problem the second phase will attempt to solve. “We are using the remainder of the period to address some of the challenges, and to lay out a much larger programme for the next five years,” he said.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Janine Erasmus at janinee@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related articlesSocial development in South AfricaDrive to create a million jobsUseful linksExpanded Public Works ProgrammeDepartment of Public WorksThe Business TrustMillennium Development Goalslast_img read more

Meat exports mixed in December

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest U.S. pork exports posted a strong finish in 2015 as December volume was the largest since April and the third-largest of the year, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports were below year-ago levels in December and posted the first full-year value decline since 2009.December exports of U.S. pork were up 3% from a year ago to 188,410 metric tons (mt). Export value was $468.9 million, down 13% from a year ago but the highest since May. For the full calendar year, pork exports were down 2% from a year ago in volume (2.13 million mt) and 16% lower in value ($5.58 billion). Pork muscle cut exports increased 3% in volume (1.7 million mt) while falling 15% in value ($4.77 billion), but pork variety meat exports declined significantly in both volume (434,661 mt, down 17%) and value ($808.4 million, down 22%). However, as USMEF has previously noted, year-over-year comparisons, especially for pork variety meat, may not be entirely accurate due to issues with 2014 data for Japan.Pork exports accounted for 24% of total 2015 production and 21% for muscle cuts only — down from 26.5% and 22%, respectively, in 2014. Export value per head slaughtered averaged $48.31, down 23% from 2014.December U.S. beef exports totaled 94,586 mt, down 6% from a year ago and slightly lower than in November, while export value fell 21% to $507.3 million. In 2015, beef exports were down 11% from a year ago in volume to 1.07 million mt. Export value was $6.3 billion, 12% below the 2014 record of $7.14 billion.Beef exports accounted for 13% of total 2015 production and 10% for muscle cuts only — each down one percentage point from a year ago. Export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $277.87, down 7% from the previous year’s record but still up 13% from 2013.“There is no question that 2015 was a challenging year for red meat exports, with several economic headwinds taking a toll,” said Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO. “But with production increasing in the year ahead in both the beef and pork industries, we cannot afford to dwell on these circumstances or back away from our commitment to the international markets. We must continue to find innovative ways to differentiate U.S. products, win back market share and regain momentum for exports in 2016. That means aggressive pursuit of new customers and new opportunities, in both emerging and established markets.” Pork exports to Mexico set fourth consecutive recordPork exports to Mexico set a new monthly record in December at 67,980 mt, pushing 2015 volume to 718,819 mt — up 6% from 2014 and setting a new record for the fourth consecutive year. Export value was down 19% to $1.27 billion, reflecting lower U.S. prices, but demand for U.S. pork held up extremely well in Mexico considering the peso was down an average of 16% versus the U.S. dollar in 2015.With several U.S. pork plants recently regaining eligibility for China, December exports to the China/Hong Kong region posted the largest volume in nearly two years at 33,691 mt (up 27% year-over-year). In 2015, exports to China/Hong Kong edged 1% higher in volume (339,056 mt) and were down 10% in value ($700.4 million). China/Hong Kong’s imports from all suppliers set a new record of 1.937 million mt in 2015, up 8%. While the U.S. industry capitalized on this trend late in the year, the European Union was the primary beneficiary, capturing about 70% market share.Exports to leading value market Japan struggled in 2015, declining 13% year-over-year in volume (406,186 mt) and 18% in value ($1.59 billion, the lowest since 2009). A recent decline in Japan’s frozen inventories indicates opportunities for import growth in 2016. But the U.S. continues to face increasing competition in Japan, especially from European suppliers.Other 2015 highlights for U.S. pork (with comparisons to 2014) included:Exports to South Korea increased 24% in volume (167,524 mt) and 6% in value ($470.2 million). Korea’s imports from all suppliers expanded in 2015 as domestic pork production recovered slowly from porcine epidemic diarrhea virus and suffered new outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease.After slumping in the first half of the year, exports to Australia rebounded to 57,763 mt (up 15%), while value slipped by 5% to $171.9 million.Exports to the Caribbean increased 13% in volume (41,143 mt) and fell 3% in value ($100.8 million). This performance was led by record-large exports to the Dominican Republic, which surged 38% in volume (23,265 mt) and 13% in value ($53.1 million).Taiwan showed renewed demand for U.S. pork in 2015, with exports increasing 29% in volume (20,278 mt) and 4% in value ($39.9 million). Korea, Taiwan, Caribbean main bright spots for 2015 beef exportsFueled by strong demand for chilled U.S. beef in its retail and foodservice sectors, beef exports to South Korea increased 7% year-over-year in volume (126,093 mt) while slipping 4% in value ($810.4 million). Korea’s imports of chilled U.S. beef were up about 40% in 2015, with U.S. market share reaching 31%.Beef exports to Taiwan increased 4% year-over-year in volume to 35,286 mt and set a new value record of $318.5 million (up 8%). U.S. chilled beef market share in Taiwan is more than 60%, the highest of any Asian destination.Exports to the Caribbean increased 1% year-over-year in volume (23,208 mt) and 7% in value ($165.7 million) in 2015. Similar to pork, the value increase was driven in large part by strong demand in the Dominican Republic ($58.7 million, up 6%), but double-digit increases were also achieved in the Bahamas ($24.6 million, up 11%) and Jamaica ($16.5 million, up 10%).While Japan remained the leading value market for U.S. beef in 2015, exports declined 15% year-over-year in volume (204,927 mt) and 19% in value ($1.28 billion, the lowest since 2012). Japan imported less beef from all suppliers in 2015, but the U.S. lost market share to Australia, due in part to the 10%age point tariff advantage enjoyed by Australian beef under its economic partnership agreement with Japan.While the weak peso affected demand for U.S. beef in Mexico, exports still topped the $1 billion mark for the second consecutive year ($1.09 billion, down 6%). Mexico reclaimed its position as the leading destination for beef variety meat exports, which increased 8% in volume (110,085 mt) and 9% in value ($290.3 million). This helped offset a decline in variety meat exports to Egypt, which fell 15% in volume (103,276 mt) but still achieved a 3% increase in value ($148.6 million). Lamb exports end tough year on high noteDecember exports of U.S. lamb were the largest since June at 1,057 mt, up 44% year-over-year, while value posted a modest increase to $1.79 million. For the full year, lamb exports declined 9% in volume (9,442 mt) and 30% in value ($19 million) as lower exports to Mexico offset gains in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Costa Rica.last_img read more

Odisha to include more people in welfare plans

first_imgOdisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday announced his government’s decision to provide old-age pension to an additional five lakh beneficiaries under its Madhu Babu Pension Yojana in the State.The new beneficiaries would avail of the benefits under the scheme from December 15.A total of 43 lakh people are getting old-age pension at present. While those aged between 60 and 80 years get ₹300, those above 80 years receive ₹500 every month. The Chief Minister also announced that 40,000 artists will get assistance of ₹1,200 per month under the Mukhya Mantri Kalakar Sahayata Yojana with effect from December 15.Mr. Patnaik directed the District Collectors to disburse the assistance to beneficiaries under both the schemes from December 15 to 20 by organising special camps.last_img read more

Mamata, Nusrat take part in Rath Yatra in Kolkata

first_imgCalling for religious harmony and unity, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday participated in a Rath Yatra celebration organised here by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The newly elected Trinamool Congress MP from Basirhat, Nusrat Jahan, joined Ms. Banerjee at the celebration. Ms. Jahan was invited to the event by ISKCON.“We celebrate all festivals in West Bengal irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Under the leadership of ‘Didi’ [Ms. Banerjee], we believe that Bengal is the seat of peace and amity,” Ms. Jahan said, addressing the gathering from the stage. The MP was accompanied by her husband Nikhil Jain.The BJP also participated in a number of Rath Yatra celebrations where party leaders Mukul Roy and Arvind Menon were present.last_img read more

NCW writes to Uttar Pradesh DGP on Unnao rape survivor

first_imgThe National Commission for Women on Monday wrote to Uttar Pradesh Director-General of Police O.P. Singh seeking a ‘free, fair and speedy’ investigation into the alleged road accident involving Unnao rape survivor.“The commission is seriously concerned about the unfortunate incident. Considering the gravity of the matter, it is required to ensure absolutely free, fair and speedy investigation into the matter and take action deemed appropriate for the crime committed. The commission also demands that it be kept apprised at every stage of the investigation,” NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma wrote in her letter.Delay in casesSenior Supreme Court lawyer and women’s rights activist Vrinda Grover says it is the delay in disposing cases that render victims extremely vulnerable.“Where a perpetrator is powerful and victim is from a vulnerable group, it is apparent that that the law is not going to take its own course and the police are not going to act in accordance with the law. So, extraordinary measures will have to be taken to ensure the girl gets justice. I have always maintained that the best form of victim protection is a speedy trial. The chargesheet in the case was filed last July, but the case has not been adjudicated yet, while the survivor’s uncle has been framed in several cases which are moving by leaps and bounds. This is a classic textbook case of what happens when a victim comes from a very vulnerable group and seeks justice.”She added that if there was any political will to ensure reversal in crimes against women and girls, that the party ruling at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh so often talks about, the accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar would have been suspended.White PaperMs. Grover says that the government must issue a White Paper providing details of what stage the case was at, why was there a delay in disposing it of, who got adjournments, what reports were sent by the court concerned to the district judge and what was the supervision being done by the High Court of such cases.According to the last NCRB report for 2016, 89.8% cases of crimes against women brought before courts remained pending.last_img read more

One year on Rohingya facing an uncertain fate

first_imgRohingya refugees make their way to a refugee camp after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Palong Khali, near Cox`s Bazar.File photo ReutersDoctors without Borders (MSF) in a statement on Friday said the denial of Rohingya’s legal status, coupled with unacceptable living conditions in haphazard makeshift camps, continues to trap refugees in a cycle of suffering and poor health.While Bangladesh showed extraordinary generosity by opening its doors to the refugees, 12 months on, the Rohingya’s fate remains very uncertain, said MSF, a Paris-based international humanitarian non-government organisation.“It is unacceptable that watery diarrhoea remains one of the biggest health issues we see in the camps,” says Pavlo Kolovos, MSF head of mission in Bangladesh.Host states in the region deny them any formal legal status, despite the fact that they are refugees and have been made stateless by Myanmar.Many of the refugees that MSF teams speak to are very anxious about the future.”I’ve lost my strength, my ability to work. I always have so many worries, worries about the future,” says Abu Ahmad, a Rohingya father of eight. “I think about food, clothes, peace and our suffering… If I stay in this place for 10 years … or even for one month, I will have to suffer this pain.”On 25 August 2017, the Myanmar Army launched renewed ‘clearance operations’ against the Rohingya people causing widespread violence and destruction, and forcing more than 706,000 to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.They joined over 200,000 others that had fled to Bangladesh after previous waves of violence, bringing the total number of Rohingya hosted in Cox’s Bazar district to over 919,000.In the 12 months since, MSF has provided over 656,200 consultations, equivalent to more than two-thirds of Rohingya refugees, in 19 health facilities or mobile clinics.At first, more than half of MSF’s patients were treated for violence-related injuries, but other health concerns soon emerged that were linked to the overcrowded and unhygienic conditions in the camps. “The infrastructure to meet even the most basic needs of the population is still not in place, and that seriously affects people’s wellbeing.”  Donors and governments with influence over the Government of Myanmar have failed to show the necessary leadership by not pressuring it to end persecution against the Rohingya, which is the cause of their displacement.The UN-led humanitarian response in Bangladesh is, to date, only 31.7 per cent funded. The health care funding stands at a mere 16.9 per cent, leaving significant gaps in the provision of vital medical services.The Rohingya have long been excluded from healthcare in Myanmar, meaning they have very low immunisation coverage. Preventative health measures are therefore crucial. Vaccination campaigns, supported by MSF, have been instrumental in preventing outbreaks of cholera and measles, and in containing the spread of diphtheria.Under the pretext that the Rohingya will soon be returning to Myanmar, the humanitarian response has been hampered by restrictions placed on the provision of long term or substantial aid.The conditions endured by the Rohingya in the haphazard, makeshift camps fall far short of accepted international humanitarian standards, with the refugees still living in the same temporary plastic and bamboo shelters that were built when they first arrived.“In an area where cyclones and monsoons are common, there are almost no stable structures for Rohingya refugees, which has a tangible impact on their security and dignity,” says Kolovos.One refugee that MSF spoke to described how vulnerable his family felt in the camp: “When it rains we sit together, all our family members, [holding the house down] so the house won’t blow away. At night it is very dark here, we have no lights.”Considering the level of violence that the Rohingya faced in Myanmar and the trauma this will have caused, services to treat mental health issues and sexual and gender-based violence injuries remain inadequate.They are also complicated by the lack of legal status, which prevents people from reasonable access to justice and the rule of law.The Rohingya remain forcibly confined to the camps, and most of the refugee population in the camps has poor access to clean water, latrines, education, job opportunities and healthcare.“These restrictions not only limit the quality and scale of aid, but also force the Rohingya to depend entirely on humanitarian aid. It deprives them of any chance to build a dignified future for themselves and makes every day an unnecessary struggle for survival,” says Kolovos.More durable solutions must be found to respond to what is likely to be a protracted period of displacement.“The reality is that hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have been displaced in Bangladesh and elsewhere for decades, and it may be decades until they can safely return to Myanmar, if ever. The scale and scope of the Rohingya’s suffering merits a much more robust response – locally, regionally and globally,” says Kolovos.“Pressure must meanwhile continue to be exerted on the Myanmar government to halt its campaign against the Rohingya.”last_img

Saudi strike kills dozens of Yemen rebels Saudi TV

first_imgYemen. Photo: CollectedAn air strike on Yemen’s capital by a Saudi-led military coalition has killed dozens of Huthi rebels including at least two commanders, Saudi television reported Saturday.Saudi Arabia’s official Al-Ekhbariya television said two high-ranking insurgents were among more than 50 Huthi militiamen killed in Sanaa on Friday evening, without giving further details.Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television said a total of 38 rebels were killed in the strike on a Huthi interior ministry building.The Huthis confirmed an air strike on Sanaa but gave no details.The raid came hours ahead of a public funeral of the Huthis’ political head Saleh al-Sammad, killed last week in a Saudi-led coalition strike.It also came as newly-appointed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to land in Riyadh for meetings including talks on the Yemen conflict.The Iran-backed rebels have been locked in a war with the Saudi-led military alliance, which since 2015 has fought to restore the internationally-recognised Yemeni government to power.The Yemen conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between regional titans Iran and Saudi Arabia.The Huthis control Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, as well as much of the country’s north — which borders Saudi Arabia — and the key Hodeida port on Yemen’s Red Sea coast.Nearly 10,000 people have been killed since the Saudi-led alliance joined the Yemen conflict, triggering what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.Yemen now stands at the brink of famine.The Saudi-led coalition imposed a total blockade on Yemen’s ports in November in retaliation for cross-border Huthi missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.The blockade has since been partially lifted, but access to the impoverished country remains limited.last_img read more

DU faces dengue detection kits shortage 8 more diagnosed

first_imgA student of Dhaka University’s political science department has been suffering from dengue for last 10 days. He is being treated at the university’s medical centre. Photo: Prothom AloThe authorities of Dhaka University have shut down dengue fever detection activities following a shortage of kits.On the other hand, eight more students were diagnosed with the mosquito-transmitted virus dengue taking the toll to so far 21 on the second day (Thursday) of the dengue test, making a huge outcry among the student communities on the campus.The university’s chief medical officer (CMO) Sarwar Jahan said that the Dhaka University jointly with Bangladesh Association of Clinical Biochemists had begun the initiative of detecting dengue patients.The physicians at the university medical centre, he added, identified 13 dengue patients among 168 students on the first day (Wednesday) of the test while eight more were diagnosed on Thursday.“The dengue test activities were shut down for weekend (Friday and Saturday). The activities will remain closed for Monday as well due to a shortage of test kits,” Sarwar Jahan added.The associate organisation has said that they are out of kits, said Sarwar adding, “When contacted, the government departments concerned also said no kits would be available before 6 August.”Earlier on 26 July, Dhaka University’s finance department student Firoz Kabir died of dengue fever that panicked the entire student community on the campus.Following the outcry, the authorities decided to test dengue among the university students.last_img read more