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The New Times – Rwanda
The Minister for Justice warned on Sunday that government was moving to take serious measures against those with information about the whereabouts of the remains of Genocide victims who remain unaccounted for 25 years after the Genocide against the Tutsi, but remain uncooperative.
The fact that remains of thousands of victims are yet to be retrieved and accorded dignified burial constitutes one of the major stumbling blocks to healing and reconciliation because giving your loved one decent farewell is the first step toward coming to terms with tragedy and seeking new beginnings.
It is sad that a quarter a century later, survivors continue to beg those with information on the fate of slain loved ones and location of their remains in vain. This even when people have been encouraged to secretly leave a sign at spots where victims were thrown.
Nonetheless, efforts to recover remains of all Genocide victims should and must not be derailed by those who continue to hide information that could lead to their retrieval. The architects of the Genocide against the Tutsi did not envision a situation where the victims would be retrieved from wherever they had been dumped – including in secret mass graves, toilets and water bodies. Yet they never achieved their objective as remains of the vast majority of victims were not only recovered but have since been accorded decent burial and continue to be honoured at memorial sites across the country.
The recent discovery of large mass graves in and around Kabuga trading centre in the capital Kigali with remains of thousands of victims – including underneath buildings – and similar finds in different parts of the country goes to explain the gravity of the problem, but it also shows that there is need to sustain and scale up search effort no matter how long it takes.
Needless to say, recovery efforts are not the sole responsibility of survivors and/or government. This is a collective responsibility and anyone with valuable information must come forward.
We welcome renewed vigour on the part of the Government to ensure that the exercise gets the attention it deserves.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
Chris Changwe Nshimbi
Cyclone Idai, which recently devastated Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, was one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southern African region.
It killed at least a thousand people and caused damages estimated at US$2 billion.
The response from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, civil society, the private sector and individuals in the region points to the need for a collective, regional approach to addressing natural disasters rather than individual countries working alone.
Cyclone Idai also showed, once again, just how unprepared SADC is to respond to major natural disasters.
It doesn’t seem to have learnt much from earlier ones.
In 2015, floods and torrential rains associated with Tropical storm Chedza, and Cyclone Bansai left about 260 people dead and 360 000 homeless in Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
About a year earlier, flash floods killed, displaced and left thousands homeless in Zimbabwe. However, the storm that remains most vivid in many people’s minds is the one that hit Mozambique 19 years ago in 2000, killing 700 people and leaving two million homeless.
Disasters of this kind know no boundaries. That’s why they require thinking beyond the narrow view that individual governments should respond to crises alone.
Responses to Idai
The first regional response to Idai came from the South African National Defence Force and South African disaster relief NGO, Gift of the Givers. These responses followed a request by the Mozambican government.
The United Nations responded with aid operations in the affected countries a few days later. Other SADC countries, NGOs, the private sector and ordinary citizens also donated to the relief efforts.
For its part, however, SADC’s voice was conspicuously absent for at least a week after the devastation.
Ordinarily, it should have led relief operations.
It was disconcerting to see UN Secretary General António Guterres appeal for help and outline a plan to respond to the disaster at a Security Council stakeout while SADC remained missing in action.
SADC has a dedicated Disaster Risk Reduction Unit. It coordinates regional preparedness and responses to trans-boundary disasters and hazards.
But, as South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said, the regional body was completely unprepared for the disaster.
Of SADC’s 16-member states, only Angola, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa contributed to the relief efforts.
This reflects the prevailing preference for a bilateral approach to regional challenges within the SADC.
At the heart of this are narrow nationalistic interests and a preoccupation with sovereignty.
The member states are unwilling to surrender control over policies to be administered by the regional body for the collective good.
But, natural disasters like Cyclone Idai do not respect national boundaries.
Their very regional scope requires solutions that integrate domestic actions into a regional governance framework to address them effectively.
When SADC eventually responded, it pledged US$500 000 for relief efforts towards a disaster that cost over US$2 billion in damages to infrastructure alone.
Instead of acting individually, SADC countries need to work together to pool resources and mobilise disaster relief efforts and resources to be more effective.
This could be done through the SADC Secretariat.
Funds for immediate humanitarian assistance and the rebuilding of infrastructure should be held in a pre-existing, dedicated facility, like a regional disaster risk fund.
This would provide southern Africa with risk financing for climate-related and other disasters.
Funds that are often donated by SADC member states, private sector, NGOs, and ordinary citizens for relief efforts can also be pooled and placed in the permanent regional mechanism.
But there are challenges.
The major challenge to establishing a sub-regional disaster fund probably lies outside SADC, and even Africa.
The idea might not sit well with some governments.
For example, an attempt to create an Asian Monetary Fund after the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis failed because the US strongly opposed it, and China didn’t support it.
But SADC could work with global financial institutions to surmount this challenge.
The World Bank, for example, already runs disaster risk programmes.
SADC could approach it for support and partnership in making the facility a reality.
Cushion against harm
Cyclone Idai has once again shown that natural disasters are capable of wreaking havoc across southern Africa.
It has also shown that affected countries are too poor to respond to the devastation of their infrastructure and the accompanying humanitarian disaster.
It is thus necessary for countries in the region to work together to devise sound contingency plans, including a permanent regional disaster fund, to help cushion them against the effects of natural disasters. — Conversation Africa.
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Ayandev Saha
Agriculture is the mainstay of Rwanda’s economy. Rwanda also has a long pastoral history where livestock plays a major role in the economic and sociocultural life of the people.
Given the conducive agro-ecological conditions for intensified livestock production, the industry can provide an opportunity to enhance farm level income thereby driving agricultural growth, reducing poverty and improving the nutritional security of rural people.
Agriculture finance has been and remains a national priority for transforming the sector from subsistence to a commercial mode of production and promote financial inclusion.
However, the growth and deepening of agriculture finance market in Rwanda is constrained by factors such as high transaction costs due to the absence of distribution channels, limited access to funds and technical capacity to assess agriculture risk.
Other constraints include co-variance of production, market and price risks, absence of adequate instruments to manage risks and low levels of demand due to fragmentation and incipient development of value chains.
In terms of livestock, untimely death of cattle could have a debilitating impact on the owner’s income, especially in case of marginal farmers or dairy farmers.
In the Rwandan context, farmers generate significant income from livestock and the value of cattle represents a substantial percentage of the farmer’s wealth.
Hence, the death of cattle poses a considerable risk and affects the farmer’s earnings and ability to pay back the loan.
Thus, mortality risk due to diseases, catastrophes and accidents prevents financial institutions from lending to agriculture, particularly dairy production.
It is to meet this exigency that the livestock insurance scheme has emerged as a saviour of cattle owners in recent years by providing for indemnity in the event of death of the insured animal.
Some of the insurance schemes implemented in the past have got restricted to few big cooperatives or programmes and were not able to achieve some of the desired outcome at the policy level.
Lessons from countries that have implemented agriculture insurance show that, the private insurance sector on its own lacks capacity to develop and underwrite agriculture insurance schemes.
Given this, the public government has a crucial role to play, specifically in creating a conducive environment for the private sector to develop a sustainable agriculture insurance market.
Successful agriculture insurance schemes in emerging markets, therefore, are implemented under Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.
An insurance PPP is defined as a contractual agreement between the public sector, represented by a ministry and the private sector, represented by the insurance industry and its service providers and distribution partners that combines business objectives with public policy goals in a cost-efficient and effective.
Some of the arguments and rationale for government support to agriculture insurance schemes are;
- Low risk awareness and lack of insurance culture. Governments may play an important role in providing farmer awareness and education programmes on the insurance scheme. Involvement of public institutions will legitimise the scheme from the onset.
- Affordability. Various empirical literature show that the demand for agricultural insurance is extremely price elastic, or in other words the cheaper the price of an agricultural insurance policy, the more the product is demanded by and purchased by farmers, and vice versa. Premium subsidies alter the price of insurance; consequently, they are likely to affect the demand for insurance. There is growing consensus that subsidies will reduce the cost of premiums making insurance affordable and accessible to more number of farmers.
- Informational asymmetries and lack of agricultural risk market infrastructure - The two critical informational problems that any insurance program faces are adverse selection and moral hazard. It may be very difficult for private entities to measure risks, collect relevant data, monitor producer behaviour, and establish and enforce underwriting guidelines. Government can play a pivotal role in collecting, auditing and managing insurance-quality data; provide an institutional (legal and regulatory) framework that can create and enabling environment for sustainable agriculture insurance
- Systemic risk. Can generate major losses in the portfolio of agricultural insurers. Government can retain a portion of agricultural risk; help domestic insurers pool their agricultural risks and support in obtaining reinsurance for agriculture risk at a reasonable price.
Lessons drawn from past experiences of successful PPP model requires clear identification of roles, responsibilities and reporting, the sharing of resources and expertise to achieve the common goals and better results. In such scenarios, where Government plays a significant role in developing the overall scheme the private sector plays an essential role in the successful implementation of the scheme and making it commercially sustainable. Some of the key functions that remains with the private sector are
- Risk acceptance and underwriting,
- Decisions over risk retention and strategies,
- The marketing and distribution of the insurance products
- Loss assessment and claims pay out (settlement)
A PPP model requires a careful design that can evolve over time as both the Government and the private sector learn from the results and situations experienced. The PPP model should be flexible enough to adapt to the given conditions and scale further across breeds / crops and locations.
Apart from the sectoral justification and the need of agriculture finance; insurance is also an important tool to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda, its goals and targets in the following ways:
- Provide a buffer to stop the vicious cycle of poverty and contribute towards poverty alleviation
- Build resilience – support the formalisation, growth and productivity of small-scale farmers
- Access to credit thereby encouraging investment in enhanced agricultural practices
- Complements and strengthens other climate change coping efforts
- Improve the livelihoods notably cash incomes, food security, nutrition, resilience to shocks.
- Increased access to health care facilities such as vaccination.
Hence the success of the national agriculture livestock insurance scheme lies in the efforts of collaborations and partnerships between Government agencies, insurers, civil societies, communities, international development cooperation and research institutions. The Sustainable Development Agenda is also a true reflection of this.