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Sunday, September 23rd, 2018

 

Punish despicable MCAs for their embarrassing conduct

By MICHAEL MUGWANG’A
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Recently, members of the Nairobi County Assembly treated us to quite a show. Their storming the Speaker’s office to preclude her from gaining access were both comical and embarrassing.

But what is even more worrying is the MCAs dishonouring summonses by the anti-graft body concerning their unethical conduct in the House.

This despite the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) warning them that failure to appear before it would lead to penal consequences.

Isaac Asimov, an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, spoke about the nature of politics in his time.

A popular quote by him reads: “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

INTEGRITY CENTRE

Looking at the conduct of the MCAs, this aptly describes what their politics means in essence. To not show up at Integrity Centre, Nairobi, and later blame it on their retreat in Mombasa is, basically, dumbing down the Constitution in their favour.

Of course, we have focused on the drama and missed the main thing — that the snub, which has made this a passing story, almost like a silent headline, is what will eventually be the undoing of our democracy.

You have to say this for the crooked demagogues and reactionary populists these MCAs are: They may have stirred the bitter soup of resentment against Speaker Beatrice Elachi, but their integrity bolts unscrewed to an even more loose state the minute they snubbed the EACC.

Day by day, news bulletin by news bulletin, the MCAs spiral to new depths of strategic confusion and moral chaos. On the escalators in the building that is devolution, the direction is always down, down, down.

In that episode, their incessant flights of insult, conspiracy theory and raw rage were on show. But to plunge us into an age of unquestionable authority right at local level is a dark veneer we must all condemn.

We suffer blind power, hungry power clad in jackets of disrespect, especially at the county level. What we must not ignore is the fact that, if we cannot keep a foothold on power at the lowest of levels, we will lack the mere muscle to push for such respect at the top.

PROMOTE INTEGRITY

The EACC is not only mandated to fight corruption, but also to promote integrity. What these MCAs are so arrogantly throwing in our face is the fact that we are helpless in the face of power, however small and measly. The antidote, however, is that the commission should take charge and get them.

Forget Elachi’s impeachment or the court order; their ignoring the EACC is the small problem that’s too huge to ignore.

How are we to maintain sanity, decency and moral courage in fighting corruption and maintaining integrity when they behave in this manner? While Nairobi should be the beaming capital city county, it is, sadly, a comic show of people who clearly are choking in the taste of their own saliva.

Institutions work only when respected. For a long time, we have accused the EACC of lacking active fortitude and results … of being spineless. We have poked holes into its reports and efforts. We have questioned its intent and existence. This, however, is the point where we need to point a finger where it actually matters.

DRIVES RESPECT

It is one thing to imagine that something is not serious and another to ignore it entirely. These leaders are the fulcrum by which our society turns. But they fail to see the democracy which got them there is a product of the Constitution they are so quick to slay.

I can imagine being summoned by the police to record a statement. The mere fear of the consequences of not abiding by the summons will take me there. These leaders lack that fear that drives respect.

The EACC should make good use of the Constitution. These MCAs forget that they can lose their seats for these flimsy reasons.

We live in the age of renewed vigour in tackling the sickness that is duplicity and corruption — right from the Office of the DPP to the rallying call by the President.

We cannot sit and watch as MCAs push us back, as they disrespectfully ignore the demands of the Constitution.


Why capital city needs leaders with more substance than style

By KALTUM GUYO
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In the latest United Nations survey on human development, Kenya ranks 142nd out of 189. In another report on the liveable cities; Nairobi, sadly, does not feature.

If you wonder why, I can tell you it is all in the pepper spray. If it is any consolation, the UN report indicates that Kenya is up one position from the last time on the ‘Human Development Index’.

According to the UN, the “perception of individual well-being” is based on polling responses on “quality of education, healthcare and living standards, along with a sense of personal safety and freedom of choice”.

POOR GOVERNANCE

We all have our views on the living standards of Nairobians — depending on where you stand on the political divide.

However, I do not hold my breath that things will improve for Nairobi any time soon, given the level of poor governance exhibited time and again.

I have written in these pages on how we find it easier to turn to anger and violence to solve even the slightest of misunderstandings.

The type of fist-fights and kicks and punches we saw during the impeachment of the Speaker of the Nairobi County Assembly is stuff for a nursery school playground.

Even then, pupils had to be admonished in order to learn to grow up and behave with decorum.

GLARING CHALLENGES
Nairobi has many glaring challenges that should be the priority for any county government in charge. Top on the list should be the security of the residents. Not a day passes without reading or hearing of violent robberies in the city and its environs.

But insecurity is not something new in Nairobi. At one time it got so bad that the city was nicknamed ‘Nairobbery”. It is not a flattering name to have but we still are reminded of it wherever we go.

I am not hopeful that insecurity can be tackled in Nairobi when its governance team places priorities over who has the right to travel first class over service delivery.

It seems that it is hell-bent on redefining corruption by introducing an illness that can only be cured by flying first class.

What is the point of travelling then, if one’s illness is so debilitating?

MIRACLES HAPPEN
I am still struggling to understand the plague whose cure is a first-class ticket around the world. As miracles happen, it only seems to afflict the rich and powerful. If there is any justice in the world, we should all catch it.
We now live in a world that is interconnected through information technology. A lot of the benchmarking mania, even to Mombasa, can be reduced by relying on the Internet to solve many alleged ills befalling the city or, indeed, the country.

Ours is a city that lacks compassion and honesty. Compassion that would enable the city county team to learn to walk in the shoes of its residents so that they can understand where there are pressing needs and prioritise them.

One way of doing that is to ensure participation of the public is sought and their ideas implemented. Who would be better placed to give an honest opinion of a neighbourhood than the resident?

BETTER START
Honesty is discerned through the leadership that provides the services it promised voters; services that even the state official would be proud to use. Having schools and hospitals fit for all would be a better start.

I have never witnessed a greater sense of insensitivity and irony than when Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko goes around public hospitals in the city berating the workers for poor services and corruption, and then turns around and visits one of his county executives in the private Nairobi Hospital.

Why the senior county official was not at Mbagathi Hospital was the question on my mind. Why preach water but drink wine? If Mbagathi is not fit for the county minister, how is it for the rest of us?

Insecurity thrives in an environment with limited opportunities for residents — be it employment, housing, roads, transport, quality schools and hospitals.

The cities that came on top of the liveable cities had scored very highly on provision of key services to the residents.

INSECURITY

Insecurity in Nairobi is so bad that even the transport system has become a harbinger of it. Being attacked in a matatu on your way from work has become the norm and it should not be. This demonstrates that one poor service has a knock-on effect on all others.

Leading a city is not to be valued by the number of flashy cars in your entourage, your shiny suit or first-class ticket to nowhere but the quality of your services. Leading through style is recipe for failure and undermines the efforts of hard-working voters.

INDIVIDUAL INTERESTS

If the current “governance by chaos” continues in the city county, it might be worth considering an alternative in a non-political permanent ‘City Management Team’.

Nairobi needs it to prosper. The city county’s politics is neck-deep in pursuit of individual interests and it can’t help it to excel to the list of liveable cities any time soon. It is time for leadership with substance.


Tennis ripe for support

By EDITORIAL
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It’s good when a new order is established in sports in terms of competition. It’s even more inspiring when it is juniors trying to do it.

That is why we want to congratulate the 14-year-old Angela Okutoyi and Ibrahim Kibet, 22, for winning their Britam Kenya Open Tennis Championships after they beat the regulars, the Changawa siblings Shufaa and Ismael, respectively, on Saturday.

Shufaa, 24, and Ismael, 22, who had won the titles three times each, are equally young — hence, a clear indication on the pedigree and the talent the country has in tennis.

It also shows how exposure to quality training and tournaments can transform players. Okutoyi, who passed through the ITF High Performance Centre in Burundi four years ago, went on to win the ITF Under-18 tournament there in June.

KENYA OPEN

It earned her a place in the ITF Tour team that toured France, Belgium, Germany and Czech Republic, where she participated in tournaments in July, and also last month. She returned to win the Africa U-14 junior title in Algeria, and now the Kenya Open.

Kibet had a four-month stint in Australia; hence, the immense improvement that saw him down the experienced Ismael.

This shows that, with exposure, Kenyan players are bound to go places. There is a need, therefore, to hasten the construction of the tennis centre at Kasarani, Nairobi, whose groundbreaking was made in April.

QUALITY TOURNAMENTS

With a modern facility, Kenya will attract quality tournaments.

It will also become cheaper for our players, who won’t be required to travel abroad for exposure and ITF ranking points.

We can also nurture and mould more players to compete at that high level. This is what the country needs, especially at this time after the men’s team got promoted to Davis Cup Group II next year.


Report on Kemsa calls for thorough shake-up

By EDITORIAL
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The latest audit report on the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency is alarming. Its drug management system and financial expenditure are horrible.

In the financial year ending June 2017, Kemsa kept in its stores expired medicines worth Sh100 million. It also had more than Sh350 million in unspent cash meant for drugs.

Here are two sets of paradoxes. First, the agency that is responsible for procuring and distributing drugs has no shame keeping expired medicines, the danger notwithstanding. It also knows all too well the perennial drug shortage in the public health facilities.

How, then, could it keep such a consignment in its stores when it should have distributed the drugs to the facilities on time? Where will it take the consignment? And at what cost? This is a complete waste of public resources.

EXPIRED DRUGS

The second paradox is that although it understands that health facilities require drugs, Kemsa does not spend the cash allocated for medicines. How does it organise its work plan? What is the plan for procurements?

This is not the first time we have had such appalling reports on the agency. Not long ago, it had to burn a huge consignment of expired drugs that had been withdrawn from counties and which had cost the taxpayers a lot of money.

Something is awfully wrong at Kemsa and the Ministry of Health and the various oversight agencies ought to take a special interest in the goings-on at the agency.

PROPER PLANNING

Access to affordable healthcare is predicated on proper planning and coordination. It starts with disease prevention, well-equipped clinics with qualified medical professionals, proper diagnosis of diseases, accurate prescriptions and availability of medicines. Any gap along the chain could be catastrophic.

We are cognisant of the variables at play. Among these is the inability of counties to buy and pay for drugs from Kemsa due to their perennial financial difficulties.

At one point, the agency even stopped supplying drugs to the counties because they had defaulted in payment for supplies.

But in this day and age, when firms operate modern procurement practices — where just-on-time supply is the norm — why can’t Kemsa organise itself properly to do exactly that to avoid holding unnecessary stocks?

STOCK DISTRIBUTION

The reason Kemsa was set up was to consolidate the procurement of medical supplies and enable the government to benefit from economies of scale and as well as streamline stock distribution. The principle is valid, but its implementation is proving cumbersome, hence calling to question its continued viability.

This is a sensitive process that must be executed judiciously. Kemsa should review and streamline its processes henceforth.


REFILE-London court extends injunction against Djibouti in DP World dispute -Dubai govt

(Refiles to clarify injunction terms)

DUBAI, Sept 23 (Reuters) – Dubai’s government said on Sunday that a London court had extended an injunction prohibiting the government of Djibouti from interfering in the management of a port terminal seized from DP World.

The government of Djibouti seized the Doraleh Container Terminal from DP World in February over a dispute dating back to at least 2012. Dubai government-controlled DP World, which operated the terminal under a concession, has called the seizure illegal.

Dubai’s government said the High Court in London extended the Aug. 31 injunction at DP World’s request to include any affiliate of the state-owned Port de Djibouti, which Djibouti used to nationalise the terminal.

DP World, one of the world’s largest port operators, is majority owned by the Dubai government.

The injunction, extended on Sept. 14, states that Djibouti cannot act as if the joint venture has been terminated and that actions regarding the terminal must be taken with DP World’s consent, Dubai’s government media office said in the statement.

A DP World spokeswoman directed Reuters to the statement.

Representatives of the government of Djibouti, which could not be reached for immediate comment late on Sunday, did not attend the court hearing, the statement said.

The government of Djibouti has said the terminal had come under “de facto” control of minority shareholder DP World and that nationalising it would “protect the fundamental interests of the nation and the legitimate interests of its partners”.

The London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) has ruled that contract valid and binding, the Dubai government said on Aug. 2. (Reporting by Alexander Cornwell Editing by David Goodman)


Battle lines drawn for Senate showdown on Trump court nominee

By AFP
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WASHINGTON,

US lawmakers drew battle lines Sunday ahead of a dramatic showdown over the fate of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, after a university professor who accuses the judge of sexual assault agreed to testify in the Senate.

Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Brett Kavanaugh of attacking her at a high school party in the 1980s, reached a final deal to testify in an open hearing before a Senate committee on Thursday — although key details such as who will do the questioning remained unresolved.

“Despite actual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford believes it is important for Senators to hear directly from her,” Ford’s lawyers said in a statement quoted by US media.

DEATH THREATS

Ford had agreed Saturday to the principle of testifying — after an increasingly ugly week-long standoff which saw her forced to move out of her California home in the face of death threats, as her credibility was openly attacked by the president.

Kavanaugh, who strongly denies the assault allegation, has said he wishes to testify as soon as possible to clear his name.

At stake is not only the fate of Trump’s hand-picked Supreme Court nominee, but also Republican chances in November’s midterm elections, which risk being harmed if the polarizing confirmation battle drags on.

Lindsey Graham — a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which must approve Kavanaugh’s nomination before it goes to the full chamber — summed up the position of many Republicans Sunday, saying he did not expect Ford’s testimony to change his mind.

“What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy’s life based on an accusation?” he told “Fox News Sunday.” “Unless there’s something more, no I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this.”

While Republicans are pushing to get the judge approved as soon as possible, Democrats have supported Ford’s call for an FBI investigation into her allegations — a move that would potentially provide additional information, but which would also delay the proceedings.

“What Dr Ford has asked for I think is a credible request: an investigation by the FBI,” Senator Dick Durbin, a Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, said on ABC‘s “This Week.”

“I think her requests have been reasonable,” he said.

According to a YouGov poll conducted for CBS, more than half of Americans think a vote on Kavanaugh should wait for an FBI investigation, but over two-thirds of Republicans want one to happen in a matter of days.

TRUMP REACTION

Republicans, who hold a paper-thin majority in the Senate, can ill afford defections if Kavanaugh is to be approved.

“If one Republican senator should decide that Dr Ford’s allegations, assertions, are true, and that they are serious, it could make a big difference in the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh,” Durbin said.

After days of relative restraint, Trump lashed at Ford on Friday, questioning the credibility of her allegations, and in doing so may already have hurt his nominee’s chances with a senator from his own party.

Trump contended that the fact Ford remained silent until now shows the incident probably was not “as bad as she says” — even if this runs counter to what experts say is the typical reaction of sexual assault victims afraid or embarrassed to report.

‘APPALLED’

Susan Collins — a Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee — said she was “appalled” by Trump’s tweet, pointing out that incidents of sexual assault were known to be chronically under-reported.

Trump’s outburst saw an outpouring of sympathy for Ford — and outrage at the president — as thousands of women, and men too, shared why they had kept silent after being assaulted, under the Twitter hashtag #WhyIDidntReport.

Republican lawmakers are well aware they will be navigating a minefield during Ford’s testimony, where they risk further alienating women voters if they are seen as too harsh towards her — and potentially triggering a backlash at the ballot box come November.

Ford had initially guarded her anonymity but decided to waive it, she told The Washington Post, because she felt her “civic responsibility” was “outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation,” after the basic outlines of the story emerged in the media.

Ford’s husband, Russell Ford, was quoted by the Post on Saturday as saying the thought Kavanaugh could be considered for the Supreme Court after Trump took office troubled her so much that she considered moving as far away as New Zealand.

“She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this,'” Russell Ford said. “‘I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court.'”


Australia kills four sharks after tourist attacks

By AFP
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Three large sharks have been killed in Australia after a woman and a girl were attacked at a popular Great Barrier Reef tourist spot.

Both victims — one of them just 12 years old — were still in hospital Sunday after being mauled in separate incidents just a day apart earlier this week at the Whitsunday Islands.

Drum lines, which use baited hooks to catch the predators, ensnared three tiger sharks — one 3.3 metres (11 feet) long and the others each in excess of two metres — a Fisheries Queensland spokesman said Sunday.

“While sharks of this size are potentially very dangerous to humans, it is unclear if they were responsible for injuries caused to two swimmers this week,” he said.

“The shark carcasses will be towed well out to sea for disposal.”

The spokesman added that the drum lines would remain in place over the next week to reduce the risk to swimmers.

Shark attacks are very rare in the Whitsundays — a collection of spectacular tropical islands in the heart of the Barrier Reef — with the last encounter reported to be eight years ago, according to national broadcaster ABC.

This week’s incidents have revived debate about how best to reduce the risk of encounters between sharks and the growing number of people using the ocean for leisure.

Many conservationists and marine scientists object to killing sharks, and insist that drum lines are a blunt instrument because they often catch other creatures.

New South Wales, the country’s most populous state, has trialled non-lethal measures such as aerial drones to track sharks’ movements and “smart” drum lines that alert authorities to their presence.


A dozen civilians dead in DR Congo rebel attack: witnesses

By AFP
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Sixteen people, including 12 civilians, were killed in a rebel attack on Beni in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive east, witnesses told AFP on Sunday.

A doctor at the local hospital reported seeing 16 dead bodies, “including 12 civilians and four soldiers or rebels.” Eight people were injured, of whom were five civilians, in the attack late Saturday.

The Beni region is under siege from the Allied Defence Forces (ADF), an Islamist rebel group blamed for hundreds of civilian deaths over the past four years.

Foreign humanitarian workers have been stationed in Beni, in the north Kivu province near the border with Uganda, since early August to deal with a new Ebola outbreak in the region.

“The surprise attack happened in the streets of Beni city,” the doctor told AFP. Four of the dead were killed while travelling in a taxi.

According to several witness accounts, the attack started around 1630-1700 GMT.

ARMED GROUPS

Heavy and light calibre gunfire was heard for several hours until after midnight local time. It was not known whether the army counter-attacked.

The rebels targeted areas near the centre of the trading settlement of several hundred thousand inhabitants.

The ADF is a militia initially created by Muslim rebels to oppose Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, but also operates in the DRC.

The group has been in the east of the country since 1995 and are accused by the UN and Congolese authorities of committing a series of civilian massacres since 2014.

However, in 2015 the New York University Study Group on Congo said it was not just the ADF behind the killings and that other armed elements, including members of the Congolese army, were also to blame.

North Kivu, one of the most populated areas of the DRC, is home to a number of armed groups that kill or abduct civilians.


Post-mortem on 12 Pumwani babies set for Tuesday

By COLLINS OMULO
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Post-mortems on the 12 infant bodies found at the Pumwani Maternity Hospital last week will be conducted on Tuesday.

The autopsies will be done by a government pathologist in the presence of officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNHCR) Vice-Chair George Morara said.

“The post-mortems will let us know whether there was any professional negligence by comparing the results with what the management of the hospital presented,” he said, adding that if the pathologist’s report reveals that there was professional negligence, they will petition authorities to take tough disciplinary measures against those responsible.

The problems at Pumwani hospital hit the headlines last week following an impromptu visit to the facility by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, which unearthed a host of problems.

‘HOSPITAL AUDIT’

On Thursday, Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary-General Seth Panyako called for a medical audit of the facility to establish the real cause of infant deaths, saying the rates of infant and maternal mortality at the facility are alarming.

But the hospital’s management put on a brave face, saying no one is to be blamed for the infant deaths.

Nevertheless, Mr Sonko suspended the hospital’s management and four county officials who sided with the facility’s narrative.

A preliminary report by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) on Thursday revealed that five of the infants, who were in the newborn unit, died under unclear circumstances.

KMPDB chief executive Daniel Yumbya said the babies died between September 12 and 17, and that three were stillborn while four died in the first 24 hours of life. The reasons for their deaths included prolonged labour and being underweight.

NEW PARTNERSHIP

Meanwhile, Governor Sonko announced that he has held talks with Aga Khan University Hospital’s top team for temporary solutions. Consequently, Aga Khan will provide additional doctors, nurses and support staff to Pumwani, at no cost, for two years.

At the same time, Governor Sonko has announced plans for a “new look” ‘Sonko Pumwani Maternity Hospital and College of Nursing and Midwifery, which he hails as a “permanent solution to the crisis”.

The governor announced this after meeting a consortium that proposed to put up a 450-bed hospital.

He said that the new hospital will offer surgeries alongside immunisation, diagnostic and 24-hour emergency services.

“The new 10-storey Sonko Pumwani Maternity hospital, which will stand adjacent to the old hospital, will [have] a paediatric intensive care unit (ICU), an adult ICU, a high-dependency unit, staff quarters, laundry and all necessary facilities,” Mr Sonko said on Friday.

He added that the hospital will also have a labour ward, delivery suites, four fully functional theatres and a post-natal ward. The newborn unit will have 100 incubators, a neo-natal ICU and HDU as well as 30 breastfeeding rooms.


UN, World Bank, and humanitarian organizations launch innovative partnership to end famine

Global Technology Firms to Provide Expertise on Frontier Technology to Better Predict Famines

WASHINGTON, September 23, 2018 —The United Nations, World Bank, International Committee of the Red Cross, Microsoft, Google and Amazon Web Services today announced an unprecedented global partnership to prevent future famines.

The international organizations, with support from leading global technology firms, are launching the Famine Action Mechanism (FAM) – the first global mechanism dedicated to preventing future famines. In the past, responses to these devastating events has often come too late, once many lives have already been lost, incurring high assistance costs. The FAM seeks to change this by moving towards famine prevention, preparedness and early action – interventions that can save more lives and reduce humanitarian costs by as much as 30%. The initiative will use the predictive power of data to trigger funding through appropriate financing instruments, working closely with existing systems.

In 2017, more than 20 million people across north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen faced famine or famine-like conditions, the result of a complex intersection of conflict, poverty, climate change and food prices. These conditions continue in many parts of the world today, derailing hard-won development gains in chronically poor countries. Today, 124 million people live in crisis levels of food insecurity, requiring urgent humanitarian assistance for their survival. Over half of them live in areas affected by conflict.

*“The Famine Action Mechanism, FAM, is an important new tool that will help to predict and therefore prevent food insecurity and famine before they have a chance to take hold. Crisis prevention saves lives. With the Famine Action Mechanism, we are renewing our pledge to Zero Tolerance for famine and acute food insecurity,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

The fact that millions of people – many of them children – still suffer from severe malnutrition and famine in the 21st century is a global tragedy,World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “We are forming an unprecedented global coalition to say, ‘no more.’ The Famine Action Mechanism is a preventative approach that knits together innovative technology, early financing, and strong partnerships on the ground in an effort to prevent famine. It will help us deploy our combined resources to protect the poorest and most vulnerable, and it will allow us to refocus our collective attention on the millions of chronically food-insecure people who suffer each year.”

The ICRC, working on frontlines around the world, sees the deep suffering inflicted by conflict and violence. Famine is often a devastating symptom of protracted war. We are hopeful that new models of collaboration such as this will bring new solutions and reduce food insecurity at scale,” said ICRC President Peter Maurer.

The FAM will promote investments that tackle the root causes of famine at the first warning signs. It will help build vulnerable people’s livelihoods, safety nets and coping mechanisms. In the last decade, the Bank has invested up to $3 billion annually in food security initiatives and will be looking for additional ways to increase these investments in future projects and programs.

The FAM will use state-of-the-art technology to provide more powerful early warning to identify when food crises threaten to turn into famines. These alerts will trigger pre-arranged funding and action plans by donors, humanitarian agencies and governments to generate earlier and more efficient interventions.

If we can better predict when and where future famines will occur, we can save lives by responding earlier and more effectively,” said Brad Smith, President of Microsoft. “Artificial intelligence and machine learning hold huge promise for forecasting and detecting early signs of food shortages, like crop failures, droughts, natural disasters, and conflicts. Microsoft is proud to join Amazon and Google in developing solutions to address this humanitarian need.”

Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services and other technology firms are providing the world’s top expertise to develop a suite of analytical models called “Artemis” that use advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to estimate and forecast worsening food security crises in real-time. These forecasts will help guide and promote decision makers to respond earlier.

Artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies can be a powerful force for good, and we’ve already seen that they have the potential to help farmers identify disease in cassava plants, keep cows healthier and more productive, and integrate overall relief efforts. Google is proud to partner with the World Bank on the Famine Action Mechanism to help prevent future famine in communities around the world,” said Kent Walker, Google’s Senior Vice President of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer.

We are proud to play a role in the FAM initiative, and to work collaboratively to solve one of the world’s most pressing issues,” said Teresa Carlson, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, Inc.Public-private collaborations like this one allow us to collectively bring cutting-edge technology to leading humanitarian organizations, giving them innovative tools to predict and prevent famine, and to ultimately save lives.”

The FAM builds on the World Bank’s experience and commitment to better forecast risks and prevent crises of all types before they occur. In July, the World Bank Group Board endorsed the Global Crisis Risk Platform, a new platform for identifying risks before they become full blown crises. The Platform incorporates prevention and preparedness into client country development strategies and is being used to get ahead of global crises such as famine, Ebola and other natural and man-made disasters.

The FAM also builds on the United Nations efforts to prioritize prevention, and its efforts to address risks more systematically. It also aligns with the recently adopted Security Council Resolution 2417 on the links between conflict-induced food insecurity and the threat of famine.

The FAM will initially be rolled out in a small group of vulnerable countries building up to ultimately provide global coverage. On October 13, leaders dedicated to this initiative will gather as part of the IMFWorld Bank Annual Meetings to discuss further implementation of the FAM.

Contacts:

World Bank
In Washington: Kristina Nwazota, +1 (202) 422-2408, knwazota@worldbank.org
For Broadcast Requests: Huma Imtiaz, +1 (202) 473-2409, himtiaz@worldbankgroup.org

United Nations
In New York: Anna Jefferys +1 (347) 707-3734 Jefferysa@un.org

ICRC
In New York: Diana Santana +1 (917) 455-9035, dsantana@icrc.org

Microsoft
Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, +1 (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

Google
In Washington: Charlotte Smith, +1 (951) 237-7141, smithcd@google.com