IRIN Update 1075 of events in West Africa
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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COTE D'IVOIRE: IMF worried about economic downturn
The executive directors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have expressed concern about the continued deterioration of Cote d'Ivoire's economic and financial situation over the last three years. A report issued after the conclusion of consultations with the Ivorian authorities noted that the country's real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was projected to decrease by about 1 percent in 2001. Gains expected in manufacturing and services will not be enough to offset negative growth in agriculture, according to the report, which was released to the public on Tuesday.
Consumer price inflation is expected to rise to 4 percent, reflecting increases in the cost of transport and staple foods, the report said. The external current account deficit is expected to remain unchanged at 5.5 percent of GDP in 2001, as export earnings are projected to remain weak and imports to recover only slightly. "This forecast is based on the successful implementation of the staff-monitored program covering the second half of 2001," the report said.
[The full report is posted at http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pn201/pn01103.htm
SIERRA LEONE: Guinea-based NGO active in Kambia
A Guinea-based NGO, ABC Development, is set to build a community information resource centre and an adult literacy centre in Magbema chiefdom, northwestern Sierra Leone, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
OCHA said in its September humanitarian situation report that ABC Development, which runs a micro-credit programme worth about US $3,700, had repatriated 500 farm families from camps in Guinea to Bramaia chiefdom. Both Bramaia and Magbema are in Kambia District, which lies on the border with Guinea.
The NGO has provided the families with groundnuts and seed rice, OCHA said, adding that two other NGOs, American Refugee Committee and Sierra Grassroots Agency, had identified another 50 beneficiaries in Magbema for a micro-credit pilot project.
GUINEA: President praises armed forces for beating back rebels
President Lansana Conte of Guinea on Tuesday praised his country's armed forces for beating back attacks by dissidents earlier this year but called on Guineans to be on their guard.
"We must remain vigilant and prepare ourselves for any eventuality despite our constant desire for peace for ourselves and our neighbours," Conte said in an Independence Day address broadcast on radio. "In fact, the moment of calm that we are experiencing now can either lead to definitive and lasting peace or serve as a period of tactical withdrawal of the enemy who would later try to take us by surprise."
"Fellow Guineans, this is why we should always be ready to defend our dear nation," he added. "At the same time, we must do all we can to restore peace in our subregion, particularly in the states of the Mano River Union," which comprises Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Tension escalated this year between Guinea and Liberia following attacks in southern Guinea by forces opposed to the Guinean government. Guinea accused Liberia of backing the dissidents. The authorities in Monrovia, on the other hand, charged that Guinea's government was supporting anti-government forces who have been carrying out attacks in northwest Liberia in recent years.
However, Guinea's border areas have been relatively quiet in recent months and no attacks were reported in northwestern Liberia in the past few weeks. Foreign and internal ministers from the three countries have held periodic meetings in the past two months to improve relations between them and end the insecurity. The three presidents are scheduled to meet early next year.
CAMEROON: Symposium on natural disasters
Addressing environmental issues related to Mount Cameroon and finding ways to tackle other natural disasters that have hit Cameroon in the last 10 years are the main focus of a six-day international symposium that opened on Tuesday in the capital, Yaounde, PANA reported.
Mount Cameroon is an active volcano located in the southwest of the country. It erupted twice last year: there were no deaths, but it destroyed 70 hectares of plantation and caused other damage. It is also a constant threat to some 100,000 people living nearby, PANA said.
The meeting's agenda includes water-related disasters such as a recent flood that killed 20 people and washed away several houses in the town of Limbe, 250 km west of Yaounde. Cameroon plans to create a national risk observatory that would collect information on disasters and develop an early warning system on natural disasters, PANA reported the state secretary for regional administration, Adamou Modi, as saying at the symposium.
In the last 10 years, Cameroon has experienced 75 natural disasters which have cost the state five billion CFA francs (about US $7,000,000), Modi said.
NIGER: Over US $4.2 million for school supplies
Niger's government has set aside about US $4.2 million for the purchase of school supplies, including textbooks, news organisations reported. "Niger is one of the very few African countries which still provide books and other supplies to their pupils in spite of the country's poverty," the Pan-African News Agency (PANA) quoted the minister of primary education, Ibrahim Ari, as saying last week. He said, however, that the government would soon ask parents to contribute significantly to the purchase of school supplies.
MAURITANIA: Election campaign kicks off
Fifteen political parties, including the ruling Democratic and Social Republican Party (PRDS-French acronym), started campaigning on Wednesday for Mauritania's legislative and municipal elections, due on 19 October.
The French news agency, AFP, reported that the PRDS was considered a favorite. However, it faces strong competition from Action for Change (AC - Action pour le changement), the Coalition of Democratic Forces (RFD- Rassemblement des forces democratiques) and more radical parties that systematically boycotted past elections, AFP said. More than one million voters have registered for this year's polls.
The campaign will close on 17 October.
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