News in Brief 16 February 2016 (PM)

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Fall army worm new pest affecting crops in Southern Africa. Photo © FAO/ Obert Maminimini

African countries unite to tackle crop pest infestation

Sixteen countries in east and southern Africa have agreed on taking action to boost their ability to manage emerging crop pests and livestock diseases.

That was the outcome of a three-day emergency meeting organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which wrapped up in Zimbabwe on Thursday.

It was held in response to a major infestation of fall armyworm, a type of caterpillar, that has affected at least seven countries.

FAO said the insect, mostly associated with the Americas, is a new threat in Southern Africa.

For example, nearly 90,000 hectares of maize in Zambia have been affected, forcing farmers to replant their crops.

Countries also stressed the need to deal with emerging transboundary livestock diseases such as bird flu, which could have a devastating impact on poultry production.

They have agreed to coordinate and manage preparedness and response activities, among other measures.

EU contribution supports WFP food and nutrition project in Tanzania

The European Union (EU) has contributed €9.5 million to support a food security and nutrition project in central Tanzania operated by the World Food Programme (WFP).

The project targets 40,000 people and also aims to reduce malnutrition rates.

WFP will use the funding for what it calls "an innovative programme" to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, especially young children during their key growth phase: that is, the period from conception to age two.

The project aims to improve knowledge on nutrition, dietary diversity and water, sanitation and hygiene practices.

Raising small-scale livestock will also be promoted, together with planting diverse crops and mobilizing villages to start small savings and loan groups.

Iraqi police complete mine action training

Fifteen Iraqi police officers have successfully completed a basic training course on mitigating the threat posed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The four-week course and follow-up mentoring supports efforts to tackle this problem in areas of the country that have been retaken from extremists.

It was organized by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and Iraq's Ministry of Interior and funded by a contribution from the Japanese government.

UNMAS has trained 45 people in Iraq since last year.

The head of the training department in the country's Interior Ministry, Major General Abdulkarim Hatim, said these courses "are contributing to the return of displaced families to their homes paving the way for necessary reconstruction and development projects."

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 2'49"

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