Wednesday, 30 September 2015

AFRICAN COUNTRIES CONTRIBUTE FRACTIONS OF REVENUES TO FIGHT HUNGER

United Nations officials have said that four African countries have agreed to divert a portion of revenue from oil, gold and other resources to an innovative financing scheme that will tackle childhood hunger, Tectono Business Review reports.


We gathered that Mali, the Republic of Congo, Guinea and Niger will each year part with a portion of sales from gold, oil, phosphate and uranium from their state companies. The countries will pay 10 cents for every barrel of oil and 60 cents for every gram of gold into a fund managed by the U.N. children's agency UNICEF to buy nutritional supplements at a reduced price.

"These extracted resources don't just belong to the heads of state and the rich people. It is an investment for the African continent. The scheme, called UNITLIFE, is expected to generate $100 million per year starting in 2017," the U.N. under-secretary general for innovative finance for development and erstwhile foreign minister of France, Philippe Douste-Blazy, told Tectono Business Review.

According to Mr. Douste-Blazy, more countries such as sub-Saharan Africa's top oil producers, Nigeria and Angola, will be added. He points to his success with a similar program that he helped launch, UNITAID, which provides long-term funding for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in developing nations and is managed by the World Health Organisation.

Most of UNITAID's $300-million funding comes from a 1 Euro ($1.12) levy on air tickets from participants. UNITLIFE will use the extractive industry levy to target undernourishment in early childhood that causes stunted growth, can lower a child's IQ and is associated with a lifetime of increased health risks.

One in four people in sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished, while about 40 per cent suffer from stunted growth, United Nations data showed. For the poorest countries, the economic cost is about 6 percent of their gross domestic product.

A 20 per cent reduction in incidences of stunted growth could lead to an 11 per cent rise in per capita income, according to UNITLIFE estimates. Douste-Blazy sees innovative financing schemes such as UNITLIFE as a viable alternative to sovereign wealth funds for resource-rich countries that struggle to provide basic services, and is already at work on the next idea.

He said: "The next big thing is education."