Saturday April 21, 2018

Africa Aid Officials Concerned as U.S. government proposes severe cuts in Foreign Aid

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Acutely malnourished child is treated at the Banadir Hospital after her mother fled the drought in southern Somalia and traveled by car to the capital Mogadishu, March 11, 2017. VOA
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US, As the U.S. government proposes severe cuts in foreign aid, Africa and its neighbors are experiencing a massive hunger crisis, with 20 million people facing possible starvation in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

Aid officials say the proposed cuts would have a deep and disastrous impact in those countries and others. The United States is the largest single donor to the United Nations’ World Food Program, contributing just over $2 billion last year.

In dire times like these, says WFP East Africa spokeswoman Challiss McDonough, the aid agency needs more help than ever.

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Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, and in one remote village of 20,000 people, McDonough says, WFP’s meager food drops — consisting of a bit of sorghum, a handful of split peas and a few spoonfuls of vegetable oil — serve as a lifeline.

Women sit in line on the ground waiting to receive food distributed by the World Food Program (WFP) in Padeah, South Sudan, March 1, 2017. VOA

“Without those airdrops, if we weren’t able to keep those planes flying and to keep the food moving, to keep the helicopters flying, then people would literally have nothing,” she told VOA from Nairobi, Kenya. “The only thing that is standing between them and catastrophe is the food assistance that we can bring to them.”

That word — catastrophe — has come up often in global reactions to the proposed U.S. budget, which seeks a nearly 30 percent reduction in international programs, like the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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In a statement, the president and CEO of aid agency Save the Children, Carolyn Miles, said, “These cuts will be catastrophic for millions of families in developing countries,” adding that U.S. aid has had a massive global impact in the last two decades, reducing childhood deaths by more than 50 percent.

Ben Parker, a London-based editor and analyst with IRIN, a news agency specializing in humanitarian issues, says the international aid community is readying itself for a “shock” over the loss of aid.

“It’s going to hurt,” he said, “and it’s going to have consequences we’re not even sure about at this point when you look at the scale of the cuts, potentially, particularly to the U.N., which the administration has a particular lack of appetite for.” (VOA)

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Microsoft takes ‘Project Sangam’ to Middle East and Africa

"Project Sangam" was commenced from Andhra Pradesh

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Microsoft's 99DOTS initiative helping TB patients in India
Microsoft expands 'Project Sangam'. Wikimedia commons

In a bid to bridge the widening skill gap, Microsoft on Monday announced expansion of the capabilities of its Cloud-powered “Project Sangam” to the Middle East and Africa.

Launched in India by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last year, “Project Sangam” is a Cloud-hosted platform that leverages Azure services and professional networking platform LinkedIn to support new entrants to the job market, enabling key stakeholders across the skilling ecosystem find the right talent.

Microsoft to pay $250,000 to help them catch chip bugs. Wikimedia Commons
Microsoft’s Sangam is a cloud-based platform. Wikimedia Commons

“Lack of skilled resources is one of the key issues that governments across the world are facing. There is an enormous scope for technology to come in to address the skill gap that exists in the workforce today,” Anil Bhansali, Corporate Vice President, Cloud & Enterprise, said in a statement.

Nadella launched “Project Sangam” to help the Indian government not only train but also assist people get jobs via LinkedIn that was acquired by the company for $26.2 billion in an all-cash deal in 2016. “Project Sangam” was commenced from Andhra Pradesh.

Also Read: Microsoft brings enhanced security features to Office 365

“‘Sangam’ is the first project that wields the combined strength of LinkedIn and Microsoft to tackle the challenge of how to provide every person the opportunity to skill themselves,” added Bhansali who is also Managing Director of Microsoft India (R&D) Private Limited. As part of the expansion, Microsoft South Africa and the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) have launched “Thint’iMillion”, an online mass learning system.

Microsoft Kaizala
The project was first launched in Andhra Pradesh. VOA

Part of the “Tshepo 1Million Digital Mass” learning programme, the “Thint’iMillion” programme will be deployed on “Project Sangam”, allowing young people to access content via an on-phone app (Android only), tablet mode (Windows and Android) as well as an interactive web portal. IANS