Myanmar UN recommends measures to address ongoing food insecurity in cyclonehit areas

In particular, people in the hardest-hit areas of Chin and Rakhine states – already vulnerable to begin with – are still suffering, with paddy production set to fall by up to 15 per cent, constraining food access and pushing consumer prices up, according to the report, compiled jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).For immediate assistance, the report recommends the distribution of seeds for the forthcoming monsoon planting seasons, provision of water and pest-resistant storage containers to protect farmer’s seeds, along with drying nets and post-harvest equipment, as well as urgent restocking of livestock, such as chickens, ducks, goats and pigs, to avoid a fall in protein intake. The affected communities also must secure fishing equipment, rebuild fishing gear and boats, and rehabilitate fish ponds. They also need more smaller farm machinery for hire.Longer-term interventionsIn addition to those measures, “we are also ensuring a focus on longer term interventions which enable farmers and communities to better cope with future emergencies,” Bui Thi Lan, FAO Representative in Myanmar, said in a press release.The report also provides a set of recommendations for long-term recovery, resilience building and disaster risk reduction. These include: developing grain banks at communal and regional levels to reduce post-harvest losses; constructing micro-dams in suitable areas and establishing a National Information and Early Warning Unit on Food and Nutrition Security.Resilience-building initiatives will include rehabilitation and/or rebuilding of household and community assets, mapping of disaster risk reduction systems and training farmers in disaster risk reduction skills to enable them to recover quicker and make best use of emergency recovery inputs provided.Given the availability of rice and generally well-functioning markets within Myanmar, the report recommends that assistance be provided in the form of cash or vouchers to assist vulnerable people to purchase food at a time of severe food shortages that may hit in the coming months.“As affected households have faced difficulties in obtaining credit, cash assistance is necessary to resume their livelihoods,” said Domenico Scalpelli, WFP Resident Representative and Country Director.Since October 2015, WFP has employed cash transfers in relief activities, following its prompt life-saving food assistance within 48 hours of the devastation of national disaster. In addition, WFP has been implementing cash or food for asset activities from November to provide income generation opportunities for affected people primarily relying on day labour. Above all, reconstruction of safer community infrastructure will reinvigorate communities’ resilience, he said.Funding shortfallsBy the end of 2015, WFP had reached half a million people affected by the floods and massive landslides, mostly in Ayeyarwaddy, Bago, Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Magway, Mon, Rakhine and Sagaing States and Regions.WFP intends to continue its flood response for 104,000 people until mid-2016 to prevent further deterioration of food security and nutrition situation in Myanmar, but faces a funding shortfall of $47 million to meet all food assistance needs there till the end of 2016.FAO is aiming to meet the immediate agricultural needs of 332,750 individuals still recovering from the 2015 floods. To date, FAO’s resilience program in Myanmar has secured financial resources and will provide assistance to around 150,000 farmers and fisher people in the worst-affected areas of Rakhine, Chin and Sagaing. In order to meet all targeted beneficiaries, FAO requires an additional funding of $7.1 million.The report is based on a Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) conducted in Myanmar in November-December 2015 by the two UN agencies. read more

Universitys policy sparks backlash after saying  transgender people must be positively represented

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. A university’s transgender policy has sparked a backlash after saying that transgender people must be “positively represented” in discussions.Academics have said that the inclusion of such clauses “stifle debate”, as they warn against the “Orwellian” rules. Institutions have rushed to introduce specific “transgender policies” in recent years, often in addition to their existing equality and diversity policies. But there is concern among some professors that some of parts of these policies impede on free speech and create a “chilling effect” on campus.Sussex university includes a clause in its policy which say that “any materials within relevant courses and modules will positively represent trans people and trans lives”.Kathleen Stock, a philosophy professor at Sussex and director of teaching at the university’s History, Art History and Philosophy department, said that this kind of clause is “repressive”.“Universities should have policies that protect employees and students from discrimination,” Prof Stock said.“But policies which say you must always ‘positively represent’ a group of people clearly overstep the boundary. These are not fit for purpose in allowing academics to explore issues responsibly.”She said that academics need to be able to discuss societal questions about how to balance rights of trans people and others like vulnerable women in prisons, hostels and rape crisis centres.“If we want to talk about those from an academic perspective, we have to be able to talk about criminality, mental illness and anything else,” she said.Prof Stock gave the example the incarceration of transgender women in the female women’s estate and failures in policy that led to the Karen White case.  The transgender prisoner Karen White, a convicted rapist and paedophile, was born a man but used a transgender persona to attack female prisoners in a women’s prison.The prison service has since apologised over failings in the case and last year White was jailed for life. “These sorts of attempts to control academic thought are repressive and illiberal, and they have a chilling effect,” Prof Stock said.Many universities – including Sussex – base their transgender policies on a template created by the sector organisation Advance HE, previously known as the Equality Challenge Unit, which states that courses should be checked to ensure they contain material “that positively represents trans people and trans lives”.  Michael Biggs, an associate professor of sociology at Oxford, said the positive representation clause is “outrageous”. “This is really Orwellian. Universities shouldn’t be imposing transgenderism any more than they impose radical feminism,” he said.Prof Biggs and fellow academics contacted Oxford’s pro vice-Chancellor for equality and diversity to raise their concerns about the university’s transgender policy which was introduced last year. “We said you need to put in something about academic freedom in the policy,” he said.Dr Jane Hamlin, president of The Beaumont Society, a transgender support group, said she did not believe such policies “harm debate or discussion”.She said: “Even if one is being critical it shouldn’t be about the person being transgender – clearly it depends more on the actions of the individual or the comments they have made.“Clearly if something is inappropriate that is reasonable to criticise the comment or the action, not the fact that it’s made by a trans person.”A University of Sussex spokesperson said: “Like a large number of universities, our trans and non-binary equality policy statement adopts best-practice guidance for the sector. We did this because we are committed to the inclusion of all our community. “This clause in our policy statement is not at all about closing down academic debate. On the contrary, it’s about making sure there is a balance and helping our students to look beyond stereotypical views or discussions. Allowing opposing views to be heard will always be encouraged at the University of Sussex.” read more