‘They call him the millionaire’: the refugee who turned his camp into a business empire

This article is part of my project #RefugeeEconomics.

It’s a sweltering afternoon in the Kakuma refugee camp, and workers are busy loading crates of Coca-Cola bottles into a run-down car stationed in front of Mesfin Getahun’s store. Clad in a pair of denim jeans and a matching shirt, the 42-year-old Ethiopian wholesaler moves swiftly inside the large room filled with piles of bulk powder milk, canned tomatoes and sacks of grain, attending to customers’ requests and giving orders to staff. A small crowd of refugees and members of the local Turkana tribe have gathered to socialise, sitting on plastic chairs by the shop’s entrance.

In 2001, Getahun fled neighbouring Ethiopia amidst political turmoil, settling in this sprawling camp located in arid, isolated and underdeveloped Turkana County, in north-eastern Kenya. Nobody, including himself, would have predicted that in 16 years he would go from sweeping floors to make ends meet, to being one of the camp’s premier wholesalers whose $10,000 (£7,779) monthly income has earned him the nickname “the millionaire.”

This is only a preview. Read more on The Guardian.

 

 

To save the world’s forests, protect women’s land rights

National laws and regulations in low- and middle-income countries consistently fail to protect the land rights of women living in indigenous and rural communities, making them ill-prepared to reach the targets set by the Sustainable Development Goals or the Paris Agreement on climate change, a new report called “Power and Potential” released by the Rights and Resources Initiative, or RRI, reveals.

Women’s ability to access forests and to take part in decision-making regarding resource utilization is crucial to conservation and climate change mitigation efforts, the report notes. It also contributes to economic development at the community and national levels. But even in cases where community-level practices provide women with access to, and control over land, weak regulations on tenure rights increase their vulnerability to social, economic and environmental shocks.

“International laws have done a good job in addressing the need and importance of securing these tenure rights,” said Solange Bandiaky-Badji, RRI’s head of gender justice and Africa programs. “Most of the governments have ratified those international laws, but what is really missing are the national laws, safeguards and protection mechanisms that make sure that those laws are translated into practice.”

This is only a preview. Read more on Devex’s website.

Looking to escape Trumpism in Canada? Think again

Canada is accepting immigrants in record numbers. We sing the praises of multiculturalism and welcome Syrian refugees with open arms. But are we strong enough to withstand the xenophobic forces seen in Europe and the US?

Canada has never had to face some of the challenges that fuelled xenophobic discourses elsewhere. Its economy has been left relatively unscathed by the global recession. Its geographical location has rendered it largely immune to undocumented migration. The volume of immigration, although spectacular, is never bound to yield any surprise. The government announces its targets each year just like it lays out its budget.

Landed immigrants, students, and temporary workers are carefully handpicked and vetted through lengthy selection processes that are meant to fill the country’s needs. Even refugees – at least those who have been selected by the government after a long screening process – are portrayed as playing a crucial role in reaching the country’s economic, social, and cultural goals. In Canada, immigration is a nation-building exercise.

As long as Canada can keep immigration under control – and there are no immediate reasons why it wouldn’t – the country will be safe from bigotry, The Economist: “No country for old men”, some say. Pluralism is so deeply ingrained here, we’d be able to withstand the harshest winds of xenophobia blowing in from across the Atlantic Ocean and from south of the border, so the This story on The Walrus explains what it means to be the last country on earth that believes in multiculturalism, so the rhetoric goes.

So how can it be that right-wing extremism on the rise here, tool?

Read more on The Correspondent

5 takeaways from Canada’s 2017 aid budget

Advocates had high hopes for Canada’s aid 2017 budget. As United Nations agencies and international NGOs brace for promised cuts from the United States, some saw Canada as a candidate to fill gaps in aid funding.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s doggedly optimistic statements and open stance toward refugees bolstered the hopes. After Canada’s lead role in hosting the latest Global Fund replenishment conference in Montreal last fall, and as the resettlement program of Syrian refugees reached the 40,000 mark, local civil society organizations expected new financial commitments to the aid program.

Instead, the budget, released on March 22, does not foresee increases for the next five years. It does not to disclose details on the International Assistance Envelope, making it difficult to assess how and when the funding will be spent.

This is only a preview. Read more on Devex’s website.

How Toronto is using its purchasing power to drive inclusive growth

TORONTO, Canada — Every year, the city of Toronto spends about CAD 1.8 billion (USD 1.35 billion) on goods and services, from large construction projects to one-off catering contracts. Now, the city wants to harness that procurement power to help raise minorities, aboriginal people, recent immigrants and people with disabilities out of poverty.

Since 1 January, Toronto has been implementing a new Social Procurement Policy. The policy  establishes clear guidelines and tools to ensure that businesses owned by members of disadvantaged groups participate in the bidding process for public contracts. It also aims to ensure that businesses contracting with the city hire and train a diverse workforce. Vendors working on large city contracts are encouraged to participate in workforce development programmes with vulnerable groups, such as youth.

This is only a preview. Read more on Citiscope.