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In Sahel, EU Projects Postponed, Prodi Plan Slow, Now in Bamako

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, October 16 -- When Robert Piper, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, held a press conference on October 16 during the vote in the General Assembly between Spain and Turkey for a Security Council seat, Inner City Press asked him a question about the European Union.
  The European Commissioner in charge of the budget has said "some projects in the Sahel region of Africa, the Horn of Africa and Haiti have been postponed." (Piper identified the speaker as Kristalina Georgieva, incoming Vice President for budget and possibly one day UN Secretary General, but it appears to have been Jacek Dominik.)

  Piper said yes, project were postponed, but will not be canceled. Inner City Press asked him about the UN Sahal Strategy begun under Romano Prodi, and as Chad has complained not based in the five targeted countries but rather in Dakar.

  Piper said a sub-office with the African Union is being opened in Bamako; he admitted the progress has been slow but says he chairs the "resiliency" pillar of the Sahel strategy. We'll see.

  Back on June 11, 2013 Piper, then only recently tapped to coordinate humanitarian issues on the Sahel, told Inner City Press he had gotten involved in the long delayed Sahel strategy report that Romano Prodi was put in charge of back in October.

  He said while there is a humanitarian component, Prodi was focused on big picture infrastructure projects. Would that be solar? Uranium like in Niger? Whatever it is, has taken taken too long. And meanwhile Prodi charged the UN $1,200 to travel between Bologna and Rome.

  Despite this waste, Piper's pitch was to raise funds. Inner City Press asked him, if Cameroon is at 130% of the amount requested for food security, and Niger at only 12%, couldn't the UN shift the month? Video here, from Minute 20:33.

No, was the answer, the appeals are country specific. Piper said that "the money comes in earmarked for particular appeals in almost 100% of the cases... We naturally try to influence the donors to countries falling off the map, and sectors being neglected. But the money comes with a country's name attached and even a sector."

  One might wonder: why? If Piper is the humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, why don't they do an appeal for the region, and not country by country? Watch this site.

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