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AS IT IS - Chinese New Leaders' Taking Aggressive Steps Against Corruption

作者:Steve Ember 发布日期:3-19-2013

From VOA Learning English, welcome to AS IT IS! Hello, I'm Steve Ember.

Today on our program, Jim Tedder tells us about improvements in the humanitarian situation for the people of Somalia.

Then we learn about a box bank under a tree that is improving life for women in South Sudan.

And finally, Kelly Jean Kelly tells how new leaders in China are taking aggressive steps against corruption.

There has been a big improvement in Somalia's humanitarian situation. United Nations officials say that is because of better aid provision, success against militants, and good rainfall. Jim Tedder has more.

There are about one million fewer Somalis listed as being in crisis. That is half the total number of people who were in crisis six months ago.

In 2011, famine – widespread lack of food – was declared in several parts of Somalia. Many people died and many others walked for weeks to reach areas with food and water. The huge Dadaab refugee camp area in Kenya was one of those places.

Luca Alinovi directs the operations of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization – the FAO –in Somalia. Mr. Alinovi said FAO worked against the famine by providing money.

"During the famine and the season after, we have been substantially intervening with cash-based intervention.

We have been supporting the people to stay where they were."

Many people moved out of the camp, he said. But he also said far fewer moved out than might have left without the intervention. Mr. Alinova said FAO was especially strong in supporting the cash-for-work program. The program aided people so they could produce during a difficult season and breed animals. He said earlier interventions were based more on simply providing food, shelter and other needs.

At a time when climate change has made yearly rainfall either hard to predict or scarce, 2012 had good rainfall, he said. And two major rivers that cross Somalia are good for irrigation – providing water – to the land.

Another major improvement affecting the humanitarian situation has been success in fighting al Shabab militants. Forces from the African Union known as AMISOM have driven the group out of many areas. But Mr. Alinovi says insecurity is still a problem.

"It's still quite unstable and the military operation is still ongoing very much, particularly in the agricultural area, in the rural area, which obviously creates a climate of uncertainty."

The FAO official said most of the rural area remains under the control of al Shabab.

VOA's Jim Tedder. You are listening to "AS IT IS" in VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.

South Sudan is one of the worst places to be a woman. It has the highest death rate in the world for pregnant women and new mothers. Slowly, aid agencies have begun to help South Sudanese women take more control of their lives.

Under a tree, women gather, singing and dancing. They are waiting for the bank to open. The bank is also under the tree. It is a simple wooden box made secure by a small metal lock.

Teresa Ajok Aduong is the only one of the women who can read.

She is the director of this box bank in Rumbek in Lakes State.

The women can use their money to buy shares in the bank. The money can then be lent to bank members, who pay it back with interest.

Only about 16 percent of women in South Sudan can read.

Teresa Ajok Aduong says while the nation was part of Sudan, women were not permitted to do business. Now, some women are selling things in the market or fresh homegrown fruits and vegetables. But she says few men understand that women have

"an important role in business."

At first, men were concerned about letting their wives join the bank. They accused the women of just sitting around and talking.

Most have changed their opinion as they have seen their wealth grow. One husband, Akot Dal Machur, even joined the bank.

"He says he has learned that women are skillful, and whatever little money they have they can save."

Deborah Arach works for the International Rescue Committee.

She has watched women who were trapped at home, with little hope, increase their worth.

"Now they have changed. They have become strong and they are proud of themselves. They have something to contribute at home also. Not like before – [when] you depend on man."

She says the bank has also enabled women to work together – not only to make money, but to share ideas and solve problems.

"As It Is" is coming to you in VOA Special English, I'm Steve Ember.

Since China's leadership change began last November, the party's new leaders have been taking aggressive steps to crack down on corruption. One recent measure requires that officials publicly release information about their wealth and property. Kelly Jean Kelly reports.

Chinese citizens are increasingly asking to know more about their public officials. They want to know about their incomes, how many houses they own, and how they invest their money.

There have been attempts in the past to release more of these details to the public. But there has never been a top-down approach for openness across the government.

5 learningenglish.voanews.com | Voice of America | As It Is |3.19.13

However, that could soon be changing.

China's Communist Party has publicly admitted its fight against corruption is a life-or-death struggle. It has announced plans to begin several new programs requiring officials to make information about their wealth public.

The programs will be set up in the eastern city of Ningbo and three others in the progressive province of Guangdong.

State media reports say the program in Ningbo will only apply to newly appointed government officials. The programs in Guangdong will require major party and government officials to report their assets, investments and employment details of their spouses and children.

Some of the test programs that have already been launched in China include one in Xinjiang and the provinces of Hunan and Zhejiang.

Allen Clayton-Greene is an analyst with China Policy. He says the program in Xinjiang lasted for less than a year and ended when the anti-corruption official there died. The program in Zhejiang's Cixi has been going on since 2009.

"That ((program)) required people to disclose their personal income, private cars and houses as well as those owned by their children and family members. But one of the issues with the Cixi pilot program was that there were zero complaints received from the public and there was big sort of fury about the fact there was

Analysts say that just how high up the experiments in Ningbo and Guandong will go remains to be seen. I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.

And that's AS IT IS for today.

Remember, for the latest world news, tune in to VOA news at the beginning of the hour universal time.

I'm Steve Ember. Thanks for joining us.

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