Sunday, November 27, 2022

Fast Fashion Waste

 Plastic waste are not the only contributors to the worrying global waste problem. Clothes are too. Earth.org reports that 92 million tonnes of textiles waste are produced globally, every year. This implies that a truck full of twaddle clothing ends up on landfill sites every day. Certainly, with the trend at which fast fashion continues, textile waste is expected to soar by 50 per cent by 2030. Earth.org states that just 12 per cent of materials used in clothing are recycled because of inadequate technologies to recycle them. 

Clothing garments were once worn for decades because of their durability quality. However, arrival of fashion and the availability of low-cost clothes have increased clothing waste.  The fashion industry is arguably one of the largest producers of waste and contributes to the climate change crisis, due to the large consumption of water during production.

African countries where most of these used clothes are exported to and sold cheaply are facing huge environmental waste crisis. Fast fashion has brought about mountains of trash being lodged in most developing countries. It adds that because less than one per cent of used clothing gets recycled into new clothing, castoffs from Europe and America are dumped in most African countries.

The Observatory of Economic Complexity, pegged Nigeria as one of the top five importers of used clothing with an annual fee of $124m.

Most worn clothes from Europe and America and donated to charities are sold at cheap prices in most African countries, consequently, making Africa a dumping ground for used clothes and contributing significantly to the mountain of textile waste.

To this, the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database in 2015 stated that global trade in used clothes witnessed steady growth over the last decade and a half, with global export reaching $4.8bn in 2015. East Africa was reported to have imported $151m worth of used clothes and shoes from Europe and the United States. Oxfam, stated that at least 70 per cent of donated used clothes end up in Africa. United States of America, the United Kingdom and Germany as the top three exporters of used clothes.

In 2019, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda decided to raise taxes on second-hand clothes imports as well as offer incentives to their local textile manufacturers. Sadly, only a few countries have implemented the ban, further making Africa saturated with heaps of clothes waste with risk of climate crisis. 

At Nigeria's Bayero University, Kano, Faisal Abubakar, agreed that Africa had become a dump site for used clothes that gave the West an easy way to get rid of their cloth waste problem. He added that most of the imported used clothes were damaged and usually ended up in the landfill.

Abubakar said, “What happens in the West is that when you have something that you don’t use, you are encouraged to donate it to a charity and what the charity does is that they sell off at cheap prices to fund their activities. In doing so, the goods are being bought by traders in Africa at very low prices and when they buy them, they do not know the quality of what they are buying because the clothes are in bundles. Some of the clothes are damaged. It is a very uncertain type of business and it gives the Whites an easy way of getting rid of their waste problem.”

He added, “One other negative thing is that when you are importing such cheap second-hand textiles, it puts local producers under pressure because they will not be able to cope or compete with such goods. It also makes it difficult for our local brands to make clothes that are cheap and can compete with them."

Second-hand clothes from West pose environmental challenges in Africa – Experts (punchng.com)

More Food Needed for Tigray

 Aid deliveries into Tigray are “not matching the needs”, the United Nations food agency has said.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners “urgently need access to all parts of the region to deliver food and nutrition assistance to 2.3 million vulnerable people.” 

Food aid into Ethiopia’s Tigray ‘not matching needs’: UN | Food News | Al Jazeera

Friday, November 25, 2022

South Sudan - Starvation Strategy

 Starvation is being used as a weapon of war by South Sudan government forces against their own citizens, an investigation by law firm Global Rights Compliance.

Deliberate starvation tactics used by government forces and allied militia, and by opposition forces, are driving civilians out of their homes, exacerbating Africa’s largest refugee crisis. All parties to the conflict have committed widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, said the report 

Starvation tactics include the large-scale and systematic burning and razing of homes and property; destruction of food crops and markets; and targeted attacks on humanitarian aid workers. The devastation has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee, mainly to refugee camps in northern Uganda.

Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University and an expert on the Horn of Africa, said starvation crimes perpetrated by South Sudanese government forces are well documented. 

Yasmin Sooka, chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, said: “The people we meet tell us repeatedly that the only way the killings, rape and sexual violence, looting and pillage will stop is if those responsible for the violations are held criminally accountable. Impunity for these serious violations since 2013 has got us to this desperate point, where most South Sudanese are unable to feed themselves and rely mainly on humanitarian assistance.”

“We are really disturbed by soldiers, the very people who should protect civilians,” one woman told researchers. “We have seen an increase of cases of looting, even when people are raped, they are also robbed of money and food. We understand the soldiers are looting because they have not been paid for months. What does the government expect if they give their unpaid servants guns?”

Starvation being used as a weapon of war in South Sudan, report reveals | Global development | The Guardian

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Africa’s Predicable Crises.

 The current crisis in Africa has been unfolding for years. It is neither new nor a surprise. This is not a failure of the warning signs. This is a failure of capitalism,  a failure to provide the necessary resources.

The number of people facing extreme hunger in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has more than doubled since last year, from 10 million to over 23 million. Nearly half a million are already facing famine conditions. Nearly half of the livestock essential for livelihoods in East Africa has perished. One person on average is likely to die every 48 seconds from acute hunger.  5.7 million children are expected to be acutely malnourished in 2022.

East African countries have seen impressive economic growth. However, the region continues to have high levels of inequality. Wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a tiny few, while a majority are struggling to meet their most basic needs, such as education and healthcare. The richest 10% of East Africans receive 47% of the national income. The poorest 50% of citizens earn 13.3%. In Rwanda, the richest 1% of the population earns 20% of the national income, nearly double the share held by the bottom 50%. 

In the economic fallout from the pandemic. It is estimated that the region lost $15,7 billion in GDP in 2020 and the equivalent of 10 million full-time jobs.

In South Sudan, only 1% of the poorest children finish secondary school, and just 31% of citizens have access to healthcare. East African governments are planning to slash their public spending on pro-poor services like healthcare, education, agriculture and social protection in the coming years. From 2022 to 2026, nine East African nations intend to reduce annual public spending by $4.7, compared with 2021.

“With these spending cuts, the region risks spiralling into a never-ending cycle of inadequate health services, poor education facilities, economic decline with women and youth caught up at the centre of the fallout, unable to maximize and indeed shape the future that the continent has potential for” explained Parvin Ngala, a regional director for Oxfam.

The future is equal | Oxfam International

Pan-Africa

 


Of the 24 countries classified as hunger hotspots by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme in 2022, 16 are in Africa. The continent accounts for 62 percent of the total number of food insecure in hotspot countries.

Overall, 80 percent or an estimated 137 million people in conflict-affected countries, including the Horn of Africa, northern Nigeria, eastern DRC and the Sahal, are food insecure.

Three countries,  DRC, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, account for more than 56 percent of the food insecurity in Africa.

Global upheavals, the war in Ukraine, armed conflicts, extreme weather events, international inflation increasing prices, particularly of agricultural inputs plus low intra-continental trade are fuelling food insecurity across Africa.

"...Climate change will contribute to a decline in African agricultural yields, which are already very low, by 5 to 17 percent by 2050,” says Hafez Ghanem, former regional Vice President of the World Bank Group.

External factors – the disruption of food systems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent reduced purchasing power, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to an increase in world food, fuel and fertiliser prices – coupled with drastic weather changes, and continuation or intensification of conflict and insecurity have compromised an already fragile food chain.

As a net food and fuel importer, FAO research shows Ethiopia is particularly affected by high international prices. Food price inflation averaged 40 percent during the first half of 2022.

The onset of floods in 27 Nigerian states earlier in February 2022 has damaged 450,000 hectares of farmland, seriously compromising the 2022 harvest. 

Floods have similarly disrupted agriculture in South Sudan.

The Sahel – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger – has seen a 50 percent increase in food insecurity compared to 2021. A reflection, Ghanem says, “of the sharp increase in political instability and conflict in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and rising world prices for food, fuel, and fertilisers."

Ghanem urges a pan-African initiatives to boost food production. Africa is ripe with opportunities for inter-African cooperation.

 “Africa’s agriculture has the lowest yields in the world. Africa has the least percentage of irrigated land and uses the least fertiliser per hectare. The continent also invests the least in research and development.”

 He explains, “Africa imports about 60 percent of all fertiliser use, making it very expensive for our farmers, leading to low fertiliser usage. We already have big fertiliser-producing companies, including Dangote in Nigeria and OCP in Morocco. The continent can work with such African fertiliser producers to establish more fertiliser factories on the continent.”

Ghanem promotes multi-country regional investments in infrastructure, which would, in turn, enhance agricultural productivity and resilience to climate change. Further, he sees such an approach as an opportunity to create an African council to coordinate and encourage agricultural research and development. Equally important, a pan-African approach could support a facility to ensure vulnerable African countries can finance food imports in times of crisis.

Buoyed by its vast natural resources and human capital, Ghanem says a united vision for Africa will help develop Africa’s bread baskets and deliver a future with food security for all.

 For more on this subject, see Ghanem’s paper here.

Pan-African Approach Needed to Tackle Food Insecurity | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Woes Of Africa

 News from Africa is almost always grim. Sub-Saharan Africa currently serves as the epicenter of global extreme poverty. 

A recent ‘Save the Children’ report sums up Africa’s woes in alarming numbers: 150 million children in East and Southern Africa are facing the double threat of grinding poverty and the disastrous impact of climate change. The greatest harm affects the children population in South Sudan, with 87 percent, followed by Mozambique (80 percent), then Madagascar (73 percent).

Another report by the World Bank indicates that the international community’s hope to end extreme poverty by 2030 will not be met. By 2030, around 574 million people, estimated at 7 percent of the world’s total population, will continue to live in extreme poverty, relying on about two dollars a day. 

The rate of extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is about 35 percent, representing 60 percent of all extreme poverty anywhere in the world.  COVID-19 pandemic,  the Russia-Ukraine war and growing global inflation and the slow growth of large economies in Asia are described as the culprits. But less is said on how much of Africa’s poverty is linked to the ongoing exploitation of the continent by its former – (and current) – colonial masters.

France continues to effectively control the currencies, thus economies of 14 different African countries – mostly in West Africa.

Niger’s former president Mahamadou Issoufou said,  “It’s shocking for Africans to see the billions that have rained down on Ukraine while attention has been diverted from the situation in the Sahel.”

Africa’s existing wealth alone can fuel its global growth for many years to come if it was not for the deep pockets of the West’s wealthy classes, intent upon extracting Africa's riches by plundering and pillaging its resources.

Taken from here

Liberating Africa from Poverty Requires Changing Power Relations with the West | Dissident Voice

Monday, November 21, 2022

Who cares about the Congo?

 From an essay by Vijay Prashad on the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Wars in the DRC’s eastern provinces have been ongoing since the early 1990s. A 2010 UN report describes between March 1993 and June 2003, “deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people”. One estimate, based on studies conducted in 2000 and 2004, suggests that more than 3 million people have died in the conflict since 1998.

M23 rebels have expanded their attacks in the DRC. In retaliation, the DRC expelled Rwandan Ambassador Vincent Karega. The M23 with the assistance of Rwanda troops captured Kiwanja and Rutshuru, two towns in the DRC’s North Kivu province.

In August, a leaked report from the United Nations showed that Rwanda had backed the M23. It was difficult for Rwanda to deny the details in the report, particularly after U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood told the UN Security Council that his government calls “on state actors to stop their support for these groups, including the Rwandan Defense Forces’ assistance to M23.” 

Former DRC presidential candidate Martin Fayulu said recently that he is distressed by the lack of international attention to this conflict.

 “Ukraine is having a problem,” he said, and the widespread media coverage has brought the world’s attention to that. “We are having a problem in Congo, but nobody is condemning Rwanda. Why?” 

Perhaps, it has to do with the cobalt, copper, lithium, and the trees of the rainforest, precious resources that continue to be exploited by the rest of the world despite the carnage. 

Taken from here

A war we can no longer ignore: Why the waters are running red in Africa’s Great Lakes region - Alternet.org

Friday, November 18, 2022

Africa Needs Agro-Ecology

 Sub-Saharan Africa produces less food per person today than it did three decades ago.

While climate-induced shocks to the food system used to occur once every ten years on average in Africa, experts show that they are now happening every 2.5 years.

Estimates show by 2050, warming of just 1.2 to 1.9℃, well within the range of current IPCC projections, is likely to increase the number of malnourished in Africa by 25 to 95 percent–25 percent in central Africa, 50 percent in east Africa, 85 percent in southern Africa and 95 percent in west Africa.

Million Belay, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty coordinator in Africa (AFSA) pointed out that the industrial food system is a major culprit driving climate change but is still not being taken seriously by climate talks.

“Real solutions like diverse, resilient agroecological farming are crucial for farmers [in Africa] to adapt to climate chaos, but they are being sidelined and starved of climate finance.”

The industrial food systems such as monocultures, high-fertilizer and chemical use are described by experts as an enormous driver of climate change in Africa, while small-scale, agroecological farming and indigenous systems comparatively have significantly less GHG emissions and can even work to sequester carbon in healthy ecosystems.

As global warming patterns continue to shift and natural resources dwindle, agroecology is considered by climate experts as the best path forward for feeding the continent.  Researchers from Biovision, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) and the United Kingdom-based Institute of Development Studies shows that such sustainable and regenerative farming techniques have either been neglected, ignored, or disregarded by major donors.

One of the major findings is that most governments, especially in Sub-Saharan still favour “green revolution” approaches, believing that chemical-intensive, large-scale industrial agriculture is the only way to produce sufficient food. “Green revolution solutions have failed,” said Belay.

Africa’s Agri-food Systems Losses Ignored in Global Climate Negotiations | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)

Nigeria's Poverty Figures

 The Nigerian authorities say that 133 million people in the country are living in poverty - that is more than six out of every 10 Nigerians.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has come up with the figure by looking at what is known as multidimensional poverty - where how much money someone has is considered alongside their access to education and basic infrastructure.

It was the first time a Nigerian government institution had used this method to measure poverty levels.

The NBS said among the key problems were lack of access to health and education as well as a lack of clean energy for cooking.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Forgotten Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

 Western Sahara or the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is recognized by the United Nations as the last “non-self-governing territory” in Africa.  80 percent of Western Sahara is controlled by Morocco. A 2,700 kilometers, the sand berm reinforced with ditches and barbed wire fences, artillery and tanks, guarded outposts, and millions of land mines partitions Western Sahara.

To the south and the north, Mauritania and Morocco had set their sights on Western Sahara’s resources.

 In November 1975, despite a judgment from the International Court of Justice that neither Mauritania nor Morocco had territorial sovereignty over the land, Morocco sent 25,000 troops and 350,000 settlers to Western Sahara.

 On November 14, Spain signed the tripartite Madrid Accords with Morocco and Mauritania, effectively ceding Western Sahara to its invaders.

The Polisario Front fought on two fronts. Supported by Algeria, it defeated the Mauritanians in 1978. But Morocco retained its control over Western Sahara.

Western Sahara is a rich land. It has some 72 percent of the world’s phosphate deposits, which are used to manufacture fertilizers. By the end of November 2021, Morocco reported revenues of $6.45 billion from phosphates, an amount that increases each year. 

Western Sahara’s fishing grounds accounted for 77.65 percent of Moroccan catches in 2018, representing the majority of its income from fishing that year. The European Union, too, operates a fleet in these waters.

morocco and its backers have their sights on two other resources abundant in the territory: wind and sunlight. 

In 2018, the UK firm Windhoist built the 200 MW Aftissat wind farm in Western Sahara.

 Vigeo Eiris, a UK-French company certified Moroccan energy investments on Sahrawi land.

 General Electric signed a contract to build a 200 MW wind farm in Western Sahara. 

 Morocco uses the infrastructure in reporting toward its climate targets. Western Sahara Resource Watch estimates that the wind power plants in the territory could account for 47.2 percent of Morocco’s wind capacity and up to 32.64 percent of its solar capacity by 2030.

Africa’s Forgotten Colony In The Sahara| Countercurrents

Floods 80 times more likely

 The heavy rain behind recent devastating flooding in Nigeria, Niger and Chad was made about 80 times more likely by the climate crisis. 

The study, by an international team of climate scientists as part of the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group, said such rain would have been extremely rare without human-caused heating.

The floods that struck between June and November were among the deadliest on record in the region. Hundreds of people were killed, 1.5 million were displaced and more than 500,000 hectares of farmland were damaged.

The WWA study said the reason the floods were so disastrous was that people in the region were already very vulnerable to extreme weather, as a result of poverty, violent conflicts and political instability. 

“The analysis found a very clear fingerprint of anthropogenic climate change,” said Prof Maarten van Aalst, the director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, who is at Cop27. “The floods resulted in massive suffering and damages, especially in the context of high human vulnerability." He added, “But what is very clear from the science is that this is a real and present problem and that it’s particularly the poorest countries that are getting hit very hard, so it’s clear that solutions are needed.”

Devastating floods in Nigeria were 80 times more likely because of climate crisis | Climate crisis | The Guardian