Monday, June 21, 2021

Zimbabwe Poverty

 Almost half of Zimbabwe’s population fell into extreme poverty between 2011 and last year, with children bearing the brunt of the misery. The number of Zimbabweans in extreme poverty has reached 7.9 million. 

The pandemic added 1.3 million Zimbabweans to the numbers of extreme poor as jobs and income were lost in urban areas. In July 2020 nearly 500,000 households had one member who had lost her or his job since the onset of the pandemic, worsening the plight of the poor and forcing more households into intermittent or prolonged suffering. The most common stated reason for losing a job in urban areas was business closure due to the lockdown, the report said.

While wages dropped, 23% of the poorest people – who were working before Covid-19 – had lost their jobs by June 2020, adding thousands to the unemployment numbers.

“Among the non-poor, this figure was also high at 20%. As fewer of the poor were working even before the pandemic, the proportion of households affected by job losses is about the same for both the poor and the non-poor,” the report said.

According to the World Bank’s economic and social update report“The number of extreme poor is expected to remain at 7.9 million in 2021 amid continued elevated prices, and a slow recovery of jobs and wages in the formal and informal sectors...Given limited social safety nets for protecting the high numbers of poor, households are likely to turn to negative coping strategies...”

It said, “Poor households are likely to forgo formal health care as they are unable to pay for services, and to keep children out school to avoid education costs, such as for school fees, uniforms and textbooks.” 

Child poverty has risen exponentially around the country and humanitarian agencies are recording high levels of malnutrition and stunted growth.

“Due to economic and climatic shocks, poverty rose sharply, and extreme poverty reached 42% in 2019 – up from 30% in 2017. Nearly 90% of the extreme poor lived in rural areas, and 1.6 million were children,” it said.

Rising prices for fuel and food have hit the poor, with increases for maize and maize meal alone estimated to have boosted extreme poverty by two percentage points between May and December 2019. As Zimbabweans struggled with successive lockdowns, 1.4 million people went without staple foods.

According to the World Bank, the “extreme poor” are defined as people living under the food poverty line of US$29.80 (£21) for each person a month.

Half of Zimbabweans fell into extreme poverty during Covid | Global development | The Guardian

Africa's Forcibly Displaced

 More than 32 million Africans are either internally displaced, refugees, or asylum seekers (up from 29 million a year ago.)

 Of these 32 million forcibly displaced, 24 million are internally displaced (IDPs).

 This detail matters because additional international laws of protection are activated once a forcibly displaced person is outside their country of origin (such as the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol or the 1969 OAU Refugee Convention). While they are within their own country, their rights to protection are ultimately decided by their government, which may or may not adhere to its international vows of protection (such as the Kampala Declaration).

 Ten African countries account for 88 percent (28 million) of all forcibly displaced people on the continent.

 Each of these top 10 countries of origin are in conflict. 

These conflicts represent a combination of government repression against citizens, extremist group violence, and the militarization of politics. 

Seven of the ten have governments that are autocratically leaning.

  • With over 6 million forcibly displaced people, the DRC has at least a third more displacement than any other country in Africa.

  • South Sudan has nearly 4 million people forcibly displaced out of a total population of 11 million, making it the African country with the highest proportion of its population displaced. South Sudan is also distinctive in that the majority of its forcibly displaced are refugees and asylum seekers, living mostly in Uganda, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

  • Ethiopia saw the largest jump in the size of its forcibly displaced population in the past year with an estimated 1.8 million people dislocated due to the conflict in Tigray. Ethiopia simultaneously hosts over 800,000 refugees from surrounding countries.

  • Nigeria faces a range of destabilizing security threats. In the North East region, violent attacks by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa have resulted in the displacement of 2.5 million Nigerians. Kidnappings, extortion, and organized criminal attacks in the North West have displaced an additional 800,000 people.

  • Sudan, with 2.5 million of its own internally displaced, is also hosting 1.1 million refugees, mostly from South Sudan and Eritrea.

  • Burkina Faso has experienced an explosion in its forced displacement crisis as a result of militant Islamist group violence originating in Mali. Its 1.2 million displaced population represents a nine-fold increase from 2019.

  • Mozambique, the only southern African country facing a major displacement crisis, saw a tripling in its displaced population. A violent insurgency in the north by Ahlu Sunnah wa Jama'a (ASWJ) has resulted in the number of displaced increasing from 211,00 to 668,000 people in the past year.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Brain Drain

 


In Kenya, for instance, where 20 million people live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 (89p) a day, the country loses $518,000 for every doctor and $339,000 for every nurse who emigrates to the UK. 

Britain gives substantial aid to Ghana to fight malaria and reduce infant mortality, but these sums are exceeded by the £65m Britain saves by employing 293 doctors trained in Ghana and a further £38m saved on 1,021 Ghanaian nurses who work here.

The poaching of doctors and nurses has grown worse since the 1980s, but the outflow from poor countries has become a flood since the start of the pandemic. In the last 18 months, the number of doctors trained abroad but licensed to practice in the UK has risen from 66,000 to 80,000.

The NHS – and the health services of other well-off countries – can claim that doctors and nurses emigrate voluntarily, but this argument is disingenuous. Impoverished governments unable to pay decent salaries or provide modern working and living conditions are never going to be as attractive to medical staff as places able to provide these advantages.

Britain is a Parasite on Other Countries - CounterPunch.org



Monday, June 14, 2021

The Unemployment Crisis in Nigeria


Nigeria’s growing population of 200 million people has a median age of just 18. With unemployment among the world’s worst and those under 35 hit hardest, young Nigerians see their prospects rapidly diminish. Almost half of working-age Nigerians under 35 are either unemployed or underemployed – working part-time when they would like to be full time.

Since 2015, Nigeria has endured one of its worst economic slumps in a generation. Two recessions since 2016 – driven by a combination of the government’s economic policies, a collapse in oil prices, and the Covid-19 pandemic – have inflicted prolonged misery. The economic challenges are stark and affect people across the age spectrum, but the rise of youth unemployment has been among the most troubling factors.

The unemployment rate has quadrupled since 2015 to become one of the worst globally. At the end of last year, 23 million people – or 33% of working-age people looking for work – were recorded as unemployed.

“The number of jobs are shrinking and the number of people looking is growing everyday,” said 46-year-old Julius Oshie, a job agent. He continues, “The other problem is that the type of jobs available are not what many young people see as beneficial to them. They are jobs that they take to survive, not to get on in life,” he said. “Cleaning jobs, bar jobs, ‘house helps’ [maids]. And it’s not just the poorer masses taking these jobs. It’s the aspirational classes, the more highly educated,” he said. “It’s been like this for a long time, it’s just you can say it’s getting worse.”

Oshie gestured to a stack of CVs at the end of his desk. “I have people with top degrees in very technical, impressive subjects – physics, statistics – and they come here and after years without work in their field, they’re going to low earning jobs, paying less than 30,000 naira per month,” he said.

27-year-old Favour Obi graduated in 2016 with a first-class degree in biomedical sciences and what felt like reasonable hopes for a career in medical research. Now she is waiting tables at a fast-food restaurant in Lagos. Her job for the past three and a half years pays 35,000 naira (£60) a month, just above Nigeria’s minimum wage and barely enough to live on. It was initially meant to be temporary.

“But it’s been years now and I’m still here."

Attaining a university degree is a dominant aspiration in Nigerian culture, which venerates academic achievement and excellence. Many people see higher education as a route out of poverty, yet in practice university qualifications are not working for many young people, said Tokunbo Afikuyomi, the editor of Stears Business, an economic analysis company based in Lagos. “We have a situation where the more middle class and educated class are struggling to find work. The unemployment rate of those who left secondary school is lower than the unemployment rate of those who left university,” he said.

The Special Public Works scheme – the largest such programme in the country’s history – will provide 750,000 three-month jobs to unemployed graduates this year.

But Afikuyomi said the benefits the scheme were limited. “With jobs, they can’t be created by force,” he said. “If you’re not building enough houses, or infrastructure you get a situation where you create a jobs programme where people only have jobs for a fixed period, then they’re unemployed again.”

Young, qualified and barely scraping by – inside Nigeria’s economic crisis | Nigeria | The Guardian

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Tigray Tragedy

 The news from Tigray in Ethiopia continues to be grim. 

33,000 severely malnourished children in the region are at high risk of death, Unicef has warned with a further two million people are classed as on the brink of "severe crisis".

Ethiopia conflict: 33,000 Tigray children risk death from hunger - UN - BBC News

Friday, June 11, 2021

Uganda's ID Card Flawed


 Up to a third of adults in Uganda have been excluded from vital healthcare and social services because they do not have national ID cards.

Women and elderly people have been particularly affected by the introduction of the digital identity cards, which are required to access government and private sector healthcare, to claim social benefits, to vote and to open bank accounts or buy sim cards.

The report, published by three human rights organisations, estimates that between 23% and 33% of Uganda’s adult population do not have ID cards, which were introduced by the National Identification and Registration Authority (Nira) in 2015.

Many of the cards issued include errors, said the report. Correcting mistakes or replacing lost or stolen cards costs at least 50,000 Ugandan shillings (£10). More than 40% of Uganda’s population live on less than £1.30 a day.

Uganda’s ID scheme excludes nearly a third from healthcare, says report | Global development | The Guardian

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Conditions in Tigray Worsen

 United Nations agencies and aid groups estimate some 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s conflict-torn Tigray region are in famine conditions.  Millions more across Tigray required "urgent food and agriculture/livelihoods support to avert further slides towards famine."

"Levels of food insecurity and malnutrition are at alarming levels," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding there had been reports of starvation among displaced people, while there was a severe need for food in northwest Tigray after the burning or looting of harvests.

The Ethiopian government disputes the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis.

The United Nations said there had been reported incidents of denial of the movement of aid and the interrogation, assault and detention of humanitarian workers at military checkpoints, along with looting and confiscation of humanitarian assets and supplies by the parties to the conflict.

The violence in Tigray has killed thousands of people and forced more than 2 million from their homes in the mountainous region of more than 5 million.

Exclusive: Some 350,000 people in Ethiopia’s Tigray in famine, U.N. document shows | Reuters

Monday, June 07, 2021

Despotism in Uganda

 Repression in Uganda has led to the abductions of dozens of more opposition activists by security forces and at least one alleged death. Several hundred people are thought to have been detained without trial in secret prisons where they are subjected to a brutal regime of mistreatment. The country has suffered a series of crackdowns aimed at stamping out dissent.

The trigger for the most recent repression by security services appears to have been the swearing-in ceremony of Uganda’s veteran president, the 76-year-old Yoweri Museveni, in May. Museveni won a sixth term in office in January in an election denounced as fraudulent by the opposition. Police and other unidentified security agencies moved to arrest and detain hundreds in the week before and after the inauguration.

The body of Daniel Apedel was found dumped at Mulago mortuary in Kampala bearing marks of torture on 22 May. Witnesses heard Apedel pleading for mercy with someone he called “officer” shortly before he disappeared near his home in the Kireka district of Kampala on his way home from work. Three days later, a friend received an anonymous call saying Apedel’s body was at the morgue.

“He had been beaten, hit, his fingers were broken, his teeth removed … it was grave torture. It was a very disturbing sight to see.”

Other detainees have had their joints or genitals beaten with wires, been burned with cigarettes or had fingernails torn out. Many have been members of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party. The NUP has listed more than 700 members and activists said to have been detained but said the true figure was likely to be higher.

Museveni has been in power for 35 years and has long been perceived as a key ally of western powers in east Africa. The US and UK have given billions of dollars of development aid and security assistance to Uganda in recent years. Uganda has received more than $1bn of US aid each year, as well as £150m of assistance from the UK.

The US Justice Department reveal that the Ugandan government has hired a UK-based public relations firm to improve its international image. The cost of such contracts often runs to several million dollars.

Hundreds detained without trial in Uganda in new wave of repression | Uganda | The Guardian