Saturday, March 27, 2010

denying people water to live

World Water Day has just been , marking 8 years since the Gana and Gwi Bushmen of Botswana had access to a regular supply of water in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve.In 2002, the Botswana government cut off and sealed a borehole, which the Bushmen relied on for water, in an attempt to drive them out of the reserve. Despite the Botswana High Court’s 2006 ruling that the Bushmen have the constitutional right to live in the reserve, the government has refused to allow them to re-commission their borehole. It forces the Bushmen to make 300 mile round trips to fetch water, yet the government has allowed the opening of a safari lodge in the reserve, complete with a swimming pool for tourists, and has drilled new boreholes for wildlife only.

The government’s treatment of the Bushmen was recently condemned by the UN Special Rapporteur for indigenous peoples, who accused it of falling short of ‘the relevant international human rights standards’. He also found that those Bushmen who have returned to the reserve ‘face harsh and dangerous conditions due to a lack of access to water’

At least one woman has died from dehydration since the borehole was cut off.

Friday, March 26, 2010

White apartheid

We read of Coronation Park, in Krugersdorp west of Johannesburg, a leafy former caravan site beside a water reservoir and a public picnic park frequented by middle-class families at weekends.Ringed by yellow-brown hills of earth dug up by generations of gold miners, the park was used by the British as a concentration camp for Afrikaners during the Anglo-Boer war at the start of the 20th century. Now it's home to some 400 white squatters living in cramped tents and caravans and sharing a single ablution block.. The local council cut electricity to the camp after failing to evict the white squatters. The council wanted to develop the area into a wide screen viewing area for soccer matches ahead of the soccer World Cup, which South Africa hosts in June and July.

At least 450,000 white South Africans, 10 percent of the total white population, live below the poverty line and 100,000 are struggling just to survive, according to civil organisations and largely white trade union Solidarity.

White poverty in South Africa is a politically sensitive subject that gets little attention, but it is not new.The weakest and least educated whites were protected by the civil service and state-owned industries operating as job-creation schemes, guaranteeing even the poorest whites a home and livelihood. But with that economic safety net now gone, South Africa's unskilled whites find themselves on the wrong side of history, gaining little sympathy from those who perceive them as having profited unfairly during the brutal apartheid years.Formerly comfortable Afrikaners recently forced to live on the fringes of society see themselves as victims of "reverse-apartheid". South African President Jacob Zuma visited a white squatter camp near the capital Pretoria last year ahead of his election, saying he was "shocked and surprised...The vast number in black poverty does not mean we must ignore white poverty."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

water crisis in Africa

UNICEF noted that more than 155 million people, or 39 percent of the population in West and Central Africa, do not have access to potable water, with only eight of 24 countries in the region on track to meet key poverty-reduction targets by 2015.Six countries have less than 50 percent drinking water coverage: Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Mauritania and Sierra Leone. Many countries have suffered drops in food production due to erratic rains.

UNICEF said the water situation in West and Central Africa "remains a major concern," with the region home to the lowest coverage of potable water worldwide.

Also of concern is the fact that 291 million people have absolutely no access to sanitation in West and Central Africa, the region with the highest under-five mortality rate of all developing regions at 169 child deaths per 1,000 live births.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

agro-fuels in Ghana

In Ghana the Project Officer of General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), Mr. Joseph Owusu Osei in an interview said that due to the energy crisis the world over, there is a shift to bioproduction, hence countries like Russia, the US and China have moved to Ghana to acquire large tracts of lands in the country.He said the activities of the multinational companies have left a lot to be desired.

A study conducted by Action Aid Ghana (AAG) and FoodSPAN in four regions in Ghana has revealed that the production of biofuel is fast affecting food crop farmers in the regions.The study indicated that its production was having adverse effect on food security, environment, human rights and in general, livelihoods of the affected communities.

The companies involved in the production of the biofuel import labour from outside the communities where production sites were located, and "there were drastic lay-offs as the project progressed from land preparation and planting stages."

Fertile arable lands suitable for crop production were being used for jatropha.It observed that the large scale production also involved the use of heavy machinery resulting in wanton destruction of forest, vegetative cover, biodiversity and economic trees including dawadawa and shea-tress production. In Bredi Camp, a farmer named Mageed bemoaned that his life and that of other community members have been adversely affected as they no longer have land to produce maize, cassava and yam, adding that they were neither consulted by the Omanhene of the area nor the biofuel company before they took over the land, and that they have not been compensated for the displacement.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

cities of slums

Regionally, today, sub-Saharan Africa has the largest slum population where 199.5 million (or 61.7%) of its urban population live in such areas. A new report by the United Nations organisation UN-HABITAT makes intersting reading , full of facts and figures , some of which are quoted below .

Three South African cities top the list of the most unequal cities in the world, when measured on income-based data gathered in a UN-HABITAT survey of cities in 109 countries from all regions.Buffalo City (East London), Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni (East Rand) as extremely unequal.Not far behind are cities with inequality well above the national average. In decreasing order, they include Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (only two-thirds of the population had access to piped water and only 44% to adequate sanitation) ; Nairobi, Kenya; Maseru, Lesotho.All feature income-based Gini values above 0.52, which ranks as “very high”.Nearly two-fifths of Lagos residents live in overcrowded housing, and a quarter have no access to adequate sanitation. The city is also unable to provide jobs for its growing population, with 40% of males and 12% of females unemployed in 2006.

In Namibia and Niger, lack of sanitation and durable housing are also responsible for high rates of diarrhoeal diseases among children, with a prevalence of 17.6% in Namibia and 29.9% in Niger, compared with 11.6% and 16.7%, respectively, among children from non-slum households

Although they can boast some of the highest urban growth rates, East African countries remain the least urbanized in the world and will only begin to experience an urban transition by the middle of this century. Only 22.7 per cent of the region’s population was classified as “urban” in 2007,However, high urban growth rates in East Africa are not anywhere near the “tipping point” where a national population becomes predominantly urban. United Nations projections indicate that by 2030, only 33.7 per cent of the region’s total population will be urban. For most countries – except those already highly urbanized, such as Djibouti, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles – the transition will only occur after 2040, with the exception of Mozambique, Somalia and Zimbabwe, where it is expected by 2030.
The low rates of urbanization in East Africa result from a variety of factors, including low industrialization, overdependence on subsistence agriculture, inadequate or outdated land policies, lack of prourban development strategies, insufficient investment in secondary and small cities, past colonial policies that discouraged rural-to-urban migration, and apparent lack of political will to address the “urban question” and turn cities and towns into engines of national growth. Another particular aspect of the urbanization process in the least urbanized East African countries is that of “divided loyalties” – conflicts between communal loyalty and obligations to ancestral rural land, or to clan and family ties, on the one hand, and the need to adapt to and participate in a modern, urbanizing world, on the other hand. This phenomenon prevents many rural migrants from fully embracing the city as their home or engaging with local authorities to demand better services and rights. Consequently, many cities in the region can be described as hosting “transplanted villagers” who are yet to be turned into truly urban citizens whose loyalties, investments, livelihoods and future prospects are intimately linked with the cities where they live.

There are no nice capitalists. Capitalists in Africa are just as ruthless and just as exploitative as their First World brethren. The debate over globalisation is a ruling class debate over how they divide the spoils from their collective exploitation of us. A peasant gets peanuts for growing peanuts because that is the going rate for peanuts in the world economy. If the price of peanuts is raised, the local exploiter will gain at the expense of the First World importer, and the peasant still gets peanuts. The only way to ensure that every single human being on the planet has an equal chance to enjoy a life free from material deprivation is a world where all the resources of the planet have become the common heritage of all humanity. On this basis, these can be used to provide enough for all without plundering the Earth's resources or polluting the biosphere. We are not claiming that this would be an easy task – there will be problems of co-ordination and co-operation to solve, not to speak of having to clear up the mess left by the profit system – but it is technologically possible as well as socially desirable.

Another world is possible but it has to be a non-capitalist – a socialist – world.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

blue skies on the horizon

Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Maxim Pinkovskiy, two US-based academics, find that in the 10 years before the credit crunch began, poverty rates fell and inequality declined right across the continent of Africa.

"Our results show that the conventional wisdom that Africa is not reducing poverty is wrong. In fact, since 1995, African poverty has been falling steadily," the authors say. "Moreover, contrary to the commonly held idea that African growth is largely based on natural resources and helps only the rich and well-connected, we show that a great deal of this growth has accrued to the poor."

Sala-i-Martin and Pinkovskiy say that by 2006 the African poverty rate was 30% lower than in 1995, and 28% lower than in 1990. They say the Gini coefficient, an international benchmark for social inequality, has declined consistently, if slowly, since the early 1990s.

The findings in the report, published by America's National Bureau of Economic Research, contradict the views of the World Bank and the United Nations, which established the millennium goals in 1990.

Some development experts are not convinced. Stefan Dercon, of Oxford University, said the authors placed too much weight on government statistics such as GDP, and ignored other data. "They believe the evidence that many of us would least trust and throw away the evidence we tend to think is fairly accurate. Painstakingly collected household consumption and income surveys, especially when over various years using the same method in each year, give a rather detailed picture of whether there is massive enrichment or not. And unfortunately, the evidence for Ethiopia, where I have been doing this for years, doesn't show such massive improvement."

So it could be good news or still bad news . But for sure , its old news . The world economy DID suffer a drastic downturn in 2008, and has not yet recovered. Poverty is certainly more widespread today than it was in 2006.This study does nothing for the people who are starving and living in slums, whether they are millions, billions or just hundreds of thousands we should not let anyone anywhere not be able to buy food .

Little Optimism

8.4 million people skip meals daily to cope with the biting economic hardships in the country, according to findings of a new survey.

The Social, Political and Economic Barometer (SPEC) indicates that 17.2 million people have also drastically reduced expenditure on essential households items in response to spiralling prices of basic commodities.

A whopping 19.6 million people feel their respective families' economic situations had worsened.

Some 1.6 million people resorted to borrowing from commercial bank .