Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ghana's Success - And The Failures That Come With It

According to the IMF, Ghana is a success story! The government, after faithfully
following the IMF's recommendations for shrinking the public sector, fully liberalizing the market and carrying out privatizations, has now "achieved its goals." Nowadays, the country's economy is among the world's 20 fastest-growing economies and the first in Africa! However at the same time, 4,000 schools have no facilities and students have their lessons under trees. At the clinics in the country's north there is one doctor per 161,000 inhabitants! And small-scale farmers, with no support from the state, have been left to starve, struggling alone in the free market's vast sea.

from RT here

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ongoing Strikes In South Africa Over Wages And Working Conditions

Tens of thousands of South African construction and airport workers have gone on strike over wages and working conditions.

On Monday, some 90,000 construction workers in the mining industry stopped work to demand a 13 percent pay increase.
On the same day, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) issued a statement saying, “They cannot ... plead poverty, and must share their super-profits with workers who risk life and limb every day in one of the most dangerous working environments.”
Also, on Monday, South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union spokesman Vincent Masoga issued a statement saying 1,300 aircraft maintenance technicians went on strike to demand a 12 percent wage increase.

South Africa's mining sector has been paralyzed by a series of wildcat strikes over miners' low pay since August, 2012. Dozens of people have so far been killed in the strike-related violence.

In February 2013, South African security guards shot dead mineworkers outside Amplats Siphumelele mine in the northwestern city of Rustenburg following a clash between rival union factions.

South Africa’s mining sector represents 6 percent of the country’s total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with having a labor force of more than half a million workers. It also generates 60 percent of total export revenues.

In June, South African President Jacob Zuma called for dialogue among all stakeholders in the mining sector, saying, “All stakeholders, government, management in the mining sector, trade union movement in particular should talk and find a way to deal with this matter.”

The South African president went on to say that the stakeholders have the capacity to discuss and agree about the problems, including strikes and deadly clashes faced by the mining industry.

From here

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Aid To Ethiopia 50% Of National Budget?

Development Aid to Ethiopia: Overlooking Violence, Marginalization, and Political Repression

Ethiopia is a locus of international attention in the Horn of Africa due to both its consistently high rates of economic growth and for its continued problems with widespread hunger and poverty. The nation is also significant for being among the most dependent on foreign aid. Topping the worldwide list of countries receiving aid from the US, UK, and the World Bank, the nation has been receiving $3.5 billion on average from international donors in recent years, which represents 50 to 60 percent of its national budget.
Development aid has become essential in funding the Ethiopian government’s so-called development strategy, outlined in the 2010 Growth and Transformation Plan. Through extensive infrastructure construction and large-scale agricultural production, the government of Ethiopia seeks to reach middle-income status by 2015. A key element of the development strategy is the relocation of 1.5 million people from areas targeted for industrial plantations under the government’s “villagization” program. With more than 80 percent of the Ethiopian population dependent on agriculture and pastoralism for subsistence, the disruptions caused by the villagization program are resulting in increased food insecurity, destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why Poor? Why Africa?

"Debt is an efficient tool. It ensures access to other peoples’ raw materials and infrastructure on the cheapest possible terms. Dozens of countries must compete for shrinking export markets and can export only a limited range of products because of Northern protectionism and their lack of cash to invest in diversification. Market saturation ensues, reducing exporters’ income to a bare minimum while the North enjoys huge savings. The IMF cannot seem to understand that investing in … [a] healthy, well-fed, literate population … is the most intelligent economic choice a country can make."
         Susan George, A Fate Worse Than Debt,

Following an ideology known as neoliberalism, and spearheaded by these and other institutions known as the “Washington Consensus” (for being based in Washington D.C.), Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) have been imposed to ensure debt repayment and economic restructuring. But the way it has happened has required poor countries to reduce spending on things like health, education and development, while debt repayment and other economic policies have been made the priority. In effect, the IMF and World Bank have demanded that poor nations lower the standard of living of their people.

"Competition between companies involved in manufacturing in developing countries is often ruthless. We are seeing what Korten described as “a race to the bottom. With each passing day it becomes more difficult to obtain contracts from one of the mega-retailers without hiring child labor, cheating workers on overtime pay, imposing merciless quotas, and operating unsafe practices.”

John Madeley, Big Business Poor Peoples

"If a society spends one hundred dollars to manufacture a product within its borders, the money that is used to pay for materials, labor and, other costs moves through the economy as each recipient spends it. Due to this multiplier effect, a hundred dollars worth of primary production can add several hundred dollars to the Gross National Product (GNP) of that country. If money is spent in another country, circulation of that money is within the exporting country. This is the reason an industrialized product-exporting/commodity-importing country is wealthy and an undeveloped product-importing/commodity-exporting country is poor.
…Developed countries grow rich by selling capital-intensive (thus cheap) products for a high price and buying labor-intensive (thus expensive) products for a low price. This imbalance of trade expands the gap between rich and poor. The wealthy sell products to be consumed, not tools to produce. This maintains the monopolization of the tools of production, and assures a continued market for the product. [Such control of tools of production is a strategy of a mercantilist process. That control often requires military might."
        J.W. Smith, The World’s Wasted Wealth 2

"At first glance it may seem that the growth in development of export goods such as coffee, cotton, sugar, and lumber, would be beneficial to the exporting country, since it brings in revenue. In fact, it represents a type of exploitation called unequal exchange. A country that exports raw or unprocessed materials may gain currency for their sale, but they lose it if they import processed goods. The reason is that processed goods—goods that require additional labor—are more costly. Thus a country that exports lumber but does not have the capacity to process it must then re-import it in the form of finished lumber products, at a cost that is greater than the price it received for the raw product. The country that processes the materials gets the added revenue contributed by its laborers."
        Richard Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism

"More than 50 developing countries depend on three or fewer commodities for over half of their export earnings. Twenty countries are dependent on commodities for over 90 percent of their total foreign exchange earnings, says the World Bank."

Ken Laidlaw, Market Cure Proposed For Third World’s Battered Farmers, Gemini News Service, December 4, 2001 

 Almost four years after the above was written, Oxfam reveals that things have not changed for the better: more than 50 per cent of Africa’s export earnings is derived from a single commodity; numerous countries are dependent on two commodities for the vast majority of their export earnings; and there are a number of other countries in Africa heavily dependent on very few commodities.


from here

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Migrant Labour, Slavery and Servitude

Migration, a livelihood strategy

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of international migrants was estimated at 214 million in 2010 - more then the whole population of Brazil – and it is rising constantly. People migrate within their country (especially from rural to urban areas) or between countries, often without “legal permission” and putting their lives at risk. Migration is a complex phenomenon as it is the result of many different factors, such as wars, conflicts, natural disasters, new opportunities, family reunifications, etc. However the main reason for the rise in contemporary migration is economic. Women and men migrate mostly to escape hunger and poverty. In particular, the destruction of rural communities and peasant agriculture (including deforestation, soil exhaustion and unfair land distribution) is one of the main “push factors” for migrating. National and international policies and trade agreements endorsed by the current neoliberal capitalist system are behind this process.

A migrant labour-force

With the introduction of the globalised movement of capital in the neoliberal system transnational companies increasingly began to disconnect production from a fixed geography – using the global economy to source materials, production no longer became tied to a single place. Companies quickly realized that a limiting factor on profit was labour costs, and so began to organize the movement of their industries to countries or regions where labour costs were low, organizing tax havens for their businesses in exchange for providing low paid manufacturing jobs in the host country.

For agriculture the situation was more complex as existing soils, trees, vines, processing infrastructure and prevalent weather conditions meant that simple relocation to zones with cheaper labour costs was not as straightforward. As farmers in Europe and the U.S. were pushed to increase production in order to compensate for lower and lower prices being paid by retailers, they began to employ migrant labourers in increasing numbers. Decreasing availability of local seasonal workers and a huge increase in the availability of undocumented migrant workers quickly led labour intensive agricultural enterprises to increase their use of migrant labour, resulting in the current situation where an estimated between one and three million migrant farm workers (predominantly Mexican and undocumented workers with no legal status) work on farms in the United States alone. In some cases the agricultural enterprises have begun to move overseas in order to lower their production costs.

 Large organic and conventional farms being established in Northern Morocco in order to supply the E.U. market and taking advantage of more “competitive” labour costs there  are one such example. This transferral of production is often accompanied and facilitated by aggressively negotiated bi-lateral trade agreements. The same process can be seen at work as companies involved in landgrabbing internationally use land (often the best agricultural land) and local labour to produce food destined only for the export market.

States are complicit in this situation and worldwide agricultural and migration policies are progressively more correlated. Governments with large numbers of
incoming migrants have repeatedly failed to regulate for them, refusing to introduce rights for seasonal workers and allowing the situation to worsen. Especially in the E.U. and U.S., enormous sums of money and effort are expended in keeping people beyond increasingly militarized borders, while special seasonal permits and migration policies prevent migrant workers from settling in the destination country or gaining any rights. As migrant workers are pushed to enter the destination country illegally, they can be employed under the constant threat of deportation and face criminalisation and blackmail. For neoliberal enterprise it is an ideal situation: a cheap labour force throughout the year that can be discarded at any time or even deported back to their country of origin when they are no longer required.

Modern slavery

Working conditions can eventually reach a level of exploitation that they can be considered a modern form of “slavery”. Even if it is difficult to believe, twenty-seven million people are considered to be in slavery today. Almost all slavery practices, including trafficking in people and bonded labour, contain some element of forced labour. This means that there are more people in slavery today than at any other time in human history. Slavery has existed for thousands of years, but changes in the world’s economy and societies over the past fifty years have enabled a resurgence of slavery. “Modern slaves” are forced to work for little or no pay, under the threat of violence to themselves or their families, deportation or criminalization. Most of them are exploited in agriculture, fisheries, mining and construction, and - especially women and children - in prostitution. Generally illegal migration presents traffickers with opportunities to oblige or defraud undocumented migrants into involuntary servitude and exploitation, as their lack of legal status creates their invisibility.
Undocumented people – such as many farm workers - live the contradiction of being criminalized and chased on the one hand, and needed, desired and often exploited on the other.  
from here

Saturday, August 24, 2013

US, AFRICOM and AFRICA: Accumulation By Any Other Name

“The countries that cooperate with us get at least a free pass,” acknowledged a senior U.S. official who specializes in Africa but spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid retribution. “Whereas other countries that don’t cooperate, we ream them as best we can.” (ream, N. Amer. clear out or remove (material) from something)
This has been the essence of US foreign policy as it is actually practiced for the past several decades. It has escalated over time, particularly in the 1980s under Reagan, and with the proliferation of pointless wars this century begun by Bush and expanded under Obama. I say pointless, because although there may have been objectives, they were not related to the means used to achieve them, or to the eventual outcomes, in any coherent way. The US has tried to solve political problems with the brute force of military power. US foreign policy appears divorced from the realities of who what when where and why the US is conducting its policy. The result has been destruction without achievement. US policy in Africa continues this pattern. The destruction of Libya is the most aggressive recent example.
AFRICOM – a map of US military presence in Africa, countries where the U.S. has recently, as of spring 2013, conducted exercises, operations, or has bases in Africa.
Map of known US military locations in Africa.
Map of known US military locations in Africa.
The interactive version of the above map courtesy of John Reed in Foreign Policy.

from here  (crossedcrocodiles)

Tapping into Africa's potential

 Africa’s expansive dry lands if harnessed sustainably could offer lasting solution to food, water and energy crises in the continent, the UN Dry lands Ambassador Dennis Garrity said. An estimated two thirds of Africa’s land mass is either arid or semi arid and its vast ecological treasures has the potential to transform livelihoods alongside accelerating low carbon development.

Garrity regretted that governments in Africa have given lip service to pastoralism yet it has potential to boost food security.

Seventeen African countries have  scaled up ever- green agriculture that integrates water harvesting, agro-forestry and bio-fortification to sustain food production.

“Climate smart agriculture underpins sustainable use of dry lands to enhance resilience among communities. Millions of African small holders have adopted effective and low cost land regeneration techniques,” said Garrity.

He noted that Kenya ranks among African countries that have established bold policies to regenerate dry lands and ensure communities are food secure.
“Kenya has a progressive policy to achieve 10 percent tree cover on farms. In the lower eastern Kibwezi region, small holders have scaled up rain water harvesting through terracing and planting the right tree species in the farms to capture water,” Garrity said.

He noted that 80 percent of Kenya’s dry land mass has a huge economic potential and could as well be used as carbon sink.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Protecting the young from marriage

75 percent of girls get married before the age of 18 in Niger, a  country of 16 million. Early marriages result in early pregancies, which compromises the girls’ future as many do not go to school once they are of marriageable age. According to 2011 statistics from the Ministry of Public Health, teenagers make up 19 percent of women of reproductive age and contribute 14 percent to the total female fertility in this country. Medical sources indicate that 40 percent of young brides fall pregnant a few months after marriage. Less than 40 percent of teenagers go for antenatal care,

“For us Muslims, marriage holds an important place in our lives,” Aminatou Abdou, 53, a housewife in Niamey told IPS.  She married off her two daughters at the ages of 15 and 16. “It is unacceptable for Muslim daughters to have no husband after puberty.”

“There is misinterpretation of the religion. Islam advocates social wellbeing. This is why I am against prematurely marrying off a daughter because this has bad implications for her health,” Malam Issa Dogo, a religious preacher “Those who marry off their daughters early do so because of ignorance. Islam is a religion which is against lack of knowledge.” However, a draft law drawn up in 2002 setting the minimum age for marriage at 18 is still being opposed by religious associations.

According to Abdou Sani, an anthropology doctorate student at the University of Abidjan, people use religion as a false pretext. The real reasons for these early marriages are ignorance and poverty, he said. “In most cases, these young girls are married off to older people who are financially well-off or have a high social status.”

“Socio-cultural pressures, particularly the desire to have a child before the first marriage anniversary often forces the young girl to prove her fertility a few months after marriage,” Salissou Habou, a sociologist in Niamey, Niger’s capital.

Because young girls fall pregnant before their bodies are mature, they are twice as likely to die during childbirth than women who over the age of 20. According to the Ministry of Public Health’s 2011 survey, the rate of maternal mortality in Niger is 554 deaths per 100,000 live births – among the highest in the world. Teenagers account for 13 percent of these deaths. Survivors often suffer from illnesses such as obstetric fistula.  In April 2013, out of 163 obstetric fistula victims counted in the country’s six healthcare centres, 80 percent were married before the age of 18.

“We must educate and keep young girls at school in order to put an end to this situation,” urged Hadiza Issoufou, a teacher and member of the Nigerien Association for the Defence of Human Rights.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Selling Of Lake Victoria, Uganda

World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fish Workers, Uganda

How can we have fish without water?

It should be common knowledge that fishing communities depend on fish not only for food but also for employment and incomes: all their lives rotate around fish and fishing-related activities. Whilenmen go to fish, both for sale and for family consumption, women stay at home to take care of the children, but also to
engage actively in fish smoking, sun drying of silver fish, and other processing of fish products. This is the day-to-day life of the fisher people in Mpunge landing site in Mukono district. It is the same as other fishing communities around the world. At this particular landing site, life is changing rapidly. Women, men and children are losing access to the water (Lake Victoria) which has been the sole source of their livelihoods, as they fish daily in the lake’s waters. They have witnessed what they have referred to as “selling of the lake”.

In this area, individuals, in the name of “investors” from foreign countries, have taken over large parts of the
lake, and they have established boundaries using “red flags“ and big poles. Fishermen are threatened that the moment they cross those boundaries, they will be “shot dead”, or their boats cut into pieces! The so-called investors have also posted guards to ensure that no fisherman or woman carries out fishing in these particular areas! The families have often been convinced by the “investors” to abandon their households, in exchange of a payment of 30.000 UG SHS (approximately 11 US dollars) to find another place to live! This very unacceptable behaviour has greatly affected the people in the community.

There is very little space left for them to fish, and the circumstances are very risky. When the weather changes during fishing, fishermen should be free to escape by sailing to any part of the lake that they think is safer. With boundaries and guards, the fishermen’s lives are endangered!

We are now left with a few questions that have not yet been answered. Can one have fisher’s rights without access to the water bodies where the fish is found? Who gives authority to such “investors”? And what plans do they have for the local communities that depend on this resource? And furthermore, where are the access rights for fisher communities?

from Nyeleni

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Child Slavery In The Ivory Coast

The call for action below draws our attention once again to the lengths that businesses in capitalism will go in order to maximise their markets and maximise their profits. Children in one part of the world subjected to slave conditions so that children in 'richer' parts of the world can enjoy chocolate in fun shapes. 
Yes, abolish slavery once and for all - better still abolish the wages system which enslaves all workers. JS 


HP Silhouette - 490.jpg
In the cocoa fields of the Ivory Coast, child slavery is ‘normal.’ It’s routine. It’s accepted.1 Children as young as 7 are sold  deprived of their childhood, ripped from their families, and subjected to routine abuse  to work long, backbreaking days picking cocoa.2 And it all stems from our love of chocolate.
While many chocolate brands have made public commitments to find the best solution, Warner Bros. is lagging behind:
  1. An independent investigation into their supplier Behr's Chocolates led to a failing score of 1 out of 48 possible measures to ensure their operations are slavery-free;3
  2. Warner Bros. dismissed the findings of the investigation, simply stating that they were 'satisfied’ that fair labour practices were being used in the production of their chocolates;
  3. Given the conflicting information, outraged consumers asked Warner Bros. what steps were taken to ensure there was no slavery in Harry Potter Chocolates. Warner Bros. refused to respond
As we head into one of the busiest times of the year for Warner Bros. theme parks. Children excited to experience the world of Harry Potter will be asking their parents to buy these chocolates. That's why taking a stand right now will make a big impact.
Ask Warner Bros. what steps they’re taking to ensure Harry Potter chocolates are slavery-free.

Source 1
2 Source 2

Source 3 


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Malawi's Farmers Say No To Government Decisions

Lilongwe (Malawi), 18 August 2013

Peoples Dialogue, Via Campesina, the Rural Women Assembly, together with other movements, have met for two days, and came out with alternative practical solutions to end rural poverty and promote people-driven development in the Southern Africa Development Community region (SADC). These alternative solutions on issues that affect directly lives of the small-scale farmers and rural women movements from across the region were handed over to representatives of the Heads of SADC states on Saturday.

The SADC Heads of States gathered in Lilongwe, Malawi, at their 33rd ordinary Summit, from 16th to 17th August 2013.

The President of Malawi and incoming SADC chairperson, Joyce Banda, highlighted in her opening speech that agriculture and free movement of people will be priorities during her term, however, she also emphasized a focus on agribusiness . The statement of Joyce Banda tacitly implies that the very same model, which has been taking away peoples’ sovereignty and control over their seeds and food production systems, will be promoted in SADC and will provide more opportunities for GMO seeds to further penetrate  into the region. Such a false solution to food crisis in the SADC and Africa, imposed from above, will only worsen the situation.

Small-scale producers and the rural women know that programmes such as the Green Revolution, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the G8-New Alliance for Food Security & Nutrition are and will continue to destroy peasants if they sit back and allow Government Heads to make decisions on their behalf. In countries such as Mozambique land grabbing by the “profit before people” investors, continues unabated with the blessing and cooperation of the government (e.g. ProSavana for Soya beans, agro-fuels and other export crops). Land grabbing of perceived “idle” and “underutilized” land must be stopped and investments, which are pro-poor, environmentally and ecologically should be promoted.

Thus, in the document delivered to the SADC Heads of States, farmers’ movements have demanded a GMO free SADC and that companies such as Monsanto and ProSavana MUST get out of Africa. The SADC governments should subsidize sustainable peasant agriculture production systems and develop local markets for their produce and be linked to home industries, thus creating employment for both rural and urban populations, if inclusive development is to be achieved.

The small-scale farmers and rural women from the region had an opportunity to meaningfully engage, share information and farming materials, with their Malawian counterparts during a farmers exchange field visit in Lilongwe South, organised by the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM). They witnessed how the local small farmers organized the production and market systems of rice and groundnuts, which have evolved and became integral to their community livelihoods, including employment creation through value-addition processes.  This is a testimony that clearly illustrates that the small-scale farmers can produce food and contribute to wider development nationally if their social and economic endeavours are supported.

The SADC must implement the commitments of the Maputo declaration NOW and Food Sovereignty must be adopted as a policy by all SADC countries. Gender equity, particularly rural women and youths’ rights, control and access to arable land and natural resources must be enshrined in our countries’ constitutions and community ownership of natural resources should be promoted. Moreover, an integrated SADC mining charter to guide investment and stifle intra-competition by regional governments should be developed that would put an end to over-exploitation of mineral resources and labour within the region.

from farmlandgrab

Monday, August 19, 2013

Africa’s Food Sovereignty Under Attack By Corporate Interests

Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), a coalition of pan-African networks, with members in 50 African countries and representing smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples and civil society, met in Addis Ababa 12-16th August 2013 to formulate an action plan to safeguard Africa’s sovereignty over its food, seeds and natural resources from the assault on Africa’s food systems.

Africa’s diversity and knowledge systems are being threatened by corporate and genetically modified (GM) seeds, agro-chemicals, resource grabs and laws that prevent farmers from freely using, sharing or selling their seed.

These threats come from amongst others, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and the G8 "New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition" that strongly promote the interests of multinational seed, fertilizer and agro-chemical companies at the expense of the rights and interests of smallholder farmers.

Currently, 80% of seed in Africa is bred by smallholder farmers, who freely save and share seed, resulting in a wide diversity of agricultural crops and a safety net for food security. “We are outraged at the way African governments are being strong-armed into adopting draconian seed laws that ensure the dominance of corporate seeds; giving private breeders monopoly and exclusive marketing rights over seeds,” said Elizabeth Mpofu, from La Via Campesina Africa.

The entry point for corporate agribusiness into Africa is through valuable cash crops such as cotton. Bt cotton is promoted as necessary for African farmers to compete on the global cotton market. "Bt cotton production in Burkina Faso and South Africa has failed to achieve its promise. Small farmers are finding that yields and quality of Bt cotton are extremely low. For this reason Bt cotton planting this year has plunged from 400,000 hectares to 200,000 hectares in Burkina Faso." Fatou Batta, Association Nourrir Sans Détruire, Burkina Faso.

The G8 New Alliance places a heavy emphasis on nutrition that focuses almost exclusively on the bio-fortification of key staple crops. According to Bernard Guri from COMPAS Africa “Bio-fortification is a dangerous distraction from real solutions for nutrition such as increasing crop diversity. We cannot look to dependence on so-called ‘fortified’ crops, whilst ignoring the real socio-economic causes of malnutrition.”

The many pan-African networks belonging to AFSA all note with great concern the increasing acquisition of huge areas of African land by mining conglomerates and biofuel and export agribusiness. Smallholder farmers such as those displaced by these land grabs feed 70% of the world. Their model of agro-ecological family farming is the most efficient and productive in the world. We must support them instead of undermining their knowledge and practice" said Million Belay, Coordinator of AFSA.

from Grain

Poverty amid Plenty

Mauritania is one of the richest countries in the region in terms of fish reserves and mineral wealth as well as in terms of livestock and agricultural lands. However, these economic resources are not reflected in the miserable lives of its people. a government  minister spent over $1 million on a dinner party held for a ministerial delegation of less than six ministers.

Mauritania’s coastline along the Atlantic Ocean stretches more than 700 kilometers and encompasses one of the most important Arab reserves of fish wealth. According to governmental sources, these could supply one-quarter of fish needs in the Arab world.

Mauritania is the third largest producer of iron in the world, thanks to the mines in the north of the country near Kediet ej Jill, in Zouerat. The freight train [associated with these mines] is the longest in the world and exceeds 3 kilometers in length. It transports iron ore to the mining port in the city of Nouadhibou.

75,000 barrels of oil are extracted per day from wells near Nouakchott, and Mauritania is also seeking to extract gas from six wells near Nouakchott. Meanwhile, eight wells are still waiting for the start of oil exploitation in partnership with the French company Total.

Mauritania exports gold from its gold mines near the city of al-Shami, about 250 km north of the capital. According to an official statement, the national gold company is seeking to build a plant next year capable of processing 30,000 tons of minerals per day. This will enable Mauritania to have an annual production of 830,000 ounces of gold during the next five years.

Mauritania exports copper from the Guelb Moghrein Mine, located near Akjoujt to the north of Nouakchott.

The country is witnessing an unprecedented turnout of mineral exploration companies and the Mauritanian Ministry of Mines stated that it had granted 283 licenses for mineral exploration at the end of last year. Moreover, there are preparations for the extraction of uranium and other minerals.

In the capital Nouakchott, for example, whose population does not exceed one million people — one-quarter of the total population, according to the last census — around 50% of residents live below the poverty line.  The luckiest Mauritanians work on Spanish tomato farms in return for low wages, while tens of thousands of them have relocated to the Arab Gulf states.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stone-breaking - heart breaking

Unemployment is high in post-war Liberia, breaking stones is the only option for many women to make ends meet. The stones are being used in Liberia's booming construction sector, but profits are hardly trickling down - 35 Liberian dollars (47 US cents or 34 Euro cents) per bucket. A good days fills seven buckets.

Liberia is expected to have a growth rate of 8.9 percent this year, according to the African Economic Outlook, boosted by a rise in commodity prices, particularly rubber, palm oil and minerals, at a time when many European economies are stagnating or even in recession.

Despite the fact Liberia has a female president, heralded for promoting women's rights and welfare, life for women is particularly hard. The literacy rate for rural women is at just 26 percent, compared with 61 percent for urban women, and 60 percent and 86 percent for rural and urban men, respectively, according to Liberia's Ministry for Gender and Development. In addition, 42 percent of women have never been to school, compared with 18 percent of men.

Government revenue has grown by 400 percent. But eight out of 10 Liberians still live on less than US$1.25 (0.94 euros) a day according to the World Bank.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stop The Water Grab In Africa

If this land and water grab is not put to an end, millions of Africans will lose access to the water sources they rely on for their livelihoods and their lives. They may be moved out of areas where land and water deals are made or their access to traditional water sources may simply be blocked by newly built fences, canals and dikes. This is already happening in Ethiopia's Gambela, where the government is forcibly moving thousands of indigenous people out of their traditional territories to make way for export agriculture. By 2013, the government wants to remove 1.5 million people from their territories across Ethiopia.[13] As the bulldozers move into the newly acquired lands, this will become an increasingly common feature in Africa's rural areas, generating more tensions and conflicts over scarce water resources.
But the impacts will run far beyond the immediately affected communities. The recent wave of land grabbing is nothing short of an environmental disaster in the making. There is simply not enough water in Africa's rivers and water tables to irrigate all the newly acquired land. If and when they are put under production, these 21st century industrial plantations will rapidly destroy, deplete and pollute water sources across the continent. Such models of agricultural production have generated enormous problems of soil degradation, salinisation and waterlogging wherever they have been applied. India and China, two shining examples that Africa is being pushed to emulate, are now in a water crisis as a result of their Green Revolution practices. Over 200 million people in India and 100 million in China depend on foods produced by the over-pumping of water.[14] Fearing depleted water supplies or perhaps depleted profits, companies from both countries are looking now to Africa for future food production.
Africa is in no shape for such an imposition. More than one in three Africans live with water scarcity, and the continent's food supplies are set to suffer more than any other's from climate change. Building Africa’s highly sophisticated and sustainable indigenous water management systems could help resolve this growing crisis, but these are the very systems being destroyed by land grabs.
Advocates of the land deals and mega irrigation schemes argue that these big investments should be welcomed as an opportunity to combat hunger and poverty in the continent. But bringing in the bulldozers to plant water-intensive export crops is not and cannot be a solution to hunger and poverty. If the goal is to increase food production, then there is ample evidence that this can be most effectively done by building on the traditional water management and soil conservation systems of local communities. [15] Their collective and customary rights over land and water sources should be strengthened not trampled.
But this is not about combating hunger and poverty. This is theft on a grand scale of the very resources – land and water – which the people and communities of Africa must themselves be able to manage and control in order to face the immense challenges they face this century.

[13] Human Rights Watch, 2012: 'Waiting here for Death'.
[14] Fred Pearce, 'When the Rivers Run Dry'  Eden Project, 2006.

Tanzania: Smallholder Farmers Lose In Most Govt Programmes

The Citizen | August 7  2013

The network of farmers’ groups was established to unify smallholder farmers through their groups to have one voice in their struggle for their socioeconomic welfare. As a way to liberate the farmers, we created awareness on various issues affecting them.

INTERVIEW. The Network of Farmers’ Groups in Tanzania (Mviwata) recently celebrated its 20th anniversary alongside an annual meeting in Morogoro. BusinessWeek Reporter Alawi Masare attended the four-day meeting. He also interviewed the network’s executive director, Mr Stephen Ruvuga

Has Mviwata done what it intended to do?
Generally, yes. We are on the right track. The network of farmers’ groups was established to unify smallholder farmers through their groups to have one voice in their struggle for their socioeconomic welfare. As a way to liberate the farmers, we created awareness on various issues affecting them.
So, going through those issues, I can say that we are doing well. We have created a wonderful voice platform to small-scale farmers, built infrastructure and created awareness on land issues, government policies touching farmers and agriculture and now the ongoing constitutional review. Some farmers have really gained enough awareness and are political leaders.

Apart from what you have said, what are the tangible achievements in the 20 years of the Mviwata existence?
The Kibaigwa market in Dodoma – probably the largest grain market in Tanzania – was built by Mviwata.
We also constructed agro-produce markets in other places. Examples are Mgeta’s Kinole, Nyandira and Tawa markets in Morogoro Region; Mkata in Tanga; Igagala in Njombe; Igurusi in Mbeya and Matai and Kasanga in Rukwa. All these have not only facilitated rural farmers to access reliable markets and better prices, but also contributed to the improvement of the economy.

What challenges are you facing in your daily operations?
Challenges are many, but as an institution we have a challenge of resources, financial and human. We have them but they are inadequate to support our countrywide operations.
Again, smallholder farmers are still missing an opportunity to be heard.
Once farmers, through their network, come out and speak their agenda, they are seen as stubborn and their policy suggestions are considered primitive.
We also face policy challenges especially on land.
It has been argued that life will be good for farmers if they use genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in short.

What are your views on that?
Our stand as a farmers’ network is that the GM technology in Tanzania is still not yet relevant to small farmers.
There are many issues concerning GMOs, like effects to farmers and biodiversity which are not yet clear and many questions remain unanswered regarding the issue.
There are two opposite camps talking about the use of GMOs: one supports and the other rejects it.
There is also evidence that GMOs have negative effects and that’s why some countries have enacted laws requiring suppliers to clearly separate GM foodstuffs from non-GM foodstuffs in markets. This shows that there is something wrong.
GMOs force farmers to continuously depend on suppliers’ seeds every year. All in all, GMOs need an unusual system of farming, their seeds are costly and their potential threat to our biodiversity is very high.

Do government initiatives on agriculture help Tanzanian farmers?
Frankly speaking, most initiatives like the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania, or SAGCOT, target large-scale farmers and probably profit-oriented foreign companies operating in the country. Smallholder farmers are always losers in most government initiatives.
For instance, SAGCOT targets to help 100,000 farmers in all regions it operates. Nothing is said about 38 million farmers in Tanzania!
There is no hope at all with these initiatives and we see them as a way of hampering growth of farming in Tanzania. Even when farmers are helped, very little money reaches them.

What are your views on Tanzania’s investment in agriculture?
Large investors cannot compete with small-scale farmers and in most cases investment system negatively affects small-scale farmers. The Tanzania Investment Centre attracts them but permits are manipulated by grabbing land in rural areas.
Some village authorities distribute land to investors even beyond their jurisdiction and therefore violate farmers’ rights. There is also unfair land compensation and unfulfilled promises as shown by a survey in Kisarawe.
- See more at:

Friday, August 16, 2013

The chaos of CAR

Further to our earlier blog, The Central African Republic (CAR) is "close to being a failed state" and threatens to spread chaos in the heart of the continent, UN officials have warned.

The UN security council heard that CAR, plunged into anarchy by a coup five months ago, could become a haven for Islamist extremist groups and Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army.  The security council has described the situation as "a total breakdown of law and order" with reports of killings and widespread looting, rape, kidnapping and torture.

The new UN envoy to the CAR, retired lieutenant-general Babacar Gaye, warned that, with no proper chain of command, "the country runs the risk of descending into anarchy and chaos". All council members agree that the country is "close to being a failed state and we should absolutely take action", Gaye added.

Valerie Amos, the UN's humanitarian chief, called on the security council to take swift action to restore security and end the suffering of millions. "Over the past months, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated dramatically and has shifted from being a long-term crisis of poverty and chronic vulnerability to a complex emergency characterised by violence, acute needs and grave protection issues. The failure to act now could not only prolong and exacerbate the appalling conditions the people of the Central African Republic have had to endure, but could also see the crisis spread beyond its borders and throughout a region already facing enormous challenges."

The turmoil has affected the 4.6 million-strong population in its entirety, Amos added. About 1.6 million people are in dire need of food, protection, healthcare, water, shelter and other assistance. More than 206,000 people are displaced within the country, with many hiding in the bush. Nearly 60,000 have sought refuge in neighbouring states, two-thirds of them in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Aid agency Save the Children warned this week that more than 100,000 children faced sexual abuse and recruitment into armed groups in the former French colony.

“Although the international community continues to hold meetings and talk inanely, nothing concrete is being done to help people here or hold back the extremists, terrorists and Islamists who are inflicting such damage...while security was already weak, it’s now vanished completely.”  said Carmelite Father Aurelio Gazzera, who works in Bozoum, Central African Republic. “Whereas it might have been possible to do something at the beginning, when rebel numbers were limited, the international community has allowed this crisis to develop too long,” he said. “There are now 15,000-20,000 armed men at large, joined by petty delinquents, so it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to rein them in.”

Charles-Armel Doubane, CAR's ambassador to the UN, appealed for international help to build "a modern state: one of peace, security and stability, where simply living is good".

Protest or Vote

The recent coup by the army and the ensuing massacres show that Egyptians are still struggling with the same challenges of injustice and inequality that pushed people to overthrow Mr. Mubarak.

The defining chant of the 2011 protests – bread, freedom, and social justice – showed that what Egyptians wanted wasn't just free elections, but a government that would address the entrenched issues that were pushing the country down. The rulers who came after Mubarak never solved those problems and cannot.

They never attempted to reform police and create security forces that could protect people without the rampant abuse and torture that exists now. They ignored the civil strife that is deepening in dangerous ways, failing to protect Egypt's minorities. They didn't address the inequality and growing economic crisis leaving millions of Egyptians without jobs and options.

The mass street protests duels represent a battle over how to define democratic legitimacy in the new Egypt. Some insist that the fundamental basis of democracy, or power by the people, is the street. But others see such protests as having overthrown the ballot box as much as Sisi’s military have.

June 30th protests brought millions of Egyptians to the street to protest Morsi’s excesses of power, his failure to engage other political factions in a meaningful way, and his inability to make headway on the considerable problems he inherited when he took office a year earlier with 51 percent of the vote. A coup is a coup regardless of its level of popularity. After the coup, Muslim Brotherhood supporters went to the streets to insist that Morsi be reinstated as the legitimately elected leader of the country. “They took our voting rights away” was the claim.

We may be viewed as cynics but the slaughter of the Muslim Brotherhood followers may be seen as the bloody dress rehearsal for the future liquidation of  workers struggling for democracy by the army.

See the Socialist Standard here 

Gold leading to poison

The Nigerian village that suffered one of the world's worst recorded incidents of lead poisoning is now habitable and doctors can start treating more than 1,000 contaminated children, a doctor and a scientist from two international agencies said.  People were exposed to rates of lead contamination: Some residential soil with up to 35,000 parts per million of lead and the processing area with over 100,000 parts per million. The United States considers 400 parts per million safe for residential soil. The entire human population of 6,000 to 9,000 was exposed.

For some, it already is too late to reverse serious neurological damage, said Dr. Michelle Chouinard, Nigeria country director for Doctors Without Borders, told The Associated Press. Some children are blind, others paralyzed and many will struggle at school with learning disabilities, she said.

Doctors Without Borders uncovered the scandal in 2010 but nothing was done until this year about the worst-affected village, Bagega, because the federal government did not provide a promised $3 million. The government released money for the cleanup in February, Doctors Without Borders began prescreening in March and found that nearly every one of 1,010 children tested need therapy. Of them, 267 are severely contaminated and will get chelation — where medication binds the lead to a child's blood and helps them to eliminate it faster from their system. All the children had more than the international standard maximum of 10 micrograms per deciliter of lead in their blood. Some had as much as 700 micrograms per deciliter. The children will have to be treated for one to two years.

The Moscow, Idaho-based foundation advised Nigeria's northern Zamfara state government and oversaw the 5 ½-month cleanup, or remediation, of Bagega that ended two weeks ago.

The poisoning caused by artisanal mining from a gold rush killed at least 400 children. The more basic methods used to get at gold helped cause the poisoning. Some women used hammers to beat open rock ore. Others used some of the 60 grinding mills at a processing area adjacent to the village and water reservoir. Many took the rocks that carried high concentrations of lead into their homes for processing. The poisoning was facilitated because the particular lead compounds are very toxic and easily absorbed into the body, unlike other forms of lead.

 Villagers initially tried to hide the deaths, fearing the government would stop their illegal mining. Government officials initially reacted by trying to enforce a ban on illegal mining but when that did not work, they promised to find other sources of income for villagers, but nothing has happened in a country where corruption is endemic. Villagers still say they would rather die of lead poisoning than poverty. Villagers make 10 times as much money mining as they do from farming in an area suffering erratic rainfall because of climate change. Despite its remote location, the booming economy attracted people from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to Bagega. In addition, cattle herders and nomads came here to water their animals at a reservoir so dangerously contaminated it killed goats and cows.

Managing five landfills with some 13,000 cubic meters (nearly 460,000 cubic feet) of highly contaminated soil, and teaching villagers how to mine safely are major challenges to prevent new contamination environmental scientist Simba Tirima said. His TerraGraphics Foundation has trained dozens of Nigerians to clean up any future contamination.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Bush and Aids

George W. Bush  was given  a Global Service award by the University of Denver for his supposed work to fight AIDs in Africa. He has been praised by the likes of Bono, Elton John and Matt Damon (“I would kiss George W. Bush on the mouth for his AIDS work”) Launching this HIV/AIDS project  at the same time as he was launching Cruise missiles at Iraqi power stations, bridges and hospitals provided Bush with a veil of respectability. While  bombing bridges in Baghdad and Basra, the U.S. State Department was giving out anti-HIV vaccinations in Uganda and preaching sexual abstinence to locals there.

The U.S. governmental program to fight HIV/AIDS is formally known as the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). From the outset, PEPFAR has been run out of the Department of State’s Office of U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator (OGAC).  The project works through many other U.S. government agencies (US AID, etc). PEPFAR, according to its own reports, has given anti-retroviral drugs –according to 2013 GAO report to 5.1 million people, more than half of these in low or middle income countries, many of them in Africa. In recent years PEPFAR has shifted emphasis to training in-country specialists to take over the programs.

 Sounds good but at best, the results have been mixed. A great deal of money has been spent on the program since its inception with questionable, limited – often exaggerated results and few serious follow up studies. From the outset the program has been plagued with criticisms. PEPFAR there is a typical `top down’ bureaucratic affair with very little interaction with “folks on the ground”, similar in many ways to many World Bank/IMF structural adjustment programs.The program is not run out of the United Nations nor organizations like the World Health Organization, but is run bilaterally between the United States and the target nations involved.

 When Bush was in office, PEPFAR was little more than yet another boom for U.S. pharmaceuticals as the program required that the drugs be purchased from the pharmaceuticals holding patents, It was the shift to generics, encouraged according to some sources by Bill Clinton, has led to a significant extension of the program and $1 billion savings over a five year period. As a result, the cost per patient has gone dropped some 400% from 2005-2011 and many more people have been treated.

At the heart of the program is what is referred to as the ABC approach, an acronym for `abstention, be faithful, use a condom’ – a touching, Christian fundamentalist inspired, but almost entirely irrelevant way of treating AIDS. As the ABC approach glaringly suggests, PEPFAR is infused with Christian fundamentalist values.  In line with their skewed thinking, the program promotes `abstention’, prostitutes and homosexuals are excluded from treatment. Emphasizing abstention tends to focus on individual behavior modification for prevention, – as opposed to structural change, or some kind of hybrid approach or an approach which focuses on prevention. PEPFAR has resulted in a number of unintended consequences: the marginalization of groups at high risk for HIV/AIDS (LGBT, prostitutes, IV drug users, etc.); the promulgation of misunderstandings about HIV transmission, prevention and safe sex (condoms); the promulgation of misunderstandings about the causes of HIV/AIDS epidemic

By excluding those more likely to be affected by HIV/AIDS, PEPFAR is shooting itself in the foot.  The results have been – almost predictably – uneven. If HIV/AIDS levels in Uganda did dip in the early years of the program, their levels are once again on the rise. While some groups see (significantly) falling rates of HIV/AIDS prevalence, other groups see rates rising or unchanged (e.g. married women, LGBT community). In a similar vein, there is no real evidence that the credit for declining HIV prevalence where it exists, is as a result of the Bush program.

Taken from this article by Rob Prince

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Not all that glitters is gold

60,000 people mine for gold in South Sudan, many driven to it by hunger. They hunt for gold in deep, claustrophobic mines with no safety equipment. The holes are so narrow, they can barely turn around. Wearing no safety jackets or helmets, the miners have just a headlamp to guide them in the bleak darkness.

Gold mining is big business in Sudan, particularly in the south. The land is endowed with many resources, many of which are undiscovered.  As well as gold, there is also believed to be copper, uranium and marble.

Many use their bare hands which they once used to harvest crops. The back-breaking labour is even carried out by women, children and elderly people who are driven to work because of widespread hunger.


Monday, August 12, 2013

Who Cares about CAR?

The UN has declared the entire 4.6 million population of the Central Africa Republic to be victims and the country among its most dangerous destinations. Its refugee agency has called it the "most neglected crisis in the world". Médecins Sans Frontières warns that the country had been effectively "abandoned to its fate".

The Central African Republic is all but lawless, with just 200 police to guard those 4.6m people from rebel gangs who attack women, kill men and recruit children at will. Despite repeated warnings, the international community has done little, even as arms continue to flood into the country. In Bangui, the capital, convoys of gangs can be seen speeding through its suburbs and are blamed for looting and indiscriminate shootings. The country's infrastructure has been effectively demolished. Human rights groups say the justice system has been dismantled, the prisons destroyed. The army has been disbanded.

Malnutrition rates have skyrocketed and malaria cases have risen by 30% since the Seleka rebels assumed control of the country. Latest assessments reveal 484,000 people at risk of food insecurity, with more than 206,000 people displaced. Armed groups running amok in a state the size of France, free to plunder as they wish.

"There is nobody to help the population. There are no authorities, no militaries. When you resist, they kill you," Albert Vanbuel, Catholic bishop of Kaga-Bandoro, a town of 26,000.  Even the sprawling UN compound 3km from the town has been looted, its food stores pillaged.

A plan was constructed to pay off fighters who agreed to disarm. UN officials told the security council that a lack of funding to complete the disarmament process could push the country "to the brink of disaster".  Just two countries: Luxembourg offered £67,000 and Australia £134,000, despite £14.2m being required to complete the disarmament and reintegration process.

 A UN request for £129m of aid received £40m. A recent Unicef emergency appeal outlined a need for £21m, but received under £6m.

Britain, along with the CAR's colonial owner France, is among those accused of neglecting the country. A Foreign Office source said he could not recall if a UK minister had ever visited the country. The British ambassador is based in Cameroon, 500 miles away.  The UK cuts its annual aid to the republic from £2.7m to £1.29m two years ago.

Since 2005 the UK has been the fourth largest European exporter of arms to the CAR. Equally alarming is the role of Britain as the key supplier of arms to the increasingly unstable region of central Africa. Britain is Europe's largest arms exporter to Uganda and the third largest to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, both CAR neighbours. Britain is the fourth largest supplier of arms to Chad and the second largest to Sudan, both officially classified as "countries of concern" by the Foreign Office. Almost £670,000 of mainly tanks and vehicles have been sent to Chad, while the UK government last year approved £7.6m of military export licences to Sudan including weapon sight mounts. The UK has emerged as the second largest exporter of arms to the volatile, embryonic state of South Sudan – and its sole supplier of explosive devices.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Same old same

With an estimated net worth of $500 million (€378 million), Kenyatta is one of the 25 richest and most powerful men on the continent.  Kenyatta is the country's largest landowner and he also controls its largest bank, not to mention a major hotel chain.

 Kenyan politics reflects the extent to which a handful of clans dominate the country. Fifty years ago, shortly after independence from Britain, a Kenyatta and an Odinga competed for power. In March 2013, nothing had changed except the first names of the contenders. The sons, Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, had followed in the footsteps of their fathers, Jomo and Oginga.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Africa's rich

Johannesburg was the city with the most millionaires in Africa last year.

An annual update report showed that Johannesburg had 23,400 millionaires at the end of last year, followed by Cairo with 12,300 and Lagos with 9,800.

Four South African cities were placed in the top 10 of the rankings and at 48,800 individuals, the country topped the list of countries with millionaires across the continent last year. Cape Town was ranked fourth with 9,000, Durban had 2,700 and Pretoria was ranked in the eighth place with 2,500 millionaires.

The list includes high-net worth individuals with net assets of $1 million (R9.8m) or more, excluding their primary residences. It is estimated that Johannesburg millionaires would grow to 30,600 by 2020 and would maintain its first position, as Lagos would only follow at a wide remove with 15,800 millionaires then.  Accra in Ghana would be the fastest growing major city for African millionaires in the period to 2020

Figures for individuals with a net worth of more than $30m each, excluding their primary residences showed that in the top three, Johannesburg had 285 multi-millionaires, followed by Cairo with 145 and Lagos with 123. Cape Town had 110 multi-millionaires, Durban had 33 and Pretoria had 31.

20 Africa billionaires who made it to Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s richest people, six were South Africans. These included Johann Rupert whose net worth was $6.6 billion, followed by Nicky Oppenheimer and family, Shoprite chairman Christo Wiese, Patrice Motsepe, Desmond Sacco of Assore Group and Aspen chief executive Stephen Saad. Only Egypt was ahead of South Africa with seven billionaires featured on Forbes list.

South Africa’s wealthy are clearly getting wealthier as their net worth increased last year, according to Forbes’ list. Rupert’s net worth, for instance, had increased from $5.1bn during 2012.

Taku Fundira, an analyst at the Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute, said as the rich got richer, the poverty gap had also increased. “While we see an increase in incomes for the top-income deciles, the same cannot be said for the low-income earners. The redistribution of wealth that has taken place literally transferred wealth from [the] white corporate sector to black business sector through black economic empowerment deals which have benefited few.” 

Monday, August 05, 2013

Fact of the Day

The African continent has the largest area of uncultivated land compared to other continents to have the highest poverty rate in the World. The uncultivated good land referred to totals about 2.2 million hectares.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Land Grab and re-locationin Ethiopia

 “The government is killing our people through starvation and hunger . . . we are just waiting here for death”.

Three quarters of worldwide land acquisitions have taken place in Sub-Saharan Africa, where poverty ridden and economically vulnerable countries (many run by governments with poor human rights records) are ‘encouraged' to attract foreign investment by donor partners and their international guides. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and donor partners, powerful institutions that by “supporting the creation of investment-friendly climates and land markets in developing countries” have been a driving force behind the global rush for agricultural land. Poor countries make easy pickings for multi-nationals negotiating deals for prime land at giveaway prices and with all manner of government sweeteners. Contracts sealed without consultation with local people, which lack transparency and accountability, have virtually no benefit for the ‘host' country.

In Ethiopia , bordering South Sudan,  the fertile Gambella region (where 42% of land is available), with its lush vegetation and flowing rivers, is where the majority of land sales in the country have taken place.  Since 2008 The Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) government has leased almost 4 million hectares, for commercial farm ventures. Land is cheap – they are virtually giving it away.  Deals in the region are made possible by the EPRDF's ‘villagisation programme'. This is forcibly clearing indigenous people off ancestral land and herding them into State created villages. 1.5 million people nationwide are destined to be re-settled, 225,000 (over three years) from Gambella.  By driving these people off their land and into large settlements or camps, the government is not only destroying their homes, in which they have lived for generations, it is stealing their identity.

Pastoralists and indigenous people are being forcibly moved by the regime, Human Rights Watch reports, they are “relocating them through violence and intimidation, and often without essential services,” such as education (denying children ‘the right to education'), water, and health care facilities - public services promised to the people and championed to donor countries by the government in their programme rhetoric. The new settlements that make up the villagisation programme, are built on land that is “typically dry and arid”, completely unsuitable for farming and miles from water supplies, which are reserved for the industrial farms being constructed on fertile ancestral land. The result is increased food insecurity leading in some cases to starvation. HRW documented cases of people being forced off their land during the “harvest season, preventing them from harvesting their crops”.

Graham Peebles the Director of The Create Trust,  full article can be found here at link.