Wednesday, August 04, 2021

The Vaccine Shortage

 As of Monday that at least 70% of U.S. adults are now at least partly vaccinated against the coronavirus—compared to just barely over 1% when it comes to the world's poorest nations

Just 20 million Africans or 1.5% of the continent's population are fully vaccinated so far.

Just 1.7% of the 3.7 billion doses given globally have been administered in Africa.

The Washington Post reported Friday, "wealthy nations cut deals directly with vaccine-makers, securing a disproportionately large share of early supply and undermining a fledgling Covax, the WHO-backed push to distribute shots equitably" on which Africa has been dependent.

"Wealthy governments shouldn't be prioritizing giving third doses when much of the developing world hasn't even yet had the chance to get their first Covid-19 shots,” Kate Elder, senior vaccines policy advisor at MSF’s Access Campaign, said in a statement.

The world is at a "devastating place of vaccine inequity," she said, "precisely because pharmaceutical corporations prioritized profits over lives and the countries where these companies are primarily based decided to pursue a 'me first' approach."

"The longer billions of people remain unvaccinated, the more variants will develop that threaten all of us," Elder added. "This profit-driven and self-centered approach is not only morally questionable, but shortsighted.”

As US Hits Biden's 70% Vaccination Goal, World's Poor Nations Barely Over 1% | Common Dreams News

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Bodies dumped in the river

 A Sudanese official has said local authorities in Kassala province have found around 50 bodies of people fleeing the war in neighbouring Ethiopia’s Tigray region, floating in the river between the countries. Some bodies were found with gunshot wounds or their hands bound.

An Ethiopian government-created Twitter account on Monday called the accounts of bodies a fake campaign by “propagandists” .

Tewodros Tefera, a surgeon who fled the nearby Tigray city of Humera to Sudan, told the Associated Press that two of the bodies were found on Monday, one a man with his hands bound and the other a woman with a chest wound. Fellow refugees have buried at least 10 other bodies, he said

Another doctor working in Hamdayet who saw the bodies told The Associated Press that some of the corpses had facial markings indicating they were ethnic Tigrayans. “I saw a lot of barbaric things,” said the doctor. “Some had been struck by an axe.” Witnesses at the river told him they had not been able to catch all the bodies floating downstream because of the water’s swift flow during the rainy season.

Dozens of bodies found floating in river between Ethiopia’s Tigray and Sudan | Ethiopia | The Guardian

Monday, August 02, 2021

UK Fails to Apologise

 The British government has been criticised for failing to apologise and compensate members of two communities in western Kenya whose land was taken away during the colonial era.

A group of UN investigators - or special rapporteurs - have highlighted the human rights violations against the Kipsigis and Talai peoples in Kericho county that happened in the 19th and 20th Centuries. These included unlawful killings and sexual violence.

Over half a million people are estimated by the UN team to have been affected.

The special rapporteurs have also criticised the UK government for failing to "adopt measures to establish the facts and know the truth about the circumstances surrounding these violations".

They sent their report to the government at the end of May and gave them 60 days to respond. That time has now elapsed and there has been no response.

"It has been very difficult to feel ignored for so long by the British Government for the terrible things they did to us," Dickson Sitienei said on behalf of the victims.

"We have been fighting for our voices to be heard for many years and if the British Government think we will forget what they did they are wrong. We cannot feel free until they acknowledge what they did, this is the only way forward."

Vast tracts of land in the region are now being used by various British and multinational tea corporations including Findlay’s, Williamson Fine Tea and Unilever.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

The Princess of Angola Guilty of Looting the People

 Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola's former president and Africa's one-time richest woman, must return to Angola her shares in Portugal's Galp energy firm worth 422 million euros ($500 million), an international arbitration court has ruled. The transaction under which Dos Santos acquired her stake in the oil and gas company Galp is "null and void", according to the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI), which is part of the International Court of Arbitration. The 2006 purchase of the shares, acquired through a company owned by dos Santos' late husband Exem Energy, was illegal.

 Dos Santos is accused of diverting billions of dollars from state companies during her father Jose Eduardo dos Santos's nearly 40-year rule of the oil-rich southern African nation. The arbitration court has judged that Isabel dos Santos enriched herself with money stolen from Angolan people. The billionaire businesswoman has faced several allegations of plundering the public purse and funnelling the money abroad. Nicknamed "the princess" in Angola, she was accused of amassing her vast fortune thanks to the backing of her authoritarian father.

Isabel dos Santos ordered to return $500 million in energy shares to Angola (france24.com)

Friday, July 30, 2021

Kenya's Skills Exported

 


Kenya has signed a deal with the UK that will allow its unemployed nurses and other medics to work in the UK.

The scheme is open to Kenyan health workers who are qualified but unemployed, ensuring the process is managed for Kenya’s benefit, according to a statement from the British government.

This arrangement was requested by Kenya and should allow health professionals and managers to benefit from a special way through the UK's immigration system, before returning to work in Kenya’s health sector.

The medics' union in Kenya has in recent years raised concerns about the high rate of unemployment among doctors and nurses in the country.

The deal with the UK could appeal to many healthcare workers here as they have time and again decried poor working conditions, poor pay and even having to work for months without pay.

But there will be fears that it could encourage a brain drain.

Currently, there are almost 900 Kenyans working in the UK's National Health Service in various capacities, according to the British authorities.

Africa Live: Unemployed Kenyan medics cleared to work in UK - BBC News

Thursday, July 29, 2021

School and Pregnancy

Some 19.3% of pregnancies in Sub Saharan Africa are among adolescents. In Burkina Faso, it is 11%. 

Teenage pregnancy often puts an end to the mother’s education, as young mothers switch their focus from school to taking care of the child. This reduces the mother’s earning potential and feeds into a cycle of poverty which means the child is also less likely to attend school and achieve financial stability years later.

Abortion is illegal in normal circumstances in Burkina Faso. It is permissible when rape or incest have occured, or if there is a danger to the health of the mother or severe fetal malformation. This is not well known among women, however, and the legal process for an abortion being approved is long and complicated. If a mother decides to terminate the pregnancy through an illegal abortion, their options for doing so are inherently unsafe.

The lack of awareness on how to prevent it is the basis of pregnancy in school.  The emphasis is always on trying to make sure the mother stays in school

GIZ,  a program by the German development agency (GIZ) and their Pro Enfant initiative organize awareness sessions, primarily for women. It must be said that in Africa, education begins with the mother at home. It also try to reach boys. Sometimes the boy doesn’t want to recognize the pregnancy and we have to speak to them about the legal implications of that. If the father, or his family, do not agree to help support the child, the case can end up in court. Also, when the pregnancy involves a father over 18 and a younger mother, this can cause the police to become involved.

 A cluster of specially trained parents also play a part by acting as role models to other parents. The child protection network are also trained by GIZ and bring together community members from the police, education, the health sector, the local orphanage and even the agricultural sector. Where agriculture is by far the largest sector of the economy, roles expectant mothers are no longer able to play in farming have to be accounted for. They also need to be kept away from certain pesticides that can be harmful to the unborn child.  Coordination means all elements of the community involved are able to react more quickly and efficiently.

To Prevent Teenage Pregnancies in Sub Saharan Africa, It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)

Monday, July 26, 2021

Nigeria's Poverty Rises

 The World Bank estimates Nigeria’s soaring inflation and food prices pushed seven million more people into poverty in 2021. The number of people living in poverty in Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation with 210 million inhabitants – was already among the highest in the world. Nigeria has been battered by the double economic effect of low global oil prices and the pandemic.

Food prices have increased more than 22 percent since the start of the coronavirus crisis, according to official statistics. For many people, feeding their families has become a daily challenge.

Even before the pandemic and the surge in food costs, Nigeria’s nutrition figures were alarming: One in three Nigerian children suffered stunted growth due to a bad diet.

Close to 17 million children in Nigeria are undernourished, giving the country the highest level of malnutrition in Africa and the second-highest in the world.

“Every day, during consultations, there are five or seven children that suffer from malnutrition,” says Emiolo Ogunsola, head of the nutrition department at Massey Street children’s hospital in a poor district in Lagos Island. “I bet in a few months or a year, more children will be malnourished.”

Nigerian families struggle to survive as food prices soar | Nigeria News | Al Jazeera

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Good News

 Sierra Leone has become the 23rd country on the continent to end capital punishment. MPs voted unanimously to abandon the punishment of the death sentence.

Rhiannon Davis, director of the women’s rights group AdvocAid, said: “It’s a huge step forward for this fundamental human right in Sierra Leone."

Davis said the abolition would be particularly beneficial to women and girls accused of murdering an abuser.

“Previously, the death penalty was mandatory in Sierra Leone, meaning a judge could not take into account any mitigating circumstances, such as gender-based violence,” she said.

 In April, Malawi ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional, while Chad abolished it in 2020.

Of those countries that retain the death penalty on their statute books, 17 are abolitionist in practice, according to Amnesty International.

Sierra Leone abolishes death penalty | Global development | The Guardian

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Ghana's Anti-gay Campaign

SOLIDARITY

 “Unnatural carnal knowledge” – often interpreted as non-heterosexual sex – is unlawful in Ghana. Draft anti-gay legislation submitted to Ghana’s parliament could propose up to 10 years in jail for LGBTQ+ people as well as groups and individuals who advocate for their rights, express sympathy or offer social or medical support, in one of the most draconian and sweeping anti-gay laws proposed around the world.

Support for intersex people would also be criminalised and the government could direct intersex people to receive “gender realignment” surgery, said the draft legislation.

Among other aspects of the bill that has sparked condemnation, groups or individuals found to be funding groups deemed as advocating for LGBTQ+ rights or offering support could be prosecuted. Marriage would be clearly defined in Ghanaian law as being between a male and female. Media companies, online platforms and accounts which publish information that could be deemed to encourage children to explore any gender or sex outside of the binary categories of male and female could face 10 years in prison.

The prospect of harsh new laws has been hailed by numerous MPs and supported by figures in President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government. It follows a wave of repression against LGBTQ+ people amid a backlash from politicians, civil and religious groups and the media, and also led to a rise in arrests and abuse against people perceived to be gay or queer.

Sam Nartey George, an MP who has described gay rights as a “perversion” and led a group of lawmakers who drafted the bill, dismissed online condemnation of the bill as “uninformed”.

“Homosexuality is not a human right. It is a sexual preference,” he said in a post on Twitter. “We shall pass this bill through.”

Groups across public life, from politicians to journalists, civil and religious leaders, have led fierce condemnation of LGBTQ+ rights and support networks in Ghana. Ghana’s government promised new laws to prohibit pro-gay advocacy, amid hysteria over bolder efforts to establish support for sexual minorities. 21 people were arrested in the city of Ho in March, at a training event for paralegals and other professionals working on supporting vulnerable groups. They were released on bail last month yet many of the defendants are living in safehouses for fear of the safety, with some disowned by family members and having lost their jobs.

Nana Ama Agyemang Asante, a journalist and activist in Accra, said she was “stunned by the contents, the crudeness of the language, and the cruelty behind the intent” of the bill. “I have spent all my time as a journalist advocating for gay rights so I can’t believe that we have arrived at this point where they want to criminalise everything and everyone including the existence of allies, intersex and asexual folks.”

Ghana: anti-gay bill proposing 10-year prison sentences sparks outrage | Global development | The Guardian

Terror in Africa

  Africa became the region hardest hit by terrorism in the first half of 2021 as the Islamic State and al-Qaida extremist groups and their affiliates spread their influence, boasting gains in supporters and territory and inflicting the greatest casualties, U.N. experts said in a new report to the U.N. Security Council. This is “especially true” in parts of west and east Africa where affiliates of both groups can also boast growing capabilities in fundraising and weapons, including the use of drones. Several of the most successful affiliates of the Islamic State are in its central and west Africa province, and several of al-Qaida’s are in Somalia and the Sahel region.

The experts said it’s “concerning” that these terrorist affiliates are spreading their influence and activities including across borders from Mali into Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Niger and Senegal as well as incursions from Nigeria into Cameroon, Chad and Niger in west Africa. In the east, the affiliates’ activities have spread from Somalia into Kenya and from Mozambique into Tanzania, they said.

One of “the most troubling events” of early 2021 was the local Islamic State affiliate’s storming and brief holding of Mozambique’s strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province near the border with Tanzania “before withdrawing with spoils, positioning it for future raids in the area,” the panel said.

UN experts: Africa became hardest hit by terrorism this year (apnews.com)

Friday, July 23, 2021

Eating Leather in Madagascar

 More than one million people in Madagascar are in need of food in a vast area spread over 110,000 sq km (42,000 square miles).

Years with little rain have made farming impossible, while sandstorms have turned huge stretches of arable land barren – effects the United Nations has linked to climate change.

Several aid groups have been handing out hundreds of tonnes of food and nutritional supplements for months with government help. But this is not nearly enough.

World Food Programme (WFP) chief David Beasley has compared the plight of the starving in Madagascar to a “horror film”, saying it was “enough to bring even the most hardened humanitarian to tears”.

Some 14,000 people have already reached a stage the WFP defines as level five, a “catastrophe when people have absolutely nothing left to eat,” says the organisation’s Madagascar representative Moumini Ouedraogo.

Neither the government nor the WFP publicly tracks the number who have died of starvation, but the AFP news agency has tallied at least 340 deaths from local authority figures in recent months.

The UN estimates Madagascar will need $78.6m to provide vital food aid in the next lean season starting in October.

In Ambovombe, the main town in the hard-hit Androy region, hundreds have been surviving without help for months. They beg and eat food scraps from the market – even leather offcuts given to them by sandal makers to be boiled with a little salt to soften it or grilled.

 The leather “tears up our stomachs, but it’s because we have nothing. We’re suffering badly”, says one victim of hunger.

‘Nothing left’: A catastrophe in Madagascar’s famine-hit south | Climate Change News | Al Jazeera

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Farming in Africa

 Agriculture accounts for at least 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP with about 40% of the workforce engaged in the sector. At the heart of Africa’s agriculture are the smallholder farmers. Millions of hardworking men and women typically farm on less than a hectare of land. They grow staple crops such as maize, wheat, rice, cassava and sorghum. Food is the most basic of needs. It decides not just the health of individuals but also the health of communities which affects the health of our economies. Growth generated by agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than GDP growth in other sectors. 

Africa’s full agricultural potential remains untapped. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

The Congo and Corruption

 According to the Swiss federal criminal court last week, the corruption destroying the Democratic Republic of the Congo – where devastating conflicts over minerals used in our electronics have killed more than six million people – is inextricably linked to the UK, Gibraltar and Switzerland. The Swiss court ruling exposed the corruption that has fuelled not only the poverty, famine and unemployment in DRC revealing the impunity that permits it and the violence required to sustain it.

Between 2006 and 2011, at the height of ex-president Joseph Kabila’s rule, individuals and entities in the UK, Gibraltar and Switzerland paid almost £280m (more than DRC’s spending on healthcare last year)  in cash bribes to authorities in DRC through an array of shell companies and subsidiaries – and, in this case, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office told the Swiss court that it has the evidence to back it. In return, Kabila offered some of DRC’s strategic gems and minerals, including cobalt, an essential component of lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles. The country is home to about 60% of the world’s known cobalt reserves, which makes some of Kabila’s corrupt friends in the UK, Gibraltar and Switzerland almost indispensable in the global supply chain of electric cars. 

A court of justice has spoken but where are the criminal charges? 

The Congolese die daily from violence required to sustain their corrupt deals. According to the International Red Cross in 2008, an estimated 1,100 people were dying each day from the conflict as well as the hunger and diseases accompanying it. 

In 2003, a UN report named about 125 individuals and entities, including at least 16 from the UK, directly or indirectly involved in conflict minerals. How many have faced criminal charges? Zero.

Back in 2003, about 2.2 million Congolese were displaced because of conflicts over minerals. Today that figure stands at 6.6 million scattered across the country in camps for internally displaced people. In 2003, DRC ranked 167 in the UN’s human development index. It now ranks 175 out of 189 countries.

This Swiss ruling won’t change anything. The hunger and the killings and the use of rape as a weapon of war in DRC will continue.

DRC’s new president Felix Tshisekedi, came to power publicly positioning himself as anti-corruption. Tshisekedi has promoted Kabila’s henchmen, including Gen Gabriel Amisi, known as “Tango Four”, who is under EU, US and UN sanctions for, among other things, “obstructing the electoral process and human rights abuse” and Gen Charles Akili, known as “Mundos”, who is similarly under sanctions and is cited in several UN reports for his alleged role in machete killings in Beni.

Tshisekedi refuses to investigate Kabila’s loot. DRC lost $300bn to corruption during Kabila’s reign; enough to lift more than 50 million Congolese people out of poverty. 

The UK has been linked to Congo’s ‘conflict minerals’ – where are the criminal charges? | Vava Tampa | The Guardian

Monday, July 19, 2021

Healthy Food is Needed

 


Healthy diets in Kenya are becoming increasingly unaffordable to many households, a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is warning, according to the latest Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition Report. Over 50 per cent of the households cannot afford a nutrient-adequate diet.

Africans face some of the highest food costs when compared to other regions of a similar level of development. Nearly three-quarters of the African population cannot afford a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables and animal proteins. 

Nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables and animal proteins, are relatively expensive when compared to staples such as cereals and starchy roots.

An energy-sufficient diet, which supplies a bare minimum of energy and little else, is out of reach for over 10 per cent of the continent’s population.  Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where the number of stunted children continues to rise.

High cost of food hurting families - FarmKenya Initiative (standardmedia.co.ke)


Saturday, July 17, 2021

The shame of the pandemic

 "As Africa is now facing its third and biggest Covid wave so far, it is getting left behind in the race for vaccine doses," said the head of UNAIDS. "This vaccine apartheid is unacceptable."

World Health Organization revealed Thursday that Africa saw a 43% rise in Covid-19 deaths from the previous week, which notably had been described as the continent's "most dire pandemic week ever."

WHO's statement also highlighted vaccine shortages, noting that 52 million people across Africa have received shots since March—representing just 1.6% of the 3.5 billion people vaccinated worldwide. A mere 1.5% of the continent's population, or 18 million Africans, are fully vaccinated, compared with double-digit rates in various wealthy nations.

There is little room for African countries to buy doses on their own: Almost all of the vaccines forecast to be made in 2021 have already been sold. Some of the world's richest countries will have 1.9 billion doses more than they need to vaccinate their populations by the end of August. Those 1.9 billion surplus doses are "enough to vaccinate the entire adult population of Africa.

Andrea Taylor, an assistant director at the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, explained that "COVAX is a really lovely idea," but "... It didn't assume that wealthy countries would act in their own self-interest, and it should have done so."

Rich Nations Hoard Enough Extra Vaccines for All African Adults as Continent's Crisis Intensifies | Common Dreams News

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

South Africa's Turmoil

 In South Africa, 72 people have died in six consecutive days of violent clashes between police and protesters. More than 1,200 people have been arrested so far. Initially started as a protest against the jailing of Zuma the demonstrations has mushroomed into grievances over inequality and poverty and have rocked the country.

 Thousands of businesses have been ransacked or forced to close their doors for fear of violence. So far 200 malls and shopping centres countrywide have been forced to close by the violence,

Troops are deployed to Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal, the two provincial epicentres of the unrest, to aid the police.

Professor Mcebisi Ndletyana, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera, “This anger has been bubbling below the surface for decades and we might be experiencing a revolution of the poor that is being taken advantage of by criminals who benefit from the revolt and unrest.”

Security analyst Helmoed Heitman told Al Jazeera that while the unrest was partly explained as actions of a desperate populace living in poverty, it was also spurred by political opportunism.

“There’s two sides to this: a mass of people with no hope of a future and very little to lose by protesting and looting, alongside a political clash over the future of the country as those aligned with former President Jacob Zuma stand to benefit from the violence and breakdown of law and order.”

South Africa's unemployment has grown to more than 32 percent in a society classified as one of the most unequal in the world, with a Gini-Coefficient of 63 and more than half the population living in poverty.

“People are under a lot of pressure and crime and lawlessness has always been a risk in the South African economy,” economist Xhanti Payi told Al Jazeera.

 Fuel, food and medicine shortages are now predicted to be only days away.

“The main transport artery from Africa’s biggest port in Durban to South Africa’s economic capital of Johannesburg is closed holding up 6,000 trucks a day,” transport and logistics expert Mike Schussler told Al Jazeera.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Female Slave Trade of Edo

 The ancient Benin empire was a formidable trading nation and was respected by all of its peers. At the height of its powers in the 15th–16th centuries, some historians believe the empire stretched as far as modern-day Ghana and Togo. During the 16th–18th centuries  Lagos was a colonised vassal city-state and slave port for the ancient Benin empire

One of the empire’s most powerful warrior kings, Oba Ozolua, ruled between 1481 and 1514 — and his thirst for new territory and wealth meant he needed a massive army. Ozolua’s problem wasn’t whether slavery was morally wrong — but rather how he could gain the revenue of slave trading without depleting the men he needed for his armies. So he created parallel markets for male and female slaves in the kingdom, deliberately under-supplying the male market. Later on, Ozolua banned the export of male slaves entirely and sold only women, a practice that continued long after his reign ended. Even when slavery was abolished in 1833, smuggling women was seen as profitable.

The human trafficking supply chain continues today. Despite making up less than 2% of the Nigerian population, the state of Edo 120 miles east of Lagos was responsible for about half the nation’s human trafficking victims as of 2020. Edo isn’t ideally placed to be a trafficking hub. It has no direct borders with the Gulf of Guinea. Nor does it have borders with Nigeria’s neighbours — Benin Republic, Chad, Niger or Cameroon. But its roots in slavery go back centuries. Madams, often middle-class women replace the royal slave merchants.

 “The long-term effect of that from a cultural viewpoint is that’s what makes people from Edo state more likely to send their daughters out to prostitution in foreign lands,” says Cheta Nwanze, head of research at SBM Intelligence, a Lagos-based sociopolitical risk advisory firm.

According to the International Organization for Migration, 5,425 women went from Nigeria to Italy in 2016. Eighty percent were thought to be potential victims of trafficking, and 94 percent were from Edo state. Benin City, the capital of Edo state, saw only 34 convictions of human traffickers.

 The sordid legacy of King Ozolua is the devaluation of women and it continues to this day.

This Tiny Nigerian State Has Driven Half the Country's Human Trafficking for Centuries - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Sunday, July 11, 2021

African Anti-Corruption Day

 African Anti-Corruption Day is celebrated annually on 11 July.  Corruption hinders Africa’s economic, political and social development and is a huge obstacle to good governance and basic freedoms.  The poorest Africans are twice as likely to pay bribes for essential public services as the richest. As a result, they have less money for basic necessities such as food, water and medicine.

  More than one in four people (28%) who had access to public services such as healthcare and education had to pay bribes for this access in the year preceding this survey. This equates to about 130 million citizens in 35 countries. The bribery rate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the highest at 80%, while Mauritius boasts the lowest bribe rate of 5%,

 Although differing significantly across countries and public institutions in Africa, corruption undermines the chances of hundreds of millions of citizens for a stable life.  Corruption affects the well-being of individuals, families and communities. At least, 25 million primary school children alone are its victims.

Then there is land corruption. We know that land is the bedrock of social, economic and political life in Africa. Unfortunately, land distribution and corruption go hand in hand, with one in every two people encountering it during land administration processes in Africa compared with one in five for the rest of the world.
 Furthermore, gender-based corruptionwhich affects women most, usually rooted in culture and sextortion, is rarely reported to superiors in the workplace due to fear of retaliation or other consequences. For example, in Zimbabwe, up to 57.5% of surveyed women indicated that they had experienced, in different sectors of the community, sextortion.

It’s important to point out that foreign role players also contribute to the increase in corruption in the continent. When money that is supposed to support important services such as healthcare and education flows out of countries due to corruption, ordinary citizens are hit the hardest. According to estimates, Africa loses at least $50-billion a year through illicit financial flows.

According to the Global Corruption Barometer — Africa 2019, most respondents indicated that corruption had increased in their country. More than half (55%) of all citizens believed corruption had increased (in the 12 months preceding the survey). Only 23% thought it had decreased. Only 34% gave their government a thumbs up for combating corruption, while 59% thought they were doing poorly in this regard. In some countries (Gabon, Madagascar, Sudan) the latter is higher than 80%.

 Among the key public institutions, the police are widely regarded as corrupt. Forty-seven per cent of respondents indicated that police officers were corrupt or completely corrupt. In the DRC it is 81%, with Gabon and Uganda above 70%.

Furthermore, almost four out of 10 citizens think that most or all government officials (39%), parliamentarians (36%), and offices of the president or prime minister (34%) are corrupt. In the DRC, the office of the president or prime minister (82%) and parliamentarians (79%) are perceived as the most corrupt institutions. About 36% of people think that business executives in Africa are corrupt.

While millions of Africans continue to endure the negative effects of corruption, unscrupulous individuals keep their ill-gotten funds abroad and enjoy the high life with their friends and families.


Saturday, July 10, 2021

The Sahel War Shifts

 France would start closing military bases in northern Mali by year-end, as the jihadist threat in the Sahel begins to shift south and expose more countries in the region to Islamist attacks.

"We are going to reorganise ourselves in line with this need to stop this spread to the south, and it will lead to a reduction of our military footprint in the north," Macron said.

Paris now plans to fold its presence into the so-called Takuba international task force, originally a training operation for Mali. The force currently comprises around 600 soldiers, half of them French. So far the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy and Sweden have answered Macron's calls for contributions to help make Takuba function more as a counter-terrorism mission. Even if bigger allies like Germany sent hundreds of soldiers, winning the fight against insurgents spread across a semi-desert area the size of Western Europe won't be easy.

Macron to shift French forces south in West Africa troop drawdown (france24.com)

South Sudan. Independence for what?

 Ten years ago, thousands of people filled the streets of Juba in South Sudan to celebrate the birth of what is still the world's youngest nation. Ten years later,  independence is no longer a cause for celebration. 

South Sudan, is facing its worst-ever hunger crisis as it marks its 10 year anniversary, with 7.2 million people, including millions of children, on the brink of or in famine, Save the Children said. An estimated 1.4 million children are already suffering from acute malnutrition.

The number of people in grave danger of starvation has risen by 50% compared to the same season a decade ago when 40% of the population was experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity.

The acute child malnutrition this year is the highest figure since 2013. Malnutrition can cause stunting, impede mental and physical development, increase the risk of developing other illnesses, and ultimately cause death. Across South Sudan, Save the Children is treating thousands of children with acute malnutrition, with staff reporting increasing numbers of babies arriving at clinics in life-threatening situations. In the past three months alone, Save the Children diagnosed 7,342 infants with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) cases, of which 4,219 infants were admitted into hospital for treatment.

Rama Hansraj, Save the Children’s Country Director in South Sudan, said:

“The birth of a new nation is often a time of hope and joy for many of the people living within it, but sadly this promise is yet to deliver for South Sudan. In so many ways, things have gotten worse for children since the country was formed in 2011. 

Civil war and climate shocks have all played their part in pushing South Sudan away from where it should be, ten years on. South Sudan is not just a story of conflict. It is a story of generations of deliberate displacement of civilians, destruction of livelihoods, and land occupation, compounded by climate shocks like unprecedented flooding and locust plagues, and a story of COVID-19 and its obliteration of already-vulnerable social infrastructure.

 It’s only by addressing the root causes of this crisis, as well as mitigating the devastating effects of the pandemic, will we be able to prevent a generation succumbing to the immediate and long-term consequences of malnutrition.”

Save the Children is warning this situation will most likely deteriorate in the coming months due to ongoing violence, high food prices, climatic shocks, and barriers to humanitarian access unless urgent national and global action is taken.

 Last month that more than 5.7 million children under five are on the brink of starvation across the globe, with the world is facing the biggest global hunger crisis of the 21st century.

South Sudan: Number of people in crisis levels of hunger increases by 50% in 10 years - South Sudan | ReliefWeb

Friday, July 09, 2021

Protecting Nature

  Africa’s Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (KAZA) includes land in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It is one of Africa’s last wildernesses.

Wildlife and environmental campaigners have called for international action as concerns grow over a project to create a massive oilfield. ReconAfrica, a Canadian oil and gas company, has licensed drilling areas in over 34,000sq km of land in parts of northern Namibia and Botswana. ReconAfrica says there is the potential to extract 120 billion barrels of oil from this field. 

A large part of the exploration areas in both Botswana and Namibia falls within the Okavango River Basin which flows into the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which supports the world’s largest remaining population of endangered savanna elephants, as well as dozens of other endangered or vulnerable species such as rhinos, wild dogs, and pangolins. It is also home to 200,000 people.

Campaigners fear the project could do untold damage to the delta’s ecosystem, threatening already endangered wildlife, the environment, and the livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of people who live on the land. The project will also impact local communities and farmers, and there are concerns that these groups have not been engaged properly in consultations over the project.

Criticism of the project has grown sharply over the last 18 months as details of it have emerged, especially suggestions in company promotions to investors that fracking, which involves blasting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks to extract oil and gas, could be used. Fracking is banned in some countries and has been blamed for serious water pollution, among others, and threats to the regional water supply are among environmentalists’ biggest concerns.

Ina-Maria Shikongo, an activist from Fridays for Future – Windhoek, has led a public campaign against the project, “The big problem is our water. We have a very fragile ecosystem, we rely on the water that is underground. If that water gets poisoned, what is going to happen? Wildlife, local people, they all rely completely on our water, and if it is poisoned then you could destroy the local food system.”

Rosemary Alles, the co-founder of the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos conservation campaign group, told IPS: “ReconAfrica has continued to deny that fracking is in the works; however, there is no inevitability that the company will not frack, despite its rhetoric du jour. The concern is legitimate. If fracking takes place, the immediate potential impacts in the context of waterways and air pollution will be devastating.”

One expert at a conservation group in the area told IPS: “If this company is allowed to start drilling for oil in the Delta it will be a major environmental crime with inevitably devastating impacts on the natural world. In terms of what it will mean for elephants: until we know the scale of the operation it’s hard to estimate exactly, but history shows that oil extraction always means environmental disaster and this is right in the middle of the last wilderness in the elephants’ last stronghold: the KAZA.”

UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has pointed out that there are hundreds of working farms within ReconAfrica’s drilling area. But in a recent press release, the group said that it was “far from transparent how, or indeed if, these communities are being consulted”.

It pointed out that the public consultations on the oilfield project have been either online or in person, and the vast majority of those living in ReconAfrica’s license area have limited or no access to the internet and the COVID-19 pandemic has severely restricted travel and public meetings. The meetings are also regularly conducted in English, which is not the first language for many locals.

“It is unclear whether their voices are being heard,” EIA said.

Critics have questioned the validity and integrity of the Environmental Impact Assessments conducted for the project, but the company has rejected this criticism and any suggestions it is not meeting full legal requirements for the project. And it has claimed that its public consultations have been well-attended and welcomed by locals – although this is strongly disputed by many who went to them.  The thinking behind such a project given that only weeks ago the International Energy Agency said no new oil and gas fields must be exploited from this year on to ensure global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were brought down to net-zero by 2050 and keep global heating within safe limits.

“We need to stamp out this neo-colonialist system – Africa cannot continue to be treated simply as a resource for the global north. The global south and global north need to work together on this, because it affects us all. We’re all humans,”  Shikongo said.

Calls to Halt Construction of Massive Oilfield in One of Africa’s last Wildernesses | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Carnage in CAR

 The Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic (CAR), Denise Brown, strongly condemns the armed violence which has caused the displacement of thousands of already displaced Central Africans and led to a significant reduction in humanitarian assistance in Alindao in the south of the country. 

"For the past week, the lives of thousands of civilians have been in imminent danger due to a series of armed clashes in Alindao where some groups of the population have been particularly targeted. These civilians who live from day to day are now cut off from their small source of income, food is increasingly scarce. They live in fear and are traumatized.  All parties to the conflict must stop all violence against civilians, civilian infrastructure, humanitarian actors and respect international humanitarian law. "

727,000 people are currently displaced in the country. 2.8 million people - 57% of the population - are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. 1.9 million of them would not survive without the required assistance.

Cyclical armed violence seriously affects thousands of people in Alindao (6 July 2021) - Central African Republic | ReliefWeb

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Nigeria's Food Inflation

 For many people, feeding their families has become a daily challenge. With inflation rising around the world as the global economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, soaring prices are having dramatic consequences in countries like Nigeria.

The number of people living in poverty in Nigeria – Africa’s most populous nation with 210 million inhabitants – was already among the highest in the world. Even before the pandemic and the surge in food costs, Nigeria’s nutrition figures were alarming: One in three Nigerian children suffered stunted growth due to a bad diet. As a result, close to 17 million children in Nigeria are undernourished, giving the country the highest level of malnutrition in Africa and the second-highest in the world.

 Nigeria has been battered by the double economic effect of low global oil prices and the pandemic, the World Bank estimates the country’s soaring inflation and food prices pushed another seven million people into poverty in 2021. Food prices have increased more than 22 percent since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

“Every day, during consultations, there are five or seven children that suffer from malnutrition,” says Emiolo Ogunsola, head of the nutrition department at Massey Street children’s hospital in a poor district in Lagos Island. “I bet in a few months or a year, more children will be malnourished.”

Nigerian families struggle to survive as food prices soar | Nigeria News | Al Jazeera

Niger Suffering

 Conflict, displacement, food insecurity, malnutrition, recurrent disease epidemics and outbreaks, cyclical floods and droughts in Niger have put more than 3.8 million people, including 2.1 million children, in need of humanitarian assistance, a 30 percent increase compared to 2020.

Insecurity is spreading at a rapid pace in Niger. Attacks along the borders with Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria have led to significant displacements in the country and continue to wreak havoc on the lives of hundreds of thousands of children.

"Children’s lives have been torn apart. It is hard to believe that children should live in permanent fear of such attacks. This doesn’t have to be their reality" UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Marie-Pierre Poirier.  warned. "The protection of children’s rights, including children in displacement, is fundamental, be it the right to food, health, education, water or the right to be protected from violence. They need shelter, food, drinking water, medical care and education".

Attacks in the Lake Chad region have prevented nearly 269,000 people in Diffa (eastern Niger) from returning home. More than 195,000 people are now displaced in the regions of Tillabery and Tahoua, in western Niger. Over 77,000 people who have fled inter-communal violence in northern Nigeria are currently living in Maradi region (central Niger), together with more than 21,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). As of the end of March 2021, Niger hosted a total of 313,000 IDPs, 235,000 refugees and 36,000 returnees. The number of schools forced to close due to insecurity in conflict-affected areas has increased from 312 to 377 over recent months in Niger. 

Suffering in Silence: More than 2.1 million children need humanitarian help in Niger - Niger | ReliefWeb

Saturday, July 03, 2021

Tigray Deteriorates

  Fighting in the Tigray region of Ethiopia has resulted in a famine that is now affecting more than 400,000 people. 33,000 children were severely malnourished.

A further 1.8m people were on the brink of famine.

 Ramesh Rajasingham, the UN's acting humanitarian aid chief told members of the Security Council at a meeting in New York that the situation in Tigray had deteriorated dramatically in recent weeks.

The region was experiencing "the worst famine situation we have seen in decades", he said. "Close to 5.2 million people still require humanitarian assistance - the great majority of them women and children."


The UN political affairs chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the meeting that "There is potential for more confrontations and a swift deterioration in the security situation which is extremely concerning." 


Ethiopia Tigray conflict: Famine hits 400,000, UN warns - BBC News