A woman was shot dead during clashes between factory workers and police in Lesotho in what is the second week of industrial action. Police and army have been blocking the protests, which they say are “in contravention of Covid-19 regulations”.
Lesotho’s 50,000 factory workers are demanding a 20% salary increase for the lowest paid employees, who take home the local equivalent of £113.73 a month. Their earnings can no longer sustain them as prices of goods have increased dramatically since the first Covid-19 lockdown last year. Cooking oil alone has more than doubled in price.
The employers say they can only pay a 5% increase because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The textile workers accuse the government, which is charged with mediating between the workers and factory owners as well as setting the minimum wage, of insincerity in its dealings.
Sam Mokhele, from the National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union (NACTWU), told the Guardian on Thursday: “It is unfortunate that we lost one of our members, Motselisi Manase, who worked in the packaging department at Nien Hsing textile factory. It is sad that neither the police nor the army, who were both present, are acknowledging the tragic death.”
Last month, three workers were hospitalised after police shot at demonstrators with rubber bullets. 95% of the workers are women, and low wages exacerbates their vulnerability in a country with a high prevalence of violent crimes against women.
In November last year Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoane criticised the police for “state-sponsored violence” against civilians in violation of constitutional provisions guaranteeing their freedom from cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment.
The unions say that workers would “stay at home until they have a concrete promise that they would get salary increments” despite the threat of having their salaries for May docked for the days that they have been out of work.
The money will apparently be paid out over 30 years through spending on infrastructure, healthcare and training programmes benefiting the impacted communities.
German colonisers killed tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people there in early 20th Century massacres. The genocide began in 1904 after a Herero and Nama rebellion over German seizures of their land and cattle. The head of the military administration there, Lothar von Trotha, called for the extermination of the population. Many died of disease, exhaustion and starvation with some subject to sexual exploitation and medical experimentation. It is thought up to 80% of the indigenous populations died during the genocide - with a death toll in the tens of thousands.
More than 100 million people are facing food insecurity and about 4.3 million people are being assisted by Red Cross Red Crescent. The poor are the hardest hit. Droughts, floods, climate change and other socio–economic factors have had a profound impact on the food security situation on the continent. Africa needs to reclaim and use indigenous food to break dependence on commercial varieties and food imports and to counter the effects climate change and hunger crises.
Africa still spends billions dollars on food imports particularly grains and other processed foods. In 2020 alone. Africa spent about US$80 billion on food imports and that figure is rising at a rate of about six percent per annum. This is not beneficial for the continent. Heavy reliance on imports comes with a huge risk and price. Covid-19 restrictions have affected the global production of food and in the past 6 months, the price of staple grains has been going due to the shocks on the market. Most African countries are having to fork more money to import food.
This is happening despite the fact that the continent has vast tracts of unused arable land. The population is growing due to the rapid urbanisation of the continent. There are so many mouths to feed and Africa needs to explore diverse strategies and options to grow enough food for its people.
Modern processing equipment for grains such as sorghum, millet, maize, rice and other key crops can boost food production on the continent.
Africa holds a rich and diverse stock of indigenous vegetables. In Zimbabwe, there are indigenous vegetables such as tsunga, nyevhe, mutsine, derere rebupwe, regusha, rename and renyunje and indigenous crop varieties like sorghum, pearl and finger millets, cowpeas, taro, madhumbe and bambara nuts. These are now seen as neglected and under-utilised crop species (NUS) which farmers and public health experts argue are important in improving the nutrition of people, particularly now when there is a rise in non-communicable diseases such as cancers and diabetes.
Africa has the richest diversity of edible insects than anywhere else in the world. Zimbabwe's diverse range of edible insects include amacimbi/ madora, ishwa, locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, harurwa and numerous others. These edible insects are harvested from the wild and are rich in proteins and other micro-nutrients. Worldwide some 2 billion people consume insects.
More than two million people have been displaced by the conflict to date.
Only about 1.8 million people of the 5.2 million or 91 per cent of the population in Tigray in need of food assistance were reached since late March.
The survival of Kenya’s smallholder farmers, who predominantly rely on rainfed agricultural systems, is at stake as farmers are increasingly battling floods, droughts and heat stress at more frequent, intense and unpredictable rates. It has led to severe crop and livestock losses.
Peris Wanjiku, a smallholder farmer in Othaya, Nyeri County, which lies approximately 152 kilometres from Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, has watched as her fellow farmers have slowly started to sell off their land in the face of increasingly erratic weather patterns. She said that in a good year, a commercial crop farmer makes between $2,000 to $3,000 per acre from crops such as maize, wheat, tea and coffee. At the same time the price of land was quite high. The country’s average smallholder land size is approximately 1.2 acres.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said it had been struggling to feed those in need in Chad.
“With current resources, WFP is able to provide emergency food assistance to some 223,000 out of the 401,000 internally displaced people in Lake Chad,” said Claude Jibidar, local WFP representative. “We still need $67m [£48m] to support all internally displaced people until the end of the year, but funding is not forthcoming and many do not know where their next meal will come from. The humanitarian community is working to keep up with the pace of displacement but is still unable to provide an adequate and timely response.”
According to WFP, 66% of Chadians live in severe poverty. The oil-rich country ranked 187 out of 189 nations in the human development index in 2020.
Black Johnson beach fringe the African nation’s Western Area Peninsula national park, home to endangered species including the duiker antelope and pangolins. The waters are rich in sardines, barracuda and grouper, caught by local fishermen who produce 70% of the fish for the domestic market. The beach is on Whale Bay, so-named because whales and dolphins are seen there.
The government said the beach, one of many along the nation’s 250-mile (400km) coastline, was the “most suitable place” for construction for a harbour for tuna and “other bigger fishing” vessels exporting to international markets, it said. It would include a “waste-management component” to “recycle marine and other wastes into useful products”.
The Institute for Legal Research and Advocacy for Justice (ILRAJ) and Namati Sierra Leone, have written to the government, under the 2013 Right to Access Information Act, demanding to see the environmental and social-impact assessment studies, and the report showing that the beach was, as claimed, the most suitable place for construction “in terms of bathymetry, social safeguards (minimum resettlement costs) and environmental issues”. They are also seeking a copy of the grant agreement between China and Sierra Leone.
Dr Sama Banya, president emeritus of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, says the proposed development would have a “disastrous” impact on tourism and “the very fish industry that it’s supposed to support”
Experts have already noted that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report produced by ReconAfrica and accepted by the Namibian government would not pass serious scrutiny, and the process was not open to public participation. Public consultation is a critical requirement in any EIA process and where this is lacking the process is null and void. If the Minister of Agriculture of Namibia could say that his ministry was not consulted, why should we think that citizens were consulted?
Namibia's Minister in charge of mining, Tom Alweendo, interestingly claimed that there was nothing to worry about oil and gas extraction in the Okavango Basin even though the area is a treasure to the people of Namibia and the world. According to the minister, "It's true the company has an oil and gas exploration license and obtained an environmental clearance certificate to do research drilling. They are not going to do hydraulic fracturing (fracking)—a more invasive method—but a conventional drilling method."
The truth is that exploitation of petroleum resources has routinely been accompanied by extreme ecological harms, and in some cases has also been the reason or pretext for violent conflicts and wars.
Governments keep on allowing oil companies to arm-twist them into accepting patently false promises of revenue booms and of capacity to avoid ecological harms and to trigger development in affected oil field communities. When the first commercially viable oil well spurted in 1956 in Nigeria's Niger Delta, there were wild celebrations of progress arriving in the area that had hitherto suffered hundreds of years of pillage of agricultural natural resources. The first oil exports commenced in 1958 and so far, more than 5,200 wells have been drilled in the region with over 603 being discovery wells. After more than six decades of hydrocarbons exploitation in the Niger Delta, the region now ranks as one of the top ten most polluted places on earth. Water bodies, soils, and the air have all been stoked full of harmful pollutants, and life expectancy now stands at a dismal 41 years.
You may say that Nigeria is an odd case.
How about the ongoing massive pollutions in South Sudan and in Sudan?
The massive area earmarked for drilling by ReconAfrica reminds one of a time when Shell had the entire geographic space known as Nigeria as its concession. Okavango basin is home to over 200,000 Namibians and these Africans mostly rely on the Okavango River which brings supplies of fresh water from the forest regions of Angola all year round. Of course, ReconAfrica will pollute the natural potable water sources of the people and sink water bore holes for them. The Okavango Basin is an area of rich cultural heritage and boasts of several species that make living in this area a unique experience. Okavango is a highly treasured living community in Namibia and Botswana. Why should anyone allow the quest for petrodollars to turn this into an arena of death?
It is drilling for profit that ignores the fact that adding oil from there to the fossil fuel fires already raging in the world will compound the floods, droughts, desertification, population displacements, and other negative impacts of global warming.
Madagascar’s worst drought in 40 years has left more than a million people facing a year of desperate food shortages. According to the UN’s food agency, the number of people suffering from hunger has risen by about 85% on last year because of the accumulative effects of years of drought and people having to sell livestock and belongings to buy food.
According to the Famine Early Warning System Network, most poor families have to rely on foraging for wild foods and leaves that are difficult to eat and can be dangerous for children and pregnant women. Aid agencies have reported people eating termites and mixing clay with tamarind.
The south of the island will produce less than half its usual harvest in the coming months because of low rains, prolonging a hunger crisis already affecting half the Grand Sud area’s population, the UN estimates.
Julie Reversé, emergency coordinator in Madagascar for Médecins Sans Frontières, said: “Without rain, they will not be able to return to the fields and feed their families. And some do not hesitate to say that it is death that awaits them if the situation does not change, and the rain does not fall.”
The UN World Food Programme says acute malnutrition in children under five has almost doubled over the past four months in most districts in the south. Ambovombe has the highest rates.
It said: “Over 1.1 million people are in high acute food insecurity due to insufficient rainfall, rising food prices and sandstorms. The lean season is expected to begin earlier than usual for the current consumption year, as households will deplete their low food stocks due to minimal production.”
Reversé said MSF staff are also noticing other illnesses in the areas they work in, including bilharzia (a waterborne disease caused by parasitic flatworms), diarrhoea, malaria and respiratory infections. They said the illnesses were caused by malnutrition, as well as a lack of clean water.
"My approach to Africa is in some ways like the Japanese approach to Asia, and my approach is not necessarily humanitarian. It is in the long range interest of access to resources and the creation of markets for American goods and services." - United Nations US Ambassador Andrew Young in 1977
Uganda's parliament passed a controversial sexual offences bill which further criminalises same-sex relationships and sex work.
They condemn same-sex couples who perform acts deemed against the “order of nature” to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Monicah Amoding, the MP who proposed the bill, said, “We are not yet ready for those [homosexual] rights. Maybe in future, as of now our society still views relationships, sex and marriage … as between a man and woman.”
Frank Mugisha, director at Sexual Minorities Uganda said: “It is unfortunate that the parliament of Uganda is obsessed with legislating around people’s private lives. Such legislation is very hard to enforce. This will only increase the vulnerability of LGBT persons,” he said. “This is yet another law that will be used by law enforcers to harass, blackmail and arrest LGBT persons. I also do not see the need, since same-sex relations are already criminalised in our penal code.”
Moreover, many South Africans still perceive LGBTQ individuals as inherently immoral and “un-African”, and thus pay little attention to the abuse they endure on a daily basis in the country. It is time for South Africa to respond decisively to this growing problem by adopting preventive measures against homophobic hate speech and hate crimes.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance of South Africa has urged the parliament to pass a proposed hate crimes law. The Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill 2018 aims to outlaw hate crimes and hate speech on grounds of race, gender identity and sexual orientation, among others. The bill’s ratification has been delayed due to concerns that it may inhibit freedom of speech.
In South Africa, for instance, the monthly earnings of gender nonconforming, gay or bisexual men are, on average, 30 percent lower than that of gender conforming heterosexual men. Worse still, LGBTQ people also suffer from higher rates of suicide, rape and violence.
Madagascar is one of Africa’s poorest countries. A lack of basic services – from health and education to employment opportunities – as well as poverty and climate change have exposed many of its 26 million people to natural disasters.
People in southern Madagascar have been reduced to eating wild leaves and locusts to stave off starvation after consecutive drought and sandstorms ruined harvests, leaving hundreds of thousands on the brink of famine, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). The harvest was expected to be nearly 40 percent below the five-year average.