Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Hunger in NW Nigeria

 

  • A malnutrition crisis in northwest Nigeria, described as catastrophic and a critical emergency, is yet to be recognised by the UN
  • The lack of recognition means no funding and few organisations can respond to the crisis in an area where thousands are children are gravely ill
  • The UN must include northwest Nigeria in the humanitarian response plan and the international community must urgently respond to the emergency.

Since the beginning of 2022, MSF teams have witnessed extraordinarily high numbers of children with malnutrition in MSF’s programmes located in five states across northwest Nigeria. Multiple factors have led to a sharp increase in malnutrition in the region over last year.

“With increasing insecurity, climate change and global inflation of food prices in a post-pandemic world, we can only imagine this crisis getting worse,” says Dr Simba Tirima, MSF country representative in Nigeria. 

Since January, MSF teams working in collaboration with the Nigerian health authorities have treated close to 100,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition in 34 outpatient facilities. We have also admitted about 17,000 children requiring hospital care in 10 inpatient centres in Kano, Zamfara, Katsina, Sokoto and Kebbi states.

In Zamfara state, one of the areas most affected by ongoing violence and banditry, we recorded a 64 per cent increase in the numbers of severely malnourished children treated in the outpatient nutritional departments 

In Mashi local government area, in Katsina state, MSF found a 27.4 per cent rate of global acute malnutrition and a 7.1 per cent rate of severe acute malnutrition in June, even though the community has been relatively spared from violence and forced displacement. These rates indicate a critical emergency.

UN must recognise ‘critical emergency’ malnutrition crisis in northwest Nigeria - Nigeria | ReliefWeb


Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Sanctions on Somalia Stops Aid

 Almost eight million people face extreme hunger in Somalia and more than 213,000 are at "imminent risk of dying" after four failed rainy seasons.

One major humanitarian organisation on the ground tells the BBC it cannot deliver food, water or cash to many of those who need it the most. The reason is US counterterror legislation.


Agencies which get money from the US need to ensure their aid does not fall into the hands of "terrorists"  and large parts of southern Somalia are controlled by al-Shabab considered a terrorist group by both the US and UK.


One aid official asserted that negotiating an agreement with al-Shabab - without fear of prosecution in the US - was a must if they were going to reach vast numbers of people on the brink of famine.

Two sets of US federal laws prohibit giving money to al-Shabab:

  • sanctions administered by the Treasury
  • a law criminalising the provision of "material support or resources" to certain "terrorist" groups, enforced by the Justice Department.

Both affect aid agencies because al-Shabab charges fees at its checkpoints and demands larger, formalised payments of "taxes" in return for access to areas it controls. Aid agencies have said paying "taxes" to al-Shabab is effectively banned.  Aid groups point to the potential punishments for breaking the rules - fines rising to $1m and up to 20 years' imprisonment.

Franz Celestin, head of the UN Migration Agency in Somalia ultimately believes higher-level negotiations are needed between the UN and al-Shabab to allow agencies blanket access to militant-run areas without the need to pay "taxes".


Easing of the rules for aid agencies, as well as for services used by emigrants to send money home, would be a "game-changer" for hungry Somalis, says Prof Samatar, geography professor at the University of Minnesota and a lawmaker in Somalia's upper house.


"We need to save people from perishing before they can be liberated from al-Shabab," Prof Samatar says. "Fighting terrorists is a long-term project, but saving the lives of starving people is an immediate project."


Somalia drought: Are US terror laws hampering aid effort? - BBC News

Sunday, September 25, 2022

South Africa's Scapegoats


 Since 1994, more than 900 violent xenophobic incidents have been recorded in South Africa, resulting in at least 630 deaths, displacement of 123,700 people, and looting of about 4,850 shops. 

United Nations experts recently warned that “the country is on the precipice of explosive violence”.

More than half of the country’s population lives in poverty, with close to 12 million people hungry and 2.5 million experiencing hunger daily. The country has a Gini coefficient of 0.65, making it one of the most unequal countries in the world.

Of the more than 10 million people aged 15-24 years, only 2.5 million are active in the labour force, either working or searching for work. Over 75% of this group is out of the labour force.

A meagre 10% of the population owns more than 80% of the wealth. 

A recent research paper we set out to debunk negative immigrant myths.

Myth 1: South Africa is swamped with immigrants

It is widely believed that the country is flooded with immigrants. The 2021 South African Social Attitudes Survey indicates that almost half the sample believed the country had between 17-40 million immigrants. This belief is incorrect. Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) estimates the number to be about 3.95 million, accounting for 6.5% of the country’s population. This is not unique to South Africa.

This figure includes regular and irregular immigrants

Myth 2: Immigrants steal jobs and employment opportunities from locals

While there is anecdotal evidence that migrants are “job stealers”, in general, migrants do not appear to take employment opportunities from locals. In South Africa, “one {regular} immigrant worker generates approximately two jobs for locals.”.

Migrants are also more likely to be self-employed and employ South Africans.

Myth 3: Immigrants contribute to, or are responsible for, high levels of crime

Our report cites 2008 South African Social Attitudes Survey data which showed that 62% of the sample believed that immigrants were responsible for crime in the country. By 2016 it had gone up to 66%. Paradoxically, when asked who commits crime in their communities, most people say it is locals. For example, between 2011 and 2017, the national Victims of Crime surveys showed that 5.7%–6.7% of households stated that crime in their areas was caused by “people from outside South Africa”.

Statistically, there is no relationship between international migration in South Africa and crime. There is no evidence that most foreign-born nationals commit crime, or that they are responsible for most crime in the country.

Myth 4: Most immigrants are in the country illegally

Often, immigrants enter South Africa with a regular status but fall into irregular status due to poor immigration policy management. The Department of Home Affairs is struggling with a visa backlog partly due to departmental dysfunction and corruption. In addition to the department’s backlogs, the cost of applying for visas is exorbitant.

Myth 5: Migrants are flooding public healthcare services

The Limpopo health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, recently came under the spotlight for berating an immigrant woman. The moment was caught on video which then went viral. Her remarks seemed to reinforce the myth that immigrants are overburdening the country’s public healthcare system. At about 6.5% of the population, it is statistically impossible for immigrants to be responsible for the national healthcare system’s failings.

Scapegoating immigrants will not result in significantly improved healthcare service provision, reduced crime or less unemployment.

5 xenophobic myths about immigrants in South Africa debunked by researchers (theconversation.com)

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Cancer Non-Treatment in Zambia

 While the cancer burden is growing in lower- and middle-income economies, there were only 664 oncologists practicing in these countries in 2018. 

There is only one cancer treatment center in all of Zambia, a country of nearly 20 million people. So for many there a cancer diagnosis also means racking up costs in travel to and from the Cancer Diseases Hospital in the capital Lusaka. 

There were only three radiation therapy machines for the whole country, and only one was functioning. 

Setting up a radiotherapy center in a country like Zambia requires an investment of around $6 million (€6 million).

Stuck in a neocolonialist past: Is the migration brain drain an outdated concept? | Business News - The Latest financial, market & economic news | DW | 20.09.2022

Eritrea and Ethiopian Troops attack Tigray

  Eritrea on Tuesday launched a full-scale offensive along the country’s border with northern Ethiopia in what appeared to be an escalation of last month’s renewal of fighting against Tigray forces. 

The Eritreans are fighting alongside Ethiopian federal forces as well as allied militia.

Two aid workers reported intense fighting along the border, including shelling into a camp for displaced persons, the Reuters news agency reported.

 Eritrea accused of starting offensive on Ethiopia's Tigray | AP News

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Starvation as Warfare in Tigray

 In its first report, the Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia said it had found evidence of a wide range of violations in the country by all sides since fighting erupted in the northern Tigray region in November 2020.

The commission, created by the UN Human Rights Council last year and made up of three independent rights experts, said it had "reasonable grounds to believe that, in several instances, these violations amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity".

UN investigators said they believed Ethiopia's government was behind ongoing crimes against humanity in the Tigray region, and warned that the resumption of the conflict there increased the risk of "further atrocity crimes".

The experts highlighted the horrifying situation in Tigray, where the government and its allies have denied around six million people access to basic services, including the internet and banking, for over a year, and where severe restrictions on humanitarian access have left 90 percent of the population in dire need of assistance.

The report said there were "reasonable grounds to believe that the Federal Government and allied regional State governments have committed and continue to commit the crimes against humanity of persecution on ethnic grounds and other inhumane acts." They were "intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health based on their ongoing denial and obstruction of humanitarian assistance to Tigray," the report said.

Commission chair Kaari Betty Murungi described the humanitarian crisis in Tigray as "shocking, both in terms of scale and duration. The widespread denial and obstruction of access to basic services, food, healthcare, and humanitarian assistance is having a devastating impact on the civilian population, and we have reasonable grounds to believe it amounts to a crime against humanity," she said.

 She added, "We also have reasonable grounds to believe that the Federal Government is using starvation as a method of warfare."

"With a resumption of hostilities in northern Ethiopia, there is a very real risk of further civilian suffering and further atrocity crimes," Murungi warned. "The international community should not turn a blind eye, and instead increase efforts to secure a cessation of hostilities and the restoration of humanitarian aid and services to Tigray," she said. "Failure to do so would be catastrophic for the Ethiopian people, and has wider implications for peace and stability in the region."

UN Human Rights Council warns of more 'atrocity crimes' in Ethiopia (france24.com)

Monday, September 19, 2022

Angola's Agricultural Potential

 Angola has an abundance of arable land and a diversity of climatic conditions that are suitable for producing a variety of agricultural products.  Only 10% of the 35 million hectares of arable land in the country are currently being cultivated.

The country was once a major producer and exporter of agricultural products, including coffee, cotton, and bananas. However, exports of these had virtually ceased by the 1990s as a result of the civil war (1975–2002), which led to the collapse of commercial agricultural production.

To become an agricultural powerhouse on the African continent Angola’s agricultural sector will need to be transformed to meet the needs of its people (especially vulnerable farmers and livestock producers), economy, and environment. 

Irrigation, as a pathway to climate adaptation, currently plays a modest role in Angola, but offers great potential for supporting resilience in the agricultural sector against water-related risks.

Fact of the Day

 According to this year’s Africa Wealth Report, South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria which respectively command $651 billion, $307 billion, and $228 billion in private wealth make up $1.18 trillion, translating to 56% of Africa’s $2.1 trillion total wealth, which is different from GDP, a monetary measure of the market value of all the goods and services produced in a specific time period in a country.

 Morocco and Kenya close the top five list in the continent with total private wealth worth $125 billion and $91 billion, respectively.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Tunisia Price Crisis

 Tunisia is yet another country suffering the ravages of the price crisis. According to the state-run National Institute of Statistics, food price inflation is at its highest in three decades, at close to 12% this August. Rationing and empty shelves have become commonplace as the government struggles to pay salaries and food subsidies.  Countless subsidised staple foodstuffs for Tunisians, are in very short supply. 

This year, spending on subsidies is expected to make up about 8% of the country’s GDP – almost twice the share in 2021. In 2010, the currency was at an average of 1.17 dinar to the dollar. Today, the dollar is worth more than 3 dinar. Public debt has increased to the point where it is expected to reach about 83% of the country’s GDP by the end of the year. Unemployment remains stubbornly high. Another factor is state spending on public salaries.

According to a recent statement by the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, around 13,500 Tunisian migrants made their way to Italy between January and September. This marks an increase of 23%, or 2,500 people, year-on-year.  Ramadan Ben Omar, a spokesperson for the NGO, has no doubt who to hold responsible. "The Tunisian presidency bears full responsibility for the increase of immigration to Europe." 

 ‘The country is being suffocated,’ say Tunisians weary of food shortages | Global development | The Guardian

Quote of the Day

  “Africa is on the frontlines of the climate crisis but it’s not on the front pages of the world’s newspapers." - Vanessa Nakate

‘Africa is on the frontlines but not the front pages’: Vanessa Nakate on her climate fight | Climate crisis | The Guardian

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Hungry in South Sudan

 South Sudan has faced multiple hunger crises throughout its 11 years of independence due to a combination of factors including the effects of COVID-19, years of climatic shocks (floods, dry spells, and droughts), and conflict, which is forcing families to flee their homes. This has left the nation ranked among the world’s hungriest countries.

Currently, about 7.7 million people, or 63 percent of the population, face acute food insecurity.  The problem is exacerbated by critical aid funding shortages, in part due to rising global food prices because of the war in Ukraine - shortages that have forced NGOs to cut back food distributions and school meal programmes. 

“Children are the ones suffering the most in this crisis, mainly girls,” explains Mary Nyanagok, a gender and protection officer for NGO Plan International, which provides food assistance for tens of thousands of people in South Sudan. “With more than half of the population facing high risk of acute food insecurity, we need to act fast before it is too late.”

When food is scarce, girls often eat least and eat last, the NGO says. 

Women and girls account for 70 percent of the world’s hungry. And as families and communities come under strain, girls are more likely than boys to be taken out of school, and will be at risk for early and forced marriage, gender-based violence (GBV), sexual exploitation and unwanted pregnancy.

Nyanagok from Plan International says: “We have encountered many situations where girls have less food to eat compared to boys. It is a cultural thing…As a girl, you are the one who cooks and your brothers are supposed to be given more food. In our culture there is a prioritising of boys.”

The food crisis affecting families has resulted in many children having to rely on the school meal programmes - usually provided by NGOs, with main funding from the World Food Programme (WFP) - to have at least a second meal a day. However, due to country-wide funding cuts, NGOs have been forced to limit programmes to a smaller number of schools. Although NGOs are working to secure funding from new sources to reach more families, the cuts mean that many schools cannot offer meals at all. 

‘Girls have less to eat’: Hungry and out of school in South Sudan | Hunger | Al Jazeera

Eritrea Mobilises Reservists

 Eritrea is mobilising military reservists to bolster the army, which has been aiding neighbouring Ethiopia in its fight against rebel forces. Reservists up to the age of 55 have been called up,

Security forces in many areas have been stopping people to check if they are exempt from military conscription. Many in the capital, Asmara, were given notice on Thursday and moved to the border with Ethiopia's Tigray region, within hours. They called on reservists to report to their respective head offices, while also advising that they should carry their own supplies, including blankets and water containers.


Eritrea has compulsory, decades-long military service, which has been widely criticised by human-rights groups, but analysts say the latest mobilisation efforts are linked to the civil war in northern Ethiopia - a conflict that recently flared up again after five months of relative peace. Eritrea has been fighting alongside Ethiopia's central government troops since the civil war broke out in Tigray in late 2020.

Eritrea is isolated diplomatically and is a highly militarised state which controls almost all aspects of people's lives. The repression has led to many young people fleeing the country.


Eritrea's mass mobilisation amid Ethiopia civil war - BBC News

Friday, September 16, 2022

Zambia's Debt Burden

 More than 100 economists and academics have urged international lenders to crisis-stricken Zambia to write off a significant slice of their loans during financial restructuring talks this month. Zambia is seeking up to $8.4bn (£7.3bn) in debt relief from major lenders, including private funds run by the world’s largest investment manager, BlackRock, to help put its public finances back in order.

The anti-poverty charity Debt Justice said that only a major debt write-off could save the Zambian economy from complete collapse. Tim Jones, the charity’s policy head, said the IMF loan gave the country some breathing space, but the $8.4bn of interest payments due over the next couple of years should be “cancelled permanently, not rolled over to the 2030s to fuel another debt crisis next decade”.

Led by the Columbia University economist, Jeffrey Sachs, and Jayati Ghosh, the chair of the Centre for Economic Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the 100-plus global group of economists and experts said in a letter to the creditors’ negotiating committee that Zambia should be given a waiver from debt interest payments due until 2023.

The letter said: “Because of the high interest rates and the fact Zambia’s bonds have been trading at well below face value since 2018, many bondholders stand to make huge profits at the expense of both Zambian citizens and creditor countries if paid at face value. It is therefore imperative that BlackRock and other bondholders agree to fully engage in a large-scale debt restructuring, including significant haircuts, in order to make Zambia’s debt sustainable.”

Funds run by BlackRock are among the largest private owners of Zambia’s bonds, holding $220m. Some are worth almost half the value they were sold at. Eurobonds worth $1bn that mature in 2024 plunged 6.3% in the last week to less than 56% of their face value.  It has been estimated that BlackRock could make 110% profit for itself and its clients from Zambia if debt interest payments are paid in full. Jones said BlackRock had likely bought Zambian bonds at rock-bottom prices when it was clear the country was already in trouble. The country has three main private sector bonds that pay an average 8.1% in interest. 

Of Zambia’s external debt, 46% is owed to private lenders, 22% to China, 8% to other governments and 18% to multilateral institutions. China is among the government lenders to agree a longer debt repayment schedule that private lenders, including banks, have so far resisted, Debt Justice said.

Zambia has cut health and social care spending by a fifth in the past two years to balance its budget, and has seen its debts soar in recent years to fund infrastructure projects, many to help the country supplement drought-affected hydropower plants. Solar energy projects have made the country almost self-sufficient in electricity, but the high cost of borrowing, local corruption and the coronavirus crisis have crippled the country’s finances. Further loans from the IMF have been tied to commitments to end fuel subsidies to households and businesses, pushing the inflation rate above 20% last year before it eased to 9.8% in August

Lenders urged to cancel Zambia debt as country faces economic collapse | Zambia | The Guardian

The Misery Mounts Up

 In Yobe state, Nigeria, an estimated 1.6 million people – nearly 40% of the population – don’t know where their next meal will come from. In Niger, children in the east and south of the country, particularly in Maradi and Zinder – two regions severely devastated by the flooding – are the most affected by hunger.  More than 150,000 people, about half children, have been severely affected by floods in Niger and Nigeria in recent weeks, Save the Children said. The torrential rain is expected to continue until the end of September, which could lead to further loss of homes, crops and livestock.

An estimated 6.3 million children under five were already predicted to suffer from malnutrition across the Sahel this year. With floods damaging crops and other food sources, hunger levels in Niger and Nigeria are likely to worsen.

South Sudan faces “its highest rate of acute hunger since its independence in 2011” from Sudan. He said 7.7 million people, over 60% of the population, are “facing critical or worse levels of food insecurity.” Without a political solution to escalating violence and substantial spending on aid programs, “many people in South Sudan will die,” he warned. 

In northern Ethiopia’s Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions, more than 13 million people need life-saving food, Griffiths said. He pointed to a survey in Tigray in June that found 89% of people food insecure, “more than half of them severely so.” Beasley said a truce in March enabled WFP and its partners to reach almost 5 million people in the Tigray area, but resumed fighting in recent weeks “threatens to push many hungry, exhausted families over the edge.”

In northeast Nigeria, the U.N. projects that 4.1 million people are facing high levels of food insecurity, including 588,000 who faced emergency levels between June and August.

Somalia is experiencing its worst drought on record, and 1 million people have been forced to flee, while in Kenya 2.5 million livestock have died and 2.4 million people are going hungry.

Cereal production in Niger has fallen by 40% owing to extreme weather, leaving 2.6 million people in a state of acute hunger, while the desertification of crop and pasture land in Burkina Faso has resulted in more than 3.4 million people in extreme hunger.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

No Schooling in Sudan

 6.9 million girls and boys, one in three school-aged children, do not go to school in Sudan. 

A further 12 million will have their school years heavily interrupted by a lack of sufficient teachers and infrastructure.

“No country can afford to have one-third of its school-age children with no basic literacy, numeracy, or digital skills. Education is not just a right – it’s also a lifeline,” says Mandeep O’Brien - UNICEF Representative in Sudan.

Joint Statement: Urgent action needed as 6.9 million children are out-of-school and 12 million face learning disruptions - Sudan | ReliefWeb

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

No Monkeypox Vaccine For Africans

 Monkeypox has sickened people in parts of West and Central Africa since the 1970s, but it wasn't until the disease triggered unusual outbreaks in Europe and North America that public health officials even thought to use vaccines. As rich countries rushed to buy nearly all the world's supply of the most advanced shot against monkeypox, the World Health Organization said in June that it would create a vaccine-sharing mechanism to help needy countries get doses.

So far, that hasn’t happened.

In July, the U.N. health agency designated monkeypox as a global emergency and appealed to the world to support African countries so that the catastrophic vaccine inequity that plagued the outbreak of COVID-19 wouldn't be repeated. But the global spike of attention has had little impact on the continent. No rich countries have shared vaccines or treatments with Africa, and some experts fear interest may soon evaporate.

“Nothing has changed for us here, the focus is all on monkeypox in the West,” said Placide Mbala, a virologist who directs the global health research department at Congo’s Institute of Biomedical Research. “The countries in Africa where monkeypox is endemic are still in the same situation we have always been, with weak resources for surveillance, diagnostics and even the care of patients,” 

“Africa is still not benefiting from either monkeypox vaccines or the antiviral treatments,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa director, adding that only small amounts have been available for research purposes. 

Since 2000, Africa has reported about 1,000 to 2,000 suspected monkeypox cases every year. So far this year, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have identified about 3,000 suspected infections, including more than 100 deaths. Rich countries have stretched their vaccine supplies by using a fifth of the regular dose, but none have expressed interest in helping Africa. WHO's regional office for the Americas recently announced it had struck a deal to obtain 100,000 monkeypox doses that will start being delivered to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean within weeks. But no similar agreements have been reached for Africa.

Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, head of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, said the lack of help for Africa was reminiscent of the inequity seen during COVID-19.

“Everybody looked after their (own) problem and left everybody else,” he said. Adetifa lamented that monkeypox outbreaks in Africa never got the international attention that might have prevented the virus from spreading globally.

“I would very much like to have vaccines to offer to my patients or anything that could just reduce their stay in the hospital,” said Dr. Dimie Ogoina, a professor of medicine at Nigeria’s Delta University and a member of WHO’s monkeypox emergency committee. Since WHO declared monkeypox a global emergency, Nigeria has seen the disease continue to spread, with few significant interventions. “We still do not have the funds to do all the studies that we need,” Ogoina said.

Even if rich countries start sharing monkeypox tools with Africa soon, they shouldn't be applauded, other experts said.

“It should not be the case that countries only decide to share leftover vaccines when the epidemic is declining in their countries,” said Piero Olliaro, a professor of infectious diseases of poverty at Oxford University. “It is exactly the same scenario as COVID and it is still completely unethical." Olliaro, who recently returned to the U.K. from a trip to Central African Republic to work on monkeypox, said WHO's emergency declaration appeared to offer “no tangible benefits in Africa.”

As Monkeypox Drops in the West, Still No Vaccines for Africa (usnews.com)


South Africans Suffer

 South Africa is the most unequal society on the planet.

 46 percent of workers have no jobs, 30.3 million of the country’s 59 million population live in poverty and 13.8 million face food scarcity.

Inflation is at its highest rate since the rise in global food prices in 2008-09. Consumer prices rose by 7.8 percent in July, and basic foods have gone up by 10 percent in the last year, with a loaf of white bread now $1.05 compared with $0.91 a year ago and the price of fuel increasing by 56.2 percent from last year.

Last week, the South African rand fell a further 5 percent against the US dollar.

The French Colonialism

John P. Ruehl - France’s Influence in Africa Faces Strains From Locals and Foreign Competitors - Brave New Europe

An analysis of France's past, present and future in Africa.



Sexualty Equality

 In Africa, both a tightening and a relaxing of relevant laws are happening side by side.

 Between 2019 and 2021, Gabon and Botswana legalized homosexuality.

Sudan and Uganda made it punishable by life in prison.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Africa Needs A Revolution

 256 million reportedly suffering from severe food insecurity on the African continent. the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) indicate that Africa is a net food-importing region of commodities such as cereals, meat, dairy products, fats, oils, and sugar, importing about $80 billion worth of agricultural and food products annually.

The agricultural revolution on the continent needs to start from the bottom up, from the inside out, starting with small-scale farmers.

“The Green Revolution is an imported, top-down approach reliant on imported fertilizers and other inputs,” Dr Timothy Wise, a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Development and Environment Institute of the US-based Tufts University, told IPS.

Wise adds that the bias in public policies toward the private sector works against small-scale farmers, even though they, too, are technically part of the private sector.

“Markets [in Africa] can benefit farmers, and farmers need fair markets, but they cannot be dominated by large corporations and middlemen,” he says.

There is an urgent necessity to increase productivity and to move up the value chain into processed foods. Africa cannot feed itself while getting only a quarter of its potential yields and without processing what it grows, the African Development Bank (AfDB) bank says.

Africa’s green revolution’s main purpose is to improve the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers across the continent.

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), an organization that brings together small-scale farmers from across Africa advocating for food sovereignty, explained, Africa is on the verge of losing its diverse crop varieties due to restrictive and draconian laws that prohibit the centuries-old free exchange of seeds between farmers, With the importation of seeds in the name of high-yielding and climate-smart varieties becoming common policy for most countries; activists point out that their performance is intricately and heavily dependent on the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. AFSA said the adoption of these solutions in most African countries has proved ineffective because they end up creating dependency among farmers, forcing them to lose their own farmer varieties, and forcing them only to plant monocultures, all of which contribute to food insecurity.

 Leonida Odongo, an activist from Kenya Haki Nawiri Africa, observed that thousands of hectares of land in Africa are owned or leased to plantations that grow what is not eaten on the continent.

“If Green Revolution is working for Africa, why are the rates of hunger soaring, and if climate-smart technologies are working, why does Africa continue to be ravaged by droughts?” she asked.

Africa’s small-scale farmers need is ecological, not based on the adoption of costly inputs. This is because subsidizing purchases of expensive inputs, which are two to three times more expensive, and which are derived from fossil fuels, as is the current case in most African countries, is bound to fail.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame agreed; he noted that Africa should not be struggling with food insecurity, given “our” natural endowments.

“By transforming food systems [in Africa], we can feed ourselves, and even feed others,” Kagame said.

Uncertainty Over Revolution to Build Africa’s Food Systems | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)

Monday, September 12, 2022

AFRICOM's Failure

 In 2007, in a post-9/11 political and psychological landscape, President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense, launched U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), which oversees all Department of Defense military operations on the continent in order to “monitor and disrupt violent extremist organizations and protect U.S. interests” because of the continent’s growing strategic importance. Initially based in Stuttgart, Germany, AFRICOM was formed without the input or support of any African leaders, many of whom decried its formation and described it as an attempt to establish more U.S. military bases on the continent. In response, U.S. officials said AFRICOM was meant to provide humanitarian assistance and support peace and stability because “a safe, stable, and prosperous Africa is an enduring American interest.” But critics pointed out that Iraq and Afghanistan, twin targets of the war on terror, serve as clear examples of the disastrous consequences of the U.S.’s militarized “humanitarian” efforts.

AFRICOM has not created the “safety and stability” invoked by U.S. leaders, but it has expanded the U.S. military’s footprint. During the Obama administration, AFRICOM quickly expanded its reach and influence on the continent through military-to-military trainings, joint counterterrorism operations, foreign aid, and other surreptitious methods that created dependence on AFRICOM for the defense needs of African states. Despite the fact that the U.S. is not at war with any African country, there are 46 U.S. military bases and outposts spanning the continent, with the greatest concentration in the Horn of Africa. Camp Lemonnier, the U.S. base in Djibouti, a small East African nation with a poverty rate of 79 percent, serves as the current home to AFRICOM in the Horn. In 2014 the U.S. government secured a 20-year lease for $63,000,000 a year.

AFRICOM's presence has not led to a decrease in terrorist activity but has only caused increased instability in the region and enabled such violence to flourish. One thing AFRICOM has dramatically succeeded at is boosting corporate profits associated with the lucrative counterterrorism industry that the war on terror has made possible.

African People Bear the Weight of US’s Deadly “War on Terror” on the Continent (truthout.org)


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Why Mourn?

 While millions the world over mourn Queen Elizabeth II's death, others—especially in nations formerly colonized by the British Empire—voiced reminders of the "horrendous cruelties" perpetrated against them during her reign.

We do not mourn the death of Elizabeth, because to us her death is a reminder of a very tragic period in this country and Africa's history," declared Julius Malema, head of the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters party in South Africa. "Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952, reigning for 70 years as a head of an institution built up, sustained, and living off a brutal legacy of dehumanization of millions of people across the world," he continued.

Malema noted,  "During her 70-year reign as queen, she never once acknowledged the atrocities that her family inflicted on native people that Britain invaded across the world. She willingly benefited from the wealth that was attained from the exploitation and murder of millions of people across the world."

He added, "The British royal family stands on the shoulders of millions of slaves who were shipped away from the continent to serve the interests of racist white capital accumulation, at the center of which lies the British royal family."

Larry Madowo, a CNN International correspondent from Kenya, said that "the fairytale is that Queen Elizabeth went up the treetops here in Kenya a princess and came down a queen because it's when she was here in Kenya that she learned that her dad had died and she was to be the queen."

"But that also was the start of the eight years after that, that the... British colonial government cracked down brutally on the Mau Mau rebellion against the colonial administration," he continued. "They herded more than a million people into concentration camps, where they were tortured and dehumanized."

In addition to rampant torture—including the systemic castration of suspected rebels and sympathizers, often with pliers—British forces and their local allies massacred unarmed civilians, disappeared their children, sadistically raped women, and clubbed prisoners to death.

"And so," added Madowo, "across the African continent, there have been people who are saying, 'I will not mourn for Queen Elizabeth, because my ancestors suffered great atrocities under her people that she never fully acknowledged that."

Indeed, instead of apologizing for its crimes and compensating its victims, the British government launched Operation Legacy, a massive effort to erase evidence of colonial crimes during the period of rapid decolonization in the 1950s-'70s.

From here

After Queen's Death, Victims of British Imperialism Share Why 'We Will Not Mourn' (commondreams.org)