Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Uganda Refugee Under-funding

 Uganda was already hosting over 1.5 million refugees at the start of 2022, making it one of the most important refugee host countries in the world and the largest on the African continent. 

This year, 130,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan have fled continuing violence to find safety Uganda, putting further pressure on an overstretched humanitarian response.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is calling for urgent support and responsibility-sharing from the international community to preserve and reinforce Uganda’s model refugee policy of social inclusion and integration, amid surging needs, drastic funding cuts to global humanitarian programmes.

Funding shortfalls have forced UNHCR to introduce cuts to its lifesaving aid to refugees and forcibly displaced people in a number of operations across the world. Uganda is one of UNHCR’s most underfunded operations, with just 46 per cent of US$ 343.4 million received for 2022.

UNHCR does not even have sufficient funds to fully equip health centres to provide basic services.

Schools are trying to function beyond their capacity. 

As poverty has risen, so too have the risks of gender-based violence, such as child marriage and intimate partner abuse.

Uganda’s refugee response confronted by dire funding gap - Uganda | ReliefWeb

Zambezi Hydro Failing

 The Zambezi River Authority, which runs the Kariba Dam jointly owned by Zimbabwe and neighboring Zambia, said that water levels are at a record low and electricity generation must stop.

The Kariba South Hydro Power Station provides Zimbabwe with about 70% of its electricity and has been producing significantly less than its capacity of 1,050 megawatts in recent years due to receding water levels caused by droughts. 

The dam “no longer has any usable water to continue undertaking power generation operations,” said the authority’s chief executive officer, Munyaradzi Munodawafa.

The authority “is left with no choice” except to “wholly suspend” power generation activities pending a review in January when water levels are expected to have improved, said Munodawafa.

Water levels in Zimbabwe's biggest dam too low for power | AP News

Monday, November 28, 2022

The World Needs Africans

 In most industrial countries, including Japan, South Korea and all EU member states, the fertility rate is currently not reaching the replacement level, which is about 2.1 births per woman of childbearing age. That means that not enough babies are being born to replace deaths and consequently, in future, the local workforce will not be large enough to take up the jobs of those retiring. Societies in high-income countries are projected to get older over the next three to four decades. By 2050, one-in-four people living in Europe and North America will be aged 65 or over, but more than half of Africans will be under the age of 25.

Africa, on the other hand, seems to be going in the opposite direction. The sub-Saharan region has the world's highest average fertility rate at 4.6, with Niger topping the list at 6.8 children per woman, followed by Somalia at 6. Congo, Mali and Chad each have fertility rates of over 5. 

According to UN projections, the number of Africans will double by 2050 and make up a quarter of the world's population.

"When compared to its past, early 20th century, for example, Africa's population growth is not accelerating, it is actually slowing down, just like the rest of the world," Hippolyte Fofack, chief economist at the African Export-Import Bank, told DW. "What we see is mainly a fast decline in developed nations' population growth rate, with child mortality rates plummeting in Africa." 

African societies are not only growing fast, they are also much younger than almost any other region. While the median age in Europe is 42.5, in Africa the figure stands as low as 18.

Does Africa have enough capacity for a population surge?

According to Hippolyte Fofack, the continent has enough land and resources to host a population that is much larger. Africa, one of the world's largest continents, has plenty of habitable land for its booming population. According to the UN, the continent is home to about 30% of the world's mineral reserves, 12% of the world's oil and 8% of the natural gas reserves. Some  60% of the world’s arable lands are located in AfricaThe world's economy is already dependent on Africa, mainly for its abundant resources, but the continent's share of global trade remains low at just 3%.

At the moment, population density is between 45 to 47 people per square kilometer in Africa, as opposed to 117 for Europe and about 150 for Asia. 

"Africa needs this demographic enlargement for its development," Blessing Mberu, senior researcher at the Kenya-based African Population and Health Research Center, explained. "Factories, highways, technologies and infrastructures are not going to emerge all by themselves! Someone needs to build them, manage them and use them." 

He added, "The potential for a larger population is there. But the challenge is to provide education and jobs for them."

 Mberu continued, "Right now, we are seeing an uneven development across the African nations," he continued. "In some places, investments in education, health care and the economy have been concentrated in urban areas. This is why there is an influx of migration from rural areas to cities, creating huge slums, which are becoming a permanent feature of those cities." 

Even if local governments fail to provide enough jobs for all, a proportion of the continent's population will have the option to emigrate elsewhere, to countries with a drastic need for a younger workforce, Fofack said. "This process has already started for decades, and some countries outside Africa have avoided a demographic downturn thanks to migrants," he added.

Africa's population boom may boost economy, global relevance – DW – 11/27/2022

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Fast Fashion Waste

 Plastic waste are not the only contributors to the worrying global waste problem. Clothes are too. Earth.org reports that 92 million tonnes of textiles waste are produced globally, every year. This implies that a truck full of twaddle clothing ends up on landfill sites every day. Certainly, with the trend at which fast fashion continues, textile waste is expected to soar by 50 per cent by 2030. Earth.org states that just 12 per cent of materials used in clothing are recycled because of inadequate technologies to recycle them. 

Clothing garments were once worn for decades because of their durability quality. However, arrival of fashion and the availability of low-cost clothes have increased clothing waste.  The fashion industry is arguably one of the largest producers of waste and contributes to the climate change crisis, due to the large consumption of water during production.

African countries where most of these used clothes are exported to and sold cheaply are facing huge environmental waste crisis. Fast fashion has brought about mountains of trash being lodged in most developing countries. It adds that because less than one per cent of used clothing gets recycled into new clothing, castoffs from Europe and America are dumped in most African countries.

The Observatory of Economic Complexity, pegged Nigeria as one of the top five importers of used clothing with an annual fee of $124m.

Most worn clothes from Europe and America and donated to charities are sold at cheap prices in most African countries, consequently, making Africa a dumping ground for used clothes and contributing significantly to the mountain of textile waste.

To this, the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database in 2015 stated that global trade in used clothes witnessed steady growth over the last decade and a half, with global export reaching $4.8bn in 2015. East Africa was reported to have imported $151m worth of used clothes and shoes from Europe and the United States. Oxfam, stated that at least 70 per cent of donated used clothes end up in Africa. United States of America, the United Kingdom and Germany as the top three exporters of used clothes.

In 2019, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda decided to raise taxes on second-hand clothes imports as well as offer incentives to their local textile manufacturers. Sadly, only a few countries have implemented the ban, further making Africa saturated with heaps of clothes waste with risk of climate crisis. 

At Nigeria's Bayero University, Kano, Faisal Abubakar, agreed that Africa had become a dump site for used clothes that gave the West an easy way to get rid of their cloth waste problem. He added that most of the imported used clothes were damaged and usually ended up in the landfill.

Abubakar said, “What happens in the West is that when you have something that you don’t use, you are encouraged to donate it to a charity and what the charity does is that they sell off at cheap prices to fund their activities. In doing so, the goods are being bought by traders in Africa at very low prices and when they buy them, they do not know the quality of what they are buying because the clothes are in bundles. Some of the clothes are damaged. It is a very uncertain type of business and it gives the Whites an easy way of getting rid of their waste problem.”

He added, “One other negative thing is that when you are importing such cheap second-hand textiles, it puts local producers under pressure because they will not be able to cope or compete with such goods. It also makes it difficult for our local brands to make clothes that are cheap and can compete with them."

Second-hand clothes from West pose environmental challenges in Africa – Experts (punchng.com)

More Food Needed for Tigray

 Aid deliveries into Tigray are “not matching the needs”, the United Nations food agency has said.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners “urgently need access to all parts of the region to deliver food and nutrition assistance to 2.3 million vulnerable people.” 

Food aid into Ethiopia’s Tigray ‘not matching needs’: UN | Food News | Al Jazeera

Friday, November 25, 2022

South Sudan - Starvation Strategy

 Starvation is being used as a weapon of war by South Sudan government forces against their own citizens, an investigation by law firm Global Rights Compliance.

Deliberate starvation tactics used by government forces and allied militia, and by opposition forces, are driving civilians out of their homes, exacerbating Africa’s largest refugee crisis. All parties to the conflict have committed widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, said the report 

Starvation tactics include the large-scale and systematic burning and razing of homes and property; destruction of food crops and markets; and targeted attacks on humanitarian aid workers. The devastation has forced hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee, mainly to refugee camps in northern Uganda.

Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation at Tufts University and an expert on the Horn of Africa, said starvation crimes perpetrated by South Sudanese government forces are well documented. 

Yasmin Sooka, chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, said: “The people we meet tell us repeatedly that the only way the killings, rape and sexual violence, looting and pillage will stop is if those responsible for the violations are held criminally accountable. Impunity for these serious violations since 2013 has got us to this desperate point, where most South Sudanese are unable to feed themselves and rely mainly on humanitarian assistance.”

“We are really disturbed by soldiers, the very people who should protect civilians,” one woman told researchers. “We have seen an increase of cases of looting, even when people are raped, they are also robbed of money and food. We understand the soldiers are looting because they have not been paid for months. What does the government expect if they give their unpaid servants guns?”

Starvation being used as a weapon of war in South Sudan, report reveals | Global development | The Guardian

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Africa’s Predicable Crises.

 The current crisis in Africa has been unfolding for years. It is neither new nor a surprise. This is not a failure of the warning signs. This is a failure of capitalism,  a failure to provide the necessary resources.

The number of people facing extreme hunger in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia has more than doubled since last year, from 10 million to over 23 million. Nearly half a million are already facing famine conditions. Nearly half of the livestock essential for livelihoods in East Africa has perished. One person on average is likely to die every 48 seconds from acute hunger.  5.7 million children are expected to be acutely malnourished in 2022.

East African countries have seen impressive economic growth. However, the region continues to have high levels of inequality. Wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a tiny few, while a majority are struggling to meet their most basic needs, such as education and healthcare. The richest 10% of East Africans receive 47% of the national income. The poorest 50% of citizens earn 13.3%. In Rwanda, the richest 1% of the population earns 20% of the national income, nearly double the share held by the bottom 50%. 

In the economic fallout from the pandemic. It is estimated that the region lost $15,7 billion in GDP in 2020 and the equivalent of 10 million full-time jobs.

In South Sudan, only 1% of the poorest children finish secondary school, and just 31% of citizens have access to healthcare. East African governments are planning to slash their public spending on pro-poor services like healthcare, education, agriculture and social protection in the coming years. From 2022 to 2026, nine East African nations intend to reduce annual public spending by $4.7, compared with 2021.

“With these spending cuts, the region risks spiralling into a never-ending cycle of inadequate health services, poor education facilities, economic decline with women and youth caught up at the centre of the fallout, unable to maximize and indeed shape the future that the continent has potential for” explained Parvin Ngala, a regional director for Oxfam.

The future is equal | Oxfam International



Of the 24 countries classified as hunger hotspots by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme in 2022, 16 are in Africa. The continent accounts for 62 percent of the total number of food insecure in hotspot countries.

Overall, 80 percent or an estimated 137 million people in conflict-affected countries, including the Horn of Africa, northern Nigeria, eastern DRC and the Sahal, are food insecure.

Three countries,  DRC, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, account for more than 56 percent of the food insecurity in Africa.

Global upheavals, the war in Ukraine, armed conflicts, extreme weather events, international inflation increasing prices, particularly of agricultural inputs plus low intra-continental trade are fuelling food insecurity across Africa.

"...Climate change will contribute to a decline in African agricultural yields, which are already very low, by 5 to 17 percent by 2050,” says Hafez Ghanem, former regional Vice President of the World Bank Group.

External factors – the disruption of food systems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent reduced purchasing power, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which led to an increase in world food, fuel and fertiliser prices – coupled with drastic weather changes, and continuation or intensification of conflict and insecurity have compromised an already fragile food chain.

As a net food and fuel importer, FAO research shows Ethiopia is particularly affected by high international prices. Food price inflation averaged 40 percent during the first half of 2022.

The onset of floods in 27 Nigerian states earlier in February 2022 has damaged 450,000 hectares of farmland, seriously compromising the 2022 harvest. 

Floods have similarly disrupted agriculture in South Sudan.

The Sahel – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger – has seen a 50 percent increase in food insecurity compared to 2021. A reflection, Ghanem says, “of the sharp increase in political instability and conflict in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and rising world prices for food, fuel, and fertilisers."

Ghanem urges a pan-African initiatives to boost food production. Africa is ripe with opportunities for inter-African cooperation.

 “Africa’s agriculture has the lowest yields in the world. Africa has the least percentage of irrigated land and uses the least fertiliser per hectare. The continent also invests the least in research and development.”

 He explains, “Africa imports about 60 percent of all fertiliser use, making it very expensive for our farmers, leading to low fertiliser usage. We already have big fertiliser-producing companies, including Dangote in Nigeria and OCP in Morocco. The continent can work with such African fertiliser producers to establish more fertiliser factories on the continent.”

Ghanem promotes multi-country regional investments in infrastructure, which would, in turn, enhance agricultural productivity and resilience to climate change. Further, he sees such an approach as an opportunity to create an African council to coordinate and encourage agricultural research and development. Equally important, a pan-African approach could support a facility to ensure vulnerable African countries can finance food imports in times of crisis.

Buoyed by its vast natural resources and human capital, Ghanem says a united vision for Africa will help develop Africa’s bread baskets and deliver a future with food security for all.

 For more on this subject, see Ghanem’s paper here.

Pan-African Approach Needed to Tackle Food Insecurity | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Woes Of Africa

 News from Africa is almost always grim. Sub-Saharan Africa currently serves as the epicenter of global extreme poverty. 

A recent ‘Save the Children’ report sums up Africa’s woes in alarming numbers: 150 million children in East and Southern Africa are facing the double threat of grinding poverty and the disastrous impact of climate change. The greatest harm affects the children population in South Sudan, with 87 percent, followed by Mozambique (80 percent), then Madagascar (73 percent).

Another report by the World Bank indicates that the international community’s hope to end extreme poverty by 2030 will not be met. By 2030, around 574 million people, estimated at 7 percent of the world’s total population, will continue to live in extreme poverty, relying on about two dollars a day. 

The rate of extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa is about 35 percent, representing 60 percent of all extreme poverty anywhere in the world.  COVID-19 pandemic,  the Russia-Ukraine war and growing global inflation and the slow growth of large economies in Asia are described as the culprits. But less is said on how much of Africa’s poverty is linked to the ongoing exploitation of the continent by its former – (and current) – colonial masters.

France continues to effectively control the currencies, thus economies of 14 different African countries – mostly in West Africa.

Niger’s former president Mahamadou Issoufou said,  “It’s shocking for Africans to see the billions that have rained down on Ukraine while attention has been diverted from the situation in the Sahel.”

Africa’s existing wealth alone can fuel its global growth for many years to come if it was not for the deep pockets of the West’s wealthy classes, intent upon extracting Africa's riches by plundering and pillaging its resources.

Taken from here

Liberating Africa from Poverty Requires Changing Power Relations with the West | Dissident Voice

Monday, November 21, 2022

Who cares about the Congo?

 From an essay by Vijay Prashad on the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Wars in the DRC’s eastern provinces have been ongoing since the early 1990s. A 2010 UN report describes between March 1993 and June 2003, “deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people”. One estimate, based on studies conducted in 2000 and 2004, suggests that more than 3 million people have died in the conflict since 1998.

M23 rebels have expanded their attacks in the DRC. In retaliation, the DRC expelled Rwandan Ambassador Vincent Karega. The M23 with the assistance of Rwanda troops captured Kiwanja and Rutshuru, two towns in the DRC’s North Kivu province.

In August, a leaked report from the United Nations showed that Rwanda had backed the M23. It was difficult for Rwanda to deny the details in the report, particularly after U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood told the UN Security Council that his government calls “on state actors to stop their support for these groups, including the Rwandan Defense Forces’ assistance to M23.” 

Former DRC presidential candidate Martin Fayulu said recently that he is distressed by the lack of international attention to this conflict.

 “Ukraine is having a problem,” he said, and the widespread media coverage has brought the world’s attention to that. “We are having a problem in Congo, but nobody is condemning Rwanda. Why?” 

Perhaps, it has to do with the cobalt, copper, lithium, and the trees of the rainforest, precious resources that continue to be exploited by the rest of the world despite the carnage. 

Taken from here

A war we can no longer ignore: Why the waters are running red in Africa’s Great Lakes region - Alternet.org

Friday, November 18, 2022

Africa Needs Agro-Ecology

 Sub-Saharan Africa produces less food per person today than it did three decades ago.

While climate-induced shocks to the food system used to occur once every ten years on average in Africa, experts show that they are now happening every 2.5 years.

Estimates show by 2050, warming of just 1.2 to 1.9℃, well within the range of current IPCC projections, is likely to increase the number of malnourished in Africa by 25 to 95 percent–25 percent in central Africa, 50 percent in east Africa, 85 percent in southern Africa and 95 percent in west Africa.

Million Belay, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty coordinator in Africa (AFSA) pointed out that the industrial food system is a major culprit driving climate change but is still not being taken seriously by climate talks.

“Real solutions like diverse, resilient agroecological farming are crucial for farmers [in Africa] to adapt to climate chaos, but they are being sidelined and starved of climate finance.”

The industrial food systems such as monocultures, high-fertilizer and chemical use are described by experts as an enormous driver of climate change in Africa, while small-scale, agroecological farming and indigenous systems comparatively have significantly less GHG emissions and can even work to sequester carbon in healthy ecosystems.

As global warming patterns continue to shift and natural resources dwindle, agroecology is considered by climate experts as the best path forward for feeding the continent.  Researchers from Biovision, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) and the United Kingdom-based Institute of Development Studies shows that such sustainable and regenerative farming techniques have either been neglected, ignored, or disregarded by major donors.

One of the major findings is that most governments, especially in Sub-Saharan still favour “green revolution” approaches, believing that chemical-intensive, large-scale industrial agriculture is the only way to produce sufficient food. “Green revolution solutions have failed,” said Belay.

Africa’s Agri-food Systems Losses Ignored in Global Climate Negotiations | Inter Press Service (ipsnews.net)

Nigeria's Poverty Figures

 The Nigerian authorities say that 133 million people in the country are living in poverty - that is more than six out of every 10 Nigerians.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has come up with the figure by looking at what is known as multidimensional poverty - where how much money someone has is considered alongside their access to education and basic infrastructure.

It was the first time a Nigerian government institution had used this method to measure poverty levels.

The NBS said among the key problems were lack of access to health and education as well as a lack of clean energy for cooking.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Forgotten Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic

 Western Sahara or the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic is recognized by the United Nations as the last “non-self-governing territory” in Africa.  80 percent of Western Sahara is controlled by Morocco. A 2,700 kilometers, the sand berm reinforced with ditches and barbed wire fences, artillery and tanks, guarded outposts, and millions of land mines partitions Western Sahara.

To the south and the north, Mauritania and Morocco had set their sights on Western Sahara’s resources.

 In November 1975, despite a judgment from the International Court of Justice that neither Mauritania nor Morocco had territorial sovereignty over the land, Morocco sent 25,000 troops and 350,000 settlers to Western Sahara.

 On November 14, Spain signed the tripartite Madrid Accords with Morocco and Mauritania, effectively ceding Western Sahara to its invaders.

The Polisario Front fought on two fronts. Supported by Algeria, it defeated the Mauritanians in 1978. But Morocco retained its control over Western Sahara.

Western Sahara is a rich land. It has some 72 percent of the world’s phosphate deposits, which are used to manufacture fertilizers. By the end of November 2021, Morocco reported revenues of $6.45 billion from phosphates, an amount that increases each year. 

Western Sahara’s fishing grounds accounted for 77.65 percent of Moroccan catches in 2018, representing the majority of its income from fishing that year. The European Union, too, operates a fleet in these waters.

morocco and its backers have their sights on two other resources abundant in the territory: wind and sunlight. 

In 2018, the UK firm Windhoist built the 200 MW Aftissat wind farm in Western Sahara.

 Vigeo Eiris, a UK-French company certified Moroccan energy investments on Sahrawi land.

 General Electric signed a contract to build a 200 MW wind farm in Western Sahara. 

 Morocco uses the infrastructure in reporting toward its climate targets. Western Sahara Resource Watch estimates that the wind power plants in the territory could account for 47.2 percent of Morocco’s wind capacity and up to 32.64 percent of its solar capacity by 2030.

Africa’s Forgotten Colony In The Sahara| Countercurrents

Floods 80 times more likely

 The heavy rain behind recent devastating flooding in Nigeria, Niger and Chad was made about 80 times more likely by the climate crisis. 

The study, by an international team of climate scientists as part of the World Weather Attribution (WWA) group, said such rain would have been extremely rare without human-caused heating.

The floods that struck between June and November were among the deadliest on record in the region. Hundreds of people were killed, 1.5 million were displaced and more than 500,000 hectares of farmland were damaged.

The WWA study said the reason the floods were so disastrous was that people in the region were already very vulnerable to extreme weather, as a result of poverty, violent conflicts and political instability. 

“The analysis found a very clear fingerprint of anthropogenic climate change,” said Prof Maarten van Aalst, the director of the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, who is at Cop27. “The floods resulted in massive suffering and damages, especially in the context of high human vulnerability." He added, “But what is very clear from the science is that this is a real and present problem and that it’s particularly the poorest countries that are getting hit very hard, so it’s clear that solutions are needed.”

Devastating floods in Nigeria were 80 times more likely because of climate crisis | Climate crisis | The Guardian

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

What is Needed is a Solar Power Revolution


new Carbon Tracker report—titled African Sun: Why Solar Not Gas Offers Continent the Best Economic Opportunity in the Transition—argues that a rejection of dirty fossil fuels in favor of renewables means that "electricity will be the backbone of Africa's economic future, with solar leading the way."

Africa would be wise to set their sights on massive investments in renewable solar energy and avoid the pitfalls of the so-called "Dash for Gas" paradigm that would staddle economies with stranded assets, waste billions in costly fossil fuel infrastructure, and increase financial instability over the coming years.

Some government leaders in Africa have backed the push by oil and gas giants to accelerate exploration and development of coal, oil, and gas resources. There is no reason for the Global South to follow a dirty energy path.

The report warns as richer nations, especially in Europe, continue to move away from burning oil and gas that "demand for Africa's crude oil and natural gas will dwindle as the world gets deeper" into the green energy transition. Decreased demand in turn will lead to lower oil and gas prices that will make it harder for costly pipelines and other infrastructure projects to produce the promised returns on investment—all this at a time when the cost of renewables continues to fall and the promise of wind and solar are being realized worldwide.

"The energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables is inevitable and irreversible," said Kofi Mbuk, lead author of the report, in a statement. "The growth in energy demand globally and regionally is now being met by renewables and squeezing out fossil fuel demand. In Africa—and across emerging economies—solar and wind offer the best route for economic development." He went on to say, "By the end of this decade, we project that across Africa it will be cheaper to generate electricity by building new solar than continue to run both coal and gas power plants."

The new report points out that while the burning of gas and coal currently provides nearly 60% of Africa's electricity generation capacity, the geographic location of the continent provides ideal conditions for solar energy. But even "with over 50% more sunlight than in the Global North," the report states, large-scale solar deployment in Africa has been "held back by lack of finance, poor electricity infrastructure, and political and social instability."

 Solar has the potential to grow from 14GW in 2021 to 55GW in 2030 and over 400GW by 2050, providing up to half of Africa's total installed capacity.

Solar Revolution—Not 'Dash for Gas'—Best Course for Africa's Economic Future: Analysis (commondreams.org)

Mozambique's Funding Runs Dry

 World Food Programme (WFP) is today warning that it will be forced to suspend its life-saving assistance to one million people - at the peak of the hunger season in February - unless additional funding is urgently received.

Cabo Delgado is the most food-insecure province in Mozambique and food security continues to deteriorate. 

Nearly 1.15 million people in the province are suffering “crisis” or “emergency” hunger and the latest data indicates the situation may deteriorate even further. 

Violence has intensified in recent months, with unprecedented attacks in districts close to its capital, Pemba and in neighbouring Nampula province, forcing more and more people to flee their villages. The number of displaced people has quadrupled to nearly one million people in the last two years.

Funds dry up as hunger looms in Mozambique's north - Mozambique | ReliefWeb

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Renewable Energy for Africa

 In sub-Saharan Africa, more than half of the people don't have access to electricity.

Power usage is projected to double by 2040. 

Africa has the potential to become a renewable powerhouse.

With sunlight year-round, the continent has 60% of the world's best solar resources. In 2020, solar projects in Zambia, Senegal and Ethiopia were auctioned off for as low as $25 per megawatt hour, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. That makes them more cost-effective than fossil fuels. Renewables also provide flexibility in a region where electricity grids often don’t reach rural populations  and if they do, they are expensive. The solution: Rooftop solar panels or mini-grids that can work independently and provide enough to power lights and a phone charger.  

It has enough wind potential in a year to meet its electricity demand 250 times over.

Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia already cover more than 80% of their consumption with hydropower  but there is room to produce even more across the continent. 

Kenya is a world leader in harnessing geothermal energy.

"What makes Africa the right continent to roll out those green technologies is the simple fact that they are there in abundance," said Tony Tiyou, CEO of the engineering consultancy Renewables in Africa that works in Kenya, Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria and Benin. 

 Yet, the continent as a whole still gets almost all of its energy from fossil fuels. In the last two decades, just 2% of global investments into green energy were made across the continent. 

"Companies that are trying to invest in renewable energy are looking at a market in Uganda for people who are poor. So there is no big interest," said Dickens Kamugisha of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance. The Ugandan non-profit fights environmentally-damaging projects. "But the oil is produced by huge companies that can attract funding from all over the world." 

Can Africa power with renewables as it grows? – DW – 11/12/2022

Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Water Crisis in Morocco

 At the foot of the High Atlas mountain chain in Morocco the Ouarzazate semi-desert region is drying out. Morocco is among the world’s most water-stressed countries.  At 600 cubic metres (21,200 cubic feet) of water annually per capita per year, the country is already well below the water scarcity threshold of 1,700 cubic metres (60,000 cubic feet), according to the World Health Organization.

As in the rest of North Africa, global warming is already showing its effects and badly affecting agriculture. In the context of drought, Moroccan farmers point the finger at the mismanagement of remaining water resources, which have been diverted from their natural course to be set aside for expanding industries.

Three industries in southeastern Morocco consume the most water: mining companies, agricultural monocultures, and the world’s largest solar power plant, Noor, generating thermal energy through an evaporation process.

“Local communities suffer from the effects of the climate crisis and do not even benefit from these large projects,” says Jamal Saddoq, a representative of Attac Morocco, one of the few associations working on the consequences of the extractive industry in the southeast. “We live next to gold, silver, lead and cobalt mines, but we ended up believing that our region is just marginalised and poor.”

 Companies in Morocco produce three million tonnes of minerals per year. Managem group, a Moroccan company operating in the extraction of precious metals and cobalt, owns the main sites in the region. The Imider mine is the largest in Africa, from where precious minerals such as silver leaves for Gulf and European countries. The mining industry needs water to recover precious metals from ore. Demonstrators have been calling for an equitable distribution of resources, including water.

“We have been protesting since the 1980s, but little has changed except that groundwater is running out. The company is still pumping water, digging wells deeper and deeper,” says one anti-mine activist, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions from the authorities. “That’s why in 2011 we decided to block the pipeline connecting the mine to its water tank.”

In June 2022, an agreement between the Managem company and the Renault Group was signed to extract 5,000 tonnes of cobalt sulfate for electric car batteries for seven years starting from 2025. How much water will this "green" project cost?

 "...Despite green policies, these economic activities are based on the same extractivist model,” Saddoq of the Attac Association points out.

In operation since 2016, the Noor plant is the world’s largest thermodynamic solar complex. Locals say water is being diverted for the wet cooling phase at the facility. Water from the valleys around Ouarzazate is collected in the al-Mansour Eddahbi dam which is below 12 percent of its current capacity. The average rainfall this season was at its lowest level in more than 40 years.

“Now all the water of our Dades river is directed to the dam, while we need it to penetrate our water table,” says Rochdi, a farmer from Kalaat MGouna. “The remaining water is pumped for intensive agriculture.”

Instead of being equally redistributed among the population, 85 percent of national water consumption is swallowed by intensive agriculture, mostly for market produce such as watermelon and avocado, and arboriculture, including almonds and citrus fruit. These crops are water-intensive and mostly intended for export, at the expense of local subsistence farming.  South Ouarzazate, which is already under stress from mining activities, has become a leading destination for large investments in watermelon production. Since 2008, the surface allocated to watermelon crops has multiplied 10-fold, jeopardising local water resources for small-scale farmers and villagers.

Yousef, a farmer from Kalaat MGouna, explains “Water access is becoming a matter of public order, as we only survive thanks to our immigrants, who send some money back home,” the farmer adds. Little did he know that irrigating his crops would become an impossible task.

For his part, Yousef aims to propose a counter-agricultural model through his agroecological cooperative farm experimenting with drip irrigation.

“No policy will be effective in preserving oases without a sustainable agriculture based on soil fertility rather than on intensive irrigation,” he says. “Our valley is in great danger. Without water we are at the tipping point of a major collapse”.

‘Preserving oases’: The fight for water by Morocco farmers | Climate Crisis News | Al Jazeera

NCDs in South Africa

 Diseases such as strokes and diabetes now cause most deaths in South Africa but the health system is still focused on tuberculosis and HIV.

Most deaths in South Africa are now from NCDs, according to the country’s latest mortality report, published in 2018. Tuberculosis is still the leading cause of death, but diabetes is second. Between 2016 and 2018, the proportion of deaths from NCDs increased.

Vicki Pinkney-Atkinson, director of the country’s NCD Alliance explains while HIV diagnosis and treatment has advanced, care for people living with other serious conditions has languished far behind.

“NCDs are neglected in South Africa as the public health system has focused on the communicable diseases,” she says. “People often don’t get treatment for common NCDs. There are long queues to be seen, no easy access to medication, screening, diagnosis and treatment. There are few health statistics for NCDs – it’s all guesswork.” NCDs are not seen as a financial priority for donors and provincial governments in the country, says Pinkney-Atkinson.  "...how many people have to die too young from NCDs when they should have had insulin..."

Dr Joe Phaahla, minister of health, wrote: “People in low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected by NCDs, and the poorest and most vulnerable communities continue to be at highest risk for NCDs and experience the greatest barriers to accessing essential healthcare.”

“NCDs are a big problem in my community,” says Millicent Magwa, 37, a health worker for Mothers2Mothers who lives in Nomzamo. “Most people are unemployed and can’t afford the right diet. Whenever you tell people they need to reduce the amount of starch and eat more vegetables, they tell you: ‘I eat whatever is inside my house. I can only eat vegetables maybe twice a week and I hardly eat fruit.’ It’s going to get worse because most people don’t have money. Food is expensive; everything has increased in price. It’s really becoming bad.”

Dying too young: focus on communicable diseases takes toll in South Africa’s slums | Global health | The Guardian

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

More Refugees Flee Somalia

 55,000 refugees from Somalia fleeing drought and conflict have arrived at Kenya’s Dadaab camp in the last two months.

 A total of 120,000 refugee arrivals are expected into Dadaab refugee camp by early 2023. Dadaab has Africa’s largest concentration of refugees. Its population is almost three times its intended size.

Mohamed El Montassir Hussein, International Rescue Committee Kenya Country Director said, “In Somalia where extreme drought and violence continues to displace thousands of people both internally and across borders, international leaders must ensure immediate funding is utilized to bring relief to and prevent displacement of 7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance.’’