Ebola outbreak in DR Congo is growing

The Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo’s northwest is growing, sounding the alarm weeks after the country officially declared an end to a separate Ebola epidemic which claimed over 2,000 lives.

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Malawi cancels independence day celebrations

Malawi’s new president, Lazarus Chakwera, has called off independence celebrations and further scaled back plans for Monday’s formal inauguration.

Continue reading “Malawi cancels independence day celebrations”

Africa didn’t dither but faces long coronavirus fight

It was an unsettling experience.

Every minute or so, the police would stop their van, jump out and – as people around them began to shout and run away – start to chase citizens more or less at random, it seemed to me, before shoving one or two of them into the back of their vehicle.

One woman wasn’t wearing a mask, an officer explained.

Another might have been selling contraband cigarettes.

Several people had, perhaps, been standing too close together, although it was hard to tell in the dark. And so on.

Lack of trust in the state

The whole process felt arbitrary and alarming – a clear abuse of authority.

Andrew goes on patrol with South Africa’s police

But in the days since then I’ve begun to think of that night in Alexandra in a different way; to consider not the police’s behaviour, but rather the hard-learned reactions of the citizens of the township.

To run. And then, if caught, to submit meekly.

It was, I think, a very clear expression of vulnerability – the behaviour of people who feel, instinctively, powerless to challenge the might of the state.

I’ve seen it often, both here in South Africa and – to a far greater extent – in other parts of the continent.

South African soldiers patrolling in Alexandra township during the coronavirus lockdown
Image captionSouth Africa’s army has been called in to implement strict lockdown restrictions

Something similar applies to hospitals too.

I’ve heard – first and second hand – too many anecdotes about people whose relatives were admitted to underfunded public hospital with “a stomach ache” or “just a cold” and who were abruptly pronounced dead within days.

In other words, many people have learned to look towards the police and the medical profession not for salvation, but for something more nuanced.

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It strikes me that an acute sense of vulnerability – not unique to Africa, of course – has characterised this continent’s response to the pandemic too.

Yes, there was some bluster in the early days about Africa perhaps being spared – and we still hear populists like Tanzania’s President John Magufuli trying to play down the threat.

But most people I’ve spoken to, particularly in poorer neighbourhoods, have shown an increasingly intense and proactive determination to do all they can to protect themselves and their families, and – importantly – not to expect, or rely on, the state to do it for them.

In a sense, that same vulnerable mindset applies to most African governments too.

Africa acted fast and decisively

After all, this is a continent where tuberculosis (TB), HIV, malaria and dysentery still kill – despite impressive recent improvements in public health – millions of people each year.

Six main causes of death in Africa

  • 1) Lower respiratory infections (10.4% of deaths):916,851
  • 2) HIV/Aids (8.1%):718,800
  • 3) Diarrhoeal diseases (7.4%):652,791
  • 4) Ischaemic heart disease (5.8%):511,916
  • 5) Malaria (4.6%)408,125
  • 6) TB (4.6%):405,496

Source: WHO – figures from 2016

And so, governments across the continent are already hard-wired to respond to new public health challenges like Ebola or Covid-19.

That is why they didn’t dither in the early stages of the outbreak.

As other countries dabbled with herd immunity, kept their airports wide open, or merely encouraged their citizens to avoid the pub, African states were busy implementing strict lockdowns and re-training their vast standing armies of community health workers.

Delayed but not contained?

But the question now – for South Africa and for the rest of the continent – is whether that sense of vulnerability can help to sustain a much longer and effective fight against the virus because the evidence – from Nigeria to South Sudan and beyond – now appears to show that Africa’s early successes may simply (and usefully) have delayed, rather than contained, Covid-19.

Students at this Kenyan university are voluntarily making critical medical kits.

The latest expert projections from a team here in Johannesburg indicate that the virus will – despite an impressively lowered infection curve – still kill more than 40,000 South Africans and is likely to peak only at some point in the second half of July.

At the same time, the severe economic damage caused by the early lockdowns is beginning to test the patience and the coping mechanisms of communities and governments which lack the deep pockets of Western nations.

Some excruciatingly difficult choices and battles lie ahead.

This is not to “catastrophise” Africa.

The continent’s early response – fuelled by a well-honed sense of vulnerability – has been world-class”

Andrew Harding
Africa correspondent, BBC News

The outside world sometimes seems to have flip-flopped – when it has even taken the time to notice – between seeing this continent as a slow-motion disaster that will eclipse all others with its coronavirus horrors, or a place where humidity, sunshine, a young population, widespread TB vaccines, or other less benign tropes, will somehow produce a miracle.

The truth is surely more mundane.

Africa is busy adapting to yet another deadly disease.

Muslim worshippers outside a mosque in Dakar, Senegal - Friday 15 May 2021
Image captionAfrica is adapting to coronavirus – like these Muslim worshippers in Senegal

Like other parts of the world, it will struggle, and it will eventually prevail, or at least find some sustainable long-term accommodation with the virus.

The continent’s early response – fuelled by a well-honed sense of vulnerability – has been world-class.

But its healthcare systems have been weakened, many would argue, not just by poverty and corruption, but by the systematic luring of African medical staff to Western nations over decades, by the short-termism at the heart of much international aid, and by the power-imbalances at the heart of the global economy and its key institutions.

How water scarcity adds to women’s burden in northern Ghana

Women spend considerable time finding water for their homes. John and Melanie/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-NC-ND

Kabila Abass, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)

Achieving universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by the year 2030 is considered fundamental in attaining the Sustainable Development Goal 6. But about 4 billion people, nearly two-thirds of the population of the world, face severe water scarcity and over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress.

Water supply is not equitably distributed across the globe. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 40% of the population lacks safe drinking water.

Another dimension of water inequality is gender. A study conducted in 25 sub-Saharan African countries by UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme in 2019 estimated that women spend not less than 16 million hours daily to collect drinking water, whereas their male counterparts spend 6 million hours.

These inequalities are evident in Ghana. About 38% of the population lack access to potable water and there are regional disparities and urban-rural dichotomies in water supply. Discussions about supply have paid little attention, though, to the disproportionate effects of water insecurity on women.

To fill the gap, our study examined the gendered implications of sporadic water supply for livelihoods in Tatale-Sanguli District.

We discovered that water shortages affected both men and women in the district, but weighed more on women than men. Women and girls were found to be the primary drawers of water for household needs, because of patriarchal cultural norms.

Our findings should inform policy intervention through the district assembly. Interventions that diversify livelihoods could reduce the vulnerability
of women to water shortages.

Water supply in the district

The study was conducted in the Tatale Township and two neighbouring communities of Yachado and Kpalbutabo in the Tatale-Sanguli District of the northern region of Ghana. Subsistence agriculture is the predominant economic activity.

Potable water is just a dream for many women in sub-Saharan Africa. Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-NC-ND

The district experiences a short rainy season and a long and more pronounced dry season. The main sources of water supply are streams, rivers, shallow ponds, hand-dug wells, boreholes and rainwater. While water supply systems are generally inadequate, the problem worsens during the dry season, when most of the streams dry up.

Although technologies such as rooftop harvesting for rainwater for domestic use and agriculture exist, storage facilities are lacking. Consequently, supply is sporadic in the dry season from November to May.

Who is more burdened, how and why?

The population of the district is 60,039 and females constitute 50.4% of it. Most women are engaged in some form of agricultural activity.

Water is required for different productive activities pursued by both men and women. But the responsibility of fetching water in the study communities rests heavily on girls and older women. The strict gender roles and cultural norms in the Tatale-Sanguli District make the collection and use of water a gendered issue.

A male participant in Kpalbutabo put it this way:

Men don’t suffer like women when the entire household lacks water … women are more concerned about water because they take care of children. Women don’t expect their husbands to bath children or wash their clothing. It is their responsibility. So when water becomes scarce, women tend to have no peace of mind.

A combination of reproductive and productive workload makes women more susceptible to the drudgery of sporadic water supply than men. According to 65% of female participants who took part in the survey, they spent about three to four hours travelling over a long distance daily to fetch water.

Water shortage often creates rancour and tension at home and with neighbours at public water supply points. One woman in the study noted that when water is scarce women have less sleep and go to farm late; life generally becomes difficult for them.

When the water supply becomes critical, men and boys sometimes help by fetching it on bicycles, motor bikes or tricycles. Women lack these assets. Thus, disparities in access to physical assets in favour of men add to women’s burden.

Another aspect of gender disparities is that during menstruation, the cultural norm is that women must have a separate container of water for their own use. They have to fetch enough water for men to use before their period starts because it is a taboo for some men to drink water collected by women who are menstruating.

When water supply for agriculture is limited, some younger women and men move away temporarily to find different ways of earning a living, leaving older family members behind.

How to relieve women’s burden

To relieve the people of the Tatale-Sanguli District from the drudgery of limited water supply, we recommend that the local government and non-governmental organisations should intensify their water provision efforts in the district. They can do this by expanding systems of pipes, boreholes and hand pumps to reach communities.

Their efforts should recognise the gendered effects and differentiated burdens of water use. One way would be for the district assembly to aim at diversifying livelihoods.

This article was co-authored with Emmanuel Bintaayi Jeil. He holds an MPhil in Geography and Rural Development from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi-Ghana.

Kabila Abass, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography and Rural Development, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Days of coronavirus may be ending – but the worst may hit developing countries

A girls washes her hands in Burkina Faso as the number of cases climb in the country CREDIT: Shutterstock

As Europe’s nations start to emerge from lockdown into spring sunshine, hoping infection peaks are behind them, epidemiologists are increasingly worried about poorer parts of the world.

While the worst of the early pandemic may be over or slowing down in China, Europe and the United States, the coronavirus is on the march elsewhere.

Developing and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America which might have thought they had escaped the worst could instead be months off their peaks, health officials now fear.

The United Nations this week tripled the sum it says is needed to avert a Covid-19 catastrophe in the world’s poorest nations. It put out an appeal for a further $4.7bn for medical and food aid, on top of another $2bn requested in March.

A lack of reliable data in much of the world means case numbers and deaths are unclear and so far likely to be vastly underestimated. But the signs are alarming in several countries and the disease may continue to spread in developing countries for another three to six months, the UN said.

‘Rise in conflict hunger and poverty’

Meanwhile, the economic toll of lockdown is already leading to poverty and unemployment for millions.

“The most devastating and destabilising effects” of the pandemic “will be felt in the world’s poorest countries”, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said. “Unless we take action now, we should be prepared for a significant rise in conflict, hunger and poverty. The spectre of multiple famines looms.”

Several leaders in the developing world have speculated that their countries may be spared the worst because of their relatively youthful populations. Younger citizens could result in a slower spread and a “slow burn” outbreak in some countries, epidemiologists have suggested.

A temporary hand-washing station in Kenya as cases climb in the country CREDIT: Patrick Meinhardt/Bloomberg

But scientists also warn that any benefit from youth could be counterbalanced by poor healthcare and the unknown effects of Covid-19 on those who are malnourished and carry diseases such as malariatuberculosis or HIV. Parts of Africa are already causing concern.

Charlotte Watts, chief scientific adviser for the Department of International Development and a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said: “It’s really hard to say where will be hit worst – it’s a disease that knows no borders and spreads quite easily around the world.

“But we are concerned now about the likely wave that’s going to spread across sub-Saharan Africa, and we’re starting to see numbers increase rapidly.”

Low testing in Africa

Africa has so far recorded 35,000 cases of coronavirus and over 1,500 deaths. This number is soaring every week, but experts say low testing means these figures only show a shadow of the crisis.

In Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, fears are mounting that the pandemic has spread far more than anyone anticipated. Over the last few weeks, there has been a spate of at least 640 mysterious deaths in the country’s populous northern Kano state.

Solid information on the situation in Kano is scarce. However, reports suggest that both doctors and gravediggers are being overwhelmed. Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, a major hospital in Kano city, has reportedly been inundated with patients showing coronavirus symptoms.

In Tanzania, the situation looks equally grim. The country’s strongman leader, John Magufuli, is continuing to downplay the pandemic. His government has promoted church-going and steam inhalation as ways of combating the ‘satanic’ virus. As he refuses to put harsh measures in place, a stream of unconfirmed videos shows dead bodies lying on the street and men clad in protective equipment burying bodies under cover of darkness.

The figures on Africa’s medical preparedness are stark. On average sub-Saharan Africa has about one doctor for every 5,000 people, compared with 14 in the UK, according to the WHO. There are only an estimated 2,000 live-saving ventilators in the entire continent, compared with around 170,000 in the US. At least, 10 African countries have none at all.

Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, predicts that the virus is spreading undetected in low and middle-income nations, with the impact to be seen in a month or two.

He told the Telegraph: “Our working theory is that although, for example in Africa, these are younger populations, I think because of comorbidities and other health conditions, you’d still expect potentially quite serious impact.”

Women in Bangladesh wait for relief supplies provided during the coronavirus outbreak CREDIT: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

Estimates of the human toll of that impact among African countries vary widely.

The World Health Organization said this week that 190,000 people in Africa could die of Covid-19 and 29 million to 44 million could get infected in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail. The body’s modelling sees the disease spreading more slowly than elsewhere, but “smouldering” for several years in transmission hotspots.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has warned of an even more apocalyptic scenario: even with intense social distancing, the continent of 1.3 billion could see nearly 123 million cases this year. And some 300,000 people could die.

Deaths in rural India

India is also seeing a worrying rise in cases and it has long been suspected the official numbers are greatly underestimated.

Earlier this week, the Indian Minister of Health was still proclaiming that there has been no community transmission, even as the country that day recorded 195 deaths.

Despite spending 40 days in lockdown, cases are continuing to surge and show no signs of letting up – there has been a 14 per cent increase to 52,952 over the last 48 hours.

Again patchy data is likely to be clouding the real picture. Most deaths occur in rural areas, doctors say, and medical certificates stating the cause can be rare. Public health officials are left trying to check anecdotal indications of increased deaths.

An auto rickshaw driver is threatened for breaking lockdown rules CREDIT: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas

In the city of Malegaon in Maharashtra, the state which has recorded India’s largest number of coronavirus infections, 580 deaths were recorded in April, double the figure for last year. Authorities are currently testing family members as they suspect the dead were coronavirus victims, unaccounted for due to the lack of testing.

India’s peak may still be two months away, said Dr Randeep Guleria, the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences.

Across India’s north western border, Pakistan has also seen deaths tick up ominously, even as ministers have tried to argue the disease is somehow less virulent in South Asia. Deaths have doubled to nearly 600 in 10 days and here too, the peak is not expected until possibly July.

In both countries the economic toll of the lockdown looks set to be 

Pakistan could lose 18 million jobs and see a million small businesses go bust, Asad Umar, the planning minister said earlier this week. One in four Pakistanis have cut their food intake as a result of straitened circumstances and some 20 to 70 million may fall below the poverty lines as a result of the precautions.

Such an economic cost has forced both nations to relax their safety restrictions even as cases are still growing.

A worker sprays disinfectant on a relative of a coronavirus victim during a funeral in Jakarta, Indonesia CREDIT: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters

Indonesia is well on its way to becoming a new southeast Asian hotspot two months after the health minister,  Terawan Agus Putranto, was citing an absence of cases as a “blessing from the Almighty”.

The death toll in the world’s fourth most populous nation currently stands at around 930, with many suspecting the figures are still unreported.

Mortuary workers have spoken of their exhaustion as they struggle to bury dozens of bodies piling up daily at cemeteries.

Cases doubling in Latin America every few days

And early hopes that the tropical climates of the Caribbean and Central and South America might act as some kind of defence against the coronavirus have also been dashed.

Brazil is now the epicentre of the disease in Latin America, with the number of cases at more than 100,000 and rising. Daily death tolls this week have been around 600.

Brazil’s far-right leader, Jair Bolsonaro, has consistently downplayed the severity of the virus, describing it as a flu or the sniffles. When he was asked about the day’s death toll of 474 at a press briefing last month, he replied “So what?”

Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue is illuminated wearing a facemask CREDIT: Mauro Pimentel/AFP

Official death tolls again probably obscure the scale of what is happening. In the city of Manaus, just 532 deaths are attributed to Covid-19. Yet city data shows 2,435 people were buried in April alone, compared with 871 in April last year.

In Brazil, as well as Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Mexico, the number of cases is doubling every few days.

In the Caribbean, Haiti is at risk from a “perfect storm approaching”, said Dr Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization.

Although the country has reported only 100 cases, around 17,000 Haitians have returned from neighbouring Dominican Republic, where the disease is spreading widely, and this number is expected to reach 55,000 in the next few weeks.

Haiti’s health system is poor and the country has struggled to recover from a devastating earthquake which took place in 2010.

With months if not years of the epidemic left to run, the final distribution of cases could look very different by the end. Countries or regions of the world who at first thought they had escaped should be cautious, said Dr Josie Golding, epidemics lead at Wellcome.

“We have no idea how this will turn out and countries should prepare for the worst,” she said. 

Why is used clothing popular across Africa?

People shop for used clothing at the busy Gikomba market in Nairobi, Kenya. SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images

By Dan Banik, University of Oslo

The sale of used clothing is a billion-dollar global industry. According to some estimates, almost 70% of garments that are donated globally end up on the African continent.

This happens through a complex global supply chain, where donated items that cannot be sold in thrift shops in high-income countries are resold in bulk to commercial textile recyclers. The garments are then sent to sorting centres, often located in the Middle East or Eastern Europe. These are then graded and sorted into bales. The bales are in turn resold to wholesalers on the African continent.

East Africa alone imports over $150 million worth of used clothes and shoes, largely from the US and Europe. In 2017, USAID estimated that the industry employed 355,000 people and generated $230 million in government revenue. It also supported the livelihoods of an additional 1.4 million in the East Africa Community bloc.

But scholars have also highlighted the complexities of this billion-dollar industry and how these commodity chains perpetuate poverty. This has led to a pushback. In 2016, the leaders of Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi issued a communiqué outlining a major tariff increase on imported used clothing. The plan was to ban all imports of used clothing by 2019. But the international trade disputes that followed led most countries to back out from implementing the ban.

The pushback rested on two broad sets of arguments. First, there is a widespread belief that the popularity of used clothing contributed to the collapse of the domestic textile industry in many parts of Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. Second, the continued use of used clothing is portrayed as undignified and eroding African pride.

Nevertheless, used clothing continues to enjoy unrivalled popularity in many countries. We sought to establish why by studying the phenomenon in Malawi, where used clothes are known as “kaunjika” (meaning “clothes sold in a heap”). It is a popular and resilient business.

We found that there were important economic and social pull factors behind the popularity of used clothing. We also found little support for the viewpoint that wearing used clothing is an attack on the dignity of African citizens.

The pull factors

Between March 2018 and February 2020, we visited local markets and shopping malls and interacted extensively with street vendors, shop keepers, wholesalers and consumers in Blantyre, Limbe, Zomba and Lilongwe.

Our goal was to better understand the widespread popularity of used clothing in Malawi. We were able to identify a number of common factors.

Quality: Used clothes and shoes sourced from high-income countries were considered to be of far better quality than brand new items available in local markets. Customers were often willing to pay a higher price for used merchandise than comparable new items.

Clothing labels indicating where items were produced were viewed as less important than the source of the donation. For example, kaunjika sourced from China was popular with vendors and customers because of sizes and styles that were more compatible with local preferences. Many vendors also claimed that when compared to clothing produced in China for African markets, clothing that had been produced for the Chinese themselves or for Western markets was of better quality.

Affordability: Many Malawians cannot afford even the cheapest new garments sold in local stores. Used clothing can be sold at higher prices than new items, mostly to middle income consumers in urban areas. But items that are not considered to be of good quality or style continue to trickle down the supply chain. These items are then sold by vendors operating in more rural areas where consumers with lower purchasing power have even fewer alternatives.

Fashion trends: Malawian consumers cited fashion trends and the “uniqueness” of imported used clothing as important factors for buying kaunjika. This was particularly the case for the younger generation who had been exposed to international trends and popular culture through social media. People crave “the latest fashion” often not available in the local retail stores.

Low start-up costs: The buy-in costs for local vendors of used clothing were very low. This created economic opportunities in the informal economy for groups with limited resources to access start-up capital. Several vendors told us that despite starting their businesses with limited funds, they had gradually been able to expand their operations and create employment opportunities.

And although the informal sector is characterised by numerous challenges – poor working conditions, lack of social protection, child labour and loss of tax revenue, to name a few – kaunjika appeared to offer a much needed way for many to earn a living.

Used clothing and sustainability

A recent report predicts that the global second-hand clothing market is set to double to $51 billion in the next five years, exceeding fast fashion within a decade.

It is still too early to tell how changing consumption patterns in high-income countries will affect used clothing markets around the world. But what appears certain is that the Malawian consumer, like many on the African continent, will continue to demand access to the same quality, styles and brands as the rest of the world, even if it means buying used clothes “sold in a heap”.

Dan Banik, Professor of political science and Director of the Oslo SDG Initiative, University of Oslo

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

‘The hunger makes us forget the coronavirus’

A policeman stands by traders waiting the opening of Rood Wokos great market in Ouagadougou CREDIT: AFP

Normally Dassasgo market in eastern Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital, bustles with a thousand stalls selling all manner of food, trinkets and goods. 

But when the pandemic came, everything started to fall apart. Last month, officials closed the market down to stop the infection, turning hundreds of traders onto the street. 

Now Aminata Yanogo, a seasoned vegetable seller, has to dodge police beatings along Ouagadougou’s dusty roads to make ends meet.

Before the lockdown, Mrs Yanogo was making about 9,000 CFA (£12) a day selling bags of chillies and peppers. Now she is lucky to make a tenth of that. “If we don’t sell anything, our children will starve. If we stay at home, my children will have to go outside to beg,” she says. “We are suffering.”

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide but far worse could be in store for the likes of Aminata. Catastrophic food shortages and mass starvation are threatening greater devastation than the virus itself. 

According to a report released by the UN last week, the number of people in acute food insecurity – the point where people are facing famine – is expected to double from 135 million to 265 million by the end of 2020, unless dramatic steps are taken.

The world is facing “multiple famines of biblical proportions” in “about three dozen countries” killing up to 300,000 people a day, warned David Beasley the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP)

A trader carrying goods on her head in Ouagadougou after the market was closed as a preventive measure against the spread of the Covid-19

A perfect storm

Experts say a multitude of factors are coming together to in a ‘perfect storm’ for many developing countries especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, as well as in countries already facing crises, like Yemen, Venezuela and Congo.

All the things that were driving global hunger before the coronavirus – wars, climate change, refugee crises, a dearth of sanitation, locust swarms in east Africa and devastating water shortages in southern Africa and Pakistan – are still here.  

But now the pandemic and accompanying national lockdowns are throwing tens of millions who lived on the edge into poverty and battering delicately balanced food supply chains. 

Lockdowns and government mishandling of the crisis are dramatically reducing people’s ability to buy basic goods and limiting farmers’ access to seeds, pesticides and labour. 

At the same time, any fiscal headroom poor countries had before the crisis is rapidly closing as swathes of the international economy goes into free fall. Plummeting oil prices is laying waste to the national budgets of states already facing major malnutrition and security problems like South Sudan, Chad and Nigeria. 

Locust swarms in east Africa had already been driving food shortages CREDIT: AP

On top of this, international tourism has ground to a complete stop and overseas remittances are drying up fast as family members in the developed world, cease to make money. Some European money transfer companies have reportedly seen a decline of between 80 and 90 per cent in payments made to Africa.

“In wealthier countries, there is at least the potential for the government to step in as the wage provider of last resort but poorer countries lack the fiscal space to do this,” says Dr Amrit Amirapu, Lecturer in Economics, University of Kent.

“Even if [poorer] governments were able to pay workers, most workers in these countries are informal so the government has no record of them and the process of getting them funds is more challenging.”

“The world is not running out of food,” Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Executive Director, CGIAR, a global partnership of groups researching food insecurity, told The Telegraph.

Global food prices have been coming down for several years and we’ve had good harvests over the last few years. The main problem is access.”

People wearing protective masks line up at a vegetable street market in Caracas. Venezuela is particularly vulnerable to food shortages CREDIT: Reuters

Access to food

Nowhere is the problem of access seen more clearly than in India. 

When Prime Minister Modi announced a sudden nationwide lockdown for his nation’s 1.3 billion people on March 24, with only four hours notice, tens of millions of informal labourerswho had migrated to cities became unemployed almost instantly.

Without financial savings or sick pay, almost one-quarter of the Indian workforce and their families suddenly had no form of income or means to purchase food or medicines. India does not lack food. The government is sitting on 87 million metric tonnes of grain stock, enough to provide one sack of 100kg rice or wheat for every single family member who has a ration card.

However, with Indian state borders closed and supply chains coming to a standstill, the government is struggling to reach almost all of those in need. A poll of over 11,000 migrant labourers in India by the Stranded Workers Action Network found 96 per cent had not received any government food rations.

The International Labour Organisation says food aid is already critical for roughly 380 million Indians working in the informal economy, such as rickshaw drivers or street vendors. 

The situation will probably get far worse for many Indians. Dipa Sinha, an economist who teaches at Ambedkar University in Delhi, has said if the lockdown continues up to 70 per cent of the city’s population could require food aid by mid-May.

The story is also grim in Afghanistan. In the western city of Herat, Saleh Mohammad has lost his job because of Covid-19. After fleeing fighting in his home in Kunduz province, he settled in a camp on the outskirts of the city and took daily labouring jobs. These have now ended with the city’s lockdown.

“We are dealing with death here. Look at this, this is what we’ve managed to get today,” the 56-year-old said showing a meagre measure of rice meant to feed his family of six. “I sent my son to beg and I bought this from that money.”

Riots and stampedes over the lack of food have already been seen across the world from Niger and Kenya to India and Venezuela. As hunger spreads, it will most likely have major political ramifications as class divides are exposed and people begin to fight over land and resources. 

What could make the hunger crisis worse?

Experts say there are two things could make the hunger crisis far worse. 

First, some fear that as the pandemic puts more strain on national resources, key food producers – like India, Indonesia, Thailand and Russia – will start to block exports. This would be catastrophic for many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which rely heavily on imports of staple foods like rice and wheat.

“In Kenya, we import about 90 per cent of our rice, mainly from Asia. And we import about 70 per cent of our wheat mainly from Ukraine and Russia,” says Timothy Njagi, Senior Research Fellow at the Tegemeo Institute of Agricultural Policy and Development in Kenya.

Any problems with that international supply could make food prices soar on the streets of Nairobi, Dakar or Kinshasa, experts say.

Thankfully, while some countries like Belarus and Ukraine have toyed with minor export restrictions on grain, so far only Vietnam and Cambodia have placed major limitations on rice exports.

People shop for spices during preparations for the holy month of Ramadan amid concerns of the spread of Covid-19, in Sanaa, Yemen CREDIT: Reuters

As a rule, closed borders or trade barriers make for catastrophe. Take the extreme example of North Korea, which has a long history of major food shortages and famine. Over 12 million North Koreans – about half of the population – are chronically food-insecure, according to the UN. The secretive country imports vast amounts of food from China, its main trade partner.

In January, North Korea shut its 880-mile border with China, in an extreme effort to keep the virus out. Reports indicate the border may now be partly reopening to obtain essential goods. 

However, this closure has most probably wreaked havoc on food supplies. This month the WFP said that North Korea was among 39 countries that would suffer chronic food insecurity because of the pandemic and would be worst hit after Nigeria, Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

The second thing experts fear is what happens if the virus spreads into rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.https://cf-particle-html.eip.telegraph.co.uk/13b5940f-9536-42ad-897e-5ef8a85a9382.html?ref=https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/climate-and-people/hunger-makes-us-forget-disease-famines-threaten-greater-devastation/&title=%E2%80%98The%20hunger%20makes%20us%20forget%20the%20disease%E2%80%99:%20Famines%20threaten%20greater%20devastation%20than%20coronavirus

Food production in poorer countries is far more labour intensive than in the mechanised West. Farmers do not have combine harvesters to plough their fields and must do it by hand. Ageing and vulnerable farmers often make up the backbone of the economy and local food supplies in developing countries, making food systems very vulnerable to shock from diseases.

“We are yet to see [Covid-19] spread in rural areas. If that happens, we’re going to see a huge disruption in Kenya’s rural food supply chains in three months,” says Mr Njagi. “It would be dire.” 

Back on the road outside Dassasgo market, Adama Kabore is fretting about what he can take back to his wife and child. 

Normally, the 28-year-old sells handbags in the market but now he barely manages to sell anything. For the last few weeks, he’s managed to scrape together about 1,000 CFA (£1.33) to buy food for one evening meal for his family. But today, he hasn’t managed to find anything.

“The hunger is making us forget the disease,” he says. 

  • Additional reporting by Oumar Zombre in Ouagadougou, Joe Wallen in New Delhi, Ben Farmer in Islamabad and Nicola Smith in Taiwan.

‘If it comes, it will overwhelm us’: Malawi braces for coronavirus

When the overcrowded, long-distance bus from Johannesburg arrived at the Malawian border post of Mwanza last week, one passenger was dead. Fearing he had picked up Covid-19 in South Africa and infected all his fellow travellers, the guards sent everyone to a hastily built quarantine centre for 14 days.

The man had died of other causes but Malawi, which is well used to devastating diseases like HIV and Aids, cholera and malaria, is taking no chances. Along with São Tomé, Comoros, South Sudan and Burundi in Africa, it is one of the last countries in the world not to have confirmed a single Covid-19 case yet.


In Malawi only 20 people a day can be tested for the virus, and there are just 25 intensive care unit beds and seven ventilators in the country of more than 18 million people. Since February, however, the government has been racing to curb Covid’s arrival.

It has wheeled out a £24m preparedness plan, suspended international flights, banned weddings and gatherings of more than 100 people, closed schools and universities, and is making anyone arriving from Europe, China, or the US self-isolate. According to the ministry of health, 4,603 people who have entered the country in the past few weeks are “under surveillance”.

As an extra precaution, Malawi’s president, Peter Mutharika, has reduced the number of people he meets to 10-20 a day.

“We have been told to regularly wash hands using soap or alcohol sanitiser. But because there have been no confirmed cases, people are not yet too frightened. Business is going on as usual, people are still making huge gatherings at some places like markets,” says Blantyre accountant James Gomani.

While warnings about Covid-19 are widely heard in jingles and public health announcements in cities like Blantyre and Lilongwe, they have barely reached the remote rural areas where nearly 90% of Malawi’s population live and farm, and few people have access to TV, radio or electricity, says Patrick Kamzitu, a heath worker in Nambuma.

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If Covid-19 gets in, it will spread rapidly across the country and many people will die. The health system is very weakMax Lawson, OxfamAdvertisement

“We fear that it will come. If it does, it will overwhelm us, and be worse than cholera, which we had badly in 2013, and hunger in 2002. People will die in large numbers,” he says.

Kamzitu cycles from village to village warning of what may come and telling people to take precautions, but rural health centres have few drugs. Many people don’t even have soap or running water and are already weakened with malaria, HIV or tuberculosis.

Malawi has plenty of experience of handling contagious diseases but is barely prepared for a disease that can spread so fast, says Oxfam’s international head of inequality policy, Max Lawson, a former resident of Malawi who is now based in Nairobi.


“If Covid-19 gets in, it will spread rapidly across the country and many people will die. The health system is very weak and poorly resourced. The population is young, which may be in Malawi’s favour with a disease like Covid-19, but there is a lot of untested TB and HIV in the country.

“The UK government and other donors have not been supporting Malawi like they used to. They should immediately suspend the country’s debt payments. It would cost very little and help a lot. As it is, Malawi will be hit very badly economically by Covid-19.”

Health professionals fear it is only a matter of time before the pandemic reaches Malawi. “It has only been in the past few weeks that it has been spreading across Africa. So most people feel it will get here at some point. We may not be 100% ready but government is gearing up,” says Dr Bridget Malewezi of the Society of Medical Doctors.

How the people of Sudan pulled off an improbable revolution

By Stephen Zunes, University of San Francisco

When the turbulent and often tragic history of the past decade in North Africa is written, the 2019 pro-democracy revolution in Sudan will likely be considered one of the few bright spots. One of the world’s most brutal dictatorships —- in power for over 30 years —- was overthrown in a massive nonviolent civil insurrection involving millions of Sudanese. In its place is a liberal technocratic civilian administration.

Whether civilian democratic rule will survive the serious challenges still facing the country remains to be seen. But for now a key question is: how did they do it?


Conditions in Sudan were not auspicious for a successful pro-democracy civil resistance movement. The regime was oppressive, entrenched, and had been successful in its divide and rule tactics when it came to the large and ethnically heterogeneous nation.

In addition, three decades of repressive military rule had largely decimated civil society institutions like labour unions and human rights organisations and the reactionary Islamic leadership had put severe restrictions on women. Over five million Sudanese, including many of the country’s most educated people, had emigrated.

Lastly, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were helping to prop up the military regime. And most of the West had seemingly written off Sudan as a hopeless case.

Yet, starting in December 2018, a movement emerged which eventually brought millions of Sudanese onto the streets. By April 2019, General Omar al-Bashir was overthrown by fellow military officers. Protests continued and, despite hundreds of additional deaths, by August the military stepped down in favour of a civilian-led transitional government.

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There are numerous reasons for the success of this uprising. The key ones range from the regime’s incompetence and the fact that the economy was in a mess, to the way in which the opposition forces organised themselves into a broad-based movement. Another major factor in their success was that they chose to use nonviolent tactics such as sit-ins and demonstrations.

Ingredients of success

A number of factors contributed to the success of the uprising. These included the regime’s weaknesses, as well as the tactics used by the opposition forces.

As far as the regime was concerned, there were at least four factors working against it. These included:

Divisions: To the opposition’s advantage, some of the main elements of the repressive apparatus of the regime — the police, intelligence, military, and special forces — were divided. The opposition did an excellent job of exacerbating those divisions and using them to its own advantage, offering sanctuary for deserting troops, shaming families of the hardline forces, and winning over some junior officers.

Incompetence: The state was in many respects weak and incompetent. The economy was in a shambles. This became particularly marked after the country lost access to oil reserves in the south after South Sudan became independent in 2011. Education, transport, health care, agriculture and other basic infrastructure had deteriorated significantly during its three decades in power.


Sanctions: international sanctions added to chronic corruption and mismanagement in weakening the economy.

Disaffected youth: Young Sudanese had had enough. They felt they had no future and they had nothing more to lose. Interviews with young people during my visit in January revealed a sense of sheer desperation, a sense that “enough is enough”.

When it came to the movement itself, a number of factors contributed to strengthening its efforts, and making them more effective. Among them were:

Scope and scale: While some civil insurrections have largely taken place in the capital with mostly middle class support, the Sudanese revolution took place all over country, in all regions, with diverse class and ethnic participation. Another key component was the fact that popular resistance committees were active in even the poorest neighbourhoods.

This was in conjunction with the role played by the Sudanese Professionals Association, an alliance of professional trade unions, which played a key leadership role.

Building such a broad coalition of forces was vitally important, given the size and complexity of the country.


National unity: For decades, the regime had tried to divide Sudanese by North and South, Arab and non-Arab, Muslim and non-Muslim. The pro-democracy protesters recognised that national unity was critical and consciously resisted efforts at divide-and-rule.

One example was the regime’s efforts at the beginning of the uprising to try and blame the uprising in Khartoum on Furs, the people indigenous to the Darfur region. In response, the largely-Arab but multi-ethnic protesters began chanting “We are all Darfur!”. In solidarity, protesters in Al Fashir, the Darfur capital, started chanting “We are all Khartoum!”

The role of women: strong leadership from women helped increase the numbers of protesters by encouraging women to join the protests. It also lent credibility to the protests and better popular perception of the movement and its goals by challenging notions that they were violent and dangerous.

Nonviolent action: In my view, the single most important factor was possibly the decision to stress nonviolent action.

The Sudanese opposition had, on previous occasions, engaged in violent struggles. For example, in 1993 an armed guerrilla movement operating out of bases in Eritrea was launched. But it failed to provoke a more widespread popular uprising and was formally disbanded in 2006. Similarly, protesters turned violent during the civil insurrection of 2013. The uprising was crushed within days after scores of civilian deaths.


The choice of peaceful protests, sit-ins and strikes made it difficult for the regime to depict the movement in a negative light. And nonviolence meant that the movement attracted sympathy it would have lost through violent tactics. This swelled the number of people coming out onto the streets.

What still needs to be done

There is still much to do to consolidate democracy and civilian rule in Sudan. Though civilians dominate the transitional government, the military and other elements of the old guard are still part of the system.

But the accomplishment of toppling Omar al-Bashir can be a lesson to those struggling for greater political freedom and social justice through the greater Middle East – and beyond.

A version of this article first appeared in Inside Arabia.

Stephen Zunes, Professor of Politics and International Studies, University of San Francisco

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

COVER PHOTO: A woman flashes the V for victory sign as Sudanese protesters demonstrate in Khartoum on July 25, 2019. Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty Images

'People still hurt': the forgotten survivors of Cyclone Idai

The sound of the rising wind and the heavy rain trigger fear at Garikai camp in Ngangu, Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe.

Villagers here are haunted by traumatic memories of the aftermath of the cyclone that swept over this region last March, when they were forced to bury the dead in makeshift coffins. Some people have never found their loved ones.

A man stands near the wreckage of vehicles washed away by Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, eastern Zimbabwe, in March 2019. Photograph: Zinyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images

Driving towards Ngangu village one is greeted by a vision of the storm’s path of destruction, dotted along the red mud roads and gullies. Broken bridges, rubble from smashed homes and stone boulders strewn across fields are a constant reminder of Cyclone Idai.

Thousands are still living in tents brought in by the UN refugee agency after the government of Zimbabwe failed to resettle its citizens or build replacement accommodation.


Makeshift shelters at Garikai, the largest of three displacement camps in Chimanimani, are ageing. Soon the families attempting to live in them will be left homeless again.

Water supplies and food are scarce. Exactly a year ago, the marooned villagers were showered with medical attention and international sympathy, with donors stampeding to offer assistance, food and temporary shelters.

But those donors are disappearing, and the villagers at Garikai feel abandoned.

Women in Ngangu, Chimanimani, walk past tent shelters. Supposedly a temporary measure, the shelters remain in place a year after Cyclone Idai struck. Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

Kesima Ndlovu, 61, suffered back injuries in the cyclone. “The tents are getting old and we fear that if another storm comes, we will be swept away,” she says. “I cannot afford medical supplies. I can only afford medical attention if I do menial jobs, but I cannot because my back still hurts from the injuries I sustained when I was marooned.”

Ndlovu, who stays with her husband and two grandchildren in a small tent, says the government should provide land to allow the people to rebuild their lives themselves.

“We are asking for land to build our own houses. Government should remember us, we are still its citizens. These tents are not safe. The donors came and left us in this predicament. We are suffering in these tents. We are appealing for medical attention, people still hurt,” Ndlovu says.


Joshua Sacco, the member of parliament for Chimanimani, has pleaded for patience. He says the government is in the process of relocating the villagers in Ngangu.

With colder weather approaching, the noisy winter rains already keep families under canvas awake at night.

“There is hunger, because our farmlands got washed away. People need food aid and jobs so that we can survive,” says Timothy Mlalazi, 40, a father of two.

Villagers in Kopa, Chimanimani, search for missing relatives after Cyclone Idai. Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

Mlalazi says it remains difficult to find work a year after the cyclone destroyed Ngangu’s economy.

“I lost all my cattle and [my] banana business. I have nothing, I need help to rebuild my business. My children can no longer eat twice a day. Without a home I cannot do anything,” he says.

Doreen Hove, 63, limps towards a makeshift fireplace where she will prepare the day’s meal. When Idai struck, she saw her seven-year-old grandchild crushed to death by rock boulders that the storm tossed around like footballs. She is still traumatised.


“It is painful, I normally do not want to talk about this,” says Hove. “I cannot even sleep at night sometimes because of the trauma. On the day, I even told my grandchildren that they should not go to school.

“After we had dinner, we retired to bed. When we heard people crying, we rushed outside to help. Suddenly we heard a roaring sound, I didn’t know they were rock boulders. Before I could get back into the house to seek refuge, the rock had crushed my grandchild. I cried for help but no one heard me.”

According to the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative, many villagers experience traumatic flashbacks during the rainy season. The organisation says more needs to be done and that villagers in Ngangu require psychological help.

 Chipo Ruwo sits on a bed in her tent in a makeshift camp in Chimanimani, Zimbabwe, a year after Cylone Idai made landfall. Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

Chipo Ruwo, who lives in one tent with seven other family members, laments the lack of healthcare at the camp. All she has is a stand number; she has been told it could be another year before she is allocated a housing stand by the government.


“This place is not comfortable,” she says. “We don’t have clothes and blankets, we always ask for help from donors. There are seven people staying in my tent, my husband and extended family also stay here.

“We need food and blankets because we are approaching winter, we fear for the children. I was also injured during the cyclone and I still carry the pain, there is no money for tablets. They are asking for US dollars at the nearby clinic but most of us cannot afford.”

The slow pace of road construction is another complaint levelled against the government.

Cotilda Shupikai Ngwengwe, left, helps her mother Gladys Chiremba to weed her fields in Buhera. Chiremba is among beneficiaries of 36 houses built by the Methodist Development and Relief Agency for people whose homes were destroyed by Cyclone Idai. Photograph: Jekesai Njikizana/AFP via Getty Images

Oxfam says more than 100,000 people are still living in makeshift shelters, while others are in dire need of food after they failed to recover from the cyclone’s impact on farms and livelihoods.

Women are the hardest hit, left without sanitary wear, clean water or medical supplies for children. Girls are being forced into early marriage for survival, according to Plan International.

With donor funding dwindling, children are suffering from malnutrition since food shortages mean they can only eat once a day.

To fight hunger, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has been providing food aid to more than 300 families in the camps

A young boy jumps across a stream in Praia Nova village in Beira, Mozambique, most of which was flooded during Cyclone Idai. One year on, 2.5 million Mozambicans remain in urgent need of assistance. Photograph: Karel Prinsloo/UNCDF/AFP via Getty Images


Cyclone Idai was one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the southern hemisphere, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving a further 3 million without food, water, shelter and critical infrastructure across Zimbabwe, Mozambique and some parts of Malawi.

In Zimbabwe, close to 17,000 households were displaced, while an estimated 1.4m hectares (14.5m acres) of arable land – accounting for one-third of national agricultural production – was destroyed, affecting 50,000 mainly smallholder farmers and exacerbating already high levels of malnutrition.


“We can see that a year on, many people still are without shelter. WFP is continuing to provide essential food assistance to over 300 families who are still without essential food,” says WFP communications officer Claire Nevill.

Amnesty International has called for a continuation of international supportfor these families.

“Concerned governments, and international partners, should renew their commitment, step up reconstruction and ensure that these efforts are done in a way that truly delivers human rights,” Amnesty said.

Kenyans back tough measures

All schools and universities have been ordered to close

Normally it takes me an hour to get to work, but on Monday morning it took barely 15 minutes. Kenya is slowly shutting down. Schools have closed, and people are starting to work from home.

A mother tweeted that she was suspending the leave of her house help as her children were unexpectedly at home. A relative sent me a financial SOS – she needed transport money to get her children back from boarding school.

Some county governments have imposed stricter restrictions than those announced by the president by banning public gatherings.


This has forced the closure of nightclubs in the popular coastal city of Mombasa, and open-air markets and athletics training camps in Nandi, where foreign athletes live for high-altitude training.

DJs in affected areas are wondering how they can work from home, and a musician has lamented the cancellation of shows all through to May.

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With many restaurants shutting down because of a lack of customers, waitresses and cleaners – who are casual workers on low pay – may lose their jobs.

There are genuine concerns about the well-being of those who live hand-to-mouth, but overall Kenyans seem willing to cooperate with the authorities in the bid to stem the spread of coronavirus.

A bishop who disregarded restrictions on public gatherings by calling for a “Miracle Service” was criticised so heavily on Twitter that she deleted the post.


Some supermarkets were unusually full on Sunday, as people piled up with goods. The Competition Authority of Kenya has called out a supermarket for raising the price of hand sanitizers by $2 (£1.60). The supermarket swiftly blamed an employee at the branch for the “unauthorised” increase and promised full refunds.

Coronavirus tests ‘ready within weeks’ across Africa

The World Health Organization’s regional director for Africa says she expects that all nations in sub-Saharan Africa will be able to test for the coronavirus “within a couple of weeks”.

Matshidiso Moeti told the BBC that 33 countries in the region already had the facilities in place. A month ago only Senegal and South Africa did.

“We expect in the next couple of weeks that all 47 of our member states will have the facilities to diagnose this virus,” she said.

Dr Moeti said the worst case scenario would be if the virus spread rapidly to African cities with no facilities to contain and treat people.

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Officials in Senegal have confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus. The only other confirmed case in the sub-Saharan region is in Nigeria.

I didn’t want to take corona virus to Africa – Cameroon student

When Kem Senou Pavel Daryl, a 21-year-old Cameroonian student living in the Chinese city of Jingzhou, contracted the coronavirus he had no intention of leaving China, even if that were possible.

Kem Senou Pavel Daryl is the first African to contract the virus in China

“No matter what happens I don’t want to take the sickness back to Africa,” he said from his university dormitory, where he is now under a 14-day quarantine.

He was suffering from a fever, a dry cough, and flu-like symptoms.

When he became ill he thought of his time as a child in Cameroon when he contracted malaria. He feared the worse.

“When I was going to the hospital for the first time I was thinking about my death and how I thought it was going to happen,” he said.

For 13 days he remained in isolation in a local Chinese hospital. He was treated with antibiotics and drugs typically used to treat HIV patients. After two weeks of care he began to show signs of recovery.

The CT scan showed no trace of the illness. He became the first African person known to be infected with the deadly coronavirus and the first to recover. His medical care was covered by the Chinese state.

Mr Senou says he did not want to take the disease to Africa

Egypt has become the first country in Africa to confirm a case of the coronavirus. Health professionals warn that countries with weaker health systems may struggle to cope with a potential outbreak of the illness, which has led to more than 1,770 deaths and infected more than 72,000 people, mostly in China.

“I don’t want to go home before finishing studying. I think there is no need to return home because all hospital fees were taken care of by the Chinese government,” says Mr Senou.

To evacuate or not?

Since late January governments around the world, led by the US, began evacuating their citizens out of Wuhan and neighbouring cities.

But thousands of African students, workers and families, remain in lockdown across the central Hubei province – the outbreak began in the provincial capital Wuhan – and some think their governments should do more to help them.

“We are sons and daughters of Africa but Africa is not willing to come to our rescue when we need it the most,” says Tisiliyani Salima, a medical student at Tongji Medical University and president of the Zambian Wuhan student association.


For close to a month Ms Salima has been living in self-quarantine.

Time has begun to lose meaning for the 24-year old student. She spends her days sleeping and checking updates on Chinese social media apps.

She acts as the liaison between her embassy and the 186 Zambian students living under quarantine in Wuhan. Many worry about food safety, supplies, and lack information in a city that this week has seen an average of 100 deaths a day.

She watched other international classmates evacuated from the city while her countrymen and women were left behind.

“South of the Sahara most African countries have had a similar response,” says one student who agreed to talk under the condition of anonymity.

“Publicly or privately African countries say that China can handle the situation. But the situation is not under control. When you listen to the official response it tells you that the African countries do not want to offend China. We don’t have the bargaining power,” the student says.


China is currently Africa’s largest trading partner and the ties between the two have blossomed in recent years.

In the process China has become home to 80,000 African students, many attracted to the middle kingdom by scholarship programmes. But community leaders say families, young and old are stranded in Hubei province with little aid or assistance from their governments.

“People are saying: ‘Don’t bring us back because Nigeria can’t handle us.’ I feel conflicted but at the end of the day I am also human,” says Angela, a recent graduate from Nigeria, who only gave her first name.

“I would appreciate if they would recognise that there are Nigerians here but we don’t seem to be a priority. We didn’t get any response from our government,” she says.

Last week, for the first time in 22 days in lockdown, dwindling supplies forced Angela to venture out of her apartment to buy some essentials.

“The city is like a ghost town. When I left my complex I didn’t know if I would even be allowed back in. People are checking temperatures outside the gate,” she says in a phone interview from her apartment.

The Institut Pasteur de Dakar, in Senegal, is one of the laboratories that has the reagents needed to test samples

On 30 January the Cameroonian community penned an open letter to the president urging their government to evacuate citizens stuck in the epicentre of the outbreak.

Weeks on Dr Pisso Scott Nseke, a community leader in Wuhan, says Cameroonians are still waiting for a response.

He accepts that the community is not united in the desire to be evacuated but says they are disappointed by the lack of assistance from the government.

As of mid-February, Egypt, Algeria, Mauritius, Morocco and Seychelles had moved their citizens out of Hubei province.


Other nations such as Ghana and Kenya are reportedly considering evacuating.

‘We feel abandoned’

Some nations have sent financial support to their citizens.

According to the head of the Ivory Coast student association in Wuhan $490 ($380) was given to the 77 Ivoirians in the city following weeks of discussions with their government. But many are growing increasingly frustrated by their government’s stance.

Ghana has reportedly sent financial assistance to its nationals as well.

“Staying here doesn’t guarantee our safety. We are just in a country that has better medical facilities,” says Ms Salima.

“We feel abandoned. The Chinese clearly were angered by the Americans pulling their people out as they felt it caused panic,” said one student who agreed to talk on the condition of anonymity. “There is a lot of distrust here of the authorities,” he added.

Some are calling for a continent-wide strategy to help African nationals in China.

“The decision to evacuate is not a question of ‘solidarity’ with China or the lack of it. It is the responsibility of every country to ultimately look after the health of their citizens wherever they are, including in China,” says Hannah Ryder from Development Reimagined, a Beijing-based international development consultancy.


As for Mr Senou, he says has no plans to return to Cameroon.

“It would be a bad and dangerous idea. The biggest fear I had from the virus was psychological and emotional. Going back home is not an option now.”

‘We’d prefer the food to money’ — Zimbabweans

Government dysfunction, an economic meltdown, drought and a calamitous flood have plunged Zimbabwe into a hunger crisis.

Food distribution in the Mutoko rural area of Zimbabwe in March.Credit…Jekesai Njikizana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The people lined up early for a chance to buy subsidized maize meal from the government-run Grain Marketing Board depot in Harare, at prices they could afford. After three hours, a guard emerged to announce that the depot’s supply was rotten so there would be none for sale that day.

The crowd of 150 reacted with disbelief and anger.

“Life is hard, all things are expensive, there are no price controls and inflation just keeps getting worse,” said Benjamini Dunha, 57, a plumber who makes 700 Zimbabwe dollars a month — about $38 at official exchange rates. Less than a year ago, his salary was worth much closer to $700.

Another shopper, Nyasha Domboka, 52, spoke cynically about a truckful of maize meal, also known as mealie meal, that he had just seen in the depot parking lot. “How can mealie-meal packed just recently be said to have gone bad all of a sudden?” he asked.


A combination of government dysfunction, an economic meltdown, droughts and a calamitous cyclone this past March have hurtled Zimbabwe toward a hunger disaster that has become the most severe in southern Africa and among the most alarming in the world. While food is not necessarily scarce yet, it is becoming unaffordable for all but the privileged few.

A house destroyed by Cyclone Idai in Chimanimani, in March.Credit…Zinyange Auntony/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“I cannot stress enough the urgency of the situation in Zimbabwe,” Hilal Elver, an independent United Nations human rights expert on food security, said after a 10-day visit in November. Sixty percent of the country’s 14 million people, Ms. Elver said, are “food-insecure, living in a household that is unable to obtain enough food to meet basic needs.”

Hunger in Africa is a pervasive problem, but in Zimbabwe, once known as the continent’s breadbasket, it has been compounded by dysfunction that has left the country in its most serious economic crisis in a decade. The annual inflation rate, which the International Monetary Fund has called the world’s highest, is 300 percent.

Maize meal, a staple of the Zimbabwean diet, doubled in price in November to 101 Zimbabwe dollars per 10-kilogram sack. Now it costs 117. In early December, a two-liter bottle of cooking oil cost 59 Zimbabwe dollars. Now it costs more than 72.

“The money here is valueless now,” said Mr. Dunha, who has eight children. All they can afford to eat, he said, are vegetables and sadza, a thick porridge of boiled maize meal.


Gerald Bourke, a spokesman for the southern Africa operations of the World Food Program, the anti-hunger agency of the United Nations, said that until recently 60 percent of its assistance to Zimbabweans was in the form of cash, but that the recipients no longer wanted the money.

“Inflation is a rampant problem and people said, ‘We’d prefer the food,’” Mr. Bourke said.

Lining up to withdraw the new Zimbabwe currency in Harare last month. Credit…Jekesai Njikizana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

So by January, he said, the agency intends to switch to a “fully in-kind food program” for the first time in Zimbabwe, distributing monthly rations of grain, oil and nutritional supplements for children younger than 5. The agency also will double the number of recipients to four million.

“This is certainly the worst we are seeing in southern Africa,” Mr. Bourke said during a mid-December field visit to Harare, the capital. While cases of acute hunger have not been uncommon in rural Zimbabwe, “it’s seen in the cities now,” he said. “Hungry people in the countryside are moving to the cities” in search of food.

The finance minister, Mthuli Ncube, said on Friday that the government would spend 180 million Zimbabwe dollars a month on subsidies as part of an effort to keep the price of maize meal stable.

But for many Zimbabweans, there is fear that the inflation problem portends a return to the days more than a decade ago when a trip to buy groceries required wheelbarrows of cash. Even now, purchases of anything beyond maize meal is considered a luxury.


“We used to buy favorite foods such as ice cream, cheese, bacon, sausages and ham, and prepare good breakfasts for our families, “ said Moreblessing Nyambara, a 35-year-old Harare schoolteacher. “These things are a vision of the past now.”

Many historians attribute Zimbabwe’s predicament to the legacy of Robert Mugabe, the father of independence in 1980. An icon of African anti-colonialism, Mr. Mugabe became a despot and presided over the decline of what had been one of Africa’s most prosperous lands. He was ousted in 2017, and died in September at age 95.

Any hopes that Mr. Mugabe’s former ally and successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa, could revive Zimbabwe’s economy have almost completely faded.

“No progressive nation can progress without its own currency,” President Emmerson Mnangagwa said. “We will not revert back.” Credit…Jekesai Njikizana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

This past June Mr. Mnangagwa scrapped a policy known as dollarization, in which the United States dollar and other foreign currencies were used as legal tender. That policy was introduced in 2009 and helped end an era of hyperinflation, which had rendered the Zimbabwe dollar less valuable than the paper it was printed on.

But a newly introduced version of the Zimbabwe dollar has plunged in value, drastically raising the prices of goods priced in the currency.

Foreigners are reluctant to invest in Zimbabwe despite Mr. Mnangagwa’s proclamation that the country is “open for business.” Export sales and remittances from the Zimbabwean diaspora, important sources of United States dollars needed to import food and fuel, have fallen.


Mr. Mnangagwa has rejected calls to restore dollarization.

“No progressive nation can progress without its own currency,” he told members of the governing ZANU-PF party at their annual conference in mid-December. “We will not revert back.”

Still, for now, the inflation problem remains less severe than what prevailed more than a decade ago.

At that time, prices were doubling every day, reaching a point where a single sheet of two-ply toilet paper cost nearly as much as a 500-Zimbabwe-dollar bill, then the smallest in circulation. That comparison spawned grim jokes about a better use for the currency.

A woman doing a quick calculation on her phone before buying groceries at a shop in Harare.Credit…Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/Associated Press

Four million Zimbabweans are now not that far away from famine, according to a scale commonly used internationally to classify the severity of food insecurity and malnutrition. In the scale’s five phases, Phase 1 is minimal and Phase 5 is famine.

Mr. Bourke, the program spokesman, said the hungriest Zimbabweans were now in either Phase 3 or Phase 4.

With Zimbabwe’s last maize harvest down by half compared with the year before because of drought, he said, the aid will continue until at least through the end of April, when the next harvest is due. But he was not optimistic.


“The weather forecasters are basically saying we’re looking at a very dry growing season,” Mr. Bourke said.

Ursula Mueller, the deputy emergency relief coordinator at the United Nations, who visited Zimbabwe in June, said the country’s travails were partly tied to a broader climate crisis in southern Africa that has rippled through all facets of life.

Drought begets less food, which in turn begets declines in health and education and increases in crime and other “negative coping mechanisms,” she said.

A hippo stuck in the mud at a drying watering hole in the Hwange National Park.Credit…Zinyange Auntony/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“This is not just a food crisis. It is a wider more complicated situation,” she said in a telephone interview on Friday. “People have to make choices: Do I seek H.I.V. treatment or food?”

Ms. Mueller also said a United Nations humanitarian budget for Zimbabwe had received only half the nearly $468 millionrequested, forcing her office to dip into other emergency funding. Humanitarian aid by the United Nations is financed almost entirely by voluntary contributions.


Beyond immediate assistance, Ms. Mueller said that more investments were needed to address the root causes of problems in Zimbabwe and other countries that have the potential for more self-sufficiency.

35 civilians killed by terrorists in Burkina Faso

Seven members of the security forces died, while 80 insurgents were reported killed.

A soldier of the Burkina Faso army, whose actions were praised by the president. Photograph: Michele Cattani/AFP via Getty Images

Jihadists in Burkina Faso have killed 35 civilians, mostly women, after attacking a military outpost in northern Soum province, authorities have said.

The violence, which erupted in the town of Arbinda near the country’s border with Mali, lasted for several hours, according to a military statement. Seven members of the security forces who responded died, while 80 insurgents were reported killed.

Of the civilian victims, 31 were women. It was not immediately clear where they were at the time of the attack or why so many died.

President Roch Marc Kaboré declared two days of national mourning in the west African country in response to the attack.

“The heroic action of our soldiers has made it possible to neutralise 80 terrorists,” he said. “This barbaric attack resulted in the death of 35 civilians, most of them women.”


Jihadists in Burkina Faso have killed 35 civilians, mostly women, after attacking a military outpost in northern Soum province, authorities have said.

The violence, which erupted in the town of Arbinda near the country’s border with Mali, lasted for several hours, according to a military statement. Seven members of the security forces who responded died, while 80 insurgents were reported killed.

Of the civilian victims, 31 were women. It was not immediately clear where they were at the time of the attack or why so many died.

President Roch Marc Kaboré declared two days of national mourning in the west African country in response to the attack.

“The heroic action of our soldiers has made it possible to neutralise 80 terrorists,” he said. “This barbaric attack resulted in the death of 35 civilians, most of them women.”

How the price of internet data can be cut in Africa

All over the world, the internet has provided extraordinary socioeconomic opportunities to businesses, governments, and individuals.

But less developed countries still face numerous obstacles to maximise its potential. The problems range from obsolete infrastructure, the nonavailability, non-accessibility, cost, power fluctuations, policies and regulation.

Many countries on the continent still have bandwidth as low as 64 kilobits. This is in contrast to the 270,000 megabits per second in the US. Data also shows that downloading a 5GB movie took 734 minutes in the Republic of Congo, 788 minutes in Sao Tome, 850 minutes in Ethiopia, 965 minutes in Niger and 1,342 minutes in Equatorial Guinea. Singapore is the fastest, taking about 11 minutes and 8 seconds to download a typical 5GB high-definition movie. In certain situations, bandwidths for the entire country is less than what is available to an individual residential subscriber in the US.

Similarly, African countries are listed among those with the lowest internet speed yet with the most expensive communication and internet cost in the world.


Africa is on record to have had the fastest growing mobile telecommunication market over the years. But the continent still has the lowest mobile penetration. And developments in Africa’s telecommunications sector happen in cities and urban centres. Service providers argue that it’s not economically feasible to roll out a network to cover an entire country .

But various advanced technologies are emerging to reduce the cost of internet provision and to increase accessibility. They also offer the possibility of developing communication networks in a way that does less harm to the environment.

The approach is called resource virtualisation, where multiple telecommunication services can be provided by less physical infrastructure. Since the chunk of the cost transferred to the end-user comes from the cost of power and infrastructural management, this approach can reduce the operational cost, improve accessibility and cut the cost to the end user.


Rethinking how masts are sited

Like every architectural work, telecommunication masts must meet specific constructional requirements, including choice of location and risk analysis. But unregulated construction is typical in many parts of Africa. Even where regulatory bodies exist, many media and communication masts are sited within very short distances and hilly grounds in big cities.

This is true in Ghana too where in an urban environment it’s possible to see 10 masts within close proximity to one another. This does not necessarily guarantee quality service. In addition, it poses a severe environmental and physical risk.

It stands to reason, therefore, that having fewer masts, hence using less energy and doing less damage to the environment would be the optimal way forward.

I have been involved in developing a framework along with other colleagues that can help policymakers demarcate, and zone major cities – or the whole country into zones. Each zone takes only one mast, owned by an infrastructure provider and shared by multiple service providers.

I focused on telecommunications, but the principle can be applied to TV and radio signal towers too.

Proposed mast deployment. Clement Prince Addo

My proposal involves a three-level architecture that includes a provider who owns and manages the infrastructure.

At the upper level is a Cloud-RAN macro-base station. A provider like the state regulator, can own and manage the data from the base station.

The macro base station is responsible for managing the system’s energy, bandwidth allocation, and flow management, including the handover in intra and inter mast zones. At the middle level, service providers focus on providing tailored and quality of service to their users. The service providers will not have to spend their resources on managing the infrastructure they only have to deal with how to satisfy users. The user on the third level has to only deal with the service providers.

Association between service providers and users. Clement Prince Addo

This framework will bring an end to uncontrolled mast deployment seen in many African countries. It would allow for power and bandwidth sharing among multiple service providers and would reduce the need for multiple masts. Traffic would be scheduled over limited masts or access points that reduce the system energy consumption and improve efficiency. The general impact on the environment would also be reduced.

Service providers could then focus on end-users and not on infrastructures.

Sudan to investigate Darfur atrocities under Ousted Leader

About 300,000 people were killed in the conflict and some 2.7 million were forced from their homes during the war, according to the United Nations.

Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the former president of Sudan, in court in Khartoum on Dec. 14.Credit…Morwan Ali/EPA, via Shutterstock

Sudan has kick-started investigations into the long, bloody suppression of the Darfur region under the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, a move aimed at ending years of impunity and bringing perpetrators to justice amid a fragile political transition.

The Sudanese attorney general, Taj al-Sir al-Hibir, said Sunday that the government would look into atrocities committed against civilians in Darfur beginning in 2003, in the first indication that Mr. al-Bashir and some of his allies could face charges related to human rights abuses in Sudan.


Mr. al-Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist for almost three decades — a tenure marked by human rights abuses, economic decline, and entrenched corruption. He was indicted a decade ago by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity over his government’s actions in the Darfur region from around 2003 to 2008.

His rule came to an end in April after a months-long uprising and just over a week ago, the 75-year-old former leader was found guilty of corruption and illegal possession of foreign currency and sentenced to two years of detention. He faces other charges including some stemming from the crackdown that left scores of anti-government protesters dead this year and his role in the putsch that brought him to power in 1989.


Mr. al-Bashir was replaced by a transitional government that is working to put the northeast African nation on a path to a full-fledged democracy and lift it out of decades of diplomatic and economic isolation. The new government is also under pressure to redress the wrongs of the past.

After Mr. al-Bashir was sentenced last week, human rights agencies called on the transitional government to take concrete measures against perpetrators of violence in Darfur. But delivering that justice may prove easier said than done, given that some of Mr. al-Bashir’s most trusted confidants continue to hold prominent positions in government.

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“The transitional government of Sudan must demonstrate that the ongoing transition will not obscure past crimes and will take into account the demands of all populations in the different regions of the country, including Darfur, for long-lasting peace and justice,” Arnold Tsunga, director of the Africa regional program of the International Commission of Jurists, said in a statement.

The Darfur conflict flared when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Mr. al-Bashir’s government, accusing it of economic and political marginalization. About 300,000 people were killed in the conflict and some 2.7 million were forced from their homes, according to the United Nations.


Sudan’s military has said it will not hand over Mr. al-Bashir to The Hague for trial, even as human rights advocates like Amnesty International have called for his extradition. So while human rights activists have endorsed the notion of regional investigations, they have also expressed concerns.

“The victims in Darfur have the right to justice, and they will be given that justice if al-Bashir is tried in the I.C.C.,” said Amir Suliman, a Sudanese human rights lawyer and co-founder of the nonprofit African Center for Justice and Peace Studies.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok visited the Darfur region in November and promised that his administration would bring peace and help to the victims. Continuing violence and growing food insecurity there are affecting millions of people, the United Nations says.

Among Mr. al-Bashir’s confidants who remain in power is Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, also known as Hemeti. He is a member of a prominent council tasked with the transition to democracy.

He has been accused of leading a prominent paramilitary force that left a trail of human rights abuse allegations in Darfur. He is also accused of the violent crackdown that left dozens of demonstrators dead in June.

report released this month by the Paris-based organization International Federation for Human Rights in conjunction with the African Center for Justice said Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad still suffered physical and psychological consequences from the war. They feel “forgotten and abandoned,” Mr. Suliman said.

The victims, he said, are looking to both regional and international governments for justice and humanitarian aid.

“We are closely watching to see where this investigation will go,” he said.

How violence in Congo thwarted the battle against Ebola

World Health Organization rues spike in violence that impeded efforts of health workers when outbreak was almost under control.

People gather in the Congolese city of Oicha for the burial of victims of the latest massacre in the country’s volatile eastern area. Photograph: Bienvenu-Marie Bakumanya/Getty

The men who came to the village of Ntombi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in mid-December aimed to spare no one.

Militants with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), one of dozens of armed groups operating in DRC’s North Kivu, they hacked to death women and children, killing 22 people in a single incident in one of a series of attacks over the course of a weekend that left 43 dead in total.

The consequence of the attack, one of several in a spike of violence in DRC, are profound: occurring at a moment when health officials believed they were close to finally bringing the country’s 16-month long Ebola virus outbreak under control.

“We were down to the last two transmission chains,” explained Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) health emergencies programme. “We were so close to finishing,” he said, exasperated.


“I was going through the figures last night. If you look at the number of health zones in the area that were affected, they had dropped dramatically.”

Now the health teams, both local and international, that have been battling an epidemic that has claimed more than 2,200 lives over the past year and a half, are faced with a grimly familiar picture: a security crisis that limits their ability to work in one of the three epicentres of the outbreak, and an inevitable resurgence of the disease.

And underlining the continuing Ebola threat, the recent security issues coincide with a particularly intense “super chain” of transmission, involving an individual who had suffered a recurrence of the disease six months after apparently recovering.

The massacre at Ntombi followed hard on the heels of a pair of lethal attackson health workers at the end of November, variously blamed on the ADF and the Mai Mai armed militia, in Mangina and in the sensitive Biakato Mines region. The attacks forced the evacuation of many staff involved in the Ebola effort.

The chain of circumstances at least partly responsible for the spike in unrest is also familiar. Faced with a new operation by DRC government forces, targeting the ADF around Beni, the group replied with attacks targeting civilians.

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The motives behind other attacks, however, including the attack on the health team at the Biakato Mines, remain murky.

All of which led the head of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to call for greater security protection for Ebola responders in the Guardian earlier this month.

“There are two dynamics that are impacting on the security situation as it affects the Ebola response,” said Ryan, differentiating between attacks by the Mai Mai, a group seen as embedded within the local community and with links to local politicians, and the ADF, a militant Islamist rebel group founded by a Catholic convert.

“There is the situation around Beni, which is an area where the ADF are operating. And that is something completely outside of the Ebola virus response.

“Because the ADF is being pressured by government forces it kills people, and then the local population responds with hostility to [the local UN peacekeeping mission] Monusco, and that in turn creates huge gaps in security for an Ebola response effort that’s locked in its hotel with active rioting going on.”

The setbacks emerged at a moment when health officials believed they were making significant progress, not only with their policy of improved engagement with a highly suspicious local community, whose resistance to the response was blamed for difficulties in managing the outbreak, but in building up the capacity of the local health system, which was practically non-existent in some areas at the beginning of the outbreak.

“You can see from the figures there are health zones where we’ve gone 100 days, 181 days without a case, where the disease has been cleared,” said Ryan. “But every time we get close [to completely controlling the outbreak], security issues come and knock us down again.”

Improvement in sub-Saharan Africa housing but millions of people still live in slums

Study identifies major transformation in quality of living conditions, but governments urged to improve urban sanitation

From cities to the countryside, Africa has undergone a dramatic transformation in living conditions over the past 15 years, according to a new study.

But the research, based on state of the art mapping and published in science journal Nature, also found that almost half of the the urban population – 53 million people across the countries analysed – were living in slum conditions.

Led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the study offers the first detailed estimate of housing quality in sub-Saharan Africa.

Using the most recent data available from 31 countries, researchers found housing had improved across several measures over a 15-year period. Sufficient living area, improved water and sanitation and the durability of construction were found across 23% of houses in 2015, up from 11% in 2000.

The study’s senior author, Dr Samir Bhatt from Imperial College London, said: “Our study demonstrates that people are widely investing in their homes, but there is also an urgent need for governments to help improve water and sanitation infrastructure.

“We saw a doubling in the number of people living in an improved house. This parallels the success stories we are seeing in terms of Africa’s development. It is supported by a wide variety of other studies that show that when people get sufficient income, one of the things they do is invest in their homes.”

Bhatt said the improvement will have a “huge impact” on people’s health and susceptibility to disease.

“You can give someone a mosquito net with insecticide, but having a window you can close makes a huge difference,” he said.

The study found the need for adequate housing to be “particularly acute” in Africa, since the continent has the fastest growing population in the world, predicted to rise from 1.2 billion people in 2015 to 2.5 billion people by 2050.

The improvement was highest in Botswana, Gabon and Zimbabwe. South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were among countries where progress was less marked.

The researchers found that improved housing may be linked to economic development. Improved housing was 80% more likely among more educated households and twice as likely in the wealthiest households, compared with the least educated and poorest families.

The new data could guide interventions to achieve universal access to safe and affordable housing and to upgrade slums by 2030, one of the UN’s sustainable development goals.

Dr Lucy Tusting, who conducted the work while at the malaria atlas project, University of Oxford, said: “Adequate housing is a human right. Remarkable development is occurring across the continent but until now this trend this had not been measured on a large scale.”

The UN definition of a slum household is one that does not protect against extreme weather, has more than three people to a room, lacks access to safe water and adequate sanitation, and has no security of tenure.

The researchers, who examined 600,000 households using an innovative technique that allowed the prevalence of different house types to be mapped across the continent, defined housing as “improved” if it had the first four conditions, but did not look at security of tenure.

Can Africa catch up with the world in the fight against poverty? Here’s how

By M Niaz Asadullah and Antonio Savoia

The world is making remarkable progress in combating poverty. From 2000 to 2013, the portion of the world’s population living on less than the international poverty line of US$1.90 a day fell from 28.5 % to 10.7 %. That’s about one billion people lifted out of poverty.

In 2000 the United Nations launched the Millennium Development Goals, a coordinated international effort to eradicate poverty and raise living standards worldwide by 2030.

An even more ambitious global effort to eradicate poverty, called the Sustainable Development Goals was adopted in September 2015. This also seems to be producing significant results. An estimated 83 million people have escaped extreme poverty in the first three years after the goals were adopted – between January 2016 and July 2018.

At the same time, there’s been a dramatic shift in the geography of poverty around the world.

Today, extreme poverty is mostly around Africa, where 23 of the world’s 28 poorest countries are found. These countries have poverty rates above 30%.

Poverty projections up to the year 2030 (the end of the Sustainable Development Goals) suggest that even under the most optimistic scenario, over 300 million people in sub-Saharan Africa will still be in extreme poverty. Thus success in poverty eradication under these goals will depend crucially on what happens in Africa.

According to our research, the adoption of the goals in 2000 played a significant part in accelerating the process of poverty reduction in the world. The implementation of antipoverty programmes and poverty reduction strategies in individual countries became a routine part of national development plans. But, there was considerable disparity in how different countries responded to the development goals as well as in their capacity to implement these plans.

In the early 1990s, African countries such as Nigeria, Lesotho, Madagascar, and Zambia had similar poverty levels to those of China, Vietnam and Indonesia. Yet, this group has been successful in reducing poverty, while the African countries haven’t.

So, why this disparity and how can poverty reduction in Africa be accelerated?

Poverty trends

We looked at poverty trends in the developing world between 1990 and 2013. Using standard income poverty measures expressing the part of the population living on less than $1.25 and $1.90 a day, we found that poverty tended to fall faster in more poverty-ridden countries.

Good news? Yes, but such progress, although significant, doesn’t imply that the end of poverty is in sight everywhere. For example, if trends continue in a poverty-ridden country such as Mali, where 86.08% of people were living below $1.25 a day in 1990, it would take about 31 more years to eradicate extreme poverty altogether.

And, even a much less poor economy like Ecuador (where 6.79% people lived on less than $1.25 a day in 1990) is predicted to take about 10 more years to eradicate extreme poverty altogether.

State capacity

Our research identifies a crucial role for state capacity in differing levels of poverty reduction. Sub-Saharan African states often suffer from limited institutional capability to carry out policies that deliver benefits and services to citizens. In other words, they have limited state capacity.

Building state capacity depends on many variables. It is greater when ruling elites are subject to effective limits on the exercise of their power through institutionalised checks and balances. It’s also greater in countries with a longer history of statehood. For example, China, an experienced state which is centuries old, may have developed a greater ability to administer its territory – through learning by doing. It has thus become more effective at delivering on policies compared to less experienced African states.

And our own research suggests that countries with the most effective governments reduced income poverty at up to twice the speed than countries with the weakest states.

Fighting poverty in Africa

The weaknesses of a state affects the fight against poverty in a number of ways.

Firstly, fighting poverty requires direct policy interventions. Yet poorer African countries are less effective in reaching their poor. For example, governments in sub-Saharan Africa don’t have the data and administrative know-how necessary for reliably identifying their poor. This means they can’t target resources to them. Anti-poverty programmes in countries such as Malawi, Mali, Niger and Nigeria miss many of their poorest households.

The growing evidence on the gaps in state capacity and the importance of effective states for poverty reduction implies that, without significant improvement in governance, Africa may fall further behind in meeting the first sustainable development goal target of ending poverty.

To accelerate the end of poverty, African states should focus on developing enough capability for designing and delivering poverty reduction strategies. Implementing these reforms is vital. After all, improving the quality of government is not only important to accelerating poverty reduction. It’s also a development goal in itself.

Africa is heroin’s new highway to the West

The trade is poisoning politics and fuelling addiction on the continent.

Alizea smit sits on a plastic crate in front of her fruit and vegetable stand in Wynberg, Cape Town. It is a convenient spot. There is brisk custom for her oranges and avocados. And her heroin dealer is on the corner, just a few metres away. Ms Smit (not her real name) has used the drug for six years, buying three or four pellets a day at 30 rand ($2.21) each. If she does not sell enough fresh produce to feed her habit, she works as a prostitute in the evening. “Heroin is the worst,” she says. “It’s the first drug I’ve taken that you can’t escape.”

Until recently heroin addicts were rare in Africa. In the 1980s and 1990s users could be found largely in tourist spots, such as Zanzibar, or in enclaves of white hipsterdom in cities like Johannesburg. Since 2006, however, heroin consumption has increased faster in Africa than in any other continent, according to the un Office on Drugs and Crime (unodc). The trade in the drug is having ruinous effects, not just on public health, but on politics, too.

The rise of heroin in Africa partly reflects a surge in global supply. As the Taliban has consolidated its hold on parts of Afghanistan, where 85% of the world’s heroin is made, more of the country has been given over to poppies. In 2017 opium production increased by 65% to 10,500 tonnes, the highest recorded by the unodc since it began collecting data in 2000.

Not only is there more heroin being produced, but a rising share of the crop is being trafficked via Africa. The so-called Balkan route, encompassing Iran, Turkey and south-east Europe, has been the main way of getting heroin to the West. But over the past decade moving drugs along it has become harder, a side-effect of Turkey tightening its borders in response to the war in Syria and European countries’ attempts to keep out refugees. As a result, more of the harvests are being dispatched along the “southern route” (see map).

On this route, sometimes called the “smack track”, heroin is taken from Afghanistan to Pakistan’s Makran coast, where shipments are put on dhows, traditional Arabian boats with triangular sails. (Some heroin is also smuggled via containers in larger ships.) Throughout the year, save for the monsoon season, dhows sail south-west through the Indian Ocean before anchoring off Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. Smaller boats collect the contraband, taking it to beaches and coves, or to commercial harbours. From there heroin is taken by land to South Africa and shipped or flown to Europe or America, according to a report by Simone Haysom, Peter Gastrow and Mark Shaw of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime. Although it is longer than the Balkan route, the high margins on drug-smuggling more than compensate.

Authorities have largely failed to curb the traffic. Since 2010 there have been seizures in the Arabian Sea by an American-led multinational naval force. But it is mainly a counter-terrorist outfit, not a drug-busting one. It seizes heroin on the basis that drug sales help finance the Taliban but it does not have a mandate to arrest smugglers. As for seizures on the African mainland, these have been “extremely low”, notes Shanaka Jayasekara of the unodc. Police may not even try as the authorities and their political patrons are often in league with traffickers.

The corrosive effect that the heroin trade is having on politics is most evident in Mozambique. Though data are hard to verify, heroin may be Mozambique’s largest or second-largest export (after coal), reckons Joseph Hanlon of the London School of Economics.

In Mozambique trafficking is controlled by powerful families and covertly regulated by Frelimo, the ex-Marxist ruling party. In a hotel in Nampula, in the north of the country, an employee of a drug kingpin explains the deal between smugglers and the state. In exchange for political donations and personal kickbacks, Frelimo grants traffickers protection from arrest. The party also issues permits allowing smugglers to import and export goods without detection at the port of Nacala. In one alleged case, a trafficker imported hundreds of motorbikes using the Frelimo imprimatur, all of which had heroin packed into their petrol tanks.

No arrests of major figures for drug-trafficking have taken place in Mozambique. Seizures by police are all but unheard of; South African criminal-intelligence officials complain that their Mozambican counterparts block their investigations. For their part, donors to Mozambique have been reluctant to bring it up; development honchos pay little attention to crime. This is short-sighted. A report published in November by Ms Haysom suggests that conflict related to heroin and other illicit trades is helping fuel the insurgency in the far north of the country, near huge deposits of natural gas.

The drug trade is harming South Africa, too, which is used as a base for onward shipment because of its good infrastructure and weak currency (which makes services like those of lawyers cheap). Competition for control of the heroin market among gang bosses has contributed to a spike in murders in Cape Town.

South Africa is also where the public-health effects of the heroin trade are starkest. Since intermediaries are typically paid in drugs, as the wholesale trade grows, more heroin leaks out into the domestic retail market. A ready army of dealers then push heroin on consumers.

Ms Smit’s pusher, a 35-year-old Tanzanian migrant by the name of Juma, describes how his patch works. New users are offered “starter packs” and repeat users are rewarded for loyalty: a free pellet worth R30 for every five they buy. He pays R500 for a “booster pack”, from which he nets a R250 profit, after paying gangs a “tax” for protection. Though dealing is risky, Juma says it is better than his life in Zanzibar, where he was paid the equivalent of $2 a day for repairing telephone poles. That was not enough to support his wife and two children, so he emigrated to South Africa. “Shit, it’s a tough life, boss,” he sighs.

Data on South African heroin users are patchy. There are more than 1,000 people receiving treatment, up from almost none two decades ago, but this is a fraction of users. One estimate of injecting users puts the number at 75,000, or 0.2% of adults. Yet solo injecting is just one way heroin is consumed. Many smoke it in a toxic cocktail of washing powder, sleeping tablets and methamphetamines. A few indulge in “bluetoothing”, where they share the hit by withdrawing, then injecting, the blood of a fellow user into their own veins. In a country where hiv remains common, this is mind-bogglingly risky.

For Craven Engel, a pastor who runs Camp Joy, a rehabilitation centre near Cape Town for gang members who take drugs, there is no doubt that heroin is now “the fashionable drug”. Over the past five years it has overtaken methamphetamine as the drug of choice, he says. Recovering addicts agree. For many of them, taking heroin was a way of expunging violent memories of fighting for drug turf. “I needed the drug to alleviate my conscience,” explains a member of a gang. So long as the southern route thrives, the demand for opium to salve the soul is unlikely to ease.

This story was first published by and on The Economist. All rights reserved.

Swaziland in no-show at China-Africa summit

The only country without a representative at the China-Africa summit in Beijing is Swaziland, recently renamed eSawtini.


The kingdom, ruled by Mswati III, is the only country on the continent to reject pressure from China to drop diplomatic ties with Taiwan, which China considers as part of it.

China has denied putting pressure on the kingdom to switch sides.

Its special envoy for Africa, Xu Jinghu, said: “On this issue we won’t exert any pressure. We’ll wait for the time to be right… I believe this day will come sooner or later,” Ms Xu said.

Taiwan has vowed to fight China’s “increasingly out of control” behaviour.

The kingdom of Swaziland is one of the world’s last remaining absolute monarchies.

The king rules by decree over his million subjects, most of whom live in the countryside and follow traditional ways of life.

Cover photo: King Mswati III is one of the few absolute monarchs in the world. AFP

Beyond the dance, it’s amazing Theresa May even gets out of bed

The prime minister stumbles from blunder to faux pas, wearing the same haunted look. No wonder: she is completely unsuited to the role of world leader.


There is one truly amazing thing about Theresa May that makes me think I could live to be 100 and never be half the woman she is: she keeps getting out of bed, every morning. Another day goes by, horribly; she spends the morning dancing as if she is performing a public safety video on why humans should never dance; the same afternoon, she pays a ceremonial visit to Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell and is called on to explain what, exactly, she did to campaign for his release in the 80s. Did she even boycott any fruit? She did not. Was she a member of the Conservative party? She was. Did she agree with its leader, Margaret Thatcher, that Mandela was a terrorist?

She gurns; there is panic in her eyes. “The important thing to remember,” she starts, using her trademark technique of answering a specificity with a generality – but the important thing looks set to elude her. All the generalities have vanished. Was it that everyone thought everyone was a terrorist in those days? Was it that she was too busy with wheat fields and whatnot to be thinking about apartheid?

It is worse than painful – and it is immortalised on film for people to watch and rewatch. Someone will probably recut it for a video, to the tune of Man’s Not Hot. An hour later, she was posing in the cell of the man whose release she did so little to secure. It is shaming, but the next day’s caption in the Daily Telegraph is worse: “May walks in Mandela’s footsteps”. Like having no moral compass and taking a day trip is a little bit like spending 27 years in prison for a principle.

And yet, come the morning, there she is. Not just up, but dressed. She probably didn’t even need an alarm clock. Anyone else would need a cattle prod or a bed full of maggots.

Before May’s ascent to high office, I thought imperviousness was the defining trait of a world leader. They all get it from a different place: David Cameron saw his power as such an inevitability, such a sure sign that all was right with the world, that it almost didn’t matter what came out of his mouth; he could just drone repetitive phrases, like those a printer makes when it is plugged in. Donald Trump is fuelled by monstrous bile, so that mishap and humiliation only make him stronger. Angela Merkel has the look of a teacher whose class is being a bit silly. Emmanuel Macron has the ease of a man in an advert for a polo neck of such fine cashmere that it is fit for a president.

This unifying Teflon is a neutral quality in politics and nothing to be proud of, but I cannot think of any other country in the world whose leader is so palpably, visibly awkward. The sight of her curtseying to royaltyholding hands with Trump, always with that haunted look, laced with confusion, like a person on a runaway horse who isn’t completely sure they are not dreaming: it doesn’t arouse empathy, so much as a horrified feeling of contagion. Why am I embarrassed? I didn’t do the stupid curtsey!

One day – quite soon, I imagine – this ghastly period of May’s life, in which she is constantly asked questions to which there are no decent answers and her best shot at statesmanship is “it won’t be the end of the world”, will be over. It would be asinine to pretend there has been much to be proud of. But let us never forget how much getting out of bed she did.

Cover photo: Look away now … Theresa May dances with pupils at a South African school on Tuesday. Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

Misuse of opioids such as tramadol and fentanyl is ‘global epidemic’ – Report

UN figures reveal deepening opioid crisis in Africa, with cocaine and opium production at records levels worldwide.

Reports are rife of tramadol use among young people of the Ba’aka community, in the Sangha forest of Central African Republic. Photo: Susan Schulman

The misuse of pharmaceutical opioids is fast becoming a “global epidemic”, with the largest quantities being seized in African countries for the second year in a row, according to a UN report.

While huge attention has been paid to the opioid crisis in the US – where the misuse of prescription drugs like fentanyl dominates – figures released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has revealed seizures in Africa of opioids now account for 87% of the global total.

Unlike in the US, the seizures – concentrated in west, central and north Africa – have largely consisted of the drug tramadol, followed by codeine.

The figures were disclosed in the latest UN world drug report, which noted that opioids were the most harmful global drug trend, accounting for 76% of deaths where drug-use disorders were implicated.

The report said that while fentanyl and its analogues remain a problem in North America, tramadol – used to treat moderate and moderate-to-severe pain – has become a growing concern in parts of Africa and Asia.

The report added that the global seizure of pharmaceutical opioids in 2016 was 87 tonnes, roughly the same as the quantities of heroin impounded that year.

The figures on pharmaceutical opioids were rivalled by global cocaine manufacture, which the agency said had reached the highest level ever reported in 2016, with an estimated 1,410 tonnes produced.

Most of the world’s cocaine comes from Colombia, but the report also showed Africa and Asia emerging as cocaine trafficking and consumption hubs.

From 2016-17, global opium production also jumped by 65% to 10,500 tonnes, the highest estimate recorded by the agency since it started monitoring global opium production nearly 20 years ago.

“The findings of this year’s world drug report show that drug markets are expanding, with cocaine and opium production hitting absolute record highs, presenting multiple challenges on multiple fronts,” said the UNODC’s executive director, Yury Fedotov.

“Non-medical use of prescription drugs has reached epidemic proportions in parts of the world,” he added. “The opioid crisis in North America is rightly getting attention, and the international community has taken action.

“However … the problems go far beyond the headlines. We need to raise the alarm about addiction to tramadol, rates of which are soaring in parts of Africa. Non-medical use of this opioid painkiller, which is not under international control, is also expanding in Asia. The impact on vulnerable populations is cause for serious concern, putting pressure on already strained healthcare systems.”

Despite the increase in availability and production, the report disclosed that the number of people worldwide using drugs at least once a year remained stable in 2016 at around 275 million people – or roughly 5.6% of the global population aged 15-64 years. Drug use among the older generation (aged 40 years and above) has been increasing at a faster rate than among those who are younger.

Despite that, global deaths directly caused by drugs use increased by 60% from 2000 to 2015, with mortality among people over the age of 50 increasing from 27% of these deaths in 2000 to 39% in 2015. About three-quarters of deaths from drug-use disorders among those aged 50 and older were among opioid users.

SOURCE: The Guardian, UK

Ethiopia finally agrees on peace deal with rival Eritrea

Ethiopia has announced it will fully accept the terms of a peace agreement with neighboring Eritrea in a major step toward calming deadly tensions with its decades-long rival.


The development Tuesday night came as the ruling party also announced that the East African nation, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, will open up parts of state-owned enterprises in sectors such as energy, aviation and telecoms to private investment.

The news came just hours after Ethiopia lifted a state of emergency in what had been the most dramatic reform yet under new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has promised change after more than two years of deadly anti-government protests demanding greater freedoms in Africa’s second most populous country.

But it is the prospect of peace with reclusive Eritrea that has come as the latest, and largest, surprise.

The agreement signed in 2000 ended a two-year border war that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, but a no-peace-no-war situation continued, with the two countries skirmishing from time to time. Ethiopia had refused to accept the deal’s handing of key locations, including Badme, to Eritrea and continues to control that town.

Ethiopia’s ruling party now accepts that agreement without conditions and calls on Eritrea’s government to do the same, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate reported.

“The suffering on both sides is unspeakable because the peace process is deadlocked. This must change for the sake of our common good,” the chief of staff for the prime minister’s office, Fitsum Arega, said on Twitter.

Eritrean officials in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, could not immediately be reached for comment and Eritrea’s information ministry had posted nothing on the development.

Tiny Eritrea is one of the world’s most reclusive nations, ruled since 1993 by President Isaias Afwerki.

When the 42-year-old Abiy was installed as Ethiopia’s prime minister in April his inaugural speech mentioned the need for reconciliation with bitter rival Eritrea, raising hopes of peace.

“We are fully committed to reconcile with our Eritrean brothers and sisters and extend an invitation to the Eritrean government to start dialogue and establish rapport,” he said in his address to Parliament.

When the 42-year-old Abiy was installed as Ethiopia’s prime minister in April his inaugural speech mentioned the need for reconciliation with bitter rival Eritrea, raising hopes of peace.

“We are fully committed to reconcile with our Eritrean brothers and sisters and extend an invitation to the Eritrean government to start dialogue and establish rapport,” he said in his address to Parliament.

SOURCE: New York Times/Agencies

Africa following Trump's steps of building high walls

Africa following Trump’s steps of building high walls

When the Berlin wall finally came down in 1992, we thought: This was it, no more walls! Well, we might have celebrated too soon because in 1994 Israel constructed its own wall to separate itself from Palestine.

Africa following Trump's steps of building high walls

Israel considers it a security barrier against terrorism, while Palestinians calls it a racial segregation or apartheid wall.

And speaking of apartheid, South Africa is now faced with one of the worse crime statistics in the world. Some of the blame for what some call a crime wave is laid at the feet of its neighbouring states because surrounding countries like Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi come to the country for a better life.

So, now there are suggestions that South Africa build walls instead of the problematic fencing at some of its troubled borders – to prevent illegal migrants and criminals from allegedly stealing cars in South Africa and smuggling them over the border. When asked in parliament in 2017 if South Africa is considering building such walls, the now President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa replied: “We are a nation that does not build walls. We do not believe in building walls. And that defines who we are. We are South Africans and we do not subscribe to the building of walls”

Good news for some, but probably not if you share Donald Trump’s obsession with building a wall. The man can’t stop talking about a wall to stop Mexicans from entering the U.S. and “bringing drugs” to the country. Trump has gone further than his neighbours though, making sure that the borders are tight even for Africans.

Kenya seems to be following in Trump’s footsteps. The government is in a process of constructing a security wall at the Mandera-Somalia border. Kenyan officials insist that the controversial measure is meant to secure the town from terrorist attacks by the Al-Shabaab, a terror group operating from Somalia. 

Some Somali MPs who were against the construction of the wall called it an “infringement on territorial integrity” and insisted that Kenya is trespassing on their land. But Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta defended the move saying there was nothing wrong with establishing a common border entry point which will help check people who want to engage in activities which threaten peace in the two countries. Once completed the 400KM wall will have a designated immigration and a custom entry points with a two feet tall concrete wall fitted with CCTV cameras.

Staying in East Africa, Tanzania, famous for its beautiful game parks, the tallest peak on the African continent, Mount Kilimanjaro, beautiful Island Zanzibar and the Tanzanite to name a few, have also joined in the high-wall building to fight illegal Tanzaniteminers.Tanzanites are the valuable blue and violet gemstones was discovered by Jumanne Ngoma in the Merelani Hills of Manyara Region in Northern Tanzania in 1967. The area where it is found is a small mining area approximately 7 km long and 2 km wide near the Mirerani Hills.Tanzania President John Magufuli ordered the military to build a wall in order to control illegal mining and trading activities around the area. The 24.5km long wall took three months to build and costs the state over U.S. $2 million but who’s counting.

Criminals are constantly coming up with inventive methods to break the law. Are building these walls really the answer?

SOURCE: All Africa

Crack in East African Rift Valley may split the whole Africa

A large crack, stretching several kilometres, made a sudden appearance recently in south-western Kenya. The tear, which continues to grow, caused part of the Nairobi-Narok highway to collapse and was accompanied by seismic activity in the area.


The Earth is an ever-changing planet, even though in some respects change might be almost unnoticeable to us. Plate tectonics is a good example of this. But every now and again something dramatic happens and leads to renewed questions about the African continent splitting in two.

The Earth’s lithosphere (formed by the crust and the upper part of the mantle) is broken up into a number of tectonic plates. These plates are not static, but move relative to each other at varying speeds, “gliding” over a viscous asthenosphere. Exactly what mechanism or mechanisms are behind their movement is still debated, but are likely to include convection currents within the asthenosphere and the forces generated at the boundaries between plates.

These forces do not simply move the plates around, they can also cause plates to rupture, forming a rift and potentially leading to the creation of new plate boundaries. The East African Rift system is an example of where this is currently happening.

The East African Rift Valley stretches over 3,000km from the Gulf of Aden in the north towards Zimbabwe in the south, splitting the African plate into two unequal parts: the Somali and Nubian plates. Activity along the eastern branch of the rift valley, running along Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, became evident when the large crack suddenly appeared in southwestern Kenya.

Why does rifting happen?

When the lithosphere is subject to a horizontal extensional force it will stretch, becoming thinner. Eventually, it will rupture, leading to the formation of a rift valley.

This process is accompanied by surface manifestations along the rift valley in the form of volcanism and seismic activity. Rifts are the initial stage of a continental break-up and, if successful, can lead to the formation of a new ocean basin. An example of a place on Earth where this has happened is the South Atlantic ocean, which resulted from the break up of South America and Africa around 138m years ago – ever noticed how their coastlines match like pieces of the same puzzle?.

Continental rifting requires the existence of extensional forces great enough to break the lithosphere. The East African Rift is described as an active type of rift, in which the source of these stresses lies in the circulation of the underlying mantle. Beneath this rift, the rise of a large mantle plume is doming the lithosphere upwards, causing it to weaken as a result of the increase in temperature, undergo stretching and breaking by faulting.

Evidence for the existence of this hotter-than-normal mantle plume has been found in geophysical data and is often referred to as the “African Superswell”. This superplume is not only a widely-accepted source of the pull-apart forces that are resulting in the formation of the rift valley but has also been used to explain the anomalously high topography of the Southern and Eastern African Plateaus.

Breaking up isn’t easy

Rifts exhibit a very distinctive topography, characterised by a series of fault-bounded depressions surrounded by higher terrain. In the East African system, a series of aligned rift valleys separated from each other by large bounding faults can be clearly seen from space.

Not all of these fractures formed at the same time, but followed a sequence starting in the Afar region in northern Ethiopia at around 30m years ago and propagating southwards towards Zimbabwe at a mean rate of between 2.5-5cm a year.

Although most of the time rifting is unnoticeable to us, the formation of new faults, fissures and cracks or renewed movement along old faults as the Nubian and Somali plates continue moving apart can result in earthquakes.

However, in East Africa most of this seismicity is spread over a wide zone across the rift valley and is of relatively small magnitude. Volcanism running alongside is a further surface manifestation of the ongoing process of continental break up and the proximity of the hot molten asthenosphere to the surface.

A timeline in action

The East African Rift is unique in that it allows us to observe different stages of rifting along its length. To the south, where the rift is young, extension rates are low and faulting occurs over a wide area. Volcanism and seismicity are limited.

Towards the Afar region, however, the entire rift valley floor is covered with volcanic rocks. This suggests that, in this area, the lithosphere has thinned almost to the point of complete break up. When this happens, a new ocean will begin forming by the solidification of magma in the space created by the broken-up plates. Eventually, over a period of tens of millions of years, seafloor spreading will progress along the entire length of the rift. The ocean will flood in and, as a result, the African continent will become smaller and there will be a large island in the Indian Ocean composed of parts of Ethiopia and Somalia, including the Horn of Africa.

Dramatic events, such as sudden motorway-splitting faults or large catastrophic earthquakes may give continental rifting a sense of urgency but, most of the time, it goes about splitting Africa without anybody even noticing.

SOURCE: The Conversation Africa

Dozens killed in DR Congo’s Ituri

Ethnic strife in nation’s northeast claims dozens of lives in 48 hours after flight of tens of thousands since December.


Ethnic strife in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed dozens of lives in recent days, according to officials.

Local civil society leader Jean Bosco Lalu told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that at least 40 people had been killed in ethnic violencebetween Hema herders and Lendu farmers in Ituri province in the last 48 hours.

A government official said they had recorded 30 deaths, AFP news agency said.

“There are certainly other bodies out in the bush. A search is under way,” a government official told AFP.

Willy Maese, deputy administrator in Djugu, said hundreds of homes were set on fire in an attack on two villages on Sunday.

At least 130 people have been killed in an outbreak of violence which started in Ituri in December.

Tens of thousands have fled the violence, including more than 27,000 who have crossed Lake Albert into Uganda.

In the second week of February alone, thousands arrived in Uganda by fishing boats or canoes each day amid reports that armed men had killed civilians and more than 1,000 houses had been burned down in Ituri’s Djugu.

A decades-old conflict between the Hema and Lendu killed tens of thousands between 1998 and 2003. In recent years, the two groups have maintained a low-level conflict with occasional flare-ups in violence.

Last year, the conflict forced 1.7 million people across the DRC to flee their homes.

South African community using crowd funding to get toilets

“Everyone in the community donates as much money as they can. We buy the materials and we build these [pit] toilets ourselves,” says community leader Nyoni Mazibuko.

Mazibuko lives in Mzondi Informal Settlement, established two years ago in Ivory Park, East of Johannesburg. There are now about 300 shacks in Mzondi. The community has built 14 toilets.

The community started a Thundafund page to raise money for materials to build the toilets. But with only days to go to reach the 20 March deadline to raise the R41,250 needed for “tipping point”, zero has been pledged by the public so far.

Mazibuko said ideally they would like to have one toilet per shack. “But we don’t have the money to buy the materials. Many people who live here are unemployed, so they cannot contribute,” he said.

The makeshift toilet structures are made of zinc sheets, wood and scrap materials. One is a flush toilet. Only those who have contributed to it have access to it. Mazibuko said it cost about R3,000 to build.

Sharen Maaneke has lived in Mzondi for two years. Before that, she lived in Lindokuhle, a neighbourhood in Ivory Park, where she rented a place for R600 per month. She could not keep up the rent as she was unemployed. She moved to Mzondi where she built a shack for herself and her two children.

“I waited more than 30 minutes to use the toilet this morning. There are also worms in the toilets sometimes,” said Maaneke.

Margret Mabene said, “We try to keep these toilets as clean as possible but with about 100 people sharing the same toilet, this [smell] is what you get.”

“When we think about using the toilet, we feel dirty. We feel like we don’t have human dignity, but we have nowhere else to live, so we just have to make the best of it. This is why we are building our own toilets,” said Mabene.

Mazibuko said evictions were carried out by the Red Ants in May 2017. The community returned and rebuilt two weeks later. After that, they met with the Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Lesiba Mpya in July 2017. Mazibuko said the community is still waiting to hear if Mzondi will be formally recognised.

Nombuso Nkosi, a media officer for the Ekurhuleni Municipality, said the municipality was aware of the “recently established informal settlement”, but it had obtained a court order in September last year allowing it to evict and demolish the shacks.

She said the community leaders approached the Water and Sanitation Department about the lack of toilets in the community, but the municipality could not build toilets because the “City of Ekurhuleni has the eviction order to give effect to demolishing and removing of those shacks”.

SOURCE: GroundUp

Five Congolese soldiers ‘killed by Rwandan army’

At least five Congolese soldiers have been killed by the Rwandan army, the Congolese military says.

Gen Bruno Mandevu said the clash occurred in the famous Virunga National Park, on Congolese territory – a claim Rwanda denied.

He said the Congolese troops initially thought they were fighting one of the many rebel groups active in the area.

A Rwandan army spokesman told the BBC that it was Congolese troops who had crossed the border.

Rwanda has twice invaded its much larger neighbour, sparking decades of conflict.

Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, across the border with Rwanda, remains deeply unstable.

Thousands on verge of starvation in Mozambique

More than 8,000 people are on the verge of starvation in Mozambique after one region’s crops were largely destroyed, says a regional official.

Maize is the main crop grown in the region (stock picture). Photo: Reuters

It is thought more than 100 hectares of farmland in Motaze, southern Maputo province, were wiped out after being hit by rain shortages and a caterpillar infestation.

Isabel Tembisa, head of the Motaze administrative post, says the situation is critical – particularly given the fact the main crop destroyed is maize, the region’s main staple food.

She said:

Under normal circumstances, the maize fields are all green at this period of the year. The maize that was flowering has now dried up. What we are now expecting, in the coming month or two, are pockets of hunger.

In terms of the maize caterpillar pest, we are experiencing similar problems. The maize that was in the blossoming phase has also suffered the effects of the pest. All the maize has been damaged.”

'We fight with each other over water' - residents cry as rivers run dry

‘We fight with each other over water’ – residents cry as rivers run dry

In the absence of basic sanitation, life in rural Mozambique during the dry season involves a relentless cycle of arduous journeys to collect water unfit for drinking. The struggle for survival, which affects young and old alike, puts those affected at risk of disease and leaves little time for anything else.

'We fight with each other over water' - residents cry as rivers run dry
Ajida, 14, walks home after collecting water in Mococorene, Nampula province. Photo: Mário Macilau/WaterAid

Water is evaporating from the beautiful landscapes of Mozambique. There is too little to keep people alive, and the lack of it is forcing them from their homes, splitting up families and killing children. Photographer Mário Macilau travelled around his country, talking to people whose only supply of water is from filthy rivers that dry up quickly in the hotter months.

In northern Mozambique’s Niassa province, only 21% of people have access to safe sanitation and just 42% have a clean water supply. Only half the area’s boreholes and wells are operational, forcing women and children to spend a great deal of time walking to fetch water.

Eudicia lives in Muassi village. She and her friend Josefina miss school up to four times a week as they have to fetch water from the riverbed.

“Going to collect water is not fun. I’m not happy because it’s too far. I’m not laughing because if I’m just laughing I won’t reach home until night. There are snakes and dogs there,” Eudicia says.

“We go in groups, because we’re afraid to go alone. Carrying the water is too heavy; it is dirty and has a bad smell, like grass or old leaves … Even when we do have water to wash, the water is dirty, so if you wash you are not really clean. I feel shy when I am dirty or my clothes are not clean.

“I miss school every other day or so, to collect water. I don’t feel good because I am absent from school.”

In Mozambique, the statistics are stark: 14.8 million people have no clean water, and more than 21 million are without a safe place to go to the toilet. Women and children make long, exhausting journeys to collect dirty water for their families. A lack of private toilets in schools causes many girls to leave when they start menstruating. Health centres are overcrowded and have inadequate sanitation. All of this leads to disease outbreaks: seven of every 100 children die before turning five.

“My favourite subject is Portuguese, and then social sciences. I want to be a teacher, because teachers can receive a good salary.

“I go to the river three times in a day,” she says. She fetches water for her family every other day. And because the river is far away, it means she has to miss school. “I’m not feeling happy, I don’t feel good about missing school.

“I have seven siblings, four girls and three boys. My best friend is Eudicia … We go to the river together. We have a game called namudóze. We make a circle on the ground and then throw a stone in the air. While the stone is in the air you have to move a small stone on the ground into the circle, then catch the stone that you threw on the way down. You keep going until you reach 12 stones in the circle.

“Sometimes Eudicia wins, sometimes I win.”

Josefina says she does not want to get married yet. “I want to wait. Next year I will go to grade six in Etatara. I’ll still live at home, but I’ll have to walk to school there. It’s far! My father supports me to go to school. He says, ‘Don’t be absent from school. You go to school to get a job.’”

Wissiquisse is a nahaco, a healer who cures using a combination of spiritual methods and herbal medicines, and is thought to possess magical powers.

Her husband died six years ago. “Ever since the day he passed away we have been suffering a lot … I have a lot of children.

“My job as a nahaco I only do when people come to my house and ask me. No one taught me. My late grandfather told me in a dream to come to the bush, so when I went there they were telling me to do this and that, and that’s how I learned.

“There is a spiritual connection to the river. When I go down to the river and ask the spirits for things, they give it to me. The same way that Christians go to church and pray to God to ask for things. We believe there are spirits in the river who will give us these things.

She says the most common thing women come to her about is when they are having trouble conceiving. “I give them some medicines, which they take home to help them.
The Nanjana river at this time of year is a stagnant, milky stream running off of the Muassi river

“Another problem is HIV. But I only give medicines for diseases like gonorrhoea or syphilis. To treat HIV properly, I can’t do it, so I tell them to go to the hospital.

“This kind of diarrhoea here – because of the water, I can’t treat it … When someone has a problem with their stomach from the water, they go to the hospital.
School children, aged 8 and 9, wash in a river in Nampula province

“The water situation here is bad. Even at the river we are fighting with each other to get water. Someone can go and take water and another one can come back without any. They are fighting because everyone wants to be the first to take water, so they come and say I should take it first, and then someone else comes and says they should take it first, and they start fighting.

“Because of this water problem I am suffering a lot. See all these children here – there is only that one small hole for water, for everyone to drink and to bathe. So it’s a big problem for us, and that’s why people fight.

“When you bring water here, things will change. It will be good, many people will not suffer because of sickness any more.”

“I live here in M’mele, in my grandfather’s house. My grandmother and my younger brother also live there, but he’s sick. I used to go to school but now I don’t go, I just decided myself not to go any more, mainly because of walking. I couldn’t always manage to walk there with the stick, because my leg was always hurting.

“When I was a small baby, we were running away from the war and someone shot at my leg, that’s why that leg is gone now. I was with my mother when we were running, I was in her arms. My mother died. Then later, in a following year, my father also died from diarrhoea.

“I am not thinking about them that much, only my mother because I miss her. For now I mostly don’t think anything.

“The problems here are getting water and food. It’s difficult to get water from the river, even for my grandmother it’s very difficult. She has a problem with her fingers. I can’t manage to go to the river to get water myself because of my leg. In this village there’s a big problem with water. We only get water from the river, and it’s far. It’s not clean water, it’s not good.

“I’m afraid … that water killed my father, so I’m scared to drink it, but I have to.

“I go to the toilet in the bush. It’s not that far. Its not a big problem. Sometimes I get shit on myself because of the way I have to squat on my foot. And sometimes I am not happy about it because other people have two legs and I only have one, so it’s easier for them. Sometimes I am sad. I would be happy if you built a nice toilet here.

“I get sick maybe once or twice a month. I don’t always go to the hospital, because there is no one to carry me there. If someone had a bicycle they could carry me, but no one around here has a bicycle.”

“Rogério has lived here for nine years. My daughter Delphinia was coming here in a car with him when they were attacked by bandits. They just started shooting, and the bullets went through my daughter and into his leg. My daughter died there, and they took Rogério to the hospital. Those bandits stole everybody’s things from the car, and then they burned it. The burnt-out car is still there, outside of Cuamba in a place called Patricio.

“To get water you have to go down to the river, where you just wait and wait, and then you have to carry it back. I am the one who has to get water. I go when the sun goes down only, because of the heat. Because of my legs I cannot go there very fast.”

Her surviving daughter, Arminda, comes by to help when she can. “Arminda is the one who carries Rogério to the hospital and back, brings food and does some cooking. She comes once a week.

“My husband can only sit and is thinking and thinking – his mind is not right because of thinking too much, trying to remember how to get back to the farm, how to do the work again. But he can’t remember how to do it. He fell down here in the house and hit his head, and that is when his problems started. That was about two years ago.”

Maria Nimolia is in her 80s. “Water has affected me too much,” she says. “Even when I ask children to collect water for me they just refuse, so that’s why I’m here today by myself. This water doesn’t really make me sick. I know that other people have problems with sickness from this water, but I seem to be OK.

“I can’t do any farming work any more, but I still go to the fields to keep some people company. Usually I just sit, nothing else. I clean and tidy my house.

“I don’t know how old I am, but I’ve lived here all my life. No one told me when I was born – I was a baby so I can’t remember. I live with my husband, Simon Jorge. I don’t know how old he is either. My son also lives with us, I think he’s about 30. I have seven children all together, but they live with their own families now.”

Her son-in-law José Witiness explains why she doesn’t know how old she is: “When the Portuguese colonised us here, they only accepted people who were rich to go to school. That is why older people here can’t read or write – they don’t know their ages or what year it is, and they can’t speak Portuguese. Their births were not necessarily registered, so sometimes they don’t even have an identity card. They were just living here in the bush and no one cared about them.”

“She has lost family, but she just can’t explain it.

“I was sick with cholera, and I had to go to the hospital to be treated. It happened because we didn’t have a clean place. The water here was so bad because the environment was dirty. We didn’t have any sanitation and the rain washed the faeces into the river.”

SOURCE: Guardian Global Development Network (London) 


Young African women breaking gender barrier with venture into coding

Young African women breaking gender barrier with venture into coding

More women techies could help close income inequality gap.

Young African women breaking gender barrier with venture into coding
File photo: The Guardian

At Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Angela Koranteng was an accomplished student with a special dream. At a time when few women were breaking the gender barrier in male-dominated studies, Ms. Koranteng had her heart set on health sciences—but instead of treating patients, she wanted to be an engineer and build hospitals.

After a round of courses in computer programming, civil engineering and coding, Ms. Koranteng today has earned a degree and a title: professional African coder.

Coding is what makes it possible to create computer software, apps and websites. Your browser, your operating system, the apps on your phone, Facebook, and websites—they’re all made with code. Coding can be learned at a university or boot camp.

Because boys are exposed to technical matters in childhood and girls are not, few young African women imagine themselves on a career track in engineering.

In college, “I learned everything from scratch, whereas the boys already knew the basics,” Ms. Koranteng told Africa Renewal in an interview. That disadvantage ensured that “my contributions [in class] were deemed less intelligent than those of my male counterparts.”

Even Ms. Koranteng’s father was not sure that a path in coding was good for her. “He didn’t know that coding would become one of the most in-demand skills across industries,” she explained.

Not just a man’s field

Today Ms. Koranteng works with a group called STEMbees, a Ghana-based nonprofit organization she helped to found, which mentors young women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Ms. Koranteng hopes that more girls in STEM will help bridge the gender gap in computing.

Unfortunately, training in STEM still attracts fewer women students than training in teaching, law, medicine or business.

Karen Spärck Jones, a professor of computers and information at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory in the UK, once said that “computing is too important to be left to men.”

But even in the most developed countries, the computer field is disproportionately dominated by men. In 2013 in the US, only 26% of computing professionals were female—down considerably from 35% in 1990 and virtually the same as in 1960. While the percentage of women in engineering has risen since 1990, the progress has been modest—from 9% in 1990 to 12% in 2013.

A 2012 US Department of Labor survey reported that women in the US comprised 30% of web developers, 25% of programmers, 37% of database administrators, 20% of software developers, and a little over 10% of information security analysts. Women also held less than 20% of chief information officer positions at Fortune 250 companies, and among the Fortune 100 tech companies, only four women held chief executive officer positions. At tech giants like Google, over 70% of technical employees were men.

Lacking reliable data, Ms. Koranteng presumes Africa’s situation to be far worse than that of the US. In the bustling Computer Village in Lagos, Nigeria, for example, it is mostly young men developing apps or engaging in other computing work, Caleb Ibhasabemon, who monitors technology trends and plans to start a computer hardware sales company, told Africa Renewal in an interview.

Despite the growth of Internet usage in Africa over the last decade, less than 10% of the continent has access to the Internet, according to a 2017 report by Internet World Stats, an organization that monitors global Internet usage. Low Internet diffusion on the continent is certain to impede efforts by Africans, especially girls, to become coding professionals.
Marian Tesfamichael, a young Ghanaian who has been coding in Toronto, Canada, is one of the few success stories. Her undergraduate studies were in computer science and mathematics, and her graduate studies in computer science. She is a web developer and data manager at the University of Toronto.

Ms. Tesfamichael says her gender and ethnicity might have slowed her progress within the industry; many at companies she’s worked for didn’t believe she could be good at the job. However, at the moment things are looking up for her.
A Lagos-based tech company Andela is training engineering teams, including coders, to fill the gap in tech talent in Africa. “We have nearly 30% of women out of more than 600 developers based in Lagos, Nairobi and Kampala,” says Christine Magee, Andela’s director of communications.

Another success story is Ghana’s Ethel Cofie, whom Forbes business magazine calls one of the top five women affecting IT on the continent. She is the founder and CEO of EDEL Technology Consulting, a company that provides IT and software services for businesses.

Technology and GDP growth

Ms. Cofie studied computer science during the dot-com period (1995 to 2001) and took advantage of Africa’s emerging market to invest in technology, according to reports by the BBC and CNN. To promote diversity in the computer programming industry, particularly to “encourage African girls to get involved,” she founded Women in Tech Africa.
Many budding female techies from around the continent consider Ms. Cofie a role model.

“Computer programming is one of the world’s most in-demand skills,” and African girls must seize the opportunity, says Ms. Cofie.
Similar sentiments have been voiced at the World Economic Forum (WEF), a Geneva-based nonprofit that meets annually and bills itself as committed to public-private cooperation.

Information technology helps create new businesses in digital marketing, data sciences, and mobile money ecosystems, among others. In 2017, revenues for information technology products and services are forecast to reach $2.4 trillion, a 3.5% increase over 2016, reports International Data Corporation (IDC), which provides market intelligence for information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets. IDC adds that the figure could be $2.6 trillion by 2020.

Statistics by WEF also show that a 10% increase in broadband penetration can lead to a 1.4% increase in GDP growth in emerging markets. The GDP growth numbers can be seen in countries adopting mobile money or other technologies that facilitate financial transactions, for example.

Already top tech companies such as Facebook and Google are providing technical and financial support to institutions creating opportunities for African girls learning how to code.

AWELE Academy, a leadership and technology institution based in Lagos, is one of the schools receiving external support for its attempts to close the coding gap in Africa. But it can accept only 20 students at a time—a feeble effort at best.

Technology institutions are working to increase awareness about computer programming through local conferences where girls meet role models to discuss career prospects.

Gender equality enthusiasts are optimistic that the increase in women coders will help close the gender wage inequality gap in Africa. The next few years could witness more African women falling in love with coding, earning decent wages and transforming their countries’ economies, predicts Ms. Tesfamichael.

SOURCE: Africa Renewal

Government freeze accounts of Green bomber tutors

Government freeze accounts of Green bomber tutors

Hundreds of staffers employed in the ministry of youths under the National Youth Service (NYS) department did not receive their January salaries as government tries to weed out non-functional departments, New Zimbabwe.com has gathered.

Government freeze accounts of Green bomber tutors
National Youth Service recruits (file photo). Photo: New Zimbabwe

The National Youth Service, widely known as the Border Gezi training programme, was revived last year by the then youth minister, Patrick Zhuwao, after a ten-year break.

Nearly 300 people are currently employed by NYS as instructors and supporting staff at various camps around the country.

The programme has been strongly criticised by the opposition political parties as a plan by the Zanu PF government to train youths as party storm troopers to cow opposition supporters especially in the rural areas.

Government, last year, announced plans to fire 3 739 youth officers and ward development coordinators in order to save treasury of $1.6 million in wages per month, or $19.3 million a year.

However, despite failing to get their January salaries the staffers have vowed to continue reporting for duty until a proper explanation is given by the ministry on the failure to remit their dues.

“I think there is a mix up at the treasury department which failed to deposit our January salaries over a misunderstanding on who is a ward youth officer and who is a NYS staff member.

“We renewed our contracts with government last year and we are all currently reporting for duty in our various training camps until a proper communication is made regarding the future of the programme and our employment,” said a senior staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

This development comes shortly after scores of Zanu PF aligned youths who had enrolled for the programme were turned away at a training camp in Mashonaland East after the government decided to re-cancel the controversial exericise.

SOURCE: New Zimbabwe.

1.9m Malawi families face food shortage

1.9m Malawi families face food shortage

Maize production for 2017/2018 growing season will reduce by over 283,941 metric tonnes due to prolonged dry spells including fall armyworms that have 18 districts and estimates that 1.9 million families face food shortage, the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha told Parliamnet on Monday.

1.9m Malawi families face food shortage
Photo: Premium Times

Mwanamvekha said this when he made a ministerial statement on the country’s food situation on the first day of the 2017/2018 mid year budget at Parliament in Lilongwe, Malawi’s administrative capital.

He said his ministry, in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization carried a rapid assessment to quantify the effects of both the dry spells and the fall armyworms.

According to him, about 40 percent of the maize produced in the districts affected by dry spells will be lost while areas that have been affected by fall armyworms will lose 10 percent of their projected maize production.

“Based on these findings, about 210,yep metric tonnes of the country’s projected maize production will be lost due to dry spells and about 73,wow metric tonnes will be lost to the fall armyworms. In total, therefore, Mr. Speaker Sir, the country’s maize production will be reduced by about 283,941 metric tonnes due to the two factors,” said Mwanamvekha.

Worst hit districts are Balaka, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Phalombe, Mwanza, Neno, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Thyolo, Zomba, Dowa, Dedza, Kasungu, Ntcheu, Salima and some parts of Lilongwe.

Mwanamvekha then took trouble to assure the House and Malawians that the country has enough maize and that no one will die of hunger.

He said government purchased enough maize from last year’s bumper harvest and that more resourcs will be released to National Food Reserve Agency (NRFA) to procure additional maize its silos.

“Government has come up with immediate, short term and long term measures, including restrictions on maize exports and maize products and this has already been implemented. We will continue releasing humanitarian maize to support the affects families”, said Mwanamvekha.

He further reminded the House that In 2015/2016 agriculture season the country experienced severe droughts and floods which resulted in less output, but no one died of hunger because Democratic Progressive Party led government’s excellent policies and strategies that resulted in procuring and redistribution of maize to affected families.

“When the country received good rains in 2017, we produced a bumper harvest and President Mutharika banned the exportation of maize last year. His decision was strongly criticized and opposed by some people, others decided to make cheap politics out of such a matter of serious national importance.

“Some of them were even Honourable colleagues from this august House and the nation is a best judge on the quality and depth of their leadership. The President persevered and endured all sorts of criticisms, insults, and ridicule as others went further thinking of holding demonstrations using this matter as one of the grounds. Today, the President has been vindicated,” said Mwanamvekha.

SOURCE: Nyasa Times

Gidabo dam nears completion

The Dam cost 1.1 billion Br and will irrigate 27,043ha of land

Partial view of the Gidabo Irrigation Dam whose construction has reached 97pc on the Gidabo river, 376km away from Addis Abeba. Photo: Addis Fortune

The Gidabo Irrigation Dam, constructed with an estimated cost of 1.1 billion Br and reaching 97pc completion, will begin operations within two months.

The Dam has a capacity of holding 63 million cubic metres of water and stands 21.2 meters tall and is 350m wide. Its initial completion was expected within two years of construction, beginning 2010 by the Ethiopian Construction Works Corporation (ECWC) formed as a result of the merger between Ethiopian Road Construction Corporation, Ethiopian Water Works Construction Enterprise and Ethiopian Prefabricated Building Parts Production Enterprise.

“The completion period was modified after the need to redesign the Dam to fully utilise Gidabo river’s potential as well as increase the Dam’s capacity,” according to Abdulfetah Taju, project manager of the Dam.

Aside from improving its capacity, the new design saw the addition of two channels sprawled on 1,050ha close to the Borena and Sidama zones. One channels water from the Dam to the zones in the Oromia Regional State, while the other to the Southern Nations, Nationalities & People’s Regional State (SNNPR).

The Dam that will irrigate 27,043ha of land, 60pc of which lie in the former region, while the rest in the latter.

Recurrent rainfall that fills the Gidabo river, delayed relocation of the residents and a second-time soil study were some of the other reasons that deterred the project from early completion, according to Tinfu Muchie, communications head of the Corporation, mandated to construct and maintain roads, bridges, highways, dams, as well as hydropower and irrigation infrastructure.

The decision to increase the amount of land to be cultivated was also one of the causes of delay for the consultants, the Ethiopian Construction Design & Supervision Works Corporation. Geological problems were also cited by Yahyah Ahmed, consulting engineer of the Firm which was established in 2015.

Delay in construction is not exclusive to this dam, rather a problem of many, according to Biruk Abate (PhD), who has a decade of experience in civil engineering.

“Poor planning, lack of integration between owners, contractors and consultants as well as lack of finance are to be blamed for the delay,” he told Fortune.

When the Dam,becomes operational, it will be the ninth to have been completed by the Corporation, with another one costing 3.7 billion Br, Rib Dam, under construction since its establishment three years ago.

Kesem Dam & Irrigation, Gidabo Dam, Megech Dam and Tendaho Clean Water Supply project are major projects executed by the Corporation that had an authorised capital of 20.3 million Br and 7.7 million Br paid-up capital.

Once the Dam starts operations, it is expected to contribute to fish production from the artificial lake that will be formed. It will also help farmers in Borena and Sidama areas become productive throughout the year cultivating different cereals, according to Abdulfeta.

SOURCE: Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa) 

Cash or custody: Israel begins deportation of African migrants

* Israel says migrants are job seekers

* Migrants, NGOs say they are asylum seekers

* UNHCR urges Israel to reconsider

* Liberal Jews oppose deportations

By Maayan Lubell and Elana Ringler

Photo: Twitter/Reuters

Israel has started handing out notices to 20,000 male African migrants giving them two months to leave the country or risk being thrown in jail.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is offering the migrants, most of whom are from Sudan and Eritrea, $3,500 and a plane ticket to what it says is a safe destination in another country in sub-Saharan Africa.

The fate of some 37,000 Africans in Israel is posing a moral dilemma for a state founded as haven for Jews from persecution and a national home. The right-wing government is under pressure from its nationalist voter base to expel the migrants, while others are calling for them to be taken in.

The government says the migrants are “infiltrators” looking for work rather than asylum, but there is a growing liberal backlash against the plan, including from rabbis, a small group of survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and ordinary people who say Israel should show greater compassion to the migrants.

The first eviction notices were handed out on Sunday and job advertisements for immigration inspectors to implement the deportation plan have been posted on government websites.

Rights groups advocating on behalf of the migrants say many fled abuse and war and their expulsion, even to a different country in Africa, would endanger them further.

“I don’t know what to do. Rwanda, Uganda are not my countries, what will a third country help me?” said Eritrean Berihu Ainom, after receiving an eviction notice on Sunday.

The deportation notices do not name the country migrants will be flown to but Netanyahu has said it will be a safe destination. Rights groups have named Uganda and Rwanda as possible host countries.

In a poor neighbourhood in the south of Tel Aviv that has attracted thousands of African migrants, shops are dotted with signs in Tigrinya and other African languages while abandoned warehouses have been converted into churches.

“I came to Israel to save my life,” said Eritrean Afoworki Kidane, sitting on a street bench.

He said he would rather go to jail than take the cash and plane ticket on offer to leave the country that has been his home for nine years.


Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Israel’s first obligation was to its own citizens, rather than the migrants.

“They are not numbers, they are people, they are human and I am full of compassion and mercy,” Deri told Army Radio. “But the small state of Israel cannot contain such a vast number of illegal infiltrators.”

But opposition to the plan has been building and some Israelis are now offering to take migrants at risk of expulsion into their homes.

On Thursday, a group of 36 Holocaust survivors sent a letter to Netanyahu asking him not to deport the migrants. The U.S.-based Anti Defamation League has also urged Israel to reconsider the plan, citing “Jewish values and refugee heritage”.

Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and a Holocaust survivor, said in a statement the issue required “as much compassion, empathy and mercy that can possibly be marshalled. The experiences of the Jewish people over the ages underscore this commitment.”

Rabbi Susan Silverman has launched a campaign called Miklat Israel (Israel Shelter) for Israelis to take migrants into their homes.

“It’s unconscionable for the Jewish state to deport people to harrowing vulnerability,” she said.

Miklat Israel’s Rabbi Tamara Schagas said 600 Israeli families had already signed up and the organisation would begin to connect migrants with potential hosts this week.


The Supreme Court ruled in August that Israeli authorities can hold illegal migrants for up to 60 days in custody.

Immigration officials have said women, children and men with families in Israel were allowed to stay for now, as was anyone with outstanding asylum requests.

Out of 6,800 requests reviewed so far, Israel has granted refugee status to 11 migrants. It has at least 8,000 more requests to process.

Israeli authorities have said Israeli officials will keep in touch with migrants accepted in a third country to oversee their progress. Rwanda has said it will only accept migrants who have left Israel of their own free will.

Nonetheless, the U.N.’s refugee agency has urged Israel to reconsider, saying migrants who have relocated to sub-Saharan Africa in the past few years were unsafe and ended up on the perilous migrant trail to Europe, some suffering abuse, torture and even perishing on the way.

Rights groups in Israel say the government is simply ridding itself of people it should be recognising as refugees in Israel and that there was no real guarantee for their safety.

A fence Israel has built over the past few years along its border with Egypt has all but stopped African migrants from entering the country illegally. Beginning in the previous decade, when the border was porous, a total of 64,000 Africans made it to Israel though thousands have since left.

Emmanuel Asfaha from Eritrea crossed into Israel in 2011 with his wife and baby son. His second child was born in Israel.

A narrow grocery store stockroom stacked with bags of flour leads to their two-room apartment in Tel Aviv, a poster of Jesus hanging on the cracked walls above his son’s bed. Asfaha is concerned Israel will eventually deport families too.

“I am worried about the situation,” he said while cooking Shiro, a traditional stew. “Tomorrow it will be for me also.”

A few kilometres away, in a hip, upscale part of Tel Aviv, Ben Yefet, a 39-year-old stockbroker, said he had signed up with Miklat Israel to house two or three migrants in his two-room apartment.

“As Israelis and Jews we are obligated. We have a moral compass, we just have to do it,” he said.

SOURCE: Reuters| Writing by Maayan Lubell; editing by Jeffrey Heller and David Clarke

Two people arrested trying to smuggle water to Western Cape illegally

Two people arrested trying to smuggle water to Western Cape illegally

TWO people were caught red-handed in Muldersdrift allegedly trying to fill tankers of water to drive down to the Western Cape on Wednesday night, the Mogale City Local Municipality said.

Two people arrested trying to smuggle water to Western Cape illegally
Photo: Pexels

“This is a gross violation of the rights of the citizens of Mogale City,” said Mayor Naga Lipudi in a statement.

Level 6B water restrictions kicked in in the City of Cape Town on Thursday, further limiting water consumption to 50 litres per person per day, in the hopes of avoiding “Day Zero”.

The city and provincial government are putting in place plans to distribute a water ration of 25 litres per person per day, should Day Zero become a reality. Philanthropists are also arranging for bottled water to be trucked down.

Lipudi said the municipality sympathises with the City of Cape Town as it stares down the crisis, and would help with an official operation, but it would not allow water to be taken illegally.

“Theft is not the best solution! Taking this scarce resource from the people of Mogale City without asking is theft.

“Our people pay for water and everybody who uses it must pay. Unaccounted for water is one of the Auditor-General’s matters of emphasis and therefore we must ensure that we account for each drop.”

‘Something not right’

The bust was all down to the amateur detecting skills of local ANC ward councillor Molefi Sedibo who told News24 that he just knew “something was not right” when he spotted the double tanker as he drove past the water point in the Muldersdrift CBD.

Muldersdrift is situated about 30km north-west of Johannesburg.

Sedibo said the water point was there to serve the poor in the area who do not have access to running water. He said that having been a councillor for 10 years, he was familiar with the timetable followed by the trucks that usually fill their tanks at the water point and knew which service providers delivered the water.

“It was around 17:00 and normally those trucks have already finished work,” he explained.

He had noted in the past that the drivers usually take the tankers back to the depot empty at the end of the day to save on diesel.

“Water is very heavy, so it is very expensive to drive the water to the depot, so they go back empty,” he said.

His suspicions aroused, he also noticed that the tanker did not have the usual logo.

He then blocked the tanker with his car, and got out to ask questions.

Two of the four people working near the tanker bolted when they saw him.

Not the first time

He noticed that they had even brought the specialised equipment needed to connect to the system to get the water into the tanker.

“They got a fright when I started asking: ‘Who gave you permission? Who are you?'” Sedibo recounted.

“I said: ‘The truck will not move until you verify this’.”

The driver and an assistant remained while safety officials arrived at Sedibo’s beckoning. The two were taken to a police station for questioning.

A police spokesperson was not immediately available to establish whether they were charged.

Mayor Lipudi said the driver told the officers that the water was destined for the Western Cape, but he could not give clear answers on who the instruction to get the water came from.

In the meantime, Lipudi wants the police to take swift action because he has since heard from witnesses that it was the third time the truck had taken water without permission.

“Therefore, we want the authorities to get to the bottom of this as a matter of urgency so that we should know who runs a parallel government and doles out free water that belongs to the people of the city so boldly to anyone they feel like.”

SOURCE: News24

Kenya and Uganda accused of prolonging South Sudan war

Kenya and Uganda accused of prolonging South Sudan war

KENYA and Uganda are aiding to prolong the four-year-old civil war in South Sudan by serving as conduits for arms to combatants, a United Nations official said on Monday.

Kenya and Uganda accused of prolonging South Sudan war
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, left, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, right, and Salva Kiir of South Sudan, centre. Photo: PPU

“The responsibility to prevent atrocities is regional and international,” Adama Dieng, the UN special advisor for prevention of genocide, told VOA.

“It is true that large quantities of weapons and ammunition are flowing into South Sudan through Kenya and Uganda.”

Mr Dieng said peace will be achieved in South Sudan only “if we have concerted regional and international efforts to leave no further options to the South Sudanese leaders to stop and start negotiating.”

“International partners have to start targeting the accomplices, intermediaries of the South Sudanese parties,” Mr Dieng said.

“Welcoming refugees who are victims of a conflict they are de facto facilitating is not good enough,” he added.

Uganda is hosting more than one million refugees from South Sudan, while Kenya’s Kakuma camp holds more than 100,000.

Arms trafficking

Mr Dieng did not indicate whether the governments of Kenya and Uganda are directly involved in arms trafficking to South Sudan. He also did not say whether the weapons are intended for the country’s military or rebel forces — or possibly both.

The UN panel of experts reported last November it had obtained documentary evidence of a cargo flight containing 31 tonnes of weapons that arrived in Entebbe, Uganda, in August.

Kampala-based Bosasy Logistics was listed as consignee for the shipment which was said to have originated in Bulgaria. The arms were to be transferred to South Sudan, according to unnamed sources cited by the UN experts.

Mr Dieng’s contention that Kenya and Uganda are fuelling the war in South Sudan follows a comment by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley last week that “it is past time for the leaders of Uganda and Kenya to get involved and put pressure on President Kiir”.

Kenya and Uganda “are key players in the success of a true peace process,” Ms Haley said in a speech to the UN Security Council.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also recently warned South Sudan’s neighbours against taking sides in the civil war.

While not naming Kenya or Uganda, the UN chief told an African Union gathering in Addis Ababa on January 27 that it is essential to ensure that “any contradictions that might exist among the neighbours of South Sudan are not translated into an influence in the internal situation of South Sudan.”

SOURCE: The East Africa

President Edgar Lungu says government is effectively fighting the Cholera epidemic (file photo).

Politics in the time of cholera: Zambia’s u-turn on street Vending


For the last year, 12 countries in East and Southern Africa have been grappling with a cholera outbreak estimated to have resulted in almost 2,000 deaths and more than 100,000 hospitalizations. Zambia’s outbreak began in October 2017, then experienced a brief lull before exploding in early December. More than 3,000 people have been affected and close to 80 have died.

President Edgar Lungu says government is effectively fighting the Cholera epidemic (file photo).
President Edgar Lungu says government is effectively fighting the Cholera epidemic (file photo).

In contrast to many other countries fighting the epidemic, Zambia’s outbreak is disproportionately concentrated in the capital city of Lusaka and especially in the low-income, high density informal settlements, known as compounds, that surround the city center. The compound of Kanyama, home to about 370,000 of Lusaka’s 1.7 million residents, is the worst-affected.

Cholera has been a challenge for Lusaka since the first major outbreak in 1990. Since then, cases have been recorded almost every year, and always correspond to the rainy season, which lasts from October to May. Due to their history as unauthorized settlements, many of the compounds are not connected to the sewer system and rely heavily on pit latrines. Lacking drainage and often located along unpaved roads, the rains often cause the pit latrines to overflow and garbage to drift away.

While the problem is perennial, the Government of Zambia’s response this year was particularly contentious with citizens. After investigations revealed that the outbreak was caused by contaminated food, in early January the Zambia police and army demolished 10,000 stalls, known locally as tuntembas, belonging to street vendors in Lusaka in an effort to address the outbreak.

A week later, the army was called into Kanyama to quell riots by residents angry about the Government’s enforcement of the 2007 Street Vending and Nuisances Act, which allows the Lusaka City Council to ban street vending. The implementation of the ban is devastating for the livelihoods of Lusaka’s poor, who disproportionately comprise the city’s street vendors.

Such crackdowns on street vendors are certainly not uncommon in Africa. Vendors often sell fresh fruits and vegetables or prepared foods, and they are often targeted when cholera strikes. Yet, such crackdowns have been relatively rare in Lusaka since the Patriotic Front (PF) party took over government in 2011 after the election of the late President Michael Sata. Street vendors and market traders were the core of Sata’s urban constituency, and in successive election campaigns, he had vowed not to remove them from the streets given the country’s lack of formal employment opportunities.

In 2011, Sata issued a letter to town clerks and council secretaries ordering them to cease all harassment of street vendors, and the PF’s general secretary even suggested that vending should be legalized. In 2012, Sata demoted his Minister of Local Government when she planned to sign a new statutory instrument against vending. A new market comprised of street vendors, known as Donchi Kubeba, even was allowed to organically emerge on a flyover bridge in the city, heavily populated by unemployed PF party loyalists.

After Sata passed away in 2014, his successor, Edgar Lungu, essentially pursued the same policy. Lacking Sata’s charisma and popularity, Lungu has tried to mobilize support by continuing to allow street vending, even to the point of weakening the LCC’s legal authority over managing the issue and undermining decentralization efforts. In 2015, he further established the Presidential Empowerment Initiative Fund to provide loans to street vendors and marketeers.

The PF’s longstanding approach of not enforcing laws over vending has been a politically expedient and seemingly costless form of buying votes from the urban poor. However, it also allowed street vending to mushroom to unsustainable levels, with clear negative implications for the health and sanitation of Lusaka’s residents, including of the vendors themselves.

Initial survey findings through a joint IFPRI-International Growth Centre project find that vendors often lack access to clean water and proper toilets, and the lack of drainage within markets is a constant concern during the rainy season. More broadly, the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) shows that the proportion of the population using improved water sources in urban Zambia actually decreased between 2010 and 2015, from 49 to 47 percent, while those with at least basic sanitation fell from 51 to 49 percent.

Seventy-five percent of the urban population has no access to basic handwashing services with both water and soap. The disparity on some of these indicators between the poorest and richest quintiles of the urban population is significant. Indeed, while 85 percent of the richest urban quintile has access to sanitation, the equivalent among the poorest quintile is only 10 percent.

In a city where cholera has been an annual event for the last two decades, informal vending must be effectively but also humanely managed to improve basic sanitation while avoiding unpredictable bans that hurt some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens.

Beyond sensitizing vendors about safe food handling practices, the Government must stay committed to implementing Zambia’s 2015 National Urban and Peri-Urban Sanitation Strategy and recognize that access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene is needed not only where people live but also where they work. The World Urban Forum, taking place Feb. 7-13 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will certainly re-energize advocates in Zambia and beyond around key Sustainable Development Goals, including Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Decent Work (Goal 8), and Sustainable Cities (11).

Amid Zambia’s increasing political divisions, the challenge will be to ensure that long-term policy commitments to a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) agenda are sustained beyond such high-level events and are not forgotten in favor of easy vote-buying tactics, especially as the country’s 2020 elections loom just around the corner.

Danielle Resnick is a Senior Research Fellow in IFPRI’s

SOURCE: International Food Policy Research Institute (Washington, DC) 

China rejects 'preposterous' African Union headquarters spying claim

China rejects ‘preposterous’ African Union headquarters spying claim

A report by a prominent French newspaper has alleged China of spying on the African Union headquarters. The Chinese-funded building in Addis Ababa is currently hosting the 30th summit of the pan-African body.

A CHINESE official on Monday dismissed as ‘preposterous’ a report by French newspaper Le Monde alleging that Beijing spied on the Addis Ababa-based headquarters of the African Union (AU).

China rejects 'preposterous' African Union headquarters spying claim
Built by China – the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. Photo: Albert González Farran/UNAMID

Le Monde on Friday published an investigative story claiming that technicians at the Chinese-funded building discovered last year that the data from their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, the year the soaring building was inaugurated.

The newspaper said it spoke to a number of anonymous AU sources for the story.

“I think the report is not only a sensationalist story, but also preposterous and absurd,” Chinese envoy Kuang Weilin said on the sidelines of the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The almost 100 meter (330 feet) brown marble and glass tower is currently hosting the twice-yearly meeting of the African Union member countries.

China sees the $200-million (€162 million) structure as a “monument” of its friendship with Africa, where it has been investing heavily in recent years.

“Everyone at the AU is grateful for the building that China built. Maybe some people want to undermine this kind of relationship. I’m very suspicious of the intention,” Kuang told reporters.

Le Monde said the servers in the building were changed and its IT systems redone once the spying was discovered in January last year.

The newspaper said Ethioipian cyber security experts were hired to sweep the entire building for potential bugs. They removed microphones hidden in the desks and walls of the headquarters.

The AU leaders taking part in the summit did not mention the report in their opening remarks on Sunday.

“There is nothing to be spied (on). I don’t believe it,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told journalists, downplaying the report.


As #MeToo moves across the World, is Nigeria next?

As #MeToo moves across the World, is Nigeria next?

IN OCTOBER last year, multiple accusations of sexual assault and misconduct were leveled at Hollywood movie producer, Harvey Weinstein. The world was shocked by the scale of the allegations and the alleged intricate web of mechanisms used by the producer to protect himself and to keep his victims silent.

As #MeToo moves across the World, is Nigeria next?
A 21-year-old artist in Ivory Coast has found an eye-catching new way to draw attention to the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment. Photo: Laeticia Ky

In the aftermath, more people have stepped forward and dozens of powerful men across a number of industries have been accused of harassment, assault and misconduct. Condemnation of the accused has been swift; careers have ended and disgrace has been public. The allegations have also sparked a global conversation about consent and sexual conduct and the hashtag #MeToo becoming part of the mainstream.

The phrase was initially coined by activist Tarana Burke ten years ago who launched the movement to support women who had survived sexual assault, years later the phrase has become an integral part of a push against misconduct. The wave of accusations coupled with the response has been described as a watershed moment. As well as #MeToo, other initiatives against sexual assault have been propelled into the mainstream, such as #TimesUp.

In December, ‘The Silence Breakers,’ survivors who came forward with their stories of sexual assault, were named as Time magazine’s Person of the Year and more and more men and women continue to come forward with their stories.

Misconduct has been a global issue long before the world turned a spotlight on it. In Nigeria, many people have likely heard or read one story. There’s hardly a day that goes by where there isn’t something on the news, in the newspapers or on the blogs indicating the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct in our society; at universities, at work, in the home, in public spaces; from markets to concerts. But as many parts of the world seem ready to embrace a new reality with regard to sexual assault, it could be argued that the #MeToo movement has yet to take hold in Nigeria.

Despite a trickle of recent reports exposing alleged sexual misconduct in Nigeria, there hasn’t yet been the shocking tidal wave of accusations in Nigeria as there has been abroad. Survivors are still not comfortable enough to come forward.

Arguably, in any part of the world the survivor of misconduct has everything to lose and little or nothing to gain when coming forward to share their story. If the allegations are leveled at someone in a position of power, the scales are tipped against them further, as Harvey Weinstein proved with his alleged machine to keep his accusers silent.

There are numerous reasons survivors do not come forward; the fear of not being believed, of being placed under undue scrutiny, shame, and so on.In Nigeria these worries are exacerbated due to cultural expectations often bolstered by traditional and religious beliefs. Nigeria is a deeply patriarchal society and for women the onus is on them to ‘guard themselves’ from situations where sexual conduct may occur by ‘behaving appropriately.’ Women are blamed and shamed for what happens to them, it’s not uncommon to read reports about harassment and see comments blaming the woman because of ‘how she dressed’ or ‘how she carried herself.’

For men, the stigma and shame, coupled with cultural notions of masculinity, are a heavy burden. In addition, the legal system is not on the side of survivors.

The legal system is notoriously slow and corrupt. In 2015 it was widely reported that Nigeria only had 18 recorded rape convictions in its entire legal history. In contrast, last year the Mirabel Sexual Assault Referral Centre, which has been open since 2013, revealed it had seen more than 2,000 patients since its doors opened and the numbers were increasing. Marital rape is not considered a crime in Nigeria. Trust between the public and the police is low, particularly with crimes of this nature, an additional contributing factor to the low reporting rate.

But there are signs that a shift, however small, is taking place, perhaps not in survivors coming forward but in attitudes.Last year’s Big Brother Nigeria sparked a widespread debate about the nature of consent, when contestant Ekemini Ekerette, known as Kemen, was kicked off the reality show for allegedly touching another contestant while she slept.

Conversations about the incident and the aftermath raged for days and revealed some of the worrying views held by young people about sexual misconduct, however some sought to use it as a teachable moment and the popular ‘Tea as Consent’ video was shared widely to further try and educate people. In 2015 TW magazine said ‘You could never hold a SlutWalk in Nigeria,’ in December 2017 La Femme Foundation did just that.

Due to the current magnitude of the #MeToo movement, it’s easy to think that it happened overnight, but the movement started a decade ago. There are several hurdles Nigeria must overcome, many of which are unique to the environment and will likely take many years to deconstruct, but as attitudes continue to shift, conversations about the nature of consent and misconduct continue to be heard and initiatives continue to rise up, one can only hope the country is moving in the right direction.

SOURCE: The Guardian, Nigeria

Libya Forces arrests gang torturing Nigerians

Libya Forces arrests gang torturing Nigerians

LIBYAN forces have arrested gang members suspected of torturing Nigerians and other African migrants.

Libya Forces arrests gang torturing Nigerians

They are reported to have been arrested near Tripoli after torture video surfaced on Social media.

Details later but Nigerians who returned from Libya have narrated their harrowing experience.

Miss Loveth Ekumabo, 25-year-old Libya returnee, who blamed her father’s incestuous behaviour for her decision to flee to Libya, at least, for safety from her father; narrated how she was subjected to inhuman condition.

She described her journey to Libya as “jumping from frying pan into fire”.

She has, in her life, gone through bitterness, especially her stay in faraway Libya, where she undergone forced labour and made a subject of serial rape.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), she cursed all those who raped her in Libya.

Mr Harrison Okotie, 35, married and has two children is one of the returnees with gory story to tell.

Okotie, who hails from Ughelli South local government area of Delta, left everything in Benin, where he had lived all his life, before leaving for Libya in search of greener pasture to take care of his family.

He noted that his journey through the desserts without food and water and the inhuman treatment meted on him, made him realised that there is no place like home.

“I will never in my life think of leaving my country again. Whether there is work or no, I will stay here and manage with my family.

“The Nigerians held-up in Garian prisons are well over 4,000. The Libya authorities do not want to release them because they are making money from them.

“They will call you from prison and ask you to call your people in Nigeria to send money for them to release you. Even if you succeed in getting money from Nigeria, they still would not let you go.

“It is a big business. They are not happy that the United Nations and international bodies are helping to deport people to their countries. So they now keep Nigerians in their underground prisons.

He said: “It was a horrible experience. One day a truck that carried 28 people, 15 of them died on the way due to lack of food and water.”

The story of 34-year old Miss Josephine Ajabor, also from Delta, is however strange.

Mr Sunday Ehiagina, another returnee, squandered his life savings on the trip to Libya.

Ehiagina, a native of Irrua in Esan Central local government area of Edo, said he owned and operated a shoe factory for seven years in Benin.

In Libya’s Garian and Saba prisons many people are tortured.

Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons(NAPTIP), had disclosed that more than 25,000 Nigerians have been held in slave and sex camps in Libya.

The Director General of NAPTIP, Mrs Julie Okah-Donli, made this known while defending the agency’s 2018 budget before the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on Tuesday.

SOURCE: Leadership (Abuja) 

Mogoeng concerned over threats to some judges in Africa

Mogoeng concerned over threats to some judges in Africa

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng expressed concern over fellow judges in some African countries as he closed the Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa (CCJA) in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

Mogoeng concerned over threats to some judges in Africa
South African Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (file photo). Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA

“We are aware that there is a less than acceptable development unfolding in the Seychelles,” said Mogoeng at the conference at Zimbali on the north coast.

The controversy is over a judge who is insisting on the rule of law for the removal of a judge who is the subject of a complaint, he explained.

However, this approach has attracted “unprecedented criticism” from the government of the country.

In the Central African Republic, there were threats to the president of their constitutional court who was committed to keep the judiciary independent.

“So these incidents have been happening by the way almost with impunity, before the CCJA came into being,” he said.

The CCJA also stepped in to help normalise a situation in the judiciary in Egypt.

The work of the organisation, aided by the African Union (AU) and colleagues in the judiciary, has led to a progressive decline in threats to the judiciary.

He said this Sunday, January 28, CCJA delegates would attend deliberations at the AU to ask office bearers to make sure threats to the judiciary are lessened.

SOURCE: News24

'Man of God' who drinks beer while preaching arrested

‘Man of God’ who drinks beer while preaching arrested

Police in Tanzania have arrested a self-styled prophet who has been roaming the streets, preaching while holding a bottle of beer.

'Man of God' who drinks beer while preaching arrested
The self-styled prophet holds a Bible while drinking from a beer bottle. Photo: Nairobi News

The man, known as Prophet Tito or Nabii Tito was on Tuesday paraded to the media by Tanzanian authorities who said that he was insane.

The man, who also goes by the name Tito Machibya, was arrested in Dodoma following public outcry after he posted pictures of himself kissing his wife and house girl.

Dodoma Regional Commissioner Gilles Muroto said that he would issue a statement when the interrogation of the ‘prophet’ is completed.

He added that the ‘prophet’ was once examined by a psychiatrist and found to be insane.


“After being diagnosed by the doctor, he was given another appointment which he did not keep,” he said.

The authorities added that although the prophet was insane, the things he was doing looked like the actions of a sane person and that is why they had arrested him.

Photos of Tito kissing two women made rounds on social media and irritated quite a number of Tanzanians who called him out for his queer behaviors.

Confirming the arrest, IGP Simon Sirro said Tito had been arrested following public complaints and will be dealt with accordingly.

Tito’s arrest was lauded by a cross section of Tanzanians who congratulated the police.

SOURCE: Nairobi News

Cape Town set to reach out to the bottled water industry

Cape Town set to reach out to the bottled water industry

With less than 80 days to go until Day Zero, the City of Cape Town may want to consider getting help from the bottled water industry.

Cape Town set to reach out to the bottled water industry
The Voëlvlei dam project has been sped up to help Cape Town cope with the drought. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks/GroundUp

South African National Bottled Water Association (Sanbwa) chairperson John Weaver said that some of their members have donated water to afflicted areas in the past and have sold water at a cost.

“This cost could be dramatically reduced were government to allow for an emergency water category that, for example, allowed bottlers to omit labels.

“Bottled water is regarded as a food product by the Department of Health and must comply with legislation covering, in addition to health and safety issues, packaging and labelling, which is very expensive,” said Weaver.

Sanbwa is a representative body of the bottled water industry and has a membership list which includes Bonaqua, Valpré and Clover Waters: Nestle Pure Life.

The bottled water industry has remained untouched during the water crisis as 90% of their members use renewable groundwater sources in their packaged products, according to Weaver.

“Groundwater is strongly buffered against drought influence because it is renewed (replenished) in a completely different way to surface water, which is mainly dependent on reliable rainfall, and is thus very susceptible to drought patterns,” explained Weaver.

The city’s Director of Trade and Investment Lance Greyling said that he was planning to consult with the Sanbwa in the near future. He has already had meetings with retailers in an attempt to dissuade them from profiteering off the drought.

Pricing of bottled water

However, Weaver said that any discussion on the pricing of bottled water with the city would be illegal.

“It is illegal in South Africa to discuss, fix and or manipulate the price of goods. So, even if the city were to approach us or any of our members, we are legally obliged to decline to continue the discussion,” Weaver said in an emailed response.

Weaver also said that, while there was no official report of increased sales in Cape Town, stockpiling was probable.

“There have been reports regarding consignments of 5l bottles, which apparently are sold out within hours of being delivered to Cape stores. We have had no official, nor unofficial reports of increased sales, but whenever there is hot weather or drought, sales do increase,” he said.

SOURCE: News24

Family leaves Bangkok after living at airport for 3 months

Family leaves Bangkok after living at airport for 3 months

A Zimbabwean family, who had been living at Bangkoko’s Suvarnabhumi airport for the past three months, has finally left Thailand, reports said on Tuesday.

Family leaves Bangkok after living at airport for 3 months
Shops at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand. Photo: ztij0/Wikimedia Commons

The family of eight – four children under the age of 11 and four adults – got stranded at Bangkok’s main airport late last year, an ordeal over the holiday season that drew widespread sympathy among Thais.

Reports in December indicated that the family had tried to leave Thailand for Spain in October but they lacked visas for onward travel. They also couldn’t re-enter Thailand after overstaying, thus, they were trapped in limbo in the airside area of the airport.

The family said at the time that they could not return to Zimbabwe because they faced persecution following the November unrest that resulted in the removal of long-term leader Robert Mugabe.

Their predicament first emerged after a Thai Facebook user posted a photo of himself giving one of the children a Christmas present.

The post, which explained their predicament, went viral as questions emerged as to how they had lived at the airport for so long.

A BBC report on Tuesday quoted a Thai immigration bureau spokesperson Colonel Cherngron Rimpadee as saying that the family had finally left Bangkok for Philippines.

The report said that a UNHCR refugee camp was located there, “but it was not clear whether it was their final destination,”.

A Coconuts website quoted Rimpadee as saying: “It’s finished. The family is now in the care of the UN.”

“They were gone since yesterday, around 14:00.”

SOURCE: News24

Study shows African migrants are better educated than U.S. citizens

Study shows African migrants are better educated than U.S. citizens

I’ll never forget my sister’s experience in undergrad with a Nigerian classmate that she says had an attitude with her since she stepped foot inside their medical ethics class. My sister would come home saying the classmate often threw labels at her and her friend like “ghetto” and “entitled” and my sister could never quite understand the aggression that came from someone she had barely said five words to outside of a classroom discussion.

Study shows African migrants are better educated than U.S. citizens

It’s no secret that the relationship between African-Americans and some first-generation African immigrants can be complex, and these complexities very often show up in the education sector that lead to conversations about culture, priorities, access and equal opportunity.

African American magazine, Vibe, recently highlighted a study that focused on African immigrants and their varied levels of education: “According to a report by the New American Economy, a Washington-based research advocacy group, the U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015. In turn, those apart of that demographic has continued to grow in the nation’s education system. The New American Economy found a total of 16% had a master’s degree, medical degree, law degree or a doctorate, compared with 11% of the U.S.-born population.”

According to Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington, many refugees are recipients of the “diversity visa program” which hopes to boost immigration from underrepresented nations, the population of African immigrants seem to be very diverse in their “educational, economic, and English proficiency profile”.

In other words, it appears African immigrants are comparatively held to a higher standard than other immigrants and respectively, U.S. citizens.

More than highlight the different levels of education held between African-Americans and African immigrants, the study refutes what many believe to be opinions held by U.S. President Donald Trump that immigrants contribute little to the American economy.

In fact, Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy, believes African immigrants are making America look good: “Overwhelmingly the evidence shows that (African immigrants) make a significant, positive economic contribution to the U.S. economy.”

If anything, the study is proof that immigrants are significant contributors to the U.S. economy and have little to no negative effect on overall wages or employment levels for U.S.-born workers.

Drop Mugabe Presidential Campaign Regalia – Zanu-PF Provincial tells Members

Zanu PF supporters have been ordered to immediately stop wearing party regalia displaying the face of deposed former President Robert Mugabe and wait for new attire emblazoned with a picture of their new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zanu PF chairman for Manicaland province, Mike Madiro, made the order while addressing the party’s inter district meeting held at Mutare Hall Sunday.

“We have those with old party regalia such as Zambia cloths and T-Shirts displaying former President Robert Mugabe’s face, we should stop putting them on and wait for new regalia emblazoned with President Mnangagwa’s face so that we can market him in districts ahead of the polls. We want people to know him,” said Madiro.

He warned party members against despising their former leader, saying he deserves respect since he played a critical role in leading the country after the liberation struggle.

“Let’s respect President Mugabe; he is a statesman. He played his part that’s why President Mnangagwa said government is going to take care of him. He was only surrounded by criminals but he played his part,” said Madiro.

He warned members to be disciplined and follow party procedures saying those who behaved like exiled former national commissar Savior Kasukuwere and former higher education minister Jonathan Moyo will not be tolerated.

“Those who behave like G40 in the new dispensation will not be tolerated. Those who continue with the G40 behaviour will be sacked from the party,” said Madiro.

He thanked President Mnangagwa for elevating Environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri, to the post of party’s national chairperson.

“As Manicaland people, we would like to thank President Mnangagwa for recognising the people of Manyika by elevating one of our own into the Presidium.

“Ever since 1964 when the late Cde Hebert Chitepo was appointed national chairman of the party no one from Manicaland ever landed that top post,” said Madiro.

Nascam Pays N$886,917 in Royalties to Local Music Artists

Windhoek — Nascam collected N$1.6 million from the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) alone for the use of music on radio and TV. Namibian music artists received the most compared to international artists, and the total paid to local musicians was N$886,917 while international artists got N$116,915 in royalties.

Royalties payment is the collection of funds by Nascam from music users. The funds are collected via copyright music licence.

Local artists have for years complained they have not been receiving a fair share for their music being played on air.

Award-winning singer Adora Kisting who released her debut album in 2016 was of the opinion that since dropping her album her royalty payment would increase.

But to her surprise she received far less compared to what she got when she did not have an album.

She feels the organization is not doing enough justice towards collecting the hard-earned money from radio stations for artists. She is of the opinion radio stations do not all pay their dues.

The highest paid artist received N$21,145.00 and the lowest received was N$1,17.00, which means the 2017 royalties rate was at N$1,17 cent per song as per the collected amount.

The amount differs every year depending on how the market is doing when it comes to advertisements.

Joseph Ailonga, general manager at Radio Energy, feels Nascam is doing its best and it’s not as bad as artists make it out to be.

He is of the opinion that Nascam’s system is a simplified one, “which cannot be compared to developed countries which have advanced industries”.

“South Africa with such a huge population has pretty much the same issues, where artists complain about their royalties. The issue in Namibia is about which radio station is paying royalties.”

He lamented that the laws in the country don’t protect Nascam enough for it take radio stations to task.

Radio Energy has a policy that it plays 60 – 65 percent local music and the rest African and international music. Which in turn means that rom the money they make from advertisers 2.5 percent of the revenue goes straight to Nascam for royalties, which is a standard practice similar all over the world.

Ailonga added: “Energy usually does not pay less than N$70,000 to over N$180,000 to Nascam’s coffers on a yearly basis.”

One Africa Television on the other hand has implemented a different approach towards supporting the local industry. All music videos aired on the station are 100 percent local, meaning the money that is paid over to Nascam does not leave the Land of the Brave to other countries.

It too has to pay a percentage from its advertising revenue towards Nascam.

According to Nascam, for the year 2017 Namibia’s first free-to-air TV station (One Africa) has paid its dues, but the amount was too little to distribute amongst members.

The allocations for the year 2017 were as follows:

– Royalties payments to all local and international artists, at 60% of the collected royalties: N$1,003,832.00

– Nascam office administration fees, at 30% of collection is N$501,910.00.

– Nascam members’ social and cultural activities funds, at 10% of the collections is N$167,305.00

Nascam encourages the national broadcaster NBC, commercial/private broadcasters and community radio stations to continue to use more local music in order to keep the royalties in the country. Local radio stations make money through advertisements and outside broadcast promotions.

Nascam does not see why they should use international music more than local music, while local businesses pay the bills.

Rather, the money should be kept in the country to promote local artists and improve local music.

SOURCE:  New Era.