bulletin of the AFRICA PROGRESS PANELVolume 4, Issue 13 — 1 September 2011
Africa Progress Panel
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Famine déjà vue!
Enough food is produced in the world to feed the global population and yet over 12 million people suffer from hunger in the Horn of Africa. Too little rain, too many conflicts and instability combined with fragile infrastructures, poor governance and lack of political will, have all contributed to the crises in this region. Four countries are, again, facing an extremely severe drought driving millions of people into starvation and displacement (See map).
To make matters worse, international aid flows have decreased considerably and humanitarian aid agencies find it increasingly difficult to reach key areas in Somalia because of the rebel movement Al Shabab.
At the same time, the image of a malnourished African child dying of starvation is such a painful, dire and complex reality to face that it seems like this problem simply cannot be fixed and therefore not worth investing more effort or resources into it. In addition, images of starving people are becoming politically incorrect as Africa strives to rebrand itself in a positive light away from poverty, hunger and despair which reflect continuous government failure, corruption, and misallocated funds. It’s time to find a better way to re-sensitize the world to the problem of famine. So how can we portray the crisis in order to mobilize support and call for aid?
Effectively mobilizing resources to tackle the famine and its structural underlying causes would not only help those suffering from starvation but would show that the system works. It would reveal that donors, multilateral organizations, NGO’s and African governments can deliver.
This is why the African Union’s move to convene the institution’s first pledging conference to raise resources to bridge the funding gap for the Horn of Africa, is an important demonstration of regional solidarity. It sets a significant precedent of forging African solutions to African problems.
Looking ahead, if Africans take the lead, reaching out to the rest of the world for support takes on a new face.
Africa will conquer hunger when African governments give Africans the tools and resources they need to feed themselves. Change - real change - comes from within.
- Kanayo Nwanze, IFAD President commenting on the siutation in the Horn of Africa, 22 August 2011
- The severe drought in the Horn of Africa that has caused the death of at least 30,000 children and affecting some 12 million people, especially in Somalia, is said to be the worst humanitarian crisis of 2011 and the most severe food crisis in the world today. While environmental scientists argue that global warming and climate change are to blame for the drought, others say famine is a result of ‘misgovernment and warlord-ism.’
- The International Criminal Court (ICC) has dismissed the Kenyan government's bid to stop a probe into the 2007/8 post-election violence. This decision removes the last obstacle in the run-up to confirmation of hearings against the six suspects which could have significant political and economic implications for Kenya in the run-up to the next elections in 2012.
- On Tuesday, 23 August 2011, Liberians voted in a referendum on a series of constitutional amendments. The referendum will stand as a major test of Liberia’s electoral system. Official results are expected to be released on 7 September 2011.
- Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade’s plan to run in 2012 for a third term has already sparked street protests. Legal opinion is escalating against President Wade, months before the constitutional council is to rule on whether his bid is valid or not. Many fear the judgment will not be independent as its members were all nominated by Wade.
- Despite the obvious popular support for Gambia’s President Jammeh and the APRC as the 2011 political race draws near, human rights advocates fear an escalation of abuses against nonconformist, hence reducing hopes of a free and fair election.
- Fresh clashes have erupted between the Christians and Muslims in the Northern city of Jos, following the deadly explosion that struck the main UN building in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. As a radical Muslim sect claims responsibility for the suicide bombing, Friday's attack now has officials and experts worrying that a branch of al-Qaeda has spread its influence to Nigeria, Africa's most populous country and a key supplier of oil for the U.S. and the world market.
- Water supply in Africa has increased by 13%, according to a report released by the Water and Sanitation Program at the World Bank.
- An IFC-World Bank report: “Doing Business in the East African Community 2011”, finds that East Africa could match Japan in ease of doing business if the best regulations and procedures are implemented across the board
- Investing 0.16% of global GDP in the water sector could reduce water scarcity and halve the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation in less than four years, according to a report by the UN.
- Megacities could trigger water shortages and social unrest. A new study by the World Wildlife Fund predicts that by 2050, about 70% of the world's population will live in urban areas thus causing horrendous problems- a breakdown in basic services including water supplies and sanitation facilities.
- “Climate Change Starter’s Guidebook” published by UNESCO and UNEP provides an overview for education planners and practitioners on the wide range of issue relating to climate change.
- “Corruption on Trial? The Record of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,” a report by Human Rights Watch analyzes the record of Nigeria’s most important anti-corruption agency and calls on the new administration to refrain from political interference in its work.
- Brazil will provide irrigation equipment and various farm machinery worth nearly $100 million to help boost Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector
- China lends Ethiopia $500 million to be used to fund various development projects in the Horn of Africa
- The EU urges world governments to provide new emergency aid to help the drought-hit Horn of Africa
- The EC decides to replenish the African Peace Facility (APF) with €300m to support African peace and security actions both at regional and continental levels
- AFD’s Board of Directors approved funding totaling nearly €350m to support development projects in developing countries mainly in Africa
- Germany pledges new funds of €33.5m for the worsening hunger crisis in Kenya and its neighboring countries
- German Federal police to offers training to their Kenyan counterparts to help fight organized crime
- Japan International Cooperation Agency launches a $18m project to supply water to communities in Rwanda
- The Japanese Government reaffirms its commitment to continue supporting East African Community's infrastructure developments
- South Africa compromises with the United States on unfreezing of $1.5 billion in Libyan assets to meet humanitarian needs identified by the UN
- British Government launches a new scheme that will match the money donated by the public to appeals for charity projects in developing countries pound for pound
- UK announces new package of support to UNICEF to help more than 800,000 people affected by drought in Somalia
- Vanguard, Nigeria: North Africa: Libya and African Leaders, 1 Sept.2011
The Libyan aspect of the Arab Spring, has turned into a diplomatic mess for African leaders. Hands should be on deck to encourage national reconciliation and rehabilitation under a democratic, peaceful atmosphere.
- Al Jazeera - Saving children in the Horn of Africa, 31 Aug. 2011
Supermodel and activist Iman asks what we can do, collectively and individually, in response to the famine in the Horn of Africa. She highlights the importance of aid and international support and calls for donations to eradicate famine.
- The East African : AU fiddled as Libya burned, 31 Aug. 2011
Apart from its timely intervention in Kenya during the post-election violence, and sponsoring troops in Somalia, AU has always waited for the outside world to act first. Why is the continental body not proactive?
- Washington Post: Eastern Congo’s rule by the ruthless, 26 Aug. 2011
Michael Gerson discusses the political issues plaguing the DRC, describing it as a “rule by the ruthless.” He states that DRC is both a “tragedy and a lesson in political philosophy”, while arguing that justice and freedom are possible with a responsible government, something which should be a priority in the country.
- All Africa-FOROYAA: A People Without a Government, A World Without Leadership, 26. Aug. 2011 The AU needs to wake up, take a clear stand on the side of the Libyan people, and tell Ghadaffi that leaders who control sovereign nations do not hide from public view. They should also tell the UN that if fighting continues in Tripoli, no NATO planes could intervene without destroying life and property. A negotiated settlement is still not late.
- The China Daily: The saga of a continent called Africa, 4 Aug .2011
Huang Shejiao concludes that the harsh reality is that the West does not want the revival of Africa, because it is afraid that an economically and politically developed African continent would cease to be their playground. The Western powers are desperate to maintain their control over Africa, and the ranking list is just part of their design to continue their game.
In the blogs...
- African Arguments: ‘The Half Made Place’ – Kenya, the ICC and elections 2012Author states that efforts must be made to ensure the ICC cases are allowed to run its course as ‘there is no credible, proven alternative legal structure that can deliver justice,’ considering the government has passed up numerous opportunities to demonstrate its commitment to punishing those guilty of crimes committed during the post-election violence.
- AlertNet Blog: Climate Conversations - If the rains fail in the Horn of Africa, must we also fail? This post points out that impacts of recurring drought in East Africa can be reduced by helping farmers and herders build resilience to inevitable meteorological occurrences.
- Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog: The Robin Hood Tax: a small step for capitalism, a big stride for developmentIn an age of high frequency trading, Max Lawson argues that a modest transaction tax could raise significant revenue for the global fight against poverty.
AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
- AfDB signs a $56 million grant agreement to support the Liberian government’s efforts to reduce poverty and accelerate economic growth
- African governments pledge nearly $350m for famine relief in the Horn of Africa at the AU’s first-ever pledging conference
- The AU declines to recognize Libya's rebel authority and instead calls for the formation of an all inclusive transitional government
- Ministers from the BASIC group of countries reiterate the importance of achieving a comprehensive, balanced and ambitious result at the forthcoming climate talks in Durban
- The IMF's "Staff Report for the 2011 Article IV Consultation with South Africa" predicts that the country's economy will grow by 4% in 2011, and by 4.2% in 2012
- ECOWAS calls for a new era of partnerships between the region's public and private sectors for regional development
- ECOWAS commits to provide post conflict reconstruction support to Côte d’Ivoire
- IFAD President emphasizes long term investments in agriculture as key to building resilience in the Horn of Africa
- While speaking at a conference in Jackson Hole, Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director says, “risks to the global economy are rising, but there remains a path to recovery”
- UNECA and UNDP embark on a joint research initiative in an effort to deepen understanding of democracy, elections and diversity management in Africa
- The UN intends to spend $777m to implement a joint four-year development assistance plan in Tanzania
- UN/ISDR calls for smarter water management to reduce disaster risks, particularly in urban areas
|1-2 Sept||UN Women: Executive Board: New York, U.S.A|
|3-18 Sept||10th All Africa Games: Maputo, Mozambique|
|5-9 Sept||Fifth Conference of African Ministers in-Charge of Integration: Nairobi, Kenya|
|6 Sept||Launch of UNCTAD's Trade and Development Report 2011|
|7-9 Sept||Africa Regional Consultation on Peace-building and State-building: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|
|8 Sept||International Literacy Day|
|11-15 Sept||XIX World Congress on Safety and Health at Work : Istanbul, Turkey|
|12-30 Sept||18th Session of the Human Rights Council: Geneva, Switzerland|
|13-16 Sept||Sustaining the Blue Planet: Global Water Education Conference: Bozeman Montana, U.S.A|
|13-27 Sept||UN General Assembly, 66th Session: New York, U.S.A|
|15 Sept||International Day of Democracy|
|15-16 Sept||2011 Making Finance Work for Africa Partnership Forum: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia|