Pambazuka News 188: Have the slaves left the master's house?
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CONTENTS: 1. Highlights from this issue, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Advocacy & campaigns, 5. Pan-African Postcard, 6. Books & arts, 7. Letters & Opinions, 8. Women & gender, 9. Human rights, 10. Refugees & forced migration, 11. Elections & governance, 12. Corruption, 13. Development, 14. Health & HIV/AIDS, 15. Education, 16. Environment, 17. Land & land rights, 18. Media & freedom of expression, 19. News from the diaspora, 20. Conflict & emergencies, 21. Internet & technology, 22. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 23. Fundraising & useful resources, 24. Courses, seminars, & workshops
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Featured in this issue
* Editorial: A struggle for the heart and soul of the African Social Forum is taking place. Amanda Alexander and Mandisa Mbali ask if the social forums will be ‘talk shops’, ‘think tanks’, ‘arenas for planning action’, ‘campaign launch pads’ or ‘strategy and tactics seminars’.
* Comment and Analysis: Norman Reynolds on why the Khulumani case for apartheid reparations is important to human rights
* Pan-African Postcard: Debt relief in the wake of the Asian Tsunami disaster must also apply to Africa, writes Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
* Elections and Governance: The Mozambique election results are getting murkier
* Health: Rating the G7/G8’s commitment to health
* HIV/AIDS: Rolling out ART
* Environment: GM trees are not part of another world, says a new book
* Media and Freedom of Expression: Press freedom in Tunisia a casualty of the “war on terror”
* Books and Art: A review of Conversing with Africa: The Politics of Change
STOP PRESS…STOP PRESS: Nigeria has become the first country in 2005 to ratify the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, report our campaign partners. The African Union has now received a copy of Nigeria’s instrument of ratification, making Nigeria the sixth country to ratify the protocol after Lesotho, Comoros, Libya, Namibia and Rwanda.
For more information and to sign a petition for women's rights: http://www.pambazuka.org/petition
Have the slaves left the master’s house?
Amanda Alexander and Mandisa Mbali
The story of the poor goes round and round. But what about the story of the rich? The story not being told is that of the beneficiaries of slavery and colonialism. The story of exploitation that put us into this dispensation, commodified our own life for profit. They divided and ruled. Can we unite and live? Can we unite for the world that will be our world? Let us rise up and begin to tell this story… of why they continue to be rich, continue to plunder.
Khulumani’s Reparations Case and the Future of Human Rights
The Khulumani Support Group’s reparations case under the Alien Tort Claims Act of the USA, along with the other ‘apartheid’ cases, was thrown out on September 29, 2004 by a conservative New York judge. He found that there was no violation of the law in commercial links with South Africa – an action that has drawn criticism from the South African Human Rights Commission.
Zimbabwe: The Twelfth Day of Christmas: Epiphany Day
Sokwanele Reporter: 6 January 2004
The “Twelve Days of Christmas” is a Christian tradition. It links Christmas day (December 25) with Epiphany (January 6). “Epiphany” comes from a Greek word meaning “manifestation”. In a Christian sense we think of God manifesting (or revealing) himself to humankind in his coming into the world in physical form in the person of Jesus. Hence the link with Christmas, marking the birth of the Christ child, and hence too the tradition that remembers, on the twelfth day, the coming of the “wise men” from the East to witness that miracle for themselves. The twelve days between are days of joyous celebration. On the twelfth day of course all the Christmas decorations come down and life returns to “normal”.
Parliamentarians’ petition for democratic oversight of the IMF and World Bank
Despite promises that developing countries should "own" IMF and World Bank policies, parliaments continue to be sidelined or undermined by these institutions. Parliamentarians and campaigners have started an International Parliamentarians' Petition (IPP) signed by legislators from both developed and developing countries, and backed by civil society groups worldwide. The IPP is a practical way to assert support for the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, and to call for parliaments to be fully involved in the development and scrutiny of IMF and World Bank policies.
*Tsunami: Debt write-off for all
It is almost two weeks since the Boxing Day tragedy of theTsunami Earth Quake that devastated countries of South Asia and to a lesser extent the two African countries of Kenya and Somalia. We are used to and have become more cynical of the media and humanitarian agencies describing every natural and unnatural disaster as 'the worst humanitarian crisis the world has ever seen' or 'a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions', suspecting they are hyping it up in order to raise the bank balances of the agencies' accounts and extort compassion from an increasingly compassion-fatigued world.
Responding to the Tsunami disaster
Grantmakers Without Borders funding list available
'Conversing with Africa: The Politics of Change' by Mukoma wa Ngugi
Publisher: Kimaathi Publishing House
Exclusively distributed by African Books Collective Ltd, The Jam Factory, 27 Park End Street, Oxford OX1 1HU United Kingdom
This is the year that UK leader Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa will finalise a report detailing Africa’s problems and how to respond to what Blair himself has described “as a scar on the conscience of the world”. The Commission has steamed ahead despite many pointing out that Africa’s problems are obvious to all and have been known for a very long time. Critics slam the Commission as meaningless while the UK and other powerful Western governments refuse to cancel third world debt, push deregulation and privatisation and fail to regulate the predatory activities of multinational companies.
Tony Blair should sit down for an afternoon with Mukoma wa Ngugi and listen carefully to the author of ‘Conversing with Africa: Politics of Change’. Judging by the contents of this book it might be that Ngugi would have a fundamental objection to granting an audience to Blair, but lets pretend that Ngugi does indeed arrive at the big black door of 11 Downing Street for an audience with the greying Blair.
Probably the first thing that Ngugi would want to make clear to Blair - and the basis for which the afternoon’s conversation over tea would progress - is that Blair is an oppressor. From this basis, Ngugi would be able to enlighten Blair as to the true motives for his Commission for Africa. Ngugi would explain to Blair that the Commission was part of Western rituals needed as a cleansing process after the “evil” visited on the oppressed.
“Because the oppressing culture can never acknowledge that strand of reality that could save them, that the oppressed are its livelihood, that without the oppressed neither the railways, the skyscrapers nor the gold would exist, that its original sin is the exploitation of another, the attempts by the oppressing culture to stand pious before God are a fallacy and a lie. But it is a lie that allows the oppressing culture to send missionaries, Peace Corp volunteers, foreign aid, all agents that in reality further this relationship without facing the fundamental relationship of exploiter and exploited.”
The fictitious meeting between Ngugi and Blair is misleading, otherwise Ngugi would have called his book ‘Conversing with Blair: Politics of Oppression’. Ngugi’s intention is not to inform the oppressor of its role in the lives of the exploited, but is rather intended as a manuscript of radical dialogue that ends with the sentence: “There is no other conceivable recourse except by revolution!” Ngugi maintains that Africa has to converse with Africa if the hand of history is to be forged into something positive. This he believes will push history on the defensive because “our words” and “our conversations” will be of a people demanding a humane existence and their rightful place in humanity (Last two sentences from back cover).
Drawing heavily on icons like Frantz Fanon, Kwame Nkrumah and Steve Biko, Ngugi critiques Africa’s relationship to history, the relationship between the oppressed and oppressor and the role of Africa’s intellectuals, while also addressing issues of nationalism, Pan-Africanism and revolutionary theory. The issues dealt with in the seven chapters are not separate essays, however, and all contribute towards a central argument that can be read as a contribution towards the understanding of Africa’s relationship towards an oppressive system and the debate over how to overcome it.
Some of the points that Ngugi makes, which hint at the arguments developed, include:
- Solutions towards Africa’s problems that are put forward but fail to tackle the fundamental relationship between exploited versus exploiter will fail. “And so what we need is new ways to learn old truths, innovative solutions to a relationship that had remained fundamentally the same,” writes Ngugi.
- Colonialism and its legacy are well understood, he argues, but the debate needs to move from what Europe has done to Africa, to what Africa can do to move towards a situation that will be conducive to change. To do this, lessons have to be taken from history. He writes: “To heal we need to use history to act on the present in order to change our future. History is at its best when used as a tool of emancipation.”
- In moving towards an understanding of oppression, the oppressed need to develop in their consciousness an understanding of the system that keeps them oppressed in terms of understanding the links between the local and the global and visa versa. “We have questioned specific injustices, but not oppression itself,” he states.
- Throughout, Ngugi demonstrates a healthy scepticism for elites and their structures and is scathing of the African Union. He sees this as part of a Pan African nationalist mythology that “needs to be debunked” and states that the AU will have to “die with the structures of neo-colonialism and dictatorships”.
- This is not to say that Pan-Africanism is not a desirable end. He writes: “As long as there is not a socialist Pan-Africanist consciousness throughout the continent, one that understands that this freedom we seek can only be achieved and sustained within a socialist Pan-Africanist paradigm, then all attempts at freedom will fail having been blinded by lack of vision.”
These brief and random extracts don’t do justice to Ngugi’s arguments, but the intention is to serve as an insight into the book and to wet the appetite for those who might be interested.
This book aims to contribute towards the debate about Africa’s future and in a subtle sense it will form part of the thousands of cogs that may eventually contribute to change. In criticism, it sometimes feels like complex arguments and academic references serve not to make points but to obscure them. In this sense, the criticism is that conversing with Africa might be furthered by a more accessible text with more practical references and examples. What is valuable, however, is that Ngugi cuts straight to the heart of the matter in exposing the oppressive relationship between Africa and the West.
Reviewed by Patrick Burnett, Fahamu
* For orders, please contact African Books Collective.
>>>>>Recent reviews in Pambazuka News:
(Click on the link and then visit the Books and Arts section)
* Blind Moon by Chenjerai Hove
* We miss you all
* The World Bank and Civil Society: Forward to the past
* Mining: Social and environmental impacts
* Faceless, by Ammo Darko
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Africa/Global: A space for rights through the CEDAW committee
The committee that monitors the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW or the Women's Convention), has two new feminist experts from the international women's movement, Shanti Dariam and Silvia Pimentel. For women of the world this historic success will positively impact the committee's work and the advancement of women's human rights. This article analyzes the committee's work, its political impact, the implications and challenges of the process and the results of the recent elections, especially in relation to the roles played by governments and the international women's movement.
Africa/Global: Pathway to Gender Equality
A new publication, Pathway to Gender Equality, outlines how CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action can be used as a lens to understand and address the gender equality dimensions of the MDGs, which in turn can help to ensure that the pursuit of the MDGs is based on principled conviction and results in effective development. This publication offers three ways to enhance the synergy between CEDAW, the Beijing Platform for Action, and the MDGs.
Africa: Women and conflict
This Amnesty International report attempts to explore some of the underlying reasons for violence against women. Evidence gathered by Amnesty International in recent years supports the view that conflict reinforces and exacerbates existing patterns of discrimination and violence against women. The violence women suffer in conflict is an extreme manifestation of the discrimination and abuse women face in peacetime, and the unequal power relations between men and women in most societies. The report shows some of the ways in which conflict affects women, and the many different roles which women play in conflict. Women are not only victims and survivors, but also activists, negotiators, peace-builders and human rights defenders.
Zambia: Fighting for gender equality in the courts
In Zambia, the battle for equality between men and women is being waged on many fronts - not least concerning the sentences handed down by courts. The trial of Chrystal Denn is a case in point. In the course of her turbulent five-year marriage to Trevor, a professional football player, Chrystal suffered extensive spousal abuse. Her husband beat her up, both at home and in full view of others. After a failed suicide attempt, Chrystal finally killed her spouse in the course of an argument, in 1999. A judge sentenced her to life imprisonment for murder.
Africa Global: UN human rights code causes controversy
The UK government is coming under heavy pressure from business leaders to reject plans by the United Nations to make multinational groups legally liable for human rights, including abuses by their suppliers and customers. The UN proposals, due to be discussed by member states on March 15, come amid widespread evidence that transnational corporations are more powerful than sovereign nations, and allegations they have misused that power.
Angola: In Oil-Rich Cabinda, Army Abuses Civilians
The Angolan army arbitrarily detained and tortured civilians with impunity in Cabinda, and continues to restrict their freedom of movement despite an apparent end to the decades-long separatist conflict in the oil-rich enclave, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released in December. In the past year, the Angolan army has subjected civilians to extrajudicial executions, arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and other mistreatment, as well as sexual violence. The Angolan army also denies civilians their freedom of movement. Human Rights Watch found little evidence of recent abuses committed by rebel factions against civilians, probably because of the rebels’ weakened capacity.
South Africa: Harrismith police killing follow-up
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has welcomed the media statement released by the police watchdog body, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), announcing that investigations into the fatal shooting of Harrismith student Tebogo Mkhonza on 30 August 2004 have been completed and that three police officers should be prosecuted for his murder, alternatively culpable homicide and attempted murder. The killing followed public protests in the town against lack of service delivery.
Sudan: 24 men and 3 Children from Villages in Nyala at Risk of Hanging
During aerial bombardments on Marla village by the air forces, the armed forces arrested twenty-four men and three children from Marla, Domma, Labado and Belail villages in Nyala province, southern Darfur state, according to the Sudan Organisation Against Torture. "The men and the children were initially taken into military custody in Nyala where they were detained for 2 days. During the arrest and along the way from Douma and Marla to Nyala, the twenty-four men and three children were allegedly tortured by the armed forces. They were beaten with sticks all over their bodies, flogged on their backs and chests and kicked with military boots on both their faces and sides."
Chad: No big new influx of Darfur refugees yet, despite fresh fighting
Despite fears of a major new influx of refugees fleeing civil war in Sudan's Darfur region, only a trickle of people entered the string of refugee camps located in the arid wastes of eastern Chad in the last weeks of December. Despite early warnings by UN officials that Chad's refugee population of 200,000 could rise by as much as a third, with 100,000 new entrants seeking shelter in the coming weeks, aid officials said that to date there were relatively few newcomers to the 11 camps. The situation in terms of housing, food and water therefore remained stable.
DRC: Aid starts to reach the war-displaced in North Kivu
Humanitarian workers have ventured into jungles in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since Thursday to deliver food and non-food relief aid to thousands of war-displaced people in North Kivu Province, a UN official told IRIN on Tuesday. These towns bore the brunt of the latest violence between troops loyal to the Kinshasa government and dissident soldiers of the Congolese army. At least 100,000 people fled their homes for the forests during the fighting.
DRC: Christmas locked up
On 2 August this year in the UK, thirty police officers, twenty Immigration Service officers and two officials from the Department of Work and Pensions raided a factory near Bolton run by Stateside Foods, a company which makes frozen pizzas. They spent four hours checking the status of workers at the factory and arrested twenty-one people, including Alain Kimolo Kikeni. Most of those arrested were 'failed asylum seekers', from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), all countries with well-known human rights problems. The government has made it a priority to clamp down on 'illegal working' among migrants, with increasing numbers of raids on workplaces.
DRC: IDPs in Equateur province begin returning home
The first of thousands of displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s Equateur province returned home as part of a pilot project being undertaken jointly by the government and the UN. On Friday, 375 internally displaced persons (IDPs) left Equateur’s provincial capital, Mbandaka for their homes in and around the town of Basankusu, 240 km northeast, Social Affairs Minister Ingele Ifoto told IRIN on Monday. Almost three million people displaced by five years of war have still not returned to their homes in various parts of the DRC, despite a December 2002 peace agreement between the government and all rebel groups and the creation, in June 2003, of a government of national unity.
Sudan: Successful ceasefire monitoring in Southern Sudan
While fighting in Sudan’s western region of Darfur continues, the government of Sudan and opposition groups in the south are edging toward the end of a long civil war. Refugees International recently visited the Nuba Mountains of central Sudan where the Joint Monitoring Mission/Joint Military Commission (JMM/JMC), have successfully monitored the ceasefire for almost three years. The Nuba region covers an area of 80,000 square kilometers, about the same as South Carolina, and has a population of about 1.3 million. The population is increasing rapidly as more than 100,000 refugees and displaced persons have returned home in the last two years. The Nuba Mountains ceasefire has been a success. The Joint Military Commission might serve as a model for monitoring and peacekeeping missions in other parts of Sudan and in permissive areas and regions around the globe.
Uganda: ACT Appeal Uganda Assistance to IDPs in Northern Uganda
ACT member, Lutheran World Federation Uganda is proposing for support to expand the emergency response program for Northern Uganda for internally displaced persons in Adjumani, Katakwi and Kitgum districts. If there is reduced conflict, this project will also support resettlement and reintegration of IDPs to their respective communities. The Direct Beneficiaries of this project are approximately 290,000 internally displaced persons (of whom approximately 60% are female) and the project will give special consideration to women and children. In 2005, there is hope for peace and if this were to happen, the LWF Uganda would work with the IDPs to assist them in returning to their respective homes, albeit on a gradual basis, with close monitoring of the security situation.
Mozambique: Election results get murkier
The National Elections Commission (CNE) has said that hundreds of editais (polling station results sheets) had been "stolen" and not included in the final results. It also admitted ballot box stuffing in Tete. In making its various secret "corrections", the CNE says it gave an extra parliamentary seat to Renamo in Zambezia. The admissions that two of Renamo's key complaints were valid came at a CNE press conference in which the CNE said it rejected Renamo's protest over the 1-2 December elections. The statement leaves the election results even murkier and more confused than before, reports the latest edition of the Mozambique Political Process Bulletin.
Sierra Leone: Strike suspended
Trade Unions have suspended the first general strike in Sierra Leone to be held since the civil war ended three years ago. On Tuesday the country was brought to a standstill, but shops and offices have begun reopening says the BBC's Lansana Fofana from the capital, Freetown.
Somalia: Cabinet to be named, new gov't to plan relocation
Somalia’s new leaders are to reconstitute their country's cabinet this week and then decide when to relocate their new administration from Nairobi to Somalia, a Kenyan minister said on Tuesday. "We met the Somali president [Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed] together with the prime minister [Ali Muhammad Gedi] and the speaker of the national assembly," John arap Koech, Kenya's minister for East Africa and Regional Cooperation, told a news conference in Nairobi. "They assured us that they will be appointing the cabinet this week.
Swaziland: Labour calls general strike over democracy demands
An upbeat New Year's message by Prime Minister Themba Dlamini has been rebutted by Swaziland's pro-democracy groups, with labour unions calling for a general strike in January to protest lavish royal spending and a controversial draft constitution. "Poverty has been a great enemy for both social and economic development in our country. His majesty's government has put measures in place, and I hope this will go a long way to addressing this challenge," said Dlamini in his New Year's address, without offering specifics.
Zambia: Civil society to continue agitation over constitution
Zambian civil society and opposition parties are to persist with efforts to pressure the authorities to enact a new constitution before elections in 2006, despite the government's reported willingness to renew talks. "We welcome the government's decision to set aside its 'roadmap' and to hold fresh dialogue. We have a two-pronged approach to the issue - while we will continue to dialogue with the government, our foot soldiers will continue to hold demonstrations and campaigns around the country," said Reverend Japhet Ndhlovu, spokesman of the NGO coalition Oasis Forum.
Zimbabwe: A Gloomy Election Countdown Begins
And so, another year in Zimbabwe – and in less than three months time, another election. It is a prospect that few seem to welcome. Compare the political environment in the country now to what it was ahead of the last parliamentary poll in 2000, and the lack of voter enthusiasm is not hard to understand.
DRC: Cabinet reshuffle
Eleven ministers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have lost their jobs in a wide-ranging government reshuffle - including six already suspended on corruption charges. Those ministers were accused in November of serious financial malpractice, along with the heads of a number of state-owned companies.
Kenya/Nigeria: UN to trace corrupt cash
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is to send accounting specialists to Nigeria and Kenya, to help them trace and recover money stolen by previous corrupt governments. The Vienna-based agency said it will 'conduct in-depth assessments of the institutional and legal frameworks' in these countries, making detailed proposals to 'overcome obstacles to asset recovery'. At the initiative's launch, the UNODC claimed that in the 1990s, corrupt officials in Nigeria stole and exported at least $2.2bn.
Kenya: Nothing moving in the war against corruption
Is the National Rainbow Coalition (Narc) administration walking the talk or simply talking the talk? To its credit, the government has done a great deal in its attempt to lay the foundation for a successful war against graft.But the indicators on the ground are such that there is no blood flowing as a result of old corruption and new corruption seems to be bustling and sizzling within the very heart of the Narc administration, notes this opinion piece from the East African Standard.
Nigeria: How to steal an oil tanker
Two Nigerian admirals have been sacked for oil smuggling after they were found guilty of being involved in the disappearance of an oil tanker. The tanker was seized by a naval patrol two years ago as it was carrying 10,000 tonnes of crude oil alleged to have been stolen from the Delta region.
Africa/Global: Africa fears tsunami may suck aid coffers dry
Shock waves from Asia's tsunami could reverberate across Africa for a long time to come as aid workers fear the crisis will soak up donor funds and leave less help available for the poorest continent. With the tsunami death toll more than 145,000, the crisis is undoubtedly severe. Africa's woes are more long-term. Aid agencies say 6,500 Africans die of preventable diseases daily. And while all eyes turn east, attention is deflected from Africa's own crises, such as Darfur in Sudan. It wasn't meant to be like this -- 2005 was Africa's year. "We're not saying scale down aid for the tsunami, but scale up aid for Africa."
Africa/Global: Bush to change World Bank focus
World Bank President James Wolfensohn said he expects to leave his job after his term expires in June. U.S. President George W. Bush is likely to push ahead with plans this year to narrow the focus of the World Bank, analysts said, returning the international lending institution to its roots of primarily financing large infrastructure projects and doing away with the practice of handing out zero percent loans.
Africa/Global: Twin Institutions need Reforms
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank recently celebrated their 60th Anniversaries. To the two institutions, writes Douglas Ngwenya in this commentary on the Afrodad website, this was a sign that they are maturing, but to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), it was a sign that the Bretton Woods Institutions are growing too "old, devious and irrelevant". "Their mandate to provide a mechanism for the transfer of financial resources from the rich nations to the poor nations and to promote reconstruction and development is visibly vanishing into thin air. The ageing of these institutions has been at increasing misery for the world’s poorest nations." Read the full commentary by visiting Afrodad's website.
Africa: South-South Cooperation Soars
Cooperation between nations of the South will eventually trigger growth and development in some of the world's poorest countries, according to the United Nations, which marked the first U.N. Day for South-South Cooperation' in December. The world body has launched an aggressive campaign to strengthen economic and trade relations among the world's 132 developing nations.
Africa/Global: Committed to health for all? Rating the G7/G8
This article, published in Social Science and Medicine, reports on progress towards the goal of health for all, with specific reference to international development commitments made by the G7/G8 nations at the 1999, 2000 and 2001 summits. It argues that the limited progress toward achieving health for all derives largely from the failure of G8 nations to fulfil their development commitments. In particular, efforts to reduce poverty and economic security have been insufficient; and national governments have not been enabled to make basic investments in health systems, education and nutrition.
Africa: Rethink urged over TB treatment
In the crowded wards of African hospitals, coughs and bony bodies tell the story of a deadly return. Tuberculosis (TB), supposedly defeated 40 years ago, is back, riding on the AIDS epidemic, and the world is ill-prepared, says the relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF). In its study 'Running out of Breath? TB Care in the 21st Century', MSF's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines urges a radical rethink of the global approach to the disease. TB kills two million people every year, nearly all in developing countries. Yet TB, if detected early and treated, is curable.
Africa: The AIDS treatment era - the rollout of ART
As a result of falling antiretroviral (ARV) prices, new sources of international funding and growing political commitment, providing treatment for Africa's HIV-positive citizens is, for the first time, an achievable goal. In sub-Saharan 3.8 million people need treatment now, but as of June 2004, only 150,000 were on ARVs - less than four percent of that total. The remaining 96 percent - those parents, workers, lovers and children denied access to the life-prolonging drugs will, unless there is urgent intervention, inevitably join the other 30 million people worldwide that the pandemic has claimed.
Burkina Faso: Government needs help to increase numbers on ARV, aid workers say
Health authorities in Burkina Faso have already admitted they will not be able to meet global goals for providing antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to people living with AIDS, but aid workers say even the government's scaled-down target will be under threat if grassroots groups are not drafted into the fight. Burkina Faso, one of the world's poorest countries, has pledged that 15,000 people will receive the life-prolonging ARV drugs by 2007. That would be a five-fold increase on the 2,700 patients that currently access treatment, but would fall short of the 27,000 people which the World Health Organisation said should receive medication by the end of 2005.
Ethiopia: Blindness in Ethiopian children can be avoided
There are 1.4 million blind children in the world today, of whom 320 000 live in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the causes of childhood blindness are either preventable or treatable. The causes of sight loss in 44 percent of children attending schools for the blind in Ethiopia were vitamin A deficiency and measles. These two conditions can be avoided with widespread measles immunisation, vitamin A supplements and advice on nutrition.
Mozambique: Aids council underspends budget
Mozambique's National Council for the Fight Against AIDS (CNCS) has spent less than 40 percent of the funds allocated to HIV/AIDS activities in the country in 2004. According to the local news agency, AIM, the CNCS had planned programmes costing US $17.7 million, but only $6.5 million was disbursed and used, leaving projects planned by civil society and the public sector in the lurch.
Nigeria: Use of suspended AIDS drugs probed
The National Agency for Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian's food and drug production and consumption regulatory agency, has begun investigations into the administration of some suspended anti-retroviral drugs on some people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). Abubakar Jimoh, national public relations officer of the NAFDAC,was quoted as saying that some drugs de-listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) are being distributed under the national program for the treatment of the PLWHA.
South Africa: Are children bigger in South Africa’s new democracy?
Human growth is a sensitive measure of social change. In a recent study conducted by Loughborough University, UK, that looked at data from more than 3000 children born in Soweto and Johannesburg in 1990, nearly one in five of the children in the study were found to be stunted – a sign of persistent poor health and nutrition during infancy.
South Africa: Tired of the "same old" AIDS messages
AIDS activists in South Africa have called for the revision of "outdated" HIV/AIDS messages which have been circulating for years but have failed to achieve behaviour change. People require more than awareness and basic education - they need advice on how to apply their knowledge of AIDS to their daily lives. Laura Washington, facilitator of the Durban-based training organisation Project Empower, told IRIN that her group realised that tackling high-risk behaviour was "not about the condom" but about people's "social fabric", such as communication within relationships, gender imbalances and societal perceptions of sexuality.
Southern Africa: Child deaths show health crisis
When Dr Keith Bolton treated children in the 1990s, the death of a patient was still relatively infrequent. As head of child health at South Africa's Coronation Hospital in Johannesburg, Bolton saw an average of one child die each week. Now, Bolton and his colleagues see one child die every day. "In the past, death was an uncommon event in children, especially after the newborn period," said Bolton. "Now we've seen a complete reversal of the gains we made in the 1960s, '70s and '80s."
Africa/Global: Making literacy a priority
How can we address the issue of the information and knowledge society without first dealing with the fact that almost a sixth of the world's population remains illiterate, and thus excluded from the possibility of effectively participating in a knowledge-driven society? What good are the advantages afforded by the new ICTs for the more than 860 million who cannot read and write? asks this feature on the website of Choike, a portal on civil society.
Cameroon: Public vs Private: the virtues and vices
In 1993, the government of Cameroon passed a law allowing private tertiary education institutions to be established in the country. Now, almost a decade later, is this decision still viewed as the right one? That depends on who you ask. For Sammy Beban Chumbow, rector of the government-run University of Yaoundé I, certain private institutions "present a distinct threat to public universities".
Kenya: Free Education Critics Told Off
Critics of free primary education should try their business elsewhere, Education minister Prof George Saitoti has said. "This is an era of free primary education; it is here to stay since our commitment is firm. No one should allude that Government will turn back on this policy," Prof Saitoti said.
South Africa: Teachers threaten to strike
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said it had not ruled out the possibility of action should its current pay dispute with government not be resolved timeously. Sadtu was one of four teachers' unions to declare a dispute over salaries. Sadtu spokesperson Thulas Nxesi said the outcome of the mediation process in the Education Labour Relations Council was expected "sometime this week".
Africa/Global: GM trees are not part of another world
New book from World Rainforest Movement
"The debate on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) has until now largely focused on agricultural crops and much less on genetically modified trees. This is understandable, given the fact that there are already several GM crops being commercially grown in many places of the world and given that many of them are aimed at directly or indirectly feeding human beings, whose health is thus potentially threatened. However, that does not mean that GM trees are less dangerous. On the contrary, the dangers posed by GM trees are in some ways even more serious than those posed by GM crops."
Africa/Global: NGOs Shut Out of UN Hydropower Conference
Sheltered inside the confines of the Beijing International Convention Center, hundreds of hydropower advocates and a smattering of damaffected people and their allies gathered on a crisp October morning for a three-day United Nations Symposium on Hydropower and Sustainable Development. The organizers – the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), China’s National Development and Reform Commission, and the World Bank – claimed to want to facilitate a discussion among a wide range of participants on the role and future of hydropower in sustainable development. However, the conference was so biased toward hydropower proponents that the meeting was more like an industry workshop than a true exchange of ideas as promoted by the World Commission on Dams. Perspectives critical of hydropower were virtually excluded and the participation of NGOs and dam-affected people was marginalized, reports the World Rivers Review, published by the International Rivers Network.
Africa/Global: Securing Development in the face of climate change
Climate change poses a potentially major challenge to social and economic development in all countries. It is widely accepted that at least part of the earth's 0.6°C warming during the last 100 years is due to emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, caused by human activities. During this century, the world is expected to continue warming, by between 1.4 and 5.8°C. Other predicted impacts are a rise in global sea levels of between 0.09 and 0.88 metres by 2100, and changes in weather patterns, including an increased frequency and severity of extreme events such as hurricanes, floods and droughts. How can developing countries and development policies ensure progress in a changing climate?
Africa: African mining codes a race to the bottom
The World Bank, after nearly two decades of developing mining sector specific mineral codes, revising and ‘re-revising’ them to make competing mineral-endowed African countries gain ‘the most conforming country’ status, is still not satisfied. Having provided the necessary fiscal incentives, absolute security of tenure of mineral rights and fenced off the state from direct participation in mining activities, the Bank now thinks the only way mineral-rich African countries can remain more competitive is by de-emphasising environmental protection. The result is that most countries have no barriers to where and where not to mine. Forest reserves, protected sites, heritage sites, and ecologically sensitive zones are no longer barriers to mining.
Nigeria: Tsunami Possible in Nigeria
The Nigerian Red Cross Society yesterday urged Nigerians to be prepared for the possibility of a Tsunami-type calamity which took Asia, among other nations, by surprise last month occuring here. THISDAY had earlier reported some experts as warning that Nigeria’s western boundary with Cameroon was an active volcanic region. The fracture zones include Romanche (western), Chain (western flank), Charcot (more of the Niger Delta) and Cameroon Fracture Zone (Eastern Boundary of Nigeria), which the experts said, was active. "Some land mass had even been washed away unnoticed by people in remote coastal areas. The Red Cross still maintains its position that the country and its people must develop the appropriate capacity to manage and cope with high and low profile natural and man-made disasters", the society said.
Somalia: Thousands of households affected by tsunami
The tsunami triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean that struck the Horn of Africa coastline just over a week ago has affected about 18,000 households of varying sizes in Somalia, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. Many of those affected were living in small villages along the Somali coastline, particularly in the northeastern regions. OCHA, in a situation report released on Monday, estimated that 54,000 people were directly affected. In Jeriban and Eyl districts, 1,000 houses were either damaged or destroyed and around 1,200 boats ruined.
Southern Africa: From risks to rights in biotechnology
Scientists and the biotechnology industry have been crucial in determining biotechnology policies and laws. They have emphasised the protection of individual interests - both human and corporate - through tight property laws, global trade rules and narrow regulatory regimes. Within this framework, the only 'acceptable' restriction on biotechnology development is safety. Regulation focuses on containing risks through science-based assessments. Little attention has been given to broader social, cultural or development concerns or, critically, to rights. A rights based approach is key to developing biotechnology policies.
Southern Africa: Living with variable climate in southern Africa
Southern Africa has experienced severe food shortages over the past few years. These have been caused by several factors, including climate change and variability, problems with governance (including poor risk-management, and inadequate early warning systems) and wider structural issues (such as globalisation). Many parts of the region are also vulnerable to the impacts of large-scale environmental change, including land degradation and biodiversity loss.
Tanzania: Poor and Vulnerable Countries Demand Compensation
"For our countries, climate change is more catastrophic than terrorism." This was how the delegate from Tanzania summed up the stance of the world's 48 least developed countries at the 10th Conference of Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-10). The Tanzanian delegation's sentiments were echoed throughout the opening session of the conference. Almost all of the countries whose representatives took the floor expressed their satisfaction over the imminent entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.
Africa: Title Deeds Not the Solution to Land Problems
In most of Africa, formal individual title deeds to land have failed to solve the problems of homelessness and insecurity of tenure among the rural and urban poor, or the mushrooming of slums in the cities. This was the gist of views aired during the recently concluded Expert Group Meeting on the new legal frameworks to land tenure, at Gigiri in Nairobi, where it was pointed out that in some African countries, less than one per cent of the land was titled. Participants from Africa, the US and Europe concluded that large-scale land titling is not a panacea to solving land tenure problems in the developing world.
South Africa: Apartheid returns to farmlands
A hunting boom driven by wealthy tourists is pushing black South Africans off the land to make way for game, generating anger that, a decade after apartheid, whites still own most of the countryside. Hundreds of commercial farms have evicted their labourers and converted into game parks, turning swaths of arable land into fenced wilderness for trophy animals such as lions and antelopes.
DRC: Government attempts to confine press to a "Congolese gulag" condemned
From 20 to 24 December 2004, a group of 11 journalists from various Kinshasa-based, privately-owned newspapers carried out a mission to Goma, capital of North-Kivu province, to report on the armed conflict that rages in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The group also requested and was granted interviews with Rwandan authorities, including Foreign Minister Charles Morigande and President Paul Kagame. On their return to Kinshasa, however, the journalists, along with their editors, were summoned by the media regulation authority (Haute autorité des médias, HAM). (Report available in French and English)
DRC: Two journalists arrested in Kamako
Delphin Manesa and Jean Kambamba, journalists with Radio Arc-en-ciel, broadcasting out of Kamako, were arrested on 28 December 2004 by a group of police officers acting under the orders of Mutombo Tshisala, the municipality's deputy chief of police. Kamako is located approximately 180 kilometres from Tshikapa, the second largest city in West Kasaï province, central Democratic Republic of Congo. (French and English version available)
Ethiopia: Court reverses government ban on journalists' association
Reporters sans frontières (RSF) has hailed a 24 December 2004 federal high court decision to reverse a 13-month-old government ban on the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA) as a "victory for the EFJA and a step forward for press freedom in Ethiopia." But the organisation warned that vigilance is still needed in Ethiopia as the situation of its news media continues to be very precarious. (Available in English and French)
Gambia: Thousands protest peacefully at murder of journalist
Thousands of people thronged the streets of Banjul in December in a peaceful protest against the murder of one of the Gambia's leading journalists by unidentified gunmen. About 300 journalists - virtually the entire press corps of this small West African country - marched through the streets to protest at the killing of Deyda Hydara, a newspaper editor and veteran campaigner for press freedom, who was shot dead.
Tunisia: Press Freedom In Tunisia A Casualty Of "War On Terror"
In common with Algeria and the dominant African giant Egypt, Tunisia has displayed a remarkable tenacity to forge ahead without any significant policy of political reform. In ensuring that its security from so-called 'terrorist threats' is provided by the West, the regime of Zeyn al-Abideen Bin Ali has thwarted efforts by human-rights activists keen to secure fundamental freedoms. Harsh repressive measures to keep its population in check are characteristic of the Bin Ali government.
Kenyan rapper goes to jail in Sweden
Billy Okello, a Kenyan Rapper known by his artist name of “Billy Boy” has been jailed for eight months by a Swedish court after being found guilty of five separate charges namely: mishandling a Swedish woman, threatening the woman, damage to property, driving without a license and driving while under the influence of alcohol. Billy will also pay the woman a total of 28,700 Swedish crowns in compensation for damages to the woman’s property, causing her pain, violating her integrity and causing her physical and psychological trauma.
Nigeria's new celebrity class
"As a Nigerian who has lived and grown up in Britain, the way the developing world has been portrayed has always been a source of bafflement and great sadness. It seemed as if the press were obsessed with learning only about the war, the famine and the corruption. It was in this frame of mind that I happened across a magazine entitled Ovation, a celebrity magazine dedicated entirely to Nigerian endeavour and success both in Nigeria and in the diaspora."
The Role of Diaspora in Poverty Reduction in their Countries of Origin
"This paper analyzes the impact of established Diaspora on the reduction of poverty, and identifies ways in which policy interventions, especially from donors of official development assistance, might strengthen that impact. The new policy interest in Diasporas reflects a broader concern with globalization, and specifically the very recent appreciation of the volume of remittances to developing countries by emigrant workers and their descendents."
Africa/Global: Rich country Tsunami response 'pathetic'
The initial response by the world's richest countries to the earthquake and tidal wave disaster in Southern Asia has been pathetic. While many of these countries have poured billions into invading and bringing misery to the people of Iraq, they cannot seem to find anywhere near enough money to seriously help the mainly poor people who have been made destitute by this natural disaster, according to this article on the website of the Socialist Alliance.
* Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Nuclear Testing
* Tsunami tragedy blog
Burundi: Renewed fighting displaces thousands in Bujumbura Rural
Thousands of civilians have been displaced following fierce fighting on Saturday in Burundi's western province of Bujumbura Rural. The internally displaced persons (IDPs) have not received aid, the governor of the province, Ignace Ntawembarira, said.
Somalia: Continuation of War by Other Means?
The declaration, in Kenya, of a Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in October 2004 was heralded as a breakthrough in Somalia's protracted crisis of statelessness and civil strife. But the peace process has gone largely downhill since then. The Transitional Federal Parliament's choice for interim president, Colonel Abdillahi Yusuf Ahmed, is divisive and controversial. To many Somalis, his election represents not a step toward peace but continuation of the war by other means. Yusuf and his partners need to use their political advantage to form a genuine government of national unity and the international community needs to make clear that only if this happens will the TFG get the recognition and support it desperately seeks, said the International Crisis Group in a report released late in 2004.
Sudan: A Final Peace Accord Within Grasp
Sudan ended 2004 on a high note, with government and rebel representatives signing a permanent ceasefire and an accord that maps out the implementation of several peace protocols already concluded. This paves the way for a final agreement to end 21 years of civil war in southern Sudan – Africa’s longest-running conflict. The ceremony took place in the north-western Kenyan town of Naivasha, which has served as the venue for peace talks between Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).
Sudan: Atrocities, Impunity Threaten Lasting Peace
Continuing atrocities in the western region of Darfur and impunity for war crimes in the south jeopardize prospects for peace in Sudan, Human Rights Watch has warned ahead of the January 9 signing of a peace agreement to end the 21-year conflict in the south. The final peace accords-known as the Naivasha Protocols for the Kenyan city where negotiations took place since June 2002-are scheduled to be signed in Nairobi by the Sudanese government and the main southern rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). The peace agreement lacks any provision for a truth commission, prosecutions or other forms of accountability for past abuses in the southern conflict.
Uganda: Museveni plans crackdown on rebels
President Yoweri Museveni has vowed to step up military action against rebels in northern Uganda, after a seven-week truce expired without agreement. The government says the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rejected a deal meant to pave the way for peace talks, and staged an ambush on the army. Mediators said the LRA wanted more time to study the government's proposed memorandum of understanding.
How appropriate is software for developing ICT literacy in Africa?
Teacher training institutions in even the poorest African countries are slowly being equipped with computers. Increasingly, teachers are being exposed to new information and communication technologies (ICTs). The majority of school teachers are likely to work in environments without computers for the foreseeable future but in schools where ICTs are available, teachers will want to know how to use them.
Internet living Swahili dictionary
"The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary is a collaborative work by people all over the world. Together we are working to establish new dictionaries of the Swahili language - Kiswahili - both within Swahili and between Swahili and English."
New computer partnership increases access in Rwanda
Computer Aid International, a British registered not-for-profit officially launched an innovative new partnership with local not-for-profit, E-ICT, on November 29 in Kigali. By providing an affordable solution to high cost computers, the partnership aims to increase access to ICT for schools and not-for-profits.
New ICT Book Launched
No doubt, information and communication technologies (ICT) have dramatically changed the way individuals, organisations and enterprises interact. But are they a priority for development cooperation, empowerment and poverty reduction? In a new book, jointly published by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the Global Knowledge Partnership (GKP), key innovators, government leaders, development experts, grass-roots practitioners and leading CEOs offer new and often unexpected answers to this and other questions.
Women'sNet is a networking support programme designed to enable South African women to use the internet to find the people, resources and tools needed for women's social activism. Since its inception, Women'sNet has successfully implemented a number of projects as part of its mandate to support South African women in harnessing ICTs to facilitate women's empowerment through networking and special projects.
Chapel & York Information by Email
This Email-Information Service helps you find the resources you need from amongst the vast amounts of information available for charities, non-profits, & NGOs on-line. The focus is on new funding information, and international and cross-boarder funding. Recent emails have been on the Asian Tsunami with a focus on 'HOW TO HELP'. Visit the webpage and click on Email Information Services.
La Benevolencija newsletter
Since March 2003, La Benevolencija Rwanda has carried out a program based on the work of Professor Ervin Staub and Doctor Laurie Pearlman focusing on activities linked to reconciliation in Rwanda. Since the beginning of the program, Rwanda Reconciliation Radio (RRR) is implementing a unique combination of academic research methodologies, highly efficient communication techniques and down-to-earth grassroots activities. Visit their website for more information or use the email below to subscribe to their newsletter.
Youth InfoNet No. 11
YouthNet, a program of Family Health International, is pleased to announce Youth InfoNet No. 11, a one-stop source for new publications and information on youth reproductive health and HIV prevention. You can read the newsletter online.
Fellowships for women journalists
The International Women's Media Foundation has called for applications to the Elizabeth Neuffer Fellowship, a new program that supports women journalists who report on human rights and social justice. The fellowship combines research opportunities at MIT's Center for International Studies and other Boston area universities with reporting opportunities at The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
GrantCraft began at the Ford Foundation, with a kernel of case studies and examples that had long served as orientation materials for new program officers. From there, starting in October 2001, we've sought out hundreds of grant makers and grantees from other organizations to add examples and insights of their own, share successes and disappointments, and draw lessons from what they've done and observed.
New publication from the International HIV/AIDS Alliance
Raising funds and mobilising resources for HIV AIDS work
This toolkit builds on the understanding that mobilising resources (primarily money) is a vital need for any NGO/CBO. It introduces an approach to planning and carrying out resource mobilisation strategically and systematically to ensure that maximum returns are gained for the least effort and that NGOs/CBOs remain true to their missions. (French version available)
Children and Poverty: Global Trends, Local Solutions?
Call for papers
UNICEF and the Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA) plan to hold an international conference April 25 through 27, 2005 on poverty in the global context and its effects on girls and boys. The conference in April 2005 will present analytical and policy papers that explore issues and trends related to children living in poverty by examining the concepts and measurements of poverty, as well as the actions needed to secure a protective, harmonious and stimulating environment for family upbringing.
Extended workshop on social history
The fourth CODESRIA/SEPHIS Extended Workshop on New Theories and Methods in Social History will be held from 5th to 25th September, 2005. The theme for the 2005 session is Gender, Ethnicity and Culture. The Workshop will be organised around the comparative experiences of Africa, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean.
Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disasters Workshop
The Rapid Environmental Impact Assessment in Disasters Workshop is to be held from 2nd to 4th February 2005 in Karen-Nairobi, Kenya. The Nairobi location for the workshop is intended to facilitate participation by NGO/IO/Donor staff based on East Africa, including staff working in southern Sudan. The three day workshop will prepare participants to use the REA in disaster and crisis situations. The workshop will include discussions on the use of the REA for disasters commonly encountered in Africa. Participants will also receive a CD with an eLearning program on the REA as well as a wealth of other reference materials. The cost of the workshop will be from £260 GBP per person, with partial scholarships available. For further information or an application form please contact RedR on: email: [email protected] or phone: +44 (0) 207 233 3116.
Social Capital Foundation conferences
The Social Capital Foundation conferences are open to all those who want to understand the world in which they live. The academic content of the conferences is excellent but the language used is clear and the conclusions are operational. Emphasis is put on lively presentations based on modern communication techniques, in order to allow congenial, interactive communication style. Speakers are scholars with a wide variety of profiles and practitioners with an established academic background.
Three month training course for refugee interpreters
The American University in Cairo, Forced Migration & Refugee Studies Program Community Interpreters Project (CCIP) is offering a three month training course for refugee interpreters speaking any of the following languages (native-speaker level): Dinka, Amharic, Tigrinya, Somali, Kiswahili, Arabic, Juba Arabic, Fur.
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