Pambazuka News 504: Biopiracy, biodiversity and food sovereignty
The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa
Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839
CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Announcements, 3. Advocacy & campaigns, 4. Books & arts, 5. Letters & Opinions, 6. African Writers’ Corner, 7. Highlights French edition, 8. Cartoons, 9. Zimbabwe update, 10. African Union Monitor, 11. Women & gender, 12. Human rights, 13. Refugees & forced migration, 14. Africa labour news, 15. Emerging powers news, 16. Africom Watch, 17. Elections & governance, 18. Corruption, 19. Development, 20. Health & HIV/AIDS, 21. Education, 22. LGBTI, 23. Environment, 24. Land & land rights, 25. Food Justice, 26. Media & freedom of expression, 27. Conflict & emergencies, 28. Internet & technology, 29. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 30. Fundraising & useful resources, 31. Courses, seminars, & workshops
Highlights from this issue
- ZIMBABWE UPDATE: Development foundation launched
- AFRICAN UNION MONITOR: Human rights NGOs urge ratification of good governance charter
- WOMEN & GENDER: Third African feminist forum in Senegal
- HUMAN RIGHTS: New revelations on anniversary of Ken Saro Wiwa’s death
- REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: South America becomes new migration route
- EMERGING POWER NEWS: Emerging powers news roundup
AFRICAN LABOUR NEWS: Nigerian unions call off strike
- ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Democracy, civil society and the right to dissent
- DEVELOPMENT: Civil society urges G20 to take action on financial transaction taxes
- HEALTH AND HIV/AIDS: Invest now or pay later on TB
- LGBTI: Coalition concerned as AU observer status refused
ENVIRONMENT: Egypt no longer the jewel of the Nile
LAND AND LAND RIGHTS: The vultures of land grabbing
- MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Egyptian blogger beaten and kept in detention
- CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Osama bin Laden and the Sahel
PLUS: Internet and Technology, Jobs, Fundraising & useful resources, Courses, Seminars and Workshops
Patent grab threatens biodiversity and food sovereignty in Africa
Time to end war against the earth
The battle against biopiracy
Kenya’s complicated transition and the lessons for Zimbabwe
Peace more in Kenyan hands than the ICC’s
Leigh Brownhill and Kiama Kaara
Are you saying we are not human?
Competitive devaluation and financial warfare
When the poor become powerful outside of state control
Ethiopia: Remember the Slaughter of November 2005
Alemayehu G. Mariam
Rejuvenating the Mozambican knowledge factory
Mercedes-Benz and influence peddling in Angola
Rafael Marques de Morais
Haiti 2010: Exploiting disaster
Call for papers on ACHPR decision on African Lesbians
Coalition of African Lesbians
Journalist Study Tour to India 2011: FAHAMU Emerging Powers in Africa Programme
Call for applications
Jindal School of International Affairs seeks Africa specialist
Uganda: LGBTI activists sue the Rolling Stone tabloid
Uganda High Court issues an interim order to cease publication
Between defiance and empathy: A battle cry for justice
US launch of Shailja Patel's 'Migritude'
Parents should encourage children to read
Guides needed for journey to African unity
Come clean about geoengineering
Going to Moshoeshoe
To the people of Lesotho
Natty Mark Samuels
Abdulqadir A. Nassir
Pambazuka News 166: Après le rapport sur le génocide au Congo, que faire !
Kikwete's level playing field
Museveni's 'You want another rap' (remix)
Development foundation for Zimbabwe launched
In December of last year, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) hosted a public lecture by Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Cape Town on 'The State of Zimbabwe’s Economy', as well as a dialogue with members of country’s diaspora. Emerging from that dialogue, diaspora members recently launched the Development Foundation for Zimbabwe – ‘a non-profit, non-partisan organisation created and driven by Zimbabweans’. The Foundation aims to ‘provide a platform for constructive engagement between Zimbabweans in the Diaspora and fellow compatriots in the Zimbabwean government, business, civil society and the general public’.
More economic reform needed, says IMF
Zimbabwe's economy will grow for the second successive year in 2010 due to positive policies and strong commodity prices, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday, while calling for more reforms to sustain the recovery. An IMF team that visited between Oct 25 and Nov 3 for routine discussions with government and the private sector said Zimbabwe would have a budget surplus this year, among other signs of improved economic conditions.
Soldiers go on rampage in Chipinge East
Heavily armed soldiers wearing military fatigues on Wednesday launched a lunchtime raid on Green Valley farm in Chipinge East, in an operation in which they took away MDC officials. One of those ‘abducted’ by the soldiers, who were brandishing AK47 rifles, is Solomon Mazvokwadi, an MDC-T ward youth chairman for the area. The soldiers were deployed in Chipinge East three months ago and have been patrolling the area, allegedly intimidating MDC supporters.
Human rights NGOs urge ratification of good governance charter
The Director of the Banjul-based African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, Hannah Forster, on Sunday emphasised the need for African governments to ratify and implement the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in order to reinforce the highest principles of democratic governance in Africa. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the forum of the participation of NGOs on the 48th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, in Banjul, the Gambian capital, Forster lamented that impunity has become so entrenched in our countries that much thought should be given to the development of strategies to combat the phenomenon.
Kenya: Community refers land dispute To AU court
The Endorois community is seeking the intervention of the African Commission to compel the Government to implement a ruling delivered early this year. The community has dispatched a delegation of 10 members to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) meeting in Banjul. Gambia, to express displeasure over Government's failure to honour its ruling. In the landmark ruling, the African Commission found the Government guilty of violating the human rights of the Endorois, by evicting them from their land to pave way for creation of Lake Bogoria Game Reserve, between 1974 and 1979.
DRC: New trades help women rebuild from conflict
After years of armed conflict, women in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo are playing a leading role in its economic recovery with the help of vocational training centres which keep them fed while they learn new skills. Famiya Omari, a 50-year-old mother of five, once trudged for miles each day to ply fresh cassava. Now, she sells the bread and soap that she has learnt to make at a vocational centre run by a local NGO, the Reflection Committee For Development and Social Promotion (CORDPS).
Rwanda: Encouraging police to tackle violence against women
The Rwandan authorities are trying to tackle gender-based violence by addressing the role of security personnel in ending the scourge. 'Violence of any sort is an affront to society, an abomination that is simply unacceptable,' Rwandan Prime Minister Bernard Makuza said. 'Security forces in Africa must recognise gender-based violence as a crime.' The prime minister, who was speaking at a recent high-level conference in the Rwandan capital of Kigali on the role of security bodies in ending violence against women and girls, called for community involvement in efforts to root out the vice.
Senegal: The third African feminist forum
From 21- 24 October 2010, close to 180 feminist activists from all African sub-regions met in Dakar, Senegal for the third African Feminist Forum. The forum focused on the theme of communities, connecting discussions about women’s citizenship, state accountability, the market, the environment and our individual roles as activists.
Uganda: Over 200 girls to be circumcised
Elders in Bukwo and Kapchorwa districts are preparing to circumcise over 200 girls next month despite a new law banning the practice. The practice, commonly referred to as female circumcision, is mostly practiced among the Sabiny, who occupy Bukwo and Kapchorwa districts on the northern slopes of Mt Elgon. The United Nations categorises it as female genital mutilation (FGM) because it damages a woman’s sexuality and leads to various complications. FGM refers to the removal of the external female genitalia.
West Africa: Research shows women own two per cent of arable lands
Although responsible for about 80 per cent of the agricultural production for the supply of households and markets, women own less than two per cent of arable lands in West and Central Africa. This was the finding of a study conducted by the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD), published in Dakar, Senegal.
Cameroon: The political assassination of Felix Moumie
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the independence of most of the French-speaking African states and has been so celebrated in France and in the former French Sub-Saharan African states. The independence of North Africa followed a different course, but the 1954-1962 Algerian War heavily influenced French policy in Sub-Saharan Africa - usually referred to as Afrique Noire (Black Africa). Less celebrated are the political assassinations which were carried out in the lead up to the 1960 independences. Thus the November 3, 1960 death of Felix Moumie, the Cameroun independence leader, by poison in Geneva, merits attention to remind us that State-sponsored murders have terrorism of population as an aim.
Global: Action day highlights abuses by European companies
The European Action Day is an initiative of the European Coalition for Corporate Justice (ECCJ – www.corporatejustice.org), a European network bringing together over 250 civil society organisations present in 15 European countries to take measures that will stop corporate abuses and provide access to justice for victims of these abuses. 'From mercury poisoning in South Africa to child labour in India, companies, including European ones, continue to get away with breaches of environmental and human rights standards,' states Ruth Casals, ECCJ’s coordinator.
Kenya: Now Ruto wants Kenya's principals charged by ICC
Eldoret North MP William Ruto wants the International Criminal Court to indict President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga for the roles he says they played in the post-election violence. In a statement that could form the core of Mr Ruto’s defence at The Hague, one of the suspended minister’s lawyers says the process of securing justice would have no credibility if Mr Kibaki and Mr Odinga are not charged.
Nigeria: New revelations on anniversary of Ken Saro Wiwa’s death
Fifteen years ago Ken Saro Wiwa and eight other Ogoni activists who led protests against Shell Oil company were hanged by the Nigerian government after a sham trial on trumped up charges. Justice in Nigeria Now remembers Ken Saro Wiwa and his colleagues, noting new revelations about Shell’s PR strategy after the deaths of the Ogoni activists.
Nigeria: When oil companies volunteer
Some oil companies, including Shell and Chevron, have signed up to what is known as Voluntary Principles, by which they declare how they would change their corporate practices in the area of security and human rights. See the principles at http://www.voluntaryprinciples.org/ This Environmental Rights Action article asks whether these principles have resulted in any positive change, touches on the principles behind them and how they can be applied to Nigerian oil fields.
Southern Africa: SADC review 'denies citizens redress'
A recent decision by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) summit means an 'effective suspension' of the SADC tribunal, which will deny SADC citizens redress, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) said last week. The challenge by NGOs including the Southern Africa Litigation Centre and the Africa regional office of the International Commission of Jurists, comes after a decision by the Sadc summit in August that the tribunal would not hear new cases. The tribunal hears cases between citizens of SADC member states and the states themselves, when the citizens have exhausted all domestic legal avenues.
Sudan: Minors sentenced to death
Four minors are among nine people who have been sentenced to death for a carjacking in Khour Baskawit in South Darfur. The case has raised fresh concerns over protection for children's rights in Sudan. Sudan is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the execution of minors. In line with this, Sudan reformed its laws in January 2010, raising the age at which an offender can face capital punishment from 15 to 18.
Uganda: Human rights violations in Karamoja region guarantees impunity
Amnesty International says it is concerned that the government of Uganda has failed to date to ensure thorough, prompt and independent investigations into frequent reports of human rights violations, including possible unlawful killings, by the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), in the Karamoja region thereby ensuring impunity for the perpetrators. The alleged violations have been committed in the course of an ongoing disarmament process in the area.
Zimbabwe: Time to rethink the Kimberley Process
The two authorised sales of Marange diamonds make clear the Zimbabwe government has no reason to feel threatened by a Western diamond import ban, says this commentary from the International Crisis Group. Emerging powers are challenging the rules and becoming more influential. Buyers, especially from India, have been more than willing to fill the gap resulting from the absence of most Westerners. Chinese buyers could also potentially compete. With world diamond production falling by 24 per cent since 2009 and increased competition, buyers are becoming readier to push human rights and governance standards aside.
Africa: Africans and Asians attracted to Latin America
Yakpaoro is part of a new trend in South America. The refugee from Guinea is one of a growing number of Africans and Asians, many of them refugees, making their way to the continent before joining mixed migration routes from the south to the north. UNHCR statistics show that so far this year between five and 40 per cent of total asylum applications submitted in various Latin American countries were lodged by nationals from Asia and Africa.
Angola: Senior UN official calls for probe into reported rape of expellees
A senior United Nations official has urged the national authorities in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to investigate reports that women were raped when large numbers of people were expelled from Angola and forced to return to the DRC recently. 'I call upon the authorities of both countries to investigate these allegations and to proceed in compliance with relevant legislation,' said Margot Wallström, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict.
Kenya: 8,000 Somalis pushed out of Kenya
Approximately 8,000 Somalis, who fled across the Kenyan border from the Somali town of Belet Hawo following intense fighting there, were ordered to return to Somalia by the Kenyan authorities between 1 and 2 November. On 4 November about 3,000 were forced further into Somalia by Kenya's administrative police, where they are at risk of serious human rights abuses. Amnesty International is urging those concerned by the development to write to the Kenyan authorities.
Somalia: Fight over water, pasture sends hundreds fleeing
Fighting between two sub-clans over grazing pasture and water has left 20 dead and thousands of families displaced from several villages in central Somalia, say locals. 'In my own town of Galinsor, about 1,300 families [7,800 people] have been displaced, out of a total population of 5,500 families,' Osman Abdi, an elder, told IRIN on 9 November. 'Many of the families have fled to surrounding villages and are living in the open or sheltering under trees.'
Sudan: UN to assist IDPs return to Darfur
UN aid Chief Valerie Amos said that United Nations is to help the voluntary return of people displaced by the conflict in Darfur. During her six day tour of the region, Amos said the decision would also be based on whether 'there is some provision of basic services that the security situation is such that their safety has been considered.'
Nigeria: Labour unions suspend strike
Labour unions suspended their three-day warning strike aimed at forcing the government to enact into law and implement a national minimum wage of 18,000 naira (about $120). The strike was called off Wednesday after an emergency meeting between the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Nigeria. They agreed to suspend the strike for three weeks on the understanding that President Goodluck Jonathan would place the Minimum Wage Bill before the National Assembly for speedy legislative process after the National Council of State meets on it November 25.
Latest Edition: Emerging Powers News Round-Up
Mali: US supports Mali's fight against terrorism
The United States will continue its support for efforts by the Malian government in the fight against terrorist threats in the north of the country, said the US envoy with the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), Rashad Hussain, at the end of his 5 to 7 November visit to Mali. 'We support Mali in terms of training and military maneuvers. The process that has been underway for some time will continue,' Hussain said, adding that 'terrorist threats are cross-border threats that claim victims.'
Africa: Reviving democracy in Africa requires Europe to do the same
Idasa's executive director Paul Graham has warned that reviving democracy in Africa requires Europe to do the same. At the Netherlands Institute for Multipary Democracy conference held in Brussels earlier this month, Graham spoke of the need to understand the revitalisation of democracy as a global concern, focusing on the challenges that emerge as Europe cooperates with Africa to help us with our democratisation agenda.
Gambia: Jammeh backs out of Gambia's 2011 presidential race
Urging his compatriots to remain grateful to him for his 'numerous developments and the transformation that has taken place in the country', Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh on Monday declared that he would not run for presidency in the 2011 elections, which will mark the end of his third five-year term. Jammeh told local authorities, politicians and other stakeholders drawn from all the regions in the country at the State House in Banjul, that democracy must be respected in the country, PANA reported from here Monday.
Guinea: Vote passes peacefully
Residents in the West African state of Guinea have voted in a presidential runoff election described as the country's first free polls since independence from France in 1958. The runoff pitted Cellou Dallein Diallo, the former prime minister, against Alpha Conde, a veteran opposition leader - each representing one of Guinea's two most populous ethnic groups, the Peul and Malinke respectively.
South Africa: Democracy, civil society and the right to dissent
'An elected government that does not accept that people have a right to form new parties and to contest its hold on power may be a "democratically elected" government, but it is not a democratic government. In a democracy, everyone has the right to form parties and to contest for state power at the polls and any limitation on that right is a limitation on democracy,' writes Richard Pithouse about ANC comments criticising a recent civil society conference convened by COSATU and the Treatment Action Campaign.
Sudan: Will Africa give birth to a new nation in 2011?
Will Africa give birth to a new nation in 2011? Southern Sudan will hold an a referendum on whether or not it should remain as a part of Sudan on 9 January 2011 as part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement. A simultaneous referendum will be held in Abyei on whether to become part of Southern Sudan. Global Voices carries a roundup of posts that discuss Sudan.
Tanzania: Election results a wake-up call for ruling CCM party
Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s stranglehold on power received a major knock in the just-concluded elections. CCM candidate Jakaya Kikwete won the presidential race comfortably with some 61 per cent of the vote. But that in Tanzania amounts to a massive setback in a system where the party candidate is routinely guaranteed close to 90 per cent of the vote and the opposition can barely gather a handful of MPs.
Africa: French appeals court reopens assets case
France's highest appeals court has authorised judges to proceed with an investigation into assets held in the country by three African leaders. The anti-corruption group Transparency International has accused the three of using African public funds to buy luxury homes and cars in France. The three leaders, one of whom is now dead, had denied wrongdoing. They are Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo and Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, as well as the late Gabonese leader, Omar Bongo.
Kenya: Anti-graft agency targets 80 top officials
The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission is investigating up to 80 politicians and top government officials in the intensified war against corruption. Those targeted by detectives include Cabinet ministers, past and present permanent secretaries and parastatal chiefs and several MPs. A list seen by the Sunday Nation details the nature of the charges the politicians and government officials are likely to face if the Attorney-General's office decides to prosecute. The offences range from abuse of office to embezzlement of public funds, fraud, conflict of interest and outright theft.
South Africa: UK Audit firm launches new arms deal probe
South African politicians and businessmen who pocketed R1-billion from the arms deal are set to be named in a new investigation by Britain's auditing watchdog. The Accountancy and Actuarial Discipline Board (AADB) is to investigate KPMG, which advised BAE Systems on offshore companies that were used to pay 'commissions' to influence the awarding of lucrative contracts in South Africa's R47.4-billion defence procurement package.
Zimbabwe: Civil society group probes tax regime
The African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (Afrodad) is undertaking research to critically evaluate Zimbabwe’s tax system to determine its role and impact on the development agenda. The move comes against the backdrop of reports that the country is losing billions of United States dollars in corporate tax through evasion and externalisation as institutions seek to evade a punitive tax regime. The Washington-based Global Financial Integrity revealed in February this year that Zimbabwe was among the world’s top five countries with the largest tax revenue losses as a percentage of total government revenue at 21,5 percent.
Africa: EPA talks will miss latest deadline
While a trade deal between the European Union (EU) and Southern African countries is close it will not be concluded before the end of this year. In the meantime, South Africa remains in pursuit of an ambitious regional integration agenda. Namibian trade minister Hage Geingob has confirmed that the December 2010 deadline for a economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the EU that Southern African states had set themselves in Gaborone, Botswana, earlier this year will not be met.
Africa: Leaders agree self reliance is the answer
Delegates drawn from African governments, international organisations, parliaments and civil society agreed on Friday, 5 November 2010 in Tunis that the time had come for African countries to rely more on their internal resources, such as taxation, the capital markets and better prices for their valuable commodities, and less on international aid for development. The second Regional Meeting on Aid Effectiveness, jointly organised by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union and NEPAD, convened on 4 and 5 February 2010, in preparation for the fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, to be held in Busan, Korea, in November 2011.
Africa: New rural poverty report released
The Rural Poverty Report 2011 contains updated estimates by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) regarding how many rural poor people there are in the developing world, poverty rates in rural areas, and the percentage of poor people residing in rural areas. The report says 1.4 billion people continue to live in extreme poverty – and more than 70 per cent of them are living in rural areas of developing countries, while the latest measurements show that 925 million of them are undernourished.
Global: Civil society urges G20 to take action on Financial Transaction Taxes
'We, the undersigned civil society organisations from 23 countries, urge G-20 leaders to make concrete progress towards the introduction of an internationally coordinated financial transactions tax (FTT) at the upcoming summit in Seoul. Our organisations have long advocated that such taxes are a practical way to generate revenues needed to fill domestic and international financing gaps, discourage the type of short-term financial speculation that has little social value but poses high risks to the economy and serve as a desperately-needed and sustainable source of financing for health and development. In recent months, the case for an FTT has been strengthened with new inputs from sometimes unexpected sources.'
Global: Financial system fails to prevent crisis
The current turmoil in the world economy has demonstrated once again that the international arrangements lack mechanisms to prevent financial crises with global repercussions, writes Yilmaz Akyüz, the special economic adviser of the South Centre. Not only are effective rules and regulations absent to bring inherently unstable international financial market and capital flows under control, but there is no multilateral discipline over misguided monetary, financial and exchange rate policies in systemically important countries despite their disproportionately large adverse international spillovers.
Global: G20 should ensure recovery fights poverty
World leaders have an historic opportunity to reform the global economy to ensure that the one in six people who live in extreme poverty benefit from economic recovery, international agency Oxfam said today ahead of the G20 summit in Seoul. Oxfam is calling on the G20 to forge a new Seoul Development Consensus to replace the failed Washington Consensus of the past. The new consensus should combine financial support for health, education and poor farmers in developing countries with action to make the global economy work in the interests of poor countries.
Global: Reforms fail to shake up IMF
International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn called recent agreements reached on IMF governance reform 'historic'. However, a closer analysis reveals that the shifts in votes are smaller than claimed and though the basic power structure of the IMF will better incorporate large emerging markets, it will also continue to see dominance of the US and Europe, says the Bretton Woods Project.
Global: Why the IMF and the international monetary system need more than cosmetic reform
This South Centre report argues that the G20 agenda misses some of the key issues that need to be dealt with in order to effectively reform the international monetary system so as to avert future global financial crises. The missing issues include enforceable exchange rate and adjustment obligations, orderly sovereign debt workout mechanisms and the reform of the international reserves system. The paper also points out that there are no effective rules to control the unstable global financial market, no multilateral discipline over misguided monetary and exchange rate policies, and national policy makers are preoccupied with resolving crises by supporting those responsible for these crises rather than introducing measures to prevent future crises.
Kenya: Why the poor pay more for water and the rich less
Absence of a formula based approach to budget allocation at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation has led to large inequities for water access in Kenya, with the poor paying more compared to the rich, and millions going without adequate access everyday. This finding is contained in a new analytical brief released by Twaweza titled 'It's Our Water Too! Bringing Greater Equity in Access to Water in Kenya.' Uwazi analysts have aggregated facts from a range of credible sources that demonstrate that persistent inequalities in access to water services in Kenya can be quickly reduced if an approach that links investments and resource allocation to needs rather than political weight is adopted and implemented.
Nigeria: Youth unemployment - a timebomb waiting to explode
Of Nigeria’s 150 million population 40 million are unemployed. 'A capitalist Nigeria is finding it difficult pulling Nigerian youth out of the frustration caused by unemployment simply because it is based on the profit motive. At the base of capitalism are greed and inhuman neglect of the unfortunate condition of the masses in general and the working class in particular,' writes Ola Balogun in an article on the Centre for Civil Society's website.
Swaziland: Jobs to be cut to secure international loan
Thousands of public servants in Swaziland are due to lose their jobs in cutbacks as part of a government bid to gain approval from the International Monetary Fund for a loan. But some Swazis would rather see the budget slashed for the country’s autocratic royals. The civil service of the tiny Southern African monarchy comes with a high wage bill, as 50 per cent of national spending going towards 35,000 state posts.
Africa: Invest now in TB or pay later
Unless the money needed for tuberculosis is invested now the world will face a drug-resistant epidemic that will affect everyone in the world, warned Dr Nils Billo, Executive Director of the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union). Speaking at the launch of the World Health Organisation’s Global Tuberculosis Control Report, Billo said that TB very often fell between the cracks even though it was a critical problem in many countries, including the former Soviet Union, Russia and Asia.
Africa: Malaria vaccine to protect the most vulnerable
As nearly 25 years of development of a malaria vaccine come to fruition, health authorities across Africa will need to come to grips with how to effectively introduce it. Phase III testing of a malaria vaccine involving up to 16,000 infants in seven African countries has begun; success could see a vaccine ready for use by 2013.
Africa: The great malaria debate
In 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates committed their foundation to eradicating malaria. It was, said Richard Feachem, director of the Global Health Group, part of the University of California, San Francisco, 'a shock to the system for the malaria community, because for a couple of decades the ‘E’ words, eradication and elimination, were not used in polite company'. That reticence was due to the very public failure of elimination campaigns, but the debate has been re-opened with the publication by the medical journal, The Lancet, of a special series on the subject.
Congo: Eight killed by epidemic akin to polio
An epidemic akin to polio, which has raged for nearly two weeks in the main commercial city in southern Congo, Pointe-Noire, has already killed eight, and several dozen cases have been reported, say health officials. 'Patients admitted to hospitals have flu-like symptoms. They are also presenting with paralysis starting in the lower limbs which spreads to the upper limbs,' said Director-General of Health Alexis Elira Dockekias.
Egypt: Black cloud season sees rise in health problems
Every year a noxious black smog hangs over Egypt as the seasonal burning of rice straw by farmers begins, and with it comes a surge in allergic reactions and lung infections. The inky haze lasts from October to November; it is a time when hospitals see a rise in patient numbers, and parents consider keeping their children out of school to avoid the worst of the throat-burning smog. 'Straw burning-induced pollution causes acute health problems,' Mahmud Abdel Meguid, chairman of the state-run Abbasiya Chest Hospital, told IRIN.
Egypt: Newlyweds learn about healthy families
If people don’t receive comprehensive sex education growing up, what is another option for disseminating critical sexual and reproductive health information to them? By targeting young married couples in Egypt, The Mabrouk! ('Congratulations!') Initiative strategically focuses efforts on young couples preparing to start a family. Established in 2004, the initiative combines a multimedia campaign with interpersonal and community empowerment approaches as part of the Communication for Health Living (CHL) project to create sustainable social change related to health practices.
Kenya: Mobile phone messages improve adherence and HIV control
A text message from a clinic each week resulted in better adherence and a higher level of viral load suppression among people with HIV after starting antiretroviral treatment in Kenya, a randomised controlled trial has shown. The results were published in the Online First section of The Lancet this week. The trial was sponsored by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
Kenya: Need to reduce HIV risk among health workers
The Kenyan government is working to reduce health workers' risk of HIV infection but experts say there is a need for greater focus on providing health workers with proper safety equipment and education. According to government statistics, an estimated 2.5 percent of new HIV infections annually are health-facility related. Poor medical waste disposal, needle stick injuries and unsafe blood transfusions are some of the factors that put medical workers at risk.
Tunisia: Maghreb patients prefer Tunisia hospitals
Tunisia is becoming the number one medical haven for its Algerian and Libyan neighbours. The Health Ministry reported that Tunisian health institutions received more than 140,000 Libyan and Algerian patients last year. 'In Libya, we suffer from the bad treatment of medical professionals and from their indifference to the health problems that worry us,' frequent visitor of Tunisian clinics Bouajila Fakhri told Magharebia.
Zimbabwe: Crisis in health as shortage of doctors grows
The shortage of doctors in Zimbabwe has reached crisis levels with the country having only 21 per cent of the required medical practitioners amid other frightening statistics on the worsening health situation, a Parliamentary report has revealed. 'Child health status indicators are worsening with infant mortality and under-five mortality rising from 53 percent to 77 per 1 000 live births in 1994 to 67 and 94 per 1 000 live births respectively in 2009,' a Parliamentary report said.
South Africa: Adult education organisation hit by funds crisis
Project Literacy, the largest provider of adult basic education and training (ABET) in South Africa, has been forced to shut down its provincial offices and retrench more than half its staff after the government withdrew a major contract. Project Literacy chief executive, Andrew Miller, points out that the former director-general of the Department of Higher Education and Training, Mary Metcalfe, had awarded the contract, on behalf of the National Skills Fund (NSF), in September but that it had been withdrawn three weeks later.
Uganda: President promises university bursaries
President Museveni has promised free university education for all science students from northern Uganda. Addressing a campaign rally at Akura in Alebtong on Sunday, Mr Museveni said the programme will include all students who are not on government sponsorship. Education ministry officials, many of whom admitted to being taken by surprise by the President’s campaign promise, were unable to offer any details on how the programme would be funded, how much it would cost, and what services would be sacrificed to fund the free A-level programme. Education is a key campaign plank for the ruling NRM party.
Africa: Coalition of African Lesbians concerned as AU observer status refused
The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) has denounced the decision by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) to refuse them observer status. 'We have finally received a formal letter from the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights that our application for observer status has been declined. It [letter] has no reasons why our application has been declined. The immediate thing that comes to mind for me is that they must provide reasons for their decision and that we must appeal the decision,' said Fikile Vilakazi, Director for the Coalition of African Lesbians.
Cameroon: Same-sex relations bring attacks, arrests
Cameroonians are attacked by police, politicians, the media, and even their own communities if they are suspected of having sexual relations with a person of the same sex, four human rights organisations said in a joint report. The government should take urgent action to decriminalise such consensual conduct and to ensure the full human rights of all Cameroonians, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, said Alternatives-Cameroun, l'Association pour la défense des droits des homosexuels, Human Rights Watch, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Africa: Governments urged to consider climate change in disaster planning
Governments in West and Central Africa should learn from this year's flooding - which has disrupted the livelihoods of nearly two million people - by urgently factoring climate change into their disaster prevention and response plans, aid groups say. Extreme weather linked to climate change, including heavy rainfall, is expected to cause increasing damage in the region. In West Africa alone this year, the number of people who lost their homes and property due to floods doubled from around 800,000 in 2009 to 1.6 million.
Egypt: No longer jewel of the Nile
Four of the seven upstream Nile Basin Initiative countries have decided to sign a new Nile deal. Despite strong Egyptian and Sudanese opposition, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Ethiopia signed a new water-sharing agreement. The other three countries, Kenya, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo are expected to sign the new deal within the next 12 months as allowed by the accord. Global Voices presents a wide variety of opinions on the deal.
Mozambique: Climate-hit rural women 'hope for the best, plan for the worst'
Every planting season, the women of Mapai-Ngale village near the Limpopo River in Mozambique face a tough dilemma. 'If we cultivate small fields on the extremely fertile lowlands near the Limpopo, we risk losing our whole crop to frequent floods. If we cultivate the infertile land on higher ground, we face losing our crops to drought,' said Maria Antonio Namburete, a 52-year-old widow and mother of five.
In recent years, climate change has wreaked havoc on this village of 500 people.
North Africa: Ensuring positive development outcomes from energy investment
As the World Bank pushes forward with a massive investment in North Africa’s energy sector, it is up to the institution to ensure that this program benefits those who need it most, says the Bank Information Centre. In December 2009, the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), under the leadership of the World Bank, approved a $750 million Investment Plan for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The plan aims to invest in CSP projects in Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan and to mobilise an additional $4.85 billion from other sources bringing the total cost of the program to $5.6 billion.
Africa: The vultures of land grabbing
Despite mounting concern publicly raised by civil society about the growing phenomenon of land grabbing, very little attention has been drawn so far to the specific role of private equity funds, says a new report. Most of the private equity funds aggressively involved in land grabbing are related to US financial markets However, European financial players haven’t just watched these developments silently and have become actors in the field of land grabbing too.
Uganda: Oil discovery sparks land grab in Buliisa
Oil has not even started flowing but, already, it is causing conflict in Bunyoro, western Uganda where land disputes have erupted. The two billion barrels of oil discovered in the Lake Albert area have drawn speculators hoping to cash in on rising land values in the area and sparked conflicts in many villages, particularly in the district of Buliisa.
Africa: Fresh warnings against EU bio-fuels policy
Massive increases in carbon emissions will worsen climate change if the European Union does not urgently revise its energy policy, experts warn. The EU plan to increase its share of bio-fuels to 20 per cent by the year 2020 constitutes a major mistake, according to a new study. 'In Africa, we expect to see prices of food increase due to the new production of bio fuels,' Chris Coxon, Brussels-based spokesperson for ActionAid International, an anti-poverty organisation, told IPS in a telephone interview.
CBD did not stop the commercialization of biodiversity
Egypt: Blogger beaten and kept in detention
Reporters Without Borders has condemned the mistreatment of Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, better known by the blog name of Kareem Amer. The detained blogger should have been freed on 5 November on completing a four-year jail sentence. Kareem Amer was transferred from Burj Al Arab prison to Alexandria on 6 November with the apparent aim of releasing him. But last night, an official reportedly gave him a severe beating at the headquarters of the internal security department in Alexandria. Detained since 6 November 2006, he has been held illegally for the past four days.
Gambia: Civil society concerned over freedom of expression
Dozens of NGOs have expressed their 'concern about the continued deterioration of freedom of expression in many parts of Africa in 2010' in a resolution adopted this week at a major gathering of civil society from across the continent. The 'Resolution on Freedom of Expression and Protection of Journalists' came out of the Forum on the Participation of NGOs held in Banjul, The Gambia, in advance of the start of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights ordinary session.
Libya: Gaddafi orders release of 19 journalists
A group of journalists arrested in Libya have been released on the order of Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Libyan media report. Authorities had arrested 19 journalists and a senior media executive, reportedly as part of a power struggle inside the ruling elite.
Morocco: Blogger reaches Tunisian TV stardom
When Oussama Benjelloun was a child, he wrote to Majid magazine about his ambition to become famous. He never heard back. Now the 26-year-old has realised his childhood dream by entering the world of media. His gateway to fame came by starting a blog. Today, Maghreb viewers can find him on Nessma TV, where he hosts a segment on new developments concerning the internet.
Somalia: Puntland journalist freed after 86 days in jail
Radio Horseed Media FM director Abdifatah Jama Mire has been released after 86 days of detention in Bosaso, in the semi-autonomous northeastern region of Puntland. Sentenced to six years in prison for broadcasting an interview with the head of a rebel group linked to Al-Qaeda, he was pardoned by Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole.
Zimbabwe: Warrant of arrest for UK-based Zimbabwean editor
The police have reportedly issued a warrant of arrest against Wilf Mbanga the London-based editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper following publication of a story linked to the death of a senior official with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in 2008. Mbanga is accused of publishing a story after the 2008 elections 'which undermined President Robert Mugabe'. According to The Zimbabwean, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) reported that the police want to question Mbanga over an article published in The Zimbabwean following the death of ZEC director for polling, Ignatius Mushangwe.
Haiti: Cholera now in Haiti capital, rapid spread feared
A cholera epidemic that has killed nearly 600 people in Haiti has gained a foothold in in earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince and is expected to spread widely and quickly in the sprawling city of three million people, health authorities said on Tuesday. The three-week-old epidemic, which had mostly hit Haiti's rural central regions so far, now menaced crowded slum areas of the capital, as well as tent and tarpaulin camps there housing more than 1.3 million survivors of the 12 January quake.
Nigeria: Gunmen attack oil rig, take hostages
Gunmen have attacked an off shore oil rig operated by exploration firm, Afren, kidnapping five crew members including foreigners and injuring two others, the company said on Monday. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) made no immediate claim of responsibility but threatened to carry out new attacks on oil infrastructure in the country. A resurgence of violence in the Niger Delta would be an embarrassment for President Goodluck Jonathan, who is the first Nigerian President from the region.
Nigeria: Security blames Okah for oil delta bombs
The main suspect behind twin car bombings in Nigeria's capital Abuja last month was also responsible for bomb attacks in the southern oil city of Warri in March, the secret service alleged on Wednesday. The State Security Service (SSS) said Henry Okah, who is facing conspiracy and terrorism charges in South Africa over the Abuja attacks on 1 October, travelled to Warri and wired the car bombs which were detonated on 15 March outside government talks about an amnesty programme.
North Africa: Osama bin Laden and the Sahel
In an audio-tape released to Al Jazeera on October 27, Osama bin Laden castigated France for its intervention in the affairs of Muslims in North and West Africa. It is likely to have profound implications on the so-called war on al-Qaeda in the Sahara and Sahel, as well as on French and European policies in the region, writes Jeremy Keenan, a professorial research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London University, and author of 'The Dark Sahara: America's War on Terror in Africa'.
Sahel: Al-Qaeda looks to Sahel for new funding sources
The turn of al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to new sources of financing, including kidnapping foreigners, extorting smugglers, and dealing in drugs is raising alarm among security agencies of the greater Maghreb. The countries of the region have officially committed themselves to co-ordinating their efforts to tackle the al-Qaeda threat in the region. Algeria, Mauritania, Niger and Mali have already set up a joint military headquarters in Tamanrasset, in southern Algeria and a joint intelligence centre in Algiers.
Somalia: Pirates 'outpace' crackdown
Pirates off the coast of Somalia are keeping ahead of attempts by international authorities to stop them, capturing ever more hostages and bounty, a UN official has said. B Lynn Pascoe, the UN undersecretary-general for political affairs, said on Tuesday that more viable economic alternatives are needed to prevent the migration of young Somalis into piracy. More than 438 crew and passengers and 20 ships are currently being held hostage at sea near Somalia, according to latest International Maritime Organisation figures.
Somalia: UN condemns growing use of child soldiers
The United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict has condemned the increasing number of children being recruited as soldiers by various armed groups in Somalia. Speaking on Monday, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN special representative for children and armed conflict, also highlighted the growing practice of forcing young girls into marriage and other forms of gender-based violence.
South Africa: Study on the violent nature of crime
The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation has released a major study on violence in South African society, recommending that government define its response to violence more clearly. The report notes that whilst it is clear that dealing with the problem of illegal firearms is a central pillar of government’s efforts to address crime, the argument for a focus on armed violence goes beyond this. 'This is partly through the fact that it motivates that knife violence also become a focus of attention, but also because it challenges government to reconceptualise its approach to how it defines violent crime priorities,' says the report.
South Africa: UN experts to discuss the regulation of private military and security companies
The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will carry out an official visit to South Africa from 10 to 19 November 2010 to examine the regulatory and oversight system in place to monitor the activities of private military and security companies. The UN expert body will hold discussions with government authorities, parliamentarians, civil society organizations, representatives of the diplomatic community, as well as representatives of the private military and security industry based in South Africa. In these discussions, the Working Group will focus, among other things, on the content and possible impact of the relevant legislation adopted in 2006.
Southern Africa: Gearing for heavy rains as La Niña strengthens
Dominicano Mulenga, national coordinator of Zambia's Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, goes through his to-do list as the rainy season sets in: Industrial pumps to suck water out of the roads serviced. Tick. Enough stocks of tents and mosquito nets. Tick. Mobile phones delivered to communities living along the upper catchment areas of the River Zambezi. Check. 'We do not want a repeat of the situation from last year, when 1,000 people were displaced in Lusaka [the Zambian capital] alone because of poor drainage,' said Mulenga. Mulenga is one of several officials in Southern Africa gearing up for the rainy season which normally goes on until the end of March 2011.
Western Sahara: Moroccan forces, Sahrawis clash in Laâyoune
The visible aftermath of violence is easy to see at the tent camp of Gdaim Izik and the Western Sahara city of Laâyoune, still reeling from two days of deadly clashes with Moroccan troops, less clear is a death toll or the actual circumstances surrounding the military action. The crisis began early Monday (November 8th), when Moroccan forces intervened to disperse a tent camp near Laâyoune set up three weeks ago to protest against Morocco's social policy in Western Sahara.
Africa: Funding still an uphill struggle for academics
African academies are still battling to obtain funding and recognition from policymakers despite several efforts to strengthen them. This message came out of the sixth meeting of the African Science Academy Development Initiative (ASADI) taking place in Somerset West near Cape Town, South Africa, this week (7–11 November).
Africa: Is social media affecting African politics?
The BBC website is encouraging comments from its readers on whether social media outlets such as Facebook, Youtube and blogs are having an impact on politics in Africa? The post points out that a rap record using the voice of Uganda's President Museveni is currently proving popular on websites like youtube. But a reader raises concern about whether such use of social media sidelines the real meaning of what political campaigning should be about. 'Instead of raising awareness of ideals to be fulfilled, and issues to be overcome, the parties are busy churning out entertainment schedules instead.'
Africa: Scientists create African banana Wiki
Soon all information on bananas in Africa, including the banana growing areas, yield, socio-economic status of the farmers and spread of pests and diseases, will be available on a scientist-driven online dictionary. The website (http://banana.mappr.info), developed by Philippe Rieffel a student of applied geography at the University of Münster, Germany, under supervision of scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), hopes to make a wide range of reliable spatial information on banana readily available to researchers, policy makers and development workers.
Africa: The benefits of open source software
Software piracy is becoming unnecessary. Open source software packages are becoming as user-friendly and adding as many features as proprietary packages - even in scientific circles. Africa should embrace open source scientific software, argues this article.
South Africa: Google launches voice search for SA
Google has launched Google Voice Search in South Africa to enable internet users to use their natural voice to speak into their cell phones for Google searches. Google senior staff engineer Johan Schalkwyk has said 'you speak into your phone and it sends your voice over the network where it's analyzed and you get your search results.'
Uganda: Mobile phones help end violence against women
Women in Uganda’s rural areas will learn about domestic violence against women through the use of different ICT tools to build awareness around the issue, but they will also learn to report and prevent it - and the mobile phone will be playing a big part in their campaigns - from frontline SMS, to around-the-clock hotlines. Other tools being used include web 2.0 and online publishing tools, as well as radio.
Latest issue of Angola Monitor available
The Angola Monitor covers the politics, economics, development, democracy and human rights of Angola. It is published quarterly by Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA). This issue covers Angola's progress in measures of poverty and governance, forced evictions and housing demolitions, international cooperation and the latest economic developments.
Latest issue of the Kakuma News Reflector now available
The latest issue of the Kakuma News Reflector is now available online. The Kakuma News Reflector (or KANERE) is a refugee free press devoted to independent reporting on human rights and encampment.
Zabalaza No. 11 now available online
The Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front (ZACF) has announced that issue number 11 of 'Zabalaza: A Journal of Southern African Revolutionary Anarchism' is available. It includes:
- At the End of the Baton of South African Pretentions - Warren McGregor (ZACF)
- Electricity Crisis in Protea South - Lekhetho Mtetwa (ZACF)
- Conned by the Courts - Sian Byrne, James Pendlebury (ZACF), Komnas Poziaris
- Death and the Mielieboer - Michael Schmidt
- The Crisis Hits Home: Strategic Unionism or Revolt? - Lucien van der Walt
- Sharpening the Pangas?: Understanding and Preventing future Pogroms - Michael Schmidt
- Riding to Work on Empty Promises - Jonathan P. (ZACF)
African Humanities Program
Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda
The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), with financial support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, announces competitions for:
- Early career postdoctoral fellowships in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa
- Dissertation completion fellowships in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda (no dissertation fellowships in South Africa)
Stipends are $9,000 for Dissertation Completion Fellows and $16,000 for Postdoctoral Fellows.
East Africa legal defense manual available
In light of the growing East Africa integration, International Bridges to Justice has embarked on a new project which aims at institutionalizing best defender practices among East African lawyers. IBJ is teaming up with the East Africa Law Society (EALS), the premier regional bar association, to develop an East Africa Legal Defense Manual that will help lawyers improve their skills and knowledge in the area of criminal law and defense.
Free online course on creating podcasts
ALISON, the online learning website, has officially announced the release of a new free online course on how to create your very own Podcasts. The course is ideal for anyone looking to record and share audio and video podcasts with others over the web.
Gender Festival: Enhancing women's leadership roles
25-27 November, 2010, Nairobi Railways Grounds
Kenya’s Gender Festival is an open forum which brings together feminist and gender-focused groups, and other development actors working at various levels. Join us to share experiences and build capacity on gender equality, feminism and the intersections between these and power.
Media advocacy training for women in politics
Inter Press Service (IPS) Africa with support from UNIFEM Southern Africa Regional Office will host the second Women in Politics Training of Trainers workshop in Flic en Flac, Mauritius, from 9 to 12 November 2010. Nomcembo Manzini, UNIFEM Southern Africa regional director says 'the capacity building programme will seek to nurture a pool of trainers spanning women in politics support organisations and political parties that have the skills and tools to train women in advocacy around gender, democracy and governance.'
Round-table on gender and regional economic integration
The gender unit of Third World Network-Africa is hosting a round-table on gender and regional economic integration in Africa on 18-19 November 2010, in Accra, Ghana. The meeting will bring together scholars, feminist economists and gender experts, as well as policy-makers, to discuss issues of gender equity and Africa’s economic integration.
Transitional Justice, prophetic role of the church and the challenge of peace in Kenya
Event: Transitional Justice, Prophetic Role of the Church and the Challenge of Peace in Kenya
Location: Hekima College off James Kagethe Road,
Date: Tues 16 November 2010, 2.00pm – 4.30pm
Speakers: Tom Kagwe, Kenya Human Rights Commission; Dennis Oricho, Nairobi Peace Initiative; Anne Kiprotich, Regional Coordinator TJRC, Rift Valley Region; Fr. Elias O. Opongo, SJ: AFCAST Member & Conflict Analyst
This forum is organised by the African Forum for Catholic Social Teachings (AFCAST) & Jesuit Hakimani Center: Tel: 3597097
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