06 June 2021

Nigeria: TB Joshua, one of Africa's most influential evangelists, founder of the Synagogue, Church of All Nations, owner of the television station Emmanuel TV, has died at age 57. He had 5 million followers on Facebook. But his practices were very controversial. Only in April 2021, he had “his YouTube (account) suspended due to allegations of hate speech after a rights body filed a complaint over videos showing the preacher conducting prayers to ‘cure’ gay people” and “Facebook (has) also removed at least one post showing a woman being slapped while Joshua said he was casting out a ‘demonic spirit’.” In 2014, one of his hostels collapsed, killing 116 or more, including many South Africans. Though TB Joshua’s church is thought to have been culpable of criminal negligence, he was well-connected enough to never face any charges.

05 June 2021

Environment: The UN Convention on Biological Diversity is negotiating targets for the next 30 years. But the potential of managing agricultural landscapes for biodiversity is being forgotten, all being concentrated on protected areas. “Africa’s protected areas cover an area of 20.4 million km² or 15.1% of the landmass.” Increasing protected lands not being feasible, “the best way to protect Africa’s biodiversity is to integrate conservation measures on working lands. This will also create jobs and income opportunities for farming communities.“ There is no necessary antagonism between agriculture and nature conservation and farmers can benefit from conservation. “For instance in Ethiopia, cereal farmers use nearby forests to feed livestock. The livestock roam the forest during the day and return to farms at night, providing farmers with organic fertiliser.” There is also “the 400 km2 Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya’s Laikipia County. Ol Pejeta is home to 130 black rhinos and 7,500 cattle. It has increased the black rhino population by 100% in 10 years. In 2019, it employed 700 people and generated US$1.4 million from livestock production and US$4.8 million from tourism.” African farmers need to live – harmony with nature should be the target. A The Conversation article of 3 February 2021.

Gabon: The country “has 87% forest cover and is the second most forested country in the world” and “is taking laudable actions to conserve its forests, including a protected area network of 13 parks”. Based on new research and stock-taking of these forests, the article discusses factors determining carbon storage by these forests. “Most of this carbon is stored in the largest trees – those with diameters bigger than 70cm at 1.3 meters from the ground. Just the largest 5% of trees stored 50% of the forest carbon.” And human activity – especially slash-and-burn agriculture – significantly reduces carbon storage. A The Conversation article of 29 July 2020.

Kenya/Seagrass: Seagrass is important for fishes and it stores considerable amounts of carbon. Yet seagrass meadows are sensitive. For example: overfishing has caused increases in sea urchin populations, animals that destroy seagrass meadows by feeding on the shoots (5 shoots per day per urchin). Along Kenya’s north-western coast, 4.6% of seagrass is lost each year to urchins. And overall, between 1986 and 2016, “Kenya lost about 21% of its seagrass cover”. But awareness is growing. “There are also encouraging signs from government as there are currently efforts to review and implement the national coral reef and seagrass conservation and management strategy.” A The Conversation article of 10 August 2020.

Cameroun: People living on the edge of forests in Cameroun have the right to own and manage forest areas. Their communities depend on forest for livelihood (agriculture, hunting, fishing, non-timber forest products such as fruits or medicinal plants). Deforestation is threatening them: “Over about 25 years, 3 million hectares of Cameroon’s 22 million hectare forests have been cleared.” Up to April 2019, around 415 forest communities have signed management agreements that are to ensure sustainable use of forest resources. Only some of these have worked well for the communities. This depends a lot on the management committees elected by the communities (78% of those examined did not meet the standards of good governance) and if community members are involved in the decisions that concern them (this happens in only 17% of the cases examined; “(w)omen and minority groups – like the hunter gatherer Baka group – were often side-lined”). There is also the problem of illegal logging. “Just 20% of case studies had a clear vision to replant trees and monitor the forest against illegal logging. And only 45% met the necessary performance standards when it came to improved livelihoods.” The managers of the community forests need financial, technical and administrative support – and this should be integrated into state policies. A The Conversation article of 16 April 2019.

Ceuta and Melilla : Though the two cities were Arab before becoming Spanish in the 16th century, the Moroccan claim to them is not strong. Most important of all: the inhabitants of the two cities do not want to become Moroccan and it would be unthinkable to “free them from Spanish occupation” against their will.