30 July 2022

Female Hunger: According to Plan International, 70% of the world’s hungry are women and girls. And when their families come under strain, girls are at greater risk of suffering violence, gender-based violence, amongst others child marriage.

School feeding programmes:  They “are (essential) in achieving equality in health and education”, Covid and school closures have made it very obvious how important they are. A “School Meals Coalition” has been set up to expand effective national school health and school feeding programmes. A global benefit-cost analysis was undertaken and found that, besides being beneficial for health and nutrition, school attendance and academic performance are increased, social protection is offered to households and families, the poorest especially, and local farming can be boosted. Benefits far exceed costs – depending on local specifics, you would “get” between 7 and 35 USD for each 1 USD of investment.

Food insecurity: Experts don’t have all the answers. The authors’ project undertook to organise learning journeys to get to know the situation on the ground and learn from it. It found that street traders and spaza shops (small/informal food retailers, often home-based) source their food much more locally and ecologically soundly than formal retailers. And it realised how important early childhood development centres are. “If a climate-resilient food system is to emerge (…) it will only do so through local cooperation, knowledge co-production, collective action, and the creation of a shared vision of what a socially just and sustainable food system looks like”. Time for a rethink, thus.

Mali/Burkina Faso/Jihadist attacks: The coups in the two countries have not improved security, attacks on civilians have since increased in both. The state controls less and less territory. The BBC article provides a broad and fairly detailed overview of the situation in the two countries, discussing amongst others difficulties with data on numbers of victims. Conclusion: “the basic safety that military leaders had promised the people of Burkina Faso and Mali seems a long way off.”

Libya/Niger: When Gaddafi fell in 2011, lots of arms went south to Niger and Mali. Such flows slowed down considerably when civil war re-ignited in Libya itself, increasing need and demand for arms there. But arms are still and increasingly being smuggled south to Niger – the article describes how and where – and if the Libyan crisis should be resolved, then massive arms trafficking to the south can be expected. Niger – together with its neighbours – needs to do more about this.

Zambia: The country “should be the grain basket for the whole region”. But for this, “competitive cross-border markets and efficient transport and logistics services” are necessary. The article makes suggestions what needs to be done.

Zambia/Debt Restructuring: Zambia is making progress towards a debt relief deal. It is negotiating with state and private creditors – with the biggest lender China co-chairing the creditors committee. Zambia, which defaulted in 2020 on its Eurobonds, is the first to renegotiate its debt under the G20-Paris Club Common Framework for Debt Treatments – put in place to bail out countries in financial difficulties because of Covid. Ethiopia and Chad will be next. Zambia’s deal could set a precedent.

Congo-Kinshasa: The article’s author identifies two conflicts which intertwined to form the ongoing, extremely deadly conflict in eastern DRC. One of them stems from colonial times when “colonial administrations gave privileged status to some of the local population based on ethnicity”, the second is “is a regional contest for survival between the Hutu and Tutsi elites”. The article analyses the “politics of belonging”. In the author’s opinion, an end to the violence “is possible if the geographical scope of the conflict is broadened to include all neighbouring countries and if the focus is a negotiated settlement followed by a period of reconciliation.”

Zimbabwe/Literature: Politics having become a farce, NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel Glory has found the right way to deal with it: “animals take on human characteristics”. She thus fictionalises the country’s politics since the removal of Mugabe from power. This “story (not) about endings but about unravellings” goes beyond Orwell’s Animal Farm.

UK/Nigeria/Looted Art: Almost 100 artefacts looted in 1897 in Benin City and currently held at Oxford’s Pitt Rivers and Ashmolean museums could soon be returned to Nigeria following a decision by the Oxford University Council to recommend the “transfer of legal title to the objects”. The claim of Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) is now to be examined by Charity Commission.

29 July 2022

Ghana: Sarah Adwoa Safo, the country’s gender minister and MP, had been absent from work for more than a year. She has now been relieved of her ministerial duties by the president. The parliament’s speaker is yet to rule on her absence. She said the reason for her absence was that she “was attending to her sick son in the US”.
BBC Africa Live 29 July 2022. 15:01

HIV Prevention drug: So far, there were two HIV prevention options, the oral PrEP and the dapivirine vaginal ring. But stigma associated with these kept many people at a higher risk of getting HIV from using them. Now PrEP, a drug to be injected once a month, has been approved by WHO. It prevents the virus from replicating inside the body and is “79% effective in reducing one’s risk of acquiring the virus”.
BBC Africa Live 29 July 2022. 12:15

Central African Republic: The ICC (International Criminal Court) has issued an arrest warrant against the leader of FPRC rebel group Nourredine Adam “for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the country's civil strife in 2013”. Two anti-Balaka militia leaders – Patrice-Edouard Ngaissona and Alfred Yekatom – are already on trial at the ICC, accused of the same crimes as Nourredine Adam.
BBC Africa Live 29 July 2022. 9:02

Congo-Kinshasa/UN: Protests against the UN presence in the country are still on-going and worsening. In Beni, a UN base has been petrol-bombed and two other bases were also targeted yesterday Thursday. Since Monday, 19 people or more – 3 UN peacekeepers amongst them – have been killed in the clashes.
BBC Africa Live 29 July 2022. 6:34

Congo-Kinshasa: Monusco, the UN force in the country’s east, was first deployed in 1999. Since 2010, its mandate includes the protection of civilians. As of November 2021, it had above 16,000 personnel in the eastern region, “from Ituri to South Kivu”. The recent protests accuse it of failing to stop decades of fighting. But it “shouldn’t be held responsible for what the Congolese state should be doing” – though doing so may be politically opportune, “(t)he Congolese elite hav(ing) formed a network of predators who have preyed on their constituencies since independence in 1960” and “the national army comprises military officers and generals whose prime concern is to serve their own interests”. The UN intervention has not been capable of remedying this.

Ethiopia/Somalia: A second al-Shabaab attack on the Ethiopian town of Aato close to the Somali border has made casualties both among al-Shabaab and the Ethiopian side, the latter constituted of both federal and regional troops.
BBC Africa Live 29 July 2022. 17:31

Women entrepreneurs & climate change: According to the article’s author’s research, women’s businesses tend to be more dependent than men’s on natural resources. Agriculture (especially if on marginal and degraded lands), livestock, fishing, trading and processing are sensitive to climate. Also, women have less access to finance, to markets and technologies and are therefore less able to have the means to adapt to climate change. On top of the workplace, the women also have to face climate change at home, as the main reproducers in the household.

Zimbabwe: Prices have risen more than 250% year-on-year, no wonder that “many (…) are struggling to cope”.
BBC Africa Live 29 July 2022. 19:21