10 June 2021

Zimbabwe/Tsitsi Dangarembga: The writer, a fierce critic of the government, is the winner of this year’s Pen Pinter Prize and “will be speaking at a ceremony hosted by British Library and free speech campaigners English Pen on 11 October”. In 2020, “Mournable Body”, her latest novel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
BBC Africa Live 10 June 2021. 6:05

Big irrigation: Food security, poverty reduction, increased economic growth – the objectives of big irrigation projects in Africa have not been attained. The article’s authors’ research into big irrigation schemes over the last 70 years found that they “deliver on average only 18% of the irrigated production area they originally propose” and this has not gotten better with time. Politics and management were the main causes of failure. Donors have preferred big schemes because they “seem to be less complex technically and logistically than a multiplicity of smaller scale initiatives”. But many a government agency lacks “the technical and institutional capacity needed to manage such large-scale projects”. Small-scale, farmer-driven irrigation will “be several orders of magnitude cheaper than large schemes” – so go for them!

Nigeria: The article’s two authors diagnose Nigeria with a violent setup. According to them, this “is partly why the Biafran question remains an open sore”. Igbo grievances have been answered by a police relying exclusively on brute force. Recently, Buhari’s aggressive anti-Biafran tweet had Twitter delete the tweet and temporarily lock his account. After revisiting briefly the Biafran war (1967-70), the article states that “(t)he feeling of desertion by the central government has never left Biafra”. Does the Nigerian state need to be reinvented? Has it failed?

09 June 2021

HIV: “Ending AIDS as a public health threat is a highly efficient investment, with each additional US$ invested estimated to bring a return of more than seven US$ in health benefits.” But these last few years (since 2018), financing has diminished. The tipping point where new infections could start rising again is near.
“(I)n sub-Saharan Africa, (…) it is the first cause of death among women aged between 15 and 49 years. One in four new infections occur among young women, who only represent 10% of the population.”
Since the discovery of AIDS on 5 June 1981, forty years ago, 76 million have been infected, 33 million have died. In 2020, 690,000 have died of AIDS and there were 1.5 million new infections. Of the 38 million living with HIV, 27 million are on life-saving treatment. All this is clearly above global targets set for 2020.
Reinvesting in the HIV response is necessary. It is one of the article’s author’s four action points. Then comes “leaving no one behind” (incl. reaching the unreached); then “treatment and prevention”; and finally “address main killers of people with HIV”.

Kenya: Around Masai Mara National Reserve, human-wildlife conflicts are on the increase, “elephants in the area are being affected by the expansion of farmland. This creates a cycle in which elephants then negatively affect people” and more elephants are killed in retaliation. But though more incidents of elephants raiding crops occurred, less crops were destroyed. In theory, communities should get a percentage of park revenues from the county government – but in fact, they hardly ever do. So protecting and conserving wildlife is not in their interest. This need to change, then tolerance towards elephants and other wildlife will grow and mitigation strategies will work.

Nigeria: 60 women or more have reportedly been kidnapped by gunmen in three villages in Zamfara state in the country’s north-west. Some villagers have been killed and houses have been burnt down. Police dispute the numbers abducted. “Meanwhile, more than 130 children abducted from a Koranic school last month in Tegina, in central Nigeria, remain in captivity.”
BBC Africa Live 09 June 2021. 17:18