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.

04 June 2021

Namibia: Even if Germany’s recognition of the 1904-08 genocide is “the first time a former colonial power has officially offered an apology to another country for state sponsored mass crimes”, the compromise declaration negotiated amongst the two governments “displays glaring shortcomings in being overly cautious to avoid any legal implications for Germany that may create a precedent.” There cannot be reconciliation if representatives of affected communities are excluded. The German government is afraid of “opening the door for reparations”: besides possible claims from other former colonies, there are “pending claims by Greece, Italy and Poland for compensation for mass atrocities committed by German soldiers from World War II.” Promising just 37m euros annually in development aid for the next 30 years only means adding insult to injury, as Ovaherero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro put it. And finally: more important than coming to Namibia, as planned, the German president should rather go the Bundestag and tell people there loud and clear that he apologises for the genocide in Namibia in 1904-08.

Kenya: The battle between the judiciary and the country’s president continues. Yesterday Thursday, Mr Kenyatta confirmed the appointment of only 34 out of 41 judges recommended by the Judicial Service Commission two years ago. Two court orders had in the meantime required him to accept eh commission’s recommendations. “(L)egal experts say the president can’t change the list of nominees or reject the recommendations, and has no choice but to confirm all the JSC's appointments.” But disobeying court orders seems among his habits.
BBC Africa Live 04 June 2021. 7:35

Chad/Central African Republic: Fresh clashes between the two countries’ armies have been reported only six days after the death of 6 Chadians and 3 Russians in fighting at a Chadian border post. The situation remains tense. Chad is reinforcing its positions at the Borders with CAR.
BBC Africa Live 04 June 2021. 5:31

Chad/African Union: Not to suspend Chad from the African Union will not help Chadians and may harm the African Union, its reputation of dealing with undemocratic changes of government.
The second ISS article (second link) gives a list of the 14 countries suspended by the African Union between 2003 (Central African Republic) and 2020 (Mali) whenever soldiers seized power. “In fact, the PSC (the African Union’s Peace and Security Council) has suspended any state where the military or armed groups have clearly grabbed power over the past 20 years”.

Sudan: An ISS “report reveals that the current transition has followed a similar trajectory to the 1964-1965 and 1985-1986 power transfers.” Maybe lessons could be learnt from these past experiences. Both of these led to the election of civilian governments – but both of these were ousted within four years by other coups. The mistakes made in both cases included insufficient attention to economic crises that had prompted masses to protest, then peace deals with armed groups weren’t honoured, then there is “the lack of a shared vision for Sudan among political elites” (presently discord in the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) alliance), and finally that “major concessions made with the military ultimately disempower civilian actors.”
Download the report on: https://issafrica.org/research/east-africa-report/sudanundefineds-transition-what-are-the-chances-of-success