16 March 2021

Nigeria: Why are children prime targets of violent extremism? Based on his research, the author finds five reasons: They are a good source of ransom and can be used to negotiate for release of imprisoned members of the kidnapping groups. They attract attention locally and internationally and show off the strength of the kidnappers. They can be used for military operations (e.g. human shields, suicide bombings). Attacks on school fit ideology of going against western education. Girls can be exploited sexually.

Nigeria: The UN have launched a USD1bn appeal to assist people in the north of the country (first and foremost Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States) where more than 30,000 have died and millions have been displaced over the past 11 years.
BBC Africa Live 16 March 2021. 12:20

Congo-Kinshasa: Abortion is common despite restrictive laws, limited medical resources, high costs and stigmatisation. “An estimated 88% of abortions in Middle Africa are unsafe.” While “initial reactions towards induced abortion were overwhelmingly negative”, but – as forum group discussions showed – stigma can be overcome, by discussing the reasons for abortion, thus provoking empathy.

Ghana/climate change: Sub-Saharan Africa is affected above-average by climate change, in great part because of its dependence on agriculture, its reliance on rains and its poverty.
Ghana’s middle-belt, the Brong-Ahafo Region, has long attracted migrants from Upper West Region because of its favourable conditions for agriculture. But with climate change and lessening rains, conditions are no longer what they once were.

Lesotho/climate change: Climate change increases the likelihood of extreme weather events. “We found that due to human-induced climate change, the likelihood of a drought as bad as 2007 or worse (…) increased by a factor of five”. Furthermore, the authors estimate that climate change has decreased the number of self-sufficient farming households in Lesotho by 50% and household purchasing power by 37%. “(C)limate change exacerbated an already vulnerable food situation of the country. Agriculture production has been declining for years due to soil erosion, poor land-use practices and decreasing soil fertility. Hence, climate change may push Lesotho’s already precarious food security over the edge and make it unsustainable during drought years.”

15 March 2021

Ghana: The economic impact of Covid-19 has been severe. World commodity prices went down (one exception: gold) – Ghana is heavily dependent on primary commodity exports (>80%). Added to this came disruptions in global supply chains. In September 2020, the country’s credit rating was downgraded to B-. Debt-servicing rose to 55% of government revenue.
Restructuring the economy away from primary commodity export dependence would be important.

South Africa/TB: With 737 per 100,000, there is a far higher number of people with tuberculosis (TB) than previously thought, many of them not diagnosed or treated. Besides problems for infected people themselves, the longer they have untreated TB, the more likely they are to pass the infection to other people, thus continuing the cycle, TB being airborne and highly infectious. Most of those whose TB was never diagnosed are are HIV-negative men – most of whom do not suffer from the classic symptoms (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss). On top of all that, “Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the number of people getting tested and treated for TB. According to new research, testing rates for TB have dropped by up to 50% in the year since South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown.”

South Africa: After a 49 year-reign, Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu has died at age 72. What was his role and importance? Without executive power, he was an important figurehead. During apartheid, “the politics of Zulu kingship became deeply mired in a civil war over battles for popular support” between ANC and Buthelezi’s Inkatha. Later, “100% Zulu”-Jacob Zuma needed the king for legitimacy and to bring him votes.

Nigeria: “Some of the mental health issues that have been reported due to COVID-19 include anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, insomnia, post-traumatic disorders, boredom, loneliness and adjustment problems.“ An online survey of 353 people by means of a questionnaire suggests that of the three main ethnic groups (Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa), the Yoruba coped best, the Hausa worst. Those who had completed secondary school and the self-employed were also found to have coped well “while the unemployed were more worried and had poor views of themselves.” Married people (especially women) did much better than the unmarried.

Nutrition: With Covid-19 having worsened living conditions and about half of all Africans being food-insecure, affordable local food solutions become all the more important. The article’s author has developed a method of high-temperature short time heat treatments for sorghum and cowpeas that produces sorghum and cowpea porridge suitable for young children that could be part of the solution. “The technology – involving infrared heat and steam – is an investment that smallholder farmers wanting to produce the meal can benefit from economically in the long term.”

Uganda: Protesters marching in Kampala on Monday against arrests and disappearances of opposition supporters before, during and after the January elections were dispersed by tear gas by police. Bobi Wine was arrested.
BBC Africa Live 15 March 2021. 10:28
Bobo Wine was released a few hours later without charge. His home is surrounded by police and soldiers.
BBC Africa Live 15 March 2021. 15:45

He who runs faster, tires faster
BBC Africa Live 15 March 2021. African proverb of the day. A Fur proverb from Darfur in Sudan, sent by Órré Poor in Uganda.

Nigeria: No relent. An unknown number of pupils and teachers have been abducted from a primary school in Rama, Birnin-Gwari district, Kaduna State. The 39 students – mostly female – abducted from a forestry college in the same Kaduna State last week are still in captivity.
BBC Africa Live 15 March 2021. 12:02
and also https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-56404673