20 November 2022

Equatorial Guinea: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is the world’s longest-reigning president. He has spent 43 of his 80 years on the throne – and is sure to be re-elected at today’s presidential elections. Neither his regime’s human rights abuses (including torture and disappearances) nor massive corruption (the country is rich in oil, but its inhabitants have not benefited at all) can stop him – there is no “legal” opposition worth speaking of.

19 November 2022

Ethiopia/Green Legacy Initiative: To plant 20 billion trees in four years was the aim of the Green Legacy Initiative launched in 2019. According to the government, the objective has been exceeded and the survival rate was high (83.4% in 2019, 79% in 2020). There are doubts whether these figures are true, similar projects elsewhere having had survival rates of around 50% only five years after planting. Then, there is the question of varieties planted: “Putting the right species, in the right places, for the right purposes is essential”, with indigenous varieties generally thought best. Eucalyptus trees, for example, “grow fast and produce more timber (…). However, they require a lot of water and can drain soil of vital nutrients, making it harder to grow other crops.” Eucalyptus trees do have the advantage of providing benefits (timber) to the communities and thus stand higher chances of being looked after in the long run. Survival of seedlings has in some areas been made difficult by drought – it is necessary “to grow trees that are right, not only for today – but also for tomorrow's climate conditions”, so drought-resistant varieties may be needed. Ethiopia’s Green Legacy Initiative contributes – substantially – to the Great Green Wall project that stretches from Senegal to Djibouti and tries to stop desertification.