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Africa

Emmanuel Boateng: Ghana international leaves Levante for China's Dalian Yifang

BBC Africa - 1 hour 27 min ago
Ghana international forward Emmanuel Boateng, 22, joins Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang from Spanish La Liga side Levante.
Categories: Africa

Senegal election 2019: What do youth want from their president?

BBC Africa - 3 hours 36 min ago
Young voters tell us what whey want from their president ahead of elections on 24 February.
Categories: Africa

DRC’s First Peaceful Transition of Power Was At Expense of Women

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - 3 hours 58 min ago

Justine Masika Bihamba at the UN Security Council in 2018.

By Justine Masika Bihamba
GOMA, DR Congo, Feb 21 2019 (IPS)

When Felix Tshisekedi, the 55 year old son of the former opposition leader, won the recent presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it should have felt like a new dawn for many of us living here.

This was nothing less than a monumental event – the first time since our country’s independence that a peaceful transition of power took place between an outgoing and an incoming president.

I was born in the city of Goma in the Eastern DRC, close to the border with Rwanda. I set up Synergie des Femmes, an organization that gives a lifeline to Congolese victims of sexual violence.

I have spent over 30 years doing my best to improve the lives of women in extremely challenging circumstances and to ensure that women can be part of a fair and transparent political process.

In the last couple of years, I have also co-ordinated the Congolese Women’s Forum, a network of 65 women from across the country, who are calling for women to be part of politics and peace-building in this country.

Despite its relatively peaceful passing, I have many concerns surrounding the recent elections. Tshisekedi’s political experience appears to be limited to being the son of a politician from a party that has languished in opposition for several decades.

Rumors are that the previous president, Joseph Kabila, made some sort of unofficial back room deal with him, which would ensure political benefits for both. It would not surprise me if this turned out to be true.

This is the type of political wrangling that Congolese people have become all too familiar with. Kabila has always played the political game – including when it causes harm to our citizens – and women in particular.

Informal political agreements by a small circle of men behind closed doors have tended to not only exclude women from the political process, but also perpetuate harm against us. This time again, when political capital was at stake, women were sacrificed.

We have demanded to be part of the political process – to have our voices heard and included – but we have nowhere near equal representation. Out of 535 parliamentarians in the National Assembly there are only 50 women.

Considering the obstacles we have had to face to even take part, this could have been even worse. The discriminatory electoral law meant that anyone proposing themselves as a candidate needs to come up with a deposit of $1,000.

This is simply impossible in our country where men can use their political networks to raise funding and trade “favors”, where women do not have the same political capital. They do not tend to have much control over their own finances either.

This December, the voting process was fraught with difficulty. The Electoral Commission ignored the fact that many people in the DRC – women in particular – are illiterate and had no idea how to use the electronic voting machines that were shipped in for the event.

These machines were sometimes moved at the last minute and breakdowns were common. No funding was given towards educating voters in advance.

Electoral lists also posed a problem on voting day. Even some of those who could read were not able to find their names, which were sometimes categorized in a confusing way – and regularly included people from the wrong constituencies, so some voters simply did not know where to go.

Delays in opening certain polling stations affected things too. In a handful of areas it was not possible to vote at all. Voter turnout was directly affected by this and many chose to stay at home, after hearing about the challenges. From what I have seen, once again, this disproportionately affected women.

Congolese women have faced decades of being victims of sexual violence in conflict, where rape was regularly used as a weapon of war. What has happened to women here has often caused outrage for a few moments and is then quickly forgotten about.

The best solution to this is ensuring that women – the most negatively affected by the status quo – are active decision makers in government.

Those of us who speak out publicly about this live with constant worry. My own home and office have been attacked because I spoke out. I am forced to continue doing so even though I am at risk every single day. I have had dozens of threats to my life, but I am not giving up.

Women have been left out of this latest political transition, but there is a lot that we have learned too. The first peaceful transition in politics in our country has shown the Congolese Women’s Forum that maybe one day we can peacefully achieve equal representation, where we are finally listened to, and where we are able to make decisions on our own futures.

The post DRC’s First Peaceful Transition of Power Was At Expense of Women appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Justine Masika Bihamba is founder of Synergie des Femmes, a front line women’s organization based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and local partner of Donor Direct Action.

The post DRC’s First Peaceful Transition of Power Was At Expense of Women appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

A World Party

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - 4 hours 29 min ago

Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Feb 21 2019 (IPS)

I have been a member of the first international party: the Transnational Radical Party, founded in 1956 by Marco Pannella and Emma Bonino. Then in 1988, I was a wetness of the large protest, in Berlin West, against the meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, a precursor of the “Battle of Seattle” in 1988, where 40.000 protesters disrupted the annual meeting of the two world’s financial institutions. I was even detained for a day by the police, even if was just a witness: my condition of foreigner made me automatically suspect.

Roberto Savio

And I was a witness of the Nobel prize Joseph Stigliz address to the protesters of “Occupy Wall Street”, in 2011. In the same year, I was part of the creation of the Word Social Forum, in Porto Alegre. And I have been carefully following the arrival of the new International nationalist and populist wave, since Orban’s arrival in Hungary in 2019, Kaczynski in Poland in 2015, Brexit in 2016, Trump in 2016, and totally different movements like now the Yellow Jackets in France.

Therefore, I have decided that I can be more useful as a practitioner than as a theoretician in the cultured an interesting debate that Paul Raskin has opened on a world political party. But I still remember that during the debate on the New International Information Order in the seventies, at a very important conference in Berlin of academicians, I spoke as practitioner (I was the founder of Inter Press Service, the fourth international news agency), and when I finished, the German chairman of the conference observed: “what Roberto had said works in practice. But the question is: would it work in theory”?

The Transnational Radical Party choose a human rights agenda, as Pannella did in Italy with the Italian radical party. The abolition of the death’s sentence, the depenalization of light drugs, the freedom of medical choice, including euthanasia, the end of female mutilation in Africa and Arab countries, the importance of scientific research free of religious dogma as part of bioethics, the creation of the United States of Europe, a multicultural, inclusive and environmentally concerned Europe. It called for the inclusion of Israel in the European Community, and made public campaigns on Tibet, the Uighurs, the Montagnard (a Vietnamese Christian minority), and the Chechens. This agenda of Human Rights was able to link intellectuals and activists from many countries (especially Europe and Latin America). But it never became a mass movement, and it dissolved itself in 1989. It was highly affected by the May 68, which fought against centralizing structures, and indicated that the fights should become individual, and free from any command.

The World Social Forum was the closest thing to a world movement. It was based on a much broader agenda, which was the build up an alternative to what the World Economic Forum, Davos, represented. Global finance, unchecked capitalism, economic agenda over the social agenda, the alliance of corporations to control politics and governance: a Forum where unelected people met to take decisions over the course of the world. It come out from a visit in 1999 in Paris by two Brazilian activists, Oded Grajew who was working in the field of social responsibility of companies, and Chico Whittaker, who was in the Social Network of Justice and Human Rights, an initiative of the Brazilian catholic Church. They were incensed by the tv coverage of Davos, and the following day the went to meet Bernard Cassen, coordinator of of Le Monde Diplomatique, who encouraged them to organize a Counterdavos, but not in Europe, but in the South. They came back, organized a committee of eight Brazilian organizations, in February if 2.000, got the support of the government of Rio Grande do Sul, and in the 2001 the first Forum was held in Porto Alegre, at the same time of Davos. We were thinking that 3.000 people would come (the equivalent of Davos), instead there were 20.000 participants.

The impact was so great, that the Brazilian committee organized a consultative meeting the following year in Sao Paolo, about the continuation of the WSF. They invited a number of international organizations, and at the second day they appointed all of us as the International Council. The Council was born, therefore, not out of a planning to organize a really representative structure. The efforts done to rebalance the composition, never went far. Lot of organizations wanted to be member of the Council, without any criteria of representative and strength, and the Council become soon a large list of names, with few participating, and changing at every council, which left to the Brazilians (Chico Wittaker especially), the de facto ability to have a heavy weight in the process.

The WSF had a large number of meetings. There was the yearly WSF itself, who always had close to 100.000 participants (the one of 2005 150.000), The WSF moved out of Latin America, first in Mumbai, with the participation of 20.000 Dalits (the untouchables). Then in Africa and so on. The march against the American invasion in Iraq, saw a march of 15 million people all over the world.

George Bush dismissed that as a focus group, and the war went on. In addition to the yearly WSF, two other main events were created. The regional WSF, and the thematic Wsf, where under this umbrella people could meet beside the central one Then, local WSF could be held in any country, as part of the general WSF process. A most probable estimate is that the WSF, from 2001. Has joined together over 1 million people, who paid their travel and lodging costs, to share experiences and dream together for a better world.

Some points of this enormous process (that I do not see now replicable to the idea of a party), must be kept into account for our debate.

Civil society is made by many threads. We have no time to go over this, but Boaventura de Sousa Santos, the Portuguese sociologist and anthropologist who has more studied the WSF (and he is also departing in disagreement with the inability of updating from Chico Wittaker and others) has written an interesting study on the “translation” which was necessary to put together those threads.

Woman organizations, for instant, are concerned about the patriarchal society. But indigenous organizations are worried about the exploitation by white colons. Human rights organizations, have different agenda from those dealing with environment. To understand each other, and share and work together, a process of translation of those priorities, to think holistically, went on. It is what is called now identity. Any world party has to answer this question, because there are no indigenous organizations in Europe, and there are no activists on the impact of infrastructures in Asia or Africa. In other worlds, while it is easier to build a mass participation against a common enemy, it requires a lot of dialogue for building up a movement. Certainly, the WSF was fundamental for creating the awareness that a holistic approach is necessary to fight injustice, climate change, an uncontrolled finance, the growing social injustice, etc. And that is an important point in the creation of a world party.

All over those 63 years, from the creation of the Transnational Radical Party, in all movements which have been created, and now in the Yellow jackets, there is a common.

Fact. For the immense majority of the participants, the notion of a party is linked to power, corruption and lack of legitimacy. In the WSF it was its final irrelevance. As the Talmudist, led by Chico Wittaker have opposed: any political declaration from the WSF, because it could divide the movement; any creation of spokesman on behalf of the WSF; the idea of horizontality as the main basis for the governance of the WSF, the WSF as a space for meeting, not for organizing actions. Actions could be done by those participating making up alliances, but the WSF could not make declarations or plans of action. The International Council was not a governing body, but just a facilitating structure. The lack of organizations made that media did not come any longer, as they had no interlocutors, as spokesman were forbidden. Even a declaration on something which could not create any scission, like condemnation of wars, or appeals on climate action were forbidden. The result is that the WSF become like spiritual exercises: useful for those who participates, they come out with more individual strength, but without any impact on the world.

This is an extremely important handicap for a world party. Those who would be in principle its largest constituency, reject the notion of a part, which automatically creates structures of power, opens to corruption od ideals, and leave Individuals without participation and representation. The Yellow Jacket Is a sobering lesson of this. The political world has lost legitimacy, participation, and young people. It is totally separated from culture, research, and intellectualism. A world party, to be real, cannot be based on a few people. It must address and solve those issues.

For these among many, three considerations are important.

The first, Internet has changed the participations in politics. Space and time ae not the same. Tine has become fluid and short. Tweets, Facebook, etc. are much more important than media. Bolsonaro was elected through social media. This is a general phenomenon, from Salvini in Italy, to the Arab Spring, to Brexit. All American media have 62 million copies. Of these, quality papers (WSJ, NYT, WP,etc.), have just ten million copies. Trump tweets have 49 million followers. We know that only 4% buy newspapers, and they look only Fox news, which is an extension of his tweeters. So, when Trump makes absurd claims, like that when he visited Queen Elizabeth, he could not go to the center of London, because there were so many people waiting for him, that this was the advice of the Police, when in fact there were 200.000 people in the streets protesting his visit, those 49 million believed him blindly. The quality media publish a fact checker, which has dramatic figures about his lies and misguided truth. His followers will never read those, and if they see it they will not believe them. We need to be able to get into this kind of mobilization. I, for one, I am not able to use efficiently Twitter. And Aldo Moro the Italian PM assassinated by the Red Brigades (which were used by a stronger force), would not be able either. And politics jump from a short period on an item, to another one. Gone is the ability to follow process. We only follow events. And the same is happening with media.

The second, as a consequence of this, Internet went the wrong way, as far as politics are concerned. Instead of becoming an element of participation, has become an element of atomization. A whopping 73% of its users declare that they carve their own world, a virtual world, that they can build on their wishes. As a result, debate among people (especially young people), has waned. Users go into Internet, dialogue with like-minded people, and insult others. The result is that young people vote less and less, with results like Brexit, where 88% of adults voted, against 23% of young people, who demonstrated against the result of the referendum the day after, with onlookers shouting them: you did not vote and now you protest?

The third, there is now a divide between towns and country side, which is just the point of the iceberg of a much significant divide: between those who feel left out by globalization, and think it went in favor of those living in towns, the elites (intellectuals are considered a part), and those who were not victims. It is just enough to look where Trump got his voters in 2018, and no significant support in the towns. He lost the popular vote by two million. But the peculiar American voting system, a heritage of the process of unification of American states, gives today a disproportionate representation to the smaller and least developed American States. But the same was behind Brexit, and it is happening worldwide.

This has brought an unprecedented situation. Those who feel left behind, are now legitimized to mistrust elites. Ignorance has been for a long time a reality in every country.

But now there is the arrogance of ignorance. Yellow jackets revolt against elites, with Macron as a symbol, is shared by the followers of Trump, Salvini, Le Pen, Bolsonero, etc.

And is ironic that the political system, considered everywhere the main enemy, is in fact the most ignorant in modern times. Once, if Nelson Mandela, Adlai Stevenson, Olaf Palme, Allende and Aldo Moro would meet, they would have some books on which to talk. It would be highly improbable among even parliamentarians, let alone Trump, May and Merkel…

This bring us to a consideration, and the conclusion. The consideration is to reflect what happened to degrade politics and policy. My own reading: there were a sum of factors, all at the same time. The Berlin’s wall fall, brought to the Tatcher’s Tina (there is no alternative). It was the end of ideologies (the end of history), those cages that brought us to wars. The cry was to be pragmatist. But when politics become just the solution of a single problem, without a long term and organic vision of the step you are taking, you are being utilitarian, which is a different perspective. At the same time, we had the Washington Consensus, among the IMF, the WB, and the American Treasury, of how to run the world. The benefits of globalization would lift all boats. Anything which was not productive, was to be curbed: social costs, education (Reagan even wanted to abolish the Ministry), health, which were unmovable and should be privatized. The public system, the state, all what was movable (trade, finance, industry) was to be globalized. Microeconomies were out. It took 20 years for the IMF and the WB, to belatedly restore the role of the state as a regulator, beyond the market. But by now the genie is out of the bottle. Finance has taken its own life, is over the economic production. And the unprecedented concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands is just a symbol, which adds the exasperation of the losers.

But very important was the Third Way theory of Tony Blair, who decided that as globalization was inevitable, the left could ride it, and give to it a human face. The result is that the left lost his constituency, and workers now vote for the new populist parties, which are growing everywhere. The debate left-right, which was largely an ideological debate, has disappeared. Why people should feel passionate about a politic which has become basically an administrative matter?

And this brings us to the conclusion. To create a world party, we must find a banner under which people would come. I think that, in today world, the right does not need to structure Bannon attempt to join all populist and xenophobe parties, is valid as long they have a common enemy: Europe, the multilateralism. But if you push people to nationalism and competition, it will go the way of the much proclaimed unity between the Austrian Prime Minister, Sebastian Kurz, and Salvini, who declared themselves brothers, united against the common enemy, the European Union. But as soon they come across a concrete theme, how to deal with immigrants, their competing interests was the of their brotherhood. I have no doubt that next European elections in May, will see a strengthening of the anti-European forces. But from that to the end of Europe…

Therefore, this growing tide will exhaust itself, when it will be clear that their program of making the national past the future, will last until they take the power, and will become visible that they have no answers: this is what the Italian government is proving now.

Echoing Gramsci, a party should be able to rally masses, for a common goal. This goal, according the reality, should be able to interpret and rally the majority of people. Today, the common denominator has been globalization. Many historians think that the engines for change in history have been greed and fear. Since 1989, we have been educated to greed, which has become a virtue: and since the crisis of 2008 (a direct result of greed), fear has become a strong reality. Immigrants are now the scapegoats, when they have always been a resource. When, in American history, a wall with Mexico could have justified the longest government’s shutdown?

What bonded people together, until 1989, were values it is enough to read any constitutions to find those values: justice, solidarity, ethics, equality, law as the basis of society, and so on. Today we live in a world where nobody speaks of values (unless you take market as a value), and less of all the political world. It would be a long walk, but a world party should be based on values, the defense of international cooperation as a warrant for peace, and on the fact that competition and greed make few winners, and many losers.

We must think that there are millions of people in the world engaged at grassroot level, hundreds of times more than the WSF. Our challenge is to connect with them. This, I am afraid, is a long walk. But unless se connect with those who are working to change the present trend, and we must simply made clear that we are not the elites, but we consider us equally victims, and we share the same enemy. Finally, those are people who read and reflect..And we share the same values…But can we find the language to do that? Communication is the basis for participation…

The post A World Party appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Roberto Savio is founder of IPS Inter Press Service and President Emeritus

The post A World Party appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

Will Senegal be bowled over by big projects?

BBC Africa - 12 hours 25 min ago
Can a big new bridge, train and museum convince Senegal to vote for Macky Sall as president again?
Categories: Africa

‘The hangman was too tired to hang me – three times’

BBC Africa - 12 hours 28 min ago
On death row in Malawi, Byson Kaula was nearly executed three times - but the hangman always stopped work before it was his turn.
Categories: Africa

The bakeries of Bamako in Mali

BBC Africa - 12 hours 30 min ago
Photographer Annie Risemberg documents the French bread bakeries that are ubiquitous in Bamako. Mali.
Categories: Africa

Sadio Mane: Liverpool forward's house burgled during Champions League match

BBC Africa - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 22:10
Sadio Mane's house is burgled while the forward playing in Liverpool's Champions League last-16 tie with Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
Categories: Africa

Intricacies of a Broken System: A Convict’s Tale

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 20:47

By Rose Delaney
MIAMI, Feb 20 2019 (IPS)

Inaccessible justice and socio-economic inequality act as core components of the United States criminal justice system.

Thousands of individuals are denied their basic human rights and treated as a criminal “underclass” in what appears to be a perfectly “legal” and “just” system.

Jean-Claude Nöel

The United States currently carries the world’s highest prison population with a staggering 2.3 million individuals behind bars. In other words, 1 out of every 99 North American adults are confined to a prison cell at present.

The state of Florida has the third largest prison population in the country. Over $2.7 billion per year is spent to house criminals for predominantly petty crimes.

U.S. prisoners have no political rights, no say in how they are treated, and almost no groups or organizations to advocate on their behalf.

Once released, they cannot avail of social housing or financial aid. In addition, they must state that they were a convicted felon on every job application they apply for.

According to the Bureau of Justice Studies due to poor rehabilitation and access to services in the public domain, 76% of prisoners will be re-arrested within 5 years of release.

I spoke to Jean-Claude Nöel, a former convict, on his experience within Florida’s criminal justice system.

Jean-Claude is well-poised and notably articulate. His family back in Haiti come from a long line of educators and influencers.

One could scarcely imagine such a man having spent close to 10 years behind bars.

Among other convictions, Jean-Claude was charged with conspiracy based on “hearsay evidence” related to racketeering, with no tangible evidence to prove his crime.

Jean-Claude claims that this is wrongful under the eyes of the law and cannot be used to convict an individual.

In 1998, Jean-Claude embarked on a 10-year battle with the state of Florida. He is still in the throes of a heated debate to revise legislation for statute 777.04 on “Attempts, Solicitation and Conspiracy.”

As the recount of Jean-Claude’s conviction progressed, a gross injustice was made apparent. After three and a half years behind bars, he went to trial.

He was offered a bond of over $1million. His requests for a reduction fell on deaf ears, and were denied by the court. His lawyer charged a hefty fee of $15,000 and did little to resolve his case.

Evidently, telling your side of the story proves exceedingly costly in the U.S. criminal justice system. It is not a right granted to low and middle socio-economic classes.

Jean-Claude’s case is distinct as 85% of prisoners in North America’s criminal justice system never go to trial.

From staggeringly high attorney’s fees and extortionate bonds, for many, it’s advised and encouraged to just plead guilty to crimes they may not have committed.

Jean-Claude explained, “the state and lawyers discourage one from going to trial, it is far too costly and time-consuming.”

As a Haitian immigrant, conditions within the U.S. prison system were exceptionally unjust, just two days before his release date, he was transported to a detention center for deportation.

In the detention center, was placed in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, which is considered to be a form of torture by prominent human rights groups such as Amnesty International.

He narrowly evaded deportation by pleading his case to a judge, highlighting the fact that his wife and kids, located in the United States were eagerly waiting for him on the outside after 9 years.

As echoed in Michelle Alexander’s work, The New Jim Crow, Jean-Claude shares the notion that prisoners are treated as a marginalized caste within North American society.

Both within and outside of prison walls, prisoners are stripped of their basic rights to reform and rehabilitation. “the majority leave the prison worse off than when they came in.” Jean-Claude stated.

To overcome such demoralizing setbacks, he decided to put his background in entrepreneurship to use.

A high percentage of male prisoners’ education in the state of Florida do not surpass students aged 11-12, or the U.S. schooling equivalent of the sixth grade.

Therefore, Jean-Claude’s introduction of an “Entrepreneurship and Innovation” program in his assigned prison proved impactful.

Over 150 students went through Jean-Claude’s program which focused on technological literacy and innovation. Although he’s now released, he continues to provide educational and job creation services to prisoners and ex-convicts.

Jean-Claude’s organization, Riemerge, focused on rehabilitating men who have been trapped in the U.S. criminal justice system through classes on technological innovation and advocacy for the employment of prisoners in major coporations.

As the children of inmates are six times more likely to end up incarcerated themselves, Jean-Claude also places a key focus on the sharing of ideas between parents and children.

Parents share their learnings and achievements with children and encourage them to think innovatively about technology and entrepreneurship as well.

Just where does the future lie for wrongfully convicted young men?

Jean-Claude highlights the importance of artificial intelligence in the criminal justice system.

“I am hopeful for reform because of technology, the criminal justice system is adopting new technologies at a brisk pace. I believe these technologies will remove bias out of the courts and out of policing.”

That saying, new technologies come with their own challenges. Jean-Claude offered the example of Brian Brackeen, an African-American entrepreneur, the founder of Kairos, who has developed a successful “face recognition” technology.

Brackeen openly refuses to sell his product to law enforcement, as bias can be passed on to computers.

“I’ve been pretty clear about the potential dangers associated with current racial biases in face recognition, and open in my opposition to the use of the technology in law enforcement.” Brackeen stated.

All in all, with enhanced awareness and dedication, ex-convicts like Jean-Claude are optimistic in their ability to eradicate the gross injustices imposed by the North American criminal justice system.

Jean-Claude’s story is one of many.

He will do everything in his power to advance access to justice and ignite change for inmates who are wrongfully silenced.

The post Intricacies of a Broken System: A Convict’s Tale appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

Reverse Engineering for SDGs

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 20:16

Dr. Kakoli Ghosh, Strategic Program on Sustainable Agriculture Management Team, FAO Ms. Loreta Zdanovaite, Partnerships Officer, Division of Partnerships, FAO

By Kakoli Ghosh and Loreta Zdanovaite
ROME, Feb 20 2019 (IPS)

When young people from small towns and villages seek higher education they have to usually migrate to big cities leaving their local communities behind. On completion of their degree from the Universities, they generally prefer staying in cities, in search of a good job and a successful career. Though this is a standard practice, it is also a case of lost opportunities, especially for students who pursue higher education in agriculture. Here is why.

Mobilizing local farmers in for sustainable practices for common bean production, Uganda

Agriculture covers a range of subjects from agronomy and dairy science to plant and animal health–and for many small -holder farmers and producers, there is a tremendous need for infusion of new knowledge and innovations to upgrade farming practices to improve income and livelihoods. However, there is usually a lack of availability of such support for them in a timely manner. At the same time, all Master’s level students studying agricultural sciences have to conduct research and prepare their dissertations on topical issues as part of their courses. Could it be possible to incentivise students to return to their communities for some time to look at local agriculture problems with fresh eyes and share their new knowledge? Can such reverse engineering accelerate problem solving at a local level and spur innovations? What would entice young people and their local community to create such knowledge linkages?

An small initiative was carried-out with the partner RUFORUM1 to try this out to strengthen linkages between academic knowledge and its ground-based applications. The goal was to promote youth support for SDG2- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. Graduate students from African agriculture universities were offered a six-month Community-Based Field Attachment2 to share their knowledge and research experience with rural communities and receive feedback from communities on their specific research areas. The expectation was that such an interaction would provide graduate students an opportunity to a) link academic work with experience of rural community, b) increase practical skills to apply research findings in development-related field projects as well as c) provide local agencies, farmers groups and organizations with the specialized knowledge that can generate innovative solutions to improve rural livelihoods.

Demonstrating vaccination of New Castle Disease vaccine for chickens, Uganda

There was a high response from students, however, based on available resources five each of male and female graduate students from RUFORUM member universities from Benin, Uganda, Kenya and Lesotho were selected for implementing their field projects (Table 1). During their stay with the rural communities, those students interacted with local farmers, village institutions and community elders to discuss and share their knowledge and work together to develop locally- based solutions. With the guidance of their professors as mentors, they reached out to a range of local stakeholders including farmers, agricultural traders, farmer associations, community health institutions, veterinary and extension services and rural community leaders to disseminate their research and also learn from them. They organized interactive workshops and trainings, made open-air presentations and hosted radio shows to increase outreach and share experiences. (Box 1). All participants provided regular reports of their progress to the RUFORUM Secretariat, who provided the necessary monitoring of the project.

This limited exercise has provided us with some interesting insights. It is clear that there is a genuine interest among youth to contribute to their local communities. The various topics of their projects on child nutrition, crop production and animal health among others, addressed a pertinent need in that community. The interactions allowed them to link their theoretical knowledge with practice on the ground. Both local communities and academic institutions expressed willingness to undertake more of such knowledge-exchange partnerships as it was a win-win. In future, perhaps such experiences could help universities to design short-term courses to address local issues and nurture innovations. If such initiatives were at scale and sponsored by local institutions, they might also encourage return of educated youth to agriculture in Africa and beyond. That would surely accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.

Table 1. Student projects for Community-Based Field Attachments in Africa


1 The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) is a network of 105 universities in 37 countries in Africa, www.ruforum.org.
2 Special Call for Applications: Ten RUFORUM Community-Based Field Attachment Programme Awards

The post Reverse Engineering for SDGs appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Dr. Kakoli Ghosh, Strategic Program on Sustainable Agriculture Management Team, FAO
Ms. Loreta Zdanovaite, Partnerships Officer, Division of Partnerships, FAO

The post Reverse Engineering for SDGs appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

Kenyan father tried to smuggle baby from hospital due to unpaid bills

BBC Africa - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 19:09
Boniface Murage's baby daughter was being held in a Kenyan hospital over unpaid medical bills.
Categories: Africa

Egypt executes nine over 2015 killing of public prosecutor

BBC Africa - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 18:16
The men were convicted of involvement in a car bombing that killed public prosecutor Hisham Barakat.
Categories: Africa

Kenya coach Sebastien Migne: 'Door is not shut on Dennis Oliech'

BBC Africa - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 16:57
Kenya coach Sebastien Migne says he has not 'shut the door' on a possible return for the Harambee Stars' all-time record goal-scorer, Dennis Oliech.
Categories: Africa

Poet accused of insulting government 'must be freed'

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Munich Security Conference – Old Question Marks in the Shadow of the Anthropocene

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 15:22

SIPRI Director on Armament and Disarmament Dr Sibylle Bauer discusses the future of arms control at the Munich Security Conference.

By Dan Smith
MUNICH, Germany, Feb 20 2019 (IPS)

This year’s Munich Security Conference (the MSC), held on 15-17 February raised many questions but didn’t have the answer. It was not a happy and certainly not a self-confident gathering. Yet a couple of moments suggested the first new blooms of new ways to think about security might soon poke through the soil.

The MSC is the annual meeting of makers, shakers and influence-makers on the Euro-Atlantic security scene. Its recent editions have all been full of doubt and query. In 2015 the conference theme was ‘Collapsing Order, Reluctant Guardians?’

That was followed the next year by ‘Boundless Crises, Reckless Spoilers, Helpless Guardians’ – no question-mark this time but not any better or more confident because of that.

In February 2017, with the impact of the newly inaugurated Trump administration as yet unclear, it was ‘Post-Truth, Post-West, Post-Order?’. And last year it was ‘To the brink—and back?’, which, if you look hard, at least has a drop of optimism hidden behind the query.

This year the theme was ‘The Great Puzzle: Who Will Pick Up the Pieces?’ To make sure everybody got the point, there was a little jigsaw puzzle in the conference packs. But by the end of the gathering, not to anybody’s surprise, there was no real answer.

The components of anxiety and uncertainty are not new or surprising for anybody who follows international politics. In the last several years there has been a general deterioration in geopolitical stability.

A key dark moment was the Russian takeover in Crimea during February and March 2014 but the problem goes back further than that. In 2009, as Secretary of State in the new Obama administration, Hillary Clinton aimed for a major “reset” in US-Russia relations because of the negative turn they had taken in the previous years.

US-Russian relations remain at a low ebb, especially over arms control. The expression “INF Treaty” seemed to be used every other sentence that was uttered at the MSC.

It was not like that last year when the prospects for the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987 was a matter of interest only for the specialists among the specialists.

Now people were discussing whether there is any hope at all for nuclear arms control between the US and Russia and what happens if there is none – a new arms race? Or is a more likely prospect perhaps something new, more of an asymmetric nuclear arms competition in which each is spurred by the other’s new systems but not to match them?

Along with this, tensions are growing between the rest of NATO and Russia, punctuated by further dark moments such as last year’s novichok poisonings in the UK.

There is the trade dispute between the US and China, and close military encounters in the South China Sea where, late last year, US and Chinese warships passed within 40 metres of each other.

Beyond the great power rivalries, there is widespread violent conflict and a re-ordering of power in the Middle East. Worldwide, the incidence of armed conflict is much greater than ten years ago.

Military spending and arms transfers are at their highest levels since the end of the Cold. Regional rivalries, as between Iran and Saudi Arabia and between India and Pakistan remain heated.

There are also rifts and significantly divergent perspectives within NATO. At the MSC, it was instructive to compare the quiet politeness that greeted US Vice-President Pence’s speech with the enthusiastic applause that greeted a single mention of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s name.

As represented here, the European part of the Euro-Atlantic security community, yearning always for a strong western alliance, seriously does not like the Trump administration.

Presumably because they recognised this in their separate ways, those consummate opportunists of the annual MSC platform, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarid, both devoted their time to attacking America, not Europe.

A big part of the problem about is that there is not much appetite for a thoroughgoing rethink. For most MSC participants, the answer to the question – “Who will pick up the pieces?” – is, despite Trump, “America, please!” And into what shape should the picked-up pieces be assembled?

Few addressed the question directly but a fair inference is that, for most, the new shape should be as much like the old one as possible. According to one sharp observer of the scene, Carnegie’s Judy Dempsey in her post-MSC wash-up, what was on display at MSC was “a bickering West reluctant to address the new geostrategic realities.”

There were just a couple of moments that suggested something different. One was the first session on climate change and security that the MSC has ever staged in the main conference hall. It is about time.

We have got beyond asking whether climate change causes conflict – a dumb question because no conflict has a single cause; the discussion now is about the circumstances in which climate change contributes to insecurity.

What starts out as growing human insecurity because of, for example, over-use and inefficient management of water, can translate over time into the open warfare and human catastrophe that is Yemen today. Looking ahead, the discussion needs to address the impact of sea-level rise on low-lying coastal areas.

One billion people live less than five metres above current sea-level. What happens to the security agenda ten to fifteen years from now as these areas start to be endangered, if their governments and city authorities cannot help citizens ride out the impact of the change?

If nobody else was prepared to confront the bigger picture, Angela Merkel was. The German Chancellor opened her speech by noting that in 2016 geologists confirmed the view that we now live in the Anthropocene Epoch, when human action is the biggest influence upon nature.

And this, she said, formed the context in which all discussions of security should be held henceforth.

In sum, then: many questions, no satisfying answers, but a couple of glimmers of light showing where to look.

The post Munich Security Conference – Old Question Marks in the Shadow of the Anthropocene appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Dan Smith is Director, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

The post Munich Security Conference – Old Question Marks in the Shadow of the Anthropocene appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

2019 Africa Cup of Nations: Hosts Egypt choose six venues for finals

BBC Africa - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 14:31
Egypt choose six venues across five cities to host this year's Africa Cup of Nations including the Cairo International Stadium and the Port Said Stadium.
Categories: Africa

“There can be no social justice without promoting peace and enhancing equality,” says Executive Director of the Geneva Centre

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 12:29

By Geneva Centre
GENEVA, Feb 20 2019 (IPS-Partners)

(Geneva Centre) – On the occasion of the 2019 World Day of Social Justice observed on 20 February, the Executive Director of the Geneva Centre for Human Rights Advancement and Global Dialogue Ambassador Idriss Jazairy stated that the promotion of international solidarity and social justice are vital to the building of peaceful and inclusive societies.

Idriss Jazairy

The Geneva Centre’s Executive Director observed that “social inequality gives rise to social tensions that destabilize societies. Lack of employment opportunities stifle economic growth and result in poverty, social exclusion and discrimination.”

The rise of protest movements in developed societies – he said – is a telling testimony that economic growth can often generate deep inequalities and marginalize the lower middle class and the working class and in particular vulnerable groups such as female-headed households.

In view of the fact that the value-chain of wealth creation knows no borders, such policies will be self-defeating and may end up in violent confrontation,” suggested the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director. The recent social tensions in Europe is a telling testimony that freewheeling globalization has translated into rising inequality of income and social exclusion.

Indeed, while the acceleration of globalization and advances in information technology did have some upsides contributing to economic growth and material well-being, it triggered a whole range of complex problems. These include, in particular, growing inequality, increasing poverty, mismatch between qualification and employment opportunities, social disintegration and environmental degradation. The effects of materialism has adversely affected compassion, solidarity and spirituality,” Ambassador Jazairy underlined.

To address this ominous situation, the Geneva Centre Executive Director stressed the importance of identifying a more sustainable and inclusive model of globalization. Domestic and international solidarity – he said – need to be reinvented as reaffirmed in the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda of the United Nations.

In this connection, Ambassador Jazairy said: “We need to seize the opportunity to address the causes of social instability and economic backsliding. People must be empowered so as to enable them to realize their potential and take ownership of their destinies. The gap between the growing elites and ordinary people must be bridged.

Identifying, addressing and eradicating the root-causes of social injustice will enable us to promote a more equitable development that puts the human being at the centre, and creates synergies between societal development, human security and peaceful societies. There can be no social justice without promoting peace and enhancing equal citizenship rights,” concluded the Geneva Centre’s Executive Director in his statement.

The post “There can be no social justice without promoting peace and enhancing equality,” says Executive Director of the Geneva Centre appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

Wake Up and Smell the Organic Coffee

Africa - INTER PRESS SERVICE - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 11:35

Dorianne Rowan-Campbell is an organic coffee farmer in Jamaica. Taking over her father’s farm in 1992 and turning it into an organic one was a huge risk at the time. However, she sustainably grows 1,800 coffee trees and harnesses nature to deal with pests, rather than using pesticides. Courtesy: Dorienne Rowan-Campbell

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Feb 20 2019 (IPS)

In 1992, the idea of replanting her father’s ruined coffee farm seemed foolhardy at the time. But in retrospect it was the best business decision that Dorienne Rowan-Campbell, an international development consultant and broadcast journalist, could have made.

Nearly three decades later, Rowan-Campbell grows organic coffee on her two hectare, Rowan’s Royale farm. The nearly 60-year-old farm is situated on a steep slope western Portland, a parish northeast of Jamaica overlooking the famous Blue Mountains, known for their coffee plantations.

Rowan-Campbell is a select grower of the famous Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, one of the most rare and expensive coffees, favoured for making delectable espresso.

“I was foolhardy I just wanted to get up in the mountains and try farming,” Rowan-Campbell tells IPS about her foray into growing coffee, an energy-boosting beverage loved the world over, which may well become scarce, thanks to climate change.

Freshly picked coffee beans. Credit: Will Boase/IPS

Shifting to organic farming a big risk but not for nature

Growing organic coffee was a major shift from conventional coffee farming but it was a big bet. Her father grew coffee the conventional way using polluting pesticides, herbicides and industrial fertilisers to manage pests and diseases while maintaining soil nutrition. She cultivates over half a hectare of the farm with more than 1,800 coffee trees.

“Organic came [about] because everyone said ‘You need a big 50-60 gallon drum to mix pesticides’ and I thought not me,” says Rowan-Campbell, a former Commonwealth Director of the Women and Development Programme at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

She beat the odds of having initially a poor knowledge about organic farming. Her husband and small staff were trained in organic farming techniques. And the organic farming experiment worked. In 2002, BCS OEKO-GARANTIE in Germany—which certifies some 35 percent of all organic products in the country— certified the farm organic.

Since 2004, it has been inspected and certified annually by the Certification of Environmental Standards (CERES), an organic certification agency that uses the presence of birds as one indication of environmental balance.

A 2006 study, by Humbolt University and the University of the West Indies, into birds as vectors of pest control found that although Rowan’s Royale was the smallest farm in the sample, it had the most birds, the greatest variety of birds and the least coffee berry borer (a beetle harmful to coffee crops).

“As an organic farmer, I have to harness nature and work with it because we do not use any chemicals on my farm. I have insects and birds and they eat more than 50 percent of any pests that would attack my coffee so the quality of the coffee is naturally protected,” she says, explaining that she mulches and prepares natural compost for the coffee trees and manages pests and diseases with natural chemicals.

“We have coffee rust disease right now, decimating the coffee industry in Central, South America and the Caribbean. Some people are using extremely strong chemicals to deal with it. I use a mixture of garlic and water. It works, and I share it with all the farmers.”

An estimated 4,000 farmers are growing Blue Mountain Coffee in Jamaica. This year Rowan-Campbell expects to harvest up to four tonnes of coffee beans and is marketing the coffee in America, Europe and Asia.

Dorianne Rowan-Campbell’s farm is a select producer of the famous Jamaica Blue Mountain coffee, one of the most rare and expensive of coffees, favoured for making delectable espresso. Courtesy: Dorienne Rowan-Campbell

Beating climate change

Once Rowan-Campbell packed a packaged, a box with various coffee roasts and sent it to Prince Charles, the future king of England via a courier. But he never got it.

“He had asked about organic coffee and was told there was none,” she remembers. “Organic farming is an adaptation strategy against climate change and I try to teach others.”

Coffee is vulnerable to temperature change as it only grows at specific temperatures around the tropics.

Scientific research is showing that climate change will reduce coffee growing areas around the world by up to 88 percent by 2050. It has become necessary for more than 25 million coffee farmers in more than 60 tropical countries to adapt to climate change using a blend of techniques such as shade improvement and crop rotation.

“Our results suggest that coffee-suitable areas will be reduced 73–88 percent by 2050 across warming scenarios, a decline 46–76 percent greater than estimated by global assessments,” says a study by the PNAS journal.

Coffee is the second most commonly traded commodity in the world, trailing only as a source of foreign exchange to developing countries, according to the International Coffee Organisation.

Bouyed by global demand for organic produce, Rowan-Campbell—an active member of the Jamaica Organic Agriculture movement—is also growing root vegetables and makes organic jams and marmalade.

“For me organic farming it is the most important thing in farming because it says you are building a sustainable future for your great [grand] children,” she said.

However, what has made organic farming work? “Probably love and passion,” she says.

“I think it is important that in Jamaica we have this wonderful flavour of coffee. It is a gift because coffee is grown at a certain elevation and the soil is good.

“When I started, I did not know I was taking such a major step in Jamaica. I have many women who come to me and say they want to grow organic.”

Since 2004, the farm purchased by her father in 1960 has weathered four hurricanes with Hurricane Dean in 2007 damaging close to 70 of the coffee trees. Despite this, Rowan-Campbell says organic methods have prevented landslides and soil erosion on the farm.

Rowan-Campbell is a certified inspector and trains other famers in organic farming and promoting certification. Last year she was part of an initiative to develop a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) standard for organic coffee production.

Organic coffee farmers in Jamaica have had to overcome the challenges of poor regulations for organic coffee, high license fees and local certification.

Rowan-Campbell says she has no plans of expanding the business. She wants to keep it small, efficient, profitable and delivering high quality export coffee.

“I am meticulous. I want only well ripened cherries and I reap a little at a time. No big pay-out at end of the day, but sustainable production and high quality coffee.”

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The post Wake Up and Smell the Organic Coffee appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Categories: Africa

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BBC Africa - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 11:32
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Nigeria election 2019: Who benefits from poll delay?

BBC Africa - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 10:16
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