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February 19, 2004

Taking a Look Around

Once in a while, when I get ready to write about Africa, I simply wish the news were good. It just doesn't seem to work that way.

Food shortages are worsening in Kenya.

least 300,000 people in four districts of Coast Province are short of food despite heavy, unusual rainfall since January, while the situation is rapidly worsening in the northwestern pastoral districts, such as Turkana, where local conflicts have disrupted farming patterns, a report said on Tuesday.

The January-February rainfall has, however, provided substantial relief to severely drought-affected households and improved availability of water and pasture for livestock, the Kenya Food Security Watch report published by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) said.

Aid to Rwanda may be frozen.

Four Dutch NGOs have urged Rwanda's development partners - the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom - to freeze parts of their government aid to the country and to stop current negotiations on new memorandums of understanding with the Kigali administration, pending the fulfilment of two requirements.

In a report evaluating developments in Rwanda in 2003, the NGOs called for the aid freeze until independent investigations about the disappearance in early 2003 of five people, among them political opponents to the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), are held, and until the government gives a credible reaction to accusations made by a UN team that investigated the role Rwanda played in the exploitation of natural resources in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

I actually do consider that to be good news, in a sense. Keeping the governments accountable is an important part in building the systems that lead to self-reliance. That this measure is necessary, though, is unfortunate.

Over three-quarters of a million people need medical and food assistance in Swaziland "national disaster."

Many parts of southern Africa are in the grip of drought and last week Lesotho also declared an emergency, saying 800,000 people needed help.

"Aids, drought and land degradation, all these have reinforced negative effects that have created a web of extreme vulnerability reinforced by the collapse of family structures," Mr Dlamini [Prime Minister of Swaziland] said.

The painful part, though, is the spending of Swaziland's monarch, King Mswati. While the nation faces food shortages, drought, and AIDS, he asks for new palaces. There is nothing atypical about this; what would be a real story is to hear how a monarch didn't funnel foreign aid for his own comfort and glorification.

Correspondents say King Mswati, Africa's only absolute monarch, has been reluctant to declare a national disaster to avoid a close scrutiny of government spending from foreign donors.

He last month requested $15m to build new palaces for his 11 wives and has been seeking to buy a royal jet.

Yes, it's business as usual throughout Africa.

Posted by zombyboy at February 19, 2004 10:37 AM

This time around the famine seems to involve the length and breadth of Africa, save for a few, well-off states. The problem is toughened further by the spreading HIV/AIDS affliction. It's gonna take both guts and money to turn the situation around.

Posted by: Rethabile Masilo at February 22, 2004 01:40 PM

Guts, money, vision, and time. Hopefully we can find enough of all of them to actually start enacting changes.

Posted by: zombyboy at February 23, 2004 12:55 PM

it's funny
electric scooters pocket bike mini chopper skate board q scooter

Posted by: ouiouael at July 4, 2004 07:48 AM
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