Friday, April 19, 2013

Africa: Invest in Water Storage to Secure the Future of Africa

Africa: Invest in Water Storage to Secure the Future of Africa

By Ben Braga, 19 April 2013

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Water and energy are fundamental to poverty reduction and economic transformation on the African continent. When experts, policymakers and high-level representatives met this week in Addis Ababa at a conference to discuss water storage and hydro development, the World Water Council was there to call upon them to take actions to prepare the world, as the past is now a poor guide to an uncertain future.
Indeed, as the world population continues to increase and that population strives for higher standards of living, demands on our limited usable water resources grow. As a consequence, we are failing to keep up with water demands for the most basic human needs and, at the same time, we need to start having a different look towards water from a perspective of an engine for social and economic development.
The World Water Council has been advocating for global recognition of water security as a milestone for beyond the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. During the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York in October last year, we called on all countries in the word for a Pact on Water Security. The current efforts made by the UN to set a global definition of water security for next General Assembly are a promising objective.
An enormous challenge lies ahead of us to improve water security in Africa. An effective investment framework must be adapted to different levels and contexts, as water provides a useful basis for discussion and engagement between policymakers, investors and stakeholders in water and other sectors in Africa. Since 2008, the World Water Council has been working on a programme on water for growth and development in Africa and presenting the need for investment in water in Africa as leverage for growth and shared development.
Wise investments in managing and developing Africa's water resources are essential to the future growth and prosperity of the continent.
Foremost, this is a policy choice, but it must also be seen as an imperative. These investments are a necessary part of Africa's development, but need to be conditioned effectively within overall infrastructure improvements.
Forecasts say that five percent of Africa's GDP is lost annually due to poor access to water and sanitation, two percent due to power cuts, and five to 25 percent due to droughts and floods in affected countries. A further five percent could be lost in the future because of climate change.

Africa: UN Experts Urge World Bank to Adopt Human Rights Standards in Its Policies

18 April 2013

Ahead of a key meeting to review the World Bank's social policies, a group of United Nations independent experts called on the organization to adopt human rights standards to ensure its measures do not unintentionally harm the world's most vulnerable populations.

"All activities supported by the World Bank, not only its investment lending, should be included in the review to ensure consistency with international human rights standards," said the group of experts in a news release.

"Doing so would improve development outcomes and strengthen the protection of the world's poorest from unintended adverse impacts of activities financed by the Bank," they said.

The group consists of: the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter and the Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Cephas Lumina.

Their call was made ahead of the conclusion of the first consultation period this weekend of a two-year review of the World Bank's social and environmental policies - also known as safeguard policies.

The review is an opportunity to broaden the World Bank's scope in areas related to human rights such as disability, gender, labour, land tenure, and the rights of indigenous people. A first draft of the revised policies, which will be open for public comment, is expected in the next few months.

"Unfortunately, economic development can have negative as well as positive impacts," said Ms. Sepúlveda. "Often, the poorest of the poor do not benefit from development, or even worse, it is undertaken at their expense."

For Mr. Anaya, the review "is an opportunity for the World Bank to heed the call of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which provides that States, intergovernmental organizations, and UN specialized agencies, including the World Bank, shall promote respect for full application and realization of, its provisions."

Mr. De Schutter said that large-scale World Bank projects often have a negative impact on land used by small-scale farmers, affecting their right to food.

"The updated safeguard policies must ensure that the voice of affected communities is more effectively heard, through inclusive and participatory impact assessments and through effective accountability mechanisms that provide effective remedies for any harm caused," he said.

Mr. Lumina said it was no longer acceptable to use the excuse that the World Bank is precluded by its Articles of Agreement from taking human rights into consideration in the design and implementation of its policies and projects.

"The Articles allow, and in some circumstances, enjoin the Bank to recognize the human rights implications of its development policies and activities," Mr. Lumina said. "We should not forget that States must also adhere to their international law obligations when they act through international organizations. The World Bank is no exception

Human Rights Group Demands Stop to Mining in Tanzania

The Legal and Human Rights Center has called on the government to halt uranium mining until proper legislation is in place, citing unknown effects as reason for caution. Read more »

Sabahi, 10 April 2013

The Tanzanian Ministry of Energy and Minerals granted its first uranium mining licence to Mantra Tanzania, a subsidiary of Australia-based Mantra Resources, Tanzania's The Citizen ... read more »

Uranium mine.


AfricaPlus (Evanston, IL), 19 April 2013
In his essay on Mali, Bruce Whitehouse of Lehigh University shows how failures of elected leaders, state institutions, and external donors can shift power to the streets and an uncertain contest among armed forces. A billboard created by a Bamako artists' collective, 2012
A few short years ago, Mali was widely regarded as a paragon of democratic institution building in Africa. Today the global news media portray it as just another African war zone. How did it all go wrong?
There was a time when I was optimistic about Mali's future, and most Malians seemed to share my optimism. When I first worked in Mali in the late 1990s, they believed their country was heading in the right direction.
The mood was especially buoyant when I returned for graduate research in mid-2002. Mali had just successfully hosted the African Cup of Nations football tournament for the first time and held elections that saw one elected head of state step down voluntarily and hand power to another - a first in that country's history.
Studies confirmed my impressions from that period: the Afrobarometer Survey, for example, shows that nearly two-thirds of Malians said they were satisfied with their country's democracy in 2002.
Mali had made real progress: Since the beginning of the democratic transition in 1991 it had held four presidential elections judged free and fair by the international community; it had a vibrant free press; and it had begun a process of political decentralization that enabled people to elect their own local officials for the first time.
Economically, too, the country seemed to be on the right track: growth was a respectable five percent per annum, and poverty rates were falling according to government statistics. In terms of social indicators, school enrollment and access to services climbed dramatically from the late 1990s.[i]
Behind the Glowing Façade
The reality was more troubling. The electoral process was marred by consistently weak participation: turnout always remained below 40 percent of eligible voters, the lowest rate in West Africa.[ii]
Allegations of fraud tainted public perceptions, and voters felt they had few credible candidates from whom to choose.[iii] President Touré's "rule by consensus" approach amounted to co-opting all opposition rather than engaging in meaningful debate.
In any case, Malian officials had another, far more powerful constituency than the voters to answer to: their aid-dependent government no longer bothered to make its own policies, finding it simpler to accept donors' agendas-a phenomenon political scientist Isaline Bergamaschi has dubbed "donor-driven ownership."[iv]
Even some of the most positive indicators could be profoundly misleading. Take public school enrollment, which rose dramatically between 2001 and 2006. It then stagnated, as classrooms became saturated, under-resourced teachers went on strike, and students found it nearly impossible to learn.
Following donor precepts, the Malian government increased enrollment rates without investing more in the education sector, which became so dysfunctional that parents actually began taking their children out of school-particularly in overcrowded urban districts, where enrollment dropped six percent from 2006 to 2010.[v]
Erosion of the Rule of Law
Democracy was further undermined by the weak rule of law, as Malians lost faith in their government's justice and law enforcement institutions. Cases multiplied of ordinary people pushed off their land by politically connected persons in and around Bamako. The courts provided no redress to the victims.
From early 2011, Bamako also saw a surge of suspected thieves killed by mobs-sometimes after being snatched from police custody. Bamakois no longer trusted the police to arrest criminals and keep them imprisoned or believed they would be convicted for their crimes.
Elected officials spurned the law to suit their political interests. A former French cultural attaché wrote: "I was surprised that Hawa, a cloth dyer friend, was voting for a notoriously corrupt municipal candidate, although she was always vehemently denouncing the corruption of the political class.
She told me that the candidate has promised her not to apply antipollution regulations on her street - where Hawa and her co-wives poured buckets of very toxic chemicals every day [photo below]. When I spoke about these things to my colleagues in the Embassy, they told me that none of this compromised Mali's democratic processes. The myth of 'good governance' was very thick-skinned."[vi]
A Failing State
In July 2010, as we drove in a taxi to attend a wedding, my friend Nou pointed to Koulouba, the presidential palace, in the distance. "Le pouvoir a démissionné", he told me. "The power has resigned. Power is not there anymore." "Where is the power, then?" I asked.
"The power is in the street," he replied. His comment was prescient. The democratic state presided by Amadou Toumani Touré, the general who overthrew the dictatorial regime of Moussa Traoré in 1991 and, and who waited a decade to compete in open elections for the presidency, had become an empty shell.
Nou was concerned about Malians' tendency for disorder, unruliness and rebellion. He saw a constant game of cat and mouse between the government and the people. He preferred a strong state, one that could enforce its laws and protect the public interest from abuses by corrupt elites and ordinary citizens.
Nou spoke of the office of the Vérificateur General, an anti-corruption czar appointed by the president. It had been neutralized by influential politicians, particularly in the investigation of embezzlement of millions of dollars from the Office du Niger, a state irrigation project with a large budget. Nou didn't accuse President Touré directly but believed he turned a blind eye to abuses committed by his associates.
The concerns Nou shared that day resonated with much I had been hearing from other Malians. Like Nou, they were frustrated by their leaders' incompetence and venality and with the deterioration of the capacity and legitimacy of government institutions.
Mali's coup was not inevitable, and it was not corruption alone that laid low the Malian state last March. The latest Tuareg separatist rebellion, invigorated by heavily armed fighters returning from post-Qaddafi Libya, also played a huge role.
The Malian army was too feeble to contain the threat posed by the separatists, not to mention by smugglers and Islamist militants operating in the north of the country. The massacre of 82 Malian soldiers in the northern town of Aguel Hoc on January 24, 2012-one week after the official start of the rebellion-showed the Malian public that their leaders could not even guarantee the safety of their own troops.
Public shock and horror at the slaughter, graphic but dubious photographs of which circulated on the web and via mobile phones, led to demonstrations against President Touré's rule, and to army wives confronting him on national television, demanding to know why their husbands had not been better armed, equipped and supported.
By that point Mali's head of state had no legitimacy left in the eyes of many Malians, and the coup d'état that followed a few weeks later simply formalized what everyone in Bamako already understood: Touré was finished, and no longer had anything to offer the Malian people and nation. His power had ebbed away onto the streets of Bamako, like the cloth dye and other discarded toxic material.
Democracy Dismissed and Discarded
The task ahead for Mali entails much more than eliminating violent Islamist groups, re-training the army, negotiating with Tuareg leaders, and eventually holding elections. While they are all necessary for the country's stabilization, the roots of Mali's misery extend beyond the military coup, Tuareg nationalism, and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
The Malian state essentially collapsed in 2012 because it had been eroded from within, and its elected leaders had lost their mandate to lead. A government hailed as a model of stability and popular legitimacy was, in fact, nothing of the sort. This fact was, indeed, known to the same external governments that have since intervened to push back the radical Islamists and must help rebuild a failed state and democracy.
Now dependent on French military protection, Mali is no longer fully sovereign. Stephen Ellis echoes concerns voiced by other scholars such as Jeffrey Herbst and Pierre Englebert: "a major area of attention for policy-makers both in Europe and elsewhere in coming years will surely be the many 'fragile' states that enjoy sovereignty but that do not satisfy the conditions required of them by great powers, or in which disorder otherwise poses a threat to international security."[vii] Is the Mali case unique or is it a harbinger of things to come elsewhere on the African continent? This is a question that deserves consideration by scholars and analysts.
[i] ELIM (Résultats Préliminaires du volet ELIM), Institut National de la Statistique, 2010, section II; available at
[ii] International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance,

[iii] Friedrich Ebert Foundation, "Mali-Metre: Enquete d'opinion : Que pensent les Maliens ?" February 2013,

[iv] "Mali: Patterns and Limits of Donor-Driven Ownership," in Lindsay Whitfield (ed.), The Politics of Aid: African Strategies for Dealing with Donors (Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 217-245.

[v] ELIM, section V.1.

[vi] Danièle Rousselier, "Au Mali, la France a favorisé une fiction de la démocratie," 5 March,

[vii] Stephen Ellis, Season of Rains: Africa in the World (University of Chicago Press, 2012), p. 165.
Apr 19 2013, 11:29

Democracy was founded on the belief of equality. Though with some limitations the founders of Democracy centuries ago had the knowledge to steer the equality by creating institutions that serves the interest of all.This basic principle of the common good for all helped these nations become powerful. The logic is simple, a tangible product is created through the mixture of certain elements and substances. Nations or continents represent products which can be created only by using each and everybody that lives in them. In theory the principles of democracy are fantastic but the reality is its maintainance requires a lot. Africa first need a vibrant middle class, which means massive investment in primary, secondary and technical education. A type of education that focuses on job creation. Democracy can be maintained when majority are allowed to participate and contribute.

  • abukante
    Apr 19 2013, 11:40
    Democracy was founded on the belief of equality. Though with some limitations the founders of Democracy centuries ago had the knowledge to steer the equality by creating institutions that serves the interest of all.This basic principle of the common good for all helped these nations become powerful. The logic is simple, a tangible product is created through the mixture of certain elements and substances. Nations or continents represent products which can be created only by using each and everybody that lives in them. In theory the principles of democracy are fantastic but the reality is its maintainance requires a lot. Africa first need a vibrant middle class, which means massive investment in primary, secondary and technical education. A type of education that focuses on job creation. Democracy can be maintained when majority are allowed to participate and contribute.

  • Mali: Chad Plays Politics Over Costly Mali Deployment

    Photo: Ministère de la Défense Française
    Chadian military briefing session in northern Mali.
    President Deby of Chad's announcement earlier this week that he was planning to withdraw his troops from northern Mali came as a surprise to many, but in the world of Chadian politics unexpected decisions pushed through by the President are more familiar.
    While it seems there is scope for the Chadians to remain in Mali - through incorporation into the proposed UN force (which should take over from the Ecowas-led mission Afisma), it seems that in Deby's mind - and indeed in many of the Chadian deputies in the National Assembly who voted almost unanimously in favour of the pull-out, Chad has already paid a high price.
    Few want to see the country's troops going it alone in a bloody and protracted guerrilla war.
    The decision was precipitated by the deaths last Friday of three Chadian soldiers in a suicide attack in Kidal, bringing the total number of Chadians killed to over 30.
    It's no coincidence that it was made days after France announced the first withdrawal of its forces.
    And of course there's the cost - estimates put it at some 90 million Euros already, and as Chadian MP Rhakis Saleh put it to RFI "Of course the cause is noble, but the hundreds of billions of CFA we have spent in this war could have helped to solve many of our own problems".
    If Chad's announcement succeeds in jolting the UN into speeding up the deployment of a peacekeeping force (and paying), then Chad can play its role alongside other African nations without having to shoulder the entire burden.
    The bottom line for Deby is that the FATIM (Chadian Armed Forces Intervention in Mali) needs to pay clear dividends - as soon as it looks like becoming a liability, significant changes can be expected.
    Until now the deployment has been a way to show how far Chad has come since the dark days of 2006 and 2008 when two serious rebellions came within hours of unseating Deby.
    It has helped to establish a narrative of the country as a regional leader, and perhaps persuade detractors that the $600m of oil revenues siphoned off from social spending plans, to buy military equipment - including six re-conditioned Sukhoi jets, attack helicopters and armoured personnel carriers - was money well spent.
    The PR coup gained from the claims that Chadian soldiers killed two senior AQMI leaders Abdelhamid Abou Zeid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, only served to bolster that reputation.
    It has also been an influence on the relationship with France, whose forces, in the guise of 'Operation Epervier', saved Deby's skin five years ago as the rebels bombarded the gates of the presidential palace.
    The continuation of the Epervier force has been a constant source of discussion, but it now seems that France's nod of respect to the Chadians for their desert fighting skills and uncomplicated response to the calls for help, may go some way to improving relations with the former colonial master.
    But the hard days are ahead in Mali - Paris and N'Djamena both know that. Neither country wants to become mired in a guerrilla war which could last years.
    The flashpoints are already there - Kidal seems to still be in the hands of an off-shoot of the MNLA rebel group called MIA. Gao and Timbuktu have both seen suicide bomber attacks in the last few weeks, and there is widespread pessimism about the country's ability to hold effective elections in July.
    Chad has established its credentials through dramatic battlefield successes while the soldiers of neighbouring African countries - and Mali's own national army - have been slow to deploy and are in need of training.
    Domestic support for the Chadian deployment has been high and so far there have been few public outbursts by families who have lost loved ones.

    The ANT (Armee National du Tchad) has refreshed its desert warfare skills which have been growing rusty since 2009, and for a brief period Deby distracted the nation from the very real developmental problems Chad faces, despite 10 years of oil production yielding some $10bn in revenue.
    But now it seems that Deby feels - perhaps understandably - that the burden needs to be shared.
    It's unimaginable that a poor country like Chad could support an open-ended commitment of 2000 troops in a foreign country, and inevitably public anger would rise if too many young men are coming home in body bags.
    Domestically Deby still faces rebel threats - while the Mali crisis has been rumbling on, he sent his forces into neighbouring Central African Republic, initially in support of Francois Bozize, but latterly (according to Bozize himself) in support of the Seleka rebel coalition which toppled him.
    Since Bozize fled, clashes and killings have continued in Bangui and there is no indication that the new president, Michel Djotodia, will be able to secure the northern border.
    This is a completely ungovernable region where a myriad of rebel coalitions from CAR, Chad and Darfur have gathered and is used as a launch pad for their raids. The long defunct Chadian coalition, the UFR, recently announced they had not given up the fight.
    Deby is not known as the Great Survivor for nothing - when he decides the time is up things often happen quickly. In 2009 he refused to sign the renewal of the mandate for the Minurcat UN peacekeeping mission in the east of the country, and by 2010 the operation was closed down.
    Deby wants to shift responsibility in Mali before distressed relatives, finance ministry officials or potential rebels in CAR take the shine off his success.
    The news will leave many in Mali wondering if the vacuum which will be created by the French and Chadian withdrawals can be filled before Islamist and Tuareg rebel groups begin to claw back lost ground.
    Celeste Hicks is a freelance journalist with a focus on African issues. She has a particular interest in the Sahel.


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