Northern Sudan is one of the country's most marginalized regions. It's currently home to the largest hydroelectric construction project in Africa - the Merowe Dam. While the dam has the potential to drastically increase electricity production for Sudan, the project has come at a massive human cost, forcibly displacing thousands of people from their communities.
Over the past few weeks, I've heard from international aid agencies operating in Sudan that government officials were escalating their pattern of repression in the region by blocking humanitarian access to the populations forced out by recent flooding caused by the dam. A report I received today from the NGO International Rivers is even more disturbing:
Africa Action joined with global civil society in signing this letter.
October 28, 2008 - The day before the United Nations (UN) meets to discuss its new high-level taskforce on the global financial crisis, chaired by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, and two weeks before the US hosts members of the Group of 20 to address the same issue, a coalition of 630 organizations from 104 countries have issued a statement demanding a truly global response to the global crisis and laying out a set of principles for doing so.
“Of course it is imperative to agree quickly on measures to address the immediate crisis and protect ordinary workers, low-income households, and other extremely vulnerable sectors from the impacts”, said Lidy Nacpil of Jubilee South - Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development.
“But since the impacts are likely to be the greatest on the poorest people, and in emerging economies and developing countries”, Ms. Nacpil continued, “shouldn’t all countries –governments and peoples – have a say, not just those responsible for this crisis?”
was created to speak out in the blogosphere against the taboos and
stereotypes concerning African women and LGBT issues. Why aren't the
news covering the important role of women in fighting for democracy in Zimbabwe? What are the problems of a "dating agency"
arranging for HIV+ people to meet each other with the aim of reducing
the spread of HIV? Do we really need to ask for justifiability of mob justice
against perpetrators of violent physical and sexual crimes against
women? The blog also includes an interesting selection of podcasts and
many links to relevant websites (such as Thembi's AIDS diary), press releases, poems/literature and music.
blog is one of the powerful voices that are helping shape an
international consensus placing women at the center of a sustainable
future. As Sokari reports,
"Including women in any decision making process is about improving the
lives of everyone--women are not at war, women are not killing and
destroying life. On the contrary it is women who are the ones calling
for peace, growing food, maintaining the homes we grow in, the majority
of displaced, of refugees and victims of violence." While it focuses on
gender and sexuality issues, Black Looks also sheds light and calls for
action on a wide range of other topics including poverty, health,
conflict areas, racism, social movements, in Africa, the US, the UK and
As you and millions of others worldwide hold your breath in anticipation for the next US administration, here is a question you might want to think about: how should the new president further advance human rights around the world?
Niko's article also highlights an exciting contest that Citizens for Global Solutions is organizing to promote creative Darfur activism. CGS's annual multimedia contest offers a prize of $2,000 to the best "short multimedia piece (flash animation, spoken word, digital video)
that can inspire, amuse and activate people out there who believe that
a better world is possible." While you can submit art on any global issue, this year's suggested theme is "Failing Darfur Five Years On."
Last week Morgan Tsvangirai, Prime Minister-designate of the
Zimbabwean government was not in attendance at talks in Swaziland on the crisis
in his country because, according to the New York Times "President
Robert Mugabe, refused to give him a passport.”
This comes over a month after SADC sponsored power sharing
agreements were finalized and signed, in what most observers, including Africa Action and then President
of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, deemed a historic moment and precedent in African
mediated solutions for African problems.
Since the signing on September 15, this bright vision has
dimmed each day, however,as the two
main parties privy to the agreement, Zanu-PF (led by President Mugabe) and the
Movement for Democratic Change (Morgan Tsvangirai) have deadlocked over the
distribution of four key ministries: defense, foreign affairs, finance, and
home affairs. The deal requires consensus over these ministries, yet critics
predicted from the get-go that did not seem likely. This “limbo over key
ministries” has only emphasized that the power-sharing agreement has really
just come down to a power-getting battle.
With the ongoing financial crisis and extreme instability of
the American stock market, the economies of the world seem to be turning
upside-down. As Europe and Asia struggle against the backlash, already weak from
IMF restructuring, open economies in Africa may be the most vulnerable
to recent pitfalls of the stock market. The scariest thing: most analysts
believe the worst is yet to come.
A sampling of some recent commentary:
The Nation, Kenya: As the financial crisis increases risk aversion, the capital flows that have fueled growth in Africa over the past decade are in danger. Foreign direct investment to Africa had doubled to $315
billion between 2000 and 2006, according to the Bank of America. The cost of the crisis may lead both private sector investors and donor nations to scale
back or abandon entirely their commitments. UN Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro said
Monday that attainment of the Millennium
Development Goals is at "clear at risk" in light of the financial crisis.
Inter Press Service Finance ministers from across Africa have been vocal about
the impending impact of the crisis on foreign aid and investment in Africa. Sierra
Leone's finance minister stated that development needs on the continent have
been "largely forgotten" amid high level talks by rich country officials. The Kenyan Finance Minister
suggested that wealthy governments be held accountable for
"delinquent" regulation of financial institutions, demanding
increased aid as compensation for developing countries' impending losses due to a
Western failure. Cameroon’s finance minister cited the usual neglect
of official aid budgets, which never live up to commitments, warning that they
will be cut further in light of recent events.
Leadership, Nigeria: The Managing Director of Sterling Bank Yemi Adeola stated recetly that Nigeria country has lost over N4 Trillion to the
crisis. Sterling Bank gave Lagos State Security Trust a donation of N100
million, along with several other banks that have offered a total of N600 Billion. Mr. Adeola also emphasized the threat of armed robbers to his
That climate change is occurring globally with disastrous consequences, and that unsustainable economic policies are to blame, is no longer under question. The real issue now is not only how do we solve this crisis, but also who — who is most apt to take the lead in tackling climate change.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) seems like a sensible candidate. Last December, at the Climate Change Conference in Bali, Parties to the UNFCCC established a multilateral fund to provide technological assistance to developing countries. The G77 + China, as well as over a hundred civil society groups worldwide, are backing this initiative because it is grounded in the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” Essentially, it mandates developed countries, as historical polluters with higher technological and economic capabilities, to take on the largest share of responsibility and leadership in combating climate change.
Contestant #2 is the World Bank. This past week, Oct. 13-17, the World Bank held a series of meetings in Washington, DC to discuss the implementation of its new initiative against climate change, the Climate Investment Funds (CIFs). In the Bank’s own words, these funds “will enable a dynamic partnership between the MDBs (Multilateral Development Banks) and developing countries to undertake investments that achieve a country's development goals through a transition to a climate-resilient economy and a low carbon development path.”
This proposal is under harsh criticism by developing countries for putting the global fight against climate change under the Bank’s inequitable governance structure. The G77 + China condemned the Bank for diverting attention and financing away from the more democratic and transparent UNFCCC proposal. Ten of the world’s richest countries have already pledged over $6 billion to the CIFs; about a third of this number was pledged by the US. “There is clearly money for climate actions, which is the good news, but the bad news is it is in the hands of institutions that do not necessarily serve the objectives of the Convention [on Climate Change],” said Bernaditas Muller, chief negotiator for the G77 + China.
Today I attended a panel discussion entitled Leveraging International Frameworks to Fight Poverty at InterAction, the American Council for Voluntary International Action. The talk was part of InterAction's Progress Against Poverty Week. This week is “dedicated to celebrating how far the international development and humanitarian community has advanced in the fight to end global poverty.” The panelists spoke from experience with various humanitarian and development organizations from Oxfam to Bread for the World. Their focus was on the current international climate and interactions between NGOs, governments and international policy makers. The topics ranged from the need to modernize debt relief and the possibilities of an advancement of a coherent development agenda, as well as positive communication between the U.S. and European countries on the subject.