Monthly Archives: October 2016

South Sudan: how cows fuelled the war and how they can consolidate peace

Tracking the progress of South Sudan’s civil war is a near-impossible task. Little reliable news arrives in Juba, and the spin doctors from each opposing side are masters of the art. So the legion of war-watchers in the capital – the diplomats, the peacekeepers, the humanitarians, and the journalists – deploy a crude proxy to figure out what’s going on. “Just follow the president’s cows,” they say. They are only half joking.

Although officials won’t confirm or deny the figures, President Salva Kiir is rumoured to own enormous numbers of cattle – probably in the tens of thousands, and worth tens of millions of US dollars. He wants to keep his investment safe. So when the herd moves, it is always moving away from conflict.

Not all of South Sudan’s cows are so lucky. The war has taken its toll on cattle populations, which in turn poses a serious threat to the country’s financial – and, ultimately, physical – health.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to overstate the importance of cattle to South Sudan’s economy. South Sudan doesn’t have a proper banking system, and cash is always in short supply, so cows are the financial instrument of choice for about 80% of the country’s 11.3-million people. Cows are living, breathing, shitting, lactating bank accounts, an extraordinarily resilient source of wealth and power in one of the poorest countries in the world.

But maybe not resilient enough.

As South Sudan struggles with the aftermath of its bloody civil war, the fate of its estimated 12-million cattle will be crucial in helping the country get back on its feet. But the animals have not been immune to the war’s devastating consequences, and the scrawny, disease-ravaged herds are not in the best shape to play their traditional role as buffers against instability. If the international community wants to encourage a lasting peace in South Sudan, they will have to look after South Sudan’s cows as well as its people.

The cattle economy

There are about 12-million cows in South Sudan, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. More cows than people, in other words. At a very conservative estimate of $100 per cow, that represents a four-legged fortune of about $1.2-billion, most of which is not counted in formal economic statistics (in 2013, pre-war South Sudan’s official GDP was just $1.04-billion). That’s a lot of money by anyone’s standards – especially in an economy that has been devastated by civil war.

“Pastoralism is the central institution around which most of South Sudan’s societies are organised. There are few substitutes for the cattle economy; cattle are the foundations of value, tradition and belief and represent a core thread in the institution of identity. Cattle are social capital. Cattle are also political capital, as herd size correlates with economic and political success,” said Lauren Hutton, a South Sudan analyst.

Given their significance in South Sudan, it should come as no surprise that the country’s cattle have been both a victim and a driver of the conflict. Cattle populations have died in the fighting, or been displaced into areas where they are exposed to deadly diseases. And as families have struggled to find food, cows may be slaughtered or sold on the cheap.

But cattle are also a spoil of war, and therefore an incentive to fight. Rare is the battle report that doesn’t include a note on how many cattle were seized during this government offensive or that rebel attack. Most recently, earlier this year, troops loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar were accused of stealing some 2,000 cattle from the herd of Salva Kiir himself – a lucrative night’s work, and an embarrassing setback for the president. Both ethnic groups and criminal organisations have also taken advantage of the instability to launch their own cattle raids.

“Tribal conflicts, cattle raids, and disease outbreaks have all intensified on an unprecedented scale, threatening the national herd and tearing at the social, political, and economic fabric of South Sudan,” said the FAO in a December 2014 report.

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By Simon Allison

Credit picture: Carl de Souza/Getty Images

Burundi: Hunting for CSOs intensifies

Bujumbura – The striking off and suspension of several civil society organizations (CSOs) by the Burundian government causes fear for the regime and doubt about its governance. Five of them are accused of “carrying out activities that are not in accordance with their goals set out in their statutes and which are likely to disrupt the order and security of the state.”

“… The above associations have deviated from their goals set in their statutes and are rather busy tarnishing the country’s image and stirring up hatred and division among the people of Burundi.” This is the sledgehammer argument advanced by the Ministry of Interior and patriotic training in an ordinance announcing the measure. On the 19th, October 2016, Pascal Barandagiye, the Interior Minister, struck off definitively five CSOs by Ordinance No.

530/1922. The latter are the Forum for the Strengthening of Civil Society (FORSC), FOCODE (the Forum for awareness and development), APRODH (Burundi Association for the Protection of Human Rights and Detained Persons), ACAT (Christian Action for the Abolition of Torture) and ROE (Network of Honest Citizens). The common ground for these organizations is that they were members of the campaign”Halt to the Third Term of Pierre Nkurunziza.” They were suspended on 23 November 2015. All the leaders of these organizations have been active in the movement to stop the third term of President Nkurunziza, and some are subject to an international arrest warrant issued by the Burundian justice. Some of these organizations continue to produce regular reports on violations of human rights in Burundi.

From suspension to the striking off …

On 24 October, another ordinance N ° 530/1960 by the same minister suspends temporarily five CSOs: COSOME (Coalition of Civil Society for Election Monitoring), CB-ICC (Burundian Coalition for ICC) UBJ (Union of Burundian Journalists), “Iteka” Burundian League for Human Rights, and Burundi SOS Torture. Barandagiye accused them of “carrying out activities that are not in accordance with their goals set out in their statutes and which are likely to disrupt the order and security of the state.” The ordinance does not specify the duration of the suspension.

“These five organizations have secretly continued to perform despicable acts likely to disrupt the country’s safety instead of respecting the law and their suspension. They have allied with other associations, worked in secret and prepared documents that tarnish the image of the country, the reason why His Excellency the Minister of Interior has released an ordinance on 19 October, 2016 that strikes off five organizations, “said Térence Ntahiraja, Assistant to the Interior Minister. These organizations, he added, formed a coalition with five others which were not suspended namely COSOME, CB-CPI, UBJ, Iteka league and SOS torture Burundi, “what is dramatic. ”

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By Anemone Kubwimana

Credit picture: Pacifique Nininahazwe, the Delegate General for the Forum for the Strengthening of Civil Society (FORSC), an organization for 146 Burundian civil society associations. Roberto Schmidt/Getty images

500+ Convene in Côte d’Ivoire for Focus on Sustainability at World Cocoa Foundation Partnership Meeting

$12 Million in New Funding Announced for Farmer Support Programs; Call to Action on Regional Threat Posed by Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, Oct. 31, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Last week, the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF), in collaboration with Le Conseil du Café-Cacao, convened its annual Partnership Meeting in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s […]

SAFRICA WELCOMES UN RESOLUTION ON TREATY BARRING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

South Africa has welcomed a United Nations resolution on the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.”South Africa welcomes the adoption on Oct 27, 2016 of a resolution entitled ‘Taking forward multilateralism nuclear disarmament negotiations’ by a Committe…

Let’s exploit renewable energy potential of landlocked developing countries � Zambia

The Chairperson of the Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDC) says the 15-nation group holds great potential for the production of renewable energy, and called for more investment in the sector. Zambia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations …

Africa and the Paris Agreement: Which Way Forward?

Addis Ababa – The Paris Agreement on climate change is set to enter into force on Nov. 4, after it passed the required threshold of at least 55 Parties, accounting for an estimated 55 per cent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions, ratifying the agreement.

The landmark deal, reached at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention (COP21) in Paris in December 2015, aims to limit the increase in the global average temperature to ‘well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels’ and to pursue efforts to ‘limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels’ in this century.

The basis of the Agreement is the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted by all parties in the lead-up to COP 21, which are essentially blueprints for how they plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Once a party ratifies the Paris Agreement, its coming into force implies that the Agreement and all its provisions – including INDC which changes to NDC – becomes legally binding to that Party.

However, while some African countries are among the 86 Parties that had ratified the Agreement by Oct. 27, an analysis by the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has revealed that most African NDCs are vague in their adaptation and mitigation aspirations.

“There are still a number of challenges with the submissions of many developing countries, including vagueness in their mitigation ambitions and adaptation aspirations; lack of cost estimates, no indication of sources of funding and in some cases, pledges of mitigation commitments that exceed their current levels of emissions, among others,” Johnson Nkem of ACPC told IPS during the Sixth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa(CCDA VI), held from Oct. 18-20.

Nkem sympathises with most African countries, which he said had to outsource the development of their INDCs due to lack of capacity and resources to do so on their own. He says ACPC is ready to help countries that are yet ratify to consider revising their climate action plans and make them more realistic before they submit instruments of ratification.

With the continent considered the most vulnerable to climate change vagaries but contributing a mere five percent to global GHG emissions, the CCDA VI was held under the theme: The Paris Agreement on climate change: What next for Africa?

The main objective of the meeting was to discuss implications of implementing the Paris Agreement, considering that the continent is already experiencing climate-induced impacts, such as frequent and prolonged droughts and floods, as well as environmental degradation that make livelihoods difficult for rural and urban communities. Increasing migration is both triggered and amplified by climate change.

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By Friday Phiri

Credit picture: Eric Feferberg/Getty Images

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to brief Parliament on NEDLAC progress to introduce national minimum wage and efforts to reduce violent and protracted strikes

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is poised to brief the National Assembly on Tuesday 2 November 2016 on progress made by National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) constituencies to introduce the National Minimum Wage while reducing viol…

SOUTH AFRICA WINS RE-ELECTION TO 47-MEMBER UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

South Africa has been re-elected as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, an indication of the world’s continued confidence in the country’s commitment to human rights, says the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Jerry Matjila…

Le géant chinois des téléviseurs Hisense présente son activité B2B

QINGDAO, Chine, le 28 octobre 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Le président de Hisense Group, M. Liu Hongxin, a dévoilé la stratégie de marque et le symbole visuel de l’activité B2B de Hisense le 25 octobre à Qingdao. Sur la période de janvier à septembre 2016, le chiffre d’affaires des sociétés B2B de Hisense représente d’ores et déjà 27 % du chiffre d’affaires […]